Friday, October 28, 2016

white bags, lions, and sweetness

Right now, I'm looking out a small window to my left and seeing not only the ground below me, but the massive right engine of the B787 that is taking me from Johannesburg to Nairobi.  My next stop after Nairobi will be Entebbe.  So help me if that is NOT the engine of the plane.  I'm definitely not wired to understand things in the mechanical realm, so have grace for me if the engine is really somewhere else.  Either way, I'm all buckled in and listening to the hum of the engines which is much stronger than the chatter and movement of those around me.  

No birds greeting me from a distance.  Or knocks on the wooden door of my house.  

And thankfully, on this flight... the sky is a dull blue and the warmth of the sun is palpable.  
Not like the last flight I took where the sky was lighting up with bolts of lightening extending from one side of the sky to the other.  The plane lurched and my stomach plummeted.  And I dreaded the realization that the little white bag provided in the backseat pouch of the plane might need to be utilized.  As the bolts of lightening lit the sky up and the plane swayed and jolted uncomfortably, I found my heart uneasy.  Unsure.  Nervous.  

When we finally landed, my heart exhaled.  My stomach took a bit longer.  Thankfully, the white bag and I never became friends.  At least not on that flight.  

Why am I talking about vomit bags?  That is a good question.  I have no idea. 

We shall see if the previous sentences remain or if they get deleted as I write.

Why am I mentioning planes?  Well, because planes are what brought me from Entebbe, Uganda to Cape Town, South Africa.  And smacked in between of those flights was a whole lot of sweetness.  

Earlier this year, a friend sent me information about a conference for missionary women.  I remember looking through the information and wondering if it would be possible for me to go.  It was put on by an amazing organization called THRIVE.  It's an ministry in the States that literally goes around the world setting up retreats for missionary women.  The women from the States who come, come to serve and love on those who re working overseas.  It was a double blessing.  To be poured in by women and to be able to interact with other women who understand all the joys and challenges of living on this beautifully amazing continent of Africa.  

And so I went.  And it was a time of awesomeness.  It was such a gift to be with other women.  It was such a gift to exhale.  I watched as God orchestrated some sweet interactions.  He had His own agenda for me during those days and I was thankful to be able to see Him orchestrating the details of my day.  

My heart smiles at His kindness.  After the conference, I utilized some vacation time and hopped in a car with my friend Laurie and a new friend Michelle.  We drove along the Garden Coast soaking in the beauty of the country and the ocean.  We stayed at a farm one night and rode an ostrich another day.  My friend treated me to a two night stay at a safari lodge.  What a GIFT.  There was watching the lions eat a warthog and the male lion walk along the road.  The sun peeked out over the mountains in the morning and settled slowly over the mountains in the evening.  

Today, I stopped at the grocery store at the airport.  (Brilliant!) and picked up a variety of fun foods.  Raspberries, nectarines, peaches, dried fruit, and cheddar cheese.  All high delicacies.  I'm excited to share them.  

And so, since my fingers first started tapping away on the keyboard, I've since landed into Nairobi.  the sun just went down a short while ago.  The raspberries didn't like the altitude and started bleeding through the container.  Yeah.... NOT so cool.  My journal will probably carry the scar of this adventure forever.  But it's a good scar.  Reflective of a good time. 

In a short bit, I'll hope my final plane, settle into my seat, and nearly as quickly as I will be up in the air, the plane will start coming down.  And I'll be home.  

And speaking of Home.... I need to write another blog post.  There is never a dull moment in my life. Never.  And speaking of moments.  I have yet another blog post to write.  

Hold me to it.  What I have to share is exciting.  

In the meantime, I covet your prayers.  I already jumped back into work heading from South Africa to here and in this next week is, from what I know, going to be FULL.  

I anticipate that it will be full of... 

Some drug shopping... 
meeting with the young ladies that I mentor.... 
working in the clinic... 
starting and finishing the clinic budget for 2017 (I may or may not have procrastinated on this!)
going to the Indian Embassy (please pray for favor!  and Yes, this is part of the next blog post) 
and keeping my eyes on Him in the process. 

Much love to you all!  

Friday, October 7, 2016

This is the look of a little boy who is not so sure of the world around him.  
The one thing that is FOR sure for him right now is that his momma is nearby.  
He reaches out or snuggles into her almost constantly. 
Everything else in his life is a bit unknown.  
Yesterday, he went in for surgery.  
He woke up and one of his first statements to his momma was that "they took my intestines".  
So much of what has been known to this little boy is now different. 
And if he was brutally honest, I think he would say that he's not so sure about it.  
He looks often from the corner of his eyes.  
A bit afraid. 
Not sure. 

What he doesn't know is that his life is now different.  
And that difference is a good thing.  
No more will stool leak out of an unpredictable, malfunctioning hole on his abdomen.
Starting yesterday, stool should and God-willing will follow a tunnel and exit his body just as it does for millions of people everyday.

And while that is a good thing. 
Little Ayeko isn't so sure.  
His stuffed bear thought the toilet was a great idea.  
Ayeko was much more happy sipping on juice than giving his stuffed bear too much thought.  
Especially when his bear was sitting on a toilet.  

In fact, when I snapped a family picture.  Ayeko tried to push Mr. Bear sitting on the toliet AWAY from him and his momma.  

But we celebrate what this little guy isn't so up to celebrating right now.  
We celebrate for what is to come.  
For how this little guys life will be different.  
And with that celebration, comes a sweet smile to my face.  
And I know to so many others. 

It's ok little man.  Drink your juice.  
Lean into your momma and feel the warmth and safety of her embrace.  

That's the perfect place to be.  

