Sunday, December 13, 2015

24 Names

A list of 24 names. All dear friends. Some are older than me, and some are younger, and some are just my age. And I have to say goodbye to all 24. Some of them I may never see again.

And so I write, pouring out my appreciation of their friendship and how much I’ll miss them. Trying to describe seven years of friendship in a few words…just fitting my life on a page. I try to capture all those songs sung at practice, all the laughter, all the walks, all the basketball watching, all the mistakes made in primary school. I try to hold onto all those moments of fun, and the hard ones too, because this is my life, and it’s some of these people that make it so special.

I tell them that friendship crosses oceans. I tell them I’ll pray for them. I tell them God is with them and with me too. I tell them I hope to be back someday. I write it, in case I don’t have time to tell them. In case when I’m hugging them goodbye, my words are stuck in my throat. I hope they’ll read my words and they’ll understand how much they mean to me.

I hope they’ll be waiting for me when I come back. But the truth is time goes on. They’re growing up. And they’ll graduate and go on to courses, or universities. And some will get married, and even have children. And they won’t be quite the same, but still just as special.

But what gives me hope truly is that even if I don’t see them ever again here, I will see them in heaven. And that still seems too far away for me, but it helps to know that we’ll sing more songs, and laugh some more minus the mistakes!

And then I deliver the letters. I smile as I say, “I have something to give you!” And I squeeze them in a quick hug as I hand it over. I don’t wait for them to open and read it. In fact, I walk away quickly. And some of them aren’t even around right now so my letter is specially important. I hand it to their sister or friend and pass on the hard job of delivery.

And then come some replies. And I smile and fight tears as I read sweet words of friendship and appreciation. I laugh as I remember old jokes they retell and old events they mention. I’ve never felt so loved. As I read I know I’ll never be able to repay them—every time I try they just overwhelm me with more and more.

I love them, these friends of mine: three girls two grades ahead of me who befriended me in primary school and never forget my birthday; one girl whom I met through email but soon became a close friend in the flesh; a girl whom I call sister and she always introduces me as such; a sweet neighbor lady who let me help her in the class she teaches…and so many more.

So I’ll leave. And I’ll change. But these 24 names will always be special to me, because of the people and memories they represent. And as I go I hope that our words will live on, that our friendship will not rust over years, and countries, and changes. Regardless, packed away, there sits a list of 24 names: 24 people who have changed my life and whom I will never forget.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Be. Thankful. Always.

Golden spheres holding memories slowly freeze to blue. Tears stream down the girl’s face as she finally voices her longing for better times. My face is also wet as I watch the exchange between her and her parents, because the truth behind the scene reflects the state of my heart exactly in the past few months. Happy memories are slowly turning sad, because soon the people and places in them will be gone. Pixar did it again. (the scene is from Inside Out, the newest Pixar movie if you hadn't guessed)

But I think I’ve discovered a way to keep these memories from turning completely blue.

“Be thankful in all circumstances.” Yep. That’s my secret.

Be thankful, whether sharing a funny moment with a friend, or watching a family member deteriorate from a sickness, or hitting that high note perfectly, or leaving your home in Africa after living there for almost six years.

Whether happy or sad, be thankful, “...for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”  I fully believe God cries with us when we cry out of genuine sadness. And I fully believe He laughs hysterically with us (oh what I would give to hear what God’s laugh sounds like!) when we can barely breathe because we’re laughing (or cry-laughing?) so hard.

We just finished celebrating Thanksgiving last week, and we’re already moving on and looking forward to Christmas. What happened to being thankful? Do we really limit it to one day a year, a week a year, or a month a year?

Or do we limit it to happy times? Do we limit it to the people who gave so much of their lives for us?

Some of my friends in Uganda (2010)
Some of my first friends in Uganda (2010)

Here’s something to chew on:
Can we be thankful for not getting that perfect gift on Christmas?
For realizing we may not have enough money to last us through the month?
For a miscarriage...
For a friendship turned sour…
For a person we despise?

You know what, I’m choosing to be thankful for every moment, every second I got to  spend here in Africa; and still get to! I still have a little more than five weeks left to go!
I’m choosing to be thankful for every cultural misunderstanding, every tear I’ve cried or caused to cry, every drop of sweat accumulated in a stuffy building during a long, African event, every bump and bruise… I’m choosing to be thankful for those. And I’m so so very thankful for the amazing times as well, so many I can’t even begin to write here.

