Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
This trip was incredible. While I was there I'm able to give it all to God and say "do with me what you will." I'm able to trust Him with each step and be so dependant on Him and it all feels so right. And then I have to come home and I hate it. I immediately try to be dependant on myself again. I feel depressed and purposeless. I hate settling back into my old routine which has no adventure. I hate going back to work and back to routine here. I just don't want to do it! I cry out to you Lord- help me!
I sat quietly but was not hearing an answer at all. So I started reading in my bible where I left off the day before just to fill the time until I could be done with my "quiet time".
And God spoke to me. He said crystal clear "That's you. You want to get out of the boat. And you even manage to walk a few steps. But then you get back home and you look at the wind and you see the waves and you look down at your own feet and you sink! But I am right here. I'm still standing right in front of you. Nothing is different except that you are focused on yourself instead of me. Knock it off!" Well, that knock it off may not have been directly from God- but that is the impression I got.
So I put down my bible and pen and journal and I went outside for a long run (Actually it was more like a walk because I have not run in nearly 5 weeks but that is irrelevant). I reminded myself that no matter where I am on this planet I really have nothing to offer. I am simply an empty vessel and I can not depend on myself. But the good news is that I serve the God of this universe who does have something to offer. And better yet He chooses to fill me with new mercy and new blessing every day! So I actually do have something to offer no matter where I am on this planet. I'm inadequate but it doesn't matter because He is more than adequate. I'm now working on keeping my eyes off the water and on the one that always gives my life purpose and direction.
So I can't promise that I won't me mildly melancholy for a little while longer but my focus is back where it belongs. This isn't about me at all, it is all about my God. Thank you Lord.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Monday, February 16, 2009
I preached Sunday, but my heart wasn’t in it. In fact, smack-dab in the
middle of the message, I lost my faith. It happened without warning.
One minute I am bringing the Word, and the next, I had nothing to say – from the
Word to no word. I went from looking out over the congregation seeking eye
contact, to staring down at my notes, fighting the urge to step down from the
pulpit and walk out of the building. Actually, run out was more what I felt like
doing. A picture flashed on to some part of my brain – left or right I couldn’t
say. But there it was, a snapshot that my mind’s eye had taken the day
before. I didn’t see it coming, but I should have I guess. After all she kept me awake a good part of the night. She was on my mind when I woke, and I was thinking of her as I sat on the terrace going over the sermon for the last time. Seeing me sitting there, staring into nothing, Sally asked, “What are you thinking about?” “Nothing,” I said. I lied. I was thinking about a different her than her, and didn’t want to
talk about how this other she made me feel.Then she just showed up in the middle
of my preaching and drove away my faith. She is four or five-years-old; I’m
guessing four. She is wearing a black dress; I’m guessing she wears it
everyday. She is barefoot; I’m guessing that she has shoes, but that they
don’t fit. She has a runny nose, the green kind of runny nose; I’m
guessing she has the green kind of runny nose most every day. She has
empty eyes; I’m guessing she didn’t always have empty eyes. I’m guessing
the light went out of her eyes the day she found out that not all children live
in a place with no place to run and play.
She is a Palestinian refugee, living in a refugee camp on the edge of Bethlehem,
the place where Joseph and Mary came to be counted. She doesn’t
count. She is only a number – 7,000 children in this camp of 12,000
people. She doesn’t count; I’m guessing she knows it.Her eyes are empty, but
mine are not. Mine are filled with tears. Someone coughs and I
remember where I am, who I am – preacher. I look up and see Sally with
this panicked look on her face. I’ve been preaching with her in the
audience for almost 30 years now, and I’ve never seen her with that look on her
face. Well, actually that’s not true. I saw it one other time – the
Sunday I lost my faith in the church. How is it that God allows this to go
on? How can God watch the light drain from the eyes of little girls in
black dresses and not come rushing to the rescue? Is God too damn busy to
help this little girl in the black dress and empty eyes? Does God count
this little girl as one of his sheep? Does God know this tiny sheep is
lost? Is God looking for her? Does God know she is looking for him? I
don’t want God to take anything away from any other child in order that this
little girl has a place to run and play. Why does it have to be
either/or? Is God only able to love the one child – only Sarah, not
Hagar? Is God’s heart so small that there is no room in it for little
Hagar? I’ve lost my faith. It’s a scandal, isn’t it? I’ve seen too
many children with empty eyes to believe that there is a God who cares, a God
who has the power to do anything. Oh, don’t get me wrong; I know that my
missing faith is simply that – missing, not gone. I’ll soon find it. I
know that there is a God who cares. I know there is a God who has the
power to do something about all this. I know that God is angry. I
know that God loves this little girl in the black dress and the empty
eyes. I know all this because I know Jesus and I know that Jesus
cares. I know that Jesus has the power to transform the world – redeem
it. I even know that the Spirit of Jesus will do just that. I know
all of this, and even more than this. I just don’t believe it – not today
You get angry here. You do. You watch one people prosper as
another people decline, and you get angry. On one side of the divide you
see parks and playgrounds and nice schools and fountains and swimming pools, and
on the other you see none of these. And you know that there is enough land for
all the children to have a playground. You know that the little girl in the
black dress with the empty eyes could have the same opportunities to run and
play and learn as the little girls on the other side of the divide. You
know this is true, and you also know that there is no heart to make it so, and
no will to work for it. You get angry. You try not to, but you
do. You listen to politicians declare that the number one priority of the
United States of America is to defend herself against Islamic extremists.
