"to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faithin me." Acts 26:18

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Random Happenings during the last few weeks

It's been a while since I've posted about general things going on.  So here it is with a photo dump to match.

William turned 7 years old!  He was so happy and took everything about his birthday very seriously.   It makes me laugh though, when I think about how much energy this kid has, but how very calm and serious he can be when something is very special to him.  He has finished learning to read and we were able to get him a Bible for his birthday.  He was so pleased and really feels grown up being able to read his Bible in the morning with the rest of the kids.


The church plant that meets at Knox Theological College, was just able to receive members officially.  Along with that came many baptisms.  Pray for these believers.  Many of them are wives and children coming from Muslim clans.  Pray for more men too!

Around the start of the school terms, we tend to get asked a LOT for help with school fees and supplies.  But we don't have physical labor projects here in town to put people to work with.  So Eric came up with a new idea.  He has students memorize scripture.  He doesn't make it easy though...it isn't a verse here and there.  They must memorize at least 5 verses at a time, and then in order to move on to the next five verses they have to keep saying the previous ones.  And he gives very little wiggle room, if they begin to stumble over words, then they can try again after more studying.  The kids that are committed have memorized whole chapters in order to pay for school.  He has them all starting with memorizing Matthew 5, which is what we are studying in Sunday School.  We pray that the words will not just stay in their heads (or be forgotten) but also move to their hearts.

Our Sunday afternoon festivities are still so much fun.  Many of these kids have become dear friends and we are so thankful for that.

Who can resist a selfie with such a sweet three year old?  Especially when she leans over and gives a little kiss.

A few days ago, I got a random call out of the blue.  Someone had heard that I love to take pictures and they wanted me to take their engagement photos.  They were in Uganda for a 2 month stay and while they were here they were engaged.  He is in nursing school and she is a nutritionist.  They hope to come back in a couple years to work full time treating children that are malnourished.  Because of our own sweet Matthew, I'm always so thankful to hear of people committing to this kind of work.  They were a fun couple and they wanted their pictures done at our new local so-close-to-being-American-that-it-gives-all-of-us-a-bit-of-cultural-comfort coffee shop.  It's such a cute place and it made for some fun shots.


But right before I left to go take their pictures, I gave the kids the job of killing 5 cocks that we needed to get rid of.  We had bought them when they were small chickens...to early to tell what sex they were...but we really only want layers, so into the freezer they went.  Timothy wanted to try to shoot one with his bow and arrow.  Not being too convinced of his skills, I insisted that he at least tie it to a tree, so that we could make sure that his siblings stayed behind him shooting.  The cock was still jumping all around on the string though.  Amazingly, Timothy shot low to the ground and ended up hitting the cock through the eyeballs.  Haha...

The rest of the kids took care of theirs with the panga.

We continue to praise the Lord for all of his blessings to us.

Monday, October 13, 2014

My response to anyone who would call “being radical” the newest form of legalism…

I will stop trying to live a so-called “radical” life when…

...I start seeing grandmas begin to bring fat grandbabies to church, rather than their seven month old grandbabies who weigh less than 10 pounds.  
...When these babies, whose mothers died during childbirth, are able to get more than one cup of milk a week.  
...When I no longer need to attend the funeral of a 12 year old who died from a treatable disease and watch her be laid in the ground wrapped in nothing more than a white sheet.  
...When my children don’t come home dirty from church because they sat on the dirt floor of the sanctuary.  
...When the hydrocephaly rates in East Africa drop because babies aren’t being born into houses where the walls are covered in cow dung.  
...When the American church is not only praying for more laborers to harvest the fields in obedience to Luke 10:2, but also pouring out money to send them.
...When the kids in the Reformed churches here are able to receive not just an education (where they actually learn to read, write and do math), but also a Christian education. 
...When local pastors are able to be given a salary, so that they don’t have to work full time while trying to shepherd a church.  
...When I see evidences of “ordinary” Christians in America living with a war-time mentality more than I see pictures of Pumpkin Spice Lattes on my Facebook news feed.   
...When all the children in our reformed churches here have at least one pair of shoes to protect their feet from permanent deformity due to jiggers laying eggs in and eating their flesh. 
...When babies in our reformed churches are no longer dying of Malaria simply because their parents couldn’t come up with $4 to transport them to a clinic.   
...When the elderly widows do not have to be “blind elderly widows” because they have access to cataract surgery.  
...When men, who are called to be pastors, don’t have to choose between providing for their family and attending seminary.  
...When the kids are no longer filling their stomach with nutritionally empty cassava during hunger season, just so they don’t have to sleep with the pangs of hunger filling their swollen bellies.  
...When all of the members of our churches have easy access to something as simple as clean water.

