Thursday, September 27, 2012

Yes, Change is a good thing!

As a missionary, change is just part of the job description! I guess it’s a good thing God made me the adventuresome type, ‘cause each new change definitely brings yet another adventure!

Now you may be clued in by now that since I’m talking about change, that must be because there’s been another change. I know, rocket science. And you would be right! 

As of this month I have officially transferred from being a missionary with Tentmakers Bible Mission to a wonderful ministry called HUM (Hines Ugandan Ministries). I know, how appropriate (being called Melody and all…)!  This ministry was started in 1999 by a wonderful lady named Katherine Hines. While I was in Uganda, I was so impressed by her staff and ministry that I began praying about if the Lord would want me to partner with her. You know what He said? YES! 

HUM’s ministry is pretty extensive, but the parts that I will be participating in are the primary school and the AWANA club. Katherine has asked me to help lead what is currently the largest single AWANA we know of in Uganda! With between 600-800 kids and only 12 teachers on average, I definitely have my work cut out for me! Since I grew up in AWANA and absolutely LOVE the program, I’m ecstatic to be able to pass my love for memorizing God’s word on to the leaders and kids! I’m also quite a bit nervous and sure that I don’t know exactly what I’m getting into!

Teaching AWANA

 Genesis Primary School is a very new ministry of HUM and currently has 2 grades with the hope to add another grade each year. My goal and challenge will be to make sure that the kids attending the school are getting not only a good education, but also a strong foundation in the word of God. That’s something my mom did for me by homeschooling me, and something I believe is essential for the spiritual growth of these kids. 
My love and passion for the kids in Uganda has only grown from my first year there, and I am more than excited to go back and love on those kids along side of Katherine! I also know that I have a whole slew of challenges I can’t even imagine right now ahead of me, and am, as always, in desperate need of your prayers! 

p.s. If you want to learn more about HUM, check out their website HERE

Friday, September 14, 2012

This summer I had an incredible time with a couple of churches as the visiting missionary for their VBS clubs.

For one of them, I was asked to do 20 minutes each for 4 different age groups, the youngest being the preschoolers. Now you might remember....I LOVE kids, but trying to keep the attention of 40+ preschoolers in one tiny room for 20 minutes was definitely stretching hero inducing. Not to mention trying to teach them something valuable about missions in Africa, a topic completely outside of their realm of experience. When I was first trying to figure out what I was going to teach them, I was so worried that I would get into that room and the kids would take over. Or that I would stare into those little faces and completely blank. Or maybe that they would simply reach the end of the week having learned absolutely nothing.

That first Monday I went through the first 3 classes with ease, all the time questioning my plans for the preschool group. Before I knew it, they were there. Tumbling over arms and feet to pour themselves into my tiny classroom. I was pleasantly surprised that they didn't bite (well at least they didn't bite ME....), but they did certainly require much more voice power than anticipated. Squeezing bit and pieces of teaching throughout learning Ugandan children's songs, I actually finished my 20 minutes (and my voice!) before I knew it. Thankfully, the voice came back before the next morning, only to be lost again the next 2 days as well. By the end of the week, I knew that they had done a LOT of singing, hearing about God's love for all people, and repeating some Luganda words, but I still wasn't sure if they had absorbed anything at all.

Then one day later in the week, I saw one of the boys in his mother's arms animatedly talking as fast as he could. I could tell she couldn't quite get what he was saying as she looked a bit confusedly down into his small face. Suddenly, he caught glimpse of me, whirled around, pointed a tiny finger at me and said in a great big voice, '"Mom! That's HER!!!" Grinning, I walked to them and his mother hesitantly said, "he's telling me something about another language??" I smilingly prompted the little boy to do his recitation of the Luganda words again, and sure enough, he got just about all of them right!

I was just thrilled to have that small evidence that even the youngest ones were listening and were learning!!

p.s. please also pray for the 5 older ones that told me that God wants them to be missionaries too! Pray that they would not lose that vision, and the Lord would continue growing them up to be mighty warriors for His Gospel!

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Power of Purpose

I miss Uganda. So much.

Before I left, I was dreading leaving my beloved home and spending so much time in the States. When a dear friend, Natalie, found me in my little self pity party, she told me, “Melanie, going home is not punishment, it’s a blessing!” And she was right: it has been a huge blessing in so many ways, but I still wake up every morning and go to sleep every night longing for my Uganda.

Soon after I got here, I was talking with my friend, Madi, and thinking about some of the things that I love so much about life in Uganda. One of those things is waking up every morning with a purpose. In Uganda I knew each day what the goal was: whether learn some new vocabulary, successfully interpret a story in Luganda, prepare to teach Sunday School, minister to my missionary friends, or just work to make my little Ugandan house into a home. Here in the States, the weeks I got to be a missionary for VBS were amazing! And waking up on those days was a joy and a thrill to get a taste of that same purpose I get each day in Uganda. But that’s not every day. Some days I get to spend with my family, or with my friends. And I love those days! But they don’t usually bring the same sense of fulfillment and accomplishment. I don’t go to bed each day knowing I made a difference. But as Madi and I talked, she reminded me that as Christ followers, no matter where we are, He has a purpose for us in each day. So we can wake up each morning asking, ‘Lord, what purpose would you have me pursue in this day?’ And while I’m still learning to make that an intentional part of each of my days, I am seeing Him do incredible things in me and in the people around me!

For my time here, the Lord has given me a couple of broad purposes to pursue:

SERVE my family

It’s easy to serve cute little black kids, no problem! But I was convicted early on this summer that Jesus has called me to be a servant of ALL. And many times throughout my life, my family has not been included in that pursuit. I know in my head that being servant minded should not change from continent to continent, and my prayer has been that just as in Uganda, I would be mindful of any opportunity to serve those the Lord puts in my life, especially my family. Once I started looking for opportunities, they haven’t stopped!

SPEND time investing in my friendship with Jesus

I was inspired by one of my favorite pastors to start prayer walking, and I have found so much comfort and encouragement by walking in the cool of the evening talking to my Lord. It is truly amazing the difference movement makes in keeping me alert and on focus as I commune with my Friend!

SPEAK out about the needs and opportunities in Uganda

I was so blessed to teach as a visiting missionary in a couple of VBSs. The kids in each one were just so wonderful, and it was amazing to see the Lord work in their hearts over the course of the week. By the end of each time, I had at least a couple of kids come and tell me that they thought God wanted them to be missionaries too! What an encouragement to see the Lord raising up the next generation of ministers of grace!!!

Tomorrow I have a meeting with members of my board to make some decisions on what my ministry in Uganda will look like when I return. After spending the first year in Uganda in a learner’s position, seeking to absorb the language and culture, I now have a different perspective on the needs and opportunities for ministry. I believe I also have a bit better idea of what the Lord would have me to do to meet some of the needs, and I’m so excited to share those details with you as soon as everything has been approved! I would so appreciate your prayers for the wisdom and guidance of the Lord to rule our time together and the decisions we make tomorrow.