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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Short shots for the week

 Every Monday afternoon I gather with my Soroti Town Team pray, discuss, and plan together. 
We are excited to see what God is going in this city!
 Baby JOY got her new eye this month... she keeps rubbing it the wrong way so it doesn't look normal yet, but we are off to a good start.
 My namesake with her eye straightened out.
Hungry anyone?  Yesterday I helped to roast and eat a disturbingly noisy rooster.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

More of 75 Stories

Peter and I headed back to the classroom today as we taught a total of 37 teachers, who in turn, were going to teach 4264 children.  Praise God that more of HIS amazing stories are going to be told!
 Working on God's Big Timeline
 Preparing for a day of training Sunday school teachers.
 Each church received materials to take home for each child - from One Hope!
 Abraham was leaving Heran and going to the land of Canaan with his family and animals.
 Jesus walking on water
 Judas Iscariot
 I absolutely love teaching and acting
 Peter is also a great teacher - very enthusiastic!
 Break time!
 Adam and Eve hiding from God... they just used props from my suitcase full of goodies.
Most of the trainees!  Another great day!

MP was my Role

April 6, 2013... after months of preparation and budget planning meetings... was the day when my sweet team-mate, Beckie Carlson got married.
 I was the MP (Member of Parliament - joke joke)... and I made a lot of decisions to help the wedding flow smoothly.
 Calling the groom to come down the hill with his party of handsome men.
 Then I hopped on stage to sing with the choir!
 Lighting the unity candle.
 Way too many cameras there... and I'm still trying to find the photos in one of the local papers.
 Smilin' with a few of the dancers.
 MP Pose
 The bridal party
 The choir
As per a previous post... I spent the rest of the afternoon escorting people under my umbrellas.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Guilty - Under the Umbrella

As the wedding service came to a close, the rains were pouring down from the skies.  Instead of filing out of the church, the bride and groom danced their way back to the front of the church and the praise team burst into another round of songs.   Singing consumed the church for a long while, before it was decided to take official photos.  Instead of standing out in the sunshine, with Sisiyi Falls as a backdrop, people lined up in front of the church and stood before draped clothes of green and blue. 
Eventually the rains let up long enough for the crowds to hike up the hill and sit under the prepared tents. 
The reception was finally ready to begin, but the kitchen really wanted to serve food immediately - due to the next dark cloud forming over the rock face above the falls.  Before the bride and groom had finished changing, I made an executive decision to agree with the kitchen.... I guess I need to explain that this was the wedding for my team-mate, Beckie, and she married a wonderful Ugandan man named Ruudy.  Well, months ago, Beckie and Ruudy asked me to be the MP for the wedding.  It was kind of a joke that I was going to be the clan leader for the mzungu (western) side of the planning, but somehow the MP role grew.  Before I knew it, if there were any wedding or rehearsal questions, people came to me to find an answer... so that's why I chose to let the crowds eat.
After about 30 people, out of 200, were served food, the skies opened once again.  With a smile on my face, I marched over to the boot of my car and pulled out a bunch of umbrellas.  I spent the rest of the afternoon escorting people from their seat under a shade tent, to the verandah where food was being scooped on to plates.  People chuckled as I danced in the rain with my umbrellas. 
As the reception came to a close, people began to leave quickly.  One of my team-mates left me with three extra umbrellas so that people could be escorted in a dry fashion, but some how, when I was packing up to go home, one of my umbrellas, and two of my team-mates went missing.  Are you kidding?  Did people steal them?  Or are they just in hiding?  As I was getting in the car, I thought only two umbrellas were missing, but upon arriving home, three were missing.  And the guilt I feel is huge.  I don't feel so bad about my missing umbrella... I had just bought it the other day in the market for 6000 shillings ($2.50) but the Tiesenga umbrellas are nice golf umbrellas from America.  And they were left in my care.  I don't know why I am sharing this, but this morning I woke up, still feeling bad about losing two umbrellas that were placed in my care.  And it wasn't that I lost them, but that someone just felt free to take them... that's what bothers me.  But why is it that I let these things get to me?  I don't like disappointing others, but I also don't like feeling used or abused. I hate it that after the whole beautiful wedding adventure, the only thing on my mind is three missing umbrellas.   

Monday, April 1, 2013

Judas Iscariot Monologue

Judas Iscariot

Written by Karen Lubbers, March 2013
I wrote this piece, after much prayer, reading and research about this often misunderstood character.  Enjoy!

What have I done?  WHAT have I DONE?!  I never meant for this to happen.  What was I thinking?

I’ll tell you what I was thinking… that Jesus Christ, this man I’ve been walking with for the past three years isn’t the leader I thought he would be.  For centuries, the prophets announced a coming Messiah, and when I first heard Jesus talking, I thought for sure he would be the leader of the Jews… a strong political man who would make the right moves.  Jesus was an amazing teacher, but when he continued to talk of death I felt anger, fear, and disappointment.  And I wasn’t the only one.  All of my brothers – us 12 disciples – we all felt that way occasionally.
For three years I walked and talked my way around this countryside with Jesus.  I remember the day he chose me to be a disciple and I was shocked.  My father Simon was from the town of Kerioth, in another region, and that means the town was not in Galilee.  All of the other disciples, all 11 of them were from Galilee, and yet Jesus still chose me.