This part of the reality of life in Uganda and many other places will only cease when all Christians make these things a part of their reality and make doing something about it an “ordinary” part of life.  Then, and only then, will we be able to stop calling it “radical.”

Oh, that the average reformed Christian in America would make it a part of their reality.  But too often, they don’t.  So the problems remain.  If we take an honest look at the church in America, there is too high of a percentage of members that remain in an “ordinary” life that rarely looks beyond the church doors, let alone beyond the American borders.  It assumes that poverty equals laziness.  It spiritually justifies giving minimal amounts of money, claiming that it hurts the poor.  It is content to lead a nice, socially acceptable, pleasing life in the suburbs.  Go to work.  Go to school.  Go to church.  Give your tenth.  Save for retirement.  Make sure you relax because life is stressful.  Entertain yourself.  Protect your health.  Be safe.  Vote conservatively.  Don’t get too crazy or extreme.  Don’t make others feel uncomfortable.  Definitely, don’t lower your standard of living so that you can give more. 

It is because this is “ordinary” Christianity for most people, that authors like David Platt, are left to use the word “radical” (meaning “beyond ordinary”) when encouraging Christians to live as Christ desires them to live.  If the average Christian in America truly loved others around the world as they love themselves, there would be no need to use the word “radical.”  We could stick to words like “ordinary.”

Being “radical” is not legalism.  Those of us who choose to, God helping us, live this way are not doing it to earn our salvation or gain points with God or ease the guilt of our sin.  For us, it is a form of love not law.  We believe that God called us to love our neighbors, no matter where they live, as ourselves.  

...If my children have milk twice a day, I want my neighbors to have it.  
...If my children have shoes, I want my neighbors to have them.  
...If my church in America doesn't worship on a dirt floor, I don’t want the church here to.  
...If I don’t have cow dung on my walls, I don’t want my sisters to.  
...If I can get my children to the hospital whenever they need it, I want my brothers to be able to.  
...If our growing family was financially supported through my husband’s seminary years, I want to support more men’s families through theirs.  
...If I can turn on a tap and get clean water, I want my sisters to be able to turn on a tap and get clean water.  
...If I can provide a Christ centered solid education for my children, I want the families in our churches here to be able to provide that for their children.  
...If I am thankful for and benefitted spiritually by my husband and most pastors in America having a salary so that they can devote themselves completely to the work of the church, I want my brothers and sisters here to have that too.  

Is this not just fruit of the gospel?  Oh that this were ordinary fruit!  Oh that no one felt the need to call it radical!  Oh that these desires were daily on the hearts of God’s people! 

I know it's hard, y'all.  I have many days that I would rather give up and go home and huddle in a dark corner somewhere stuffing my face with finely shredded Colby-Jack cheese (yes, that was what I found myself literally dreaming about a few weeks ago).  But when God tells us that we are saved to do good works, he promises to provide all that we need to be sustained over the long haul.  And while I certainly haven't arrived nor am I perfect in my attempts, I have been blessed to see his provision over and over and over again in my own life as I've tried to serve him in deeper ways...from the strength to love a child that didn't love me to the strength to love both in spirit and in as many tangible ways as we possibly can, a people and culture that were unlike anything I had known before.  He has never failed, not once.  And he will never cease to bring those that he loves and knows to be "dust" through any task that he would like us to do.  And the best part?  He gets all the glory then...from the call to serve, to the physical means to serve, to the emotional means to serve, to the spiritual means to serve...it becomes all of him!  And isn't that just what my chief goal in life should be anyway...to glorify him?

