Thursday, February 16, 2017

Hello February

This morning I went to Mass followed by Adoration. Christ no doubt filled me with the grace to take on today, the awareness to work in love and in joy, and give thanks to Him.

I just like to say a few (or many) things...

Our matron, Justine, is absolutely amazing. Her work ethic and joy in everything she does is something I have never seen before! She cares for all of our children so well. Sleeps with them, bathes the littles, cleans up everything imaginable, washes clothes and sheets, walks for water for the little ones, takes them to the hospital, and so much more. Today I was just amazed at everything she accomplished throughout the day.

This afternoon Ismael had been sleeping for a couple of hours in an unusual spot. But as funny and odd as he is it didn't seem too unusual. At one point though, I looked over and his whole body was shaking. I ran over and he felt as hot as the sun. His body shaking and shaking. Justine came over and picked him up and the moment she did he threw up many many times. In the smoothest and quickest way she undressed him, washed him up, gave him new clothes and took him to the hospital (which is conveniently right next door!). Prayers for little Ismael! He doesn't have malaria, just high fever and vomiting. He is being treated accordingly.

Our kids are getting more used to being here and learning to enjoy - learning! Last week we had 11 wonder/run off campus, four refused at least one meal, two of the older ones had to be chased down by myself, one tried hitting a teacher, and others crying for parents. But this week we have already seen so much improvement and change of behavior! Their signs are picking up quickly and it's both wonderful and amazing to see..They are running around playful and getting used to the routine. Today was a public holiday but there was no way of explaining that to our kids and they are all now way to anxious to be in the classroom. We taught for half the time, had a long break, and after lunch we colored for a really long time! I was amazed how focused and happy each child was to color. I will most likely have to buy more crayons next week!

Things have been crazy and I've never been more busy or thankful for the business. Due to circumstances that are out of my hands I am not yet able to sleep at the school or the parish near the school. Every morning I travel on a boda (motorcycle) to school and every late evening I come home. Everyday I bring my paper work to school, and sometimes my laptop, in the laughable attempt that I will have time to organize, write documents, and respond to emails. And everyday I end up getting home late without any of that done. And when that happens, like now for example, I can easily forget all that happens in the day and feel like a failure instead. But little by little it will get done. Slowly by slowly as they say here..

I am overwhelmed and amazed at everything. How far God has brought us and how everything keeps continuing and growing when it all seems impossible. There's no doubt that God and my mother have kept me alive through all of this. We are going through so many transitions at school in every area it seems. And everyday I am learning more and more about the Alur people - sometimes good things and sometimes bad/difficult things.

I am more then thankful for the prayers that I know are coming from many people and the encouraging messages and phone calls from friends and family. I am also in awe of the donations that keep coming in...that allow St. Francis de Sales School for the Deaf to continue another day.
Please pray for the 29 kiddos we have, for our staff, for our water issue to be solved, for good health to everyone (especially these little ones who have been getting very sick), the funds to continue on and expand, the grace to teach/to learn, the safety for us all, and for myself - for an increased prayer life and that I may always serve in love united with Him.

Thank you, God bless you



Friday, October 7, 2016

FUTURE DEAF SCHOOL

I am overjoyed and still in awe of God's providence...

Last week I went to the book store in Nebbi to pick up some Alur school books (I'm really trying to learn this language). One thing led to another and I found myself in the Bishops office being asked to stay the rest of the day. 

After lunch we went back to his office and discussed books, deafness, education, and the hope for a future deaf school. God did so much in a couple of hours.. Long story short, the Bishop called two men, Dennis and Jimmy, and set up a meeting for us on Friday. Jimmy teaches at a Primary school and interprets Mass for the deaf every Sunday at the Cathedral. Dennis has a business making school uniforms and has been doing his best to "mobilize" the deaf children/community and their families. The Bishop wanted us to meet and hopefully work together for the deaf..

And then a religious Sister walks in. She immediately, and seemingly out of no where, starts talking about the two deaf children under her ministries care that she is taking to a primary school in Arua. I introduced myself and told her a little of why I'm here. She continued talking about the need for a deaf school in our diocese and how she desires to be teaching at a deaf school. She is currently finishing her sign language training in Kampala. 