Some of my besties (2015)
Though my memories of this place will always be tinged with blue, they will stay golden.

Because, for them,



Thursday, November 26, 2015

And It Goes On...

The day is almost done. It was full of studying for a biology test. Negative feedback mechanisms and the structure of the eye run through my mind.  The words call out from downstairs, "Come and see what came in the mail."

Thankful for the break, I go downstairs and there are papers-pink, yellow, and purple lying on the counter-top. A smile crosses my face as I see the familiar handwriting of my friends half a world away and I finger the pages with excitement and joy.

I turn back to my books but something pops into my head and I scribble it down on the corner of my notes. Four simple words.

And it goes on...

A little reminder that the legacy of the past few years is not over.

Mom reads out bits and pieces of letters and I save my personal ones, tucking them into the pages of my Biology textbook, as I wait for my Biology exam to be done the next day to read them.

At the end of my exam, I wait to be picked up and eagerly turn to the letters that I had waited to read. The words brought smiles to my face and memories of three beautiful years of friendship come back

"And it goes on..."

That phrase echo in my brain as I think of the words in those letters. The words of encouragement, of laughter, of preparing for exams again. Of a little boy in a wheelchair saying that he misses us and the one who wants me to teach him guitar.

You see, it isn't that much different than it was when we lived in the same country. That girl still encouraged me every time I saw her, and that little boy was always asking me if he could play my guitar.

So it goes on, this friendship of ours.

It goes on through pictures on the wall of little boys smiles.

It goes on through letters in my bedroom that I read one by one, picturing the faces and hearing the voices speaking those words.

It goes on through emails, notes, letters. Through the basketball advice and the updates on the books that they are reading.

It goes on through the nicknames, the "I miss you's" and the questions about when we are coming to visit.

Our friendships aren't over, like my deepest fears had always imagined. No, they may not be the same but they are still there.

Because we have a bond that is stronger than time. Stronger than distance. It is stronger than words on the page and days gone by. Even stronger than death. The few years that we spent together knit us together as family, brothers and sisters in Christ. We are brothers and sisters that won't be torn apart by trials, sadness, tears, goodbyes, and death because we belong to the eternal family of God. A family that will never be broken.

And it, this friendship, it goes on...over cultures, over oceans, over prayer and good memories.

It goes on.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Even Then…There is Joy

When we’re surrounded by hard circumstances, and the sky just keeps falling, and the waves just keep coming, we can become so swamped in our own problems that we miss the joy.

But there is so much joy waiting to be discovered!

In the month-old neighbor baby who is learning to smile

In walking through wet morning grass to kneel in soft dirt and plant trees that will one day be taller than we are

In 26 children saying in unison, “You are welcome, Auntie Kasana!”

In overflowing plates of matoke and g-nut sauce

In peaceful morning Bible readings up on a water tower

In waving to everyone you pass on the road

In dancing and whooping in church

In knowing that God never leaves nor forsakes us

In cheering crowds welcoming boys home

We can’t wait for that “perfect time” to find joy, because that time will never come. We will never be entirely problem and stress free until we reach Heaven. Thus, we need to be able, with God’s help, to see the joy even in the hardship, hurt, and disappointment, because that’s when we need it the most.

Psalm 27: 5-7 reminds us that joy is not dependent on our circumstances when it says, “For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me;at his sacred tent, I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord. Hear my voice when I call, Lord; be merciful to me and answer me.”

When we we’re struggling financially, we can know the joy of God’s provision. When we’re struggling relationally, we can find joy in God as the everlasting friend and father. People around us can also spread God’s joy through their words, actions, prayers or even a smile.

Sometimes, when I don’t feel there’s much to be happy about, let alone joyful about, God will drop a a little sweet something on my path for that day and I will remember that He is with me, and He is in control. As the giver of joy He can replenish us over and over again without ever becoming empty. And His presences provides yet another reason we can always be joyful! With Him before us, behind us, and walking with us, we can’t help exuding His joy!

Joy also lies in looking past the suffering to what lies ahead: everlasting peace and joy.
Psalm 30:5 says, “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

Even when we’re bombarded by hardship on all sides and no hope is in sight, we can still find joy through it all. Indeed, perhaps that is the truest joy of all as it is lasting, not relying on our circumstances. That is the joy worth having.


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Forget Not

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. (Psalm 103:1-2 ESV)

If you have read our posts, you have probably noticed a running theme going on.  Living in another country is difficult. Having your parents serve as missionaries is difficult.  Moving across the world multiple times is difficult.  So often we forget all the good things God has done for us.  It is easy to forget and to dwell on the tough things.  But time and time again, God’s Word tells us to “remember”. 

