Thursday, 19 July 2012

The End.

Well this is my final post for this journey I've embarked on and its been crazy to say the least. Over the last five months I've had some of the best times and worst times of my life. I've made new friends, experienced new cultures and foods, killed chickens, climbed mountains, swam in Ugandan lakes, preached the gospel, and ultimately learned of God's mighty love and His character. Its crazy to look back an see how much has happened. It seems so long ago that I was boarding a plane to Entebbe, so full of hopes and expectations. I was ready to see the world and gain experiences that couldn't be bought and thats exactly what happened. I've learned many things over these months, I've learned how to pray, how to worship, I've learned of God's extravagant love and grace, He will never tempt you more than you can bear, I've learned of His undeniable character of love for his children, I've learned of the importance of humility in the ever occurring theme. It seem God was ensuring I don't forget, and forget I never will. God truly is great and He revealed Himself to me more and more with each passing day. I will never forget my DTS experience in Jinja, Uganda. The last week or so was a hectic one. Once we got back from outreach we had little time to prepare for graduation and returning home, yet we wanted to squeeze in as much time with new friends that would soon be old friends. Finally twenty three of us graduated our class on July 14 and it was all over. Needless to say it was a week of late nights. And after all the sleep deprivation we drove to Entebbe Airport for the second time at six o'clock in the morning on Monday, flew nine hours, fifteen hour layover in London, eight hour flight to Chicago, two hour layover, and finally one hour flight to Grand Rapids for the first time in five months. I think I experienced my first reverse culture shock in the London Airport. The amount of people and stores overwhelmed me at first, but upon returning to Grand Rapids, I was just excited to see all the people and things I missed for five months. After a excellent meal and visiting with everyone, I fell asleep at 7:30 and didn't wake up until nine o'clock the next morning. Traveling can certainly wear you down. Today I feel a bit more adjusted to the time zone and culture and life is getting back to normal.. well as normal as it can after such an experience. I thank-you all so much for your prayers and support over the last five months and more. You truly have all been amazing and have blessed me more than you can imagine. The smallest thing, like just reading my blog has been a blessing. I couldn't have done it with out you all and thats the truth. THANK-YOU and God bless.
Psalm 20:1-4, "May the Lord answer you when you are in distress; may the name of the God of Jacob protect you. May He send you help from the sanctuary and grant you support from Zion. May He remember all your sacrifices and accept your burnt offerings. May He give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed."

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Small Beginings.

Only a half of a week of outreach left, how time flies. For the last week we have been in a small village again called Katiko, meaning small mushrooms. I didn't see any mushrooms there but I was able to see plenty of other things. The land there is blessed with plenty. They grow everthing from jackfruit to maize. We had roasted maize everyday and even though there was no shops to test my wallet, I ate in abundance. We also were able to swim in Lake Wamala (even though it was kinda swampy). On the Sunday before we arrived in Katiko, two others and myself were able to visit the church we were going to work with. The church was a less than half finished with maybe six benches. We got there and the church service had already started. I was a little confused at while it had started when there were only two people there and some few children. As the service went on I realized, that is just how small the church is. Some two other people joined us, but it turns out one is a drunkard that comes every so often and the other an irregular member. The pastor of the church and his family were the only solid members in this church. He had started the church two years ago and it was still at the stage that it started in. We realized something needed to happen here. We prayed about what to do in this place and an amazing conformation came as we all decided we needed to fix up the church. How can God fill a church that isn't big enough to fill? The excitment grew as more conformations from God came. God doesn't hate small beginnings as we read in Zechariah. Everything must begin small, it is our job to help it grow with God's grace. So we began getting supplies and on Saturday the work began. We leveled the dirt floor, finished the walls and roof, painted, got more benches, and even made a sign. After we were finished, the church actually looked like a church and we felt well satisfied with our work, so we went to the lake for a swim. It was amazing to see God's provision in the work that he has done for that church and I just know that one day they will have to move to a bigger location because God is going to richly bless that church. If you want to see pictures of the church you can visit (Alex's blog). Now we are back in town, doing more crusades and ministry with only four days left till we are back a the base then one week till home. I can't believe all God has done in these past five months and I know there is still more to come. Happy Fourth of July!!
"Does anyone dare despise this day of small beginnings? They'll change their tune when they see Zerubbabel setting the last stone in place!" Zechariah 4:10 (The Message)

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Living Examples.

