Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Date to Remember

On Thursday, Ezra and I had a mother-son date to Jinja. It didn’t occur to me that since it was Election Day for the MP(Member of Parliament), things might be a little crazy! It was a rainy day and even before we left the house things started to go awry. The windshield wiper on the passenger side broke and the car was making a bad noise, so we had to go to the mechanic in town first. After the vehicle safely made it through the 45 minute trek to town and right before reaching the Mechanic’s shop, we drove through a bunch of police officers with billy clubs in one hand and automatic weapons in the other. We made our way safely through and to the shop. From inside the Mechanic’s walled compound we could hear lots of shouting out in the streets. 

Since there was a noise beneath the van, the mechanic asked me to drive up the ramp in order for him to check beneath. I had never before tried to drive a vehicle onto a ramp that just had space for the tires. It was exciting! Then he got some other guys to come over and shake the van to see if anything was loose, all while we were still up on the ramp. It was an adventurous beginning for our date! You can see the ramp behind us in this photo. 

As we left, the police had cleared from that area and we passed many groups of people out walking in the streets. Apparently the opposition candidate won and many people were out celebrating! The shouting we heard earlier was probably when they were announcing the results. It was pretty challenging to get across town between the road construction, the crowds in the streets, and the various places we found police or soldiers marching. It made us a bit nervous, but in the end, we were able to get to a restaurant and have our milkshakes and snacks. 

While the trip was a little stressful, we were able to enjoy special time together and make some memories that will last a lifetime! Apparently the next day there was tear gas released in Jinja. I was thankful we didn’t get stuck in the middle of that situation. We are grateful that we were able to have a fun date that evening even though it didn’t quite go as planned. 

This unusual date with my boy reminded me that in every situation, I can either be thankful and trust that God is working for good even when things appear chaotic, or I can complain in my heart and waste the beautiful opportunities God gives us. By God’s grace, He enabled Ezra and me to keep a sense of humor and enjoy this special time together. I pray that in the course of our adventures, God will give me the ability to see his gifts in the midst of changed plans and challenging circumstances. I want to trust that my loving Lord is working for my good even when I’m trapped in a rambunctious crowd, and I don’t know what will happen. “And we know that God works all things for the good of those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28.

Many days I live like I don’t believe this truth. I’m irritable and complain when things don’t go as I had hoped or planned. I forget that God’s ways are much better than mine. I forget that He even uses these situations to conform me to the image of Jesus (vs.29) But on these occasions when, by his grace, I am able to trust Him amidst the craziness, I praise him for giving me His joy in the midst. It was a blessing to be able to share the gift of a moment of faith and joy with my precious son! Thanks be to God for a date to remember! 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Where am I looking

Growing up, I took gymnastics classes for about 10 years. After that I began teaching gymnastics and did that for another 10 years in various part-time capacities. I always enjoyed floor and vault. Parallel bars were okay, but my least favorite event was the balance beam. It is not easy to stay on that thing! My younger students who were just learning to walk on the beam would inevitably look at their feet, see how narrow the beam is and the distance to the ground below and freeze up a bit. One “trick” I would teach my students is to keep their eyes at the end of the beam. If you look at the end, you keep your head up and it is much easier to move forward. 

I recently read in Matthew 14:23-33, the account of Jesus walking on the water and Peter stepping out to join him. It is amazing to think that Peter asked Jesus to call him to do something that he obviously could not do in his own strength. Peter believed that Jesus could enable him to do miraculous things. And then comes verse 30. “But when he (Peter) saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’” Peter took his eyes off the end of the beam (Jesus). He looked at his circumstances instead of looking to the One who was enabling him to walk! 

Lately, I have felt like I’m sinking in some ways. I’ve spent too much time looking at the wind. When I have a free moment, I often find myself thinking about my mistakes and circumstances rather than looking to Jesus. I leave a conversation and immediately worry about what I said and how it might be interpreted. I fear how I might have failed or disappointed others. I get anxious about the adoption process. I worry about whether we will be able to cross the border with Evie to go to a Global Outreach conference in Kenya, even though we are working to get all the paperwork that would possibly be required. I get anxious about what next school year will look like as we are still looking for another teacher to cover all our classes. I look down at my feet and stop walking. I look at the wind and start sinking. 

