"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, May 30, 2013

Benaiah's Spiders

The plagues have continued to march on in the Tuininga home in seemingly endless procession.  The most recent victim has been Benaiah.

We went yesterday to get some blood work done to check on a super-enlarged lymph node.  We discovered that he too, has an unknown bacterial infection that we are trying to fight with antibiotics.  It was also discovered that he has a pretty bad case of malaria.  Last night, before bed, he started drugs to fight both.

At midnight he woke up screaming in bed, so we brought him into our room and settled him down on our couch.  A few minutes later he was screaming and had squirmed up to the top of the couch.  He was hallucinating that spiders were "being mean" to him and crawling all over his pillow and blanket and legs.

Give me Jimmy's hallucination of legos making noise or Katelyn's hallucination of the floors and walls straightening out any day...but spiders in my bed??  No thank you!!

We spent the next hour trying to console him and trying to explain that his sickness was making him see the spiders.  He didn't buy it.  He kept trying to pick the spiders off of himself and off of Eric.  We tried moving him to our bed, back to his bed, back to the couch...nothing could calm him down.  We tried giving him something to drink and turning on a light for him, but he continued to insist that spiders were everywhere.

Finally, Eric and I prayed together and then Eric brought Benaiah back into our bed and had the following conversation...

Eric (holds up hand in spider formation): Benaiah, you see this spider?
Benaiah (through tears): yes...
Eric:  It's saying, "Good afternoon, Benaiah!"
Benaiah: oh...
Eric:  Now the spider is going to go to sleep on your leg...is that okay?
Benaiah:  okay...
Eric: Say good night to the spider.
Benaiah: goodnight.

Then, just like that, Benaiah rolled over and went to sleep!

Eric and I had a good laugh and then went back to sleep too...

We would covet your prayers for continued health in our home and very specifically that Benaiah's body would respond to both the antibiotic and antimalarial meds.  William is doing okay still...he has periods of tiredness during the day and is still at about 80%, but we praise the Lord that he has been fever-free for 5 days now.  Jimmy spiked another fever yesterday, but seems to be better today.  We would also pray that if the Lord wills, we will be able to figure out what has been causing so much continued sickness, so we can use more specific medicines.  Thank you for your prayers!!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Weekend Away

Our family has been suffering through so much sickness lately!  One virus after another...seemingly no end to it all!  All the kids, except Matthew, got sick last week again.  Katelyn and Jimmy were even hallucinating with their fevers...kinda creepy and hilariously funny at the same time.  William also has some bacterial issue that continues to make him sick.  He was on an antibiotic, but now he is sick again.  Not quite sure what the problem is with him yet.  Thank you to those on face book that prayed for our kids!!  God is truly gracious to us!  We would appreciate continued prayers for William's issues to be resolved.

None-the-less...the kids managed to get mostly better by Thursday...Eric's birthday.  Eric had a mission meeting that day and while he was occupied, I planned and packed for two nights away...to celebrate his birthday and our 13th wedding anniversary.

When he came home, I convinced him to go run some errands with me and much to his surprise (good job kids in keeping the secret!!) we kept on driving straight to Jinja to the Kingfisher...a lovely resort on Lake Victoria.

So glad to get away from the sickness and busy-ness that is making us CRAZY!!!

Not quite that good at aiming the camera, but here we are!

Got to watch the sun rise...

And the moon rise! (Set the camera on its timer for this one :)  )

So thankful for this guy... I'm so blessed to have walked the earth as one flesh for 13 years now.  God is so good to me!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Plentiful Harvest of Boys...

I want to introduce you to three boys.  

The first one is named Nyeba Bob.  His mother is one of two wives that were widowed after their husband died.  His mom has seven kids and the other wife has five.  They all live together on one compound, struggling to make ends meet.  The other wife attends the local Orthodox Presbyterian Church of Uganda in Kakoli...one of the village churches that our mission works with.  Bob, unlike his mom and the rest of his siblings, goes with the other wife and her kids to church.  He is a faithful attender.  He also struggles with basic literacy because of the lack of adequate government education and the lack of funds to go to a private school.  

The second young man is Fulanko Masasi.  He lives with his Auntie, because he was orphaned as a child.  He is 17 years old and only has been through first grade.  He also lacks the basic skills of reading and writing.  But he is an active member of the local Orthodox Presbyterian Church of Uganda in Nampologoma...another one of the village churches our mission works with.

This last boy has stolen our hearts.  His name is Daniel and he lives quite near us, attends our church here in Mbale, and blesses us with his smile, his acrobats, his rabbits and his homemade toys.  He and Timothy are quite good friends.  His parents are divorced and he goes back and forth from house to house.  He tells us that his dad is often drunk.  Daniel is about 13 years old and reads and writes at about a kindergarten/first grade level.  That is changing slowly, though, as Timothy, and sometimes Eric and I, are teaching him phonics and spelling.  He is eager to learn...always wanting to do more lessons and read more Dr. Suess.

These three boys have some things in common.

