Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Closing a Chapter

 I paused outside the door for a few seconds. Tucking a few things under cover so they wouldn't get wet in the rain, I thought that after hundreds of times like this, this may be my last. I walked to my car amid the drops and the dark stillness. Most of Clatskanie was in bed, as they usually are when I leave work on late Tuesday nights or early Wednesday mornings.

  Today was my last day at The Clatskanie Chief, the local weekly newspaper where I have worked for almost 11 years, helping put together close to 560 editions. It seemed fitting that today (Tuesday), our deadline day, I worked on the last issue of 2009 and my final one for this chapter of my life.
 
 I remember back to the day in late July 1998 when I was interviewed for the job. I recall how nervous I was, what I was wearing and where I sat. Looking back, I admire my boss for hiring a pretty shy and very green young lady who was just beginning to emerge from her shell of shyness. Because of her patience and wonderful way of instruction, I have learned far more than a college journalism course or an internship at a larger newspaper could ever teach me.

 But, more importantly, God has used my job to stretch and grow me in ways I could not imagine. What I have gained personally, socially, emotionally and spiritually far outweighs the skills I have acquired professionally. God has used times of stress and seemingly insurmountable challenges, boring meetings, complicated school board budgets and tough stories to cause me to rely heavily on Him and in the process, strengthen my faith and character. It hasn't been all hard, though. There have also been times of joy, satisfaction, exhilaration and fun as I have worked with fun co-workers, interviewed interesting people, completed an engaging or informative piece and become acquainted with many in the communities The Chief covers.

 I am grateful for the skills and lessons I have learned at the newspaper and I believe they will prove useful in Uganda and wherever else God takes me in the future.

  Now that this week's paper has been put to bed, I believe I will head there, too. Good night, Chief, and thanks for the memories.


Monday, December 28, 2009

More Uganda Videos

  I have been trying to put my nose to the grindstone and really get ready for Uganda. It is interesting what you think about in trying to prepare to be gone for a year - taxes, absentee ballots, baggage sizes, what rechargeable batteries to take, whether or not to pack a French press coffee maker. These have been some of my thoughts and focuses today. : )

 Well, now to what this post is really about. It has been a bit since I shared some Uganda videos, so here are a few more from my first trip. Enjoy!

Praising the Lord in Church (Filmed during a Sunday morning worship service at Lingira Deliverance Church on Lingira Island.)


Praising the Lord, Part 2


The Children Sing


The Children of Siita Nest Mother's Love Home in Bugembe, near Jinja on the mainland.


Countdown to departure: 12 days and a wakeup! : )

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Amazed




 Lately I have been reading through some of the Old Testament prophets like Isaiah and Jeremiah. These men foretold of Israel's imminent discipline, but also of the coming One who would rule righteously and serve as a Good Shepherd to the flock of Israel and ultimately the whole world.

  As I read the prophecies and imagine the expectant waiting of hundreds of years for this promised Messiah, I am amazed at the simplicity of the Christmas story. In fact, I really don't understand it - it is too simple and uncomplicated. Jesus' coming had been promised since Creation, yet when He arrived on the scene, He came as a helpless babe, was wrapped in swaddling clothes and born in a lowly stable - not the regal entrance a king deserves. And the welcoming committee consisted of hillside shepherds - not exactly the upper crust of society. I tell you, I just don't get it.
 
  The other day, a friend and I were discussing how we often put God in a box. We believe He will act according to our "logic" and what may make perfect sense to us. Or we try and pin Him to a pattern - He did it this way in this past, so we expect Him to repeat a specific mode of operation. It makes sense, doesn't it?

 But, if you review Biblical history, you see that God rarely repeated His miraculous works, choosing instead to work in ways that, in a sense, blew the minds of those involved. Why not show off His power, creativity and glory? Why not "wow" the onlookers with great displays of might? He is God, isn't He? And, as the Bible tells us, His ways and thoughts are far beyond ours.

 So, that brings me back to the birth of Jesus - why is it so simple? I certainly don't comprehend it, but I am amazed. Maybe this humble entrance was to show that Christ truly became one of us - flesh and blood - the Creator becoming like the creation. And that is perhaps the most remarkable miracle of all - our awesome, everlasting God choosing to enter our world, not as a triumphant stately king, but as a little infant. I am amazed at that thought.

 I am hoping that when we reach heaven, God will tell us the "rest of the story" for the many unanswered questions we have now. Did Adam have a bellybutton? ; ) What was the Garden of Eden like? What did Noah's ark look like? How did He get the pairs of animals there? Why did He choose people like Moses, David, Rahab, Peter? What did Jesus write in the dust in the story in John 8? Not that I expect God to "defend" why He did this or that, but I am just curious as to the behind-the-scenes production notes.

But in the meantime, we don't have to "understand" God's ways to truly appreciate them. And that is where faith comes in - believing and trusting even though we have don't have 20/20, 3-D vision of God's incredible acts and His sovereign purposes throughout history. That leaves us in the most appropriate posture for this time of year - kneeling in amazement before Immanuel, "God with us."

Merry Christmas!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Praise!!!

 I have a wonderful praise of our Lord's generous provision! As of this past week, I am at 98.25% of my minimum monthly support level.  It is truly by the Lord's grace that He has provided in this way and I feel very unworthy of His blessings and the generosity of so many. Thank you so much to those who have given financially and to those who are praying - I greatly appreciate it!

  I really like the message of Luke 6:38.
  "Give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you."

 Again, many thanks to those who have given support, encouragment and their prayers - the above verse is my prayer for you. Many blessings to you at this special Christmas season!

BTW, I leave for Uganda on Jan. 9 - 19 days and a wake up. : )

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Placing Uganda in my heart


"God loves all the cultures of the world, but our human hearts can usually only handle one or two at a time. The ones He places in our hearts guide us to do His will among them. "
- From "The Missionary Call" by M. David Sills


The white "Muzungu" among little dark faces.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Nail Bitin' Time

Legal Battle Emerges Over Stoplight Pedestrian Figure


Last weekend, I was in a "nail bitin' time." I don't bite my nails, so I mean this figuratively. I was in a place where I could see the dark tunnel, but not the light at the end of it.

Up until then things seemed to be clicking along as I continued making plans for Uganda. Then it came to buying the plane ticket.

I have wanted to travel with my good friends Andrew and Karina Smith and their little guy, David, whom I will be working with in Uganda. They called me a couple of weeks ago and said they were looking at flights, leaving the U.S. on Jan. 9, and wanted me to check and see if that would work for me. So, I began checking. I contacted the travel agency and the ticket prices seemed reasonable. Then I called Global Outreach International, my mission agency, and they were very hesistant to give me a "green light" because my financial support levels were not where they would like to have them. (Note: Global has certain financial goals they want their missionaries to meet. This is for the missionaries' protection, so they don't get out on the field and are not properly funded.)

I responded to this news with a rebounding faith and an inner joy, trusting God had something better in mind.....not. I wish I could say that was my response, but it wasn't. I slipped into a little pit of my own making, with walls of questions and doubts, held together by some depression, too. Faith is trusting when you can't see - and I realized how shortsighted my faith really is.

