Harvest Home

Welcome Home

Despite an unusually early September snowfall, we’ve had a beautifully mellow Autumn. Makes me feel much more hearty about the oncoming snow and ice of Winter!

As a new month steadies its legs, a month that contains Thanksgiving, I’ve been considering God’s limitless faithfulness, sovereignty, and provision. How worthy of trust and praise He is! We are so, so, blessed and even if He were to take back all the material and relational gifts He’s bestowed – yet, He would still be good. He would still be enough. His grace the air in my lungs.

Consequently I’ve also been meditating on Zechariah. Don’t know where my head was the last time I read this book of the Bible. I seem to have forgotten all the glorious imagery of Christ that it contains. I suppose that just goes to show how the Lord always has MORE of Himself to reveal to us in His Word! In Chapter 3, Zechariah has a vision of the high priest, Joshua, standing before the Lord. He is clothed in filthy garments and Satan is accusing him. God’s response is to take away Joshua’s dirty rags and clothe him in rich robes. And it goes on to tell of the coming BRANCH, Jesus, whose righteousness is our perfect covering. Behold God’s ultimate Provision!

Music : Lately I’ve been finding myself entranced by John Mark McMillan’s Borderland album. It’s the sort of album that necessitates unearthing anyhow. More poetry than prose, the lyrics demand excavating, but, reward you with their uncommon treasure. Musically, it’s slightly different than my usual fare, but, somehow I rather like the pulsing beats, mournful saxophone, and gravely voice of McMillan. Give the first track, Holy Ghost, a listen. Guessing you’ll either be inspired or conclude I’ve lost my marbles.

In contrast, are the gentle, earnest, heart-songs of The Hedgerow Folk. Scripture-imprinted calls to abide in Christ. Their new album, Come Close, is currently available for free download over on Noise Trade. Below, is one of their songs that dwells on the utter completeness of what we owe to Christ:

 

 

 

When Life is Rosy

Polka Dot

This melody has been following my brain around lately, so, I decided to attempt recording a snippet of it on my phone.

It’s an old, French, love song, called La Vie En Rose – which essentially means “looking at life through rose-colored glasses”.

Rather the sort of thing to accompany Autumn, I think…

 

 

 

Sunday Stroll

LindaAmong the TreesSummitThe VistaLight and ShadowThe Autumn LeavesPainting

Actually, (as my mum can attest) this wasn’t a stroll – it was a six mile hike up a local peak with a group of church friends. Nevertheless, it was a delightful, afternoon’s trek through the lavishly fall-garbed woods.

Also, what an astounding thought that the God who imagined mountains and seasons should also have shed His own blood that we might be reconciled to Him and thus to His Creation!

Roadtrip!

To the Lonely Mt.

Last weekend, found our family (Mum, Dad, Brother, Sister-in-Law, and I) venturing off to Colorado. The impetus for the trip was my brother’s birthday present tickets to the Minnesota Twins/Colorado Rockies game, but, it was also an excellent opportunity to spend time with my Aunt E. and Uncle K. in Denver.

Traveling across the Wyoming plains:

The RelictRailroad TrackSagebrush & SkyRiver What

Aunt and Uncle’s hospitable Home:

Homestead

Upon arrival a delicious supper was prepared for us on the back patio complete with balloons to celebrate!

Candy Rubber

Morning Light in my darling, guest bedroom:

Morning Light

Our relations had to work Friday morning, so, we lolled about the house enjoying the refreshing peace and relaxation.
Breakfast on the patio (we ate outdoors a lot):

Breakfast Chow

Auntie is always an absolute dear about letting me play her piano when I’m visiting:

This Piano

Naturally we had to spend some time shopping. I’m foolishly proud of the fact that I had a grand time and only spent $18. :)

BelMar

The Stadium

So a little confession: despite the fact that my usual attitude toward sports is one of cheerful obliviousness to their existence, I do rather enjoy a good baseball game. It seems so quintessentially, summertime American. Besides, as my brother played it growing up, I have a decent understanding of what’s going on. So, Friday night, I ate crackerjacks and an enormous foot-long bratwurst, belted out Take Me Out to the Ballgame during the seventh-inning stretch, enthusiastically cheered for both teams and had heaps of fun with my family. For the record, the Rockies won 9-2. There were several home runs.

The DiamondBatter UpGolden Game

A goodly portion of Saturday was spent exploring the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The wonder of God’s design as shown through the intriguing stripes of the animals, the gorgeously geometric shapes of crystals, and the vast empires of history is astounding. I was particularly amazed at the model of the vasculature system of the arm. Wow. Just wow.
Oh! And we also watched a very good, 3D, documentary on D-Day at the Museum’s IMAX theater.

Explorors WeDay at the MuseumOutside AfricaStill LifeSea Flotsam

For supper, we feasted at P.F. Changs. Back at the house, it was time for another card tournament. I don’t seem to have taken any photos of any of the several card games played over the weekend. Must’ve been too concentrated on winning…

Let's Drop by China for Supper

What a treat it was to get to enjoy such rich, unhurried time with family. What a grand way to spend some of the golden hours of Summer!

