Monday, January 27, 2014

Dinner at Monica's

My friend Monica invited our whole family to her house on Wednesday. Monica has an incredible story which is too heart-rending to exploit on a blog...but you can tell in her wide, easy smile how much she loves her Jesus after the long roads he has walked with her. Some of those more recent roads, we've walked together. She visits our house often, often accompanied by her homemade peanut butter and roasted g-nuts (ground nuts) that support her family.  
John and I were incredibly honored by her invitation. Inviting a family of six for dinner when you live with four other relatives in one room is a remarkably generous gesture.
Bumping down the dusty potholes to her home, our kids got some gentle coaching on how to respond to dinner at a different home than what they've ever experienced. But Monica and her daughters had whipped us up a ton of local food, and her hospitality positively embraced us. Aluminum saucepans overflowed with rice, beef stew, matooke, black beans: "I heard the Americans love black beans!" she grinned.
Outside, we laughed and listened to stories about the ducks and their ducklings that waddled around as we ate on mats and plastic chairs. One Ugandan boy upon our arrival had been forming tracks in the dust, dragging his brother in an old suitcase-turned-car; and sure enough, my kids were the next to try it out. I will let you guess which one of my boys was launching himself down a dirt pile and giggling all the way. Neighboring families simmered their meals on charcoal stoves outside their doors, the smoke and smells of fish mingling in our noses. Later, our kids squealed with delight as we watched Tom and Jerry together with Monica's family, which I have determined is a universal, language barrier-free form of entertainment.
Monica's hospitality sparkled. It wasn't because of a centerpiece or matching napkins, but because of her love of Christ and her obvious delight over welcoming us, over breaking bread--er, rice and matooke--together. It was a lesson to me in my own hospitality, reminding me to let love fuel any artistic efforts, rather than override my enjoyment of my guests.
This week, John and I mark two years of living here in East Africa! We're intentionally pushing further into ministry toward locals (that is, in addition to the support of internationals through John's job of member care and management). We had talked about staying at least three years in Uganda because we thought developing meaningful, life-changing relationships would take at least that long; but it is moving to actually witness this, to move deeper into people’s lives. A sweet memory like this marked an affirming, eye-opening stake in the ground.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

And...we're back.

A week ago, after more of the goodbyes that I hate from people we adore, after 21 hours of flying and a couple hours of sleep...we finally piled in a Ugandan safari van (the only vehicle that would hold all our loot from America), and I listened contentedly (jet-laggedly, perhaps?) to my kids jabber on and on about how good it was to be back. This was a huge relief, as I anticipated the letdown from 2.5 months of grandparent-level spoiling would make any prospect seem rather dim.

We got to watch the African sunrise from our windows, followed shortly by hugs and huge welcomes from guards when we pulled in our gate. The kids immediately got busy getting dirty (love that!) and showing the guard how to play Uno. We were invited to a cookout for lunch with friends (a good thing, you know, when all you have to eat are milk and eggs--thanks, Oliver!--and spices. Bay leaves and coriander can only go so far.) Later, we discovered that the people who'd rented our house put in a water heater for one of the showers! I got a HOT SHOWER at my own house.

Though leaving family and friends left a hole we still feel, it was wonderful to fall into the embrace of people, and a place, that has become a part of us and fills us with so much happiness.

It's great to be back.

Ode to ants

Oh ants,
if it were not for the fact that you are part of God's incredible creation,
His finely-tuned ecosystem,
and that God upholds you in Scripture as an example of hard work
--presumably for your ability to invade precious treats brought over from America,
every dish left for more than ten minutes, and some less,
and to run over my body so many moments during the day in your endeavors for food--
I would be delighted if you vanished from the earth.
your swiftness, ingenuity, prolific nature, constant presence, and persistence
amaze and thoroughly disgust me.
If I go into my kitchen, you are there;
if I go into the depths of my school room, you are there.
In my bedroom and bathroom, you are there.

As it is, I am trusting that God has good reasons why you so thoroughly infest my house
in such a surprising, embarrassing, and skin-crawling variety of species.
Thank you for increasing my faith in God's masterful plan
and my perseverance as I try to annihilate all of you residing in my home
without compromising my principles of good character.

May the best woman win.

If only it were Haagen Dazs

So. One of the downsides of a hot water heater being graciously installed in one of our showers while we were gone (can I tell you what a heavenly experience a hot shower upon demand can be?): A house that is painted with a strong likeness to an ice-cream treat.

Here, in the same land where the ice cream truck plays "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" year-round, apparently getting the same lovely orange color we got when we moved (we'd originally asked for butter yellow?) was not an option. So pink was the clear choice for...the bottom half only. Hmm.

Oliver says all we need now is light green on the top, and we're living in a carton of rainbow sherbet! Wow!


P.S. Dear Hot Shower,
You are so worth it.
With love and affection,