Friday, December 30, 2016

A Photocopy of the Father

Will and his "photocopy", Ellie putting up
the first piece on the advent calendar together
Almost every time Will, Ellie and I go out in town together, someone looks at Ellie and says, "Wow, she looks like the father!". We've heard this so often that I hardly process it anymore when someone says it. I simply smile and say, "Yes, she does!" and move on. However, a couple weeks ago we were at a market we only go to in route back to Fort Portal from Kampala. Someone at that market looked at Ellie and exclaimed, "Wow! She is a photocopy of the father!". I chuckled at the detailed nature of this comment. It was so specific and technologically savvy that seemed funny to hear in the middle of a dirty, side of the road market in the middle of our journey. However, this phrase stuck with me.

I love the description of Ellie being a "photocopy" of Will because it doesn't just mean her eyes look similar to his. It means her face is the exact same as her fathers. There is no denying that they are related because they are a copy of each other. Obviously this word isn't a great description of how Ellie actually looks, but it made me crave being called a "photocopy" of my heavenly father.

I think it would be the best compliment we could hear as Christians to be told, "Wow! You are a photocopy of the Father!". Would there be anything greater? It would mean that everything in our life reflects perfectly and identically our Father in heaven. When people see us, they immediately see and know God.

Ephesians 5: 1-2 says, "Therefore, become imitators of God, as well as beloved children and walk continually in love just as Christ also loved you and gave himself up for us, an offering and sacrifice to God."

My prayer is that no matter what we are doing as Christ Followers, that people would see our lives and say, "They look just like God! I now understand His love more because of the love they are showing me!". May we seek to be photocopies of our Father and may we love the people around us with His love.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Gifts for a King

Christmas has become a season where we are consumed with gifts. Gifts that we want others to give us and gifts we pick out specifically for those we love (or those we get stuck with in Secret Santa exchanges ;)). In the midst of thinking about what gifts to give this year, my mind has gone to the gifts that were given to Jesus. 

On the first Christmas, the Wise men brought Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. These gifts represented who God was- King of Kings (Gold is for Kings), that He was to be worshiped (Frankincense was used in worship) and the type of life he was going to live (Myrrh was use in burials, so this represented the fact that Jesus would endure suffering and death). These gifts were expensive and had meaning and weight. They weren't chosen randomly and they were fit for a King. They also risked their lives by choosing to not tell the King where Jesus was.

Another time in the Bible that Jesus was given a "gift" was when a woman poured very expensive perfume on his feet (story in Luke 7:37-8). This passage says,

“A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.” (Luke 7:37-38)

This (nameless) woman was scolded by Jesus' disciples. They were aphauled that she would use such expensive perfume to put on Jesus' feet and thought the money should be used to help the poor. However, Jesus' response was, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly, I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her." (Matthew 26:10-13)

In all of these examples of gifts given to Jesus, the giver was so consumed by the King that the cost didn't matter. The gifts were given out of love, honor and respect. 

The question I have been pondering while reading about all of this is, "What gifts am I giving to the King?". There are many areas where I feel stretched beyond my own human abilities lately. It honestly would be easier to throw in the towel rather than continue to be obedient and follow what God has called me to. I'm learning that it is in these areas where gifts are given to the Lord. When I reach the end of myself, but still chose to be obedient. Still chose to seek forgiveness, to move into relationship, to push past what I am capable of on my own strength, this is where the obedience truly comes in. Like the woman who poured perfume on Jesus' feet, she could have fallen at His feet and repented. However, she did more than that, she wept (which makes us believe she was repentant) and she poured someone of great value on Jesus as a form of worship and admiration. In the same way, we are called not only to be obedient, but to do so with a  joyful heart- one that longs to give good things to it's King. 

As the Christmas song, "Joy to the World" says, "Let every heart prepare Him room", I believe this is where we start. Our life becomes a gift to the Lord when we have prepared room for Him in our hearts. The wise men went on a long journey to find Jesus and this women went into the house of people she probably didn't associate with. They went out of their way for the King. This Christmas I am meditating on ways I can prepare room in my heart for Jesus. How can I go out of my way to spend time at His feet, in complete worship of the King? In this, I believe we give Jesus the gift He wants the most from His children- our time and our worship. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


When we lived in Nigeria, "Theresa" was a recognizable name. I even had a student named Theresa. When I said my name, people could hear it (once they got past my difficult English) and would say my name in a manner that sounded "normal" and familiar to me.

