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.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Noah's 6th birthday

Noah decided to have his 6th birthday party at home this year, instead of the usual pool party at White Castle.

The advantage was that we could include more of the YWAM base kids.

The disadvantage was that it meant more work!

But lots of friends helped out and we all had a great time.

Louise (L) and Kenzie (R)
help paint faces --->

<--- Moses, Noah, (Joshua), and Otim a.k.a. "Spiderman, Tiger, (Vampire) and Curious George"

Junior and Noah --->

<--- The kids

"Happy Birthday to Noah..." --->

<--- Blowing out the candles...

...and blowing them out again
when they relight themselves --->

<--- Praying for Noah

Hip hip.... --->

<--- ...Hooray!!!

Pastor Sam brought his gift to Noah at night...
Noah named the sheep 'Rocky' --->

Friday, June 11, 2010

Seeing God's heart for the deaf like never before

After 13 years in Uganda, I'm experiencing a whole new world for the first time...the world of the deaf.

This may sound strange to those of you who know me because you will know that my husband is deaf, as is his older sister. However, with the help of hearing aids, we live a pretty normal life, albeit a bit louder than most.

But this year, for the first time ever, our YWAM base is running the annual Discipleship Training School with 4 deaf students. No hearing aids. No talking a bit louder. Deaf as in 'no communication apart from sign language', which I don't know.

<--- Adam and Helen Fielder are the impetus behind this new experience. They joined YWAM Arua last year and started up the Deaf Connections ministry. Both of them will be interpreting on the school.

Yesterday I was leaving my house on the way to pick up my kids from school, and I came across the DTS staff and students doing a tour of the base. I stopped to introduce myself and greet everyone, and had my first experience of needing to be translated for into sign language. Instead of spelling out V-I-K-K-I, Helen, who was interpreting at the time, told one of the students to give me a sign name. The female student studied me for a few seconds, then made a sweeping motion with 2 fingers down the bridge of her nose and off the tip up into the air. It reminded me of being little and people saying I have a 'ski-jump' nose.

Then, of course, nosey me (no pun intended) I wanted to know everyone else's sign names, so the deaf and hearing alike signed their names, all of which highlighted some unique feature on the face or head. One guy pulled on his ears, making me think of Dumbo (except his ears weren't exceptionally large or funny-shaped...not sure why they chose that sign for him). Another lady ran her thumb across her forehead because she has a kind of line across there (not sure if it's a wrinkle or a long scar...will have to examine it up close later).

It makes sense to identify someone by a special characteristic they have, but I could see how it could be awkward if the feature chosen is something the person is ashamed of or embarrassed to have pointed out. Guess you have to have or develop a thick skin, but maybe it helps that they can't hear the rude comments or the mocking laughter.

They can see it, though.

I wonder how they feel. I wonder what they think. I wonder why I'm just now wondering this while all along I've been married to a mostly deaf guy for 10 years.

Maybe because the deaf in Uganda are, in Adam's words, an 'unreached people group.' They tend to be shunned by society. They are marginalized. Hearing aids are available in Kampala...for a very hefty fee, far beyond the average Ugandans financial capability. So none of them have hearing aids.

For some reason these students are affecting my life differently than John's hearing impairment ever did. I'm the first teacher on the DTS, and I'm asking myself,

"How does their deafness affect my teaching style?
How will they take notes? They can't listen and write at the same time.
Will they just absorb it all and remember it somehow?
How will they participate in small group discussions?
How will they pair up with others for 'getting to know you exercises', or for prayer?
How will they bond with the other students if they can't communicate?"

So many answers yet. I'm trying to figure out how to adapt my teaching style so they don't miss out. Thankfully both Adam and Helen are secondary school teachers, so I'm sure they'll be able to give me some pointers on how to teach inclusively.

Helen signing with a deaf boy --->

I'm on a steep learning curve, and without a doubt, so are the students. One of them wanted to go back as soon as his father dropped him off. But he's still here, and I know God is going to bless that guy.

I have a sense of expectation and excitement...I believe God is going to show up Bigger and Better than I've known Him up 'til now...and we're all going to receive new insights and revelation into the nature and character of God as we walk this journey together over the next months. What a privilege to be serving here at such a time as this.

Thanks, Abba.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Following God to our promised land

I'm really not getting paid by Beth Moore or LifeWay to promote her Bible Studies, but once again I find the content speaking into my life exactly where I am today.

A friend who I met when I had just recommitted my life to Christ recently blessed my husband and I with 2 copies of the Believing God workbook, and the set of audio cds with the weekly sermon. I just started Week 1 and am already touched by the way God is speaking into my life.

The premise of the Bible study is not just Believing God in terms of Faith as a noun, as in,

"Yes, I have faith in God. I believe in Him."

but having present-active-participle-verb type belief, as in,

"I continually believe God as a daily way of life, in every situation,
because I know He is Who He says He is,
and He can do what He says He can do."

Part of this morning's reading was Hebrews 11, and certain verses stood out to me in a new light:

v8-10 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.
By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country;
he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.
For he was looking forward to the city with foundations
whose architect and builder is God.

v 13-16 All these people were still living by faith when they died.
They did not receive the things promised;
they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.
And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.
People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.
If they had been thinking of the country they had left,
they would have had opportunity to return.
Instead, they were longing for a better country - a heavenly one.
Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God,
for he has prepared a city for them.

I think these verses struck me afresh because I had just been talking yesterday with one of the CDTS students, Cheryl Cook from Canada (check out her blog!), about the early days of YWAM Arua. I had never been to Arua before God called us here; John had only passed through once. The others who helped pioneer the base had never been here.

Yet God told us to we did.

For two and a half years we lived in a grass-thatched hut with no indoor-plumbing or mod cons. Not exactly a tent, but not far from it.

It was hard, that's true, but we never thought of returning to the countries we'd left behind...we knew God had called us here...this was our 'promised land' and our inheritance.

And our eyes have been fixed on that heavenly country...the one where there is no more sorrow, no more pain, no more ghecko droppings landing on our pillows.

We have made our home literally as strangers in a foreign country, and we will remain here until God says to move on. His plan is perfect, and although there are physical discomforts, the spiritual blessings are innumerable. We can endure all things through Christ who strengthens us.

I want to be counted among the number of whom 'God is not ashamed to be called their God.' I don't want God to be ashamed of me...I want Him to be glorified and lifted high in my life, and when I get to that heavenly city He has prepared for me, I want to enter it with joy and hear my Father say, "Well done, good and faithful servant."

Yes, the road will be hard. Yes, there will be pain. But please, Lord, help me to appropriate your Grace which is sufficient for every situation. You are worthy, Father.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

50th celebration report and photos

The report I wrote for YWAM's 50th anniversary celebrations has been posted to the official 50th website:

Follow this link to see the report for East Africa, but check out the others, too! It's so cool to see how the different regions around the world are celebrating this Jubilee.