Monday, July 30, 2012

on inspiration

Today is the day I leave Uganda to fly back to S. Africa. It's been an incredible trip, but I'm definitely ready to get back and see my family. Two weeks has felt long!

I had mentioned in a post that on the way to Gulu, I had time to reflect and process the trip so far. That was the least intense part of the trip but nevertheless, I'm glad I had that time. God spoke some incredible things to me in the midst of a loud bus in the middle of the African bush.

at the conference

The first two days in Uganda, I taught a group of about 25 local Ugandans on the power of storytelling. There were some incredible questions, and I feel like they were definitely challenged. I loved being able to tell them that even people in their own country need to hear the stories of what God is doing in the midst of them.

The next day I spoke on Leading With Excellence at a conference of pastors and young leaders. My message was brief compared to the African way, but I believe my heart came across.

After both times of sharing, I was overwhelmed with the number of people who came up to me and said, "You inspire me." I said thank you, but honestly I didn't know what to do with that statement. I kept asking God, "How did I inspire? What was it that was so inspiring?" In the midst of that noisy bus, He spoke louder than the noise around me. I'm glad it was dark because I had to wipe tears from my eyes.

He spoke to me about how, when we walk fully in our giftings and abilities that He's placed inside of us, that there's something incredible that happens when others see it. It's never about me or how well I articulate a message or how well I compose a photograph. No, it's about knowing what God has placed inside of me and walking in the fullness of it. When we do that, it's powerful. It's inspiring.

After I arrived in Gulu, someone wrote me on facebook and expressed that I was an inspiration. I cried again and thanked God for this incredible journey He's taken me on. He's spoken so strongly in the past several months. He's done amazing things in my life and given me incredible opportunities. I don't take any of it lightly. I feel like my heart is so full of thankfulness for His goodness and the only way to express it is with tears of joy. You, my friends, have also been such an encouraging part of that journey for me, and I thank you so much!

Keep dreaming and walk in all that God has for you!

Friday, July 27, 2012

instagram recap of the week

I felt like a celebrity yesterday in Dino when all the kids wanted a photo with me.  Hotel view in Gulu.

Someone on the team told me that I make a friend everywhere we go. Today that friend was Leah. :)  This lady is 70 & harvests beans & peanuts & then walks 2 km to sell it.

Isn't she sweet?  A little roasted corn snack.

The scenery in Arut.  Stirring the rice. It's amazing to watch.

My new friend, Concy, shared her passion fruit with me today. So touched by the generosity of those who have so little.  Girls learn at a young age to carry a baby on their back.

She thought it was hilarious that I wanted to take a photo of her beating the crop.  The sun setting in Arut.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

falling in love with east africa

I wrote this in my journal on our way to Gulu. I was thankful for several hours to process the trip so far. 

Today's route.

Our scheduled departure time of 2:00 came and went. As we waited another two hours (for what, I'm not exactly sure), differing opinions of how long the road trip to Gulu would take were expressed. 3 1/2 to 6 hours. My new Nigerian American friend said it best, "In Africa, there's not 24 hours. There's just hours." So true, time is irrelevant on this continent. I think I like it.

streets of uganda

My window seat on the bus allowed me to take in the scenery as we headed to northern Uganda, and I realized that I'm falling in love with East Africa. It's not my first trip here, but this time I've been able to spend more time with local Ugandans. They are such a beautiful and friendly people that have welcomed me warmly. They thank you for eating their food, for coming to their country, and anything else they can think of. I feel like I should be the one thanking them for blessing me so. 


Every handshake comes with a smile that's more beautiful than the green, green grass that finds its way along the red dirt. Yes, East Africa, Uganda, has made its way into my heart. I'm not surprised. It seems Africa in general has a way of doing that. This won't be my last visit here, of that I am certain.


*By the way, it took 6 hours to get there. :)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

overwhelmed

I have so much written in my journal and it seems with the long days, that I don't have enough time to type it out and find the photos to go with the story. Thankfully they are written down so that I won't forget. I had to take some time yesterday in the middle of everything to just sit and write in the midst of everything around me. There's too many stories and I'm afraid they will be forgotten if I don't reflect on them.

This girl had the sweetest smile.

We've spent the last 2 days in Dino, which is the birthplace of Joseph Kony. It's almost felt like this surreal movie. People talking about the days when rebels would raid the camps, hearing kids scream at the sight of a thermometer because they've never seen one before, women sleeping overnight at the clinic so that they can be sure and receive the free health care being offered. I know I am painting a devastating picture. I like to tell the stories of hope, but it just has felt overwhelming and like something I've heard about or seen on TV. I can't believe I'm seeing it in real life.

In the midst of it all, this little girl really brightened my day. She was eager to speak to me because of my white skin (apparently). She had the best smile and I was thankful for it in the midst of what I was feeling inside. Please continue to pray for us. We are going to Arut today and will spend 3 days doing more medical and dental clinics and youth and children's programs. Please pray for the doctors and dentists for strength. Please pray that we would have enough supplies for everyone. Pray for these people that they would feel the love of God in the midst of it all. Thank you for following me on this journey and your encouragement along the way.

Monday, July 23, 2012

mud huts and thatched roofs

You know how people think Africa is mud huts & thatched roofs? That's totally where I was today. Amazing.

I was all prepared to write a good and proper update but alas the power went out. It's now almost 1 am, and I'm afraid my bed beckons me so that I can take another full day tomorrow. 


