I get it. But in a way, I don’t…

IMG_4833I get it. A&E censored a Christian from speaking his mind. It’s not the first time a Christian has been censored. It won’t be the last.

“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…” 2 Timothy 3:12

I get it. It’s frustrating that everyone else in America can express their opinions, freely worship and denounce things they don’t believe in, unless you’re a Christian. In that case, the world wants you to be silent. But God never told us it would be easy. He flat out told us we would suffer.

“For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” 1 Peter 3:17

I get it. The Bible says homosexuality is a sin. It says the same about drunkenness, adultery, fornication, gluttony, idolatry, jealousy, etc. etc. Everyone else’s sins seem so much worse than your own, don’t they? So you hate. You’re tired of rights being given to people who sin. You see these people as your enemies.

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44

I get it. I may not agree with you, but I get it. It’s ruined your week and maybe even your holiday to know that a Christian spoke his mind and was then persecuted for it. Now, your favorite television show might not be on the air anymore.

But I ask you this holiday season to open your eyes. Think about the things that are getting you fired up. Is it politics? Is it Obamacare? Is it A&E and Duck Dynasty? Is it Miley Cyrus? Think about the things that, as a Christian, make you the angriest. And then, think about these things:

InIMG_3875 September I met a little boy here in Uganda who survived child sacrifice. He’s been through multiple surgeries because his head was literally cut open with an ax. He was one of the lucky ones because he survived. Here in Uganda, witchdoctors sacrifice children. They spare no mercy when it comes to abducting a child, chopping them up for body parts and organs and leaving them for dead.

The other day I went with some co-workers to a local orphanage. The place is filthy. The playground is insanely dangerous. The orphans’ noses run with no one to wipe them. Bath time means fitting as many children in a tub at one time and hosing them down like they were dishes or something. Orphanages like this are all over the city of Kampala.

To the north of Uganda is South Sudan. So not only does the violence in South Sudan hit close to home because it’s literally close to home, but one of my best friends here is from South Sudan. She has family and friends there, and has to wonder each day whether or not they will fall victim to the violence.

I promised myself I wouldn’t do this. I wouldn’t be the one to say, “Look at what’s making you upset! And yet there are people dying because of such corruption and evil in the world!” But then I started to wonder… maybe that’s exactly what I’m supposed to do. Maybe part of the reason I’m here is to tell you about these things, to tell you that they are really happening.IMG_3976

As a Christian, what makes your blood boil? What gets under your skin? Is it the fact that your favorite reality television star was suspended? Are you going to let that ruin your day when there are people dying in South Sudan, children being sacrificed in Uganda, and orphans being treated like animals?

I’m not saying that it shouldn’t irritate you that Christians are so often censored and persecuted. I get it. It irritates me, too, but the Bible warned us about this, over and over again.

“Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.” 1 John 3:13

I get why Christians are upset about A&E. I get why homosexuals are upset about Duck Dynasty. I get it. But when I’m seeing the things I see here and experiencing the things I experience here, I really don’t get it.

Open your eyes. There’s so much more going on.

Not alone in brokenness…

“It’s just been really tough.”

I couldn’t believe the words that were coming out of her mouth.

“I’ve really been struggling with that,” someone else told me the next day.

I nearly fell out of my seat.

I have this tendency to think that everyone around me is perfectly happy. I see their positive Facebook posts, the smiles on their faces each day at school, and I assume that they’ve adjusted to Africa with ease. I then tell myself that I am a lesser person because I am not adjusting as well.

There’s another lie I often tell myself about other people, especially other Christians- that their lives have been magically perfect. That they’ve never made a mistake. That their families have no problems. That their lives have always been easy.

But I’m learning, the more I get to know my co-workers and become friends with them, that we’re all struggling in our own ways. We each have a story to tell. In some way, we are each broken.

Everyone on this planet is broken, but only some of us have discovered the glue that keeps us from completely falling apart when things get tough: God’s love and grace.

It’s comforting to know that many of my co-workers who, like me, are living in Africa for the first time and are feeling somewhat “broken.” And honestly, it’s a beautiful thing. If we didn’t feel broken, what need would there be for God? If we aren’t broken, we don’t need God to hold us together.

I’m learning to be content with being broken. I know I am only broken in a sense of this world, and that God is the one who makes me complete. I also know that no matter what the Facebook updates show, other people are broken as well, and with God leading our lives, we’ll get through this transition together.

“I am forgotten as though I were dead;
I have become like broken pottery.”

