"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, June 27, 2016

Bodas, Mud and a Karamoja Pastor's Seminar

The pastors with our mission in Karamoja planned a pastoral training seminar a while ago and asked Eric to come teach at it as well.  It was presumed that the roads would be pretty good.  So, we planned the trip and four of the kids planned to go along as well in order to have some play time with our friends up there.  Then the rain decided to come back in full force turning the bad road into a muddy mess.

Reflecting the spirit of the US Postal service, Eric decided to try to make it up there anyway.  While the roads were certainly not passable in any of our Mbale vehicles, the bodas could still make it through.  And somehow the kids managed to talk their way into still going too.  The apple doesn't fall far from the trees in regards to finding adventures.  They had a blast.  For three hours they went through and around the mud...sometimes slowly and sometimes they had to get off and walk, but they loved it.




The seminar went really well (they had representatives from 10 churches there) and the fellowship on all accounts was great.


And speaking of bodas... they do have a saying here...

"Any load, any road..."

Yes, these pigs were very much alive...

And unlike my children, they weren't quite as pleased with their adventure...

Saturday, June 18, 2016

A Few Random Happenings...

The other day the kids caught a few little tiny birds.  They are African yellow white eyes.  So sweet.  One of them was healthy and so we let it go.  The other one had a broken wing, the kids tried to rehabilitate it, but to no avail.  Little birds are hard to help. 




There have also been quite a few of these guys hanging around.  We couldn't find an ID on them, however.

And then to our amazement, this beautiful barn owl spent the day in our tree right next to our house.  What a treat to be able to watch him throughout the day!



For a couple of years our back porch has been used to store church stuff in.  Since the church has moved, we are now able to use the space again.  The girls and I built this couch out of pallets, foam mattresses and pillows.  It's a cozy spot in our house now.

For some reason, Katelyn and I decided to take bodas to town when we got the mattresses and pillows.  Here we are getting everything loaded up to go home.


We had two wonderful young ladies come to visit us a few weeks ago.  They were working with church kids, working in the village schools and helping in the community.  Sadly, they had to suddenly head home when one of them lost her brother while she was here.  Please pray for peace for her and her family as they grieve.   

We also praise the Lord that we got our i600a...a very important document that we were waiting for in order to be able to move forward in getting Denise's visa.  We are thankful for all the ways God continues to help us to move forward in this very difficult process.  We are still praying that God will allow us to return for furlough in August.  Please continue to pray for this also!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Church Lunch!

When our church began meeting on our compound a couple years ago, we thought it would be a blessing to introduce the idea of fellowship lunch.  So for two years, every communion Sunday, the church would encourage the members to bring food from home so that we can eat together.  It was a growing experience.  The idea of everyone bringing something and coming together to eat is a foreign concept.  The culture is that one person (usually the person with the money) provides food for every one else.  Culturally, they expected the church or us personally (since church was on our compound) to provide for them.  But over the years, the members started to understand.  I still did a lot of the meal, but the other members did a great job of beginning to join in.  And amazingly, we always had just enough...not a huge feast...but enough.

When we moved to our new building, the church decided it would be great to try our meals a different way.  They calculated that to feed 200 people, they would need about 150,000/= ($45) from the people to buy rice and beans.  In addition the church could add to that about 100,000/= ($33) to by the smaller items.  So two Sundays ago, they took a special offering to see if people would donate the 150,000/= for lunch. The people of the church gave 240,000/=!!  So this past Sunday, we had our first lunch at church.  The ladies spent Friday afternoon gathering firewood and supplies, Saturday afternoon sorting the beans and rice, and then arrived at church at 6am on Sunday to start cooking!  We really truly feasted AND ended up serving about 300 people because of our record attendance!! (yes...just over $100 fed 300 people very well!)  How awesome is that?!

Check out these cooking pots!  



Scooping up!



Pastor Charles and Elder Tabitya and all the kids!  :-)

Full hearts, full bellies... God's blessings abound!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Bullet Post Update

The month of May flew by with a vengeance.  We took some weeks off of school and lest we grow too lazy on our break, life threw some crazy busy times at us to keep us relying on the Lord and looking to him for strength.  Here are some of the highlights.

