Sunday, October 4, 2015


Almost one year ago now, we felt the Lord begin speaking to us about our future here in Karamoja. We have often wondered just how long we might be here, hoping to see God work quickly so that our role is no longer needed but recognizing that things – and more importantly people’s hearts – move very slowly here in Karamoja. And so we have wondered, “Lord, will You move like a rushing wind that transforms in an instant or like a great river that transforms over generations?”

We still do not know what exactly God has in mind long-term, but we do know that for now He has told us to settle down and put down deeper roots in our community. Jeremiah 29:4-7 has guided our vision of what is means for us to put down roots:

“This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: ‘Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do no decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.’“

In light of this scripture, we have been on the hunt for land that we can buy and on which we can build our house, as well as plant gardens and keep animals, and have room to host guests. God has been giving us a vision of establishing a sustainable community of missionaries who work to support themselves, live off the land, and practice corporate rhythms of worship, study of the Word, and prayer. We desire for our home to be a center of hospitality to the community around while we continue to seek Kingdom transformation in the hearts and lives of our neighbors and friends.

Over the last few months, God has provided contacts and resources for us to learn how best we can physically care for the land He will give us. We are pursuing a permaculture design (for more information on permaculture, visit that will allow us to bring restoration and healing to the dry, often barren landscape of Kotido. We are excited for our future land to be a physical picture of the spiritual promises of restoration and transformation the Lord has given us for Karamoja (Isaiah 35, 44:3-5).

Land we are trying to buy a few miles outside of Kotido.

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Week In The Life...

I am holed up inside my hut, sheltering from the gusting winds outside. Every surface in my house is covered in a fine layer of dust. This is dry season, the half of the year I spend dreaming of anything green that grows. My poor little herb garden I planted last month is suffering terribly, battered and beaten down by the wind and the heat. My poor husband lies nearby, sleeping off his unreasonably high fever.

In spite of the blustery day and the sick one I am attending to, I am thankful. Thankful for an excuse to sit, thankful for the respite from visitors, thankful for peace and quiet.   

These past weeks have brought an onslaught of emergencies to our doorstep. First came a young boy with a hard mass on his liver. We sent him to the best excuse for a hospital that we have in Karamoja three hours away, but we lost him not too much later anyway. Then came a concerned mother with her mal-nourished baby, and Andrew and our teammate Jeremy made the three-hour journey to the hospital themselves this time. Two days later an older man came looking for help with transport to go to that same hospital for some severe liver problems. I knew it was very likely his own drinking that had led him to this point, but we helped him get transport nonetheless. The next morning we received a quick visit from a girl we had sent to the very same hospital for treatment a few months back. No longer emaciated from the combination of HIV and Tuberculosis, we barely recognized her with all that healthy weight in her cheeks. But her visit reminded us that she wouldn’t stay that way for long without more food, which she needed from us.  As Andrew dropped me off for my Akiru meeting that afternoon, a distraught old woman carrying a bundle of blankets came up to our car gesturing and asking for help. I went to inspect her bundle and found an impossibly small baby girl just barely two days old (we would later find out she weighed less than 2 pounds). The mother had died after giving birth two months early and this baby had no chance of survival without outside help. Once again, we loaded them up in the car and our teammates left for the three-hour trip within the hour.  I made it through my meeting and left for home, exhausted by the last 24 hours. Little did I know that another old woman with another bundle of blankets came looking for me moments after I had gone.  She found me later on that week, and once again I laid eyes on an impossibly small baby, a boy this time, who surely had been born premature as well. His skin was saggy and loose, his frame tiny for all of his two months. His mother had not breast-fed him because of her HIV and so he had survived so far on a cup or two of cow’s milk a day, if that. I went to the old woman’s home to take them some formula for the baby and found the mother suffering from her own debilitating mal-nourishment and some kind of cough that I feared was TB. Hours later after health center waits and tests and run-arounds that stretched over two days, I still didn’t have a diagnosis or a solution. Still don’t for that matter. I still don’t know if that mother even wants to help herself get better. I still don’t know if the grandmother can really be trusted to care about that baby or care for that baby.

But for now, I am a little bit thankful to have to care for my own sick husband so that I have an excuse to hide inside, away from the wind, away from the world for a little while. I will worry about today, because tomorrow has enough worries of its own.

