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Saturday, December 27, 2014

December Delights

Here are a few other glimpses into my month!
Receiving the most beautiful Christmas gift from
 my awesome neighbours
Celebrating the discipleship classes at the Cathedral
Cutting cake and receiving a blessing
Trying a fun water trough for the piggery - old tires
Christmas Day - my house was full!
The kids were super excited to receive gifts!
Celebrating with team-mates

Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Love - A Home

Transforming Lives and Communities through the Power of God.
A family's life has been transformed this Christmas.
For a few months I was praying about how to really help this family, and after talking with my team, we decided it would be the perfect project.  And a complete secret.  With the help of donors from the west, and from all around Soroti, the walls of this home now have a roof, windows, and doors. 
In the words of Moses, he writes: Some people are good at making others cry. This is the best Xmas since I was born. Never would have made it without love even God's love through simple people with big hearts. Now we have a place we call home, our sanctuary. It is the Lord's house. His home, and we are under the shadows of His mighty wings. I love my Jesus Christ. Our joy is exceedingly super great. Who would have thought that my family would have a home soon, just God? Thank you Karebear Lubbers and all friends of Karen. Your parents, now by honor and God's grace, now my very own... Papa and Toto Lubbers, God's favor and riches and blessings beyond what am wise enough to pronounce, be upon you and all who have supported us. We are now one big family... Many thanks to Dave and Veronica and those incredibly awesome children, Lucy, Daisy, Asianut, and my man Thomas... you're all dearly loved and cherished. Am lost for words... but I thank each one personally and will write each one personally soon. Merry Xmas to you all... Glory to Messiah. Amen.  Never forget my band members, the OG family, the foreman my brother Dennis, the priesthood at St. Peters. I love you all. Amen and amen... hallelujah
Construction Process
Doors and Windows
The house now!
Half of the walls in the house are cemented, but the floors are not yet done at all.
This is what the house looked like 2 months ago... started 4 years ago.
Completely overgrown
Moses took me to the site one day, to pray and seek God for his home
And now, thanks to God's people, there are builders working
And the process has been an amazing journey!
It took a lot of work and secretive planning, but the big reveal happened at my house on Christmas day.  Laughter, tears, worship, hugs, silence, love... and then we went to the site to show them their new home.  God is AWESOME!

Maid of Honour - A True Blessing

Saturday, December 20, 2014
I was the Maid of Honour for my neighbours - AKA - friends and FAMILY.
It was a truly special day, watching the two wed in church after 17 years of traditional marriage.  God is working in their hearts and lives and I just rejoice.
 Eddie and Rose are preparing to exchange rings
 The ladies sit on one side, the boys on the other... for the bridal party that is... but I had to cross the lines many times because it is the Maid of Honour's role to look after the flower girls and peg boys.
 Eddie was happy to make Rose his true wife!!
 Standing with the other maids/party.
 Dancing at the reception while collecting gifts.
 Singing during the service.
 Preparing with my adorable peg boys!! (Ring Bears)
 At the salon, Ann and Teddy were also preparing for another wedding... these are two of my closest children's ministry colleagues.  :)  So fun. Teddy was also Maid of Honour.
 During the sermon I had to take the kids out and give them a snack of chapatti, pork, and potato wedges. 
 Look at the peg boy.... never seen before in Soroti.
 We had lots of fun parading around Soroti town.
 Eddie and Rose!
 My good friend Sam was the handsome Best Man!!
At the end of the day, the boys had to crash at my house until other party people came home after a very late reception.  I was so proud of my kids and many people were very impressed with how much these boys respected this mzungu.  What people don't know is that I am a super good Aunt to them - through the good and the bad - school meetings, visits to the clinic, playing in the house, and so much more.  I love these boys so much.
A great day for a wedding!

Youth Camp Time

Wow, the two weeks leading up to Christmas have been overwhelmingly busy, but totally awesome and worth it.  For two days I traveled to Serere with my children's ministry colleagues to do a village training with the PAG churches there.  About 70 participants spent two days learning about children, how to share God's Word with them, and how to creatively teach them - especially with the OneHope curriculum that we were able to bring with us.
The following day, the huge annual Anglican youth camp started in Soroti.  I went on Sunday evening and began to register youth.  I was so overwhelmed with attendees that I had to call for back up!!  For three days straight I registered youth and balanced their books.  Registrar and treasurer is a big task, but I thrive there!! Over 2000 youth showed up from all over Teso Land!!  Hallelujah.
When I could break away from the youth camp, I also went to help my children's ministry colleagues once again... we were running a 5 day CYCAS training. (Community, Youth, Children, And Sports) The number of trainees was little, but the information was vital.  Together we went through materials on how to teach children, how to plan camps, how to tie God's Word in to the games you play, and so much more.
Here are some photos of the youth camp.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

