Monday, October 29, 2012

Call Me Maybe?

I wanted to share my roommate Rachel's tumblr with you all (with her permission). For those of you new to tumblr, like me, it is a very photo-friendly blog that anyone can view.

Here's her site:

She just uploaded a precious video of our boys dancing to "Call Me Maybe," which I highly recommend that you watch. ( :

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Thunderstorms vs. Thieves

There is a verse in Revelation (16:15) where Jesus says, “Behold, I am coming like a thief!” and warns us to be awake and ready when He comes.  Now I have so much more context for what this means with thieves in the neighborhood and waking up to our guard dogs (Scooby and Frabbe) barking on different nights. Living in Jinja keeps me dependent on God- for physical and spiritual protection, for His strength to love others when I am tired, and for His courage to not worry about what others are saying since I am a beginner at the Luganda language.

On Friday night I woke up at 1am and the sky was exploding! I had just been dreaming of thieves invading so my initial thought was that they were blowing up our fence outside (which is not likely, and our night guard loves Jesus and is a “senior guard” which means that the thieves are scared of him and he has successfully killed thieves in the past). I woke Rachel up and we stared out at the sky with a couple of guesses at what was happening: a) Jesus is coming back b) a neighboring country is getting bombed or c) this is a storm unlike any we have ever seen. It turned out to be the last option- with no visible lightning streaks but enormous flashes in the sky and constant thunder rumbling in a strange pattern- BOOM… BOOM BOOM! I prayed with Rachel and my sister on the phone (it was conveniently afternoon in California), and the storm abated and we were able to get a little sleep afterwards. So grateful for God’s protection- “when I am afraid I will trust in Him.”

The next morning I was encouraged as I simultaneously Skyped with my brother in Cambodia and my family in California, and I got to read Mother Teresa’s Noble Peace Talk afterwards. She spoke about something that I have been learning in this community where noise and the presence of others is consistent: “Love begins at home and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put into the action that we do. It is to God Almighty- how much we do it does not matter- because He is infinite, but how much love we put in that action. How much we do to Him in the person that we are serving.” Rachel and I had been talking a few days before about the balance between resting and loving since we are often tired. Looking at Jesus’ life, I see Him pulling away to be alone and talk with God the Father. I see Him at other times walking through crowds and healing and feeding and speaking to thousands. I see that prayer was a huge part of His ministry, and that He let the Holy Spirit guide His life. So what I am learning is to turn to the Holy Spirit for guidance and to weave prayer into my life, turning to Him for clarity in moments when I am torn between wanting to play guitar with the boys and sorely needing a nap. 

On Saturday, Rachel and I went to a Mzungu garage sale in Jinja (a bit rare to find here) and then visited the Amani Baby Cottage where about 50 infants and toddlers live who are orphans, who have been abandoned, or whose parents cannot care for them anymore. It was another moment for me of feeling broken hearted- wanting each of these little ones to have a home and to know they are loved. I was feeling the pull of their need for love but fully knew that I could not stay since I have chosen to be faithful to this house of 10 boys. I got to hug and smile at and pray for each little one, and then trust my Savior as I said goodbye so quickly afterwards. On the way home, I tried a rolex (“roll- eggs:” picture a fried thick tortilla with an omelet inside) and am quite hooked on this local delicacy.

And this morning we all walked to Calvary Chapel Jinja again. I got to walk with Balaam and Niragire on the way there and share the story of Moses and God setting the Israelites free from Egypt. All the boys have just learned that the stories in the Bible are real- they did not realize that Israel and all the places mentioned actually exist, but thought they were just fictional illustrations to teach us about God.

It is so powerful to see so many young faces in the church and to know the stories behind the kids that come- our boys have been through horrendous conditions and experiences living on the streets, and there are barefoot boys who are currently homeless who come since some of the women who run shelters in town are part of this church. (Check out the Street Child Blog for a new story about Balaam:

On our very rainy walk to church we passed an offering to demon gods on the side of the road that a witch doctor had left at a major intersection in town. It was powerful to remember that God is above all other powers and principalities and He makes the demons shudder, and to talk with the boys about this and then go worship together as the church. And then we all walked in sopping wet, and were surrounded by others who were barefoot, and in their one best outfit that they wear each week, and three little siblings (the oldest about 6 years old) who walked to and from church all alone and barefoot. My perception of ‘church’ is powerfully expanding here.