Today's selection in "Streams in the Desert" (one of my favorite devotional books) fit so well with this topic.

"'You will see neither wind nor rain, yet this valley will be filled with water, and you, your cattle and your other animals will drink. This is an easy thing in the eyes of the Lord; He will also hand Moab over to you. (2 Kings 3:17-18

"To human reason, what God was promising seemed simply impossible, but nothing is too difficult for Him. Without any sound or sign and from sources invisible and seemingly impossible, the water flowed the entire night, and the 'next morning...there it was...! And the land was filled with water...The sun was shining on the water...[And it] looked red - like blood.' (vs. 20,22)

"Our unbelief is always desiring some outward sign, and the faith of many people is largely based on sensationalism. They are not convinved of the genuiness of God's promises without some visible manifestation. But the greatest trimuph of a person's faith is to 'be still, and know that [He is] God' (Psalm 46:10)

"The greatest victory of faith is to stand at the shore of the impassable Red Sea and to hear the Master say, 'Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today' (Ex. 14:13), and 'Move on' (Ex. 14:15). As we step out in faith, without any sign or sound, taking our first steps into the water, we will see the water divide. Continuing to march ahead, we will see a pathway open through the very midst of the sea."

 God did have me act on the bit of faith I had, doing some things on my part to press ahead. I knew that if God wanted to me leave later than Jan. 9, He would make that known. And, if He did indeed want me to travel with Andy and Karina, He would make a way.

And a way, He did make. In about a week, He raised my financial support enough that I received the "green light" from Global to go ahead and book my ticket. Yay! I was so excited! God made a way when there seemed to be no way.

Legal Battle Emerges Over Stoplight Pedestrian Figure


Now, back to "Streams in the Desert."

"Whenever I have seen God's wondrous work in the case of some miraculous healing or some extraordinary deliverance by His providence, the thing that has always impressed me most was the absolute quietness in which it was done. I have also been impressed by the absence of anything sensational and dramatic, and the utter sense of my own uselessness as I stood in the presence of this mighty God, realizing how easy all this was for Him to do without even the faintest effort on His part, or the slightest help from me.

"It is the role of faith not to question but to simply obey. In the above story from Scripture, the people were asked to 'make this valley full of ditches' (2 Kings 3:16). The people obeyed, and then water came pouring in from some supernatural source to fill them. What a lesson for our faith!

"Are you desiring some spiritual blessing? Then dig the ditches and God will fill them. But He will do this in the most unexpected places and in the most unexpected ways. May the Lord grant us the kind of faith that acts 'by faith, not by sight' (2 Cor. 5:7), and may we expect Him to work although we see no wind or rain." A.B. Simpson)

 I can attest to the fact that God does work in unexpected places and ways, for He did that for me last week. He provided the financial support I needed, but it wasn't how I had anticipated.

 I believe we serve a very creative God and I think He delights in doing things "out of the box," including answering our prayers. Why not? He can do anything He wants. : ) 

P.S. So, I am leaving Jan. 9 with Andy, Karina and little David. I would very much appreciate your prayers that God would guide my preparations in the next month, and for safe travels. Thank you!

Photos courtesy of http://www.picapp.com/

Monday, November 23, 2009

"Little is Much..."

One of my favorite hymns is "Little is Much When God Is in It." It is a good reminder to me that the little we have can become much in God's hands.

The song was written by Kitty Louise Suffield, circa 1924. Here is some of the history behind it, taken from the book "Then Sings My Soul" by Robert J. Morgan.

"One snow-blanketed night, Canadian Fred Suffield awoke to an urgent pounding on his door. A half-frozen man reported that a train had stalled in the blizzard, and the passengers were in danger of freezing to death. Lighting a lantern, Fred followed the man to the site and led the travelers back to his house. Later one of the passengers, Kittie, wrote a thank you note. Fred replied, and Kittie wrote back. Their correspondence led to courtship and to marriage.

"Some time later, Fred and Kittie attended a church in Ottawa pastored by Rev. A. J. Shea, and there they gave their lives to the Lord. As the couple grew in Christ, they entered the ministry of evangelism. One summer they invited Shea's teenage son, George Beverly, to spend a month with them in Westport, Ontario, holding evangelistic meetings. One night, accompanied by Kittie on the piano, Bev attempted to sing, but his voice cracked on the high notes, and he sat down mortified, vowing never to sing again.

"Kittie wouldn't hear of it, suggesting he sing in a lower key. He did, and he kept on singing, and singing and singing.

"Many years passed, and in June of 2000, Billy Graham came to Nashville, Tennessee, for a four-night mission. My wife and I were privileged to attend a reception for the Graham team just before the meetings began, and George Beverly Shea, 92 at the time, rose to sing. His rich baritone voice broke into a song that had been written 73 years before by Fred and Kittie: 'Little is Much When God Is in It.'

"I thought it a strange choice of hymn. We were on the verge of the greatest evangelistic effort in Nashville's history, headlined by the most famous evangelist in the world. And Bev Shea's song was about the littleness of our efforts. But later I realized how perfectly the song fit. Compared to this great mission to untold multitudes, our own individual ministries seemed small and insignificant. But God uses little things in great ways. A tiny acorn may produce a forest. A spark may ignite a revival. A small church might produce the next far-famed evangelist.

"Don't be discouraged if your place seems small. You're doing more good than you know."

I was reminded of this great hymn a week ago Sunday when it was featured on the back of our church bulletin. I thought it was very timely since that Sunday we were praying over and dedicating the shoeboxes we had collected for Operation Christmas Child, to be delivered to children around the world. I helped head up the effort at church and was amazed and so blessed as we gathered 49 boxes - more than quadruple last year's effort. Boxes were packed by children, families, individuals, grandmas, and others, all sharing of themselves to bless someone across the world, whom they will never meet. A shoebox of gifts may seem insignificant, but God has changed hearts and lives, transformed families and started churches through this outreach.

With the shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.

Filling the back of the van.

In Sunday School that morning I taught about the boy who shared his meager meal of five barley loaves and two fish, which Jesus used to miraculously feed thousands. Do you know that although this great story is told in all four Gospels, the boy is only mentioned in the book of John? This remarkable young man had a lot of faith. He wasn't deterred by the insignifance of his gift compared to the multitudes of hungry people. He willingly offered what he had. I can only imagine the joy that filled his heart as he watched Jesus turn his little offering into something that fed and satisfied thousands and thousands of people. This young boy probably floated home and his life was likely never the same!

Last night I had the privilege of sharing at my home church, Westport Community Church. I spoke of the millions of people in Uganda and the some 2.3 million orphans in this east African country. Yet, God is not daunted by large numbers or statistics. He is in the business of saving souls, one person at a time.

I shared that, "We serve a powerful, providing God and He is seeking people whom He can pour His blessings through to a hurting and lost world. It is not so important the wealth of our personal resources but our willingness to allow God to use the little we have and multiply it beyond what we could even imagine."

"Little is Much When God Is in It"

Verse 1: In the harvest field now ripened,
There's a work for all to do,
Hark, the voice of God is calling,
To the harvest calling you.

