Posts tagged ‘Bible’

March 25, 2017

It Is Well

Early this year I lost two people who were a small but meaningful part of my life.

On January 2nd, Gord, a good friend of our family, passed away after what felt like a short battle with cancer. Although he was a closer friend to our parents than to us kids, he always had interest in our lives, a word of encouragement, or a big hug to offer. I will miss his small but significant presence in my life. Thinking of him and how he lived his day to day life will always challenge me to deeply care for everyone around me. As we left the service of remembrance we were given paper white bulbs. Caroline included a note that said “touch another’s life subtly, such as a bulb spreads beneath the ground.” It was wonderful to have flowers blooming in the house during this particularly grey winter.

Then on February 13th, our great uncle John passed away. He too was another person who knew how to live in contentment. Uncle John was another person who always had a hug for us and always was always brimming with joy. Him and his wife opened their home and lives to many people over the years with Christ-like hospitality. At the celebration service the pastor read from Ecclesiastes 5 and Psalm 16. Both verses speak of trust in God as the holder of our lives and the keeper of our circumstances. Psalm 16 verses 8-11 says; “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

These were words that were a good reminder for me as I have been going through my own season of restlessness and learning to trust God more. At the remembrance service for Gord I was also introduced to a song that has become a bit of an anthem for the past few months.

It Is Well

Grander earth has quaked before
Moved by the sound of His voice
Seas that are shaken and stirred
Can be calmed and broken for my regard

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well
Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
It is well with me

Far be it from me to not believe
Even when my eyes can’t see
And this mountain that’s in front of me
Will be thrown into the midst of the sea

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well
Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
It is well it is well

So let go my soul and trust in Him
The waves and wind still know His name (x3)

The waves and wind still know His name

It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well with my soul
It is well it is well with my soul (x2)

It is well it is well with my soul (x2)

Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
Through it all, through it all
It is well
Through it all, through it all
My eyes are on You
It is well with me

October 22, 2016

Adam House Camping 1.0

I had one day at home after my family camping trip before heading out camping once again! This time I had plans to go camping with some of the volunteers and residents of Adam House. I slept for one night at Mom and Dad’s and then packed up their van along with borrowed sleeping bags, tent, dishes, tarp, etc! I left for Toronto at around noon and later met Aiden and Tim at Adam House to see what food we could get from there and then go grocery shopping for anything we were still missing. The next morning I picked up ice and went to pick up some of the residents. I knew that I wouldn’t have enough space for everything in the van, and so I took my parents suggestion of putting all of the sleeping bags and mattresses in two big garbage bags and tying them to the roof rack. We were a bit delayed doing this before heading off, but it worked like a charm and gave just enough space for everyone. I met up with Tim and Aiden’s car at York Mills Station and then we all headed off! It was fun to hear the residents talking about Afghani and Persian history and music while I drove!

Upon arriving at the campsite we set up camp with many hands to help! There were ten of us in total! A funny moment happened when we set up Aiden’s two tents only to discover that one was a dining tent and could not be used to sleep in. That meant that the seven guys would all be packed into my parents tent that luckily is pretty big! We decided to use some of our remaining daylight hours to go exploring and find the beach. We discovered that was a short walk from our campsite. The water was oh so cold, but that didn’t stop everyone except Tim and I from going swimming. I decided that I would have plenty of time to swim the following day! After the swim we decided to find a peninsula that was on our map called Sunset Point. I decided to be artistic and spelled out Adam House with pebbles and we all had a good time taking photographs. We headed back before the sunset to prepare our dinner of burgers and sausages. We also got the fire started and everyone enjoyed just sitting and chatting. I surprised everyone by pulling out my guitar and playing a few tunes and a few others played as well! We stayed around the fire until midnight and then we came up with the idea of going for a night walk back to the beach to look at the stars! We walked all the way to the point we went to earlier, laid on the ground, and just stared up at the beautiful sky for a half hour. Several of us saw shooting stars at different times! As soon as we got back we all went to sleep. I was pretty tired and so fell asleep pretty quickly, but apparently there was a bit of a snoring contest from the guy’s tent!