***Often people ask what a day in our lives looks like. What is a normal day for us, they want to know. Though every day is not always how these past few weeks have been, weeks and days like these are still very common.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Do Not Merely Listen

Some days this landscape looks so bleak and so hopeless. When I hear of mothers who sell their malnourished baby’s formula to buy alcohol for themselves, I feel defeated. When I meet helpless malnourished old women whose family members refuse to waste their food on the weak, I am broken-hearted and livid all at the same time. When I hear of yet another man who has taken multiple wives and produced numerous children and still, all of his money goes to support his drinking habits, I want to give up and leave. Some days the selfishness in this place is suffocating.

But today…. today is a very different day.

Today I witnessed something beautiful: a simple, honest act of selflessness.

You see, yesterday I met with some of my Akiru women (visit to learn more) for a Bible study. We did what we always do and listened to a passage of scripture before discussing how we can do what it says to do. Yesterday we listened to this passage from the book of Acts:

“They (the believers) devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many signs and wonders performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

This passage really resonated with one woman in particular named Auma, and unbeknownst to me, she immediately began making a plan to do what the Scripture said.  As we finished up our discussion, the women asked if I would be willing to drive them out to Auma’s village to pick up some food. I agreed without fully understanding what was going on. After reaching the village, Auma brought out a huge bag of dried corn and beans and I learned that she was donating enough food to feed everyone at our weekly Akiru meetings for the next three weeks. In our area where food is so precious, this was a big sacrifice for her to make.

She had heard from Scripture that as believers, we should share with one another. And so she shared. Simple as that. No prompting needed by me because the Holy Spirit was already at work in her heart. What a beautiful act. Beautiful in its obedience and beautiful in its selflessness.

Today we ate together with glad and sincere hearts. And I am praising God for these women and for the chance to witness these sacred moments where the Kingdom of Heaven visits our humble stretch of earth for just a little while.

  Are you a doer of the Word?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Two Shores

I stand on two opposing shores, straddling the ocean beneath my feet. I feel stretched, pulled, ready to rip apart at the seams. This tug of war between my worlds is mentally and emotionally exhausting. Neither side can truly claim me. I am not African and there are too many parts of me that never want to be. But I am also not American anymore. At least not in the ways it matters. I am somewhere in-between, sampling the luxuries that one world affords while grappling with the ever present pain and suffering of the other. I try to hold one in my hand and the other in my mind. Don’t forget the life you are returning to, I tell myself. Though you feast on caviar Monday, you will eat crusts on Tuesday. Don’t forget…

But how do I truly prepare for such a change? No other generation in history has tasted such extravagant luxuries as have I. Nor have very many in my generation tasted such desperate need. As the pendulum swings from one extreme to the other, my mind strains to comprehend the realities of both.

I find myself afraid that I will not be strong enough to handle the change. Can I really bear the stretching?

You see, comfort has an unfortunate way of anesthetizing. And I am no more immune to it than the next man. I do not desire to know pain in this life. I do not want a hard life. The reality I am about to re-enter simply terrifies me. I do not know what is coming. I do not know what hardship will await me in the next few years. The only thing I do know is that I want Jesus. And if suffering was the path chosen for even Him, how then can I desire anything else for myself?   

In this moment His promise anchors my wavering heart:

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name;
You are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
The flames will not set you ablaze.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Radio Silence

Breaking the blogging silence is an intimidating and awkward thing to do, especially when it’s gone on for a while. You know what I mean. Let’s be honest: everybody’s probably expecting something pretty profound, right? I mean, after all that time I’ve had to ponder and contemplate, surely I would have come up with something pretty touching and poetic.

Well…..I hope you’re not holding your breath.

But you have such an interesting life. Surely you have loads to write about!

Yes, it’s true. I do have an interesting life. But I also have a difficult one filled with disappointments and tragedy and crisis, of which very few are my own but all of which I witness in the lives of friends and strangers on a near-daily basis. And is that side of my life the kind of ‘blog’ material you’re looking for?  That is the question. See, I struggle with this. What makes a good blog? From the blogs I read and the blogs that I know other people read, it seems that an awful lot of us like the poetic, moving (real life, of course) stories that wrench your heart and give you a little kick in the pants to become a better person (albeit parent, spouse, Christian) while still wrapping up snug-as-a-bug-in-a-rug in a nice feel-good ending.