In South Sudan and Kenya, I was "Ter-A-sa". As long as I said it like this, people understood the name and could hear it well.

Here in Fort Portal, "Theresa and TerAsa" are not understood. When I pronounce my name this way, I get blank stares and big eyes. They just can't hear it. It's like when someone here tells me their name is, "Araali" or "Atooki", I have to hear it several times before I think I heard it well enough to attempt saying it, and then even after that I feel like I'm completely butchering it (because I most likely am).

Here my name is pronounced "Tree-za". It's the only way they can hear it. If I attempt to say it any other way, the name is completely lost on them. So, Treeza I am. This is now how I introduce myself and the name I respond to when I am called (well that and "Momma-Baby" as Moses prefers to call me.. hehe).

When we first moved to Africa I remember feeling really particular about how people pronounced my name. I wanted to be known and I felt like I would only be known if people fit into the box I was already in and used to. Anything outside of that was unfamiliar and didn't feel natural or normal. After our 4 years in Africa, I'm learning that the most loving way to approach culture is to enter as a learner. When I come in admitting that I am needy and that I don't have it all together, I am much better received than if I tried to pretend I have it all figured out.

Each time we move around in Africa, I learn how the name, "Theresa" is pronounced in that culture. It is a familiar name in most countries we have visited, but they don't realize it's familiar until it said the way they pronounce it. When I am willing to take the time to adjust the pronunciation of my name according to the culture I'm currently in, it ends up saving a lot of time and miscommunications. It's also a simple way for me to adjust to the culture and approach the culture as a learner rather than someone who needs others to fit into my box and my "normal".

For this season, I am Treeza. My prayer is that God would continue to give us grace as we are learning yet another culture and people group. I hope we would have humble hearts as we come here needy and as learners- willing to stumble in our speech and adjust our names to the culture we are serving.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016


We had the privilege of attending an Introduction on Saturday for our friends, Maggie and Pheastus. An Introduction is a big event before a couple gets married. Culturally, it is the second step in the three steps you take to become husband and wife. First, the couple gets both families together and they discuss a bride price, or dowry. Then, the couple has and Introduction where the groom goes (with family and friends) to the bride's village to pay the dowry. The last step is a church wedding (if the couple wants to get married in a church and can afford this last step).

Maggie is our landlord and our next door neighbor. She went out of her way to include us in this event and even helped both of us clueless muzungus figure out what was appropriate to wear. The Introduction was at her father's village, which is about an hour and a half outside of town. It is located in the midst of beautiful tea fields with mountains in the distance. It was a long, bumpy ride, but the view was beautiful!

The lines of men and women
ready to enter the event.
We arrived with Pheastus' family. When we got there, everyone from his side separated into two lines- men and women. The men entered first and some carried crates of soda on their heads and other gifts for the bride's father. The women entered next and shown to their seats. The even started right away and was almost like a drama. There are four groups of women who come out before the bride and the groom looks for his bride among each group. He finally finds her in the forth group and that is when the celebrating begins. During the whole event, the groom is presenting gifs to the bride's father. At one point, the women in the groom's family present gifts to the bride and her mother. It is all very fascinating and so much fun to watch!

We learned that this event, although extremely entertaining and fun, it's a bit overwhelming for a little baby! After almost 2 hours in the car, Ellie was quite overwhelmed by the amount of people and the loud noises, so she and I ended up at the car where she could be loud and move around.

Here are some pictures from the Introduction. We are so grateful that we were included and loved getting to experience this part of culture.
Some of the dancers. The colors were so beautiful!

The first group of girls that came out. The groups came
in order of age, so he searched among the children first.

The women in Pheasxus' family bringing gifts (in a cart) to Maggie and her mother

This is where Ellie and I ended up most of the time!

Ellie all dressed and ready to go to the party!

Ellie and I before the event. Maggie helped me get a dress made in town.
We went together to pick out material and then I had a tailor custom make the dress.

Will's outfit for the event. Every man at the Introduction wore the same attire.