Saturday, December 31, 2011

We Are Sons and Daughters of The King

In the times of kings and castles there was a clear separation of royalty and everyone else. It was a world of upper-towns and lower-towns with the royalties in the castle looking down over it all.

The people of the upper and lower town made the kingdoms run. Farming, washing, cooking, cleaning, and so much more come from the hands of these “ordinary” people. After watching Merlin, the tv series on how Merlin and King Author became legendary, this separation became event. But, it all so became clear that I am currently living in this kind of world. We all are, just unaware of it.

Most of us think this way of life is extinct but in reality 80% of the world still live this way. It is so hard for the West to think people live like this because of all the comforts and nuances of their 20% of the world lives in the “modern-day.”

Making the move ½ around the world to a place called the Pearl of Africa that still function in a contemporary medieval sociality has echoed, the fact that we all still live in the separation of the middle-ages in one way or another. Let me explain….

Here in Africa people in power are there because they took power by force. Most of them were un-pleased with how these were being done so they made a change. This happens though war, a cue, or political unrest. The Western World has seen this with many Northern African countries in the last year or so. This may seem like the total opposite to kings of the past, power being passed down from generation to generation, but look again. Once someone takes power, here in Africa, they stay in power. If and when they leave that power someday, they pass it along to someone they trust to keep things the way they are. A round about way of doing it but still very much like the kings of old.

These countries run on the backs of the lower class. In fact there in only two classes…. those in power with the ones that want the power some day and those that do not have the power nor will they ever. Farming is done by the lower class. Fishing is done by the lower class. All things that are exported by these countries are created by the lower class, again no different then the days of King Author.

But, that is Africa you say. That is true Africa is very similar to the middle-ages, but so it the West if you look closely and are not blinded by all the “bling.”

Power comes from elections. Some say they are fare and true others say there is bloat rigging and demand a recount. The party that expected the power to be passed down and it was not, is hot enough to start riots in the streets. The only difference is in the West there are police officers that will stop them from doing it. Governors and other political leaders work on deals to keep the power in their hands or if not theirs at least their parties. I fail to see the difference between that and their-world power holders excepting bribes.

The people that hold the Western countries together are the lower class. The ones on the factory lines, working the graveyard shifts, the moms that work three jobs to support her family, and the brave people that live day by day trusting it will all work out some how. Without these people the live style of the West would quickly become existent. They, like the lower class of the old kingdoms, are under valued, over worked, and looked down upon. There might be some perks for theses modern-day lower class servants like union breaks, minim wage, and Medicare but not much else.

After living overseas so many things about my homeland have been made clear. Yes, the West is good and holds many opportunities. But, at the same time it is holding people down and living backwards if you really look at it. Now I am not writing this to say Down With the West. But, more to say to the Christians living in the West take the blinders off. Open your years to the separation and lack of equality in your own country.

I see it daily where I live, it is blatant, never hidden in the dark but it is in the West.

I pray you all have a chance to open your eyes and see how the price of darkness is holding this world in bondage. I also pray that God would give you His eyes to see how the world with all of us in it was created to be. May the power of the Holy Spirit break your bondage to this modern-day slavery we are living in.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Rain +Mud+Walking to Church+9 Children=God’s Love and Purpose

This morning it was raining, quite normal for the rainy season here in Uganda. But, this morning was a little different then most Sunday mornings.

Back Story….

My flat-mate (not the furry four legged one) is a Short-Termer that has been working with children at Dwelling Places. DP, as it is called for short, is a home for children here in Kampala. Many of these children have come for various reasons: orphaned, former street children, poor home environment, and the list goes on. Carolyn, that is her name, has been working on a puppet show with the younger kids at DP for the last few months.

This is no simple show! She is telling the main Bible sorties back to back with conclusion of the gospel! The kids have colored the puppets Carolyn has put together. Everyone has been working very hard on this show and is proud of it, as they should be. The aim of the show was to bring the children together, allow them to be creative (that is why there is a purple zebra on the ark), have them learn about the Bible stories, and to instill self confidence in them for their hard work. This aim was met and the other child and staff at DP loved the show. But God was not done…He had plans for the little show. Carolyn and the kids were asked to come to another local church and perform the show for the Sunday school kids for two services. God clearly wanted to use this show to have His word told to other children in Kampala outside of DP.

Back to Today…

Carolyn invite me to join today. I was excited to see the show and meet the kids she has been talking about. So, last night we made plans to have our boda friend come pick us in the morning and take us to DP to collect the kids. Well you’d you know….it was raining in the morning. We are very use to that this time of year but it does make life hard. We got ready and prayed for it to let up so we could make our way. We hung around the house for a while and then saw our chance and we made a run for it. Our boda friend met us and we were off to get the kids.

Now you must know that is part of Kampala is unpaved. Yes, that is right it is dirt roads and yes, it had been raining. So here are the two of us dressed for church on the back of a boda on muddy roads. Looking good and staying clean is short lived out here. Once we got DP we were greeting by sweet wet kids and we greeted them back just as wet and drippy as they were. In time, nothing is fast here in Africa, we gathered the kids and started walking to get a taxi to the church. Well you’d know there were no taxis at the taxi stage by DP, why would there be?! So, Carolyn, myself, and one DP staff with nine little ones walked down the muddy road to find a taxi at the next stage. By the time we got to the next stage everyone was as wet as could be! But by the grace of God we were able to get a taxi and head to the church…even if we were over an hour late. This is Africa after all.

Once we got to the church we stop on the side of the parking-lot where some rain run-off was flowing. We all took off our shoes and washed our feet, legs, and shoes. We were not about to walk in covered in mud even with our clothes dripping. After we were clean and in the Sunday school room we slowly got ready for the show. First service was ending and we would be all ready for the second one.

It was a blast! The kids were so proud of their puppets. It was a joy for me to be apart of. Yes, I work in the AIM Central Region Office and the work I do is to support others in their ministry...that is what I did today in the rain.

Carolyn did a great job with the show and the kids. It makes me understand my role when I see others thriving in theirs! No matter the role we play we are in this grand show called life. We have the option of going with God’s amazing script or writing our own. God’s is one of peruse and love. To understand His love and then to pour it out on others, even if one is wet and covered in mud!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Images from Mada

Julia and I (way to much fun on a bus!) Marcella and I

Rice patty in Mada

Back from Mada...Madagascar!

