Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Weekend Away

This past weekend after celebrating a wonderful Thanksgiving (as in AMAZING food, TOO much fun, and GREAT company!) with a bunch of other American missionaries, my friend Natalie and I took a trip to Jinja, just a couple hours away. Jinja is the town right by the source of the Nile river which flows from Lake Victoria, and our accommodations were situated overlooking the Nile. It was truly wonderful to take the time to rest, be refreshed and fellowship with the Lord and with Nat for 3 days.

Soaking up the beauty around me, and just being for a while was so wonderful. In the confusion and commotion of living in Africa, there is so much to think and analyze and evaluate and feel and change and do. I'm so grateful for the opportunity the Lord provided for me to go away for a time and find my balance and center around Him alone again.

Time away also gave me a chance to read/listen to some books while cross stitching! I've been reading Hannah Hurrand's book, Hinds Feet on High Places, and loving the way the Good Shepherd changes Much-Afraid, many times by asking her to do what is most difficult and frightening to her. Each time she come to the the most difficult task yet, and she asks herself if it's worth it, she remembers who He is and what He has promised and says yes. Because of His love for her and her trust in Him, she is transformed from being named Much-Afraid to being called Grace and Glory. With each new challenge and discouragement I've faced here, I've also seen His face and heard His voice that much more clearly saying, "Melanie, I love you, so will you trust Me?" I trust that because of His love for me, and my growing love for Him, I will continue to say yes too.

Time and time again the Lord used the beauty around me to again say, "I love you." A breathtaking sunset, a richly adorned flower, soul aching music, or a heavenly scent are a few things that are guaranteed to take me right into His arms, and He showered me with them this past weekend! Here's just a glimpse:









And if the sheer beauty wasn't enough, He also provided laughter therapy through the antics of the monkeys frolicking in the trees above me!


Demonstrating proper tree-sitting techniques


Prepping for his pedicure

The old wise one just observing the antics

I think he appreciated the view as much as I did!


Friday, November 18, 2011

Our Daily Posho

Anybody remember your elementary school cafeteria? I don't....I didn't have one since I was home schooled, but that's besides the point. I certainly got to HEAR about all my friend's school cafeteria experiences (you know, the whole "I'll eat your brown stuff if you'll eat my green stuff"), but I thought I'd show you the school cafeteria at Covenant Primary school here in Mbale.....


Here, everyone just eats their brown stuff. otherwise known as ebijanjalo, or to you muzungus, beans. and posho.





Posho or rice with beans is definitely one of the most common meals here in Uganda, and they eat plenty of it! I seriously marvel at how much one Ugandan can fit in their flat stomach.

When I was growing up, the most common concern I heard expressed about being a missionary was what you would have to eat. Pictures of bugs, slimy slugs, and floating chicken heads danced through my mind, and I asked myself, "Would I be willing?" I said yes....but since those days I have learned that muscling down one locust one day is nothing compared to getting used to eating unappealing food every day. It's not even that the food is disgusting most of the time. It's just usually bland. Maybe it's because I grew up spoiled with my mom's wonderful cooking....maybe it's because of my own fascination with cooking and flavors (insert theme music from Ratatouille), but eating the same posho and greens, or rice and boiled chicken or beef every day has been a challenge.

I knew that I wouldn't be the perfect missionary, but I really did think that I had the food aspect nailed....until I got here! Successfully swallowing enseenene (grasshopper) is much less of a concern to me now than finishing my 6th bowl of rice and chicken this week with gratitude and thankfulness for having such food before me. It does of course help me to remember that my friends here would LOVE to have chicken, since in their home they get it only about 2 times a year. A couple of weeks ago, I ate lunch at the church with the rest of the church family. After helping serve rice, I took my own bowl of rice and beans and sat eating with my fingers with my friends. That was one of the best meals I've had here, even though I'm sure the beans didn't taste any better than they usually do. The difference came from being with the people I loved, and watching them eat with gratitude made me that much more thankful for the food I was eating.

As I come to my first Thanksgiving here in Uganda, I have a whole new perspective on the holiday I thought I understood. I have a whole new basis for just how blessed I really am. I have daily reminders of the wealth of physical and spiritual blessings I have been showered with my whole life, and I am left here begging the Lord to continue to inspire that attitude of thankful awe at all He gives.


Speaking of chicken....Marvin proudly holding my dinner for the night

Friday, November 4, 2011

Margaret

Thank you so much for all of the prayers you have offered up for me since my last blog! I have definitely found strength, encouragement, peace, and comfort through your prayers and mine in situations that would have been so defeating otherwise.

One of the greatest joys and blessings to me for the past several weeks has been my new language helper, Margaret. My concerns with my last language helper, Diana, (not as a friend, but as a teacher) led to one of the challenging situations that I've had to face here, but I really do believe the Lord has worked in some incredible ways, and I have been blessed abundantly with a new teacher, helper, and friend in Margaret.

(I just stopped to look at this picture from an American perspective and noticed the bare light bulb and exposed wires in the background.... I guess the fact that I don't even think twice about it anymore says something....I'll leave you to decide what that is :) )

Margaret is quite the busy lady! She teaches the Christian Religious Education classes at a local secondary school (high school), and came highly recommended to me as a person and a teacher. I can definitely say she's wonderful!! With her, I've had the consistency and progress that I've been so desiring my whole time here. She's not only a wonderful language helper, but she's also been a great source of wisdom and insight into the people and culture around me. As the mother of 5 children, a high school teacher, a clinic owner, and a believer in Jesus Christ, she has a wealth of experience in so many areas of life, and she is more than willing to share that wisdom with me.

Along with Margaret, I've had an added blessing of a new friend! Sharon works in Margaret's husband's herbal clinic, and on the occasional days Margaret can't be with me, Sharon helps. She's 26 years old, and working on finishing her degree in developmental studies next year, Lord willing. She has been a wonderful encouragement to me here, and I'm so thankful for the friendship the Lord is forging between us.

While there have been, and will continue to be some discouraging days, my God has been proved faithful time and time again. He never ceases to amaze me with the ways that He chooses to encourage and comfort me, and I'm so grateful for the two wonderful sisters He has placed in my life!!