Friday, June 5, 2009

humility shows love.

Quote for the day: “If you fear you can’t have faith, if you have faith you can’t fear.” -Joel

Once again I don’t know where to start, or where to begin, but with how awesome God is and how fast he answers some prayers! Yesterday was soo amazing. We went with the Canadians all day to help out with buy-a-net in some slums across town. We went from house to house taking names of people who needed mosquito nets (malaria is the number one killing disease in Uganda). Mosquito nets can save hundreds of thousands of lives and they only cost $5. The homes that we went to were so low on the ground that they were surrounded by water. When it rains the water always goes into their homes about 3 feet up the wall. They have to live with it though because they don’t have anywhere else to go. One girl I was talking to was 17 years old and she had a 6-month-old baby. She took me to her house and showed me the twin size bed that her, her husband, and the baby slept in every night. Then she pointed to the mold on the wall where the rain comes to. I didn’t know what to say or do. I didn’t know what to think. All I could think about was why was I so lucky to be born into the family I was born into? Why is it not me who is living with my husband and 6 month old baby in a home the size of my closet with water flooding it? I pray and pray and wish God could bless the people. And yet that is not what it is about. It is about knowing there is a better place. A place where we have no worries, where God’s glory illuminates and there is no need for light. It is about telling these beautiful God-breathed people about this better place and the hope it gives us. Yesterday on the way out to eat with the Canadians because they were leaving this morning Catherine, Shanna, and I were talking about the difficulty of sharing the gospel in the United States and how when we get home we hope we will be able to share the word of God just as we have been here. But that wasn’t it, Catherine said she had heard a quote from a wrestler who was not a Christian, “if you love Christ so much, then why wouldn’t you share Him with the people who you love so much or the people you are surrounded with?” Well then I said why haven’t we talked about it with the Canadians yet? And we were all quiet for quite some time. Then we decided we were going to make an effort to bring it up at dinner. Funny thing was, we prayed for the opportunity to talk about it and what do you know….He gave us the PERFECT opportunity! He pretty much spelt it out that we should talk about. So literally our whole dinner conversation was based around Christianity, religion, and Jesus. Alex was born in a family where religion really wasn’t talked about. Her parents did not raise her as a Christian and therefore she knew hardly anything about it. So she had many questions. We were wondering about Kate and Missy but soon found out they were fellow believers which made us very excited! Taroon was who I talked to the most about it. We found very many similarities, so it was easy for me to talk to hiM! He told me about being a Muslim and I told him what being a Christian means to me. It wasn’t just about whether or not they changed their hearts or softened their hearts, it was about planting a seed. That is what this whole trip has been about. We are planting seeds. Even if none of the people we have talked to changed their minds right then, it would still have been worth it to come over here and plant the seeds. The hardest part for me was to accept the fact that I could just be that person who only comes into somebody’s life for a few days and that be the last time I ever see them again. I am the type of person who wants to follow up with these beautiful children of God. But that might not be my job, and I have to accept that. The Canadians might be the only reason we worked in the medical center a couple of days, and I am okay with that, but I hope and pray that our lives cross again, because they are amazing people! Well then we got home Catherine and I talked to Amos and David for a good hour about the Canadians, and about why we are here. It opened my eyes so much. I had no idea that we had any effect on Amos and David until they told us. Well apparently last night lit a fire inside of me because today, I couldn’t stop talking to people about Jesus. The opportunities I have had to talk to people here have been many, but I have not taken every single one of them until today. This morning we got on the taxi bus to go to Kabalagala to do door-to-door evangelism in the slums. I sat by myself next to 3 Ugandan men, and I talked to them about their day and what they were doing. Then they asked me what I was doing and I told them, “going to share Christ with people!” I know the ONLY way I was able to say that was because God’s spirit was within me telling me to say it. They were all three Christians and I am so thankful for that beginning of the day, as it encouraged me even more to be stronger and more open to talking about God. I love Jesus. He is my savior. Why wouldn’t I be happy to tell these magnificent God-molded people about Him?!?! After it rained for a good 30 minutes we walked to meet Amos’ family friend Joel. He was currently a teacher at the school in the middle of the slums we were reaching out to. His mother started the school, but was currently teaching some where else. We went to the school to reach out to the children before we started reaching out to the community. While at the school we treated numerous children’s wounds. And Joel and I also went to each classroom  to encourage them on their walk with Jesus. It wasn’t until after we were done sharing that I found out that was most of the children’s first time to ever see a white person. As I walked out of the P7 classroom the teacher walked out with me and said, “thank you so much for coming to talk to them. You will never know how much that encouraged them.” Then after we signed the guest book and left I was talking to Joel and he told me, “ thank you so much for coming here and talking to them about Jesus. Some of them have never seen white people before and the fact that the first thing you told them was to know, love, and seek Jesus means so much.” And then he continued to talk to me about where we wanted to go to reach out to the community. So we decided to just walk down the street and wherever God calls us to go we will go. We spoke to many different people, many were saved and some hearts had been hardened by the devil. Particularly we stopped to talk to these 3 older men probably 22-24 years old, Shanna and I were talking to them and one man kept on asking questions over and over again which was good that he wanted to ask questions, but then there was this other man. He had malaria and he had been sick for a while. The whole time I was talking to Godfrey I would look at him to get him to join the conversation but he would just laugh and ignore me. I know that God has planted a seed in his heart but it still hurt me to think that he couldn’t hear the good news because the devil was standing in front of him. I know he heard it though, and I know God will work miracles in his life! While I was talking to them I mainly just encouraged them to seek the truth and not let anything sstand in the way of them hearing the truth. One guy, Muhamod told me that he used to be a Mormon because white people from Utah came and talk to him about Joseph Smith. He was discouraged because he saw that we had come to tell him about Jesus Christ and he said many people didn’t know which way to go. He said he had already made the decision to follow Christ not Joseph Smith and that he had turned from Mormonism, but he said it is hard for him to tell others about Jesus because there are so many different religions in their community and no really good church. He also told me that most of his friends that had been sitting there listening to me would tell me they accepted Christ but that most of them would be lying. He said the only reason they were listening is because I am white. At first this really discouraged me, but at that point in time I was blinded by being a minority, soon after Joel told me, “Lauren don’t be discouraged, it doesn’t matter if the only reason they were listening is because you are white. As long as they were listening, that is what matters. Plus, even if you didn’t make a difference in their lives you have already made a difference in mine.” He continued to tell me about how before we came to Kabalagala he had become very discouraged because he hasn’t had enough money to pay the teachers and therefore has had to be paying them out of his own pocket (mainly because the school is pretty much free for children). He said he hasn’t been brave enough to go out into his community and share the gospel. Then he said as soon as God spoke to the children through me, he knew his prayer had been answered. He had been praying for somebody to come and encourage him so that he may get back on the right track. Then he said, “how does it happen that 3 girls from America just happen to come to Kabalagala today to preach the word throughout this community? God ANSWERED MY PRAYER! So Lauren, don’t be discouraged because the whole purpose in you coming here could have been just to encourage me and get me to go out and preach in my own community and not be intimidated.” So, I pressed onward, knowing God was by my side. I would continue to fight the good fight even if that meant nobody was saved today. God was planting a seed in the hearts of these Ugandans!