Greetings from Uganda,

I am back form Madagascar with a mind full of what needs to be implemented to improved in Central Region's STer Program. The forum was great! We had Ster Coordinators form all of our Receiving Regions (the regions in Africa that get STers), ST Coordinators from our Mobilizing Regions (the office around the world that people go through to get on the field), and our current ST Program Director as well as our new ST Program Director.

It was a blessing to know who I will be working with. More then 50% of the Ster Coordinators are new.....turn over is high in this assignment. This is one reason I feel God calling me to this assignment for a while (more then 2 years). We all were encouraged to see how each region is growing and changing. As well as praying for each region. Many of us feel the role we are in is larger and unsure how to meet all the needs. While we were praying for each region I heard a theme. Everyone asked for prayer because they are new. Being new is hard. Not sure of all that needs to get done, how to get things done, and feeling like you are not doing a good job are some emotions related to being new.

I am right there with them! So, I ask you to join us in prayer. Prayer for us newbies, for the Lord's leading, and for each of the Ster missionaries the Lords puts in our path. Each of us are excited about the role God has lead each of us to but, we are also nervous. I covet your prayers and I know the others do as well.

A note or two about Madagascar:
Lovely country. It was a former French colony. Most people speak Malagasy and some French. There was a coo about three years ago and that is still the current government. The country is somewhat stable but many of the Malagasy people and all the missionaries are praying for a true democratic government. One that is truly voted in by the people.

The Malagasy love their rice! It is eaten with each meal...yes, that is three times day. There is still a strong French influence on the food, homes, and feel of the country. The people of Madagascar are more Indonesian then African. They come form immigrants of Indonesia and have lighter skin, long hair, and stronger Asian features.

I loved hearing the stories of how God is moving in the country from a few AIM missionaries that work on the island. Most are working in the capital city but they are praying for more people to join in what the Lord is doing in more rural areas. Please pray with us as we share in the dream of more and more Malagasy learn of Christ's love and our heavenly Father that created and loves them!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Coming to the end of a wild year....

Hello dear friends, family, and supporters,

This year is quickly coming to an end…. can you believe it? I cannot. Looking back at what the Lord has done during this year is a testament to His goodness, love, and sovereignty!

Less then 12 months ago Fremont, California was home. Now, Kampala, Uganda is home. Within less then a full year God raised support for me to be on the field in Africa full time with AIM. It just speaks to how things move when it is in His timing and will.

It has been a wild ride for most of the year. Adjusting to a new home, language, culture, and way of life is no easy task. But, each step of the way I have seen His hand and faithfulness. There are many hard days but on the other side there are MANY good days too. I have learned that missionaries walk a fine line. One that borders fully trusting in the Lord and fully accepting the unknown daily. As I walk that line I also know that it is because of you all that I am here. God called me to come and serve but God has called you to partner in that. That is a blessing. Truly it is.

Many of you have been asking me how you can bless me during the Holiday Season. It is touching to know you all are thinking of me during this time. There are four ways you can bless me.

Opportunity One: Work funds

Workfunds are used by me for ministry related items. They cover things related to Short-Term trips for visiting the 80 to 100 STers in the Central Region through out the year. Also for hosting traveling missionaries and STers coming thought Kampala. This fund allows me to be reimbursed for these ministry type expenses. If you decide to donate to my workfunds it is a tax deduction through AIM. You can send a check to AIM’s US Office with a note that the funds are for my workfunds.

Opportunity Two: Personal Gift

A personal gift can be sent to AIM’s US Office for me. This can be used any way needed. A holiday spent off the field, extra money for home assignment, a backup battery for my apartment, a meal out every now and then. All of these things are desired but not always possible so any funds given as a personal gift would be a blessing. Please note that this opportunity is not a tax deduction. To give a personal gift, please make your check out to “AIM – Cassandra Luontela.”

Opportunity Three: Air Miles (for any and all airlines)

Flying to and from Africa is not cheap! Gifts of miles would be an enormous blessing. It will help me get to and frrm Africa for Home Assignment, trips to see family before my two year term is up, and help me travel around the US to see supporters. If the gift of miles is the way you would like to go please email me and we can coordinate using them.

Opportunity Four: Donations for my Car Fund

Through AIM I have started a fund to help raise funds for a car. Currently I am taking public around Uganda. That is not a issue unless I am traveling to see the numerous STers all over the country and region. Public can take double to triple the amount of time it would driving in a personal car. Because there are so many STers to visit it would be helpful and a blessing to drive myself there. If you would like to bless me this way you can mail funds to AIM’s US office. The check can be written out to AIM with a note of Cassandra Luontela’s Car Fund on it.

Whatever opportunity you chose I am grateful. It has been one wild ride this year but one I have been blessed to go on. Thank you for all your love and support. May you have a great Holiday Season. Much love in Christ.

Working for His Change in Africa,

Cassandra Luontela

AIM’s US Address:

Cassandra Luontela C/O

Africa Inland Mission
P.O. Box 3611
Peachtree City, GA 30269-7611

Saturday, November 5, 2011

It has been a while from my last update. Things are moving in Uganda…. moving along.

First of all I want to thank you for praying for Hamlet! He is doing much better. Still a little under the weather but loads better then what he was. He and Rhona spent 24hours at clinic because he was hooked up to an iv. The meds that help fight Malaria are best given through iv when it has gotten bad. Understand getting Malarai is like getting a cold out here. Yes, Malaria can be very serous if not treaded but it latterly is like getting a cold. People get it often. There are drugs to help prevent it but most Ugandans cannot afford them. So many use a net, if they can afford that, while they sleep as their number one way to prevent getting it. Thankful, Hamlet is doing much better. Rhona is still thinking of how she can try to prevent the both of them form getting in the future.

It is a joy to see Hamlet doing so well. If he was not he could not join Rhona and I on a road trip to Mbarara. The Shot-Term Coordinator form the US Office is here in Uganda and we all jumped in a car to come down and see some STers we having working in Mbarara! It is a blessing to see them in their places of ministry, visit them in their home, and meet with their team leader. Rhona is also from Mbarara so it has been good to see her home and where she grew up. We are still on our road trip and will head back to Kampala on Sunday. Please pray for safe travels back as well as good times meeting with all the AIM missionaries down here.

Mbarara is not the only trip I Stephanie, the US ST Coordinator, and I will be on while she is in Uganda. On Monday morning we will be off to Tororo to see seven STer girls working at orphanage. Yes, that’s right, seven girls! God is so good and brought more help to SMILE Africa through AIM. We are looking forward to seeing all of them. I will also be working out some housing issues while I am up there. Prayers for those meetings would be a blessing. I am praying all people involved know that God called them to Africa and it is not about being comfortable. It is very hard for some people to give up the things they see as a “need” while working in Africa. God has it all worked out….I am just trusting.

