Molding a lump of clay

Molding a lump of clay
I am a work in progress, molded by my Maker, refined by His fire, shaped with His love. Walk the journey with me.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Soccer mom for a day

I had butterflies in my stomach all morning.

What is going on here?

It was Aidan's first (and probably last) ever soccer tournament, and I was so nervous for him.

Why? What's the big deal?

It sounds crazy but I believe many moms out there can relate...

...I wanted him to do well,
...I didn't want him to get hurt
...I wanted his team to win, by some miracle

I'm his mom, after all!

He's never played in a team competition like this before, and although they didn't win, he did well and didn't get hurt, so 2 out of 3 isn't bad!

Now I can relax and get some sleep!

But just to give you an idea of what today looked like....

The 'Mundu' (foreigner) team (Aidan front center)

Uh-oh...the competition looks pretty tough

More teams warming up

The teams line-up

Kezi dutifully carries around Aidan's water bottle in a black plastic bag

Meanwhile Noah picks me flowers

On the field, Aidan's getting into the action

At times he sure looked small out there

It was hard to rest much during the break due to the press of curious on-lookers...

...but Aidan took it in his stride.

We soccer moms had fun hooting and hollering for our kids
and being stereotypically loud Mundus

They lost both games, but although they were disappointed, the kids did great and had good attitudes about it all. To round out the day, we all headed back to Cathy's house where any bruised egos were quickly soothed with banana splits!

What a day...I'm off to bed now!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I'm officially a chauffeur

Most of the parents out there will readily agree that driving the kids
around is part of the job of parenting, and before today, I would have said, "Yeah, I chauffeur my kids all the time." But for some reason, the driving today reached another level of 'chauffeur-ship.'

My oldest son, Aidan, is in a soccer tournament tomorrow (his first ever) and my friend had picked him and some others up for practice this morning. I went to do the return run, but on the way back Aidan asked if he could play at Nicola's for a while. So I dropped them off, then the others, and came back home the same way I left...alone.

And that was the kicker for me, I guess...I didn't go with kids to take them somewhere, or pick kids up to bring them home, I just went out and moved them from one location to another, and then came back home.

And that's when the realization hit me...I am officially a chauffeur! The driver!

But you know what's funny? I didn't mind! I actually liked being able to do that for Aidan. That may be because I don't have to do it nearly as much as a mom in the Western world. Here in Arua, Aidan goes to school on the back of the nightwatchman's bicycle. We walk Noah and Keziah two blocks down the road to the pre-school.

There are no ballet classes to rush to, or softball teams or drama clubs. There are no youth group overnights or Boy Scout meetings. All of the social activities around here are either within walking distance, or we all go as a family, so there's very little toing and froing in the car, dropping and picking up kids, etc.

Yes, it's a bit sad that my kids miss all those other activities, but I have to admit that I prefer this pace of life. It's a little less manic, which means that when I do have to run the kids around, I get to enjoy it!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

After all these years...

...our house is finally under way! After 3 years of renting off-base, we hope to be moving to the YWAM Arua base to join the rest of the team by the end of this year. Wishful thinking? We'll see! I'll keep you posted!

There's 'the slab'...otherwise known as the foundation

Aidan is standing where his fitted wardrobe will be

No cement-mixing machines here

My study where I'll write my masterpiece(s)

Precarious perches

John in the hallway (hope it's going to be wide enough!)

Fred, the Construction Supervisor, standing in our open-plan living/dining room

Me in front of the house (gonna have a LOT of yard work to do!)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Word-filled Wednesday

A toddler in a refugee camp

I love this picture...such a sign of the times. Even in a refugee camp, where there is so little of everything...someone has a mobile phone!

But what I love more is the promise in Jeremiah that when we call on the Lord, He will answer us and tell us amazing things we could never learn on our own. I love the wisdom and discernment He gives when we ask for it. I love the availability of such an awesome, yet personal, God. What a privilege to serve Him! What an honour to call Him friend. What a God we serve!

For more inspiring pictures and scriptures, check out Word-filled Wednesday posts at The 160 Acre Woods!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

When satan pushes the buttons

It's another one of those annoying days when I hear a great sermon, get all pumped up about how great God is and how awesome it is to be walking with Him, and then something happens that either bums me out, or ticks me off, or both.

So Pastor Silvanus was on Part 4 of 'The walk of a believer on the journey of salvation' (I know, quite a mouthful of a sermon series title but the content has been fabulous), and he was talking about our walk with God. He made several good points, one out of Deut 20:1-4 which talks about going to war. And it says,

"Hear, O Israel, today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not be terrified or give way to panic before them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory."

