Friday, November 25, 2016

Can I Skip Thanksgiving?

Wednesday night was rough. Ellie is a beautiful little teething monster right now and she was up multiple times EVERY HOUR during the night.

I woke up on Thursday morning in a BAD mood. I was tired, frustrated about Ellie's pain and the lack of sleep and just wanted to lay in bed all day and catch up on much needed rest. Instead, I looked ahead to the plans for the day: we were hosting our guards (plus one of their families) and the woman who helps us in the house for a Thanksgiving meal. We wanted to share the American Thanksgiving tradition with these wonderful people whom we are so grateful for each day. Hosting them sounded like a great idea earlier in the week, but by Thursday morning, I was in NO mood to see anyone, much less be in the kitchen cooking all day... while juggling a teething 4 month old.

So, I woke up mad about Thanksgiving. Because having a bad attitude is not a new thing for me, I immediately (well, maybe I moped a bit first...) turned to the Lord in prayer.

 I asked the Lord if I could skip Thanksgiving.

I'm not kidding.

I was tired and missed family and I thought it would be easier to skip the day all together. Once I got over my toddler moment, I realized the symbolism is what I had asked the Lord. I basically asked if I could have a reason to not be thankful. If I could give up on gratitude.. because, lack of sleep of course! This realization brought me to my knees. Oh how I needed grace. Instead of continuing my prayers to be able to give up on Thanksgiving altogether, I asked God to change my attitude. I realized I was in desperate need of an attitude-check. So I prayed all morning for a better attitude and perspective on the day. At one point, Will came into the room and, seeing me in my zombi state, asked if I was okay. To which I replied, "NO! I'm not okay! Please pray for God to change my attitude!". Yes... another toddler moment. A little while later he asked again and I again pleaded for prayer. This time he responded with, "Oh, I've been praying..."(meaning, oh trust me, I'm pleading with God to change your attitude today! haha).

Well, by 9:30am, I found myself in the kitchen, blaring praise music and dancing along while kneading bread dough. There was an obvious shift in my demeanor and I was actually looking forward to the cooking that laid ahead! God had met me in my temper tantrums and changed my attitude around. I found myself extremely grateful the whole day. Little by little, I saw more and more that I was thankful for. There were so many reasons for gratitude and praise!

Violet helped me peel potatoes, chop and peel apples, boil pumpkin, etc. We worked hard all day long and were ready for our (condensed version of) Thanksgiving by 4:00. Everyone arrived and Will explained why we celebrate Thanksgiving in the US and why we wanted to celebrate with all of them this year. He read a verse about gratitude from the Bible and prayed over out time together. We served roasted chickens, green beans, mashed potatoes, rolls, boiled pumpkin and apple pie. Everyone seemed to enjoy the food and fellowship.

During the meal we discussed what we were thankful for from this year. One of our guards, Tony, said, "It is so good to have a time to publicly thank God for all He has done in my life!". I loved this line because this is such an important practice as believers. The art of coming together to give thanks and acknowledge what God has done for us is a beautiful thing! It made me very grateful that God didn't allow me to skip Thanksgiving, but instead gave me an attitude of thankfulness and joy. What a patient and loving God! Here are some pictures from the day.

Our dinner crew! 

How can I not be grateful when we have this little turkey around?!

Violet and I working on the apple pie.

Will's explanation of Thanksgiving before dinner. (please take note
of Will's stylish sock/flip flop combo- I married him for his style ;))

How do you get cooking done when your baby refuses to nap and you need
to start the rolls? Strap her in the carrier, of course :)!

Monday, November 14, 2016

New Land, New Language

Between the two of us, Will and I have intentionally studied 3 African languages in our 4 years in Africa. In the 4 African countries we have lived in, we have been surrounded by a total of 9 African languages that we heard spoken on a regular basis. Due to our move away from the Moru people and to the Botooru people, we now have reason to study a new language: Rutooro.