In football (aka soccer) news today: Street Child Project: 6 and Our Own Home: 3. We were a bit outnumbered but have some players with great ball skills (and the boys told me I’m a “good auntie” since I had some awesome blocks in defense again). And for a special treat I took 8 of the boys to the hotel next door to watch the Manchester United vs. Chelsea game tonight. Days here are so full with unexpected challenges and opportunities and things to learn. Even though I do not feel like I am changing, I know and trust that God is using this experience to change my life. 

Sneaking a picture with Calvin 

Our front door- a verse and a prayer

Rachel's beautiful painting in the living room

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Queen Pete and her three brand new kittens!
Jonathan is drawing a monster and practicing his English

Balaam is the newest boy here and just starting to learn English

Isaac enjoys drawing during home school time

Sam does an incredible job looking after little Calvin!

Isaac, Balaam, and Isaac standing outside my window- "Hi Auntie!"

Balaam looks smart!

Jonathan loves borrowing Auntie's shades

A beautiful painting I saw in town
Rachel and me

What surprises and delights me

Things that bring me delight:
1. Prayer in community with Rachel each morning and evening (using Clairborne, Wilson-Hartgrove & Okoro’s Common Prayer), and prayer with the boys at each meal and during evening Bible studies- this is the sweetest, most powerful way to start and end and live each day, in communion with God and each other. Thank you Jesus for protecting us each day, for protecting us at night from thieves and for protecting the boys as they dream.

2. Boda rides. Bodas are our local public transportation, and drivers pass on the road outside our home each day. We walk out of the gate past the guard, and stand on the street till a driver comes. Then we negotiate a price, using some Luganda to show that we know the going rates and wont settle for the Mzungu price, and hop on the moped. Although each ride brings me to pray for safety since helmets are unheard of and driving often incorporates both sides of the road and non-road surfaces, I love going for a ride, having the wind whip through my hair, and seeing the sights around Jinja.

3. Visiting Our Own Home with Rachel yesterday, which is a Christian HIV/AIDS orphanage. We had a stunning view of Lake Victoria on the boda ride over, and took a brief tour of their home, and returned in their car, picking up six women on the way home who needed a ride. My favorite part was visiting the little ones- there was a room where about 10 toddlers and preschool and kindergarten-aged children were playing. The older girls came up to introduce themselves, and the little ones just wanted a hug or to be picked up and to play with my watch. Jesus’ words, “Let the little children come to me” kept repeating in my head as I got to hug and pray for and play with these precious little ones.   

4. Little Calvin, our almost-2-year-old who is terrified of Mzungus, is warming up to me. He used to start crying or scream when he saw me (a humbling new experience for me), and today we played football together, just the two of us (and this little guy can dribble!). After lunch he stood at the door and said “Aunty, something, something,” which I correctly interpreted to mean, “Aunty, come play football with me.”

5. Ugandan food- every now and then we have freshly squeezed passion fruit juice, and my favorite meal is Tuesday dinner: plantains and cooked pumpkin, with a thick, tasty G-nut sauce over everything (like a peanut sauce). It is a simply delicious, sweet and salty meal.

6. Bible study and games and art time with the boys. So many precious moments, and I am thrilled that we pray and read God’s Word in English and Luganda.

On Monday night during prayer requests, Balaam who is our newest boy and learning about Jesus, prayed out loud for the first time and asked God to teach him to read in English so he can read and study the Bible. Afterwards, a few of the boys and I had a spontaneous math tutoring session (questions about logarithms, powers of 9, expanding a decimal using exponents, etc..). Thanking Jesus for the Internet to look up a few tricky concepts, and I am finding that He is using my past experiences in unexpected ways. 

