"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

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Knox Theological College

This week Eric began teaching at Knox Theological College again.  As you may know, Knox Theological College is now operating under Livingstone International University.  This allows us to be able to give diplomas and work under an accredited university.  This also means that, for the first time, we now have two levels running, which means multiple classes being taught simultaneously.  Exciting times of growth!  For this course block, Eric is teaching a course on missions and Charles is teaching a course on preaching.  Please pray that God will continue to bless all the studying and learning to his glory and the building of his kingdom.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

And the Heaviness Lifts...

Every Friday I lead a Bible study at church for the ladies/girls of our church.  It is something I love to do.  Yesterday we discussed Philippians 4:6-7, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

It is not easy to be a woman living in Kikamba (the slum where our church is located).  Violence, divorce, hunger, sickness, drunkenness sweep through, threatening every corner.  Women are often faced with a choice of selling their bodies so they can feed their family or standing alone and watching their children try to fall asleep hungry.  Many of the women are illiterate.  Many face violence in the home.  Many watch fevers rage in their children and there is very little they can do about it.  Just yesterday, when it was time to take prayer requests, we prayed for a family who almost had their 3 year old kidnapped out of their home at 2am, a family where thieves came in and used a panga to injure their cow (a financial investment and source of livelihood) to the point that the cow died, for a grandmother who is grieving because her grandsons were arrested for raping someone, two different wives who were attacked by their husbands and nearly killed, another mother whose son was severely burned and he needs treatment, two mothers who have children in prison, two mothers who have other children that refuse to obediently stay at home and many who struggle with chronic sickness and troubles.  Most of the wayward children mentioned above do not have fathers in their lives.  One of the women who is suffering from violence in the home has a family that won't help her at all because she is the only Christian and her family is Muslim.  It's not easy to be a woman in Kikamba.

When the women arrived yesterday, they looked heavy with care.  They looked tired to me.  I actually wondered how Bible study would even go.  Are they too tired to listen today?  How will God's word speak to them today?  Every word that comes out of my mouth must be translated.  The frustration of the tower of Babel continues again today in this little corner of the world.

We started to talk about God's word.  What can we be thankful for in the midst of all our anxieties?  Then something happened that rarely happens in our Bible study...almost every lady wanted a chance to speak about something she was thankful for.  Hand after hand raised up asking for a turn, mouth after mouth speaking words of praise.  There it is: the Holy Spirit on the move, producing thankfulness instead of anxiety.  Peace instead of worry.  Peace that is deep and beyond understanding.  Peace you wouldn't expect to find in a group of women from Kikamba.  Peace that is found where ever Christ is found.  These women have troubles almost beyond what I can even begin to wrap my mind around.  But they also have Christ.

Their faces changed in that moment.  I literally saw the softening, the renewing of strength, the flood of joy.  The heaviness lifted and the Spirit rushed in.

"God gave me food this week."

"My neighbors stopped fighting me"

"God healed me so that I could get out of the hospital"

"I have school fees for next term."

"God brought missionaries to Uganda"

"We have a church we can go to that teaches us about God."

"Christ died on the cross for me."

We all clapped and laughed together afterward.  What a friend we have in Jesus!  All our sins and griefs to bear.  What a privilege to carry, everything to God in prayer.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Youth Retreat in Karamoja

This past week, the youth from our PCU church here in Mbale went up to the OPUM Karamoja station in order to join with the youth from the church plant there (along with the teenaged children of the missionaries) for a youth retreat.  This is the first time our two mission stations have joined together to do something like this for the youth.  It was a very exciting opportunity and was a blessing to see.  Even though our two OPUM stations are only a few hours apart, the cultures of the two areas are dramatically different.  For our youth from Mbale, it really is almost like going to another country...so different than their normal life.

Some of the Ugandan pastors from our area did the teaching.

Prayer time in the evening

Our youth were so impressed by the food that the Karamoja Station provided.

During the afternoon, all of the youth broke into small groups to do service projects.  Some of the youth helped at KEO (the nursery school run by our team), some helped to build some houses for members of the church there, some helped to harvest millet and some went evangelizing in a local village.  This was probably one of the greatest blessings of the retreat.  In fact, a couple of the girls that worked at KEO loved it so much that they even expressed interest in coming back to help...kind of like a short-term missionary.  Wouldn't that be something?  The local church in Mbale, sending out short-term missionaries?  I think youth all over the world love to use their youthful energy for this sort of thing, it's simply a matter of opportunity and resources.  (Photo below is of the evangelizing team praying before they leave)

They also had some time for sports and games and to go for a hike to the waterfalls.

