"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

Sunday, December 30, 2012

My body is tired because our day was full...but my heart is full, as well, so a blog post must be written.
This morning we had the privilege of worshipping under the mango trees with the believers at Nampologoma OPCU...one of the newer churches to join the Orthodox Presbyterian Church of Uganda, Mbale Presbytery.  They had a building, but it was destroyed in a wind storm, so they are worshipping here while they collect funds to rebuild.  The other churches (and some individuals) in the Presbytery showed much love to these believers and pledged money to help them.  In all, they have about $80 right now and will wait upon the Lord to provide the rest...and worship here in the mean time.

The girls had matching dresses made recently...they turned out super cute, so I had to post a picture. :)

After church we went to another pastor's house to witness marriage vows between one of Eric's students and his wife.  To understand the beauty of today, though, I must fill you in on the cultural difficulties of engagement, dowry, church weddings and moving in together.

Typically, when a man wants to be married, he sends a letter to the brides parents with a significant monetary gift, asking permission to have an introduction.  At the introduction, the cost of dowry is settled and the couple is engaged.  The man then must pay off the dowry and then a church wedding can be had.  The problem is, introductions are costly and it takes years to pay off a dowry.  So it is very common for a man and a woman to just begin living together, calling themselves "man and wife" at any point during the above mentioned process, with no public ceremony.

So a couple weeks ago, Eric asked his students..."When did you start living together with your wife?"  And "when do you think God gives his blessing for people to live together?"  He had nine students in the class, and there were many opinions.  It was an engaging discussion. 
Everyone agreed that some sort of ceremony was proper - in which the church gave their blessing on the man and woman beginning to live together as husband and wife, even if the dowry was not yet paid.  So this is what happened today! 

The elders of his church and a few close friends gathered to witness this couple commit to one another in marriage.  After Eric gave a 10 minute exhortation, and they said their vows, the elders stood up and gave their blessing on their calling themselves man and wife and beginning to live together.  Eric's student has already sent his letter to her parents, and they have given their permission for her to begin living with him as his wife.  Then one day, after dowry is paid, they may wish to celebrate with a full church wedding, but for today we say congratulations and may God bless them with a strong marriage that builds his kingdom and shows forth his glory.

The Elders giving their blessing

And what can I say...

they are are super.cute.couple... :D

Saturday, December 29, 2012

One to Remain

My kids met a friend in our neighborhood the other day.  And in the course of conversation, he said he would stop by with a bunny for my kids to see.  Sounds great!  That'd be fun.
So today, as promised, he came with Little Miss Bunny.  She's really cute.

As we were cooing over her, our new friend told us that he had had five little bunnies, but four of them were taken by rats...

this one only remains...

and she is a gift to us...

I profusely thanked him, but tried to very nicely and very urgently say "no"

I don't know the first thing about rabbits...

...and we have dogs, with jaws much larger than rats...

But when our new friend went home for lunch...

Little Miss Bunny had managed to remain, once again...

Looks like I had better do some googling, lest her death not come via dog or rat, but rather by my profound bunny ignorance...


Otherwise titled, "The post in which I hesitatingly admit to the general public that, on occasion our family does very odd things"
So What Did Jesus Do?
According to my dear husband, he reclined on couches at the table to eat.  And this same dear husband has said for many years, "we should do that sometime!" 
And I have continually given the response that I think most moms of many small children would give..."If you clean it up..."
So one, seemingly normal day, I retired to the bed room to take a nice, uneventful, Sunday afternoon nap, thinking that all my hooligans are nicely reading on the couch...
but instead I awoke to quite a ruckus and found many mattresses encircling the top of our school table which had been taken from it's perfectly normal height and set on the living room floor.
Daddy and children had been very busy...
...and yes...they cleaned it all up... :)


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

DPP #25 Merry Christmas!