Sunset point

Around the campsite

The next day a few of us got up at around 8am and started making pancakes. In the late morning we packed up everything we needed to spend the day away from the campsite. First we went to the store to pick up a few things (and enjoyed some popsicles!) and then we went for a hike around one of the large ponds in the park. The path was a nice loop with two lookout points intended for bird watching. We were such a merry, chatty group that we probably scared most of them away! We had fun taking pictures of the group at a few points along the path. After the hike we were ready to go to the beach! This time we decided to check out the public beach that we hoped would be a bit bigger than the campground beach that we went to the day before. The beach was bigger but in the water in most places there were big rocks that were impossible to walk on. There was only a narrow strip where stones had been cleared away and there was sand. It didn’t stop us though and we spent a good amount of time in the water. At first it was freezing cold but eventually we all got used to it. Ali had a phone that could go under water and so we had fun taking underwater photos and videos! Lana and I built a small sand castle and a few of us enjoyed just laying on the tarp and soaking in the sun. Volleyball is a tradition with the folks at Adam House and so there were two very epic matches where the winners got to kick the losers into the water! I watched the first game and then played in the second game and lost! We headed back to camp to wash up and then left for the point again in time to see the sun fully set. Once again there was not a cloud in the sky and it was beautiful to see the golden ball slowly sink below the water. Back at the campsite we had spaghetti for dinner and enjoyed another fire. This time I made sure everyone got to try a well roasted marshmallow! At midnight we went a second time to see the beautiful starry sky. I felt so at peace and was so thankful to have this time to spend with such great people.


A bunch of crazies…


Volleyball tournament

The next day we packed up camp early because we would have a long drive back and I also had to drop off my parent’s van and return the equipment I had borrowed. We had bacon and eggs and leftovers for breakfast and Tim brought us through Psalm 8 which was so applicable to the nature that we got to enjoy on the trip. It is true that looking at the stars makes us feel so small, and yet God reminds us that he values us and gives us work to do on this earth. I was thankful that we all arrived back in Toronto safely and that everyone had a good time! I was so glad to share the experience of camping with the residents. It is an activity that is so unique and amazing about this country!


Psalm 8 (ESV):

O Lord, our Lord,

how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens.

Out of the mouth of babies and infants,

you have established strength because of your foes,

to still the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,

the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

what is man that you are mindful of him,

and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings

and crowned him with glory and honor.

You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;

you have put all things under his feet,

all sheep and oxen,

and also the beasts of the field,

the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,

whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord,

how majestic is your name in all the earth!

July 6, 2015

Christian Professionals Retreat

BonfireThe weekend following my thesis defence I went to the Toronto Christian Professionals Retreat that was organized by my church. It took place at the Kempenfelt conference center just outside of Barrie on lake Simcoe. It was a much needed opportunity to get away from the bustle of the city, take time to meditate and pray, and develop new friendships with people from my church. The theme of the retreat was “Life Together”, following Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book of the same name. We had several sessions throughout the weekend that focused on what it means to be a Chrisitan community, what it means for a Christian to minister to others, the importance of time alone with God, and the importance of confession and communion. The retreat challenged us as a church community to serve and be accountable to one another, and as individuals to grow in character to be more like Christ. On Saturday we had some group sports, some free time where I hung out by the lake and soaked in the sun, and in the evening we had a bonfire right on the water. It was good to be reminded of God’s beautiful creation both in the natural surroundings and the variety of amazing individuals that I met. Photo credit belongs to Leemarc Lao.

Crazy group shot

Big group

January 3, 2015

10,000 Reasons

It’s funny how memories are often tied to songs. My time in Uganda and DRC had the theme song 10,000 Reasons. I kept hearing it again and again while I was there like an anthem, and how appropriate it was for the circumstances. It was six year old Graham’s favourite song and he would often sing it.

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes


You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find


And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name


Matt Redman, Kingsway Music




“Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.

