Saturday, August 4, 2012

Back to Life, Back to Reality

 It is nice to be back.

The welcoming crew was wonderful....a sweet scene of cousins who hadn't seen each other all summer, running and jumping on one another.  The smell of clean air and sanitary bathrooms were something we ALL rejoiced over.  And yes, after the last mango larvae was picked out of my dear little Sophie's head....and my hub's back (as shown below).....we all settled down for a long winter's nap. I mean, summer.

We lived a missionary's life for two months.  We caught of brief, brief glimpse of what it means to live life overseas (with children).  The people we met were inspiring (young interns managing an NGO while navigating their way through a foreign country, faithful servants who really do wait on the Lord, families gracefully tackling the challenges of adoption, marriages that inspire you to make changes in your own marriage right now, plus a few hundred more examples.)   

 So how was it?  What did I learn?  What was I shown?  What did I see?

We are tackled with these questions with the expectation of a quick answer.  The quickest answer I can give is not with words.  It simply must be with my life. Our life.  My hubs and I, our daughters, our marriage.....the joy in us that is produced only by Him, through seeking Him in His Word (or via really awesome, amazing challenging podcasts we've been listening to!), reading challenging C.S. Lewis books ( author hero), and keeping in touch with those who we've met that gave us the heavy doses of inspiration.

It's easy to get back into this reality.  The America full of endless consumption.  The "I gotta get's...."  "I gotta do's..." the "schedules"'s also easy to get cynical and think none of it really matters. Y' the grand God-scheme of it all.  What does matter is that the cup put before you is one that you take not just with obedience, but with a submitted, connected heart.  Whatever that cup is.......until the next one is given.

I gotta say this selfishly. I love what was brought forth, brought back into our life. It was a spirit of grace.  Grace in my marriage, grace in parenting, grace with myself.....Knowing we fail. Knowing we are not perfect. But knowing we are perfect in Christ, and we are living this very temporary life according to His plan and by His grace.  Knowing we need to cling to the Vine, the source of joy and peace and contentment.  Knowing that we will do it together. Not fearfully living. Not trying to be in control. But by living this life the way He intended, not trying to be radical, just living it IN Him.

Thanks to so many people. You know who you are. You know it because I'm sending you a vibe right now. Right. Now.  Can you feel it?.....Good.

"Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me."  John 15:4

Our First Few Minutes Back at Home!

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Last Day

Here it is. The last day in Uganda. A two month trip....done.

After all the planning and praying that we did to prepare for this trip, here I am on the last day thinking....what in the world was done?  Uganda is just the same as the day we arrived. Beautiful & terrible. Corrupt & honest. Wealth & poverty (with more of the latter than the first).  Christians & Muslim. The little ones we visited still have no undies and little food......I've had these thoughts several times along the way (usually as I'm doing some mundane chore like ironing).  A good friend put it into perspective for me:  "Don't measure yourself by man's standards.  'Getting things done'  'accomplishments', etc. are man's terms.  Measure yourself by God's standards".

It was in those words I could breathe free.  I could look through the lens of God and see the relationships developed, the sweetness of just being a friend, the hugs given, the menial tasks done that needed to be done.....and maybe, I dusted off my own self as well.  As CS Lewis said in "Mere Christianity", perfect sunlight can be reflected better off a clean mirror, than a dirty one.  My mirror definitely needed a bit of shining!

One thing I DO understand now is that the Ugandan people are living life just as we live ours. In the hardships, they glorify God. Some don't, but that's life in America, as well.  The main difference between the two places, to me, is that in America we have 'opportunity'.  We have a friend, family member,government or an organization that can help when we really need. many are on their own.

What do I think about coming back to the states?  I'm excited to see my home. My family & friends.  Most of all, I'm excited to go home and find ways in which I use what I've been blessed with to help the 'least of these' more.  My sister moved into her gorgeous, new home while I was gone and said to me by phone, "I don't want you to come see it....after what you've seen!".  No. That's the wrong way to think.  Think about how God's blessed us, just as he did King David & Abraham, and use those gifts as a blessing to others.  To keep it all to ourselves would glorify none.

