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Just so you know…

Matt and I are often perplexed about relationships we have and we see other missionaries have. We thought that maybe it was time we shared with our friends and family some helpful tips.

Just so you know… We know that each one of our friends and family members only want to help and at times don’t know what to say or do. We thought it would be a good way to just let you know what helps us in our time away from all of you. We love you so much and it gets lonely, we get jealous, feel guilt and just want to make everything perfect. Just know that no matter what we love you and even if you are the perfect supporter or may say something hurtful by accident we will always be family in Christ Jesus.

Things people say that hurt more than help missionary friends.

  1. When are you coming home to visit?

This can be hard for us to answer because we are “home” and we don’t know when our funds or time will make it possible to visit. We also really miss our old “home”, friends and family so this only puts more pressure on us to make it happen. 

  1. I could never do what you’re doing, it must be so hard.

Yes, it is hard and not everyone is called to go to a foreign land. However, everyone is called to do something and when your emphasis is that it is hard, it makes it even harder for us to cope with some of our fears of not being good enough for the job.

  1. Take more pictures.

We would love to share with you all that is going on especially through pictures but we are busy in the moment and to get out a camera might ruin what we are doing. You see some of the best moments in life are not captured through pictures. Just trust that I am trying and when I get a moment I will share, because what God is doing is awesome.

  1. Without you they would be so lost.

Well actually without me they will be just fine. God can use anyone to share his message. I am just so happy he chose me and I chose Him.

  1. Well don’t feel bad if you have to come home, you lasted a really long time.

Instead, just say I am praying for you as you go through this time of (fill in the blank). What you are doing is giving us a way out and we don’t need that; we need someone to hold us accountable to continue, even when it is hard.

Things people say, or don’t say that hurt missionary friends.

  1. Let’s Skype (but the connection is bad, time difference is a struggle, too busy)
  2. We will send you a care package (and they forget or realize it is really expensive to send stuff across the ocean)
  3. When you come home we will hang out (but then they are too busy or on vacation)
  4. We would love to hear about your ministry (but can’t find the right time to get together)
  5. We will tell all our friends about what you are doing (and then find it never comes up in conversations.)

What I am saying here is that we already know it probably won’t work out exactly how we would all like to stay connected when we are oceans apart; but don’t say it unless you are willing to work at making it happen. Let’s face it we are busy with life and even connecting with neighbors is hard. We get that; all we ask is you try and make an effort in the following ways.

Things that would help missionary friends.

  1. Praying by making an effort to find out what really is going on personally not just ministry.
  2. Contact Email, text, skype, WhatsApp, snail mail, Facebook message, packages (any contact that connects us to your family and life)
  3. Hospitality Make efforts to host us even if it means we just rest, play, eat or talk
  4. Share with others just as much as you share about the latest skincare, probiotic, wrap, oil or whatever you are interested in.
  5. Encourage us by telling us to keep going, to not give up, pray, support, communicate and stay connected.

Thank you

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Reaching the World

I came across a book that was donated to our center that wasn’t age appropriate for our kids to read but looked really interesting to me. Engaging Islam by Georges Houssney, I have been reading it on and off for a few months but during the holiday I decided to read it intentionally and have been rereading and highlighting as I go. I never really thought about ministering to Muslims in an intentional way. I figured well I am not a missionary in a Muslim nation, so I don’t have to worry about learning too much about Islam. Until one day when I was attending a church that had a guest speaker, the man came up to the front of the church with sunglasses on and I thought to myself he’s got swag. He even made a joke about how people were probably wondering who this rapper was standing up in church. He then proceeded to tell us his testimony of his life as a Muslim and how his dad was a polygamist and had several different wives and lots of children. To hear his testimony, click this link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMWd7QnXY8E

Long story short he became a Christian against all odds and then became an evangelist. He was attacked for his faith with acid one Christmas eve after a very successful revival that he was a part of. He was left to die but through the grace of God was able to travel to Israel and have several surgeries to repair his face and ability to breathe normally again.

So I thought about how we engage with Muslim kids a lot and that they are not resistant to hearing the gospel. In fact, there is a family that attends Acacia an international Christian school that is Muslim. I wanted to learn more to equip myself for opportunities that may arise, so I started reading this book. One major thing that I have learned is to see Muslims “as people and not merely as representatives of a foreign religion, culture or political ideology. As people, they are products of those things, but they are also husbands and wives, children and students, truck drivers and heart surgeons. They are God’s lost children too, and he has given us the task of making disciples from among them, teaching them to obey everything that he has commanded.”