As for man, his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.

Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his word,
obeying the voice of his word!
Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
his ministers, who do his will!
Bless the Lord, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!”

– Psalm 103

March 23, 2013

Day 1: Lubumbashi



Now I write to you from the Washington Dalles Airport once again, this time on my way home.  I have an eight hour layover here until I take my flight to Buffulo this evening!  It was a good trip and I feel like we accomplished the task of getting to know the ministry, of discovering their needs, and of working with them to prepare an initial design before we left.

I arrived across the border from Zambia on Saturday morning at Kasumbalesa and took a taxi into Lubumbashi on my own.  Being familiar with how things work in Africa and how the white person or ‘mzungu’ is often exploited (because for good reason we are assumed to be rich), I managed to talk the price of the taxi down from $80 to $50.  It was about an hour drive from the border into the city.  There was a bit of a scare when all of a sudden we were getting flagged down on the road by a mob of people.  An army officer was unconscious and needed a ride to the hospital.  It is a good thing I understood french as the taxi driver explained the situation and asked if I would allow him to take the man in the back seat.  How could I say no?  I climbed into the front seat as they laid the man across the back bench and then off we went.  Fortunately the hospital was not far out of the way and we managed to get him there alright.  The hospital looked as bare bones as a hospital could be!  A week in Zambia had already dulled the cultural impact of the busy, dirty streets with the ramshackle storefronts, dirt lanes, and scattered debris.  Following this adventure I managed to find the guest house easily enough, and had to wait several more hours before the rest of the team was to arrive from the airport.  I met a Swiss missionary couple with their little one-year old daughter, who were also staying at the guesthouse while they were house-hunting.   A few hours later the rest of the team arrived and we went through introductions.  We might hold the record for the smallest eMi team; there were only five of us in total: two architects and three civil engineers.  I was the only team member not exhausted from a long flight.  We went through some formalities and plans for the following day, made ourselves sandwiches for dinner, and then turned in early.

I woke up with a line of twenty-some mosquito bites up my one forearm; I must not have tucked in the netting well enough that night and one got in and went crazy.   It was Sunday and so we went to church in the morning.  The music was as wonderful as I remembered it to be in Africa – full of raw energy, movement, and sincere praise.   The service was in French and I was able to understand half of it depending on how clear each speaker was.  The sermon was on unity, a subject I’m guessing is much visited by the Congolese churches in the midst of a country divided in more ways than one.  The scripture we read from was Acts 2 where the holy spirit comes down on a gathering of apostles and they begin speaking in different languages.  This is amazing because it’s almost as if, just for a moment, God is reversing what he did at the tower of Babel.  It’s kind of ironic that my favourite quote of the week came from the Swiss woman, who, after we were all commenting admiringly on how many languages she knew how to speak, exclaimed; “It’s not all it’s cracked up to be; it’s like having the tower of Babel in your head!”  Division because of language is particularly the case in the DRC.  While the official language is french, the country recognizes the four languages of Lingala, Kikongo, Swahili, and Tshiluba (each representing different geographic areas) though there are many more.  We human beings can try our best to be united through good policies, nationalism, democracy, or maybe even tolerance, but it is only God who can truly unite and bring peace.

My first perceptions of Lubumbashi were of how spread out is is.  It has a population of almost 2 million, and covers an area almost equivalent to the city of Toronto, and yet there are no high rise buildings and no real ‘downtown’ feel.  The guest house was in the center of town, but all there really was were walls and gates set back from the road with several meters of grass between.  It made the city feel more small town than it really is.  Traffic was crazy as Lubumbashi is a through-way of commerce coming from Zambia, and also a center for mining.  There is a lot of building going on, anything at the scale of infrastructure being done by the Chinese who seem to have really put their foot here.  They are constructing things like new airport infrastructure, paved roads, and even a stadium in trade for access to resources.  I wonder sometimes who is getting the better end of the deal.

