Sunday, May 23, 2010

"Do not pass not collect $200"

I was reminded of the game monopoly today...

Uganda redesigned its curency and released it this past monday. I have been waiting to catch a glimpse of it the entire week and today I saw one of our new bills...

They are about half the size of our old ones...making them about the same size as monopoly money and to top it off...they are all different colors as well.

We have blue billa, purple ones, yellow ones, etc...

Im curious who designed our new currency...maybe parker brothers??

Either way, its gonna take some getting used to...I feel like I am 10 years old again, trying to buy a home on park place avenue!

let's hope I pass go this time...and collect $200...haha!

Here's a video...if you are interested in seeing what our new currency looks like :)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Flash Back

I believe it was 2003 or 2004 when I heard the very first choir from Uganda sing...

They came to my church in Simi Valley, California.

It was a group of children from Africa Renewal Ministries...located in Gaba Uganda.

I remember the concert they gave, along with the testimonies they shared of their lives and challenges.

I can truly say that something changed in me that day.

My heart felt.

My eyes saw.

And my hands wanted nothing more than to give.

It was then that I knew I HAD to go to Uganda.

It was then that I also knew I needed to do something that was outside of myself.

After the concert, I went straight to the sponsorship table and signed up to help one of their children who needed school fees.

I choose a girl.

Her name was Nakibuuka Deborah.

I met Deborah a few years later, in 2006. I didn't know my heart could love so much.

I met her again in Dec of 2007 when I volunteered in GBI's library.

And ever since our initial meeting, I think about her all the time. I pray for her and truly love her as if she was my own child.

Since I have been here though, I had not seen her...that is, until today.

I was in the GBI library this afternoon, the very same library I had volunteered in back in 2007, and I heard a small voice ask if Lena was there...

I assumed it was a student, or staff member, coming to ask one of their usual questions when from around the corner came Deborah.

I couldn't believe it! I was so excited!

She has grown up so much from the first time we met back in she is 15 years old, such a grown up compared to the 8 year old whose picture I choose after the conference!

She hugged me and told me that she had heard around town that I was working at GBI again, and she wanted to come and see how I was doing.

It was so sweet that God linked us together again!

I look forward to spending more time with her...

To finally meeting her grandmother, and sharing a long awaited meal with her once more.

It was a flash back of sorts, one that flashed me back to that concert in 2003...the one that really did change my life...

I thank God, that I will never be the same because of it...

He has changed me for the better, and for that I am eternally grateful!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

HCD Alliance

One partnership that I am really really excited about is with the HCD Alliance. It stands for Holistic Child Development and was started by compassion international. Its aim is to work in collaboration with theological seminaries that have a desire to teach & train up child development workers so they can minister effectively to the communities around them. Currently they only have 2 schools in all of Africa that are a part of the alliance, but GBI will be the third!

We join ranks with schools like Malaysia Baptist, Fuller Seminary and Daystar University. It is an awesome opportunity to work together, in collaboration with believers all over the globe, for one common purpose!

This June (the 2nd-20th), I have been invited to visit Malaysia Baptist Seminary, and get to see hands-on what they are doing and how they are doing it. I can't wait to see what new and exciting things I will learn, and how I can help both Malaysia Baptist and GBI as we continue to train up local leaders for the transformation of the communities around us! I come!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Costco snacks

As a kid I LOVED mom would go and shop for hours but us kids would just hit up all the sample tables until we officially declared that we had indeed already eaten lunch and desert. It was fun!

So today at the grocery store, I had a first...there was a sample table. I was shocked! Shocked first because they were actually giving things out for free but shocked secondly by what the samples were...

Any guesses???

The samples were wine...

They had plastic cups out and about 10 different wines.

It was hilarious to me that I was drinking wine out of a plastic cup in the middle of the grocery store...but hey...when in Rome!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Grocery Store Munchies

Most of us have done it at some point in our lives...

You are in the store and you get really hungry or really thirsty and so you grab for your favorite snack food, have a little gulp and a little bite while you finish up your shopping...when you get to the front to checkout you happily hand over your half eaten, half empty container to the cash register and happily go about your day...A little more satisfied then when you came in.

So a few days ago, I decided to do a bunch of errands, some of which took me into Kampala.

I usually do most of my shopping on my road, which consist of smaller "mom and pop" stores but since I was in town, I went to one of the bigger supermarkets...It's like any states side Ralphs or Vons...

So In I away with my little handheld cart...I fill it to the brim and head to the checkout counter. As the checker was checking me out, two of my items didn't show up in her computer so she finished ringing up my other things, charged me, and then sent her bagger to go do a price check.

As I stood at the end of the counter, bags in hand, the checker started ringing up the people behind me and let me say...I learned a whole new thing about grocery store munchies!

