Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A New Page!

You may have noticed that my blog now has two pages - the home page and "The Suubi Project" page. Pretty exciting!

I would encourage you to click on The Suubi Project tab to read more about a new little venture I felt led to start. : ) Check it out!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Two Weeks in Africa"

I heard this song today and I really liked the message. My favorite lines are:

"And we put the walls up but Jesus keeps them standing
He doesn’t need us but He lets us put our hands in
So we can see, His love is bigger than you and me"

God doesn't need our help to reconcile the world back to Himself. But He invites us to join Him in this great work, so we can witness the power of His incredible love around the world.

Monday, May 23, 2011


I love live music, especially piano and guitar. I believe the measure of a "professional" musician is if they make playing look easy. I just picked up my violin again today, after 16+ months of not playing it. It felt so good and I was surprised how some things came back to me so quickly. I am far from a professional, but I enjoy "trying" to make good music.

As I soaked up some live, well-played and beautiful piano music yesterday afternoon, my soothed mind went back to a verse discussed in my Sunday School class earlier that day - Colossians 3:23-24.

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."

"With all your heart..." Some versions say "heartily," which according to Wesley's Notes means "cheerfully, diligently." It literally means "from the soul" and "with personal interest."

Wesley makes this comment: "Menpleasers are soon dejected and made angry: the single-hearted are never displeased or disappointed; because they have another aim, which the good or evil treatment of those they serve cannot disappoint."

In verse 22 of the same chapter, Paul is speaking to servants, admonishing them to "obey in everything" their earthly masters, doing so sincerely and with the aim to please God, not men. In verse 23, he carries the admonition further - "Whatever you do" do it "heartily"!

I suppose you could say that verses 23-24 only apply to slaves, but the basic Biblical principle can be applied to us all. In his letters Paul says we are no longer slaves to sin, but bondservants of Christ. A bondservant was one, who although offered his freedom, willingly chose to stay with and serve his master. Paul referred to himself as a "bondservant of Jesus Christ." And, in verse 24, the Apostle reminds the slaves who he is addressing, that although they have earthly masters, ultimately they are "serving the Lord Christ."

So, yes, I do believe Colossians 3:23-24 applies to all Christians - "bondservants" of Christ.

What does piano music then have to do with being a bondservant? I like the "whatever" in verse 23 because it means exactly what it says - whatever you do. So, whether it be playing the piano, writing a blog, sweeping the floor, caring for children, washing the dishes, doing schoolwork, working in a secular job, visiting with a neighbor - the list is endless - do it all from your heart and to please the Lord.

He is our Master and it brings Him such pleasure when we use what He has given us, whether it be time, resources, talents, gifts, jobs or tasks.

I like this quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so      well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

I personally believe that God cares more about our heart attitude in "whatever" we do, more so than the "what."

"How happy would true religion make the world, if it every where prevailed, influenced every state of things, and every relation of life!" - Matthew Henry

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Update on Amanda K.

Praise God! My missionary friend Amanda K. has made what I consider to be a miraculous recovery from cerebral malaria. Just about a week ago, she was in very serious condition. But, according to a report earlier this evening, she is well on her way to recovering.

Here is the most recent update from her family: "SHE'S BACK !!!!!! She is wide awake and quietly talking, she is smiling and making fun of her sister and brother and laughing. She is making comments about herself and cracking us all up. Her sense of humor didn't get affected and it is soooo good to hear it again! Her throat is of course a bit sore yet, but she is eating ice and saying she is hungry, wanting something to eat. We hope she is moved to a regular room soon and able to have a bit more freedom, I'm sure she will be raring to go tomorrow. She will also be asking for her phone and computer very soon and will be catching up to you all. Thank You ALL for your thoughts and prayers, we have seen some wonderful examples of God's control and healing power this past week."

Hundreds of people around the world have been praying for and caring about Amanda this week. And, God has definitely worked on her behalf. Thank you to those who prayed!

To God be all of the glory!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Trusting the Great Physician

Sometimes it is taken for granted that someone is "safer" in the U.S. than overseas. America has the best medical facilities and thus access to a plethora of medicines, state-of-the-art tests, treatments, etc. But, that is not always the case.

