Thursday, December 29, 2011

I can't believe it has taken me so long to write in here again.

I have so many emotions right now - I keep thinking about the days ahead and the days behind and the days that I am living. Something that I can't seem to shake is: we could go anywhere - we could do anything.

It all started several weeks ago when I was having a no good, terrible kind of week. After a horrendous excursion through town and epic cry I asked Joe if we could go to Thailand. "When?" he asked - my response? "Tomorrow". I admit now that it was extremely dramatic but that's how I felt - I had to go...not run away... just go. Five days later we were in Thailand. We road elephants, took boats rides, raced around the streets of Chiang Mai on the back of a motor-bike, ate amazing food, and we were completely joy-filled.

I did it... for the first time in a long time I let go...I stopped thinking. See, when you start working with the poor you analyze every single thing. You think about how every action, every word is going to effect some-one: spiritually, economically, culturally, and emotionally. All the time non-stop you worry about the decisions you make...and that day, I didn't think. When we cleared our minds we felt this deep peace about our future. A peace that was missing for so long - something we needed to make these big decisions in our life.

Today we are thinking about us. Joe and I are leaving Uganda at the beginning of next year - like always the details are blurry but I keep thinking: we could go anywhere - we could do anything and it's exhilarating.

Please pray with us as we seek.

Monday, September 5, 2011

The last month has been a whirlwind.
We left Uganda in a hurricane...we packed, organized, delegated, said goodbyes, and tied up loose ends all in a matter of a few days and then we took off in the middle of the night. I always wondered what would happen if there was a family emergency and we were half a world I wonder no more and wish it wasn't so.

Those 3 1/2 weeks in America were the hardest we have ever been through. Seeing the person you love the most hurting over the loss of a loved one and not being able to do anything about is incredibly painful and humbling. I felt completely vulnerable and not strong enough...and still feel remnants of it even now as we are home...even now as tears well up in my eyes.

We returned to Uganda on a wednesday morning, packed up our house in bukaya on a thursday, and moved to jinja town on a friday. Looking back I dont know how we did it but I'm glad we did. With this move has come a lot less stress and a lot more community. I think down the road I will really ache to be back in that house... our first real home but today, I do not.

We are finally getting back into the swing of things and once again contemplating more change as we consider opening a retail space/office area here. On top of all things tukula I have recently begun helping with admin. work at Amani Baby Cottage and teaching an art class once a week at St. Nicholas Primary. I enjoy all of this but can't help but miss my days of solitude - learning and growing in the comforts and quietness of my home. Learning and growing outside of my own environment means more holding back tears and having to think quicker. We're still continuing with the bible study with friends on Saturdays - learning about life, love and other mysteries. I realize more than ever that I need that time so badly - to fellowship and really dig deep into scripture. It's rewarding and also humbling to know that we were not made to know everything.

The ladies of tukula are doing well. Esther said "when you are here with us it feels like home".
To me, that's worth way more than selling a billion bags.

I ask that you please keep us all in prayer as this is a season of grace and change for us.
Lots of love,

Saturday, July 9, 2011

At only one year she was abandoned at the hospital. She couldn't speak to tell anyone who her guardian was or what they looked like or if they would be back. A few days passed and she found herself in a yard full of other children her size and ladies she didn't know. Every day she is loved, fed, and cared for but it's not enough. She goes down the slide laughing the entire way and lands in my arms. She places her arms around my neck and points back to the slide. She is my friend and I see Jesus in her. "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."

Hassan is around 15 years old and calls my name from across the street. He runs to me and immediately asks where I'm going and I reply "market" and without hesitation from either of us we walk together hand in hand. On our way he makes sure I don't get hit by cars or ripped off by local vendors. Hassan knows the streets well because he lives there and most days he likes it that way. He has big dreams of being a taxi driver and going to America. With the little money he gets from begging or selling soap, Hassan will buy me popcorn not expecting anything in return and when I give him money for it he says "don't mind". Hassan is my friend and I see Jesus in him. "This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. "

I follow the sound of humming sewing machines through the loud, muddy market. "Auntie M, you're most welcome!" comes from a small blue stall. We greet each other with hugs and hand shakes as I make my way to an empty spot on the floor. We spill our insides and chat like we've known each other for a lifetime when really it's been only a year or a few months, even a few weeks. Each of us from different backgrounds, tribes, and religions but we love each other. These ladies are my friends and I see Jesus in them. "The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry."

