Friday, December 13, 2013
Posted by Flo and Grace at 11:21 AM
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
We all know who it comes from and that it's not circumstantial. I can choose joy in the midst of any one of the hundreds of trials life throws at me. I can find joy in the small things...like a hummingbird at my window this morning. I can choose joy when my kids are grumpy, when my husband did not meet my expectations, or the house is (once again) in need of cleaning.
But choosing joy is a lot harder than it seems.
I used to think it was easy. I think because back in America, if I ever began to have feelings of sadness, loneliness, what have you....I could easily "stuff it" or fill that hole by any number of things we Americans do: start a new hobby, go shopping and buy something to give a temporary satisfying "fill", visit a friend, take the kids out to eat so I don't have to face the pile of dishes at the end of cooking, sign up for another activity to keep me busy. I never really ran out of options to temporarily give me joy. So choose joy? Sure. Easy. Let me plan something to do. Get a plan going for the day.
Here in Uganda, it's a whole different ballgame. I have been challenged with choosing joy. There is no "shopping trip". When the boredom of a day sets in and I have no car to go anywhere, I have to deal. When my marriage starts to show signs of wear (not having the regular "Boog & Flo date nights" we are used to), we have to deal. When sadness of not having family and friends close by to run and chat with, I have to deal. I have to deal with the unmet expectations, the loneliness, boredom, and all the other emotions that I don't like to deal with. There is no quick fix. There is no filler. You deal.
Being a "missionary family" this year has really highlighted our coping abilities. Mine, I decided, need some work. But it's given me an incredible present. I have come face to face with my ugly. I have peeled back layers in myself and the relationship with my husband and my children and it's exposed some areas where I really thought I had it DOWN!
How about that? I'm 36 years old and learning some of my weaknesses actually are things I thought were my strengths in America. That's a hard thing to look at....the ugly, the scars....and see beneath the layers upon layers of "filler" through the years.
Psalm 16:11 has been on mine and Boog's heart now for over a year.
"You make known to me the path of life. In your presence is fullness of joy. In your right hand are pleasures forever."
It's no small note that it's absolutely one of the most challenging things for me here, personally. Finding joy in Him, regardless of circumstance, regardless of what I think I lack, regardless of my emotions.
Seeing our dear friend Pastor Earnest choose joy despite his circumstances is humbling. And it's in peeling back my own layers that I'm hopeful of growth and restoration and the promises of life more abundant.....the ability to see, feel, and know The Joy from a place so deep that knows the difference between yucky, preservative, fake filler and the real, life-giving Joy.
My marriage is a beautiful journey. My children are my pleasure. I have no doubt that this revelation and growth WILL be a blessing....for all of us.
Posted by Flo and Grace at 12:26 AM
Friday, November 8, 2013
This is our life in Africa.
Every week, 60 Feet hums and churns like a well-oiled machine....with the occassional need for stops and repairs along the way. The mobile medical team departs each morning for visits to the remand centers, staff flies off in ten different directions as they meet with different organizations or government officials to build the much needed relationships that make working in an international setting more fluid and manageable. And each week, something comes up that requires everyone to sit back and remember that amidst all this "U.S. style nose to the grindstone" work, the children we serve are not commodities. They are not "projects". They are real people. Vulnerable. And desperate for someone to hear their story.
You could not dream up what those "somethings" are......lists handed down of 80+ children waiting to be resettled with their families, but languishing in prison until someone can provide the research, money, transportation, and people to make it happen. Horribly run orphanages, shut down by the government, and the children sent to the government's "drop off center", meaning 40+ new kids and mouths to feed (at an already maxed out center). Shortages of clothing in the prisons. A need for toothpaste/toothbrushes for 400 kids who have never owned a toothbrush of their own.....
The situations that arise seem to be endless. But as our team is learning, it's not just about responding to each crisis. It's about finding the wisdom to look beyond the problem in front of you and finding the root. To not just look at the kids on the list and find the quickest way to get them back to their families (although quick is good.) But to go to the family and return, and return again, to see why the child left or was sent away to begin with and start the counsel there.
Partnership is huge. Finding other organizations to work with so that each area of need, along the long chain of need, is served well. Just last week, my hubs and other staff members attended a town hall discussion at the U.S. Embassy to get a glimpse of what the vision is and where it's headed. And each week, there's a new meeting set up with an organization who may provide a link in the chain.
For the girls and I, we sit on the perimeter....with much of our time being spent volunteering at a babies' home, homeschooling, and working at Hope International School (where many of 60 Feet's sponsored children attend.) But we listen to the staff's daily struggles and small victories. We watch as our daddy puts on a tie and drives off to meet someone in the Ministry of Gender. We pray for each situation that arises. And we remember that God is the source of this love-offering of service....
"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." Matthew 6:34
Posted by Flo and Grace at 11:30 PM
Saturday, October 19, 2013
Come to find out, she had been living with Mama Catherine for almost a year now. It wasn't an easy transition, but the Love that bears, believes, hopes, endures, and never ends was (and still is) there through all the mess and beauty. The final product being redemption and hope for a precious soul whom I had already written her ending.
