From the time Becca dropped me off at the meeting place on December 27th until day, Day 4 of our 15 day adventure, I have been completely floored by the glory and greatness of God. In my sweet time of prayer with Becca before I left, I saw God's provision for both of our spirits. Nudged to share in a time of confession with me, Becca's honesty spurred me into sharing and confessing as well. I was burden free as I stepped onto that plane :). Praise Him for His orchestration!
I am in great company--this team is made up of so amazing people and the people of Uganda are sweet of spirit and utterly stunning. The friends we're partnering with at GBCC are fantastic. Their love for the Lord and for prayer are hugely encouraging. There seemed to be an instantaneous love shared between us and them, and we can only give credit to God for orchestrating our interactions so beautifully. I'm completely obsessed with children here--their gorgeous eyes, their beaming smiles, and their little hands that so quicly latch on to yours...
We spent two days traveling, so it was really nice and such a break to finally get into Gulu. We experienced what we thought was heavy rain the second day there. It came right after we had gone hut-to-hut praying for people. We saw both children and adults come to know the Lord, and there was much recjoicing to be had. The rain was cleansing--symbolic of so much, and we met to worship together, to give thanks, refreshed and overflowing with the love and Spirit of God.Worship here is good for the soul and the body :)!
There's so much I can share from the last few days (e.g. interactions on the plane rides, our brief stay in Dubai, unexpected but awesome change of plans, etc...), but i'll leave you with a few of my gems. The car ride to Gulu was about 6 hours long. For five of those hours, I experienced a deep and powerful time of worship as I started out of the window of a 18-person bus. The landscape of this country is lush and remarkably green with equally impressive clear blue skies with clouds that seem to go on forever. I mean--seriously, they just doesn't end! I was making mental note after mental note of how creation truly shows the magnificence and creative genius of our Father. Driving past deep green fields covered in beautifully shaped trees, I marveled at the artistry of our God. Then it dawned on me--as much as i'm amazed by God's beautiful handiwork in creation, He delights and marvels in us--His favorite creation. You, me, the people of Gulu, the people of the world. We are His art. And this may sound a bit off because we know that God is the all knowing God, but I can't help but think that when God looks at us, we take His breath away so much that even He doesn't have the write words to use to express how much He adores us. Leaves you speechless, huh? We live on the very canvas of our Masterful Artist. The Creator creates and is pleased with all which He has made. He's pleased with us!
I think a common thread we've experienced in the day and a half we've been in Gulu is this. Humility brings us closer to the heart of God and of His image bearers. There is much pain, grief and brokenness here; but there is also great joy, worship and love in the hearts of the people. During the times when I feel like I have nothing to offer because I haven't been through anything close to what the people here have, I'm reminded that the Spirit of God is unifying. In my silence, He speaks. Madeline says it best: "Communication implies sound. Communion doesn't." Sometimes it's the simplest act of sitting with someone that speaks the loudest.
My internet time is limited, so I apologize for the all-overness of this post. Thank you so much for your prayers thus far. He hears and is faithful! I'm blown away by your love and your prayers. Please be praying for our next few days. The New Year's service (today for us) is an all-nighter. Pray fo the Spirit's guidance of what will be shared (both our team from Rock Harbor and the members o GBCC will be leading worship and sharing messages). Also, continue to pray about the upcoming women's conference (Saturday). We're so excited so see how God will bring healing and restoration to the spirits of our sisters in Gulu as well as in ours.
HAPPY EARLY NEW YEAR!!
Signing off...see you (here) in a few days!
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
That's a lie. My passport isn't packed. In fact, that's what i'm going to do right when i'm done with this entry. I can't believe what a whirlwind it's been. This past week with no school, Christmas, visiting family, and preparing for my trip to Uganda--has seemed to fly right on by.
Nonetheless, the day has come. I leave for Uganda tomorrow. I'm excited/nervous. If it weren't so cold, i'd have sweaty palms. At this rate, i'm wondering if i'll get any sleep before our 11:30 AM meeting time.
I go into this trip with no doubt in my mind that there will be joy. God has spoken that to me time and time again. The anticipation of experiencing a greater depth of His Body is just overwhelming. I feel like something's on the brink for me. It may not happen during the trip, but the trip may be a catalyst for whatever is around the bend.
This passage was given to me this evening, and it is perfect. It calls me to be a posture of waiting for, trusting in, and claiming God's promises:
"For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it will certainly come and will not delay." -Habakkuk 2:3
I go into this trip with an openness--and from now until I get onto the grounds of Gulu, I pray for a further opening of my heart.
Pray for these things for the team, for me, and for the people of Gulu:
-Boldness/Authority in His Spirit
-Increased love for God's children over in Gulu
-Whatever else He leads you to pray for :)
The team and I will keep you posted on the trip's happenings through Rock Harbor's Uganda blog:
I'll also occasionally post here, so feel free to check both!