Amanda K. center when she and fellow short-term missionaries, Debbie, second from left, and Meredith, second from right, visited Shepherd's Heart and Lingira Island in March. Amanda Taylor and I are shown far left and far right, respectively.

My friend Amanda Kruppenbacher is also a Global Outreach missionary and has been serving for nearly a year as a teacher of missionary children at Good Shepherd's Fold, an orphanage near Jinja, Uganda.

Amanda came home to the states just a couple of weeks ago to be with her mom, who is facing serious medical challenges. But, Amanda also came home with malaria. In Uganda, malaria is blamed for just about any sickness anyone comes down with, whether it is the real culprit or not. There, malaria is fairly easy to test and to treat as tests and medicine are readily available. However, you have a window of only a couple of days to begin treating malaria before the parasites in your bloodstream quickly multiply and the sickness develops into something worse, even fatal.

Amanda's malaria did develop into something worse - cerebral malaria, which means it affects the brain, causing swelling and other symptoms. Just a few days ago, Amanda was admitted into an ICU in a Pennsylvania hospital.

Medicine was not readily available and had to be shipped from Atlanta. But, praise God! Amanda's parasite levels in her red blood cells dropped from 41% to .2% in like a day - a total miracle! Her brain swelling is decreasing and she is becoming more responsive.

If you think of Amanda K., please pray for a full and complete recovery. I believe God still has much work for her at Good Shepherd's Fold and in Uganda.

Amanda's story is a reminder that our life and breath are very much in the hands of our God - the Great Physician. He is truly the Giver and Sustainer of all life!

Amanda's blog: (She wrote about her March visit to Lingira Island in a post entitled "Let us be thankful.")

Monday, May 9, 2011

New Videos!

It has been a long time since I posted videos on here. I tried multiple times to upload videos to YouTube while in Uganda and nearly always failed. So, I am thrilled to be back to hi-speed wireless so I can better share with you what God is doing on Lingira Island!

These videos (see below) are ones I took of the school - Lingira Living Hope Secondary School (LLHSS) - the day before I left the island (April 24, 2011). Since its founding in February 2006, God has raised up Lingira Living Hope and made it a light to the islands and beyond. Permanent buildings are going up, enrollment has increased and there is a spiritual fervor and an insatiable hunger for God and His Word among the students.

Lingira Living Hope in February 2007 - one year after its founding. The structure was wood and boards were almost constantly having to be replaced because of termite damage.

Only God could raise up such a school in a place where education is hardly valued and parents struggle so much to pay for their children's education. It is one of only two secondary schools on the 52 islands that make up the Buvuma chain on Lake Victoria.

Me in November 2006 speaking to the students inside their wood-walled classroom.

Before LLHSS, students had few options after they completed the primary (elementary) level. Because mainland schools are expensive and not easily accessible, young island men and women often quit studying and began working. The boys turned to fishing and it was not unusual for the girls to be married off at 13 or 14.

"But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong." - 1 Corinthians 1:27

When the school began, many in the nearby camps prophesied its demise. And up until this school year (which began in February), the challenges (financial, issues with staff, working with the government, etc.) seemed insurmountable. But, this year, after many heartfelt and persistent prayers, we began to see God meeting these challenges in a big way.

The school was recently chosen to receive some government funding and is very close to being approved as a testing center for our top class. (In the past, our Senior 4s had to spend about six weeks at another unfamiliar but "registered" school, away from their own teachers and peers, before they took their final exam at this level. Our kids often got sick and were not treated or cared for properly, thus affecting their results.)

Lingira Living Hope - April 2011 - sustained by God's grace and thriving after five years.

The office and classroom building is no longer wood, but is of permanent brick and concrete and boasts glass windows and solar power. Other permanent buildings are going up, too! Even more students are expected to come for the second term, which begins May 23.

One of the students being baptized in March. More than half of the 13 new believers baptized in Lake Victoria were LLHSS students.

I am excited for what God will continue to do in and through Lingira Living Hope as it fulfills its vision - "Hope for Transformation."

Enjoy the videos! (Sorry in advance for the quality. :( )

Please keep praying for LLHSS - its teachers, students, financial needs, and most of all that God would be glorified in this island school!

