Thoughts On Love

I was reading about love tonight in the Bible. This is really just going to be a conglomeration of some verses that really stood out to me.

“And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” I John 4:16

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” I John 4:18 kjv

Let’s read that last one in the Amplified Version:

“There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection].” I John 4:18 Amplified

“For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” I John 3:11

“And this is His commandment, that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love on another, as He gave us commandment.” I John 3:23

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” I John 4: 7-8

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” I John 4:11

“And thou shalt love the Lord they God with all they heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

“A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love on another; as I have loved you, that you also love on another.” John 13:34

“Owe no many any thing, but to love on another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” Romans 13:8

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love . . . ” Galatians 5:22a

That is only a small smattering of the verses I could have cited here . . . but it makes it pretty obvious that love is important. It is vital.

But what is love?

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.” I Corinthians 13:4-8

There’s what love is. Do I love? Does that describe me?

Grace is patient, Grace is kind and is not jealous; Grace does not brag and is not arrogant, [Grace] does not act unbecomingly; [she] does not seek [her] own, [she is] not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; [Grace] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Uh . . . *gulp*

I’m still so lacking in such a vital area. Oh! that I would truly love with God’s love! That true love would be a fruit of my life! I fall so far short.

Lord, teach me to love!

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Sixty Feet

Uganda is beautiful. The dusty red roads; the exotic trees; the equatorial sun; the fresh sweet fruit; the beautiful people. I love it there. The sights and smells, the dirt and heat. Love it.

But, along a dusty red road in this beautiful country is a site of utter desperation. There is a building which has a little sign that proclaims it is a rehab center for children. Inside are dozens of children–some chained to windows, some locked behind doors, living in their own excrement. If you were to go inside and look around you would see lots of boys, but very few girls. The girls are sold as slaves into the sex-trade industry. Tiny little girls.

There are 10 week old babies lying in their unchanged diapers and clothes–they are wasting away from starvation. No one is there to love them.

These children seem hardened to life, but when you look in their eyes they are so broken. So desperate.

This “Rehab Center” is a place where the hard cases are dropped off–the children that are “stubborn” and “lazy”. Or . . . simply unwanted.

I didn’t see this place myself, but I found a website about it the other day and my heart broke into even more little pieces. How can this be reality for these kids? What can I be doing to care for God’s beloved children? Children who are unloved, uncared-for, abused.

My heart feels torn up just thinking about it.

Please, go read the website. Stop and pray for these children and for the ministry that is just starting up–for the people who are willing to care for these beautiful and strong children.

What can we do?

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God’s Love

My heart is riled up right now–I am frustrated at this world. I am sick and tired of seeing a mockery being made of God. And, because of these very emotions, I am filled with love for my King. Love so overwhelming. I am full of peace.

God is instilling His passion in me like never before, and I think I might explode. Even this small bit of the Lord’s heart beating in me is enough to overwhelm a weak human being.

He is giving me love.

God’s love.

He is giving me anger.

God’s anger.

He is giving me passion.

God’s passion.

He is teaching me to pray.

God’s prayers.

He is giving me strength.

God’s strength.
I had a dream last night . . . it moved me to tears.

I my dream I am in a big room and I can see everything and everyone–it is as if I can look into their lives with special glasses that let me see things that no one else can see. It is as if I am seeing stark reality. The room is dark.

I look around me and see a few passionate shining lights in the midst of a dark, miserable world. They are beautiful. They showcase the breath-taking glory of the Lord around them wherever they go. Their lights are fires burning fiercely. They serve a mighty King. But there are so desperately few of them. There are people who flock to them–they want to know this King themselves. Others disdain them; rebuke them for bringing light and realization of truth to a previously entirely dark and oblivious world.

I look around and I see people holding their candles high–candles that are dark and cold. They live lives of Christian facade–whether willfully or unknowingly. They lack any real passion. The passion they do possess is either forced (because it’s the “thing to do”) or it is directed toward the wrong thing. They live their own agendas under the guise of “living for Christ.” They cling to their lives–and yet hold their unlit candles high. These people spend the majority of their strength and time trying to support their facade so that it won’t fall away and expose their deadness. Many people only notice the candle–not the lack of flame.