The guy directly behind me was a married guy with a kid. He had a large cart full of household items (with baby food and diapers included) and his "munchie of choice"...a can of Guinness! haha! I didn't even know you could do that in public! But as the checker, scanned his half open, half empty can of beer, she didn't even think twice about handing it back to him as he finished and paid, can in hand.

At this point I was thinking..."hummm" I wonder if this is NORMAL munching behavior...when directly after this guy, was another shopper, carrying some snack food and his half opened, half empty beverage of choice...a can of tusker!

Once again, the checker scanned his open can of beer and handed it back to the man, who continued to enjoy his beer in the check out line of the grocery store.

At this point, the bagger had returned with my price check items, and I left the store, thinking to myself...I am never going to question whether it is appropriate to open a bottle of water in this grocery store again...! I also thought to my self that it must take a lot of courage to open up your favorite alcoholic beverage in the middle of your Saturday afternoon grocery shopping trip!

I must admit...I learn new culturally appropriate things almost every day!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

For His Glory...not ours

I find that the prosperity gospel is alive and well all over the world...

You hear people say that positive thinking is the answer...if you think positively everything in your life will go well...

You also hear people say that if you a christian all good things will happen to you...that God is just waiting to bless you with wealth and prosperity...

Today I heard someone say that God's will is to grant all you all of your goals and desires...

I find those theologies hard to swallow but I know they are not new ideas...after all, it was Job's friends who also believed the same things...Job's friends believed that Job must have sinned to deserve all of the suffering he incurred...

BUT in reality, Job found FAVOR in God's eyes...God's plan and will is not to grant our desires, our goals, or our dreams...His will and plan is to bring GLORY to Himself.

He created us for HIS glory, and it is often our sufferings, and our weaknesses that bring him the most glory.

So often we think that the world revolves around us and so it's common to think that God's plans must also revolve around us. The truth is, God doesn't NEED us...He laid the foundation of the world, He knows all the stars in the sky by name and knows every plan he has for us.

The truth is, we are put on this earth to bring Glory TO Him, not to be glorified BY Him with fancy cars, big bank accounts and the power of positive thinking...

If we truly believe that to be true, then we are missing the true story of the bible...It's all about JESUS...not all about US!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Refrigerator Surprises...

I don't know if I have ever blogged about Alema or not BUT she is WONDERFUL!

Alema works for me at my house on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and works at my neighbors place on Monday and Thursday...

She is a great help to me...hand washing all my clothes, scrubbing mud off my shoes, ironing, dusting, mopping, and all those domestic duties that seem to take 8 times longer here than in the US.

So twice a week I come home to a nice clean place and then there are Mondays and Thursdays...on those days, I don't come home to a freshly cleaned place but I usually find some goodies in my refrigerator...Alema usually comes over sometime during the day and puts an avocado or some jack fruit there for me to munch on when I get home from work.

I love it! Its a great reminder that I am loved and cared for!

In addition to being a great reminder, it is humbling to me at the same time. See, while Alema is employed 4 days a week, she still only makes about $20 a week...that's about $80 a month.

With this $80 she not only supports herself, but her daughter as well. They live in the slums of Gaba and still, she manages to bring me goodies...Her generosity amazes me and humbles me constantly.

I pray that someday I will be able to be as loving, giving, and caring as Alema. She is a real life example to me of the widow who joyfully gave, not out of her wealth but out of her poverty.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


(per my friend Tracy, this post needs a warning...Use your own judgement in whether or not you want to read this as it contains sensitive material on the sexual abuse of children.)

Today I can honestly say I was DISGUSTED!

I have been known to use the word disgusting before to describe bugs and vomit…but today I realized the depravity that comes with the word disgusting.

Literally, I was so disgusted that I felt like vomiting and when I think of it now, 5 hours later, it invokes the exact say sense in me again.

As part of my job, it is my responsibility to go through the books we have acquired for our child development program and create course outlines, descriptions and core text books that will be used for each class.

Now when I heard the word child development initially I thought of theorists like Piaget, Vygotski and the like…but now, as I plan our courses and the content, I don’t think child development is really the right word for our program. I think our program should really be called the Children at Risk Program.

Topics we include are:

Holistic Ministry to Children

Understanding Children at Risk

Ministry to Street Children

Children and Armed Violence

Sexually Exploited and Trafficked Children

Crisis Counseling

Child Evangelism and Discipleship

Mentoring and Listening to Children

Issues and Potential of the Girl Child

Global Perspectives on Youth

Children and the Church

HIV and other childhood health risks


I think you get the point…Definitely not your typical “Child Development” Course.

So in the 4 hours I spent in the library today, I made it through the first 2 shelves of the 9 shelves that we have on child development. My goal was to really look at the books. Their descriptions, the content they contained, and see which books would be beneficial to have as class sets and required course readers.