P.S. For more about LLHSS, visit the SHIM website, and the "Educational and Child Development Programs" page under the "Branches of Ministry" tab.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Ambassadors of Reconciliation

Sickness, family problems, loss of loved ones, unemployment - the needs are so real. And, when people you care about are facing them, your heartstrings are drawn taunt.

As I sat and listened  to these "prayer requests," I was reminded that people around the globe need the hope and encouragement found in Jesus Christ.

You see, these needs were being verbalized, not in Uganda, but here in Oregon.

Distressed, run-down, discouraged and "poor" folks are everywhere. Chances are, if you live in this fallen world - at some point in time you have fit one or more of these categories and very likely know others who have been there, too.

I was reminded today of the definition of "poverty" in the book, "When Helping Hurts," (which I highly recommend). "Poverty" is the result of broken relationships, whether our relationship with God, with others, our self, or creation. And, we all fit somewhere in there.

Just as I am frequently saddened by the ever-present state of poverty in all its forms throughout our world, I am just as much encouraged by Jesus' ministry of reconciliation. I love the passage in 2 Corinthians concerning this.

"All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." (vs. 18-20)

It is mind-boggling to me that not only does Jesus reconcile us to God, "not counting our trespasses" against us, but includes us in His incredible ministry as "ambassadors of reconciliation."

Just as I was deeply touched by the needs I heard shared earlier in the week, I have also been so encouraged by the ministry going on at home by Christ's ambassadors.

We need ambassadors at home and abroad. Your neighbor, your relative, your co-worker, your student, and the stranger in the grocery store all have very felt needs. And, they need to hear of Christ's love, forgiveness and restoration power.

You may be the exact person God has sent to deliver the message.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The International Adventures of C.T.

Bad weather in Memphis, Tennessee delayed my flight out of Tupelo, Mississippi this morning. So, I missed my connection in Memphis and I am spending a few unplanned hours in the airport as I wait for my next flight.

To kill some time, I did a photo shoot of my traveling companion - C.T. I have been accompanied by this faithful friend from my journey's start in Jinja, Uganda and continuing to Nairobi, Kenya, then to Amsterdam, Holland, to Memphis, Tennessee, to Tupelo, Mississippi, and back to Memphis. He has been in and around airports, restaurants, cars (in the trunk and in the front), airplanes, and a home. He's a quiet fellow, but I am somehow comforted by his presence.

He can't do much - speak, stand, wave or sit, thus, I carry him everywhere. But, if I needed to, I could use him as a weapon. : )

My friends, meet C.T.

Memphis has a rich musical history, so C.T. insisted on a photo with a painting in the airport spotlighting this fact. He also said he could be an instrument if he wanted to. Not so sure about that...

Since we had to get up shortly after 5 a.m. to make our flight out of Mississippi, C.T. was pretty tuckered in the airport and tried to find a place to rest. I can't imagine he was very comfortable though.

Finding a souvenir shirt to fit C.T. was a challenge, especially considering that he doesn't have arms. :(

C.T. suggested that if we got stuck in Memphis, we could stay the night in the "Heartbreak Hotel." ; )

C.T. wishes we had time to visit the Memphis Zoo and see this cute panda.

C.T. was a bit put out that I didn't share part of my airport breakfast sub with him. But, I said he shouldn't feel bad as he doesn't have a mouth to enjoy it.

Memphis is the home of the NBA Grizzlies basketball team. C.T. wanted to try out, but I told him he wasn't quite tall enough and having no arms was a bit of a handicap.

C.T. didn't like the fact that I carried him into the women's restrooms, but he was reassured that they could be used as a "severe storm shelter area" in case of any more tornadoes in the area.

Unfortunately, this was the best sighting we had of Elvis while we were in Memphis.

C.T. insisted that my Starbucks sleeve would dress him up a bit. Silly fellow.

Just a couple of more hours and C.T. and I will be on our way to Salt Lake City and then on to Portland - our final destination. I can't wait for my parents to meet him. : )

P.S. C.T. stands for "Cardboard Tube." Inside C.T. is a canvas painting created by an artist in Jinja, Uganda. I will post a photo of it in a future post.