22 December 2007

Happy Belated Birthday and Graduation Geofredito Lutjenito!

Last night the Lutjens family went to dinner to celebrate at what seems to be turning into our favorite celebratory eatery, the fabulous Frazier's Traveling Brown Bag. Here's the officially graduated birthday boy himself (the big b-day was actually one week prior - Dec. 14). He turned the big 2-7, which means for the next 4 months Jeff is only 1 year younger than me (the other 8 months of the year it's a 2 year age difference :), I think he enjoys these 4 months...just a little closer to being older than me...but he never *quite* makes it :) Oh and that's blackberry cobbler with the candle in it. The food was incredible, the ambiance lovely and relaxing, and the company, well, couldn't have been better :) Feliz cumpleanos and congrats my brother!

19 December 2007

Stuff: Serious and otherwise

These are my MTI peeps and I at the end of our 3 weeks of craziness.

There have been a few blog-worthy things I would like to make note of from the last day or so.

1. Wicked (the musical). A GREAT show! Definitely see it if you have the chance. You'll never watch the Wizard of Oz in the same way again. Funny, with good music and good voices and it's live theatre, you can't get any better than that!!

2. As of yesterday morning I learned that there are discussions happening among those at WHM who have the power to discuss such things about potentially tentatively planning to send the team back to Bundibugyo in late January (and that might include me being able to go). Wow, that sounds pretty vague, you say. Well, yes it does, but it's sure has been music to my ears, let me tell you! Any movement towards me getting to Uganda is pretty exciting right now! I'm kind of trying not to get my hopes up but not succeeding very well.

3. Saving the hardest for last is the news I also heard yesterday from the senior recruiter at WHM that his wife has been diagnosed with Breast Cancer and will be having surgery the day after Christmas. I don't know many details at all, just that this news comes after 2 (not 1 but 2!) biopsies, and that they are coveting all prayers. Dan and Nancy are wonderfully refreshing examples of the life of faith to me from my short but sweet interactions with them. Please be praying for their faith in the Great Physician, for the human physicians and nurses they will be interacting with throughout this process, and for healing. Dan is the one who brought me to tears in one of my 5 interviews that day in June by encouraging me to change my image of God in my mind to include the image of "a father with a big smile on His face and His arms wide open" and not just the image of King of the Universe. And Nancy is the one who keeps Dan in line and gives him a run for his money, so please pray with me! (FYI, this just seems like one more blow to the Mission that it doesn't seem to me like we really needed considering everything else going on! Satan's been pretty busy this Christmas.) Come quickly Lord Jesus!

17 December 2007

The Real World

Well, I'm back.  Re-entry hasn't yet been as daunting as I expected.  God has been gracious and has given me words for some of the things I've been learning/thinking about/challenged by for the last 3 weeks.  Words help, they help a lot.  It has been really helpful to talk about it actually, the little I've been able to, it has helped me process more concretely what's swimming around in my head.

I also have been challenged by God about my second to last post ("Sugar Honey Iced Tea"). It was not very loving in places, and it was written in the second wave of the heat of the moment and I thought that was better than the first wave, but really I should have probably waited until like the 7th wave or so to write about it (the next day or two afterwards).  (This is all such a learning experience for me! ) So, I want to extend my apologies to those of my MTI peeps who read it and felt misrepresented or sinned against by my anger/frustration made public.  I was not and am not free of fault in the scenario and am open to any further conversation about the events that day that might help mend any open wounds.

