"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

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.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Tuininga Compound Olympics

We hosted our first ever Tuininga Compound Olympics recently.  What a blast!  Here's the photo dump.

Eric letting one child in at a time and signing them up, while our security guard looks on, somewhat amused. 

Eric giving instructions to the kids...

This is Kevin and his groovy scar.  Kevin got pushed off a bridge a few weeks ago and broke his elbow.  He had to have pins put in and so he has been recovering from Sarah's house, because his home life is difficult and the doctors didn't want him to risk further infection and injury.  He's a cutie pie and stinker all rolled into one...

Meylin and Rebecca...best buddies...

The first event was a 100 meter dash....or um, something like that... however far it is from the bottom of our hill to our driveway...

The second event was a wheel barrow race.

The big kids had to go allllll the way across our compound...

The third event was the throwing of the 5 kg rice bag...well, until the rice bag started to break despite multiple layers of duct tape...then the big boys got to throw a heavy rock.

And the final event was archery.  Last Saturday, Eric hired some of the kids to make bows and arrows.  They had to hit a tree across the yard.  Very few were actually successful, but some were!

We didn't have time to buy prizes, so cash prizes it was.  William was thrilled that he got first in his age category.  Jimmy also won in his!

Afterwards, we had our usual circle time... our little group is growing by leaps and bounds.  We've made it through large sections of scripture with them and about 40 Q & A from the catechism.  We also quiz them on Sunday school and sermon material.  It's great to see them learning so much.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Bullet Post Update

:: We are still in the process of trying to get Denise a visa to travel with us for furlough.  We were hoping that we would be on the plane by now, so it has been a bit difficult to wait.  Currently, the US Embassy is investigating her case in order to confirm that she is indeed an orphan.  Please continue to pray with us that the Lord will grant us the visa so that we can travel soon!  Timothy is still enjoying his time in America, but he has a family here that misses him lots!  We can't wait to go see him, so we need grace to stay as long as the Lord desires!

::I took these pictures when we were eating in the village yesterday.  The girls were happily sharing a plate of food.  They seem to have mastered the art of eating with their hands...

and the art of looking cute...

::Tis the season for circumcision.  Our local tribe circumcises their boys as an entrance to man-hood, but only on even numbered years...and predominantly the second half of the year.  This time of year, there are many large groups going down the road with a young man, all decorated, who is to be circumcised that night...with no pain killers (except for local drugs and alcohol).  It's called okusala nbalu.  While many boys are now circumcised at clinics (including most Christians), the traditional ceremony is full of spirit worship, sacrifices, sexual immorality and drunkenness.

So circumcision season calls for this kind of Sunday school discussion.  The text is Galatians 5:6 and the general gist is that God doesn't really care if you are circumcised or not (when we started Sunday school this morning, as general sentiment was expressed that at the very least, circumcised men are more holy than uncircumcised...maybe that God likes them better) but what matters is faith expressing itself in love.

Our church enjoyed lunch together again.  I showed up early to help sort the rice.  Local rice is dried on the ground so it often has small stones mixed in along with quite a bit of chaff still.  When the ladies sort it, they pull out the stones and throw the rice in the air to blow the chaff away.  If you put a picture of me attempting this, next to mama Rachel doing this (pictured below) you could easily label my side a fail.  We had a good laugh together though.  I'll have to practice some more.

Our friend, Corline

We have had a difficult week and weekend.  Our friend and worker at KTC, Corline, just passed away this past Friday.  He has struggled the past little while with illnesses and over the last two weeks began to really deteriorate.  After not receiving adequate medical attention in Mbale, we were able to move him to one of the best hospitals in Uganda in Kampala.  But despite our best efforts, the Lord chose to take him home.

He was 26 years old.  He left behind his wife, age 20 (pictured in the middle), his 8 month old son, his mother (also a widow), his brother and two sisters.  He was the sole bread winner of the entire family.  

The body being moved from the family's living room outside for the funeral.

Eric preached the funeral message.

The grave side...

Pastor Charles giving the final prayer...

One part of Ugandan culture that we love is that the family and friends actually bury the body.  They plant the seed that will one day be raised to glory.  (I Corinthians 15: 42-44)  They do this while singing hymns of hope in Christ.  It really is a beautiful and precious moment.

 I know the family would appreciate your prayers as they figure out how to move on and live despite their daily challenges that have just been extraordinarily compounded.  Thank you so much for lifting these dear sisters and brother before the throne of grace.  They need grace.  They need love.  May God be glorified to give them both in the coming days.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Backyard Campout

In honor of Rebecca's birthday (that occurred a month ago...oops!) we had a camp out.  The girls planned and prepared and cooked and organized.  The boys had great fun joining in the eating and fire tending part of things.  We had hot dogs, chips, matoke, and of course...s'mores (Uganda style).  Eric was away in Kampala, so all the oversight was left to me.  But these kids make it easy (for all you mama's of small children...don't give up yet!  You're about to enjoy some really great times ahead!).

All I did was confirm that they had everything (they did!)

And start the fire...

with gasoline...

let's just say, I really impressed the kids... 

with a fire ball...

and we all still managed to keep all the hair on our heads!

It was great!

Throwing the matoke on to the fire...

My insta-fire...just add water..."girl scout water" as we used to call it.

After dinner, the girls hung out in the tend with cookies and apples and watched a movie together.