The Struggle With Forgiveness

Last week Christian preached on forgiveness. Hmmm, seems like a pattern since we moved to Uganda! I have admitted it is something I struggle with, and “love your neighbor as yourself”, it is hard to love my neighbor as myself when often times I don’t even like myself. What does that look like? Does that mean every time I see someone I have to hug and kiss them and tell them how much I love them? (Eewww and awkward) There are plenty of people who I would run away from rather than even bless them with my smile. (Mean, I know – remember I am a work in progress and I try to be honest about that.) But is it love if I saw my enemy in the ditch dying I would definitely help him out? Is that enough? Can I forgive the wrongs against me AND separate them from my life? I’m not lying when I say, I struggle with this a lot. Especially here, especially in a culture I don’t understand, probably never will, and being held apart and judged by the color of my skin. (Ironic isn’t it?!)

God never fails to amaze me, you probably think that maybe my faith isn’t what it should be if I am constantly amazed by God. But that is why my faith is so strong – He is always showing His love and care for me in amazing ways. When Christian preached this sermon, we had no idea what was about to happen in our lives. I know it sounds dramatic, but try to imagine being in our situation – everyday is a lesson and learning those lessons alone, being outnumbered can be a constant stress. But God has His way of encouraging us – even before we know how much we are going to need it.

Forgiveness.

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God has forgiven us of all our sins but there is a condition put on that forgiveness – Colossians 3:13 basically says our forgiveness should be the same as God’s forgiveness. How did Christ forgive? What is forgiveness? To forgive others I must remember how He forgave my wickedness, and see them through Christ’s eyes. Not hold their sins against them.

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Matthew 6 says “Forgive me as I forgive others.” If I don’t forgive – God won’t forgive me. Now, this doesn’t affect our salvation but our relationship with Him won’t be as it should be. It is about

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When someone offends me, I am to put it into His hands and He will take care of them. When I hold on to these things, it is because of pride – it isn’t about me. They are doing wrong to God, because I belong to Him. Help me to be like You, help me to forgive as you have forgiven me. What if God hadn’t forgive me? Where would I be now?

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Bitterness festers and causes me to sin, enslaves me but forgiveness looses me the most for I’m the one bound. It’s about compassion – putting myself in their shoes as God showed compassion to me. God has forgiven me because of Christ’s sacrifice for me. When I consider how many times Christ has shown mercy on me I have to pray “Help me have Your mercy for others”.

Now, this is what the message was last Sunday, just before we got information on a big, big problem we are getting ready to face. And to get through this situation it is going to require God’s mercy and grace through us to not make it worse. And to be honest, there is a person I don’t want to show mercy too. I told Christian that I don’t want to have anything to do with him. But, since I am to love, then I would save him from the ditch. But, my husband asked me if I thought he was dying and going to hell would I walk across the street and minister to him? Hmmm. Why must he always be a preacher?! But it did make me think about it. And to be honest, right now, I’m not sure I could do it because I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t receive it. There is going to be people hurt, people confused, and people upset with us. Why? Because one person can’t forgive. Bitterness has taken such a hold in his heart, he will manipulate innocent, naive people to lash out. I do have pity, I do feel sad for him but I am not perfect. I don’t always have control of my mouth, especially when people are taken advantage of. And so, as the saying goes “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”. For now I will do my best to not make a bad situation worse. But I know God is working things out on our side, but also on all the other sides. Maybe for me it is to strengthen my character, and grow my faith. For others it may be a hard lesson in listening to wise counsel vs. ungodly counsel. And I know that the one holding bitterness will never have peace until he is able to forgive the wrongs he believes has been done to him.

It is always the same, when everything seems to be looking up, we see God working in mighty ways that the devil wants to tear it all down. It starts with one thing and quickly multiplies. We have been hit from all sides this week – health, our growing church and the hurt of feeling betrayed.

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.  James 5:16

Pray for us this week, Monday will be a rough day. Pray for wisdom – the wisdom in decision making, wisdom in our conversations and the wisdom to know how God wants us to handle things. Pray for God’s Will to be done, not our own. Pray for the farmers, their crops and the harvest. Let nothing hinder all of the hard work they have put into this endeavor, and they will come to recognize God has a plan for each one of them.  Pray we have peace and understanding of the plan God has for us personally and for this village. Let us praise Him and seek His kingdom above all things and that He gets the Glory through it all. I leave you with this video about prayer. We know we are helpless but we know the One who is the helper and we know we don’t have to be afraid of what may come. Pray and He will answer. Always.