This past month Ramadan was taking place and since in Uganda there are many mosques I am often awakened by the “muezzin” the man in the mosque calling Muslims to prayer. I felt convicted to pray every time I heard the call for them, I felt like wow I should use this time to pray for them. In Uganda and other nations too, we are often labeled by what our family believes. For example, if our parents are Catholics we are Catholics, Muslims we are Muslims, and so on. Often times we don’t even know what we believe we just are “born” into the religion. There is a problem in this world were we often try and compare one religion with another and look for the similarities. The problem in this is that it leads to a pluralistic worldview that seeks to find similarities rather than differences and then we get confused and think all religions are relatively the same. As a Christian, I believe in the uniqueness of Christ and the distinction between the Christian faith and all other religions. The problem is that people are getting away from the truth of the Gospels and western Christian leaders often feel that we need to celebrate the similarities and not to emphasize the differences.

I think it is important to know who Muslims are and who they are not. The only real way to do this is to get to know some Muslims. Muslims are so diverse, just like Christians; they are people loved by God, not because they are Muslims, but because they are his creations. Here are some truths Islam is diverse because there are differences based on ethnic, national, tribal, linguistic and sectarian. Over 80% of Muslims are actually not Arabs and at least 10% of the Arab world is Christian. Not all people are Arabs in Arab countries there is a large Kurd population in Iraq among other countries with different ethnic groups. Muslims are descendants of Abraham through Ishmael- not completely true Muslims are all over the world in China, Korea, Italy, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, United States and the only thing they have in common is their faith. Other myths are that Muslims are impossible to reach, face persecution if they become Christian, hate America, and a negative view of Christianity, and Christians need to be secretive when ministering to Muslims.

“In his sermon to the Athenian philosophers, Paul argued that, ‘From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set of them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.’” We are Christ’s ambassadors and we know that our mission is to bring the Gospel to all nations. We know that someday that all the nations will cry out, “How beautiful are the very feet of those who bring good news, proclaiming peace and salvation.” Isaiah 52:7. To fulfill the mission set before us we must engage Islam, and we cannot engage Islam until we engage Muslims.

I would encourage all Christians to first understand what they believe and to understand their own religion. This is an ongoing process as we read our Bible and continue to understand God and our relationship grows closer to Him. I then would suggest that we understand the differences and the uniqueness of Christianity and other world religions. What we learn through relationships with others is that we are all God’s creation and that we all need Christ. In life our goal should be to build relationships with others and point them to the ultimate relationship of one with Christ Jesus. The only real way we can do this is to see everyone through love, as Children of God created in his image and that we all need Christ.

*information in this blog is from Georges Houssney Engaging Islam.

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Momma always said…

Momma always said two wrongs don’t make a right.

There was a post on an expat social group where a guy was posting that he wished that people wouldn’t call him Chinese because he is actually from Korea. He was stating that it was annoying that everywhere he seemed to go he would have people try and talk to him or label him to get a reaction. People reacted to his post saying that he should just get used to it and that they didn’t mean any harm. Other people said if he didn’t like it he should go back “home”. A few people chimed in saying they also get called names labelling them as a certain race whether accurate or not they either said they didn’t care or it was annoying. Another expat then made her own post about this particular persons post saying that she was concerned that no one seems to care about racism and that only those people belonging to that nation could do something about it. But she also got a lot of resistance and people saying it wasn’t racism. That it is very minor compared to all the other things in history done to Africans.
So my mind went through a few questions.
What is racism? Can you define it or does a dictionary define it? Meaning can racism be something that makes you feel uncomfortable, ashamed, angry, sad, defensive etc.? Is racism the right word? If someone is labeling you and it is true do you still have the right to be offended.
If I was a minority in the situation does that make it worse? Is labelling okay? If someone means no harm from the word they use to call you does it make it okay?
Is it okay to sometimes correct them, or ignore them?
All I know is that it is never okay to let someone else’s actions consume you, allow you to lose control, to act in a way that is out of your character, harbor hate, or retaliate in anger.
All over the world people were created in the image of God. Genesis 1:27. No matter your nationality, outward appearance or even the condition of your heart; God loves you, has a plan for you and created you.

