Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I'm Back to the States

I'm back to the cold, snowy hills of Western New York, back to stable electricity and a refridgerator in the kitchen. I'm back to the quick cleaning of dishwashers and washing machines, back to family close by and the tv just the click of a button away. I'm back to quick internet in any part of my house and hot showers, back to eating less starches and more raw vegetables. I'm back to appointments and soon I will be back to work. I'm back to hustling from one place to the next, to instantly getting whatever I need.

I'm back to the States, and it's just a little weird.

It's weird to be so cold, and it's weird to just walk over and flip on a light switch. It's weird to pull food out of my refridgerator or load my dishwasher. It's weird how fast my clothes are clean. And because life here went on without me it's even weird to be with my family. It's weird to watch tv and not have to walk up a hill to get internet.

I'm back to the States, and it's just a little weird.

Weird is the best way to describe what happens when you step on a plane after leaving your heart somewhere else. I come home and things just aren't the same. And it's not that things aren't the same. Actually in so many ways they are the same. The difference is me. I've changed. I've traveled halfway around the world, and somewhere in transit something happened and a change occurred.

These next few days after coming home are always critical. They can make or break the whole experience. They are the deciding factor in how life will be from now on. Will I allow the trip to continue to change me? Or will I just slip into life again and pretend like none of it happened?

Will I take the stories of all the kids I grew to love, the kids who are struggling with friends, faith, drugs, and so much more, and let it affect the way I live my life? Or will I just move on, pretending it never happened? Will I let the encouragement I gave those same kids be the last words I spoke to them? Or will I keep on encouraging them an ocean away? Will I let the ministry stop when the seatbelt light was turned on? Or will it keep going and growing long after I'm stamped back into the US?

I can say with certainty that just moving on would be a whole lot easier. If I could just pretend I didn't see and hear the things I did, my heart wouldn't be so heavy.

But I can't do that. I don't want to do that. I know that there's a reason for everything God put in front of me during the last three weeks. I don't ever want to forget it. I want it to change me even despite the pain and heartache it can cause. Because if I don't let it change me, then how can I ever encourage anyone else to change?

While at the youth camp, Dr Reuben spoke to the teens. He talked about how so many of them have been to youth camp 4, 5, even 6 times. They've been to camp that many times, but how many times but the question is, have they allowed it to change them? Have they let the things they learned really sink in deeply or have they just shown up? If not, then why come?

That same truth applies here. This was my sixth trip to Uganda. But what good is it if I don't continue to allow it to change me?

So that's what these next few days are all about. Trying to make sense of it all and allow God to continue to mold me.

- Aly

Thursday, January 19, 2012

"Winding Up"

Just a quick post to let everyone know I'm still alive! These last few weeks have been amazing. I don't even know where to begin but I can say that lives have been changed, both Ugandan and our American team. The gospel has been preached, youth have been challenged, workers have been encouraged, and so many kids have seen the love of Christ come to life.

I'll be sharing some of my stories over the course of the next few weeks, but please know that I need some time to process it all. So much has happened over the last 3 weeks. I'm sitting here amazed that I've already been here this long. I've enjoyed every moment. I can honestly say that I was so freaked out before I left. I was scared and just wondering what God had in store. And really I was ready to just lay in bed, pull the covers over my head, and hide there for all of January. But I knew that's not what God wanted me to do and how glad am I that God never gives up on me even when I'm not too sure about things.

I have been so blessed by the ministry these last 3 weeks. I've felt myself grow in so many ways. And I know as they say here - The best is yet to come.

I look forward to sharing it all with you in due time. I ask now that you would continue to pray for me and for the team as we say good-bye and begin our journey home on Saturday. We're all leaving a chunk of our heart here. Pray for all the children and adults we shared with and encouraged along the way. And pray that more lives will be changed as a result of the ministry here.

- Aly

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Missing you!!

Have you ever found yourself missing someone so badly that your heart aches?