Ohh my, it gets better..

The Bishop started telling both of us about the recently vacant Emmanuel Center in Nyapea (not too far from Paidha). It was supposed to be used as a Catechist training center but they are instead training in another town about an hour away. The Bishop offered it to a new Congregation of Sisters but they have no need for it. 

AND RIGHT THERE HE PLACED IT IN MY HANDS TO BECOME A DEAF BOARDING SCHOOL. 

--

Last Friday I had a meeting, almost the whole day, with Jimmy and Dennis. It went exceptionally well. And while Jimmy is currently satisfied with the teaching job he has, he is more than willing to help set up a school for the Deaf. Dennis, however, is ready to teach! And I got a call the next day from Dennis telling me he has found another man who wants to teach.

Tuesday I went and visited the Emmanuel Center and...well, it is better than I expected or could have hoped for! 

I am in shock and I cannot wait for it to be filled with deaf students. I hope and pray that everything will be ready by the beginning of first term in February. 

There are so many things that have to be done before then: paper work, organization, renovation and making it more "deaf friendly", please pray for me and all who will be involved! May God grant us the means and ability for making this school come alive. It's overwhelming and crazy, yet so perfectly His. 

All praise and thanks be to Jesus Christ! 


Dormitories 

One of four grass huts

Garden area, latrine in the back

Classroom hall and teachers rooms

Animal pen


























Kitchen, store room (behind)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Saraphina

I'll tell it like it is, without anything added or taken away. All glory, praise, and thanks is due to our Heavenly Father. Also, for those who have supported me financially and continue to, and to all who continue to pray for me and the people of Paidha, I thank you. Because of you my dear friend can eat another day.
..

She was walking slowly, as she always does, in front of me on the way to Mass this morning. Wearing a very worn white dress and her usual big flip flops. I skipped forward to great her before we walked in. Like always, the conversation was short due to the language barrier. She is beautiful. After Mass she hung around until I came out. I didn't know where she went so I continued on until I heard her call for me..

She's an old and frail women, weak and tired. Beautiful and reverent. She has tribe marks on her forehead, revealing a story that I would love to hear - mostly the part about her conversion and first sight of God.

Since the first time I met Saraphina she has looked at me with the same longing and glistening in her eyes as she asked me for food. I had nothing to give her, only my prayers. My heart ached for her and I spent a lot of time in prayer asking God what He wants me to do. I insist on doing all things through God, with purity of intention, caring from my depths for the one in front of me in a way that is willing the good of them, without my sometimes uncomfortable self getting in the way. You see, there's still much I have to learn. Both spiritually and culturally. The language is a big one as well. I am happy that love covers all and that those who are hungry can always be fed, despite any barrier or difference.

The first time I had tea with her was a Saturday morning. After Mass she came with me into my home (home being my room and sitting room at the rectory) and we ate breakfast together. She told me she went to bed very hungry and has been praying for a meal. Our conversations were filled with mostly laughter, only because my Alur isn't that good at all and she only knows a few words in English. All the same, I know we both enjoyed it.

Afterwards we collected some small fire wood from the Church and we went to her house. It is not too far from the Church, but for an old women it takes a while. She lives in a small hut by herself, near a garden with some graves in it. Her husband and all of her children but one, have died. We sat down in the dark room. She looked around putting her hands up with a shrug, and told me her house is bad (the expression is different in Alur).

Many children and young adults came to see what the white lady was doing there. It was my first time going to this small area of Paidha. They blocked all the light from entering Saraphina's home and giggled at my attempt to speak in Alur. I didn't stay long though..

That afternoon Obedi and I went to the market to buy food for the Church and for her. Evening came as we returned to the Church, Obedi went to cook supper and the seminarian, Francis, went with me to bring Saraphina food.

When we arrived, she was looking for more sticks and things to use as firewood in the garden in front of her house. I could see the joy on her face as she saw the food we brought. We all sat in her home and the seminarian translated for both of us. She talked of her husband and children's death..

"I am all alone in my poverty, all I can do is pray. I've been praying for you, Rannah, since you got here. There's nothing else for me to do, I just go to Church, and I pray."

She continued talking about prayer, Rosaries, her hunger, poverty, and trusting in God. She thanked God countless times for the food, recalling all of her prayers and hope. I broke down. She said "No, please, don't mind."

