Monday, June 27, 2011

Do Everything

Discouragement was Pastor James’ topic for yesterday's sermon. “Discouragement,” he told his congregation, “is simply the lack of courage. A discouraged person is a defeated person, someone who has lost heart. And let me tell you something-Satan is the one who causes discouragement. He cannot discourage us when we remember the One who has called us to follow Him, the One who is in control of our lives.”
Bonfire time with the toddlers!

 It’s so easy to become discouraged with where God has placed us in life, if we don’t see immediate results from our efforts. And sometimes we don’t even see that He’s given us opportunities to serve, because we have our own ideas of what God will and won’t use to draw people to Him. I like to place unnecessary stress and worry on myself by thinking that I must do as much as I can right now, while I’m young, or I won’t ever be able to be used by the Lord. That is false, and more than that, it is sin. God does not ask us to be world changers or well recognized examples of Jesus followers, though that may be the result of doing what He HAS called us all to do-to love and obey Him in all that we do. We don’t have to be quoting Bible verses or traveling to foreign countries with the Gospel in order for Jesus to work through us-whatever we do, whether it’s changing 50 diapers a day, eating lunch with a friend, or sharing what God has done in our life, if it is done for the glory of God and not man, God will use it to show His love.
Bujagali Falls

Who are we to decide what God can or can’t use to draw someone to a relationship with Him? Have we forgotten that He is God, that He made us and planned out our lives so that we would be right where we are RIGHT NOW, doing exactly what we’re doing RIGHT NOW, all for His glory??
While there I was convinced white water rafting is NOT for me ;)

Have you lost heart in serving God with your life? Are you lacking courage to serve God in a different avenue than you thought He was calling you to? May I just encourage you to rethink your ideas of what it means to live your life for Jesus-sometimes I think we place more emphasis on sharing our spiritual relationship with others than on building up that relationship with Jesus. It’s good to be intentional in sharing Jesus with the lost, but sometimes He can better use us when we’re not trying too hard to be anything but in love with our Savior. We waste so much time trying to figure out what our calling is in life-let me save some of us lots of time by revealing that to you now. It is simply this, to bring glory and honor to our King of Kings: “In all the work you are doing, work the best you can. Work as if you were doing it for the Lord, not for people. Remember that you will receive your reward from the Lord, which He promised to His people. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Col. 3:23-24
Teaching Sunday school at Susan's church

“Only one thing concerns me: be sure that you live in a way that brings honor to the Good News of Christ. Then whether I come and visit you or am away from you, I will hear that you are standing strong with one purpose, that you work together as one for the faith of the God News, and that you are not afraid of those who are against you. All of this is proof that your enemies will be destroyed but that you will be saved by God. God gave you the honor not only of believing in Christ but also of suffering for Him, both of which bring glory to Christ.” (Phil. 1:27-29)
'I saw the face of Jesus in a little orphan girl...'

So relax! Enjoy the journey He’s placed you on! Because that’s just what your life is, and always will be until He brings it “to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6)

"Little stuff big stuff in between stuff
God sees it all the same
And while I may not know you I bet I know you
Wonder sometimes does it matter at all
We’ll let me remind you it all matters just as long as you do
Everything you do to the glory of the One who made you
Cause He made you
To do every little thing that you do to bring a smile to His face
And tell the story of grace with every move that you make
And every little thing that you do"
~Steven Curtis Chapman

Friday, June 10, 2011

He chooses the incapable

It all started when my parents dropped me off at the RDU airport bright and early on a Tuesday morning. "Ok, so...what do I do?" I asked, looking around the terminal for some sort of sign to tell me where to take the next step of my journey to Uganda.
My parents looked at each other-worried glances-and then laughed nervously. "Um, are you sure you can do this?" Dad joked.
"YES I can do this...I just don't know what to do first!" It was my first time flying since I was 5 years old-I was clueless, as you might guess. If there was a book called "Flight Travel for Dummies" it should've been given to me. In fact I really wish I'd read that-I like to know what to do ahead of time so I don't HAVE to look stupid and ask questions that raise eyebrows. Sorry...that's beside the point.
Eventually I found that I love flying, and my fears of emergency crash landing subsided. But that initial feeling, that "I'm in WAY over my head" realization, didn't. On that plane ride to Philly to wait for another plane to take me to my Amy, I did a little reality check.
"I'm crazy!"
was the conclusion. But then God reminded me that although I am far from qualified for this work here in Uganda, much less the work I want to do after this, He doesn't choose me because I'm able. He chooses those who are willing to follow Him anywhere-especially when where He takes you doesn't make sense.

Took my buddy Jonah to a local restaurant <3

I didn't have a clue about flying. So He let me experience it solo-and I loved it.

I definitely didn't know how to navigate through an airport. So He led me by the hand through 3-didn't even have to ask for help!