Verse 2: Does the place you're called to labor
Seems so small and little known?
It is great if God is in it
And He'll not forget His own.

Verse 3: When the conflict here is ended
And our race on earth is run
He will say if we are faithful,
Welcome home, My child well done.

Chorus: Little is much when God is in it,
Labor not for wealth or fame;
There's a crown and you can win it,
If you go in Jesus' name.


What is in your hand? Are you willing to share it? May God bless your "little" by His power for the furthering of His kingdom.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Uganda Videos

I was going through my Ugandan pictures today and ran across some videos that I took on my camera while I was there. They're not the best quality, but hopefully will give you a taste of life there. Enjoy!

The first two are of a little tour I did of the YWAM (Youth With a Mission) base on Lingira Island, Uganda. This is where I lived from Oct. 2006-March 2007.





The following is a little video interview of Habbakuk, who also lived on the base for awhile. This was taken shortly before Habakkuk returned to school, after 11 years of being out of class. He had to quit school to support himself, but was excited to be returning. A very neat man - a "gentle giant." : )

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Remember,...

...the very time for faith to work is when our sight begins to fail. And the greater the difficulties, the easier it is for faith to work, for as long as we can see certain natural solutions to our problems, we will not have faith. Faith never works as easily as when our natural prospects fail." - George Mueller

Monday, November 9, 2009

I've Been Tagged...And You May Be Next ; )

It has been awhile since I was involved in a game of tag. Since I am pushing 30 I don't play such active games as I am trying to conserve energy. : ) Nowadays I tend to enjoy such docile games as Scrabble and Cribbage. Anyway, where was I? (That's another reason to not play tag when you get older, you might stray too far and get lost.) I do, however, like a good game of virtual tag. I was recently tagged by good friends Lauren and Mikaela Cash with the "Honest Scrap Award," which means I have to tell 10 honest things about myself. Number one could be that I am a procrastinator, since I was tagged two weeks ago. (You tend to slow down in your old age.) But, since most of you probably already know that I am a procrastinator (I'd rather talk about it later anyway), I will choose 10 other things that may be less well known.

1. I never finished high school. I was partially through 11th grade and I was tired of school, and so was my mom, so we stopped. I did later obtain my GED.

2. I am obssessive compulsive in certain ways, like having things straight and having doors and cupboards closed.

3. I used to really dislike talking on the phone and was afraid to even answer the home phone. That was before I started working at the newspaper and now I am more accustomed to talking on the phone and occasionally enjoy it.

4. I have a large callous on my right middle finger because I tend to write hard. It has been there for years. (Am I only on number four?)

5. Up until about four years ago, I would have never in my wildest dreams thought of going to Africa. It was not on my places-to-visit list. But God had other plans. : )

6. I used to dislike the sound of a solo violin - that is until I started playing one. Now I think it is is a very beautiful instrument, especially when played by a talented musician.

7. I used to love reading Nancy Drew mysteries!

8. Of all housework, I really dislike dusting. Hence the fact that you could probably write your name on that shelf over there. Yes, I intend to tackle the dusting in my room sometime in the near future. But, like I said, I am a procrastinator.

9. I don't know how to properly type. I use about three or four fingers instead of 10. : )

10. I pretty much enjoy all vegetables (those that I have tried that is), though I can only tolerate so many lima beans.

Well, there you go, 10 honest things about me. And, as you know, a game of tag can only continue as long as people continue to be tagged. Along with receiving this honor from Lauren and Mikaela, I was also instructed to tag seven other bloggers. Unfortunately, I don't follow seven blogs. So, if you are reading this, have a blog and haven't already been tagged, consider yourself "it." Go for it, 'cause I can't run much further. ; )

P.S. Leave me a comment if you do take on the challenge and write 10 things about yourself on your blog (or you can do it on the comments here). I would love to learn more about those who visit here!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Beyond Me

"When David kept his eyes on the giant, he stumbled. But, when he kept his eyes on God, he was victorious."

This was evidenced throughout David's life. There were many times when he faced an opponent or obstacle far greater than his strength, his skills, his wit or his experience. Yet, over and over again, as he lifted his eyes to God, he found that victory was there, within his grasp.

I heard this wisdom earlier this week on a podcast and thought it went along well with something that has been on my heart and mind. As I think and make plans for Uganda, it is so easy for me to become overwhelmed. There seems to be a lot to do, and some of it pushes me far out of my comfort zone. : )

I just finished putting together a contact list. Global Outreach asked for a minimum of 200 names. In my mind, this seemed nearly impossible since I come from two small churches and a small town. But, I was thrilled earlier this week as I sat with my family and God seemed to generate names out of thin air. While this may seem small to some of you, it was such a blessing to me to see God provide in this way.

I am beginning to come to a greater and greater realization that this trip is beyond me. I don't have the faith, the skills, the funds, the love, the courage, the experience, etc. It is simply beyond me. Which is why it must be all of God. I believe that if He has called me, He will provide everything that is needed - even the names. : )

Today's selection in "Streams in the Desert" was so very good.

"'Is anything too hard for the Lord? (Genesis 18:14)'

"This is God's loving challenge to you and me each day. He wants us to think of the deepest, highest, and worthiest desires and longings of our hearts. He wants us to think of those things that perhaps were desires for ourselves or someone dear to us, yet have gone unfulfilled for so long that we now see them as simply lost desires. And God urges us to think of even the one thing that we once saw as possible but have given up all hope of seeing fulfilled in this life.

"That very thing, as long as it aligns with what we know be His expressed will - as a son was to Abraham and Sarah - God intends to do for us. Yes, if we will let Him, God will do that very thing, even if we know it is such an utter impossibility that we would simply laugh at the absurdity of anyone ever suggesting it could come to pass.

"'Is anything too hard for the Lord?' No, nothing is too difficult when we believe in Him enough to go forward, doing His will and letting Him do the impossible for us. Even Abraham and Sarah could have blocked God's plan if they had continued to disbelieve.

"The only thing 'too hard for the Lord' is our deliberate and continual disbelief in his love and power, and our ultimate rejection of His plans for us. Nothing is impossible for Jehovah to do for those who trust Him. from Messages for the Morning Watch"
So, is there anything too hard for the Lord in your life? I think you would have to join with me in saying, "No, there is nothing too hard for the Lord."

Friday, October 23, 2009

Not in God's Vocabulary

The sun rising in the east as I flew west to Cincinnati.

I enjoy flying. I think it's in the genes. My maternal grandfather was a pilot and co-pilot on a B-24J Liberator bomber during World War II. Even though he did not pursue flying after the war, his fascination with planes remained. In his post-war career, he supported the aviation industry as a sheetmetal technician and even made parts that went to the moon. Continuing down the line, my mom also enjoys flying and I believe has passed down that delight to me.

I find it thrilling to go to new places and often the quickest way is by plane. I am intrigued by the different airports I pass through, even though I may never walk out their doors to explore the sites beyond. There is a sense of exhiliration as the plane takes off and gains heights among the clouds, and then when it drops again and comes to a brake-slamming, nearly heart-stopping halt at its destination.

You can also see and meet some interesting people while traveling the skies. I had three most interesting experiences during my recent travels.

