Would You Go Back?

Ever since our return from the mission field, friends have asked, “Will you ever go back?”

That question stirs so many emotions.

My mind races with remembrances and I think, “It was a call not a decision when we went DSC00345 (Small)before and I would expect it to happen that way again if God intends us to go anywhere.”

I say to the Lord what I have been saying, “Lord, here I am…yours…wherever you can use me.”  DSC00344 (Small)

These thoughts were brought forward in my mind  this morning when I was meditating on Acts 17:16.  Luke is describing the inward thoughts of Paul when he arrived in Athens, “His spirit was stirred when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.”  I was taken by this poem by Eva Doerksen in light of this verse:

“If you had been to heathen lands,

Where weary ones with eager hands

Still plead, yet no one understand,

Would you go back?  Would you? 


If you had seen them in despair,

Beat on the breast, pull out the hair,

While demon powers filled the air,

Would you go back?  Would you?


If you had seen the glorious sight,

When heathen people, long in night,

Are brought from darkness into light,

Would you go back?  Would you?


Yet still they wait, a weary throng,

They’ve waited, some so very long,

When shall despair be turned to song,

I’m going back! Would you?

I am thinking again this morning after being blessed by the trusting faith that lived powerfully in the hearts of many Ugandans; perhaps the Lord is helping me see “who” the real heathens are.  When I saw what faith looked like in the lives of Africans who had “nothing” but God and He was completely sufficient– I knew the heathen was me!  For now,  I might be in God’s intended mission field.

May He turn our eyes to see the light of Christ and give us a new song! 


Open My Eyes That I May See

May 4, 2004

Dear Friend,

DSC01495 (Small)There seems to be a new level of tiredness that has entered my spirit–we have lost two mamas and fired a third and are trying to operate the cottages with women who are not yet sure what their responsibilities are.  I am out of the house more than ever.  Jane, I find myself in open conversation with the Lord almost all the time.

Today as I walked between cottages rectifying misunderstandings with the aunties, I said, “Lord, If I was not sure that you are the lover of my soul and the one who is steering me around endless relational potholes today—I would be despairing.  MollyMilk (Small)As it is, you know my weakness–I am just bone tired and longing for rest.”  Later, I was checking on Molly who has a huge knot under her ear and is causing me some concern.  While carrying her, I tripped over a tricycle, I tried to protect her and made every bone in my body sore in the fall that we took.  She giggled like I was playing a game with her.  I am hoping I can get out of bed tomorrow but will take it as a gift from the Jesus who hears and answers if not! :-)  When Molly spent the night with us we took a picture of her that made us roll–it looks like a “Got Milk?” commercial!

May 5, 2004

I slept so hard last night until I have those sheet creases pressed into my skin this morning!  The children will be fascinated by them–they don’t miss a trick and ask about every bump and blemish on my body.  How are you this morning?  Today, I lead Mama Robinah and the aunties in a study of Gen. 13 & 14–the stories that involve Lot and the war between the 4 kings and the 5 kings.

DSC00563 (Small)Auntie Rose came to Bible study for the first time last week and her heart was so lifted.  She is the one who was working for us for a couple of months when we realized her eyesight was very bad.  She had asked for a Bible and Carolyn and I gave her one.  When she opened the pages and looked down, she asked,  “JjaJa, why are the words smeared?”  We got her some reading glasses and she was thrilled to see things that were not clear before.

At the end of Bible study, I asked if there were ways they wanted me to pray for them personally.  I mentioned that since we had just studied Abram’s plan to solve the problem of famine in his own strength — if they were facing any famines and needed prayer.  Rose who is the most self protective African woman I have ever met and one who does not like to show any type of inadequacy said with uncustomary excitement, “JjaJa, pray for me in having a desire to read the Bible.”  She went on to say,  “I was raised Catholic and was never taught this book. When I became a “born again” I heard how important it was to read the Bible.  I have always felt guilty that I don’t know it and when I try to read it I fall asleep.  I can never see the point of what I am reading.      But today, I have enjoyed this so much–I would never have gotten anything from the story if I had not been here to listen.  I feel like I have been asleep and am waking up.”

Jane pray that God gives her a great desire to know Him in His word–as we talked the other night, we both know it is a great gift to have a heart that loves the Scripture. DSC02757 (Small)That moment with Rose put more wind in my sails that I have tasted in some weeks.  She was in the Bible Study because she is filling in for Flavia who has abandoned her role as mama.