In the Old Testament, the Israelites were commanded to remember how they were slaves in Egypt and how God gave them freedom. “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today.” (Deuteronomy 15:15 ESV)  And yet, there seemed to be a pattern. The Israelites continuously forgot.  It’s easy to judge the Israelites.  We may think, “But God freed them from slavery. He parted a sea so they could cross through. He gave them food in the desert. He gave them victory after victory. How could they forget?”

But am I really so different? The truth is that sometimes, too often, I am like the Israelites.  I forget all the things that God has done for me.  I forget the friends and family He has given to me. I forget that He has been with me in every moment—the good and the hard.  I forget the time He gave me with the people I have had to say good-bye to (some for a while; some until heaven).   Instead of taking time to reflect on what God has done for me, I ask Him why He would let something happen.  It seems backwards, since He loved me so much He sent His son to die for my sins, but it is so easy to do. 

Psalm 103 is a psalm that comes to my mind again and again.  It’s one that seems to pop up everywhere I go.  I don’t believe this is a coincidence. God is trying to tell me something.  I’m supposed to remember, to forget not, all of God’s benefits. 

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.” (Psalm 103:1-5 ESV)

This psalm has so much in it, but one thing that struck me recently was the “benefits” that are mentioned in the first few verses.   These verses don’t deal with God giving you good, safe, happy, healthy, easy times.  They actually talk about God redeeming and bringing His people through the hard times.  He forgives our sin, heals all our diseases, redeems our lives from the pit. I personally don’t think sin, disease, or the pit is anything that people want.  However, these are the first three things that David mentions.  Because God brought him through those trials, crowned him with steadfast love and mercy, satisfied him with good, and renewed his youth. 

I want to learn to remember.  To forget not God’s benefits that I do not deserve in any way. Because if I forget not, the natural response will be praise to God.  I will be able to “bless the LORD” with my whole heart, not because He has given me a particularly easy life, but because He has been with me the whole time and will bring me through every trial.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Letting Go

Thankfully, saying goodbye also means saying hello. 
 Leaving means arriving. 
 Letting go means receiving more. 
 Dying means being re-born.
 One door closes and another opens. 

A couple months ago, I wrote those words on the last page of my journal—the journal I’d written in for four years. During that time, I’d recently heard that I was moving back to the States, and I was trying desperately to find some hope in the sadness. 

God just planted those words in my mind, reminding me that it wasn’t all over. Yes, I would be saying goodbye, and leaving, but that didn’t mean I would have nothing. First of all, I would still have Him. And I would also have new friends and experiences, without even entirely losing my old ones! Yes, my life would be different, and it would be hard, but it could be a good different. And I would have to trust that He knew what he was doing, that something good would come out of it all. I have to believe that something beautiful will rise from the ashes…that from the tears, something new will grow. 

Sometimes we just have to let go, and trust that our hands will be filled again. But the hardest part is believing that so completely that we will indeed be willing to let go. A couple weeks ago, I went on a retreat with the worship teams of my church. One of the activities I had to do was a trust fall. I had to stand on a stack of chairs, with my hands tied, and fall backwards onto the clasped hands of two rows of people. I was terrified! Did I trust the people standing there to catch me? Yes! But there was still a nagging thought in the back of my mind. What if they don’t? Okay, so maybe I didn’t trust them…at least not completely! The hardest part was forcing myself to actually lean back and fall. That’s why I decided to get it over with as quickly as possible. When I called, “Here I come!” I fell, as in that second! And guess what? They caught me! Actually, I just laid there for a moment with my eyes closed…my thoughts at that point were, Wait, am I actually alive? Oh, I am! And God is a lot stronger than the people who caught me!

Psalms 81:10 says: 

"I, the LORD, am your God, Who brought you up from the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.

And Psalm 126:2 says:

“Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”

So yes, it’s hard to let go. And I know I’m going to struggle with that more and more as my leaving date draws closer…but I want to be willing to be empty, if only for the joy of being filled up again by my Father! 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Take Another Step

Writer's Block. Since April on this blog. Hmm....
I've got ideas...but they won't come to words. Or the words that I have started to write are on another computer at a different house where we used to be staying. Hmm...perhaps it just ain't gonna happen (good English, I know.)
Probably because watching the Blue Jays game on TV is a lot easier than writing something...hmm...that may be contributing.