As I left Tupelo, Miss. early Saturday morning, Oct. 10, following my missions training, I boarded the small plane (the kind with only three seats across). To my surprise, there on the same flight was a man I had met in Tupelo the Sunday before. He was the teacher of the Sunday School class I had attended at the church I visited nearly a week prior. It was a fairly large church and I had had the option of going to another class, but had opted for the older singles class, which he was teaching. He recognized me on the plane and we exchanged greetings.

Believe it or not, this brought an assurance to my soul that God was with me and in charge of my travel plans. You see, I had nearly missed boarding the plane just minutes before because of a miscommunication about my departure time with my ride. But, I made it onboard, with a few minutes to spare.

As I settled into my seat and waited for takeoff, I pulled out "Streams in the Desert" to read the selection for the day. I found the highlighted scripture to be very appropriate. "Do not fret. (Psalm 37:1)." I thought to myself, "If only I had read that earlier," when I was stressing about how I was going to get to the airport. It seemed to be a message from the Lord that although the day had started rocky, He would be with me and all things were under His control.

I had two layovers that day as I traveled from Mississippi to Pennsylvania - one in Memphis and one in Cincinnati. I grabbed some breakfast in Memphis and as I sat watching the people bustle about, I thought to myself, "Wouldn't it be funny if I saw someone I knew?" I figured this was highly unlikely, considering I was in an airport I had never passed through and I didn't know a soul in Memphis. A few minutes later I moved to my gate to wait until boarding. After unsuccessfully trying to access the Internet, I looked up as I closed on my computer. There, down the row was an old friend. Since Sheri had moved several years ago from Oregon to Florida to attend school, I hadn't seen her much. In fact, the last time was more than a year ago, although we are friends on Facebook. I was shocked to see her and I believe it was the same when she saw me. We had a nice chat for about 20 minutes, catching up on each other's lives. (Even on Facebook, you don't always get a good idea of how your friends are or what they are up to.)

Sheri and I had the same flight from Memphis to Cincinnati, though we didn't get to sit near each other. Again, I marveled at God's mysterious ways and was blessed that He arranged our meeting. Both of us later noted that the encounter made each of our days.

Flying into Cincinnati.

Flying over the Susquehanna River that flows through Harrisburg, PA.

The third experience came as I was flying home from Pennsylvania this past Sunday. I again had a layover in Cincinnati and this time was flying to Salt Lake City before continuing on to Portland. I boarded the plane fairly early and watched as it filled up. As travelers continued trickling on, I kept glancing at the two seats to my right, wondering if anyone would claim them or if I would have a nice place to stretch out for a nap (especially since I had arisen at 3:37 a.m. that morning).

When nearly all of the passengers were on the plane, down the aisle came a familiar face. I knew this man and his small daughter in tow. I had met them more than three years ago on a different continent. It was Shem, of Shem and Catherine who ran the YWAM base on the island where I stayed for nearly five months when in Uganda. Shem and his young daughter had spent the last month in Ohio as the little girl had required surgery. They were now on their way to Montana to meet up with the rest of the family for the remainder of their furlough. Shem and I chatted for a bit and caught up on each other's lives and families.

I also could have missed that "chance" encounter as there were a couple of opportunities to give up my seat as flights were overbooked. Yet, I am glad I didn't.

I have heard and do believe that coincidence is not in God's vocabulary - not when we serve a sovereign, all-knowing God. Although I don't know all the reasons God orchestrated these encounters, they serve as reminders of the caring, loving and detailed Creator whom I serve.
I was doing a bit of research for this post, I came across an article by Joe Stowell that I enjoyed. He wrote:

"First, it’s important to know that the words luck and, for that matter, coincidence are not in God’s vocabulary. God’s hand is at work in every situation, coordinating every detail to accomplish His purposes for His glory and our good. No event is random. No moment is beyond His notice or beyond His control...He (God) doesn’t give a play-by-play on everything He is doing to coordinate the details of His providential plans. In fact, often His work is most clearly seen in the rearview mirror. But I’ve looked back enough times to see and trust that my life is not a product of good or bad luck, or of random coincidences. It is divinely shaped and guided by the providential hand of God toward a wonderful conclusion."

I also enjoyed this quote by writer Emma Bull (who is not a Christian, but I thought made an insightful statement).

"Coincidence is the word we use when we can't see the levers and pulleys."

Knowing that God is the Master Weaver, gently pulling through His large loom all the circumstances, encounters, relationships and experiences of our lives and weaving them into His master plan, gives me a peace and an assurance. Even the seemingly small and insignificant strands, like chance encounters on airplanes, He sees as important and for a purpose.

Mt. Hood - a beautiful site upon returning to Oregon.
Note: The photos don't necessarily have much to do with the topic of this post, but I thought they were pretty and I was blessed that God arranged some great views from my airplane seat. : )


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Goodbye Mississippi, Hello Pennsylvania!


I can hardly believe my week of missions training is over - it just seemed to fly by!! I thoroughly enjoyed meeting my fellow missionaries and the Global staff family. I also appreciated the great sessions, as there was a good balance of Biblical teaching and practical instruction. I have my marching orders now, so will be kept busy in the weeks and months ahead. : )

The training concluded Friday mid-day with a final challenge from longtime Haiti missionary David Heady. I so appreciated his message that we are not to get caught up in going out and doing good works. Not that good words are bad, but they should not be our focus. Instead our priority is to be in intimacy with Jesus. Our fellowship with Him will enrich and extend our ministry. I believe this is true, whether we are serving at home or on foreign soil. As Mr. Heady reminded us, without Jesus we can do nothing. After this final challenge, several Global missionaries and staff prayed for each of us missionaries. The tears flowed as I felt God's presence when these godly men and women prayed for me. It was a very good conclusion to a great week.


Holding my "Certificate of Participation." Notice the Ugandan flag in the background. : )

I flew out of Tupelo, Miss. early Saturday morning and had layovers in Memphis, Tenn. and Cincinnati, Ohio. As I sat in Memphis, waiting for my next flight, I thought how interesting it would be if I saw someone I knew. Of course, I don't know anyone in Memphis, nor knew of anyone traveling through there. However, maybe 15 minutes later, I looked up from my seat in the airport and saw Sheri Martin, an old friend, down the row. Wow - only God could do that! Sheri and I knew each other in Oregon, but hadn't seen much of each other over the last few years since she moved to Florida to go to school. Sheri and I chatted and caught up in the time before we boarded. It turns out we were both on the same plane, bound for Cincinnati. That was truly a divine appointment! I personally was blessed by God bringing me that special blessing and reminding me that He works in mysterious ways. : )

I arrived in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Saturday afternoon and have been enjoying my time with my special sister. Leah is such a great hostess that I am getting spoiled! I am so very thankful for this time to spend with my best friend. : )

Well, I need to run! I hope you are all doing well. :)

With my dear sister Leah

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Training to Go with GO

The Global Outreach International (GO) office

Well, I have had two days of missions training - full days. Yesterday's topics included Global Outreach's (GO) core values, its history, missions finances and communication.

In the foreground is where we have gathered for the training sessions, with meals shared at the round tables in the background.