There is a heavy weight of physical poverty and brokenness that I can only see through my small eyes, not having experienced it myself. With compassion and pain in my heart, Christ has been allowing me to experience the tiniest bit of pain He feels for His beloved daughters and sons. I can't explain God's amazement, light, and love through Saraphina's eyes. I gave her food for her body. She gave me the love of God for my soul.. For it is Christ who is hungry, Christ who is poor, it is Christ who we serve through the poor in this world. What a treasure it will be to become one with Saraphina. No, what a treasure it is to be one with her, after all we are One, in Him and through Him. Every morning receiving the Eucharist with her - Christ's body and blood given for us, so we may all be ONE in Him.

All I could do is stare into her eyes, like Mary at the feet of Jesus, taking in every word He says. I see my grandmother in her and I see my mother. Who will care for my grandmother? Will I be there to care for my mother in her old age? Are you there to care for yours? Oh, how the Lord's way is good, perfect, and true.. His love manifests through eternity and brings comfort to all..

..

Obedi and I went to the market this morning and bought lots of things. We carried them in big bags on are heads from the market, through town, down and up the valley of green grass and tall trees while children yell "rabolo" (banana: my name in sign language), past the graveyard behind the Church, through the village huts, finally arriving at Saraphina's house. Her son was there this time. Old, poor, and malnourished as she - with the same inviting and beautiful smile. Pounding away at dried casava for cooking into kwen. He lives here in Paidha "just the other side", as they say. He also has no money or ways of helping. He came over today to share a meal with his mom - in the hopes there was food! In God's goodness He provided!

I was saddened to hear from Saraphina that some of the food I brought last time had been stolen. It seems there has been bitter talk of Saraphina having this "new friend." She said jealousy perhaps, and so they took from her. Hmm. Although she hid the food and soap, they came in and went through everything to find it. Only though, they didn't take all. They left some for her. There isn't the tinniest bit of anger towards them from any of us, because well, they must be hungry too! Perhaps the person had kids to feed. What would I do in their position? What would you do? If only they had the faith to hold on, and perhaps the courage to ask? Ahh, I can't pose any advice, I am ignorant of the situation. Pray with me that they too may be filled, in an honest and eternal way!

Obedi and I walked home slowly, talking of poverty, culture, and asking each other questions. She asked me, with a puzzled look on her face, if I will help others like Saraphina, or if its only her. I told her yes, yes I will. The person God places before me I will help in the way I can, the way He asks, praying always that I will receive them all the more!

We must help each other in this world, each giving and each receiving at all times, most of all, though, be giving to and receiving from Our Father!

St. Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!


Monday, September 12, 2016

Nyapea


























Obedi and I took a boda to Nyapea and then walked through village for a while to reach her garden.
This was the second time she has taken me there. I really love it!

We went to dig in her garden and get ready for planting beans, potatoes, and casava.

As we were walking to her garden we stopped at some random hut where a women was cooking some local alcohol. Obedi insisted I try it, so I did. It was horrible. SO BAD. It was clear, hot, and very strong. I took a tiny sip and thought I would puke. Obedi happily drank the rest (not a lot). I felt it in my head and my stomach the rest of the day.

We arrived at her garden and first sat and watched as one of the men working there burnt some of the dead bush/tree/plant things (Obedi didn't know the name). There were a couple of monkeys running around and hanging in the trees. When the fire started they ran away!

It is really peaceful and quiet out there. Her garden is on a big slope with a creek at the bottom. Far off in every direction there is more gardens and huts, or just rolling hills of green beauty.



























When the burning was finished on one side I went there to dig while Obedi went to the opposite side to gather more of the dead bush tree things to burn. There was a random onlooker who just could not believe that a white person could dig.

It is hard to dig. The ground was covered black with ash and under all of that was deep roots and big rocks. Obedi didn't let me dig long in fear of me getting too tired. If you know me well enough you'd know how absolutely weak my arms and shoulders are. I tried my best as I really wanted to help Obedi, but I was happy when she made me stop. I joined her in moving these big things (I really wish I knew what their name is) into a pile to burn.







