Tomorrow we graduate. Yesu Yebazibwe! For the past 5 months Brooke and I have been studying at the New Hope Institute of Childcare and Family. It is mostly referred to as the Institute. Being lazier than most, I shortened it to the ‘Tute. So this is how I refer to it.
The ‘Tute is a 20 week training in biblical worldview and how to care well for children, especially orphans. We are in class from 8:30am – 1:00pm with 15 others including 11 Africans. It has been an amazing journey and transition into our time in Uganda. I have learned a lot and wanted to share some things impressed upon me here (Brooke has learned a lot too).
1. Yesu Yebazibwe!
Roughly translated, this phrase means, “Praise Jesus!” or sometimes “Praise the Lord!” Sitting in class and getting to know some Ugandans and friends as well as brothers and sisters in Christ has been a huge blessing. Hearing their questions and concerns and heart is a real source of encouragement. So I have learned a lot from my Ugandan brothers and sisters. They have also aided me in learning some Luganda so I can keep up with phrases like this one. I hope to learn even more.
2. It’s ALL for God’s glory
It really struck me when Ezekiel 36:22 was read in class. The fact that God was going to act to restore Israel not for their sake but for His sake was amazing. Most of my prayers are about things happening for my sake. I had to repent and ask God’s forgiveness for being so selfish. It really is all about Him from beginning to end. I am privileged that He uses me at all to bring glory to His name.
3. Kids need parents
This one is obvious. Or is it? We had to leave our kids behind for 4 hours every week day. This was hard on them and hard on us, especially Brooke. Brooke has had the privilege and opportunity to stay with the kids their whole lives. I love that she loves to do this. So when we had to leave them behind each day it was hard. It took some time for them to adjust but they did. And then they adjusted to 2 sets of rules. One set for us and one set for Gertrude, the lady that stayed with them. We had to learn how to deal with this new dynamic. The not so obvious part of this is that many kids grow up in orphanages without parents. We toured some orphanages as part of the class and got to see the differences between an orphanage model and a family style model (if orphanage models interest you then click here). Kids do better when in families and with parents, either biological or adoptive. Thus New Hope’s motto verse is Psalm 68:5-6 where it says, “God settles the solitary in a home.”
4. The heart of the matter
One of the books we read for this class was Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp. It is a wonderful book and has transformed how we discipline and correct our children. The book’s main premise is that we must look beyond behavior to heart issues. It helped me quickly see better into my children’s hearts and see things I didn’t want to see. Then, just as quickly, I started seeing into my own heart and seeing things I didn’t want to see. I have learned not to focus on externals as much but instead to focus on the heart which is something Jesus was quick to do as well (e.g. Matthew 12:34).
5. Worldview is key
We might say a worldview is the set of glasses through which you see the things around you. It affects so much. When our glasses are the wrong color or dirty then we will not see things correctly. It is much like a near or far sighted person who needs glasses to help her to see properly. This class has helped me be able to see through African glasses and thus to confront with the gospel where needed. It has also enabled me to better see the prescription of glasses my culture wears and the need for a biblical worldview to correct.
6. Grace is needed here
When correcting Sarah some weeks ago, she said that God did not love here when she disobeyed. We have diligently worked to correct this notion. But it is the type of notion prevalent here. I have noticed several Ugandans and even some pastors talk about doing enough for God to like us. They might even say we are saved by grace. After that there seems to be a works based acceptance with God. We cannot ever earn his favor. Grace is God’s favor despite demerit. By the very nature we don’t deserve it and can never do enough. This is why I love 1 John 4:19. The verse does not say God loves us because we first loved Him. No we love because He first loved us. The order is not reversible. This is easily forgotten by all and severely lacking here.
7. The journey has just begun
I might be done with the ‘Tute but God is not done with me. I have seen my sin clearly, especially pride. Here is not the only place that needs grace. I need it. Badly. I used to think missionaries were super spiritual people who super holy. Being a missionary I now know differently. But God is bigger than my failures and can cover them and even use them for His purposes.