Friday, April 29, 2011

Home Sweet Home...Almost

I breathed a sigh of relief, mixed with happiness when I landed yesterday in Memphis, Tennessee. I was back. Back in the good ol' U.S.A. I should have kissed the ground, but didn't.

A short flight then took me from Memphis to Tupelo, Mississippi, where I will be for a couple of days. Right now I am in the Global Outreach International home office. Tomorrow I am appearing before the Global board of directors to be officially accepted as a Global missionary. I'm hoping I don't get evicted...or whatever you call it when a missionary is kicked out. ; ) 

It has been a blessing and a joy to see those of the home office. My appreciation for them increased incredibly while I was in Uganda. They do so much for their missionaries, so that we can stay focused on the ministry on the field. A staff of about a dozen works hard to assist nearly 200 Global Outreach missionaries. They are an amazing group. For more about Global, visit

Yes, I am home - to the U.S - but, I won't reach "home" until Sunday. I fly out of Tupelo early that morning and will land in Portland, Oregon at 1 p.m. Clatskanie is then 61 miles away.

I might kiss the ground then. : )

Thursday, April 28, 2011

How do you say "McDonald's" in Dutch?

I am sitting here in the Amsterdam airport, taking advantage of the one hour of free Internet. I am gradually feeling the transition back to the "western world," especially when I saw McDonald's and Starbucks here in the airport : )

The McDonald's in the Amsterdam airport

Yesterday was my "departure day" and my journey began a bit harried as the Ugandan taxi driver I hired to take me to the airport was 1-1/2 hours late. It is very common that things run on a different schedule there - lknown as "Ugandan time" - with nearly everything being late - meetings, church, etc. But, I knew airlines don't operate on "Ugandan time" and I was becoming quite nervous knowing I had a 3-4-hour trip to the airport ahead and little more than to get there before my plane departed.

But, the driver made it in record time - 2 hours and 38 minutes (Amanda noted that) and I arrived at the airport more than an hour and a half before my flight.

However, I began wondering if I wasn't meant to leave Africa when the airlines couldn't find my ticket from Entebbe, Uganda to Nairobi, Kenya, and then when I was strangely "offloaded" from the passenger manifest in Kenya for no apparent reason. Thanks to the help of a nice man named Boaz (I'm not kidding!) and with only minutes to spare, I did make my flight out of Entebbe and was seated in first class - so cool! I thoroughly enjoyed my spacious seat and using real glassware and silverware. : )

And thankfully, I managed to get "onloaded" (or however they put it) back on my flight from Nairobi to Amsterdam. The 7+ hour flight to Amsterdam was uneventful (except for the fact that I was eating more American-type food than I had in a long time!), and I did manage to get some sleep. I have a few hours left in Amsterdam, before I journey on to Memphis, Tenn., and then to my final stop of this leg - Tupelo, Miss. where I will be for a couple of days, before finally reaching Oregon on Sunday. : )

Thank you all to have been praying for me and my journey! Keep praying!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Flying home!

My countdown has turned from months, to days, now to hours.
At 8 p.m. Uganda time today, Wednesday, I will fly out of Uganda's Entebbe airport and begin my journey back to the U.S. (BTW, 8 p.m. is 10 a.m. in the U.S. West Coast and 1 p.m. on the East Coast.)

I can hardly believe this day is here! After more than 15 months in Uganda, I am so excited to go back and see my dear family, church family and friends! : )

View from the top of Lingira Island

I am incredibly thankful for God's mercy, grace and provision during my time in Uganda. I have been blessed in so many ways, I cannot even begin to count them. It is an incredible privilege to be serving in this beautiful country, among beautiful people, and witnessing God's transforming work on the islands and elsewhere in Uganda.

I will definitely be leaving part of my heart here - with my SHIM family, other friends, and especially the island students. I am excited to return to Uganda in three months and see what good things God has been doing while I was away. : )

I would really appreciate your prayers as I have a long journey ahead. In total I will be traveling for about 47 hours - including flights and layovers. Tonight I fly from Uganda to Nairobi, Kenya, then to Amsterdam (with an 8-hour layover there), then on to Memphis, Tenn. and finally to Tupelo, Miss. - landing there at 8 p.m. Thursday. I will be spending a couple of days at the Global Outreach home office in Tupelo and appearing before the mission's board of directors.

Then on Sunday morning, May 1, I will fly from Tupelo to Memphis, to St. Paul, Minn. and then finally land in Portland about 1 p.m. Sunday. Yay!!

