"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

Thursday, July 20, 2017

5 Year Ugandaversary!

It's hard to believe but today officially marks 5 years for us in Uganda!  We are so thankful for this time!  Sometimes, it is hard to believe we've survived this long (haha!)  Most of the time it feels as if the time has just flown by!
The kids were SO little and waited so patiently as we checked in!

But this is for sure: God has been faithful to strengthen us when we needed strengthening, comfort us when we needed comforting, rebuke us when we needed rebuking, give us a break when we needed a break, help us to press on when we needed to dig in and press on; He has kept us, loved us, filled us, blessed us.  There has been no step taken on this red dirt where he has not walked before us, beside us and behind us.

So here is an Ebeneezer:  thus far has God brought us! 

May His name be glorified and praised for who He is and all that He has done!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Bullet Post

The weeks have continued to pass by quickly.  Here are a few of the highlights:

:: We celebrated the first wedding in our new church building.  It was such a fun day!  Denise, Katelyn and Rebecca were all bridesmaids, Talitha was a flower girl and Benaiah was a "peg boy"...aka ring bearer.

When we got to the church with the girls, the crowd was so large and so loud!  I was sure that Talitha would get scared and not want to walk down the aisle...especially when she had to go first!  But she was so brave and danced her way in.  Afterward, Eric asked her, "Weren't you scared?" She said, "No, everyone was looking at me and how beautiful I was!" Eric said, "I think everyone was looking at the bride."  She said confidently, "No, they were looking at me" This does nothing for her humility. haha!

Here's a small sample of the excitement of the crowd!


They did the very non-Ugandan thing and kissed at the wedding.  As you can see by the look on the attendants face behind, it was a bit shocking to most people... haha!

Aw!  What cuties!

Such a fun day!

:: For Fourth of July, the British missionaries in our community hosted a BBQ.  Now affectionately referred to Brexit1776

Katelyn made a super cute cake for the occassion.

It even looked like a flag when it was cut.

::  We've also celebrated three birthdays:

First Rebecca turned 13 (we now have five teenagers in the family!!)

Then Matthew turned 14:

Then Denise turned 15:

::Then, this past weekend, we had an end of year picnic with the students and their families at KTC.  It included a volley ball tournament between the KTC students and some of the youth of New Life Presbyterian Church.  Our church youth won.  

Here is a picture of all the students and their families:

This is a picture of all the students that attend or are currently pastoring PCU churches:

And while the former group was lining up, these brothers, not to be outdone, insisted that I take a picture of the "presbycostles" as they affectionately refer to themselves as.

::And I'll leave you with just one more picture, simply because he was a cutie...a dangerous one...but cute nonetheless!

Friday, June 23, 2017

A Few Videos

Here are a few videos that I made this past week.  The first is a tour of what our yard looks like during our times of Open Compound...the times when we open our yard up to kids who want to come play.  On this particular day, we ended up with close to 200 kids.  The second is a short clip from our Breakfast Club.  That's when we serve breakfast and have devotions with any primary students that want to come and who are able to say their memory verse to get in the gate.  This past week we had 98 kids.  Both of these times are near and dear to our hearts and we are so thankful that God has allowed us to do this.  The third video is the video that we used on furlough in the churches that we were blessed to present in.  Many people have already seen this one, but just in case you didn't and want to...here it is!

Friday, June 16, 2017

A little update...

It hasn't quite been a month since I've posted, but almost!  I always hate it when the blog has to be silent for a time.  But it's birthed out of my extra and lately, I haven't had much extra to give.  These past weeks (really since we've arrived in country) have been up and down and up and down with my adrenal insufficiency...a couple weeks of feeling low, followed by a few good days, followed by more weeks of being low.  It's been difficult to regain the stability that I once had. Simple illnesses can knock me off my feet because it aggravates my adrenal insufficiency and it seems that I've had quite a few lately.  Cortisol is your fight or flight hormone, so when your body is called upon to fight an illness, you need to have your normal supply of cortisol that gets you through a normal day, plus extra to fight whatever is bugging your body.  When you rely on medicine for all your cortisol needs, simple illnesses suddenly become a bit more complex. Shortly after my last blog post, it was a small ear infection that took me down for a few days followed by a slow climb back to normal.  We are continuing to pray that God will be gracious to us to pull me up more and allow me to remain at a good place, where these little bumps in the road don't knock me down quite as much.  In the meantime, I am also praying that God will grant me contentment in this trial and to place my hope in him rather than in healing.

Despite this, Eric and I were blessed to have a few days away this past week for our 17th anniversary.  We needed to go to Western Uganda for work related things, so we tacked on a few extra hours to celebrate as well.  Near Fort Portal, Uganda there is a beautiful lodge that overlooks a crater lake.  We spent the night there.  In this picture you can see the lodge from across the lake in the center:

This is looking from the lodge out over the lake.  Eric and I walk/ran the rim of the lake in the morning.  It was so much fun!

After our night out, we drove around the Rwenzori mountains through this valley that empties out into the Rift Valley.  So stunningly beautiful!