Derick’s High School

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This past Tuesday we were invited to Derick’s high school to speak to a Bible study group on campus. We were told that in the past year or so the group has been dwindling down until it’s only been about thirty-five students coming each week. By Derick’s word of mouth and his enthusiasm and love for us, he told us he had three hundred students sign up to be there! We weren’t sure if we understood that correctly, but it really didn’t matter if there were thirty or three hundred. Of course everybody needed us just before we were to leave, trying to get away, and taking Bakali (who is Derick’s ‘brother?’) with us to show the way, we understood the school to be about fifteen-twenty minutes down the highway going to Jinja and we had thirty minutes to get there. Let me stop here.

In America, sometimes back roads are more convenient to get somewhere. I always liked to take the interstate if I could in the city rather than be caught in traffic on some two-lane back road. On the Harley we preferred back roads. But here, they insist “this” road is a short cut and every time we have listened and followed their directions it has taken twice as long and seemed a miracle the truck didn’t come apart at the seams. You don’t even know what pot-holes and uneven roads are until you drive the roads of Uganda! Okay, back to the story…fifteen minutes late and stressed out about it!

The classroom was packed like sardines, we could hear the singing before we got out of the truck. There were three hundred plus students packed in there. It was amazing, hot and I’m not sure I’ve ever told you but most here do not wear deodorant. So we will leave it at that. Derick got to introduce us, as his parents. I am Mommy and had to stand up and speak – not one of my strengths in that big a crowd! I did get teary seeing all the faces and hearing them singing about Jesus at this important time in their lives, the time when they are at a crossroad between child and adult, deciding what their future will look like. I thanked them and told them how it fills my heart to see so many present and their faith is such an encouragement. Then I told them that I was going to turn it over to my husband because he is the speaker in our family!

Christian gave a message from Jeremiah and encouraged these young adults to make the right decisions now, decisions to follow Christ and let Him lead their lives. He has a plan for each and every one of them and if they would just seek Him and follow His plan they can change the lives of those around them, and together they can all change the direction of this country. It was very relevant to each and every one of their lives. He didn’t have to have an interpreter so I believe he had more freedom to speak the word. I know when I tell the stories it is so difficult to keep a rhythm when you have to stop every sentence or so.

After the message we got to sit down with the head teacher of the school who informed Christian that in twenty minutes he was going to speak to the entire school – eight to nine hundred of the thousand students who attend the high school with a very large percentage being muslim. Whoa, talk about being put on the spot! That doesn’t usually intimidate my husband but I think it threw him just a little. It’s not that he doesn’t usually have something to say, it is just more difficult here when you have translators, beliefs that are either mixed up or ingrained from many years of teaching the muslim faith. I saw him looking up a few scripture on his phone. When they were ready for him, God had him ready for them.

When we walked up to the front of the students it was a little overwhelming. Raelee and I sat right in front and kids were only about two feet away. It is very awkward to feel hundreds of eyes staring at you, not smiling, no expression. Just staring. I often feel like we are the main attraction at the zoo!  He spoke about David and Goliath, and when he mentioned Goliath, the whole place went crazy, yelling and laughing. We still don’t know what that was about! But when he was telling them about how close David had to have been to kill the lion and kill the bear, he grabbed his beard and pulled himself close enough to one student that he could have grabbed it and said “This is how close David had to be to grab that lion. And the crowd went wild again – only this time we knew why. I think he had all of their attention from that moment on.

After that we took Derick back to his apartment, he was eager for us to see the place that we pay for and how he lives. We met his landlady who has been really impressed with what a kind and responsible young man he is, she even lets him have electricity for free so that he doesn’t have to do his studies by candlelight. Then we got to see his apartment, a 5’x7′ room with a curtain in the middle to separate his bed from the other half. But he is very proud to have his own space, not to have to stay at the dorm packed in a bunk bed with hundreds of other students. It would be more expensive and he wouldn’t be able to leave when he wants to, he wouldn’t be able to come to church if he lived on campus. We are proud of him and so happy to be able to support this young man with so much potential.

Finally we were ready to leave, ready to drive to Jinja and eat Mexican food! We gave Bakali transport money to get back home and headed out the other direction – to the highway. On the way home we timed where we had gotten off the road on our trip to the school. The highway took 15 minutes, the shortcut almost an hour! We have learned that when they say shortcut it is anything but!

(Oh yeah, didn’t realize there was a guy picking his nose until I had this post finished. Enjoy! 🙂

Apple Dumplings

Usually when I make apple dumplings everyone is so excited about it. Christian has been wanting chocolate-oatmeal cookies but I was trying to use up the last of my pastry dough so I made apple dumplings instead. He was not enthusiastic enough and it hurt my feelings. Then when they were done I asked how they were and got a lame response of “they really have no taste”. Oh no, you did not just say that. So I ate one. It did seem like something was missing, but there was the taste of apple and butter. Maybe I used too much butter. After my second one I said “Was I supposed to put sugar in this” “Well, yeah you were supposed to put a cup or two in”! No wonder they weren’t very good!

