Prayer Labyrinth Wandering
We are currently in Boston sharing with people about the ministry in Uganda. Today we got to take a few hours and meander around town. We came across a church just opposite the commons. It said open so we went in. The church was completely empty as it was a Thursday early afternoon. They had removed all of the old pews from the church which left a tiled floor wide open. In the middle of the floor was a prayer labyrinth.
I first heard of one of these several years back when I used to ride my bike to work and I would pass a church on the corner that invited people to come and walk their prayer labyrinth. Once I did a little research and found out what it was I kept telling myself one day I would stop and walk it, but I never did. Today was a new day. I decided that I would walk this labyrinth today. So today, Ruudy waited patiently as I walked this labyrinth. I couldn't put it off any longer.
I began, a little unsure at first, cuz after all this was my first time, and I wasn't completely sure what exactly to do. But I just started walking the maze and praying. It wasn't like lightening struck and I fell face down or anything, but slowly I began hearing what the Lord had to say to me in that moment. As I wandered back and forth and around, sometimes closer to the center, sometimes further, sometimes on long stretches and some times barely moving forward before turning again, I could hear the Lord whispering to my heart, "seasons."
I've heard it before, but He knew I needed to hear it again. Some seasons are quick and easy, some short and hard, some seem like they are never going to end, and others I wish would go on forever, sometimes I feel so near to Him, and in some seasons He feels so far. But in each season He is still at the center, and ultimately all of my wandering and seeking Him is indeed leading me closer to Him. It all moves around Him at the center, and as long as He is my anchor, each season will pass and I will draw closer still. As I made it to the center of the circle at the end of the labyrinth journey, there was a peace that settled in my heart. Having reached my final destination, I was finally where I had wanted to be the whole time.
"We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf" Hebrews 6:19-20a.
Off and Running
We thank God for continuing to lead us this year. The year has started off well and full of excitement for what it might hold. Beckie had a young women’s retreat the last week in January which went on well. The ladies were able to spend time away and connect with God in different ways then they are used to. We had a visitor, Beckie's friend Meredith come and teach and share with us on the retreat and in other programs with the young people last month. Their lives were blessed by her contributions.
|The ladies at Sisiyi Falls|
The various men’s fellowships, youth service and bible study for the children in the sponsorship program have continued to hold and we thank God for such avenues to go deeper with the discipleship of young people.
|Gabriel talking with the children in the sponsorship program|
|December and January Birthdays celebrated at the youth service|
This month of February school is starting back up and so will most of our school ministry programs. Please pray with us as we start purity clubs back up for the new year. Also we had an outreach at a secondary school at the beginning of the week. Our new speakers/sound system arrived with Meredith, and this outreach was our first time to put them to use. They worked well and we are so thankful for this addition to the ministry.
|Singing with the students|
|Ruudy and Pastor Fred talking with those who received Christ|
Our dance team and choir have been hard at work. And gave inspiring performances during the outreach.
You can pray for our dancers by name, that they would continue to grow in Christ and keep using their talents for the glory of God. They are Evelyn, Moses, Gladys, Scovia, Lydia and Jacob.
Also we hired a new volunteer this past month, Everine. Please pray with us for her as she begins to minister with us in various capacities. She is a worship leader and she loves Jesus. We can’t wait to see how the Lord will work in and through her these up coming months.
|Our new volunteer Everine|
Thank you for standing with us.
We are beginning to raise money for a keyboard for the choir to use, as we keep borrowing one currently and sometimes its not available for us to use. For about $500 we can buy a good keyboard here in Uganda with a stand. If you would like to partner with us in such a way, you can give online at: www.locodi.org
then send an email to email@example.com
letting us know it's for the keyboard, or you can send a check with a note to:
Loveworld Foundation, Inc.
PO Box 2139
Spokane, WA 99210
We always pray for you and trust that the Lord is keeping you.
Wishing you a blessed February.
Why did the turkey cross the road?
Waiting. Whether it's waiting for water to boil or a president to retire, waiting can prove to be quite tiresome and trying. Wait for the rain. Wait for the meeting. Wait for the beans. Wait for the garden to grow. Wait for electricity. Wait for shops to open, fires to start, cows to cross the road. The other day we were almost "late" for church because we had to wait for a mother turkey and her young one who thought it their personal responsibility to make sure we missed the beginning of the service. There's waiting for the internet, waiting for the ATM, I mean like 86th in line kind of waiting, waiting for the road to get repaired, the document to get signed, the truth to be told, the nurse to wake up, the doctor to be found, the chicken to be caught, the pork to be served, the tea to cool, Edimu to learn his letters. I could continue. As I write this I'm actually waiting for water to boil. And then I will wait for my porridge to cool. Did you know it actually takes 2 minutes for me to pour the entire contents of the kettle into the thermos? 2 whole minutes. Oh there is no waiting at traffic lights, but then there's the traffic jams that kind of make up for it. We had 6 doors made for our house in April. It's now October. Still no doors. We took the motorcycle for repair around the same time. We got it back last week, and yet we are taking it somewhere else to get it repaired again today.
