Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"Follow hard after you"

You, God, are my God,
    earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
    my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
    where there is no water.
 I have seen you in the sanctuary
    and beheld your power and your glory.
 Because your love is better than life,
    my lips will glorify you.
 I will praise you as long as I live,
    and in your name I will lift up my hands.
 I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
    with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
 On my bed I remember you;
    I think of you through the watches of the night.
 Because you are my help,
    I sing in the shadow of your wings.
 I cling to you;
    your right hand upholds me.

                                                       - Psalm 63:1-8 

I was asked a week or so back what my long range plan in Karamoja was. Or what did I desire to see there 5 or 10 years down the road? Initially, I felt a bit guilty because I don't have an answer to those questions. The truth is that right now my goal is to daily live more like Jesus and let him impact those around me. I don't know yet how Jesus will be working on me a year from now, thankfully he gives it to me slowly, but consequently, I don't know what my future ministry in Karamoja will look like.
I think, for a time, I've had the attitude that God sent me to Uganda to save Ugandans. Yet, that is pretty prideful and really not accurate. God can do anything without me. He doesn't need me here to do anything. So possibly he brought me here to grow closer to him and save me.
When reflecting on this, it became clear that with my initial attitude it is possible to keep loving and serving the Karamojong as long as I saw results. But we don't always get results. And we get to keep loving and serving regardless so it can get really hard. But if my goal is to be ever more like Jesus, I can keep loving and serving no matter the frustration or rejection or hardships.
In verse 8 of the psalm above, some translations say "follow hard after you" instead of "cling to you." I can relate to that. Some days it feels like clinging, just holding on for dear life.  But other days it is running hard, all out, panting and trying to keep up.

And I want to challenge you to mull it over too.  Some one very smart once told me (I think it was my mom) "You are either a missionary or a mission field".  I hope as you read this you know you also are a missionary.  But even as I've been journaling about it for the past weeks I know it is easy to write and a different thing altogether to live. On 2/23 I wrote... This is hard. Especially as I sit here tonight, having written all those things this morning. I had such high hopes for the day. At that time I had a hot cup of tea, a good night's sleep and a beautiful sunrise happening in front of me. Not I'm easily 4 hours past sunset and still up. I have chicken crap in my hair and no water to shower with. I've got another cup of tea in place of dinner and this time with sour milk because there is no place to get fresh in this stupid town. I'm beyond annoyed with people in a culture where "alone time" is a curse, or at least something that has to be prevented at all costs. Now living and loving like Jesus seems impossible and really, why am I even trying?! 
So, don't get me wrong. I wrote this stuff, but I know it isn't easy.  I'd like a group of people far easier to love, in a place with a lot less snakes, scorpions, thorns, dust and a lot more food and water. And I bet you could say you'd like people who wouldn't judge you for what you believe, or are willing to slow down and listen. But none of this is the point. I'm here to learn to be like Jesus. You are too. We get to figure out how to follow hard after him or cling to him, whatever the day requires. To earnestly seek him and allow him to affect the people around you. I'll be praying for you as we figure out how to do that!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Mostly stuck in bed...

Thanks everyone for praying!! I know I promised an update yesterday but I find myself sicker than I've been in a long time. Pictures and posts are coming as soon as I can consume solid foods again....

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Prayer Requests

I only have a few minutes before the sun comes up and I have to hit the ground running today but I want to ask for your prayers before I head into Karamoja.  I’m planning on heading up to Kangole today and then out to the peace village Sunday. There are several new churches there and I’ll be worshiping with one. I hope they don’t feel like they have to ask me to teach but I know Ugandan culture well enough to know that they will. Please pray that as I speak I’ll bring the words that they need to hear.
Also, next week I’ll be doing some training of the village health workers and possibly of the local midwives. I’m feeling unprepared but want to give education that is helpful and encouraging. I'm sure there will also be sick people and lots of requests for medication...
On top of that we will also be doing some vet work and just spending time in the peace communities discipleshiping (is that a real word?) and spending time with people. Please pray for our time up there, that God will use it to His glory.  I’m not exactly sure what this next week will hold but I am just feeling like it is really important for you to keep us in your prayers.  I’ll update when I get back on the 25th!

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Sorted the cranberries and almonds out of some trail mix friends left me. 
You may not think this is blog worthy but it made my day so it gets a post. Yesterday I managed to make a cranberry, almond rugelach (Rug·e·lach  /ˈrəgələKH/ Noun: A bite-size cookie of jewish origin made with cream-cheese dough rolled around a filling of nuts, poppy seed paste, or  jam) which tasted awesome!! I shared with team mates and the nurses out in the clinic.
Cut them, rolled them then baked them up! 

Tried to take a picture of the clinic staff having out usual "breaktea" together, this time with American tea and the sweets, but they were horrified that I was going to take the picture with dirty cups and plates in it. So they cleaned them all up before they would let me take the picture. Oh well. 

