Thursday, November 29, 2012

Steadfast Love

“Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.” – Proverbs 3:3

The Hebrew word, checed, is sometimes translated as “steadfast love,” and also is written as “lovingkindness” or a characteristic akin to goodness, kindness, faithfulness, and “constant, abiding favor.”  This is one of my favorite qualities of God. God’s steadfast love for us is celebrated as something that endures forever and is trustworthy. God shows checed, abounds in checed, appoints checed, surrounds us with checed, crowns us with checed, and wonderously shows his checed for us. We are to sing about, praise, trust in, hope in, meditate on, and proclaim His checed, for it is better than life and satisfies us completely. And He delights to see us practice this quality towards Him and others.

the most beautiful flowers on the side of the road
The more I learn about love, the more I am challenged to see it as a verb, a choice that moves past a feeling and is bolstered by steadfastness and faithfulness when the feeling is gone. The greatest act of love I can comprehend is Christ leaving heaven to live among us and dying in our place to “reconcile to Himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of the cross” (Col. 1:20).  And when I read about Jesus before He died, He did not feel like going through an agonizing death- this act of love would cost Him terrible pain and He asked God the Father if there was any other way for His will to be done. But in love, and in obedience, Jesus chose to love us against all feelings that did not match this love because He saw the joy on the other side- the reconciliation of all things, and the joy of bringing humanity back into right relationship with God.  

To show steadfast love to people involves pain-because love means being vulnerable and risking rejection and ultimately I will require forgiveness from those who love me and also need to forgive them. Yet it is so joyful to get to love and be loved. I trust that the more fully I accept God's love for me and depend on the Holy Spirit living inside me, the more I can exhibit God’s checed, and His agape love.

While working with the 11 boys here (10 plus little Calvin), I see them fighting to believe in God’s unfailing love for them- His love that never ends and is not based on what they do or the mistakes they have made or feel trapped by day to day. Common lies that they believe are that their mistakes are too great, that they cannot be forgiven, that they cannot change, and that they are not worthy of love or having a family. We teach the boys God’s truth and pray against these lies in the boys’ lives, knowing that they need God’s Spirit and power to fight against the enemy and his lies.  We want them to be men full of God's love, peace, and freedom!

Often the lies they believe about themselves burst out in different ways- depression, anger, rage, mistrust of authority, suspicion, and making assumptions for the worst regarding others. Little Calvin, whose mama has abandoned him, is terrified when his dad leaves him with us to do errands. He screams and sits at the gate, hoping in his heart that his dad will come back to him. I found out that he loves being hugged, and get to just sit and hold him sometimes, praying that he will learn to trust again. 

I pray that in my weaknesses, and “jars of clay” self, God will show these boys His checed- His love that does not ever fail. It is such a comfort to know that these boys have a savior- Jesus- who fights for them and who loves them without fail. As His servant, the piece that I will play in their lives is small and adding on to the work of many others before me, and more to come. I will come back home in a few weeks changed in many ways, and will never regret the love that I have gotten to give away here.

My heart is heavy tonight for one of our boys. He has HIV/AIDS and depression, and had a very disheartening day after learning that he probably has to repeat his grade in school. He is leaving to go home to his Muslim family tomorrow, a family who has been terribly cruel to him in the past due to his condition. Please pray that he will not take his sadness and depression out against himself in mental or physical harm or refusing to take his medicine. Pray that his life will be full of God’s encouragement, hope, joy and peace, and for his protection as he travels home tomorrow.

May you be captivated and comforted by the steadfast love of the Lord,
Lindsey ( :

we had a charcoal art night!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Webale Nyo (thank you very much)

“There’s so much more to life than we’ve been told
It’s full of beauty that will unfold”

“Skipping like a calf loosed from its stall
I’m free to love once and for all
And even when I fall I’ll get back up
For the joy that overflows my cup
Heaven filled me with more than enough
Broke down my levee and my bluff
Let the flood wash me”
~From Josh Garrels, “Farther Along”

“Those who are yoked with their Creator are granted the gifts, insight, and capacity to live not only fearlessly, but creatively, blessing the world with the colors of hope” ~Richard Dahlstrom

“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?

Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call and the LORD will answer; you shall call and He will say, “Here I am.”