1.  They are way behind in their academics.  They really need someone to tutor them in basic literacy skills.
2.  They are all interested in the things of the Lord.  They are faithful attenders of church.
3.  They all need a godly man in their life.  A man who will invest in them and be a spiritual father to them.  A man to bring them from boyhood to manhood.  A man to raise up a generation of leaders in the churches...the next crop of pastors, elders and deacons!  A man to raise up the next generation of fathers who will one day have boys and girls of their own!

And these boys are three of many, many boys who share their story...

This harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few!!

I am praying that God will bring us a laborer for this particular harvest!  Maybe I'm praying for you or another man you know?  May God be glorified to answer this prayer!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Triple Wedding

In Kenya, it is common marriage practice for a man to ask the parents of the woman for permission to take her as his wife.  Once they agree, the woman comes to live with the man and they are considered "married."  While many Kenyans would say that it is preferable to have a church wedding, church weddings come with a very high price tag.  They like to have fancy dresses, cars to be escorted in, lavish food, etc...just like the first world brides they see on movies and in magazines.  While these things are not wrong in and of themselves, the desire for lavishness has created a culture in which couples consider themselves married, but have never taken vows before God.

Through quite a few conversations in class, these men, although they have been married through Kenyan culture for quite sometime, decided that they wanted to take vows before God.  But they also wanted to set an example for the people back home...that weddings are beautiful, not because of how much money is spent, but because of the vows that are made.  They told us plainly, that they wanted to be men of God, to take their role as husbands and fathers seriously, and they want to lead by example, the people that they shepherd.  It is their hope and prayer, that more church members back home will follow their example and take vows before God in simple ceremonies before beginning to live together as husband and wife.

So, at their request, after graduation was finished, we went back to our compound and had a beautiful and simple ceremony.  Our boys set up the chairs like we do for church and our girls ran around the yard picking flowers and decorating with ribbon.  Rachel (the wife of the family that we share our compound with) made two cakes and we bought two crates of soda.  The Zuo family (who has done this recently :)  ) wanted to make the day special by blessing the brides with new dresses.  And the husbands managed to sneak out at some point to buy wedding rings.

I rarely cry at weddings, but watching these men and their wives (and others like Herbert and Beatrice...remember them?  They are expecting their first child now! :)  ) stand up and be leaders in righteousness brought tears to my eyes.  I'm so thankful that we got to be a part of this day.  What a privilege! 

It is not an "African thing" to kiss in public or at weddings.  When Eric was talking to the guys about the wedding before hand, he said something like, "and at this point in the wedding, in America...the groom kisses the bride...are you interested in that?"  And surprisingly they all said, "yes!"  I think the wives gave their husbands a talking to later that night...heh! heh!  :)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Knox Theological College Graduation

We praise the Lord that Knox Theological College was able to celebrate a graduation.  The men that passed 10 or more courses received a certificate, the men that passed 20 or more courses received an advanced certificate and the 3 men that passed 30 or more courses received a full diploma.

All of these men have made great sacrifices.  For 1, 2 or 3 years these men have attended class instead of finding a job.  Their wives are able to have gardens to provide for most of their food and a few of the wives were able to do some type of trade, but for much of the year, while their husbands were studying, they went without extra cash...the cash that would normally be used for school fees for children, clothes, and medical needs.

In addition, all of these men and their families have made these sacrifices with no hope of earthly payoff.  In America, we may choose to "suffer" for a time while we attend school (I put that in quotation marks because never can I recollect a time when Eric and I did not have three meals, were not able to take our children to the doctor or did not have a car to drive...our suffering was not eating out quite as much, getting state sponsored health care and all squishing into a small car).  But at the end of our school years, we can usually guarantee that, God willing, we will have a job and we will be able to earn an income.  As it stands right now, these men will not earn an income for their work as a pastor.  They will all have to find other employment and write their sermons and do their pastoral visits in their spare time.  There are several reasons why this is...a cultural idea that the pastor is the "big man" and is to always be giving the congregation gifts, the fact that most of the village churches have only 1 or 2 families where someone is employed and the fact that many of the people in the congregation are widows and orphans.

But these men have suffered with joy...they long for the day when God will say to them, "Well done good and faithful servant!"  They live radical lives of obedience to Christ's high calling.  Many of them have already begun serving in churches, where they eagerly proclaim the good news of Christ Jesus every week.  May God give them much strength in the days to come.  May he give them much joy and much wisdom in their labors.  Pray for these men as they labor the fields that are ripe for the harvest.

It was such a joy to see them come to this moment!
John Omoke, valedictorian
When we first arrived in Uganda, this student's wife had left their home and returned to her parents house.  She had not done this in anger or because they have a bad marriage, but simply because they had no food for the children.  With a little bit of financial help, they were able to start a salon...she does ladies hair during the day with her children happily playing near her and when he is not studying, he is able to do men's hair.  It has generated enough income to allow her to move back home and him to continue his studies.  He is one of two students who have come to us from a Pentecostal back ground and have come to see the beauty of the doctrines of grace.
We pulled these boys away from their lunch to take the picture.  They weren't too pleased...lol! 