After church we had a lovely meal with two of the teachers and the ministry directors and then we headed out to go visit the existing school facilities.  The TESOL School (The English-speaking School Of Lubumbashi) has been around for twenty five years and has survived despite periods of war in the country, and since 2004 it has grown considerably because of the growing international presence in Lubumbashi and growing Congolese population who wish their children to learn English.  Right now they have outgrown their existing facilities on the campus that they share with the French School and are currently renting makeshift facilities at a second location to house the primary grades.  After visiting the two school locations we sat down outside one of the classrooms and went through another round of introductions, this time to really get to know the ministry that is TESOL and their vision, and for them to know eMi.  That same evening we were introduced to two national architects who had already been doing some design work on the project.  They seemed very excited to work alongside us and learn from us, and we were excited that the ministry had dependable professionals who would bring the project through and who we could learn local practices from.  It was a very full but pleasant day and we were off to a good start!  I was looking forward to seeing what we could accomplish for this ministry.  It was exciting to see a school bringing people with such different backgrounds together, and yet teaching them that they are equal and unified in the sight of God.

TESOL School


“When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place.  And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.  And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.  And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

Acts 2:1-4

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November 19, 2012

ACDP Conference

Last weekend I attended eMi’s ACDP Conference 2012 (Association of Christian Design Professionals).  When I found out that the conference was being held in Grand Rapids, I knew that I had to go because there would be no reason not to.  I knew that it would be a good opportunity to network with other Christian architects and engineers, to stay connected with eMi, and also to reconnect with colleagues that I worked with in Uganda.  I only had one problem and that was of how to get there.  I thought that I would be able to take the bus, but soon realized that it would be even more inconvenient than usual.  What would only be a six hour drive from Toronto would be a ten hour bus ride and a twelve hour return, not to mention a lengthy transfer in Detroit of all places!  I also couldn’t take my parents’ van, and I was beginning to consider the option of renting a vehicle.  Then I thought to myself; “this is eMi we’re talking about!  Why don’t I just ask if there is anyone coming from Toronto?!”.  That’s exactly what I did, and the Lord answered my prayer.  With only one day before the conference, I got connected with a guy coming to the conference from London.  We simply arranged that I bus to London, and we headed off from there.  It turned out he was a civil engineering student from UWO and a really nice guy!

The conference itself was excellent and I was very blessed to have gone.  We arrived Thursday at around dinner time and that evening had an introduction to a Distaster Response course that I signed up and came a day early for.  What it is essentially is a group of responsible design professionals who have agreed to be ‘on call’ so to speak, ready with only a week’s notice to come to the aid of a ministry with technical assistance in the event of a natural disaster.  The whole day Thursday was the Disaster Response training where we learned about the DR ministry, and also took the State of California’s ‘Post-Disaster Safety Assessment Program’ (SAP).  The purpose of the program is to train evaluators to learn how to assess buildings after the event of a disaster to determine if they are safe or unsafe to occupy (there is also an option for restricted entry).  The main goal of the program is to get as many people safely back into their homes as possible after an earthquake.  It is often the case that people will remain outside their homes, even though they are often safe.  We learned the telltale signs of structural failure, as well as the places to find them, and even went through some case studies.  The course was enlightening, however difficult to totally comprehend the destruction that results from these disasters.

Thursday evening was the beginning to the actual conference, and all day Friday there were a series of larger talks, worship times, and smaller break-out sessions.  Because I was already familiar with eMi, I went to more of the technical and detail-focused break-out sessions.  In the morning I went to one seminar about how to treat water in the developing world context, and another about the cholera epidemics that recently occurred in Haiti and Seirra Leone, how ‘Cholera Treatment Centers’ are designed and function, and how a few eMi volunteers assisted in relief work in both places.  Here is a cool video that was produced by the ‘Global Health Media Project’ that shows the story of cholera in a very clear way.

In the afternoon I went to a break-out about how master plan design is approached in the developing world (with examples of eMi master planning projects – the project I worked on in the DRC included), and one last one about Biodigesters which are a technology used to capture and harness the methane gas from human, animal, and other organic waste.  The gas can be used for cooking, heating, lighting, or running a generator.  I later discovered that even Toronto  has many initiatives underway using anaerobic digesters, including the Toronto Zoo.