If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”
~Isaiah 58:6-11

These lyrics, quotes, and verses speak to me of the Kingdom of God- the unleashing of beauty that we see as God, through his people the church, sets people free from sin, addictions, and darkness of all forms, and brings life-eternal, joy, freedom and light into our lives. Jesus was always talking about the Kingdom of God, and it is the greatest delight to see this kingdom unfolding in life around me-at home and here in Jinja. 

I see this Kingdom day to day as the ten boys here laugh and smile and play football with each other-boys who know more darkness in their past than I can comprehend (abandonment, death of loved ones by AIDS, being beaten by police as they slept outside, having to steal to eat, and having older men sexually abuse them). These are God’s beloved sons, and they are healing day by day. We have to fight against shadows and walls they have built in their past- lies that they agree with because of how people have treated them. But it is worth this fight- a victory and a beautiful moment each time they have that deep-down joyful belly laugh, or dance and sing and bang on the drums to show Jesus they love Him. It is messy and painfully hard sometimes, but I trust and know that each of these boys are in His hands as they heal and grow. 

A few days ago I got to visit Ekisa (“Grace” in Luganda), a home for children with disabilities. There are severe stigmas against disabilities here- children are often thought to have demons, and brought to village witch doctors for exorcisms or worse. Painted on the wall of the Ekisa home is Psalm 139:14, which is true for each of the precious boys and girls who live here-they are ‘fearfully and wonderfully made.” One of my favorite experiences here was having lunch with a little girl in a wheelchair- I was asked to spoon feed her, and we slowly got through her lunch bite by bite. And God was reminding me that this girl is deeply loved by Him- she cannot hold a spoon by herself, walk, or say a single world- but unlike my culture tells me, our value is not in what we do but who our Creator is, and He says that this girl and everyone else in humanity is made in His image, and “wonderfully made.”

It was quite humbling to be reminded of my worth in God, a worth not based in doing, through getting terribly sick for the next three days (and still recovering). My roommate and I had a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with the staff at Ekisa Ministries, and I could barely talk or think cohesively due to being sick and congested. I had to spend a few days in bed afterwards, missing time with the boys, and passing off my Bible study and art project for the week. Yet in the midst of this, God gave me 1 Thessalonians 5:16: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks is all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” It was a hard verse to accept at first- being sick in a foreign country, in the 80 degree weather on the equator, and away from the comforts of home (such as a quiet place to rest, away from the noise that a house of 10 boys brings). I wanted to have a pity party, but it was Thanksgiving and I knew that God is a master at helping me change my feelings. So, being sick turned into time to learn about being God’s beloved, and time to thank Him for this trip, these boys, the worship and laughter that flooded into my room, their sweet get-well card to “Auntie Lizzie” (Lindsey is a hard name to say here), the tub of soup that our missionary friends left with us for such as time as this, and a powerful movie about social justice and God’s love for Africa, “Amazing Grace.”

Other highlights...  I am thankfully getting better, and got to visit the Source of the Nile the other day. Rachel and I took a boat with our friend Lindsey and her foster kids to the area where Lake Victoria becomes the Nile. And last week I sat in the most authentic, middle-of-the-market salon for 4 hours to get my hair braided like all the women here. Today was our little friend Calvin’s 2nd birthday, and Rachel and I visited the local miracle conference and got to dance and sing to Jesus in Swahili in a beautiful field full of Ugandan men and women and children.  

May God use you to bring His Kingdom of love, peace, joy, hope, freedom, and life wherever you are today!  

The Lindseys, Rachel, and precious foster kids

The pillar which marks the official start of the Nile

The island at the Source of the Nile

School boys and an island crab

Our boat, "God is Good"

Rachel and I at the Source, with Lake Victoria behind

Calvin turns 2!

African braids

A master braider Edith, doing 2-strand rope braids

The one meal I shy away from here- fish!

Isaac's drawing of me getting married to Jesus ( :

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Yesterday I went rafting on the Nile, and experienced my first Class 5 rapids (and our safety kayaks took on a Class 6 rapid which was a literal waterfall/death pit). I joined a team of 8 Canadians, Americans, Swedes, and folks from the UK on the craziest rapids I have ever experienced. Praying the whole way, I found comfort in the words I had read that morning: “and all the depths of the Nile shall be dried up” (Zech. 10:11). To me, this was a reminder that God is bigger than the terrors of the Nile River, that my life is in His hands no matter where I find myself, and that my life goes beyond this present time on earth since I love Jesus.   

