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26 August, 2012

"Home ???"

While waiting to disembark the plane in London, the steward smiled at me and said, “Welcome to London.  Are you going home?”

“No,” I answered, thinking how weird it feels to not be going home, but to a new place.

“Oh, then you are on holiday. Enjoy your holiday!” was his cheery response.

My heart skittered a beat or two.  This is not my idea of going on holiday!  So I wondered, “Am I going home?  I mean, I am on my way to Kampala.  I will live there for the next several years.  Am I going home?  What should I have said?  Should I have said “yes?”

“But it doesn’t feel anything like going home.  No kids traveling with us.  We won’t have our household stuff for who-knows-how-long.  Don’t know my way around the neighborhood and beyond.  It doesn’t feel like going home.”

Echoing in my head I hear myself telling our young children, “Home is where your pillow is.  Even if we are in a different place than we have been before, if we are going together and our pillows are there, we can say we are going home.  Soon it can feel like home.”

“Ok, my pillow is in one of the myriad pieces of luggage traveling with us.  Jeff and I are going together.  Yes, I can say I am going home.  Hopefully soon it can feel like home.”  I repeated this to myself several times in the airport, talking myself into the reality that we are going home.

But it didn’t feel like coming home.  Nothing seemed as familiar as home.

And yet….the morning after our arrival I awakened to familiar birdsong.  Musical sounds my heart has been longing for during the last year…the birdsong of Africa.  Even if it included pied crows cawing and ibis “maaaaahing” it is familiar and sounds like home! 

I look out the front window and see a “yesterday, today, tomorrow” bush with its purple, lavender and white blossoms, and it looks like home.  Blueband (margarine) on the counter, Hobnobs (oatmeal cookies) on the shelf and it seems like home. 

Beating African drums loudly pounding familiar rhythms in accompaniment of a church choir down the street call my heart to worship.  I close my eyes and even in the empty living room of our house I feel at home.  My heartbeat dances to the drum beats even while singing with the birdsong.  The sights and sounds of Africa….and my pillow on the bed.  Yes, soon it can feel like home.


21 August, 2012

Too blessed to hold it all in!

On the eve of our departure for Uganda we feel too blessed to hold it all in.  Blessed to be with our kids.  Blessed to rock our granddaughter.  Blessed to be invited by God to participate with Him in sharing His love in Uganda, and so much more!

We recently read the letter of a colleague in which she mentioned some “stones of remembrance” noted through recent months.  That is a great idea!  We are borrowing it. Below we lay out some of our stones of remembrance collected through our year of Home Ministry Assignment (HMA).
  • surprise visit by Chris and Lizz Bramble upon our initial arrival in Oregon
  • living close to where Chris Stanfield attends university and where our parents and siblings live
  • many, many gatherings with our parents, siblings, and other family members
  • attending “Sabbath by the Sea” on the Oregon coast
  • participating in a small group of folks intending to become more like Christ
  • watching Chris play basketball
  • attending Lizz’s graduation from university
  • attending the birth of our granddaughter
  • many people helping to get our prayer letters into the mail
  • many folks working together to share in what God is doing in Uganda
  • generosity of so many people
  • ministry time in churches and homes
  • spending time with colleagues in ministry
  • encouragement through friends and family
  • God’s presence ministering to us through our grief
  • the gift of a sense of adventure in new beginnings
  • delightful times with special friends
  • time with all our kids and our granddaughter together as we prepare to fly out tomorrow
  • many people committed to praying for us

There is MUCH MORE we could declare, but you get the idea.  We are blessed beyond all measure…too blessed to hold it all in.  Even as you pray for our safety in travel, for God’s protection over our luggage and for parting grace in once again moving away from our loved ones, we invite you to praise the Lord with us for his many blessings.  Praise the Lord!

15 August, 2012

It's that time again . . . . .

Bags packed.  House emptied.  House cleaned.  Car returned to the church. Family gatherings behind us. One last trip to the beach.  Done.

So it’s that time again.  Time for the great effort of trying to freeze-frame each interaction, each lovely scene, each favorite flavor, each person we love.  Time to savor all over again treasures-in- time with loved ones. Time for one last hug…over and over again.  Time to separate.  Ugh!