I look around and I see people who have taken their candle–still in the factory packaging–and hidden it in their closet. No one has ever actually seen their candle. No one is sure if they even have one. They occasionally will mention it when it suits their fancy–or when they’ll sound good for mentioning that they have a candle–but no one quite knows if it’s true. Their lives are practically identical to the people around them who openly declare that they have no light, and no desire for light. Some of them have morals–but they are only there because of what others might think of them. They desire to be thought well of by the “majority group” . . . and yet still make feeble attempts to ease their guilt by mentioning their hidden candle.

I look around and I see people who laugh in the face of light–even at the mere mention of light. They cling so very tightly to their stance against light–they cling to darkness and death (some of them without even realizing it). They are miserable–yet so many are fooled by them, led astray. They look happy and satisfied, but they are ingesting poison. They are happy to share their poison with anyone they possibly can.

I fell to my knees and cried–I saw true passion for God, I saw God being used for selfish purposes, I saw people being led astray, I saw people who were breaking and hurting. Above all, I saw how God loves each of these people–even those who leave a sour taste to the word “Christian”. He is angry, and yet He still loves! He is broken for the people who don’t know the truth. He weeps for them.

Jesus, teach me to love. Give me a brokenness… and such a passion for You that the thought of souls living in darkness and not knowing You causes me to weep…to lose sleep at night at the very thought of their desperation and utter lost-ness. That I would have such a burden for them that I cannot keep silent.

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On life in Africa

Rainy season has hit Uganda. It was extremely noticeable since I got here during dry season and was here when rainy season hit–there’s no doubt in your mind as to what season it is. πŸ˜‰ There are still hot days, but . . . I actually got cold last night! On the days it does rain, it’s pretty cool and nice. The hot days are all the more muggier, though. I’m drinking in all the lush green-ness while I can! …the mud is crazy, though. 55 kids + mud = lots and lots of baths!

I went to Kampala today with the nurse from Amani. We got the business taken care of that we had to do, and then we went to lunch and visited a few mall type stores (we were in the upper-class part of Kampala!) and several grocery stores (that actually resembled real live grocery stores!). It was the first time I’d done anything but drive through there. It still really hits me hard how there can be tenement villages with beggar children and starving people within a few blocks of the most expensive hotel in Uganda. Reality is SO different here than what we are used to in America.

Tomorrow I am planning on going to visit Katie ( If it doesn’t rain too hard, anyway! Boda rides are pretty painful in pelting downpours. πŸ˜‰ I’m really excited about meeting Katie, though . . . I’ve been in contact with her online a bit and have been following her blog for almost a year. She’s such an inspiration to me! Β Such a vibrant, beautiful young woman who is all-out following her Jesus!

I’ve been thinking about my time here in Uganda. Coming into this trip, I asked the Lord to rid me of myself. I didn’t want to be driven by selfish motives; I didn’t want to cling to my own agenda; I longed to be strengthened in the Lord, for my flesh to be weakened–drastically. I wanted to see His heart as never before. I wanted to be broken. This was my prayer.

Oh, the Lord answers prayer. πŸ™‚ My flesh has been weakened, my faith in HIM has been stretched and strengthened, I have met with countless opportunities to love in the face of opposition, the story of my time here has been a daily choosing to give up on my own desires and wishes, I have been helpless–and found strength in my Lord, I’ve been lonely–and found overwhelming peace and comfort in my Saviour. And through all of it . . . the pain and weakness, the hard times, the sick times . . . the blessings have far outweighed all of it! God has brought me into deeper intimacy with Him than ever before; His glory has been manifest each and every day! I love Him more each day. To see God’s hand at work in my own life and the lives of those around me is something I never want to become “used to” . . . what a wonderful and awesome thing it truly is! How blessed we are. And I will forever be grateful for the dear, sweet people I have met on this trip–lifelong friends, for sure!