Well, here's what we are going to do. We are going to walk through and see what has happened since April. Then maybe some words will come. Let's see...

1. Sweet girl named Carol, age 5 died. I attended her burial and memorial service...and cried a lot of tears.
2. I said good bye to one of my best friends in the whole world, there was peace, but it also came with lots of tears. As I said good bye, I thought of my own that were coming and I wanted to stop the time.
3. Our last two months were filled with visitors and trips and fellowship between the people who have become family to me. Very, very precious and special times.
4. Then, I said good bye to all of them. All those people who have become family-brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, jajjas...little ones who won't remember me the next time I see them. Special people who may not be there when I go back.
5. I moved to the other side of the world and had to re-adjust to my home culture
Obviously, much more than that has happened, but those are the top five things that I remember from the past four months. All of these things have changed my life in really big ways. And sometimes, it is very easy to feel lost. After all, most of my friends are on the other side of the world right now. One very precious girl is in heaven. I'm in a country that I haven't lived in for three years. I need to learn things all over again. Like how to use a microwave or a washing machine. And sometimes, it is easy to give up and despair. To wonder why I am so far away from my friends and my "home."
But earlier this week, by chance, as I was listening to some music this chorus began to play, while I was doing something else but it struck me hard.
"Take another step, take another step
When the road ahead is dark
And you don’t know where to go
Take another step, take another step
Trust God and take another step
And another step and another step
Take another step and another step and another step"
These words. Three simple words: Take another step. Trust God. Take another step.
Even when you have said good bye to your best friends.
Take another step.
Even when you have left your home.

Take another step.
Even when you have no plans for the future.
Take another step.
Even when everything is lost.

Take another step.
Even when you can't go on.

Take another step.
In other words, trust.
Trust in the God who has led us this far...
And trust in the God who will continue to lead us on...
The road is dark. I don't know where I'm going or where my family is going. We are in transition right now along with many other people I know. We can't see past the darkness that shadows the road, where we are supposed to go or do, but I am reminded. Trust God. Take another step, and one step at a time, He will lead us to where He wants us.
He know where we are going. He knows every step we will take, whether it is through the valley or to the top of the mountain. If that step will be on our feet or on our knees. He knows.
Don't give up.
Take another step.
You who fear him, trust in the Lord
    he is their help and shield.
~Psalm 115:11

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Laughter Lines

I'll see you in the future when we're older
And we are full of stories to be told
Cross my heart and hope to die
I'll see you with your laughter lines.

It's become a season of goodbyes for me. 

Of hard goodbyes. Of bittersweet goodbyes. Of 'see you soon's and 'we'll catch up later's; but also of 'goodbye, I may never see you again on this earth'. 

It all started when I left Uganda for the States two months ago. I'm not gone that long- only for two more weeks. But when I left, I left behind two amazing friends who were also saying goodbyes. For them, though, it was permanent. I'll see them again, no doubt. But never in the same place. Never doing the same things. Those are all memories now. 

And I ask myself, how could time have gone so quickly?

Now, I've just finished my summer job, working as a camp counselor. Oh the times I had- the memories created, the friendships made. I had so much fun. I grew so much, learned so much. And some of the friends I've made, I would have liked to keep near me for much longer. To get to know them better, to hear their stories and be a part of their lives. 

But it's over now. Those times are gone. People move on, including me, and again I ask…

how could time have gone so quickly?

It's goodbye to those amazing people who have had even such a small impact on my life. Goodbye to the opportunities to laugh with them, to cry with them. To just be with them. 

I was reading a blog just a few minutes ago, called How to say goodbye by Hannah Brencher. She says this:

"Goodbye is the starting point you don’t see because the finish line is so piled high with tears and last words and fears that this– this thing you have right here– will never be the same.
And yes, it feels like something in the room is dead or dying or about to die. And the scary thing about that? That’s already true too.
Something is dying. We can’t even ignore it. It sounds so morbid but goodbye is really just admitting that something is dying. You two came together– for a month or for a year or for five of those years– and you built something. You breathed your whole little life into that thing. Your secrets. Your fears. Your laughter. All into that thing. That friendship thing, that “I’ve never really met someone like you” sort of thing. And then, out of nowhere, it feels like something comes along and lobs the whole thing into pieces. That’s what a goodbye will do." 
These seasons have died. A season of friendships in Uganda, and a season of learning and growing and friendships here in the States. Nothing will be the same from here on out. Goodbyes will do that. 