It was a lesson in faith as well. Our guide had us paddle full force into the scariest looking waves I have ever seen, and everything in side was yelling, “Stop!” “Abandon ship!” “Back paddle!” But our guide had us going forward, defying what looked logical and safe and controllable because he knew the best route to make it through the rapid.

The scariest moment was when I got stuck under the boat, having lost control of the rope on the side and all idea of which direction air would be. Since I was in the back of the boat, I fought against the entire length of the raft and the rapid underneath before I found air. And never have I been so grateful to breathe again! It was hard to get back on, realizing that 5 more rapids, including some Class 5s were ahead (and a Nile Class 5 rapid is a category of its own compared to other rivers I've rafted). But overall, I enjoyed the experience, and have a whole new appreciation of the Nile. 

How To Flip a Raft:

My raft, just before we hit the big rapids

I got tossed out in the Class 5 Rapid, "The Bad Place"

Going down with the ship (our hard core Ugandan guide is on the back)

Friday, November 16, 2012


I am tucked away at Two Friends right now, an outdoor cafe in Jinja, to blog and rest. I have felt like a mama with the whole household of boys these past two days, with Rachel visiting Kampala for the weekend. But we are having a wonderful time of it! The younger boys and I have gotten to play games, like Hide and Seek, Band Aid Tag, Big Mouth Bullfrog and Stop and Go (a.k.a. Red Light Green Light since there are no stoplights in Jinja).

Last weekend, Rachel and I caught a coaster (bus) to Kampala, Uganda’s capital. From there, we rented a private hire taxi to take us to Uganda’s Equator Monument, which is about 2-3 hours from Jinja. We traveled southwest through gorgeous countryside- tea and plantain and papaya fields, and villages where men were making handmade drums.

The equator itself was positioned diagonally across the road we were on, and there are two main monuments, one on each side of the road. We stood on the northern and southern hemisphere of the world at the same time for a few snaps, and then headed back through Kampala during rush hour traffic combined with Sean Paul’s concert, and passing the king of the Buganda tribe and his grenade-launcher-protected escort on our way into the city (he is a figurehead since there is also a Ugandan president). Picture L.A. traffic, except everyone has forgotten basic driving rules and decides to push through the other cars whenever possible. I was grateful to share the experience with Rachel, and we enjoyed the day of traveling and exploring.


C.R.O. and The Sanctuary
Last week I visited two organizations that work with street children, and both are run by people who love Jesus. C.R.O. (Child Restoration Outreach) is located in the main town of Jinja, and many of our boys passed through this organization before settling with the Street Child Project. C.R.O. is a drop-in center where street children can get an education, bathe, do laundry, and have meals.

I saw several boys there who I previously met at Calvary Chapel Jinja. It is powerful to know that God’s church is not limited to a building, but made up of the people who love Jesus, and that I get to worship Jesus alongside many of the street children I have met here.

I had a humorous time talking with the wonderful Canadian women who currently work here, and making sure my watch did not get stolen. Little Yeshua, a spunky boy who was only wearing a shirt, was doing his very best to distract me as he playfully tried to lighten my load. Another boy, Carlos, looked in my eyes and told me he saw Jesus in them, which was an incredible encouragement as I came to C.R.O. to share God’s love through my smile and hugs and handshakes with these children. Two boys offered Rachel and I their porridge, which we declined, our bellies full from breakfast. It astounded us to see their generosity, and especially with food, since some have large bellies from malnutrition on the streets.

The Sanctuary is on the outskirts of town, and a residential home for former street children. It was incredibly encouraging to talk with the woman who runs the home and share stories and ideas, since her organization is very similar to the Street Child Project. Her boys made no-bake chocolate cookies for Rachel and I, and were listening to American rap music as we all talked. Quite often, and I am grateful for this, God helps me forget the past that these boys have come from, and I just see them as people- people who are growing and learning and needing God’s love just as I do.

Times with the Boys
Little Calvin and I are fast friends now (our toddler who was terrified of Mzungus), and he and I are delighted to see the kittens starting to walk and exploring my room. The hens have also laid eggs, and we had our first chick hatch this morning!