Psalm 31:12

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Psalm 34:18

The first goodbye…

“After this year, we go back home.”

“Looks like we won’t be back next year.”

“I put in my notice. I’m going back to America in a few weeks.”

1240220_585275881853_518517809_nI wasn’t prepared for this part of working at an international school- the part where teachers and students come and go like there’s a revolving door at the front of campus.

Yesterday I said my first goodbye to a new friend here in Uganda. Katrina knows God led her here, but through her experiences and a lot of time spent in prayer, she also learned that God only wanted her here for a short time. Two months to be exact.

Katrina and I are a lot alike. We bonded almost instantly over common tastes in music, movies and television shows. I was happy to find a fellow American who reminded me so much of my best friends in the States. But for various reasons, Katrina’s time here in Uganda was cut short. She left yesterday, and is now back in America.

It hurt to see Katrina go, but I realize now that this is a common thing I’ll have to get used to here. This was only the first goodbye.1377040_587489186373_734753264_n

I know of a handful of students who will not be back next year. Either their parents are missionaries moving them to another country, or they’re children of fellow teachers who are done working at our school. So not only will many of my students be gone next year, but some of my co-workers I have already grown to love.

Goodbyes are never fun, but they are certainly going to be a major part of my life throughout the next few years I spend in Uganda. I pray that God will use each and every person I meet to enrich my life, and I hope I can do the same for them.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

I have no doubt that God will use Katrina to do great things back in the US!  I’ll miss you, girl. We are all praying for you and the start of your life back home again!

Saturdays

Pumpkin spice lattes and football. Back in the United States, those were my two favorite things about this time of year. My Starbucks intake increased dramatically in September and October, and Saturdays were spent cheering on all my favorite football teams, from my little nephews’ games to the NCAA games on television.

I’m not sure it ever dawned on me that someday everything could change.

Saturdays in the US were spent supporting my nephews' football teams.
Saturdays in the US were spent supporting my nephews’ football teams.

Pumpkin spice lattes have turned into Stoneys and Novidas.

Driving around in my Camry with the windows down has turned into boda rides and boat trips on Lake Victoria.

Instead of cheering on football teams, I’m cheering on groups of Ugandan children just running around an open field being silly.

My Saturdays have changed. And while I miss the old… I love the new.

Since I arrived almost two months ago, I’ve spent a Saturday taking supplies to an orphanage in a village. I spent another Saturday visiting a village on an island. Another Saturday I walked a 10K to help raise awareness about child sacrifice. And today we went back to the island to help run a jigger clinic.

A year ago when I sat in my comfy Colts chair at my nephew’s football game and sipped my latte, I never imagined that a year later God would have me at a jigger clinic in Uganda. To be honest, I wouldn’t even have known what that was. But today, I found out.

We thought "she" was so precious in her little red dress.
We thought “she” was so precious in her little red dress.

While we expected the people to come in masses to the clinic where jiggers would be removed, no one actually showed up. Since the process involves using a safety pin to cut around a jigger buried in the skin, then squeezing it out along with a bunch of disgusting bodily fluids, I can’t say I’m completely devastated that there weren’t a ton of people there.

We thought our mission had changed. Instead, we would play with the kids. But while doing so, Tiffany discovered our first patient, a little girl in a red dress who had jiggers in her toes. Tiffany scooped the little girl up and we followed them to the clinic.

The child was probably three or four years old, and once her filthy red dress was removed so the child could be bathed, we were shocked to discover the “she” was actually a “he.” This precious little boy was wearing a red dress, probably the only thing he had to wear.

Tiffany and Allison were quick to put on gloves and grab washcloths to start cleaning the boy and prepping him for the jigger removal. He didn’t fight it. He didn’t cry. He just kind of sat there in the water, allowing them to clean his soiled body. The love that Tiffany and Allison showed this child reminded me so much of Jesus, who was never too good to do things for those who were dirty.IMG_4094

Finally, the nurse took over and started to work on the removal process, and just as it was time for us to leave, more and more children showed up, their tiny African feet filled with jiggers.

Saturdays are so different now. Today I really stood back and observed what was going on around me. Maybe it’s the journalist in me, wanting to capture everything in photos and now in words, but I did feel a little overwhelmed today and really got to thinking, “Where do I fit in?”

It was wonderful and simple to know my role on a Saturday back in the United States. I was an aunt, a daughter, a sister, a sister-in-law, a niece, a cousin, a friend. Here I’m just Natalie on any given Saturday, a child of God trying to find her place in Africa.