On Sunday morning we headed back home.  Not only did I learn a lot about some very interesting topics, I got to reconnect with some absolutely amazing people (you guys ;) know who you are and it was so great to see you again!), and I was also spiritually filled.  I was again reminded that I want to use my abilities for God’s overall purpose, even though I’m not sure yet where my place or role is to best do that.  Here are some great words that I got from the weekend.

“Prayer is surrender – surrender to the will of God and cooperation with that will. If I throw out a boathook from the boat and catch hold of the shore and pull, do I pull the shore to me, or do I pull myself to the shore? Prayer is not pulling God to my will, but the aligning of my will to the will of God.” – Eli E. Stanley Jones

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing of finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.  The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.  Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”  – Isaiah 58:9-12

“It’s not rocket surgery!” – Rose McPherson concerning all things related to civil engineering :D

May 3, 2012

Glory to God in the highest

In the middle of April our group of seven interns headed out to Murcheson National Park for our intern weekend.  It was a relaxing and beautiful trip!  We went on safari for three days and saw some amazing wildlife.  In looking upon this awesome creation, I was put ever more in awe of God the creator.  This earth and its complex natural systems are no accident; God created it all for His glory.  During my time in Africa I have been constantly reminded of the vast and mind-numbing power and glory of God.  Recent Bible verses I have been reading are Psalm 139: “You hem me in – behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.”, 2 Corinthians 3: “If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness!  For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory.  And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!”, and Ephesians 3: “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”  Wow!

Thanks goes to fellow interns Brenna Malaney, Aaron Haazen, Katherine McCourt, and Erland Mowinckel for taking most of these fabulous photographs (if you click on this post you can see who took which one).  Enjoy!

Photo by Aaron Haazen

We had a particularly fun time inventing dialogue for this hilarious Ugandan Kob.  “Who turned the lights out?!!”  “Ha ha they can’t see me with my amazing new camouflage!”

Photo by Erland Mowinckel

Now this is an example of exemplary camouflage.  This photo shows the lions better than we could see them!

Photo by Aaron Haazen

There are hippos everywhere in the Nile!  We were even warned at the lodge we were staying at to do a full 360 with a flashlight before walking to the toilet block so as not to alarm a hippo.  They chill out in the water all day and come out and graze on land at night.  They look harmless enough but I’ve heard that they can be quite dangerous.

Photo by Erland Mowinckel

There was one point where we saw more than twenty Giraffes at once!  Intern Kevin wittily suggested that we should change the name of the park to ‘Giraffic Park’.

Photo by Brenna Malaney

This particular one greeted us on the road.

Photo by Brenna Malaney

These were the animals I had really wanted to see and boy did I get to see them!  We had three fairly close encounters.

Photo by Aaron Haazen

Photo by Katherine McCourt

Although we didn’t see it in the wild, this bird was cool to see because it is Uganda’s national emblem and is even on their flag.

Photo by Brenna Malaney

On our way back to Kampala we visited a White Rhino Sanctuary and got to go trekking on foot to see a few of them.  The sanctuary is trying to reintroduce White Rhinos into the country as they were brought to extinction many years ago.

Intern photo!

And finally…. the waterfall.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests” – Luke 2:14

April 17, 2012

You think you stand on solid ground…

The whole weekend started on a positive note. We had the day off because it was Good Friday and had decided to go to the craft market in the afternoon. David and I only had two weeks left and the two of us in particular were interested in picking up a few souvenirs. The craft market was beautiful! I particularly liked the woven baskets and the paper beads; the women sat among their work under makeshift tents and were making them right there. We decided to head on foot to a nearby grocery store before taking a ‘matatu’ home, and while I was walking and doing perhaps too much talking and looking around, I stepped right into a hole in the road. Down I fell with my right leg, and my other leg twisted to the side, catching me at the waist. I sustained a knee injury that currently seems to be on the mend, but I will forever be more cautious walking down the street in Kampala.