So Long June

Sackville-BagginsSit A SpellMagentaSweet Rocket
Poppy seeWatercolorFish TalkDaisy FaceWhat's So Rare?
Strawberry Goo

Our garden seems to have taken over the vast majority of my photography at present. At least it will be well documented when cooler temps set in, right?

Life has been excessively sweet of late. Not to say that there aren’t struggles and sin to deal with, but, I’m constantly being overwhelmed by the abundant ways – both big and small – the Lord has chosen to reveal His goodness to our family. It’s as if we’ve been in the wilderness for a long time and now, all of sudden, there are blooms and flowing streams in the desert!

Part of this is because God led us to a new church the beginning of this year, and we’ve been blown away by the love and welcome of the believers there and all the ministry opportunities that have arisen from that. I hadn’t known we were starving for that nor how vital fellowship with the Body of Christ is. Last Sunday in church I very nearly started to bawl in the middle of singing Great is Thy Faithfulness as I suddenly realized how very precious all these dear people surrounding me have become. Isn’t God GOOD?!!

One of the new ministry things we’ve been starting up this summer is a group for college/career age young people from the church and area. We’ve been meeting every other Saturday to share a meal, play games, laugh (a lot), discuss, pray, dig into the Word, and worship Jesus together. (Isn’t together a great word?) There was really a need there as so many of us were feeling like we were on our own and that there were no other young people around that were passionate about knowing Jesus too. It’s great watching the relationships start to build and to see what God is going to do with it!

The Fourth of July was a bit different than usual around here.  Independence Day is the highlight of the small, Midwestern town we live in. I have sincerely never seen the day celebrated more enthusiastically anywhere. The place simply bursts with patriotism and Americana. As we live on the parade route, our home has always been a central hub for friends, family, and acquaintances. This year, however, we couldn’t even hang up the red-white-and-blue bunting as our porch is under renovation. In addition my mom has expanded her duties with the Museum/Visitor Center and so was heavily involved with planning and execution of various events. All of this lead to a very laid-back, play-it-by-ear Fourth, which, in my opinion, ended up making it less stressful. We just felt free to go with whatever happened! We had a horde of people over to watch the parade. (Always fun catching-up!) Had a quick, music, practice/jam session with two dear chums (one of whom is back in town for the weekend) afterwards. Ended up having the pastor and his large, exuberant family, along with two, sweet, Korean, foreign-exchange students stay for lunch. This was a picnic on the sidewalk (where the shade was). A little quiet, restful time in the afternoon and then we  headed off to the home of a young couple from church for an evening party replete with smores, wiffle ball, and fireworks. Definitely a fun day!

Something else that will keep me occupied until the beginning of August: The local, community theater is putting on Oscar Wilde’s deliciously ridiculous play The Importance of Being Earnest. As that has always been a favorite of mine, I thought I’d give tryouts a go. I really had no expectations and just prayed God’s good will would be done with it. Turns out they offered me the part of Gwendolen Fairfax. A chance to be poshly aristocratic and pour forth a stream of witty nonsense in a plummy British accent! Also, (and more importantly) to be a light to the rest of the cast who are pleasant but, definitely of worldly hearts and minds.

Some books I’ve read lately:
Village School & Village Diary by Miss Read. Warmly humorous recollections of a village schoolteacher in 1950’s England. Makes me smile how people are the same the world over!
The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton. Chesterton is brilliant, sometimes, admittedly above my head so.
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. A retelling of the biblical story of Hosea and Gomer set in California during the Gold Rush. The darkness made it hard to read at points, but, the depiction of the unrelenting, faithful love of God amazed me.
Lamentations – The Bible. Despite brokenness, despair, and loneliness, God remains merciful, gracious, and faithful. He doesn’t take delight in the suffering of people, but, is present, redeeming and working His mighty plans behind the hurt.

Trust Me for I am Faithful. Wait on Me for I am the Redeemer and Creator. Delight in Me for I am good. That’s what the Father has been speaking to my heart lately. For so long, I wanted God to change my circumstances and fill my life with excitement. Instead, He’s filling me with Himself and causing me to find great joy and contentment in Him in the midst of this seemingly ordinary, prosaic life. I repeat, isn’t He Good?

“This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I hope in Him!”
~ Lamentations 3:21-24

Blossom

May Day, May Day!

Mint Tulip

Almond Blossom Time

Bicycle Built For Two

Doubled Up
Go Down to Kew (It Isn't Far from Devon)

The Winter (more than usually frigid) has, at long last, released it’s clutches on us. Summer is apparently over-eager, already pushing in its 90 degree weather and evening thunderstorms. Alas, for gracious, retiring Spring. At least, I have a few snapshots of the Season’s flowers left.

