"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, May 31, 2015

Paul's Graduation from African Bible University

This weekend we traveled to Kampala to attend the graduation of Paul, the son of Pastor Charles and Mama Rachel that we share our compound with, from African Bible University.

ABU is the university that O. Palmer Robertson has had a huge hand in helping to start and support.  Paul graduated with a 4 year degree in communications.  He will now be working at KTC with Eric.

The entire Magala crew, minus 2 daughters who couldn't make it...

The Tuiningas, Magalas and Milton (our deacon and driver).  This picture is a little taste how wonderful it is on our compound when everyone is home!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

15th Anniversary

Eric and I celebrated 15 years of marriage last night.  What a beautiful blessing it is to be married!  And what a testimony to the grace and love of God to be able to joyfully and honestly say that we love each other more, enjoy each other more and know each other more today than we did 15 years ago when we took our vows.

I remember wondering on our wedding day what kind of adventures life would bring us as we walked through it together.  I do remember that we wanted 5 kids...and that we thought that was a LOT of kids!  Ha!

We were speculating with our kids at breakfast how we would have responded if someone had told us on our wedding day that in 15 years we would be living in Uganda with 9 kids.  I don't think I would have believed them, mostly because I would have looked at myself and felt very inadequate.  Why do I say that?  Because I still feel inadequate for the job every day.  But I'm glad I feel this way.

If dependence upon God is our goal, then being faced every day with the reality that "I can't do this on my own." is a wonderful place to be.  Last night, while we were on our anniversary date, our kids watched Facing the Giants.  We came home in time to see the final scene in the locker room.  In that scene, the coach asks his players, "Tell me, is there anything your God cannot do?"  This is always very moving to me, because over our 15 years of marriage, we have faced many "giants":  things that were impossible for us, but we watched in awe as God caused them to fall before us.  Is there anything that God cannot do for us?  Has he ever held back his love?  Has he ever failed us?  Not once.

We have been blessed to have 15 years together of seeing God's amazing love and grace towards us sinners.

And I can't wait to see what the future holds...

Monday, May 25, 2015

Family Picture Attempt

Today's project was taking a picture of our family that we can use for the adoption stuff.  I have totally given up on getting everyone all matchy-matchy for family pictures.  We buy all our clothes in the markets and local thrift stores (all left overs from American/European/Chinese thrift stores) these days, so we called it quits on matching.  Are they clean? Check.  No sweat pants? Check.  Are the clothes yours or do they belong to a different sibling?  (Yes, I know you got them out of your closet, but that really doesn't mean that they are yours.)  Check.  Does your shirt mostly match with your trousers?  Check.  You may now go outside where mommy's tripod is and stand nicely for the picture.

Please watch out for dog poo.

And no, don't worry about shoes...looks like all nine of you forgot to put them on...ahem, guess you do match after all... :)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Loft for the Boys

Wondering how we're fitting everyone in these days?  It used to be that the girls shared one room (the smaller room) and the little boys another room (the larger room)  And the toys were in with the little boys.  When Denise came, the girls outnumbered the boys and they really needed the bigger room, that also happens to have a third closet.  But if the kids switched rooms, where would the toys go?  Since the Legos are the main attraction, often all the kids (plus a few friends) are in the room playing at the same time... that can often be up to 15 kids!  They need a little space. 

In came the bright idea to build a loft in the smaller of the two rooms for the little boys (the big boys share a closet size room in a different part of the house).  The loft is actually big enough for four boys and sturdy enough for wrestling.  We were even able to have an electrician come and install a light underneath the loft.  The metal rod going across the ceiling is for the custom made mosquito net.  The boys are really enjoying it up there! 

And now they have the entire floor for all the toys.  And just for kicks, I turned one wall into a chalkboard.  How fun is that?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Love this Bunch!

A few weeks ago, we took all the kids to Kampala to do a little shopping.  We had a lot of fun showing Denise the sights since she had never been there before. 

When you adopt an older child, you miss so many "firsts," but we get to experience a few too: first movie theater experience, first taste of American fast food: KFC, and first time on an elevator.  I think all were a hit!

From Rebecca showing her how to get on, to hanging on for dear life, to "Let's do it again!!"

These kids make me smile...

And laugh...especially with their 3D movie theater glasses "swagga" look...

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Saturday Life...

Today was a low key Saturday.  Usually Saturdays bring a couple of Bible studies, choir practice, and hospital visiting with our church every other week...and usually a bit of football intermixed into all of that.  But today, Eric was off to Kampala for a gathering of all of the Presbyterian churches in Uganda to celebrate Presbyterianism in Uganda.  So most of the shenanigans around the compound were canceled.