Today was another packed day, with presentations on purity, spiritual warfare, insurance, creating a budget, hosting teams and volunteers and taking care of such legal matters as writing a will, etc. I didn't realize there were so many details and preparations to be done in planning to be a missionary. It is not as simple as packing your bags, catching a plane and taking off overseas. Yet, I know these are important details that will help us be more effective on the field. And, I know the Lord and the Global staff will help me sort out everything I need to do in the coming weeks.

"Ask of me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance." - Psalm 2:8

(Sign in the Global Outreach lobby.)

My favorite part of the training so far is becoming acquainted with my fellow trainees and the Global staff, especially in between sessions and during meals. There are 10 of us attending the training and we have been or are planning to serve in the following countries: Uganda, Kenya, Haiti, China, Ethopia and France. Some have made multiple trips to where they intend to return after the training. Others are already established in the country. Some of us are pretty "green" to missions - like me. We are learning from people who have spent from several weeks and months to 10-27 years on the field. Their testimonies and stories are such a blessing to hear.

Tonight at dinner, one of the longtime Haitian missionaries shared how her husband was one time wrongfully imprisoned. Someone had been caught stealing on their compound, but the missionary husband opted to show mercy and let the man go. The thief, however, turned the missionary in - wrongly accusing him of mistreatment. In Haiti, where you are guilty until proven innocent, the missionary was taken into custody. He was nearly put into solitary confinement cell, but a guard stepped in and placed him instead between two other guards, promising he would not be hurt. That same guard then heard the Gospel and accepted the Lord. The missionary was released the next day, but invited the guard and his friends to dinner at the mission compound. As they later sat around the missionaries' dinner table, a fellow woman policeman (who was not a Christian) identified the newly-saved guard as a believer - he was already shining his light.

Some time later, the same woman policeman was hurt (in an accident, I believe) and required extensive surgery. However, she refused to receive the anesthetic for the surgery until the missionaries came so she could accept Christ as her Savior. The woman policeman came through the surgery fine and as she recovered in the hospital, was discipled for three weeks by a nearby pastor. I wish I could remember all of the details of the story, but I know multiple lives were touched from that missionary's one night in prison. As his wife pointed out tonight, her husband would not likely have intentionally gone to that prison to share the Gospel, yet God orchestrated the whole series of events. And, souls were touched for eternity.

I know each of the missionaries could recount story after story of God's provision, miracles and evidences of power. After many years of service, they continue to be enthusiastic about missions. They are truly an example and a blessing. I look forward to "soaking" up more during the rest of the week. :)

Carving in Global Outreach lobby

P.S. Before I close, I just have to share something humorous. Since I am in Mississippi and a number of the people I am with are from the south, I have been hearing a lot of southern accents. However, after only a few days, I am beginning to "think" in a southern accent and almost feel like I am starting to talk with one, too. I was born in Texas and spent all of about two years of my young life there, but didn't realize an accent would come back so easy. ; ) Ah, y'all, perhaps it's all in my imagination.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Howdy y'all!

Me in the comfy Global apartment.

Greetings from the Magnolia State - Mississippi! After leaving Portland shortly before noon today, I arrived at the Tupelo Regional Airport (the smallest airport I have ever flown into) around 9 p.m. (7 p.m. west coast time) and am now at a Global apartment.

All of the traveling went really well today - aside from picking a seat near the engine on my last flight and vibrating the last hour of my travels. ;) Oh, well, it kept me awake.

I am the first one to have arrived for the training and am looking forward to meeting the others hopefully tomorrow. One of the Global staff members is taking me to their church tomorrow, so I am looking forward to that.

The apartment does have wireless Internet, so I will try and update this week. But, for now, I am going to head to bed.

Thank you for your prayers!


P.S. The answer to the poll is...

"For God and My Country" is the Ugandan motto. Good job for the person who voted for it!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Plane, A Plan, A Seed and A Young Man

I can hardly believe it, but my missions orientation training (MOT) is almost here. In a little more than 36 hours, I will board a plane and head southeast to Tupelo, Mississippi. The training is from Monday, Oct. 5, through Friday, Oct. 9. I have the incredible blessing of being able to stay in lodging provided by Global Outreach International and will be sharing an apartment with a couple who is also bound for Africa.

I look forward to visiting a part of the country I have never before been to. I am excited about meeting the other missionaries at the training (there will be 10 of us) and hearing their stories. I am also anxious to meet the folks who have been so kind and helpful over the last couple of months - the staff at Global. I am not sure what all the training will entail, but am trusting God to help me soak in all that I need to. I would certainly appreciate your prayers in the days ahead.

I am kind of a mix of emotions right now - excitement, nervousness, uncertainty, some timidity, yet boldness, and a measure of inadequacy. Yet, I believe God knows what is ahead and am confident He will be with me each step of the journey.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As I read a missions book yesterday, I was reminded of the tiny mustard seed. It is one of the smallest of all seeds, yet as Jesus said in Matthew 13:31-32, "it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree." This illustration shows me that God delights in using the insignificant, the obscure, the weak, the handicapped, because His power is all the more evident in these lives. So, I may find myself lacking in courage or skills or experience, but in the big scheme of things, that does not really matter, because the all-powerful, loving God overshadows all of those deficiences with His all-sufficiency.

If He can take a tiny seed and grow it into a tree, or use the cowardly to lead a nation or win a battle (the examples of Moses and Gideon), then He can certainly use you and I. May you rest in His all-sufficiency today.

Before I close this post, I thought I would share some photos of a cute young man I met today...












Meet David Andrew Smith!















For those of you who don't know, David is the three-and-a-half-month-old son of Andy and Karina Smith, whom I will be working with in Uganda. I was excited to finally meet this little guy after only seeing pictures for the last few months. I can attest that he is even cuter in person!

I am not sure if I will have Internet access during the training, but will try and update before I return home on Oct. 18. Oh, and after the training, I will be spending about a week with my sister, Leah, in Pennsylvania. Yay! I am so looking forward to seeing her.

Thank you for your prayers and support! : )

Monday, September 28, 2009

Face the Facts


I read the following the other day in the "Streams in the Desert" devotional by L.B. Cowman. It struck a chord with me and I hope it ministers to you.

"We live by faith, not by sight." (2 Corinthians 5:7)

"As believers, 'we live by faith, not by sight' - God never wants us to live by our feelings. Our inner self may want to live by feelings, and Satan may want us to, but God wants us to face the facts, not feelings. He wants us to face the facts of Christ and His finished and perfect work for us. And once we face these precious facts, and believe them simply because God says they are facts, He will take care of our feelings.

"Yet God never gives us feelings to enable or encourage us to trust Him, and He never gives them to show us that we have already completely trusted Him. God only gives us feelings when He sees that we trust Him apart from our feelings, resting solely on His Word and His faithfulness to His promise. And these feelings that can only come from Him will be given at such a time and to such a degree as His love sees best for each individual circumstance.

"Therefore we must choose between facing our feelings or facing the facts of God. Our feelings may be as uncertain and changing as the sea or shifting sand. God's facts, however, are as certain as the Rock of Ages Himself - 'Jesus Christ...the same yesterday and today and forever' (Heb. 13:8)

"When darkness veils His lovely face
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every strong and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.'"