The last bit of news is….Madagascar! I am off to Madagascar on the 15th of this month. All the people that work in Short-Term with AIM will be attending our forum. This happens every two years. I am thrilled and blessed to be starting is assignment at this time and being able to attend. Really, it will be a great four days of meeting people I email daily, brainstorming, learning form each other, and seeing how we can improve the Short-Term Program. Please pray with me for everyone attending the forum. I also will be giving the Central Region update…prayers for that presentation!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Video for The LOOP

My friend runs a ministry in Fremont about learning what your porous is. God created you for is my video about God leading me to my porous in Africa.

Monday, October 31, 2011


Today was a day "off." I joined a friend for a day at a local pool. It was prefect! The whole point was to get away from the office, phone calls, and the normal daily things of my job. The sensory was a blessing! The pool overlooked Lake Victoria. We had a good time chatting, swimming, and enjoying the sun. Of course the phone rang and I it passion for the seeing the Kingdom glorified.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Tired Today/Thankful Today

Today I am very tired. My mind is full, my day is busy, and my to do list is growing. When you face a busy day it is even harder if it is rainy and cool. Yes, even in Uganda there are days that are cool. On my boda ride I had a scarf and a jacket on and was still cold. My Ugandan friends tell me it is TOO COLD.

The day has been a successful and good...but I feel myself dragging! At lunch I was ready to ball up and take a nap in the staff room. By 2:30pm my body was telling me it was 4pm. Now as I type this it is 4pm and I am praying I can make it through till 4:45pm when I start the journey home.

Even with my body crawling along today there have been great joys! Even in this moment I am in the office while all the new STers are sitting on the grounds of the compound learning language. They are chatting with their language helpers, getting to know them, and fumbling over new words and sounds. There is joy in hearing someone push themselves to learn, for this learning is to further the Kingdom.
Thank you Father,
Thank you for all your blessings.
For how you love us and know us better then anyone.
Your eye never leaves us and your hand is always there to guide us.
Each day your love and mercies are new.
Every moment you look at us and say we are Yours.
Thank you is not even but it is all I can say to express my love and gratitude for You, Your Son, and the Holy Spirit you sent to live in us!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Welcome 8!

Today I lead orientation for 8 new Short-Term missionaries. God is SO GOOD! We had a great day....they had great questions. I am so excited to see how God uses them in their places of ministry. Please join me prayer for them as they start language classes. For the next three days they will be learning LAMP (a method to learn language). Ask the Lord to give them grace, mercy, and wisdom.

Monday, October 10, 2011


I was so excited to head one of the markets in Kigali! Yes, I do enjoy shopping but there is something special about heading out to get COLORFUL fabric. Africa is known for its colors. So many people have told me there is something special and wonderful about the colors of Rwandese fabric…and they are so right! Fiona and Cathy (on two different days) took me to a market to get some fabric. The colors are bold, bright, and wonderful! I cannot wait to get to work on making something out of them. One of them is the perfect colors for a duvet cover for my bed. Know I just need to figure out how I will make all these fun fabericy things without a machine…by had? Maybe.


What if God called you? Made it clear, you knew without a shadow of a doubt He was calling. If He called, you answered, and it was not easy how would you react? After pushing through out of love and obedience what if He told you to do it again? Could you walk in faith to do the thing you know is HARD but you are called to?

There is a missionary family is following in faith even when it is hard and sometimes painful. They see that God made has it clear there time where they are is not over. Even with many hardships and frustrations they answer the call through faith; the faith in the One who has called them. With a hearts and minds set on the work of the Kingdom they press on.

Could you do this? Really? If God called, made it clear it would not be a cakewalk would you answer with a YES? This family has been a great encourage! Their faith is so obvious in the calling even when it is not all roses for them! Just spending a few days with them has given me a new perspective and desire to do ALL God is asking of me.

Hope Beads

You all have seen them…those paper bead necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. You all know. The ones that have MADE IN AFRICA on the tag. Well let me tell you, those beads do change lives. It maybe hard to believe but it is true. Paper, varnish, and string changes people’s lives, truly.

I was blessed to join Fiona, an AIM missionary here in Kigali, on her weekly gathering with a group of Rwandans. The group (anywhere form 30 to 40 women and a few men) gather to make paper beads and turn them into jewelry. The products and beads are sold to help the lovely Rwandese workers.

The group is in the middle of changing their council so I did not get to see how the funds are used at this current time. They are looking at how to take the funds and use them in a way they become a recourse for the future and not just for the next meal. There is a role call each week so each worker is marked and will get their part of the profits.

It was a joy to see the ladies and two men working. It was also a joy to meet some of their children. There were four children in total that join their mum’s. Three were little girls and one smart looking (handsome) little boy. I took each one’s photo except one little girl who cried so loud when I came near…she was afraid of the Bazugu (white person). After photos it became clear, I had a new friend. His name is Augustine. He was dressed in his school uniform and sat inaudibly next to him mum as she started to roll of the beads. Augustine may have been shy but that only lasted 10min! He walked over to Fiona and I and made the motion of cutting (Fiona knows much more Kenrwanda and I but he still had not warmed up 100% to us to use his words). We got home some paper and cutters for him to work on cutting. I took a few more photos and then it because clear that Augustine had no intention of being in the photos or cutting, he sought to take photos!

Some might think that something like this is not making a difference; but it is so clear it is. Without Hope Beads Fiona might not have the opportunity to speak into the lives of SO many ladies. If Hope Beads were not around the women could be looking for work and not working. Others might have a job but it most likely does not pay enough, because of Hope Beads more bills and School Fees are paid. So, YES paper, string, and varnish have a positive change on peoples lives and hearts!!!!

Hello Rwanda!

On the 6th of Oct I landed in Rwanda. Once I got my bag and took the short trip through immigration (if you are an American you do not need to get a visa ….so nice and so rarer in Africa) I found the lovely lady that was meeting me. As we left the airport I had to take a double take! Gently I reminded myself that I was still in Africa. The streets were free form rubbish (for you that speak American that is the word for garbage). There were signals that worked! Know as I reflect on of what I just wrote you must have an awful picture of African countries, trash everywhere and madness on the roads. Well, that is true to some extant. Once you get use to life in Africa you see the beauty that is all around. The people. The culture. The colors! But, there is something different about Rwanda.