Now, you can imagine the different types of people who would come and stand close enough to hear us preaching but not too close because they didn’t want us to notice they were interested. I could not have imagined I would have encountered 6 drunken men sitting on the side of the road. I could not have imagined God would have called me over there to talk to Prospel. But he did. So I went. As soon as prospel opened his mouth I knew he had been drinking and as I saw the way the other men reacted to me talking to him I knew they were drunk, but I also knew I was supposed to continue to talk to him. Something about him made me think there was hope. I ended up talking to him about Jesus as he continuously asked questions. Soon after we went around the corner and Joel and I prayed for him. I could tell God was performing miracles in his heart because as soon as we were done praying he said, “I am done with this crap. I am done with that. I  brought another flask of alcohol over there that I am not going to finish. I don’t care what my friends over there say about me. They are already laughing at me but I don’t care.” That was soo rewarding and uplifting and then soon after he said that, one of his friends came over and decided the same thing. Then another man came and Catherine prayed with him the same thing. It was like right after Prospel was strong enough to admit he didn’t want the alcohol, that was when God came in to the other’s hearts and said you need to go over there and hear my word. It was the most beautiful thing to personally witness the power of God. God literally slapped the devil in the face, and said not my child. As our day continued we had amazing experiences, and on top of all that Joel is the most amazing person I have met on this entire trip. I could see a fire in his eyes, a burning passion within his soul to continue to tell his community about Jesus. I truly believe Joel will make a HUGE difference in that community.

The power of God is so unfathomable that I cannot begin to understand how he works in people’s hearts. I know that his love can change the hardest heart into the softest heart, and that is my dream and desire for these people. When I am talking about the one who created me, the one who knows everything about me, I can’t help but smile and thank him. Anybody can do it. If anybody has Jesus in his or her heart, he or she can tell the world about Him. It just takes faith. It all comes back to faith. Faith is believing in what we can’t see in order to see the unperceivable. Faith is the confidence to believe and expect great things from God. “because of our faith God has brought us into this place of UNDESERVED PRIVILEGE where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory!” (Romans 5:2)

Our night continued to take us to Maureen’s house for dinner again. I believe  her family is one of the most beautiful family’s I have ever seen. Maureen has an older brother, two younger sisters, and one younger brother. Both of her parents are amazing Jesus-followers. They welcomed us into their home and told us how much of a blessing we were to them. Funny thing is they have no idea how much of a blessing it was to be at their home again and see how their family works. The thing that stood out to me the most was the love between her father and mother. It was not a love spoken but a love shown. You could tell by the way he looked at her that she was the only woman she cared so deeply about, and the same for her. There is much beauty shown when a man looks at his wife in the way God wants a man to look at his wife. I was astounded when her mom knelt down to her dad to give him some food. I wasn’t astounded because I couldn’t believe she would do that, I was astounded by how much love it showed. All I could think about was how God wants our relationships to be just like that. A man and woman so in love, even after having five children, that they would kneel down as a sign of affection, care, and adoration. I can only imagine the way God looks at that lovely family. I can just picture him looking down at me saying, “Lauren, this is how love should be.”