I love the promise of Spring and the way it refreshes one’s hope after the long, weariness of Winter. I love the way it echoes the promise in the Bible that God is making all things new – not just the weather for a temporary time, but all of Creation including the hearts of the people He’s redeemed for all of eternity!

There’s a great song by the Gray Havens, (off their soon-to-be-released, new, album) called “Far Kingdom” that glimpses the wonder and joy of the New Heavens and the New Earth. In the song is a line that has been running through my mind a lot lately: “Still there is more gladness/Longing for the Sight/Than to behold or be filled, by anything”. I love that because it reminds me that as amazing and full of splendor as this world can be, it’s still only a broken, hazy, reflection of the greater joys of Heaven and its King.

Just Do Something

Something - Anything

Drum roll, please! It’s Book Review Time!

In Uganda, one of the young missionaries recommended Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung to me. Boy! What an encouraging, timely, convicting read!

The book deals with how too often we agonize over making decisions where really either choice could glorify God, fearing that if we chose A instead of B we will somehow miss out on God’s will for our lives. We plead with God to give us explicit, “magic- 8 ball” answers and when He doesn’t we become confused, directionless and all too often end up either tinkering around or else apathetically doing nothing at all. We confuse heaven with earth and think God’s plan for our lives here is going to involve one certain career, marriage or whatever that will completely satisfy and fulfill us. We forget that Christ alone is our everything and that oftentimes God uses brokenness and trouble in this fallen world to conform us to Himself.
The author points out that God rarely reveals His plans ahead of time, not because His will is meant to be a cloudy, mysterious thing that we have to struggle to figure out, but, because He wants us to desire Him, meditate on His Word and become like Him!
What if we poured our energy and thought into the issues we already know through the Bible God is concerned with; things like justice, mercy, humility, and the Gospel? What if we fretted less over whether we should be a doctor or a lawyer and spent more time seeking to glorify God as a doctor (or a lawyer)? We should be seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, praying and meditating on the Word not just when we have an important decision to make but as a way of life. Then, when an issue arises we can (employing the Wisdom God supplies) just make the decision, trusting that God will work all the plans and decisions of our lives to His glory and purpose!

Just Do Something is concise and revealing. If you’re young or in the midst of a time of decision making I would whole-heartedly recommend this book to you! Besides any book that has a bottom line of, “Pursue Jesus and His Word!” is worth perusing, I think. :)

Uganda: Part Five

We had our bags packed and were checked out of the Lodge by six o’clock Saturday morning in the hopes of seeing as many animals as possible. As we drove in search of wildlife we got to see the sun rise over the African plains!

Sunrise

The big discovery of the morning was the lions. Xavier, our guide, told us that many times people come and don’t even get to see them at all, so, it was quite a gift from the Lord, to get up so close to two, large, males. They seemed to take little notice of us, but, things sure got quiet in our van!

Do you see the other lion in the corner chomping down on his morning steak?

Do you see the other lion in the corner chomping down on his morning steak?

Cape Buffalo

Cape Buffalo

I thought the kobs were the prettiest of the deer species we saw herds of.

I thought the kobs were the prettiest of the deer species we saw herds of.

We had a gorgeous view of the Albert Nile. The hills in the distance are the Congo.

We had a gorgeous view of the Albert Nile. The hills in the distance are the Congo.

The giraffes were always at some distance. But, we got to see them! And they were my favorite for being both unique and beautiful.

The giraffes were always at some distance. But, we did get to see them! And they were my favorites for being both unique AND beautiful.

The hartebeest had long, expressive faces.

The hartebeest had long, expressive faces.

As we headed out so early, the Lodge packed us breakfast to take along. This is just my portion; I couldn't manage all that bread! But, the hard-boiled egg (which I cracked by dropping it on the floor), sausage (tastes like hot dogs) and mango juice was terrific. :)

As we headed out so early, the Lodge packed us breakfast to take along. This is just my portion; I could only manage a bit of all that bread. But, the hard-boiled egg (which I cracked by dropping it on the floor), sausage (tastes like hot dogs) and mango juice was terrific. :)

Handsome Mister Kob Deer.

Handsome Mister Kob Deer

We saw many different types of birds. I was informed of the names of all of them, but, I really don't recall....

We saw many different types of birds. I was informed of the names of all of them, but, that knowledge escapes me….

Water Fowl

Dozens of homely baboons scurried about alongside the road.

Dozens of homely baboons scurried about alongside the road.

Our game drive took us straight out of the park and onto our way home.
Stopped for Paper
Xavier stopped to buy a paper along the way, which is where I snapped the above photo. See the lady riding side-saddle to accommodate her skirt? The paper was in quaint English with lots of football (soccer) reporting as well as articles about so-and-sos daughter who had done well at school exams, a blind couple who had been married 25 years, a witch-doctor who had been thrown out of a taxi by the other passengers when they discovered he was in possession of a bag of live snakes etc., etc.

