Sunday, March 31, 2013
It is now a month post-Africa, for now any way, and I can not tell you how enthralled I am right now, just waiting for the day Gd tells us what we are going to do next in Africa. I again wish I had a fancy excuse for not yet putting to paper our African experience, but mainly, I haven’t known what to say, what to write. It all has seemed so, what’s the word, imposing maybe? We spent almost three weeks in Uganda on the coast of beautiful Lake Victoria in the middle of the equatorial forest. The beauty is amazing and what is particularly striking to me is the darkness that lives in the souls of the lost amidst the wondrous physical beauty of the nature that surrounds it all. We spent that time in canvas tents with rain water showers and a definite lack of electricity for things like my BLOW DRYER. Well, I kept in mind, everything that is of eternal gain will cost us something in this vaporish life. It is difficult to summarize what we did there. One of the most exhausting days was the day that we held a free clinic in the very unfinished clinic site in the middle of the bush for what seemed like hundreds of people. I was so struck by the meekness of the souls we encountered there. Amidst such struggle, just for basic survival, the gentleness in their hearts humbled my own soul. For some of the people, people who would not otherwise have any medical care, they had walked hours, some with three or four children, to see us at the clinic. After seeing so many faces in so short a time period, it became easy to get weary, to wonder when the stream of people would end. It became easy to forget, these faces hold a soul, a soul that is bound for an eternity spent either with Gd or in separation from Gd. Yet the American weariness is a different breed than the weariness in Africa. Some of what we did there was simply to lift a burden carried by the missionary family who has made Uganda their home, to those who are carrying the burden of the vision of bringing Jesus to the Fatherless, the orphans, there in the middle of nowhere, of building something eternal in the midst of such visceral, human struggle. Some days we painted, some days we washed the feet of the missionaries serving there, some days we washed dishes for hours and hours on end. To think, I came half way around the world to wash dishes? The experience brought me to Nehemiah 4:17, the burden carriers. The burden in Africa, in Uganda, is great. And like Nehemiah rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem after it was left in a heap of rubble, Uganda is in a state of building, of carving out, of carving out a space in the middle of the jungle for Gd to breath out life on His people there. The burden of years of building is great for those who are there serving. And for that brief time, for our team, we felt the burden, we carried the burden for a time. During the time of Nehemiah, the time of the rebuilding the wall, each was assigned a very specific task, which makes me think of our Bible study last fall on the fruits of the spirit where it was proven Scripturally that God has for each of us a very specific to-do-list of the good we are to do each and every day of our existence. Nehemiah 4:17 with John Gill’s Bible Exposition reads, “They which builded on the wall (that laid the mortal and stones upon it, and timber where it was necessary) and they that bore burdens (that carried the mortar, stones and timber to the builders and served them). Here the Bible refers to those who were specifically called to “bear the burdens” of the building of the wall. They carried the mortar, the stones and the timber to the builders and also SERVED them. They were there to carry the burdens and to serve. That is what Africa was to me. I felt like I was there to bear the burdens for a time and to serve those who serve there. Imagine being one of those “burden bearers” in the time of Nehemiah and the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem. I’m sure the burden bearers perhaps had dreams of a destiny full of great and fantastic adventures and accomplishments. When the time came when their duties were assigned in the rebuilding, did they imagine they would be in the lot of “burden bearers.” It for sure doesn’t sound like one of the exquisitively glorious tasks in the body of Christ. But who then would bear the burdens of the work that must be done? Who will carry the mortar, the stones, the timber for the building of the kingdom of Gd here on earth? What a high and lofty calling to bear the burdens of the people of the Most High Gd. After all, Jesus says in the Gospels that the least of these will be considered the greatest in heaven. For home school, in preparation for our trip to Africa, Kaydn and I began reading a book called Live Dead, a 30-day challenge to live as though completely dead to self and alive to Jesus, written by missionaries serving in East Africa. Day 15 tells this story: A Sunday morning in Madagascar, Rija arrives early to the church and grabs a broom and a mop, preparing for the busyness of Sunday worship. He walks outside and begins to sweep and mop the simple drop toilets that are so common in Africa. Soon the toilets are clean and rinsed out and Rija can put away his mop and broom. He washes his hands and straightens his tie. Picking up his Bible, he makes his way to the front of the church to begin to greet those who fill the sanctuary and collect his thoughts for the message he will soon deliver to the people. Rija is not the custodian, he is the pastor. He is also the former general superintendent and one of the most powerful pastors in the Malagasy church. Rija has been quoted as saying, “If Jesus as the Son of God could wash the feet of the disciples’, I can surely clean the toilets.” Jesus told his disciples, “the seed that falls to the ground and dies produces many seeds.” Africa can seem like placing your life in the ground to die so that something amazing can spring forth. And I can’t wait to do it again.