The following is a passage from the Message that we spent a while alone with God in sometime in week 2 I think.  It was really powerful for me in God communicating his desire for me to be with Him, and His desire to be with me.  This idea has seemed cheesy and not very real for me in the past, but somehow He got through to me somehow in these verses:

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?  Come to me.  Get away with me and you'll recover your life.  I'll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."  - Matt. 11: 28-30

 "With me, Heidi, with me."  I don't know if any of you have had people say or imply when they're talking to you that "it's okay that you don't have a husband because you have Jesus."  Gag me with a spoon.  But there's some truth in it (shhhh, don't tell anyone though because I might just hit someone who actually said that to me anytime soon.)  Jesus was with me (really, for real!) as I walked in and out of patients' rooms in the hospital, He will be with me as I board the plane whenever I get to leave, He will be standing next to me when I go through customs/immigration in Uganda when the officers grin at my blonde self and rub their fingers together like you do when you want money from someone, He will walk with me/laugh with me/cry with me in everything I do in Bundibugyo, and here in St. Louis as I wait to go.

12 December 2007

Sky and Snow and Daunting

A sunset I caught on a walk several days ago...seconds later it was different!

Snow beautiful snow! A Sunday morning walk to Palmer Lake.

I have mentioned the trains, right?

Amy, Abby, Erica, and Mark almost home from our Palmer Lake snow adventure. These girls are my most fabulous hallmates, and we somehow talked Mark into joining us.

So, we're starting to prepare for leaving here...it seems daunting in so many ways...seems daunting to say goodbyes here, seems daunting to re-enter the "real world" back in St. Louis, seems daunting to try to explain all I've experienced/learned/done to those who might wanna know (and who I want to know), seems daunting to have two weeks to re-enter, enjoy Christmas and New Years festivities, and pack up/move all my belongings out of my apt. while simultaneously setting everything aside to be taken to Uganda. That's it...

11 December 2007

S.ugar H.oney I.ced T.ea

(as we used to say in Garfield) hit the fan big time this afternoon!  And guess who started it?!  Yep, you got it, yours truly, Heidi Jeanne (my brother and sister won't be surprised one bit!).  Oh geez.  This afternoon's module was entitled "Singleness issues that relate to the team" (or something like that).  Wuh hoo, was I excited or what (hear extreme sarcasm)?!  

Robyn (our facilitator) encouraged the group to consider a lot of the really real concerns, issues, struggles, battles, etc, that those of us as people without spouses (and most without children also) are and will face/experience before/on/after the field.  He encouraged us as singles to speak to issues along the way and asked the "marrieds" to reflect on how they are reacting to hearing what's being brought out into the open.  About 1/2 way through we got into some of the struggles that married mom's in the field have, and then he asked for how us singles were reacting/do react to these issues...well, here's where I spoke my mind and was really honest about how my sinful heart/mind reacts.  

...the next response was started with "I disagree..." and proceeded to contradict how my heart/mind reacts...doh!  That hurt.  Did I object and say "I disagree..." when the marrieds were honest about how they/others view/react to singles and said they see us as "young, immature, inexperienced, rebels, not team players" etc etc. Nope, I didn't, and neither did any of the rest of the singles.  So, who are you to "disagree" with my reactions!  So as people were validating the "I disagree" statement/reaction, I raised my hand and started to cry as I said "That hurts for you to say that you disagree with my reaction...I didn't disagree with your reactions earlier.  It makes me feel like my reactions aren't valid."  Doh!  Then Robyn says, "so what is Heidi in essence saying?" and one of the married dad's said "that this is no longer a safe place for her to speak up."  Bingo!  Right on Derek!  Well, then another single woman validated my position using her experience from the field as an example and then another married dad brought up the possibility that those of us who are younger don't have the validity that older folks do because of their experience/wisdom, etc...and then there was a challenge of the "gory stories" bent of the program's teaching without any discussion of the "glory stories" and does conflict management really work and keep teams together and healthy and so forth...the tension in the room was palpable...

Holy Crap, Heidi!  What in the world have you done?!  You've barked up the wrong tree...look where it's gone...you should have never said anything...but it did hurt and they needed to know that...maybe my reaction really wasn't valid...but how can anyone ever say that someone's reaction isn't valid...you're so silly for crying...there's no need to resort to tears over this...but it's okay to cry when things hurt...you're a turtle, you should have never come out of your shell, it's safer in there, see where coming out has gotten you?  The battleground of my mind was in overdrive! 

