Monday, September 27, 2010

Faces of Uganda, Part 1

I have discovered that I love capturing the beautiful and expressive faces of the East African people. Most of these were taken on a trip last month to a couple of the upper islands - about four hours into Lake Victoria. 
I hope you enjoy these photos and remember, each face has a story behind it.

More to come later...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"The Amazing Adventures of Missionary Life!"

  In case any of my blog followers are wondering, yes, I am still alive. : )  Busyness and problems with my Internet have kept me from writing here. But, I am back.

 Perhaps, you read the title of this blog and thought, "Oh, goody, what amazing adventures has Ruthie been having lately?" And, I give you a knowing smile. You see, I put the title in quotes because honestly I haven't been having any "amazing adventures" of late. Life has been pretty normal around here.

 This morning, I spent some time in Proverbs 14, enjoyed a breakfast of granola with cold milk (truly a novelty on the island!), and my absolutely-necessary staple of coffee! Then, I headed off to wash dishes - from last night's dinner and some from this morning. I sent a couple of e-mails and checked out a couple of websites, did some re-arranging in our library, burned rubbish, and swept a bit. I am now in the midst of writing a blog post and searching the Internet for information related to the topic of research for one of our secondary teachers. The afternoon agenda includes coming up with a list of computer topics to be taught during this term in our weekly computer classes here at SHIM, getting my hair cut (yay!) by my own personal hairdresser - Amanda ; ), and meeting with a couple of sponsored secondary students.

  Aw, you, say, that sounds rather boring and...kind of like life here in the U.S. Not to burst anyone's bubble, but alot of people imagine missionary life as exciting and thrilling. And, it can be at times, but that is not the norm. It can be routine and tedious. But, that does not mean that the work is not worthwhile and meaningful. And, it does not indicate that God is not at work behind the scenes.
 While the following may not fall under the definition of "amazing," they are some things I have witnessed or been a part of lately. And, I believe they are evidence that God is definitely at work on the islands.
 The Library: With the final release of the items on the shipping container (that arrived here in March after being sent from Seattle at the end of 2009), we were thrilled to begin unpacking the many, many boxes of donated books. Our small library on the island now boasts more than 2050 volumes and includes a wide selection for young, young readers to adults and all ages in between. We have a nice assortment of educational books - from animal science to encyclopedias to a book on every state in the U.S. There are fiction books and a great section for Christian leaders and pastors, books on marriage and family, as well as missions, biographies, and a few shelves dedicated to our audio and visual offerings. Hmm...are you tempted to come check out our library?

 I am very excited for the people of the island, specifically our secondary students, to enjoy and benefit from the many books lining these shelves. And, thank you to any of you who donated to the library. May you find your reward in the knowledge that many will benefit by your generosity!

The Bible Study: After a school break between the second and third terms of the island's secondary school, Amanda and I resumed our weekly girls' Bible study earlier this month. Our first week back we had three girls attend - our smallest number ever. But, that afternoon will for sure remain in my memory as I listened to two of the girls recite John 15:1-17. I was so very excited and proud of them!! The memorization work was part of a "holiday challenge" we had given them before the break. One girl, Fauza, completed the challenge entirely, which meant memorizing the aforementioned scriptures, as well as reading through the Gospel of John and answering questions about each chapter. The other young lady, Betty, did the memorizing and part of the scripture study. Scripture memorization is not done much here, but we have been encouraging our girls to "put God's Word in their hearts." I was sure floating on air after that study!

 Because of the girls' interest in learning how to study the Bible, we are now focusing on some methods of digging into God's Word. I am excited to see their growth and continuing desire to learn of God and His ways.

Church Visitation: Since I came in January, I have joined other SHIM family members on three trips to visit area island churches for a Sunday service. On the most recent visitation, about a week and a half ago, I went with Pastor Robert to Lokale Number 1, to Trinity Church. Since neither of us had ever been there before, we were led by a young girl to the church - constructed of rough wood planks for walls, iron sheets for the roof, and packed dirt for the floor. While we thought a letter had been sent ahead, informing the church of our visit, they apparently never received it. But, the leaders graciously welcomed us, invited us to introduce ourselves and gave us a few minutes to share our purpose (introduce SHIM and learn of the church's needs), and share a brief message. I tried to defer to Pastor Robert to share from the Word, but he handed the baton back to me and I spoke on faith and obedience.

  We weren't sure what to expect after the service. Since the church had no forewarning, we wondered would they be hospitable toward us? However, we were pleasantly surprised by the soda, biscuits and bananas that were shared with us, and even more surprised by the posho, beans and cabbage we were served a short time later.

  Amanda and Papa and Mama O visited another church on the other side of the same camp. The pastor and his wife are former Moslems arnd were eager to learn of SHIM's ministries, especially family ministry, led by the Os. And, the SHIM members enjoyed pork, since the pastor now has a piggery - definite proof that his life has changed! Eating pork and keeping pigs are absolutely forbidden in Islam.

  I always enjoy these church visits - meeting new people and seeing God and His people busy spreading His light in these remote areas.

Prayer Day: Every Thursday, SHIM sets the day aside for prayer. (The only exception is when we have our business meeting on the fourth Thursday of the month.) So, no matter if we are on the island or on the mainland, we try and gather together for praise and worship, sharing of our personal needs, those of the ministry and others we may be aware of, and most importantly, spending time in the presence of our Father. I was so encouraged last Thursday as I gathered with four others of the SHIM family. I came away challenged and encouraged by the words and scripture that were shared, refreshed by the fellowship, and relieved by the burdens we had left at God's throne. It is no wonder that God tells us not to forsake the gathering of ourselves together. We need each other and we need to be refreshed by spending time in God's presence.

 So, while these  examples may not make it into a book like "Amazing Missions Stories," they are still proof that God is continuing His work here - perhaps not always in dramatic ways, but by the patient, persistent work of the Holy Spirit.

 So, I encourage you - you may think your tasks and place are tedious and boring at times. But, if they are what God has called you to, they are significant and He asks you to be faithful. He will bring the fruit in His time.

P.S. I am sorry I didn't include any photos in this post, but my Internet server won't let me upload pictures. So, use your imagination! : )