Photo by Katherine McCourt

Besides my typical absentmindedness, this is an example of how life in Africa differs from that of North America. Yes, we have the money to live comfortably here in Kampala, – we have access to electricity and can filter our drinking water, if we spend the extra few dollars we can even cook or buy fairly international meals – but what is different is that these provisions aren’t dependable. Every other day the power goes out; the city water occasionally gets turned off days at a time; sometimes there is earth beneath your feet and sometimes there is not. These factors are often beyond our control and all we can do is be cautious and make back-up plans. We have a stock of candles and flashlights and cook with gas; we store large jugs of water in our kitchen; we look at the ground (or should be looking at the ground) when we are walking down the street. Even in business and daily life Ugandans live one day at a time because it is very difficult to plan for a future that is so uncertain and often unattainable.

I have been going to church at Calvary Chapel in downtown Kampala, and one Sunday I heard a sermon that really struck a chord with me on this same comparison. In North America we learn to be independent. We control our environments to such an extent that we can so easily feel as if we have no need for God. In a way we even become our own gods. In Uganda this is not the case at all. Because of the great uncertainties and the poverty that exist here, people have a genuine and much stronger faith in God. They depend on him almost for necessity because He is the only thing that is certain and unchanging in His promises.

I am an outgoing person and I love traveling and experiencing new and exciting things; however, I have discovered that I like to be in control, especially in situations under pressure. I rarely get homesick, but when I do it is usually because I am either injured or sick. Likely this occurs because I’ve lost control of the current situation, can’t do what I would normally physically do, and therefore want to go back to a familiar place. Going back to the story of the weekend, the interns had made plans a few days back already with our friends from the other ministry to go on Saturday and visit Ssezibwa falls, a small waterfall about an hour away between Kampala and Jinja. Even though I had been injured the day prior, I decided to go along because there wasn’t a lot of necessary walking involved and it was the only opportunity I would have to see the falls. Our whole group got a special hire to get there as it would be a lot less arduous than trying to take public transportation. It was only about two-and-a-half hours into our journey however, that we discovered that our driver did not know where he was going, or more likely that he was taking us to a different place than we thought we had specified. At this point I was in a pretty sad state with my fatigue and throbbing knee that was only made worse as our driver took on a few extra passengers along the way. I had to keep reminding myself that I was in Africa and that I had to let go of the reigns and just ride things out, maybe even enjoy the detour. That’s exactly what happened and four hours later we arrived at the destination it only should have taken an hour to get to! It was still worth it however because the falls were beautiful. While everybody went up and hiked to the top of the falls, I sat contentedly and painted the scene. It was actually nice to be forced to slow down a bit. I certainly believe that God has wanted me to learn about slowing down and surrendering control to him. I’m the kind of person who is always running a mile a minute and I certainly don’t take as much time as I should to talk to God and reflect on His word. Ironically enough I just recently received a care-package from my parents (who know me all too well) with a card that said, “If God expected us to get everything done today… He wouldn’t have made tomorrow!” and quoted Psalm 84:9,10, “O God…Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere.”

Photo by Erland Mowinckel

As my time here in Uganda comes to a close, anxiety for the future is beginning to build up. In only a few weeks I will be returning to school to finish my last term of my undergraduate studies. I have no idea what God has in mind for me next, but I know that He is first asking me to slow down and give up these troubles to Him. He wants me to remember that it’s not what I do, do, do, do, but it is what He did that matters. On the previous Thursday, the day before I injured my leg, I led morning devotion on the story from the book of Luke when Jesus heals a paralytic.  I would actually prefer the subtitle to be different, because Jesus does not address the physical calamity first; rather, he addresses the real issue: the necessity for the man’s sins to be forgiven (Luke 5:17-26).  This is what he did for this man and what He came to do for the whole world.  On Easter Sunday many of the staff from eMi along with their families came to a sunrise service to celebrate and commemorate the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior.  In Ephesians 2:1-10 Paul writes,

