Saturday, January 28, 2012

Repentance and Forgiveness in Action!

Well, even though my brain doesn’t work the way it used to (as I mentioned in the previous blog), apparently my OCD  tendencies and small gift of organization have saved the day.

I knew I had a Word document called “Prison Diary” that I had been typing notes in, but I didn’t know I had typed as much as I had.

SO…I have a two more stories I can share.

On December 6th, Kylie went again with me to the prison.  The ladies were subdued and quiet.  My words for my Lugbara prayers have been limited, so God led me to the Psalms, to pray some of them in Lugbara.   I found great sentences to learn in Lugbara, “You are our rock and place of strength.  Help us because we hear the slander of many, but we say, ‘You are our God.’”

I didn’t realize when I prayed that, that they were, at that time, hearing the slander of many.

The story today was about Isaac and Jacob.  I added a lot to the picture book for this one.  I told some back story on Jacob and Esau:   how Jacob tricked him and later how Laban tricked Jacob (with the marriage of Leah).  In the end, the story concludes with Jacob returning home a little afraid, but he was embraced and forgiven by Esau.

After the story, I told them that even though forgiveness took place between the brothers, there has continued to be problems between Jacob’s and Esau’s descendants.

The ladies wanted to know if Jacob really went to meet Esau, and I told them he did, but since he was afraid, he divided his family and belongings in two, just in case Esau did something bad.  One lady said, “That’s just what a thief would do!”

Other questions:  “Why did Jacob sacrifice to the Lord?”
“Who worked at Isaac’s home if he was so old?”

One of the older ladies said, “Please pray for all the mothers here that we would not love one child over another like Rachel did in the story.”

Well, finally the ladies were ready to talk...and not necessarily about the story.  They had been unusually quiet.  They told me there is much anger at the prison, like between Jacob and Esau.  They are all fighting, stealing from each other, being over-sensitive, and she used the words “wanting to kill each other.”  They thought this story described them, and that is why they were so quiet.

They said my prayers must not have been reaching them.  Then…

One quiet lady said, “I am so angry, and I want to control it, but I don’t know how.  I stole a dress from this lady (and she pointed to the one), but I am sorry, and I want to ask her forgiveness.”

The wronged lady took some time sitting in silence, but she finally accepted the offer of  forgiveness.

Here I was, as I was telling the story, I was thinking that either I didn’t prepare well or the ladies just weren’t listening.  Little did I know (but should have known), the Spirit was working the whole time.

Thank you for your Word, Jesus, which is "living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."  Hebrews 4:12

Friday, January 27, 2012

Beads under a Tree

Well, as you now know, my backpack was stolen, and one of the items in there was my notebook that I take to the prison to write the ladies’ prayer requests, their court dates, their stories, my prayers, and questions that they ask.

I had a few more days to fill you in on, but the notes were written in the book.  So, as my husband can testify, my brain doesn’t work quite like it used to.

I’ll just blame it on the heat.

Anyway, I do remember two “events,” but not their specific questions.

In December, we went one day to show them how to make paper beads, like Florence makes for necklaces and bracelets.

A little over half of the women always join us for Bible study, but ALL but one of them came for bead making.

Go figure.

They were so excited!

That same day, the prison had arranged for someone to come and teach the ladies how to make soap, BUT they were charged a fee to go to the class, so….only one lady attended…in the room where we do Bible study, so….the other 60 of us, sat out in the yard under a tree, on mats, to make beads.

Florence had cut a lot of magazine pages. (Thank you to all of you who send me TV Guides, etc.  After I read them, they become jewelry and a money-maker for Florence!)

I bought two bottles of glue and a container of toothpicks, and we were set.

At first, we taught in groups of 10, but soon, all of them had toothpicks and were making beads, and they wanted more and more paper. 

I walked around with the paper to give them, and Florence and another lady walked around with glue for everyone.

I felt like a school teacher again.  As I walked around, they would show me their work, so proud.  Some would run to show me what they had done, looking for praise.  Some came to show me their whole collection of colors after they had make 7-10.   One lady didn’t want hers taken, so when she came to show me, she had to dig them out of her bra.  They were all like small children in their excitement, and it was a great “friendship” time with them.

Florence wanted to teach them so they would have one more skill to make money with whenever they get out.  As a benefit, it also showed them we love when we aren’t in Bible study, we have time for them, and we aren’t there just to teach the Word of God and walk away, but to invest in them.

It was a really fun day for me, and I loved watching them walk off with their treasures.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

And now...the rest of the story

Well, this certainly was a Christmas to remember….

Since I lost my photos, all I can do is remember it.

But all kidding aside, let me tell you how God has shown Himself in all of this.

When I returned back to the student camp after being robbed, Doug and I went about cancelling our credit card, etc.