For the last week we have been richly blessed but worked to the point of exhaustion. We stayed in a pastor's house for a week in Kyenjojo town. There we had amazing breakfasts, our own bunk, and even a television! We thought we had reached the ultimate outreach location when we first arrived. Little did we know how hard we would work for those little perks. The church we worked with was about a kilometer away from the house that we stayed and we walked there and back about twice a day. We also did door-to-door in the surrounding villages, walking even further. There was never a day that we didn't have our schedule jammed packed, between crusades, school ministry, door-to-door, and even the orphanage that is connected with the church. Needless to say we were pretty worn out from the adventure. But through our adventure I was able to experience true African hospitality. The pastor and his wife, David and Anette brought us into their home like family and told us to never hesitate to come back anytime because now we are friends and family. They are amazing examples of Christ to live by. They have never felt called to be involved in children's ministry but through God they opened an orphanage. But they didn't just open an orphanage, they parent the children there. Many of the kids were first raised in their home before living at the orphanage. But David and Anette don't just do ministry, they are constantly looking for God's next direction. They are real life circle makers in their prayer. Before the ground that the orphanage, church, and school rests on was anything, they fasted under the mango tree for three days praying for what God was going to accomplish there. They are truly examples of Christ in their day to day life. I am so thankful for them because without their hospitality and love, I doubt I could have handled the exhausting schedule of Kyenjojo town. On Monday we moved to Mityana and have settled into a nice house of a very lovely lady. The town here is big and very African. I think I am some people's first white person, the way they scream "mzungu" after me. Yesterday a little boy started to cry when he saw me and Alex. He tried to run but he couldn't because he was crying so he finally decided to cover his eyes with hands until we passed, which for some reason totally helped. I guess if he can't see us, we aren't there. Crazy kid. On other news, on Thursday we had a rooster and a chicken for dinner and I was on cooking duty. (Don't forget in Africa all the meat is fresh) So naturally I killed the chicken, with a kitchen knife too. Then we ate it a few hours later. Can't wait to show you the pictures! Otherwise all is well, and on Monday we are moving again to a small village close by, then returning here on the following Monday to finish our outreach.
"May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Romans 15:5-6

Monday, 11 June 2012

Praying Circles.

"Work like it depends on me and pray like it depends on God." -Mark Batterson, "The Circle Maker"
Written on Friday, June 8
Another week is almost over and done, only five more until I reach home. Time is certainly flying by. This week has been crazy. People in the village have been so generous and grateful to us, that in the past few days we have received crazy amounts of avocados, eggs, bananas, passion fruit, mangoes, invites for tea and lunch, and even a live chicken that is sitting next to me right now. The joy and thankful heart that the people here have is an inspiration. This past week has focused on prayer for me. I recently finished a book by Mark Batterson called, "The Circle Maker." It is an awesomely insightful book that is all about praying circles around things both litterallly and figuratively. We must dream big, pray hard, and pray long. It seems as soon as I put the book down, an oppurtunity to put it into practice came along. We met a man who is thirty three years old named Moses. Since he was seven he has suffered with huge bumps all over his body and severe weakness that has slowly taken his abilty to walk away from him. The first value in this book that I applied was circling literally. It was the easiest first step to take for me. I circled his house and prayed for Moses' deliverance. Then I dared to dream big and believed that God can preform a miracle and heal Moses. I thanked God for the miracle that He was GOING to preform, not just asking that He would. Finally I prayed/am praying long. God didn't heal Moses on that particular day but I believe His work isn't done in Moses' life. Everything is in God's timing and I know He has a plan for Moses' life. So I will continue to pray for him. I also strongly recommend "The Circle Maker" for a convicting read and even all of Mark Batterson's books. So far I have only read two but I hear they are all good and I plan to read the rest upon return to America.
Psalm 5:1-3
"Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning, I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation."
Ah, somebody just came in with watermelon, yum. God has certainly blessed this place.

Update: The chicken previously mentioned has been consumed and tasted delicious. :)

Deep in Tea Feilds.

Written Monday, June 4:
One week of outreach has already come and gone. Its almost impossible to believe. Many things have remained much the same from mini-outreach. We go door-to-door and proclaim God's love in the village center. However this time we are deep on an African mountainside. Tea leave fields stretch as far as the eye can see in one direction and on the other the African jungle, which I navigate through everyday to fetch water. The beauty of God's creation is all around, from the sunset to the children laughing in the school yard. This time around I am focusing on following God and discovering who He wants me to be. "He won't get you where He wants you to go until you become who He wants you to be." -Mark Batterson, "Soul Print" That's exactly it, I want to be who He wants me to be, so I can discover all He has in store for me. And sometimes it takes a trip deep into the jungle, far away from everything you know to fully rely on God and turn to Him. Sometimes it takes a trip with no electricity, for you to read the Bible when you are bored for lack of anything else to do. And before you know it, you begin enjoying seeking God and reading Scripture to find Him. Of course I am still counting down the days until I return but I choose to soak up this opportunity for all its worth, because, lets face it, how often do you travel across the world to be totally immersed in God? Really though, how often does this happen? Once in a lifetime I think."Look at the nations and watch and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe even if you were told." Habbakkuk 1:5

Friday, 25 May 2012

Bye, Bye.

