Glad to be home…almost

I arrived home in the USA earlier this afternoon, breezed through customs (worst picture in the world taken at customs kiosk, which hopefully will never go viral), had a chicken Caesar salad and iced tea, and then found out my flight to Orlando is delayed.

In and around those events, I’ve been able to talk with my husband and daughters, washed my face, and changed clothes. Spending over 24 hours in the same outfit gets a little old, even if most of that time is spent sitting in an airplane seat.

I slept for about 4.5 hours on my first flight, spent time debriefing with Rich in the KLM Club at Amsterdam Schiphol, and watched three movies as I flew across the Atlantic.

This is my first time flying into Boston and seeing the northeastern USA coastline and landscape. Just beautiful! We’ve talked about vacationing here, but just haven’t made it up here yet. It looks like beautiful countryside; hope we’ll spend some time up here one of these days.

I prayed for my friends in Uganda today. So grateful that God is an ever-present help for them, which, it turns out, is what the Lead Like Jesus devotional today was about.

Pray that I can stay awake until I board the plane!

Aloha, Uganda!

Leaving on a jet plane in just a few hours; this is most likely my last post this year from Uganda.

We traveled from Kampala to Mubende and back today, a 3 hour journey each way. Rich and Stone spoke to the men, while I spoke to the women. Grateful that God used every single day we were here. Hopefully we planted seeds for Lead Like Jesus to take root in Mubende, expanding the work we’ve done throughout the rest of the country.

We are grateful to have had the opportunity to put feet to our faith. Gratefuly, too, for your prayer support.

I encourage you to sign up for Lead Like Jesus devotionals and newsletters at http://www.leadlikejesus.com, and stay in touch.

Blessings to you, and thanks for reading. I’ll post again once I’m home.

Shock, anger, and grief

Some experiences stir emotions and memories we had long forgotten. Such was the case for me today.

The morning began with breakfast at Cafe Javas in Kampala, after which we drove to our facilitator training. Rich and I worked with a group of participants from our first encounter, introducing them to Lead Like Jesus’ facilitation model and development track for them as facilitators.

We left just after 1:00 and headed to Ki Mombasa. A short 30 minutes later, we were greeted by the Chairman, a man responsible for security within Ki Mombasa.

After shaking hands with him, he picked up a large canvas duffel bag and led us down a narrow, dank, muddy 30″ passageway between two buildings. Straddling the mud and trash in the center of the passageway, trying to keep from slipping and falling, I wasn’t prepared for what I saw as we emerged into the sunlit space behind the buiildings.

There before us were women and children and a large open space approximately the size of half a football field. Ringed with packed down mud and earth, the center of the field was a trash heap partially overgrown with grass, and inhabited by goats, chickens, and children of various ages. Four plastic chairs had been placed near to where we emerged, facing not the field, but the rudely constructed brick buildings. It was all I could do to take in our surroundings as we sat and waited for our next instructions.

Shy young children came to look at the mzungu who had come to visit, shaking hands with Rich and watching us with wide eyes. A few short moments later, we were invited to move our chairs into a covered courtyard, about eight feet wide, located between two buildings.

Young women came and sat beside us and across from us, the duffel bag was opened, and a crowd gathered as dresses for girls and women were distributed by eager hands. Sadly, we came to the end of the dresses (probably 50-60 in various sizes) long before we ran out of people who needed them.

Tabitha spoke with the women, asking them to remain patient and hopeful, and reassuring them that she was continuing to work to find a location and way for them to escape from the poverty and prostitution which defines their existence, their futures, and the lives of their children.

It was heartbreaking to sit, silent and for all purposes deaf, as Lugandan words swirled around me. There was nothing I could add to the conversation, and even now I have not been able to allow my heart to feel the desperation and deprivation from which we were able to walk away, but which circumscribes their existence.

It was an overwhelming experience, and my words here only begin to scratch the surface of our time at Ki Mombasa. What a burden and calling God has given Betty and Tabitha; may He speed its fulfillment.

Vision, values, and video

Today was our long-awaited session with the core group of Living Stone Leadership and Family Center.

Last week we had formulated a mission statement:

To bring healing, strength, and transformation to nations by training and empowering Christ-like servant leaders and developing healthy families and relationships

Rich facilitated an energizing exercise to help the group come up with their core values. There was lively discussion and interaction, resulting in five core values of accountability, integrity, and an initial listing of behaviors that reflect those values.

Next we led them into envisioning the future. Rich asked them to imagine meeting again in the upper room, as we’ve come to call the conference room here at the guesthouse, but this time in 2020. As they shared the phrases describing what God has done through their efforts, their words tumbling out like water pouring from a faucet, we were overwhelmed with their aspirations for the future.

Afterwards, we knelt in a circle around the flip chart sheet containing their vision, held hands, and prayed together for God to bring all of this to pass according to His will, His spirit, and His timing.

The balance of our day involved prayer seeking the Spirit’s guidance for a leader for the group, discussion regarding how to delve more deeply into the Lead Like Jesus concepts as an operating system for their existing ministries, as well as how to move forward in facilitating encounters as an initial objective.

We also spent some time today recording video testimonies about the impact of the Lead Like Jesus encounters we’ve facilitated.

