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2 12 2013

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the last 9 months: my truth & realization

13 06 2013

Relationships here in Uganda are completely different than back home.

Companionship is nothing more than a school yard relationship that begins & ends each day with the start of class.

To have a “best friend” – in our contextual understanding here in Uganda; just doesn’t occur. They have friends and consider others special yet to decide that a particular person may be placed into a category that sets them apart from others, is a foreign concept.

Friendship for me has always been something that has come easy & never been something I’ve had to “work on” and truly was not until last August – I learned what it meant to truly lose a friendship I literally cared the world for.

We started as childhood friends – young & adventurous it made several nights at church much more enjoyable; knowing that we would at least have the other. As the years continued our lives only intertwined more. We became best friends. From sharing babysitters that became more like older sisters, to adventures & events that only created even more memories for us to share, sharing life outside of church; we grew more & more together, taking classes together, carpooling everywhere; literally driving severely out of my way to carpool – because that’s what best friends did.

Yet, although a perfect end to my “Hallmark” story would be such an amazing story to tell for years to come – for me, that’s not the case.

Like most “friendships” between a guy & a girl – someone falls in love and unfortunately my story will not be on Oprah or featured in some editorial of a magazine highlighting amazing childhood friendship turned best friends turned life time lovers.

Mine is a story of longing, maturity & realization of what the Lord tells us relationships are to look like. For me, the fear of losing something that I so desperately needed, so lovingly clung to for years & truly didn’t want to end. Yet, it came to a point where to continue seeking what He in His plan has for me I needed to give my entire life to Him- especially in surrendering every part of my life to Him; including the thing I was diligently disobeying of giving up.

It came to a point where our relationship was no longer Biblical. We shared so many moments together that for us to pursue other people or to allow others to pursue her – it would create a wall being that our best friends, biblically, needed to be our future spouses.

One day – the Lord spoke clear, honest & straight to me.

“Deal with it, address what you are so afraid of losing so you understand you’ve never fully given it to me”.

So for months I ran from that – how had I never fully given to my God the one thing that I consistently was laying at His feet.

With all things His grace is so sufficient. It was during my running – I truly became aware of what exactly the relationship would have to become if I continued to disobey & stay silent of the true status of my heart.

For me it was not in hopes that something would come from it – it truly was so I knew that I had been honest about my heart & obeyed what I truly felt God wanting me to address. I needed it for me, so in 25 years I knew the answer to the question, to the wonder and to the always nagging, “what if?”

So I was honest, laid it all out there, became completely transparent – so transparent I made Casper look bad.

20 minutes of raw emotion have never flowed with more fluidity in my life. Yet was met with stonewall quiet that silence itself awkwardly sought to escape.

She said nothing.

My best friend. My number 1 for so long. My person. My “knows everything there is to know about anything having to do with you” person.

Said. Nothing.

Here in Uganda – they’re blunt, upfront & honest about their feelings & intentions. Which in the long run – truly saves so much hurt.

Yet my hurt didn’t stop that night as we sat in my car. That night the silenced screamed so loud it was deafening.

We decide & agreed that because the feelings were not reciprocated that our relationship needed to change, had to shift & we had to move towards being “surface” level friends. We couldn’t have the 100% access into the depths of each others lives like we had had for so long.

She didn’t get that part. Moving away from home was hard for her – as the texts, facebook messages & calls only increased; to share life, daily happenings & funny jokes only we would get.

It had to stop.
I wasn’t moving on. I was stuck in this same place – For me, it wasn’t fair. For me and my heart – I had to fully, let go.

Hardest email, I’ve ever written – pressing send = almost impossible.

The ending of a friendship here in Uganda only occurs with minor things – because they don’t have the same ideology or emotional characteristics associated with the word friend like we do.

Yet – in my hurt & the dealing with the loss of something so important, she had to be the victim – she in her genetic DNA had to be the one who was hurt, victimized & pure in my heartbreak by creating slanderous lies that only ripped our divide faster apart than mere space & time would have done alone.

So quickly – someone who once held a sizeable portion of my heart – only now fills that same part with disgust, bitterness, hurt, anger, questions – with pain.

I’m still working through the stuff I need to work through – dealing with the emotional pain and the other things that have come to the surface. Dealing with the absence of someone who filled a large part of the last 20 years of my life.
Real life is hard – sometimes it’s painful.

Yet over the last year in my pain – in the testing of my faith – my Jesus is good, faithful, living & so comforting.