Talitha "helping" out with pictures

This is one of three Kenyan students that attended KTC.  For three years these wives said good-bye to their husbands while they would come to KTC for two to three weeks at a time to take courses.  During their commutes on local taxi-buses to and from Uganda (just this year), these men were robbed and were involved in an bus accident.  They often were not home to care for sick children, to help their wives through pregnancies, or to help feed their families.  We are praying that God will raise up a seminary in Kenya where the reformed churches of Kenya can send their men to train, but in the mean time we praise the Lord for their faithfulness and their hard work.  It was such a blessing to meet their wives and children!  What women of faith!  And I can't wait to tell you about what these three students did after graduation...check back here soon! :)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

New Teammates Coming...

We give praise to the Lord that he has raised up another family to join us.  Mark and Christine and their family will be moving to Mbale by the end of the summer, Lord willing.  We greatly enjoyed a visit by them this past January when they were looking at the possibility of moving here.  Mark will be serving as a deacon.  By trade, he is a nurse practitioner, and on the side...an auto-mechanic.  What a brilliant blend for the mission field!  Christine is an amazing mom to four boys, ages 12 and under, that she teaches at home.  And as a lovely blessing from the Lord, their family has been a part of Classical Conversations...the same home school "co-op" that our family was a part of for 3 years, so we school our kids in a very similar style.

We praise the Lord for his great provision!  Please pray for this family as they enter the chaos of packing, pre-paring and saying good-bye to loved ones .

Monday, May 6, 2013

Sick of being sick...

Brian and William were sick with the same virus a few weeks ago.  They watched a movie, but fell asleep half way through.

Sneezing, coughing, noses blowing, fevers, throw ups, sore throats, headaches, tummy aches, diarrhea, malaria, antibiotics, sinus infections, crying children, only-want-mommy children...non-stop...

...at least 5 different viruses, running through 11 people plus the Magalas who we share our compound with...

...for the last 8 weeks...

I'm so tired of it.  Please pray that we will be healthy again!

Friday, May 3, 2013

A Burial

From Eric's keyboard...

Yesterday I attended a burial in Kaiti – a 7 year old girl had died.  She was the daughter of one of the elders in Kaiti OPCU.  Burials here are typically done on the compound of the person who died.   So when we arrived at the girl’s home, there were many people gathered, the women in bright traditional dresses.  Since I was giving the funeral message, I was seated in the ‘front’ – although at these funerals there really is no front, since people surround you in all directions.  There was a small space where the casket would be placed.  Women were singing songs of praise.  Unlike funerals in America, funerals here are not somber, hushed affairs.  There is mourning, but also joy, at least in the Christian funerals I have been to.    

But I was not prepared for when the body was brought out.  There was no casket.  The family was too poor to afford one.  So the girl’s body was carried out wrapped tightly in a sheet.  You could clearly discern the outline of her head, her shoulders, and her feet.  She seemed so very alive, like it could have been any one of my own children.  Her body was laid on a reed mat on the ground just 2 feet from where I sat.  And the entire service, there was her body lying at my feet. 

I spoke to the gathered crowds, which included Muslims, about how Jesus welcomed children into His kingdom, in Mark 10.  I spoke of how children are saved by simple faith, and received to eternal glory.  I spoke of how we all must be ready.  There were many boys and girls standing right by me, who were listening very closely – I've never seen children listen so well. 

Then after the message, we walked about 100 feet to the burial site, at the edge of a small field.  A small hole had already been prepared.  The body was laid in the hole, wrapped in a white sheet, while hymns were sung.  The many children were standing there watching the body of their friend.  Scripture was read, prayer was offered – words of hope in Christ.  Then the men laid some sticks and a metal sheet over the body (to protect it from animals, I think).  Then while we all stood, the dirt was shoveled back over the body, into a neat mound.  The burial was finished.  I was thinking about the symbolism of burying a seed, waiting for the harvest when Christ will raise the bodies of His people from the dead.    

I also kept thinking of the great poverty of this family, and so many like them.  If they had more money, could her death have been prevented?  Almost certainly.  So many more children die here in Uganda, from causes so preventable if there is money, but so hopeless if there is no money.  This girl had chronic sickle cell and died of “vomiting”.  Wikipedia says that it is now possible (with the help of modern medicine) for a child in America with sickle cell to live to age 80.  And with the body of this girl lying in front of me on the ground, it was impressed on me all the more clearly that we have a moral obligation to love and help those who are so much more poor. 

Please pray for the family of this girl.  Ruth was the 4th child.  She has a 14 year old brother who also has sickle cell.  Her mother is very small and weak.  Her father looked so defeated.  Yet their hope is in Christ. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A Snack

Whenever it rains a heavy rain, the "white ants" come out in vast number.  They eventually land, loose their wings and mate.  Apparently, each nest only comes out every few years...we must have a lot of nests around us.

Our Ugandan friends collect these guys by the bucket full.  And then...

They roast them!

And sometimes they share...

And we just discovered, that our youngest (and perhaps the most unbiased) loves them...

...at least without the wings...