So I leave you with some pictures of our time here.
Thanks for being part of the journey.
That Beautiful Face
 Making Friends & Mudballs
 Sophie, an Exceptional Friend Maker
 My Favorite Teacher
 They Loved "The Bearded, Tall Man"
 Ice Cream - a Rare Delicacy
 Dirty Feet & Bottoms - Always
 Friends Building Their Home, Brick by Brick (at 200 shillings each!)
 Boat Ride to ARM on Lake Victoria
 The Beautiful Kids

The Nile....The Family.....

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


 Can you spot the monkey?? (Hint: It's not Grace!)

There's a bit of irony in this trip of ours.  We came thinking we'd be pouring out blessings all over Uganda, but actually, Uganda's been pouring out the blessings on us.  I feel like I've had a crash course in real relationships.  Not to say I don't have good relationships with people at home, but if I can write honestly, I would say that for many reasons that I don't understand, these people have to rely on each other in a way we don't.  There's no pretenses about it. They need each other to survive. 

That whole "it takes a village" really rings true here. 

 Pastor Boaz & his wife, Faith, are perfect examples.  It took me a few times of realizing that when Faith says, "I am so glad you are here.".....she actually means it.  It's not just some saying that is thrown around loosely to be "kind".  And Boaz.  Every time he sees you, he starts each day with, "Hello. How are you? How is your family?" And he's looking for real answers.  The simple way they want to earnestly talk to you, listen to your answers, and laugh with's heartwarming.

One thing my hubs and I have also been blessed to soak in is the spiritual wisdom from our friend, Jenny.  We stay up at nights and discuss marriage and parenting like nobody's business.  She's full of marital wisdom that has already changed the way we think about our marriage.  And her parenting advice (she has 15 children, including a 16 year old son that is AWESOME) hit home.  Practical, Christian advice in "the gritty  truth" kinda way.  I love it & am thankful for her.

Jenny, Faith, and me

This afternoon, we made time to attend fellowship and a bible study with Boaz & Faith at Kids of Africa, a Swiss children's home.  The grounds were beautiful and so were the children.  Grace & Sophie enjoyed playing with the kiddos on one of the best playgrounds I've seen in Uganda thus far.  

Sophie playing "Fire on the Mountain"
 Grace on the BIMBO....hehe

Saturday, July 14, 2012


I've never met a little girl like Esther. Someone who has so much favor with God that as soon as you meet her, you can't help but be filled with joy.  Esther is the newly adopted daughter of our friend, Jenny, here in Uganda.  Esther has special needs, and thanks to the intricately woven plan of our super creative God, Jenny never batted an eyelash to any of those needs. She simply knew that she was the momma to this little girl and will be taking her home in a few days. During those few days, they are our house mates.  

What a blessing they've been and it's only day one.

God's plan here was evident.  He equipped many people to specifically breathe truth and love into her life at times when she was the weakest.  I met a young man, Daniel, who for years, spent every weekend with her at the orphanage.....nurturing, caring, and singing praise songs to her when many people would have given up.  Also, the many volunteers who fell in love with her during their stay in Uganda.  And the plan was perfected when Jenny came into her life.

Watching Esther and listening to Jenny's stories of all the "firsts":  first time to sleep in a bed, discovering the joy of bath time, eating foods other than porridge.....Love. Simply love.

My own smitten girls wish that Esther could come home with us.  ; )  I reminded Grace that she already has a family....and that made me smile.  That prayer has been answered.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tesserah's Birthday

In Uganda, if you live in a "mzungu" house, you typically hire a night guard who keeps watch at the gate, and sometimes you even have a caretaker of the house and grounds. The house we are living in has both and, thankfully, that's allowed us to get to know some very special people.  Nicholas and Christine, the caretakers, work so hard to keep the house and grounds I speak, he's "slashing" the yard with a panga.  Makes you definitely think we Americans could drop our "riding lawnmowers" and possibly get fit in the process of slashing our yards!  

Tesserah, one of their children, turned 10 this past week.  She's been a sweet presence the entire time we've been here, so we thought it'd be nice to bake her a cake!  I'm going to be honest and say that it was a little unusual. The children showed up for the cake. Christine showed up. Then left. Then came back. Then the kids left.  Then finally.....the family came back and were ready to blow out the candles! ; )  Totally mystified by Ugandan communication for sure.....

