Saturday, November 12, 2016
Since September, I am no longer a home school mom. Before now, my time was filled with being behind on this and being behind on that. It was a constant toss up of priorities. Are we nearly out of underwear yet? If not, laundry can wait. Does someone need something from me to meet a personal deadline? If so, top of the list. Do we have bread for lunch and a plan for supper? Check. During my prayer time, did God prompt me with someone in particular to reach out to? Again, top of the list. Do we still have cups to drink out of and plates to eat off of? Do the dishes later. Oh, wait! Is school ready and planned for the day? Check. It was a constant balancing act in which no job ever seemed 'done.' Gone were the days of scrap-booking, reading a leisure book or simple relaxation. I never felt like I was done enough to ever truly enjoy things like that for myself. The only relaxation time was in the evening with whatever the family decided to do. Time with friends was reduced mostly to those whom God had put on my heart for the day or week. Instead, I was simply Mom, Wife, Secretary/Treasurer for Global Outreach, Home school Teacher, Taxi Driver, etc. It is amazing how removing just 'one' of those titles freed up some of my time. That having been said, I am still in this transitionary state. I have committed to not say 'yes' to anything new until I have my long to do list reduced, at least some. Many things have been neglected, at home especially, for far too long. To be honest, operating in this mode for literally years now has taken its toll on me. Slowing down recently has become my life-line. I just didn't realize it until God dumped it in my lap, so to speak, when He provided for our youngest child to attend a local expat school this year, along with the other two boys in boarding school and our daughter in college. When we went to some training for counseling and member care recently, it became very apparent my own lack of self-care. Here I was concerned for how to help everyone else care well for themselves, but I had neglected my own. Then this week I got sick, some kind of stomach bug. It slowed me down even further. As we are anticipating a trip to South Africa in just about a week's time, my thoughts began to shift to what needs to be done for that. But suddenly I no longer 'felt' like doing anything. With Bob not feeling up to par (having side effects from the high medication dosage he is on for anti-arrhythmia), that left no one but me to do things around the house or even run errands and do taxi rides for Josiah. I believe God is trying to get my attention and perhaps has been for some time now. How do I prioritize my time? Is it by the tyranny of the urgent? Is it merely by what I 'feel' like doing? Is it actually other people's priorities apart from my own? Or is it His priorities that He is calling me to? The last few years, I have asked God to give me a catch phrase to hang onto for the year, a sort of theme, if you will. This year's theme has been "Extend Grace." In extending grace, I thought He wanted me to concentrate on others. And I believe He did, but now I also see Him calling me to extend grace to myself. That isn't as easy as it might seem. For if you are like me, you are hardest on yourself. Extend grace. Yes. Receive His grace fully. Wow. Extend, receive, and absorb. I believe this is His answer for me. How can I make it through this new transition of no longer being a home school mom and reforming my schedule/priorities? Embrace His grace. Absorb it. I see that now. By embracing His grace fully I will finally be able to find His priorities and move forward well enough to extend grace to others ... just as I should have been doing all along.
Thursday, September 15, 2016
Living in a foreign country whose official language is English, you might think that I wouldn't have any problems communicating. However, it was immediately apparent that Ugandans often struggled to hear and understand my American English 'accent.' It wasn't long before I would 'adjust' my accent, somewhat unconsciously, to more of a "Ugandan" English accent in order to have successful communication with my Ugandan friends. After living here for over six years, you would think that I would have this Ugandan English accent "down." Well, I don't know if that will ever really happen. Just last week, I received a telephone call from a Ugandan friend who was in need of money. She wanted to know if I would buy her 'coke,' at least that's what I "thought" I heard. I was confused. How would buying a Coca-cola (Coke) from her help her out with money? I continued to attempt to clarify what she wanted to sell me. After some frustration on both of our parts, I told her I would call her back. I went to get another Ugandan friend who could speak with her in Lugandan, if needed, to clarify what she needed me to buy. (It is not unusual for Ugandans to approach multiple friends when they are in need of money. It is part of the 'community' orientation here in this society. Each one contributes what they can toward the need and in turn, when they are in need, they may ask the same individual for a contribution in return. My friend wasn't looking for a hand-out either. She wanted to sell me something and I often buy such things whether I need them or not in order to help them out.) My two friends talked and had quite a good laugh at this mzungu (white man/woman). She didn't want to sell me a coke, but a cock (rooster)! Here in Uganda, a short 'o' vowel sound often sounds more like a long 'o' vowel sound and I wasn't applying my knowledge of the Ugandan accent very well. It was a good reminder that I am still learning and probably will never stop learning how to communicate well here. My friend sold me her cock for an inflated price (as expected) and I shared him with another friend that we know who is struggling to make ends meet. Community - so glad to be a part of it. Ugandan English accent - will I ever learn?