Well, its almost time to leave for Kyenjojo and Mityana. I can't believe lecture phase is over. Its seemed so short, yet so long ago that we began. So much has happened in the last three months and more is to come in the next two. I cannot guarantee how often I will be able to get internet and such so this may be my last post for a while but I honestly cannot wait to just be away from the distractions of this world for a couple months of my life. Sometimes it is good to just look back and reflect, not that I'll be having much time for that. Our schedule will be jam packed with crusades, door-to-door, and mercy ministries. I know that God has great things in store for us there though and I believe He is already paving the way for us. I have already been encouraged for the upcoming journey by different people and I know it will be a challenge.  One encouraging passage came from Hebrews 12:7-28. Actually the whole chapter is brilliant, I copied it below (in The Message Version). The upcoming journey is going to be full of hardships but also joy, and the Lord works through both.

Hebrews 12

1-3Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!

4-11In this all-out match against sin, others have suffered far worse than you, to say nothing of what Jesus went through—all that bloodshed! So don't feel sorry for yourselves. Or have you forgotten how good parents treat children, and that God regards you as his children?

My dear child, don't shrug off God's discipline,
but don't be crushed by it either.
It's the child he loves that he disciplines;
the child he embraces, he also corrects.
God is educating you; that's why you must never drop out. He's treating you as dear children. This trouble you're in isn't punishment; it's training, the normal experience of children. Only irresponsible parents leave children to fend for themselves. Would you prefer an irresponsible God? We respect our own parents for training and not spoiling us, so why not embrace God's training so we can truly live? While we were children, our parents did what seemed best to them. But God is doing what is best for us, training us to live God's holy best. At the time, discipline isn't much fun. It always feels like it's going against the grain. Later, of course, it pays off handsomely, for it's the well-trained who find themselves mature in their relationship with God.

12-13So don't sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet! Clear the path for long-distance runners so no one will trip and fall, so no one will step in a hole and sprain an ankle. Help each other out. And run for it!

14-17Work at getting along with each other and with God. Otherwise you'll never get so much as a glimpse of God. Make sure no one gets left out of God's generosity. Keep a sharp eye out for weeds of bitter discontent. A thistle or two gone to seed can ruin a whole garden in no time. Watch out for the Esau syndrome: trading away God's lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. You well know how Esau later regretted that impulsive act and wanted God's blessing—but by then it was too late, tears or no tears.

18-21Unlike your ancestors, you didn't come to Mount Sinai—all that volcanic blaze and earthshaking rumble—to hear God speak. The earsplitting words and soul-shaking message terrified them and they begged him to stop. When they heard the words—"If an animal touches the Mountain, it's as good as dead"—they were afraid to move. Even Moses was terrified.

22-24No, that's not your experience at all. You've come to Mount Zion, the city where the living God resides. The invisible Jerusalem is populated by throngs of festive angels and Christian citizens. It is the city where God is Judge, with judgments that make us just. You've come to Jesus, who presents us with a new covenant, a fresh charter from God. He is the Mediator of this covenant. The murder of Jesus, unlike Abel's—a homicide that cried out for vengeance—became a proclamation of grace.

25-27So don't turn a deaf ear to these gracious words. If those who ignored earthly warnings didn't get away with it, what will happen to us if we turn our backs on heavenly warnings? His voice that time shook the earth to its foundations; this time—he's told us this quite plainly—he'll also rock the heavens: "One last shaking, from top to bottom, stem to stern." The phrase "one last shaking" means a thorough housecleaning, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered.

28-29Do you see what we've got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. He's actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won't quit until it's all cleansed. God himself is Fire!

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Here We Go Again.

As I write this, main outreach is a week away and the preparations are in full swing. On Tuesday morning we started waking up a five o’clock for prayer and on Monday the outreach locations were finally officially determined. For my outreach I will be heading to Mityana and Kyenjojo in Western Uganda. They are both bigger towns than the location I was in last time and Kyenjojo is fairly close to the border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I am excited to see the other side of Uganda, however I am very disappointed that Kate, will again not be coming with me. She will be going to the small village, that I was located at last time, Namayingo along with another small village, Lugala. Two weeks was hard enough to be apart so I am not sure how we will manage six, but its all God’s will. As we have learned our locations we begin to prepare more skits and dances. We have been working on them every day for the past two weeks. If it wasn’t for tea, I am not sure how I would survive. It amazes me how much this seems exactly like the mini-outreach, but yet completely different at the same time. There are so many people I will miss having on my outreach but yet others I am excited to work with for a change. We also have an increased amount of dances and skits this time around. We are all working hard and look forward to the upcoming weeks. They will certainly be a challenge, but not one we’re not ready for. The battle is already won. I feel much more prepared for this outreach and cannot wait to see God at work once again. The most amazing part, however, is that once we are back from this outreach, it is only a week until I fly off for the homeland. Philipians 1:6, “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”