We sang. She blew. She opened her present (with a little help....she did not want to open it right away.)

The Party!
 Grace & the birthday girl

On another note, we have less than 2 weeks left in this beautiful country. I'm beginning to get those mixed feelings....I want to leave, I don't want to leave.....and my husband is definitely feeling more of the "I want to stay" than I want to leave!  He's fallen in love with the sweet nature of the Ugandan people, their simple life, and the hard, but worthwhile work that is to be done here.  It's hard not to.

The other day, we loaned out our car to the Sixty Feet interns who were short a vehicle. That left us with a morning off! So....what to do in a foreign country when you don't have a car?  Well, walk of course!   We took a walk down to the market and the American Club for a morning of fun for the girls.  The walk was interesting as you realllllly have to watch out for the cars and bodas (they come awfully close!).  Also, we all took a boda back to the house.  My first boda experience!  Easiest way to travel here for sure....

 The Gorgeous View of Kampala!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Washing of the Feet Part II

Bwerenga Village is probably my favorite place to be here in Uganda.  The Hope International school is full of heart, sweet children,and loving teacher/mommas.  The way they nurture their kids to grow in God's love is pretty darn amazing.  But today, I was even more in awe.....

Sophie (above) took part in the washing of the shoes.  Mama Catherine trained all the kids she cares for to come home from school and wash and dry their shoes & socks, which are usually bright red from the dirt.  Sophie, of course, couldn't resist putting her own flip flops in that action.  A short while later, Grace decided she wanted to get some clean flops, too. So by herself, she walked over to the basins and began to softly wash her shoes. I watched, as one of the teenage girls at the house ran.....literally ran....from her chores to wash Grace's shoes for her. This lovely young lady, with a lame hand and foot, took her shoes, scrubbed with all her might, bent over at the waist, shoving them in and out of the water.  The shoes were spotless.  I watched as Grace thanked her, and then tried to step into the shoes. The girl would have none of that.....she took Grace's feet and legs and began to tenderly wash the dirt off of them, as well.  She scrubbed and scrubbed, making sure no trace of red dirt was left behind.  

She then looked up and smiled.   
I was all teary-eyed.
I couldn't help but notice that in no way was she too proud.
She was too humble.  And humbled herself to serve others, with a smile.....her physical limitations only making her effort shine brighter in my eyes.

I dared not take a picture of that beauty.

My hubs did take pictures of the rest of our day there. Playing jump rope. My sister-in-law and niece helping nurse wounds (infections are so common here.....).  It was a beautiful day.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Baby Class

I'm a teacher.  I love the summer because I get a tiny reprieve from teaching to restore my sanity.  But I must say, helping teach at the Hope International School in the Bwerenga Village this summer - well, it's a highlight of our mission trip for me. I love it.

This past Friday, I helped teach "The Baby Class". That's the name of it. Who wouldn't want to be a part of that preciousness?  The girls and I got up early and made the 45 minute drive to the village. I already knew so many of the kids, so to have them smile and wave saying, "Teacher Flo! Teacher Flo!"......well.
Thy. Heart. Melt. Right. Then.

The "Baby Class" consists of 43 three to four year olds. There was even one two-year-old. They were learning their primary colors in English that day. I would hold up a red cup and ask, "What color is this??"  I had about 20 kids yell out "Color Yellow!".  ; )   Nice.  We had some work to do.  I then asked them what were some things that were "red" in real life.....the babies looked at me and then said, "The cup!".  I walked right into that one, didn't I?

Anyway, the kids then set about to do their seat work.  I was a bit curious. Could these 3 year olds even write?  How? ... there were no desks to write ON.  The teacher then proved that she had it under control (as always).  She pulled 6 stools out, and literally, 6 kids at a time came to the stools and did their written work, which consisted of  HANDWRITTEN worksheets that matched shapes and some "shading" (coloring) practice.   What did the other 37 do while the 6 were working?  Wait patiently, of course. I think I need to come and learn from the teachers.

After the lesson was porridge break and then  recess, as the teachers took tea.

I kind of like it here.

One of the "Babies" taking her porridge.

The 43 Strong Baby Class

 Grace did a GREAT job helping the kids to their work.