:: We had, what we hope, will be the first of many training sessions for the pastors and wives.  The pastors are going through very practical material such as "how to run a session meeting."  The wives are getting encouragement to keep pressing on in their roles as pastors wives.  (The role of pastor's wife is even more difficult here than in the states since the husband will put in many hours of labor for the church with no pay.  Often times the family struggles for food and school fees and yet the husband presses on working for free for the church.  It is easy for Satan to use that opportunity to discourage the wives, as you can well imagine)  



For the ladies, I taught one session and Mama Rachel and her mama (Mama Maria) taught the other session.  It was a real blessing to all of us.


::  Our other big event of the month was that Timothy flew by himself back to America to work for his uncle for the summer.  It's hard to believe that this kid is 15 years old and old enough to even consider such an opportunity!  We are praying that we will get Denise's visa in order to be able to join him in August.  This whole "leaving the nest" thing is killing my mommy heart, but we are so much at peace with where he is staying (With his Uncle, Aunt and 7...soon to be 8...cousins) that we can't help but be very happy for him!  It was quite brutal on my little ones though.  They just don't get the whole idea of "America."  It seems so far away to them...truly a place people go to and don't come back.  ("Does America have playgrounds?"  "Is Timothy going to die there?"  "Will we ever see him again?")  Little Talitha has cried herself to sleep more than once, but she seems to be settling down now.  We were so thankful for how Emirates airline took care of him.  We didn't pay for any additional escorts for him, but as soon as they found out that he was flying alone, they walked him through everything...from leaving here, to a special lobby during his layover, to his next plane, and all the way through customs and out to his waiting grandparents.  We were so thankful for that!


::Today there was a Fun Run in town.  Anna (our current visitor) and I decided to go for it.  It was announced as a 7 km race, but in reality it ended up being 5.5 km.  And it only started an hour and a half late this time.  :-)  

They had people going around taking pictures and then when we finished, it turned out that they had printed them and were selling them for 30 cents.  Here's our "snap."

::With the start of June, also came the start of our new school year.  We are trying to get 6 weeks done before we hopefully head to America.  After our crazy month, I'm thankful for a bit of settling into a schedule.

:: We don't have much to update concerning Denise's adoption.  We are still waiting for a very important document called an I600a (from the American side of things).  We are also still waiting for the judges written ruling.(From the Ugandan side of things).  We need both of these documents before we can ask for a visa appointment at the embassy.  Please continue to pray with us that these things will come together in time. Even once we get the appointment, it could take a bit of time as we have heard that the embassy has started doing their own investigations on each case.  We really want to go on furlough in August.  Having Timothy there waiting for us puts even more pressure on that August date.  Please continue to pray for our hearts: we don't want to make an idol of getting on a plane in August.  We know with certainty that God's timing will be perfect regardless of when it is.  At the same time, it is becoming increasingly difficult to hold the date on an open hand.  We want to plan.  A family our size can't just show up with no plans in place.  We also want to know when we will see Timothy again.  This is especially true for the littles who tend to struggle a bit more.  Pray also for Denise's heart...whether or not she gets into America (although we presume she will, we won't know for sure until it happens) is a HUGE deal for her life...it's a fairly large weight for a 13 year old to carry.  We appreciate prayers for this!

Thank you friends!  Hopefully June won't be as quiet as May was in bloggy land.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

First Worship Service


"When a building is especially and uniquely intended for an encounter between the Lord and his people, it is likewise the customary location of the divine presence; it is the symbol of the divine presence in the secular life of the city. There, as nowhere else, the holy word re-echoes regularly; there the sacraments are celebrated. From one Sunday to another, from one divine service to the next, the place of worship is in a state of anticipation. Even its emptiness between times declares its special destination and readiness for the divine presence."--Richard Paquier


Today, the Lord blessed us with our first worship service in our new building!  What a glorious gift!  

On Saturday, we gathered with shovels, buckets, brooms and rags to clean and clean.  It was such a dusty mess!