I'm trying to find the balance between grieving these goodbyes, and not letting the memories become painful. God gave us a memory for a reason, which means that He didn't want fun times to turn into things that hurt when we recall them. I want to be able to enjoy the memories that I have; but I don't want to live in them and wish that I could relive them. Because that's not what He calls us to do. We are in the present for a reason. 

We have those memories for a reason.

So I will enjoy the memories: New Year's Eve surprises, movie making, songs sung, great conversations, laughter galore… water polo, mud fights, DC tours, turtles rebuking their subordinates, and more laughter… Memories that have shaped who I am and have given me a glimpse of who Jesus is. 

Even though the summer's over now, and the past five years in Uganda are over, at least the memories will stay. And that's important. 

And what's exciting, is that I will see these people again. Maybe not on here on earth. But I will laugh with them again. I will be able to enjoy them, to hug them again. 

I'll see them again, with their laughter lines.


Saturday, June 13, 2015

Impossible to Understand

Some things are impossible to understand. As in totally incomprehensible, ridiculous, and tragic. 
I want to know the whys, the whats, the hows, and sometimes I can't. I'm not allowed to, or no one knows. 
Sometimes it just seems pointless. 
We wonder "Why, oh Lord?" and "How long, oh Lord?" and we get no answer. Or so it seems. 
Maybe we repeat the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 1,
"Everything is Meaningless, utterly meaningless!" 
And it's true. Without God. 
But with him nothing's meaningless. Everything is part of his plan and purpose. It may not make any sense to us then or even later, but his perfect story for our lives and the lives of those around us will prevail.
Our mistakes, sins, and failings don't faze Him. He is ready, willing, and able to perfect even our worst shortcomings. Isn't that amazing? 
That doesn't mean I never worry or am always content with His plan! 
My heart still aches and I wonder, "Why did she have to die?" "Why put them through so much pain for something they didn't do?" "Why is this happening?" when a staff member’s unborn child dies, or boys I know are in prison for a crime they didn’t commit.
But the more I rest in Jesus's arms and give up my burdens to him, the more I am able to trust that He knows what He's allowing to happen, and He will triumph through it. 
One of my current favorite Bible sections from Romans 5: 3-5 says, "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope. And hope doesn't not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he had given us." And that gives me hope. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Holy Heresies

Kasana and I both unknowingly wrote posts about this topic at the same time.  Kasana was having trouble accessing the post though so for now, I'll just post mine.  Hopefully, Kasana will be able to put hers up soon.

Image result for holy heresies lies pks believe
My family and the Anderson family recently went on a week-long trip together.  Auntie Tiff, Jensen and Kasana’s mom, had a book with her about the lies that PKs and MKs believe.  While playing Settlers of Catan, we overheard our moms talking about this book.  Of course, we had to examine this book and see if it was true or not.  After looking it over, we all laughed and spent the rest of the week constantly referring to these “holy heresies”. 

For example, Kasana, Catriona, and I were sorting rice but none of us were very confident on the “proper” Ugandan way to do it.  You are supposed to put it in a basket and toss it up and down and blow so the chaff blows away.  Instead we picked through it but then Kasana said, “I should know how to do this.”  And I said, “Because you should be perfect and if you aren’t then you might ruin your dad’s ministry.”  Then we burst out laughing.  Another comment this book made was that sarcasm is the second language of PKs and MKs.  Noooo, of course not.  Me? Sarcastic? Never. 

Annet teaching me some Ugandan cooking skills
Although we spent the whole week making fun of this book, there is some truth in it (especially about the sarcasm).  For me, I wouldn’t admit feeling these things, but it makes sense when I think about some of the things I do.  For example, “I should know this already.” Personally, I struggle with this one.  I feel guilty when I don’t know the answer to the Bible question.  I feel embarrassed when I don’t know how to cut the cassava at the family group.  I feel ignorant when people talk about a musician or actor who I have never heard of before.  The book said that if MKs took the word “should” out of their vocabulary, they’d only say half as much.  I don’t think I say it that much but it is something that I feel frequently. 

I know that I shouldn’t (there’s the word again) feel this way.  I know that there is no reason why I should know all these things, but the truth is it does come up.  I don’t even know why.  Maybe it’s because I think that since I live in two cultures I should know everything from both.  Maybe it’s because everyone expects a missionary kid to know every single Bible story and fact.

