Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My Friend Flex

He's green. He's little. He has bug eyes. But he has been with me as a faithful companion since I arrived in Uganda five and a half months ago. So, this post is all about my friend Flex.

Flex showing just how hot it can get here in Uganda. It is hard to see, but the mercury is up there around 100 F.

Flex has found many of his own kind, including this little beauty, whom he calls his "girlfriend." I told him to be careful, she may actually be a long lost cousin of his.

Oops, this isn't Flex - must be another cousin. (BTW, she insisted I take only her "best side.")

Flex pointing out where Lingira Island should be on the map of Uganda.

Flex likes to "help" out with the daily chores.

Flex enjoying a nap on my solar shower.

Taking his basin bath. (Flex was a bit embarrassed that I would post this pic, but it's not like he wears clothes anyway.)

Posing with our two-burner gas stove on the island. Flex says it makes the best fried flies. I wouldn't know.

Hanging out in the SHIM administration building.

Flex is a very musically inclined and loves to play the drums - a favorite instrument here in Uganda.

Flex with Gloria, SHIM's secretary. This was right before Gloria tried to eat Flex, but I decided not to post those photos, so as not to frighten any children who might be reading this. 

Flex with some Ugandan foods. From top right, clockwise, Irish potatoes with ground-nut sauce, pineapple, avacado and cooked cabbage. Yum!!

Flex with a Ugandan standby - black tea - to be consumed in the morning, afternoon and evening, or when you need a cup.

Getting ready to boat from Jinja to Lingira Island. Flex loves riding on the boat!

Me and Flex (he's riding in the purse.)
(Note: This photo was taken shortly after I arrived in Uganda, so I am tanner now and my hair has succumbed to the heat and humidity.

Flex is thrilled that you took the time to look at all of his photos of him, but I had best quit for now as he seems to be getting a big head. Flex sends you all greetings from Uganda!

Note: No animals or plastic frogs were hurt in the making of this album.

Monday, June 21, 2010

When I am Weak...

He was called and set apart by God. He was a “Founding Father of Faith.” He had many promises given to him by God. Yet, he faced challenges. Surprised? Well, we shouldn’t be. I appreciated the sermon on Sunday in our island church. Pastor David spoke about Abraham, that although he was called by God and given a number of great promises, he also encountered an assortment of challenges on the way to the fulfillment of those promises.

I have a bad habit of having a “green grass” mentality – of thinking the grass is greener there or over there – or anywhere where I am not right now. As I spent some time in prayer after the service, God reminded me that I will face challenges no matter where I am – here in Uganda, at home in Oregon, or anywhere He might call me. But, those challenges are not unexpected blips on the navigational screen or unforeseen detours on God’s roadmap – they too are part of His overall plan, just like the call and the promises.

Rather than resent or fear the challenges, why not embrace them and see them as opportunities for growth? This is easier said than done, I know, but the God who knows those challenges also knows you and me. He will give us the grace we need for the journey.

I have also been meditating some on 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

“For my power is made perfect in weakness…” Hmmm…does that mean God is truly glorified in me when my weaknesses are not denied or “camouflaged,” but are accepted and shared transparently with Him and others? Yes, I believe this is so. I don’t, however, think we should wallow in our weaknesses, saying “Woe is me.” But, I truly must acknowledge that I cannot attempt anything in my own “strength.”

God knows what I am, that I am “but dust.” He is not surprised when I falter, stumble, or trip flat on my face. Rather He is like a loving father watching and helping his child learn to walk. He doesn’t scoff or belittle the child when he falls, but helps him back up, placing His hand under his arms until the child slowly by slowly becomes sure footed.

I am a foolish child if I don’t rely on God’s strength, grace and the power He provides through His Spirit. He delights to display His strength in and through you and me.

God’s power and strength were given a broad platform in the life of Abraham – both in the call and the promises, but also in the challenges and the weaknesses. Does God have a platform in your life for displaying His strength?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Quenching a Thirsty Soul

~ Bujagali Falls, near Jinja, Uganda ~

Yesterday was so hot. I put my thermometer outside around 4 p.m. and within a little bit, it was registering 110 degrees Fahreneheit! I knew it felt hot, but phew that is a bit warm - and it wasn't even the peak of the day!

 Aside from the hot, dry weather, my soul has been feeling a bit parched lately. But, I have been finding some much-needed refreshment in one of my favorite devotionals, "Streams in the Desert." I just wanted to share a few quotes from some passages I have been reading of late.