Saturday, August 6, 2016
When I look back on the many times God has been faithful to provide and answer prayers so clearly and fully, I shake my head. So many times, He answers our prayers in the 'ninth hour,' so to speak. This is yet another one of those times. I can't help but think that He answers in the ninth hour only for my benefit as I "still" seem to struggle with patience in my heart even after all these years of His incredible faithfulness and goodness. Back in April this year, Jon was accepted into Rift Valley Academy, the American boarding school in Kenya where both Janae and Josh have and are attending. It is an incredible school and now all of our children have a deep desire to go there for some, if not all, of their high school years. Even though we realized that finding the money to send Jon there would be a huge step of faith, we enrolled him. Just a few weeks ago, our van sold which will help provide for his tuition there (despite the fact that we were totally honest about all of the mechanical issues that the van continues to have). This was a huge praise for our family. It was also a confirmation that God did indeed want Jon to attend this fall at RVA as a ninth grader. Enter my heart for Josiah and Josiah's heart ... Josiah has never been alone without one or more of his older siblings. Until just this year, he had never even slept in his own room before. Pretty much everything and everywhere he has gone all of his life has included at least one of his siblings -- even visits to friend's houses. Josiah began to grieve the loss of his sibling, Jon, almost immediately. It was tough for him to think about. It didn't help that he knew this was a possibility. The reality of it hit hard. That set both Josiah and myself to praying and seeking God for the opportunity for him to go to school locally. There are two really good options nowadays (there didn't used to be) for an eighth grader MK here in/near Jinja. I was able to get him accepted for a Friday day-only option, but this still left him homeschooling alone for four days of the week. Now if you know Josiah, he needs people. He was born to need to be around people even more than any of the rest of the Bob Peterson family. I had quite a list of reasons that I told God why Josiah should be allowed to go to school this year (as if God needed me to point any of them out). Now in the process of this praying, I was convicted that I need not "advertise" that I was willing to work part-time at either of the schools that could possibly take Josiah in order to hopefully reduce tuition to a place where we could afford it. (In a moment of weakness one day, I did email one school director but interestingly enough, she never read it.) Instead, we asked God to speak clearly. We would leave it up to Him. I would not approach either of the schools with a firm offer to give my services. If I was supposed to work part-time (full-time would be impossible as I could not continue to do ministry), then the leader(s) of the school would approach me and ask me to work part-time for them in some capacity. Otherwise, we would ask that God provide the funds in totality. Either of these two scenarios would answer our prayer specifically. If neither of these options occurred, then we would know that Josiah would be homeschooling. While the notion that our homeschooling era might be ending was a bit alarming to swallow, I believed in my heart that this was the case. We further decided earlier this week that if nothing happens before this weekend (like before today), then we would know that homeschooling is His answer to our prayers (again, not something that we were 'advertising'). As I write this, it is Saturday morning. Yesterday evening, I received a phone call. An anonymous donation was being made on our behalf specifically for Josiah to be able to attend one of the MK schools here locally and it was the entire amount needed. Did you hear that? It was just last night ... yes, the ninth hour! Today we would have made a decision to homeschool ... BUT ... God!!! Now Josiah will be attending an MK/Expat School that only goes through the eighth grade (his current grade) and is just 20 minutes away. There was another very good option 45 minutes away, but we believe in our hearts that this is the place where Josiah will attend. I talked with the administrator yesterday and she confirmed that Josiah would be accepted. Not only was he being accepted but she already had books for an eighth grader and a new desk because someone else for that same grade had cancelled!!! Only God could have orchestrated this and in His perfect timing. Why do I continue to have an impatient heart? I am still so weak and falter in my faith. I don't know if I will ever be patient in the way that God would want me to be. All I know is that He is a faithful God and He will never change. How good He is and how deeply He cares for our concerns. He is always working whether we see it or not. And I am filled with gratefulness, especially this morning ... in the ninth hour!!!
