Sunday, February 26, 2012

Daydreams of food

So we spent this afternoon at lunch daydreaming about what foods we would have if we were back in the States. Here is the list of what each person came up with; we each named an appetizer, drink, main dish and dessert. Hadlee’s is most interesting, but it was word for word from her mouth.

Kari- chips and salsa from Ozona, Route 44 Diet Dr. Pepper “easy ice”, Sam’s 3 meat pizza, movie theater butter popcorn

Everett- hot dog on a bun with ketchup, mustard and relish for an appetizer
Chocolate milkshake for his drink, cheese pizza from Papa John’s, and Spoons frozen yogurt for dessert.

Karson- Shipley’s Donuts for an appetizer (warm glazed), a Sonic sour apple slush, soft tacos with juicy chicken and home-made brownies to round it out.

Hadlee- hot dogs with syrup, ketchup and mustard to start things off, apple-orange juice, hot Chucky Cheese- cheesy macaroni pizza, and for dessert what else but a cake with Hot Tamales spicy candy and chocolate chips (not the Black box  she says those are too spicy, but the red box; you Hot Tamale lovers will know what she means)

Jason- Fried pickles from Chicken Oil Company and chips and queso, Big pile of wings and tenders from Wing-n-More with lots of ranch, Cherry Lime slush from Sonic to cool things down, and Blue Bell ice cream anything with chocolate.

Pierce really didn’t voice his opinion but I would assume peanut butter, since that is what he lives on here.

Since we could not have these things we settled for the spaghetti they made us  for lunch with chunks of “mystery meat” and mushrooms. For dinner tonight Kari made an incredible home-made chicken noodle soup.  She even cooked and cleaned the chicken herself, this job is usually reserved for me.  Luckily we did not have to prepare the chicken ourselves; Kari was able to get  a frozen whole chicken from one of the family groups that was already plucked and ready to cook. She added some egg to the soup which made it delicious!  She made some Texas sweet tea to go with dinner, thanks Mom for sending Lipton Tea bags! For dessert, since they were fresh out of Blue Bell ice cream on this continent, she made Snicker doodles from scratch. The boys each ate four bowls of soup,  I would venture to say they liked it! Kari has become quite creative in the kitchen having to make everything from scratch.

It has been raining a lot here lately, which is a good thing.  It has filled our cistern enough for us to pump water back into the tank so that we can have water for shower and dishes again. I sure took running water for granted back in the States.  We had a storm blow in on Friday that was crazy.  The adults were all playing volleyball and Karson was at futbol practice.  It started lightly raining which was not a big deal because it had been doing that for the last few days.  All of the sudden the bottom let lose and it was pouring down rain.  We could not make it home, but luckily there was a covered porch near the volleyball court, we all took shelter under that with the 3 younger kiddos.  However, Karson got stuck at futbol practice and ran to a friend’s house.  While the wind was howling and the rain was coming down we realized we had left our windows open.  So I ran home in the pouring rain and hail to find our bed, bedroom floor, Hadlee’s bed and Everett’s bed already soaking wet.  I closed the wooden shudders on the inside and moved everything away from the windows.  There is no glass in the windows, only screen, so you are at the mercy of the wind to determine if the rain blows in.  We called and found out Karson was taking refuge at Uncle Keith’s house with a towel and dry clothes, so we settled in and weathered the storm.  We got everything dried out and it even stopped raining in time for us to walk down to dinner.

With all the rains means we can start working the fields with the Samuel Family, on Monday we are going to plow the fields with Oxen.  It should be an adventure, stay tuned for pictures of me Ox plowing...

If you follow Karson’s Korner he has a great one planned for this week, if you don’t you should check out his stories.  A little teaser for next weeks story from Karson….. Karson’s Kreepy Korner.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What Have I Learned?.......

As I reflect back over the first seven weeks of this journey of transformation and relationship, I am amazed at how far we have come.  I feel God has done some serious work on my heart and that He has some serious work left to do.

