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Monday, October 27, 2014

Becoming a God-mother

A few months ago, one of the Anglican priests here in town asked me to be the Godmother for his little baby girl.  I gave her the name Grace/Asianut because it was the first Teso name I received here in 2009.  I was honored to stand with this beautiful family yesterday as the baby was baptized.  I even had to give the pastor the full name, to make it truly official.

 Announcing "Anne Grace Amokol"

Reflecting Through the Lens

The pigs are doing well. 
 Faith is a very curious sow... and she gives me hope that this piggery project will work out!
 Bear the Boar is growing at a steady pace
And Grace, the original sow is doing so much better.  Isaac really loves the pigs!!
And now, completely switching topics:
The Best Wedding!!
 Grace and Sam have finally said "I do"
 She's a stunning bride with a fantastic voice for Jesus!
 I love their style!
After the wedding, I took an overnight bus and traveled to Kampala, so that I could catch a flight to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.
 Seeing Mt. Kilimanjaro from the plane, as I flew to the Thrive Conference. 
For three days I was able to enjoy the fellowship of these other ladies… swapping stories and tips about living in Africa.  The guest speaker, Peg Forrest, was truly inspirational and I praise God for her message.  It was about seeing God in the little things of every day.  Sometimes we might think we are plucking blackberries, when really, we might be standing in front of the burning bush.
Every day we met in small groups.  I was a part of a singles group, and so there were 8 of us to encourage each other and pray for each other.  It was so special to have hands placed over me in prayer, from other women who serve on the field and know the joys and struggles. 
Afternoons were a time of pampering and relaxation.  I slept a lot because I have been fighting a very deep cold, and I know that I would not have been able to rest in Soroti.  I also received a haircut and a pedicure on one afternoon.  During another afternoon I met with a counselor and a prayer partner.  
Every evening we had a good time of worship and then played games (which the prizes were sweet treasures from the west – like Reeses Pieces, dried fruits, magazines, etc.), before sharing experiences and advice from the field once again.
 At the end of the retreat, I headed to the Indian Ocean with 11 ladies, to go snorkeling for the afternoon.  Truly rewarding.
 We saw a super cool sailboat on our way to the snorkeling location
 It's cargo was a sight to behold
 I was super pumped as we approached the island... I knew I was in my much beloved Africa when I found another item on my bucket list.... a Baobab tree!
 I just think they are the coolest trees out there
 Playing with God's creation
 Anchors up as the sun was setting
 Upon reaching shore, I found an old college friend waiting for me.  Rebecca took me out for some incredible seafood, at a yummy restaurant called "Gourmet".
For some reason, I felt like this restaurant belonged in Morocco - the atmosphere was filled with flowing red fabrics and cool music.
Rebecca invited me to stay in her home for two days.  I was able to see her in ministry - working at a school in DAR, and hanging out with some pretty awesome youth.  I was truly blessed by 5 days in Tanzania.

Messing Up

Tonight I locked myself inside the house... knowing that I need some quiet time.  Time to dig into God's Word, and write in my prayer journal.  Time to just be. Time to step aside from friends, ministry and the business of life, and just rest.  Time to lay down and get over this deep chest congestion that's starting to irritate my presence.  While I was chatting with God, pictures came to my mind of places where I feel like I am messing up... and I thought I should share them with you.

1. Two weeks ago, I was shooting off an email, sitting by the laptop in my dining room, when a few visitors came to the house.  Good friends of mine, with my room-mate, entered the kitchen.  And I heard them say, "Oh children, how do you know where Auntie Karen's sweets are?"  I jumped up immediately to work on boundary setting.  I don't believe in caning, but I do believe in discipline, manners, and so I wanted to check out the scenario right away. 
Three neighbour children were standing in the kitchen, each holding a lollipop that they had helped themselves to from the cupboard.  I took the treats away and scolded them for taking my sweets without asking.  I explained to them that they had to respect my space and not just take things.  That's called stealing.  Well, the four year old boys understood and shrugged it off, but the three year old girl began to cry.  My room-mate said I was being tough on the kids and making a baby cry, but I was determined to stick to my boundaries.  Against my wishes, my house-mate ran to her room and offered biscuits to the children instead.  I was not impressed, but let them keep the snack.  After a few moments, I went outside and chatted with the three amigos.  I explained to them again why they couldn't just take things.  And I gave them hugs and let them know that I loved them. 
The children went back to playing nicely and I went to sit with my friends in the living room.  Suddenly I heard the little girl crying outside, and my gut reaction came out in a speech I wish I could take back.  I said "I hope she bit her tongue chewing on those biscuits she doesn't deserve."  Yep, my friends were shocked, and I was sorry. 

2. Last year, I had two occasions where I was called to speak in various villages - to share, preach, and teach.  Those are all great things, but not when it means the pastor only wants you there to show off that he has a white friend.  And promises are made to the villages that I never even imagined.  Now those pastors are coming back to me, saying that villages are getting upset that I won't come back and visit them also.  If I came to one church, why won't I come to another.  I've tried dodging the phone calls of these leaders because I struggle with saying no, but more and more I am realizing that I need to clearly say NO... "maybe" doesn't even come close to cutting it here.  Also, with my ministry and locality so clearly defined right now, I feel it is an injustice to travel to other places just to be shown off... I know the work that I am doing is for the glory of the Lord and He has brought the right people for me to walk alongside of in the ministries of children and music.  But why is it that I still feel torn in my responses to these village churches/leaders?  Am I guilty for having my ministry so clearly laid out?  Am I thankful that my schedule is already fully book with teaching every day in a primary school and singing with Oil of Gladness?  Am I torn between knowing my own personal limits and desiring to see God's Word shared in the village?  Do I feel abused for being paraded around the villages when there are far better Ugandan preachers who could share the Word in those places?  I have no idea.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October's Rush so Far

 These past few weeks have been delightfully busy. 
 Opio and Ocen are happy to help prepare the Canadian Thanksgiving Turkey
 Participating in the Ride for Refuge
 Attending the birthday party of my friend Jesca.
 Soroti Rock
 Last week I had to look after 5 children in church.  They were so good.  For two hours they sat on the pew and listened to the music, sermon, liturgy and prayers at the local Anglican church.
Opio and Ocen and I walked to church... we were all dressed in the same green cloth... and then when we arrived at the Cathedral - Adiba, Becky, and Brian also wanted to sit with me.  Adiba and Becky's father is in his final stages of studying to be a priest... so he had to be up front with the other priests.
 My twin brother - Moses - in his white robes, with the many buttons, is learning from the Vicar, all that needs to be done during a service.  Please pray for Moses as he follows God's calling on his life.
 Victor is capturing two turkeys in his cage.  :)
 Ok... so these are out of order... my big turkey preparations.
 Oil of Gladness is practising at my house twice a week right now for the big wedding on Saturday.  Sam, the groom is standing at the back by the curtains.
Here is a little glimpse into a practise session.
 Rockview Baptist Church welcomed me back last Sunday - as I taught Sunday school to the middle class.
 The church even baked me a cake!!
Teddy, Anna, Peter and myself are preparing for even more exciting ministry projects.  Right now we are daily teaching Bible stories at a local primary school.  My childhood dream of becoming a school teacher has finally come true... and wow, it is a lot of work and energy.