Saturday, October 25, 2008

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Program to Bring You This:

In Praise of Jenni

Jenni is the most beautiful young woman in the whole world.  She is beautiful first and foremost because she loves the Lord.  Have you ever noticed that people who really love the Lord have a beauty about them?  They have a sweetness and a gentleness and, well, a glow about them.  Jenni has that.

Jenni is also beautiful because she loves people.  When she was little (and not so little), she was the peacemaker in her family.  She would give hugs and tell people she loved them.  As an adult, Jenni has a kind, caring nature.  If you ever read her blog, she often uses that forum to say something nice about someone.  

Jenni is beautiful because she is intelligent and fun and interesting and has a wonderful sense of humor.  She's fun just to get to hang around with.

Most of all, Jenni is beautiful because she endeavors to work out the concept of agape in her life and in the lives of the people she loves.  Agape:  Not just love, but unselfish love that desires God's greatest good for the person loved. You see, Jenni has gone through the pain of losing both her brother and her father.  So when Jenni's mommi said she wanted to go to Uganda for a year to serve the Lord, Jenni would have had every reason to say no, please stay at home.  But Jenni did not hesitate.  She knew that it was a deep desire of her mommi's heart to get to serve the Lord overseas.  So Jenni gave, not just her blessing, but her wholehearted support - support that has never wavered in the past year.  That's agape love.

Jenni will turn 29 on Wednesday, October 29, 2008.  If you happen to see her, will you give her a big hug and tell her that her mommi loves her more than life itself?

Saturday, October 18, 2008


I just read the Harvest Weekend brochure online.  I cried for joy -- naturally! -- as I realized anew what an incredible vision God has given us and how He is inviting us to join him in his work worldwide. I was humbled to see my name there.  I don't deserve to be named alongside such heroes of the faith as the Crowsons and Charles of Rwanda and Sara Holland and, of course, Phillip Shero and Dennis Okoth, whom I am so blessed to work with.  

And yet, my name on that little piece of paper sends a clear message to everyone:  

God wants to use you.  

God wants to grant the deep desire of your heart to live a life that matters.  For years, God granted that desire in my life by allowing me to faithfully take my children to church. For years he quietly granted that desire by allowing me to work at a steady job and give financially.  Right now, He is amazingly granting that desire by allowing me to serve Him here in Uganda.  Who knows how He is going to grant that desire in the future?

It doesn't matter who you are, what your education level is, what YOU think your skills are.  God knows you.  God loves you.  God wants you to have the joy of participating in His work.  And what greater work is there than that which the Creator of the Universe is doing?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

And how is your work going? ...what is it you do, anyway?

Some of you have actually asked me about my work here.  Thanks!  To be honest, I haven't talked much about it because, um, well, I'm basically a bookkeeper, and how fascinating is that?  I mean, at the end of the day, my roomie, Heidi, talks about her trip to the village, and how her teaching went, and how one of the women actually named her new baby girl Heidi.  (She also talks about driving past the remains of the goat that the village just fed her for lunch, but that's another story.)  I talk about the cool new spreadsheet I'm working on that tracks every budget category for the team.  Okay, now, show of hands.  Who has the more interesting story?  Heidi? or MB?  I rest my case.    

Now, don't get me wrong - I enjoy what I do, and I am quite happy to serve the Lord by serving the team as their bookkeeper.  I just don't have any illusions as to how engrossing the topic is to most other people.  But for those of you who asked, here goes.  For those of you who didn't ask, you have my permission to skip this blog.  If you hang on to the end of the blog, though, I'll throw in a freebie photo.

The concept is fairly simple:  I handle the money for most of the various projects of the team.  I won't bore you with a list, but so far I have taken over tracking for ten different projects.  Quite a lot for the team to have been keeping up with on their own, you say?  You're absolutely right, and thank you very much for sending me over here to help them.  Here's what I've done so far:  I have set up Quickbooks accounts to track the funds in a way that I can run accounting reports, if necessary, for any of the ministries.  I have also set up tracking spreadsheets in Excel, because that seems to present the information in a way that is more helpful to the missionaries.  So basically I do two things:  take the money-handling burden off the missionaries to free them to do their work, AND track the money under accepted accounting principles. (Kind of got my fingers crossed on that second item!)  

However, there is one little wrinkle:  When I say I handle the money, I mean I HANDLE the money.  You see, everything here is done on a cash basis - EVERYTHING.  There's no way to tell you how that complicates life.  For starters, every bill, every payroll (of which I handle five), must be paid in cash, so I must get receipts and have people sign for their cash.  Two, when I'm trying to reconcile the accounts, I'm actually counting piles of shillings, which takes ten times as long as just adding columns of numbers.  (And you would not believe how yucky and stinky Ugandan money is.  Since Uganda is a cash society, money changes hands constantly.  If you want to get an idea, take the oldest, dirtiest dollar bill you can find, throw it in a mud puddle, and then rub it in the dirt.  Okay, Ugandan money is worse than that.  Really.) Last but not least, there are 1,580 shillings to the dollar - today, at least - which means, if I'm counting $3,000, I'm counting 4,740,000 Ugandan shillings, and that's a lot of shillings.  Thank goodness, Uganda's lowest paper currency is a 1,000 shilling note.  But still, Ugandan money takes up quite a bit of space.  Sometimes when I'm counting out money for something and there's twenty piles of shilling notes and coins sitting in front of me, I feel remarkably like Scrooge before his reformation.  

So that's what I do for the team.  Don't you think it is quite cool that the Lord found a way for me to get to serve Him overseas with what we shall loosely call my skill set?  Me too.

Okay, for those of you who hung on this long, here is the photo I promised you.  Remember, I mentioned that one of the village women actually named her baby girl after Heidi?  Here is a photo of Heidi, Heidi, and (little) Heidi's mom. 

Heidi with her namesake, Heidi, and Mom