Monday, January 2, 2012

Surrounded by "Family"

Because I live in a different country and culture, I have learned not to have great expectations when it comes to celebrating holidays or observing special days. Things are done differently here - not wrong, just different from what I have been used to for most of my life.

This was my third Christmas spent in Uganda - first in 2006, then 2010 and this year. Each one has varied from the other, with usually a fusion of American and Ugandan traditions.

As I listened to my selection of Christmas music in the days weeks leading up to Christmas, I absentmindedly found myself singing, "I'll be home for Christmas...," then would catch myself with the realization that this would not be true. I would not be "home" - or would I?

One of the great realizations I have had on the missionfield is how very big the family of God is. As lovers of Jesus, we have brothers and sisters on every continent and in nearly every country. I have delighted in meeting "cousins," "parents," and "siblings," who are related by blood - the blood of Christ.

So although I was not with my dear mom, dad, sister and other relatives in Oregon, I felt immeasurably blessed this year to be surrounded by the family of God and in turn to feel "at home." Many of these dear ones are co-workers in the ministry and dear friends. When you work, eat, live, pray and worship alongside people on a regular basis you become community, but more like family.

God is the founder of the institution of the family, but I believe He had a much broader vision when He called Himself our Father and us His children. I am privileged to be in "the" family and I hope you feel the same way.

And in conclusion, here are some snapshots of my Christmas, including the days before and after:

Christmas morning at the Peterson home

Baking and decorating Christmas cookies. Me, left; Janae Peterson, upper right, and Immaculate Wafula, lower right.

From upper left clockwise, the Rudolph family visiting from Wisconsin over Christmas and New Years; SHIM staff Christmas party on the island; David Smith with some silly glasses; Peterson family Christmas tree; Janae and Pastor Bob Peterson presenting a Christmas song he wrote at a local Christmas gathering in Jinja; Christmas dinner - beef, chicken, rice, potatoes, cassava and greens - yum!; Johnathan Smith demonstrating his quickly-developing crawling skills; Spots - the Peterson's playful and cuddly kitten; SHIM staff Christmas party; stockings at the Peterson home (mine is on the far right); center photos - Santa visits Uganda, and a visit to see the Twali family - Julius, Ruth, Andrew and Baby Joseph, who was born Dec. 30.
Today, Jan. 2, we trekked out to Itanda Falls - the most impressive waterfalls/rapid area I have ever seen. It was awe-inspiring as we took in the width of the Nile River and the water that roared and rushed in massive volume downstream. Pictures do not do it justice. It was the closest thing I have seen to the incredible power of the Pacific Ocean off the Oregon coast. I can't easily upload videos, but would certainly love for you to have a better "taste" of Itanda. I guess you will just have to visit. : )

Itanda Falls Collage - People pictured: Top left, Peterson kids - Joshua, Jon, Janae and Josiah; center, the Rudolphs; lower right, me.
I pray you had a blessed Christmas and a happy New Year - surrounded by family, whether of physical or spiritual blood.


  1. One thing I loved most was the falls. Can't assume you were at Bujjagali, but I sure enjoyed that. Have some really nice pics, too. If you ever have a chance to do so, go to Murchison, too.

    Glad you had so many lovely people you could be with. That's a real treat.


  2. Yes, Joanne, the falls are incredible! Unfortunately, with the new dam, Bujagali is now "flat." I have heard a lot about Murchison and would love to visit someday. :) Yes, I too am thankful for the lovely people God has put around me. :) I just wish all of you could meet them!

  3. Thanks for all the pictures! It was fun to be able to see what your Christmas looked like. I don't remember reading of the Peterson family before--are they new to the island?