"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, July 27, 2015

Whose smiling face is this?

Who has such a precious and beautiful smile?

Why, it's Florence!!  She was discharged from the hospital last week, so today we went into the village to find her!  We knew approximately where she lived, but it just took stopping to ask a few times, "Do you know where the little girl that got hit by the boda lives?" And we found her there eating her breakfast and smiling and laughing!  What a JOY to see!!!  God is so good!

She is struggling to use the crutches still and doesn't want to put any weight on her leg yet, so she still has a ways to go.

We also gave her a football that has the gospel message on it.  These footballs were donated to our mission by some friends.  They've been really fun to use!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Getting Ready for School to Start

It's that time of the year for this homeschooling mama!  I've been working like crazy to try to get ready to start school with all these kiddos God has blessed me with.  I've cleaned out the old books, shelved the new books, gotten notebooks ready, printed and laminated their new checklists, and worked at adding a few new things too.

What's new for the 2015-2016 school year?

First off, we have a new student!  Yay!  Denise is a joy to teach and we are really looking forward to what this year will bring.  Maybe some day I should do a post on the Ugandan schools, but suffice to say she has been trapped for years in a broken system.  While she has some wonderful strengths, particularly in the math and science areas, she has quite a bit of catching up to do in the area of reading.  We are using the Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading.  I love this phonics book.  I've used it with many of my other kids and a few Ugandan kids, always with great success.  In this context, I particularly love the fact that other than a few references to hot dogs, it isn't saturated with American culture.  ;-)

Secondly, Timothy is now in high school!  How in the world did that happen?  Yikes!  Keeping a transcript, assigning credits, and making sure he is taking all that he needs to be taking is all new territory for this mama!  He will be taking the Tree of Life Great Ideas course this year.  He took their "What's the Big Idea?" courses for grade 7 and 8, so we are excited to start this new phase.  He is very interested in going into engineering, so the elective he's most excited about taking is a robotics course based on the Lego Mindstorm kit.

Next, I changed a few organizational things in an attempt to streamline the kids a little more.  We've done Shurley English for years.  I really like it.  But the problem is when you have 5 students and they aren't necessarily at the same place due to varying levels of vocabulary.  It takes a lot of my time to teach all the different levels, even though all the concepts are the same.  My huge summer project has been to combine the levels into one program that can be taught to all ages at the same time.  It's using all the Shurley material, but hopefully will save me a LOT of teaching time!  I'm also combining many more kids in their IEW writing this year.  I have 4 that will be going through their Narnia theme based writing book.

I also switched my literature program from Teaching the Classics to Veritas Press Curriculum Guides.  While I really like the idea of Teaching the Classics and in an ideal world would still be doing it, I just don't have the teacher time available.  The Veritas Press can be done fairly independently.  So, we made the switch.

I also added a Weekly Progress Report that each child will fill out at the end of each week telling me exactly what they did for each subject that week.  One of my challenges has always been keeping good tabs on where each child is in each subject (8 school age children times 4-6 subjects??  Ack!  Too much for my mommy brain!).  It's such a hassle to look in all their books, find the pages, etc... So, I'm hoping that this will help.  I also copied ALL our tests that we need and got the answer forms ready.  It always drives me nuts when I'm in the middle of teaching and a child comes to me and using their Ugandan English says, "mommy, I need my math test copied now, now." (When you say "now" it refers to an African time table.  "Now, now" is what an American would consider to be "now" haha!)  So, I photocopied them all now, now.  Yay for planning ahead!  I also got some really fun hanging folders from Amazon to use to store their papers in.  I used to always store them in my lesson planner binder, but by the end of the year it becomes way too full.  So, on the wall they went.  

What is still the same?  We are still doing Story of the World History.  My kids really enjoy the curriculum.  We are still doing Apologia Science.  This year we are doing Botany.  I figured it would be fun to do Botany this year before we, Lord willing, will be on furlough next year.   We have flowers blooming year round on our compound!  Most of the kids are still doing Saxon Math with great success.  We especially love the DIVE cds to help.  Timothy got about 2/3 of the way through Algebra 1 last year completely on his own.  Towards the end, he needed a little bit of help.  Whew...that College Algebra class I hated, but studied my brains out for during my freshman year at Covenant sure was a blessing!  haha!  And we are still drawing and tracing maps for geography.  This year we are working our way through North, Central and South Americas again.