To think I almost allowed my pain, bitterness & hurt to stop me from coming on this trip – to Uganda. I find myself chuckling at how crazy that sounds. I almost allowed myself to miss out on an opportunity to return to my hearts passion.

Yet, the Lord is so good at reaffirming, reminding & allowing our own selfishness from hindering His bigger picture.

I did what He commanded.
I shared my heart.
I did what He commanded.
I came to Africa, again.
I did what He commanded.
I know, in the place where the pain is the most uncomfortable – I’m right where He wants me because that’s where He is the most present.

This year has been a struggle.
This year has been painful.
This year has been real, raw & emotional.
Yet, the crops that will be yielding when this chapter closes – will be so rewarding.

For that, I am so thankful.

I love Africa. I love everything He has taught me in such a short amount of time. We serve an amazing God.

My Jesus, is good.

Continuing to Fully Surrender – every. single. day

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dude – I’m in Uganda.

6 06 2013

I am in Uganda

I find myself saying it over and over again, because the reality of actually being back on the continent of my heart still has not fully set it.

My months in South Africa- caused me to fall in love with the culture, the people, the languages, the animals, the food – the experiences and life that Africa has to offer. preparing over the last months, spiritually and physically I thought that I knew what I was getting myself into – little did I know that I; was wrong.

Leading up to the time for our team to leave, I filled my team in completely about my passion and love for this land – and apologized for the moment that I already knew that I would have to take upon setting foot back on African soil.

The first step off the plane – my heart skipped a beat. In the thickness of the heat, humidity and staleness – I knew this was where I was meant to be. Her heart, Africa’s heart – welcomed me home like only she could.

The smell; welcomed me home, the faces; smiled greetings that I could feel transpire from the depths of their spirit completely filling mine, the heat; wrapped around me like a hug from a friend that years and big oceans have kept distant, the stars in the sky; brought me to awe with the knowledge of how great & big the God we serve is, the time I stood just to take in the reality that I was back in Africa; reminded me of the passion that I have for this continent.

I took my moment and my moment took me. To describe to someone the emotions; both spiritually and physically that overwhelm in its entirety the being of someone so in love with this great land – is almost impossible to do. You literally have to experience it, yourself.

People ask me, “why Africa?” – I have no answer – except the word in Mathew tells us, “to go into the world & make disciples of all nations.” – for me, its this land – so rich, vibrant, full of hope & potential – that He has blessed me with a calling for. Yet, I do believe that The Lord is allowing me a greater understanding of my lifelong calling in terms of what my international cross cultural ministry might look in terms of specific work throughout Africa – because I’ve now fallen in love with 3 countries throughout this beautiful land.

We are 7 days into our 16 day ministry & already I have found that The Lord is so gracious in perfecting every detail of HIS plans.

This year for me has been an extremely difficult one- and has been the most faith stretching experience I have ever encountered. With the dissolution of a friendship of 20 years – The Lord in August started me on a journey to truly grab a deeper side of me then I had ever fully given Him. From moving out of home, starting a new school that I would quickly become very disappointed in, to continuing down a road to reveal the stomach issues I’ve been experiencing, experiencing difficulties with work, to daily struggling with the loss of a friendship that truly meant the world to me. Yet through it all The Lord is so faithful.

Throughout my walk of faith I’ve never experienced the judgement & ridicule that I experienced during my last 8 months at Northwest University. At a time in my life when being surrounded by believers in the same faith as myself – could have been such a blessing & helped with immense spiritual growth; it allowed me a glimpse at why non-believers are so distant from those of us of faith. In a time when I would have loved nothing more to be able to lean on a community that could have helped me – I wanted nothing to do with this community, nothing to do with these people who didn’t practice what they preached. Assuming things so out of character both for the church & those who represent it, who gave birth to rumors – which spread faster than wildfire in a community full of immature teenagers so excited to latch onto any gossip of a fellow student; regardless it’s validity, value or depth. Words can’t tell you how discouraging being in the “Christian” version of the movie Mean Girls is – although being in this environment was nothing new, it hits you so much different when it comes from a place you would have never expected it.

I would describe myself as a strong individual who can take a lot – in terms of the childish gossip, harassment & judgements that come from being an overweight, bigger young male with a higher voice & a ton of friends who happen to be female all thanks to my Junior High years. Yet, only because I am secure in my identity in who Christ says I am – which took years. I treat woman different them the world does – which makes me literally stand out, alone.