"Highest Quality Hair Additions". Chortle.

“Highest Quality Hair Additions”. Chortle.

Lunch was at this landscaped, roadside café. I had a hamburger that, as it was seasoned with chili powder, tasted slightly Mediterranean.

Lunch was at this landscaped, roadside café. I had a hamburger that, as it was seasoned with chili powder, tasted slightly Mediterranean.

Passing through a town.

Passing through a town.

On the way back, Xavier asked us many questions about the US and the differences between there and Uganda. As we talked, the discussion turned to worldview, culture, and politics. This got both Dr. T. and Xavier fired up especially once they discovered they held the same viewpoints and were kindred spirits on many issues! This lent an amusing soundtrack to the short clips I was videoing of the scenery passing by.
We arrived back at Kasana about two o’clock in the afternoon. The fellows quickly dashed off to participate in the football tournament being held that day. I leisurely got unpacked and took time to get my journal up-to-date. Wanting to take in as much as possible while I was at New Hope, I knocked on Auntie Virginia’s door to see if she could steer me in a direction. I ended up just spending time with her and Uncle Steve (when he came in) and they kindly shared with me some of their story and God’s continued direction and faithfulness in their lives in Uganda.

Uncle Elly blessed me with these beautiful flowers that afternoon.

Uncle Elly blessed me with these beautiful flowers that afternoon.

Then, it was time for supper and then I returned to Auntie Virginia’s to help her with the after-supper dishes. As we boiled water for washing we discovered that we share a mutual fondness for classic films!
When it was dark, I strolled down to the covered, Church/meeting area for the worship time they do once a month. That was grand a couple of hours! I sat between Ugandans as several of the teenage, young people led both Lugandan and English worship songs. Once again I loved the ability to respond in movement, clapping, and raising hands without feeling like a distraction. Got to meet a few members of Samuel Family on the short walk back to the guesthouse as well.
Sunday morning after spending some early morning devotional time, eating breakfast, and getting spruced up for church, I had some time to sit on the porch of the guesthouse and take in the beautiful day, the birds chirping, and the sounds of the worship team warming up with “Your Love is Amazing”.
Church itself was an inspiring few hours. It was so wonderful to see all these precious people, dressed in their finest (the Ugandans like bright colors and looking sharp!), crowded onto the wooden benches, to worship Jesus and hear about His Truth together. Everything was translated from English into Lugandan and when we sang in Lugandan the English words were in parentheses so everyone could follow along. Several people from the Institute led worship and Pastor Tim shared on not allowing a doubtful, complaining, or idolatrous spirit spring up in our hearts toward God as the Israelites did in the wilderness. One of the sweetest parts of the service was when Aunt Ketty, who had just been diagnosed with cancer, came forward with her husband and their young children. Uncle Geoff who just last year faced a battle with cancer testified about God’s awesome faithfulness and power and then he called people to come surround Aunt K. in prayer at which point nearly the whole church went forward! Then, it was Aunt Ketty’s turn to speak and she shared about how the Lord was comforting and teaching her and how that whether God chose to heal her by healing her physically or whether he chose to heal her by taking her Home to His presence, either way HE IS GOOD. It was amazing. And then, the worship team got up and the fellow leading suggested that in response to that he felt we should all proclaim, “How great is our God”. And the whole church just started singing that song a capella….which started the music worship time.
After Church, four of the young, single, American, ladies whisked me off to their house for a very yummy lunch. It was pleasant to have some time with just girls after traveling with just fellows so much. ;)
In the evening we had one last family time with Ebenezer Family. We went around the room sharing how we’d blessed each other in the few days we’d gotten to live life together and then it was time for some group photos!
When we got back to the guesthouse, the British couple were on the porch with their sponsor child Joseph (who was visiting from Kampala where he is spending his after-graduation, Investment Year) who had just brought out his guitar. That I couldn’t resist and we spent about an hour singing worship songs in the warm, night air. That was a very precious, perfect gift from the Father to me on my last night there! There we were, people from three different continents finding unity in praising Jesus together. I took a video of Joseph singing a Ugandan worship song and I find myself listening to it over and over because it so encapsulates the time there and the heart of New Hope.

Sacks at New Hope's maize mill.

Sacks at New Hope’s maize mill at the vocational school. The mill is very busy as it is the only one in the area.

