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Friday, September 01, 2017

#NewGirl

There was a new girl in high school....

She was in an unfamiliar environment looking for anyway just to fit in. Being alone in high school is not only awkward and lonely but a huge threat. She found herself trying to figure out who she was and where she fit in. She found herself where alot of people find themselves...in an identity crisis. 
She was lost. 
Lost.... 
Spiritually. 
&
Emotionally. 

She found herself searching for someone to welcome her in and show a genuine interest. She was searching for love from anyone that would give it to her. 

That new girl was 
ME! 
I remember vividly the days of being the "new girl" in school. I remember making repeated bad decisions just so I could "fit in". 

Fast foreword many years later
I am firm in my identity in Jesus Christ. 
He has used my past. 
My story. 
To open my eyes to reach out to
The new. 
The lost. 
Those that are trying to find their place. 

Every person and every experience 
shapes the person God designed you to be. 
We never know who God will use 
or how He will use them. 
But we do know,
He doesn't waste anyone or any opportunity
Our job is to trust. 

This is my story
I know... 
it's not yours. 
But, we all have a story. 
Every chapter is useful. 
However, God can't use a book that gets left on the shelf 
and never gets told! 
Books are meant to be opened, curled up with and shared. 
Your past could shape someone else's future. 
What's your story? 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Priorities....

It is interesting that at the end of summer, I decided to kick it up a notch and "get fit".

Irony in its finest....
I finally got sick of feeling sluggish and not having much energy. I had to give up some things.  For me, I love food.  I mean not a little but ALOT.  In general, I love a well prepared meal.  I love good comfort foods, there is nothing quite as good as BLT in the summer with fresh tomatoes, or tomato pie, and vacation food- can we talk about that? Yum!  Just the thought of it is making me crave it.  I also have a strong sweet tooth.  So, for me, getting fit means adjusting my meals and replacing old habits with new ones.
The question I keep asking myself....
WHY?
Why didn't I choose to do this a little bit earlier, like before going to the beach, or before I spent the months of June and July in bathing suit.  It always amazes me how I don't do the the things that I know I want and need to do...  
What is with that?
I tell myself that I don't have time to work out or eat well.  
But really that has nothing to do with it.  
It is not a matter of having time, 
it is a matter of making it a priority.  
Isn't it really that way with 
EVERYTHING
It isn't a matter of having more time to do 
housework, 
finish the project you started 6 months ago and haven't finished,
 build the garden you have wanted for years,
start a bible study, 
reach out to the friend you haven't talked to in too long, 
 get in good physical shape,
eat better, 
fill in the blank
 with whatever is on your list. 
 The time is there, 
it is just a matter of how we want to use it.  
Make the things that are important...
important.
It is worth it!  
I wish I would have told myself this back in May....

Monday, August 07, 2017

Back to school

While in Uganda, we got to visit several schools.  At one school, we saw over 300 students scattered amongst small modest buildings (very cramped spaces). It brought new perspective to how we often complain that our schools aren't "big enough" or have enough _______ (fill in the blank).  
Yet, these students were filled with joy to have the privilege to go to school! 

They were studying much the same material that our kids study.  

The chalkboards were filled with the same equations that my daughter struggled through in Algebra last year.  One classroom had the boards filled with the books of the bible as the students were learning to navigate God's word.  

At one school, we got to meet the principal.  
She had created signs plastered all over her wall.  
I loved these truths in the writings on the wall.  
Even though we were across the globe, 
these schools addressed the same mission, 
the same struggles, 
the same vision.  





As we all start the school year, 
let us partner together to complete the school year with the same vision!  
We may be at different schools and our children may be years apart in age.  
You may be dropping of a Kindergarten student 
while some are waving to their high schoolers as they drive away.  
But don't we all have the same vision? 

Whether you are a headmaster, teacher, parent, or student.  
We all have a role to play.  
Let us support and encourage one another!  

Delivering clean water..delivering Hope!

We traveled to many villages with TivaWater.  

We visited several families to follow up to see how they were doing with their Tiva Water filter.
We also delivered filters to a village that did not have access to water filters.



As we delivered new filters,
we gave a overview and training of how to use and maintain the filter.
There were many skeptical questions, 
How does it work? 
How does it clean the water without boiling it? 
Once the questions were answered and everyone had confidence 
and understood how the filter cleaned the water,
they still had one question.  

This question was the same question that everyone in the villages that already had filters asked.  
We heard it over and over again.  
We went to remote villages that never get visitors and they asked the same question.
How can we get this filter for the rest of our village? 
How can we get more filters for our people? 
They wanted clean water but not only for themselves
they wanted all the people to have clean water. 

There was a 90+ year old man that we interviewed in one of the villages.  
His secret to a long healthy life?
video

Clean water!  
Isn't that what we want for ALL people? 
We often take this basic need for granted because in America, it is so accessible.  
What if we ask ourselves this same question,
How can I help provide clean water to those that don't have it?
One filter is $100 
(click above to donate)
But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, 
yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? 
Little children, let us now love in word or talk but in deed and truth. 
1 John 3:17-18




Worship in all nations

Sunday in Uganda, we woke up and walked to a local church.  I love to worship in other countries. I love being somewhere unfamiliar, not knowing the people around me, being in a completely different environment, sometimes hearing a message in another language but coming together with a common purpose, to worship the same God.  No matter how different we are or think we are, as believers, we are all created and knit together by the same creator.  There is something so powerful about going to church not in your native country. It is a humbling feeling.  It is a great reminder and tug at my heart that we are really NOT that different.
video

This is how we started our time of service in Uganda. Before we entered the villages, God gave us a great charge.  He spoke to my heart reminding me that these people in the neighborhood of Uganda are no different than the people that are in my own neighborhood.  
They may look different, 
their needs may be different, 
but they are wonderfully and fearfully made by our same great God! 