And I was thinking, 'Who are my enemies? What things make me fainthearted or afraid?'

My enemies are not people,
but attitudes and cultural stresses that seek to drag me down.

Case in point: right after church we went to the market to get some potatoes

and small fish.

I thought John would just run in and get it, so I opted to wait in the car. I should have known that I'd be a sitting target, but I didn't think he'd be gone long and figured I could handle whatever came my way.

So I'm sitting there and various people are walkin
g up to the window saying, "Mundu (foreigner), how are you?"

"Fine," I say. They watch me for a little bit and then wander off.

Then a cobbler guy sitting on the ground a few metres away from the car mending shoes with his friends says, "Mundu, mi ngoni?" (how are you in Lugbara)

"Muke," I answer back...fine.

Then he switches to English, "Are you fine?"

"Yes, I'm fine," I say.

"Then why are you quiet?" he asks.

I look at him and raise my hands with a shrug to indicate that I'm alone in the car, and say, "There's no one to talk to."

Then a gadi gadi guy (someone who carries goods and things for people in his wheelbarrow) comes down a side lane that we happen to be parked in front of and stops at the car. Apparently we are blocking the way, although there is no break in the curb that lines the street to indicate a road, nor are there any signs to say, 'Don't park here.'

The gadi gadi comes up to me and says, "Mundu, why are you sitting here?"

"I am waiting for my husband," I say.

"Where is the pilot (meaning driver)?" Gadi gadi asks me. "You are blocking the way." Then with a huff he manoevers his wheelbarrow around our truck and continues on his way.

Not long after, though, another 3 gadi gadis come along and start kicking up a fuss. The one in the front is wearing a muslim cap and shouting at me in Lugbara. He keeps pointing to a stone that sits in the gutter next to the curb, as if to inform me that the stone marks the lane and means 'no parking.' By this point I'm really not in the mood for this, so I just sit there and look at him while he gestures and agitates himself. A small crowd has formed, of course, and people are laughing, enjoying the entertainment as this guy hurls who knows what kind of abuses at me. He was obviously not going to make his way around the truck, but preferred to make a scene until we moved the truck.

I'm getting seriously annoyed at John by now for taking so long, and feeling extremely embarrassed. I'm also ticked off at this gadi gadi for making such a scene, and wishing I had some choice words to burst his bubble (really missionary-like of me, eh?). But I know he just wants a reaction so I continue to ignore him, and thankfully John arrives who unfortunately has to bear the brunt of my frustration..."What took you so long?" etc etc.

But one thing I've learned from being here... people talk loud and make a big scene, but it's mostly for show. And as the gadi gadi guy is haranging John for parking in the wrong place, and John starts to pull out, I raise my hand and, smiling, salute the guy. He laughs with me, and John drive off.

At least it all ended well, but in those 30 minutes outside the market, the enemy (satan) worked hard on me...stirring up my anger, highlighting the cultural challenges that irritate me, trying to fire up my wrath against these people.

But God said he is the one who fights for me and gives me the victory.

So I say, "Father God, I know You called me here, and I know You love these people. So show Your power and fight my enemy who wants to turn me against the people You have sent me to. Win the victory so that I can minister Your love to these, Your children. Protect my heart and mind, and keep them ever soft and in-tune with Yours. In Jesus name, Amen."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Word-filled Wednesday

They've fled the atrocities of demonic rebels known as the Lord's Resistance Army. They've left their homes, their farms, their peaceful way of life, for the relative safety of Kotomor Internally Displaced People's Camp in Pader District, Northern Uganda.

They have very little material wealth, none of the riches of the world.

But God's eyes are on them!

He loves them, and has good plans for their lives. He desires to lift them up and bring joy into their lives.

What an awesome God we serve! Who is like Him?

There is none.

For more Word-filled Wednesday head over to hostess Amydeanne at the 160 Acre Woods...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Prison Alpha running again

The prisons of Africa are bleak. No TVs here. No gyms. No basketball courts. No libraries. No cafeterias. No comfy beds with sheets and blankets. No pillows. No shoes.


One meal a day of beans and corn flour, some tea for breakfast. Frequent bouts of mosquito nets here. Various sicknesses...typhoid, worms, giardia, etc. One uniform...hand-washed by wearer. Hard physical labor...digging fields, making bricks, hauling 20-litre jerrycans of water, etc.

Yet in that tough situation we found men who hungered and thirsted after God. Men who wanted to put off the old self and put on the new. Men who were ready to leave their lives of sin and follow a new Master.

Or so we thought.

Some of the most promising turned out to be fantastic actors...within two months of their release, they were back with their friends, drinking, doing drugs, the whole bit.