Saturday, February 2, 2013
It is only proper decorum on the brink of a new year, a new adventure, to write an official conspectus on the transpiration of the year previous; thus, in the spirit of being mannerly, I will attempt this on the eve of our departure to Africa. Tomorrow, nearly three years of prayer and preparation will come to fruition as we depart for Musana Camp in Uganda. It began with a day in November, three years ago, as Kaydn and I took a spare moment to gaze at the world in the form of our new world map. I asked, “Kaydn, if we could go anywhere in the world, where do you think we should go?” I offered up a few suggestions, Australia, Nepal, Norway, Brazil….Africa. He said, “Africa. We are going to Africa.” Years earlier, before his birth, I knew that he would have the heart of a traveler, hence the meaning of his name, “beloved companion,” a beloved companion on many journeys. From that day, a year was spent trying to find a mission to Africa that would fit our family. A seemingly random conversation with a friend put me in contact with a friend of a friend who now serves a mission in Africa. This led to the year 2012, a year of praying, fundraising and preparation. We reached a point when we had to decide, are we going to Africa, or are we not? The costs would be great. And I don’t mean just the financial costs, which for sure have been huge, but the even greater costs have been paid in time, energy and prayer. Even prayer will cost you something. But the cost is an investment. Gd has created a world which operates within the concept of reaping and sowing. To sow a seed, the seed first must be bought for a price, and the energy, sweat, tears and time required to harvest the fruit of the seed may be hugely expensive in your life. To get us to Africa, we had to make the decision that we were going to dive in. We had to decide that we would pay the price in effort and time to raise the funds needed to go, and that if we didn’t raise enough, that God would rain down the money from heaven somehow. We knew that we couldn’t go before our church, our family, our friends and ask for their prayer and financial support in our African endeavor and then not be committed to going if we didn’t raise the funds in time. For a super type A personality, a planner and a strategizer, this experience is like walking the plank. And when the time came to leave and we were about $1800 short, we concluded these monies would have to come out of our own personal finances and that God would bless it and continue to provide for our family. It was at that point that Gd placed it on the hearts of a few to provide and donate the money needed. Now THAT is Gd’s provision and blessing for obedience. I haven’t always been completely obedient to that still, small voice of God that quietly nudges us in the direction we must go, the voice that tells us to kill things in our life that are secretly killing us, the voice that tells us to go, to step out on that plank, the voice that leads us into astounding and incomprehensible places of blessing and joy despite the pain of getting there. But I am grateful that God has disciplined me in my disobedience, forgiven me, loved me and redeemed the huge pile of ashes that have come out of that disobedience. For some reason, He saw my heart’s desire to go, to go some place, to do something so much bigger than myself, and He pointed at me and said, “I pick you. You will go.” So, with Kaydn at my side, we will set sail for Uganda tomorrow. Well, I don’t know if there will be any sails involved, more like airplanes, but you get the picture. I have prattled on for quite a while now. This conspectus is to be continued.
