Tag Archives: catch up

Digital Reunion

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Last night before my bed and in their mid-day my “BFF” group met on a google hangout.  We are now spread between Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas and Uganda.

As to be expected it seems a majority of our time was spent battling technological glitches and trying to correct “Wait, I can’t hear you right now” problems.  But we got to see each other and get brief life summaries.

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We usually block out two weekends a year for “BFF Weekend” — a time of randomness and restoration in our crazy busy lives.  We call ourselves The Cedars of Lebanon.  Strong and firmly rooted.  And tall — I am the shortest of our gorgeous gang!

And even our cedar sappling made an appearance.  I miss my amazing girl, Ellie, soooo much.  Aunt Nattie loves you and will see you promptly in October when her feet hit American soil!

Thankful

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Today was the rainiest day yet.  I think we are officially in the dreary midst of the rainy season here.  I think it may have rained about twenty out of the last twenty-four hours.  I took advantage of a break in the rain this morning to flag a boda.  About halfway to the office (yes, we work on Thanksgiving- gasp!) it began to rain… harder and harder… another few minutes my driver and I were just laughing because of what a soaking mess we were.

Bless the rains down in Africa…

Does everyone knows that Toto song?  Please download it and dance around your kitchen like Mary and I do.

Here are a few snaps of life…

On our last office holiday for Eid we took bodas through town up to one of the seven hills in Kampala to the Baha’i Temple.  A crew of mzungus on bodas usually creates a stir.  You can see me make a cameo in the side mirror!

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Did you know each continent only has one Baha’i Temple?  Africa’s is located on a hill in Kampala.  The gardens are beautiful–worth returning for quiet respite from the city.

This is Jason (Church & Community Relations intern from New Jersey), Jennie (Communications Intern in IJM’s Nairobi office from New Zealand), me (your Structural Transformation Fellow from St. Louay!), Scott (Communications fellow from Virginia), and Mary (Executive Assistant also repping St. Louie, home of Nelly and Toasted Ravs!)

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Ruth, Jennie (from the Kenya field office) and I went white water rafting on the River Nile.  I have no pictures from the actual experience because of the wild nature of the activity, but it was wonderful.

The best part was after lunch when the skies got dark and we prepared for our daily rainstorm.  As we hit the first rapid the skies opened up and unleashed pelting rain.  It.  Was.  Awesome.  The whole rafting experience seemed so much more dangerous and dramatic!!  In the tame sections between rapids we jumped in and just floated downstream.  I was laying on my back surrounded by unblemished, lush scenery staring at an endless sky in the Nile River.  I couldn’t think of anything to sum it up except repeating “Extravagant, extravagant, O Lord You have been with me.”

Here we are before we begin:

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Last weekend Mary and I were so excited to learn about a Christmas Rummage sale at the American Recreation Association (ARA– or a country club that Americans can join.  We are not members).  We spent an hour wading through piles of clothes sitting on tarps on the ground.  We literally kicked off our shoes and sat down in the clothes.  I walked away with two shirts and a dress for 24,000 shillings or about $8.00.

We also me this young man who referred to himself as “Gorilla Santa Man.”

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This is a picture of some of the buildings in our complex of tenements… err apartments.  It must have been laundry day for a family:

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Finally, this is a little guy that scampered across the wall nearly scaring the crap out of me before I realized it was just a salamander type friend.  Regardless how harmless, I hoped that my mosquito net would also keep him out of my bed that night.

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I have shared twice today in two different groups one important thing that I am thankful for.  This morning in office devotions Florence, our aftercare specialist, talked about cultivating a thankful heart and we each named one thing we were thankful for.  And then at our Thanksgiving dinner with about 30 Americans and one guy from Wales, we each also shared.  And both times I said “I am thankful for my family’s support though I know it makes them sad that I am not with them today.”

I was thinking about them all day, wishing I were watching the parade with grandma, sitting in front of the gourd bearing my name at the beautiful, overflowing table, tossing around a football or watching National Lampoon Christmas Vacation.  It doesn’t seem right to be so far away from you.  But I’m thankful for your love and I am thankful for our brief Skype chat.

To all my network– you!: I am thankful.  I am thankful for the effort that you put in to keeping connected and sharing about your life and listening and praying for mine.  It means so much.  And to those of you who have supported me emotionally, financially, prayerfully– thank you.

The rains are still falling and I’m off to bed.  Love~*natalie

Set the Stage

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I know–finally–a blog!  I am posting this email that I wrote July 15, 2011 to set the stage for this blog.  Sorry for the faux entry.  I promise that thoughts, stories, and updates will be forthcoming now that I have broken the proverbial blog ice.  So, check back and let me know you’re out there!

July 15, 2011
Hello friends and family,

I am sorry for the delay in updates! My desire is to communicate well and have each of you along side me–and for me to be involved with you, too!

I have submitted my notice at my job so the news is now public. I have been offered the position of Structural Transformation Fellow in the Ugandan field office of International Justice Mission. International Justice Mission is a human rights agency that secures justice for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation and other forms of violent oppression. IJM lawyers, investigators and aftercare professionals work with local officials to ensure immediate victim rescue and aftercare, perpetrator prosecution, and the promotion of functioning public justice systems.

I attended IJM’s June training week in Washington DC and soaked in the theology, background, mission and work of IJM–it was like a dream! I met three others who will be in my Ugandan team, plus my Africa support staff stationed in DC. It is truly a remarkable, respectable and professional organization, created to respond to God’s heart to seek justice and care for the oppressed.

I will be spending August and September in the DC area researching court administration procedures in rural Virginia courts. I will be driving out to DC in two weeks. For this upcoming two months of research, please pray that I would be like a sponge to soak up as much information as I can! There is a LOT to learn and understand and I pray that God would prepare the way so I would be effective and faithful in joining the mission of making public justice work for Ugandans. Pray for me to be drawn to my Rescue, Jesus, who delights to then set us free to rescue others.

IJM’s case work in Uganda revolves around illegal property seizure in which widows lose their property and livelihood through violence, intimidation, fraud. My team will work to identify administrative and procedural improvements to make this young public justice system work better for the poor. It is estimated that 30% of widows and orphans in SubSaharan Africa have been victimized following the death of a husband or spouse. I will be working with a team to consider– How can the system be changed to prevent this from happening??

This is an unpaid position. If you feel led, I would be humbled and thankful for you to join me in funding this 14-month mission of my basic living expenses and airfare. You may make a contribution through IJM’s website. Select my name in the drop down menu and any money you donate on my behalf will be transferred to my account–and it is a tax write off for you! Also, check to see if your company is a partner–matching dollar for dollar.

Thank you for your encouragement and support. There is much more I can say–if you want to know more of my story or about IJM and their casework or the exciting and quantifiable results of what happens when authorities enforce the laws of their land or the theology and mission–please ask. I plan on to blog–it is on my to-do list! PLEASE keep in touch–I can’t stand thinking about growing apart from any of you over the next year.

Seek justice. Correct oppression. Bring justice to the fatherless. Plead the widow’s case. –Isaiah 1:17

Love,
Natalie