We didn't stay for to long. The work we needed to do was finished and the rest of the digging was to be done by two men who she paid to work there. We walked the far ways up the hill and through the bush to reach her aunt's home.

Before we reached we ran into Obedi's cousin who was picking coffee beans. He was a very kind and funny man.


He insisted that Obedi take a picture of me so that "my family can see what I did today."


Food is important here. Food and people - relationship, guests, gifts, and respect. 

"Love, generosity, and the joy of opening the doors of one's home to neighbors or to strangers always tend to enlarge our hearts; "our heart is wide", Saint Paul said to the Corinthians (2 Cor 6:11)." - Robert Cardinal Sarah

Obedi's brother, Brian, met us and brought us milk and biscuits. So we gathered in the hut and shared those. 

Brian said and did many funny things that I just didn't understand. I wasn't sure the whole time what was more "cultural" and what was just silly.. I'm not even sure how to explain them here. He seems to be a good man but he is very stubborn. *The word stubborn here, in Paidha, is used both the same way American's use it and also differently. It covers a rang of behaviors of people, animals, and items. Someone who jokes a lot and is very funny is considered stubborn. Someone who beats his wife is stubborn. The door that wont open is stubborn. Someone who takes too much alcohol is stubborn. The chicken you can't pluck easily is stubborn.* 

Brian - is stubborn in a different way that people say Obedi and I are stubborn. Uhm, I'll just leave that there.  

All was well though! 

After eating some of the biscuits and milk, Obedi's aunt brought us water and pumpkin. We all shared that and before the food was gone I had to stop eating because I was so full. But did the food stop there? Noooo.



























Obedi then left Brian and I in the hut and went to the kitchen (another hut pictured below) to cook for us. I don't know why. I asked her and all she said was "I have to cook for you, I just have to." I told her how not hungry I was but she insisted.

I sat with Brian in the hut for an awkward almost hour. Picking thorns off of my skirt, talking about America, talking about how he wants to treat his future wife, he told me about his children, school, land, gardening, etc.

Obedi came back with kwen, beans, and eggs. Again we washed our hands and began to share the food. I tried to eat as much as I could but I really just couldn't eat anymore!




























We hung out with some kids outside for a little bit after. It mostly consisted of me making funny faces and doing random things to make them laugh. Some of the younger kids, though, cried when they saw me and ran away.

This baby though, for whatever reason, didn't fear me.



Being out there in the village again with Obedi's family, friends, and neighboring people, bring a lot of things to my mind and to my heart. 

Things I haven't yet learned how to write about. Only to be kept in my heart and lifted up in prayer to God, as Fr. Emmanuel tells me. 



























Obedi, Brian, and I ventured back to the town of Nyapea. It was walking and laughing mixed with sudden bursts of running from Obedi and I as Brian tried to keep up.





























When we were entering the town Obedi told me "don't say anything." Uhm, okay?

We continued walking and I remembered why.. It was a large amount of obnoxious and stubborn men calling out "hey baby", "can I have your number", etc. I laughed inside and kept silent. Though, at times it can be very annoying and tiresome to hear.

We eventually got a boda back to Paidha so as not to arrive back late in the evening.

And that is the end of that story.

God bless


Friday, September 2, 2016

Back in Uganda

I love that I always seem to be surrounded by priests and religious. It is comforting and beautiful. There's always a Mass to go to and plenty of great discussions about Jesus. 

I arrived in Uganda two weeks ago and spent that first week in Kampala at the Bishop McCauley house. It was so great to talk to my spiritual director there and get some guidance. Although I had planned on going straight to Paidha the day after I landed, God had other plans. 

I couldn't be more thankful for a week of working with BDI to find Jonathan and bring him back to school. God's timing is always the best. So unexpected, yet perfect. Sweet Jonathan returned to BDI last Saturday. Seeing him happy at school filled me with so much delight and thankfulness to God. 


He arrived wearing a t-shirt and shorts, nothing else. He also had a rash all over his body. The head teacher of BDI and I went shopping that day! We got him all of his basic necessities as well as medicines for the rash. It was beautiful to see the absolute joy and delight he was filled with when we gave him all of his things. His joy is surly contagious - pure and beautiful. 

