All of my American friends will soon be waking from their Thanksgiving food coma and I wanted to give you all one more gift from my Thanksgiving in Uganda. I was so thankful to be invited to a missionary gathering for Thanksgiving dinner, but then was invited to a meeting out at Cornerstone Leadership Academy’s girls’ school. My time in Uganda is short is and I felt like I wanted more time with students, so I forewent the turkey and gravy for a plate of potatoes and meat cooked by the young ladies at CLA. What a smart decision!
The meeting was an introduction to Cornerstone’s program for graduated students, Cornerstone Old student’s Club or COSA. Mary, from the COSA office began with a prayer and asked the girls to lead a song. This CLA class is called “Echoes of Grace” and I learned why as they burst into song! Wow. Twenty minutes later we were going strong and my heart overflowed with even more thanksgiving. Here is a little glimpse of the spontaneous worship session to start your “Black Friday” in the US.
You are all very welcome.
After a few months in Uganda, it was time for a short leave. So, I met up with a River West service team in Rwanda. It was a wonderful time to reconnect with River West friends and beautiful to see the amazing work that God continues to do through Africa New Life throughout Rwanda. I seriously had trouble containing myself at my excitement over the new seminary that will start instructing African pastors in the fall. It is open to Pastors all over Africa and I am so expectant to see many lives impacted by this new amazing ministry. We were honored to provide hundreds of meals to kids in mutiple ANL programs. And of course, there were adorable kids every where!
Once Sunday came around it was hard to say goodbye to my friends but fortunately Angie was coming back to Uganda with me–so the post-peep depression was lessened. We flew into Entebbe and met up with folks from Africa Renewal Ministries. It was great to see what another Ugandan organization was doing and I left feeling encourage and excited. Truly an amazing staff building a new kind of Christian leader to serve all of Uganda!
Of course, Angie is a child hugging magnet–so a lot of our time was spent with kiddos in Angie’s arms. She even got me to hold babies at ARM’s baby home! Her joy is simply infectious! Of course, I was a kitten magnet and regretfully did not bring this little furball of sweetness home.
The Rwanda team also had offered to bring me a few items from the states. I sent them a list of things that would be useful–expecting to receive a few but was totally blown away when they showed up with everything on my list! The team and some friends from home had all contributed and sent so many wonderful items from home: fluffy towels, sheets that would fit my bed, sharp knives, spoons, office supplies, beautiful dishtowels and even artwork. They brought me tortilla shells, Stumptown coffee and skittles–all of my favorite things! Honestly, I don’t even know that I thanked them very well because I was in shock at the sheer abundance of goodness. Yet another reminder of how God cares for us–with abandon and sugary sweetness!
Making friends in AOET's Children's Village
Life finds me all over the globe connecting with people of so many cultures and contexts. In many of my favorite places there is a term like Uganda’s “mpola mpola” which literally translates to “slowly slowly.” That small phrase is more than a pithy statement but a life lesson that I am finally beginning to learn.
When I am in Jinja and my brow is furrowed with concern over something that is not falling into place, my dear friend and life hero, Jaja Margaret often smiles and tells me “mpola mpola.” One of my favorite activities is to go the market with Jaja, we casually saunter from vendor to vendor. Jaja stops every few feet to greet someone, catch up on the latest news or just share a laugh. Every once in a while we also purchase some tomatoes or corn but we are certainly not express shopping. We are also not “wasting our time” as many of my friends from the west would think. In each interaction Jaja is gaining news, building relationships and encouraging people. She shares a light all along her path that shines well after she has left. In the end we have whatever we came for but she has left so much more.
I am not as good at the journey as Jaja. (Which I think she would agree with deep down but is far to graceful to tell me.) I stress. I worry about deadlines and efficiency and success. I like the end result and am more addicted to
Jaja using two phones at once--a common occurence
accomplishment than I am to coffee. Sometimes I do see people as props of the project and not divine creations. As you can imagine, this means that the path God has set for me in the third world contains a lot of irony. But God has also given me amazing guides, like Jaja and I am learning.
For me part of that slowing and appreciating the path involves writing. Writing is how I process. Writing is often how I realize the sweetness of the roses that I smelled two hours ago. It’s been too long since I stopped and wrote something longer than a tweet about this amazing journey that I continue live, love and occasionally freak out about. So here I sit, writing this introductory blog and committing myself to sharing the lessons learned–hopefully sharing some light, some laughter and some good prose along the way. But more of that later…