There has been something I’ve been struggling with before the Lord in the last few days. I’m so broken inside . . . and yet I know what the Lord is saying to me. I know. . . even as the tears blind me. It is another faith-stretcher. Yet another situation that has brought me running into the arms of Jesus. Decisions to be made, things I must face. Please keep me in your prayers during this time!
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Laundry Duty at Amani

Today was classic “Africa”. I felt like I was experiencing exactly what the meaning of Africa is. I know that’s a weird way to put it, and I think there’s probably a better way to describe it, but . . . bear with me. πŸ™‚

I was on laundry duty today. “Laundry” takes on a whole new meaning around here: for one thing, they do laundry every day, so there’s no such thing as “laundry day” . . . and they do as much laundry EVERY DAY as about what my family at home would do in a month. I’m seriously not even exaggerating–in fact, I it’s more possible that I am under-estimating. There are approximately 774 miles of clothesline spread out across the property (I think one of the pictures I had sent out in a previous update was a picture of a fraction of the clotheslines…)

Laundry duty includes helping wash the clothes (they do have a washer, but . . . it’s just not the same as our handy-dandy spotless laundry rooms we have back in America), then feeding them into the ringer–you may be the one feeding the clothes in, or you may be the one cranking the handle. Then we hang the laundry. All day. It’s actually pretty relaxing . . . and this is the part where I felt like I was “living Africa”.

I was alone, hanging up mountains of laundry on endless miles of clotheslines. There were chickens, roosters, and chicks running to and fro under the clothes, between my legs, up on the wheelbarrow, chasing each other through the “kitchen” (the kitchen here is an outside patio covered by a tin roof and no walls), looking for scraps of food, bickering loudly with each other. The laughter of children echoed through the whole compound . . . with an occasional screaming fit to liven things up a bit. The mamas (Ugandan women staff) were laughing together and calling to each other in their native language . . . frequently bursting into song. The sounds and recitations of the preschool class carried on the wind from where they were all seated under a large old tree. Joseph, our dear maintenance fellow, was sweeping the sidewalks with a straw broom (these are literal straw brooms–a handful of hard straw tied together at the top with string). The constant lingering smell of burning trash came in waves with the breeze. Every so often a boda would drive up to the gate carrying large bags of rice, or stalks of bananas straight from a tree. And over all of this, the sun shone down with intense heat.

It was so peaceful and simple. I loved it. I’m beginning to truly love the way of life here, and am already realizing that I’m going to find it distasteful to come back to America and see the overall wealth and waste. The utter ease of my life at home–and yet the way I still complain about things. I’m ashamed at myself when I come in contact with these beautiful African women and hear their stories and see what “normal life” is to them, and to never see them with anything other than faces full of smiles, and a true joy and thankfulness permeating their lives. Oh! that we would never take our lives and conveniences for granted!

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As we were walking home from church, I noticed something I hadn’t seen on the way there as I had been too intent on making sure we were going the right way and taking all the turns we needed to take.

There was a “village” of sorts just down the street from where we went for church. The whole place was made of rusted metal pieces and cardboard. The “houses” looked like they were mostly falling over, and people had attempted to prop them up with sticks. There were clotheslines throughout the place with ragged clothes and blankets strung across them. Women hunched over small fires. Dogs wandered slowly around, scrounging for scraps.

It was one of those sights that you don’t think you’ll ever see other than in a National Geographic magazine…you assume subconsciously that there isn’t actually anyone still out there that lives like that in the 21st century.

I got a little choked up as I dealt with the emotions of actually seeing such poverty first-hand, but we continued walking down the path. It was only a few seconds until I heard the happy laughter of children. I looked behind me and there were about 2 dozen kids running towards us. One little girl came up and grabbed my hand and laughed merrily up at me–she appeared to be about seven years old. I clung tightly to her hand and tried not to cry as I asked her her name.

“Lydia.” She laughed again.

As I was watching Lydia’s beaming face, a hand clutched at my other arm. I looked over and there was a beautiful girl who looked to be 10 years old. She was holding a baby. I smiled and asked her her name.

“I am Brenda!” She held tighter to my arm. I drew my arm in so her hand was against me.

I told both the girls my name. Brenda’s face lit up and she motioned to the baby in her arms. “This is Grace, too! You both are Grace.” I found out that the baby was her sister and they all lived back in the village. By this time there were about three little kids holding onto my left hand, Lydia was clutching my wrist, a little boy was holding my right hand, and Brenda still had my arm…the rest were all trailing behind, pushing and laughing to have a turn to hold my hand. As soon as she had a chance, Brenda took my hand and interlaced her fingers through mine. She squeezed tightly and said “I want you to be my friend.”

