Sunday, June 30, 2013

Congratulations Nick and Katie!

When I was 7, he was the adorable little baby I couldn't wait to see come home from the hospital. When we headed off to Kenya, he was 18 months old. I loved taking care of him, protecting him and carrying him around. He was old enough to play with and have fun with, but not yet old enough to be a pain. When I was 15, he was a pain. (But then, what isn't annoying to a 15-year-old?) When I was in college, I was kind of astonished to learn that he was one of the popular kids in high school. And as a young adult, much to my surprise, I learned he was becoming a mature, accomplished young man. Wait, who am I kidding?! I guess that part isn't true, Nick still isn't mature.

It was only after I bought a house and he wanted to live rent free (just kidding!) and he moved in with me that I really got to know him, and began to understand what all the rest of the people had seen in my dorky little brother. He's smart and he's funny, generous, well-read, and he doesn't really care what people think, and those are great characteristics. He never asked me to fix him up with single friends of mine which is good because that would have been really weird.
Good news was he found his own girlfriend. Or she found him. I'm not sure how it happened, but I'm really glad it did. She is a funny, organized, mature and a wonderful, godly woman. They got married two months ago, and I couldn't be happier for them.They bring out good really things in each other and I can't wait to see what God does in their lives.

Katie, you rock, I love you, please take care of my little brother. Nick, I love you too.  I wish you both the best of everything!


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Kragt family mugging

I love that my family goes along with my mildly strange ideas. When I was home we took lots of pictures with coffee mugs and I turned them into printed coffee mugs for father's day but also did a collage that now hangs by my bed. Here is my cool family:

I love you and miss you guys!!


Friday, June 28, 2013

Bobby and Rachel

Its been an emotional week for me. I have some teammates that have had to leave the field suddenly yesterday, rather permanently and I find myself really grieving their loss on so many levels.  They had amazing ministries with runaways and orphan kids living on the streets.  With kids in the area schools. And with neighbor kids who are just around and want to play. I'll miss them and their kids a lot but I'm having a hard time identifying why I'm hurting so much.  Is it over the problems that forced them to leave?  The suddenness of their departure? The hole that it leaves in Team Beyond here in Soroti? That it seems like they aren't doing all that God has created them to do? I know in my head that the last one isn't true but it is hard not to feel it in my heart. I want to see their ministries continue. I want to just stop by and have dinner with them. But more than all of that I guess that in my first few months here, when I was at my loneliest, Rachel was there for me. I'm pretty sure she doesn't know, as this is the first time I'm admitting it.  But when I wasn't sure I was going to cut it here in Africa, I would go over and have dinner with them and Rachel was strangely impressed with me. I have no idea what she saw but it seemed like if she thought I was tough and able to handle it, then maybe I was. Maybe she could see something I couldn't.
Thanks Rachel for your encouragement and for knowing I could manage. I'm going to miss you so much!!

Seems a bit ugly

Two weeks since my last post. Arrived back in Uganda, had some wonderful friends pick me up at the airport and were willing to travel with me as tired and cranky as I was all the way back to Soroti that same day. Getting back in the grove and feeling like no time has passed. Was I really back in the States or did I just dream all of that?  I guess Soroti feels like home, feels normal, if I have been here two weeks already and have not had anything new or exciting to write about. But actually there are plenty of things to write about- just nothing that seems unusual any more.
  • Saw a old, old man squatting in the road sharpening his machete on the asphalt.
  • While running, Ronnie and I saw a dead dog being dragged down the road on the end of a rope.
  • Had a meeting and was told it "starts at 8" but knew that actually means everyone leaves home to come to the office at 8 and the meeting will not likely start until after 9.
  • Paid $80 (200,000/=) for a tank of fuel. Wait, I did that in the states too. But here at least I understand why I pay so much.  
  • Cobras in teammates yards.
One of  Sliedrecht's Cobras
Obviously, it isn't that there aren't things to write about. I guess it is more that I'm avoiding sitting down and doing the processing that it takes to do a good post. The ugliness around me here is so obvious as I settle back in. After being out of it for a bit it is hitting me harder than before.
  • A 5 month baby at church Sunday who looks like a little old lady because her HIV is very advanced.
  • The kids as I walk down the street demanding that I give them something with hands out stretched.
  • The dishonesty and deceit that is acceptable within the church.
  • Unnecessary death and suffering because of lack of medical care, education and false beliefs.
  • The filth and trash and dirt EVERYWHERE.
  • The lack of care for the environment and their animals.
  • The expectations that I can't meet.
  • Having to say No all the time to requests for money, help, clothes, food.....
The dumpster next to my house finally got emptied, months after it had been overflowing with trash. After lifting it up to dump it, it was just set back into the mountain of trash that had come out. Even better that any more trash that people put in it will also come out because the dumpster is practically sitting on its side it has so much trash underneath.
I'm being reminded afresh this week that this is not home. Not here in Uganda but not in America either. My citizenship, where I REALLY belong, is heaven. Philippians 3:20. As long as I'm on this earth I'm a foreigner. Nothing will feel right, nothing will be as it should be until I'm really home. Where there will be no overflowing dumpsters to say the least.