Thank you so much to each and every one of you who have been so supportive in so many ways during my time here. I can't repay you, but I pray God abundantly blesses you in every way! I hope I get to see many of you while I am home! : )

Ugandan tea fields

Sunday, April 24, 2011


...began with a beautiful morning on the island - sunshine, blue skies and white puffy clouds.

...I read the story of Christ's resurrection in my English NLT Bible, watched a video of it -  narrated in Kiswahili, and heard it read in Lugandan.

...was a celebration with my church family on the island as we reflected on God's love and the incredible display of it in the gift of His Only Son.

Fishermen on the lake

...I packed up the remaining items in my island room in preparation for my departure to the U.S.A. (about three days away!).

...was the last day on Lingira Island (my home for about 15 months). : (

Me on one of the SHIM boats

...was the last trip across a choppy Lake Victoria for some time. : )

...I saw a boy in church wearing a Palm Springs, California t-shirt, yet it is possible he has never left the island.

...I exchanged smiles with a young girl with a broad smile, who sat as close to me as possible on the wooden bench during the service.

...on my walk to church I saw a young boy tugging with all his strength on one end of a rope, that had a very stubborn goat on the other end.

...was a day of new life as twin goats (one black and one white) were born to the SHIM family, and another pair of carmel-colored "kids" entered the world at the Ripon landing site in Jinja.

...I enjoyed a delectable dinner of tender beef fillet, heavenly mashed potatoes, delicious gravy, scrumptious muffins, crisp green beans, and take-me-back-to-my-childhood Jello - all lovingly prepared by Mama Michelle. : )

...was a day of loss as I was sorely beaten in Nerts (like Dutch Blitz) and Spoons, though I did win a round here and there. ; )

David in December - discovering a new use for hair clips. :)
 ...I enjoyed watching a sleeping boy (David) cuddled up to his mommy and daddy as we traveled on the lake together.

...I was again mesmerized by the beauty of Uganda with its lush green landscape and broad cloud-filled skills.

...was a day of blessing as I relished the fellowship and hospitality of members of my SHIM family (thank you, Petersons, for the great evening!)

...I am thankful for Christ's resurrection, the abundant life found in Him, God's grace and provision, and the blessing of family and friends!

...was Easter Day - a day of remembrance, joy and celebration!

How was your "today"?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Standing Out

Sometimes I wish I could blend in. But my white skin color makes that nearly impossible here in Uganda - a land full of dark faces.

Despite my attempts to tan, I still look quite white compared to some of my friends. :)

It is almost a guarantee that if I visit an island village or walk down a street in Jinja, I will hear "Mzungu! Mzungu!" "Muzungu" means "white person" in Lugandan. Usually it is children who call this out and they frequently accompany it with the few English words they know, "How are you?" No matter how many times you say "I'm fine," their simple question is repeated as long as you are in sight.

Earlier this week I went to Jinja for a couple for days. As I traversed the streets I made the mistake of walking near a truck mounted with a speaker system and a man with a mic. As soon as he saw me, he called out "Mzungu! Mzungu! Mzungu, I love you!," which was broadcast to anyone within hearing distance of the speaker. I tried to escape down the street as quickly as possible.

I have contempated buying one of the shirts, sold in local tourist shops, that read "My name is not Mzungu."

When I am viewed and judged by the color of my "dollar" skin and thus inevitably seen as a wealthy American, that is when I wish I could be treated just like anyone else here. When I am favored over others, even those older and of a higher position than I, how I long that my skin was not a barrier. As I struggle with these feelings, I try to make some spiritual application. And, I do think there is one.

As Christians we are called to not blend in, but rather to stand out. We are to be different, not because of our skin, our background or the country we call home, but because we are followers of the Living Son of God.

This morning I read John 15. Verse 19 says, "The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world..." (NLT)

Elsewhere we are told, "Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people." (Philippians 2:15)

"You are the light of the world - like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your Heavenly Father." (Matthew 5:14-16)

As Christ-followers we are not to blend in, to conform to the world aorund us, but just as Christ was different because of His adherence to God's truth and light, so are we to shine like bright lights. Our love for Christ and the resulting desire to perform good deeds should make us stand out - more than our skin ever will.

Where will you shine for Christ today?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Lovin' Lingira Living Hope

This afternoon as I walked through the grounds of our island secondary school, I felt as if in a ghost town. The classrooms and dorms were virtually empty, the noise of chattering voices had ceased, and the familiar sight of students dressed in blue and white uniforms had vanished.

Just a short time before I had waved goodbye to the last boatload of students, who were headed home for the holiday - to an island about four hours further into the lake.

