Friday, September 22, 2006

I don't consider myself to be a mystic, but rather a writer. My mom forced us as kids to write, but it wasn't that much of a punishment for me. I've always had my nose in a book.

Today I've been reading out of Madeline L'engle's book that is a compliation of her forty years of writing. Its called, Glimpses of Grace.

Its divided up into days, and under Sept. 21, part of the reading is this...

"As I read the Old and New Testaments I am struck by the awareness therein of our livves being connected with cosmic powers, angels and archangels, heavenly principalities and powers, and the groanings of creation. It's too radical, too uncontrolled for many of us, so we build chuches which are the safest possible places in which to escape God. We pin him down, far more painfully than he was nailed to the cross, so that he is rational and comprehensible and like us, and even more unreal."

This month Granada celebrates her patron saint. Named the Virgin of Anguish, she is a weeping Mary, with great regal robes, and Jesus lying dead in her lap.

I've learned a lot our three years here in Spain. We are closer culturally to the Middle East than Spaniards would like to admit. Fisherman still go out into small boats and fish, just like Jesus and his friends did. There is a small carpentry shop near our house, and I hear their saws all day long, and it smells like sawdust when you walk past. The terrain here is rough and raw, lots of rocks and small ugly little trees in the driest places. I understand the verses that talk about the joy that new wine and grain bring, because its still a vital part of Spanish life.

For me, Christ seems more real, if that's a phrase, living here in the Med. I can envision the way things were in a clearer picture. But even here, people have a hard time wrapping their minds around God, so they bring to life the princes and powers that rule this world and create statutes of them...and call them their god.

The Godness and the humanity is so hard for us to wrap our minds around. We always try like the Israelites of Old to bring him off the mount of Sinai and put him on our level. We do things like write systematic theologies, use acronyms, write self help books to be better Christians (as if God were the Great Big Shrink) create seeker sensitive servicies, and more. Does God really need us to explain back to Him who He is? Does he need catchy acronyms to describe his atributes? Do we need to whip ourselves, using self flagulation like Catholics of Old to please him? Do we need to make him culturally attractive so people realize He exists?

Or could we just see faith as a mystery, see the Cross as the greatest event in history, revel in our freedom to follow God, and be so excited we can't wait to tell everyone?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Yesterday I went to church to practice with the worship team for Sunday morning. Before we began, Esther, the pastor’s wife who helps lead the group, told us two stories.

Caleb is a 21 year old Spaniard who’s father passed away 7 years ago. Caleb decided he didn’t want to have anything to do with God and hasn’t come to church since.

On Sunday, he came to church for the first time at the insistence of his best friend, Sergio. Apparently the worship band sang a song that Caleb’s dad used to sing, and something happened in his heart. Caleb was planning to move to Granada in January, and because of this church service, he can hardly wait to come and start attending church in Granada.

One of the women baptized this summer has begged her husband to come to church for months. The pastor and his wife has met on several occasions with this couple to no avail. This Sunday, he brought his wife and daughter to church and thought he would walk around the nearby park. The singing had already begun and he enjoyed it, so instead of a walk, he came into the service.

Because of music, these two men were drawn to be in the service. Their stories are to be continued, but its exciting for our little ecletic group to hear that God is using our normal voices, average talent, but maximum enthusiasm to glorify Him.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Fall is slowly creeping into southern Spain. It's horribly hot here in the summers, I tell people living in Granada for the weather is overrated. It scorching in the summers, and bone-chilling to the core in the winters.

So why do people live here? Apparently this area has been populated for literally thousands of years. History tells us the Phonecians, Romans, Greeks, Carthians, Moors, and finally Catholics have at one time claimed this to be home.

Finally though, the weather is not so hot and we can breathe again. The next blogs I hope to showcase more of my photos regarding Spain. I'll also return to the Africa theme later on this month.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I've been working along with Andrew on pictures and scripts for the Uganda videos. He's just finished the first video, and I am sending if off to the boss for final approval.

These pictures grip me. It took me weeks to not look at them and weep. I can hardly believe that little ol' me was able to go to Uganda and take the thousands of shots that are so incredible. Africa is almost too easy for a photographer, shots just beg for you to take them.

I"m going to upload a few of them for people to see. I know that some of my friends and family have already seen them, but I want to make some comments and post them.

This boy above was a street child in a slum in Kampala. I shot it will taking pictures of Andrew interviewing missionaries and pastors in the street.

This one is a self potrait. Again, we were interviewing pastors, and I turned the camera around to show our constant audience.

No matter where we went, there was always this group of sometimes rowdy boys and girls. They were so curious.

And this is Andrew with his constant audience...or like they say in Spanish "publico".

I'll try to upload more photos later.

Monday, September 11, 2006

As we entered the ACTION Gulu office , the Ugandan staff were already having
devotions. I heard them singing, and the words became clearer as I approached the thatched shelter,

“There is power today in the house of the Lord, Hallelujah, today, in the house of the


During our eight days in Gulu, I would hear this simple chorus of praise over and over

Again. These words would become the theme God taught me.

In November of 2005, my husband Andrew and I visited Jerry and Candis Bingham inGulu, North Uganda. Andrew and I went specifically to take pictures and video in tell the world what God is doing in Gulu. This region has seen war for 20 years in which girls and boys have been kidnapped and forced to become soldiers and child wives.

The kidnapped girls who managed to escape or are rescued are called child mothers. They have faced unthinkable abuse and fear during their captivity. Most of them have children as a result of being repeatedly raped. When they try to return home to the families, they face rejection. As a result, they result to prostitution in order to survive.

When Jerry and Candis started work just a few years ago, they saw the need to reach out and love these women. Now a group of Ugandan ladies work alongside Candis in the Butterfly Center and Home of Love. The support group for the child mothers now numbers into the hundreds.

Andrew and I visited the Butterfly Center on a hot Monday morning. I walked around to take pictures of them as they knitted, talked, learned to weave baskets, as well as reading and writing skill. Later that morning, they all sat together under big avocado trees, sang, and listened to a short devotional.

When they sang, they sounded like angels. It was so beautiful; I had to work hard to
choke back my tears. How could they sing so sweetly after the horrors they saw and experienced?

Lily asked me to say something to encourage them. As the women sang a few more choruses, I racked my brain for something to say. Me, a rich white girl from the suburbs of Chicago? What could I possible say that would encourage them?

Finally, All I could think was the verse in the Psalm 68:5 that says,

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.

Before I hardly finished quoted the verse, these women broke into shouts and clapped for Joy. More than anything, these women know what it is like to be defenseless. These women sing for Joy because God has taken their mourning and turned it into dancing. Before, they hated their children, and now because they know God’s love, they are learning to love them. In a powerful way, they know God as their Defender who loves them unconditionally.

I didn’t let myself cry that day, but I’ve cried a thousand times later. I have cried over their plight, but I’ve also cried for joy because they have Joy. I cried because visiting with the child mothers restored my faith in the healing and changing power of the Gospel. I cried, because for the first time, I saw in the flesh the woman at the well, the woman with the issue of blood, the widow whose son was dead. Without Christ’s love, these woman could never love each other, their children, and more importantly, God himself. This is the power of the Gospel.

In war-torn Northern Uganda, you will find a group of women who believe and know that

… there is power today in the house of the Lord..