Tuesday night was my first Bible study, and the boys and I talked about how it is hard to forgive, but what Jesus does for us when we believe in Him, and how we need to ask God for His strength to help us choose to forgive instead of fight back, and for His strength to forgive someone again and again (I later saw that God use these word in a very applicable way since there are a few house rivalries between different boys).

Last night, I brought out colorful clay and after a few quick rules and instructions let the boys each have their own bag of clay with 10 different colors to play with. We played worship music (Mat Redman’s 10,000 Reasons is a favorite with the boys) and had some free play with the clay. Football was a huge inspiration, and several boys made small clay fields and footballs and one wrote his favorite team, “ARSENAL, in all capital letters.

Things that I have previously taken for granted in my life:

1.    Fresh food. I have been surprised to find that I enjoy stale sweet bread dipped in sweet chai tea for breakfast. But so far I avoid the fish, which has that strong, nauseating fishy smell and some shriveled heads left on the bones.

2.    Water pressure and clean water. Being here makes me appreciate water- each time I want to fill up my water bottle or brush my teeth or shower, I know that it costs precious water.

3.    Paved streets and private transportation. I love how public transportation is just a normal part of life here, just like walking to places. And for those who have cars, they often become public transportation for anyone who needs a ride walking down the street. What a great use of a car!

4.    Going to the bank and (a) knowing an ATM always has money and (b) not having to have a lookout. Sometimes the bank is empty. And I am learning to be a lookout when Rachel goes in to the ATM get money. We then pretend that no money was there (and sometimes we don’t even have to pretend) by shaking our heads.

5.    Sleeping in a bed under the open air. Mosquito nets are now becoming second nature, and a bit tricky when a cat tries to come and cuddle under the net and then wants to swat at it or escape somehow.

6.    Laundry that comes out sparkly clean and soft. We have chickens in the yard and a small boy romping around, so as my clothes air dry on the lawn, they tend to pick up a little chicken poop or some other interesting smells.

7.    Stores full of anything I could want and more, and fixed prices. I get to practice bartering, and often errands involve a few different stores if a particular item is desired (like the NIV Bible that Rachel bought for a new friend). So different than walking into Barnes and Nobles and finding every version of a book known to humankind. And other things like paper and guitar strings are a in short supply here. We save every little scrap of paper and plastic bottle to use again and again.

8.    Meals with napkins and fancy drinks. It is lovely and delightfully simple to eat out of an old plastic plate with a cup of water and one utensil and nothing else. That’s all that is needed during our meals.

9.    Police who answer their phones. Rachel told me yesterday that it is rare for Ugandan police to answer their phones, and that the local Christian community calls on the Lord to help them instead.

10. Going to sleep and knowing you are perfectly safe. Each night involves prayers for protection, and trusting that God is in control no matter what happens. And He has protected this house from thieves for as long as they have been here- praise be to Him!

I am so grateful to be here, and enjoy living simply and in dependence on others and God. 

I hope you all are full of joy today! -Lindsey/Smiles ( :

Sunday, October 21, 2012

On Faith and Football

This morning I delighted in these words: our Lord is the “God of the fatherless and protector of widows;” “the Lord daily bears us up” and is the “One who gives power and strength to His people” (from Psalm 68). It brings me joy to trust these things about God- that He looks after the weak, the poor, those with disabilities- each one of His children. And He is the one I turn to each day- when I am full of joy and thanksgiving and celebrating life, and when I am discouraged, weak and tired, and trying to love out of my own strength. I need His love, His strength, and His presence in my life each day.

I am pleasantly surprised to feel at home in Uganda. I was expecting quite a culture shock, but enjoy living simply and living in community with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I enjoy seeing the wildlife (some wild monkeys live next door and I keep waking up to exotic birds on the lawn), and have gotten to eat incredibly fresh produce (like bananas, avocados, & egg plant).