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.  All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts.  Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.  But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

And because of God’s great gift, we do have something that remains constant and unmoving if we but trust and follow the words of God:

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”  -Matthew 7:24,25

Photo by Katherine McCourt

March 27, 2012

Day 9: Beni

The day finally came for us to present our culmination of work from the past week.  We began the afternoon with some prayer and praise and worship, and then enjoyed a big formal lunch with all of the attendees.  There were about forty invited leaders and representatives from the Congo Initiative, UCBC, and the church and community.  First Robert and I presented the architectural program and master plan, and then the engineers followed with the civil and electrical requirements.

After the presentation we began our farewells.  It was sad to leave after such a short time, especially since we had worked so well and really melded with the ministry in such a short time.  It is sad to leave a ministry and only have such a short period of involvement in their work.  For the next few months we will continue working on the project, but from our office in Kampala.  I would encourage anyone who feels led to support the ministry of the Congo Initiative.  They are a driving force in the DRC as a University and are drawing a lot of interest.  They subsidize the education of many students who otherwise would not be able to study, and are already accomplishing their mission of educating Christian leaders.  I have no doubt that the students coming out of UCBC will go on to do great things and that the university will continue to have a positive impact on the surrounding community in Beni.  Check out their website at

Some things in particular that I will miss from the DRC is the ministry and its leaders, the students at the university and the energy they bring, the friendliness of the native people, the beautiful jungle and the mountains in the distance, the spoken Swahili and French, and of course the monkey that was always tied up outside of our guesthouse.  I call him Cornelius.

Photo by Tim Ellis

Left photo by Brittany Coulbert

The name Beni in French actually means ‘blessed’.  I think that this amazing little city will be on my thoughts for years to come as I pray for God’s blessings to come upon it and the rest of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Once again I am sad to say the following words,

DRC, until we meet again.

Photo by Paul Berg

“See, I am doing a new thing!…

I am making a way in the desert

and streams in the wasteland.”

-Isaiah 43:19

March 25, 2012

Day 8: Do you know what you are doing?

Monday was the final run to get finished our work in preparation for our final presentation the following day.  What I remember most from this day is a story that David Kasali told us that I want to share.

When the first academic building that they have here was under construction, David was walking through the site while they were putting the floors in.  One fellow was working with a vibrator on the concrete floors.  From a distance David called out to him saying, “Do you know what you are doing?”  The man replied, “Yes, I know what I am doing.” and continued on with his work.  Then David called out to him a second time: “Do you know what you are doing?” and the man replied again, “Yes, of course I know what I am doing”.  David, not yet satisfied, called out a third time, “Do you know what you are doing?”  Finally the man turned off the vibrator and walked over to David with a questioning look on his face.  He asked, “Why do you continue asking me this question.  I know exactly what I am doing.  I have done this job many times.”  And David replied, “You do not fully understand the job that you are doing.  You are creating a floor that will serve God’s Kingdom.  Hundreds and thousands of students will pass over this floor where they will be learning about Christ Jesus and how to be leaders in their communities.  This floor will be here for generations to come and will witness a transformed Congo.  The man had not quite thought about it that way before; finally he set back to work, applying himself to his job with renewed energy.

The following day David came back to the construction site where the fellow was still working, this time with a group of a few others.  David called out again asking, “Do you know what you are doing?”  With a huge grin the man replied, “Yes, I know what I am doing”, and pointing to the others he added, “But they do not!”

David told us that in that same year this man went to be with the Lord.  The floor lives on however, and is a testament to how God works through each and every one of us.  Thousands of students have already passed over it and many more have yet to.  It doesn’t matter how mundane the task may seem, every piece plays its essential part.  Only in focusing on Christ can we gain this mindset and grow this spiritual hunger and thirst that essentially change the reasons behind the work that we do and the decisions we make.

Now I ask you again; do you know what you are doing?

“Jesus answered, I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.  Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the son of man will give you.  On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.” – John 6: 26-27