As I did, I came across books with content that I am so very familiar with. Sadly, I have become a little numb to it actually…as I read about children who are slaves, children who have been forced into war, children who live in utter poverty and despair…but today I came across a book that literally made me want to puke…and it contained a subject that I had never imagined could happen…even in the worst and wildest of dreams.

It was a book about Africa, and the different types of sexual abuse that occur here, and all over the globe….As I opened the book, which was probably about 300 – 350 pages long, I stumbled across the chapter about the rape of infants. Their were reports of 5 month olds and 8 month old babies who were raped, and who had to undergo surgery of their internal organs because of the brutal attacks. Some of the babies died as the result of the attacks, simply because the damage to their internal organs was too great to repair.

It was disgusting…and a reminder that sin and our fallen world is disgusting. It gave me a deeper image of the depravity and grossness that earth has become as people push themselves further and further away from God.

The idea that God does allow sin right now, and the fact that he is holding back the fullness of it makes me even more disgusted…I can’t imagine how much more gross and vile our society would be if God didn’t protect us from the maximum damage of sin and depravity.

Grossness like infant rape makes me look forward to the new heaven and the new earth. To a place where people won’t have to bury their 5 month old babies because they were literally raped to death. It makes me feel like the martyrs in the book of revelation who sit in their white robes under the throne of God and ask “how long Lord, how long”….

And yes…It’s disgusting…

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Designed by God

This morning I was thinking about the job God has called me to do here and really, this may sound like a was designed by Him, just for me!

I think it is really cool that God knew before He laid out the foundations of the earth what He wanted me to do here and that He has brought situations and different training and educational opportunities into my life to train me specifically for the job He called me to do.

As I was thinking about work, and the ways that I was trained for the job before I even knew I wanted made me think of how sovereign God is and how ignorant I am.

After all, most of my life, I thought I was learning things for my own benefit, not for God's...

So this is how God has prepared me...I think its cool to think about...

1. At GBI, I have to conceptualize what a building will look like before its there and plan for the space...When I was a kid, I learned how to conceptualize buildings that weren't there as we built our own house. I enjoyed drafting as a teenager/young adult and significantly developed my conceptualization skills doing that as well.

2. At GBI, I have to draw up plans for buildings and how furniture will be laid out and exactly how much furniture will fit into any given space. During drafting classes, I learned how to draw plans, I actually have an associates degree in mechanical drafting (yes I know its not the same as architectural drafting, but it is still very helpful). I also had a concentration in math when I got my bachelor's degree...very helpful when trying to calculate furniture sizes and classroom spaces.

3. At GBI, I oversee the library, the wrapping of books, cataloging, etc...On my 2nd short term trip to Uganda, I was asked to work mostly in the library...I learned how it operated and how to do most things in there before I even knew I would oversee it someday.

4. At GBI, I am in charge of writing and developing the new child development curriculum for our diploma program. In college, I got a master's degree that I didn't really want...a masters in curriculum and instruction. I then went on to get the master's I did want...a master's in early childhood education...both are perfect for this job. The first one taught me how to write and develop the curriculum while the second one gave me a handle on the content to base the curriculum on. And I just thought I was taking classes to get a raise at LAUSD...silly me.

5. At GBI, I am in charge of revising major documents, and helping schedule courses...I have to know what documents are needed in a college, know how course schedules need to be set up, and what documents need to look like, etc...this is very easy for me...being that I spent 10 years as a college student...

6. At GBI, one of my side jobs is networking with local NGOs and getting them on board with what we are doing...basically creating partnerships. When I was in college, I spent a year as the president of a club on gave me leadership principles I needed to talk to people and share the vision of where our club was going...the same principles I used then, are the ones I use now, to network and share the vision of GBI.

7. At GBI, I am in charge of new purchases for our school...especially books. As a kid, I LOVED books. Now I get to read up on books, determine good books and purchase them for everyone here to have access too...Honestly, I am not going to have time to read them all, but they are all books that I would love to read someday.

I am sure there are more ways, but I think that gives you a pretty good picture of just how, from childhood, God prepared me for Uganda!

I love having a job specifically tailored to me and I am glad I followed God in His leading, otherwise I would still be in the US, thinking I wasted 10 years in college because more than half of my education wasn't being utilized in my elementary teaching career!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Big City Living...

I have to say, I heard one of the funniest things the other day...

A friend of mine is on a short term trip coming to Kampala in July and he asked his team leader where they were going to be staying, the team leader told him they were staying in the one and only hotel in the city...

At this I laughed out loud...
This is for all those people out there, who like my friend, may have heard that Kampala is a rural bush town and are scared to come visit me for fear of being eaten by lions or being kicked by a giraffe...

Introducing Kampala, Uganda...

Its big city living all the way...any takers now?!