Still we Praise

“The Lord says, ‘I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue them and honor them. I will satisfy them with a long life and give them MY salvation.'” Psalm 91:14-16 I reflect. “I will rescue, I will answer, I am present, I will honor, I will satisfy….I will give you my salvation” I pray the Lord will awaken my heart to His words. Truly, His Word is my bread. It fills up this empty heart after a day of loss and this brokenness that looms here in this World. I ask to trust Him more, to trust His sovereignty over suffering and darkness. My last post I introduced you to Gerad. He came to us through the Rick Via Medical team. He has been suffering from a massive tumor on his left side of his body for over a year. His parents could not afford to bring him into town to see a doctor. The tumor had moved to the right side of his body.

 The doctors here in Jinja immediately released him to go to Malago Hospital, which is the largest governmental hospital in the Capitol City, Kampala. Before he left the Guesthouse I stayed with him and his sweet spirit captured my heart. He just held to my hand so tightly. I gave him some new clothes and I have never seen someone who was in so much pain face lifted just for a brief moment. I held him tightly and believed with all my heart that Jesus was going to take care of him. He was so hopeful as I told him he was going to be ok. As he got into the car I told him I planned on going to visit him in just a few days.

Gerad did not make it through surgery. We all were shocked and took the news very hard. You wonder if you did everything you could? Were his last few days sweet?

One thing we know; at the medical crusade the Gospel was preached to him and his Aunt, who had brought him. He comes perfectly. They both accepted Christ. We are assured of His perfect timing. Our prayer is as we minister to his family during this situation that is all too familiar here, we will take Him with us into their grief.  This is the first death I have experienced that is close to my heart here. He is sustaining and our Anchor.

As I process just all that seems to be unfair and too much grief…I am reminded of what John Piper said in His book, Suffering and the Sovereignty of God-“If we are going to emulate our Savior, we have to identify with the people to whom we take his good news. I don’t advocate that we look for suffering; life brings enough on its own. But what I do advocate is that suffering is an important prerequisite to ministering to hurting people. Christ took on our likeness and subjected himself to the suffering that plagues us.” (Saint, 121).

Uganda the suffering is thick. How will I know how to enter into this grief unless He reveals? Jesus did that for me. He loves His people so much that He subjected himself to all that we encounter here on this Earth so that He can enter into our world that seems too much and even times when He seems to be far. He is near. It’s one of the beautiful parts of the cross. He relates.

After a hard day, He encouraged our hearts with this. We also received George, who is 4 and was suffering from a severe malnutrition where his whole body was swollen and it was painful for us to touch him. When we took him to my friend Renee, with Serving His Children, we could not get him to smile or interact. He was in so much pain. I called Renee on Tuesday and asked her if we could come to her house to see George.

Renee has a ministry that she runs out of her house where she takes in children and their mothers to teach them how to nurse their severely sick children back to health. When we walked in her house there were mothers and babies everywhere. I immediately saw George’s mom but I did not see George. I asked Rennee, “Hey, where is George?” She said, “He is right there! Sitting next to his mom!” I could not believe it. I would not have believed it if I didn’t trust Renee not to lie to me. Ha! It was like she switched out two completely different children.

After 4 days…

To see his face light up made my hard day of death feel a deep sigh of relief. He does miracles still. It was so beautiful to see Jesus in George’s face and to hold him.

Holding a boy who God had breathed life into dead bones. I was holding this new life, Jesus was holding Gerad in his new life.

“Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh, the joys of those who trust in Him! Let the Lord’s people show him reverence for those who honor Him will have all they need.” Psalm 34:8

In Him we have all we need.

Thank you for the prayers and please continue as we still have 3 babies that are undergoing surgery and treatment.

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Healing is His

This week we have had six children found in the villages while one of our medical teams have been in rural places holding medical clinics. Each day they would bring the worst cases into Jinja so we could get them the help they need.

My heart broke each day as I met the children as they got off the bus with their mom or their dad but I couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief because they had been found. I would like to introduce you to each child. Would you commit to pray for them over the next month as they all will be undergoing surgery, receiving special care and most importantly we are praying not only for a physical healing but a spiritual healing not only in their lives but the lives of their family.

