Post by Erica Hale, VP of The Lulu Tree
It’s hard sometimes, living in two worlds.
Here, in the United States, a skiff of snow dusts the ground and the frozen grass pokes stiffly through. In the waning light, Christmas lights start to blink on one house at a time–the furnace kicks in with a warm whoosh as my husband and I sip tea by the Christmas tree late on December 25th, amid scraps of wrapping paper and curls of ribbon that still litter the floor. My children’s laughter drifts in from the kitchen, where the remains of ham and cheese and chocolate cake still cling to the Christmas china.
Once, this was the only world I knew. Once, the other world–the one across the ocean–was distant and undefined.
But over the years that I’ve been with The Lulu Tree, my world has doubled. My eyes have been opened to another life, to a world where family members–our own family members, sharing the same good Father with the same Spirit beating in their hearts–live a different life. Not a lesser life, but a life where the meaning of Christmas is felt far deeper than in the cozy trappings of Western tradition and holiday cheer. A life where God is not limited to the soft glow of advent candles but instead roars like wildfire across the waiting land.
Today, I’m learning to live in two worlds. I’m learning, in fact, that when our eyes are open there are not two worlds at all…but one world, one love that is given to us by a Father who is Love Himself and who, in giving us the command to love one another and to show our love for Him by caring for the world’s orphans and widows, has given us a gift of infinite value—the gift of bridging two worlds and living the fullness that’s found there. Following this command opens the door to a world so much bigger, a God so much more powerful, and a love so much deeper than the one I knew before.
I am beyond grateful for this.
This Christmas, Mommy Emily and her family have been in Uganda with our Lulu Tree family there. Our chilly days here in North America have been warmed by pictures of the children playing together, and especially by the news that the roots of the Lulu Tree, which propagates like North America’s Quaking Aspen, are quietly spreading beneath the soil and sprouting up seedlings in unexpected places. After hearing about what Lulu Uganda is doing in Namagera district, believers from Kagera district have started a new pastor’s fellowship of their own–with a pastor as chairman and a widow as the treasurer.
Mummy Esther reports that she wept with joy as they worshipped in unity, a new beginning brought forth from the Lord–and who can say where it will be planted next?
In the slums of Kampala, children celebrated the birth of Christ together. There is no snow, no tree, no Christmas lights. But, then, these things were also not present two thousand years ago in Bethlehem–in fact, the place where Christ was born most likely looked a good deal like the church where children sang and laughed and prayed together this year. Children from two worlds, united as one.
The Nile River begins in Uganda and flows down to the Mediterranean Sea. Just to the east, beneath the make-shift shelter of a stable, the birth of Jesus also united two worlds–God with us, born into that same red dust and heat. The hope born that day brought Heaven to Earth, united two worlds and opened the door to a life so much bigger, a love so much deeper than we can ever comprehend.
Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, to all of you who have joined us by choosing to live in two worlds. This year, God has done amazing things through your prayers, support, and love–the hopeless have found hope, the homeless have found shelter, the fatherless have found their Father, the orphans have been set in families, the outcasts have found acceptance and the hungry have been satisfied.
And in the year to come? We wait in joyful expectation, relying on a God who multiplies our small offerings and works miracles through our mustard-seed faith, beyond all our hopes and all above all understanding.
A Gift for the New Year
As Emily and her family spent Christmas in Uganda, she was able to meet with Diana Nabukenya. Diana is the mother of our Ugandan co-director, Joel, and she has a life story that powerfully illustrates what our Lulu family in Uganda has been through in the last generation–as well as how God is redeeming what was lost and bringing healing to hearts and nations.
Diana wrote the story of her life in a memoir, The Heroes, which she will present to the president of Uganda. There is no more powerful testimony than our stories–what God has done in each of our lives speaks louder than any theological debate or apologetic discourse.
With her permission, we would like to offer Diana’s book to you–free of charge–to read and share. The Lulu Tree has helped her create this book (through a publishing company that also happens to be called “Lulu”) and it can be downloaded free as an ebook or ordered as a print book at the cost of production. Diana’s words are a gift and her story is inspiring–we are honored to offer you her story!
The Heroes, by Diana Nabukenya
During the brutal Idi Amin regime in Uganda, Africa, four-year-old Diana is awakened in the middle of the night to discover her father has been murdered. Shipped off to relatives, she is forced into indentured servitude and spends countless nights huddled outside in the dark where she is banished as punishment any time she crosses her aunt. On one such night, her mother is awakened by a dream in which she’s told to go rescue her little girl. Diana returns home to thrive under her mother’s care and flourish in school until one day when her mother’s business partner runs away with their savings. Diana and her siblings are thrust back into poverty, and young Diana takes solace in the arms of a boy who then leaves her as one of thousands of young girls across Africa — a teenage mother, pregnant at fifteen years old.
*Please note: The Lulu Tree is not directly selling this book, nor will either The Lulu Tree or Diana Nabukenya be taking a profit of any kind. Our heart is to share Diana’s story with as many as possible, to allow others to see the way God is moving in Africa–so the book is offered free in its ebook format. The print version is available for USD $2.70 (plus shipping), which is simply the price of producing a paperback copy of the book. Lulu book printing and publishing is responsible for the production and distribution of the book, and questions about orders may be directed to their website.