Monday, July 20, 2015


Community. It is my favorite part about being a Christian. It is through the people around me that I experience a tangible expression of God's love. And in the times when I am not my best self, I experience God's grace through their unconditional support.

The African community takes this to another level. Their collective culture and the high value they place on togetherness and family intensify the effects of their community. If our van gets stuck in the mud, random farmers in the surrounding area congregate to help. The most often story we hear is one relatively poor family member giving to an even needier member. It doesn't matter that they are barely making ends meet, they will give what they have to their people. They give until it hurts.

During a lot of our waiting times in Uganda, I took the opportunity to talk to my Ugandan brother, teammate and resident agriculture specialist, Moses. His passion and desire for justice was inspiring. He could motivate you to support just about any cause. His biggest conviction is his love for his country and the longing to help his people out of poverty. One of our conversations led us to discuss the way that he supports his family. He provides a lot from them, mostly because he lives in the states and is able to make more money. One time he was sending a larger amount to his brother, in order to pay his university tuition. The clerk at the bank couldn't believe he was supporting his brother in this way. And Moses couldn't believe that someone wouldn't support their brother in this way.

The culture of Uganda raises its children with this value of family and community. It's not only family first, but others first. You give to others until its uncomfortable, until you can't give any more. You see that family reaches far beyond the context of mother, father, siblings. It is your fellow church members, your neighbors, that person across the street that just lost a loved one. Sounds similar to what Jesus means when He says "love your neighbor as yourself," right?

I was reading Mark 12 the other day. It talks about the widow who sacrificed all the little she had back to God at the temple offering. As I was reading the commentary on the website She Reads Truth, I realized that often our Ugandan friends live this way.
"The widow's everything was next to nothing. And yet she knew that all she has was from God, her protector and provider."
"She had the guts to give God everything... This woman with very little looked at absolutely everything she had- her poverty- as abundance."
The author of this particular devotional goes on to challenge the readers in this way:
"Are we digging deep, deep down into the next-to-nothing parts of our pockets and calendars and efforts to give to the Lord from a place of sacrifice what is already from Him?"
 Are you all in? Am I giving until it hurts? Not just your money, but your time, your priorities, your thoughts? Unfortunately, in America, we live in a culture that encourages comfort. It tells you that you have to be comfortable and if you're not, then you do whatever it takes to get there. Even in church, we are prompted to give, but do you give until it hurts, until you might have to give up some of your comforts in order to support someone else?

I admire my Ugandan friends that have come to live in America. They have left their comfort, their known world, to come to a vastly different place. They work really hard to live in average apartments so that they can send resources back to their family. But they always have enough, and they are always giving to others. It's almost as if the more open your hands, the more you have.

We have a lot to learn from one another, friends. And I am thankful for this example of community, of giving, and of sacrifice.

You are loved.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Thoughts on time, relinquishment and faith.

As I start to process my trip and all that I experienced while in Uganda, my thoughts have been sporadic. It will take time and lots of conversation to bring them together into a coherent message leading to long term effects. In the past week, as I have been journaling, I have had short moments of inspiration, where thoughts flowed and I was able to come up with a brief glimpse of God. They are messy, full of dead-end logic and incomprehensible questions. Each stream of consciousness are totally separate, but I have hope that in time they will come together to reveal more of Him, His movement in Uganda, and His will in my life. Until then, we wait.


I can't believe my time in Uganda has come and gone. Time is not linear. It's almost as if there are moments or long series of moments when we can almost experience another dimension of time. Like there are gaps in the time-space continuum when it doesn't make earthly sense. I know God is outside of time, and does not see the world as we do. I wonder if there are moments when we can see beyond our humanly understanding of time.

Why do we even have time? I guess it helps our finite minds attempt to organize an infinite universe. And when we try to understand beyond this present moment, we end up going in circles. We start to believe that something came out of nothing, and that life might be possible outside of this place we know as home. We struggle to understand a god that is outside of time, outside of this known world. It is hard to see beyond ourselves, beyond our understanding of time and space. But I believe there are moments, moments that can't even be defined by seconds or minutes, that we experience a different kind of time. How is it that I am already here, three weeks after I started my Ugandan adventure? It is almost as if it never happened, and I have been doing my normal routine this whole time.

Again I say this, time is a strange phenomenon.