Meet Gerad, he is 13 who has been suffering from a tumor for over a year.

We took him to our local hospital and they immediately discharged him and referred him to a bigger hospital in Kampala. I went to pick him up and he instantly captured my heart. Under all the pain and weightiness I saw a 13 year old boy who was so thankful for a smile from someone. He has completed some school and was able to speak some English. When I brought him back to the Guest House and handed him these new clothes I saw a smile from this sweet child. I told him that Jesus was going to take good care of him and that we would love him through this. He has been sent to Malago and we are awaiting the news on how his surgery went on the tumor.
This is Douglas, seven years old. He has not opened his eye fully in a few weeks and he has developed a large tumor on his liver.
Douglas has also been sent to Malago, they were running test to see if the tumor is cancerous. We are still awaiting the results. I never heard Douglas speak a word but he has a very sweet quiet spirit. On his way to the hospital we were able to get a small smile out of him. I can’t imagine the pain this child is experiencing.
George is 2 years old, I believe. George is suffering from Kwashiorkor, which is a type of malnutrition.
This type of malnutrition is due to lack of nutrients and protein in their diet. We were afraid that George’s kidneys had started to shut down. When they brought him home I was able to call Renee with Serving His Children, who specializes in caring for the malnourished. It has been such a blessing to see her work up close and I can’t tell you how comforting it is to send a child and their mom to stay with her to receive treatment. Not only do they receive the best care and diet but the mother is also taught how to better care for their child and they hold a Bible Study every morning. Renee has called to give me the updates on sweet George and it has been confirmed that his kidneys are doing fine and they swelling has begun to go down in just three days! Praise God! He will be in this program for at least 4 weeks.
This is sweet Harriott and she is 4 months old. She was born without an anus. When she came to us she was suffering from very low blood and malaria. I went with her and mom to the clinic to discover her blood was so low she needed a blood transfusion immediately. The Lord is the sustainer of life. I reminded and have to cling to this truth daily as we went to three different clinics and hospitals to find this little one blood. Everyone was out. We had to return back but she too is in Kampala and she was able to receive blood! We are waiting for her body to get a little stronger before they can perform any surgery on her.
Arugue has something embedded in his eye and had to have surgery to remove it. I can say that when we went to see him in the hospital, the surgery was successful and we even got him to play with us a little. He allows the blind to see…
And today we travelled out to Iganga. When the Rick Via Medical team went to this village they found several children that were severely suffering from malnutrition. We went back out today with Renee and our Child-Care Development team to meet with these four mothers and their babies that are in much need of a miracle. We brought the two worst cases back with us today to also stay with Renee. The other two mothers we held a class this morning to teach them how to properly care for their children and nurse them back to health with a high protein and well rounded diet. We left them food that would last them two weeks and we will return out to this village to see if the children have improved.
I am fully confident in our Savior, who knows each of these precious children by name, by sickness, by each pain that occurs in their little bodies, will hold them and fight on their behalf. Jesus will meet them there.
I am so thankful to be working with a ministry that will go to whatever lengths to take care of the families, individuals, and children that are placed in our path. We are not here to perform the miracle but to be the vessel for Him to show up and get all the Glory and Praise. I am also so thankful for the two sweet girls that have been here in Uganda for several years allowing God to use their willing hearts to take moms and their sick babies into their homes to nurse them back to life not only physically but spiritually as well.
I don’t post these pictures so that you can have another image of what Africa looks like. I don’t post so that you can feel heavy or sad. I post to remind you that He is such a sweet God that He would allow these teams to find them and bring them to help. He knows the way to where these children are and He rescues. I ask you to instead of being sad, will you rejoice that He always comes for His children? Will you pray for each of these children that they will have a testimony to share when they are 40 years old of how the Lord has saved them? Pray for the doctors. Pray for their sweet parents. Pray that the Lord will continue to provide finically for all the people who are caring for these children.
Today wherever you are remember that He is our rescue. He is our anchor that always holds. It has been a hard week seeing these innocent children come into my life who are experiencing so much pain and suffering but this is our world here. He changes your views, He strengthens our arms to hold, He holds us together. All of our hope is in Him. In America, in Uganda, in Ghana, in Haiti….He is rescuing. I praise Him.
We rise together as prayer warriors. “Many will see what He has done and be astounded. They will put their trust in the Lord. O Lord my God, you have done many miracles for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list.” Ps. 40:3-4

A Tapestry of Grace

Maybe one day we’ll actually walk the orange roads together…

 

….and there we sat drinking coffee, reflecting on our shared days there in the place that united our hearts. The place we separately journeyed to following the author and perfector of our faith and story. Two stories, creatively woven together by divine threads of people, culture, passions, and fashion. We are thankful God led us to the same place. And as we kick up some orange dust together, God stitches into our heart a truth: the places he leads us to are holy, set apart from the places we travel to on our own will.