While we were over there, we saw Cocoa trees for the first time!  Here is a cocoa pod hanging from the tree.

They found one that was ready to be picked and opened it for us.  So cool!  The flesh is sweet and the pit (or nib) is chalky, but you can taste the chocolate flavor (kind of like dark chocolate...it is bitter too!)  Normally, they ferment the bean, then dry it, then roast it.  The flesh is also often used in things like cocoa butter (in lotions, etc...)

We also had the experience of eating crocodile ribs.  haha!  They taste a bit like chicken only a little tougher...

I was so thankful for our days out.  The kids did a fabulous job while we were gone.  But we sure are glad to be back together again and back to our normal work.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Volleyball Tournament

While the Ugandan schools are on term break, we decided to host a volleyball tournament for the secondary students.  It ended up going alllll day long....from 9 AM to 6 PM!  But we had a lot of fun!

Awesome score keepers!

Timothy hosted a chess tournament simultaneously for something to do while the players waited for their turns.

We fed everyone rice and beans for lunch.

The winning team!  By the end, they were so so tired, but they got Uganda Cranes jerseys for their prize.

The volleyball tournament happened to be on Eric's 40th birthday!  So, our friends helped him to celebrate by dumping water on him...an African birthday tradition...

Then we served cake before everyone left.  So thankful for this man!  May God bless him with many more years to serve in his kingdom.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Church at Kakoli

Yesterday we worshiped in Kakoli village.  The church in Kakoli has suffered a lot in recent years.  God sovereignly allowed them to pass through many trials due to wicked leaders and in it all, they lost the building that they were worshipping in but have grown in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.  We praise the Lord for all that he has done!

The drive out to Kakoli is beautiful!  All along the way, there were people gathering white ants...manna from heaven...as the dry season ends.  These white ants are a great source of protein while the people wait for crops to grow.

We were so sad to see how horrible the crops look right now.  The corn that has managed to grow in the drought is already tasselling out when it's only a few feet high and even the cassava (which is saved for hunger season because it can withstand almost anything) was so dry and beginning to die.  It is so sad.  Most people in the village are down to one meal a day.  The Daddies, Mommies, and children are sleeping hungry. They are using more calories than they are able to consume.  It's not starvation point yet, but hunger for sure. It makes me hug my own children a little tighter at night and breathe prayers of thankfulness that I don't have to hear my little ones cry for food as they are falling asleep or watch their hair turn orange with the lack of nutrients.  We praise the Lord that the rain seems to be beginning again, but for many people, it's too late.  Some will be able to re-plant.  Some won't have enough seed left.

Yet here on the side of a mud hut of a church member is written in large letters, "God is able to supply your needs." A visual reminder of truth!

Because they no longer have a building, we worshiped under the mango tree.  It was a lovely morning.  Only minorly interrupted by a cock and a hen giving a, ahem, "science class" behind the pulpit and Talitha jumping off the mat and running to inform me...with many giggles...that the chickens were wrestling...

Talitha kept her hands busy during the 3-hour service by braiding her brother's shoelaces.

Here is some of the singing.



Afterward, we were invited over to the home of one of the church members for lunch.  We have many memories from this home...some sweet (like the marriage introduction of their daughter) and some very grievous (like the burial of her husband and then son).  This is also the home of Peace.  Some of you may recall that she is Katelyn's friend, whom Katelyn was raising money for so that she could attend nursing/midwifery school.  She is finishing her second (of five) semesters now.  She's such a sweetie.  She told us of how she had no idea after her brother died how she would manage to pay for school that semester but that she fasted and prayed and then how the Lord provided through Katelyn's efforts!  She praised the Lord over and over.  She kept saying, "I don't understand how after all that we have passed through, I am just so happy.  Happier than I've ever been!"  Such a beautiful example of a godly woman! 

Talitha, who has been looking forward to eating in the village again, finally got her wish.  Village food does have a unique and super yummy flavor to it.

I had also posted this on facebook and here is the back story plus a little update.  Our little friend Sharon, who is from the church in Kakoli has a major heart defect.  In fact, we found out this past week that she was born with her aorta on the completely wrong side of her heart.  She also has a hole in her heart.  And actually, it's that hole that has enabled her to live as long as she has.  This past week, a clinical officer in our church here in Mbale took her to the Heart Institute in Kampala to get it checked.  Originally they said to come back in a month to do a heart catheterization, but then we got word that she was to have it on Friday.  We found out later that there were three scholarships available for this procedure and all the slots were filled.  But Thursday night, one of the three became too sick for it, so they put her in.  She will return to the Heart Institute in a few weeks to see if the doctors have made a plan for treatment.  There is already talk, however, of her needing to go to India for the surgery, which of course is a very huge deal.  Would you consider praying with us that God will make a way for her to have surgery?  We don't know how all of this will work out, but we can pray to our heavenly father and trust him to do it.  Her life is precious in the sight of the Lord.  It is worth every effort to save it.

This is her and her mom standing outside of their home.  They made it back to Mbale from Kampala late Saturday night, so they rode with us out to Kakoli.  Poor girl, she was so tired and still very sore from her procedures, but such a sweetie!