And on a personal note.  
Today, I'm wishing I could nestle into my family.  
To be with them all the way over that great, big ocean.  
Below is my sister's Mr. Bear.  
Patched and straggly from years of love.  
He outlived my sister. 
Today, she would have been 29.  
And today, as I helped Ayeko's bear on to the toilet, I found my own heart 
remembering my sister's bear.  
And remembering her.  

And thinking of her family.  
For her own babies who are surely missing their momma today. 
My sister who was a treasure.  
And always she will be.  
And so tonight, I'm thinking of my siblings, my sis's family, and my parents.  

And I'm leaning into my Jesus.  

It's the perfect place for my heart to be.

And OH MY WORD.  THIS is the outfit I wore (plus some stylish boots) when I met up with Sylvia last year... and she looked me up and down and "admired" my outfit.  And by admired... I mean... she got a kick out of my style.  Oh..... that memory is a gift to me tonight.  I will always love my sister. 

And I LOVE the sweet things that God has for me.... 
The gift of walking with those He puts in front of me. 

For today, it was little Ayeko.  And that kid is VERY lovable. 



Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Tilling the land

Tonight is the night.  
THIS very moment is the moment.  
I'm bringing my rusty fingers to the keyboard and writing.  
The normal sounds of the evening aren't around me.  Tonight, I am writing from Kampala where I am currently sitting on on an orange couch watching TLC at a guesthouse that has been like a third home to me this year. 

It's not every day that one sits on an orange couch. 
It's not every day that one gets to watch TLC.  (at least not in my neck of the woods)
And it's not every day that you get to meet up with a little one as CUTE as this one.  

Isn't he adorable?  I had barely greeted his grandpa, mom, and him before I yanked out my camera to take a picture.  I saw the warmth in his demeanor... the calmness of his heart... and I wanted that side of this little guy captured.  And so I started snapping.  

Ayeko John William.  

Tomorrow, he will take his second trip to the operating theatre at International Hospital and will God Willing, he will come out of the theatre with well working INTERNAL plumbing.  

An amazing organization Willing and Abel who have sponsored the care of this little guy.  It has been SUCH an honor to be able to walk with him and his family.  

I have a feeling that this little guys self confidence will only increase as his more timid and fearful nature will reduce.  And I can only pray and trust that as He grows older, He will know how His God took care of Him.  

I covet your prayers for this little man as He goes under the knife tomorrow morning.  
I'll keep you posted on how things go.  

Before I sign out, I wanted to share a few other bits and pieces of my life.  

Nothing super deep tonight.  Though, be default of personality, I tend to go deep.  So, Let's just say that I'll till the soil.  Does one till the soil?  Or is it a different word?  I have no idea.  

But, I know that these weeks have been FULL.  

Full of eating steamed bananas with young women as they share their hearts and ask thought provoking, deep questions.  Questions that have left me digging deeper.  Tilling Deep into the soil of my own heart.  And at times helping to hold the hoe as these young women allow their hearts to be tilled.  I've savored the times with these young ladies. Hearts that are softening towards their Jesus.  And softening towards allowing their hearts to open.... and to be known.   

Yesterday, I was eating a quick lunch in the clinic.  It was one of those days where your list of things to do is a nearly a mile long.  It was a day full of mostly kiddos coming to the clinic.  Lots of coughs and colds and upset stomaches.  Thankfully, not as much malaria.  Something seems to be making its way around.  There were lots of lungs to listen to, skin rashes to look at, and just as many opportunities to squeeze a shoulder and/or give a hug.  Just around lunch time, the barometric pressure did whatever it does just before the clouds explode.  And at just about the moment, I looked outside to see one of my friends working in her garden.  She was determined to work for a few minutes.  What caught my attention was her careful holding of the hoe and the fact that she was not wearing garden clothes.  She had come straight from the office.  Void of gum boots she was at the mercy of any little critters or slithery things that could slither or critter her way.  And so... with giggles deep within my heart, I decided to go help a sister out.  
And by help, I mean really just go and laugh together.  And then when the cloud couldn't hold the water anymore and the drops started dropping like little torpedoes..... we ran our respective ways.  Her back to her house... and me back to the clinic.  

About a month ago, one of our girls was playing soccer with the boys.  And in the process of playing soccer with the boys, she fell.  And the end result of that fall was a very significant and bad fracture of her humerus bone.  She had surgery and at her last review, there was concern about how the bones were healing.  She had very limited movement of her elbow joint.  And so, we have been spending some good amount of time together.  Exercising and stretching her arm.  One of the teachers at school is also spending good amounts of time helping with the same exercises.  

Slowly Slowly... her arm is loosening up... and her range of motion is increasing at a very encouraging pace.  Hugely Awesome.  

These days have been full of variety.  I've been continuing to declutter the clinic.... finding homes for what can be homed and unhoming things that need to be.  It feels good to see things becoming increasingly organized.  A team from the States came and did some AMAZING painting in the clinic.  It looks AMAZING.  A few of the ladies on the team were nurses and they also helped a LOT with going through things of old...and seeing what could and what couldn't be used.  

I wish I had pictures this very moment... but I don't.  ) : 

Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise.
Jeremiah 17:4

This verse was written up on the walls.  

The type of healing we experience from God is not always how we expect it and/or want it... but what is assured is that We will be healed.  I cling to that.  And have clung to that truth countless times in the last several years.  

There is so much more to say.  I am really hoping that I can bring my now, not so rusty fingers to the keyboard soon.  
I yearn to share more about what He is doing.  Exciting things coming up..... and steps walked worth  sharing.

I am thankful for you all.  And your Sweet and Amazing presence on THIS journey that He has me on.  
He is GOOD.  
He is LIFE.