Sunday, April 17, 2016
Okay, so it has been a while since I have updated the blog. Some of you may not be aware that our ministry focus has changed some. I am still working part time with SHIM (Shepherd’s Heart International Ministry) working in the islands, but we also have some different responsibilities. The home office (Global Outreach Int’l) asked me to be the Africa Regional Director. This means that Michelle and I are doing missionary care for our GOI missionaries working in Africa. I must admit that we have some doubts as to our abilities and resources to do the job well, but we believe that God has called us to follow Him in this. We had been doing some of this with missionaries in Uganda for a while now, but this March would be the first time we would be reaching out beyond to other African countries. The home office requested that we have a family from a different country come and stay with us for a few weeks so we could encourage them and help sort out some things. Ready or not, here we go! I spent the week before the family arrived out on the islands doing Pastoral training. The training went well but was tiring. While SHIM works hard to take care of its trainers, the conditions are not exactly what this old body is used to, and I don’t get much sleep. The last day on the island, I take a chair and sit, spending some time in the Word and meditation. I watch the water and the birds soaring above, but then I notice a dung beetle heading towards me, rolling its ball of dung. This is not an easy task as there are so many obstacles, grass and sticks, but with determination and hard work the beetle keeps the ball rolling. I look to where the beetle had come from and see a fresh pile of dung. I go to investigate. (Yes, I know you are thinking how fascinating missionary life sounds.) I see that there are about thirty dung beetles swarming the pile, each seeking its own piece of the prize. I observe some of the beetles have secured their ball of treasure and are busily rolling it away. At first I think some are working in tandem but then I realize they are actually fighting over the same ball. The bigger beetle was rolling the ball forward while the smaller one tried to roll the other direction; but all in vain, as no matter how hard it worked it just kept getting pushed backwards. As I observed the beetles, I kept feeling I should be gaining some insight from it all but failed to find any deep meaning in this pile of dung. The next morning we took our 4 ½ hour boat ride, in the hot Africa sun, back to Jinja. When I got back, I was exhausted with my energy reserve on empty. Immediately a cold jumped me, and within a day’s time, both my head and my chest were congested. I have a history with pneumonia and by the end of the second day, my wheezing, hacking, difficulty breathing and fever told me I was headed that direction. I was dismayed at the suddenness of it all and the fact that this was also the day the missionary family came to stay with us. I had not been sure how we were going to best help this family but being laid out in bed had not been a part of my plan. Even with medication, recovery went slow. For the two weeks, they were with us and I was lucky to be able to spend one hour a day talking with them. Michelle did a wonderful job taking care of both our families. We did make it through a study and had some good talks, (and the family said the time had been good for them) but I couldn’t help feeling far from successful. I finally started feeling better the day the family headed back home. With the sickness being so sudden at just the wrong time to interfere with our efforts, I couldn’t help but feel Satan’s hand was in it. For the next few days I felt progressively better; which was good for in just a few weeks we planned to go to Ethiopia to get to know and encourage our missionaries there. I wanted to be strong for that. Then the pneumonia rebounded and I was also struck by malaria. As I lay there, shaking violently with fever, I felt anything but strong. It was also along this time that some thieves tried to break into our home, we had a vehicle break down, and we took some financial hits, along with a number of other stressors. I say this not to try to gain your sympathy but to show how weak I felt in the face of the challenges around me. I wanted to be strong and in control, but that was not an option open to me. God then brought me back to the day I sat and watched the birds and the dung beetles. I, like the beetles, had been trying by determination and persistence to overcome any obstacle and keep the ball rolling to achieve my goal. But God helped me to see, even if I succeeded, I still would only have gained a ball of dung. In actuality, I had been more like the small beetle, fighting opponents stronger than myself, trying hard but only going backwards. I felt God saying, “Stop fighting, and stop relying on your strength for it is only an illusion.” I don’t know how much the missionary family that came to stay with us got out of their visit, but I know I learned a couple of things. First off, there is definitely a need for the work God has called us to do. There are a lot of missionary families out there who need someone to care about them and the struggles they face. Secondly, if we are going to be of any help to anyone, it will not come out of our wisdom and strength. Instead, it will come out of an acceptance of our weakness and knowing only by the grace of God can we be of any use. Once again, I am slowly recovering from my sickness and we have a week before we are to head to Ethiopia. There are still an awful lot of questions flickering around within me, but I am trying to learn to trust, to lean upon, to depend more upon my weakness than my strength. I do ask for your prayers as we go forward. I am not really sure what I should be asking you to pray for, so I will leave that to you and the Spirit. But I know for sure, we can use all the prayer we can get. God is good, all the time, even in our weakness.
Saturday, January 2, 2016
As I get older, I have discovered that I don't multi-task quite as well as I once did. Because of this, the last few years I have asked God to give me a short phrase as I look ahead to a new year. In 2015, He gave me, "Embrace the Place." This was interesting to me because of the fact that He changed our focus midstream; yet, I am convinced that He knew I needed this phrase. No matter what happened last year, I needed to adapt and focus on the place at that very moment. The year was full of different situations and circumstances. I needed to hear that phrase over and over as each one occurred. This coming year for 2016, He has given me the words "Extend Grace." I do not fully know what He intends with this phrase yet. But one thing I am fully convinced of. No matter who I encounter or what circumstance He brings my way, I need to focus on this one thing more than anything else. May He show me clearly just how He wants me to extend grace to others, whether it is our new home or out in the community as I go to and fro. And may I glorify Him as I do indeed extend "His" grace!!!