Monday, May 18, 2015

[2015] Our Mission

Ultimately, our mission is to build relationships with the Ugandan people.

When preparing for and going on short-term mission trips, it is important to have a long-term perspective. It is silly to think that I am going to Africa to bring Jesus or that I will change the world of the people that I meet. Instead, I believe that I am taking part of the work that God is already doing in Uganda. There are already people, churches and movements happening. There are dedicated Christians and full-blown ministries that are reaching out to the poor and needy of Uganda. The only new thing I am bringing is my American culture and my white skin.

With that said, our team does hope to bring some skills and training that might not be available to our friends there. This year, we are bringing along Moses, who is a Ugandan that now studies agriculture at UC Davis. We met him last year (as he is a friend of our resident Ugandans) on our adventures while he was doing research in some of the areas that we visited. He will be on our team, providing some agricultural workshops for the local people. Additionally, my girl Jenny and another new team member Cindie will be facilitating a chicken project that will include education, vaccination and maybe some chicken coop building! Due to their work with chickens, these two have received a 4,000 grant and FREE airfare, which is part of the reason I was able to go this year! Additionally, Uncle Greg, our team leader again this year, will be continuing his positive parenting discussions. Last summer, he started training some of the elders and pastors about the "Family Hui," a creation of his nonprofit that focuses on bringing together families into a larger community. He hopes to continue this training and spread the information to more people this year.

I am the only one on our team that does not have a specific...purpose. My only role is to bring the love and joy and excitement that God has abundantly blessed me with. As an inherent achiever, I anticipate this might be difficult for me. I love being productive and completing tasks and having a tangible thing to leave behind. With that said, I know I want it to be more about the people and less about the product. I believe that is more in line with God's heart, anyway. 

One great thing about returning this summer is that it shows the all the people I met last year that I was serious when I said that I would be back. It is sometimes hard for me to accept the fact that simply my presence is a blessing to people, especially those in other countries. I mean, think about it- wouldn't you feel privileged if people traveled across the globe just to meet you?? The idea that I would give up my time, money, and comfort to get to know them blesses them. And the fact that I would do it again solidifies the fact that I am committed to them and our relationship. 

Thanks for coming along side me as I prepare my heart and mind for another African adventure. I love being a part of what God is doing here in Davis and across the globe in Uganda!

You are loved.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Trust and Patience

On October 26th, 2013, I wrote in my journal: "Trust and patience hurt so bad."

Waiting and trusting, patiently obeying, and taking that first step into the unknown is painful. And hard! But God calls us to do this consistently. He calls us to obey when we don't know what is coming next. He ask to trust that His plan is best. And through it all, we must be patient for his timing. In the midst of that, you sometimes find it hard to hope.

But then the moment comes. His promise is fulfilled and you find yourself wondering why you ever doubted His goodness. Because His plan is better than you imagined, better than you could have thought. Let me explained a little more :)

In December this last year, God brought me (again) to the story of Abraham. God fulfilled His promise of a son to him, but He later asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Issac. Abraham did not know what God's plan was but trusted that it was the best. This story resonated with me and I realized that God desires us to sacrifice everything to Him, even when it doesn't make any sense! Over the past few months, God has asked me to surrender my desires, or my "Isaac"s to Him. This included my hope for marriage (right now), as well as my desire to go back to Uganda this summer. As I made my final decision to not return at this time, I told God that he could have it, have this hope, and that I would not go unless He gave "it" back to me (just like God gave Isaac back to Abraham). 

For months, I grieved the loss of a return trip as my roommate/best friend/travel partner/soul sista Jenny prepared to go with the team to Uganda this summer. We would joke that if the team raised enough money for me to go, then maybe that was a sign from God. We included our resident Ugandan/prayer warrior Milly in on this joke. We should have known that she would take it very seriously!

On Thursday April 30th (less than two months before the team would leave), I received this email from Milly:

"Hello Liz,
I hope the Lord is telling you to go with us. We have also started funding raising late but we are confident we shall make it. Please join us. You do not have to raise all your need your self. Some body is willing to bridge the gap in case of any deficit. Please join us. Just let Greg and Rick know you want to go."

I was shocked, doubtful, and excited. Was this it? Was God giving me back this hope NOW? Upon further investigation, I found out that there a generous donor who was willing to "bridge the gap" and donate the money we needed in order to get the team to Uganda. Hours later after receiving this email, we found out that one of our projects received a large grant that would cover some of the other in-country travel costs. Within the next day, our two veterinarians, Jenny and Cyndie, also started a partnership with another organization that would pay for their airfare. Therefore, all the money they had been fundraising would now go to the rest of the team...which very soon would include ME!

To say the least, I was skeptical. I wanted to make the right decision. I only wanted to go if God wanted me to go. Plus, I was graduating and needed to find a job. I was convinced that if I made the right decision than God would provide me a full-time job for next year. That is when my girl Jenny called me out- I was acting as if God's promises were conditional on my faithfulness. But as you can see in the story of Abraham, God fulfills his promises despite our mistakes. God's promises are founded in His faithfulness, not on me or my faithfulness. God would fulfill his promise to me to provide a job, whether I made the "right" decision or went to Uganda. 

So with that, I decided to go. I decided to persevere through my doubts and wonderings and trust that God would provide. I boldly proclaimed that truth as I shared my reasons for returning. I have known since I started my masters program that God would provide a job following graduation. Now I just gave Him a slightly smaller window to show up, between my graduation trip to Hawaii and this adventure to Uganda. 

One week after Milly's email, I had an interview for a school counselor position at a high school in Vacaville. I felt good going into the interview, I felt confident in the interview, and I felt positive after the interview. I knew it was crazy, but I prayed that they would call back that day. Four hours later, I got a call from the principle. And they offered me the job the same day. This NEVER happens...except with God

Within a week I had decided to go back to Uganda AND God provided me a job. SAY WHAT?!? I was bursting with JOY and couldn't contain myself as a relished in God's goodness. He longs to bless us with good gifts. And they are even more sweet when we are patient and trust in His good and perfect plan.

Often times, it seems as if God is slow to action, but when He decides to move, it happens really quickly! I have been swept away in this river of goodness. And I CANNOT WAIT to see where God takes me next!!

More on my next Ugandan adventure to come :)

You are loved.