Monday morning Uncle Dan appeared with the van to pick us up. We would be spending the day doing some souvineer shopping in Kampala before flying out from Entebbe late that evening. Uncle Steve and Aunt Virginia accompanied us as they had some errands to do in the city. Was glad to spend a little more time with them! It was funny how the word must’ve gotten out about a vehicle heading into Kampala because people kept showing up to ride with us. :) Aunt Kathy came to the guesthouse, we picked up Aunt Susy on the road, and Uncle Ronald at New Hope’s vocational school where they teach mechanics, brick-laying, tailoring and weaving. Kathy was the friendly girl about my age that I’d met at the Hope (Baby) Family House on Thursday and I was delighted to get to know her a little better. She set next to me during the drive and told me about her family and life. I was impressed with her heart for the Ugandan people and the vision she had for practical ways that could improve things like education, housing, and agriculture. Kathy, Susy, and Ronald all got off at various points as we arrived in Kampala.
We headed on to two different market places that consisted of many small booth shops overflowing with African merchandise. It was a bit overwhelming at first – all the different objects for sale and the persistent sales people. I quickly learned not to appear too interested unless I actually wanted to buy something!
We had lunch at a café that specialized in all kinds of coffee. Coffee came free with your sandwich so I thought I might as well try it even though I never drink coffee. I found it quite tasty. Uncle Dan who prefers soda decided to try it as well and we had to tease him about how speedily his disappeared. ;)

Lake Victoria Hotel

Lake Victoria Hotel

We ate supper on the veranda of the fancy, old, Lake Victoria Hotel in Entebbe. It took our food quite a while to come out, so, consequently we spent a fair amount of time there. Everybody was in a silly mood and it was a fun, farewell meal together.
Once night arrived, the New Hope Family took us to the airport where it was time for final hugs and goodbyes. Sniffle.
Our trip home and all the details involved therein went smoothly. We did have an eight hour layover in Minneapolis that we wiled away by taking the city transport to the Mall of America. The guys suggested that I might be interested in different shops than them and so left me free to wander leisurely about the halls. Due to jet lag and my recent experiences I had absolutely no interest in buying anything. I did stop into a shoe store where the friendly sales-fellow was obligingly interested in my recent time in Uganda. I don’t think he was a Christian so it was rather a neat, little, ministry opportunity.
Once we got back to the airport I was so tired that I quite literally fell asleep sitting up. My weariness fell off though when I saw Mum and Dad and Mrs. Dr. T. waiting to greet us when we stepped off the plane. We all rode back to our hometown together and it was a fun start to the story-telling. The stories continued at home with my family until three o’clock in the morning!

So there is my tale. I sincerely fell in love with Uganda and wasn’t ready to leave when the two weeks were up. As a quiet soul who is fond of being home I was taken aback by that and the repeated sensation that Uganda felt like home. The scenery and the culture was beautiful and intriguing, but, it was truly the people that captured my heart. The thing is whenever people love Jesus than there is instantaneous family and so it does feel like Home. And I am amazed by the God who not only is the Creator of such marvelous beauty, but, also delights to redeem and restore such ugliness and loneliness into such loveliness and relationship. So what do I do with that?

Mom encouraged me in my return by reminding me that people in this town need Jesus just as desperately as people in Uganda and that that is definitely my mission too.  I’m also excited to continue to pray for as well as seek ways to stay involved with the ministry of New Hope Uganda; and to trust that God will bring about His perfect designs in that regard!

The lights of Minneapolis.

The lights of Minneapolis.

Uganda: Part Four

Along the road.

Along the road.

(Sorry to be so tardy in publishing this post; life has been full lately!)
In the early morning dark of Friday we set out on our safari to Murchison Falls National Park. During the day and a half trip we were skillfully driven about by the safari company guide, Xavier. He was an exuberant personality and extremely knowledgeable about the animals and park. (Besides just the fact that he was an Ugandan made even the car time interesting!)
Breakfast Shack
We stopped at a guesthouse on the way for breakfast. They seated us in this cute, little, “gazebo”.

Taken out the car window. All the cattle in Uganda have those enormous horns.

Taken out the car window. All the cattle in Uganda have those enormous horns.

Entrance to the park.

Entrance to the park.

Our first stop once we were inside the park was the top of Murchison Falls. The Nile River surges through an extremely narrow chasm here, splashing its banks and covering the air in mist.
Field and Stream
Frothy

I found it both amusing and pleasant that the only device to prevent foolish people from endangering themselves was the painted word "Stop". No ugly metal guardrails keeping you from enjoying the unspoiled view.

I found it both amusing and pleasant that the only device to prevent foolish people from endangering themselves was the painted word “Stop”. No ugly metal guardrails keeping you from enjoying the unspoiled view.

Another vantage point.

Another vantage point.

The view of the Nile Valley.

The view of the Nile Valley.

Docked
To get to our night’s lodging across the Nile we waited for the hourly ferry. The ferry turned out to be a smallish, raft of metal for hauling people and cars in a jumbled togetherness over the water.
Hydroplane

Near the other side.

Near the other side.

I was informed that Ernest Hemingway had visited, written and survived a plane crash (!) in this area. And Parra Lodge, where we stayed, certainly had that air of posh, 1920’s, African game lodge. Vintage luggage and paintings of Livingston and Stanley lined the corridor and we were met in the lobby by emerald-uniformed bellboys with cold towels and cool, passion fruit juice. (Thankfully Dr. T. was hovering about to remember to tip the helpful, fellow who hauled my bags. Obviously I don’t usually stay in places that necessitate that!) To my utter delight the key to my room was an old-fashioned, skeleton key. Quite frankly, the other marks of luxury to me were that the drinking water was cold and the shower was hot!
Promenade

My Room

My Room

Thought it was way neat that even in this lodge on the Nile far away in Africa there was a Gideon Bible!