Then there's the current thorn in my flesh, the water filter. I always promise myself as I put the empty water jug under the filter and let the clean water begin flowing that I will wait patiently nearby until it fills completely. I've even tried just sitting there staring at the thing, but then it takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r...Easier said than done. How many puddles have I left on the floor this week?? Let me not confess the exact number.
What am I trying to say here? We wait. Whether we like it or not, whether it's easy or not, convenient or not, it is a part of life. Now days we're not so bothered to wait because of the introduction of the smart phone. Chances are that you are even reading this blog because you are waiting for something..Though we can still get slightly annoyed, we can be busy then even while waiting. Last night as I was waiting for dinner to get ready, (it was around 9pm), instead of hopping on the smartphone (if I sit for a minute the mosquitos under the table and hovering over the couch wreak havoc on my exposed feet) I decided to go outside and watch the storm roll in. The sky was full of flashes of lightening, clouds you could see were dark even in the dark and a nice strong breeze (that thankfully kept the incessant little insects at bay).
I just stopped to take it all in. Beautiful, terrifyingly beautiful. And it wasn't like the Lord suddenly spoke to me and I had an aha moment. No. I just got to enjoy the beauty of the moment. Just being in that moment, it did something to my soul, it restored something in me that I can't explain. I write this to just encourage you to try to experience the beauty in waiting. Nothing is wasted by our loving Father, so even time spent waiting is not wasted, but can be used by Holy Spirit to teach us, to mold us, to speak to us, to use us to speak to others. There's a song that has really ministered to my spirit concerning waiting over the last year by Kristene DiMarco called, Take Courage. In it she uses a the phrase, 'He's in the waiting.' Yes. He is there. Even in the midst of the waiting, He is there. In this busy day and as we head into this "busy" season. Let's encourage each other to slow down, listen and just be. Just take a minute to look around you, really look around you, and you might be surprised at what you see.
Bringing new life again
I (Beckie) had a plant in an old paint can, while I was away, there was this hard, long dry season. When we came back to Soroti there was only hard, dry dirt remaining in the pot, not a leaf to be seen, let alone a green one. So I thought to myself, let me start watering this dirt to make it soft again and then I can plant something else in it. About a week after I started watering, I saw something trying to peak out, it looked like maybe there was still something there yet. So instead of planting something else I just kept watering. Slowly by slowly, the leaves came back, beautiful leaves, green with splashes of white and pink and red, so full of life, so full in fact that I’ve transplanted them to an even bigger pot.
And our good Father knew enough that I needed that message and He chose that plant that was right outside my door, so every time I go in or out I am reminded of His sweet message, “I am in the business of bringing things back to life.” I share this with you because maybe you are feeling the same, maybe there is something you thought was dead, a dream, a marriage, a business, a friendship, but maybe, there is still life there, and it could just need a little watering, or a little sunshine. A little time in prayer and in the Word. Our Father is an expert in raising from the dead, just talk to Him about it.
Last week we went to check on all of our students in the sponsorship program to make sure they are attending school and to pay their fees. I was able to share briefly with one class as we visited the students. They were so excited to hear from us and have also requested a purity club to come to their school.
There is such a huge need for this and a hunger for the word of God but it has been challenging to recruit volunteers to help teach in all of the schools desiring purity clubs.
Please pray with us that the Lord would send out more workers, more Ugandans who are willing to live a life of purity and also teach about it in schools.
This past weekend we were able to meet with the students in our sponsorship program to give them school books. We are happy for the partnerships that we have formed in town. One of the local Indian-run supermarkets donated a box of notebooks and a book shop gave us pens at a discounted price.
This helps us a lot as we are able to then even give books to kids who are still waiting to be sponsored.
Also we checked on our student Henry who is in his third year of training for construction. He was given a goat by his sponsor 2.5 years ago and they have now multiplied to 5.
Soon he will be able to get a cow with some of these goats. We are proud of him for taking good care of them even while also being in school full time. This is so encouraging for us and him.
The Men’s fellowship seems to be a big hit and the number of attendees keeps increasing each week. We can’t wait to see the impact of this fellowship in the lives of the men and their families in Soroti.
On a sad note, our faithful dog Muffin died. We don’t know the cause, possibly poisoned, but it was a big surprise. She was both friendly and tough. She always kept guard at night for us and warned us of anyone walking by. We had just gotten a new kitten and she tolerated her so well. She had been with us about 3 and a half years but was older than that as we inherited her from another missionary family.
She will be missed.
Construction on our house is coming a long. We hope to put the roof up over this next month.We are already praying through the house inviting the presence of God, declaring it a place of refuge, of new life, peace and joy in the Lord.