In the midst of these times of anxiety and fear, I remember what Peter did when he started to sink. “He cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him.” I need to call out to my Lord in the midst of these struggles. I need to remember that He is there to rescue me. I am slowly learning that each time I start to sink, I can call out to my Lord. He will “reach out his hand and take hold of me.” He is loving and gracious! He is working for my good. I want to believe these truths and rest knowing that Jesus can accomplish the miraculous, and even when I get distracted by the wind, he is there for me. What an gracious, kind, powerful Savior! 

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Rabies scare

Last week Esther woke up with a bat on her leg. No, not a baseball bat. The fuzzy flying mammal. The kind that has been known to carry rabies. She screamed and kicked it off and saw if fall out of her mosquito net and flap down the hall. Of course that woke us and we began searching the house to get rid of it. But to no avail. Finally we settled our two girls back to sleep, and about an hour later Elijah woke and said there was a bat inside his mosquito net. We were still not able to find it. A few days later Ezra found it dead in the boys’ LEGO bin. 

It was a disturbing night, but I didn’t think much about it. We live in a village called Buwundo, which means “bats” in Luganda. Yes, we literally live in a place called Bat Village. I didn’t know the meaning of the name when we moved here. 

In a bizarre series of events, our pediatrician heard about the incident. He highly encouraged us to treat our children as if they had been exposed to rabies. Even though their chance of actually being exposed was very low, once someone becomes symptomatic with rabies, it is too late to treat them.  

As we received this information from our friend and doctor, I was in Kampala with Esther for a mother-daughter weekend. David and I decided that I should borrow a car and drive Esther to a hospital that had the immunoglobulin rabies vaccine. If you are not familiar with driving in Kampala, it can be pretty overwhelming. I asked Esther to help navigate using my phone and Google maps as we set out for the hospital. We eventually found our way there, but since it was after regular hours, it took about 2 hours to get a doctor to say that she needs the shot, take that prescription to the pharmacy, pay for the shot and then go back to the nurse to have it administered. It was quite an ordeal. As we were preparing to leave the hospital, I got another message from David that in addition to the immunoglobulin, the CDC and our pediatrician/friend recommend getting the regular vaccine. I spoke with the nurse and she said that since that is not their usual protocol, she would need for us to wait to see the doctor and go through the whole process again. It was now getting to be late and the hospital was filling with more people waiting to see the doctor. I decided that we would just wait and get the other vaccine in Jinja the next day. The boys were going to get the vaccine too, so it made sense to do that all together. We drove back in the dark to the place where we were spending the night and only missed our turn about 3 times. It was definitely an adventure. 

That night I woke with a panic attack. In the process of trying to decide if Esther was going to have the six injections recommended, we had a discussion about the seriousness of the disease. Soon after we moved to Uganda, a family member of a missionary here died from rabies. As I woke in the night, I prayed for my daughter who means the world to me. I also realized that even though Esther and I were able to joke around together during our two hours in a cross-cultural hospital setting, I was emotionally drained from the experience. As I laid in my bed with high blood pressure and tightness in my chest, all I could do was pray. 

My dear friend in the US just posted the words to a song that we had talked about before, and it was a timely reminder. Here are the words below:

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You're the One that guides my heart
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
To teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
When I cannot stand I'll fall on You
Jesus, You're my hope and stay
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
By Matt Maher

I was definitely feeling like I was falling apart. But God gave me the strength to persevere through that day and eventually slowed my breathing, and gave me His peace as I prayed so that I could go back to sleep and get some of the rest I needed that night. 

As I am writing now, I am again up in the night. Esther has had 4 of her total 6 shots that she will receive over the course of the month. This time I woke because Evie was crying and I settled her down and put her back to bed. Again I will pray knowing my dependence on my Lord. It is definitely true that without Him I would fall apart. But he has given me His grace through this rabies scare and every hour I see my need for him even more each day. In my weakness and dependence, He is “my hope and stay.”

Here is a photo with my two beautiful girls! Since they were matching I needed to take a photo. I am so thankful that I get to be their mama!