See the rainbow? Remember, God keeps His promises! It's a fact!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Just a note...

...about the "Snapshots of Uganda." In case you didn't know, if you click on the photos at left, you will be taken to flickr.com where you can view them in a larger format, as well as see any captions I may have added. Enjoy! :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

"To whom are you loyal?"

Worshipping in a Lingira Island church with drums and voices as the only instruments.
Loyalty is a quality I admire. But, determining at whose feet your loyalty lies is of utmost importance.

As I was reading up on Ugandan culture a few weeks ago, I came across a remarkable story that I knew I wanted to share with all of you. It is the story of the "Ugandan Martyrs."

Before Uganda became a British protectorate in 1894, it was known as the Kingdom of Buganda, which was ruled by kings or "Kabakas." As Anglican and Roman Catholic missionaries from France and England began coming to the kingdom and evangelizing, they found success in converting members of the court of King Mutesa I.

"The Christian religion was received with much excitement by the converts but it came with its own requirements. It denounced all the native religious behavior and practices as heathen and satanic. Therefore joining it meant a commitment to break away from the old life style, make and adopt new alliances, and adjust to new moral and religious standards, adherence and allegiance."1

Although King Mutesa himself never turned to serve the King of Kings, since he would have to forsake his pagan ways, he did not prevent the spread of Christianity among his subjects. But, just a few years after the arrival of the missionaries, the king died in 1884. The kingdom was left to his young son, Mwanga II. As a prince, Mwanga had been enthusiastically supportive of the missionaries, but he did not emulate his father's tolerant ways when he assumed the throne.

King Mwanga became "an intolerant and vicious persecutor of Christians"1 and other foreigners. He believed he was losing a grip on the loyalty of his subjects.

"The converts had diverted their loyalty to some other authority and their allegiance at all costs could no longer be counted on."1

Perhaps most humiliating to the king was that his pages, the least of his servants, rejected his immoral ways. It was simply unthinkable that a page would reject the wishes of a king.

Not even a year after Mwanga assumed the throne, he ordered the execution of the first three Christian martyrs, who dismembered and burned on January 31, 1885. Later that year and in the following year, many others, including a senior advisor to the king, were killed for their newfound faith.

This time of persecution climaxed in May 1886. No longer willing to suffer the divided loyalties of his court members, Mwanga demanded they make a choice - either completely obey his orders or continue with their faith and so choose death. Approximately 33 Ugandans, Catholic and Anglican converts, including 12 boy pages, chose the latter. They collected the bamboo sticks that would be their means of execution and were burned on June 3, 1886, feet first over a slow fire to give them opportunity to recant. It is recorded, however, that instead they sang praises to God as they died. In the following months, other Christians were also burned or speared as they chose the Heavenly Kingdom rather than that of King Mwanga.

The spark from these martyr's faith ignited the spread of Christianity in Uganda. Those who had observed the martyr's deaths sought out instruction in the Christian faith and thus the followers of Jesus multiplied in Uganda. Hundreds of loyal Catholics and Protestants suffered horrible deaths. However, "...conversions outpaced executions as the church went underground." 2

The Ugandan Catholic martyrs were canonized as saints in 1964 and June 3 is observed nationally as "Uganda Martyrs Day." It is estimated that 80% of Uganda's population is Christian, including Catholic, Anglican and Protestant believers. This small east African country has the largest percentage of professing Christians of any country on the continent.
Pastor Moses shares with a small mainland church. (It had three walls and a tarp for a roof.)
I wish I could say persecution in Uganda was limited to the reign of Mwanga, but Muslim dictator Ida Amin murdered some 500,000 of his countrymen, among them 300,000 believers, during his reign of terror from 1971-1979.

I imagine that those loyal Christians of more than 100 years ago had no idea how the spark of their faith would ignite a nation. For me, personally, I am grateful for the sacrifice of these souls for they helped lay the groundwork of what is occurring in Uganda today. There is much Christian activity in this nation. When I was there in 2006-07, I was so blessed as I met and became aware of many missionaries and nationals dedicating themselves to spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Uganda.

So, before I wind up this post, may I ask "To whom are you loyal?" You may or may not ever have to face death for your faith, but if you did, what would you answer? May I note that the Ugandan martyrs were killed not just for a verbal profession of faith, but because they lived loyally to Jesus. They would not have necessarily been a threat if they had only been followers in word, but not in deed. Are you living loyally to Jesus today?

1. http://www.buganda.com/martyrs.htm
2.
http://www.bethel.edu/~letnie/AfricanChristianity/SSAUganda.html
Other sources:
http://black-african-woman.blogspot.com/2008/06/uganda-martyrs-how-chritianity-got-its.html
http://www.christianitytoday.com/bc/columns/bookoftheweek/holyspaceinuganda.html?start=2
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/232360/a_story_of_ugandan_martyrs_its_time_pg3.html?cat=9

Baptism in Lake Victoria.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Like a Penny

There is a cute little song my dad taught Leah and I when we were younger, that I think is a good illustration of love. It goes something like this:


"Love is like a little penny,
Hold it in your hand and you don't have many.
But lend it, spend it, the best that you can,
You'll have so many, they'll roll all over the floor.

"Love is something when you give it away, give it away, give it away.
Love is something when you give it away, you end up having more."

A couple posts back I wrote about love and specifically God's incredible love toward us and how we can show our love back to Him.

But, as I read in I John today, God does not intend for us to hoard the love, but to give it away.

"By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers." - I John 3:16

I believe this "knowing" is experiential - we know God's love because we have experienced its immeasurable fullness in the fact that we have forgiveness, salvation and new life through Jesus' sacrificial death.

"As an example, Jesus shows us that true love is concrete and active, not merely felt or thought, but lived out." - IVP New Testament Commentaries

It may be difficult to wrap our minds around the idea of "laying down our lives." What does this really mean and how do we do it?

"Christ alone laid down His one life for us all; we ought to lay down our lives severally for the lives of the brethren; if not actually, at least virtually, by giving our time, care, labors, prayers, substance: Non nobis, sed omnibus. (Latin for "Not for ourselves alone.") Our life ought not to be dearer to us than God's own Son was to Him. The apostles and martyrs acted on this principle." - Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

John also gives further explanation of how to live out love.

"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?" - I John 3:17

Wow - this hits me right in the heart. I know I have seen, yet passed by, so many needs of others in my life. I have put my wants and priorities before them. I have been unwilling to give unselfishly without expecting anything in return. So many times I have been reluctant to get dirty, to give sacrificially, to just plain give. Yet, "love is something when we give it away."

Love is a noun, but it becomes a verb when it becomes active.

"Our superfluities should yield to the necessities; our comforts, and even our necessaries in some measure, should yield to the extreme wants of our brethren. 'Faith gives Christ to me; love flowing from faith gives me to my neighbor.'"