Bloody mornings and impending terror…

Between spitting up blood each morning and the likely terrorist attack that will occur here in Kampala, it’s been quite a week.

And we’re only halfway through it.

It’s common for me to wake up each morning, go to the sink, and spit up a bunch of phlegm. My sinuses are constantly draining junk. But when I spit on Monday morning, it wasn’t phlegm. It was blood. Not blood in the spit, but straight blood.

My CT scan from today's hospital visit.
My CT scan from today’s hospital visit.

I quickly examined my mouth, thinking maybe my gums were bleeding from something, but they weren’t. I spit again. More blood. This went on five or six times until eventually it wasn’t blood anymore.

If you know me well, you know I’m a bit of a hypochondriac. Needless to say, spitting up blood while living in Uganda wasn’t exactly the best of feelings in the entire world. I have God to thank for keeping me calm through my phone call to our personnel director who said she would escort me to the doctor.

My blood pressure was fine. Temp was fine. Chest sounded clear. They took blood- all of my counts were good. I wasn’t in any pain. It was quite perplexing to both me and the doctor. She determined that maybe I had a cut in my throat that bled, and that would be the end of it.

However, I woke up Tuesday morning and spit up even more blood. Back to the doctor I went. This time they did a chest x-ray to rule out something like pneumonia. Chest x-ray was fine. She referred me to an ENT.

Today I was at the hospital from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., waiting to see the ENT doctor, seeing him, and then waiting even longer to get a CT scan. When I first saw the doctor, I showed him the pictures I’ve taken of the last two mornings and the blood I spit up.

“Whoa. That’s a lot of blood,” he said.

After the scan, the doctor did an initial review of the film. He didn’t see anything wrong, but said that doesn’t mean my sinuses aren’t irritated, possibly from the change in environment. What I find odd is the fact that I haven’t been in any pain, nor do I feel any sinus pressure.

He said the complete report might show something different, but that whatever it is, it isn’t that serious or it would have shown in the scan. Still, I’m a results girl. I don’t like not knowing the exact reason why I’m spitting up blood every morning. He prescribed me some antibiotics and a steroid, as well as nasal spray, and I’ll wait to hear what the full report says.

My mom wants to know why I’m handling this so well. To be honest, I haven’t had much of a choice. What good is freaking out going to do? I did have a few breakdowns today, just simply from feeling like a lab rat with all these tests and not knowing what’s wrong with me. But I definitely have faith that God is with me, and that I will get through this, whatever it is.

As if that wasn’t enough to worry about this week.

It started with a few discerning emails from the American Embassy stating that Americans should avoid shopping malls, festivals, large gatherings, and other places frequented by white people, until further notice because of the attacks in Nairobi (which is around 400 miles away from here).

Sure, we can do that. We don’t go to places like those very often anyway.

The city of Kampala. Please pray for our safety.
The city of Kampala. Please pray for our safety.

However, the American Embassy also has visited our school for the past three days. We’re a clear target for terrorists. While this is true even on a day-to-day basis, it’s never been more imperative that we increase our security at school.

I know, terrorist attacks can happen anywhere. They happen even in the United States, and violence occurs at movie theatres and elementary schools and shopping malls. But when your own government (both U.S. and Ugandan) flat out tell you that you’re a prime target for an inevitable attack in Kampala, it’s kind of scary. It’s more than kind of scary.

Ugandan police have increased our security at school until further notice. Luckily, we’ll be surrounded by armed guards until things settle down.

Today my roommate and I went to the grocery store. As we pulled into the parking lot, soldiers not only took out our backpacks and searched them, but they also went through the backseat as well as the trunk of the car. While it’s reassuring that they are thoroughly searching every vehicle, it’s a little unsettling to know that it’s come to this here in Kampala.

But what breaks my heart more than anything right now, is the fact that one of my Kenyan students lost more than a handful of friends in the Nairobi attack. The attack there not only occurred close to us physically, but it has broken the heart of a student I love dearly. I can’t even imagine what he’s going through.

Please keep us all in your prayers. I’m not the only one dealing with confusing health problems, and there’s an entire school and city on edge right now just waiting to see if our home will be the next victim of senseless violence. I’m learning to have faith like I’ve never had to before.

Shining where I’m placed…

I never really understood how youth pastors did their jobs. How in the world did they spend day after day, weekend after weekend with a bunch of teenagers? How can they possibly enjoy spending so much time with kids?