And in these holy places, this creative God weaves together a colorful tapestry of grace with the people seeking his will, with the needs of the broken, with the ones who don’t know they need him. Interwoven together are these people and places with their stories and challenges and experiences, mutually shaping one another. And the tapestry displays an overarching story about a redemptive God, bringing people together for his purposes, for his glory.

The thread of a Michigan girl willfully torn from everything she knew to sew together, with her family, a lifelong bond of love with the people of Uganda. And woven into her story of grace is a relationship with Tom, who became apart of the very fiber of her family.

The thread of a Texas gal who followed the Lord to Uganda to work along side of Arise Africa International. Her passion for loving the fatherless leads her to a place of submission, learning to serve where she is needed. While sipping coffee at The Source Café she meets Tom, and he becomes the common thread that ties these two eccentric missionaries together. Tom recognized a kindred spirit in these strangers, separated by an ocean. We’d like to think what he saw was our shared desire to reflect the Lord with our life…..but chances are he first recognized our similar choice of wedges over tennis shoes and scarves over fanny packs.

Through an introduction on Facebook, these strangers were joined together by a mutual understanding of how the hardest places to leave are the places God leads us to. For these are the places we are hemmed into his grace and pieced in his likeness. Emails led to phone calls that led to this Texas gal boarding a plane to meet this Michigan girl.

For one weekend, Uganda became our common ground as we shared our experiences, fears, anticipations, and callings. And just a few months later, the orange roads became the actual ground we walked…together.

 

This is how we know the Lord is the one creatively weaving our story:

We both showed up at the airport in the very same riding boots. What? That doesn’t count as evidence of God’s divine intervention? Okay, here’s how we really know:

Our individual journeys have mutually blessed the other as we both struggle to know him more fully and receive the new life he desires for us. Dacia gleaned from Lori’s experience and understanding of Ugandan culture as she prepared to move there. Lori relied on Dacia’s wisdom and knowledge as she discerned the Lord’s intentions in an unfolding story that is not yet complete enough to share.

The fruit of our friendship has confirmed the Lord’s sovereignty in both of our lives. As Dacia packed her bags, quit her job and said good-bye to the community who has shaped her and journeyed with her, she feared the inevitable change that would occur when she pressed “pause” on her life and her friends continued on with theirs. Relationships are valued treasures for Dacia and she wondered who would intimately walk this new road with her. The Lord did not delay. He immediately began weaving a new community for Dacia. Not to replace the ones who already love her. But a particular people who would help her faithfully receive her new life and ministry.

At the very same time, the Lord was asking Lori to be available to him for a particular purpose. As she wrestled with the calling and discerned God’s intentions, she needed someone close to the need to be eyes and ears and heart. The place God was taking Dacia was the very place Lori needed someone to be. Our friendship has been a reminder that God knows his people. He is faithful to give them what they need. He is trustworthy to provide. We must not fear going to the places God leads us, for he will ordain our steps, overcome our obstacles and provide for us what is needed to endure.

The hospitable life is subject to encounters such as ours. If you are open to new life and you eagerly reach out to receive others, the Lord will weave into your life new people and ideas and experiences that bring about his creative purposes. We desire to be threads that hold God’s bigger picture together. Threads that weave God’s grace in and out of people’s lives. Showing his love, affirming his presence and strengthening the hope that God will redeem his people.

Not Important

We have been going non-stop for the last two months. I have to look at the calendar every few days to see what day it is. Life goes so fast here. Days can be overwhelming but so full of His grace.

I tend to not process my emotions very often because I never want to let them control me. So I suppress. I keep going. Then I break.