What are you doing this year?  Are you making changes or sticking to the same thing?  What curriculum is really exciting you?  If you're a mom to many what kinds of things help you get it all done?

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Baptism of little Tony

Tony is a great kid and a great friend!  He almost always has the biggest smile on and is always ready to lend a helping hand.  Today he officially joined the church through baptism.  What a huge blessing to witness!  Tony's home life is very difficult!  He has a step father that has made life very difficult for him.  In the past, he's even contemplated taking to the streets.  No one from his immediate family was there to witness this wonderful event.  We are so thankful for the grace and strength and joy that God continues to work in his heart.  He needs a lot of prayers as life remains very difficult for him.  But God has poured streams of living water into his dry thirsty soul and we believe He is able to bring this good work that he has begun to completion!

After the baptism, Tony wanted to lead the congregation in singing a song.  The lyrics are about how God has bought him.  Each verse is about how people want him to do wrong things (like "my dad wants me to buy him alcohol" and "my mom wants me to buy her cigarettes"), but he won't because now he belongs to Jesus and Jesus bought him.  In the last verse, Carol sings that "Tony belongs to Jesus!"

Thursday, July 16, 2015

"Lost Lagoon"

Here are a few more vacation pictures that I had taken with Eric's phone.  Across the bay from Camp Musana, the kids discovered an area that they named "Lost Lagoon."  It was actually a stunningly beautiful area that couldn't even be seen from the outside.  If I had had a charged camera, I would have even ventured back with it.  But I was at least able to convince Eric to let me take his phone.  :)

We were paddling through these trees when suddenly a monitor lizard jumped from the tree and splashed into the water right next to Katelyn.

Here is the beach of Musana from the water.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Little Florence

Some days you fall into bed and you hardly know how to process everything that has taken place that day.  As your mind retraces the steps, all you can say is "Oh, Lord...I'm in awe of how you have directed today."

Yesterday was the end of a very good, but very busy week.  We had a lovely week with some visitors from Australia.  They were a wonderful couple that our whole family really enjoyed having here.  

Friday morning, Eric was to leave at 7 AM to take them to the airport...a five hour drive away.  He was going to take the three older boys.  At the very last minute, Benaiah also decided that he wanted to go.  While everyone was waiting in the van, I brought Benaiah inside and scrambled to find clean clothes for him, wash his face, get his shoes and pass him his breakfast.  It delayed the whole trip about 3 minutes.

They all left and the girls, William and I came inside to finish our morning routine.  About 15 minutes later, Eric called.  

"Dianna, I just witnessed a very bad accident.  We are transporting a small girl to the hospital.

I don't think she's going to live." 

He had been driving through a trading center when he saw a young girl get thrown into the ditch because a boda (a motorcycle taxi) had hit her.  He also saw the young lady who was a passenger on the boda get thrown off.

He had a brief second to decide what to do.  Foreigners are often cautioned against stopping for accidents like this...especially one that involves a child...because of large crowds that quickly form and can be quickly swayed to blame the rich foreigner.  But there is a child, unconscious in a ditch!  I'm so thankful for the grace that was working in his heart and in the hearts of our visitors.  They stopped, jumped out and began to help.  And by God's grace the crowd was thankful for his help and readily accepted it.

Since we live in a country where there are no first responder ambulances, our visitor took the girl, who was bleeding profusely, into her arms and into our van.  The girl obviously had a severe head injury and a severely broken leg.  (The bone was protruding.)  Our visitor held her as she bled and vomited and slipped in and out of consciousness.  They also loaded up the boda passenger who had some minor injuries.

On the request of the family, they first headed to a nearby hospital.  But the hospital was locked and there were no doctors to be found.  So they turned around and headed back in order to bring her back to Mbale.  Eric had also called another friend of ours, Milton, who drives for us.  He got in our other car and started heading up to meet Eric.  They met at the scene of the accident again.  Since Eric had to get our visitors to the airport still, they transferred the patients to our other car and brought them to CURE hospital here in Mbale.  CURE hospital is a pediatric neurosurgery hospital that specializes in treating children with hydrocephalus and spinal bifida.