So far, I have gotten teach the boys some unexpected things: photography, playing guitar (just the basics, like chords, tuning, and some music theory), the card game Egyptian Rat Slap, how to throw a Frisbee, and drawing by putting a few shapes together and letting your imagination figure out what you see. The boys and I are sharing our stories and everyday life together, and I am starting to pick up the native language, Luganda, with their help (Oh-lee-oh-tee-a means hi, how are you?, way-bah-le means thank you, and ka-le means it’s fine).

There are times that have been challenging, like waking up at 4am to barking dogs and knowing that thieves are outside, and praying and quoting verses to myself about not being afraid. The boys are also growing and learning and have tough times sometimes (like a fist fight during football). It is also very warm, and the weather is not unbearable but constantly drains my energy.

Last night I found myself surrounded by 10 sweaty boys and Uncle Eric because I had been gifted with some Internet minutes and Niragire was asking about the score for the Real Madrid game. We all crowded around my laptop to watch the first half of the game, and it was wonderful to see the camaraderie in the house over this common love- football.  More powerfully, I love the Bible studies that the boys have, half in English and half in Luganda- and see their eagerness to learn about God and know Him and dance and sing to Him.

This morning our house walked about 20 minutes to Calvary Chapel, Jinja with little Balaam holding my sweaty hand for most of the way. I was forewarned that thieves might try to take my bag on the way, even in broad daylight, but how freeing to know that it would not matter- they could take my Bible and journal, but not what was truly important to me- getting to meet my brothers and sisters in Christ and praise Him together. We sang praise in Luganda, Swahili, and English, with fans blowing during the entire time on the simple pews, and the pastor gave a message in English, with a Lugandan translator repeating each word. It was a very powerful experience for me, feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit as I walked into the building where everyone was singing, and raising my voice to God in another language.

I am headed out now for our weekly football match against Our Own Home, the HIV/AIDS orphanage from down the street. The boys are eager to have an auntie that knows how to play soccer on their team, and I’m excited to play as well!

And a quick edit/update: we won!! 13 to 6. I played defense and had one header and blocked a lot of shots. 

May the peace and joy of Christ be with you all!
Love, Lindsey/Smiles ( :

Yusuf "Pastor," Isaac, Mukisa, and Balaam

Jonathan is a rock star!

Silly Auntie Lindsey (and Jonathan & Isaac)

Football! (and little Calvin on the left)

A nice afternoon with the boys and Uncle Eric

G-nuts- they are roasted and make a tasty G-nut butter

Thursday, October 18, 2012

First day with the Street Child Project

Sometimes is easy for me to forget that I am not home. I live in a house and get to play cards with the boys, and there is bread and tea for breakfast and yummy beans and a tortilla-like food (chipati) for lunch. There are ten boys living here right now, a toddler who is the son of our cook, three Ugandan staff members, my sweet new friend Rachel from the states, and a daytime and nighttime guard. We have two guard dogs, two free-range chickens and a very talkative rooster, two cats and three kittens who are only a few days old.

At other times waves of novelty wash over me, and I am fully aware that I am “not in Kansas anymore.” There are tiny creatures in the water that I have to remember not to drink unless it is purified, and there is a light, breezy net that I get to sleep under each night to protect myself from mosquitoes. I have to catch myself before rolling up my pant legs too far (below knee length is proper), and when meeting people they tend to hold your hand for a bit longer than I am used to, and not because they are being too friendly- it is just part of the culture.  And it is common to see guns in public, and large ones at that.

On the two-hour car ride over to the house we passed through Kampala, and my eyes watered and head hurt from the smoke of constantly burning trash, and a little boy excitedly pointed at us shouting “Mzungu! Mzungu! (“foreigner”) as we took a back road detour down an unpaved makeshift street. I had to take a few naps yesterday, but once I unpacked and had some sleep, I could start to breathe again and get used to my new home. And I am loving it.

This morning I woke up to an incredible sunrise and got to start the day reading in the Psalms: “from the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Ps. 61:2). I love how alive God’s word is, and how in each new day and new experience He makes different parts of His word stand out. The other day on the plane, it was: “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens You are there! If I make my bed in the depths You are there! If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there Your hand will guide me; Your right hand will hold me fast” (Ps. 139:7-10). In this house, prayer and reading God’s Word are built into life and I will get to experience the first all-house Bible study tonight, which happens almost every day of the week.