I think the first thing God did was to open my eyes.  I have lived in the same city in which I was born for the last 35 years. This is the first time I have lived outside of College Station, Texas. From Texas to Uganda, wow! College Station is a wonderful place and will always be home for me, but it is also the place that shaped my world view.  The only world view I have truly know to this point.  God has rocked my world with the respect to world view. I have been made to realize the shaded and jaded lens through which I have been viewing the world. I think back to the story of Saul, how he was called by the Lord and was blinded.  Once he was ready and prepared by God there was no more Saul, only Paul.  I feel like in the same way God opened Paul’s eyes, He is opening my eyes to  allow me to truly see the world around me.  My world view is still tinged in the colored lens through which I view the world, but the color is becoming less my own and more His. I have learned we all need God to come and take the lens off our own world view.

I have also been made to realized how “me” centered my world is.  One quote really stood out to me in reference to the temptation of Adam and Even in the Garden and the fall of man; “Adam and Even gave up a God centered world and traded it for a man centered world.” This me centered world has formed my image of God.  I have been trying to make God conform to my image for my benefit….it just doesn’t work that way.

I have learned I am a wounded person with an orphan heart.  I have physical parents who love me very much and provided for my every need and desire. However, I still bare some of the characteristics of an orphan heart.  I have the fear of rejection…..What if I am not good enough? Greed……what if I do not have enough?  Independent spirit…. I do not need any help, I got this.  I also constantly strive for approval, and try to prove myself and my worth to those around me. I have also learned that I try to carry my wounds on my own.  I can not handle them on my own but I need to take them to the cross.  These things are just the beginning of what I have learned.  Yet, these things will help me tremendously with the work in the Healing Faith ministry.

Before I can help anyone, I need to first help myself through Him. In order to help someone with their struggles I have to understand their world view.  I may not fully understand or comprehend their world view, but my eyes will be more open to it.  I will also be able to identify the characteristics of an orphan heart and work through the issue with orphaned children. First, I must build a foundation based upon a relationship. If I build a foundation on what I have to give physically, it will crumble when the physical gifts run out. However, if we can build a foundation on relationship, we can build a large structure, one that will last and one that can weather the storms. I know realistically that I cannot tear down the walls of defense that some of the orphans have built all as once. Yet with His help I can break down the walls brick by brick, day by day. I am not the whole solution to the problem but a tool God has chosen to use.  The more willing and obedient I am the more God will sharpen me as His tool and use me as His craftsmen.

The lessons I have learned and the lessons I will learn will make me a better follower, better husband, and better father. I pray God will use this season of my life to soften my heart and make life long changes in me that can be seen through my children and through the generations.

“I will not leave you all alone like orphans; I will come back to you.” John 14:18 

Friday, February 17, 2012

American Idol

In our training we have been discussing idolatry. Anything that exercises control over our lives can become an idol. The idol starts to say “you need me, I will make you happy.”
What are our idols……, football, homes, jobs, cars, movie stars, success and on and on.  Christian Artist Toby Mac says “America now has more superstars, now we call them idols.” 

We can easily become enslaved to our idols. Sure we don’t have carvings of wood or golden calves but we idolize so many things.  How many of us are enslaved to our cell phones?  We carry them everywhere, and if we leave home without it or lose it we panic.  It rings and we have to answer it.  Some of us answer at the most inappropriate times.  We are saying that whatever we are doing or whomever we are interacting with is less important that our idol cell phone. We have special ring tones for calls, a special one for texts, we even have vibrate so as not to “disturb” those around us. We stand in long lines to get the newest model and we compare our idol cell phone with everyone else.   I mention this not to say that cell phones are bad, but to show how easily we submit to our idols.

