Today.

I haven’t blogged in almost a year. I have tried. I will sit to write and I can’t finish a post. It has really bothered me because writing has always been my way of processing and reflecting back to what the Lord has done. Since May, nothing has come. It’s not because I have nothing to reflect on or that life has not brought me new experiences. In fact, my whole life has changed. Literally. In every sense of the word “change’, I have experienced it in the last 10 months.

He has wanted me to take it all in. To process alone. To take in the moments and not always share in the public eye that I so easily feel obligated to participate in. It’s been a journey of my Savior and I and those around me in those moments.

Tonight though, I am ready. Ready to try to put my thoughts back into words that will reflect an honest heart.

My days now are mostly administrative, which is never what I saw myself doing here in Uganda, but the Lord has taken me to a place where I am uncomfortable. Imagine that. Not only in a different country, different culture, but into a place where it is hard to balance between the call to serve those here and also administrate those He called me to serve. So instead of just going to the home and holding babies and playing with the children, I am now in the office pouring over budgets trying to keep our food budget from going too high, meetings, and planning. A lot of days I want to just leave that job to someone else and go and do what I want to do, be a momma. But then being a momma is taking care of your household. It is not glamorous.

Glamorous it is not. So often, for my heart’s selfish sake, I detach. I busy myself in the details of budgets, managing, and computer work. I have found that I can hide there and forget sometimes the stories and the eyes that captured my heart and the small hands the Lord used to release mine of everything I held dear to move across the ocean. Some days it’s too much. Just going to the market to pick 50 pounds of beans and 50 pounds of rice, pouring sweat, the stench of the garbage piles makes you nauseated, the countless times you are told the higher price because your skin resembles what they know as money, and needing to use your phone but not having any airtime to call anyone. It does me in. In one hour I am fighting my flesh and the words that come into my mind that I should never say out loud, the anger of how nothing is ever simple here. By the time I drive an hour to the home on roads that will, well, they will just leave you speechless, I am greeted by the children that I love with all my heart. Yet, I am detached somehow. Detached because my day has already been frustrating beyond belief and I don’t have it in me to remember their little hearts and that all I really need to do is stop and listen, stop and hug, stop and touch their hands, stop and be present.

AriseAfrica1435He reminds me. In His sovereignty, which I will never comprehend, He has carried me through today. After a day full of unexpected situations, attacks of the enemy, I found myself at the end of me. Literally. Most days when I get into bed, it’s not a moment too soon because I know His mercy and grace has been spent and I am waiting for the morning, where His new mercies rises with the sun. It is new every morning, and I drink deeply. But today, I found a place where I could just breathe and I cried out to the Lord, “there is nothing left here, Lord. I have exhausted my strength today and what I am facing, as one who needs to have answers, I am utterly helpless. A situation beyond my knowledge and experience. You have brought me here. Take us from here.”

To know this Man…that has been the desire of my heart and it is in the moments which I don’t want, I taste and know more of Him.

I walk into our home, where the children are supposed to be getting ready for bed and there is chaos all around me. I don’t mean just a handful of children a little rowdy before bedtime but 56 children running in every direction, 10 babies crying, darkness because the solar has gone out, children playing in the water they are supposed to be bathing in, clothes flying everywhere as they try to find pi’s. I want to just turn and walk out. It’s beyond. At that moment one of my 13-year-old girls brings me a 10 month old, who she is helping by giving her a bottle.

It hits me. I am in the middle of what I strive daily to make a home, to make the details of the home run smoothly, but ultimately to reveal the love of the Father. Reveal the love of the Father.

The scene around me is not normal. It is the repercussions of a fallen world. Children whose parents were taken from them due to sickness and disease. Parents that just left. Parents that discarded of them. No matter how they ended up there, it was due to an imperfect world, one awaiting the return of our Father. And I stand there and everything around me goes quiet as my heart aches. Aches to the point I feel it. As parents around the world are taking their children out of the bath, telling them to brush their teeth, climbing into bed, and telling them they love them as they kiss their heads and turn out the lights, I stand in the middle of 56 children who don’t know what that is like. The ten month old in my arms, I could rock her to sleep but then what do I do with the other 9 that need the same thing? Oh, my heart. Even writing this my emotions well up again.

