Sunday, 12 May 2013

Raindrops and the Glory of God

The dreary, rainy, cold day was one to curl up on the couch with a warm cup of tea and a good book.  But something caught my eye as I looked out the window from my cozy position.  A perfect line of small raindrops formed the entire length of my clothesline, each one reflecting a grey late afternoon glow.  They called me to get up and explore.  So I grabbed my camera and followed the raindrops around my yard.
I can't help but be utterly astounded by the perfection of a simple raindrop.  The God of the universe is vast, all-powerful and eternal, yet He is so small and intricate and misses not the minutest of details.
If only we open our eyes and see, or as the Psalm says, "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted amount the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."  Ps. 46:10


"Remember to magnify His work, of which men have sung.
Everyone has seen it; man looks on it from afar.
Behold, God is great, and we do not know Him;
nor can the number of His years be discovered.
For He draws up drops of water, which distill as rain from the mist,
which the clouds drop down and pour abundantly on man.
Indeed, can anyone understand the spreading of clouds,
the thunder from His canopy?" 
Job 36:24-29

Ni Hao Yall

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Processing Uganda: A Daughter's Perspective

When people heard that I was taking my 14 year old daughter on a missions trip to one of the poorest nations of the world, filled with poverty, conflict and the unknown, well, honestly, most were alarmed.  Many thought I was crazy.  Many, including some closest to us, tried to talk her out of going.  They were, of course, trying to protect her, but for the most part, the missions trip was a ridiculous notion she should forget about.

I bit my tongue and trusted the Lord, for it is He who began this journey and it would be He who finished it.  I encouraged my daughter to do the same.

Last week she spoke to our church about her trip.  These are her words, her thoughts, her experiences.  I think you'll agree, going was the right choice:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding."

If I had to give this trip a name, I would call it, "Trust in the Lord!".  As I stepped off that airplane in Entebbe, UG, feeling sick from flying 17 1/2 hours with only an hour break in between, I was terrified!  The mosquitos were beginning to buzz and bite.  I was scared of what may lie ahead, afraid of getting sick, and it was hot and dirty.

After retrieving our bags we headed out to load the vans.  While our drivers were trying to figure out how to get 46 bags, 10 kids, 8 mothers and themselves into 2 vans and one car, the power went out.  We were left in the dark, in an airport parking lot on the other side of the world.  Really what I felt like doing was throwing myself on the ground, crying and catching the next flight home.  I didn't.  Instead I got in the van and was soon even more horrified.

We began to drive when I realized that the driver was in the passenger seat, and we were driving on the wrong side of the road.  It's actually pretty scary when you're not expecting it.  They have no rules for driving, so as you can imagine it was scary.  Countless times I really thought we were going to get in an accident.

Although it seems like I am complaining and that it was a horrible night, I'm not.  It was one of the greatest nights, because God opened my eyes.  As we were driving to Kampala, I saw the homes where families lived their lives.  I was shocked!  I saw many pictures, but they don't tell half of the story; you just can't quite grasp it until you see it in person.  It was ridiculous to realize that we have so much and always want more, and we can be so miserable.  Yet these people have nothing and they are content with what they have and are so joyful.

That first night as I lay in bed under my  mosquito net, fretting about what may come, I began to pray.  I just poured our my heart, listed all the reasons I was scared.  Soon God showed me that all these reasons were selfish.  I was not in Uganda for me.  If I was going to go somewhere for me I would have gone to Florida.  I was in Uganda for God, for the kids, and I had to trust God.  I would not have been able to do the rest of the trip without God.

The rest of the week the Lord opened my eyes to many things.  We didn't go and build a school, or go in as super heroes to save the day.  We sat and rocked babies, read Bible stories, colored, did crafts and played with the kids we visited.  I'm not a handyman that can build a school.  I'm a 14-year old girl who is capable of giving love, so that's what I did.  I am only one person, I cannot change the world; but I can change the world for one person.