I watched Jesus preach, pray, perform miracles – heal the sick, cast out demons, and debate with chief priests.  I also saw him love the little children.  Jesus had this unexplainable compassion in his eyes and I felt it.  I was never treated as an outsider, but always as one of his dearly beloved.  As a matter of fact, Jesus put me in charge of our money.  I carried the ministry purse for all of us disciples.  It was only Jesus and I who knew how much money was in the bag and he never questioned me when money went missing.  Trust me though, the money didn’t go missing.  I was a professional business man and I still believe that I should be paid for my work as an accountant.  I deserved to make some profit while studying under this up-and-coming political leader.
And the other 11 disciples never knew.  We trusted each other.  And I trusted Jesus.  Remember, I had big hopes for this man.  I thought a political breakthrough was coming last Sunday.  You see, as we were approaching a village, Jesus sent two of the disciples ahead to find a donkey and its colt there.  They were to untie them and bring them to Jesus.  A short while later, here they come with this stubborn grey animal and her colt.  The disciples placed their cloaks on the donkey and Jesus sat on them.  Before I knew it, people everywhere were laying their cloaks and coats on the road, and as the donkey paraded towards Jerusalem, the people shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David!”  “Hosanna in the highest!”  “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”  People were waving palm branches and glorifying him like he was some kind of king.  The closer we got to Jerusalem, the more murmurings I heard.  “Who is this man?” Crowds answered saying, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

I started to get excited.   Maybe Jesus was coming to be king of the Jews after all!  It gets even better – once inside Jerusalem, Jesus went to the temple.  While children were shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David”, Jesus began driving out all those people buying and selling there.  He over turned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.  I was so proud of him!  He was FIGHTING for a change… and then compassion took over again, and as Jesus was healing the blind and the lame and saying things like “MY house is to be called a house of prayer”, I could see the chief priests and teachers of the law becoming angry.  They were indignant and I was confused.
…Confused because once again we left Jerusalem and went back to Bethany.  There we sat as Jesus started speaking in parables – talking about kingdoms yet to come, and how he was going to be resurrected.  I have no idea what that means.  Why did Jesus always speak in parables?  It’s like he always wanted me to guess what the meanings behind his speeches were.

Pride filled my heart when I watched the religious leaders challenge Jesus’ authority… or when they questioned him about paying taxes, the resurrection, and the Greatest Commandment.  Jesus said, “Why are you trying to trap me?” but somehow I felt like the religious leaders – I just wanted to know the truth of this man.  What did Jesus really stand for?
You know, while we were in Bethany, we had dinner at the home of Simon the Leper.  Our good friends Lazarus, Mary, and Martha were also there with us.  While we were reclining, Mary came and broke open a jar of pure nard – a very expensive perfume.  What!!  Why this waste of a perfume?  Mary poured that perfume over Jesus’ head and while the liquid slowly streamed down Jesus’ hair and face I imagined the coins that we slowly trickling out of my pocket.  Like the others, I spoke us, saying “It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.”  But I also knew that if we sold the perfume, the money would go into the disciple’s purse, which I carried, and therefore, I would have a nice little profit.  As I was thinking about the coins in my pocket, Jesus continued to talk about being prepared for burial.

Oh, I just didn’t get it!  Why would he want to die if he was supposed to be the king of God’s chosen people?  It was then that I started to make a plan.  I thought maybe if I put Jesus in a difficult position, he would step up as a true religious leader.
So, for a short while, I snuck away from Jesus and the disciples and I went to visit the chief priests.  I asked “What are you willing to give me if I hand Jesus over to you?”  And soon 30 silver coins were handed to me.  30 silver coins – the price of a slave.  30 silver coins – which is more money than I had in my pocket yesterday.  30 silver coins – the salary I would earn for letting the chief priests know when Jesus would be in a quiet place, away from the multitudes of people he was usually ministering to.

The following day was Passover.  Jesus had us come to an upper room and there we talked and ate.  While we were reclining at the table, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” Slowly, one after the other said “Sure not I, Lord?” Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.  The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him.  But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man!  It would have been better for him if he had not been born.”
Jesus began talking about the bread being a symbol of his broken body and the wine in remembrance of his blood.  Then when Jesus dipped the bread and handed it to me, evil took over.  It’s like Satan filled my body. “Surely not I, Lord?”, I said.  The other disciples never knew of my plan to sell him for 30 pieces of silver.  But somehow, I think, Jesus knew.  For he said, “What you are about to do, do quickly.”  Thankfully my friends would never know my evil thoughts.  They probably thought I was being sent out to purchase more food, or to give money to the poor – since it was Passover, but I knew it was time to get the chief priests involved.
Somehow I knew that Jesus was going to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray with the disciples.  After Passover it would be a very quiet night – so I went and gathered the chief priests.  As we were walking into the Garden, I overheard Jesus saying, “Are you still sleeping and resting?  Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.  Rise, let us go!  Here comes my betrayer!”