Now that was disappointing.

But there were others who stayed the course, got into local churches, got jobs, and determined to fix their eyes on Jesus. A small harvest, so far, but each one sent the angels celebrating.

A blessed by-product of our work with the prisoners has been the community around the prison, namely the women and children, the wives and families of the prison guards. They live in houses around the prison, and join us on the days we minister to the prisoners.

In Giligili prison, we meet with the guys out under a tree in front, and the women come and sit with us. The children's team ministers to the kids on the other side of a football pitch (soccer field), listening to Bible stories and playing games. It's a whole community deal.

Now we're gearing up to run another Alpha Course with a handful of women, wives of the prison officers, who have been watching us run the course with the prisoners and decided they wanted to do it, too. We'll kickstart that course this Monday, Feb 16.

We would love to run the course with the guards and officers, as well, but are still waiting for the permission letter from Police Headquarters in Kampala. We hope they will grant us permission to continue the Alpha Courses in Giligili prison, and start new ones in the 2 other prisons in men and town women's prisons.

I thank God for the leadership of Giligili prison, Mr. Ezonia Isaac (far right in jean jacket), who has always been so supportive of our ministry and opened doors for us to work with the prison community. Please pray for him and his staff, and pray for the people in Kampala who have the authority to grant us permission. We desire to see God's light shine in that community and transform lives, both physically and spiritually.

I also thank God for the outworking of the Body of Christ. Currently the YWAM prison ministry team is working with members of 5 different churches, all who are voluntarily contributing their time, talents and finances to see these Alpha Courses take off. It has been such a unified effort with one make God known. Please pray for the continued unity of our teams.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Fifty-seven Words that change the World

I didn't think I would be so amazed to read a book about the Lord's prayer...after all, I've heard lots of sermons about it, and somehow, naively, ignorantly, felt I pretty much knew the gist of it all. What more was there to know?


I really should know better
than to think I have it all figured out. How many times does God have to say, "Yoo hoo! Think you missed something here..."? But Thank You, God, that You do keep flashing the neon signs in my face until I take notice. Thank You that You do desire to communicate with me. I just wish I could get it quicker.

But at least I'm
getting it, and it's truly amazing.
This book breaks down the
57 words of the Lord's prayer (based on the original Greek and the prayer recorded in Matthew 6) into 7 lines: the first line is the opening address to Our Father in Heaven, and the other 6 are petitions (hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, give us our daily bread, forgive us our debts, lead us not into temptation).

So far so good. So what's so amazing?

The way Mr. Johnson opens up each of those 7 sentences, for me, is new and fresh and inspirational. It makes me wonder why I never saw it that way before.

And the funny thing is, as a new believer, I used to pray this prayer every morning first thing as I went for my run. I was actually more in tune with it then than I am now. Which brings up the issues of passivity and complacency, but I'll get to those in another post...I can only deal with so much conviction at a time.

So Mr. Johnson starts by unpacking the phrase, "Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name," and shows how it's like asking God to make His name Holy, to be all who He is in this world around us, essentially to say, "O Father, be all that you are on earth that you are in heaven." It's active, dynamic. It shows life and intention. You can almost
feel the beating heart of the Father.

Jesus knew God wanted to be manifest in all His glory right here, where we live, in our lives, so He said, frankly,
"Pray it into being. Petition the Father to be all He is right there in your life, no matter how grimy, how shamefilled, how miserable. Don't limit the One who can put it all right. Call on Him in all His fullness and see what He will do!"

And when I get beyond my own navel-gazing and remember there's a whole world of lost and broken people right here in the middle of Africa, I realize that praying for God to be all He is in the lives around the prisons and soldiers barracks, with all the rampant alcoholism and beatings; in the poverty, the disease, the animist worship, the corruption, the war...has the power to make a difference. It could radically alter those realities.
It really could change the world.

And that's just a brief summary of what Mr. Johnson said about that first opening line of the prayer. He then delves into the first petition..."Your kingdom come"...and again my eyes are opened to a new understanding.

He talks about how the kingdom is both "already, and not yet"...that since the King has come, the Kingdom has com
e, and because the King is still to come, the Kingdom is also still to come. Again, I've heard this before put a bit differently, but what struck me was a paragraph addressing our response to this knowledge.

Here's what he wrote:

"We mere human beings...
we can ask for the unveiling of the Kingdom of God? Yes! If the Church of Jesus has been given this privilege, then why haven't we exercised it more intentionally? Perhaps it is because we have not understood the privilege. Perhaps it is that we have not wanted to submit our lives to the King. We may have wanted the benefits and blessings of the Kingdom, but we have not been willing to align our lives with his rule. Or perhaps it is that we know the coming of God's rule means the end of our rule. Perhaps the church has not fervently prayed for the Kingdom because we know it is dangerous to do so; the King just might answer and start turning everything upside-down!"