These past weeks since Aly has been in Uganda have been a brand new experience for me, mom! I have been so far apart from the daughter that I love so much! At times I wonder if I will make it for the 25 days or if my heart will just whither up and die?

Don't get me wrong, I am so proud of her, and I know she is following God. It's just my human side that would like to keep her close to me. But what about all of the kids who have come to know her and love her in such a short time? The ministry opportunities that she has been given, I could never wish them away.

I have made time to pray, more than I have in a long time! I find myself waking in the middle of the night and my thoughts immediately go to Aly and the team in Uganda. I lie there and pray, until sleep takes me away. And when I wake, the first thing I do? Pray!!

I was wondering, if I miss Aly that much, how must our heavenly Father feel when we are so far away? There are times when we too are worlds apart and how he must grieve the loss. The loss of a relationship that is as simple as crying out. Praying when we wake up in the middle of the night and talking to him first thing in the morning before our feet even hit the floor.

How thankful I am to have a personal relationship with God! And in another week, Aly will be coming home to share of her adventures from half way around the world. I know she misses home, but has fallen deeper in love with the people of Uganda.

The children who live in a part of the world that sometimes seem forgotten. But I know that this is true; they are not forgotten, and some are rich beyond imagination! They have no worldly possessions, but have the kind of riches that they will take into eternity. The kind of faith, that gets them from day to day. Thanking God for each day that he has given them to be alive. He loves them and they give him all the praise and glory.

Some of these kids may have never heard the gospel, but God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. He uses people just like you and me to go half way around the world to tell people that he loves them sooo much.

In Romans chapter 10:13-15 For "whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?
As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!"

And so, she went! To spread the gospel, to share Gods love, to answer a call! And yet I miss her! The time has flown by quickly for her! (Not so quickly for me!) Much of the time she has been without electricity, Internet and warm water for bathing. I know she has wanted to share her stories, but time has not allowed. Please keep praying for her as she heads to one of the villages, to continue working with the people of Uganda. For continued good health, safe travel and for lives to be saved.

"God is good all the time, and all the time God is good cuz that's his nature!" wooooo

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Welcome to my Home!

I'm all settled into my new home at Upendo, and I love it! Let me give you a quick tour...
You are most welcome! That's what I would say to you if you visited my home. It's the Ugandan way.

This home is actually a duplex (so there is another section of it) but I'm only showing you my half. The other half is occupied by an AMG Uganda worker and his family.

When you first walk in you will find my living area. It looks a little different now because I moved the chairs around. I kept running into the one so I put 2 together on the long side of the wall to look like a sofa and then the two on the sides.

Next is my dining area where I sit and eat all my meals. Dinner is eaten by candlelight since there is no electricity.

Next comes the kitchen which is complete with running water and a propane stove. You can see here I was in the midst of doing dishes. Some are drying on the counter and some are still in the sink. That window is my bird window. More about that later....

Then there's my bedroom. A nice bed with mosquito net. Underneath the bed is my "dresser." I put all my clothes into one of my suitcases and organized them. And my shoes are next to that. I have a table to place my oil lamp at night (it gets dark by 7).

My bedroom also has a bathroom right inside it so I don't have to open my locked bedroom door to go out in the middle of the night. It comes complete with a flushing toilet, a sink, and shower (and you have no idea how excited I am about that!!).
I keep the windows and doors locked up tight at night. The first night I heard all sorts of creepy noises I wasn't used to. But last night I slept like a baby...if a baby slept with a knife in their bed.
So that's my home! I hope you enjoyed your visit.
Now how's this for irony. I'm in Kampala for a meeting right now and to charge my laptop at the office. But wouldn't you know the power just went off and I wasn't done charging. That's Uganda!
Thank you for all your prayers. I can certainly feel them here. I feel a peace in my heart I haven't had in a long time and God has given me courage to do all kinds of things like taking care of birds in my kitchen...but that story will have to wait for another day!
- Aly