Jaja Pius loves serving her family. She wraps her grandchild in a blanket and ties the baby to her back as she digs in the garden. She walks barefoot through the village and greets everyone along her way. I bring her some beans or fish and she kneels down to thank me and I get down on my knees and rub her back. Jaja Pius is my friend and I see Jesus in her."The LORD will rescue his servants; no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned"

I spend my days staring Jesus right in the face.
Every day is different but every day He's there calling my name, seeking my attention.
Some days I refuse to look back - I don't acknowledge His good and perfect gifts...His people.
Some days It's all I can do to keep from falling flat on my face before Him...hugging His people.

Everyday is different but every day He's there calling my name, seeking my attention.
"...I saw God face to face and He spared my life."
He's there looking back at us - even on the hardest days.
Turn your eyes to makes all the difference.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

bringing love with a sword

Recently Joe and I started going to a bible study here that has really been making me think about what I truly believe. How it goes is the leader will tell stories of things that have happened in the bible but these stories are told almost like "old wives tales". It's fantastic - because this makes it easier to remember and re-tell but also helps us to ask questions instead of taking the verses for just what they are - allowing us to dig deeper. I would like to post here about what I've been learning as a way to share but also remember.

We started with creation and Adam & Eve.
While we were discussing these stories I couldn't stop thinking about the song "When We Fell" by David Bazan - this song made me extremely uncomfortable when I first heard it.
If you knew what would happen and made us just the same then you, my Lord, can take the blame..."
I was quick to think that God would never do something like that to us. The bible study leader asked if God is just playing games with us. once again I was uncomfortable and immediately thought about God's mercy and gave Him the benefit of the doubt. But after a lot of thought I can see how people think that God simply is just messing around with us - like we're puppets. I was reading through the verses several times and couldn't help but notice that God SEEKS US. He extends His grace quicker than He gives curses. When Adam & Eve ate the forbidden fruit He WENT LOOKING for them and asked what happened. He gave them a chance to ask for forgives but instead passed the blame around. When Cain killed his brother Abel God WENT TO HIM and asked where Abel was - Cain lied.

"Because the God who is Love desires to love the whole world and genuine love involves freedom, the creatures of the Creator have received the gift of freedom to love God as a result of God’s own free decision to create and love."

Last week we read the story of Noah and what struck me the most during this story is Genesis 6:6 "The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled" He felt regret. we discussed this at length and we ended with "God Himself never changes but He changes His mind". This makes me feel like He is flexible, that He hears our cries and re-acts with genuine feelings. He may know everything that will happen before it happens but He may not know how it's going to make Him feel in the moment.

*We serve a God that is LOVE and love is messy. When love comes in there has to be room for changes and flexibility. I'm learning a lot about this personally. As God uses His sword to cut away everything that is not Love inside of me (matthew 10:34) I'm having to change a lot and although I thought I counted the costs it's been really hard and painful.
Please keep us in your prayers as we keep going ahead with all this stretching.

to those who read this: we love you!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

rise and fall

Sorry again for the lack of updates.
To be honest it's been hard to write lately because life's been hard.
Lots of letting go of things that I have been carrying for years.
Lots of dreams lost and relationships broken.
Lot's of good to come least I have hope.

Once again, I find this fitting:
"Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives? When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight. Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.” But I say unto you, they are inseparable. Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed. Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy. Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced. When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall."-Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

well this is embarrassing...

I completely fail at keeping this blog up to date.
I promise I will be better... someday.

In the meantime go here. It's surprisingly up to date.
I also started this whole "friday favorites" thing - which I already missed one.
I really apologize for all this not writing business.

If you are really itchin' for some good blogs check out FAITH BLOGS.

Hope you are all well and that you have a fantastic Easter weekend!
love, Melissa

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A glimpse of Tukula

We made a video! It gives a small glimpse at what Tukula's tailoring business does and we can't stop watching it over here - we get to hang out with these women whenever we want but this video totally puts everything into perspective for us. We love them and we hope you can get to know them a bit better through this video!