"Little children, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth." - I John 3:18

As I think about going to Uganda I think about love and being able to love as God would want me to. I know my brand of love is often selfish, wrongly motivated, shallow and limited. It can also be superficial. My version of love might make people like me or encourage friendship, but, in the light of eternity, is that kind of love really effective?
Honestly, I don't have the love that is required on the missionfield or even in my daily life here at home. Which is why I need to be emptied of my tainted love, to be filled with God's pure, life-changing love. It is only God's brand of love that can truly touch hearts and change lives for eternity. It is purely motivated, sacrificial and unlimited. When we draw on God's love we never have to fear running out before we reach the next person.
I simply love this verse from the hymn, "The Love of God."

"Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky."

Take your cup, your basin, your bucket and dip it into the ocean of God's boundless love. But, don't keep it to yourself, pour it into the lives of others. Give it away!

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Languages of Uganda

Sharing pictures from home with new friends.


In case any of you are truly curious, here is the answer to the poll (see left sidebar): "What is the official language of Uganda?"

Drumroll, please...

English is the official language of Uganda.

And, here is some more information from Wikipedia: "Around forty different languages are regularly and currently in use in the country. English became the official language of Uganda after independence. Ugandan English has a local flavour." (That is for sure! Although many do speak English, they have such heavy accents, it still can be difficult to understand them, until you develop an "ear" for their English.)

"The most widely locally spoken language in Uganda is Luganda spoken predominantly in the urban concentrations of Kampala, the capital city, and in towns and localities in the Buganda region of Uganda which encompasses Kampala...Swahili, a widely used language throughout eastern and central east Africa, was approved as the country's second official national language in 2005."

So, there you go - now you know a bit more about Uganda. : )

Friday, August 28, 2009

Have I forgetten something (or Someone)?

As I think about preparing for a year in Uganda, I have had such questions as: "Do I pack a year's worth of shampoo?" Or, "How many flashlight bulbs should I bring?" "Do I need a new camera?" "What kind of mosquito repellent would be best?"

There are so many details to think about when planning for a trip - I am sure a lot of you can identify with me in even planning for a weekend away. But, when I think about being gone for a year, in a place where customary conveniences are, well, not so convenient - the whole process can be mind-boggling.

But, I don't want to get so caught up in the details and preparations, that I overlook or lose sight of how God wants me to really prepare - from the inside out, starting with my heart.

I have been thinking quite a bit about love lately. Over the past few weeks, I have had several streams of thought about this topic, and I will try and divert them into one flow - so bear with me.

Lately I've been listening to an audio book "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. (I highly recommend it if you have a chance to read it.) When I first saw the book awhile ago, the title intrigued me. I had a sense it was about the "crazy" kind of love we should have for God. And, sure enouugh, Chan does cover this in his book. Basically he says, because we have such an awesome, majestic and holy God, He deserves all of our love and all of our lives - every part of them. He loves us with an incredible love, but we...well, we don't often reciprocate in like manner. Not that we can even love like He does, but we often give Him the "leftovers" of our lives. I know I do.

In fact, I have done it just this week and just today.

If I say I love God, then how am I showing it to Him? Does He know it by the time I spend with Him, or by the way I put Him as a priority in my life? Does He see it by the way I obey Him and extend His love to others? If you love someone, you desire, you strive to please them. Cost nor sacrifice are an issue - they are irrelevant when you truly love someone. So, if we really want to show our love for God, where do we begin? The following verses give us a clue.

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you and that your may be full." - John 15:9-11
Abide: "To remain stable or fixed in a state; to continue in a place; sojourn."
I haven't been doing much abiding lately and I know that is where God wants me to be - continuing, sojourning, staying in Him.
So, I am going to take some time now and take my mind off of travel plans, shampoo, etc. and go spend some time with Someone who has been waiting for me. Is He waiting for you, too?
Love...to be continued.
P.S. I encourage you to check out http://www.crazylovebook.com/ for more about Chan's book.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Did You Know?

If you would have asked me several years ago to find Uganda on a map, it may have required some searching. Yes, I knew Uganda is a country in Africa - but the continent of Africa is rather large and has a total of 54 countries.

I have learned some about this East African country in the last couple of years, but am still learning and want to continue learning.

I thought some of you might be interested in perusing some facts as well. So, with the help of Google and Wikipedia, here is a small "buffet" of information.


  • I was excited to learn that Uganda is similar in size to Oregon - my home state! It is 91, 136 square miles. (By the way, Oregon is 98,466 square miles.)

  • Uganda ranks as the 11th largest country in Africa in terms of population and 38th among the world's countries. In 2007 Uganda's population was estimated at 30,900,000.

  • Uganda was once a protectorate of the United Kingdom, so yes, they do drive on the left, drink black tea and call cookies "biscuits" and flashlights "torches." :)

  • Uganda is bordered by five other countries - Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

  • Uganda is on the East Africa Plateau and the elevation averages 3,250 feet above sea level. (Oregon's average elevation is 3,300 feet.)

  • Forty-five percent of Lake Victoria is considered to be in Uganda. The lake is also in Kenya and Tanzania.

  • Lake Victoria is the largest tropical lake in the world and the earth's third largest lake. Its surface area is 26,600 square miles.

  • Lake Victoria is the source of the Nile River - the world's longest river. (I had the opportunity to visit "the Source" - the spot where the lake flows into the river - pretty cool!)

  • There are approximately 3000 islands on the lake, including Lingira Island where I stayed.

Okay, so I don't want to overwhelm you with facts in this one post, but to give you a bit of an intro to this fascinating country. I plan to share more about Uganda in coming posts, including some about its history and hardships and the people.

By the way, check out the slideshow to the upper left of photos from my first trip to Uganda. I will be adding more pictures in the future. Enjoy!

Oh, and don't forget to take the poll, too!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A P.S. to "Trekking to Tupelo"

I thought after I wrote the last post and included all of that interesting information about Tupelo that I should have at least told you how to pronounce it. And, a friend's comment made me think of it again. So, in case any of you were wondering, here is how you pronounce Tupelo - "TOO-puh-low." (Now say it 10 times fast. ; )

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Trekking to Tupelo


I am bound for Uganda...via Tupelo!

I received a "green light" this week from Global Outreach International with an official invitation to their Missionary Orientation Training (MOT), Oct. 5-9 in Tupelo, Miss. This is a required training for anyone wanting to serve with Global for longer than three months.

My good friend Amanda Taylor (who is now in Uganda) went to this same training last October and seemed to really enjoy it. I am looking forward to it as well. I also enjoy visiting new places and have never before been to Mississippi. I don't know much about Tupelo, except that it is where Global is based, as well as the American Family Association (http://www.afa.net/), a really good organization.

Well, with help from Wikipedia, here are some other interesting facts about Tupelo (that I am sure you simply cannot live without).

~ Tupelo is the seventh largest city in Mississippi. It is the largest city and the county seat in Lee County. Population is about 36,200. It is in the upper northeast corner of the state.

~ It is the birthplace of Elvis Presley. (See photo above.)

