Monday, January 25, 2010

Word to [His] Mother!

After writing a reflection for about a half an hour, a quick slip of the finger caused me to lose my whole post as I was typing out the last line. Go figure. I found myself frustrated for a split second until I realized that I could express the heart of what I was saying without taking you on all the semi-relevant tangents my mind went on.

I'm been wowed a lot by how creative and how funny God is lately. I mean, it may seem strange that God would be funny,  but why? If we're made in His likeness, we obviously can't be the only ones with a sense of humor.

This morning, I found myself thoroughly entertained, wowed and amused by the account of Mary visiting Elizabeth in Luke 1: "When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit." Elizabeth shares with Mary: "When the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy." Baby John leaped for joy when Baby Jesus was in the house (I had to...).  C'mon, doesn't it make you want to chuckle because there aren't words to express how awesome that visual is?! Apart from John's joy, it's pretty awesome just trying to imagine how much joy was going on in that room.

This passage strikes a number of chords, but the most prominent finds its source in verse 11 of Psalm 16. "In Your presence is the fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever." This particular verse has been a constant theme that's been woven into the tapestry of my life for the last couple of months, and i'm thankful that I'm continuing to see how many layers of that there are--if you're curious, the answer i've settled on is that there are infinite levels :D.

Even as a wee babe in the womb of His mother, Jesus already brought about great joy. His presence demands joy would not be an appropriate adage because it would allude to some level of force. Though, we can rest in the fact that His presence evokes joy; It is joy. 

Thank you, Lord--for wanting us to experience greater measures of joy...for eagerly inviting us into your presence.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sometimes the Muse is too Great to Keep Silent.

I've done it for about five years now. But tonight bears a different tone and strikes a different chord. Tonight marks an "end" of five years worth of meeting once a week with a group of people who have become as close to kin as you can get without being related :). A gathering that I thought was going to be sad and heavy was something very other tonight. The conversation flowed (and we even had Soph Skype so we could all be present!). It takes great courage to venture into the unknown and unfamiliar, and i'm proud to say that I know a courageous bunch! The Holy Spirit came, rested upon that room, upon us, and guided the conversation and allowed us to see His grace from beginning to end.

I can count the places the group has been held: at the CSULB dorms, Alex' apartment, the Termino House,  and Em's apartment. What's a bit more difficult to do is to look back and count how many people have actually come through the group. There have been some who have been there for the whole 5-year stint, and others who have just been a part of the group in the last 6 or so months. But regardless of whether one invested months or years, each person has marked a different layer of God's hand of faithfulness, grace, and provision--all illuminating His sovereignty and highlighting His beautiful orchestration of each life in the group (even some lives outside of the group!!).

We left tonight with mixed emotions--some filled with hopeful anticipation of what the future holds, some excited but still actively grieving something that's been very much a part of their lives, and others feeling a bit lost. But my prayer is that as each of us left Em's house, we would present the postures of our hearts as worship to a God who hears, who cares, and will give us clarity and give us more of Himself as we ask. Because our Maker exists in community and relationship, He will continue to provide community for His kids, and I look forward to seeing how that will manifest in each of our lives.

I mean--wow! What stories and testimonies of God's favor we get to share and bring into so many aspects of our lives. It's not just that we get to share, but that we must share. These stories all point to how amazing God is, and i'm floored to think that God would gift me with something so amazing to be a part of for 5 years of my life.

Being given the privilege of being both a member and a leader of this group, I've learned a myriad of things that are irreplaceable, and I praise God for allowing me to learn them in this environment. I've learned the value of being vulnerable, the beauty of being broken before the Body, the power of being honest, the weight of living in community, the humility of leadership, the strength of unity, and the healing power of prayer. Those are only some of the things that come to mind. This group has been and will continue to be family, and it makes me giddy to think that this will always be looked upon as such a sweet time in my life--so so dear to my heart.

For those of you who know what I mean, i'm sure there's an appreciation for this bit of reflection--an homage, if you will. Others might think that this is me being over-dramatic about something that seems to be nothing. Oh, let me tell isn't nothing. It was more than I could have ever asked for, and it excites me to know that God wants to keep surprising us with how he uses the Body to bless the Body.

I sit here like an overflowing cup--pouring over the brim with joy and love. Thank you (each of you) for how you've invested your lives into this group, how you've shaped it and each brought such a unique flare to its dynamic. The Lord has held this group in His hands for the last 5 years, and will continue to do so with each individual as we move forward. The Lord has been the bookends for this journey, and there's a beautiful story to prove it.

A glimpse of the last few years :)

Aaaa-mazing! My LBLG Fam, you've been a constant source of inspiration in my life. Thank you so much.

"But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body"

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rain? Yes, please. Apwoyo Matek [thank you very much].

Right before I wrote this entry, I heard a car alarm go off and then frantic, heavy-footed running. Still not certain on what happened, I hope what I heard wasn't someone running away from a car they had just broken into. TILB? For clarification, please proceed :).

[Outside Ron and Joy's house--a striking sight]

I've been up since 3:15 AM, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. I'm not sure how soon i'll switch back to U.S. time, but I'm thankful school doesn't start for another few weeks. Since I've been home (a whoppin' two days), I've been experiencing a pretty consistent nausea between the hours of 4:30 and 8:30 PM CA time. I'm pretty sure it's the Malarone (the preventative Malaria meds we have to take)--good thing I only have a few days left of those things. They certainly won't be missed. As I was sitting here reading the awesome blog posts that Tim and Tracy Taber posted for us while we were away  (, I was welcomed by early AM rain so soothing and rhythmic--the perfect backdrop for some not-so-random but not entirely structured reflection.