Matthew 22:37-39 …“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

The problem we face as a nation is that some people still do not understand the first, as they do not love the Lord; thus making it hard to love others. We need to do our part and show them what that LOVE looks like.

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Why we give an allowance

Today was a perfect reminder of why we give allowances at our house. We started this process of giving money for completing chores about a year ago. The idea was they would be given required house work daily and at the end of the week they would get payment for the work they completed. They then had to tithe each week 10% and they couldn’t spend the money until the end of the month. For discipline problems they had to pay money as part of their consequence. If they broke, lost or damaged something it was them to pay for it.

The value of money is something people can easily take for granted. For Tendo it has helped calm down his anger problems because there was one week he had lost everything he had earned and came to the realization that if he didn’t make some changes he was going to be broke. Happy is learning that he needs to listen more and also talk more as he struggles with understanding, guesses and then when corrected doesn’t always take that correction constructively. Today we were getting ready for the start of school tomorrow; last term we purchased all new items for the boys. Kitiibwa did not return home with some of the items that were purchased, so today he had to buy the replacements. He started sobbing as he handed over 26,000 shillings the cost of his school sweater (about $9 but when you get 7,000 shillings a week that is almost 4 weeks of work gone). Sure we feel bad when they feel bad but then we remember in the long run it is building character. For the littlest ones they understand that if they want a new toy or a treat it is them to buy it.

This Christmas all the money earned during the month of December went to the purchase of a gift for someone else. When kids get money they can learn to give back, to give to God what is His, to give a gift for a friend, teacher, sibling or parent. Sure they could choose to spend it however they want, but if we show them how blessed they already are, they may see that they should want to give back to others. What we are trying to help them realize is that we are meeting all their material needs with food, shelter, clothing, shoes, schooling, water, transportation, recreation and more. More importantly we are trying to show them love, Christ’s love and unconditional love, the type of love that focuses on the overall well rounded human being that God has entrusted to us to raise into God fearing, caring, selfless human beings.

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A Universe Divided

Why pro-life vs. pro-choice is always a dividing issue, and why no politician will ever change that, only Christ.

“You don’t know, what I was going through when I had an abortion.” “What if the mother would die?” “What if it was a result of rape or incest” “If it is illegal women will still have abortions, just in an unsafe way.” “There are so many people who want babies.” “How can you kill an innocent child?” “It doesn’t have rights until it is born, or unless someone was trying to have a baby.” “Jeremiah 1:5”

Many of the arguments I have heard for abortion is that it is for the woman’s health, they were raped, and their child wouldn’t survive out of the womb. In the world most countries only have abortion legal for those specific reasons. The problem is that abortion is happening for many more reasons than those mentioned. The issue is that no one for abortion is advocating for the unborn child. They are advocating only for “women’s rights” because they have said that because it is not born, that “fetus” as they like to call it has no rights.

The argument on the side against abortion, is saying the child deserves to have someone advocating for it. They are not saying that go ahead and kill the mom and save the baby. They are saying don’t kill the baby as the first choice. There are other choices.

The real issue is that there are not enough people educating woman on prevention, health risks in having an abortion and overall the counseling that needs to take place before and after abortions. It is not about shaming someone, it is about loving each other. However, we cannot go around pretending that abortion is okay by legalizing it and having no restrictions. Abortion should be a last resort, not the first choice.

Inform yourself Abortionfacts.com and many other resources are available to make a more informed “choice”.


October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month.

If you think about all the women who have decided to try and have a baby and then lost that baby, you will have a hard time convincing them that they didn’t have a human being in them.

Life at conception. Jeremiah 1:5

Those that have been pregnant and lost that human life don’t label that child as no one. It was their child, it was unborn but it was their child. The moment you get pregnant your body changes. Chemically, physically and emotionally you are changed.

How can you say that it is not a life that should be protected? I as a parent would give up my life to save my children, the same goes for a child who is not born. God performs miracles, the first miracle is conception that is life.
God can use your mistake, your traumatic experience, your choice for his glory. If you are a believer in Christ, I don’t understand why abortion would ever be okay. I don’t know why someone would believe that their body is their own, it is NOT it belongs to God. That unborn child, that born child, you belong to God.

If you don’t believe in God, I pray that one day you will seek to know Him. Why, because He is your creator and He chose life for you.