~ "The town was originally named Gum Pond prior to the American Civil War, supposedly due to the high number of tupelo trees, locally known as blackgum, that grow in the area." - Wikipedia

~ "One of the largest automobile museums in North America, the Tupelo Automobile Museum opened on December 7, 2002, Pearl Harbor Day, and was designated the official State of Mississippi automobile museum in the spring of 2003. The museum is home to more than 150 rare automobiles, all of which were the personal collection of WTVA founder Frank K. Spain." - Wikipedia

~ Tupelo's nickname is "All-America City."

Okay, well that was just for fun, though there will be a quiz later. Just kidding. : )

On a more serious note, I would appreciate your continued prayers as I continue moving forward. I know there is a lot to do and I can get bogged down in details. Yet, I know God will continue to guide me a step at a time.




Sunday, July 19, 2009

Trusting the Driver

"Are we going the right way?" I asked with hesitant nervousness.

The driver nodded his head patiently and kept his eyes on the road ahead.

"Ummm...are we going a bit too fast? What is the speed limit here?" I queried again, just a minute later.

"I believe we are traveling at a safe speed," he replied. "Just relax and enjoy the ride."

"Relax and enjoy the ride." That was the message God spoke to my heart several weeks ago.

Earlier this year when I began seriously praying about a return to Uganda, I pointedly told God that if He did not want me to go, to clearly close the door, but if He did want me to return, to continue to open the doors. Now, several months later, even though it seemed He was only opening doors, I was doubting - Was I really making the right decision? Had I moved forward rashly?

Then God reminded me of my prayer - to either close or open the door. I had handed Him the keys and now He just wanted me to sit back and enjoy the ride.

He lovingly admonished that I had committed the decision to His care and He was more than capable to keep me on the path He had laid out for me.

We serve a very powerful, all-knowing and sovereign God and we can rest in that.

Perhaps you have committed something to the Lord, but it is again burdening your heart. Trust Him and leave it in His hands. Or maybe there is something you need to give Him. Again, entrust it to Him - He is more than capable and will only ever act in your best interest.

Before I close, here are a couple of quotes on faith.

"Faith is not a sense, nor sight, nor reason, but simply taking God at His word." - Christmas Evans
"The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety." - George Muller

Monday, July 13, 2009

My Sister - A Blessing

In case some of you are wondering, I'm still here. My absence from my blog doesn't mean I have left for Uganda, yet. : )

I have been happily busy the last couple of weeks enjoying the visit of my dear sweet sister, Leah. She's my best friend, was my roommate for 20+ years and has been one of my greatest (and most patient) supporters and encouragers. Needless to say, I think she's really great!!

Leah and I on the Long Beach Peninsula

Not only has Leah been a wonderful friend and sister, but she has been a great spiritual example to me. This past Sunday we sang "In Christ Alone" as a special at church. I believe that song fits Leah so well because she has put Christ first in every area of life and it is so evident in her words, actions and choices. She has encouraged me on numerous occasions, though often without words, as she lives her life solely to please her Lord. I feel so very blessed to have her in my life! I only feel bad for the rest of you since there is only one Leah. ; ) May God continue to bless, guide and strengthen her as she continues to serve Him! (Late Sunday night she flew back to Pennsylvania where she works at the Bible school from which she graduated in April 2007.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Just a quick update on my Uganda preparations - I am still awaiting word from Global on whether or not my application has been accepted. I would ask for your prayers that I would know how to use this time and that I would keep focused on the Lord. I have faced various distractions lately and have felt a bit discouraged. But, the Lord keeps reminding me that I need only to draw close to Him and He will draw close to me.

Lately God has been showing me some more truths about faith and how He works in our lives, but I will save those for a future blog.

I would like to close, though, with this neat quote on faith which I read this morning.

"That is genuine faith - believing and declaring what God has said,
stepping out on what appears to be thin air and finding
solid rock beneath your feet." - From "Streams in the Desert"

Saturday, June 27, 2009

VBS Kids Move "Mountains"





"At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, 'Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?' He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: 'I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'" Matthew 18:1-4
"I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 18:20b

A "mountain" was moved this week.

And, it was moved by a group of kids who gathered for Vacation Bible School (VBS) at Westport Community Church. As they came to learn about God's "untamed nature" through songs, stories, skits, crafts and more, they also gave of themselves in a special way.

On Friday evening, during the concluding program, I had the incredible privilege of being the recipient of their "faith in action." Each day during VBS an offering was collected, with the boys and girls facing off daily to see who could raise the most. (The boys won overall, having gathered the most on three of the five days. Way to go, guys!) About 20 kids also memorized Scripture verses during a "verse-a-thon" in which they were encouraged to collect pledges for each verse they memorized.

The money raised during the week was for the designated VBS mission project, which this year was the ministry in Uganda, including helping to send me back. On Friday, I was presented a large "check" representing the total from the week - more than $2200! I began crying as I received the check as I was so blessed by these kids (and the adults who gave too) for giving so sacrificially. (The photo above shows Pastor Tim presenting the "check" to me.)

I am so very blessed by their faith. They gave what they could and God multiplied it. Just like our "mustard seeds" of faith, with which God can do the impossible, like moving mountains in our lives. But, is it not true that it is not the measure of our faith, but Who our faith is in, that really matters?

I hope the kids learned an incredible lesson this week - that we serve an unforgettable, unchangeable, unpredictable and uncontainable God - just like one of their songs said so well.

Thanks kids for being vessels of blessings and for exercising your faith!!



The kids performing for the program.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My First Post

Since this is my very first post on my new blog, I want to make it somewhat meaningful and significant. And, as I just lost a bunch of text, I will try again - this blogging stuff may take some getting used to. :)

First off, I want to welcome each of you to "Journey of Faith." My aim in this blog is to share about my "journey" back to Uganda, as well as the continuation of my "spiritual journey," (that's where the "beyond" comes in from the title), which I believe will not reach a conclusion until Jesus returns or I exit this earth.
I pray you are encouraged and blessed as you visit on occasion (which I hope is often). I am excited about where God is leading me and will be happy to share the highlights of the "adventure."
I am also excited because I know without a doubt that God also has a unique and special plan for you as well. I hope that you will also share with me about your adventures, so feel free to comment frequently. : )

So, strap on your shoes, grab your walking stick and join me on a "Journey of Faith."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Several months ago as I contemplated returning to Uganda and struggled with the lack of a clear, definite "billboard-in-the-sky" sign, I believe God gave me a scripture about acting on faith and not on feelings. It is Hebrews 11:8.

"By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out
to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance.
And he went out, not knowing where he was going."

I felt as if God was asking me to step out, just as Abraham did, not because he knew where he was going, but because Abraham was obeying the one Who had called him out. God also reminded me that I had a bit more "light" on my path than Abe did in that I knew where God was calling me to go - Uganda.

In recent months I have asked God over and over again that if He indeed wants me to return to Uganda that He will clearly open the doors and if not, to clearly close the doors. Up until now, He has only continued to open the doors and some He has thrown wide open. : )

As I close this first post, may I offer a bit of encouragement. I am not sure where you are or what you are facing. Perhaps the path ahead is dark and unclear - trust God to shine the light as you move forward one step at a time, relying on Him. Or perhaps you feel you are confronted with a wall - a wall of fear, doubt or regret. Again, look to Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life. He can make a way. He can dispel any doubt or fear. Trust Him.