[A must-have: mosquito nets around our beds]

An ongoing joke/mantra we had during our trip to Uganda was TIA...This is Africa. Basically, that just meant that regardless of how much planning and prepping there was, there's a pretty good chance that plans would change and that we shouldn't be thrown off by it. Roll with the punches. I'm seriously debating making T-shirts for future teams :). I'm almost certain we heard the acronym thrown around at least once a day. We all said it in good spirits and, most of the time, found much humor in it. We often live such structured lives, and the flexibility that a "TIA" attitude can hone in a person is quite valuable. That's definitely something that I loved about being in Uganda. I completely lost track of the time; most of the time I had no idea what day of the week it was. The days were long, and I felt that they were lived in full. With the exception of one day (where we basically experienced a sample platter of various ministries), I never felt hurried. The idea of a hectic lifestyle seems to be completely nonexistent in the African culture. Giving it more thought, i'm sure this idea doesn't exist in most places outside of the United States.

[Left to right: Margaret, Betty and the amazing Evelyn
(hands down one of the most anointed interpreters I've ever seen in action)]

[Our sweet ride for the time we were there. It was amazing the amount of stuff/people
we were able to fit in that thing. Moses, the driver, was remarkable! The 15 years of
 experience was evident.]

[An aside]: The rain's coming down hard now. Buckets full :D! I just love how cleansing it is--especially when you live in Los Angeles. Clean slate. Fresh air for a few hours. 

TIA, indeed. A country the size of Oregon. Over 20 dialects. Though I was constantly reminded of my love for languages on this trip, I was met with an equally deep frustration when I experienced but a glimpse of the diversity within the country of Uganda. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against the diversity. I can just see how both natives and non-natives alike can experience discouragement when it comes to the communication barrier. It's apparent that the beauty and challenges of culture are often manifested in language--knowledge of the language or lack thereof.

One experience in particular led me to learn the language of the people in Gulu with greater fervor. Our first day doing Medical work in a village, I was overwhelmed with emotions. I felt so much love, yet I experienced this great burden of not being able to communicate to these beautiful people I was walking by--wordless yet with so much to say. In ways, it was hugely debilitating. After some tears and some prayers by amazingly supportive and understanding teammates, the gentle voice of the Lord reminded me that His love would break any barriers--communication or otherwise. Until I was able to learn more words and phrases, I was able to laugh, cry, dance, pray, and smile with the people--all of which are completely universal.

While in Gulu, I did my best to learn Luo (the language of the Acholi). After asking "How do you say ______?" enough times, our friends at GBCC (Gulu Bible Community Church) caught on and realized that I wasn't just asking to ask--I actually wanted to learn. My excitement was met by theirs, and a beautiful language-learning experience blossomed. I was even gifted a Luo Bible (Baibul). Learning the language added a much needed layer of depth to this trip. Even a simple greeting in a person's specific dialect would break the ice. Knowing just a handful of words speaks volumes. Each word learned meant another layer of commonality established between the "us" and the "them." By the end of our time in Gulu, I was getting a hang of some of the basics.

Ideally, I'd like to tell you that I was able to implement what I learned in Gulu, but in actuality, it became null in void everywhere else we went. A large number of Ugandans, including Michael (our partner from Africa Renewal Ministires) and Moses, our rad bus driver, speak Lugandan.  The minute we were out of Gulu, I'd have the urge to say words and phrases I knew to everyone I came into contact with but quickly remembered they speak a whole different dialect. Apwoyo (the broad greeting of Luo had to be quickly replaced by the Lugandan Oliotye. After some wrestling thoughts, I came to the conclusion that rather than dwelling in the angst of the various languages spoken so geographically close together, I knew that I would find more rest in celebrating the diversity than mourning it.

Time and time again, i'm floored by the massiveness and the universality of our God. His body is diverse, but yet also created for great unity. Talk about a powerful image! He is the most universal you can get, but he is also the best representation of intimacy that we could ever see or embrace. He is truly Lord of all.

I leave you with this: proof that dancing and laughter are universal:

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


If you want to see more pictures:

A Long Blink.

It felt like I was gone for a long time, but once we hit our last few days, it also felt like it was just the other day that we had landed in Uganda.

My body is back, but the rest of me is still very much processing the whole trip. Our days began with crowing roosters very early in the morning and our nights served as bookends to full days--each marked with their own stories, laughter and fingerprints of God.

Stories to come. I usually journal when I'm away on trips, but I just felt as though the Lord was asking me to be fully present. I have the assurance that He will remind me of what I need to remember to process accordingly.

Until then, here are some pictures from each of our days there. Once the team photos come in, i'll be sure to share those :)

Entebbe Airport

Skirts on and rearin' to go.

A special sight before we headed into Kampala.

Our new friends @ the first Guest House.

On our way to Gulu

Day 1
In Gulu
1st Village Visit [Kbusi]

1st Worship Service

Day 2

Prepping for New Year's

Packing the Meds
Day 3
New Year's

Day 4
Women's Conference

Day 5
The Church Services (English/Luo/Swahili)

Marriage/Couple's Conference

Village 2-Medical Day 1

(A few days without photos)
Molly's Paper Bead Jewelry

Fellowship with Ron and Joy's Family

Pastor Chris @ the Goodbye Dinner


The Nile

Back to Kampala

Father's Heart Babies Home
Mike's feet and Daniel

Sara and Baby Rachel

ARM (Africa Renewal Ministries) Walk-Around
Maranatha High School where Coryn teaches

In Dubai and heading home

Back in the States

Sweet Welcome

These pictures don't even come close to sharing what I'd love to be able to put into words. Thanks for sharing in this with me. What a journey. Praise God!