Today I broke. My flesh was raw and every emotion from anger, self pity, selfishness, exhaustion, and sadness flooded over me. It started with a good-bye. The last few months the Lord has been so sweet to me and sent friends that have been walking their own journey here but we have all seen how He has purposefully placed us all here together to remind us that He never leaves us alone. He has sealed our hearts together as we have faced bends in the roads that we did not foresee. We have fasted, we have prayed, laughed, cried and felt even in the storm, He has been here. I have found that this place brings more good-byes than I have ever experienced. Good-bye to visitors, good-bye to children that have become like my own as they begin with their new families, good-bye as our friends see His face for the first time with true Healing…it prunes my heart. As I have said good-bye to two women that have been rocks for me here, I have one left standing with me as we waved good-bye to our precious friends who paths only crossed due to this place.

Another great challenge has been discovering that it is very hard for me to be my “true self” here. Even though my Ugandan friends and those I serve with have told me countless times, “Dacia, we want you to be yourself” I have struggled through days wondering what was wrong with me? I felt like I could not be 100% Dacia, the Dacia that everyone knows at home. Through many days of grappling with frustration and emotion, I have realized that I will never be able to truly be myself here. The Dacia in America cannot be the Dacia in Uganda…I am being transformed. There are times frustration rises up in me and I just want to be in a place that is familiar, where I am understood, where I don’t have to work at putting off my culture to embrace another. To speak my heart and know it will be fully understood. That was yesterday.

Two precious little girls are found in the village by the team and brought back home. Miriam is 8 years old and her father has two wives so the head wife was not feeding the child. She looks similar to what I have seen in my history books while studying the Holocaust yet she had a smile that said her heart could be mended with His love that only flows through us, His vessels. No matter how many times your eyes see it, your heart is pained just the same every time.

I was at the end of myself. I was done. Exhuasted physically and emotionally. I just wanted to sleep and be alone but just as He would plan it, I needed to go get some work done at the Babies Home. I get in the car with a smile on my face but my heart was not so pleasant. I placed my headphones in and I was just ready to drown it all out on the 45 minute ride to Bukaleba…wallow a bit. Amen? I though felt drawn to pick up my Bible. I really didn’t want to because I knew He would speak and I honestly just wanted to sit in my frustrations and own frame of mind just for another song. I couldn’t. I opened up the Bible in what I would call a random spot but not at all random to what He was going to speak to my heart.

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In Matthew 20:20, a mother asked Jesus what her two sons had to do in order to be seated next to Him in Heaven. Jesus responded with this; “You do not know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?” The mother said, “Oh yes, of course they can drink from the cup.” I love how we are so quick to respond with “of course we can do this”…when we cannot fathom what suffering He is speaking of. The Disciples also inquired about this question and when I read this passage this morning, driving to Bukaleba it was spoken over me into my tired heart. “You know that the rulers of this world lord it over their people, and official flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to become a leader among you must become your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must first become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve others and give His life as a ransom for many.”

Once again, He speaks into my situation. He reveals to me that there is no way I can possibly know what His suffering looked like, unless He revealed it to me and let me just get a tiny taste of what it means to be in a place that is not your “home”, to be called out for a higher purpose. I don’t believe the hard times are as much about shaping my character as it is about Him revealing His heart to me. How can we know what it means to take up the cross, if we have never tasted suffering? How can I know what it means to be called to come over and serve the people of this country, if I don’t first grasp that my Savior, my Redeemer, the Creator of all things didn’t come to this foreign place to be served but to serve those who mocked and rejected Him? Give me a picture of your grace, show me the measure of your grace.

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But to serve others. To serve others. I hear His words flooding over my heart as I am driving down the roads of Africa, surrounded by families who have never seen what my eyes have seen and have not tasted of my tangible material blessings. I look to my left and a little girl who is dressed in rags, barefoot, comes running towards me and I see what is being spoken over me in her face. She doesn’t have to be from America or a privileged country, she has joy. A few feet down the road I see a mother bathing her littles in a bucket, He is the same for her as well, He has come to serve her. As I look over this lush land, I am reminded that He is ALL to us. His suffering, His Redemption, His saving Grace, His joy…He came to wash all of our feet.

