Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Get 'er Done!

 "Get 'er done!"

This must be the unofficial theme of most of the western world or at least most of America.

The problem is, it doesn't translate well here in Uganda.  Hardly anything moves too quickly, thus the term the "African amble." 

I say "hardly" because Kampala, Uganda's largest city, teems with 1.6 million people living within 68 square miles (that's about 23,500 people per square mile).  It can be pretty crazy.  People and vehicles are everywhere, thus I avoid going there.

Oh, and the crazy taxis are just that - c - r - a -z - y.  Wailing down the road, seemingly carelessly navigating potholes and speed bumps, passing other vehicles any chance they can get, on whatever side of the road or shoulder is open. But other than Kampala and taxis, not much here moves at what you would call a "fast pace."

I like being busy.  I like accomplishing tasks.  I don't like wasting time.  So living here has taken some adjustin'.  I have learned (am learning) to go with the flow, to try and be patient, to not push but instead to wait, and to take a book pretty much anywhere I go.  I have read quite a few books lately. ; )

But busyness does not equate effectiveness.

This is perhaps one of the most neglected, but most needful "secrets" of the Christian life.

Much of our world emphasizes hard work, diligence, individuality, doggedly pursuing one's dreams and goals. 

But this intense “drive” can run perpendicular to Jesus’ ways. 

There is something to be learned from Ugandan culture – relationships always come before duties.  If someone drops by, you put aside whatever you are doing and invite the person in.  They may stay a few minutes or a couple of hours.  But as long as they are there, they are the priority.  Chores or whatever else you were doing before comes later.

Jesus also emphasizes the relationship over the performance.  For He said apart from Him I can do N-O-T-H-I-N-G.  Nada.  Zip.  Zilch.  John 15 emphasizes abiding - being, not doing.  Unless I am in Jesus all of my doing is really pointless, it is for nothing.

Let me just say, Jesus does not encourage laziness (not doing what you know you should), but purposeful rest and abiding. 
Perhaps this is a common struggle for most Christian workers, but I can speak only as a missionary.  

Ministry is about doing, right?  Amazing testimonies, riveting ministry reports, rising numbers of salvations and baptisms – these all prove you have been busy and "effective," right?

This year I have moved beyond my “honeymoon” stage here in Uganda.  The excitement, the adrenaline, the newcomer’s vigor have all worn off.  The rubber has hit the road. I have been feeling quite empty, dry and without vision.  I also have been questioning my "effectiveness" lately.

I realize I have been trying to operate most of the time apart from my Source.  Abiding fuels ministry, not vice versa.

“Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again.  But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again.  It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.’” - John 4:13-14  

 Ah, that sounds so satisfying, so refreshing.

I preached a sermon awhile ago and opened it with the following:

“Jesus does not want you to live the Christian life.”

I repeated it several times to make sure people heard me.  Poor Mama O who was my translator had to ask me if she heard me right.  I could see the congregation’s quizzical looks.  

Before they could throw me out of the church, I added: “Jesus wants to live the Christian life through you.”

Jesus Himself is the Living Water He spoke of in John 4.  I am to be a vessel (literally a “hollow container”) to be filled, satisfied, refreshed and then overflow so that Jesus (not my ministry!) eternally impacts the lives around me.  Why, I can't even fill myself!  He has to do it!  

He fills my mouth, my heart, my being - I "swallow," I absorb, I rest in Him.  He continues to pour, I overflow with His Living Water.

He pours His life through  me.  I am only a vessel.

S - l - o - w  down and drink deeply of the Living Water.

Photo Source: Microsoft.com

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Very Special Visitor

Leah arrives!
A couple of posts ago, I mentioned we had a number of visitors at SHIM in May-July.  And although I loved all of them, I was really, really looking forward to the arrival of one especially special visitor, my dear and beautiful sister, Leah Joy!

It is just the two of us siblings and we have been close since the day she was born and I was only 16 months old. We were roommates for 20+ years and have done a ton of stuff together (homeschooling, graduation, GED, driver's licenses, etc.) Needless to say, she is very special to me and one of my dearest and bestest friends. : )

So, when June 26th rolled around, I was there early at the airport, excited and anxious to see my sissy. But, I waited and waited, until there were no more passengers coming though the exit doors. : (  I called my mom in Oregon to find out what had happened and where in the world was my sister!

It turns out that thunderstorms in New York delayed the takeoff and caused Leah to miss her connecting flight in London. The airline put her up in a hotel and she was able to do some sightseeing in London (very cool!) So, I reluctantly waited one more day to see my sissy, and was very glad when I saw her raven-black head bob toward me the next morning.

Her two-week stay was packed with fun adventures, like her first boda (motorcycle) ride (photo at left), stays on the island and in Jinja, meeting many of the dear people she had only ever heard about, new foods, laughs, long talks, photoshoots, football games, Bible study with the island girls, singing together for church, celebrating July 4th and then my birthday, and so much more!

Celebrating July 4th in Uganda with a barbecue with fellow missionaries. From top left, clockwise, Leah with Jessica, a visitor from Oregon; a yummy flag cake; Leah on the rope swing; Jessica and Leah in their patriotic attire; Leah and me with the American flag; yay for painted toenails - blue, red and purple; me and my sissy - center.

Leah met many people during her visit.

Leah and Mama Alice Kisolo, whom she first met when Alice visited the U.S. back in 2004.

Being together - the best part of Leah's visit.

