I have been reading the entire chapter of Romans 12 several times through (usually in the Amplified Version) in the past week. I actually love this chapter because all that is written is really short and to the point (my kind of reading). In my early years as a Christian, verse one would make me feel like I couldn’t be a true living sacrifice because I didn’t take 100% care of my body, in exercising and eating. I wasn’t disciplined enough, I didn’t sacrifice enough, or wasn’t dedicated enough to make myself pleasing to God, and therefore I felt condemned . My heart wanted to please Him, but I always felt like I fell short being perfect, and I wasn’t saying “just do it” enough!
As I grew in my understanding of the Father’s love for me, His grace showed me that I didn’t have to “try” anything to please Him but be myself. Instead I learned to listen to the Holy Spirit everyday, to hear His voice and to obey what He was saying or guiding me to do. It was o.k. by God, to live my life as a holy, devoted, and consecrated vessel because of my relationship with Him, and what He already accomplished on the cross. Being led by Him was my spiritual worship, and He knows exactly what I need. If He guides me to eat a certain way or take up a certain exercise routine, then I have reasonable, rational, intelligent service! To walk my life being led by Him, is making a decisive and dedicated lifestyle choice because of His great mercy on my life. I choose to follow His lead.
After five nights of meetings and our days filled with ministry, we finally got a break. Our morning meeting was off the charts full of glory and heavenly atmosphere, it was wonderful spending everyday with encouragement, love, and anointing. I guess when you have to minister with the power and miracles we’d seen, the grace of God had to be over the top to function.
Today we got to go sight-seeing and shopping. The bus went to a local market where merchants sold local souvenirs and gifts. I bought what I could for my friends, parents, and little brothers; awesome things like hand-carved stone lions and giraffes, carved candlesticks, fabric, and purses.
On our way back to the hotel we stopped at a little store to get drinks and snacks. Shelley, out of the goodness of her heart gave a little boy who was outside of the store the rest of her Coke that she couldn’t finish. The boy happily drank it up and we all got back on the bus.
Suddenly a man was knocking on the bus doors demanding that Shelley get off the bus, he wanted to take her to the police. Apparently, she had broken a strict law that you could not share food or drink because the outbreak of AIDS was so prevalent, and the boy she gave the Coke to was this man’s son. The leaders that were with us, our guide, and bus driver tried to calm the man because he was yelling and demanding Shelley go with him. After fifteen minutes of negotiations our people all got back on the bus and we drove away.
The leaders realized that the man was Muslim and was making such a big deal out of the situation to get paid off for his trouble instead of pressing charges, an actual scam. This was part of the spiritual warfare we encountered often and was an annoyance of distraction for disrupting our great day. Shelley was in tears and very upset.
As soon as we got to the hotel we packed our belongings to travel two hours to a resort in Jinja, which was on the Nile River. We arrived there in the pouring rain at about midnight. The resort provided dinner for us at that late hour, I wasn’t sure what I was eating but it was delicious – grilled meat on a stick. After we’d eaten we found out that it was goat; a mainstay of most of third world countries, something I had never had.
We drove to a nearby village. It was still raining and the red dirt was a swamp of mud. We visited an orphanage and school and the children seemed well-behaved and happy. The homes were very simple, rustic, with dirt or concrete floors. We spent time praying for the villagers who seemed to be hungry or needy. Most of our feet and shoes ended up covered in red mud.
We spent the rest of the day in rest and relaxation. Our group meeting that night of about forty team members was like a party. We had lots of fellowship and we had a group picture and our “safari” gear was handed out. We were going on a safari!
By sunrise we were all packed into our busses that we would be on for the next seven hours to Misindi, cross the Nile by ferry, and spend the night at the Paraa Lodge.
Our close group of ten sat in the back of the bus which ended up being an extremely bumpy ride. We stopped once to use the bathroom facilities (a hole in the ground inside a little shed outside), get food in a little store, and gas. After a very short break we found ourselves in the middle of the thick, dense jungle on a dirt road which seemed to go on forever. At one point an older lady on our team yelled out, “Stop the bus!” and we pulled over to the side of the road. She jumped out the door and ran behind the bus. Apparently, she had eaten something that had given her digestion problems and had to relieve herself (or explode) in the middle of nowhere. We got concerned when we saw a pack of baboons come out of the foliage while she was out there alone. Soon she was back and we rolled down the road again. Later she told me, “Whatcha goin’ to do, I had to go!” (in her Texas twang) when I told her she was gutsy about the whole incident. She became my hero that day because she was not fazed at all by the situation. (Smile!)
After several hours the shock absorbers fell off the bus and now it felt like we were on a roller coaster, bouncing everywhere. As soon as we got to the Nile River where we had to cross the ferry’s engine wouldn’t start so we sat on the dock in the busses until it could be fixed, again on African time. We were so hungry at this point we started sharing all the tidbits and morsels of food that anyone had brought (power bars, chips, crackers, Coke, etc.), the thing we were lowest on was water, no air conditioning, and outhouses on this side of the river were horrendous!
In the late afternoon we finally crossed the river and saw many hippos that shared the same water, we checked in and settled into our rooms. We had a little dinner and loaded back up into our little pink bus to take us on the safari!
We saw many giraffes, lions, wildebeests, elephants, birds, and all kinds of different wildlife while we traveled on the plains above the jungle. It was so surreal; we were the creatures in a cage looking out at the wandering, free animals. Magnificent and awesome! One bull elephant threatened to charge the bus but our guide let a shot off with his rifle and the elephant suddenly stopped. Definitely a place you would not want to be alone. It was getting dark so we traveled back to the lodge to eat and fall asleep, exhausted after a very long day!
Just Finished: Trays for Easter Tablescapes and Beyond
I had two wooden trays from the crafts store sitting around for quite a while and decided they just needed to be fashioned. I sanded, painted, distressed the paint, repainted (for luscious layers of color), used crackle paint, repainted, more distressing, decoupaged dictionary pages (on the left), music paper and words to a song I sang to my babies and embellishments (on the right), painted stripes on the side, and finally coated with 3 layers of sealer.
When I finish my Easter tablescape one will be used for the base filled with grass and eggs.
My ultimate purpose is to use them on the small ottomans that I recovered last summer, to be used for entertaining. Though there is so many other things that I can do too, and it matches my beach integrated theme (where I wish I was today, in the sun and sand!).