We also found out that he was born in 1999. That makes him now 16 or 17, which is so crazy! He is much bigger now..every part of him. I am so thankful to everyone who has been praying for him and helping to find him and bring him back to the school. It brings me so much peace knowing he is safe and in a very loving environment. 

I spent some days at the Deaf school teaching some of the children how to play chess. I love watching their faces as they are catching on to things! It is so great being able to visit the Deaf school whenever I am in Kampala. Receiving love and giving love to these kids, learning more about each one, and talking about Jesus is always so wonderful. Sign language definitely makes scripture stories more vibrant and seeming alive. 
          

One evening we had to walk for water. The tank didn't have enough water in it - perhaps it needs to rain! It was crazy though. For them, walking for water is normal. Walking in the dark with no parents is also normal. Davis, one of the older kids, is so good about making sure everyone is together and safe - especially when crossing the busy street. As we were walking back it was dark and the "mzungu, babi come here" comments were increasing. I was in mother mode and just wanted to make sure all the kids got back safely. At the same time trying to ignore every comment but keep watch for any weird guys approach. I was so happy and thankful when we got back to school! 






























I love Uganda and the typical TIA way of doing things. Monday morning I took a boda 40 minuets away form where I was staying to meet Joel and get a few things that I had left when I went to America. That man, talk about wonderful. I just need him in my pocket for the times when cultural understanding is difficult, when I am sad, or when I need someone to pray over me. It was SO wonderful to hear all of his advice and prayers. We rejoiced as we talked about Jonathan's return. God is so good. He is really doing wonderful things through him, and through many, for the children of BDI. I pray that their new school gets finished soon and that the lives of the Deaf children there continue to prosper and that they grow closer to Jesus always. Pray with me?

Anyways, I rushed back to the Bishop McCauley house to get all five of my heavy bags together and put them on bodas. That was fun. The bus leaves at noon and I think we had about 15 minuets to get to the bus park. So off went, me on one boda and my luggage on two others. Traffic was crazy busy and I didn't know if we would make it. In God's goodness and love we arrived at the park with time to load on. I was the last to get on the bus but it all worked out.

My last bus ride experience had me a little "shook up" so I really prayed hard that everything would go okay this time. I didn't write about it because I wanted to tell my mom in person about how fine everything was. But the last time I rode with Vickie, friend from DK, the bus broke down two times for many hours. We arrived in Paidha at two in the morning with no bodas to take us to the church. Long story short we got attacked. But God was ever present and sent two men who heard me screaming to come and save us. No scrapes, bruises, or stolen things - God is gracious and kind.

Naturally, the bus on Monday broke down at one point. I just started laughing. Black smoke coming out and all the men got off to go look at the problem. I laughed and laughed because what else do you do? Msgr. Opio had been calling me periodically through the trip to make sure everything was okay though. So he knew we were broke down and where I was in case something else happened.






























I arrived in Paidha somewhere around 9 pm. I was SO happy to see one of the the cooks, a seminarian, and two priests waiting for me there. It made for a super easy and safe transition. Warm welcoming too. I think Msgr. Opio gets more precious every day!

These few days in Paidha have been great - normal feeling. Msgr. Opio was so overjoyed and grateful for the gifts he received from my spiritual director in Texas. I was able to bring many vestments, chalices, and patens. Just an absolute wonderful gift! I also gave Msgr. Opio and Fr. Joseph their (late) fathers day gifts. A rosary for each along with a notebook with prayer intentions and notes of encouragement from many friends back home who have been praying for each of them. They send their thanks and blessings to all of those who have been praying for them. Truly a dear and special gift.

I was so happy to finally see my good friend Obedi/Christine! I hated that I had no way of calling her when I was in the States. I think everyone else was happy for our reunion as well - we are two very energized and stubborn girls. The mix of us is wonderful, I think. We walk the streets and get the funniest comments. Obedi, really, makes everything better. I can never get away from being a shock to people as I walk around. "Heyyy, American height" "Obedi, why are you walking with my girl?" Most of the time it is light and fun humor. Something I am still trying to get used to here is the joking and humor between the people of Paidha. To me, some of it could seem offensive or aggressive (maybe too "ohh babi"). Just by listening to the way Obedi and others, even strangers, relate to one another is really interesting. You have to learn to be witty and sarcastic right back.... It's like an acceptance thing if you do. When you are able to joke with others it brings you closer to them - in a friendship/community way.


