To relinquish: to surrender what you have and what you want. To leave your convoluted human desires and dreams behind, to give up and give in to God's love. It sounds painful and it is. It sounds hard and frustrating and impossible, and well, it kind of is. To let go of letting go is confusing, and unknown and unexplainable. Releasing your grips and allowing life to be willed through you is terrifying. It is like a zip line, and those first few seconds (or minutes or days) after you jump before your lifeline (or Jesus) catches you. The free fall is what we all live to avoid. But without the jump and fall, you will never know the feeling of true reliance on God. Or the freedom of flying down the line with the wind of His grace and love that both propels you and holds you.


God, you are a paradox. The more You reveal, the more You expect (Luke 12:47-48). The more I know, the more I want. The closer I get to You, I want less and less of this world. As I drink more of Your living water, the thirstier I am for You. I want You to reveal Your plans to me, but what that comes more responsibility and higher expectations and closer obedience. I am saved by faith, but without works, am I really saved? It is not about what I do, but if I do not obey am I really in relationship with you? You love me just as much today as yesterday, so why am I working so hard to earn your love?

We are just finite minds attempting to define an infinite God.


You are loved.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

[2015] Home (?) and Happy (!)

Home is a relative term. I am currently in my bedroom, close to my friends and all that I consider normal. But part of me will always remain in Uganda. I find that as I get older, the more my heart grows and is spread out across the country and world. And home is where the heart is, right?

Baby Jaden is one of those that stole my heart!

One thing I love about the Ugandan people is their ability to make me feel at home. I don't feel intrusive or out of place (mostly). I feel welcomed and included, wanted and part of something bigger. We were at home there, amongst our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is always hard leaving them, but I rest in the hope of the future. Not only my return, but also our eternal heavenly home!

Saying goodbye in Bukigai

I also know that our accomplishments and future projects wouldn't be possible if we didn't live here. Living in America allows us to finically support our friends over there, and to make connections to others who can also join the mission. I am thankful for the life God has provided me here, and the heart He has given me to continue investing in His work in Uganda.

Still, over and over people asked us to stay. From marriage proposals to job offers, our friends did not want us to leave! Our Pastor Richard was insistent on it! Upon my return last year, I wondered and prayed if that was what God wanted for me. A few months ago, I was getting ready for my internship, and I felt confident that God wanted me here. He has gifted me with skills, filled me with compassion (and now provided a dream job) here in America. I have a peace that this is what God has for me right now. I do not know what the future has, but I feel certain that I am exactly where I need to be.

So I am home. And definitely happy. Leaving is bittersweet, but today I choose to be joyful in all that God has done the last two weeks.

Reunited with Baby Faith and her whole family!

I have lots more to share! Check back soon :)

You are loved.

For more pictures, check out my Facebook or the UCC blog.

Friday, July 3, 2015

[2015] One week down!

So it has been a week already. Time is a weird phenomenon- it moves simultaneously slow and fast. Our five days in Bukigai were beautiful, joyful and too short. Part of my heart will forever be there!

I am currently at cafe arabica, my favorite spot to hang in Mbale. I have been looking forward to this cappuccino since I arrived in Uganda!

I don't have much time or internet, so I'll keep this short. Our program in Bukigai went fabulously- we trained and taught around 100 locals on the topics of positive parenting, poultry management and agriculture. The information was well received! By the third day, the people were teaching one another!

During the last part of the seminar, the group collaborated to build a chicken coop with left over materials from the church roof.

We also have a fully roofed structure!! It was awesome to watch them finish the rafters and put on the roofing!! I found a great joy in visiting the site a few times a day to encourage and cheer on the workers, who were Alex's brothers and friends!

This week they will be putting in doors and windows so the entire structure will be enclosed. Praise God!! We had a little taste of how wonderful that will be- each afternoon the tropical rains came and poured down and disrupted most everything. This sunday, our friends will have their first worship service in their new brick building! I have no doubt there will be much rejoicing.

From here, we will be visiting other churches under pastor Richard's care and offering a shortened version of the three day seminar we gave in Bukigai. The goal will be to expose them to a little bit of information, but mostly just to encourage the church members. We will be traveling a lot so please pray for travel mercies!

Please pray for these requests as well:
-successful completion of the church building
-effective trainings and sharing of knowledge
-continued health and unity of our team (we have really been enjoying each other's company!)
-establishing and continuing relationships with the people we encounter
-discussions with pastor richard and team about future plans and directions

Thank you!

You are loved.