Everyone knows about the genocide that took place in 1994. It was horrific. Thousands upon thousands of Rwandans lost their lives. It was all about stomping out the “cockroaches” a.k.a the Toosie tribe. People were so convicted to do this they literally stomp on the Toosies! One of my missionary friends here has a house lady who personally knows that this stomping looks like. During that awful time her mother was stomped on. Not a kick; it was a littoral stomp on her back. Just like you do to cockroaches. Still to this day she has kidney problems because of where they stomped on her back. Currently she in the hospital and it does not look good.

That is the dark side of Rwanda that everyone knows but, I have discovered a wonderful part of this country! Something many don’t know about or even get to see. There is hope here in Rwanda. People are making change and trying (not 100% but there is more of an effort than ever before) to change what happened between Rwandans. The government is better (just like any it has some issues too). The city is clean. Roads are well made. People are trying to do what they can to live and thrive. Yes, there are people without food, a home, a job, and health care. But this country has come a long way. Less then 10 year ago bodies were stung along the streets. Rwandese were killing Rwandese.

There is hope here. There are people seeing that change must come or Rwanda will never move forward. There are missionaries that are coming along side Rwandans to give encouragement, support, and the LOVE of Christ. It may be an up hill battle at times but there are people that are willing to climb!!!!!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Reality of Life in Africa

Death is a part of life. We all know at some point, at a God directed point, our lungs will no longer be filled with air and our heart will stop beating.

All of us learned this lesson because of the lose of someone we loved. Maybe a grandparent, a parent, or even a child; never the less it hurts. It is like wound that only heals half way. Every now and then it feels fresh and just as painful as day one. Then there are other days when you can go on with life and hardly notice the pain.

If we all know this, then death should not come a huge surprise, right?! Maybe for some but for the ones living in Africa it is daily surprise. Let me tell you how I have come to this mathematical equation.....

Africa+Death=Daily Life The West+Death=Seasons of Life

In the West you have numerous many ways to prolong life, no matter the quality it maybe. Life is still life. Air in the lungs still and the heart still beats. So when death does come it is not out of the blue (in most cases. I know there are times it is out of the blue.) Here in Africa it is more often then not, out of the blue! Just these last two months I have learned that. In two months I have know of two people (one very dear to me) who's lungs were drained of air and heart that just stopped cold.

One of these dear souls was a friend of mine in Kenya. He worked for a missionary and was beaten to death near the home he worked in. The details are still fuzzy for me but all I know is that he was living and breathing one moment and then he struggled for breath as he was beaten and then air forever left his lungs.

The second was a brother of one of the boda boda guys I have become friends with. Q is always read to pick me and take me where I need to go. Always full of smiles and jokes. The other day I was told by my neighbor that Q's bother died. He was killed in "mob justice." Here in Africa that still happens. People are upset and they take matters into their own hands. Because of their anger and lack of self-control my friend's bother..his heart stopped beating.

Are these stories normal in The West? No, I don't think so. No, I know so! My heart grieves for any life lost. For someone that has been ill for years, for the young woman who is seen as "used" in the eyes of her traffickers, for the man walking to work and beaten for being at the wrong place at the wrong time; my heart aches!

Sadly, living in Africa means my heart is aching all the time. Death is daily. As painful as it is proof. Proof the Word of God is needed more now then ever! How could I hold my tongue from sharing the eternal gift of life that comes form the lover and maker of our souls? That is why I am here! I can't be silent! Can you?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Day In The City

I was blessed to join my friends and their family for a town outing on Saturday. I meet this sweet family at ABO in July. The Nalls were a blessing during the time at ABO. Three weeks of training, cross culture lectures, and classes on spiritual warfare takes it toll on you! The Nalls kept me laughing! We had some fun adventures in to Machaos town, roll on the floor moments in class, and great late nigh chats in the halls of our dormitory.

At the end of ABO I had to say goodbye to so many good friends. They were heading out to their area of ministry all over Africa. I was so thankful to not have to say goodbye to my sweet friends, the Nalls! There are working right here in Kampala! Charlie, the husband, will be teaching at a Bible collage called KEST. Tyra, the lovely wife, will be working with member care and other counseling ministries. Their three children are attending a school just down the road from their home. It is a gift to be here with people who understand your call, because they are called as well, and have made it through ABO with you. This way someone will laugh when you make an ABO joke. :) Photo of Kampala Traffic!!

Saturday we got together. The six of us piled into their landcruser (number one car out here...the roads are not the best!) and headed into Kampala. We planed on going to a local museum and lunch. On the way through the thick Kampala traffic we all agreed we should eat first. So the gang and I head to a cafe. The food was good, the company was great, and then it rained! Hope you all know what I mean when I make a reference to rain. This city comes to a complete stop when it rains. So needless to say we never made it to the museum! (woo hoo, another reason to hangout with the Nall family AGAIN!)
The Nall KidsEven with the day ending up rained out it was still good! Spending time with people you love and are also called to further the Kingdom is priceless! It was also a great time to be poured into. Tyra is a sweet friend! Just being with her makes me smile. The two of us were able to chat and encourage one another on this outing. Encouragement is so key when working in ministry 24/7.

Back home we set time aside for rest and encouragement. Out here, you can try to set time aside but that does not always mean you will be able to rest. Relationships are ministry out here........walking to work, getting lunch, and even just being in your home is an opportunity for ministry. So this is why getting out every now and then is so important. This is why I am so thankful for my day out with the Nall family!

This Photo was taken at the shopping center we had lunch at......TONS of rain!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Get Ready.......Get Set.......

Go, to the embassy! Tomorrow morning I am off to the US embassy to get more pages in my passport. I have only heard good things about the US embassy....lets see how rave these reviews are. Please be praying for a great and productive time at the government office here in Kampala. Has anyone ever had a great time at a governmental office?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Best Way to Start the Morning....

So I have found the best way to start any morning. It is not a cup of coffee or tea, that is just an added bounce! The way to start a day is by taking a boda boda drive!

Many of you have been asking what is a boda boda so, let me explain. A boda is a motorcycle taxi. It is my number one mode of transport out here. There are a handful of boda guys I have gotten to know. They are great at what they do and have become like big brothers to me. They ask me how my day was. Answer any question I have about language and culture. They also have the roads of Kampala and the surrounding areas memorized!

There is one diver, Q, that is just a joy to ride with. This morning he picked me up at my flat and drove me to my AM meeting (near my office). Each time he sees me he has a big smile on his face! Today he went the back way to the office. There is a main road right next to my home that takes about 15 minutes to get to the AIM CR Office. Thankfully today he went on the back roads. They take a little longer, have more pot-hole, and connect to the main road further on up. Why am I so excited about a few extra minutes on a boda in the morning? Let me explain why.....