It’s that time again. Looking back, wondering if we spent the time within the year doing what was most important.  Pondering if we could have made more time to be with friends and family.  With each memory comes gratitude for time shared with others.  Prayer time.  Play time.  Meal time.  Exercise time.  Coffee time.  Church time. Friendship time. Encouragement time.  Gratitude for the time we have.  Now it’s that time again.

This time is hard.  No easy way through.  It’s that time between wanting to stay with those we love and wanting to get on with the new beginning ahead. This time is hard, and it is already that time again.

It’s that time again, when we feel the sweet peace that only God gives.  The time when we know without any doubt we are doing what is right, what is God-given for us, to us. This is the time when we firmly plant our feet on the foundation of God’s faithfulness and rest on His promises.  This is the time when we say all over again, “All our changes come from Him, He who never changes.  I’m held firm in the grasp of the Ro,ck of all the ages.  All is well with my soul, He is God in control.  I know not all His plans, but I know I’m in His hands.  Whatever is His way, all is well.” (words by Robin Mark, click on this link to listen to "All is Well")

Yep, it’s that time again.  All is well.

10 August, 2012

If you want to walk on water, you have to . . .

Christine and I are on a journey.  A journey on which we find ourselves traveling to a new place, joining ministries in Uganda.    A journey of obedience in following God’s call to join Him in the work He is doing in Uganda.

Though there are many decisions we have had to make along the way, there is nothing more important than the decision to live in obedience to God’s direction.       

A scripture passage which has been a blessing to me on this journey is found in Matthew 14:28-32.  This is the story of Peter’s challenge to obedience, a story of his faith tested.   Peter’s life had many “ups” and “downs.”  In spite of these challenges he ultimately responded to Christ in obedience. I’ve read the passage many times and I knew the story, but as we’ve been on our journey out of Kenya it has taken on a new, more personal meaning for me.  Just as God was using the experience of walking on water to help Peter experience a deeper and stronger faith in Him, God is also using this story to guide me in the journey out of Kenya.

Peter’s walking on water was only possible as a result of some decisions he faced before getting out of the boat:
1. BELIEVE  - Those in the boat, Peter along with the other disciples, found themselves in the midst of a storm, which probably created some uneasiness in their hearts and minds.  Amidst this storm they looked out over the water and saw Jesus walking on the water. After Peter questioned who this was walking on the water, Jesus said to Peter, “Come.”

The first decision Peter had to make when Jesus said “Come” was to believe.  He knew from past experience that walking on the water was not remotely possible.   He had to believe he could obey and “come” as Christ directed him.

2. MOVE – Peter had to make a decision to move.   Where is the safest place in the boat?  The center of the boat!  Peter had to step out of the “safety” found in the middle of the boat and move to the edge.     Without this move, Peter wouldn’t have been able to see “over the edge” and take the next step which was a BIG step of faith.  Peter moved to the side of the boat near Jesus. As he moved away from the safety of the “status quo” he kept his eyes on Jesus and began to see Him more clearly.

3. JUMP – Though Peter chose to believe and chose to move to the side of the boat, he still had to make the decision to actually “jump” into the water. This definitely was a step of faith for Peter.    He did “jump” and began walking on water.  Though at one point he became afraid, took his eyes off Jesus and began to sink, Christ “stretched out His hand and caught him.” 

By being obedient and making the decisions to believe, move and jump, Peter’s trust of and faith in Jesus was strengthened and was an example to others.           

To me, this passage:
  • Communicated that in order to “get out of the boat”, I need to be willing to take a step of faith to the "edge of the boat".  
  •  Affirmed God’s calling for me to respond to His prompting to move out in faith so that I would be ready to “jump” into the unknown of the future.   It reassured me that in the midst of the unknown he would be walking the journey with me. 
  •  Demonstrates the need for complete obedience and response to God’s call.  I must keep my eyes focused on Him.

As we enter this new ministry, Christine and I want to allow God to use us in a deeper way.  Just as Peter demonstrated his faith in Jesus, we too must allow all we do, and all we are be guided by and be an example of Christ living in us.  We’ve got much to learn as we continue in His journey for us.