"Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." ~James 1:27

Monday, May 23, 2011

5/23/11 Update!

Greetings! I pray this update finds you all doing well! As I write to you, I’m just finishing up what was quite an amazing weekend! The Lord is so amazing! I had the priviledge of heading out to Suubi Village Friday evening and spent the night with some wonderful Ugandan friends. I was welcomed with a large, friendly smile and open arms by an individual named Carol. I actually hadn’t met her before, but she is a teacher in the Watoto village there. She used to room with my friend Elizabeth that I got acquainted with two years ago. When I returned to the States after I visited Uganda the first time in 2009, Elizabeth and I remained in touch. Carol and I chatted for awhile until Elizabeth and Abby (her current roommate) returned from town. Then we all laughed together and had a great time. I spent the entire day with them last Saturday. We had a Ugandan breakfast and lunch. Later in the day, a guy named Patrick came, who is actually Elizabeth’s daughters father. I rode home with Patrick and two of Elizabeth’s sisters children. They were with me in the back seat. The littlest one I kept hugging on. He was so sweet. Then he got really tired and fell asleep on my arm, so I picked him up and sat him on my lap and held him. He laid his head on my chest and slept the entire way home. He was so precious. I was loving it. The thing that kept going through my mind is this: you see here you never know what these little ones have gone through or what they’ve seen. This nation has seen so much war and poverty. “Love them like Jesus” kept going through my mind and as I sat there holding this boys little head in my hand, I too experienced the love of Christ as I extended His love to this little one. It was such a precious moment. Also, at the same time as Patrick continued to drive me home we had a wonderful conversation about what it means to follow Christ. He considers himself to be a Catholic and began asking me about what it means to be born again. I could sense he was really searching and trying to understand how to be a follow of Christ. I basically shared the story of Jesus’ life with him, shared a few Scriptures that the Lord brought to mind, and asked him a few questions. He said he feels like he’s really close and that he understands what I was saying to him. He’s such a sincere guy. I was also able to share with him about Freedom in Christ and he was really interested in receiving the material. So I’m going to get him the books and try to burn the sermons off onto a CD. Please join me in praying for Patrick.

Sunday I was able to lead worship for three services at Watoto Church South. They were amazing services and the Holy Spirit’s presence was so strong.

In conclusion, overall, I’m really enjoying it here, but for whatever reason last week was a little more difficult. I feel interesting things and a lot of those thoughts and feelings I cannot exactly put into words in order to help others to understand. There are days (like last week) I’ve was missing the “comforts” and “familiarity” of home, which I haven’t before honestly. I’ve been really looking forward to being home again. Then other days, I feel this strength rise up within me that says, "I can do this, I can live here,” which I sense as the Lord’s encouragement and in His strength of course. It’s just so different here. I have a level of independence I’ve never had before on one hand, then on the other hand I can’t necessarily just get up and go anywhere and know where I’m going and have that level of independence that I had back home. But I’m learning my way around and with time. I was having to depend on a ride everywhere so I did a lot of waiting. Now, I’ve begun branching out and calling a bota to take me on what they call motorbikes here around in the city. They are 100CC miniature cruiser’s basically. They aren’t exactly the safest routes, but it’s a reminder of riding my bike at home with the wind running through your hair. Plus it’s a cheaper route to get around the city. That’s probably the thing I miss most is riding my bike with dad through the windy roads of the beautiful countryside. I sometimes miss the clean, clear air of the country. I haven’t learned the taxi system yet, so I call what they call a “special hire” to take me if I need a car, however, they are fairly expensive so I have to use them sparingly. However, a huge praise is that I will be buying a car very soon, a Honda CR-V. The next challenge will be navigating and learning my way around in chaos…ha in the midst of a very busy city. If any of you have been overseas you will understand what I’m talking about. It’s certainly an adventure…J. But I know that where the Lord sends me, He will provide the grace to keep me. I’m often reminded, “just trust Me.”

A lot of things are still up in the air in regard to housing, my current job position, ect… I don’t really ask a lot of questions and just trust that God will work those things out in due time. I’m really striving to be obedient and thankful and trust God with where I’m at in my current position still, and it’s honestly been a bit difficult as more time goes on in staying put in an office. Please pray with me about this as well.

Thank you so much again for all you prayers and support! I love you all! God bless!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

5/7/11 Update!