So I’m not sure my official conspectus post actually provided a glimpse into the comings and goings of the Turnbows in the year 2012, I got a little sidetracked there. Thus, I will attempt a proper summarization of the comings and goings of the year, one more time. We began the year with a screaming six month old in our home school classroom, always a wonderful way to start the year. At some point the thought shone down upon me like a beacon that maybe he needed to see a doctor. What a miraculously genius thought. Well, after the revelation that little Nehemiah had been suffering from severe anemia for months, we battled his iron levels through the year and just last week it was confirmed that his iron levels are finally within normal range. One of many battles fought and won through the year. Those kinds of battles always bring about an enormous amount of creativity and ingenuity. In the midst of essentially trying to shove into Nehemiah’s body any source or protein and iron I could, I found out you can put black beans into almost anything and your kids will eat it. We even put ground black beans in brownie cookies the other day, thanks to my fancy new Ninja blender, which is pretty much the most amazing thing in my kitchen right now. Nehemiah ate them like there was no tomorrow. Oh, and of course, 2012 was the year of fundraising for our mission to Uganda. Let’s see, we made and sold enough gourmet popcorn and fry bread tacos to feed a small African nation. And then I really decided to get my craftiness on and started not only selling our usual goods at local craft fairs and events, but we also sold what I call “designer” coaster tiles,trivets and keychains, all out of modge podge and scrapbooking paper, the pretty stuff I NEVER get to use in all my scrapbooking the lives of boys. Kaydn turned the big seven in 2011, and of course, as an only child for so long, Kaydn’s birthday parties have become the event of the year here in the Turnbow household, I’m surprised you haven’t heard about them. This year we made and decorated super hero capes for his guests, did a massive scavenger hunt with his party guests and I made a tiered Batman cake with blue fondant, some of my best cake-work to date. I think I may have stayed up til about four in the morning to finish that cake. Picture this party, the event of the year, and then picture our second-born turning one last summer. Well, his party consisted of some last minute take and bake pizzas, a store-bought cake (the horrors!!) and a last minute invitation to family members to our little garden party (so I didn’t have to clean up after the relatives). I obviously need to step it up a bit in 2013 for Nehemiah to keep up with Kaydn’s party of the year birthday events. After the last-minute garden party, we all set off for Bismarck so that my friend Annette and I could run the Gladiator Rush. It was all Annette’s idea, believe me. Keep in mind, I am a hard-core worker-outer (is that a word?), I do the Insanity workout for pete’s sake. However, I can’t even run around the block to save my life. If I get the urge to run fast, I usually jump on a horse at the farm and ride like the wind, but I don’t personally do the running. I don’t know what it is in me that agrees to do these weird and crazy things some times, but I agreed to do it nonetheless. And of course, I knew the race was held at this place called “Huff Hills” just outside of Bismarck, so I have no idea why I was so surprised when I got there and saw that we would be running up and down, you guessed it, hills! Well, actually they looked like mountain peaks. And then we were expected to crawl through mud holes under a grid of barbed wire to get to the finish line. Now, keep in mind, I don’t do mud. I don’t get muddy, or yucky, or dirty. I just don’t. And I really don’t do mud that has been trampled through by a thousand other germy people. Oh the horrors of the germs in that mud! I even paid, along with about a thousand other people, to participate in this crazy race! Who does that? Well, with me yelling, “Just keep going! Just keep going!” the entire time, Annette and I finished, and I didn’t die of an asthma attack and neither did she, despite the fact that it was about 100 degrees that day. Oh, and apparently we are doing the race again this year. Huh? (This is us at the finish line.) Oh, and I also discovered a plethora of great things this year, like this amazing thing called eyeshadow primer. All my life I have simply capitulated to the fact that I have greasy eyelids and would therefore have to live with eyeshadow creases as forever the bane of my existence. Until one day I happened to walk by Sephora in the mall and saw the most amazing thing out of the corner of my eye – eyeshadow primer by Tarte. It’s amazing. It has absolutely revolutionized my life. Another amazing thing I found, dry shampoo. Who knew such a thing existed? Seriously, I wash my hair once a week because of this amazing creation. And just recently, while pondering how in the world I would do things like blow dry my hair or tame my massive wavy afro while in Uganda, it occurred to me that there has to be some kind of apparatus that will tame the afro without the use of electricity, since, you know, in the middle of nowhere in Uganda, electricity isn’t the easiest thing to come by. Well my sleuthing paid off. I came across an amazing invention called a Thermacell curling iron. Seriously, it curls your hair with butane power. You know the really interesting thing about that, I can take an apparatus containing an explosive on an airplane, but I can only take three ounces of shampoo. What? That makes no sense. Well, that about sums it up right there. We bid you adieu as we head to the Pearl of Africa……