What!  How does Jesus see inside my head? How does he know that this is the time?  But I couldn’t stop.  I walked up to Jesus.  “Greetings Rabbi” and I greeted him with a kiss.  The kiss had been the arranged signal.  Before I knew it, Jesus was arrested, all the disciples had fled, and my heart deepened in sorrow.  Jesus was brought to Caiaphas, and then Pontius Pilate, and then, before all of the chief priests and elders of the people, it was decided that Jesus should die.
No, not death!  Remorse filled my bones.  This is all wrong.  He’s not supposed to die.  I ran back to the chief priest and tried to give back the 30 silver coins.  “I have sinned for I have betrayed innocent blood!”  No one would take the money, so I just threw it into the temple, and now, I’m sitting here wondering what has become of my life. 

What have I done?  What HAVE I DONE?  Did I really CHOOSE to betray him?  I have failed to see his humble teachings become strong leadership.  But more than I political suggestion, I have this feeling I’m missing out on the Rabbi’s grace.
It’s too late for me!  I must go – with this rope.

I have uploaded a video of myself reading the script.

Prison Ministry

Good Friday was a busy day, but truly a blessing.  Taking time away from setting up house for a few American visitors, my team and I headed over to the local prison to lead the Good Friday service.  A first for all of us. 
At 1:30 pm on Friday afternoon, I drove into the prison parking lot and noticed that a few Ugandan friends were already waiting at the front door with the sound system we were borrowing.  I talked with a few guards and they opened the doors for us to enter another locked room.  There we had to hand over cell phones and cameras.  We could see in-mates walking around the compound, dressed brightly in yellow - with thin pin stripes running down their shirts and shorts. 
I was brought to see the OC - Officer in Charge - by one of the guards and there I had to sign a guest book and talk about further ministry in the prison.  The OC was excited to have us come, and he was intent on sharing more about prison life with Chris and Michelle... two of my team-mates.... the family on the right of the photo.  While us adults were talking in the office, the older kids, and the Kolb parents were escorted in to the compound and shown a place to sit on the verandah.  In-mates started to play music with local instruments - drums, small harps, and thumb pianos.  Close to 2:00 pm the OC dismissed us from his office, and we walked out to join almost 500 bright yellow in-mates and the rest of the team on the porch.
The prisoners led worship, then we as a team acted out a drama about shopping at a supermarket, where there were lots of sales.  One young man had accidentally spent all the money his mom gave him, on sodas - instead of on the plastic plates he was supposed to buy... so he decided to steal the plates.  A police officer was cheerfully greeting the young man when he walked out of the supermarket, and when he lifted his arm to shake the officers hand, the plates dropped out from his shirt.  Oh no, the young boy was caught.  After talking with the owner of the shop, the officer decided to arrest the young boy, but moments later and older man came along and said that his father told him about this thief, and that he should pay the price instead.  The officer untied the young boy, and arrested the man who stepped in his place. 
Then Chris preached about man being made in the image of God, and yet we have all sinned.  Sinners that Christ came to die for, and now we can be saved.
The in-mates led in more upbeat songs before I began my Judas Iscariot monologue.  For some reason, God put this particular character in my heart for the Easter season.  So, I researched, read, and prayed before writing a long script.  After presenting my drama, as a team we sang "In Christ Alone".
Bobby did another sermon - on being the worst of sinners, but just like Saul... becoming Paul...  we too can be made new in Christ.  Very touching... then while the musicians played softly, our Ugandan friends guided us in a time of altar call.  Four women, and maybe 9 men came forward.  I prayed the salvation prayer with a few ladies.  One asked if she was truly forgiven, since she had shed blood by murdering her husband.  Yes, if you truly trust in God, and believe in His amazing grace, you are forgiven my friend. 
After the service, Michelle, Rachel and I went over to the women's prison... which is right next door.  The OC had combined the men and women together for the service, but we followed the women back to their compound so that we could bless them with some Easter treats.  Each woman received a package of sanitary pads, a small piece of laundry soap, and the five children in the prison (with their mother's) each received a kilo of sugar. 
I am praying that God will open the doors for me to go to the prison on a regular basis.  I am waiting to hear from the Commissioner in Kampala.  Also, it will be exciting to work alongside of the OC, because he doesn't want prison to be a place of punishment, but a place of transformation... where they can experience the love of God, but also learn a trade - like farming or carpentry. 
Please pray for this ministry ... and for the many young people who fill the prison system.  Also, pray for more judges to administer in Uganda... since out of the 500 in-mates, only 167 have received conviction, the rest are awaiting trial.