Although this book was addressed specifically to MKs and PKs, I think that everyone believes these to some extent.  Even in pre-Uganda days, I always wanted to be perfect.  I expected to know the answers to every question.  I think that living here has actually brought these to the surface and humbled me.  I realize that I don’t really know all the answers.  I know that I make cultural mistakes.  I recognize that there are many things that I don’t know how to do. So although the book faced a lot of jokes from us, it has definitely been helpful in pinpointing some of the things I sub-consciously believe.

Sunday, April 12, 2015


Each minute we live and breathe we are caught. Caught between languages, between cultures, between skin colours, between countries, between continents. On one side, we blend in easily, we remain indistinct and no one notices us, but on the other side, we still want to blend in, to remain indistinct, to not draw attention to our selves, but it is impossible.

Once, my high-school aged missionary kids and I were hanging out waiting for worship practice to start. But there was a school visiting and as they left, all of the kids stared at us.  One of us commented, "This is how celebrities feel." and another one of us said "This feels like I'm an animal in a zoo." Two ways of looking at it...but we are caught, caught between wanting to blend in and the reality that we will standout in this "home" (to whatever extent that word applies) no matter how hard we try.

We are constantly caught between wanting to speak Luganda fluently, go to school with our friends, live lives like theirs but we never will. We don't have the right accent. We can't jump into the Ugandan school system now, we will probably have a larger house, a computer or a phone that our friends don't have. We will be inconvenienced when there is no running water, although for our friends they have never had it and never miss it. We are caught in the "home" in which we currently reside.

But back the lands of electronics, hot showers, running water, strawberries and grapes we are still caught. Because we have friends there and friends here. We will never have them all in the same place. We know a bit of a language that only a few people in that land know. We have funny expressions, we get excited about eating things like...grapes...and ground beef twice a week. We know what starving looks like. We know what poverty is. Something that some of our friends in our "home" may not know.

So we are caught, between the two worlds in which we live. Caught between wanting to bring everyone we love together from both sides of the world no matter where they currently reside. Caught between  wanting to running away from this complex, foreign culture in which we live to go to our "own" and staying in the place that we love. Caught not knowing where we belong with our strange ways of speaking, our mixed English-Luganda, our mixed culture, our mixed life.

I don't know what I'm trying to say in this. I don't want it to conjure up a bunch of sympathy for the poor missionary kids dragged around the world by their parents to foreign countries just to be lost in every culture. 

I guess I'm saying that me, Kara, Kasana, Brevin, Jensen, Jeremiah, Christina, and all of the other missionary kids, we will never fit in. We will always be part-Ugandan-part Canadian/American/British/whatever else. Sometimes that is brutally hard, because we are caught in places where we really just wish we could fit in. But I think it is also an amazing gift, a diamond in the rough. To be caught in uncertainty to rely fully on our Creator, because to Him, it doesn't matter if we are Ugandan, Canadian, American or a combination. We are constantly caught, but I don't think it is always bad, because we have to lean on Him more, to trust in Him more, to realize that in uncertainty and when we are stretched, when we feel we don't even know our own culture, much less anyone elses, we know that we are headed to a place where we will never be caught between worlds and to a place where we will never be uncertain. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Life is Not Easy

This statement pretty much says it all, “Life is not easy.” In our family we always quote it, “As a wise man once said…” This wise man happens to be the compound worker of another missionary family here.  When we lived in their house for a few months, we got to hear lots of funny stories and quotes. 
Back to the subject, this simple statement sums up a lot of my life. 

Life is not easy when you have lived in seven different houses in the past two years.

Life is not easy when you say good-bye to a friend, not knowing when you’ll see her again.

Life is not easy when you can’t communicate with your friends in their first language.

Life is not easy when you hear of a young, soon-to-be-married woman die of a preventable disease.

Life is not easy when you see your grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles only once every couple of years.

Life is not easy when you discover a little baby who sat on your porch a couple weeks before has died.

Life is not easy when you count down the days to when you have to leave the place that has become your home.

But was I ever promised that life would be easy? No.  On top of that, the Bible actually says that trials or hard things will come but should be seen with JOY! In James 1:2-3 it says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (ESV)

I don’t have it that hard.  I’m not being persecuted for my faith or suffering from a disease, but this verse says “trials of various kinds.” My faith is being tested through this not-so-easy life.  I’m not saying that my life is any harder than anyone else’s.  The trials I face are just different from what others face. 

And I have comfort in these words, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?...No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor any powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35,37-39 (ESV)

Life is not easy, but I live in Christ’s love.


