"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

Monday, January 22, 2018

PCU Youth Camp

Two weeks ago, our church youth attended youth camp put on by the Presbyterian Churches of Uganda.  It was held in Kapchorwa...just under two hours from here.  We had about 108 youth from our church and presbytery attend!  Our oldest five went too and had such a great time!  These pictures are mostly from Eric and Katelyn's phones.

Loading up a bus that they hired to get everyone there.  (They also used a smaller bus, plus our van)

Our Karamoja station also sent a group of guys to attend.  For many of them, it was their first time out of Karamoja!

The little guys and I had a great week at home, but we did make it up on Wednesday to visit everyone.

Some of our youth leading singing.

Some of the girls from our church doing a dance for talent night that Sarah had taught them.

They took a hike to some nearby waterfalls one day.

Sugared up and...

sleep deprived... ha!  Isn't that what youth camp is supposed to be?

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Christmas Traditions

Our family has two Christmas traditions which, we admit, are quite on the odd side.  One is that we have one dinner while "Reclining" at the table...something like what you read of the culture of New Testament times...minus the pizza and soda?  haha... Daddy's idea was to eat our reclining dinner in the pavilion...the kids opted for the roof.  So they did all the prep work and up we went...benches, pizza, mattresses, pillows and all.  

Our second yearly tradition is to sleep around the Christmas tree.  So since all the festivities were on the roof...well, clearly, the tree had to be moved up to the roof too, right?  Up it went...fully decorated!

I'm not quite sure what I was doing here, because clearly...had that thing dropped, there is nothing my little self could have done.  haha!

Sleeping on the roof doesn't give the most restful night of sleep.  The next day, we found William crashed outside on the pavilion step.  Poor kid!

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Year- New Word

Last year I tried something new--I chose one word to have as a theme for the year.  The word was JOY.  It was a blessing to me to be able to come back to that as a theme during our time on furlough (when joy came quite easily), during our time of transition back (when joy was a little more difficult to find as our emotions were yanked across oceans) and during my many days of sickness (when it was just a downright fight for joy).  God gave me two major endcaps to the year 2017.  The first was a ladies retreat last January in Colorado that I spoke at.  The topic was joy and it was a huge blessing to begin to dive into studying it deeply.  The second endcap was our team retreat this past December, where we studied Job, what it means to worship in our suffering (including having joy!).  It was here that God baked and hardened the lessons that he had been teaching me all year.

As I've been prayerfully thinking about a new theme for this year, the word ABIDE has been coming to mind from John 15:

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

There is no greater gift I can give my husband, children, and ministry this year than the gift of a wife, mom, and missionary that abides in Christ.  I want to be a doer of the word (not just a hearer), but before I can be a doer, I must be soaked, saturated and abiding with Christ...in his word and in prayer.  And what beautiful promises to those that abide: answered prayers, fruit, seeing God's love, joy!  I'm looking forward to learning more about abiding in Christ this year.

What about you?  Did you make any New Years resolutions?  Do you have a word that you have chosen to focus on this year?

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Emma's Birthday Surprise

Last night we celebrated our friend, Emma, on his birthday.  There is an African tradition that the birthday person gets water dumped on them.  Last week was our friend Florence's birthday.  The kids got her when she was opening a fake gift.  Emma had been bragging to everyone that he wasn't going to fall for anything like that.  Game on, Emma.

The kids made him a nice red cake.  Note Timothy in the background moving into position.

The paparazzi are pretty good at distracting their victim.  The kids also have huge smiles because they know exactly what's coming.

The kids made the first cake out of posho...it was only for looks.  The real cake was wrapped up as a gift.  What a blast.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

December Photo Project: Day 25

 Merry Christmas, dear friends!

We were so blessed to be able to celebrate with many friends today!  Lots of visitors! (I think we had about 45 extra...I kind of lost count...haha!) We had a delicious meal of turkey, chicken, beef, rice, matooke, chapati, sweet potatoes, gnut sauce, cabbage, watermelon, and pineapple.  Best of all...we were able to hire someone to do the cooking and clean up, so I was able to enjoy too!

Rebecca made some of her delicious apple pies for dessert!