I choked back more tears and told her I would love to be her friend. She sighed happily and started swinging our hands back and forth as she skipped along next to me, still holding her baby sister. Little Lydia put herself in charge of making sure that all the littlest kids who were running along to keep up had a chance to hold my hand. She never let go herself, but clung to my wrist, and would call the other children and let them hold my hand–about three of them at a time. It was absolutely precious. I wanted to stay with those kids all day long!

We eventually got back home and had to tell them goodbye. They waved and ran off to head back to their homes in the village. I wanted to run with them and play with them. I wanted to love on them and be their friend. I want to go back to that village and see them.

As I sit here typing this, I’m looking at my hand. I still have dirt all the way up my arm from their sweaty grimy hands. I don’t want to wash it off.

The thing that struck me was how happy and joyful these children were. It was an absolutely beautiful thing to see!

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So I have arrived safely to Amani Baby Cottage!

I got here in the late afternoon on Thursday, January 21, got oriented, and then just rested. On Friday I floated around to all the different age ranges of babies–they have “Baby A” which is the youngest babies, and then “Baby B” is a little older, “Baby C” is a little older, and then they progress to Toddler/Preschool. I spent most of Friday with Toddler/Preschool because I’m going to be teaching Preschool all next week. Last night I helped put the preschool boys to bed . . . and that was pretty much the epitome of chaos. Trying to get 14 toddler/preschool age boys all to calm down in the same room together isn’t an easy or smooth process!

The ride home from the airport on Thursday was absolutely crazy. I have never been anywhere outside of the USA other than across the border into Canada (which is pretty much the same as the US), and this was an entirely new experience. For one thing, the whole we-drive-on-the-other-side-of-the-road thing took awhile to get used to . . . but then I realized that that statement is pretty much the only road rule they have. There is no concept of lanes (or even sides of the road, until another car comes along and whoever is aggressive enough gets the right of way), you go as fast as you can until you get approximately 5 feet behind another car and then slam on the brakes and blare your horn, hoping they’ll get out of the way. If they don’t respond to your horn blaring (and your yelling doesn’t carry over everyone elses), you start trying to get around them. If this requires that you get in the lane of the oncoming traffic…oh well! Also, alternately, if this requires that you go onto the side of the road and nearly kill off a few pedestrians and bicyclists…oh well! And, on top of all this, there were tons of people milling in and out of the traffic, trying to sell their wares at your window…I’m surprise I didn’t see anyone get hit!

Also, I’m not used to seeing desperate garden plots on the side of the road in every available piece of land they can possibly find, houses made of scrap tin and cardboard, kids sitting around with vacant glazed looks in their eyes with nothing to do, guys toting big guns around, and cows wandering the streets of the biggest city in Uganda. This is everyday life in Africa.

As some of you already know, my luggage did not arrive with me. This is fairly common, but they usually at least know where it is and can tell you what flight it will be arriving on. The airline and my travel insurance have been attempting to find my luggage, and no one has been able to even find where it is . . . so, I think the verdict is that it has been stolen. Also, my money situation has not worked out here, so I don’t have money with which to buy anything yet. This has all sure been a faith stretcher! There have been far too many tears shed over this situation, and I still don’t think I’ve seen the last of the tears yet. It’s been a really hard thing for me to accept . . . and to continue on cheerfully in the midst of these difficulties. Missionary life, I suppose! I can’t imagine that it is uncommon for missionaries to wear dirty clothes, not eat, wear dirty clothes again, use minuscule amounts of other people’s shampoo, and have to depend on other people for every day necessities (that are truly necessities and not luxuries!)…

I took a few boda rides to town and back yesterday. A “boda” is a motorcycle taxi, basically. And it costs approximately $1 roundtrip from here to town and back….I could get used to this! But, remember what I said about how it is to drive around here. It’s the same situation when you’re riding a boda, only scarier because you’re on the back of a motorcycle! It’s nice that in Jinja (the town I’m in) there isn’t as much traffic, so you aren’t always praying for your life when you venture out the gate of the orphanage!

And on that note, I have to run! I could save this and add more to it, but I think if I asked you all, the general consensus would be that I should send this one and then write another later . . . so, I shall do that! Thank you all who are praying for me . . . it is greatly needed and appreciated. Don’t stop them! πŸ™‚

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