Thursday, January 31, 2013

A New Season

Vervet monkeys on the island - among the "friendly" faces that welcomed me back to Uganda.
 Nine weeks at home in the U.S. just seemed to fly by and now I am back - here in Uganda, here on the island, here among my ministry family, preparing for a new season of life and ministry.

Not so much has changed here and in a way it seems I was hardly gone, except for the many smiles and hugs I have received in the past week, welcoming me back. : )

My travels were a bit long (about 28 hours), but thankfully were uneventful. It was great having a traveling companion this time - a young woman named Malia, whom God called to do children's ministry for about three months on the island. In the way that the SHIM family works, Malia has thus far been roped into some other things - like chores such as mopping and sweeping!! :)

Next week a new school year begins at Lingira Living Hope - our local high school. We are expecting about 100 new students, which could push our student population well over 200. This is amazing as we prayed for so long for the growth and blessing of this Christian school - one of the few high schools in this group of islands. God has certainly answered our prayers in a big way!

I am excited to see how the Lord leads in ministering to these young men and women. Some are Christian, Catholic, Anglican, Muslim, follow the animist faith or claim no religion at all. The school may be one of the few places where they have an extended exposure to the gospel and truth of Jesus Christ. (For more about the school, visit the Shepherd Heart Facebook page or the SHIM website:

Even as I left a season of visiting my U.S. "home," I am excited about the next season and all that God has in store! Thank you for joining me on this journey!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

My New Friend Bob

I met a new friend the other week and immediately fell in love with him.

Okay, before any of my well-meaning friends jump to any conclusions, Bob is in his 50s and is happily married. ; )

Rather than be selfish with Bob, I really thought I shouldn't keep him to myself, but introduce him to all of you.

Meet Bob Goff - a lawyer, advocate, humorist, adventurer, husband, father, and what I also find attractive, a servant to the needy and defenseless in northern Uganda.

A chance meeting with an old friend in the Clatskanie Safeway store led me to read Bob's book "Love Does." I love his style of writing and found myself devouring the pages of his book, wanting to know what his next adventure would be.

Doesn't he look like quite the character? :)
I thoroughly enjoy how he expresses himself and found myself relishing his stories, anecdotes and simple, yet profound, spiritual applications, drawn from his adventures or those of his friends. Over and over he emphasizes that love does not just observe or talk or plot or plan, love does. Love is an action word.

From his first pellet gun injury to "sandwich stalking" his future wife, to inviting U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to Uganda, to how he humorously fell into the position as a diplomat to an African country, each of his stories teaches a practical lesson. I also enjoyed the quotes at the beginning of each chapter, such as this one:

"I used to think you had to be special for God to use you, but now I know you simply need to say yes."

So, I invite you on the adventure with Bob. I know you'll enjoy it, because as he discovered...

"I used to think knowing God was like going on a business trip with Him, but now I know He's inviting me on an adventure instead."

(Click here to order "Love Does" from Amazon.)

Photos from the and

Monday, January 14, 2013

A DA with Mel

 "I used to think knowing God was like going 
on a business trip with Him, 
but now I know He's inviting me 
on an adventure instead."

Have you ever been on a family vacation or an excursion with a friend and you decide to take a side trip? Oftentimes, it is worth the extra time and effort and you just never know what "surprises" you'll find just because you went off the beaten path.

My time at home has been filled with special surprises, including a number of "DAs" - "divine appointments." I know they had to be the Lord who orchestrated these special meet-ups because I certainly didn't have any hand in arranging them.

One of the most fun DAs was during my mom and I's recent trip to California to visit family.

My aunt had loaded me up with a bunch of things to take to Uganda, far beyond what I could cram in my small suitcase. So auntie suggested we pick up a large box so I could take it all back to Oregon. Friday afternoon we stopped by a nearby storage place to find a big box - a box that would "make it all the way to Africa," we announced as we entered the door.

The storage office was quiet and warmed by the sun (and the high thermostat to compensate for the "frigid" outside temperatures). But what warmed the room even more was effervescent Mel, the gal behind the counter. If ever anyone glowed with the love and light of Jesus, it was her.

As soon as she found out I was going to Africa, she got excited - very excited. This girl just beamed with joy and enthusiasm - a divine joy found only in a thriving relationship with Jesus. "Frank," another customer, stood to the side, listening to our rapid-fire conversation. Turns out that before our arrival, Mel had been talking about Jesus with Frank, a proclaimed atheist.

We found out other connections with Mel, too. She is dating a man from West Cameroon in Africa and is an active member of a church, formerly attended by my cousin. She is interested in ministry and in traveling overseas.

After a few minutes, Mel asked if she could pray for me and with Frank and another customer as witnesses, Mel came around the counter, grabbed my hands and prayed over me and for the ministry in Uganda. Tears came to my eyes by the blessing of it all.

It all started with a need for a cardboard box (which Mel gave us for free as a gift), and it resulted in a "divine appointment." Mel has my contact information and I hope we can connect sometime in the future. Perhaps, she will even visit the island someday. :)

That unexpected encounter reminded me that no detour or "side trip" should be looked on as small or inconsequential, because when you are a child of God, life is an adventure and when He is at the wheel, you only need to hang on for the ride and embrace the unexpected detours and the blessings along the way.

P.S. The quote at the top is from the book, "Love Does," by Bob Goff, a lawyer who serves in northern Uganda. It is a great book and I am thoroughly enjoying it and Bob's zest for life and his Savior.

Photo Courtesy of

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Caught Red-Handed

So, when a crime reporter sits down across the table from you, one might become nervous.  "Did I finally get caught?", you think, with perspiration forming on your brow.

Yes, I did get "caught" - doing and fulfilling the passion God has put on my heart at this time. :)

A few weeks ago, a friend submitted my name and contact information to The Daily News, a newspaper based in Longview, just across the river. The newspaper was seeking stories about people in the community for their new series, "Sunday Snapshots." It was a joy to sit with Tony Lystra, the TDN "crime and courts" reporter, who is part of the "Snapshots" rotation, and tell him about the islands of Uganda, the youth there and how God is bringing hope for these young men and women.

The story was published in today's paper and can be found online at this link.

Phew! So, I guess since Tony didn't ask about the one time I was pulled over for "evading" a police officer, my "criminal record" is still under wraps. : )

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Love that Blossoms

"You give a person unconditional love and they blossom."

This quote jumped out as me as I watched the following inspiring video. While the clip is about an amazing family that has adopted children from around the world, I love the selfless message it tells which can apply to any one of us. 

As I begin a new year I want to make a "resolution" to give more unconditional love in the days ahead. I am learning that love and grace are gifts that everyone needs to give and receive. Because we have received an endless supply of unconditional love and grace from our gracious Heavenly Father, it makes perfect sense that He wants us to pass some of it on, and not hoard it.

Besides, who doesn't want to see the people around them blossom?  :)