Caleb told me twice in the car, “Mom, I can’t read.  You could have my Bible.”  (He received a Bible for memorizing 10 verses before he could read).

Life went about pretty normal for the next few hours except when something would jar me into reality, and I would remember something else that was in backpack.

That night, for the New Year’s celebration, I was missing the glow sticks for my kids that were in my backpack, but wouldn’t you know…a mom had sent glow sticks with her daughter to camp, and she shared with everyone!


The next night, before we left camp, I was in the bathroom getting the kids ready for bed, when Karis heard a knock and went to answer the door. She came back with what looked like a black book and handed it to me.  She said, “Someone brought this to you.”

After further examination, I realized it was a new kind of Kindle.  I’d never seen one with a touch screen before.  I ran outside, and this couple that came as volunteers with the team from Florida, were walking away from my cabin.  I said, “What is this?”  They waved me off with a smile and said, “It’s yours.”

After getting the kids down, I went to find them with tears in my eyes.  When I saw her, I said, “I can’t take this.  Mine wasn't even this nice,” and she said, “Jesus told me to give it to you.  It’s yours.”

I went from this:

To this:  

I was a mess of tears…

I was overwhelmed by God’s love for me.

Never in a million years, will I get over that act of kindness.  Jesus is so good to me, even in the little things.

But God didn’t stop there… 

My birthday was two days later, and we were at a different location in Kenya.  We went to some training for our company, and a sweet friend of mine who knows me well, knew what else I needed replaced for my birthday… kleenex and a chapstick substitute.  If you know me, you know these are much-used and much-loved items!


I filled out a property claims report on my stolen articles, and in the meantime, I started shopping for replacements on-line.  I have a friend coming to Uganda at the end of January, and I knew if I could get things ordered and sent to her, she could bring them.

So…I ordered a new ipod and a new camera, new cases, new earphones, etc.

The trick was the Bible.  I wasn’t really ready to give in to a different Bible, but I was getting closer.  Since my Bible is out of print now, and it was listed for sale on Amazon for $400, I decided I probably could live with a different version…

I tried writing the company to ask about any they might have stuck back on a shelf somewhere, but I never heard back from them.

At the same time, my mom was hunting around on line, and she found one on ebay, and the sale was going to be over in three days on a Sunday morning right before our Sunday morning service.  I got up that Sunday, bought internet time, and waited. 

And do you know what?

God let me win the bid on that Bible!

(And it was less than $400, you’ll be glad to know.)

AND a lady in my hometown gave me money to buy it!

I am now the proud owner of my very same Bible, sans notes and underlines and highlights.  But I look forward to all the new ways God is going to show Himself fresh to me in the coming years.

It still doesn’t end there…

People were so gracious to me after reading my last blog.  I had so many people offer to help, but I knew that insurance would cover most of it (even though I’m still waiting for a reimbursement amount).   I’m really bad at asking for help or accepting gifts.

A friend in Mississippi bought me a new backpack, and another friend in North Carolina bought the kids two of the three card games that were lost.  A fellow missionary at youth camp gave me allergy pills to take to my training meeting PLUS her hand bag, as a replacement for my backpack.  (I think she felt sorry for me having to carry my things around in a plastic grocery sack.)

As a cool sidenote, the Kindle Fire holds music as well, so it has been a replacement ipod for the time being.

I got the sweetest note from the lady who gave me the Kindle Fire.  She told me that when she arrived back in Florida, someone had bought her a new Kindle Fire, and it was waiting there for her when she arrived! 

God blessed both of us, and we are both overwhelmed and grateful!

As a side note to the Kindle story:  While in Uganda, before this trip, I had tried to upgrade my older kindle.  When I did, it froze became of the lack of “whispernet” in Uganda (if that means anything to you).  I took it to Kenya in hopes I could fix it in another country, and I had already ordered a replacement, because that’s what amazon recommended I do.

WELL…my supervisor fixed my old kindle six days before it was stolen!  It was working fine.  But I thought nothing of it.  I knew my replacement kindle I had ordered was being sent to my friend in Houston to bring to me.  What I didn’t know was that there were strings attached.

I received an email a few days ago from amazon telling me they were waiting for the “broken” kindle to be sent back to them.


I explained that the one they needed had gotten stolen, but for some reason, I don’t think they believed me.

Anyway, I had my friend in Houston send back my new replacement, AND JUST AFTER I DID…I received an email from a friend in Mississippi who told me she had 2 old Kindles she didn’t use anymore.  She asked if I could use them.

SO…she is sending those to me for the kids to use in school.  Since we don’t have a library here, a kindle will be great for the girls to be able to get some of the books they enjoy reading and my mom doesn’t have to pay to ship over books anymore.

Do you need any more proof that God will take care of you in ALL things in ALL ways?

“He gives and takes away.  He gives and takes away.  My heart will choose to say, “Lord, blessed be Your name.”