Sure I realized my passion for working with kids when I was a sports writer in Georgia, especially after one I knew and loved was fatally shot and it turned everyone’s world upside down. I knew then that the times I felt most alive where when I was with teenagers.

The hot sun shines down on Kyampisi, Uganda and all its beautiful trees.
The hot sun shines down on Kyampisi, Uganda and all its beautiful trees.

Things changed. I moved to Indiana, and while I still had my share of amazing students, it wasn’t like it was in Georgia. I ended up leaving teaching, only to realize a year and half later that it really was where I belong.

Here I am now, back teaching high school English, only this time at a Christian school in Uganda. Working with these kids here has made me realize something… I get it now. I get how the youth pastor’s do their jobs. They work with simply amazing kids.

Overall, so far my experience here has been a great one, but there are some issues that are hurting my heart. Issues that are bringing out insecurities in me that I haven’t felt since high school. And it has nothing to do with my students. My students have actually become my escape. I enjoy being with them.

I think some people find it odd. I was told it’s encouraged that we sit with students in the cafeteria, and since I’ve started doing so, my days have been better. Some find that strange, I’m sure, and I almost questioned myself a few times about why on earth I would rather spend my lunchtime with a bunch of teenagers than adults?

We are to shine like a sun over this calm, Indiana lake.
We are to shine like a sun over this calm, Indiana lake.

God gave me my answer when I was reading the book of Matthew the other day:

“You’re here to  be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve kept you there on a hilltop, on a light stand – shine! Keep open house, be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”
Matthew 5:14-16 (The Message)

God sent me to Uganda to be a light. I will do that in whatever way He wants me to shine, and I honestly feel like the number one way I am to do that is with my students. If people think it’s strange, then so be it. I’m here to be light, to “bring out the God-colors in the world.” And I couldn’t be happier.

Sorry Satan… you lose.

Confession time. When I listed my biggest fears before I came to Uganda to teach high school English, I left the biggest one off the list: I was horrified to teach at a Christian school.

With some of my students my last day at North Side.
With some of my students my last day at North Side in 2011.

There’s no question that the majority of my students at Troup, Northrop and North Side loved having Miss Trout as a their English teacher, but not every experience I’ve had with teens has been pleasant. The worst experience I’ve ever had was with a group of Christian teenagers at my church in Georgia.

I thought working with the youth group would be perfect. I was in my first year of teaching, and putting together my love for God and for teens seemed like the perfect combination. I accepted the challenge of working with a group of sophomore girls. I was ecstatic to be a part of the youth group! I would be a mentor for these young ladies, and I figured it would also help ME stay in line in other areas of my life.

The exact opposite happened. I was open with the girls about my past, like my crazy partying days at IU, and it totally backfired. Their allegiance was to their previous small group leader, a young, pretty, married woman they had known their entire lives who was now leading a different grade. They refused to accept me. My heart was open to them, and they completely shut me out.

It was bad. It was hurtful, and my heart still aches when I think about it. I ended up leaving in the middle of the year, as well as leaving the church, because it was so bad. There was no reason for me to stay when they refused to let me into their lives and their hearts and learn anything from me. I was shattered.

These feelings all came back after I agreed to teach at Heritage here in Kampala. Satan really tried to attack me by saying, “Natalie don’t you remember what happened in Georgia? You can’t teach Christian teenagers. Christian teenagers hate you! Remember?” Satan is so good at reminding us of our insecurities that have been buried for years.

A few days before school started, and my nerves were already out of control about this whole “teaching Christian kids” thing, we were told we had to sign up for a committee. Our options were: special events, performing arts, enrichment, and spiritual life. I didn’t even think twice about it when I heard “spiritual life.” I signed up immediately.

It was like Satan attacked me again. “What are you doing? You can’t talk to these kids about God! Look at the mistakes you made in life! If they find out, they’ll turn on you just like the kids at church in Georgia!”

Satan is such a dirty liar.

Waiting for the rest of the youth group to arrive at last week's kick off.
Waiting for the rest of the youth group to arrive at last week’s kick off.

Can I tell you that I already know these kids love and trust me? Not only do I make them write essays and read books, but I also tell them about everything God’s done in my life and what He can do for them… and they still respect and love me?

Yesterday in my 12th grade class we got into a deep discussion and somehow my testimony came up. As I was telling it, I was starting to have those awful feelings and wonder if I would forever lose them if they knew where I once was in life.

