"to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faithin me." Acts 26:18

Friday, October 28, 2016

Furlough Travels Photo Dump

We have made it to Oregon!  Since arriving in the USA a month and a half ago, we have slept in approximately 14 beds.  Boy are we glad to be here for a few weeks!  But our travels across the US visiting friends and churches and exciting sights was so much fun and totally worth it!  We took lots of pictures, but here are a few of the highlights.

We visited the Ark Encounter in Kentucky...

and the Air Force museum in Dayton, Ohio (Did you know this place is completely free?  Amazing! One could spend days in here!)

and the children's museum in Indianapolis, IN.  See all the stuffed children on display?  Just kidding...we had a blast with two of our great friends that used to live near us in Oregon but who have since moved to Indiana.

A LOT of miles in the car...many chapters of Story of the World and a few great books... We did eventually end up with a great seat rotation system and a well worked out rule book to the "punch bug no punch backs" game and Rebecca & Katelyn are well on their way to earning milkshakes by finding 48 state license plates.

We had lots of lunches on the road.  Some were nice...

...some were freezing... (but the company still made them nice!)

We saw almost all of the ladies that have come to help us in the past.  So much fun for all of us, but especially for the kids who grow so close to them!

And we saw a lot of God's glorious splendor... Rocky Mountain National Park and the Grand Tetons:

And we were painfully cold at the tops of the mountain passes.  It was 28 degrees with hard wind!  Too much for my equatorial dwellers! (But it does make for hilarious pictures and great memories!)

Ahem...my attempts at a selfie were ambushed by two girls and their snowy hands...

I love this crew of mine...

and this guy too...our fearless leader...

Friday, September 23, 2016

In the US

We made it!

The flight was great.  Emirates was a wonderful airline.  The kids watched available movies on the airline screen and played numerous games of battleship against each other.  I enjoyed a few episodes of "Call the Midwife" haha!  And we tried to sleep as much as possible.

A photo posted by Dianna (@diannatuininga) on

A photo posted by Dianna (@diannatuininga) on

The VanEssendelft cousins (and one Huntington!) were all at the airport to meet us.

The fun has begun!

But we have had a few bumps along the way.  On our first full day in country, Katelyn was on the zip line with her cousin on her lap and the zip line broke.  She fell about 10 feet and suffered 4 fractures of her spine.  Two are compression fractures in the vertebrae and 2 are pars fractures.  The good news is that all the bones are still in place...no pieces fragmented off or anything.  The bad news is that it means 6 weeks in a back brace and no heavy activity for the rest of furlough.

We also had all of Benaiah's appointments to figure out his asthma.

It turned out that his adenoids are severely enlarged and were blocking his breathing, especially at night!  This was exactly what we were observing.

So two days later he had surgery to remove them.  He was scared going into it, but did really well.  When he was waking up from anesthesia, he was so upset with me, as if I had betrayed him.  haha! He kept saying, "oh mama, oh mama, don't ever ever ever do this to me again!"  As he got food in him and got distracted with his kindle games, he perked up.

Despite the craziness, America has been great fun.  Thank you for praying for us!  

Monday, September 12, 2016

Prayerful, Patient and Prepared...

The church signed this very sweet poster/card for us and gave it to us yesterday.

It's hard to believe that it's time to say, "see you later" to our dear ones here in Uganda.  We have two more days and then we fly back to our dear ones there in America.  We are so excited to see Timothy and the rest of our families!  It's been so long!  But our hearts are still a quite sad that we have to be away from here for a time.  Six months is the goal.  On the one hand, we know that it will pass very quickly.  On the other hand...it's half a year!  That's a significant chunk of time to be away!

We have 20 pieces of luggage that we are putting together, and, what feels like, more than a million little details in order to be able to leave our house and ministry in a good place.  It's no small task.  Our bodies are exhausted and yet, as if our brains won't get that message, we have been waking up at crazy hours with minds full of details swirling..."I need make sure I remember those CDs for homeschooling on the road. I still haven't gotten our malaria meds to take with us just in case. I hope we have power and water for the next few days so that laundry can be done.  Can't forget to pay workers before we leave.  Instructions for animals.  Instructions for compound. What do I still need to order off Amazon so I don't have to face Walmart right away?" The list is endless.

And crazy won't stop when we get on that plane.  Within just a few days of arrival in America, we have our first homestudy scheduled in order to complete Denise's adoption.  We also have an appointment for Benaiah with a pulmonologist set up.  Within a week, Eric and I will travel to Pennsylvania for meetings.  Within two weeks we will begin a cross country trek to Oregon with several stops along the way.

I've had three words on my mind to ask of you for our furlough.  In some ways I'm thankful for a few quiet hours between 4 am and 7 am, before the kids wake up and the noise of the day begins, so that I can take a few moments to copy them down. Three words... prayerful, patient and prepared.  Here they are:

Please be in prayer for us.  Pray for the ministry here.  Pray that the people that we work with will stand firm in their faith.  Pray for our fellow missionaries who will take on a heavier load than normal so that we are free to leave.  Pray for our hearts and the hearts of our children as we miss our dear friends here.  Pray for us as we leave "normal schedules" and slip into six months of "chaotic/not normal schedules" Pray that we can get at least a little homeschooling done.  (I know it's flexible, but our kids do need to graduate one day! haha!)  Pray that we stay healthy.  We've had a lot of sickness lately.  Pray for Denise as she enters a new culture that she's never experienced before.  Pray for the rest of us as we enter a culture we are expected to know, but might not really.