Well, the mom who "disagreed" came over in front of everyone to give me a hug and tell me she hadn't intended for me to be impacted the way that I was, I knew it was the case but I was glad for her acknowledgement, another married dad told him that what I said showed him that he needs to put actions and not just lip service to creating safe places for singles to tell people what's really going with them, and later he stopped me as I headed back to my room and said "Heidi, thank you for saying what you did, that took a lot of courage."...Hmmm...maybe it wasn't all bad to come out from under my shell...

After a long hot shower and about an hour to myself in my room I headed to dinner and there proceeded to be closure of some more stuff for me around the dinner table and I'm mostly feeling better about the whole situation except for feeling like some people are looking at me judgementally or not really sure what to say to me...maybe you know the kinds of looks I'm talking about, maybe not...

Maybe this whole post seems silly to you, maybe not.  Maybe you're wondering why in the world I've been resorting to tears so much lately, maybe not.  Maybe you couldn't really follow what I was saying throughout this post at all, maybe you could...Bottom line, this turtle came out of her shell today and caused a ruckus but it could be that we're all better for it...the jury's still out.

08 December 2007


Tonight a few of us without spouses/children offered a few hours of babysitting to those with children so that they could get away together as a couple for a few hours. 3 Couples took us up on our offer and here are a few shots of some of the cuteness we got to hang out with :)

Olivia (Costa Rica with parents Jeff and Tracey Dixon)

Potato Heads by Heidi :)

Malachi climbin' around (Argentina by way of Costa Rica with parents Brian and Tara Gornick)

Haley in Heidi's sandals (Zambia with 5 sibs and parents Brian and KellyJo Kellevig)

Heidi entertaining Sawyer relatively successfully (Costa Rica with sister Olivia and parents)

Elijah entranced by Aristocats (Argentina by way of Costa Rica with bro's Malachi and Ezekiel and parents)

Myron (one of the Zambia 6) chillin' with Mark (Guatemala)

Abby entertaining herself :) (Honduras)

Joe (one of the Zambia 6)

07 December 2007

verse after verse...

of BIG TIME conviction...Isaiah 30 was the chapter, I was the culprit.  Caught red handed by God in my stubborn, selfish and more stubborn ways.  I wanna go to Bundibugyo now!  Yesterday in fact, but now would be just fine.  Now, consider this, blond haired blue eyed city nurse Heidi going to rural Africa in the middle of an Ebola epidemic with no language skills, no epidemic management training with only the two physicians in the middle of the storm to show me the ropes...that's likely a recipe for disaster, mostly for the two physicians but also likely for me.  It seems clear to everyone (including me in my sane moments) that it's best that I wait to go.  Wait for what or until when, I'm not sure, but waiting seems good right now.  But I don't wanna!!!!  Anyways, this was the madness of Tuesday and Wednesday for me.  Yesterday brought the Isaiah 30 smack down!  Just you read on:

"Ah, stubborn children," declares the Lord, "who carry out a plan, but not mine, and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit, that they may add sin to sin; who set out to go down to Egypt without asking my direction...And now, go, write it before them on a tablet, and inscribe it in a book,that it may be for the time to come as a witness forever.  For they are a rebellious people, lying children, children unwilling to hear the instruction of the Lord; who say to the seers, "Do not see" and to the prophets, "do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions, leave the way, turn aside from the path, let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel."  Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel, "Because you despise this word and trust in oppression and perverseness and rely on them, therefore this iniquity shall be to you like a breach in a high wall, bulging out, and about to collapse, whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant; and its breaking is like that of a potter's vessel that is smashed so ruthlessly that among its fragments not a shard is found with which to take fire from the hearth, or to dip up water out of the cistern."  For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, "In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and trust shall be your strength."  But you were unwilling, and you said, "No!...Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.  For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him..." - Isaiah 30 select verses (ESV)

The verses after those I have included go on and on with encouragement about waiting...maybe I'll include them another day.  But for now, the smack down.  It was soooooo good for me to read this.  It totally exposed my sin in really concrete ways.  I just kinda went "ouch...oooh...yep that's me...crap...really now...shoot...owweee..." and then a big "aahhhhhhhh" (hear a long sigh) at the end with the "blessed are all those who wait for him" and the verses following.  And that's where I've been turning more and more in the last 2 days.  God has been showing me hidden blessings in having to wait.  Now this doesn't mean I'm golden from here on out, but He has been at work in this stubborn heart of mine.  Wuh-hoo!!!!!