We had a lovely Christmas day today.  I didn't take too many pictures today (we were too busy eating! :) but I did take my camera to church this morning.
The Lord has blessed us so much this year!  We certainly grieve the "loss" of dear friendships in Salem (not that they are really lost, it's just that we know they will never be the same now that we have moved away...and occasionally the tears still come at this loss)...but we have not been "homesick" here...at all...The Lord has blessed us with a love for Uganda, for it's culture, for life here, for the work here and for our new friends here.  When Tess joined us almost 6 months ago, I wondered if when it came time for her to leave, if we would be wanting to jump on the plane with her.  But we praise the Lord, that nothing could be further from true.  It really truly is God's grace. 
So what better way to end this year's December Photo Project, then with pictures of a few of our friends here.  God has filled our hearts with such lovely brothers and sisters in Christ.  We thank him for this earthly gift.
Most of all, we thank God for the gift of Jesus, his Son.  Moving across continents has caused our hearts to yearn ever more deeply for our heavenly home.  When I see how sinful and helpless my heart is, I still have such a great hope because I know Christ was born to die.  But he did not remain dead, but rather he was raised to life and has promised to "go prepare a place for us."  This is such glorious grace that we are especially reminded of this Christmas season!
Merry Christmas!  Thank you for all your continued prayers, support and encouragement!  It is a huge blessing to us! :)


Monday, December 24, 2012

DPP #24 Christmas with the Family

Last night we did Christmas with our family.  We had a lot of fun together.  Eric and I got each of the kids a little something and there were a few things under the tree from friends. 

But most of what was under the tree was little crafts and re-gifts from the kids to each other.  Lots of gifts for each other

One of my daily prayers is that my kids will be best friends and have deep true fellowship with each other.  It is so lovely to see how the Lord answers those prayers.

 We got Talitha a little Ugandan doll and it was so sweet how excited she was! :)

After gifts, we pulled out the mattresses and slept under our Christmas tree...as is our yearly tradition.

Then today, we made gift bags for all the kids at church.  At Immanuels Reformed Church in Salem, someone in the church had a lovely tradition putting together little gift bags for all the kids.  Our kids enjoyed these treats so much, so this year we decided to share that tradition with the kids here.  Our bags look a little different, though...as you can't get clementines and candy canes here... but we also thought that our new friends would appreciate tea, sugar, soap, biscuit cookies, and a few sweets a little more. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

DPP #23

This morning our power was out and our batteries had been drained, so I found a lantern and sat with my Bible and coffee.  After a few quiet moments, our curious little creature, who had managed to sneak in through the window last night, poked his head up to make sure all was well in his domain...

Saturday, December 22, 2012

DPP #22 Chocolate Dipping Party

Tonight I joined the other expat ladies in Mbale for a little chocolate action...alright...actually it was a lot of chocolate...
yummy chocolate...
coating all sorts of yummy stuff...pretzels, peanut butter balls, pie pockets, g-nuts and even mango flavored marshmallows!

One of the ladies was even able to score some beautiful strawberries today from the 'veggie man' (the guy that earns a living making market runs for expats and selling lots of yummy mzungu stuff, like strawberries and lettuce, that he grows especially for the expat community)

Friday, December 21, 2012

DPP #21 What's under our tree this year?

It keeps our American lights running quite nicely, but I really ought to put a bow on it...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

DPP #20 Speaking in Tongues

Today at KTC, we had a Christmas party.  The students wrote Merry Christmas in their own languages.  And this is one reason why Eric teaches in English...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

DPP #19 Yum!

Thanking the Lord for the sweet friends who lent us their ice cream maker while they went home for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Rest of the Introduction Pictures

Here's some more pictures from the introduction.  Introductions are a lot of fun banter back and forth between the bride's family and the groom's family.  Many jokes are told and much laughter is to be found.  We were blessed in that our first introduction to attend was in English so we could understand everything that was being said.  The basic gist is that the groom's clan come to look at all of the women of the land in order to find one.  (Kinda like Abraham's servant comes to look for a bride for Isaac). 
So they bring the girls out in groups in order to show them what beauty the land produces.  First the littles and then the older ones.  Sometimes they even bring out the grandma's.  But after a few groups the groom's family says, "Are you sure that's all the girl's you have?  Perhaps there is one more..." And eventually they bring out the bride.  Then she comes out a few more times wearing different clothes.  And then the grooms family brings a ton of gifts (or a dowry...or a down-payment on a dowry...because dowries cause huge problems here and because they can often be seen as "buying" the bride, Mr. Charles, the father of the bride, went against cultural norms and did not ask for a dowry...instead he gave permission for them to bring gifts as they desire...this was huge and we praise the Lord for his desire to serve the Lord in this way...he truly is a man of God...) After all that, they serve the guests a lovely meal.
Here are the girls being shown as some of the women of the Land.  Mbale town produces beautiful girls! :)

My handsome husband...