Please be patient with us.  Know that our lives are a bit topsy turvy right now.  A nomadic life has it's bonuses.  It also has it's burdens.  Please be patient when we show up tired.  Be patient, knowing that we...who are a bit on the introverted side...will be seeing and interacting with a lot of people in the coming months.  Know that we won't have very much time with just our little family.  Be patient with my kiddos who are actually leaving "home" to go "visit" America.  Be patient with them as they are re-learning and learning for the first time, things that are "as American as apple pie."  American teenagers probably should know what a Sausage McMuffin is, but we realized a few days ago that sometimes they don't. ;-)  My children who lived their early years in a culture that was a beautiful shade of blue and moved to a culture that is a beautiful shade of red have now become a beautiful shade of purple...more lovely than I could have ever imagined.  They will never be the blue that they were, but they are wonderful mixture that God is stirring up and I'm thankful for that.

Please be prepared for us.  So many people are working so hard to find housing, winter clothes, things we will need, etc...  Thank you for preparing for us in this way!!  We are so grateful!  If you live in North Carolina or Georgia, we are still in need of more winter clothes and sleeping bags for when we go across country.  Email me if you want details in how you can help out in this way.  Please also be prepared to hear what amazing things the Lord is doing in Uganda.  Christ's kingdom is growing and advancing and we are eager to tell you about it.  We look forward to being in many different churches in the coming months and telling you about what God has done.  We are also looking forward to hearing what God is doing in your neck of the woods!  Get ready to tell us!  We serve a great King, who is advancing his kingdom around the world.  Let's be ready to encourage each other and rejoice together in the mighty ways God is working.

"I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.  And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.  It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel.  For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with affection of Christ Jesus.  And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God."  Philippians 1:3-11

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Final Visa Interview is finished!

We praise the Lord, that God has moved mountains and allowed us to get Denise's visa.  It has been such a long process...taking almost a full year and a half.  But what a blessing it is to be at the finish line now!

She's been worth it!

We are so ready to fly back.  It's been a long time since we've seen our families!  In addition, Benaiah has had another very bad season with his asthma.  He had to be on oxygen and was really struggling.  It will be so great to be able to get him to a pulmonologist in America.

God has been pulling this trip together for us.  Just this past week in addition to the visa appointment, we got plane tickets, a van, and houses to stay in.  It's almost hard to believe that after all this waiting, it's almost time to fly!

We've also been looking forward to some cold weather.  Here are the girls showing off some of the winter clothes we found in downtown Mbale.  But, as I said on instagram... #theyhavenoidea.  haha!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

11 Baptisms!

 Today in church we had 11 baptisms!  And four of them changed their names from Muslim names to Christian names.What a reason for celebration!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Turning 40!

Yesterday was my 40th birthday!  What a blast!  I was totally spoiled and surprised all.day.long....far more than I deserved.  This is a total photo dump because the celebrations started at 7:00 am and didn't finished until the evening!  

Tuesday mornings, I meet with a group of missionary ladies at a local coffee shop to pray.  They surprised me this morning with confetti, a sweet card, flowers and a banana cake.  Super sweet!  These ladies are such a huge blessing in my life...continually carrying me before the throne of grace!

I thought I was just going home afterwards to relax after my back to back trips to Kampala over the weekend, but instead my girls had a secret plan to go get manicures together.  (They only cost $1.50 here...how fun is that?)  Talitha was more than impressed with the multiple shades of pink to choose from.

Then I was told that there were even more plans!  The boys were meeting me for mini golf!  Mini golf in a unique experience here.  Starting with the fact that a police officer with a very big gun is the one who finds the clubs and balls for you.  We lucked out this time and actually had a club and ball each...usually we have to share.  :-)

In addition the course isn't exactly the cleanest course ever.  There are numerous leaves and sticks that only add to the challenge.

And we always wonder if the makers of this fun place just saw a picture on the internet and thought..."hey, lets do that..." Some of the holes are just plain impossible!

But who can argue with a great hour that is only $0.35 a person?

After that, I went home for an hour until I was supposed to meet Eric for a lunch date at 1.  Turns out our "lunch date" was an afternoon at the nicest hotel in town.  Unknown to me, the kids had asked him if he could get me out of the house for the entire afternoon (they had further plans...more on that in a minute)... my gem of a husband, who knows me so well and knew I would be absolutely exhausted after back to back trips to Kampala, decided to let me rest ALL afternoon.  Pure bliss! 

He told the hotel, he was bringing me for my birthday.  They took it a step up.

A welcoming sign outside: 

Our room was "340", but in honor of turning 40, the taped off the 3!  haha!!

The bed!  All the lettering was in flower petals...

And they made a cake for me!

When I came home, were the surprises done yet?  No!  The neighbor kids had decorated the gate and sang to me as we drove in!


Then, I thought surely all the surprises done, but the kids had totally out-done themselves and had a beautiful candle lit dinner for two!  (That's why they needed me out for the afternoon!)

They also made a video of all them speaking sweet messages, which of course made me cry.  Then they all prayed for me.

Then we had cake!

And why get forty little candles, when you can get one huge one for each decade? ;-)

This was certainly a birthday, I will never forget!  The only thing missing was Timothy!  (I talked to him later.) Huge thanks to Sarah Jantzen who I hear, had a huge hand in organizing this crew of mine.  :-)  I'm so blessed and I'm so thankful to be one step closer to my eternal home.