What a God we serve–I am so grateful for the privilege of serving these children. Oh friend, we have a God who is a Rock–He is truly my steadfast love, my stronghold and my deliverer–a strong fortress and shield–He is able to subdue the enemies within me and without–whom shall I fear today?  May you find Him a wonderful refuge–I will love hearing the new song that you will sing to Him.

In the steadfast love of the Lord


Sweet Reunion

robinahwilliam-custom.jpgWhile roaming YouTube videos from Uganda, Mike ran across this one of dear Mama Robinah’s boys’ cottage.  It was so great to see how the children had grown since we left.

Jovan in the white striped shirt still does not like to dance.  Charles in the dark blue shirt and pink sandals really does break loose!  I could see Samson tall and lean in the yellow polo and Robert in the yellow t-shirt missing his front teeth! How my heart soared to see how little William had grown when his face came front and center in the greyish white polo near the end of the song.  Best of all was to hear Mama Robinah’s strong voice praising again–that is an experience I have missed greatly.

Sweet & Sour

March 31, 2004

Hello my friend,

DSC01696 (Small)  We brought 2 new babies here yesterday.  After a confusing delay and a much too long wait for dear little Sophie–she is finally here!  Our doctor at SOS is not at all convinced that she is suffering from TB.  He says that the x-ray that he viewed of her chest was of such poor quality that he may recommend a better one.DSC01872 (Small)

He also wants to see her next treatment report from Mengo hospital where she has been getting TB treatments.  In his opinion, he says he would label Sophie as a child who has “failure to survive” complex but believes that that will end when she is eating and sleeping properly.  We were so encouraged by his words.

Sophie will go to cottage #1 where she will be cared for by Auntie Janet.  Mama Jennipher has left the village and not returned. DSC01682 (Small) She left the care of these children in order to take care of a crisis with her own daughter. This is becoming more routine than I can say — any family crisis presses these women to make a choice between Rafiki,  where they are committed to live full time, and their own homes where things are never stable or smooth running.  I know we need a policy that will allow the women some more freedom to come and go so that we can hold on to them over the long haul.  Since I have been here, we have lost 4 mothers!

Auntie Janet has been exceptional in this latest AWOL episode.  She has moved in to cottage #1 and is making the care of these children her top priority. DSC01678 (Small)The presence of babies in the village has lifted all our hearts and made us fix our eyes on the goal rather than all the problems in arriving there!  The children in cottage #1 are fascinated with this cute tyke with the extraordinary eye lashes. Janet is completely besotted as well–it is unusual to see African women display such outward affection.  We have also been waiting on William the one I call our little “Buddah Boy” and he too has arrived to live at Rafiki.    He is taller and his stomach is not as distended — he loves the dining hall and is relishing all the attention he is getting from his new mother– Mama Robinah.

Easter Morning

Jane, we had a tragic thing happen here this weekend.  One of our most trusted guards James Okwir  (O-quill) was on duty Friday night. DSC00282 (Small) James was a Rafiki guard and also worked as a personal gardener for Mike and I and another ROS couple here.  Our hearts were so tender to this wonderful man who tried every way he could to support not only his own family but children who had been orphaned in his extended family.  He would work all night as  guard and then spend several more hours washing cars, replanting and keeping the weeds out of the flower beds around our houses.

Anyway, the generator went off at 10:00 on Friday night and in the darkness he took a 5 gallon can of paint from Rafiki, left the village and went across the road to store it in a house of someone who lives close by.  Since we also pay outside community guards to keep watch at night, one of them saw him stealing and reported it.

James knew he had been caught and that sweet man was so shamed that he went home,  swallowed rat poison and killed himself.  I cannot even begin to describe the heartache this has caused for us  and the nationals who work here.  I found myself of despairing of being any kind of a help to these people when what we bring and build is so tempting to them.  Mike eating sugar cane James was in many ways one of our “success” stories.   He had fled the north where the war is going on rather than be impressed into service with the rebels.  He found work here–he found Christ here and was the most dependable worker.  How horrid that his escape from certain death in the north ended with this– to flee here to supposed safety only to face such temptation and shame that he ended up taking his own life.  The heartache does not stop with him–he left a mentally unstable pregnant wife and extended family who wailed and wondered who would support them now.  Mike commented that CEO’s can steal millions and experience no remorse or shame but this man could not face the world after stealing what would amount to about $50.