In honor of Father’s Day I made chocolate-peanut butter cookies just for him – and they were perfect!

Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to all Dads on the frontlines! The new Dads and the ones who are battle-scarred this day is made to honor you!

Happy Father’s Day to our Heavenly Father. If it wasn’t for you where would we be?

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?  And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.   In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.”  –Matthew 18:12-14 This is the love of God – that He would leave ninety-nine just to go find me, what an awesome Father!

I would like to say Happy Father’s Day to my Daddy. And to say thank you for being my dad. I know we don’t always see eye-to-eye on things (or should I say rarely!) and I know I am as much opposite of you as I am just like you so that combo may have something to do with our clashes! Once upon a time I told you I wasn’t going to raise my boys like you raised me. I was wrong, I did raise my boys like you raised me. I taught them to have manners, always respect others. Always be early – NEVER be late! Give an honest days work for an honest days pay; work hard and go above and beyond what is asked of you. Give a helping hand when you see someone in need without them having to ask. Your influence (whether I liked it or not) has had so much to do with the two men I have now. They have all of the above qualities and then some. You have influenced Raelee in the little time we have had her – always keep your surroundings clean, keep your grass cut and remember to leave something out for bigfoot. But seriously, the same qualities that were passed through me to the boys are being passed on to her. I would like you to know that all the trouble I caused you is being paid back to me – double I think! This girl is my twin and it hurts! I love you Daddy and wouldn’t trade you for anyone else’s Dad!

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To my husband I say Happy Father’s Day to the most long-suffering, patient man I know. You have taken on three kids that were not your own and loved them and honored them as you would your own. You have made them your own and your influence on them (and the influence of Pops through you) has helped to mold them into the men they are today and is molding the little girl to whom you are superhero! Even though we are far from our grandchildren I know your influence will still make a difference through our son. Your prayers for them will be honored and will make a difference in their lives.

Pops, we miss you so much and I wish you could see the men the boys you loved so much have become. I wish you could see your great-grandchildren and could’ve met Raelee. You would have gotten quite a kick from that girl. But God wanted you more, he took you from us but he also took you from your suffering. Happy Father’s Day Pops!

So, if you are blessed to still have your Father around, even though you may be far away, make sure you let him know how much he is loved.

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*Addition:

I had a hard time writing this post through tears, and I neglected to say Happy Father’s Day to Daniel. You make your Mama so proud of the man you have become. The wonderful Papa, husband and all the accomplishments you have made. I love you very, very much!

Week In Review

Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. Luke 12:7

Really we have had a quiet week. There were two deaths this week, one was our neighbor who we bought some of our land from. Our workers took off half a day to attend the burial. We are told that if your close neighbor dies you must not work or you can be beaten. So we let them go!  The other was a child that was run over by a taxi on the main road that leads from Kampala to Kenya. It is a dangerous road and I am thankful we don’t live right on it. We live down a dirt road that is rough and has many potholes in it, and darting children, chickens and goats. It is usually an obstacle course not to hit an animal and this week we almost ran over a child. Christian had slowed down because he saw two little kids and they got to the side of the road but at the last-minute the baby darted across in front of us. Christian had time to hit the brakes but I am sure it scared the little one pretty bad! Please be in prayer for the families that lost loved ones this week.

We’ve also had some unrest here, in Kampala so it really hasn’t affected us directly. There was a group of the military that were planning a coup to overthrow the president (which is how he became president thirty years ago). It was stopped before it happened and many of the military and opponents of the president were arrested. The election is still being talked about and many are not happy with their president. I don’t believe the plans to overthrow him will end any time soon. His main opponent is still under arrest, now he is being charged with treason because on inauguration day he held his own ceremony and called himself the new president. inauguration parties for the actual president were canceled because nobody showed up. The streets were said to be empty after the announcement he had won. Another soldier killed his wife, three other ladies and  three children. It is said that kind of situation has happened frequently with soldiers in the past few years.The men who enlist in the army have to serve until they are sixty-five, seems like that may be stressful.

Raelee picked and picked and picked her nose until it bled. (I know, gross). Zula called me outside to show me her nose. Later that night we looked in it with a flashlight and I swear it looked like some kind of larvae in it, she said it was a jigger in her nose, Christian said it was puss and infected. So we took her to Dr. Nelson the next morning. He said he didn’t think it was infected and told her to keep her finger out of her nose. (Jeesh, if it isn’t one thing it is another!) And no, jiggers do not get in your nose. (Unless maybe you stick your toe in your nose which wouldn’t surprise me a bit with this child).