 Their Anchor
 P.E. - Musical Chairs (with a drum)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

One Day, 3 Inspirations

As you might notice, in the pictures below I'm wearing the same shirt.  I say that because I just can't relay to you exactly how much "human inspiration" I received that day if it weren't for these 3 pictures.

Let me explain.

 In this picture above, the two women next to me are just incredible.  I recently met Jenny (in the middle). She's here in Uganda adopting her 15th child (yes....15.) Her story is beyond wow....the way God wove together the events in her life. Let me give you a glimpse....she lived in Liberia, post-civil war, in a bombed-out, no electricity town just so she can adopt a sibling group.  She did it again. And again in Uganda. Adopting special needs children without batting an eyelash. And she did it with her "Venezuelan" flair ....Christ's joy just oooooooozzzzeeeesss from this woman. I love her and I've only just begun to know her.  Then there's Colleen, my house mate for a month.  I love how God can use humor as a starting point for a friendship. Before we lived together, I knew little about her. But through her emails, I quickly knew we'd get along.  She's your cool, older sister....hilarious, protective, encouraging, and just a tiny bit crazy.  Oh....and she lives out God's love with everyone.  She's met no stranger, and people flock to her like the 'salmon of Capistrano'.  She uses words like "lamesauce". Really. I love it when Christian women aren't afraid to use their mad vocabulary skills. Colleen, "Frowwr" loves you.

 In this picture above, my family is standing next to a pretty important Ugandan family.  The son, Ben, is a friend of our house mates....he's one cool Ugandan dude.  He took us to meet his parents. His dad was a Colonel in the Ugandan army and his mom is the Director of AWARE, an NGO she started twenty years ago that works with the Karamojo women, helping to educate them with life skills, HIV awareness, and child raising.  She has such passion for the Karamojong women. And it's no great coincidence that the Karamojong children are among the many at the prisons we are currently serving.  To be in their humble, happy home was a blessing.

Last but not least, here is my beautiful friend from home, Kasey. She is currently on her 2nd Visiting Orphans trip (we were on ours together last year).  I love this woman's heart. My family was able to meet with her for dinner IN AFRICA.  That still just blows my mind. Two friends, Africa, pizza at the local muzungu hot spot, and a conversation that consisted mostly of how God's been rockin' our world lately.  I'm proud to know her.

All in all, I must say that Africa has been a bit surprising. I thought I would come here and just pour out 'the love' on people.  And I'm doing that....but I also realize that more than ever, God's love is being poured out on me by simply watching His people be obedient.  That's kinda cool.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Now that I've been here for nearly a month, I'm getting used to the "Ugandan way" of life.  I understand that turning on our stove to cook while the hot water heater is turned on is a big no-no (too many amps....the breaker starts smoking).  I've accepted the fact that my feet will be always be filthy. 
I'm starting to learn roads and shortcuts, and in general, I'm not scared to cross the street experience very similar to the old-school "Frogger". I can say "Ensali laco" to bargain away the "muzungu" price (although sometimes even my bargained price is still too high).   I know how to buy minutes for my phone and which veggie market gives the best produce.  In general, my comfort level is normal now.

I'm still working on getting used to travel though.  It takes forever to get anywhere. Traffic is terrible, especially at 8 and 5. You will almost always see something interesting as you look out the window (50 live chickens hanging upside down on a boda (a motorcycle taxi) or a herd of longhorn cattle walking down the side of the road). The dirt roads are either decent (like picture A)  or terribly steep and full of potholes (picture B). I'm so surprised ALL vehicles aren't 4WD over here. 

picture A
 picture B

It's been 4 weeks and I'm just now getting my bearings  here.  In two days, our house mates will be headed home back to the states.  The Ferrells will continue this journey alone for the remaining time (well....we do have some visitors coming for a week - yea!), and I have a feeling time will fly as Boog gets busy with sponsorship duties, and I hope to ramp up my involvement at the Bwerenga village school.

We hosted Mama Catherine and her wonderful crew last night for dinner. After hearing her testimony & life story, all I can say is, the sometimes difficult "Ugandan way" of life very often is the road to being a bright, shining star for Christ.  I certainly didn't start off on a difficult road in life, but I pray I won't forget the roads of others....and help them even out the potholes when I can.

I certainly won't allow myself to complain much when I return to the states.

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