Thursday, March 12, 2015


        From when I was born to when I was eight, I laid down young roots, strong roots. I lived in the house I thought I’d live in my whole childhood. I had the friends I assumed I’d have my whole life. My dad had the job I thought he’d have until he retired. Then I heard we were moving to Uganda.
       Truthfully, I didn’t mind being transplanted too much. I was excited to test the new soil and see the new exotic plants I’d be living with. I laid down strong roots quickly there, and soon I had as many as I had had in the States. 

       When we went on furlough to the U.S., and I was transplanted again, I was more cautious. I knew we’d soon be going back to Uganda, so what was the point of laying down roots? I decided subconsciously to just float along, not really caring if I didn’t make that many friends, or was involved in too many things. After a while, slowly, tentatively, I ventured to shoot a few little roots into the soil. And it was wonderful. I loved the activities I did, the wonderful people I became friends with. The roots grew a little stronger. 
          But it hurt to pull them out when we moved back to Uganda. Even those little roots grew straight to my heart, and tearing them out was hard. Back in Uganda, I remembered the pain of pulling out the roots just before I came. But I also remembered the joy of the strong roots I’d had before I left. 
          I’m still working on letting myself lay down roots, on not letting myself be so scared as to draw into myself and hold all my roots back. But since Jesus is the One who plants me where He wants me, and will always give me enough to grow and thrive, and comfort me when I’m transplanted, I’ll trust that he’ll show me where to lay down roots. 


Monday, March 9, 2015


My amazing tutor/teacher/helper in English this year, Jamie, encouraged me to post this. After I wrote it, I put it away when I didn't do as well on it as I thought I would have in an assignment. But Jamie read it and told me that I should share it. Some might not get it...but others might, and they might understand a bit more about what it means to live cross-culturally. Jamie and I both spent a few years of our lives here at New Hope...Jamie had quite a few more than I did which means she "gets it" even more than I do. So without further ado....


              The word rings in my ears, and I sigh. Home? Where is home? I have lived on either side of the world and may leave at any point, so how can any one of these places be home? For I have friends and family stretched out across the globe. In the dictionary it says that home is the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household, but when I am stretched across an ocean having to decide where home is, I realize that I am richer than most. For I have three homes, the home of my blood, the home of my mind, and the home of my heart.
       Cars racing by on the busy streets engulfed me. I was just one of the millions of people that rushed around in that city. The home of my blood is busy and I was just one in a sea of unknown people. The home of my blood is Toronto, the biggest city in Canada. In 1998, along with hundreds of others, I was born in one towering hospital, to two happy parents as well as many cousins, aunts and uncles. As I began to grow up, I formed relationships. I learned to walk. I learned to talk. I went to kindergarten and made friends that should last a lifetime. This was the only home I had ever known and in my mind, it would always be my home. It was permanent. Home was the small bungalow with the big basement bedroom that my sister and I shared. I knew that after church, we would come out from the parking lot surrounded by big buildings and head home, to play in that big bedroom. As a six-year-old, I knew it was home. I knew that after we went to the playground down the corner, or the water park across the road, we would be headed to the small green and white house on Newton Drive. My mind rested and felt secure in the home of my blood, the little house in the big city, where one little family lived.
       My home was secure until I was about nine years old and then it was shattered. “We are moving,” they said, “to Calgary.” Oh, we had been to Calgary on trips before but we had never lived there. In my nine year old mind, I worried about leaving the only friends I knew, and the only home I knew.  My home was no longer permanent; it was shifting. After we moved to Calgary, I grew to love the new place that I called home. It was the larger house, with the bedroom upstairs and the playroom in the basement. It was the place that was cold and close to the country. It was the place where we would go skiing on the weekends and pray that there would be no more snow in May. Calgary was the home of my mind where I spent years in elementary and Jr. High school. I learned how to think and share my opinions. I learned how to behave.  I learned how to deal with hard circumstances and how to resolve conflicts. I learned what I stood for. My character was stretched and friendships were formed. I learned that I must stand up for my friends when they are being bullied and that I must be kind to everyone, even those who were being mean to me.  I learned that home isn’t always where my family is and that friends can be made, even if I have no history with them. The home of my mind grew on me and I began to call it home. I loved the home of my mind, Calgary, but at the same time I missed the home of my blood, Toronto. 
      When I was fourteen, I moved to the home of my heart. In Toronto, I never would have believed that one day I would be on the other side of the world, but in Calgary a seed was planted in my heart for a far-away country. I visited there twice and that seed grew and became part of me. As we moved with fifteen boxes across the world, I felt like I was coming home to the friends I had made on previous visits. Even though I was leaving the only country that I had ever known as mine, I was going to people and places that I knew. It took a while for me say that this new country was home. I was torn between loyalty for the home of my mind and the overwhelming sense that I was home on the other side of the world. Experiences caused pieces of my heart to remain in this place, like when I held a dying baby in my arms, or when I saw a nine kilogram nine-year-old begin to thrive and grow. This home, Uganda, is where I feel most useful and most fulfilled. I am stretched to grow and change day in and day out. I see what really matters. I see lives transformed, and wounds healed. I love this home. This is where I am at rest and free to be myself. The home of my heart is in a place I never would have imagined, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. The home of my heart is not a building with four walls and a roof but of people, relationships and faith, all that really matters.
    Home will never be a concrete, simple answer for me, for different parts of me are spread all over this world. I have no idea where my home will be in the next few years, but I know that it will slowly become home. Home can mean many different things to different people in different places but I am constantly reminded of the hope I have. For even as I daily struggle with the word ‘home’ being a permanent place, I’m reminded of a home that I am going to that will last forever. A home where I’ll be in the presence of God and that I will never have to leave. Although my home on Earth will continue changing, I know that I am on my way to a heavenly home where I will live permanently as a member of the family of God.