Here is the bride, Diana, in her white Gomice.

These are some of the gifts that the grooms family brought.  It was amazing.  There are many complex issues that surround introductions and weddings.  A lot of it is because so.much.money goes into these affairs.  The question of "how can you get married if you are poor?" is huge!  Another blog post in and of itself.

Finally, the brides family and the bride accepts the grooms family and groom and the two spokesmen shake hands in agreement and they are officially engaged! :)  In some cases, the groom would then be responsible for coming up with the rest of the dowry and after the dowry is paid, they may have an official church wedding.  In the case of Kenneth and Diana, they will be married as soon as a wedding can be planned.  :)

DPP #18 wherein she is accidentally forced to grow up...

Ever since my girl decided that nursing just wasn't for her, she's been all about bottles and the amazing comfort they produce.
Enter epic fail on the part of me, to remember to bring bottles on our lovely trip to Kampala.  Instead we had (by God's grace) only thrown in one lonely sippy cup.  Unfortunately, we realized this cup also had a crack in it, but it hung in there (also God's grace) until Monday, when we managed to find a sippy cup she liked in the store...Not the one we found in the first store we went to before we were stuck getting the Land Rover fixed...she adamantly refused to drink from that one... arg..., but the one in the second store that we went to after a few sanctifying hours. (Just clarifying that little detail.)
You know, I think God understands that sometimes mommies like to drag their feet in letting their babies grow up.  So he, in his somewhat humorous sovereignty provides things like 30 hours with no bottle, just to prove that perhaps, it's time.  Perhaps it's time to put that symbol of babyhood on the top shelf and leave it there, and move on...  

DPP #17 Crazy Kampala Day

This past weekend we had a crazy, somewhat stressful, time in Kampala dropping Tess off at the airport. 
For starters, Eric got pulled over by a traffic cop and given a ticket for "speeding" which we didn't think was legit. (but that's a long story..)  When you get a speeding ticket here, they take your licence away and you have to go to the bank to pay and then to another place to get it confirmed and then back to the police station to pick up your licence.  The ticket itself is about $40, but the hassle of it all, is the real kick in the pants.
Then on Monday when we went to go shopping, the traffic was a mess and I, using our handy dandy GPS app, told Eric, "oh, here's a good road we can take..."  It turned out to be an awful road through the slum.  It was deeply rutted and clogged with parked vehicles.   On more than one occasion, I had to get out and sweetly ask people to move.  Thankfully, they were nice enough.  But somewhere on that road we hit a huge pothole and threw a shock absorber off.  (Can't quite figure out the problem, with the Land Rover...it's the 3rd shock we've lost in 5 months).
So then we had to go on a quest to find the Land Rover shop that originally had worked on our truck before we bought it.  Finding it, was another story in and of itself, but we did finally make it there.  They were so nice and fixed us up right away.
The saddest part was that I had accidentally left my SLR camera at home! :(  This place was awesome and had so many cool textures and things to photograph.  (On second thought, Eric's probably okay with it because otherwise he would have been single-parenting while we waited... :) But, in a pinch, as cell phone will have to do...
We didn't quite make it home before dark like we had wanted, but we praise the Lord that we still managed to get everything done and that we made it home safely.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

DPP #16 Saying Good Bye

Yesterday, we drove down to Entebbe and said good bye to our dear friend and missionary associate, Tessa. 
She has been such a huge blessing to us these past five months.  She went above and beyond the call of duty and all the while she remained smiling and steadfast! And, boy did we put her through the ringer!  She was willing to come to Uganda "green" with us and learn with us!  She survived an airplane ride with 8 kids, moving in, no electricity for weeks at a time, running out of water, unloading the container, a linen closet that can't seem to stay organized for more than a day, many spontaneous marriage proposals by Ugandan men who must think to themselves, "why not? the worst she could do is turn me down,"  boda rides, market runs, and making breakfast every morning for us and all with a happy heart.  What a blessing!
Thank you, Tess!  You've been a blessing and a friend!  We will miss you so much!  May you be blessed by our heavenly Father as you seek to serve him in what is next!
Also, the Lord has heard and answered our prayers regarding a replacement for Tess.  On January 8, Christi, who hails from Canada, will be joining us. We praise the Lord for this answered prayer!!
These pictures were taken at the introduction.  Tess was able to be in one of the groups.