It is all about what I get to see, smell, and soak-up! The back roads are like life lines to all the small communities tucked back in the hills by my home. Everyone is going somewhere in the morning. I see little ones all dressed in their school uniforms walking off to class. There are women setting up their shops on the side of the road. The smell of casava cooking fills sections of the road. Other boda men are picking passengers and taking them where they need to go. The most enjoyable thing I see and hear is CHILDREN!

There are some areas of the road that have open fields. Even in the early morning you can hear and see little ones (some have to be no more then 2 years old) running and playing with their friends. They are laughing, singing, shouting, and chatting away. They use the most ordinary things to create toys! A old tire, some sticks, a flat ball, rocks, anything and everything they find around them!

Really, what could be better then seeing the joy of children playing to kick off your day? In my mind NOTHING!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A Dish I Love Here in Uganda!

So I have fallen in love with a new dish! It is not a Ugandan dish but one that is easy to cook out here. You see I am learning how important EASY meals are. I have to make everything from scratch. No more just pop it in the microwave or go get some take-out. Now it is think about what you want to eat, see what it takes to make it, see if you can get the ingredients, and how on earth you are going to cook it.

This is one dish I found I can make and have for lunches in the office, yes even here in Africa I need to pack a lunch. It is easy and fast....two thing you rarely same in the same sentence here in Africa.

Curry Veg Couscous

1 to 2 servings of couscous (all depends on how much you are making)
1/2 of a cucumber
1 carrot
Curry Powder
Coriander Powder
Salt and Pepper

Cook the couscous and let cool. While it is cooling you can peel and dice you cucumber. Peel you carrot as well. You can cut it into small bite size pieces or (I prefer) to peel it right into the dish. Add curry, coriander, salt, and pepper to taste. You can make the dish and divide it into small portable containers.

Works great for a fast lunch or dinner. Also for you all in the states it would fabulous for a pot-luck you forgot about. Nothing like a fast, easy, healthy dish!Hope you all enjoy!

Narnia or Jesus Film?

Today was a great day! Started off rainy but then became the most lovely Uganda day! While I was trying to heat up some water I learned we were out of gas for our stove. We really need to get more gas but it was raining. If you have not heard about life in Uganda and rain let me fill you in.....

When it rains out here life comes to a stop! Taxis don't run, bodas find a place to wait it out, and people just wait. Wait for it to stop raining. I was blessed to wait it out in my flat! While waiting it out my neighbor invited me over for coffee (if you have not caught on us missionaries drink a lot of coffee and tea!). We had a great time chatting. It was really our first opportunity to get to know each other. Yes, I have been living here for almost two months but we are both busy ladies! After enjoy morning together I decided to try to get some gas....after all I did want to be able to cook something at some point today.

So, I set of to town with my friend and boda driver Emma. He was great. Got me in and round town EVEN with Starday traffic! I got to the store (not the gas store the other store) and I got a few things and then got really inspired! lets just say my living room has a new coat of paint! Well, almost all of it does. I am a little to short to reach up top so I will have to work that our some how. But wait I am not writing about paint! Or gas for the stove! It is about the film Narnia!

You know Narnia, that is right the great movie that was first a book by C.S. Lewis! While painting my living-room I put in the movie because some how we had power! YES POWER (sorry but I get excited when we have power for more then 12 hours at a time!)!!!! Any way. As I was watching and painting I really saw the story of Christ in it. I know I know C.S. Lewis is a Christan and wrote it in a way that shows the story of Christ. Something this time really made me see it AND feel it. Maye it is living in a place that is so in slaved to darkness. Or the fact that everyone out here believes in the spiritual world but yet, still do not know the one true God.

Lets just say I had a thought...while watching and painting ( am good a doing many things at the same time). What would happen if missionaries or any Christian would start showing Narnia instead of the Jesus film? Please don't take it the wrong way...the Jesus film is powerful and has changed MANY lives. But, what if people saw the story of Christ in a way that moved them, made them want to watch, and for those who are more "closed minded" didn't even know it was the story of Christ. People today are so passive. Whatever works for you is okay as along as whatever works for me is okay with you. COME ON PEOPLE! That way of thinking and living is only more reason to start showing Narnia!

So, I am just saying Narnia or Jesus Film?

New Flatmate

Some of you know that I have a flatmate. She is working in Kampala until Dec. It is a great joy to have someone so me the ropes of life out here. But two weeks ago we welcomed another flatmate in! Mallymkun or Mally for short is the newest resident of the Naja flats. She is full of energy. Loves to sleep often. Enjoys fish and running around the flat until she passes out. Can you guess who/what she is? Let me help you out!

Mally and I in the kitchen cooking up some grub!

Mally was gift to me form my home-stay family. They live just up the road form our flat. They are so great! While I was with them I got to learn about Ugandan culture and language. They have even adopted me. I get calls weekly form them, calling to check in on me. While they live just up the road it is like they are with me because of this CRAZY fun gift, Mally.

Weekend Away

This past weekend (yes, I am a little slow on posting this, sorry!) I went to the Kampala Unit Retreat. Sounds so formal and big but, really it was just a time for all the missionaries (full-term and short-term) to come together and have a weekend of refreshment! Trust me, we all needed it!

My Little Bungalow for the Retreat

The Kampala Unit is made up of many ladies and three families. One of the families was still on home assignment so I did not get to meet the, someday soon I hope. Some of the unite is new, just like me. Fresh off the plane! No joke. We had a lady join us that just flew in.

As most retreats go there was time for lessons, prayer, games, and of course FREE TIME! The three days were so enjoyable. For me it was a great time to get to know people and see what God is doing in the unit, big picture! It was also a time for me to learn more about why God has called me out here. I am sure you are all thinking "she moved out there to show the love of God to people in Africa." Yes, I did but let me explain.

AIM has missionaries all over Africa. They have MANY missionaries all over Africa. People that pour their lives out for the Africa people. Give of their time, food, money, emotional support, physical support, and so much more. 24/7 the door is open and they are loving on people. But, who is loving on them? Really I know people back home are sending care-packages and cares. Supporters send in their money monthly. But honestly, who is loving on these people each day form where they are?

Something moved in my spirit once I saw the need; just like it did when I learned of the need in Africa. But there was something different about this move. Something I really could relate with. Something I knew I was being asked to do. Something like LOVE on and minister to the missionaries who are around me. Crazy idea.....right?

