My Strength and My Song

“The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.  With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”

Isaiah 12:2-3

singing (Small) “Trust me and don’t be afraid, for I am your Strength and Song.  Think what it means to have Me as your Strength.  I spoke the universe into existence; My Power is absolutely unlimited!

Human weakness, consecrated to Me, is like a magnet, drawing My Power into your neediness.  However, fear can block the flow of My Strength into you.

Instead of trying to fight your fears, concentrate on trusting Me.  When you relate to Me in confident trust, there is no limit to how much I can strengthen you.

Remember that I am also you Song.  I want you to share My Joy, living in conscious awareness of My Presence.  Rejoice as we journey together toward heaven; join me in singing My Song.” ((Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, Integrity Publishing, p. 84))


“Surely you have granted him eternal blessings and made him glad with the joy of your Presence.”  Psalm 21:6

The Spirit of Christmas

December 23, 2003

Dearest Friend,

DSC00971 (Small) Mike and I will spend this anniversary opening our home to the mamas and children. I have made punch with soda and fruit juice and have two kinds of homemade cookies to offer. I reduced the sugar in the cookies since the mamas think we mzungus make things sickeningly sweet. The mamas really have a heart to teach the children manners and want them to have the opportunity of visiting and learning how to act in other’s homes. Some mamas teach the children to bow before each adult and extend their hands for a hand shake. DSC00978 Each is reminded that greeting is very important so I will greet each child at the door with proper attention and linger long enough over each one so they can “find their words.” This will be so fun! Yesterday, we had our own little Christmas pageant and I videotaped it. The children thought it was like any other camera and ignored me pointing it at them. I want to show them the video at the party–it will be the first time they have seen a TV and the first time they will see themselves on screen. It should be fun. Mike will get the guitar out and we will sing and praise and pray together while they are here. This is the Christmas spirit here in Africa!

Cottage3 (Small) DSC00981 (Small)The children have been so excited since we began decorating. There are cedar here and the people climb them and cut out a branch to serve as the tree. It is traditional to decorate on Christmas Eve and the trees are covered with balloons, cotton balls, sweeties and Christmas cards. DSC00990 (Small)This year we started a little earlier with the decorating, Pastor Fred allowed us to cut three trees from the cedar at his place. I provided each cottage with a string of lights which was a huge and unexpected treat . What joy there is in making Christmas for others. I have wrapped each child a “new” t-shirt and have a small matchbox car for the boys and something special for the girls too. DSC00974 (Small)

I have been fed by Luke’s account of our Lord’s birth more than I can say. We are blessed that our Savior did not stay far off–that He came near–Immanuel!

In Christ,


Our Tribe Increases

November 10, 2003

Dear Friend,
I have typed about three messages to you this morning and deleted each as I read and was sickened by the self pitying that I was willing to type.  I think I would just plead that you pray for my soul to be satisfied in Christ alone this week.  I especially need God to strip me DSC00894 (Small)of the need to feel “successful” here and show me how to help these mamas without hindering their care of the children.

Auntie Janet is out today and so I will assist Jenipher in her cottage–Monday is bed linen, serious cleaning day and she will need help.

Yoweri has arrived to live at Rafiki village!  He is our oldest and a little boy who has memories of parents and has understanding of the unsettling shifts in his surroundings.  He was pitiful looking when we picked him up at the restaurant.  Gone were the fancy clothes; he was sent looking like a street child–in fact that was what he was. Ywire2 Overwhelmed, he did not know what to make of his new clothes and toys but he clung to them just as he did the peanut butter sandwich!  He had trouble settling in and wanted to cling to me because I was the most familiar.  I introduced him to Mama Flavia and he resisted going to his cottage. I know that he will respond quickly to consistent care and kindness. I never tire of seeing these children go from dull, expressionless faces to smiles when they sense that they really are safe. clip_image002[1] Interestingly, he is drawn to the cows that help keep the grass down here in the village.