05 December 2007

Dear Jesus

(MSF staff caring for an Ebola pt. in an Isolation Ward in Dem. Rep. of Congo - Sept. 2007)
Dear Jesus, why?  You've not made us for this, for isolation wards and Hazmat suits and hug-less funerals, and the separation caused by death...You did not make us for Ebola...but yet you have allowed it...why?!
After reading of Dr. Jonah's death last night, I cried and cried and cried some more.  I have not yet stepped foot in Uganda, I have not met or even spoken on the phone with my teammates-to-be in Bundibugyo, but yet I cry because I think I have from afar began to make Bundibugyo my home and the WHM Bundibugyo team part of my family.  So I am beyond sad for Scott and Scott and Jennifer who have lost such a dear friend to this madness, who have no time for grieving, who are bearing such a huge part of the burden of healthcare of the region and are not able to sleep. I am so very concerned for the Myhre kids who now are separated from their parents and know that people working alongside their parents are dying.  My heart is aching for the rest of the team displaced in Kampala and in the States likely unable to return to the field/their homes until some degree of resolution of the crisis is reached.  I am frustrated and so very disappointed by my clearance for departure being put on hold potentially until the outbreak is declared over (potentially months!), and yet completely understand the reasons behind it (yet another paradox).  I in no way want to make anything harder/more complicated for the Myhre's and the rest of the team, so I wait.
I have been confronted by the reality of the sin in my heart that makes me want to see my own plans and hopes and desires through to completion in my own timing, when the root of this whole endeavor is that His will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.  Right now it is His will that I be here, that I wait, that I trust that He knows what He's doing.  But I don't wanna!!! Dear Jesus, make me more like you.
Last night as I was crying I stuck my ipod headphones in my ears and listened to a few James Ward songs.  I was given this ipod by my friends Amanda and George and their music, including these songs, were left on the ipod for me to enjoy.  Who would have ever guessed they would come in handy in such a situation as this.  These are songs that I have heard most all of my life and I feel at home when I hear them, even when they are hard to believe they ring so true.
"...Thanks be unto Jesus, thanks be unto God.  He has won the battle through the power of the cross..." - "Death is Ended"
"Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling, naked come to thee for dress, helpless I look to thee for grace, foul, I to the fountain fly, wash me savior or I die.  While I draw this fleeting breath, when my eyelids close in death, when i soar to worlds unknown, see thee on thy judgement throne, rock of ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee." - "Rock of Ages"
"I am not my own.  I belong to you.  So hard to cope, so hard to survive, in a cold and empty world, but there's one hope that keeps me alive, a hope that's clear and true...I am not my own. I belong to you."  - "I am not my own"
Dear Jesus, thank you.

03 December 2007

Wednesday 12/5 - Ebola crisis prayer day

You may have read on the Myhre's blog that the Bundibugyo area churches have declared this Wednesday a day of prayer regarding the Ebola crisis. They will be gathering together in Uganda to pray and I'm asking that you might consider joining with our brothers and sisters there by praying for the crisis here in the States/elsewhere in the world on Wednesday in your various small groups/prayer groups that might be gathering.