This is how we should love God. That just being in his presence alone would make us fall to our knees in adoration. I stand in awe at the perfect reverence of humility.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Hope and Glory

Glory and Hope
Saturday was wonderful at Bethany Village! We spent time at the Glory house and we went through their day with them spending time with the. First we worked in the garden which is on a hill that overlooks Lake Victoria! It was beautiful! Then we brought the weeds we had picked to the pigs for them to eat. After that I went and fetched water with the kids! And then I helped the older girls and Mama Harriett wash potatoes and cassova, and cut the greens for lunch! The kids used the water from the lake to take a bath and wash their clothes. Then Catherine and I walked to the medical center where the one nurse works. It was really nice (comparatively). Then we played cards with the kids and played dodgeball! Then it was time for lunch which was crazy because it was 3:30 and they were just then eating lunch but none of the kids complained! They all did there work without complaining. They knew how to wash clothes. They knew hot to cook, and they knew proper manner at the table. Well they served us SO much food and it was DELICIOUS! I am going to miss this food a lot. Saturday was such a blessing with those wonderful children! They love God so dearly and they give him the glory through all of their work! Sunday we went back to Buloba to surprise everybody agaian! It was great to walk in and see their faces! They were SHOCKED! And my heart just melted when I saw Simon again! I didn’tw ant to leave him I just wanted to bring him home with me. I guess that is what it feels like to UNCONDITIONALLY love someone, It is the greatest feeling in the WORLD! Okay, so this word that has been on my heart and my mind…Glory. I have defined joy and peace and now it is time for glory. The first word I think of when I am defining glory is praise, but glory isn’t just about giving God glory when we are worshipping, but every single second of the day he deserves this glory for keeping us alive and healthy and being there for us. He deserves the glory for bringing me here. He receives the glory in all the work He is doing here. He deserves the Glory. When I was thinking about Glory and reading my bible I just happened to come upon this verse that I have to share with you all. “And the city has no need for sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light. The nations will walk in the light, and the kings fo the world will enter the city in all their glory. Its gates will never be closed at the end of the day because there is no night there. And all the nations will bring their glory and honor into the city.” (Revelation 21:23-26) This scripture is so powerful. GOD ILLUMINATES with all of his glory and splendor.
June 3, 2009
I can not possibly describe what my eyes have seen today. So bare with me. Today we went back to Mulago (the hospital downtown). This time we went into the labour ward with Dr. Martin. This is probably the hardest thing I have ever done (go into that place). First of all there were lines of women waiting to give birth. We walked into the room where they examine the women and a woman just stood up as we walked in and she had just given birth on the bed right there. Then we went into the room where they were supposed to put the stage 3 women. THERE WERE AT LEAST 30 women in the hall, and 12 women in that room, most of them were 17, 18, 19, and 20. There were women crying, and screaming. I couldn’t hardly stand to be in the room because all I wanted to do was take the pain away from them. As much as I want to explain more I can’t. As Catherine and I walked down the stairs to go towards the medical school building, I couldn’t possibly imagine anything worse then seeing a coffin being rolled through the hall. In fact, I didn’t think I would see anything worse, o boy was I surprised. We went to the pediatric unit and the tears started coming. As we went through with Dr. Martin he told us about the kids and what diseases each of them had. Well then we came to this little girl sitting on a mat by herself. I failed to compose myself as Dr. Martin told us this little girl who was suffering from malnutrition (you could see her ribs) had been ABANDONED. Somebody had left her there at the hospital. I picked her up and held her so tight that I wasn’t even there completely. I was in another world, wishing, praying, hoping for this precious little girl. Hope. What could I do but hope that somebody would take care of her? There was a fire, deep within my soul for her to know there was hope, hope in Jesus, hope in God, hope in better days where she would be held by some one who would love her for the rest of her days. As I handed her over to Catherine to hold, she had already recognized this hope as she reached out for me to hold her again. As I thought once again that I could not see anything worse we walked into the cancer ward and the pediatric malnutrition ward. We came to a child who was very skinny and her mother was sitting with her. As Dr. Martin talked to her about her child Catherine and I played with her trying to make her smile. As I asked her if I could pray over her child I asked her if she spoke English and she said it doesn’t matter God knows every language. After encouraging her Dr. Martin informed me that the child had HIV and there was a very small chance she would live to see the next month. HOPE. What can I do but hope? What can I do but hope and pray that God blesses her, heals her, and enables her to become a strong faithful woman of Christ? Hope is the desire for God to step into a situation, take it into his hands and bring the best for that person. Hope is in the one we cannot see. Hope is the yearning for revival. Hope is believing in better days and believing God will save the day.
This is Hope.
“I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to my self, The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!...Though he brings grief, he also shows compassion because of the greatness of his unfailing love. For he does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow.”