It’s been a cool day, weather-wise, with a storm that knocked out power briefly, and only now in the early evening are the clouds clearing so that we can see down the hill. We hear from Tabitha that tonight’s dinner will be simple; I believe I heard the word “crickets,” no doubt leftover humor from our conversation about eating white ants and grasshoppers, at least that’s what we’re hoping.

Rich is talking with his wife Barbara now, while I’m hoping to get a few minutes with Dave before the evening is over. Each of us will be glad to be back home in just a few days.

We get to see God-moments occur daily as His Spirit flows around, over, and through us. We are coming to grips with the realization that God has somehow woven us into the fabric of what He is doing in Uganda. It is humbling and overwhelming.

No crazy traffic stories tonight, so I’ll end with the song we sang at the end of our day together today:

Great is thy faithfulness, O God our Father,
There is no shadow of turning with thee.
Thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not,
As thou has been, thou forever wilt be.

Great is thy faithfulness, great is thy faithfulness,
Morning by morning, new mercies I see.
All I have needed, thy hand hath provided,
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.

Campfire songs, kerosene lamps, and wifi

We returned to the guesthouse to find that the power was out. The lobby was lit by a kerosene lamp, around which we all gathered with our iPads, ttablets, and computers, faces glowing from our computer screens as we logged onto our wifi hotspot. As we checked email, Facebook, YouTube, and messages, we sang campfire songs and gospel songs. The paradoxes of Uganda and a fitting end to a day of changing plans.

Through some miscommunication we ended up rescheduling a facilitator training to Wednesday morning, met with a Ugandan business colleague on the spur of the moment, enjoyed lunch (not breakfast) at Cafe Javas, and shopped at an African market before heading to Fang Fang for dinner with Tabitha and Stone Kyambadde.

Our time with them was very special as we listened to their hearts for Living Stone Leadership and Family Center, their desire to unite the body of Christ in Uganda, to transform men, women, families, and leaders through servant leadership.

The electricity came on again a few minutes ago, just in time for us to get ready for bed. We are looking forward to a good day tomorrow with the LLFC group.

Try a little singing as you surf the internet, and think of us!

Connectivity

Our last few days have been filled with Lead Like Jesus teaching and training, evidences of God’s Spirit moving in and among His people, worshiping, visiting with Tabitha’s brother’s family, and some fun experiences of visiting Mr. Tasty Fried Chicken, a supermarket, an upscale mall and French Cafesserie, and a traditional Chinese dinner at Fang Fang.

We have had extremely limited internet connectivity, which Sandra has now remedied, so now we are eagerly catching up with friends and family back home.

It’s kind of an interesting experience to stare at my iPad screen and wonder what to do now that we have wifi. I first checked email. Junk. 98% junk. Yuck.

I swiped over a few screens looking for something else, not really recognizing any of the app icons. Is this what a week away from being constantly connected to the internet does?

I must say, I like it. I like looking people in the eye, talking, engaging fully with those around me. It is a good reminder that people are more important than technology. It is rather freeing, and feels very healthy.

As I type now, music and song flows up the hill from tonight’s performance at Kika Performing Arts Center. Some of our group are going down the hill to see tonight’s performance, but Rich and I, along with Sandra and Prisca, are staying in the guesthouse.

Rich preached today, after Pastor George mentioned that he would like us to give a word during worship today. We didn’t know which one of us would end up preaching, just simply waited to see how it would work out when the time came. Rich presented the Lead Like Jesus message based on 2 Peter 5:1-7. It was a joy to listen to the Spirit use him to give out the message to everyone in attendance.

Afterwards, Pastor George invited me to speak, and I spoke on 1 Samuel 12:24–

But be sure to fear The Lord, and serve Him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things He has done for you.

I found myself overwhelmed by a fresh awareness of God’s grace as we worshiped together before the message. There are times when the Spirit simply makes His presence so tangible that He takes my breath away.

There is much more I could say about our time here over the last few days, and others on the team are being much more faithful in journaling daily regardless of whether they have internet or not. I confess that I find myself exhausted after a 60-90 minute drive into town, a full day of training, a carbohydrate-laden lunch, an evening meal, and another 60-120 minute drive back through Kampala rush hour.

Friday and Saturday nights’ drives were particularly long and even harrowing. Kampala rush hour has to be seen to be believed. No street lights, dark-skinned people in dark clothes walking alongside and between vehicles, dimly lit vendor stalls, neon signs, boda bodas flitting among taxis and cars, the whistles of traffic police, vendors hawking their wares, barbecued goat cooking over open flames, and fresh cuts of goat hanging on hooks in the open air as vehicle exhaust and red clay dust make breathing difficult. My words hardly do the experience justice.

In all this, we find ourselves at home in this culture so far removed from our own, connecting with people’s hearts, sensing God’s spirit binding us together as brothers and sisters in Christ, and drawing us closer to Him as we rely on Him each day and often moment-by-moment.

A New Day, A New Encounter

We will be facilitating a Lead Like Jesus encounter today for a group of leaders in the Male to Manhood movement.

Please pray for us to humbly serve in the wisdom, strength, and humility that The Lord gives.

So many Ugandans have a heart and vision to restore families. The population is 78% youth who need trained to new men and women, husbands and wives, mothers, and fathers.

Yesterday we walked 14 acres of fertile land that will house the women and children trapped in poverty Ki Mombasa. What a powerful time!

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