But I kept talking.

And when I was done, one of my students said in his beautiful Kenyan accent, “Awesome, Miss Trout. Thanks for being honest. So many Christians lie about the dark times in their lives, but you aren’t afraid.”

Satan has consistently reminded me of what happened in Georgia so many years ago. But once again, God is the victor. What Satan once used to tear me down, God is using for His glory.

“And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us?
And if our God is with us, what could stand against?”

The tragedy you don’t even know about…

I knew people were starving.

I knew children were being forced to kill their families and become soldiers.

I knew AIDS and malaria were taking the lives of thousands and thousands of people.

I knew witchdoctors were destroying the lives and souls of the people of this beautiful continent.

What I didn’t know was that children were being sacrificed. How did I not know?

I feel like I’m pretty current on the tragedies that claim so many victims here in Uganda, but I had absolutely no idea that children, innocent and blameless children, were being sacrificed by their own communities and sometimes, their own families.

Today, some of my co-workers and I participated in a 10K to raise money and 1235116_194109344093303_1813041655_nawareness for Rose’s Journey. We even got to meet Rose, who once walked more than 50K to escape her family, a family that was active in witchcraft.

People in America don’t understand how active witchcraft is in Africa, or how dangerous it really is. It seems like worlds away when you’re in the US. It seems like something that just can’t be real, but it is real, and it’s claiming the lives of children.

One of my friends works with another organization that rescues children who are victims of witchdoctors. She told me about one little girl who was found on the brink of death in the middle of a field. A witchdoctor had cut her tongue off and she was left for dead.

Rose told us more about child sacrifice this morning before the 10K. She told us about the witchdoctors and the things they promise people who “believe.” Want to make more money? A witchdoctor might request a child sacrifice. It might be your own child, it might be someone else’s. The rest of the ritual usually involves drinking the blood of the sacrificed child or eating parts of certain organs. The results are supposed to be wealth and good health for the person who partakes.

In one national magazine, an interview with a witchdoctor revealed that they often don’t even kill the child before removing their organs for sacrifice. Instead, the children die after the extraction.

The article also revealed that members of high society sometimes use witchdoctors to get what they want. One witchdoctor said a female member of parliament came to him because she wanted to keep her seat, and in order to do so, he requested a child sacrifice and she agreed.

IMG_20130824_071605Doesn’t this all sound so unreal? Can you even believe this happens today? It makes me sick to think that the Ugandan government isn’t doing anything to stop it. There’s little the government can do against witchcraft, but you would think something could be done to stop the slaughtering of innocent children.

I know these children being sacrificed are so far away from most of you. But things like this take on an entire new meaning when it’s happening just down the road. Someone’s son, daughter, niece, nephew, brother, sister, is being sacrificed. Does it really matter how far away it is? The fact is, it’s happening.

I feel so incredibly blessed to have met Rose today and to walk for her wonderful cause. I hope to learn more about Kyampisi Childcare Ministries and what can be done to help these families who have either lost children to sacrifice or have children who need medical help after a near-sacrifice. Sometimes causes jump out at you and grab your heart so tightly that you just have to get involved.

Please join me in praying for these families and for the future of the children of Uganda.

“Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.””
Matthew 19:14

—————————————————-

Additional information on child sacrifice in Uganda:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8441813.stm

http://www.theage.com.au/world/australians-take-lead-in-fight-for-survivors-of-witch-doctors-20121228-2bz8n.html

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/8444047.stm

http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/Child+sacrifice+on+the+rise++report/-/688334/1674568/-/24ivi7/-/index.html

The challenge I didn’t expect…

God likes to challenge us. It’s how we grow. But I never imagined that this would be the way God would challenge me in Uganda. I have quite a task ahead of me.

Each morning from 8 – 8:15 the middle school and high school students have devotions. I am in charge of the 10th graders, a class of about 15.

For the first five and a half years I was a teacher, I was in the public school system with a very clear separation of church and state. Now, here I am, in Uganda, teaching at a Christian International school where I am to lead devotions with an entire class each morning. I felt extremely awkward even being allowed to pray in a classroom.

Of course it’s a beautiful thing to be able to pray, but leading a devotion of some sort? I had no idea where I would start. So yesterday I was honest with the students about not really knowing what to do with them. They said their devos teacher last year asked them for ideas and they wrote down topics on a sheet of paper that she would sometimes choose from.