I really should be packing, so i'll leave you with a rough itinerary of our time, so you can be praying :)
Sunday 12/27--Depart from LAX ~ 4 PM
Layover in Dubai
Tuesday 12/29--Arrive at Entebbe ~ 2:45 PM
Wednesday 12/30--Depart for Gulu/Arrive at Acholi Inn/Worship @ Gulu Bible Community Church/New Year's Planning Meeting/Jesus Film Crusade
Thursday 12/31--Alero Cuku Medical Mission
Friday 1/1--Alero Cuku Medical
Saturday 1/2--Women's Conference/GBCC Model Farming
Sunday 1/3--Break Out Groups (Marriage/Youth)/Worship @ Pastor Ron's
Monday 1/4--Langol Medical/Jesus Film/Testimonies
Tuesday 1/5--Guru-Guru Medical/Jesus Film/Testimonies
Wednesday 1/6--Hospital Ministry/House of Hope/Heals/31-Bits/Krochet Kids/Appreciation Dinner
Thursday 1/7--Depart for Murchison Falls National Park
Friday 1/8--Safari/Depart for Kampala
Saturday 1/9--Bethany Village (Orphanage)/Dinner @ Pastor Fred's
Sunday 1/10--Church @ Ggaba Community Church/Depart for Entebbe
Monday 1/11--Arrive @ LAX
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
With only one more week of school left, I found myself overwhelmed--by how crisp it's getting outside when it was in the 80s just the other day; by how much I still have to get done, by how badly I had to use the ladies' room (again within a matter of minutes--silly coffee); by how quickly time has flown by; and by how on August 26th, I had experienced a great sense of awe and wonder at the thought of the mightiness and greatness and the intricacies of God that i'm experiencing again in the same class today.
It's been about 16 weeks since my first semester of grad school started. I remember sitting in my first class and experiencing a feeling of great warmth as tears welled up in my eyes as the teacher opened up the class time with prayer. This may sound strange, but I had spent 4 1/2 years acquiring and applying knowledge at a secular campus prior to this experience where my encounters with God at school were not so blatant and forthright (I don't mean to say that I didn't see Him there--He was there, alright :)). Here, I wasn't inviting God into my class, into my studies and into the of these materials seemingly alone. This was my first encounter, since my last experience as a senior in high school (at a time when I didn't appreciate it nearly enough), that a teacher was caring for me as a student in aspects of spiritual as well as professional development.
It really does feel like I just started a few days ago, but so much has happened since the end of August. Countless ups and downs, sprinkled with smatterings of both expected and unexpected changes--all through which I kept on being reminded that I was truly loved and fully pursued by God. Mind you, this wasn't always at the forefront of my mind or my heart. In fact, sometimes it took mildly deep lows to bring me back to this truth. This semester has been marked by great breakthroughs, times of numbness, as well as times of wrestling with what I know as true and what my flesh is inclined to without the power of the Holy Spirit. It has been stamped with times of astounding joy and speechlessness as I was overwhelmed by God's beyond skillful orchestration of my life. I have been blown away by His provision, but in the midst of acknowledging Him, I've also been deeply disappointed with the posture of my heart. Too quickly inclined to choose myself before I choose Him. Immediately reminded by His grace as opposed to a spirit of condemnation. These thoughts with many others swirled around my brain--the ones worthy holding on to, traveling sometimes rapidly and other times a bit more slowly to my heart where they now reside and will hopefully continue to be cultivated.
More than anything else, I have been shown and reminded of my immense and undeniable need for our God. The most striking reminder is that I need Him for every breath that comes into my nose and out of my breath. He sustains my everything. Deep breaths become more and more powerful with that thought in mind. Not only does He sustain my everything, He is everything. It's all about Him. this story is His story, and we are vehicles--honored and chosen vehicles to demonstrate His grace and His character. We are made in the image of Almighty God. We were created to receive His revelation, to integrate that into our lives and to be changed more and more into the very likeness of Him.
"I'm taking this class because God's been revealing Himself to me through the Old Testament, and I really just want to see more." That's what I told my professor when he asked us why we were taking the OT Survey class. Needless to say, that happened. He is in every word, on every page, and repeatedly reveals himself despite the shortcomings of the people we encounter in the respective books of the Old Testament (Good for us, right? Despite our shortcomings, HE will be made known). All scripture is revelatory because our God is a revelatory God. He showed up the first day of class when I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, every day in between and today as I was over-caffeinated and a lot more than just a little bit tired.
Psalm 34:8 says "Taste and see that the Lord is good." Whenever I read this verse, I think "Yes! I have tasted and He is good!" Though, what has come to me over and over in the past few months. God gives His children access to an ever-increasing, sensitive taste palate. The first taste is WOW/Whoa!!, and the next taste can be even WOW-er/WHOAAA!!!, etc... Using those terms probably isn't doing this justice, but there aren't the right words, you know? There will always be more of God's goodness to be tasted--to be beheld and internalized and transformed by. We don't deserve it! My mind spins when I think about this.
I don't know how to end my thoughts. They've seemed all of the place since the beginning of this entry. The only thing that seems appropriate is embodied by a sound that is often packed with a meaning of great satisfaction:
Unchanging, almighty, holy, indescribable, constant, gentle, piercing, loving, caring, patient God. Thank You. We may need to be reminded at times, but You are all we need and You are far more than enough. You could have made our lives black and white, but you chose to paint them with rich colors, great perspective and much depth. Your subtleties give dimension to our lives. Seriously, Thank You.