Monday, January 3, 2011

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:6-7)

There's a little boy I mention A LOT his name is Becaham. He was a part of serving his children's malnutrition rehab program back in the spring of 2010. That's how Joe and I got to know him and fell in love with him. Every time something was happening with his family/situation the director of SHC would call us and let us know. We prayed for him and loved on him and desired for him to grow in Jesus. We took him in for the month of June while the Director was in America and during that time a lot of people told us that we should "just adopt him" there was "no hope for his family" and so I became vulnerable and really wanted to adopt this little boy and make him a part of our family. I daydreamed about taking him to America and about meeting my family and how great it would be to have him in our lives forever. and then in July he went home - I was selfishly hurting and felt like I had lost a child and was unbelievably bitter towards all the things "standing in the way" between Becaham and I being together. I tried to distract myself so I dove head first into Tukula - designing, relationship building, sourcing materials, building a website/online store, getting promotional materials, etc etc and I loved it. I was so happy to be doing what we set out to do here and to be spending some time learning about three very incredible women. But this little boy captured a large part of my heart so I constantly thought about him - about what he was doing - if someone was loving him - if he was happy and healthy...

In early November we decided to visit him in his village called Mayuge. We took a translator and we learned that Becaham was "good but not so good" we started interceding on Becahams behalf and my heart ached - "WHY GOD can't he just be with us?" - We went back the very beginning of December to check up on him again - once again we took a translator and heard so many different things - women of the village kept saying "just take him there is no one here to care for that boy" - we heard stories of cowives coming and going of arguments about who would care for the boy. Once again my heart was aching - "WHY GOD can't he just be with us?". I pleaded with God and asked him to take the desire to have him away from me if it was not His will to have Becaham be a part of our family - I wanted so badly to guard my heart.

We asked the family if Becaham could spend Christmas with us - they were excited and happy that we wanted to take him. Two weeks passed and we went to pick up Becaham up and the father told us that all his wives had left and there was no one to care for Becaham (his 7- year old twin brothers were currently the ones to do so). He asked if we could take him for five years and then bring him back for school. Joe told him our situation - about how we didnt know if we would be in Uganda for five years and that if we took him we would want him forever. the dad immediately said "NO" - almost chuckling like Joe was crazy for even thinking that he would give his child up forever. We were shocked - all we have ever heard was "just take him" we never knew there was a time limit or that the dad actually cared (or at least what it seemed like). After the next three days he was with us we thought about everything - we thought about the possibility of fostering him and decided that if he was going to return to the village living with us, learning english, getting used to us being his "parents" was not a good idea so we decided to tell the father that we would be willing to help him with anything but we couldn't take him for only 5 years. my heart ached and again I pleaded with God - "WHY can't he just be with us?"

The day after Christmas we made the trek back to Mayuge to return Becaham and give the dad the dad our decision. When we arrived who was there to greet us but a NEW WIFE. I was SHOCKED - seriously THREE DAYS LATER. The father was in good spirits and looked relieved - he told us that his family now has hope for Becaham - that basically a new wife had solved all his "problems". As we drove away I just stared and stared at Becaham on the back of his brother. I cried - I cried for Becaham - for his little life and out of how unfair it is that his mom had to die of AIDS. I cried for his dad - that he is so unbelievably wrapped up in Satan's lies. I pray for them a couple times a day and constantly think of him and miss him and wish I could just be his mom. I still continue to ache not just for myself now or that he could just be with us but for Becaham that he will grow up knowing that there is God who LOVES him and DESIRES him and that no matter how many women go in and out of his life - they do not leave because of him.

To be honest I am about to break.
Dealing with this experience and also just seeing other friends who have been hurt because of there husband/father has had multiple wives is ripping my heart apart. I know that it's a different culture here and it's hard to understand without seeing but I ask you please to pray for the women and children around the world feeling unloved, unimportant, and neglected because of men in their lives who are having multiple wives or committing adultery.

I know that for now Becaham is happy - that he knows no different and that he loves the children in his village and they love him. Everyday it gets easier to "let go" and God is bringing me a peace that surpasses all understanding.