I thought that sounded like a good idea, but once the students got out their sheets of paper, their minds went blank.

“Miss Trout I don’t know!”jesus-on-cross-4-1364043-m

“I can’t think of anything!”

“Can we just watch Veggie Tales?”

All sorts of excuses were being thrown at me. I tried to get their minds going and prayed for the best.

I was not prepared for some the responses I got:

“How to deal with circumstances you cannot handle.”

“Why God has seemed to change from Old Testament to the new, but the Bible says He’s the same yesterday, today and forever.”

“Why does God get so angry at the Israelites when they’re in the desert (enough to kill them)? But then the Bible says He has infinite love and patience?”

“Why should we believe in Christianity rather than the Jewish religion? Which one is true depends on whether documentation and word of mouth is true. So why should we believe one or the other, how can we know? The same goes for Islam.”

And about a handful of students wrote something like, “Questioning your religion.”

God has given me these students for a reason. They have a lot of valid questions, and I feel God wants to use me to help answer them. But it’s very scary.

Those “questioning religion”, some are Christians and some are not. I have a very serious and timely topic on my hands here to deal with.

And as far as some of the other questions, I think I’ll be in touch with my pastor and retired pastors about a few of those! I think it’s great that they are asking questions like those. It’s when we stop asking questions and stop searching for God’s wisdom that we fall behind in our spiritual lives.

Like all of us in charge of a class for devotions here at Heritage, I need your prayers. I need prayers that God will give me the right words, the right answers, and that my students will have open hearts.

I read somewhere that high school is when people really start to think about what they believe in and why. I want to be the light for God that attracts these students and keeps them close to God. Wish me luck!

I’m not afraid of gorillas and war…

“Aren’t you scared?” is the number one question people have asked me when they find out I’m moving to Uganda for at least two years. I’m not sure if they think I should fear being eaten by a lion, bit by a spider, contracting malaria or being captured by rebels.

“Not really,” I say. But I’m starting to realize that that’s a lie. I AM scared, but not for the reasons everyone probably thinks.

I don’t fear for my physical safety. I 100% percent believe that God has that taken care of, and I’ve given up those fears to Him. I am completely at peace about my physical safety in Uganda. I’ll be sleeping each night with an armed guard outside my door. What do you have protecting you?

Although I’m not afraid of wild animals (there really won’t be any in Kampala), or of war (always a strong possibility in Africa), there are plenty of things I am nervous about. These are the things I need to turn over to God, and I ask that as you pray for me, you pray that I find peace in these fears:

1043957_10151475508866573_1969601688_n1. People won’t like me. I’ve yet to interact with anyone in Uganda who has been even remotely unkind. As a matter of fact, everyone has been super helpful and constantly letting me know that they are excited about my arrival. Still, my fear is that they will meet me and not like me. This is part of my ever-present flaw of being a people pleaser. I don’t worry about Ugandans liking me, but my fellow teachers at Heritage International School. There’s really no reason they shouldn’t like me, but it’s a big fear I have.

2. The work load is too much. I’ve never taught more than three classes in one semester, and usually it’s only been two (with the same class taught a few times a day). At Heritage, I’ll be teaching Freshman English, Junior English, Senior English, SAT Prep and the school’s first Journalism class. That’s five classes, two of which I’ve never even taught before. I know God qualifies the called, but I’m pretty nervous about taking on so much.

3. I’ll inadvertently offend someone. Cultural norms in other countries are so different from what we know in America. I’m already learning a lot about what to do and what not to do, I just fear I’ll do something terrible and not know it until I have a bunch of angry Ugandans getting upset with me.

4. I won’t be able to “connect” with my students. In IMG_1096America, this is what made me a good teacher. I connect with my students, they feel they can trust me, and I find great ways to relate material to pop culture in a way that they understand it. I’m about to teach an entire group of students who not only come from Uganda, but literally from all over the world. My fear is that I won’t be able to find that “connection” with them.

5. Someone important to me will die back in the U.S. As I say my goodbyes to people here, I am already thinking, “What if that’s the last time I’ll see them?” I have been especially dreading the goodbye with my parents. But I’ve also realized lately that ANYTIME you say goodbye to someone could be the last time you see them. Still, my fear is that someone important to me will die while I’m in Uganda, and that I won’t be able to be here to support my grieving family and/or friends.

I know God will help me overcome these fears, which is why it’s important that I am fearful about some things. Otherwise, why would I need to turn to Him?

www.wgm.org/trout