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21 November, 2012

So different and yet still the same (thankfully)…

“Yes, it is very different. Yes, it is hard.” These are our answers when asked about our first Thanksgiving in Uganda. It is not the same as in Kenya. It is not the same as in the U.S. And it won’t ever be the same again, which is hard. It is so different and yet still the same (thankfully).

Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Uganda. It is not a holiday in Kenya. Just like in Kenya the fourth Thursday of November is a regular working day.  Children are in school.  Adults are busy in their jobs and responsibilities. We are used to that.  No difference there.  It’s not hard or wrong. It’s just the way it is and we are used to it after 20+ years of saving our corporate Thanksgiving celebrations for a more convenient time than Thursday lunch.

Still, this year we experience a great difference and yes, it is hard. We will not have any corporate celebration with our children. This is the first Thanksgiving day in the past 24 years we won’t have at least one of our children at the table with us. It is very different. But thankfully it is still the same in so many ways.

We have so much to be thankful for and we have many people with whom we can share the giving of thanks.  We have a friend staying with us for several days, including Thanksgiving. He is a delight to have around and he helps fill the hole that could feel gaping if we looked at it too long. Our mission staff will all gather for a meeting of giving thanks and worship together as we pray and set goals together this weekend.  There will be a mission staff game of American football played on Saturday afternoon. We will also share a “traditional” Thanksgiving meal on Sunday as a mission family.

We see and experience God at work all around us and within us. We know the love of family and have all the happy memories of celebrations with them. We have the great privilege of serving the Lord in Africa, sharing the good news of salvation and freedom in Christ. We have loving friends right where we are who freely join us in giving thanks to the Giver of all good gifts.

We know that if we would ponder too long how different this Thanksgiving is for us we would totally defeat the meaning and purpose of giving thanks.  We choose to focus on what is the same, and to give thanks, freely and generously, in all things. So different and yet still the same….THANKFULLY!!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

PS.   We've uploaded some photos from our trip to Kenya.   Click on "Kenya Trip" photos on the left.

03 November, 2012

So close and yet so far . . . . .

We feel so close!  We are close to the completion of the painting and carpentry work being done in this house.  Close to completion of the first three months of language study.  Close to feeling at home here. Close to going home to visit Kenya.  We are so close, and yet so far in many ways.

This is the longest time of transition we have been in. There is hardly any furniture in the house while we wait on completion of the work being done inside, and while we wait to bring our things from Kenya.  Even when we went to Kenya the very first time it didn't take this long to get things from home there.  It’s the small things we look forward to when our household goods can join us here…like having our tools ready-at-hand when we want to do a project; like having favorite recipes at our fingertips; like having enough hangers for our clothes; like having the hair clippers we are used to using….they are so close and yet so far!  Of course, we could get those things here, but when they are so close to joining us why purchase more?  And so it goes…we’re so close and yet so far. But that’s OK.

We are close to the end of these initial months of language study.  We know a lot of vocabulary in Luganda.  We are close to simple conversation level with other Luganda speakers.  Yet, we seem so far from being able to speak the language.  All our conversation is halting at best.  We laugh at ourselves because we hear what is said in Luganda, we think of the reply in English and then figure out how we would say it in Kiswahili (which we studied in Kenya) because the grammar is similar to Luganda, and then we translate it from Kiswahili into Luganda as we “hunt” through our minds for the right words.  No wonder it takes us a while to get anything said!  So close and yet so far. But that’s OK.

We listen keenly to what we hear.  We observe intently that which we see.  We notice what is said and done.  We are listening and watching, waiting and observing to know what all God is inviting us to join that He is already doing.  We pray.  We read.  We listen and watch.  We hear Him speak.  We see Him at work.  We are close to “diving in” when language study is done.  We are close…and yet we wait, not wanting to be far. We want to be right with God as He continues to move and speak and draw others to Himself. Even when wishing to be more at home, it’s OK. We want to be right where God wants us to be…right where He has us now. It’s OK.

We are close to going into Kenya.  Mid-November will find us at Tenwek for the graduation exercises of Tenwek School of Nursing.  We will also visit the Africa Gospel Church (AGC) Kenya that commissioned us as their missionaries.  We can hardly wait to go home.  We are so close…and yet, we are sure it will feel a bit far as we visit.  That is not our home anymore.  It will always be home to us, but it is not our home anymore.  We will be so close, and yet so far. But that’s OK.

This week we had a taste of home.  The first fruits (greens, actually) of our garden here were eaten with a friend from Kenya (who lives in Uganda) and a friend from Uganda in celebration of God’s faithful provision for us all.  We had a “Kenyan” meal of sukuma wiki (the greens), ugali (maize flour cooked up just as we like it), beans and chapatti.  YUMMMMMM!  It was grand to us.  Made us feel right at home…so close…so very, very close.  And that’s OK.

Lessons in transition are worth learning, even when they pain us. Contentment is worth realizing. Planting a garden and bringing in harvest is worth the effort. Listening, watching, hearing and observing bring new insights that remind us to be content in all circumstances. God called us here to be laborers in His harvest.  It is worth the effort.  It is worth the wait.  We are close, even though it sometimes feels far. And that’s OK.  It really is OK.  We are content in Christ alone.