Reveal the love of the Father. Father. Father….

He whispers to me, “I am near. Dark is light. Depths are heights, and far is near. I am near. I am their Father. In the chaos, I still hold them in their sleep. Sometimes I even reveal my fullness to them. My sovereignty. Dacia, it covers it all.” 

He is good to all, all who call on Him. He hears our cries and He saves us. A much-needed reminder in the midst of a place where suffering abounds. Here in Uganda, in America, in this broken world. A reminder to this heart that so easily gets caught up in the details and needs her heart to be awakened. He carries me. And when I believe I am doing well on my own, He loves me too much to not remind me and place me in the midst of His presence.

A reminder that He, only He, carries me. And He carries those crazy little ones running around. Carries them close. He is the one they need.

 

 

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It takes a Village to Raise a Couple: Written by my fiancé…

Well since I have forgotten how to blog I thought my first blog in six months should be from the newest addition to my life! My sweet fiancé, Joshua, who is the Lord’s sweet faithfulness to me. But I will save my post for tomorrow-he is better with words than myself.

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That’s me and my Dacia on our first date.  It was terrible, and I won’t get in trouble for that because she will tell you the same thing.  Due to various circumstances, we had known there were feelings between us long before our first “official” date.  So when it came around, there was this big sense of “finally!” and we felt the need to try an American style date.  For future reference, those don’t work very well where we live: in Uganda.

We rented a car and drove to the capital, Kampala, for our “American” date – dinner, ice cream, and a movie.  Dinner (sushi) was great, and really expensive.  The movie was awful.  Traffic was awful.  We both came home thinking the same thing – that was anti-climatic.  Not simple, not us.

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As bad as our first date was, it obviously wasn’t tragic, because on September 1, I put a ring on it.  Actually, we were laughing about it the very next day.  Yes, we’ve come a long way since then, and we have a long way to go.  But I can truly say the last seven months have been the most challenging, rewarding, God-centered months of my life.  My Dacia is the Godliest, most respectful, loving woman I have ever known.  Our relationship has been filled with joy, laughter, hard seasons and seeing more of Jesus every day.  We are forever only because He is.

As much as our story can’t be told in a single post, we can sum up where it began:people.  Our mentors and our friends.  Our blood families and our church families, because as God would have it, sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.  Those who have prayed for us and challenged us.  Those who have rejoiced on our mountain tops and mourned in our valleys.  You are why we are here, and this is not the end.

We’re beginning a life together.  Actually, we already have.  I set aside my vision of Xchange International and now we’re both serving with Arise Africa International in Jinja, Uganda.  We are planning a wedding and honeymoon on missionary budgets.  She oversees the welfare of 56 children in a babies home, over 300 students in AAI’s primary and secondary school, and child sponsorship.  I have been charged with starting income-generating projects for 200 churches around Uganda, developing over 4,000 students through Arise Africa’s 24 community schools into educated, God-fearing leaders, and managing the organization’s vehicle fleet.  You know, small, simple things.

It is obvious we can’t accomplish these things on our own.  We can’t hold a healthy marriage and serve in ministry without God.  She can’t submit and I can’t lead without His constant presence in our lives.  We also know that God uses people to accomplish His work.  God has used those who have supported us in ministry through their prayers, counsel, and finances.  As we join our lives and ministries together, we need you more than ever.

On November 7, we’re flying to the United States to share what God is doing in and through us.  And believe me, the Spirit is in the details.  The things God has done thus far are hilariously reflective of His character.  Our goals are simple – to give Him the glory He is due and to invite people to walk with us.  We’ll be newlyweds on the mission field.  We need your love, encouragement, prayers, and financial support.  And it doesn’t stop there.  As members of the body of Christ, you need ours, too.  And we’re ready to give it.

Below is a rough schedule of where we will be and when.  If you’re close and want to meet up, we would be honored.  We both love coffee, food, and as my mother would say, any place with “atmosphere.”  Contact either of us and we will get the ball rolling towards a date and time confirmation.  We would be happy to share about the organizational goals and needs of our work in Uganda as well.