International travel was certainly beyond my intelligence, but He's helped Amy and I through every single step. Getting Visas here in Uganda was a concern for us, but He provided us with a seasoned missions team from Ireland to show us where to go!

The poverty and despair here is so heavy that I just can't even cry. This girl that barely remembers whether her car is an automatic or stick shift hasn't the faintest idea what to do to make a difference here. I laugh when people say to me, "Oh working with orphans is perfect for you! You're so experienced and good with kids!" I'm so incapable of knowing where to even start with these kids! Everywhere I turn I see more that needs to be done, more lives that just need someone to show the love of Jesus to them, and I can't. I'm just not Jesus.But He can use me to show love to a handful of orphans-and it's only because I can't help everybody that He can use me to help anyone at all. I'd like to be SuperGirl and do something for every single hurting person I come across, but that's His job. My job is to be one part of His arm that is stretching out across the globe.
The arm can't move without the brain. I can't do anything without Him behind it. And I'm so glad He's with me.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I have...

There aren't words to describe what the past five days have been like here in Uganda. If I've not been communicative to anyone, it's simply because I don't know what to say. I'm speechless and amazed that I'm HERE, so explaining what HERE is like is practically impossible. There's so much going through my mind, so many thoughts and experiences that I want to share with everyone. Since arriving here on Friday I have:

:Kissed 34 babies over and over
:Cuddled a little boy sick with malaria for a few hours
:Held the hand of a clingy little girl while she swung, 'til my arm felt like it would fall off
:Told Rabies Boy 'NO BITING' about a gazillion times
:Told Mama Josephine that she makes the BEST JUICE EVER four times
:Been to town too many times to count
:Finally gotten sunburned TODAY! ;)
:Danced with Ugandans during their church service
:Been told I'm moving to Africa by a four year old girl
:Eaten tilapia Ugandan style
:Learned the Black Mambas aren't
:Ridden bodas several times
:Put 14 toddler boys to bed (almost...Tori came to my rescue towards the end) by myself
:Been scared waaaaaaaay too many times by Crazy Cat Susan (our House "Mama")
:Was one lady's first customer for the day at about 3:30pm
:Sang Justin Bieber karaoke at a local restaurant with my roommates
:Listened to a Mama tell me about her grandmother who died a week ago
I. Am. Blessed.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Do you know where we're headed?

After months of prayer and preparation and waiting, Amy and I arrived in Uganda this morning! Our flights both went really well, but neither of us got much sleep and by the time we were getting off the plane in Entebbe we were both going a little stir crazy. We napped this afternoon (it's almost 8pm here; about 1pm on the East Coast back home), but I think we're both still really tired-should sleep really well tonight!
There are so many thoughts running through my mind, and not enough brain power to process them all. God has proved Himself faithful to us in so many ways throughout our trip thus far, and we're only just getting started. We serve such an amazing, loving God-I mean, He blessed us with WATERMELON with our breakfast on our Thursday flight!! Such a small thing...but I love watermelon and wasn't happy about missing out on it all summer, and He treated us to a true British breakfast with watermelon on the side. Now try telling me God doesn't care about our very wants. ;)

We found our driver to take us to the orphanage very quickly, and he and his friend acted as "tour guides" for our three hour drive. Uganda is so beautiful...hills everywhere, beautiful green forests and fields, Lake Victoria...just breathtaking. David and Andrew pointed out different towns, the biggest forest, the Nile River, the sugar cane fields and the abundant supply of bananas. At one point we had a communication problem with figuring out what one type of crop was, 'cause Amy and I were sure he was saying and spelling "den", but we had no idea what that that I think about it I think he was actually saying "tea", but I can't be sure.
And at another point Andrew turned to ask us, "Do you know where we're headed?" and for a moment my thought was "oh good grief! Please don't tell me you have no clue where you're supposed to take us!" But of course he was only asking if we were aware of where the orphanage was. Lack of sleep does something really crazy to you.
Driving through the towns was really eye-opening...seeing all the crowds of people, the cramped marketplaces, the emaciated cows that just mingle with the people, the tiny little shacks that so many Ugandans call 'home', the awesome make-up-your-own-road-rules driving (so not scary like people said it would be! it was FUN!), the kids that smiled and shouted "HI!" as we drove past...I love the culture here, and I can't wait to go into town more. Emily (the current director) took us to town when we got there to get money and to buy some food, but we were too tired to decide on anything other than pb&j materials. The girls went to town for dinner, but I decided to stay here at the Cottage to rest and have some alone time. I helped with the babies for awhile, but then Mama Regina wanted to put them to bed so I came to our room. Sleep sounds really good right now.
Oh! Before I forget, one little thing from our trip that made me happy. During our layover in London, we met a team from IRELAND who were coming to Uganda, and some of them had been before so we were able to ask them tons of questions, and when we got to Entebbe we just followed them to get our visas. I was expecting the visa thing to be confusing, but we had experts to follow-and they had wicked awesome accents to boot! :) It's the little things in life, ya know....