#chooselife #chooseadoption

*One thing I would like to say is that regardless of your stance on this issue, God loves you and we as Christians are also called to love you. So understand I will still pray for you, I will still care about you and I will still respect you.

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Life Matters-The success of our Future

Why is it that sports are the key to success in the lives of so many? Why if you are good at a sport that equals success in life? We give scholarships and recruit people to play for “our” team. We want to win! You see it all over the world, where someone who without a sports scholarship would have “failed” in life. Why is that? Why is it that we as a society think that we should only be helping those that essentially can help us? Why is it that we push kids through high school and college to get their education, but only if they are the top performers at their sport or talent?

Why do we not invest in everyone regardless of their talent? We find that here in Uganda with Rising Star. We can fairly easily find support for children who are good athletes. Schools will pay for their education in order to get the “star” athlete to compete for the pride of their school. But what about those that do not have an athletic bone in their body, sure they may like to play but they are not at the “top” level of performance. Well one might think they can focus more on their academics to make it further in education. Study harder to get good grades and earn scholarships that way.

I want to challenge our thinking as a human race. A profound thought….what if we treated everyone as equal when they started school. Picture this you are the teacher of a classroom of 3 year olds and you know everything about these kids, what country they come from, how much money their parents make, what kind of house they live in, what kind of meals they get at home, and a multitude of other information. Then you decided that no matter what obstacles they start out having because of whom they were born to, that you would cater to their every need. That you would make sure they succeeded in life because you invested in their life. That you in fact leveled the playing field of sorts; that every child was given the opportunity they needed to succeed. You went above and beyond the norm and you made sure that when they left your class they were set up for success.

Imagine that every single person in their life, invested in their life. Their parents, their educators, their doctor, dentist, coach, pastor, neighbor, relative, policeman, store manager, and stranger. Imagine that no matter their relationship to one another, everyone worked together to make sure that child succeeded. That child and every child that crossed their path. You see it is not impossible for us to enrich each other’s lives, to make a better future and successful nations. It takes individuals to invest outside of the “stars”, to make everyone a star.

At Rising Star and at Acacia my goal is to treat every single child with the respect and decency they deserve. To learn their story and to make sure that I give everything that I can offer to make sure that when they leave my care they are set up for a brighter future. What is your role in making the future brighter for our children? My prayer is that we can lead by example and start a new way of thinking that every life is valuable, that no matter the predisposition they may have that we make it a level playing field of opportunity for success.

#livesmatter #dosomethingaboutit #changetheworldforgood

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American Pride

When we study History, one would think that we would learn from it. I just got done watching a movie on the Olympic athlete James Cleveland “Jesse” Owens, called the “Race”. Find out more about him… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesse_Owens

You would think that it would make me reflect back on how the Nazi’s were so horrible. What is really horrible is that fact that we were doing the same thing and some respects still are on a subtle level. At least the Germans were not hiding their hatred, Isis is not hiding their hatred. But why are Americans still struggling to admit that they are prejudice of those who are not White, Male, and Christian?

The Olympics is a time when we are all about USA, no matter what that looks like. People cheer for the USA to win. It becomes everyone else is the “bad” team and USA is the best team. I will admit we at this house have been cheering and celebrating the victories of the Olympics. My kids even are pointing out the American flag and cheering for the “good” guys. But are we the good guys?

We have so much diversity in the USA and we put the blinders on when it comes to sports. We forget about all the obstacles that athletes of different race, gender and economic status have to face. We forget that many of these athletes have to work twice as hard as others just to get recognized. They only can complete because they are so good, one would be stupid not to have them apart of their team.

But what happens when they miss the mark? What if they don’t win the Gold or the trophy, or the title of Champion? When they don’t have their uniform on, how are they treated? Before they are “discovered”, how were they treated by the masses? Human beings, Americans who have families, bills, and responsibilities on top of the immense pressure to be the Best.

Every four years people watch on television and cheer for USA. We need to be cheering for more than just the athletes, we need to be proud of more than just winning. We need to be “proud to be an American”. Right now I don’t know that I am that proud of anything that Americans are doing or have been doing over the years.

How can we as Americans be worth rooting for fulltime not just every time there is an Olympics on TV. One thought would be to respect each other, pray for each other, forgive each other and listen to each other. I still hold onto the hope that America will one day be a nation that truly is united as “One nation under God, indivisible with justice and Liberty for All.”