From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you.  If our life together so far is any indication, God has bigger things in store for us all.  See you soon.

 

Because of Him,

Josh and Dacia

josh@xchangeinternational.org  |  dacia.newton@gmail.com

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He has outed me.

You can only lead as far as you have been led with Him.  This has been weighing on me. Such a great responsibility to lead. I desire to go deeper with Him, I desire for Him to speak, but yet I find myself getting busy with the ministry to-do list and the schedule that we have even here, and I fail to stop and listen. So today, I am stopping. I am listening. I am going to write.

He has done so much these last few weeks that I have failed to share. Here is a sweet recap of what has been going on in my job and also in my heart.

I have new responsibilities! Here is what I do on a day-to-day basis.

1. Donations Office //  I am still helping in this department, which means that I help coordinate the sponsorships and updates for those who sponsor and give to the ministry.

2. School Coordinator // Responsible for the spiritual and physical well-being of the babies at our home, our nursery, primary, and secondary school.

3. Assistant Guesthouse Manager // I assist Sarah, our amazing manager, in the evenings and on the weekends at our guesthouses.

4. Developing a micro-loan finance department where we can help our 200 pastors develop projects that will sustain their income and help their community as well.

When I type all of this out I can literally feel myself start to panic. I can feel myself start to feel so inadequate and overwhelmed. I know myself well enough to know that when these feelings come, I tend to shut down and become paralyzed. I have been wrestling with fighting these fears for the last few weeks. I will sit down at my computer to write updates and nothing comes. I will begin to try to get into the Word and ask God for wisdom on how to lead and what our babies and students need to walk through first, and there is silence. I can’t seem to move forward. I lay in bed and think, “Did you really think I could do this? Why? I feel like there are so many more out there that have experience in all of these areas, and I am not one of them.” It keeps me up at night. I look ahead and see a mountain that I have no experience climbing.

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It wasn’t until a few days ago that He spoke. He spoke into every fear of my inadequacy. An image. An image that took me back to a blog post that I wrote last year that was inspired by my sweet friend, Katie. Learning to bend low

For when I am bent low, serving, with my face to the dirt, that is where I find Him in all of His fullness. But today, I know that with me bending my knee, placing myself in a position of surrender, I can only take this position because He first bent towards me.

I feel as though I have to measure up. I still feel as though I need to perform accordingly. But I have to, once again, know the Biblical love of Jesus. And so I have to go back to this image: He came for me. I have quoted John 3:16 so many times but today it is different. “For God SO loved the world that He GAVE his only son”…the love of God is initiated towards me. He moved towards me. He bent towards me. Me at my best is never going to be adequate. Ever. That is why in His great love, He leaned in.

God has publicly outed me and because of that I am set free. So, that means I need a Savior. I don’t have to be more than I am. Sometimes I still think that He will love me when I get it all right and thousands of students and babies are living for Him. I don’t have to pretend through what I post on Facebook, Instagram and even my blog, that I know what I am doing. I don’t have to wrestle with putting an image forward that I can do this and because I am living in Uganda that I am doing something unique that deserves attention or praise, but just the opposite. I do not deserve a Savior that would call me, find me worthy, and set me in a place where He constantly reminds me that I cannot do this. Reminds me that He bends towards me so that I can also bend with a heart that tries to reflect the heart of my Father. Oh how I fail. I often do not serve well. I often expect others to serve me. I often miss opportunities to love well and to sit with someone because I need to accomplish a list. It is a daily battle to remember that I don’t have to sit in the guilt and run away from Him, but run towards Him because He already told me I would need a Savior. And He came.

It is my desire that each student at our Secondary School, all 188 of them, would come to know a Savior that bent towards them, so they can understand the spectacular love of their Father. That as orphans, as those who have been sexually abused, abandoned, scared, starved, the Creator came and got down on His knees before them, cupped their faces, held their hearts, kissed their wounds, and embraced them. My heart feels the weight of doing everything in my power to point them to His heart. Not just a religion that we spoon feed them in a Christian school and home, but that we would guide them in a relationship, that would give them Hope and show them the way to Life.  Would you pray for me? Would you pray that in my weakness, He is shown strong? That I would not play the comparison game. I would not be paralyzed by fear but would run set free.

