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) 

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