When the cottage door opens, he bounds out of it grabs a long stick and begins to join our gardeners in herding these huge beasts.  He is the only child here who is not terrified of the “Nte” which is the Lugandan word for cow.  DSC00116 (Small) He races across the grounds shouting, “Nte! Nte!”.  Mama Jenipher says that he does that because he is from a western Ugandan tribe who herd cattle.  I think he will be happy here with the cows and maybe soon with the people!DSCN4531 (Small)

Moo Mowers Mother selection committee meets Thursday and we have a birthday celebration for Robert and Chloe Friday DSC00636 (Small) so there is much to tend to to get ready for these.DSC00632 (Small)  I talked with my folks yesterday and they sounded very good–I pray the winter is not severe and they can get out to church each week.

The most bizarre thing happened yesterday while I was elbow deep in dish water at the Dining Hall.  With sweat dripping and bright sunshine beating down outside the kitchen window, I heard the strangest thing!

Juliette our cook had the radio on listening to Lugandan praise music, then all of a sudden I heard the first notes of “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”!  Here in the middle of Uganda on a day that looks like June I was more than surprised to hear such a familiar song in such “un-Christmasy” surroundings. I thought, “What the heck, I like this song so I sang along but it just doesn’t feel the same when you are sweating!  Have a great day and give my regards to Judy when she comes.


O Sing to the Lord a New Song

October 19, 2003

Good morning friend.  Today I am staying on site with Cottage #1 while the others have been transported to church.  There has been a new willingness from the staff to assist in transporting children and mamas to “morning prayers”—we can be changed–praise God.  We all have surrendered much to get here and yet are still quick to draw lines and raise boundaries over which we will not yield– DSC00318 as though to say, “This is as far as I am willing to go.”  The curious thing is that we think we are choosing the good when we say that–it is the pathway to some new misery!

This morning I will go down to the gazebo and pray with the children and share the story of Jonah and Auntie Janet and I will sing as many hymns as we can.  She loves to sing and we trust as the children mill around and play that their spirits are absorbing profound truths of the faith.   Robert One day as Robert and I walked hand in hand to the dining hall he began singing with such fervor “Great is Thy Faithfulness“.   It melted my heart to hear that precious African accent and wonderful pitch remember and sing that song with such gusto.  What do you think God will do with a boy with such a heart?

Mike made it to the Post Office yesterday and they had a note in our box that said there was a package waiting to be picked up.  Of course when he went to the package pick up spot it was closed.  We will have to paDSC00326y some shillings (about 50 cents worth)to the Post Office because they have been kind enough to hold the box!  Things are so different here–every service performed is seen as an opportunity to raise revenue–since there is almost no taxation on individuals it makes sense to recoup business expenses this way. I will let you know about the package after Mike retrieves it tomorrow.

DSC00575 I trust that you are worshipping well to day–I listened to Jeff’s sermon on Jesus as Physician for our souls and was wowed by the boldness of that Word.  How would we be blessed if we believed the sufficiency of our God?

I am grateful for these hours alone in the house–drinking coffee–listening to praise songs and eating toast with cranberry jam.  Talk about refreshment of soul–this is it!  I do not miss things much at all–but privacy and being alone at times is a longing that about knocks me down.  As with the leaves there in Asheville–I did not know the magnificence of alone time when I had it in abundance!  I savor this like the finest treat…it is.  I join the psalmist and “Exalt the Lord our God and worship at his holy mountain, for the Lord our God is holy.”
Love to you,

October 21, 2003

Dear Girlfriend,

DSC01331 Today the housemothers and I will be discussing the 6th chapter of John–I’ll be re-teaching the lessons that I learned from you in that passage years ago about whether we want Jesus as Bread King or as He is –the King of the Universe.  Tomorrow we head out to Jinja and our boxes are supposed to arrive and be delivered by the time of our return Friday.

It cost another $500 to get those things through the customs maze–they open each box and if you have too many towels or sheets, or new things they charge you as though you are a business bringing in things to sell.

We are being helped so much by a Ugandan agent who will usher our things through and try to advocate for us.     Jane–I wish you could have seen Casey’s face as she opened the box from you yesterday.  She was as thrilled as could be and immediately rushed next door to share her good fortune with the Coiner girls.  Lisa immediately requested to borrow “A Knight’s Tale” and Casey allowed her to have first viewing.  She loved the bracelet –it looks so much like Casey and she had it on going to school this morning.

