Friday, December 7, 2012

Black Mamba

Thou that hast given so much to me,
Give me one thing more, a grateful heart…
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare dayes,
But such a heart whose pulse may be
Thy praise
~George Herbert

Life here in Jinja has been relatively calm. However, there have been many moments that make me grateful for your prayers and for God’s sovereign control. Five of our boys recently traveled to see family members for a few days or few weeks since it is their holiday from school. Thank you for your prayers for traveling mercies and kind treatment by their families.

I broke up my first fistfight a few days ago. Two of the boys had let tensions build, being home on holiday, and started kicking and punching and screaming at each other. As the only adult nearby, I stepped in between the boys, which threw them off for a few seconds so that they could listen, and told them to go to their rooms to have some space from each other. They spent some time alone that day, after the uncles came and talked with them, and had cooled off considerably by the afternoon. It was fitting to get to teach on forgiveness that night in Bible study. We did a tabula rasa (clean slate) exercise, reading verses on forgiveness and making a mark on a white board to represent what we need forgiveness for and the people we need to forgive. Each of us spent time praying and telling God we were sorry for things we have done against Him and others, and at the end I thanked God for His love and complete forgiveness, wiping the whiteboard clean to symbolize this truth. My sin O the bliss of this glorious thought; my sin not in part but the whole; is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more; bless the Lord, bless the Lord O my soul!

That night, Jonathan thanked God for protecting him and me from a big snake that crossed the road as we were running. I had some nudging from the Holy Spirit early on the run- there were two distinct moments when I did not feel safe running through the grass on the side of the trail instead of the road. I was a few feet ahead of Jonathan when the snake passed between us, and this brave boy who fears snakes kept running till he could warn me. As we turned to go home, we ran side by side, looking both ways for this deadly creature. I told Jonathan about the time when the apostle Paul was bit by a poisonous snake and survived, because God protected him with a miracle. We were both grateful to not see the snake on the return journey because local opinion says it may have been a black mamba.

Black mambas are snakes that you do not mess around with: the fastest snake in the world (10-12 mph) and the longest, most aggressive, and deadliest snake in Africa. Its bite is known as the “kiss of death.” It is no wonder that many Ugandans are terrified of snakes, and take measures to stop them breeding- we keep the grass and thorny bushes in our property cut short to stop such snakes from inhabiting. After this adventure I have a new appreciation for the local wildlife, am limiting my runs to other areas, and am so grateful we escaped from harm.  

One of my favorite experiences of the past week was trying stand up paddling for the first time. This, unlike the extreme rafting on the Nile, was a serene, majestic, peace-filled experience. Rachel and I went to the Bujagali Falls area, which is now a virtual lake due to local hydropower dams being constructed nearby. Our South African tour guide led us on an hour long paddle, teaching us the basics of using the board, and telling me all about the local wildlife: snakes, giant swimming lizards (no crocs in this area thankfully), and birds- storks, egrets, kingfishers, and two types of eagles. I experienced this river in another light, and was full of awe and admiration at the Creator of the universe as I took a dip in the Nile and paddled past African villages and all the beautiful islands around.

What's SUP?
There has been so much to learn on this trip; learning about this culture and getting to know the people here have been main goals of coming to Uganda for two months. On Sunday I was with the church in Jinja and got to say hello to some of the children after we worshipped together. Little David jumped on my back, with a Spiderman shirt on, and another small girl came up to me, pointed at the bracelets on my wrist, and held out her hands for one. After teaching the boys how to make different kinds of bracelets, I had made several to give to children at church.

As I passed off this handmade bracelet, word had gotten around about the gift giving, and a stream of children came running over to me, pushing each other and trying to get multiple bracelets. One shouted, “Mzungu! Mzungu!” as I passed out my collection, which made me cringe, and no one offered a word of thanks as they grabbed at my hands. I felt used and embarrassed afterwards- the boys and girls were not able to see that the gift was given in love because of how desperate they were to grab a bracelet. I had perpetrated the classic mistake of acting as the rich Mzungu who has material wealth. The fact that the gifts were handmade had been a factor in me making them for the children at church, but I saw that passing out a gift at all had probably been a mistake. I do not regret the love that I shared with these little ones, but am learning to give love in other ways here- through a kind word, a smile, a hug, or a blessing.

As I prayed about these moments later on and the feelings that came with them, God was speaking to my heart about how He is the giver of all good and perfect gifts. And just like these children, sometimes I focus on what I want from God instead of focusing on Him, the giver of the gifts, and the One who gives good gifts to me because He loves me. I want to turn to turn to God not just for what I need or want or hope for, but because His presence alone satisfies my soul and fills my heart to the brim with love, joy, peace, and freedom to be who He has made me to be.

Rachel and I leave tomorrow morning for northern Uganda (Lira and Gulu), and appreciate your prayers for traveling mercies on the journey. We will be there for three days, and hope to visit a few different orphanages: Otino Waa, Watoto, and Restoration Gateway.

Peace to you,
Lindsey ( :

Origami night turned into a "make your own tie" occasion
Local artwork

downtown Jinja

My first professional portrait, by Issac

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