Pastor Charles taught Sunday School.

The Steenholfs, who are living here for six months helping with our village schools, have also been blessing us with guitar playing on Sundays.

Mama Jane and Mama Evangeline.  They have been with the church from its earliest beginnings.  They are such a blessing in our community!

Eric led worship and preached.

We hope that in the future God will provide for us to have the walls plastered and a porch put on the front.  (That's why there are still holes in the wall behind where the people sit...they are ready for support beams for the porch)

We had about 200 people!

Here is a little taste of the singing and apostles creed.  The second song was after the service and was a bit impromptu...they were singing "Thank you Lord" and "Thank you Jesus" in two different languages.



I'm so thankful that for 175 Sundays we were able to meet at our home and on our compound.  It was probably one of the most challenging yet beautiful ministries I have ever had the privilege to participate in.  I'm thankful for how the Lord greatly blessed our time here.  None-the-less, I'm also thankful that the rain won't bother us anymore and that we now have a new community that we can reach out to. May God be praised and glorified at New Life Presbyterian Church.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Last Day of School!

The kids and I celebrated our last day of school for the 2015/2016 school year.  We will be taking 3 weeks off and then diving into our next school year.  We want to get a few weeks finished before we go on furlough, Lord willing, in August.

God was so gracious to us this year.  In reflecting back on our year together, I really felt like it was a year of great growth for the kids as students.  Timothy took on Algebra 2 like a boss.  Okay, it was tough at first, but he really worked hard to understand everything and do it.  I hardly helped him with it and he still pulled off high Bs/low As.  Denise gained a ton of confidence in her God-given abilities that she never had before.  Katelyn really struggled with a desire to do school at the beginning of the year, but by the end she knew that with God helping her and a lot of hard work that she could do well and even mildly enjoy it. ;-)  Matthew made greater leaps in overcoming his hard start in life.  He learned how to work with his mind, not against it.  Rebecca took on Chinese and Violin...both not required for her, but she has stuck with it and has already seen some fruit of her labors.  Jimmy made great strides in his math and writing this year.  William started the year running away every time the beginning of school was announced (literally, it was a hunt for William every school morning-ha!), but by the end he was working hard...even starting on his own some days!  Benaiah really knows how to read now and he is increasing in his speed and fluency every day!  This was a huge accomplishment for him in light of his struggles with asthma that leave him with less energy to learn.  And little Talitha has become a bundle of intellectual energy that just can't wait to learn.  haha...she LOVES reading and is really getting it.

I'm so thankful for how God brought us through our year.  I am also thankful for the help that our missionary associate, Sarah, gave us.  It was a blessing to have her around.

Today we went out to celebrate the end of school with milkshakes at our favorite coffee shop.


A little craziness might have taken place...haha!  Sometimes a mother just needs to jump on her kids right?

Friday, April 29, 2016

Baby Moses

Baby Moses has kept us very busy these past two weeks. 

We've been busy

bathing


and feeding

homeschooling

and chatting

exploring

and snuggling

taking LOTS of pictures...

and being continually amazed at the health and strength God has given to this little guy!

Isn't the two week difference amazing?


But our personal time with Moses has come to an end.  He is moving to a new foster home.  Thankfully, his new foster home is just next door at our Missionary Associates house.  Since we are leaving for furlough soon, Lord willing, and since we cannot have visitors (even cute tiny ones!) for more than 30 days due to adoption stuff, he can't stay with us long term.  But we still get to visit lots.  In fact, even as I write this, he is snuggled up on my lap taking a snooze.  I'm so grateful to have been a part of this little guys life.  Foster care is near and dear to my heart and I'm so thankful to have been allowed to be a foster mama, even if it was just for a few days.  What a privilege!  I wrote in my journal yesterday that "my heart is full of joy and a tiny twinge of sadness.  Sadness that we can't do his foster care for longer, but joy that God is working great things.  I will take the sadness and hand it to Jesus and ask him to transfigure me more through it and take the joy and let it abound to the praise of God's glorious grace."