I still have so much to learn. I am happy though, that my Alur is sticking with me. I am always listening and learning so many things. I have a long way to go - well, we should forever be learning. But to be able to get further into the community, even at a basic level, still takes a lot. I learn a whole lot from the children. Most refuse to speak English, even though they know it well, because they are shy to speak it in front of me or because they are so stubborn and want to be ridiculous and say silly things without me knowing. I am thankful for always having some sweet girls around me to help me pick up on the conversation.

Blessings



Thursday, June 23, 2016

Bugs for dinner?

Yesterday was creepy creature day. Let's start with the morning...

I know this is going to be shocking to my family but, for the most part, I've been able to get over my fear of spiders...I think. I'd still rather not see them and will kill them to keep it that way. But the irrational fear is definitely dwindling.

Yesterday morning I cleaned my room, hallway, and bathroom. Before then there were many spiders living with me and I didn't really care. But because of the African milipede incident the previous day I wanted a clean, clean place where those things won't come and hide (thanks Adam). Spiders got swept away, they crawled away, or I smashed them.

Although, there is one giant spider in my bathroom that I let stay. We made a deal: he stays in that cornor and eats all the other bugs he wants and I don't kill him. Maybe part of why I won't kill him also is because he is so big and high up...I'm not sure how to get him and I really don't want to deal with it.

During this cleaning process I had my windows open in my room so as to let in the breeze to dry my underwear that were laying on my mosquito net. Other clothes get hung outside to dry, not the underwear.

Then I heard a "plop" in my floor. It was a rather long blackish lizard. Cute. I'm not a lizardologist so I don't know what kind it was but it was different from what usually hangs out in my room. I chased it out my room and I'm pretty sure it went straight into Fr. Josephs room...still haven't told him. Haha.

Okay let me skip ahead to dinner..

I helped Christine prepare my favorite dish: greens and peanut butter. It's actually everyone's favorite dish here. In between cooking, dancing, and taking pictures of Fr. Emmanuel, the time had slipped past me. Christine said "Ahh Rannah, its almost to 7 and you haven't prayed evening prayer!" I'm always so thankful for Christine! This isn't the first time she has reminded me. A true friend, always making sure I get (and give) time with Our Lord.

I had to get a seminarian to open the door to the sacrasty. It was funny to watch him try to be gentle with the door to Jesus yet being really forceful because it was so stuck!

For dinner we had fish, kwen, macroons, and the greens mixed with peanut butter (Alur name has slipped my mind). And then came the white ants..

It rained heavy that afternoon so all the white ants came flying out. Fr. Emmanuel said I must be sure to tell everyone that they are not bugs but "flying food." It is a delicacy here.

I really can't handle those things.. Especially when so many fill the dinning room and fall in our food. To everyone else it's "food falling in food."

Everyone just laughed at my girlish squeals and frantic movements when they landed on me. Fr. Emmanuel was sure to pick everyone of them off as they landed on me or my plate. Good man! Maybe one day I'll get used to them!


A few days ago I did try to eat them though! I was in a town/village/place about an hour away from Paidha with Fr. Joseph. We had lunch with Fr. William, during which I asked what the brown stuff was. It was white ants mixed in with peanut butter. I love peanut butter and since I can't actually "see" the ants I thought I'd try. Hahaha. Oh boy, it was so gross. So so gross.

Fr. Emmanuel doesn't like it prepared like that either. He assured me that I next time I eat them it will taste better...they will be whole. No thank you!

After a short time at the dinner table I finally asked if I could leave! As the words "of course!" came out of Fr. Emmanuel's mouth I was already up! I grabbed a banana and quickly made my way down the hallway, covering my face from the ants flying everywhere. Laugh with me please.

There was only one white ant in my room. Of course it had to be in my bathroom right where I bathe! I washed it down the drain and took a cold rain water bucket bath.

Remember the giant spider I made the deal with? Well he decided to come on over, almost right above my head, to eat. I was visioning him falling on my head and the loud scream I know I couldn't help but make. But he didn't!




