"I want normal conveniences and experiences for you… but don't ever forget that this is a privilege and an experience that must be cherished beyond measure … it is never too high a price to pay." -From "The West Wing", Warner Brothers (President Bartlett to his daughter Zoe regarding her loosing the "normal" life)
Some of you are likely smiling to yourselves and thinking "I thought Laura left her political life behind? What is she doing quoting a political drama? Since leaving Ottawa and moving to Uganda my life has changed dramatically! Although my surroundings have changed, there are many lessons I learned while working on the Hill that I've carried with me to living in Uganda.
In politics you quickly learn that you can no longer go to the coffee shop as a normal "invisible" person… you leave behind your personal freedoms and normal experiences. But it is for a higher purpose that of service for your country and a passion to make a difference, to make the world a better place for those coming behind you. One also quickly learns that what you do and say is no longer just "you" but you are now perceived to be the voice of the government. The politician who focuses on the normal life he is giving up and the discomforts accompanying that life won't thrive. This is why President Bartlett was teaching the Principle of Perspective to his daughter.
And, just as it is in politics, so it is in missions. One can focus on the loss of normal life or you can cherish and treasure the privilege to serve Jesus and represent Him; to be His voice, His smile, His serving hands, & His loving heart to those He has called you to serve. One missionary said of missions: "Unless one is used to thinking of himself as of great importance, he gets a good deal of surprise… for important he certainly is in the eyes of people… it makes him realize that he, and in so many cases he alone, stands for all those people will know of Jesus Christ." God has entrusted us with "a privilege and an experience that must be cherished" as well as a great responsibility. There are times when I feel my weakness and the need for Christ's perspective keenly. In our weakness He is faithful, He gives us His grace, and when we lack His perspective and love-He offers us forgiveness! It seems the last couple weeks have contained many opportunities to choose between focusing on the loss of "normal" OR seeking God's perspective. So, when I'm in the middle of a shower (as I was on Thursday night) and there's suddenly no more water… I can focus on what I'm lacking (and the shampoo remaining in my hair) OR I can focus on the blessing that our water is right now to the people who live in our village and whose only other option is to drink green swamp water.
Last night as I was bitten by bedbugs I can be frustrated by the itching OR as the Lord did, turn my mind to those living outside our gate in mud homes with no screens, no doors, no cement floors, and certainly not a laundry machine (nor the money for pesticides to fumigate their home-as ours will be soon!)
A few weeks ago when I was trying to get to sleep and was a little annoyed that the youth in our house were practicing their church choir number for the next day late at night right outside my room. God opened my ears to hear the dull beating of a drum in a neighbouring village. I suddenly gained perspective and saw the stark contrast between the hopelessness of the drum with the joyful song of hope being sung by my younger brothers and sisters (some who were saved out of Muslim homes.)
My mind wanders to the Grandma that hosts the weekly Bible study I teach in the far corner of the village. She is eager to see our primary school expand so that there is room for her to enrol the 6 grandchildren she is struggling to raise. This past week she welcomed me into her home while the rain passed. (We normally meet outside under a tree) and I saw that the only thing on the mud wall of her home were the kids Sunday School pictures from the past few months all lined up and pasted on the wall. She owns one piece of furniture, an old chair.
I then think further about Bible Study this week when one of the ladies started talking about a bizarre wives' tale that had been repeated to her as a truth of Christianity. I helped show her from the Bible how this wasn't the truth-and in this moment I also gained perspective as well as a continuing urgency for the work yet to be done. I can read, these women are all illiterate. I know the truth, and they're hungering for the truth.
A few weeks ago after we were robbed while in Kampala I could have focused on what was stolen OR I can revel in His love (they took much less than they could have) and the fact that God had put it on a friends heart (before we were robbed!) to email me and ask if I had experienced an unexpected need… because God had provided some extra money to them. We were both blessed by another demonstration of God's sovereignty and love. My dear friend said: "Isn't our God amazing? It's curious that he gave us the money to meet your need before you even had the need! Why is it we struggle to trust him?" Why indeed! =)
So, friends I'm learning about the principle of perspective on a new level. And, as I continue to adjust to life in a third world country I'm reminded often of the perspective that I'm not home yet. There is something better coming, Heaven. We have a limited amount of time to serve and represent Jesus and so many people need Him. I'm so thankful for your prayers… I miss the familiar… I miss independence… I miss meat, I miss my friends &; family, and I miss Starbucks! Haha. But, at the same time I know so many of you are praying for me because God has been SO gracious to me throughout these last few months of adjustment; and he has faithfully protected, provided, and strengthened us. Thank you for being a blessing and partnering with me.
The last month has flown by, here's a little taste of what we've been up to… We've been working feverishly at catching up and clearing a backlog of projects and things that needed attention. The organization has grown so much in the last year that we are running to try and catch up our policies & operational procedures with the growth! Here on the ground we've restructured the Security department as well as the "Estate" department (the team that does construction and maintenance) We're working on developing Human Resources and Employment Standards for our staff (the majority of whom are nationals.) We've created a strategic communications plan for our organization. We've brought in inventory control procedures "checks and balances" and new security measures for our compound. We've opened our new school & obtained all the necessary government certifications (the kids are thriving and the parents are delighted!) Last week we spent a week on the road visiting & encouraging our pastors and churches in Southwestern Uganda. I've also been working at planning and organizing the itinerary for the short-term teams we have coming to work with us from North America. We've also been setting up the USA summer speaking tour for the Director of our Mission. And, in our "free time" I've been helping him finish writing and polish materials for use in our ministry. Including an Introduction to Christianity course as well as his Bible Study series on Romans 1-8.
I need to sign off-it's getting late here and in order to help me keep perspective… I need to catch a little sleep!
Thank you so much for your love, prayers, and support.