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?