Monday, 22 April 2013

"All of these lines across my face Tell you the story of who I am So many stories of where I've been And how I got to where I am..." STORY by Brandi Carlile

        S T O R Y

I used to say that God has given each of us a story to write and live that is unique and is meant for us to share with others shamelessly. Somewhere along the way I forgot my own words and I became lost in the despondency of the story that is my own without and forgetting the primary Author who is not stuck inside it with me, but exists both inside and out of my experience. I recently finished a read through Donald Miller’s book (gifted to me from my little bro, a shout out to you Caleb) A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Ironic how appropriate the timing of some gifts can be, and it never ceases to amuse me! So now I’m considering how to stop getting lost in the depressing elements of my half written story and learn to live and write a better one that tells as much as possible through the words and deeds that flow.

You know it’s hard to be fulfilled in this line of work sometimes, ha, or maybe it is my attitude? Anyway, the challenge I mentioned above and the fact that I have the choice to make it a positive experience or a negative one leaves me with a large challenge and standing at a door of opportunity. Needless to say, it has left me contemplating a few things these days…

This past month, well two now since I last posted, have held a variety of things. The following words are a little recap on the events of the story the past few months… The March chapter was made up of visits to islands where I spent time in the fishing camps and continued to teach with Alice about basic nutrition. It has been a good topic, or so it seems. I pray the information and values are penetrating deeper than the sessions in the communities which appear to be positive…God knows. Our other colleague has been ill and is looking at several months of recovery time until she will be 100%, so the rest of the team continues praying for her and pressing on as we are able. Some of my tasks have recently expanded to include writing on the teams’ behalf; newsletters, meeting notes, etc… It comes some what natural to me and has opened doors for me to get to know people I interact with at a deeper level and challenges me to be more observant for the positive things in our experience.

Toward the end of March, I was blessed with an unexpected opportunity to visit and observe some maternal neonatal child health (MNCH) and other medical ministries in Ethiopia. I spent a week tagging along and talking with very hospitable and gracious doctors and nurses who are involved in working with un-reached people groups in remote villages providing what medical care they can for the sake of people understanding the God who created them. It was encouraging to learn about some of these people and meet those with a heart to treat them with dignity as such! Came away with a tip or two about what works with MNCH and medical care in other rural areas, which was helpful to challenge my mind to look at “the possible” in the midst of “the unlikely”, if you know what I mean.

The April Chapter started with an unexpected opportunity to take care of a woman and her child coming from DRC and needing a place to stay and some medical care. I am thankful for opportunities to BE HERE for times such as these. I love having a home that I can open up and extend God’s hospitality and generous care for me to others.  The following week we hosted an over night fellowship at our boyovu island camp for pastors to come together and reconnect, be taught in the Bible, and share the struggles and joys of ministering in their camps and churches and pray and support one another. We hope to be able to do this on a quarterly basis as God provides, as those involved were grateful and encouraged.

Most recently we have begun to develop a relationship/partnership with another ministry from a local church and organization that has also been working for seven years in islands within a different but close district of the lake to where we work. Island Mission Uganda has been providing regular clinics, HIV testing and counseling, immunizations, treatment of children 0-17 years, and community development projects. I will share more about this over time as we hope to become more involved in the weeks and months to come with the practical medical provision and care that this team provides weekly! So far I have accompanied the team to run mobile clinics twice. I anticipate you’ll be hearing a lot more toward these ends as we look to merge and expand as God provides the way.

This partnership has already started to open some new doors of possibility including relationships with the local health system and potential opportunities to gain experience within. As of last week I was included as one of a few representatives from our two organizations to go to the main district island to meet the health officer. It was a good experience and one in which we were able to begin linking our work in with the local system which will be necessary for it to be embraced on a sustainable level. Today an article was included in the local paper from an interview with that health officer who again recognized and described the population and challenges accurately as we have experienced them being transient, complex, and suffering from significant figures of illnesses, including 30-40% HIV prevalence. (See The New Vision for the article)

On the Kampala home front, mom gave a sewing machine that was first used by a creative young fella this month, I’ve been cooking lots in my free time, catching up with some friends, thinking on life and story, and motorcycles, jetskis, and unexpected surprises have made for some weekend fun between the island work too!

The story continues…I’ve recently learned more clearly how little I ever envision big pictures of the future. I tend to move and think day-to-day, goal-to-goal. So, recognizing that fact, I don’t know what’s next or what the future will hold, but I expect that I’m going to try to take what’s coming in front of me and use the bits and pieces to write a better story or maybe it’s about letting the primary Author actually have the freedom to write this character’s story without too much fight. Anyway, some things to think on I suppose…

I’d like to leave you by sharing a few thoughts from the book I noted at the beginning of this entry. The following quotes are the words of Donald Miller.

“I don’t ever want to go back to believing life is meaningless. I know there are biochemical causes for some forms of depression, but I wish people who struggle against dark thoughts would risk their hopes on living a good story—by that I mean finding a team of people doing hard work for a noble cause, and joining them. I think they’d be surprised at how soon their sad thoughts would dissipate, if for no other reason than they didn’t have time to think them anymore. There would be too much work to do, too many scenes to write. [in their story].”

“Where there is an absence of story, or perhaps a bad story, a good storyteller walks in and changes reality. He doesn’t critique the existing story, or lament about his boredom, like a critic. He just tells something different and invites other people into the new story he is telling.”

“Our story demanded that we change, and so we did.”

Hopefully you’ll hear from me again in May to hear how the story is coming along!! Take care and be challenged and blessed to do something different and out of the ordinary…along with me…

Toward the end of the day of seeing 60 maamas in the Ethiopian village antenatal clinic...Got to hear lots of little heartbeats and celebrate with these maamas and sadly discover a few prayers go out to them...

This nurse is a gem God is using in Ethiopia doing several things, but who now also accompanies those who operate this chopper to go to un-reached people groups and provide medical care.

Sometimes stories require a big leap :)

Erias exercising his creativity...

Partnering = Your strengths meet my weaknesses and my strengths meet your weaknesses...see what can come of it! Time will tell. Another gem who I've been blessed to cross stories with...