Karen introducing a lesson to
the language helpers during
the training last week
This past week our good friend, Karen Masso, came from Kijabe, Kenya to host a language training week in Fort Portal. Karen and her family are Serge missionaries and Karen has been learning how to train language helpers for the past couple years. Having trained language helpers is a big need on the field. In most settings, you don't have the privilege of meeting with someone who has been trained in how to teach a language, so you have to be extremely self-motivated because the process usually entails teaching your teacher how to teach, while trying to learn. However, the amazing Karen Masso did this for us this time! Karen (with the help of some friends on the Bundibugyo team) hosted a week-long training with several language teachers from Bundi and 4 language teachers from Fort Portal. She walked everyone through a language learning curriculum and taught them how to teach several of the lessons. After Karen taught the teachers, they would then go on to teach the learners in the actual language being learned.

Worship time 
It was a very successful week and Will and I are so grateful to have 4 language teachers ready to go for us and our new teammates who are coming! The language helpers are very excited about their new skills and one of them told me "The week was too good!!". Please pray for Will and I and for our new teammates coming to be able to soak in the Rutooro language well. To be honest, it's hard to feel motivated to learn yet another African language because they are each completely different and the language part of my brain feels rather fried at the moment. Please pray for a supernatural ability to learn this language and for us to keep a healthy perspective as we do so. We put in the effort to learn the languages of the people we are ministering to because they are worth it. It is very meaningful for people to see that you are trying to learn THEIR language. You are working to communicate to them in their heart language. Yes, they giggle at our sorry attempts to do so, but they love what our effort communicates. Languages are hard, but they are an avenue into relationships, and that is always worth the effort.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

When Things get Stolen in Africa

Last Wednesday my laptop and Kindle were stolen from our house. Ellie and I were home and Will had just left to go into town for a few hours. Our day guard was working, but was in the back of the house when the theft must have happened. We believe the thief must have hopped over the side of our gate, entered into the open front door, and grabbed the first things he saw within quick reach. I was in the back of the house and oblivious to what was happening.

I’m used to having to let go of “stuff”. My family had a house fire when I was 15 and it was my first introduction to learning to let go of things and cope with losses of items that are dear to you. Having everything we left in Mundri stolen was my next big reality check of how quickly things can be gone. I’ve learned to work through the heartache that comes with having your things sifted through and stolen. But with each loss, there is usually something deeper that gets triggered.

I am very bummed that my laptop and Kindle are gone. I use my laptop daily and it is the only way I keep up with work e-mail and blogs (did you notice the long delay in blogging recently?). Without it, I get very behind. However, it is still just “stuff”. In our technological world, most of us don’t only have one electronic device. I’ve just depending on my phone more frequently with the loss of the computer. What hurts deeper than the loss of these objects is the loss of security in our own home. I have been home a lot with Ellie as she is still so young and we are trying to get her on a good schedule. Having home feel a little less safe makes me feel even more unsettled here. We have been keeping our front door locked at all times now so we don’t have to be concerned about walking to the back of the house and not hearing what is happening in the front room. The locked door is constant reminder of my insecurity in my own home.

In all of this, like with any big event, I have to be on guard. I feel like Satan would love to use this to make me consumed with our safety at all times and feel chronically unsettled in our new home. He would love for me to respond to this situation with constant fear and with disgust towards the people here. However, he does not get the last word. God has reminded me this week that our only security is in Him. He is our safe place. He has also reminded me that our calling to a place is not dependent on how comfortable we feel once we get there. When He calls us, He goes with us. That doesn’t always mean we are ‘safe’ by the worlds terms. But it does mean that He is enough for us in whatever circumstance we find ourselves.

Will you join us in prayer? Please pray that Satan would not use this to make me bitter about being here. In a season where we are still adjusting and trying to find our footing, this feels like a major set-back. Please also pray for the heart of whoever took these items. Pray that they would feel convicted, but more than that, that they would know the love of Christ and seek God to meet their needs in every way. I pray that we would have the opportunity to show this person grace in person. Our hope would be that the person would confess and we would be able to forgive them in person. However, even if this does not happen in this manner, pray that we would extend grace in our hearts. Even with the items stolen and not in our possession, our hope is that grace would reign in our heartland bitterness would be far from us.