And I would warn those who are calling the people who live with this reality before them “legalists.”  Be very careful to not squelch the work of the Holy Spirit.  Be very careful to not stop brothers and sisters from following the second greatest commandment that is so very similar to the first.  If you feel like someone is in error, go to them privately.  Do not smear a movement across the internet and in your writing so as to give the “ordinary" church in America yet another excuse to stop giving and working.  The church is in far more danger of doing too little than they are of doing too much.

It is my prayer that anyone who reads this will make this kind of love their “ordinary.”  It is my prayer that you will be so enraptured by the glory of God as shown to you through the gospel of Jesus Christ, that you will overflow in love for your brothers and sisters in Christ no matter what color they are, where they live, or if you will ever meet them on this side of eternity.  It is my prayer that you will truly begin to comprehend what it means to love others as you love yourself.  It is my prayer that you will be so filled with the Holy Spirit that you will be attuned to his promptings to give when and how he calls you to give. 

Remember, that as you do it for the least of these, Christ will see you as doing these works to Him and you will by no means lose your reward.  Christ loving us enough to reward us?  Now that is radical love!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Stuck

So, yes...this would be my doing...

I was trying to drive to town this afternoon after a downpour.  I didn't realize that this particular road had gotten so bad.  I attempted. I failed.

Thankfully, I wasn't that far from home and a quick phone call and a few minutes later Eric and crew showed up to rescue me.  I was back out and on my way in no time.  



In the meantime, some Jehovah Witnesses had come along and had struck up a conversation with me.  I was able to share the gospel with them and warn them strongly about the reality of hell.  

The whole incident made me wonder if the "being stuck" was the excuse God used to put me in the right place at the right time to share the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ with these people.  Praying for them tonight.  It grieves me so much that the JWs and Mormans have set up shop here too and are deceiving so many.  I'm thankful that our God is greater!  

Friday, September 19, 2014

Happy Birthday, Talitha!

Little Talitha just turned 3 years old!  She was so excited to finally get her birthday cake!  All during the day on her birthday, she would jump in my arms and exclaim, "Happy Birthday!!" and then proceed to tell me that she was soon going to be four.  What a little blessing she is!




And here are a couple shots of a few of my other blessings goofing off while waiting for cake.  :)


Koica in Kama

Koica is the South Korean version of the Peace Corps.  There is quite a group of them located in Mbale.  We've gotten to know a few who attend our church here in town.  

Recently Koica decided to start work in a local village (Kama) where one of our OPCU churches is.   They go out about once a month to teach and bless the people (particularly the children) of the village.  Last time they went, Katelyn and I decided to go and see what kind of things they were up to!

They began their time by teaching the kids how to wash their hands and gave each of them a chance to practice.


Then they distributed de-worming medicine to each of the children.  If they took their medicine nicely, they received a bar of soap as a treat!

Then they did something really fun...a birthday party!  Birthdays are rarely celebrated here, so this was a new experience for many of the kids.

They even brought cookie/cake pieces with Happy Birthday candles on top.

Then they selected a few kids to be birthday representatives.  They got to wear a hat and help blow out the candles.  This guy wasn't quite so sure.

But she thought it was hilarious!

After all of that, they offered a free wound clinic.  Any children with wounds could come get them cleaned and bandaged.  I thought this was a really neat idea!  They used all local, easily accessible first aid products.  So while they were treating the wounds, they were also teaching how to take care of the wounds...keeping them clean, using antibiotic cream, etc...  A few kids came with larger problems.  For example, one child had an ear that was discharging a foul smelling puss.  These situations presented a good opportunity to explain that they needed more help and direct them there.
Cleaning a wound on a foot

Examining a case of scabies
It was so fun to watch them, a non-Christian agency, bless all of these children (many of whom are in our church there) so generously.  They don't hold back.  Made me thankful for the opportunities that we have to physically bless the people around us because not only can we give similar physical help, but we can pair the deeds we do with the words of Christ...bringing not only momentary help and blessing, but eternal help and blessing.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Seeing Christ