Thought it was way neat that even in this lodge on the Nile far away in Africa there was a Gideon Bible!

The view from the veranda. We're overlooking the swimming pool which they were maintenancing while we were there.

The view from the veranda. We’re overlooking the swimming pool which they were maintenancing while we were there.

After depositing our bags in our rooms, we headed back to the main wing of the Lodge for lunch on the veranda. We were seated there to eat for both lunch and dinner. At night the tables were lighted with lanterns and it was splendid to sit there in the velvety night and listen to the sounds of the Nile. The hotel restaurant was quite proper and we were served three-course meals on extensive (as in which fork do I use?) place settings. You were given a choice for what you desired to eat for each course and for the main dishes I chose Nile Perch roasted in garlic and lemon on skewers for lunch and tender lamb for supper. Both times I couldn’t resist choosing the scrumptious Ugandan fruit for my dessert!

These hideous, gigantic storks were lurking about nearly everywhere I went in Uganda.

These hideous, gigantic storks were lurking about nearly everywhere I went in Uganda.

Another beautiful view from the hotel.

Another beautiful view from the hotel.

Our boat - of course that's what it would be named!

Our boat – of course that’s what it would be named!

After our hunger was appeased, we wandered back down to the ferry landing to take a boat cruise up the Nile to the foot of Murchison Falls. We could see the sky growing dark and just as we settled ourselves on board a torrent of rain let loose. We waited about 20 minutes or so for it to abate before pulling out and it continued to sprinkle and mist for much of the journey to the Falls. Despite the dampness, it was still a marvelous jaunt – an experience I kept reminding myself really was occurring to me!

Pulling out.

Pulling out.

Parra Lodge

Parra Lodge

 We say tons (excuse the pun) of hippos along the banks. Xavier informed us that they walk several miles inland during the night to eat and then come back to bask in the River during the day.

We saw tons (excuse the pun) of hippos along the banks. Xavier informed us that they walk several miles inland during the night to eat and then come back to bask in the River during the day.

Can you spot the crocodile?

Can you spot the crocodile?

More hippos playing peek-a-boo. Despite their quaint pinkishness their really quite dangerous. Apparently more people are killed by hippos than any other animal in Uganda.

More hippos playing peek-a-boo. Despite their quaint pinkishness they’re really quite dangerous. Apparently more people are killed by hippos than any other animal in Uganda.

This fellow had a gleam of malice in his eye. I was told after we disembarked that he had recently been brought to the park after eating nine people in a village. Gulp.

This fellow had a gleam of malice in his eye. I was told after we disembarked that he had recently been brought to the park after eating nine people in a village. Gulp.

The Nile
River Cruise

As we got closer to the Falls, the water begin to churn and swirl faster and faster whipping up thick foam.

As we got closer to the Falls, the water begin to churn and swirl faster and faster whipping up thick foam.

Murchison Falls

Murchison Falls

The trip back from the Falls was much quicker as we were traveling with the current and not stopping so frequently to view wildlife. Despite being hungry and slightly cold when we stepped off the boat there was no way we were going to resist Xavier’s command, “Hop into the van. We’re going on a game drive.” Until the sun went down we drove around the dirt trails of the Park getting our first glimpses of some of the amazing wildlife.

Water Buck

Water Buck

Elephants!
Two by Two

Hartebeests

Hartebeests

This chap was hogging the road as we neared the Lodge. The metal in the photo is the retractable roof of the van.

This chap was hogging the road as we neared the Lodge. The metal in the photo is the retractable roof of the van.

And so, food and to bed. Next will be the morning game drive and the conclusion of my Ugandan adventure! To bed

Uganda: Part Three

Traveling

Back on the road on Monday. Another exciting car trip! Found out that during the three and a half hours we had jolted from Musana to Kampala we’d traveled only about 35 miles!

City Sidewalks

As we were driving through the more rural part of the country, we had fun waving at many of the people alongside the road. The little kids especially would get enormous grins on their faces and run after us shouting “Muzungas!” (White People).

Sugar Cane

Whenever there was road construction or any cause for vehicle traffic to stop, there would be a jumble of people selling things. The lady with sugar cane won us over and it was fun to taste its sweet juice.

I got a chuckle out of the name of this shop at the mall. :)

I got a chuckle out of the name of this shop at the mall. :)

At lunchtime we stopped at a mall in Kampala for pizza (of all things!). I ordered iced tea with my food which turned out to be essentially lemon water with a hint of tea. The waiter also gave me a small pitcher with syrup in it, but, I think I would’ve had to get it to Southern sweetness to dilute the tang of the lemon. Was actually quite good though!