That together we will run with our heads held high in the confidence of our Father’s love for us. Together, we will bend low and serve one another. Together, we would place ourselves in a surrendered position. Together, we would allow the picture of our Savior bending towards us, make our hearts bend towards Him. And with a posture like pictured below, I am capable of doing the things He has called me to do.

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Name Suggestions?

photo-1You know, today was one of those days that I felt literally overwhelmed by His love for me! Where I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face and I literally felt like I needed to pinch myself.

He has shown His faithfulness to me time and time again but sometimes I just stand in awe. I stand in awe of those who gave in order to bless me with an amazing new car that not only blesses me but blesses my family here at Arise Africa.

I have to say the most joy I have felt was not when I received the notice that the target goal had been raised so we could go and look at a car but it was yesterday as we drove 2 hours to the Capital City to pick up the car. I was excited, don’t get me wrong, so excited but it did not compare to the excitement of my father here, Pastor Godfrey, who is takes wonderful care of me and made sure that we picked the very best. He was like a little kid on Christmas morning. Here at Arise God has provided for every single car that we have. Every single one. But yesterday was a little different, no one had ever gotten a big “New” nice car like this one. The joy that I received from seeing him so excited about driving the new car was worth it all. Thank you so much to those who gave, I wish I could have captured it on video as we drove off the lot and he beamed with pride. It was literally a proud father who had made a great choice for his daughter and was excited. A daughter being 28 years old and experiencing for the first time in a long time what it felt like to not make “big girl decisions” but to let a father do it for me, it brought me more joy than I remembered.

As I was driving along the dirt roads today, I didn’t feel the potholes like normal because I was seated behind a wheel of a great car! I didn’t breathe in the fumes and exhaust and eat the dirt because I am blessed to have air conditioning. I had my music blaring and I was surrounding by a scenery of a developing country, and I literally wanted to scream with pure joy! How is this my life? I say this so much but I really mean it…I have only given up a few luxuries. I don’t deserve to be here. He has just lavished His grace upon me to be able to call this my life. I am truly humbled. And it was moments like today, overwhelmed with what He has done for me through faithful servants that donated, it is so beautiful and fulfilling to follow Him. Even without a car, even if it meant that I didn’t get to drive a car…He is still good and He is still faithful. But how sweet is it when He surprises us?

We are all so thankful for the blessing of a new car!! It was so needed. I can now drive back and forth to Bukelaba daily and have a reliable car to get me there and back each day! Even tomorrow, Pastor Godfrey is taking it far out as he goes to encourage one of our churches. He gets ALL the glory!

Now, we just need a name for her….open to suggestions 🙂

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Manifest.

I was so hungry for Him. It is Easter weekend and I hadn’t even stopped. I laid down to take a nap, I was missing home and the familiar. I woke up and just turned on some worship music. I wasn’t expecting Him to show up, but He came. It is not often that I wear the weight of the cross, personally, for me. That I wear my sin and realize that I don’t have to wear it. When was the last time I cried tears over what my selfishness, my pursuit of my own happiness, the neglect of my Father, had done to Him? When was the last time my heart was truly moved by what He did?

Today as I sat in my room. The tears came and I sat in the weight. And this song came to me…

I could hold on to who I am and not let you change me from the inside. I could safe be here in Your arms, and never leave home and never let these walls down. But You have called me higher, and you have called me deeper and I go where you lead me, Lord. I will be yours for my life, so let your mercy write the path before me. –

This song keeps finding my lips as I face each day here. Asking God to show me how to live out the Gospel. Today, the Saturday where the world was dark and was wondering who this man was…I embrace today and know there will be many days where I wonder…But then there is tomorrow. Where He awakes my soul to all He has done for me. And there I want to be. Because there is freedom and there is the life my heart longs for.

