Sunday, March 23, 2014

Beyond Their Feelings

Do you find it challenging to love the people who hate you? How about serving them?

 God has given me the opportunity to spend time with the mothers of our students at the school in Kisenji, where a large Karamojong community reside (if you have not heard about the school, read the previous post). I started meeting with them once a week and am seeking my way to building relationships with them. Trying to teach them the Bible, how to be a mom, wife, etc. Challenging to say the least. I feel worlds apart from them, and the color of our skin seems to be the smallest difference amidst us. In the midst of the separation God seems to be shining his glorious light. This certainly seemed to be the case last Friday. I have been storying different Bible stories and was having a hard time knowing what story to tell. After praying I felt compelled to just be real with them, to share my struggles and to share what God had been teaching me. After finding out how their week was, I began telling them the story of Luke 22:24-30. This is the story where the disciples and Jesus are celebrating the Passover with Jesus right before he is to be cruicified. The disciples are quarreling among themselves about who is the greatest. Jesus tells them that whoever wants to be great must serve, and think of himself as the lowest. After sharing the story I started walking them through some questions to faciliate discussion. They begin admiring how everyone in the story was together eating, and recognized that it was favorable to be together. Although I thought this was valuable for them to recognize I felt it is a value they already possess in their culture, I was nervous this was the only thing they might take away from the scripture. I prayed to myself and moved on, asking them more questions. One question I asked was, "How many see yourselves better than your children?" They were honest and said, "Daadong" meaning they all see themselves better than children. I share the story again and then it happened. "So is God telling us that we are not better than our co wife that we should love them and serve them?" (For sake of context you must know that many of the Karamojong are polygamists.) My heart starts to race, and my spirit is excited. This is going to be a challenging thing for them to grasp. It is a challenging idea for me to grasp and I can not fully put my self in their shoes. I have had to forgive people but this issue is a whole new realm for me. But I know someone that can relate, and who has. The woman begin talking among themselves and discussing, all the while my translator is doing his best to fill me in when he can, while also chiming in on the discussion. I listen while believing the spirit of God was moving and instructing, planting seeds. I only hope that God will continue to water the seeds and they will grow into luscious fruit. Then a wise, older woman in the group speaks up and says that Jesus commands us to love our enemies and challenges them to go beyond what our human nature tells us. I stood back in awe and I get excited that I serve a God who can relate. I serve a God who came down in the flesh. Who loved his enemies, who hangs in agony on the cross and says, "Forgive them Father for they know not what they do." I share my heart and Jesus sacrifice and challenge them to walk in His footsteps. Challenge them to call upon Jesus for help. Challenge them to go beyond their feelings.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

God Make them Children of You

This is a story of a life of a Karamojong child that lives in the slums of Kampala. Maybe you have heard it before. If you have, hear it again. Some stories are worth retelling, and rehearing.

Her day consists of sitting or standing in the busiest part of a bustling metropolis. She pleads with people, holding out her hand with dark brown eyes to those who pass by. Your first thought is to fill the hand, but you know that she doesn't receive it and that it wouldn't help. In her case she is just a means to an addiction for her mother. At other times she stands at busy intersections and walks from each stagnant car. Car to car, hoping for something, anything. A bit of food is what drops into her hand. The feeling of helplessness resides in the deep part of your heart. Then you remember, Psalm 9:18 which states, "For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever." If only she could know; she will know. If only they all could know and accept. They can be released from the slavery. She fears the streets for multiple reasons. The dark nights there are frightening. Then the government authorities come and gather all the begging children off the streets in hopes to solve this horrendous problem. They do what they think is best and send them to a "rehabilitation center." A relative might come in hopes to retrieve children so the cycle can begin again. If not you stay until you are taken back to Karamoja just to return again to Kampala.
This is just an example of some of our children we are ministering to in the slums. Briana and I have started a school (mostly Briana, I am just helping establish, create activities and teach on Fridays). We get to hear some of their stories from them, from the leaders in the community and from their faces. Today when I asked our translator and community leader how many of the 18 children beg on the streets. "All of them but 2" was his reply. "It is how the parents can make money. It is not good, but how else can they make money?" He makes a good point, they are like refugees fleeing from the insecurity of their own fighting, and lack of resources. These choices have sure dug them a hole, that is not easy to get out of. So we go to offer something. You have to start somewhere and 2 1/2 hours for 3 days a week seems so insignificant but by the look on some of their faces it means everything. They get to hear about the God who loves them, and we have hopes of educating them. It gives them some regularity, and excuse to be off the streets. And so we start somewhere for it is better than nowhere. Our classroom is a glorified shack, glorified because it has a bench. But it is better than nothing (our new motto). I am quickly reminded there is no "drug free" zone, as a drunk woman crowds around our circle and wants to participate in our fun. There are a lot of quirks but through it all we are praying that God would change their story and reputation from children that beg on the street to children of God.





Friday, December 6, 2013

Third Thanksgiving in Uganda

Yesterday as we celebrated Thanksgiving in Uganda, my mind went back to our last Thanksgiving here 2 years ago. We had planned on having a luscious meal to mimic a "Little House on the Prairie" Thanksgiving but our plans were changed. Instead of eating duck and potatoes we were eating meat on a stick and field corn.  It will be a Thanksgiving I will never forget. This was one of the times Malachi was feeling very sick and we had to rush down to Kampala to investigate his repetitive bloody noses and high fever. The day after Thanksgiving they told us it might be leukemia. Not words you want to hear as a mother, and as I recall this affair my heart fills with gratefulness that Malachi is perfectly healthy now. Gratefulness that God knows best and does things His way. Thankful that God is not just in the business of healing but also redemption. God taught me so much through that event and continues to use Malachi's life to challenge and instruct me. I am also very thankful that our 3rd Thanksgiving in Uganda was filled with blessings!! Here are some pictures!