5/7/11 Update:

Greetings to those I love! Again, it’s with much excitement that I write to you and attempt to put into words all the amazing things the Lord is doing in me and around me in the wonderful nation of Uganda! So this is my attempt to organize my thoughts and revelations from the Lord as best as I can. However, like anything with much growth sometimes comes much difficulty. One has to struggle through some things in order to realize what the Lord was trying to show them and teach them through the questions, struggles, trials, and difficulties. That’s really where I’ve been lately. I’ve persisted through a time of questioning and now I’m gaining answers from the Lord, mainly through mentors in my life. A few weeks ago I was really questioning and asking the Lord…Lord, what are my passions? What are my spiritual gifts? Because I wanted to know them so I could be sure I was utilizing them, operating in them, and using them in my mission here in Uganda. I’ve always had certain things I enjoyed, ministries I’ve been a part of, ect…but I still felt as if I was trying to discover what I was born to do. Recently, job wise it’s been a bit hard for me because sometimes I struggle to see the vision really as to where I’m going, the results I guess of my current position in maintenance. Honestly, I have no concept or understanding of maintenance and how it works. But at the same time, I’m so thankful to be here serving, at least within the bounds of what I know to do. I still feel like I don’t really know what I’m doing in my current position sometimes. So I just take it day by day, trusting Him with every step I make. But what I do know is that He’s definitely using me to make a difference and overall, I love it here. I’m forming all sorts of friendships. The Lord has been so good to me and I’m certainly not complaining, but was just feeling as if I wasn’t operating in my passion in what I’m currently doing in Watoto. I have had meetings and discussions with Brent, but I was just having difficulties being passionate about the work I’m currently doing. I felt like I was just kind of going from day to day, doing mundane tasks. In my mind I was thinking, I simply do not want to waste any time and sometimes I felt as if I was just wasting precious time, which were lies from the enemy by the way. However, the Lord has reminded me that I am making a difference. Even by me simply being here, offering my presence, and loving on the Ugandans. A mentor of mine pointed out how sometimes what may appear to be minimal, mundane tasks to us are huge in the eyes of the Lord. Because at times I may not “feel” as if I’m being productive or “doing” anything “huge” in the kingdom. But again…no kingdom work is insignificant and my “feelings” aren’t always reliable and do not reflect reality if they aren’t based on truth (Those of you who took Freedom in Christ at Selmore know exactly what I’m talking about). I see this current position as a stepping stone into whatever is to come so I’m just waiting on the Lord. This is the work He has for me now, so I will give it my best. My mentor also pointed out to me, that work is significant in and of itself because it is unto Him. I simply needed that simple reminder. Just yesterday one of the older gentlemen I work with, Tom, has really been struggling lately. He told me how much he appreciated the work I have been doing with all the sincerity he could muster. And I sensed the Lord reminding me again that, Charity, you making a difference. I need to heed this and not believe the lies of the enemy attempting to discourage me. Please pray with me in regard to this. I will just give you an overview again of what I’ve been doing, in hopes that helps paint a picture in your mind as to what my current position/work looks like.

When I first came, I spent about the first month and a half in the villages. Just meeting the house mothers and the children. Building trust with them, talking to them, spending time with them, offering them my presence, and loving them. I am that liason between them and the ministry. I began in Suubi village and then went into Bbira village. I took a notebook and went in every home, school, teacher apartment, medical clinic, laboratory, ect…and wrote down every item that was broken and in need of repair. For example: broken windows, furniture, beds, if the buildings needed patchwork done, interior paint, ect… So I did a full evaluation of all interior, exterior, and property of all Watoto homes and property. I did enjoy that because I was interacting with the people and building relationships. I met all the house mothers and most of the children in the homes. Each home has a mom and 8 children. So once I finished that, I typed up all the notes I had taken and organized written reports. Then once I finished the written reports on each village, I took all that written information and organized it into a spreadsheet, summarizing the items and then calculating the cost of all the repairs. That way we could tell very fast how many door locks we needed, ect…just by looking at the spreadsheet. I work with a guy named Tom. He does the practical maintenance work, the hands on, fixing aspect, while I do the paperwork side of things because I certainly have no clue how this or that fits together, much less how to fix it…ha. It’s just not the way my brain is wired. I’m much more interested in figuring out how people work, how they are wired, what makes them tick, how they think, ect… the mental/interactive side of things opposed to the practical/mechanical side of things. However, I have learned a lot and have kept an open mind and have been positive and obedient as to where He has me now. This position has allowed me the opportunity to meet and build relationships with the mothers and children in the villages and build trust with them and that is significant in and of itself. I was yet again reminded of my purpose for being here. I am here as an extension of the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. I’m here to do what Christ spent His entire life doing, loving, serving, and giving of Himself. To spend time with the Ugandans, to love them deeply and practically, to get into their lives deeply not merely superficially, to build into them, to pour of my life into them, to find out what’s important to them, what frustrates them, what they fear, what their achievements are, to find out how they think, what concerns them, and what their victories and triumphs are in life and bring Christ into all of that. As much as I desire to know and do the Lord’s will in my life, it’s always about Him! The Lord simply desires me to want His will and plan for my life. It’s His role to actually carry that out in my life. Phil 1: 6 says, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” When God begins a work of salvation in a person, He finishes and perfects or refines that work throughout the entirety of a believers life. It’s amazing to see this perfecting process unfold in my own life as I’m typing to you here and now.