I have had a wonderful time doing art and crafts with the house. We made thumbprint art last week with some Ed Emberly books. And last Wednesday night, the boys were delighted to make friendship bracelets. I love seeing them grab pink and purple for themselves, since there are no gender-specific colors here, and bracelets are fashionable for boys. My example “Uganda” bracelet was a hit- red, yellow, and black, the colors of the flag.


I also have gotten to share the story of Ruth with them. This past week, we talked about how in Deuteronomy and Leviticus, God shares rules to protect the people who were lowest in society- widows, foreigners, orphans, and the poor. The boys enjoyed learning about Boaz, and how his love for God makes him be even more generous than just following these rules for Ruth. I got to encourage the boys and pray that they would be godly men who would look after women and children and people that are mistreated by society.

These boys have already taught me so much about their culture, and are giving me a great taste of parenting adolescent boys. They teach me that parenting is done best on your knees, relying on God for strength and wisdom. They teach me to consider their needs above my own, and to choose to act in love when I don’t feel like loving since I want some time to myself. I keep laughing about how much this role feels like being a mama, and I know that I deeply care for these boys after just about 4 weeks here. I care about them enough that I want to act in ways that show both grace and truth for them (John 1), which means being consistent in discipline since I cannot stand the sin in their lives, and listening to the Holy Spirit’s guidance for how to show them grace and unconditional love when they have messed up again. They also remind me that seeking and following Jesus is daily- I do not like to skip breakfast in the morning, and see myself go spiritually hungry if I miss time with Him- time to talk with Him and confess and share my concerns about the coming day, and time to be in His word for truth and encouragement. It is also an incredible comfort to realize again and again that even if my friends and family are not here with me, I am never alone because God is ever with me. And He has given me the gift of getting to work alongside Rachel, and getting to build relationships with many people here.  

Tomorrow I am taking a day to raft on the Nile, and will have to see if my group chooses the Class 3 or Class 5 (waterfall-esque) rapids for the day.

May the peace of Christ be with you all,
Lindsey  ( :

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Shika Baba (Hold Onto the Father)

“People often ask me to pray for them to see the face of Jesus. I pray for each one to see the beautiful face of Jesus in the poor. All of them are created in the image of God. Each one is precious to Him. If we will allow Him to open our eyes and sharpen our vision, we will find ourselves meek before the Bridegroom King. We will find our hearts drawn outward to the broken and the poor. We will call them home into a place of security and love. We will call them home to Jesus.” ~Heidi Baker

“God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” ~from Rev. 21:3-4

To paint the last few weeks with words will not suffice, but you will have a taste of the rich light of Christ fighting against the darkness that I have seen.

I often feel as if I am in a dream- wind whipping through my hair on the back of a boda, clinging to Rachel’s shoulders as we sway around mud pits and baby goats and glimpses of the bulging Nile, flying past plantain trees and mud huts, and children with bulging bellies from hunger, shouting at us, “Mzungu! Hello!”

Uganda strikes me with its beauty, and I am falling in love with the country. I often catch myself thinking, “Lord, I am grateful to be right here right now- there is no where else I would rather be in this moment.” Yet with love comes pain, and I am broken-hearted for the corruption and hunger and how the children with disabilities are treated here. I am so grateful that I am not called to save the world, because Jesus has already done so, but I get to be His hands and feet, doing “small things with great love” as Mama Teresa would say, with my brothers and sisters, the church.

The precious boys I live with are well. Picture hilarity and growing boys- sometimes angry or full of the ingratitude that can accompany having known no love and care in life- I will take as much as I can from you because it/you might not be here tomorrow. Yet, day by day, they make me smile. And I get to depend on God for strength. Prayer and His word and worship in music and in action have been crucial parts of my days here. There have been drum and guitar music, times for football and Frisbee, a swimming excursion, and a power outage for the last three days. Today I talked with the electrician and the discourse went a little like this.. “You fix power today?” “No, needs much digging (motions on the ground about 100 meters). Tomorrow? Maybe Monday.”

Last night, our guard Sam tells us, a thief was in the tree outside of our gate. He was sneaking over to rob our house and taking advantage of our lack of security lights. Our large, fanged dog Frobbie alerted the guard to his presence and barked so ferociously that the thief got scared and fell out of the tree on the outside of the fence. Our boys pray for protection each night, and Rachel and I walk around to bless each room full of boys, asking God to “save, shield, and surround this house, this home, this day, this night and every night.” We thank God for answering our prayers again and again.