Joshua's favorite: Challah bread





Briana brought some glow sticks to play with, and she took some fun pictures.




Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Month in Pictures


It has been almost 2 months since we moved here and God has done so many great things. We are feeling rather settled, and Cody has begun his work in the slums within Kampala. He was happy to see there are men to spend his time teaching God's word and building relationships with. For the last 2 weeks he has been going to visit them nearly everyday. They have asked him if he would help coach them in soccer and of course he said, "yes."












Saturday, October 5, 2013

Life in the City

Since getting here we have been really busy with working on getting settled. We are quickly reminded how things don't generally happen very quickly. I can't easily drive to the local department store to get furnishings, curtains, etc. However we do now have our van and we are in our house. It is a huge blessing! We are busy now getting supplies for the house and making it a home. It has been a lot of work, but I have enjoyed nesting and making it homey even though it will take quite some time to put together. We even have 2 lab dogs! I was shocked to learn we could even get labs in Uganda. They happen to be my favorite dog, and I grew up having labs.

The kids have been enjoying being outside a lot and the older boys have been playing a lot of soccer at the local "football pitch." Carter and Malachi have been catching a lot of lizards and geckos and know all the "good" spots to find them. We like the small town feel of our neighborhood. The kids feel comfortable walking down to the local produce stand and getting me fruit and vegetables for meals. We are excited to get to know our community better and we have hopes that we can go fishing on Lake Victoria in the future. (You can see the lake from our balcony!)

Eliana makes a friend, but it more like she is bossing him around.

Samuel and Joshua fish in little pond at the temporary house we stayed at. We enjoyed 3 tilapia for dinner from their labor.

Going to the football pitch

Want to know how to keep an 8 month old cranky teething baby happy? Fresh pineapple!

The swings in our yard!

Samuel reading with Sheera our yellow lab.

Joshua plays fetch with Scout the black lab.

Eliana and Janaya find flowers from our yard and put them in their hair. Look we have grass!!!!

Briana and Malachi hanging in the hammock.

Thanks for all your prayers. We feel very blessed! More pictures to come! Don't forget to stay in touch.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Latest and The Akiru Project




We are now on the week count down, and there happens to be a lot of packing going on. I envisioned writing a blog that would be moving (no pun intended), but my creative juices have been depleted with the move. We are however very excited to get back to our other home, Uganda. God has truly been amazing this past year and I am truly moved (literally....sorry my brain is single minded) by his goodness. Many of you probably received our newsletter, and if you didn't then it either went to your spam, we have an outdated email address, or we don't have your email address at all. You can sign up to receive them to the right (and down) of this post (titled "mailing list"). In case you missed it and wanted to know what my wonderful husband had to say here it is:

In less than 2 weeks, all nine of us Fulks will step onto an airplane on our way back to Uganda. The 18th of September will mark the end of our time here in the states. It has been very healing and refreshing for us all however we are ready to return. Your prayers have been a constant encouragement to us during our time here. As we struggle to fit our lives into 18 pieces of luggage we are reminded that all these things are nothing compared to our heavenly home and we look forward to building up a kingdom in Uganda were moths and rust can not destroy (Matt. 6:19-21). In many ways, things here in America are finished for us. We are saying "bye for now" to friends and family, though "for now" will be 3-4 years for many of you. That is unless you would come to Uganda for your vacation or short-term mission trip while we are there.
 
Our financial support has been increasing, but we still need monthly commitments to meet our budgeted needs in Uganda. We are also asking that you would commit to praying for a specific individual of our family and of course for the Karamojong. If you could support us in both or either of these ways, please visit our website at 
http://followingjesustouganda.com/PartneringWithUs.html
to fill out your information and make your commitment known to us. Financial and prayer donations of any quantity really do aid us in our work, so please don't think any kind of commitment is insignificant.
 
It is exciting for us to be sharing in this ministry with you. We are more aware this time than every before how much you are a part of our lives. Please pray with us and for us as we travel for 2 days to get there and settle in with the family. We will get communication with you back up and running when we can and will write our next newsletter from the great continent of Africa.
 
God bless you all richly,
 
Cody





 I also wanted to get the word out about these great journals and the women behind them!!
Our friends, the Williams, that are serving in Kacheri, among the Karamojong have an amazing project to help extremely vulnerable women. The women make homemade paper, and then journals. This project has provided 8 women incomes, and the best part is that Kristi has been discipling them with some great fruit. You should check out their website (It is pretty awesome!  http://www.theakiruproject.com) and then buy a journal on esty! I have seen these up close and personal and have even seen them in the making. (Even helped myself once) They are beautifully made and would make a wonderful present for any occasion.
Bindings

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Video of the Kids

We have 2 weeks until we leave! Time is flying by. I have been trying to post this video for several weeks but haven't been able to because it was so large. Here it finally is, in its compact form. We made it for the recent fundraiser in hopes that people could get to know our kids more.  The sound is low so you will have to crank it up, or use speakers to hear. Please continue to pray for us during these next few crucial weeks. Pray that we can be productive and accomplish the things needed. Pray for us to raise the rest of our monthly financial and prayer support. Pray that during this time we can have extra patience with the kids during this transitional period.
video