I started my morning with a 12 K race.  Maybe you remember last years race?  They did a bit better job with the distance and time for starting, but we did wait around a for a while.  At least we had a marching band to listen to while we waited!  The run went pretty well.  I did it 11 minutes faster than last year (for a time of 1:17), but I hit a wall around 8 kilometers.  It was hot and mostly up hill for the last bit.  ugh...  

Carol and Katelyn have been very busy plaiting Denise's hair.  Since most schools around here require girls to have their heads shaved, this is Denise's first time to have long hair.  Ugandan advantages of homeschooling!  :)

What happens to animals that don't earn their keep around here?  They make the unfortunate trip to the banana garden for slaughtering!  Should have laid more eggs, gals!  All the boys have joined in this massive project... 16 birds for the freezer.  I suspect they'll need a lot of boiling though as they were free range.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Girls Night!!

This past weekend we had a first ever New Life Presbyterian Church of Mbale Girl's Sleep-over.  It was too much fun!  We had supper together, had a Bible study, ate ice cream and watched a movie and played some more...and well, ate some more too... 

Our Bible study was on I Peter 3:3-6 and what it means to be "Pretty in Your Heart."  Ugandan culture, like American culture, screams that the way to be happy is to have your hair plated and smart clothes on.  We talked about what it means to have a gentle and quiet spirit like the women of old who hoped in God.  It was a lovely time.

In the morning, the girls started a rousing local game.  It is similar to dodge ball, but taken to a whole new level.  Two girls would throw the ball back and forth attempting to hit the girl in the middle.  Meanwhile, the girl in the middle is trying to pick up 10 sticks...one at a time.  She gets a point for each stick and an extra point if she is able to catch the ball and throw it back and hit one of the throwers.  It's someone else's turn when she gets hit.  It was pretty fast paced.  Here is Denise doing an epic jump to avoid being hit.  haha!

Patience grabbing sticks.

Pray for these girls...that they will grow to be mighty women of God!

New Life Presbyterian Church Vs. Knox Theological College

For weeks the men at the college had been asking Eric if he could get a soccer ball for them.  Having many fond memories of playing hockey on the frozen pond in front of Mid America Reformed Seminary, Eric was happy to get them one.  The men have been having a grand time after class playing ball.  After a week or two, they decided to challenge the young men of our church to a foot ball game.  What fun it was!  And I'm happy to report that our boys at home won.  They may have had the advantage of having played many many hours on our crazy field.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Paradox: grief and joy

A couple posts blog posts ago, I alluded to the fact that life for us has held many ups and downs.  That there have been very exciting things and very difficult things.  We are now able to share some huge news that we, on the one hand are very excited about, but on the other hand, sad that it has had to come about via huge losses.  A couple weeks ago we received word that our good friend, Sarah Denise, had lost her grandmother, the one who had raised her from the time she was small.  Denise is a full orphan and only has one living close relative left...an uncle...but he serves in the Uganda military in Somalia.  She was completely on her own and needed a place to go.  Working with local social workers, we were able to take her home the night of the funeral and offer her temporary shelter.

After a few days, her uncle (pictured left) was able to come back from Somalia.  We were able to meet with him and a social worker (pictured right) and receive their blessing to care for her.

We are now pursuing legal guardianship with the goal of adopting her.  We are praying that the Lord will open all these doors!

We now find ourselves in yet another paradox.  We grieve with Denise.  Life has been very hard.  She is a courageous, strong girl who has been through a lot.  Yet we all are rejoicing in God's goodness to provide her a family and us another child.  We rejoice that God heard and answered her grandmother's death bed prayers pleading for a safe place for Denise to live.  But grieve that Denise lost such a dear grandmother who obviously loved her so much and whom she loved dearly!  Grief and joy walking hand in hand... A plan that only Jesus can genuinely bring to life and sustain by his grace.

Denise is 12 years old.  She loves purple and pink, pretty clothes, math, and computers!  She is working really hard on learning English and how to read.  Welcome to our family, Denise!  We are so thankful that the Lord is blessing us with another daughter and sister!

Please pray for us!  Pray that Denise will relax and settle in well! Pray for her as she learns what it means to live in a family with two parents, siblings and boundaries.  We praise the Lord that the first few weeks have gone so well!  Pray for her as she continues to grieve all her losses.  Pray that the Lord will bless our process of blending as a new family!  May God be glorified!