This morning I rode my first boda (a moped) to downtown Jinja a few hours later so my friend Rachel could borrow a traditional Ugandan dress (gomesi) for an introduction (a very formal wedding-like ceremony). I enjoyed the ride and the bright colors everywhere, and meeting a new family in town. There is so much to learn, and I am delighted to have some time to get to build relationships with people and learn about life here in Jinja.

Here are a few pictures from my last few days:
My new friends in Jinja

London picie

My tube stop in London

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Safely in Jinja

Just a quick update...

I made it safely to the house in Jinja, and am getting to know the boys and staff here. I have been surrounded with love from everyone in the house, and have gotten to take a quick nap and cold shower. I took a private car from the airport where my new friend Rachel met me, and I got to see the capital of Uganda, Kampala, and the surrounding countryside on the two hour drive. So grateful to be here, and so excited to get to know this house where the boys are already calling me "aunty."

I will post more and a few pictures when I get a chance!

Thank you for your prayers,

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Lindsey in London

A quick note to you all in the convenient Heathrow internet station...

I am safely in London and about to embark for Entebbe (in about 2 hours at 20:15).

I am finding that I absolutely love to travel and have so much precious time to spend in prayer and read and see sites and soak in the newness of it all.

Yesterday was wonderfully full of an overnight from LAX and a long talk at the SJ airport with a very kind airlines attendant who had to reschedule my first flight, noticed that I was missing a crucial flight on my way home (the 12:45am from Jinja to London). She kindly re-booked it, and gave me meal vouchers for 2 airports on the way after checking an extra bag for free for me. God is good, and I am seeing His protection and provision as I go.

This morning I landed in London about 6am California time, and have had a wonderful day exploring the city for a few hours. I took the tube to South Kensington station and visited a few museums nearby, as well as an exquisite bakery where I bought a hot coco and scone for the tube ride back. I am so thankful for my Westmont College experience which allowed me to practice navigating London in the past, and for the advice of dear friends recently about where to visit since time was limited.

I love the classiness of London. So much style in dress and speech and beautiful quaint brick buildings all piled side by side, with parks and towering queenly architecture dotting the landscape. I was hoping to dance on a chimney top like Mary Poppins, but will have to save that for a later trip.

And now I am about to embark on another overnight plane ride to Uganda. I am brimming with excitement to meet my new friends in Uganda, and to fully immerse myself in that culture and all that God has in store for these next months.

Thank you all for your love and prayers and support of this trip. I will post again, hopefully with a picture, as soon as I can in Jinja.

Love, Lindsey/Smiles ( :

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Overwhelmed by Kindness and Joy

One word keeps coming to mind as I prepare to leave for Uganda tomorrow: "overwhelmed"

I am overwhelmed by God's goodness- He knows my every need, and there have been countless times in the past few months where He has answered my prayers for specific things that I was hoping to bring to the boys, or by providing me with advice and encouragement and confirmation when I needed it. Thank you Lord for your steadfast love and faithfulness! Thank you for the beauty and joy of seeing some dear friends get married this weekend. Thank you for what you have in store to teach me in this coming season. 

I am also overwhelmed by all of you- my friends and family and church who have helped answer prayers and showered me with gifts for the boys and other things I was hoping to bring for the trip. It has been such a delight to catch up with you, and hear your wisdom about traveling, and hear how God has been working in your life. 

Here is my plan for the next few days:

Tomorrow afternoon I board a plane for Texas
...then I fly to London
After that, I will fly to Uganda

I will be updating this blog as soon as I can to let you all that I made it safely to Jinja, and to share about my experiences. 

A few things I am looking forward to: learning and growing and being stretched in my faith, meeting the boys!, worshipping God with my brothers and sisters in Christ in Uganda, exploring London for a few hours, getting to live simply and give up using a phone and makeup for a few months, and so much more.

Much love to you all, 
Lindsey/Smiles ( :