Monday, March 2, 2015


Today my dad and I took a trip into Kampala. It wasn’t much different from any other trip into town. Shop, eat burgers and ice cream, drop off things at my Ugandan brother’s room... and of course, get singled out by Ugandans (mostly men) who like to call out “muzungu, muzungu” (muzungu= white man) and wink at me if I meet their eyes.

My dad and I
Let me tell you. It’s unnerving.

My dad and I had a good laugh though, at a cashier at a supermarket. The man and I went through the pleasantries, “how are you,” “fine”, etc etc... then he asked me if my dad was my husband. I admit, my cheeks were probably a little pink when I told him no. He then promptly continued the conversation by asking how old I was. 
     “Seventeen,” I replied.
     “Oh, well then I’m still older than you! I’m twenty two.”
Great. I can see where this is going. Thankfully my dad joins me at that very moment and the guy shuts up pretty quick.

But really- it is hard. Not just because I am constantly being harassed by the men, but because of the fact that I stand out - I’m like a “diamond in the rough” as my friend once put it - extremely out of place and overly noticeable. Even now as we drive through the outdoor market in Luwero, I can feel the eyes of those around the car boring into my head. There’s a saying here, that if someone’s being talked about they’ll “feel their ears burning”. Well, it’s almost like that. When I’m being stared at, I can almost feel my head ‘burning’. It’s a strange psychological phenomenon. 
What is it that’s so fascinating about a white face? Is it simply because I’m different?

Can you guess which one is me? ...  (Point made)
Sometimes I long for America- where, in most places at least my skin color won’t attract curious looks or hostile stares or even unwarranted winks from taxi conductors.

But I have to stop and think, because if I go back to America, could I really blend in?

 I can’t.
I can’t blend in because of Africa. 
  Because of Uganda.

The askaris (security guards) around New Hope call me “muganda muzungu”, which essentially means “white African”, because I greet them in their language and do it well enough to sound like one of them.

"As it is, you do not belong to the world,
but I have chosen you out of the world." ~John 15:19
I have been branded with that name. Not visibly, of course. 

  But it has left a mark and I will never be able to entirely rub it off. 

I have one foot stuck in this country and one foot caught in the other.
So I won’t be able to blend in. I can’t blend in anywhere. When I go back to the States, Luganda words or little exclamations will probably stay part of my vocabulary, and Ugandan facial expressions and actions will be woven into my mannerisms. I will never be fully American again- and that will cause me to stand out.

However, my strength lies in that weakness- and you’ve heard this before, but it’s so true:

Because I know that I don’t belong anywhere here on earth, I more fully realize just how much I belong in heaven with my Father.

        I praise God that I don’t fit in! Because if I did, I wouldn’t realize just how much I’m not meant to fit into this world. If I was to go back to America and blend in, how would people ever see Jesus in my life? I could go on and on with that subject but that’s the basic truth of it.

For now, the trick is standing out in Uganda in a good way- not the way the typical American tourist would stand out, but rather learning to stand out in a way that is glorifying to God. No idea how I'm to do that. I guess that's part of the adventure, right?