No, not crazy! It is a Jesus thing. As he went from town to town, city to city people cared for him. His own disciples cared for him. As he healed people were there making sure he had food and a place to stay. It might not have been big and fancy but never the less his human needs were meet.

That is something God is calling me to do. Meet the human needs of the lovely missionaries around me. If you know me, you know I love to give gifts, write notes, sit and chat over tea and or coffee, and be with people. So while at the retreat it was clear God has called me to Uganda to help get more people out here working in the Central Region AND to love and encourage my missionary family working along side of me.

Maybe while you were reading this your heart felt moved. I want to encourage you to LOVE on those around you. It is not as hard as you think. Make a batch of cookies and pass it on. Ask someone if they would like a coffee too, as you get a Starbucks for yourself. Really just think of what you would enjoy someone doing for you....and do it for someone else.

"Ephesians 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."

If you would like to help with the LOVING (loving on a missionary ministry) please contact me. I would love to get some support and ideas as I get started. Just add a comment below telling me you would like more info!

Things I Have Seen

Last Saturday marked one month of living in Africa. The month past so fast! It has not been a cake walk but, through faith and grace I have made it through. Along the way....I have seen some things. Here is a list of some of the things. Some of the things you can see almost everywhere and others are just a part of life in Africa.

Things I have seen...

-The president's motorcade (twice)

-Cows causing traffic jams

-Children playing with old tires and sticks (the classic African photo)

-Loads of UN and WHO cars

-Moms holding little ones as they ride Bodas

-Birds that sound like monkeys

-A Ugandan wedding

-The Nile River

- School kids in their uniforms walking to and from schools

-Dads holding the baby as mom rests

-People hand washing their clothes on a Saturday morning

-Friends laughing as they walk down the street


Today is 9/11. Living overseas means one must read the US embassy notices. Advised to stay low today. So after church I did some work around the me time to think.

9/11 is very hard for many in the US. Hearts are hurting today, remembering the ones they lost on that horrifying day. I remember where I was on when it all happened, driving to high school. As I drove I just could not stop listening to the radio. My ears could not fully process what they were hearing. Once I got to school I stayed in my car, kept listening. When I finally went to class everyone was talking about it and many were in tears. Thankfully our English teacher, Miss. Mac, had us all stop and pray for a while. Some how in the confusion, news reports, and photos for those few minutes felt peaceful. The peaceful feeling of the Lord near.

Looking back, my memories and feelings of that day made me think of my new neighbors. We all have heard stories of Africa. Stories of pain, death, war, genocide, famine and more. It is true this place has seen bloodshed and pain. Many are still graving. Hundreds are in the mist of hardship right now! We in the West tend to hold on to the moments of pain and mark the passing. Looking at it I see it because seldom the West goes through these kinds of events.

For us it is not a daily struggle. We are not running into buildings praying the bombs miss us. We do not walk hundreds of miles to get water and pray we do not meet any rebels on the way. When we get a cough or fever, the first thought in our mind is not Malaria. We do not hear footsteps at night while hiding in the corner telling ourselves the LAR are not in the village.
So, when something like 9/11 happens of course it is devastating. It makes sense the world would come to a halt for us. As you take a moment and pray for everyone effected by 9/11 today...could also say a prayer for everyone in Africa? For all my friends and neighbors still living their 9/11.

Welcome to my new world!

Here are some photos of my new world!

My living-room

After you pass through the living-room you enter the kitchen.....

The work in progress kitchen

After the kitchen we have my colorful bedroom (there are 2 more but they are not close to being done yet)....

The Robbin Egg Blue Room

As things get done and the house looks more and more like a home I will post it for you all to see. The flat may need some TLC but Uganda itself if a beautiful place!

The Nile River

The scenery is lovely and so are the people I am meeting!

Rhona, Heather, and I

There are the lovely ladies I have been blessed to get to know! Heather and her husband are here for a year or so. He is working as a pilot at a local airstrip. Rhona is a great lady that will be helping me in me in the office and my language! This was taken on our trip to East Uganda to see some short-term staff.

Hope you all enjoyed reading a little and seeing a glimpse into my new world!

Things I Have Learned

For almost a month now I have been living in Africa. Thinking of living in Africa and living in Africa are two different thing. Here are some things I have learned while adjusting to live on this diverse continent.

(1-10 I have learned while at ABO and at my Ugandan Home-Stay)

1. Lose your watch! (time is spent on BEING out here and not doing)

2. Dirt is everywhere….and always on you.

3. Learned a few words of Luganda while making roses made out of icing. (my home-stay was at a home of a family that has a cake making business)

4. Things are different out here. VERY different.

5. People here always smile (even while walking down the street)

6. With a little paint and love ANY place can look like home.

7. No matter how prepared you are you are never really prepared to move overseas.

8. God brings friends just at the right time.

9. Everyday I do or say something wrong….and laugh at myself.

10. Grace has a whole new meaning!!!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

There Are Cameras On Us At All Times!

Rugby is said to be a hooligan's sport played by gentleman. If you have ever watched a match then you know this saying is true. There is nothing like a match....hearts pounding, bones aching, blood and sweat on the pitch while eager on-lookers chat for their team.

There is a newer movie out about a rugby team, the South African Springbucks. Invictus shows the teams unforgettable season leading up to the Rugby World Cup. The team's story is an inspiring one, but South Africa as a whole during that time was writing history. Rugby played a part and the movie so moving depicts the role it played.

While watch it today (for 100th time) a clip knocked me in the heart and gut. I have seen it many times. But there was something different. Something. The team is told they will be doing a whole bunch of rugby coaching clinics all over the country (mainly is poor townships) to help change the team's image. This PR campaign came the hight person (A.K.A M. Mandela). All but the team's caption were upset. "We have no time." "How can they tell us to play our best and have us do this too?" "What a bloody joke." With discounted hearts they were off to their first stop. They got off the bus and the caption so lovingly reminded the players "there are cameras on us at all times."

The next thing they know they are rushed by a group of Black South African children chanting at the top of their lungs....."Chester, Chester, Chester!" Chester is the soul Black South African. on the team. The rest of the team saw the children's joyous response to having Chester in their pitch and they too were all smiling soon. The rest of the clip shows how they taught the group the rules of rugby while falling in love with little dirty faces they are beaming with smiles from ear to ear.

As the team got back on the bus and rest of the movie played out I could not help but daydream about that emotionally moving clip. To many times my grumpy heart does what it is told and in the process gets a large helping of humble pie. Also I can not shake the words of the caption "there are cameras on us at all times." Their are people daily even hourly watching every move I make. Trying to see if there is something different about me or am I just like all those other "Christians."