Friday, August 04, 2017

Focus

Funny how on the previous post, I referred to how the Lord was re-"focusing" our hearts and minds.  And on our first day in Kampala, we drove to a center called Focus.

(of course that is what it was called because that is how God works)  
Focus offers a place for underprivileged children to have school, a hot meal, play, and addresses the spiritual, mental, and physical health.  We toured the facility and played with the children.


The children at Focus shared their dreams with us, 
dreams of becoming something extraordinary when they grow up. 
If you are looking for an opportunity to sponsor a child, check out the Focus program
They have the capacity to take 300 children 
but currently only have a little over 100 due to the need for more sponsors.  
We bought fruit at the local market and had the privilege of having lunch with the Focus family.

We also walked to nearby homes to take food and pray with some of the families that had children in the Focus program.
The homes were dirt floor with a tin roof.  Some of the homes had up to 10 people living in very small cramped quarters.


One of the women had 3 kids and the husband had left her and she asked for prayer to stay strong in her faith.  Another one of the homes had 8 children but the mother had to ask another family member to raise 3 of the kids because she couldn't afford to raise all her children by herself.  She witnessed to us, telling us how God always provided for her needs.  She didn't always know where her next meal was coming from or how she would feed her children, but every day she trusted that God would provide a way.
It was a very humbling experience to see these families that had limited access to clean water, 
no electricity, most were working multiple jobs just to survive, 
but what they DID have....a strong faith!
One word kept coming to my mind.
Focus...
I was reminded on this day to 
Set your minds on things that are above, 
not on things that are on earth.
Colossians 3:2

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

A new adventure begins

We began our morning in Nairobi watching sunrise from our bay windowseat sipping coffee from a french press.  We had a bountiful breakfast at the Macushla house.  We had a little time before we caught our next flight into Kampala, so we visited a Giraffe Center.
The Giraffe Center was established to educate Kenyan children about their country's wildlife and environment.  At the center, we got to have close encounters with the giraffes, feeding them out of our hands.


 We learned that there are three types of giraffes according to their markings.  I also had no idea that giraffes had such long tongues, and are sometimes aggressive to get their food. (just like my husband)
After the Giraffe Center, we went to the crocodile farm! It was here that we got to see our guide jump into the fence WITH the crocodiles and poke him with a stick to get it to snap it's jaws at him.

And yes, I screamed every time he did it!  We also got to hold a baby croc which was frightening and excited all at the same time.  As we walked around the center, we walked among school children that were visiting on field trips.



From here we went to the airport for part 2 of our trip.  

We had a small delay at the airport followed by a long drive from the airport in Kampala to our hotel.  We drove for over 2 hours in bumper to bumper traffic with motorcycles weaving in and out of traffic and people EVERYWHERE on the streets for miles.  The traffic was at a standstill for long periods of time.  Once we did arrive at our hotel, it was in the middle of downtown with thumping music right outside the windows.  It was an exterior door entrance with a very small room with 2 oversized twin beds for all 4 of us to sleep in.  In addition, our son was also began to experience side effects from the anti-malaria medicine (Malerone).
The combination of the long day with delays, traffic, loud noises, and drastic change in environment, we realized that we were in a bit of a culture shock! Our bodies and minds needed to  adjust from vacation mode to serving mode.
The Lord used this day to refocus our minds off ourselves and onto serving Him.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

The places in between

Continuing our journey from safari in Tanzania to serving in Uganda, we took 2 small plane rides and spent the night in Nairobi.  We arrived at the smallest airport that I have ever been to and rode in a 14 passenger plane.  Then our next flight was even smaller and we were the only passengers.  My 10 year old son asked the pilot if he could ride co-pilot with him and of course he obliged and also took a few selfies with him!



Once we arrived in Nairobi, we went straight to the David sheldrick wildlife trust, where they rescue baby elephants that have been neglected by their mom or the mom has been killed by poachers.  When we arrived at 5pm, we lined up and it was time for the elephants to come back into the orphanage from the park to get their evening milk and food.  The baby elephants march in a line in front of us on their own accord (unassisted and not led by humans).  All 26 baby elephants ran in an organized fashion in front of us, each making their way to their own stalls.  Several ate their food quickly and were already laying down for a nap by the time we came to their stalls...much like our own babies do after they eat.  It was an incredible sight to see.

video


When we left the orphanage, we checked into a bed and breakfast called the Macushla house.  It was a beautiful home and a great place for us to refresh and refuel before part 2 of our journey.

It is in the moments "in between" 
that give such sweetness when we pause to recognize! 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Bucket list

Wake up call at 4:30am, drive on a dark bumpy road through the middle of the Serengeti in the dark to the top of a ridge.  Get out of the land cruiser to the sight of several hot air balloons being inflated.
This was the start of our day to a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti National Park.

One word: surreal
 sunrise is beautiful in itself, combined with being in the Serengeti was amazing!

We arrived at the hilltop and met with our captain.  He instructed us on the side entry to the basket and how to clamp into the basket.  I have to admit, my nerves were at an all time high.  I was anxious and my fear of heights didn't help the matter.  However, once we got into the basket, take off was very smooth.  We cruised at 10-20 feet off the ground in order to better visualize the wild life below.  


The entire ride was smooth and the view was breathtaking. Once we landed the balloon in the middle of the park, we had a breakfast in the middle of the field in the midst of the zebras, buffalo, lions, and other wildlife.  




It was an experience I will never forget.