Here's a current picture of some bug free food: goat meat and a rolex. Hurray for another long bus ride! I'm overjoyed to be picking up Chelsea and Traci, high school sign language trachers, from the airport on Monday! I can't believe that they are really going to be in Uganda with me! They have assignments with the teachers at Boanerges Deaf Initiative, but they will have a couple of days to spare to visit Paidha as well!

Blessings to you all and thank you for the prayers!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Everyday is an adventure and a gift from God. My main goal for now and the months ahead is to simply be open to receiving from everyone - especially Our Father. Everyday is different and there are always many things for me to learn! The more I learn about the culture and language the more I see how much more I have to learn!

There is so much to soak in... God has been transforming my heart and mind through the people of Paidha. The vision of what He wants from me here is becoming more clear with each day. I am begining to understand many things that before I only perceived, and percieved wrongly at that. It takes a lot of "shutting my mouth" and trusting to understand certain things within the community.

My rushed heart to fix things quickly and take hold of the problems here has and is continuing to slowly drift away.. Realizing my powerlessness and need for Gods complete hand in doing everything! So that, through me, all things will be done by Him and in accord with His will. Ohh, the mess I would make if I fought this!

The things I once saw with my eyes as are now being seen in a deeper way through my heart.. in regards to the poverty and ways of helping. Many judgmetns or misconceptions of things have left me. What is continually being brought forth from God is the need for relationships and love. Simply being. Ahh there is so much to say and I have a lot of dificulty with words, especially when it comes to explaining things that can only be understood through experience.

Simply being here does in no way take over or get in the way of the desire to serve that God has placed within me, if anything it only increases this desire in a more trustful and pure way.

The kind of trust that Blessed Mother Teresa had in God, that He, through her, would do what He wanted. The trust that there would always be one more bowl of food and one more bed for a soul to rest in. The trust in His timing in everything. There were countless things that Bl. Mother Teresa prayed and waited for and knew that if it was to be it would, through Him. I ponder these in my heart as I continually pray and wait for a more active form of service to begin - all while knowing that it will in His time.

As of now, it is the time of receiving for me. One cannot give if there is nothing to be given! What would I have to offer the Alur people without first understanding the true needs that they have? The culture? Most especially, what would I have to give if not having God's divine plan being carried out? "Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence" - if you havn't read it, you might consider.

Love is so wonderful, universal, and can be given and received at all times. I have been receivng love from so many people. My friends here are wonderful and the Church comminity as well!

At times I miss my church community at St. Anns. I have enjoyed getting know people there over the years and seeing there faces often.. It brings me peace to remember everyone.. The priest, deacons and their wives, the extraordinary ministers of communion, youth leaders, sunday school teachers, all of the youth and children, those serving the hombound, the daily Mass crew, parish staff, and everyone else! Although I don't know the names of many who attend Mass at St. Anns, I cant forget the faces. There is definetly, for me anyways, a deep sense of acceptance and community there. I remmeber the small peace in seeing someone outside of Mass and just thinking "hey, I recevive Jesus with you every sunday." The most wonderful thing on earth.

This community and recognition of the people at St. Anns is now being deveolped here. Living at the church also helps a lot! I'm getting to know the parish staff, deacons, catechists, daily Mass crew - everyone. And the youth..oh my goodness...these kids come by the hundreds. How I will learn all of their names, I have no idea! I trying though. I ask constantly to tell me their names! Walking through the village I always here my name or "rabolo" (meaning banana) being called out. They run up and we chat. They giggle at the things I say in Alur and are always teaching me more things to say! Kids are SO wonderful. The joy and reverance from so many of these children druing Mass or just playing around the Church is something I have never seen before. A true recognition, from even the youngest, of who it is that is truly present in the Church and at Mass.

Playing with them is amazing. We have so much fun! Always silly faces, dancing, football (real football), singing, teaching me Alur, and of course learning names! My camera gets passed around as they dance and do crazy things. Then we watch the videos, look at pictures, and laugh so much! I could go on forever about so many of the children..

I look forward to the years to come watching these children grow, getting to know more families, building deeper relationships, and serving in the way God asks me to!

Please pray for the people of Paidha, the priests, and for me - that we may all carry out Gods will in our lives.

Blessings