And in walks my little dilemma: rarely does my life look, act, feel, smell, taste, sound – you name it – anything like this. So, I wonder, do people really want to read the smelly, tear-smudged, irritating, frustrating, painful stories I have to tell? Sometimes I think, yes, they want to read them. So I start writing a blog only to second-guess myself half-way in. Sometimes my stories can be hopeful. Sometimes they can be light. But honestly, more often than not, they are heavy and difficult and even I struggle to find a ‘moral’ in those stories.

Most often, I have not blogged because I don’t know how to tell my stories without scaring readers or depressing them or perhaps offending them.

Life among the poor is not fertile ground for happy endings.

But I have resolved over the next few months to do my best to tell the stories of the tiny shoots of joy and happiness I see peeking out of the dirt. They are there; but sometimes I must retrain my eyes to see them amidst the thorns.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Confessions of a Missionary

Sometimes I miss having electricity. Surprising, I know. But on nights like tonight when it’s getting dark and the kitchen is dirty and I’m behind on dinner (and just about everything else) because I have typhoid and Andrew has a fever and the only light I have to use is a headlamp – sigh, I miss it. On nights when the simple flick of a switch could save my candle-lit dinners (and candle-lit face!) from the barrage of kamikaze praying mantises and moths, it’s hard not to wish for a little western comfort. When I’m skyping with a friend and my internet runs out in the middle of our conversation, so I plug in my dead phone to my computer to call her back but then my computer quickly runs out of battery and my phone shortly follows suit – it’s easy to miss the luxury of a wall outlet.  

Sometimes I miss having a bathroom. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a pretty laid back kind of girl who doesn't need much in the way of luxury, but every once in a while…I’d rather not have to walk out to the latrine in the middle of the night, blearily scanning for snakes with my headlamp and squat over a too-small too-square hole in the cement floor while hoping a cockroach doesn't crawl out onto my foot. I used to love the idea of using a squatty-potty full-time, I really did, but that was before my knees started to pop. Oh, and don’t even get me started on out-door basin baths in the rainy season. Polar bear swimming, anyone?

Sometimes I miss having clean feet. It may sound strange but it’s true. Coming from the world of sterile apartments, carpeted floors, and closed toed shoes more than half the year, my feet only got good and dirty when I wanted them to. But here, my huts are anything but sterile, all my floors are cement and impossible to keep clean (not to mention we don’t wear our shoes in the house) and my feet don’t even know how to fit into closed-toed shoes anymore they've been in Chacos for so long. Out here a person’s feet won’t stay clean 5 minutes after being washed. It’s like a law of the universe that only applies to Africa.

Sometimes I miss life without mosquitoes. No mosquito net on your bed, hemming you in at night, making you afraid you’ll jut out an elbow in your sleep and get gnawed on through the net. No nasty smelling mosquito spray at night to keep the thirsty buggers off your ankles. No more malaria! Sometimes I could really do without the whole, “Gee, I feel great this morning. I think today’s gonna be a great day.” Fast forward one hour to me in bed feeling terrible with a fever, backache and killer headache. The malaria strikes again! That’s not to mention typhoid (which I’m currently not enjoying) or brucelosis or tuberculosis or a whole host of other crazy illnesses this place is harboring. The whole lot of tropical diseases are just plain evil if you ask me. I’d take a gold ol’ fashioned American cold virus any day over one of these.

Sometimes I miss Colorado and the mountains and the change of seasons. I miss the family and the friends I've left behind, as well as the opportunities I've lost to be a part of their lives. I miss the privacy of western culture and the anonymity I have when I am not merely a rich white skin framed by a country black and poor. I miss being blissfully unaware that the medical treatment, medicine, food, water, transportation, housing, clothing – basic rights – that I completely take for granted are heart-breakingly out of reach for so many people in the world. Sometimes I miss the days when these people weren't coming to my house everyday asking for everything I have and they don’t, while I debate whether or not giving it to them will make them come back tomorrow for more. I miss the days when giving to the poor was simple. I could donate to a distant charity; I didn't have to deal with a real person, like an AIDs sufferer who lies about needing medical treatment just so he can get 5 bucks for booze or a friend who has a well paying job yet throws it all away to become a witch doctor. I didn't have to deal with people lying to me, cheating me, manipulating me all to get something from me.

