Monday, April 22, 2013

Duty: Part 1

Over the  next few blog posts I want to share with you some of the duties that come with being the Field Ministry Associate in Uganda so you can better understand what exactly I'll be doing for the next 2 years. But first, a story:

As a substitute teacher, I have the joy of working with children of all ages every day. One day I may be working in 9th grade, and the next I may find myself in 3rd grade. It always keeps me on my toes. On one particular day, I was working in a 3rd grade classroom. The teacher I was in for happened to have a student teacher. It was only her second day, but the teacher had left her the plans so I assisted whenever I could. She started the spelling lesson, and at the end she started giving out the spelling list. As she read the words aloud for the students to spell she came to one of the last words. She said, "Number 9 - Duty" which resulted in high pitched giggles. She repeated the word. "Duty." To which they responded with chuckles. The student teacher looked at me puzzled, probably because I too had a smirk on my face. She asked, "Why are they laughing?" And I replied, "Because they're 8 years old and you just said doody...twice."

Wasn't that a nice story? It has very little to do with what I'll be doing in Uganda, and very much to do with the fact that this is a series of blog posts and I want to make sure you're entertaining your inner child whenever you see the post title. Come on, admit it. You know you at least cracked a smile.

I'm going to start with the work that I'm most excited about: working with children.

Since I will be living at a house at Upendo Christian School, I won't have to walk very far to get to work each day. At this time, it's my understanding that I will be working alongside the teachers to help the students improve in their studies. Many of the children are struggling academically and the Headmaster has expressed a need for starting a remedial program at the school. I will be completely honest and say that I have no idea what a remedial program looks like in Uganda, so I have much to learn. But I also hope to be able to bring some of my own experience and knowledge to the table.

 
Upendo just recently opened a nursery school for these youngsters so I hope to spend some time with them, but I will have to make sure I'm well rested because boy do these kids have energy!


Upendo also has a boarding section with kids ranging in age from about 9-18 who stay there 24/7. Many, but not all, of these children are orphaned due to AIDS. So I will have a great opportunity to spend time with these kids having fun, playing games, joking around, helping them with their school work, while also providing important Biblical counseling and guidance, with special care given to the girls.
 



 

So in a nutshell, I'll be doing a whole lot of what I love to do. Of course there will be challenges: cultural differences, language barriers, classroom challenges that go along with great needs and little to no funds, working with children who have been abused, abandoned, and so much more, but I know that the Lord will give me the strength to keep going.

- Aly

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Distractions

One of my favorite things to do is spend time taking photos with my friend Amanda. Since we were in high school we would go outside with our cameras and look for interesting places to take pictures. At first we just started in our own backyard, literally, taking pictures of pine cones and flowers. We would walk around our town paying careful attention to details along the way. We would walk to the creek near our house, hike throug the woods, or chase the sunset. It has been a fun way to hang out, but also became a great way to enjoy God's creation.

We have two bald eagles who have built a nest about a mile from where live. So one morning I text Amanda a bit earlier than she was ready for and told her it was the perfect time for eagle watching. I grabbed my camera, picked her up, and off we went. We happened to catch the eagles sitting on top of the nest which allowed us to track the male when he flew to another tree. We walked a little ways off the road, down a small slope before a large field. There we stood snapping pictures of the eagle, this majestic creature.

 
He was so beautiful to watch. At first he just sat there, ruffled his feathers a bit. He kept looking in our direction which made for some great photos. I was enjoying this quite moment, taking in the sights, enjoying this beautiful creature God created and placed right on this treeline for us to see.

As we sat there watching him, he suddenly took off. We followed him with the camera, snapping shots of him airborne. It was so amazing, until...

A car pulled up, and a guy started asking questions, and we lost the eagle.

Now these eagles have drawn quite a few people to this area to catch a glimpse, so it was no surprise to see cars pull up when we're looking so intently into the treeline. But there was a very strong part of me who wanted to scream, "Thanks a lot! Now we can't take any more pictures of him because you pulled up and started talking to us. Way to ruin the moment!"

Have you ever experienced that? You're in a place of perfect calm. You think to yourself, "Wow, this is amazing." And then something pops up, your kids walk into the room, a coworker interrupts your thoughts, your husband or wife does that thing that they know drives you nuts just to get your attention...or a guy drives up in a car and steals your attention for a fraction of a second and just like that you lose that sense of calm.

As I look back on that whole experience, I realized that I made a huge mistake: condemning the distraction instead of embracing it.

You see sometimes distractions can be a good thing. That day, my greatest mistake wasn't that I lost sight of the eagle, it's that I didn't take the 2 mintues to walk back up the slope to the car and show the person what we were looking at. I instead chose to keep it to myself, complaining in my head that I couldn't enjoy it as much as I wanted.

It made me think of how often I ignore distractions. Kids at school who walk into the classroom I'm working in during my free period and my first thought is to send them off when they might actually need someone to talk to for a minute.

Maybe it's happened to you. There's that one person at work, or even at church, and they drive you nuts. So you try to avoid them or get rid of them as quickly as possible. You're busy doing important things anyway, right? At least that's what you try to convince yourself of. But for the few minutes it would take to say hi and listen to what they have to say, might just make the difference in their life at that moment, because when it's all said and done, no one likes to be brushed off.

There are times in life when distractions are no good for anyone. But it's time to take notice of the distractions in our lives and ask ourselves, is this one of those distractions that I need to make because someone else needs it?

- Aly

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Changing Lives Together

I am just a little less than 3 months away from my target date to be in Uganda, and things are getting busy! Over the past several months I've been visiting various churches to share opportunities to join in the ministry. Roughly translated, that means I've been out asking for money.

It's something every missionary must do in order to survive in the field, but I don't know as though any missionary feels fully comfortable doing so. Asking someone to use their hard-earned money to support work being done halfway around the world that the one giving the money may never see the fruits of, it's not something I take lightly. But it's something that must be done, because when the Lord called me to do this work fresh out of college with only about $300 in my bank account I quickly realized I couldn't do it alone.

I was also quick to realize that I didn't want to do it alone.

My biggest fear when I first began this journey was that since I was going alone, I wouldn't have anyone to experience it with. I think that's a legitimate fear that even missionary families have at times. Missionaries go into the field and do amazing things for God's Kingdom and face incredible trials, but at the end of the day we're still just like anyone else. We want to know that there are other people out there who care about what's going on in our lives.

So when I say I'm spending these last few months leading up to departure raising support, on the outside it may just seem like I'm only looking for money. (Don't get me wrong here, I am in great need of financial support. I figure I'm around 42% of my goal.) But in reality I'm looking for so much more than money. I'm searching for people who are willing to stand with me and experience the ministry along the way. I'm looking for a partnership where we join together with a common goal: to change the world for the better. Because in light of all that's happening in our world today, we all could use a little hope in our lives.

So even though I feel insanely uncomfortable about asking people for money, I also strongly believe in the cause it's going for. I believe that lives are going to be changed. And I believe that God will do amazing things in my life, the lives of those I minister to, and the lives of those who help me out along the way.

If you're one of those people, then I'd urge you to continue follow my blog. Keep reading the stories and as you read, pray and know that we each can do something to change the world one person at a time. If you'd like to find out more about supporting my ministry financially, click the AMG International logo at the top right corner of my blog. Or you can email me at alyhouser@yahoo.com

Join with me and let's change lives together.

- Aly