Through The Window

From Kampala we still had a decent jaunt ahead of us until we would reach Kasana in the Luwero Triangle.

Clothes?

It was market day in one of the towns we passed through and the streets were simply covered with people and goods for sale.
Market Day
New Hope Sign
Pulling into Kasana at last!
Bloom
The kind Guesthouse staff had picked a bouquet of gorgeous blooms to welcome us. The staff were very sweet to us during our stay – making us delicious meals, keeping our rooms clean and cozy, and greeting us with warm smiles.
Bed Bugs
One of the benefits of being the only girl on the team was that I got my own bedroom and bathroom! Above you can see what the mosquito nets were like.

The Kasana Guesthouse

The Kasana Guesthouse

After we got our bags unpacked, Uncle Steve took us on an informative tour of the grounds. Like Musana Camps, I was amazed at the size of the site and how much there is going on!

The Institute

The Institute

The Institute at Kasana teaches five month courses in Biblical worldview and understanding the heart of an orphan. Some of the recently graduated New Hope young people as well as missionaries interested in orphan ministry attend.
Psalm 1
The back of the Primary school which is located just across from the Guesthouse had Psalm 1 painted on one of its walls.
Church Outdoors
The Primary school forms a “U” shape. The covered meeting area was where Church was held on Sunday. Because the weather is so lovely year round in Uganda the people do as much as possible outdoors (cooking, washing, meeting…) and the windows and doors tend to be quite “airy”.
Water Supply
Here you can see one of the rainwater cisterns. In Uganda I realized what a treasure clean and plentiful water is. A water bottle filled with filtered water became very important because it’s not safe to ingest the tap water.
Home
One of the Family home and garden areas. To help teach the children skills, work ethic, and to be able to provide for themselves, every Family has their own garden where they raise things like bananas, sweet potatoes and ground nuts.

Primary school children on their morning break. This is the view from my Guesthouse room door.

Primary school children on their morning break. This is the view from my Guesthouse room door.

Center
This “roundabout” is near the center of Kasana. Some of the other facets of New Hope I don’t have pictures of include a radio station, an Enterprise Farm (again teaching life skills and helping to support New Hope), a ministry for special needs children, and the Forge (a coffee house and gift shop that some of the young people help run).

This is near the entrance to Kasana. The administrative building would be on the left and the clinic on the right.

This is near the entrance to Kasana. The administrative building would be on the left and the clinic on the right.

The Kasana Clinic

The Kasana Clinic

Since we’d gotten our system figured out at Musana Camps it didn’t take us long to get to work at Kasana. Our primary focus while we were at Kasana was seeing most of the Secondary students (basically 8th grade and high school) who Dr. T. hadn’t been able to see last visit. We also saw any of the staff and younger students that were having issues.
Pretesting Room
Because the power supply kept going off and making the indoor area dark, we hung up the eye chart on the porch. The water in the photo is from the lady who mopped the concrete floors every morning to keep the dust down.
Kasana (unlike Musana) has resident medical staff. Kimberly who is the head nurse was extremely helpful and efficient during our time there. The first day there was a little slower in terms of the number patients coming in (the Doctor was still busy though!), so, I got in on rolling cotton balls from sheets of cotton!

At Kasana most everybody could speak English, but, their soft-spokeness and heavy accent still kept me listening intently! Heard lots of “well done” while at the clinic. Ugandans say that phrase not just when you’re actively doing or finishing a project, but, also as a sort of general acknowledgement and appreciation for your presence and the fact that you might be doing something! I heard “well done” several times when I was just standing around or walking somewhere. :)

Cooking

One afternoon the Guesthouse staff gave us a brief tour of the kitchen area. Made me appreciate their yummy concoctions even more when I realized the methods they use to cook! Here you can see part of the charcoal stove system.

Volleyball game going on outside the Guesthouse one evening.

Volleyball game going on outside the Guesthouse one evening.

The second day we were there another team arrived. They were from a British school for boys from troubled backgrounds and consisted of a football (soccer) coach, his wife who is a nurse, a fellow who is a shop (metalwork) teacher, and four of the “troubled boys”. It was fun to get to know them throughout the week and as the coach and his wife were the only Christians (and the only ones who had previously been to Uganda!) among them I was definitely hoping and praying that some seeds were being planted in their hearts! One of the boys, named Joe, attached himself to me, proudly showed me his stars-and-stripes flip-flops, and peppered me with questions about the US, telling me that he is fascinated with our country and loves our accent and culture. I found this a frankly amusing turn-about from my own interest in Great Britain! :)

This also leads to a sweet story about one of the Guesthouse staff – a beautiful lady named Jovia who only knew a phrase or two in English. One day one of the British boys wasn’t feeling well, but, the language barrier was no obstacle to Jovia laying hands on his stomach and praying for him! As it was the British boy who gratefully told me the story I know it made an impact!