Lingira Living Hope's recently-completed classroom block

Friday marked the end of the first term of 2011 for Lingira Living Hope Secondary School. And, I miss the students already. I said and heard "I will miss you" many times during the last few days. And, it is with bittersweet sadness that I think about leaving the island in little more than a week.

The two and half months of this term have been some of the busiest and most challenging during my 15 months in Uganda, but those weeks have also been among the most fulfilling for me. God has grown and deepened my love for the school and the students during this time. I have so enjoyed these young people as I have taught computer classes, led Bible studies with the girls, smiled proudly as I watched them perform in the choir and lead in praise and worship, chatted after classes and had meaningful one-on-one conversations with different ones.

A few of the Lingira Living Hope girls, from left, Christine, Marion, Rose, Anna and Esther

God has given me a passion for young people and I feel so blessed and privileged to be working with the school and the students here.

The school is improving as new buildings are going up and the enrollment increases. But, it is the students who really bring life to Lingira Living Hope. They contribute so much to the school, to Shepherd's Heart, to the church, to the community and to this island. And, that is so obvious when they go on holiday (breaks between terms) and the campus is quiet and empty.

I wholeheartedly believe that these young men and women are the future of this island and the communities throughout Uganda from which they come. I also believe God will use them in a mighty way to fulfill the school's mission of "Hope for Transformation," through Christ, our "Living Hope."

I will miss the students very much, but I look forward to when we meet again.

Morning Star ladies after our last gathering of the term

Monday, April 4, 2011

I'm It!

At left, me on one of the SHIM boats.

I'm "it" in that I was tagged by Lauren of the blog "One Bright Corner." The "tag" means I received the "Stylish Blog Award," but also that I must reveal seven "random" facts about myself. : )

I don't consider myself very "random," but sometimes rather boring, so after wracking my brain, here are my seven facts.

1. I like order and routine - it's just part of my personality. I admit that sometimes I can carry "routine" a bit far. I have been known to eat the same thing for breakfast for weeks on end or do the same chore day after day after day. While in Uganda I have been nicknamed "Mrs. Monk" after the OCD (Obessesive Compulsive Disorder) detective in the "Monk" television series. I really obsess about having things straight...

Katie, a visitor from 2010, and I washing dishes. I did dishes (one of the routine chores I enjoy) on most mornings last year.

2. For about five years, I weekly "published" "The Family News," well before I started working at a "real" newspaper. Before our family had a computer, I handwrote the small paper every week, then circulated the one copy among my immediate family members. Features included: quotes; what had occurred in history during that week; birthdays of family, friends and famous Bible people; a weekly Bible verse; an advice column written by a cat, I believe; "Daddy's Corner," and more. Once our family was given a computer in 1998, I began formatting "The Family News" on the computer, which made its preparation faster and easier on the eyes of my readers. : )

3. I have a fear of water. Yep, I do, which is why I think God definitely has a sense of humor in placing me on an island on the world's second largest lake. My mother tells me I screamed when she tried to bathe me as a baby. Thankfully, I no longer scream when bathing. ; ) To help me conquer my fear, my mother enrolled my sister (the "fish") and I in swimming lessons. This helped, but without consistent practice, I forgot most of what I learned, and still have a fear of the "deep end." The funny thing is that many Ugandans also fear water, but I tell them that "the God of the land, is also God of the water." And, God very often gives me His peace during frequent trips across the lake.

My friend Flex also enjoys tea - specifically Ugandan black tea. :)

4. I used to dislike tea, until a good friend properly introduced it to me. While coffee is my first beverage of choice, especially in the mornings, I frequently enjoy a cup of tea in the late afternoon or evening. "Constant Comment" and "Chai Spice" are two of my favorites. It's a good thing I now have a love for tea, as it is the most popular drink in Uganda!

5. My favorite foods are rice, beans and potatoes - all staple foods here in Uganda! I think God created my tastebuds for here. ; ) Incidentally, there are few Ugandan foods I don't care for, which is good for adapting to the culture, but bad for my waistline. ; )

6. Some of my nicknames are "Winkers," "Twinx Baby," "Rowdy," Rudy," "Sissy," "Roofie," and "Lucy." ; )

7. I much prefer even number to odd numbers. Which is funny since I was born on the 9th day of the 7th month. At least my birth year is an even number. ; ) And, the fact that this list ends on an odd number, well, that just disrupts my routine. : )

Well, that's enough about me, so I hereby "tag" any reader who wants to reveal seven random facts about themselves. : ) Have a blessed day! : )

An island sunset.

Thank you... Lucia of "From Under My Little Umbrella" for creating my beautiful new header! Thank you, Lucia!
Be sure and check out her blog at