Ever since the Lord called me to Himself, I’ve always had such a zeal, passion, and desire to find what I was made to do and handcrafed by God to do, my own special mission from the Lord, then to go after it with everything in me. Now I know it’s missions and interacting with people, but was still wrestling with ok Lord, I love people, now what do you desire me to do practically and specifically with them?

Again my precious mentor put it this way: “I climb into my hammock and rest while trusting in His abilities to perform His will. In other words resting in the fact that God is capable of bringing about His plan in my life.”

In conclusion, basically what I’ve been learning and my mentor put it best when she said, “it sounded like you are bogged in what I call "the someday complex", which, by the way, most of us Christians have been caught in one time or another. So you are in good company. The "someday complex" is when we think that what God "wants me to do" is "out there somewhere" and not here and now. Believe me, I have been bogged in it as well. The reality is our God is using EVERY MOMENT OF EVERY DAY to achieve His purposes in us. Nothing is "wasted", absolutely nothing. While He is always building our lives towards "the next step", that "next step" can be huge in His estimation and very minimal in ours; in fact so minimal that we don't even see it as such. Sometimes, but only sometimes, and usually rarely, we can look back and see how different minimal things added up to the revelation of the "next step". It really is a lot like The Weaver poem -- "My life is but a weaving between the Lord and me, I cannot choose the colors. He works steadily. Oftentimes He weaves sorrow, and I in foolish pride, forget He see the upper and I the underside. Not til the loom is silent and the shuttles cease to fly, shall God unroll the canvas and explain the reason why. The dark threads are as needful in the Weaver's skillful hand, as the threads of gold and silver in the pattern He has planned." If there is a "BIG", Dear One, He is perfectly capable of revealing it to you. IN THE MEANTIME, do what is at hand and do it as unto Him. Visit the people and get into their lives, not superficially, but deeply. Talk to/with them about the Lord, their daily lives, what is important to them. BE THERE for them in every way the Lord opens to you and don't be surprised at the times of day these things occur or the mundaneness of the task. You are not there in a "job" in the American/western mindset sense of the word, you are there as the aroma of Christ, building, encouraging, doing for others. Get lost in that and you will soon find He is in every moment of your time there.”

“Remember, our God is much more into changing you into the likeness of His son, than He is into you "achieving" things.” For me this quote has totally changed my perspective. As I think about the ways I can already see the Lord has been changing me into the likeness of His Son, it’s definitely been learning about:

1. Sacrifice-what it means to leave everything behind

2. Obedience- even when it may not always make sense

3. Faith/dependence on the Lord-learning how to have more faith (relying on Him for things I never have before. For example: I had planned to meet a friend for the day, however, she was caught in traffic and we were planning to ride to church together so I was in need of a ride. So I prayed, “Lord, please provide me a ride to the church.” Literally 2 seconds later, the CEO of Watoto “happens” to drive by…ha! God provides even in the what may be considered silly “little” things.

4. Patience-not having the independence I use to in regard to just getting up and going anywhere and had a means to get there (car, bike, ect…) That’s very different here, being dependent on others for rides and such as I continue to get familiar with the transportation system in a large, foreign, city.

5. Flexibility-those of you who have served on the mission field and in the ministry…need I say more J

6. Selflessness-learning how to truly put others before myself. “Giving of self into other lives with no regard for cost to personal time, freedom, agenda, etc.”

7. Servanthood/Service- I’m here to serve (learning what true servanthood really looks like). Serving even when what you are doing maybe isn’t your passion or what you like to do. Serving anyway and keeping the main picture in perspective.

8. Maintaining a positive attitude. I met another missionary here and she said, “the one thing that makes an amazing missionary isn’t their skill set, but their attitude.”

9. Character

Thank you all so much for your continued support, encouragement, messages, prayers, love, and financial support! As you continue praying, please pray for the following:

1. That everyday I will be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and carry out the tasks He has for me to do each day.

2. That I will continue to walk in His strength, in His light, and in His love. That He empowers me to love, serve, and give!

3. Peace within my current job position in Watoto and wisdom to carry out His will there

4. Wisdom and discernment in relationships here and knowledge as I continue to adjust and learn how to live on my own in a foreign country.

5. Strength in the difficulty it is sometimes in being away from my family and friends back home. It’s really an interesting place to be because sometimes it feels like the closer I get to individuals here, the further I feel from individuals back home. Pray for wisdom in balancing the two. Establishing a new life here, but yet maintaining communication back home.

6. Continued physical, mental, and emotional health here and safety.

7. Pray against any discouragement from the enemy and that I continue to walk in truth

8. The Ugandan people