Posted by Flo and Grace at 12:34 PM
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
This is why, after nearly 2 months of being here, I had a heart check. I made a mental thank you to God for His answered prayers. I needed community, He provided. I wanted my girls to feel at home, He provided. I asked to feel comfortable here, He provided. But now that we are settled, it's time to refocus my heart.
They are everywhere, these stories. Inspiring me to check my "self" at the door, complain a little less, and focus on the work that is to do here. My job is a little less stressful .... my weeks usually consist of homeschooling my girls, helping at a baby's home,and the Bwerenga village school. But my husband and the 60 Feet staff work tirelessly each day to get one step closer towards a positive future for the girl above and so many others.
Posted by Flo and Grace at 6:36 AM
Monday, September 2, 2013
When you are in a foreign country, sometimes you get desperate. Desperate for home, desperate for creature comforts, desperate for solitude or peace....in my case, after 3 weeks of being here, I became desperate - for friendship.
It's not actual "living" that has been tough on me. I can handle the daily life here and my girls are champs at adjusting. But it's been the lack of friends....people who understand. People who "get it". I was in need of companionship from other women who can look at me and say, "I've been there." or "Come hang at my place!" You know.....girlfriends. Always being the "foreigner" everywhere you go takes its toll, and for me, I needed people who understood that. I couldn't shake the feeling that finding this community was vital to us living here and being whole.
Enter the internet. I couldn't just stay in this lonely frame of mind. I had to do something about it. So, a few google searches for "ex-pat" families in Uganda, a couple emails to & from super friendly folks, and voila! It's amazing what a little desperosity and clever internet searching can get you!
An amazing lady from a solid organization offered to meet with me to discuss surviving here. That meeting led to coffee with a sweet family living here from California. That meeting turned into an invite into a home school co-op. That co-op turned into an invite to a bible study. Then a recipe exchange.... Can you hear the rejoicing!! Community!!
So....I'm feeling a bit better about things. Everyday I am learning something new here. Whether it's perfecting the art of homemade bread (I've got this recipe memorized already!).
Posted by Flo and Grace at 12:06 PM
Friday, August 23, 2013
In fact, the hardest part of our school day is....you got it - lunch. Where are my cafeteria ladies? This is not America where you can pop something in the microwave. Peanut butter here is for the birds. Leafy produce is sketchy because I don't trust myself to clean it properly. Deli meat? Don't even think about it. Not available or way too expensive if it is.
So eliminating every quick fix food item I know and short of having to prepare and cook a full on meal everyday - what's a mom to do? Enter ROLEX.
Oh my. Our sweet friend, Ruth (above), offered to make us some homemade Rolexes after she heard we had been buying them off the street. At 2000 shilling (less than $1), these babies are greatness no matter how you get them! But hers......oh my. It's chipate (a thick tortilla that's common here), fried eggs, tomatoes and seasoning all rolled up into a huge burrito-like concoction.
And I would be remiss to mention my near 2 year addiction now to the greatness that is Africana tea. It's sanity in a cup. It's my best liquid friend. It's a lifesaver in a day where I wake up to ants on my toothbrush, my bath's water pressure is more like someone spitting on my head, and I'm on mosquito bite #10 for the day with no malaria meds in my system.
Oh Africa. Why is it so hard for me to settle in this time?
I ask myself this daily.
Then I answer.
Because I just need to give of myself while here and know there's things to be learned from this experience. And sometimes, we just have to say "yes" and trust that the reason may not be known for years....or ever.
Posted by Flo and Grace at 11:00 AM
Saturday, August 17, 2013
I try to be completely transparent on my blog ( I think ). There's times of sweet highs that I share and times of lows that, although I could be tempted to leave out, find a place here. Looking back at those times, I usually see how God carried me through them or even showed me victory on the other side.
This week, I'll admit, was a struggle. Mostly by expectations in my head that, in reality, were not met. My husband went straight to work this week, having daily meetings, people to meet, and field work to do to get up to speed with the organization of 60 Feet as it stands this year. Me, on the other hand, not yet starting homeschool, found myself full-time momma to my girls without the usual "activities" and friends that kept us busy in the US. It was definitely not the "straight to work" that I'm used to. It was a lonely feeling! I asked a friend back home, "Why did you not tell me that stay-at-home mommyhood can be lonely?"
Oh....I know. Big problems. Especially when I took my girls to a babies home in Kampala and we found ourselves smack in the middle of caring for 45+ orphans, each one begging for attention, right at dinner and bathtime. Grace loves spending time at the babies' home.....
All in all. Week one has been simply getting used to life here. Please pray for Boog, as he has to play many roles here: husband, father, worker, leader, counselor (to me, mostly!), etc. Pray for my girls to find friendships here. Pray for me to clearly see my purpose.....
