Monday, May 13, 2013

Grace"Full" Joys

Me with Sunday School Teacher Immaculate and her students who memorized for Bibles on Namiti Island last weekend.

Originally, I had titled this post "Joys and Challenges," but honestly the recent joys have overshadowed any challenges. :)

Let me give you a run-down of some of my joys of late:

- People - I am extremely grateful for the people God has placed in my life. Being on the missionfield has caused me to meet folks from all over the world and around the U.S., including from my own home state of Oregon, whom I had never met before. There is a special bond that takes place as you work, pray and sweat alongside others who have the same heart and mission.

- Petersons - Among the people dearest to me here is the Peterson family - Pastor Bob, his wife Michelle and their four kids. Though they also hail from Oregon, I had never met them before they came to Uganda, just a few months after me back in 2010. But now they are like family! I relished the last few days I had with them last week before they head to the U.S. for furlough for a few months.

- Family - E-mail and Facebook are great, but there is just something about seeing the faces and hearing the voices in real-time of your dear family. For the first time ever, I Skyped with my sister last week! Then on Mother's Day eve I had a very nice phone call with my mom (and dad, too, though he mostly listened as mom and I talked. :)

- Changes - For someone who naturally does not relish or embrace change, I find myself often in the midst of it. SHIM frequently hosts visitors and teams for as short as a day or two or as long as several months. I love the friendships that form during these times and so enjoy staying connected with people via the web.

- More Changes - When I think about my arrival in 2010 I realize how many good changes have taken place on the island, at the school, at SHIM and elsewhere, and I know God is the instigator of it all. Sometimes growth and change are a s-l-o-w process, but God is faithful and always continues and completes what He begins. (Look for the next post to be about one of God's island "sheep" returning to the fold.)

- Growth - Yesterday's island church service was awesome! We always have a much smaller congregation when the students are away on break, but to see the growth and maturing of the local Christians as they exercised their gifts for the edification of the body was so, so special! And the worship was infused with joy as we praised our King - the Giver of all good gifts!

Proud owners of new Bibles!

- Hunger - How could hunger be a joy? Because people are hungry for God's Word! Last weekend while in the "upper islands," I had the blessing of listening to 20+ people (including more than 18 children) recite the books of the Bible. They were ecstatic as a new Bible was placed in each of their hands. It was as if you were handing them a priceless treasure, which the Word of God is! About 25 more have also memorized for Bibles (in English, Luganda and Swahili) - the hunger is only increasing, not diminishing!

- Grace - This is my new favorite word. Every day God pours out His blessings upon us because of His grace. It has become my mantra of late. Think about it...Even before the creation of the world, He chose us to be adopted into His family (Eph. 1:4-5). Because of His grace. He raised us from death to life (Eph. 2:1-7). Because of His grace. Not only did He choose us and save us, but He planned good things for us to do (Eph. 2:10). Because of His grace. And we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in Jesus (Eph. 1:3). Because of His grace. I could go on and on, but we are His because of His grace. Meditate upon that for awhile. Because of His grace.

So, you may be thinking that with all of these joys, I must be floatin' on air around here. No, not really. I have had my recent bouts of homesickness, loneliness, frustrations, disappointments, hurts and facing my own inadequacies and weaknesses, yet when I reflect on God's grace and His abundant love and good purposes toward me, those challenges become stepping stones not barriers on God's path for me.

I am not unique, He has, is and wants to do the same for you.

What has brought you joy lately?
Have you seen evidences of God's grace in your life?

An Upper Island sunrise. (To see more Upper Island photos, visit my Facebook page.)

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