Today Rachel and I took a boda ride to Bujagali and as we wound down a small dirt path, the minivan driver ahead of us started backing up without looking behind. In a few short seconds we would be pinned between the boda and the van, so I reached out to pound on the back window. Realizing they would not stop in time, and aided by the power of the Holy Spirit, I leapt off the back of the boda, pulling Rachel off with me as best as I could. We soared over the left side of the boda, missing the burning hot exhaust pipe on the right side. And we landed safe and sound, the boda on the ground, and the boda driver sustaining a large rip on his pant leg. Thank you Lord for saving us, and for the courage to get back on and continue the journey. 

Rachel and I visited Salve yesterday, which is a drop-in center for street children in Jinja. Walking through the outdoor market, which smelled strongly of pot and shoeshine, we heard shouts and saw a large crowd gathering. A man had been leaning out of a coaster holding his phone, and someone grabbed the phone. The driver stopped the car, and yelled “You there- stop!” And for some reason, he stopped, caught red-handed, and about to receive some public justice as the angry crowd ushered him to the police station.

Rachel then ran into Ivan, a boy we have been praying for, dragging a long plastic tube behind him and looking sour. He was recently resettled back home with his mother who is a prostitute, but left soon after for the streets again. We stepped inside the dark, one-roomed shelter with him to meet the Ugandan social worker Alfred and his interns Stephen and Yonas. Boys and young men were coming in and out- a young boy whose father married a new woman stood out to me. We learned that his stepmother took a dislike to Anthony and kicked him out to live on the streets. He was quiet and broken hearted over this injustice of growing up devastatingly early, having only been on the streets for 4 days. An older boy, under the influence of paraffin, was having a hard time doing a simple cognitive puzzle on the table, and kept telling me he wanted to come live with me.

All I could do was smile at each boy, saying in my heart: “Jesus loves you, of this I am sure. You are precious to Him; you are blessed in His eyes.” I got to read a story and shake hands and play games with these boys, in the midst of some flying fists and “Give me some sugar Mzungu.” I will be able to return to visit them and watch their soccer game next week. This kind of experience wrecks me, and I pray for the Holy Spirit to bring His workers, to end this injustice in front of my eyes, for it’s a monster out of my power to stop. But God is very much alive and using His people to change things for His glory. The organization I am with does not work with children who are currently using drugs, and takes kids who show a readiness to change. Still, it wrecks me to have them ask, “Can I come home with you? Take me to your home for boys.”

Kyomya (pronounced Chomnia)

Today, after the overturned boda ride and lunch by the Nile, Rachel and I rode out to Kyomya, a school deep in the heart of rural Uganda. We accompanied Bev, who has been working with Soft Power to lead an afterschool art class for children who are deaf and have other disabilities.

If you know me, you know that what sets me on fire is seeing God’s love for people with disabilities- He has given me His eyes and heart and love for them, and it has painted rich colors in my soul. So when I walked onto this school campus, and the children grabbed my hands to escort me around, my eyes filled with tears of joy. All I could think was, “ This is what heaven is like, isn’t it?- with you precious ones at long last hearing the voice of Jesus and joining Him in the wedding feast.” The kids named Rachel “much hair” and me “squinty eyes” through their gestures, and gave us a grand welcome to their school and classroom, which was painted with the words of a worship song.

In Uganda, as in many parts of the world, children with disabilities are abused, mistreated, kept isolated and abandoned. But charities and missions organizations, such as Soft Power at this school, have been helping many receive an education and a chance to live.

We made paper hats together amidst flying sequins, ribbon twirling, sticky fingers, and a lot of gesturing (and some laughter on my part realizing American Sign Language is not universal).  I would name this experience, complete with the God-protected journey to and fro, one of most powerful and richest experiences of my life, confirming in my heart a desire to serve God and love others wherever in the world God calls me to come.

May you have eyes open to see the miracles and gifts God is working in your life, wherever you may be today.

Much love,

Drum circle 
The three little kittens

Auntie Lindsey is so goofy ( :
Pool Day with the Aunties
Calvin + Sidewalk Chalk
Double Rainbow

Auntie Bev practiced her paper hats with our boys


Hi Auntie, how are you? (at my window)

I saw wild monkeys by the Nile today!

Kyomya Class

A girl poses for her "snap"


Students outside of Kyomia School (and leftover sequins)