Posted by Flo and Grace at 8:36 AM
Sunday, August 11, 2013
And here's a pic of we going. My girls' memory proved strong as they traversed familiar territory in Dubai, our layover city...things weren't quite as "scary" as they were the last time. But one thing was different - both my girls got airsick this time. At the same time! The poor souls around us just watched in horror as both my girls gagged away in plastic bags, turning shades of white & green. It was wonderful.
So. What to say about this first weekend? It's had it's highs and lows. I can't lie and say it's been easy. High points have been the miraculous way God has just calmed my nervousness. I have felt more at ease in this city than I ever have before. I think I'm ready to attempt driving here in a few days (which if you saw traffic here, you'd realize what a feat that would be!). Other highs include the Sixty Feet team being so welcoming and gracious and accepting of the help we are here to provide. And Sophie....little Sophie earned the trophy in our house for acclimating the easiest. She's had no trouble whatsoever here. None. She's slept like a baby, ate well for her picky self, and has generally been just smooth sailing.
Lows, to be honest, include a late night talk with Grace as she was shedding tears from missing her family back at home.....God provided the words for me because I'm not always the best communicator. (I do better writing!) I know this will be hard for her because this year, she's 9. And 9 is close to the age where you can start seeing outside your parents....you start needing your friends and stability. So I know that I will have to be extra cautious about her needs here. Lows also include a tinge of the "insecurity" attack. There is SO much to do and things to be done with 60 Feet's ministry. Administration needs, prison needs, team needs, and hundreds more. What will we be able to help with here? Are our strengths and gifts lining up to what Sixty Feet's ministry really needs at this stage in their growth? Can we do all of this AND keep our marriage and family in good standing AND be able to handle being away AND.....the list goes on.
Thankfully, we have prayer warriors at home. That term is so overused, but I know that those people who keep those call lines to God busy morning, noon, and night are keeping us covered. So our strength and purpose here will remain in tact. And to shorten a thought from C.S. Lewis, " My confidence lies not in who I think God is, but who He knows himself to be."
Posted by Flo and Grace at 1:30 PM
Sunday, February 17, 2013
So. Here I am. Blogging once more.
I missed it (a bit). It's been a nice break to be away. Smashing back into life after Africa has been a transition that I thought would be hard, but (unfortunately) was a bit too easy. It really took just a few weeks to settle back into our big stores, smooth roads, air conditioning, and Cloroxed-lives. The pit latrines are a distant memory, but the people.....they are not. Every picture brings me back, and makes me question if we should be there or here. Permanently. But the thinking and pondering hasn't gone away....oohh no. My hubs and I are constantly pondering questions like, "What was done in Africa?" "What do we do with what we learned and experienced now that we're back?" "What direction do we go with our lives at this juncture?" "How can we continue to help those we know are in need?"
Y'know. The light stuff.
So what have I been up to in the last 6 months? Well, if you are a follower of my blog because of my furniture refurbishing-craze, you'll need to unsubscribe. I haven't waxed a peep. Painted more than a toenail. And certainly haven't been to a garage sale! I think that, whilst 'twas fun, it wasn't my "forever" deal. It served a purpose, and that chapter is closed for now. Who knows, though, right?
What HAS happened is life. And quickly. My oldest, Grace, entered the 3rd grade, and 3-going-on-4 year old Sophie started a new daycare. Grace has already won Student of the Month and is so far making all A's....she's a star kiddo. Sophie, oh my. She talks, and talks, and talks, and talks. She hilarious personified. I began my 8th year of teaching 4th grade. My hubs started his 4th year of coaching & teaching. We suffere...I mean, strolled through a football/basketball & now starting track season. Not much has changed on the job fronts.
A few things HAVE changed though. For the better. And much of it has to do with our life this summer in Africa. For one, our diets have changed. After eating little processed foods and not always having sugary foods readily available (no sweet tea!) for two months, we came back to America with our digestive systems changed. All of a sudden, eating at our favorite Mexican food place threw both mine and my hub's stomach into World War III. It did NOT like it! We realized we needed to make a change. So, I began searching.
I literally did a 180 on our normal food routine. We used to have cookies & all kinds of fun snacks readily available. But after some research (thanks Pinterest!), I started making rounds of healthy snacks like below. No/low sugar, flaxseed, whole wheat, no ingredients that sound like they should be in a science lab (maltodextrinchloride, anyone?....heh, I just made that up.)
Africa, obviously, has changed our lives in so many more ways other than just food. It's a HUGE part of our decision making process now.....it's invaded the little things and the big. I also met some people there that to THIS DAY still make me feel empowered as an heir in Christ. Life changers, I call them. Everyone should meet these people! I'll share stories of their life-gift to us on another blog, but believe me, it's Changed.Our.Life.
All in all, to try to talk about it all in one post is lud-i-crous. Can't do it. Won't try.
But I guess I'm back. It feels good.
Posted by Flo and Grace at 5:21 PM