If we are enduring suffering, could it be possibly that He is revealing His heart to us so we can grasp what He went through to rescue us? How quickly I lose focus and appreciation sometimes. If we are overwhelmed and feel like we deserve more credit, an easier road, better circumstances could we remember that not even the Lord God Almighty needed those things….He came not to be served but to serve. And lay down His life as our Ransom.

These Orange Roads keep leading me to Him.

Sometime it looks different…

Over the last few weeks I have struggled to sit down and write. There are many reasons why I have sat down and words do not come easily. A lot of it is the effort to write, sometimes it is the lack of time, sometimes it’s too hard to even try to write out what is going on in my heart, but lately it has been fear of man.

Fear of man. It hinders me more than I realize. Galatians 1:10 Am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of God. 

Some of it may be my own perception but when I moved over to Uganda I envisioned how it would roughly look. I would spend days with the babies; changing diapers, nurturing those who have no one to nurture, kissing boo-boos and tucking mosquito nets in every night. I would be going into the villages, I would be spending time at our Secondary School. Instead I have found myself working on Excel spreadsheets, doing renovations on our Guesthouse, cooking in the kitchen for guests, creating budgets, waking up to serve breakfast early, going to bed late, sitting up late into the night with friends who are facing trials no one saw coming.

There is nothing romantic or risky about painting the dining room a new color, I could do that at home. There is nothing makes you go “awe” that I sit and work on spreadsheets and running into the market to get food. There are some days where I am not doing the typical “missionary” living but every day I wake up and the Lord reminds me, “This is where I have called you. I have called you not to impress others by your radical living but to be radical in serving. Serving not for your image but for Mine.”

If I wasn’t here doing this I wouldn’t have the late night talks sitting in the still African nights with tea in hand talking about life. I wouldn’t get to mourn with those mourning. I would have missed hugging my friend as she walked in our compound not understanding the verdict. I wouldn’t get to watch Jesus move through strangers that quickly become friends as they come in and out of our house daily from the field. I get to hear stories of what He is doing through first timers eyes, through veterans and through children. I get to serve those from my home and my new home. I have always loved hosting and having people come into my own home. If you know me well you know that I love my house full. How sweet is it of Jesus that He has allowed me to play that same role here? I get to welcome those who have come to serve into my home, feed them, take care of them and listen to them in the evenings as they process the beautiful yet the difficult roads here in this country. But the best part is I am doing this alongside the people who I love and who are so gentle and loving. Our skin might never change to blend us together but our hearts are blending and together we are learning. Learning more about each other, how to overcome cultural difference and work together as the body of Christ. It is quite beautiful.

Relationships here are rooted deep. Routed in a raw faith. At this particular time I am not doing what I thought my day-to-day would look like but sometimes it looks different. He is showing Himself to me through His creative ways of placement-knowing my heart and allowing me to flourish in hospitality in a place where everything is so foreign I know how to welcome and get in the trenches with others. So I may not out in the village every day but I am in the dining hall listening and building lasting relationships of both Ugandans and others from all over the world. Everyone has always laughed, including me, that relationships are the only thing I am gifted in..not sports, not books, not singing…just the girl with a 100 best friends. Maybe He was just preparing me for this day. 

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So my blogs might not be full of stories that bring tears of heartbreak or stories that you might read when browsing other blogs or even stories like I encountered last summer but I am still encountering a piece of the Gospel daily. It is still stripping me. I can’t let the fear of what others think keep me from experiencing where He has placed me now.

Sometimes it looks different. Everything looks different here. He is transforming my eyes to see like His. I see that even though I wouldn’t see myself in this very place, He did and for that I say, “Thank you that it looks different”.

Our Gathering Place

The kitchen. Flour covers the cabinets, beans are on the stove and the smell of pineapple captures the sweet aroma of conversations, laughter, singing, dancing and sharing of cultures.
So beautiful.
We have shared recipes, stories, and prayer. At home when having company over we would always find ourselves lingering around the table long after the dinner had been served. There is comfort in fellowship and sharing of food. It’s where moms teach their little girls how to cook, grandma’s bake cookies with their littles, and from generation to generation stories and recipes are passed down.

Here in Uganda I am gaining new stories and new recipes. Every day His bread is enough.

Our Gathering Place.