"Running" the Race

I always love December in Soroti.  The season is changing from rainy to dry... so it begins to get hotter - which is my favourite!!  And ministry switches from being in the schools to running youth camps, Bible clubs, and more trainings.
Friday morning, Peter and I drove out to Serere to train about 70 more Sunday school teachers.  A village church was organizing everything and it was amazing to show up at 8am and see everyone already seated and waiting.  We had left Soroti at 7am with my Tata (Grandmother) to also take her home to Serere for a few days so she could plan for firewood and food for another festive wedding next weekend.
Throughout the day, Peter and I tag-teamed on the curriculum.  I read a story, he taught some games, I did a Bible study on children's ministry, he shared different methods of teaching, etc.  This training is always one of my favourites to teach and Peter is full of energy.  Really, I'm proud to partner with him!  God has given him great gifts.
At 5pm I drove back to Soroti alone, while another partner, Joseph, came to do an evening and early morning session with Peter.  Upon reaching town, I ran a few errands then quickly got ready for Oil of Gladness.  On this night we went to Moses and Harriet's house - to minister to their family.  I am excited to see how God is opening up a new ministry of O.G.  Encouraging, building up, sharing the oils of gladness and putting on garments of praise.
After eating very little (I was starting to feel nauseous), I drove many band members home and reached my house at 11pm.  Soon I was sleeping, but by 2:30am I was up with a seriously running stomach.  I spent the rest of the night on the toilet.  I didn't know how I was going to make it back to Serere to finish the training.  (Sorry if this is too much information, but missionaries learn to talk about their bodily functions. :) )  I sent out a text to Peter and my neighbour ran to the pharmacy for some medication. 
At 10am I thought I was strong enough to finish the training, and really I had to go and finish my duty because Peter and Joseph were supposed to leave by 11am.  Another friend help me load 3000 student manuals in the boot, and I took off for Serere.  Upon reaching the church, leaders came out and told me they were all praying for me.  I was humbled.  Weak. Overwhelmed.  And yet, very ready.  I wanted to teach!!  Peter and Joseph greeted me with joy and soon they were wrapping up their session and giving me the floor.  I could feel God fill my body with strength and energy.  I taught for four hours, and the class looked like they were enjoying their time.  I went through the OneHope materials with them and played many more games with application lessons.  When lunch was announced at 3:30pm I just crashed.  I hadn't eaten in about 18 hours and didn't want anything either.  I ate a few dry biscuits and that was enough.  After lunch the leaders asked me to come forward.  I was honestly brought to tears as they prayed for me and my running stomach.  The power of prayer that was coming from their mouths resembled the energy I would think it takes to cast out demons. :) I was speechless as they closed in prayer and gave me permission to go home early.  They would do the group work on their own.  Our God is so good.  And so BIG!  I couldn't believe that I had actually finished the training that I needed to do.  But yet, why shouldn't I believe... God is bigger than a running stomach. 
I drove a few kilometres up the road and picked up Tata and another friend and together we drove back to Soroti again.  I took the neighbour boys to the tailor to get their peg boy uniforms fitted for next Saturday and then I closed the door to my house and rested for the evening.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Living Out Isaiah 61

Wednesday evening, a few Oil of Gladness members collected in my sitting room.  The kitchen door was open, waiting for more people to arrive, but none came.  Only four of us sat there... quiet, until Sam made us all look at our TLT Action Plan.  We are all supposed to memorize Isaiah 61:1-3 because that is the passage from which we chose our name.
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy (gladness)
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.
After really searching through this passage and having a great Bible study, we started wondering if Oil of Gladness is living up to its name.  We began thinking that maybe we need to change our ministry approach. Yes, we are a great praise team, and churches love it when we lead worship, but are we doing all the things we are called to do?  We spent time in prayer and worship together and slowly a new plan came.  Especially as we deeply looked into what it means to provide for those who grieve in Zion.
Moses and his girls came in the house near the end of the meeting, and he led us on the piano, singing together I Surrender All we felt the Spirit leading us in a new direction.
So last night, five of us hopped into Sam's car, with a few shakers, a local drum, and a guitar...  no fancy sound system, no microphones... just our voices, hearts, and Bibles.  Followed by another member on a motorcycle, we arrived at the Sub-Dean's house.  He is one of the leaders of the local Anglican church here and we knew that he was not feeling well.  We bought some medicine and oranges and spontaneously arrived for a truly awesome evening of worship.  We wanted to bless this church leader and encourage him in his faith and ministry.  It was inspiring, sitting in his living room, sharing God's Word and the old hymns together.  His dear wife also blessed us with tea and bread and surprisingly we each went home with a bag of peanuts. 
"Mama, how many years have we been married?" the Sub-Dean asked.
"Thirty-two," she replied.
"And have we ever had an evening like this in this house?"
"No," she said with a smile.
With his hands held to his chest in thanksgiving, he asked us all to kneel on his floor.  We were all given an emotional benediction.
I am so personally touched by last night's sweet fellowship.  I have a feeling that the band is going to completely switch direction and focus, because we dug a little deeper in to God's powerful Word!