Jane, this is the resurrection day of our Lord.  My hope rests in the truth of this day.  I am convinced that James is right now as alive as Jesus and is enjoying perfect fellowship with him.  I am convinced that the truth of Romans 8:31-39 does not mock him because of his sin but has been fulfilled in him because of what Christ did in spite of his sin.  I didn’t expect to appreciate the truth of resurrection in this horrible way but it is more real and precious to me this year than ever before.  He is Alive!  He is Alive indeed!

With heavy, hopeful heart,


The Misery of Malaria

November 6, 2003

Dear Friend,

DSC00661 (Small) Today is training day and so I will try to grab some desk time to prepare for that.  Chloe did fine with the immunization.  I enjoyed talking with Mama Flavia and preparing her with the news that she might have an eldest son added to her family as soon as Monday. We are planning to place Yoweri in her cottage when the paper work gets completed.  Praise God his blood work was fine.  DSC00546 (Small) When I shared Yoweri’s story with her, she responded sweetly, “I feel that that one is already mine.  It is the plan of God that he should come to my home.”  Can you imagine?  She has only been here a month and has three  3 year olds and a 12 month old and is willing to take on more!

It has not been smooth sailing for her since we brought her the four children from Sanyu.  The longer I am here the more outraged I am by malaria! It is the most awful disease–it grieves me that it does not raise shocked responses in the western world like SARS, mad cow and bird flu do!  Many of our children come to the village already infected.   kato2

The malarial parasites live in the liver but from time to time move out and into the red blood cells rapidly multiplying and making a person very ill.  Kato woke last night delirious and convulsing.  He had to be sponged down and given fever reducer every 3 hours to make it through the night.  Flavia had seen such symptoms before and knew it was malaria.  We did not go to hospital because there is no one there to help you in the middle of the night–you still wait till morning.

This morning we went to SOS clinic and thankfully they responded to his condition “quickly”  and gave him a bed.  The nurse worked with him from 9:40 until 11:00 giving him a fever suppository, a valium shot to relax the seizing activity, syrup to also help reduce the fever, a shot of quinine and a shot of antibacterial something or other.  He wet all over me, bled all over me from a nosebleed and then vomited all over me before we got home.  He was pitiful and the quinine effects are almost worse than the malaria symptoms.  Anyway, on this day I have plead the mercy of Christ for this little one and He inclined His ear and listened.      There is more to share but I am retiring in case things are hopping again tonight.  I love you dear friend and I know that the gathering at the Biltmore was glorious for Christ and His kingdom.

Until later, lissa

November 7, 2003

Greetings again dear friend,
DSC00647 (Small)I remembered you when I awoke and prayed for your teaching time.  May God visit you with much grace and power as you serve the sheep the finest fare from His Word.  I slept very well and Kato did okay through the night.  Part of his take home medication was Phenobarbital to relax his brain from the effects of the malaria and quinine tablets–I am learning much about this disease and none of it is good.

Flavia is doing beautifully in caring for him but I sense the mamas think I am too “soft” with Kato and showing too much concern.   It seems that these African women have a strong cultural predisposition against being soft–or by my standards outwardly affectionate.

I remember reading in American history that when infant mortality figures were high, parents were not as indulgent or inclined to attach too  affectionately to children.  It was a self protective way of coping when a mother was faced with the reality that death might snatch away her precious little one.  Mama Teopista reminded me of that when she said, “JjaJa, if you are too kind to this one, how will he ever want to get well?”  I never stop being fascinated with the threads of cultural norms that I discover here.

I was able to spend some time with the Lord this morning and was grateful for the time then managed a few minutes to get things ordered here at home before heading out to check on the children.   DSC01656 (Small)

We were reminded that we have invaded and only partially civilized the bush as we encountered 2 small snakes at the cottages yesterday.  Any snake is too much for me so I have been walking very much more carefully today!  The mamas laughed when they saw me surveying the ground on my way to and from the cottages.

The folklore of when snakes come out and how dangerous they are occupied our Gazebo conversation.  Pray for mercy!

I hope you arise rested and satisfied in Him and what He did through you last night.  I am off to take Kato more juice–you are to drink plenty of fluids for this malady as well–so if this is spoiling him I am doing it!

With love,