I hope they see something different. I pray God touches my heart when it becomes grumpy.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Laughs, Crosswalks, and Memories

Do you have one of those people that gets you? They can make you pee your pants laughing just by looking at you? I do. I have been blessed with many! But today there was a great moment with a dear friend on our lunch break. We both walked across the street to pick up some lunch.

As the two of us were walking she just looks at me. Within a second we both are cracking up! The kind where you can't matter what you do you just keep on laughing. There is nothing super stressful about today but something so freeing was in those few moments. I felt my soul smile (yes as cheesy as it sounds) and my spirit lift. When we came back to work we were still smiling...that is a great way to start the second half of your day!

(To my sweet friend that shared this adventure with me.....THANK YOU! You are a blessing in my life. I pray you are blessed a tenth of what you have blessed me with! XOXOXOX)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Wavin' Flag

There is a sweet four year old in my house that LOVES K'naan's song Wavin' Flag. Whenever he hears the song he dances and sings. No matter what language the version is in he is signing along. I have even heard him signing it when he was suppose to be heart was overjoyed.

Today I got an email with a link to a new version of the song. This version was made to show support for Haiti. The words are powerful and I found tears forming as they sang. The video was also paired with moving photos. It painted the perspective of what has been done and how much more is needed.

Haiti is not the only places that could be spotlighted by powerful words of this song. So many countries are in the same place. Their people are struggling, wondering where their next meal is coming from. Someday they dream of being strong and make some changes to help the ones around them. Strong just like a wavin' flag. As your eyes take in the photos and you hear the powerful words may you see what could be instead of how the world is.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Green With Envy

Today while driving to work my eyes got a glimpse of hills of the East Bay. Our hills are so (tried to find another word and I got nothing) pretty. The downpour of rain we have had for the last week(ish) has helped. But when the rain passes and the warm weather comes the lovely green will fade and the East Bay will be graced with stunning shades of brown.

While thinking of how the colors will change I also started to think about Kampala. A few people have told me that the city is resting on green hills. When I think of green hills I think of Ireland. Sheep and old stone castles. Yes, Kampala most likely does not have the sheep and castles but they apparently have the green hills. (Am I know only one that hears Celtic music?)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Becoming Reality

I am currently siting in my room. The sweet sounds of the Baby Shower happening in the living room is all around. When I hear the laughs I find myself smiling. I also feel sadness. The fact that after a few more months I will be missing all Life Moments is starting to hit me. Yes I can call, text, email, and even SKYPE while in Africa. But it is just not same. This is become a reality for me.

There is no doubt that God is calling me to go. I am even excited to go. But deep inside of me there is a part that is starting to feel the lose of being so far away. These are just my thoughts and feelings. Thanks to all the missionaries I have spoken with about heading out these feelings do not surprise me. They told me they would come. They also said when the feelings come I should feel them. Not brush them aside. Not dwell them but allow myself to feel them. So that is what I am doing. Prayers are welcomed right now.

Paperwork and Vaccinations

This last week has been a busy one! AIM had a list of things I needed to get, filled
out, and mail for all my African paperwork. There were things for my entry visas, work permit, and health forms. While standing in line to mail them all out on Tuesday my heart was racing. I just kept thinking..."This is really happening." "God you are calling and I am going." "Wow! This has been a passion/dream for so long...can this really be happening?"

After a few minutes all the compiled paperwork was mailed out! My heart was racing even faster and my spirit felt a rush. All the questions and thoughts I had while in line were answered..."Yes my daughter. Yes."

Also this week I got some of my needed vaccinations. It was not a fun way to celebrate my birthday but it was needed. The travel nurse was very nice and we had a good time....the best time you can have while sticking someone with needles and being the person stuck. There was only three shots this time but I have to go back next week for one more. Finding the time and ability to sit there and get the vaccines is all God.

Daily and sometimes even hourly I can see how He's hands are covering me. Also I am so thankful for all the loved ones helping and encouraging me. During this time of preparing to go would not be possible without all of your support. I am so blessed to have you all in my life.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mouth Watering Tagine

Here is the yummy mouth watering recipe of Tagine. It is a traditional African dish. Hope you enjoy it.

1 Teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 Teaspoon turmeric
1/2 Teaspoon black pepper
1 1/4 Teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons plus 1/4 cup of olive oil
1 (3-lb) chicken, cut into 6 pieces, wings and backbone discarded (beasts work well too)
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium red onion, halved, then sliced 1/4inch thick
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 sprigs fresh cilantro
5 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 cups water
2 Tablespoons mild honey
1 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
1/2 cup dried Turkish apricots, separated into halves
1/3 cup whole blanched almonds

Needed Tools:
a 10 to 12-inch tangine or heavy skillet
kitchen string

Stir together ground cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, pepper, 1teaspoon salt, and 2sablespoons oil in large bowl. Add chicken and turn to coat well.

Heat butter and 1tablespoon oil in base of skillet, uncovered, over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then brown half of chicken, skin side down, turning over once, 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer to plate. Brown the remaining chicken in the same manner, adding any spice mix left in bowl.

Add onion and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to tagine and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, until soft, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Tie cilantro and parsley into a bundle with kitchen string and add to tagine along with 1/2 cup water, chicken, and any juices accumulated on plate. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 30 minutes.

While chicken cooks, bring honey, remaining cup of water, cinnamon stick(s), and apricots to a boil in a 1 to 2 quart heavy saucepan, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until apricots are very tender (add more water if necessary). Once apricots are tender, simmer until liquid is reduced to a glaze, 10 to 15 minutes.

While apricots cook, heat remaining 1/4 cup oil in a small skillet over moderate heat and cook almonds, stirring occasionally, until just golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer with slotted spoon to paper towel to drain.

Ten minutes before chicken is done, add apricot mixture to tagine. Discard herbs and cinnamon stick, then serve chicken sprinkled with almonds on top. ENJOY!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Where the Lord Leads...