 And a late night movie...

And a bonfire.  Haha...Eric got started telling all the kids American fairy tales... Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, etc.  He had a captivated audience.  All these stories that most American children grow up hearing are actually quite shocking when you hear them for the first time as a young adult. 

 We are so thankful for all that our teammates in Karamoja did to help make this retreat a reality.  It was a real blessing to us and to the youth.  Praise the Lord for his goodness!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

A few moments from our week...

Just a few moments from our week:

This is my little friend.  She used to scream every time she saw me.  haha!  I've finally won her heart.

My little kitty that Talitha gifted me but is still quite content to lay mutual claim on, is oh.so.cute!

School continues to march on and is going quite well.  On Friday, I left the table to go make coffee and I told the littles to quiz each other on their spelling words when I was gone.  This is what I came back too, but they had a blast.  haha! 

Our teammates organized a marriage retreat for all the pastors and wives in our presbytery.  I wasn't able to go this year because of school with the kids and really working to not do too much for the sake of my health.  Eric went for a day though and it sounds like they had a great time and that everything went really well.  Pray that this time of teaching and fellowship will bear fruits in the local church.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

42 Years

This past week was my 42nd birthday.  I'm so thankful for my birthday.  The more I have faced chronic illness, the more thankful I have become for LIFE.  My Ugandan friends often remind me to praise God for the "gift of life" and that praise has only become louder as I see the clay vessel of my body become more cracked these past few years.  Every year of life that God chooses to give me on this earth is worth celebrating!

This year, Eric took me out to supper on Monday night, then on Thursday, he bought me fresh roses...wow...what a gift here in Mbale.  (They have fresh cut flowers in Kampala, but only occasionally here in Mbale!)  Then we had dinner with just our family and each of the kids gave me a sweet note.  I was absolutely overwhelmed with God's grace to me.  I see so many failures in my life but God has shown me so much love!

Talitha gave me her kitty for my birthday.  Haha...she was so excited to bless me!  (although the thought has occurred to me that she might be thinking that mama won't give the kitty away if she got it as a birthday gift...haha!)

Here's just a sampling of all the sweet notes that I got!
I love seeing scripture written out in the handwriting of my kids!


Katelyn's caricature of our family is hilariously accurate...

 And of course, Benaiah's card is a picture of people dying by lightning strikes and an erupting volcano.  haha!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

A Smattering of Happenings

We've just finished up our third week of school.  So far, it's gone very well.  I'm so thankful for that grace from God.  The littles and I do all our work in the pavilion.  We love being out there and make a fair bit of a mess before the days are finished.  I think I can safely blame William for most of the mess though.  I realized that he rotates around the table, picking a new spot for each subject and leaving a trail behind.  haha...  I find it funny to see where my kids choose to do their school.  I have some that claim the same spot day in and day out, only changing every few months.  Others are migrants...they choose a new spot almost daily.  

We've also been busy doing other things.  Here's a smattering:

Our little friend S, is finally done her treatment for her leg.  A little bit more than a year ago, we found her in the hospital by herself (her grandma had gone to the village to find money), with her leg infected to the point that her bone had rotted, broken and then burst through her skin.  But now, she is healed and able to live life to the full.  Here she is with her grandmother who loves her so so much!

Our Saturday night tradition continues to be to have a huge meal followed by a sermon.  It's a highlight of our week.

Our church continues to grow.  Last Sunday we welcomed many new members and had a lot of baptisms.  We rejoice with these dear friends.

The church expands this way too...here's the newest little addition!

Talitha's cat had one little kitty a few weeks ago.  So cute and so sweet!

And Benaiah's duck is finally laying eggs.  He is over the moon excited about it!

The boys built a Lego ship, with a styrofoam hold and attached Timothy's EV3 to it, as well as quite a few LED lights.  The local hotel let us come up one night and send it on its maiden voyage around the pool.  I think now they are working on a second version.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

New Family Pictures!

We just got our family pictures taken yesterday.  I thought they turned out quite well.  (Other than a major struggle to get my teen boys to smile...lol!)  I'm so very thankful for this crew of mine.  The lines surely have fallen in pleasant places!  (And I'm also thankful for teen girls who have the energy and motivation to dig through everyone's' closets and find clothes that don't clash!)