 "Do the most everyday and insignificant tasks knowing that God can see. If you live with difficult people, win them over through love. If you once made a great mistake in your life, do not allow it to cloud the rest of your life, but by locking it secretly in your heart, make it yield strength and character. We are doing more good than we know. The things we do today - sowing seeds or sharing simple truths of Christ - people will someday refer to as the first things that prompted them to think of Him." - George Matheson (Streams in the Desert, pg. 87)

 "Active faith gives thanks for a promise even though it is not yet performed, knowing that God's contracts are as good as cash." - Matthew Henry (Streams in the Desert, pg. 85)

 "Faith adds its 'Amen' to God's 'Yes" and then takes its hands off, leaving God to finish His work. The language of faith is, 'Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this' (Psalm 37:5)." - From Days of Heaven Upon Earth (Streams in the Desert, pg. 84)

 "We are able to have as much of God as we want. Christ puts the key to His treasure chest in our hands and invites us to take all we desire. If someone is allowed into a bank vault, told to help himself to the money, and leaves without one cent, whose fault is it if he remains poor? And whose fault is is that Christians usually have such meager portions of the free riches of God?" - Alexander Maclaren (Streams in the Desert, pg. 83)

P.S. An interesting fact - Where I am in Uganda, it is often the hottest right before a rainstorm. : )

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Lessons from Lily

 Lilias Trotter - Missionary to Algeria, North Africa

 Yesterday's quiet afternoon afforded me the chance to return to a book I had brought with me to Uganda, but had devoted little time to since arriving. And, I am so glad I resumed "A Passion for the Impossible," an autobiography of Lilias Trotter (1853-1928).

  Lilias, also known as Lily, was a talented writer and artist, but rather than pursue a potentially promising career in those fields, she instead answered the call to bring Christ to Algeria in northern Africa. The extensive autobiography is drawn primarily from her detailed diaries and journals which she kept before going to Africa ad during her many years there. Incidentally, Lily was a friend and contemporary of Amy Carmichael, another remarkable woman who devoted her life to God's work in India.

 The following are a few selections from Lily's diaries and journals that particularly blessed me.

 "The things that are impossible with men are possible with God. May it not be that the human impossibility is just the very thing that sets His Hand free? - & that it is the things which are possible for us to do that He is in a measure to let alone."
- From Lilias' Diary, 22 May 1899

"How the angels must watch the first day when that light reaches a new spot on this earth that God so loves - and the great wall of darkness is pushed back one tiny bit - and oh the joy of being allowed to go with His message that first day. How can His people hold back from that joy while one corner remains unvisited by the Dayspring!"
- March 1895

"Other workers may come later; meanwhile we can be loving them and praying for them (the people of Algeria). I have been thinking lately what a work for God it is, just loving people. He says in Deut. 22: 'If an ox or an ass has gone astray, thou shalt bring it unto thine own house, and it shall be with thee till thy brother seek after it.' I think He gives us sometimes a like service for souls - wandering souls that we cannot bring back to Him; sometimes all we can do is to keep them near us, and show the kindness of God to them, and hold them in faith and prayer till He comes to seek them."
- 25 April 1891

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Smelling My "Roses"

 Just as it is good to take time to stop and smell the roses, it also good to take the time to be thankful you have roses to smell.

  So, here are just a few things for which I am presently thankful.

- Visitors - In recent weeks we have been blessed with three teams of visitors to the island. Each visitor brings their own talents, personality and heart for the people of Uganda. I have been blessed by the fire and motivation that these short-termers have - they help to reignite me! They bless both the SHIM staff and the people of the island.

Lizbet, a visitor from S. Carolina, and me at the top of the island.

- What the visitors bring - Our visitors have been quite generous as they have carried things from home, fulfilled special requests (like bringing us chocolate chips and duct tape), and sharing their goodies, such as Hidden Valley ranch, A-1 sauce, chocolate and coffee creamer. : )

- Ranch and coffee creamer - It's amazing what these do for food and coffee, respectively - so yummy!

- Water - We are now entering the dry season, which means we won't get as much rain as during the wet season (Go figure!). So, I am having a greater appreciation for the water we do have at the base. And, I am also grateful for the dear Ugandan man, Musabe, who faithfully brings us lake water each morning and then purifies part of it for bathing and drinking. Our water is some of the best-tasting in Uganda!

- Cold Water - Yes, with plenty of sunshine, we can run our solar, and in turn run our little fridge, so we can enjoy cold water - a special treat.

- The Internet (when it is available) - My Internet modem has been down for about a week, which I find rather frustrating since the provider took my money for the month, but didn't bother to restore my service. So, I am grateful that Andy has been graciously sharing his Internet modem. And, not having easy access to something sure does make it seem all the more special when I do get it.

- Peace - One of the reasons I love the island is because it is peaceful. (Visitors have beeged to differ because of all of the animal noises, but I guess I have become accustomed to them.) I do find island life quite peaceful and fairly relaxing.

Dear friends, the Smith family, on the boat.

- Friendship - Karina was just remarking this morning how a number of years ago when we were friends back in Clatskanie we couldn't have imagined we would someday be working together in Africa. Only God could have orchestrated this and wove together our paths. I am also thankful for Amanda who is a "steady eddy" and whose laid-back, people-person personality balances out my go-get-em, task-driven personality. I have also enjoyed forming friendships with our visitors who come, and don't stay quite long enough.

- The folks back at home - I certainly wouldn't be here without my dear family and friends who have so faithfully supported me, prayed for me and encouraged me. I am very thankful for all of you!

 I know I have many, many blessings which I could list out here - but these are just a few that have been at the forefront lately. Blessings to you all!