Part of the Ebenezer Family Home.

The part of the Ebenezer Family home where we would meet each night. They had the names of the tribes of Israel (which they had studied) on the walls as well as the scripture from Samuel from which their name is taken – “Thus far has the Lord helped us.”

While we were at Kasana we were assigned to a specific Family Group that was our “Family” during our stay. Every evening after supper we would visit their home and spend time with them during their nightly devotion and family time. These sessions were truly some of my absolute favorite parts of the day! It was a fantastic opportunity to get a feel for the families and it was such a very sweet, joyful time. Uncle Elly (the Ebenezer Family father) would usually lead us in prayer and a devotion – although one night Dr. T. got roped into sharing! Then, sometimes we would sing worship songs a capella, sometimes play an exuberant game, and sometimes just visit and get to know one another. The last evening we were there, Samuel and Derek were sorting beans to get rid of sticks and pebbles and so I got to help with that project! Everybody was so kind and welcoming and my heart felt so full with all the fervent love and truth being abundantly shared. With my own family being quite small it was a treat to have so many brothers and sisters for a while! :)

The Hope Family house.

The Hope Family house.

Wednesday morning, Hannah, let me tag along with her to the music classes she teaches weekly to the students. She was teaching several of the Primary classes and it was very neat to see how the school functions. Contrary to my perceptions of Africans, Hannah told me (and I could tell) that the children are just like the ones over here in that some of them have a natural feel for music and some of them have to work harder to get it. She has been working with the classes on rhythm – on hearing a pattern, mimicking it, and then being able to stick to one particular pattern while another group does a different, but, complimentary pattern. Something else I thought was great was that she has been having them memorize Zephaniah 3:17, the verse that talks about God rejoicing over us with singing. While helping with the classes I also got to meet Hannah’s intern, Joel, who kept courteously going out of his way to make sure I had a place to sit in each room! I also got in on two, different Bible studies that Hannah is involved in. One for middle-school age students where they are going through the Chronological Bible and one for the Secondary girls on purity and Biblical womanhood. The study going through the Chronological Bible was on the story of Hannah and Samuel and I was really struck by the verse where Hannah’s husband is trying to comfort her about not having any children and asks her, “Am I not more to you than ten sons?”. It struck me that while this was Hannah’s husband speaking about himself it could very well be the Lord asking me the same question about all the things I think I need. He is truly sufficient for all my desires!

In the afternoon, I went back to the clinic so the Doctor’s sons could go help with the soccer camp the UK fellows were putting on.

Worship with the Hope Family.

Worship with the Hope Family.

Thursday morning, Hannah was going to be in Kampala, but, she encouraged me to go to the worship time the Hope Family has every morning at 9am. Another favorite memory! The Hope Family is for the little ones about 3 years old and under. The aunties and uncles welcomed me in so graciously when I showed up unexpectedly on their door and invited me onto their porch. Uncle Stanley played the drums and we all sang and praised the Father together. The babies were all so smiley and responsive (even the tiniest ones!) to the music and it was overwhelming to see the love and Name of Jesus being proclaimed over these precious little ones. Many of the songs were in Lugandan, but, they did sing “This Little Light of Mine” mixed with “Amen” as well as a song that went “My Redeemer lives, my Redeemer lives, my Redeemer lives in ___” and then they would name somebody in the group and whoever was around that person would hug and tickle he or she. For the next couple days I went around humming “My Redeemer Lives!”.

After the worship session, Auntie Irene took me inside and showed me pictures and told me stories of the different babies – where they came from and where some of them have gone. Really sweet.

Courtyard of Kiwoko Hospital.

Courtyard of Kiwoko Hospital.

Kimberly took us one day on a quick trip to the hospital at the nearby village of Kiwoko. The hospital and New Hope have a lot of connections and many of the staff at Kiwoko are Christians too. Dr. T. was able to visit with one of the doctors there about what they have for optometric care. He found out that there is a doctor in Kampala that does cataract surgery and that it costs about $50! Dr. T. is definitely wanting to figure out a way to refer those needing the procedure done as that’s certainly a coverable cost!

Part of the road leading to the Secondary Site.

Part of the road leading to the Secondary Site.

Thursday evening Auntie Virginia accompanied me to the gate on the Primary Site. Aunt Nancy (a lady from the Midwest who has been teaching at New Hope for about 15 years) had invited me to supper at her home which is on the Secondary Site. There is a little bit of walking distance between the two sections of New Hope property. Aunt Nancy and her adopted daughter, invited me in to their cozy home (they have a sidewalk, a full-length mirror and lots of books!) and fed me on fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, lemonade and chocolate cake! They had also invited a young couple (who I found out is from my area!) who are currently spending a year at New Hope and working as a nurse and a teacher. After supper, we sat down in the living room to get better acquainted and Nancy’s daughter serenaded us in Lugandan while she did the dishes.

To be continued…