  So, a couple of days before Leah left, we went on a rafting adventure, which was kinda a post-birthday celebration for me, too. Jessica, Leah and I hit the rapids of the Nile and had a blast together! On that day we were the only group with this particular rafting company, so it was like we owned the river (well, kinda). ; ) It was great fun (except for when I was unwillingly dumped in the water on two occasions). There we are, above to the left, before the trip, smiling and dry.
A Nile River rafting adventure!
Good friends - Jessica, Stella, Leah and myself on my birthday eve.
The time went by way too fast, as it does when you are having fun with people you love. But we made and stored lots of memories and special times together! Not everyone has their sister travel across the world (her first trans-Atlantic flight) just to visit and see where you are living and working. So, I feel honored that my special little sis' blessed me in such a way!

Now, it's my turn. I hope to spend Thanksgiving and her birthday with her in PA in November! Yay!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Poak Someone!

Have you ever...

Had someone smile at you - just because?

Had someone greet you with a warm hug, as if you were just the person they wanted to see that day?

Received an encouraging heartfelt card - for a special occasion, or for no occasion at all?

Opened your inbox and found a nice newsy e-mail from someone you hadn't heard from in awhile?

Walked through a door that was being held open by a stranger?

Enjoyed an ice cream, coffee or special meal just because someone thought you needed some extra quality time?

Smelled a bouquet of flowers, collected just for you?

Received a gift - something you've been especially wanting - but it wasn't your birthday or Christmas?

Answered the phone, only to hear a voice on the other end say they were just thinking about ya?

Had someone whom you respect and admire take time to notice you? And then maybe strike up a conversation to find out what is happening in your life?

Struck a task off your to-do list because someone saw you needed some extra help?

Been forgiven before asking for it?

Felt uplifted because someone spoke gracious, encouraging words, even though you had made a blunder?

Had a secret whispered to you, making you feel special that someone took you into their confidence and shared their deepest heart whisperings with you?

Been tickled?

Had your back rubbed in those hard-to-reach spots that needed it most?

Felt an arm around your shoulder as you hung your head and tears rolled down your cheeks?

Had someone share a special Scripture with you just because they believed it was for you?

Received an extra measure of grace when that was the farthest thing from what you really deserved?

Been told you were being prayed for?

Most of the above actions don't cost a cent and may take only a few minutes to carry out. If you have ever been on the receiving end of some of these kindnesses, perhaps today is your day to be that "someone" for another person. And even if you haven't been blessed by such graciousness, maybe you are just the one to start a "chain reaction" of kind words and deeds.

P.O.A.K. someone.  Pass On A Kindness.

Photo Source: Microsoft.com

Thursday, August 9, 2012

"Clear the Stage"

Thanks to my sister and a friend, I was introduced to one of my new favorite artists - Jimmy Needham (click here for more on Jimmy).  I really like his music, but I especially like his lyrics. Like most artists, it takes a listen or two to his tunes to actually catch the lyrics and the deeper meaning of the songs.

"Clear the Stage" is one of those convicting and thought-provoking ones that causes me to think about what may be standing between me and my Jesus. What "idols" are on my "stage"?

Take a listen or two.

Monday, August 6, 2012

I'm Back!

Wow. I have been absent from "blogland" for some time! And I am not sure I can really catch you up to all I have been up to in the last couple of months.

But I might be able to sum most of it up in one word. Visitors. Since I am SHIM's "Hospitality Assistant" that means I do what I can to prepare for visitors and make them feel welcome while they are staying on the island.

I made up beds and rooms, prepared breakfast each morning (including my "famous" banana pancakes), handed out toilet paper - "white gold," and answered lots and lots of questions about island life.

Leah, Jessica and I, center, with some of the members from W.E. International (based in Wisconsin) who visited for one weekend.
We hosted folks from South Carolina, Minnesota, Oregon, Pennsylvania and from places around Uganda. But the place to be from when visiting Lingira Island is the state of Wisconsin! We had more than a dozen people hail from that great state. :)

In those two months of "visitor season" there were many early mornings, some late nights, moments of frustration and anxiety, but countless moments of laughter, great conversations and smiles. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting the folks who sacrifice their time, dollars and shillings, energy, and the comforts of home to make a difference in the lives of the islanders.

They worked on water projects, taught primary and secondary classes, played football, performed first aid and emergency medical care, took video, snapped photos, hugged children, dug in gardens, blessed and encouraged SHIM members, washed dishes, mopped floors,and more, but most importantly, they built lasting friendships with those of the islands.

The EDGE Project team from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with some of their Lingira Island friends. The EDGE team spent four weeks on the island in the project's fourth annual visit.
Visitors bring life, energy, and enthusiasm. And it is great to again experience the island and Uganda through their fresh eyes. Sometimes I forget that I live in such a beautiful, peaceful place, surrounded by warm, gracious and lovely people. :) 

Jessica, 17, from Oregon, with a family from the island. Jessica loved and was loved by the primary students she worked with, and others she touched during her month in Uganda.
Of course, my most anticipated visitor was my beautiful sister, Leah! But I am going to save more detail about her stay for a future post. But, needless to say, we had a ton of fun!

One of my favorite photos of my sissy and I! (Taken by Adrianna of the W.E. team.)
 Now, it is a less busy season for me. The secondary school is on break for about a month and I am trying to play catch up on some other projects.

I am happy to be back with y'all! I will try and be more regular in posting, as long as my Internet cooperates (that is a whole 'nother story!).

First and last photos courtesy of Adrianna Zimmerman of W.E. International