Reflections on our life and lessons in uganda
First blog since furlough started. It’s only been a week since we got back to Colorado, though sometimes it feels much shorter and others MUCH longer. I have been thinking a lot about the idea of rest lately (mostly because people keep telling me that is what furlough is for). A friend of mine said that we should be having “active rest”. Now at first glance to me that sounds like an oxymoron. (That is probably because I am so bad at it). I am someone who runs at full steam or is taking a nap; there’s no in between.
But last night I was listening to pastor Matt teaching at church and God really spoke to me. Some back story, Jon and I were supposed to be teaching at church but Jon got really sick and we couldn’t make it. As you can imagine, we were both pretty discouraged by that. But it was totally from the Lord because I needed the word that was brought instead. Matt taught on newness from 2 Corinthians 5:17. (I’ll post the link below so you can hear the teaching if you want). He asked a question of: “are you bringing newness into the lives of people around you?” That was really a convicting question for me. See, in order to bring newness into the lives of people around me, I have to be being renewed. (There’s a word in Greek for “be being” but we don’t have one in English so that’s the best I have).
It is easy for me to fall into intense discouragement when I feel like I am “missing” what I am supposed to be doing. I really enjoy being useful, so a period of resting is hard for me. (Frankly, this probably comes from being my own idol so much of the time. I was to be self-sufficient rather than God-sufficient). I was reading Psalm 27 last night. (If you don’t know it off the top of your head, I HIGHLY recommend pausing here to go read it. It is my favorite Psalm). Verses 3 and 4 say:
Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident. One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple.
Now so far in my life, I haven’t ever been surrounded by an army or had a war rise against me like David did. But I love that in the face of all that fear, doubt and discouragement, he didn’t say ‘why are you doing this to me God?’ He says that he will be confident in spite of all of that. Why is David so confident, what’s the secret? The key is that David knew who and what he was for. His only prayer despite the insane odds he was facing was to know God more and to rest in Him. In Matthew 11:28 Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” But, Kristin, says my brain, He also gave them jobs to do. Like in Matthew 28:19-20, “‘Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even to end of the age.’ Amen.” My favorite thing is that the great commission doesn’t say anything different than Matthew 11! Jesus gives them instructions of what to DO, but then tells them the HOW. “Lo, I am with you always”.
Jesus calls us into an active rest. When armies of doubt or discouragement rise up against us, or when we are warring against our selfishness, we can rest in Jesus. When we find ourselves heavy-laden or burdened (even when they are burdens of our own making); Jesus has the power to wipe out those things we battle against, and He is eager to do it. He doesn’t demand that we get to a certain point or clean ourselves up some or do so many good things before He will be our victory. He is already our victory! And the key to holding that victory is to be at rest, in Him. To dwell in Him. And when we do that, we walk in victory. We are renewed. And we can actively bring newness into the lives of people around us, because we are at rest. Ministry must flow from a position of active rest, as a natural result of intimacy with Jesus. Only then can we be the newness the people around us need.
http://livestream.com/calvarychapel/events/5842014 (Here is the link to service last night)
Six months ago, Jon and I got on a plane and headed to Uganda. We had never been to Uganda, or any part of Africa. For my part, I had no idea what to expect. The first night, when we finally landed, I realized we were in a whole new ballpark (probably something about the guy with an AK-47 telling me I couldn’t go through the door I had just left). The next day taught me something new, as has every day since we arrived. To give you a taste, we are going to list just a few of the lessons we have learned:
• Always have the name of the hotel you are supposed to go to (because sometimes the driver sent to get you doesn’t show up)
• Bugs are not going to hurt you, necessarily (unless they sting, bite or suck, then they will hurt a lot. Lookin at you, assassin bugs)
• Speaking of bugs, they can get like really really big
• Time your pit latrine visits carefully to maximize light while minimizing visitors (bugs)
• Don’t pick up angry chameleons, they bite
• A big smile is the key to helpful people
• We spend way too much time on tasks and not enough on people
• How to greet properly
• You are never too old for water fights or pranks
• MarioKart is way more fun/terrifying in real life
• Playing tag is a universal language
• Someone may look angry until you greet them, then it’s all smiles
• How to wear a skirt and still do normal life
• If you want an in, learn to play someone’s card game
• People appreciate you learning their heart language
• … But will still laugh at you when you say ‘rabbit’ instead of ‘thank you’
• How much my faith and perceptions were colored by my culture
• Texting is better than phone calls when you have different accents and languages
• An average motorcycle can transport: 3 adults; or 2 adults and a baby and bag of sugar; or 1 adult and a couch; or 2 adults and 2 children and 2 chickens and a bushel of bananas; or approximately 17 chickens and 2 adults.
• It is exhausting to be outside your comfort zone 24/7
• It is also extremely rewarding
• People are people are people
• There is more to life than a career and a 9-5
• This is true, EVEN if you aren’t a missionary in Africa
• Time is relative and patience is key
• You don’t know how much you believe something until you are forced to ask yourself if it is really the solution you want to offer to someone in poverty, sickness or death
• A proper gift to someone is a chicken or bushel of bananas
• Taking a step of faith can be scary, but can also be really fun
• Sometimes you will wait 10 minutes for your food, sometimes 2 hours
• Sometimes what you order turns out to not be what you ordered, flexibility is key
• It is good to make time for family (even having Indian food in Uganda win your cousin from Colorado)
All of that to say: we have loved our time in Uganda. God has used these 6 months to shape and grow us in ways I never expected. It has become home to us in ways we never expected. We are continually awed and inspired by the people we have gotten to know here. There is no way we could tell you all the things God has shown us in these 6 months. But this list is a start. We return to Colorado this month for our first furlough, and we are excited. But we are also sad. Because, as another missionary here put it, “now we are homesick for two places”.