Last but not least, if anyone would like to join a small group that is planning to come on a short term trip in October let us know and we will give you more details. The dates are from the 6th of October to the 18th. The tentative plan for this group is training different groups in soap-making, farming God's way, and jewellery making to help provide people with income generating activities. There are also opportunities for playing with kids and encouraging them, helping them with school work and sharing in purity clubs, and also to see what God is doing in Soroti.
Summarized Prayer Requests:
-Health of family members
-Building - especially finances
Children in Sponsorship program
-more volunteers who are willing to lead a pure lifestyle
-students to have strength and courage to commit to a pure lifestyle
-more men would come and discover their calling as men of God
Also please keep praying for Soroti. There is still a drought and people are hungry. Pray for rain. Pray for multiplication of food and seed.
a wet noodle
I think one of the hardest things about coming back to America for some time can be summed up in the handshake. If you are American, then you've probably at some point in your life been taught how to shake a hand properly. Grab the hand firmly and look them right in the eye. You want to show everyone you are confident, self-assured, independent and strong. No wet noodle or fish handshakes allowed, those are only for the wimps, the cowards, the weak. Make sure you make a good first impression. We are taught to shake hands when we meet someone for the first time or when we haven't seen them in a long time perhaps, and you need that handshake to define the relationship, to prove that my handshake is as firm as your, I'm as strong as you are. Things are a little different here. Every time someone comes to our house they expect to be greeted with a handshake or a hug. It doesn't matter if they just came over yesterday. You still shake their hand today. And rarely do you get someone who will over squeeze your hand. And after the handshake you can keep holding hands as you finish up your greetings and inquiries about the family, etc... Actually you don't even have to actually shake the hand, you barely have to touch, but just enough to say that I'm with you, I see you, you are welcome. Greetings in this culture are so important, people are important, time with people are important. Things will still eventually get done but not at the cost of relationship, they will get done because of relationship. Everywhere you go there are people, walking up and down the street, whenever I go shopping in the market I have to take time greeting the people who are selling me their fruits and vegetables. Whenever I see someone I know, I must take the time to greet them. To touch my hand to theirs. Or they will wonder, why have I refused to greet them. Am I proud that I think I don't need them? So coming from this culture of greeting, community, relationships and going to the american culture of strength and independence can be really hard. Do you realize that in america I can spend the whole day without even talking to anyone outside of my now house? Not just staying at home, because you can do that in any culture, but I can go the supermarket, I can go to the car in my garage, go to the super market, buy everything I need, checkout at a machine. And come back home all without having to talk to anyone. I have never gone to the market here without talking. I don't think it's even possible. Well...maybe possible, but people wouldn't be very happy about it. First I have to greet them, then I have to ask how much tomatoes are today, because it can change from day to day depending on what's in season.
It's hard stateside because people who we love are too busy, and we can even take a month to try to get together because of their busy schedule and then if we are lucky enough to get a meeting with them, they probably only have one hour or two hours or 30 minutes, and if they tell you they only have 15 minutes, then that's all they will give you. There are even some we failed completely to arrange a meeting in the 5 months we were stateside the other time. I know, crazy right? Well maybe not crazy to you, but crazy to us who are so used to taking time with people. Here we never know how many people we might be serving supper to. And we have to be ready with tea any time, because we want our visitors to feel welcome. And we get people who just stop by. People who just want us to pray for them or counsel them. Then we go back to the states. We know no one else is coming for dinner unless we invited them. We know that no one is just going to stop by and say hi. We know unless we work hard to schedule meetings with people we won't meet with anyone.
That is why, even though we are so excited to be back stateside to see the people we love and to share what God is doing in and through us, we are also a little nervous and hesitant, because to be honest, it's hard. And to top that off, many people think while we are stateside we are on vacation, and yet for me, personally, it's the most challenging part of the work that we do. One, just the living in a different culture (How do you really choose one loaf of bread from the million options?) it is hard, then there's the asking people for money, not only the asking, but finding new people to ask, because, heck I've lived in a different world for 6 years and rarely have chance to meet new Americans, and if I do meet them, rarely do I have a chance to build a relationship with them.
I hope this doesn't sound like complaining, I'm not trying to complain. I'm just trying to express myself, to put down all these scattered thoughts in my head about why I'm hesitant to travel in just 10 days when I have so much to look forward to. Anyway, so if you managed to read this, because let's be realistic, many are too busy to read this, but if you managed, thank you for taking the time. And if you are willing to spend a little more time to pray for us as we transition to a different world and a different part of our work that can cause added stress, thank you. And if it's hard on me, imagine how hard it is on Ruudy who was born and raised and lived the last 30 years in this culture. And if I happen to see you, don't be afraid to give me a wet noodle or fish handshake, because I might just give you one too. And it might just communicate to me that I'm in this with you, I'm here for you. And that might be just what I needed to know.