However, in my disgust & disappoint with Northwest University – I found that the Lord was able to give me the ability to experience something that has given me a glimpse at why the church is failing – literally, failing those who don’t want anything to do with this thing called faith. The fact my community turned so quickly on me; one of their own – it breaks my heart to think about how the outside community is devastated daily by the hurt transmitted by believers.

Yet, I can say that this year The Lord provided for me in ways that I am only just able to see. With this trip to Uganda – he orchestrated someone else to be here completely separate of the Northwest University community that truly has been such a blessing for me throughout this trip. I know that we both – are here in Uganda – for the other.

This post is long – and I’ve already started on another : but just so you know that The Lord is working in me & I’m so blessed to be back here in the land of my heart.

Surrendered, fully – every day.

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In Uganda

3 06 2013

We made it!

Apologies for lack of communication – Internet as you could assume is scarce and I’m so falling in love all over again!

The compound we are staying at is a gated compound fully funded by Assemblies of God Korea & we are so blessed – I truly can not hardly believe it.

The Ugandan people of course are so beautiful and the culture so amazing.

We are loving our time here so far from our work with the ministry of HIV+ woman, playing “American” football with teenagers, helping at an elementary school, leading worship — several times, attending several church services, to community house visits with some of the church ladies, to going on safari today-

We’ve had many trials already, more recently today with the breaking down of one of our vehicle 3 hours from our compound we are staying at – which brought about several other issues.

Prayers are so felt and we are so thankful for that.

Thank you again so much & I look forward to sharing more with you!

Much love.

Surrendered – fully.

Joe





when you least expect it, it happens.

29 04 2013

unexpected.

in life, things happen out of our control and in a time, where if not walking in faith – can seem to only be the universe coming at you.

April 14, 1984 two people would join together in marriage. bringing two families together, starting down a road that the Lord, since the beginning of time has continually blessed with the Holy Spirit.

29 years ago- my parents; Wynona Ott & Thedore Abber – became one. It’s amazing to think that it’s not normal nowadays to be married that long. With the rise of divorce statics drastically increasing – it’s become extremely unique to find individuals willing to commit to their vows – “for better or for worse, in sickness & in health. Until the Lord in His good knowledge & unapologetic timing – decides to call us home.” So often, people find the “easy” way out; their marriage gets hard because they become unhappy, they aren’t satisfied, they start to cling to things other then the other person in the their marriage. When that small crack starts, that is when the adversary in his devilish ways – sneaks it; to kill ,steal & destroy – what the Lord has promised for greatness.

My parents lives have been blessed; they’ve struggled, they’ve grown, they’ve moved, they’ve opened their house to 3 boys, they’ve shown us love – only parents so in love with each other & the Lord could show, the grace they’ve taught has been a lesson that I continue to struggle with – time and time again, they show grace. They’ve struggled through finances, they argued, they’ve fought – yet, through the hard times – they did what they vowed to do; work through it, because of that they have grown together. 29 years ago, April 14th, my parents started their lives together.

April 14th 2013 – my parents 29th Wedding Anniversary, my mom lost a brother.

Unexpected. It seems to happen when we least expect it. Suddenly. This year is destined to be a great one for the Abber family and yet, in that knowledge of greatness – my family now grieves. My mom now grieves. Yet, it’s amazing how the Lord continues to bless us; even in a time of great sadness.

My uncle, was a strong believer. While we feel shafted that the Lord decided it was best to take him without warning; we all, rejoice in the fact that we know He is dancing beside our Jesus.

In this time that’s supposed to be such an exciting time for our family; my parents 29 Wedding Anniversary, the youngest Abber graduating from High School, the middle Abber preparing for an International Trip to Uganda and to our oldest Abber preparing to start his own journey of marriage in August, we are forced to face the fact that in times of rejoicing sometimes we must mourn.

I ask that you continue to pray for our family in this time of sadness – that my Aunt will feel blessed for the 49 years she shared with  my uncle, that my cousins will be reminded of the things that my uncle taught them and the love they felt from him and for my mom and her siblings with dealing with the loss of a sibling that was so full of life, funny and had a way of connecting with you, you truly felt the love he had for you. To my grandma, as she mourns the loss of a son, her first born. Pray for God’s comfort throughout this all, because in time – we know that the Lord gives and He takes away – but irregardless, He is always loving, He is always full of comfort & He is always with us.





His Plan – Never Changes.