Gulp. Avert eyes. Swallow dryly. Blush.

Chastened. Convicted. Ouch.

I believe I can honestly say I desire to submit my life to the Lord, to align my will with His, and let Him rule in my life. But I also admit the fickleness of my heart...let's face it, I want some of the glory. I'm not good at obscurity. I want recognition, a few
(or many) pats on the back. Letting God fully rule is not so easy for me, no matter how much I long for it.

Sometimes I feel like that horrible Lucy who continually pulls the football away just when Charlie Brown runs up to kick it.
...not to say that God is like Charlie Brown, but I wonder how much I dangle the so-called offering of my life in front of God, only to snatch it away when I want it back.

The heart is willing but the flesh is so weak!

My desire is to be able to genuinely pray this prayer suggested by Mr. Johnson:

"Father, manifest the already-ness of your rule in my life. Break through any darkness; King Jesus, illuminate every corner of my life with your healing light. Father, break through any resistance in my soul; King Jesus, humble me, forgive me, cleanse me. Father, break the bondage that enslaves me; King Jesus, free me, restore me. Father in heaven, break through the patterns of my life that support or perpetuate injustice; King Jesus, give me courage to follow you come what may."

I can't pray that kind of prayer in my own strength, and thankfully I don't have to. But I
can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Amen.

Monday, February 2, 2009

'At the Well' kicks off today...

Today is the launch of the new 'At the Well' gathering place where the heart of Titus 2:2-5 is the focus. The team has organized a great line-up of memes covering various aspects of that scripture, like homemaking, raising children, marriage, etc. To get the full picture and to really appreciate this new gathering place, please visit the team At the Well.

To kickstart the launch
, the team has given us 3 questions to ponder. They are challenging questions which are good for stirring complacent hearts, of which mine can become so easily. So let me face the music and answer honestly the probing below...

When you read the Scripture found in Titus 2: 2-5, how do you see this playing out in your own life?

As a missionary in Africa, I have the great privilege of regularly teaching both men and women of varying ages on various Biblical topics. I also sit at their feet and learn from them, and it's a joy to share our personal gleanings from the Word, and the practical experiences that go with them. In this sense, the admonishment to teach goes hand in hand with the desire to be taught. I know I don't have all the fact, I have a great many questions. But my walk with God has blessed me with an abundance of testimonies that authenticate my teachings on certain subjects, and these life lessons I share eagerly with others. At the same time, I am still, and always will be, on a journey of discovery, which makes me an eager pupil wanting to learn more about this amazing God who calls me 'Beloved.'

What are your areas of strength? Of weakness?

My strengths are in teaching and communicating the Word of God clearly. My heart is to see others develop a close, intimate relationship with the Lord, and undergo the unparalleled transformation of their hearts as they fall deeper in love with Him.

My weaknesses
are many...where do I start? I am opinionated and confident, which doesn't go over too well as a woman in Africa (does it anywhere?), but I struggle to be meek and submissive. I was raised with only my mom and sister, and my mom constantly reminded me that the sky was the limit...I could do anything I wanted if I just set my mind to it. So I have to remind myself that it's not my will but Gods that I want, and keep offering myself up to Him as a daily sacrifice.

I'm not a great homemaker or mother, in my opinion. I want to be involved in the YWAM ministry, preaching in the prisons, active on the leadership team, participating in the vision of the base to be a bridge of healing to the nations. I struggle to get the balance between home and office. I love my kids, don't get me wrong, but I get fulfilled and excited by what God is doing in the YWAM ministry. It's a constant state of tension.

I'm still learning how to be a Proverbs 31 wife...sometimes it seems far too high a standard for me. I grapple with expectations of the African culture we live in, the Western cultures of my husband and I, and the Biblical standards of God Himself. I desire to be the woman, wife, mother, colleague that God created me to be, and to use the gifts and talents He has given me to His glory. It's a lifelong process. That's why my blog is 'Molding a lump of clay', because I want to be the form that my Father, the Potter, desires for me. It's all about Him, anyway.

If you could set some sort of goal in relation to this Scripture, what would it be?

My goal
would be to come to a place where I know who I am in Christ, and how that looks in my relationships. And then that I would be able to help other women in the same path of discovery, so that we all would be living as members of one Body, in our different roles, with no condemnation or guilt, but the releasing truth that we are who we were created to be. Pretty big goal, maybe, but we serve a Big Big God!