Upon cell examination I was very guilty of this as well.  How many other idols do we have?  We were challenged in class to make a list of our own personal idols.  The teacher challenged us to come up with 50.  I stopped at 20, not because I was out of things to write down, but I stopped out of self preservation of my own feelings.
We have to be careful of judging others and their idols until we have self examined our own. "Do not judge others, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judges, and the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Matthew 7:1-2 NIV

My prayer is that I will cast down my idols, focus on God, not judge other and be more accepting.

 "Do not sore up for yourselves treasure on earth, where the moths and the vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21 NIV

Friday, February 10, 2012

Daily Life

Let there be light!!

We are so excited to have power back, we have been without power for 5 ½ days.
Here is a little about our daily life here in our training at New Hope Uganda.

Week days start off with same annoying cell phone alarm Monday-Friday.  Most of the time we truthfully don’t need an alarm as the sound of kids wheeling a wheelbarrow full of empty Jerry Cans (big water jugs) to fill with water for the family wakes us.  This starts at first light which is around 6:30.  Our second alarm is Pierce coming in the room every morning, pulling up our mosquito net and asking for milk and butter (peanut butter).  We are thinking we are going to have to change his nickname from “Chubby”, since he is thinning out, to Butter.

Once we get up and get going we head down to the kitchen, about a quarter mile walk or a little more, for breakfast at 7:30 am.  Breakfast usually consists of bread, jelly, peanut butter (Pierce’s new favorite) and hot tea. On good days we get either a boiled egg or scrambled eggs to go along with our “raw toast” as one of our classmates calls it.   After breakfast it is time for Karson, Everett and Hadlee to head up to the house with Auntie Rachel for school. Pierce, Tristan and Cole all stay down at the kitchen area and wait on Auntie Gertrude.  Auntie Gertrude watches the “littles” as we call them while the big boys and Hadlee are in school.  They generally play for awhile and go on walks around New Hope to see the cows, sheep, gardens and other fun things around. 

At 8:30 am we begin our training for the day.  We are in school until 10:30, at which point it is proper to have tea and a snack for break.  We break for 30 minutes and then get back to work on our training. I will be updating the topics of our training in other blogs to come. Our class is made up of 16 students.  There is another American family with two kiddos.  Their boys Tristan and Cole are Hadlee and Pierce’s age. There is one other American man and the rest of the class is made up of Ugandans. We work up until 1:00pm, which is lunch time in Uganda.   The kids come back from their adventures and join us for lunch.  We eat lunch with our families and everyone going through the training institute with us.   Lunch usually consists of some sort of starch like rice or posho, which is a thick dough like substance that I compare to very verydry, very thick mash potatoes without the butter, sour cream and void of any taste.

  After lunch we head back to the house for rest and nap time, unless it is our day to do dishes first. The boys at this point begin watching the clock and counting down until 4:00pm at which time they head out to play with their friends until dinner at 6:00 pm. Dinner is a much smaller crowd, it is our family, the East family and 3 others.  After dinner we let the kids play for a bit and then head back up to the house for a little family time.  Then it is time for the shower, pajamas and bet routine.  This is made very adventurous because a lot of the time we do not have power and we are working by flashlight.  It has also been made even more of an adventure because we are out of running water due to it being the dry season in Uganda. We have a cistern under our porch, however since it is filled by the rain water and since it has not rained in months, we are out of water. The rainy season runs from March through May.  If we can just make it through February, it should rain again.  February is the hottest month of the year, with temperatures reaching up to 100 degrees.  They have said we have had a couple of 100 degree days, but it has not felt like it.  The heat is a very dry heat, unlike Texas, and most afternoons there is a nice breeze.  At night and early morning the temperature drops down to the mid to low 60s, which is very nice.