9 04 2013

our plans may change – yet, His plans; never change – ours just change to be what His original plan always was-

jeremiah 29:11 (msg)

“… I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out- plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope.”

the word gives clear evidence that what the Lord is preparing for Good- Satan will continue to come against anything that has potential to save souls. throughout the last few months as my team has continued to pursue the Lord’s heart for our trip to Uganda overcoming things that might have the potential to cause some to lose hope, second guess – and cause sin to creep into what the Lord has called their hearts to do.

my team, headed to Hoima, Uganda- this is not the case. however, we have a huge change that has presented itself – and prayer against the adversary is so appreciated. as preparations to purchase tickets came to fruition- we were informed that the price for the dates we were originally quoted, were no longer available. tickets had gone from $1,800 to $2,500. this has caused us to bump our trip up from the end of June – to departing in just over a month; May 28th.

our team has hit a few hiccups with this – in planning airfare either home, family vacations and finances – yet, we are dedicated to continuing with what the Lord has planned for those we can only imagine coming into contact with.

if you could continue to keep our team in prayer as we head into now, these very busy and stressful 7 weeks; which has caused us to lose a whole month of planning and prep.

I am looking forward to my church’s Missions event scheduled for April 21, 2013 at Ours Saviors Baptist Church in Federal Way- where a few people from my team & myself will be talking about our trip. We are so looking forward to sharing in an event dedicated to pursuing the Lords heart for the Nations and sharing with others who have a heart for Missions.

thank you for continued prayer & support.

fully surrendered – even when plans change,

Joe

Joseph.Abber12@NorthwestU.Edu

 





joe.GONDA.go.to:UGANDA!

15 03 2013

For those of you that do not know, I am going to Uganda this summer. Soon to be in the mail are update letters about my trip! I decided to put it out here as well & hope that you get involved and pray about how the Lord can use us all in His mission to win everyone to Christ!

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Family & Friends    It’s hard for me to believe that we are already into March of 2013! Where is this year going? It’s been 5 months since I first wrote about my trip this summer to Uganda with Northwest University and I wanted to share with you the exciting news and updates as I’m only about 3 months away from embarking on this journey!

As with any huge trip, changes are always inevitable and I wanted to let you know about them! I will be gone from June 29th -July 14th. We leave from Seattle and arrive in Entebbe, Uganda June 30th. From Entebbe, we will travel about 3 hours northwest to Hoima, Uganda. This is where we will be staying and ministering with the Uganda Assemblies of God Rescue alongside Danny Siega; an ordained and accredited Missionary with the Assemblies of God International.

We have the opportunities to work with logistical/behind the scenes things, working with kids at the local schools and communities; putting on different outreach activities, working with an organization that partners with the woman of this area making jewelry to sell as a means of income and as a practical skill, working with an HIV/AIDs prevention and education programs, doing different youth engagement programs with teenagers; both in & out of the classroom, participating in worship, prayer and bible study nights. Literally, our trip has unlimited opportunities for us to use our different skill sets and abilities for his glory!

Prayer Requests: team cohesiveness; with us all being students preparing for the final 6 weeks of classes as well as preparing for this trip, that we would just continue to bond together so that the work the Lord has planned will be a success. travel mercies; traveling with a group this size makes everything challenging, prayers for safety & that all transitions occur smoothly. spiritual dedication; that we will be prepared to love everyone like Christ and that through anything that may happen, our faith will stay intact knowing His plan is the one that was meant to happen. finances; prayer that the remaining funds needed will continue to come in and more people will be led to financially partner in this trip that the Lord is preparing great things for!

Your partnership over the last few years has continued to be such a humbling blessing & truly, I would not have been able to actively pursue the Lord’s calling on my life without your faithful support. Thank you for your continued to partnership in both prayer & financially. I am still about $2600 short of what is needed & any support you’re able to give – truly does more than we will ever know. If you are interested in partnering financially checks can be made out to me personally; Joseph Abber. For tax deduction purposes, Northwest University is also an option, yet with the timeframe shortening, the University has asked checks come directly to the individual team member so payment can be collected all at once to expedite the allocation of remaining funds. If you have any questions, please get a hold of me. Enclosed you’ll find a card with my contact information as well as my personal blog – enter your email address so you’ll get updates when I post information about my trip before & during my time in Uganda. Again, thank you so much for all your support.

In Him with humbled gratitude,

Joe Abber

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Surrendered More & More-

Joe Abber

Joseph.Abber12@Northwestu.edu