Sometimes it’s easy for me to get discouraged on days like today, when I’m tired or sick or dealing with other people’s drama. It’s all too easy for me to miss “home” and miss the “easy life”. On these days, I have to remind myself that my life is not about my comfort, but about my Father’s kingdom. I must remember that it is not the healthy who need a doctor but the sick. My Rabbi did not come to seek and to save the found, but the lost. On days like today when my flesh balks at the discomforts and difficulties and disappointments of this life, I press all the more into my Rabbi’s words:

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’

“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple.

“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out.

“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Early Stories

This is just a short blog to share a couple of the small stories that have already happened at our own house.  Even though these are small things, we’re excited to taste the first fruit of what we’ve been praying for. The first story is about a man who started coming around our place during construction. He came to me with a letter saying that he’d been shot while working in his field last March. I found out through a translator that he was looking for help to get to a hospital 2 hours to the south. He needed a doctor to look at the wound, which was in his upper leg, and apparently had never been treated. This guy crutches around everywhere and has practically no use of his right leg. I told him he had to go to the local health center to get a referral to the larger hospital and then we’d see if there was anything we could do.  After the guy left, the story got a little more interesting. According to everyone around, this man was actually shot while stealing sheep from a well known man on the other side of town. When he had gone to the local health center for treatment they wouldn’t treat him because he was shot while stealing. His partner had been put in prison and he had been allowed to go free due to the punishment he’d already received in the form of a crippled leg. After hearing all this I was swayed by the mindset of the crowd. I started thinking about how we could be helping other people who were more deserving, people who weren’t thieves. He came back around a couple of weeks later with his referral but I had already made up my mind (this thief got what he deserved and can figure out on his own how to get his leg fixed). This time however my beautiful wife was with me. Something you may or may not know about my wife is this: one of her great strengths is that in a very prophetic yet subtle way her heart beats to the same beat as the Father’s. Things that break the Father’s heart break Kerri’s heart, things that bring the Father joy bring Kerri joy, things that anger the Father anger Kerri. I’ve seen it many times. As I explained the whole back story of this guy to Kerri she had the opposite reaction as me. She pointed out that this man has very few other options. We had heard his father disowned him and it seemed as if the community had cast him out. In a culture like this one that is the worst thing that could happen to someone. Community is everything; if you’re an outcast you’re less than human and you lose any and all support networks. There’s no one to help you when you’re sick. There’s no one to help you when you’re hungry. There’s no one to help you when you’ve got a bullet in your leg and you can’t do any of the manual labor jobs to earn a meager income. As if this wasn’t enough of a reason to help, there is the example of the Author and Perfector of our Faith, who spent all of his time hanging out with the “sinners” and lost sheep. You know, that whole “it’s the sick that need a physician, not the well” thing. I saw the actions, the sin, but Kerri saw the man, the creation, the lost sheep the Father dearly wants to come home. As Kerri voiced her thoughts I instantly knew she had it right.

 Fast forward, now, to save time. We had him listen to all of the Gospel of Mathew in Karimojong and also took him to the hospital he needed. On the way to the hospital he said he had enjoyed listening to the Words of God; he felt he had been living the wrong way and wants to follow Jesus. We’re going to start going to his house once a week to discuss this fully and while it’s not yet clear if this is just what he thinks we want to hear or truly from his heart it’s very exciting none the less. Be praying that this guy and all of his neighbors accept Jesus and we see a move of God spring up in Narikapet (his neighborhood).

The other story is about one of the young men who lives on the same property as us. His name is Ampellio and he is the first person who has come to us asking for a bible. This happens to Kenneth and Kristi quite a bit but it’s cool to have our first. We told him we would give him one if he would memorize Psalm 1. This way we can know he is serious and not just looking for something free. He seemed intimidated by memorizing a whole Psalm because the idea of memorizing scripture is completely foreign here but he was also very excited to give it a try. He went to his home in the North for Christmas so we’ll see when he gets back if he’s managed it or not.

Like I said, these are small things but to us it’s exciting to see what God is doing in people’s hearts and even more exciting that he lets us be a part of it. As a wise old man named Lee once said, hopefully we will continue to have fresh stories of what God is doing around us.


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