 "For you must give up your own right if you would discharge your duty: a regard to your own interests must not be put in preference to Christ’s glory, or even placed upon a level with it. Whithersoever Christ calls you, you must go promptly, leaving off all other things. Your calling ought to be regarded by you in such a way, that you shall turn away all your powers of perception from everything that would impede you. It might be in your power to live elsewhere in greater opulence, but God has bound you to the Church, which affords you but a very moderate sustenance: you might elsewhere have more honor, but God has assigned you a situation, in which you live in a humble style: you might have elsewhere a more salubrious sky, or a more delightful region, but it is here that your station is appointed. You might wish to have to do with a more humane people: you feel offended with their ingratitude, or barbarity, or pride; in short, you have no sympathy with the disposition or the manners of the nation in which you are, but you must struggle with yourself, and do violence in a manner to opposing inclinations, that you may keep by the trade you have got; for you are not free, or at your own disposal. In fine, forget yourself, if you would serve God.' --John Calvin

I have to admit, we've had a hard summer and it's turning into an exhausting fall.  Somewhere between malaria, pneumonia and typhoid, somewhere between water outages and broken vehicles, somewhere between a dearly loved young person stealing from us and dearly loved friends moving away, we had to find Jesus in it all.  We had to.  We can live a crazy radical missionary life all we want, but if we don't see Jesus in the very middle of it, we are the most to be pitied.

It is because we see him...his glory, our heavenly reality, the joy that he wants for us...that all the mess of life begins to hold such great value.  All of the struggle is worth it, if one soul is saved, if one child hears about Christ, if one person is saved from physical death because we are here to act in mercy and reflect our merciful God.  Years ago, we had a friend, one who had spent many many hours around our table talking about Christ, kill himself.  It was tragic.  At his funeral, we were given roses to lay on his casket as we left, as if it would somehow provide a bit of closure.  For me, it only served to open my heart, as I told the Lord in that moment that I would never fear the many struggling people that he would bring to me...that I would seek to look for Him in those moments...because it truly is a matter of life and death.

And so we steady the course.  We push up our sleeves.  We dig back in.  We open our gate...and our hearts.  We share our God-sized story with others.  Because once we see Christ in the mess of life, we are no longer free to walk as those who are blinded to the truth.  And when things get hard...as they are sure to do... we do violence to any inclination that would keep us from going where God goes, staying where God stays, doing what Christ would have us to do.

And the Christ we serve is so amazing.  Because not only do we see him in our heavenly-bliss-producing-good-news, but we see him in an amazing day-by-day grace.  We see him in the medical treatment, we see him in the provision of dear friends to help us deal with no water, we see him in the provision of a new van, we see him in the deafening thunder that rattled our house as we prayed with our young friend to find forgiveness in Christ.

Christ is worth it.  I want to see him.  Will you join me?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Missionary Associate Needed!

Hello friends!

Hmmm...I think this blog has been a little too quiet.  We've been very busy with school and life the past couple weeks.  While I wish that I had lots of fun pictures to show, I actually only have an announcement/request to put out here.

As many of you know, we regularly have Missionary Associates come to help us out.  Our MAs are a huge blessing to us.  They help us with school, cooking, babysitting and anything else that needs doing around our home and compound.  Life tends to be a bit more difficult here than life in America:  We have regular water and power outages, shopping is not quite as easy, we have more visitors coming and going, and everything just takes significantly more time.  Because of all of this, it is a huge blessing to have an extra set of hands at home.  It helps relieve my stress and therefore assures that Eric can focus on the work of the mission, without worrying about the details of life at home.  In this way, our MAs are a very important part of the work here and we are so very thankful for each one of them!

We have been truly blessed that the Lord has provided us with Godly young women.  Our MAs have shared a love for the reformed faith, believe that children are a blessing, that there is value in homeschooling and that the making of a godly home is a good thing.  They have also loved on our children and we have been so thankful for their love!  We also believe that this opportunity is a great blessing to the young ladies that come.  They are able to experience the mission field, life in Africa and a taste of God's work here, but all under the shelter of a family.

We are praying that the Lord will provide us with someone who is at least a high school graduate.  We need this person for the Spring semester...starting mid January through the end of May.

Do you know someone who might be interested?  Please forward this!  Do you have anymore questions?  Feel free to contact us at ericdianna@hotmail(dot)com.