Being 1 of 3 white skinned people on the team, the kids either cry or squeal with excitement in my presence.

Today we drove 2 hours to Dino. It was amazing and when it's not so late I want to tell you all about it. I've never seen so many people lined up for medical and dental care. We go back tomorrow which is good because several people weren't able to be seen. The scenery was amazing...mud huts and thatched roofs. Oh my, it was like what you would imagine Africa to look like. Until next time my friends...

Friday, July 20, 2012

beautiful faces i saw today

I really want to write more about the last two days but I'm afraid what would come out wouldn't do it justice. The days have been busy, so my processing times have been few and far between. I spoke on leadership at the conference and it went great. I spent this afternoon with a great group of kids rescued from the streets. Until I can share more, please enjoy looking at these beautiful faces that brightened my afternoon.

cuties

so cute

dancing away

Thursday, July 19, 2012

sentimental

I'm realizing more and more just how sentimental my little girl is. Before leaving for Uganda, we went on a brunch date to our "special place," the same place we used to go. We went to the same chocolate shop afterwards and the same playground. Love her sweetness and the way she marks things as "special." :)

Brunch date with my girl!

I've showed several people here in Uganda photos of the kids including the one on the bottom right. They all say she looks just like me. :)




Linking up with The Anderson Crew for Embrace The Camera.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

live from kampala

View from my pillow. #mosquitonet

So, so beautiful here in Uganda.

View from my crib here in Kampala.

Well, I made it safely to Kampala last night, and I'm staying at a lovely guest house with internet access! I've spent the day with the team doing team training. I have a whole communications team! Tonight I teach for three hours and would greatly appreciate your prayers as I fight a head cold. I don't feel 100% but I know that God is bigger than my weakness and that His purposes can still be accomplished.

How do you like my views??

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

off to uganda

blowing bubbles
uganda 2009

Well, today's the day. At 10:15 am S. African time, I board the plane for Uganda. I've been planning and preparing for 5 months and now today is the day. There's the usual excitement that comes with a trip like this, mingled with a little intimidation. When I went to India, the whole experience of capturing the stories with my camera was new and a step outside my comfort zone. That feels comfortable to me now. This time it's a new comfort zone I'm stepping out of. Along with capturing the stories, I'm doing a three hour training session (twice) with local Ugandans on storytelling. The official title of my teaching is Giving Voice To The Poor. I'm also speaking at a Leadership and Mission Conference on Leading With Excellence. As I looked at the lineup, I realized that I'm the only female, only non-pastor and non-doctor, and only non-African. And, my 45 minute message comes right after the keynote address. Pray for me!

Uganda_map 

I will be gone for 13 thirteen days, so you might pray for Jeremy, too. :) I'll be in Kampala and Gulu during that time photographing the beautiful people. I'm not sure what internet will be like so I might be on here. I might not. Hopefully I'll see you!

Monday, July 16, 2012

the scenery

the scenery

little shack

the view

Check out my intro post to S. Africa at Today's Mama!

Friday, July 13, 2012

discipleship

This week has felt very fruitful. In the past seven days, I've prepared a three hour teaching on Giving Voice To The Poor (aka Storytelling), experienced a softening of my heart as if I came to Africa for the first time, prepared a message to share at a Leadership and Missions conference in Uganda, and captured stories with my camera. Life giving, all of it is so life giving.

washing the car

I want to introduce you to Bongani and Samkelo. I wrote about these twins a couple of months ago and this week I had the privilege of meeting them. Ten Thousand Homes has had an ongoing relationship with this family since their home burned down last year, and we built them a new one. These boys are hard working entrepreneurs that are dabbling in two businesses, chickens and car washes. These boys, this family, they break stereotypes that get stuck in my brain.


working hard

They worked hard for an hour washing the car and Gogo (their granny) did an amazing job of quality control as she pointed out spots they missed. It's teaching these boys to do everything with excellence which I love. In a culture where survival is everything, saving money is not often practiced, but these boys are learning to save. They have dreams, dreams of buying chickens for their business and a 4 wheeler to get around. They are saving for their dreams. I love the discipleship that is taking place in their lives. That's what it's all about. This HOPE that I see is so encouraging.

With my camera as my "studio" this week, I'm linking up with Jennifer @ Studio JRU for Sneak Peek Friday.

StudioJRU 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

joy in the little

I LOVE bringing my camera along out to the communities we work in. The kids are so entertained by seeing photos of themselves on the back of the camera. They also love looking all diva like in other people's sunglasses. Isn't she the cutest??

Fun times in Mbonisweni today.

Linking up with The Anderson Crew for Embrace The Camera.



Wednesday, July 11, 2012

renewed softness

Yesterday I went out into Dwaleni, one of the communities we work in here in S. Africa. It was the first time in 2 1/2 years. That's a long time, in my opinion, but there's a sweetness in it that I want to stay in. I found myself affected by the sights as if visiting Africa for the first time. Dilapidated shacks, malnourished children, teenage mothers, the scene hasn't changed much in 2 1/2 years, but I found a renewed softness.

I remember all too well that place I was in 2 1/2 years ago...on the verge of burnout, literally feeling like I had nothing left to give, and wanting to crawl in a hole. I had become numb to that scene in my backyard. I want these familiar scenes to tug at my heart strings every.single.time, because they should, and they need to.

Home in Dwaleni

Dwaleni roads

Charity 

And how about that sweet, sweet smile? Joy isn't about what you have, is it? It's a choice we must make daily.

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