The puppies are coming along in their training. They come when called, even away from the chickens. They sit for us and now for Zula, Cadetti and Sherifu, which they love to do to show off when people are around. Most of the people fear them and all of the children fear them. We made a mistake letting Raelee run from the front of our property to the back screaming for the dogs to chase her. Now when they get around the kids at the bore hole and the kids scream and run the dogs chase them which makes it worse. I had to run faster than I have run in a LONG time to get one girl to stop and wrangle the dogs. We must stop that before they chase someone out the gate or traumatize children forever!

We are now up to about ten chickens and Christian just built a small house for the two we already had with just enough room for a few more. Our farm manager said a while back that he had a chicken for us but was keeping it over there until we were ready for it. Well, it laid two eggs and the chicks grew up. Bakali ate one so we then had two chickens. The two chickens laid eggs and multiplied to four or five. They laid eggs so I believe we are up to eight or nine! He is supposed to bring them over this week. We were informed today that we are getting one more from a lady we took to the Dr. We aren’t sure our little chicken house will hold them all! I called Bakali last night because I didn’t realize I was out of eggs until I started to cook cornbread. He brought over four eggs from his mazungu chicken. (The chicken is white!) Christian asked him “So, if I get a black chicken I can call it my african chicken?” Bakali thought that was very funny!

I have been making pumpkin muffins and pumpkin bread is in the works. The pumpkin squash are all getting ripe and they are so close to a regular pumpkin you can make pumpkin pie and not know the difference.

I’m thinking this is our “winter” months here. May and this month have had some pretty cool nights. Last night I had two blankets on and was still cold! I love the rainy season!

Christian put up my wind chimes outside our bedroom window and last night and they were tinkling away. Raelee informed me that the sound was annoying and she wants them taken down. I told her I love that noise, it sounds like tinkling fairies. She then told me to quit calling her a tinkle berry, that she is a tinkle grape. Never a dull moment here!

I thank God for the small blessings everyday. Yesterday I cooked beans in my pressure cooker, heated water for a group of people having a prayer service and cooked cornbread. The cornbread was just finishing up when I ran out of gas! So many times we overlook the small things God does to show his love and caring for our everyday and instead look for the miracles and big things.

Tomorrow we will have church service and our Sunday School teachers who have been going to training will be teaching the children. I get to go hear my husband preach! Hope you all have had a good week and have a happy Father’s Day!

Oops!

This may seem obvious to many of you, but we didn’t think much about it. Christian was raised in the country and said he drank fresh milk a lot. He didn’t remember if his mother boiled it or not so we have been drinking fresh milk for a few months now. And also having stomach bugs and bacterial infections but until recently didn’t really put two and two together! I started suspecting the fresh milk being the culprit but it still took a few weeks of drinking it before I asked  Dr. Nelson if we should be boiling it and if that may be why we have been having stomach problems. The answer was an emphatic yes! Okay, I am ready to boil the next pitcher of milk that comes but instead of milk I was delivered the news that the cow is dead and we will not be receiving free milk any longer. Hmmm, not really sure why the cow is dead but now we are back to buying milk in a box off the shelf. (Christian and I don’t drink that but Raelee doesn’t seem to mind it) Until we find someone else with a cow. And I will boil the milk!

 

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Resurrection

The dome house with it’s tower at the entrance was a fun place to play. And sleep? About a month ago I found a mat inside that looked like someone was sleeping or taking naps there. The kids haven’t been able to play inside the dome for a few months now because it had a big crack in the side. We have been told that it was built with uncooked bricks and mud so with that combination it was sure to fall sometime. It did. A couple weeks ago Christian and one of our workers were looking at it after one wall had finally caved in. Just as Yahaya was walking into the tunnel entrance the whole dome caved into itself. We are very thankful that Yahaya wasn’t far enough in to be hurt by all that concrete and brick falling. We are thankful too that the kids weren’t in there. Then the question was what to do after cleaning it up. We talked about building another dome house but I haven’t been all that comfortable having a place for the kids to play that was closed in and could be locked. It isn’t right at the house so I worried about what might go on in there, especially after suspecting someone has been using it to sleep. After much talk we came to an agreement on design and it is almost finished…the Queen’s Castle! The tunnel under the tree is still there so that’s pretty fun, and the turret out front has been rebuilt with a path leading over the tunnel onto another turret and the rest of the castle area. There are a couple walls still to be built but it is already a favorite place to play for Raelee and all of her friends!