After an amazing life-changing week, it was time to leave.  Although I was able to hold my tears in until I got home, on the inside I was bawling.  I felt like a balloon and someone poked me with a needle and I deflated.  How could I leave this joyful, poverty-stricken country and come back to North-America where everyone would expect me to be the same Alli, and live life as 'normal'?  How could I go back to 'normal' after that?  I can't!

As I sat in English class my first day back at school, feeling so out of place, we were asked to write something about some North American 'issue'.  I wrote this:

I miss the hot sun, and nasty smells. I miss cuddling and loving with kids who don't get cuddled or loved.  I miss the big smiles, and the little kids chasing after the van full of mzungu waving, smiling and yelling, "Hi mzungu!".
I miss the bumpy roads and honking of horns.  I miss driving on the wrong side of the road, and the craziness of driving there.  I miss toilets that don't flush, and the showers without pressure.  I miss the red dirt staining my feet, and covering me.  I miss the new, fresh food.
I miss the overwhelming poverty, and the humbleness of the people who live in it.  I miss the mosquito nets and barking of dogs.  I miss waking up early, and going to be completely pooped, late at night.  I miss the happiness of those who have nothing and I miss my teammates. I miss the fear of the possibility of seeing freaky bugs. 
I miss the closeness of God.  I miss Uganda!

Friday, 3 May 2013

The $5.00 Challenge

Tomorrow, Saturday May 4th, is {Inter}NationalCupcake Kids Day,  All throughout the US and various parts of the world, including this small rural town in NB Canada, children, teenagers and adults will be hosting cupcake sales.  This seemingly simple thing is a major fundraiser for an organization called Sixty Feet, which serves imprisoned children in Uganda, yes imprisoned children.
It’s true.  I’ve been there.  I sat on the cold concrete floor of the dilapidated buildings within the compound of two of these remand centers, just one month ago.  I’ve had an imprisoned child, no more than 5 or 6, take me by the hand and lead me to sit down with her and while she colored and drew on the paper I brought.   I’ve seen young faces astonished at the simplest act, like the blowing of bubbles.  Again. Again. Again.  I’ve smelled the nostril burning stench that hovers in the lockdown area of one of these centers, where newcomers languish in solitary confinement for two weeks. 

It’s true.  I’ve been there.  I’ve seen.  And it’s changed me.
I’ve seen the difference sacrifice makes.  I’ve seen sick children made well because someone donated money which enables a nurse to visit the remand centers to provide necessary medical care to sick and wounded children.
I’ve had a children come up to me after he returned to the center from school, and read to me from the children’s Bible I was holding.  He can read because someone donated the funds which enable him to go to school everyday.
I’ve stood in the midst of 170 children who ate pineapple with great juicy smiles, swallowed down with milk and a cookie, because Sixty Feet staff were able to bring supplemental food to this center that day - all because someone bought a simple cupcake, somewhere in North America.
All because of a simple cupcake.  And so today I send out this challenge to you all who are reading.  It’s a simple challenge really.  I’ll call it the $5.00 challenge. 
Think about what $5.00 will buy you today.

-          3 small coffees at your favorite drive thru, or 1 fancy latte
-          A loaf of bread with pennies for change
-          3 litres of gas
-          Less than 3 500ml bottles of water
-          A t-shirt on last season’s sale rack.  Maybe.
$5.00 doesn’t buy you much.  $5.00 will not be missed out of your pocket.  But, seriously, $5.00 will do a lot in Uganda.  Way more than you can imagine.  It will:

-          Send a child to school for an entire week
-          Provide milk to a dozen or so children for a week
-          Provide nutritious food to 2 children
-          Give a Bible to a child in his own language
-          Help provide medical supplies to the children
$5.00 won’t do much for you, but it will change a life in Jesus name in Uganda.
Are you up for the challenge?  I challenge you TODAY to donate just $5.00 here, at my own virtual cupcake stand, which goes along with the real ones I will be hosting tomorrow.  It will only take a few minutes of your time, your funds go directly to Sixty Feet Inc., and 100% of your donations go directly to the children of Uganda in the remand centres.
I’ve seen it with my own eyes. 
$5.00 can make a difference.  Will you?