For prayer requests and further information regarding the outbreak please continue to check the Myhre's blog, anything I would say here would just be things I've read there. I'm realizing that information about the crisis is getting skewed and confused as it passes from source to source so I'm just going to keep referring you to their blog to read it directly from the original source. It's more powerful that way anyways. Please pray. One thing that I keep thinking of to pray about is the impact that God could allow the Myhre's and Scott Will to have in the lives of all of these epidemic relief workers as they work together; as the relief workers see their commitment and persistence and capability and love and compassion, etc. The needs and requests are endless but our God is all powerful!

I'm a Turtle

In your management of conflict are you a Shark, a Turtle, a Teddy Bear, a Fox, or an Owl? We've spent the last several days talking about these distinctions and getting to know ourselves, our tendencies, and both our frustrations and appreciations of other styles. We've had assignments to talk with other people about how they observe us engaging in conflict, we've looked at some of what the Bible has to say about conflict resolution. 80% of missionaries leave the field because of conflict with other missionaries, and then you have conflict with another culture on top of that, so the conflict we're preparing for and already experiencing is endless!

So, what have I learned about myself in conflict? First is that I'm a turtle. Briefly this means that I tend to hide from/disengage from/avoid conflict until absolutely necessary but that I do eventually engage, that I take a long time to wrestle with all of the issues at hand, that I tend to be more task driven than relationally driven, etc...Now, this is not to say this applies to me in every situation but generally speaking this is the mode that I revert to, and likely therefore will likely revert to in the prolonged stress of the mission field.

Another huge thing that I've been thinking a lot about is something my dad told me when I was talking to him about how he observes me in conflict. This I think really is the root/my biggest struggle across the board in my issues with conflict. My dad said,

"Heidi, I really think you are going to need to understand/experience/be cognizant of the mercy and grace that God has shown you in order to more readily give mercy and grace to others."

This might not seem groundbreaking to you but the more I think about it and see the lack of this in my life the more sobered I am and aware of the intervention of the Spirit I so desperately need in my life. I get so easily frustrated and angry and judgemental and avoiding of issues and people, etc. And the list goes on. So my deepest apologies to all of you with whom I have been in conflict and have not shown mercy/grace. I welcome any more feedback you might have and would love to hear what your style of conflict management is :)

More from Colorado

So the deal with the MTI program is that we have the weekends free, and pretty much we're here in this building or on the premises 5 days during the week, so when it comes to the weekend we're all pretty well ready to get out of here! Several of us chipped in and rented cars for the weekend to get away, and here's some of the places we went and the things we saw...

This is three cars full of us that traveled together for most of the day. We're at Cheyenne Canyon Park. In the picture there are 8 of the 9 singles and then at the right one of the older couples (who are quite youthful mind you!). Alfreda, the 9th single person is taking the photo. L to R you have Brent, Aaron, Mark, Amy, Erica, Abby, Nancy and me, and then the couple that goes by Sarah and Abraham :)

This is part of the water cascading down the canyon that has frozen in action! Doesn't it look like you can still see it moving even though it's clearly not?! I've been taught an appreciation for vibrant streams by my dad and this frozen version just added a whole new layer to that appreciation and fascination!

After enjoying our brown bag lunches, on we were to the Garden of the Gods. This is a park full of these incredible rock formations. After putting the photo into blogspot it has seemed to dampen the intensity of the redness of the rock that was particularly impressive against the blueness of the sky. Take note of the precarious position of a few of the boulders on the left!

This is the sign placed next to the above formation :) "Please stay on the sidewalk." I have been accused by fellow travelers who will go unnamed that I am a ruthless rule follower, but really now, can't you see they're there for our well being?!

When we began the day we intended to drive to the top of Pike's Peak but when we called to make sure the road was open we were told that it was open until mile 13 (of 18 miles?) and that for miles 10-13 the roads were icy. Needless to say we did not attempt the ascent! Here is the view of Pike's Peak from Garden of the Gods later in the afternoon. Others went on from Garden of the Gods to do other things and I was kindly dropped off to spend the rest of the weekend with the Glenn Lutjens Family who live here in CO Springs. It was a welcomed break from the constancy of the same group of people 24/7 for 6 days!