For me–I soaked off the red mud in a bath and climbed into bed on my heating pad with a book and don’t remember waking or wincing with joint pain last night!  Thank you,thank you my friend!

I pray that we both will grow more and more like David who had learned to despise sin in himself and in those around him. He longed for holiness–he was longing for heaven!  I hope your eyes rest on the faithful in this second day of ACTP.

Love to you,

Here I am to Worship

September 23, 2003

Good Morning Friend,

How much I have to learn about what it means to worship!  It is not about being comfortable in a pew–it is not about having a great sound system–it is not about beginning on time or being well ordered–it is not about being timed down to the hour.  As I engage in worship with my friends here they show me it is the greatest treat of the week!  They come prepared to stay the day! They hunger to talk and share of all the ways God has blessed them in the past week, so the services begin with testimonies of God’s faithfulness–there are so many wanting to speak that the Pastor often has to limit it to 8 or so! central baptist 2(Small) It was heart melting when our helper Flavia stood up and with tears in her voice gave thanks to God for her new job with JjaJa Mike and Lissa. What a privilege it was to be in worship in this place!  Worship is alive in Wakiso and in my heart.  There are two churches that we take the children to.  One is close, just a couple of miles from the village and is called Wakiso Central Baptist Church. That church is led by a wonderful shepherd named Pastor Fred Kibuuka. Fred and Susan (Medium) (Small) His wife is named Susan and she is a great help to Rafiki both in ministering to children and identifying girls who would be good candidates for the Girls’ Center.  

When worship begins,  it opens with music.  Here at Wakiso they have a fragile electronic piano and a man whose enthusiasm more than makes up for any lack of skill.  His chord progressions are more rhythmic and drum beat like than they are carrying any melody line.  The worshippers love for the music to be vigorous and to build in energy and participation, so the praise time goes on and on with people on their feet clapping and so joy filled. I was struck with how the faces are smiling and how delighted they are to be together—our worship seems passive and unemotional by comparison.   DSC02785 (Small) Solos flow into congregational singing and back again–and yet there are no bulletins and you are convinced that what goes on is spontaneous and honest expression from hearts overflowing with love and gratefulness to God.  Following the music, the Pastor invites the congregation to pray and everyone does–out loud and at the same time–the cacophony of sound that rises is powerful–some crying out for mercy, some jubilant and thankful, some confessing and asking for forgiveness. 

There is no hurry in any of this and at a time that seems corporately sensed a quieter song begins and we are ushered together into a time of Pastoral Prayer.  The most striking difference in American and African prayer is that we bring a list of requests to God and they bring a list of praise and thanksgiving.  What a contrast–we have much and want more– they have almost nothing and are profoundly grateful and want to speak it!   The time of offering is also an event–there is a table with a basket set up front and the people sing and dance on the way to deposit their shillings and seem thrilled to have some to give.

I love Pastor Fred’s wife Susan.  She is a fireball and completely dedicated to children’s ministry. DSC02788 (Small) Children from the surrounding village wander into church at odd times and find a place on a crooked, rough bench and look up to her and listen attentively.  They sit pressed together for about 45 minutes relatively still and listening–no flannel board visuals, no VCR, no snack time or toy time–they listen to her teach/preach from Scripture.  The children range in age from about three years old to about eleven. 

The only discipline I see being done is for her to move a child to the front row so they could listen better!  She too begins her time by asking the children, “Who has a testimony of what they are thankful to Jesus for?”  25 hands reach for the sky and they are anxious to go to the front and tell their friends how Jesus helped them by giving them a t-shirt, recovery from flu (cold), providing school fees, healing from malaria, some new slippers (flip flops), or a mother healed, or getting a sweetie (candy), etc.  It is the most humbling thing in the world to sit amid a people who seem to have nothing but who have eyes to see that life is a gift and who have trained eyes to look for something to be grateful for.  How much I have to learn about worship!  Until later—lissa