Then after lunch, we had all the youth over for dinner and a lock-in.  Life in Kikamba (the slum where these kids come from and where our church is located) can be tough Christmas night.  Christmas is full of drunkenness and awful temptations. Two years ago, I spent Christmas night with the girls there and saw first hand some of the horrible things that can happen to these vulnerable kids.  We wanted to provide them a "way of escape" so that they could "endure" the temptations of the night. (I Corinthians 10:13)  I think this is one of the toughest things we've done...haha...we aren't so young anymore!  The kids were good though...just very full of energy...haha! (like teenagers everywhere!) But, like all hard things, it was also good and I'm glad we were able to provide a safe place for the night.  We did volleyball, hotdog roast (most kids had never heard of hotdogs before and wondered about their name...haha!), talent show, movie...then we separated girls and boys: girls at Paige's house and boys in tents at the bottom of our yard.  I think some of them slept for a couple hours!  haha!  Then this morning Eric, Paige and Pastor Charles took them swimming.  After swimming, they were very quiet and subdued...I think we wore them out. Ha!

December Photo Project: Day 24

Today, we gathered with God's people to worship.   

Then, we had our usual open compound time.  We are super happy that we were able to get some playground equipment for the small children to play on.  It's a fun new addition!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

December Photo Project: Day 23

Today is a bit of an unusual photo... it's actually an excuse to say thank you for praying for me and to give you an update on my health since so many of you have prayed for me in this area.  If you aren't aware, quite a few years ago now, I was diagnosed with Primary Adrenal Insufficiency. (Fun history fact: it's the same disease that JFK had, but kept very well hidden during his presidency) It is considered a rare disease in which the outer cortex of the adrenal glands fails and the body stops producing cortisol...a hormone necessary for life.  Cortisol is a stress hormone: whenever your body is under any type of stress (life stress, sickness, happy stress, emotional stress, etc...) it produces cortisol and prevents your body from going into shock.  For those with Adrenal Insufficiency, our bodies produce none, so we must rely on a low dose of steroids to give us all we need.  For several years, I was very stable.  Like most AI patients, I would need to pace myself and get plenty of rest and take extra medicine when I was sick, but it really wasn't too big of a deal.  But two years ago, I started to spiral.  No matter what I tried, I constantly struggled to make it through the day.   I have been exhausted all the time...and my exhaustion has been accompanied by deep, sharp, shooting bone pain, low-grade fevers, debilitating brain fog and would, more days than naught, leave me on the couch.  It's been a real struggle that many people have been praying for.

A few weeks ago, I started to realize that there was a real potential that I wasn't actually absorbing my steroid tablets.  Maybe it's my struggles with celiac or maybe just years of being on a steroid that has done damage to my stomach...not sure... but I knew my digestive system has issues.  A few weeks ago, I was extremely discouraged one afternoon and I cried out to the Lord in a torrent of hot messy tears and during that prayer, an idea came to me that maybe I should try to inject all my steroid.  I actually had never heard of this, but I started looking on an Adrenal disease facebook group that I'm a part of to see if there was anyone else who had done this... turns out there was!  Lack of absorption can actually be a fairly common problem and the solution is to use insulin needles to inject the steroid...and best yet...I could find everything I needed right here in Mbale!  (even a box for sharps! ha!)  

So for the past few weeks, I have been injecting all my steroid (following a circadian rhythm dosing schedule, so it ends up being 7 injections a day) and I can hardly believe how much better I feel!  It's been amazing!  I have had zero bone pain, zero brain fog, much more energy, and my blood pressure has risen so that I have no more dizzy spells when standing up!  It truly has been an act of God's grace to me to bring me up out of the pit that I've been in for the last two years.  I can still get tired (sometimes very tired), but it is NOT the same kind of painful/can't see my way through to even communicate with the family tired.  So while I'll have to pace myself the rest of my life (and that's okay...not a bad thing!), I feel like I've been granted a huge measure of healing these past few weeks!  And to top it all off...I'm taking less steroid than I was in pill form!  Don't need as much anymore! 

Some people in my situation will end up getting an insulin pump and using it to pump the hydrocortisone instead.  Perhaps, if God wills and the insurance company will pay then that will be in my future.  (I hope so!!)

In the meantime, I am ever so thankful for this answer to many prayers and ask that you continue to pray for God to protect and sustain me!  Adrenal failure is no fun...it's a beast of a disease...but I can really see how even this, God turns for his glory and for my good.  Much praise and glory to God!