When we are not in training, we spend time with our family group, Samuel family.  The kids here are all divided into family groups.  The family group consists of a mother and father figure and about 15-20 kids.  The family groups live in a village type setting at the end of the road.  The family groups have chickens and a large garden they are responsible for.  They grow their own food and cook their own meals, they function as a large family.  Every night at 7:30 they have devotions, they work in the gardens around 4:30 everyday and on Saturdays they do laundry and work in their gardens.  One of the things we are required to do during our time here is to plow the fields using Oxen to plow.  That should be an adventure for me!  The Samuel family had already harvested their maze and were working on taking it off the cob.  The girls were doing so by hand and the boys were putting the maze into large bags and beating it with a large stick.  I asked if I could help with this process.  I worked on two large bags and by the time I was done I had a large blood blister on my hand.  The kids thought this was hilarious.  We were also able to tour the fields were they keep the cows and the oxen for plowing.  When we got down there Pierce jumped down and yelled cows!  The man keeping the cows looked up and in a very thick Uganda accent yelled Pierce!  Our kids seem to know more people here than we do.  Another one of my tasks is to get drinking water for the house from the big water tower up the hill.  I fill up to big 20 litter Jerry cans and carry them back to the house.  A full Jerry can weighs about 50 lbs.  I do this once a day, so by the time we are done here my arms and shoulders should be pretty strong. 

Life here has been very busy, but we are learning so much.  Being without power for almost 6 days really makes you appreciate having power and water in the US.  We have lots more to share about our daily lives and what we are learning so stay tuned……..power willing. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012



We have been discussing in our training Worldview.  What is worldview?  Our worldview is the lens through which we view the world we live in.  Our worldview has already been defined for us by our experiences and our culture.

Last week we spent three days focusing on an African World View.  It was such an enlightening three days…..I had no idea!  Had Kari and I come to Uganda without spending these 5 months training at New Hope Uganda, our hearts would have had the right intentions, but our minds would not have been in the right place.   Unless worldview issues are addressed you cannot help someone. You have to find out what is behind their fears, before you can get to the root of the problem. We are so very happy to be spending these months learning and absorbing everything we can from our time at New Hope.

To most of the African culture everything is viewed as spiritual, nothing just happens, there is a spirit behind everything.  There are also many gods; god of rain, god of success, god of war, god of childbirth and the list goes on and on. There is a God, and he is the “Big Man” but He is distant, however the spirits are very active.  If an owl cries at night it means someone close to you is finished, they are going to die. If a tree has a unique or odd shape, it needs to be worshiped because it is a spirit. Much of the African culture believes there is no true beginning or ending. The dead are not truly dead, when they die they become more powerful, I said like Obi-Won-Kenobi, but oddly enough none of the Ugandans laughed.  When someone dies they can control the living, the living are required to provide gifts at the burial and believe the spirit of the deceased is watching.  So you better provide a good gift.

We also spent a great deal of time discussing the power that witch doctors play within the culture.   The spirits work through the witch doctors as a medium.  In order for the witch doctor to commune with the spirits you have to bring gift, you never come empty handed to the witch doctor.  You must reconcile yourself with the spirits through he witch doctors. People must be loyal to the spirits and the witch doctor.  In order to show loyalty you must bring sacrifices. The level of sacrifice starts small and can escalate all the way to human blood, even their own children are offered as sacrifices.  The fear is so deep rooted that you do not question the witch doctor.  If what you wanted to not come to fruition, then the problem is with you, not the witch doctor.  The witch doctor is never wrong and is never to be questioned.

The most shocking part of all of this was the fact that is still affects a large number of the culture who deem themselves believers.   The spirit world still has a firm grip on their lives and the fear controls them. “What you fear will control you and what you fear will be your god” – Uncle Jonnes

We know that our God does not want us to be divided between His world and the spirit world.  He wants all of us, period.  You cannot have a firm foundation in the Gospel is you still have fears of the spirit world.  

Our training is so enlightening and will only serve to make us better workers for His Kingdom and for His Glory.  I hope that by the end of our training we will be able to get to the root of the problem with the people we are serving and to be able to share the Gospel.   

This mystery of Worldview is not unraveled, but it has brought to my attention the “lens” in which I have been viewing the world through.