Thursday, June 13, 2013


Sitting here in the airport with more than 12 hours to fill so I'm going to hammer out a few of these last blogs that were started but not finished....

Try (Tri)

Last weekend I competed in a triathlon. I love to do these and five months ago when I signed up I hadn't swam much (living in a semi-arid country will do that) but I was running often and biked almost daily. Then I got back to Michigan and my new hobby became eating. I didn't run much and this snowy spring keep the bike in the garage. Thankfully a generous person loaned me a wet suit so I managed to at least start swimming but in the weeks leading up the race I wasn't super pleased with how my training was progressing. I figured my goal was simply to finish and be happy with that. And that remained my goal until the first 7 minutes of the race was underway. I was easily mid-pack in the second heat when the gun when off. However, I had the best swim of my life and as we made the final turn of the swim and headed the final 100m back to the beach I realize that I had passed all of my heat and caught the men in the heat ahead of me!! 

See those guys behind me?  All the men went into the water 10 minutes ahead the women!

That meant I was coming out of the water pretty dang close to the first female.  At that point I decided this was no longer a race I was aiming to just finish. So here it is a week later and I'm final able to stop taking Motrin because finally the joints have stopped aching so much.
(Anyone know why this picture distorts so badly every time I post it?)

But I was the 6th Female finisher (and missed 5th by less than 20 seconds) so the aches and pains don't seem so bad.
(8:16 swim, 2:58 T1, 43:10 bike, 0:38 T2, 24:47 run, 1:19:50 finish time) 

Waiting for my heat...

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


I haven't smeared sunscreen on before 7 am in 3 months. I haven't killed, well, anything in 3 months- dinner or unwanted visitors. I haven't struggled to be anywhere or do anything "before dark" and as a matter of fact I don't know even exactly what time the sun set as I haven't seen one in 3 months.
But all that is about to change again as I head back in a few hours. I feel like I've got tons yet to do and every one of my suitcases is already too heavy. Please pray for grace from at the British Airways ticket counter in Chicago. Also please pray for traveling mercies. I leave Grand Rapids the morning of the 12th and won't be "home" until( hopefully!) the night of the 14th.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Weep, hope fight, pray

I know I need to write in this space because I haven't in weeks. But for a combination of reasons, I'm having a very hard time.  Right now I'm both without words for some of the things spinning in my head but also feeling so driven to process and write. 

I only know that I'm feeling a certain an enormous amount of heaviness in my heart for the hurt, incomplete, and broken in this world.  That heaviness leaves me in a place of contemplating the depth of our need for Him and for redemption. It also creates an internal battle and dialog that exhausts and frustrates.  It says "have hope - don't quit" while in the very next breath it tricks and whispers "it is hopeless".  It rears its head later to remind me "His mercies are new every morning"  while simultaneously saying "this nasty world is so full of ugliness, pain and sin". 

It weeps and hopes and fights and prays.

On the topic of suffering and pain, I read this a little bit ago ... 

"An athlete, in the midst of a record-breaking run, has never in his life been so fit and strong. Yet his pain-racked body may have never felt so weak. Likewise, in the midst of a spiritual trial, it is not uncommon to be stronger and yet feel weaker than ever before. And to fellow Christians you might seem hopeless. An ultra-marathon champion staggering up the final hill looks pathetic. A small child could do better. Anyone not understanding what this man has gone through would shrink from him in disgust. Only someone with all the facts would be awed by his stamina as he stumbles on."   -Grantley Morris

I know so many people, possibly even myself, that are stumbling on right now. I know that every step is so terribly painful. I feel frustrated and helpless and I only know to pray for God to show Himself to them in their dark places. 

I only know to weep, hope, fight, and pray.