On another hobbies related note I’ve also built a hydroponics system in my back yard. One year ago a visiting team build this system for the street boys home (history here and here).  The homeless boys and their "counselors" had managed to get it to work but it was really not flourishing the way I expected it to. So last month when they had to move from their previous location to a new place I offered to help them move it and they said they were not in a position to reconstruct it at their new place yet, so because it had 4 living fish in it and I couldn't just let them die I ended up with the whole mess. And because I don't have a bath tub to keep tilapia in, I took a day, dismantled it, transported it, reassembled it and refilled it back at my house. I've been adjusting and tinkering with it for weeks now and it finally seems to be taking off. The fish have grown about a 1/2 inch and there are a variety of fruits and veggies in it.  I don't expect to be here for harvest but in the not so distant future I expect the Tiesenga family will be having  a dinner of fresh fish, green beans and watermelon!
I estimate that I lose almost .5 liters of water a day to evaporation but it is better now that it is partially shaded. 
The top section where the fish food grows. 
You will have to trust me that there are fish living in there. 
Beans for the nitrogen, watermelon for future shade, and lettuce and spinach because I like them! 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

God reminds me of His sovereignty

Sometimes I think I know what I need and I pray for it and then I don't get it and I get frustrated and there are times that  I just have to deal with the frustration.  But then there are other times that God reminds me that He knows better than I do what I need and He shows me how well He provides. Last week was that for me. There was a team coming from the states to do some serious work in Karamoja and to be brutally honest after coming off all the work from the wedding we were not at all prepared for them. I was dreading it and trying to figure out how I could get out of  spending another long, hot, tiring week in Nakayot.  And yet it turned out to be the highlight of my year so far. Over and over again God reminded me of his proximity and how He knows exactly what I need and how well He provides.
I wish I had the ability, time and space to detail all of what God did but mostly you had to be there. Here are just a few snapshots:
I mean, who WOULDN'T be intimidated by this? 
I was feeling stressed and anxious about being the main liaison between the CLIDE Ugandan team and the E3 American team. There are often missed expectations and hurt feelings on big projects like this.  But it wasn’t even an issue. I felt so reassured when I saw  several familiar faces from last year that I didn’t know were coming, even got a hug, and it seemed just like God was reminding me that He has it all taken care of. I know this doesn’t seem like much but really it was.
This group of visitors were awesome. I can’t even begin to describe their great attitudes and servant’s hearts in a place that can be VERY difficult.
Willing to walk long miles if the vehicles couldn't make it. 

Some of them gave up their tents, they gave away their food, even shared their toilet paper. I’m not sure I heard a word of complaint in all the days they were here. I was anxious about attempting clinics because of issues and violence in the past but all 4 days went, overall, well.
God blessed us with several cool, overcast days which was a miracle as right now the sun BAKES Karamoja with temps around 110 and sun that is unrelenting.
But we got a reprieve!
We were well received, which doesn't always happen but, as prayed for, God had gone before us!

I could go on and on with all the blessing and ways God provided for us. Like safe travel. 
(I did get stuck in the mud one time. We had to unload and several people had to push but it was relatively easy and didn't delay us long.)
Besides all of the other blessings, these guys were were a really fun group to work with.  God reminded me that even though I can be strong and do this on my own, I don’t always have to. He will provide teammates to share the burden and the challenges with. It was a really comforting reminder.  There were so many reminders to me over this week of how God is working in and around me!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Big news

I've gotten some feedback that I possibly shouldn't have left the end of that last post hanging like that. I want to clarify that I am NOT engaged to be married nor do I even have a boyfriend (contrary to the precident that my teammate Beckie has set). My big news is only that I officially have tickets to come back to the states.  My permission to stay in Uganda is about to expire again and the new work permit through CLIDE isn't going to be ready. So it is sooner than I was expecting (and actually sooner than I'd like) but I'm arriving back in Michigan March 11th. I was looking forward to coming back for my brother's wedding and this whole work permit thing has just helped me clarify the dates.
But that means that I have just 29 short days to get ready to be back in the States. Please be praying for this time!! I was feeling a bit pressured with a busy schedule to begin with and now I have to pack up two houses and prepare to go on top of the stuff I was already planning.
However, I'm missing family and friends something fierce right now and can't wait to be back with you all!!! See you soon!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Catching up...

Ugh, I hate it when I get so far behind on this blog and I just don't even know where to start...
I feel like the last few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind and I have a day or two coming to catch my breath but only a day or two because it doesn't look like it is about to slow down. Now that the road to Nakayot is finally open I have lots of things to do and am planning two trips back there in the next three weeks. But wait, I need a few more hours to look back before I start looking ahead again...
God just blessed me with an awesome week in Karamoja with a visiting team that was full of energy, servant's hearts and passion. It was a blessing to work with them and has done wonders to renew my focus.

It also helped to laugh until my sides hurt a few times.
We stayed in a game park just before they left Uganda and some strange things happened. 
I promise in the next few hours there will be more posts and pictures (though most will be shamelessly stolen, thanks Brian!,  as my camera seems to have given up the fight) and updates as I also have some fun news to share!