I accepted Him into my life as a 6-year-old girl, and although I was young I have never questioned my salvation. I knew that it was real the night I accepted Him in my living room with my mom and dad. But I don’t really know life without Christ. Oh, his mercy. How many times I have longed for a radical testimony? How many times have I looked at those who really walked in darkness and when they were made to see, they always have the feeling of being found. Their gratefulness runs deep. I sometimes have to search. It wasn’t until I realize that He didn’t have to choose me. My eyes didn’t have to be opened. The Holy Spirit didn’t have to speak to a six year old’s heart, waking my spirit to my depravity. How did the Lord restore to me the joy of my salvation? He reminded me through scripture that He chose me! He chose me! That changes everything for me. I could still be searching. I could still be living in darkness.

Tonight, as I write this my background music is a Ugandan thunderstorm. The thunder and darkness that I see outside me reminds me that all of this really is real. It’s not just a story I have heard all my life. He has opened my eyes to life. Let me sit in the darkness. Let me sit with the weight of the rain falling on me. How can I be blown away with everything that is in my being, if I don’t know from where I have fallen?

THank you for giving me a thunderstorm to remind me that you are more than a passing fantasy. Thank you for allowing me to fall asleep with a heart that knows. A heart that sees every day…you are still God. God in the death. Oh death…where is your sting? Thank you for Hope. A hope that when I look death in the eyes, I celebrate. For death is my reward because of this darkness I sit in now and the light that will awaken my eyes tomorrow.

Thank you that I am with those who know and walk in your suffering. May I learn to drink of the cup. May I beg for the cup.

Tomorrow I will celebrate with those who have been abandoned, those who have been left, who have every reason to not have hope. But tomorrow, on Sunday, we will celebrate because we may live because you died. May every throne before you fall. Usher us in, Lord. Usher us…orphans. We come as one. Orphans but no longer because you have died for us. May they grasp the story tomorrow. We are no longer orphans because you Reign.

Praise God who reigns, Forevermore. DSC_0587

Easter Dresses

IMG_0772We had a tradition in my home growing up-Easter Dresses. It was a big deal and fun for us because we didn’t go shopping a lot but we knew that when Easter came we got to pick out our favorite dress to wear to church.

I saw Jesus at a very early age, about the age of my girls in the home in the form of an Easter Dress. My dad had lost his job and money was very tight. Actually, tight is not the word…money was not there. I remember my mom telling us that we would not be able to get Easter dresses that year and although it seems so silly now, my sister and I were so disappointed. I remember my parents telling us to pray. The weekend of Easter, a box was delivered to our house with mine and my sister’s name on it. My parents were as equally curious as to what the box held inside.

As a 7 year old little girl I saw inside of that box- Jesus. In a way that He could teach a young little girl that He provides through sending her an Easter dress. I learned faith. I have reflected back to that story so times, years later.

Today as I was handing out dresses and bows to my girls and giving the boys new shirts…I want them to see His heart. The heart of their Provider. I want their young hearts to capture His heart now so that they can look back and know that it was so much more than a cute dress and a nice shirt to wear to church. It was His heart for them.

One day they will tell their children of what Jesus did for them when they were 7 through women who sewed them dresses and a little girl that asked Santa for shoes for all of them. I want them to hear “I love you” through these who have given. I want them to in return give so that another can hear “I love you”.

Just as I heard it as a 7 year old girl.

 

 

My favorite things

My favorite things

One thing that was very important to me when I made the move to Uganda was that I was still going to be “me”. I knew He would change me from the inside out but there are just certain qualities that He gives you that make you, you. Mine is I love fashion. I believe it is one of the perks of being a girl. It’s a way to have fun and be unique.

So I have continued to find little things here that make me happy.

Many times when girls are coming over they ask, “what do I pack?” It is a completely different culture here so it is fun for me to find pieces that I love that I can wear here and back in the States. I believe it’s ok to dress up and feel like yourself no matter where you are serving, as long as you are respectful of the cultures and audiences around you. That our outer reflects our inner 🙂

What people don’t know is that I don’t wear scarves in Africa solely to be trendy. When I have to go into a place that does not have a pleasant smell the scarf shields my sensitive nose. At night when it gets chilly, the scarf becomes a shaw.

This PeaceLoveWorld scarf is one of my favorites. It is light weight and unique. This brand has many great items that I love. Check them out. http://peaceloveworld.com/index.php/peace-and-love-knotty-navy-scarf-PDPA.html