What a week! Candidate Week is over…just as fast as it started. The week was great, full of sessions, workshops, meetings, and making new friends. Being surrounded by like-minded people was a great blessing. All believers have a bond with one another but there is a one-of-a-kind bond with missionaries. All of us are looking at going onto the field, have a calling over our lives that pushed us, and a love of the unexpected. This bond is unlike anything I have ever been apart of.
With how the week ended I can say I am fully appointed under Africa Inland Mission. (If you could see me you would see a smile from ear to ear and a heart that is OVERJOYED!) Yes there were moments of fear and unrest about how it would all end but…God knew. He knew that there was a need for a Short-Term Coordinator in the Central Region. He knew that a KEY person in the Central Region Office would be stopping by the US Office for one day this week. He already knew a time to sit and chat with that person was going to happen. He knew my heart was being pulled to an area that needs workers and that 5 unites (families, couples, and singles) from Candidate Week would be heading to! Lastly He knew I was going to appointed with AIM!
All in all it was an amazing week. One I will never forget. One that also leads me to Kampala, Uganda! I am so excited to work as the Short-Term Coordinator for The Central Region. The job is one that places me in a city working along side other AIM administers. The whole point of my job is to help the region get short-term people on the field. The region covers 6 Central African Countries encompassing: Uganda, Rwanda, Chad, South Sudan, ARC, and DRC. All the areas are working at bringing Christ-centered Churches among all African Peoples.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

I made it!

Currently I am sitting on my bed at the AIM US Office! I am enjoying some apple slices and settling into the room while rocking out to JJ Heller. :) Even as I sit is so hard to believe that I am here!

It has been years in the making for this one week. God is soooooo good! However I wont lie. It is going to be very hard not seeing my 10 little owls tomorrow morning. But little do they know they will have a treat in their cubbies from me TOMORROW!

So here is the anticipated week. Your prayers are still welcomed. As the week goes on I will post about what I am learning, who I am meeting (there a great group of staff and candidates), and how God is moving.

Thank you all for your love and support. There is NO way God would have lead me here without all of you at home in the Bay! Love you all!

Monday, February 21, 2011

3:10am, no sleep, and my orange bag!

The day has come! I am sitting in the San Jose Airport waiting for my first flight. Some how I got up one time at 3:30am took a shower and was ALMOST ready when my ride come to get me. My orange bag is checked in and going all the way to Newark Airport while I get to enjoy 2 flights. While checking in I over hear people talking about how their flights were growned due to bad weather! As I sit here I am praying against any weather or ANYTHING the enemy would like to hit me with on this day of travel.

Yesterday was a blessing at church. I was called up to be prayed over and it was so SPIRIT-filled! It was a great moment and one that God used to speak to me. This week will life changing! As excited as I am I am SO nervous. Please pray! I will keep you all posted once I touch down.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Few Weeks Away...

Hello Family and Friends,
A few weeks left till I am off to New York for Africa Inland Mission's Candidate Week. Things are coming together....but the "do get done" list is still long. Your prayers at this time would be a blessing.

This month is a short one for work and we are doing assessments so time is never enough. Also prayers for my sub would be great. She is a sweet and very skilled but with subbing there is always surprises.

Personal my health is not the best. For the last few weeks I have been sick with something that is just not going away. Wednesday I have an appointment to see the before I leave would be a great answer to prayer!

Lastly my spirit is getting nervous! Walking is God's will is always scary and exciting. I am asking God to calm my spirit and help it be open to what He has next for me. Thank you fort all your support and prayers.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sweet Jerk Chicken Wraps

Hunger and wanting something healthy I tried a new idea I had. The idea included chicken, a yellow pepper, coconut oil, soy-sauce, and spices. The end result is WOW! It was easy, tasty, and thrifty. If you are never needing a fast yummy dish give it a try!

Sweet Jerk Chicken Wraps
1 chicken breast
3 to 4 tlbs of melted coconut oil
1/2 tsp muster powered
1 tlbs brown sugar
2 tlbs soy sauce
1 Yellow Pepper
Lettuce for wraps

-Thaw and cut the chicken into small chunks
-Melt coconut oil and add all other spices
-Marinade chicken in the coconut oil mixture in a bag for a few hours
-Heat frying pan and cook chicken (the oil in the mix is enough no extra for the pan needed)
-While cooking add Jamaican Jerk to chicken (enough to cover a all chicken lightly)
-Cut pepper into strips and add to the chicken

Use whatever lettuce you like best: roman, ice burg, butter

Add chicken and peppers on lettuce and ENJOY!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Christmas Blessings

(one of my biggest blessing, my grandmother)
The Holidays have come and we are all looking forward to the new year. Truthfully I am thankful the holidays are over. So much running around, parties to attend, and living in a world that has forgotten the real meaning of the season. But I can not start 2011 without looking at the last few weeks of 2010.

For the Luontela family we like spend time at home. Quite and peaceful. We had a great time together for the holidays and it was one that I will hold near and dear with God calling me overseas. I am so blessed to have had two weeks with my family. It was low-key but just what I needed, even if I did not know it. There was time of laughter, deep talks, and learning how to living all together again.

I hope you all were able to enjoy the time and see the blessings God gave us over 2010. As 2011 starts I know the Lord is working in our lives in marvelous ways. Blessings to you and yours for 2011!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Less of Me More of You For 2011

Welcoming 2011 in was very low key at my family's. My Grandmother went to sleep at 8pm followed by my dad around 10pm. I soon toddled off around 11:20pm with eyes that could just not stay open anymore. I believe the only one that made it until 12am was my mom and the surrounding neighbors with their fireworks. It is so clear that we are a party family.

For the first day of the New Year I stayed in my PJs. Not really being lazy but more of starting the New Year off with a relaxed feel. My Grandmother and I had fun watching the Rose Parade. Afterwards I had some time to think about what is unfolding in 2011. There is a lot coming and many changes! Many are exciting and others are nerve racking. But there is a theme I want to thread into the patchwork of the New Year. Something that is unlike anything else on my to do list, something that is so simple, and something that makes you work harder then you ever thought. Waving in and out of 2011 in my heart and mind is crazy, reckless, and unwavering LOVE.

We all know the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all your heart AND to love your neighbor as yourself. Knowing and doing are two different things! This year I feel God calling me to push myself to really follow in the steps of Christ. My spirit knows there will come some easy days in LOVE and some that are just hard. But without the hard things in life we never know how strong God makes us and without the easy days we would forget how SWEET He is to us. Because, I will push myself to live I will learn a lot about me and my relationship with God but the strong undertow that comes with LOVE it that it is contagious. Deep in my heart I believe that Revolutionary Love can CHANGE this word.

Just think of the possibilities. People loving their neighbor as themselves...heart by heart, city street by city street, hearts and lives could be changed! Just thinking about the possibility I can see what Christ had in mind when He gave the commandment. There is no doubt that it is not easy, we have wavered far off course, and our natural nature does not like it. But I am called to love, we are called to love. So as easy or hard it may be day to day I seek to weave LOVE (not for myself) in and out of every aspect of 2011.