And you just want to weep. You’ve see Islamic extremists, and Jewish and
Christian extremists too, and you know that none of these is big enough or bad
enough or important enough to be our number one priority. You’ve seen the little
girl in the black dress and empty eyes, and you know that there are millions
like her around the world, and you know in your heart that she is little enough
and good enough to deserve to be every nation’s number one priority. She’s
not, and she knows she’s not, and you know she’s not too. And here’s the
kicker – God knows she is not number one with us as well. I wonder how
many times a day God loses his faith in us. I smiled at Sally, shook my head,
muttered something about “preaching to the choir,” and went on. I
preached. I prayed. I presided over the Lord’s Supper. I shook
hands and thanked people for coming. I went home, took a nap, and moved
through the rest of the day and night. I got up Monday morning, put my
feet on the ground and went to work. My faith? Don’t worry; my faith is
just lost, not gone. I’ll find it, because I can’t bear to be without
it. The good news for me is that God doesn’t panic when I lose my
faith. God understands, I think. God knows that I’ll live like I
have faith whether I have faith or not. That’s why God likes me, I think –
sees a little of himself in me, and in you too, I’d guess. Thank God for
that, huh? God help us.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Friday, February 13, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Last evening Tim took us for a hike. We headed out of Soroti in the late afternoon heat. The road is rough, the area undeveloped to say the least. Past the LRA bombed out building. Past the cotton factory burned by the rebel forces. The road is dirt and very uneven Keep going toward the large outcropping of rock in the distance.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Top 10 things that we will miss when we come home-
10. The wonderful sun and warm weather.
9. The scenery
8. Walking all the time
6. Great company
5. The market
3. fresh pineapple everyday
2. Feeling like everyday is a new adventure
and the #1 thing that we will miss is the kids!
The top 10 things that we will not miss when we leave here-
10. 20 or more poopy diapers a day
9. Cockroaches on every surface, in the fridge and around the babies
8. Red dust
7. Posho and beans, or rice and beans or mystery meat and beans- pretty much anything with beans.
6. Continual power failures
5. Ridiculously slow Internet
4. That is all we can come up with....I guess we'd better stay longer to come up with more.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
This trip, like most I’ve been on, has taught me so much and opened my eyes to so much more that it is almost overwhelming as I try to process it all. This latest insight or revelation or whatever is no different then the rest, and I am still in the midst of trying to work through it, trying to figure out what it means and how it changes the way I see the world and how I’m supposed to live in it.
Anyway, with that said, here’s what I’ve got. Uganda is a ravaged country, a country torn to shreds by decades of struggles. From the Keramojong to the LRA, from Obote to Idi Amin, between horrific famines and unbearable floods and, of course, the AIDs epidemic it seems there has been no respite for these poor people. And the thing is, now I’ve met these people. I’ve looked into their eyes and I’ve heard their stories and been broken by them, but then I come to the end of the day and, as I lay in dark and let my mind step back, zoom out just a little, I look to the north and the west and all around really,and I see Sudan and Congo, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Rwanda. Another step back revels Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza. One more and I can see Kosovo, Bosnia, and even North Korea. I realize that its every nation, every people everywhere and all of the sudden the words of Paul are ringing in my head “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood…”.
The enemy is not Joseph Koni or the LRA. The enemy is not the Janjaweed militias. The enemy is not ruthless dictators, rebel factions or even Islamic extremists. The enemy is the same as it has always been, “…the powers of this dark world … the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms". (Eph 6:12) It becomes so obvious that every person who has ever been victimized, abused, or neglected, they all share one common enemy. But the thing about this is that we, the children of light, already have the means to defeat this enemy. We hold the keys to absolute victory in our very hands!
I know that none of this is earth shattering insight or some brand new epiphany but I guess I have just never put it into words before. The thing that gets me though, the thing that I am still trying to sift through is that we, the people with the cure are called to listen and respond to the cry of the sick, but that cry is defining, and the first problem is that we have so completely insulated ourselves from it. We go from our well insulated homes with their double pained, sound deadening windows, to our offices with their acoustic ceiling tiles or into our churches with there immensely expensive sound systems and we never get into any situation were we might be exposed to the wailing of the people who suffer under unimaginable oppression.
The next issue that arises is that the cry is so loud, so over powering and engulfing that if we do expose ourselves to it; it threatens to smother us and bury us completely. It comes from all sides at once and from all corners of the globe. How can we, a people so small and so timid, even begin to face such an insurmountable task? And so we don’t even try. We go back to our insulated lives and pretend that the cry never reached our ears. We may toss up a prayer now and then but we continue to bide our time until its our chance to get out of this mess and on to heaven.
But what good is that? What about “thy kingdom come” now, here, in this time, in this place, on this earth “as it is in heaven?” We have to step out now. We have to expose ourselves and let ourselves be broken, knocked to our knees, and from that place we have to look up and see that our Father is weeping, that His heart is broken and He so desperately wants things set right. He wants to use the Body of Christ, that us, the church, to heal and restore the world. But He will still be there, in the midst of it, in the midst of us, through us, with His power and His love through our willingness.
I guess, in the end, it’s not so complicated. Its just going to take everything we are and so, so much more of everything He is!
Monday, February 2, 2009
Sunday, February 1, 2009
After working my 3rd night shift I think I got this thing down. Here is a glimpse of our schedule last night just so you can get a taste. (For those of you that have worked night shifts with me- at times it is busier than IIU with 3 GI bleeds and neuro full of ETHO- but the same number of bed changes and just as much yelling. )
6pm- Arrive and help the afternoon shift with supper. Feed the toddlers (Alice, B. Helen, Alibenia, Joshua, Peter and Helen.) Bottles for Basil, Michael, Mary and Joyce.
6:30- Bottle for Raphael (q3 hour feedings)
7pm- Baths and night clothes for the toddlers.
7:30- Bottles for Asianut (q3 hour feedings) and Simon (q2 hour feedings)
7:45- Simon vomits- has a temp. Needs meds and a cool bath.
8pm- Tube feed Basil (q 2 hour alternate tube feeding and bottle if tolerated) and bottle for Joyce (q 2 hour feedings). Bedtime meds for toddlers with a cup of milk then to cribs.
8:30- Bottles for Joseph (q 3 hour feedings). Day sshift finishes cleaning up supper dishes and leaves.
9pm-Bottles for Michael (q 3 hour feedings) and Mary (q 3 hour feedings)
9:30- Bottles for Raphael and Simon-He tolerates it better but still won't take more than 20ml.
10pm- Bottle for Joyce and Basil- He sucks without trouble.
10:30- Bottle for Asianut
11pm- Boil night time bottles, boil next day's milk and add sugar and water. Lock up compound, put chickens in and let guard dogs out.
11:30- Bottle for Joseph and Simon- screaming early to be feed- takes all without difficulty. Fever gone. YES!
12- Wake up Peter, Joshua and Helen for midnight meds. Cup of milk for Helen and all back to sleep. Bottles for Michael and Mary. Tube feed Basil.
12:30- Bottle for Raphael and a quick bite to eat for us!
1am- Mix the 6 liters of milk for the day and fill the boiled bottles. Scrub the milk pot. Fold diapers for night, empty diaper pail and put the day diapers in to soak.
1:30- Bottles for Asianut and Simon.
2am- Bottles for Joyce and Michael. Basil won't drink more than 10 ml so tube feed.
2:30- Bottle for Joseph
3am- Bottles for Mary and Michael
3:30- Bottle for Simon
4am- Bottle for Joyce and tube feed Basil- he is still to tired to try.
4:30- Bottle for Asianut
5am- Start breakfast porage, set breakfast table, boil and fill more bottles. Unlock compound. Dogs fed and in. Chickens fed and out. (Don't get those in the wrong order.)
5:30- Bottles for Simon and Joyce
6am- Morning meds for infants. Bottles for Mary, Joyce and Michael. Tube feed Basil.
6:30- All toddles up, bathed and dressed. Helen and Alibenia ready for school.
7 am- Day staff arrives. Breakfast for toddlers and morning meds. School snacks prepared.
7:30- Bottles for Asianut and Simon. Helen and Alibina out to truck for school. Morning dishes done and kitchen cleaned.
8am- Bottle for Joyce. Basil still not sucking- tube fed. Report given to days to watch Simon and about Basil still not eating.
Home to bed!!!
* Christina can co-sign this. Each night is different but really about the same. Keep in mind that there are only 2 of us on a night. Each of the every 2 hour feedings babies weight less than 7 pounds so it takes them more than 20 minutes to put away only 40 ml. Each bottle needs to be measured and recorded so we can tell if one of them isn't taking enough. Some of the bigger babies want to eat sooner so they will cry until it is their turn. This night there were no fevers or vomiting after midnight (unusual) , a nice blessing. And when I say vomiting I don't mean spiting up- I mean the entire contains of their whole little bodies all over both of us- usually more than once. Man I love this job!