I met them at CURE and we were able to do a CT Scan for both patients.  The older one was fine and she was then transferred to the regional hospital.  The little patient, however had a fractured skull and a significant concussion.  Strangely enough (except that we are working in God's economy), it was also discovered that she has hydrocephalus!  Up until that point, the hydrocephalus was a-symptomatic. (Although her head is slightly large.)  The doctor thought that her head injuries would likely heal okay, but that it could set off symptoms of the hydrocephalus.  After the scan, the doctor stitched up her head wound.

Then we transferred her to Kumi Orthopedics (the same place I took William when he broke his arm).  She had surgery that afternoon to repair her leg.  She will likely be there for about a month as she heals.  

Today, we drove up there to visit her and see how she is doing.  She is still in a lot of pain, but the surgery had gone well.  They had put a fixator on her leg. 

We were also able to find out more about little Florence.  She is 8 years old and in Grade 2.  She lives with her grandmother.  Her mother ran away when she was just a baby and her father asked the grandmother to take care of her.  She calls her grandmother "mama."  She is a pretty little girl in need of a lot of prayers still.  She has a long way to go yet.  They are an extremely poor peasant family.  They didn't speak English, but their neighbors in the hospital ward were super friendly to translate for us.  They also told us that the grandmother is a Christian, but not the father.  The neighbors in the hospital ward were also Christian.  The neighbors are there with 3 patients who were all in a car accident last week!  The lady told me, "as soon as the girl and her grandmother came in yesterday, I knew in my spirit that I needed to minister to them.  They had nothing with them because they came so suddenly and now are so far from home.  So we've been sharing our dishes and basins with them and letting them use our phone."  Isn't God so good?  All night, I knew that they showed up at the hospital with basically nothing (a huge no-no here, as the family is responsible for everything!) and I was just praying that God would provide...and he did!!  Through the body of Christ!

I cannot help but see God's handiwork over this whole thing...everything from Benaiah delaying the trip for just the "right" amount of time, to His providing the perfect visitor who could handle the situation and despite tears was able to literally be the hands and feet of Jesus to hold the bloodied body of a little girl until her mama was able to meet up with us (not all our visitors would have shined so brightly in such a situation!), to providing others in the hospital to help take care of them when no one else could.  Doesn't God work in such amazing ways?  

Please pray earnestly that her pain would get under control.  Please pray that her brain will heal well and not set off any symptoms of hydrocephalus.  Pray for no infections!  Please pray that God would provide all that the family stands in need of!  Please pray that Florence's father would come to know Christ.  We witnessed to him and the ward neighbors in the hospital witnessed to him today.  He could not deny that God had his hand on his daughter.

Her father and grandmother...

Sunday, July 5, 2015

What a day!

Recently, at one of the OPCU church plants, three widows lost their homes in a land dispute.  The day after the court case was lost, they were evicted from the property and a barbed wire fence was put up to keep them off.  The church shines during difficult times like this: they gathered resources and began to build new houses for two of the widows (the third had children helping her).  The youth in our church spent the day yesterday helping to construct the mud and stick structures.    

They are built by making a frame of sticks and then slapping mud up onto the frame.  When the mud dries, they smear it with cow dung and it hardens enough to last a couple years.

Making the mud can be a fun project for a bunch of teenagers...they basically dig up a huge area of dirt, add water and stomp in it until it is good mud. :)

This is one house frame:

And here is the other:

We have visitors in from Australia right now.  Here they are smoothing out the floor of the house.

The morning and afternoon went super smoothly.  They got a lot of work done.  Eric left with one car load of kids to bring them home and then this happened:

Heh, heh...While Eric was gone, four of the kids (including Timothy and Katelyn) that were working needed to get some bricks.  The neighbors told them to cross the barbed wire fence (yes, the one blocking off the disputed land) and get some.  When they crossed, they met a security guard, told him what they wanted and he said "yes."  But then, he left and went and got the other two security guards and when the three of them came back, they were NOT happy.  It was as if the first security guard tricked them (lied to them?) in order to get them in trouble.  They made them march to the security guard head quarters and beat the boys with a stick (including Timothy one time, the other two boys got a bit more) along the way.  Thankfully, they didn't hit Katelyn although they did push all of them around quite a bit.  They got a good yelling at.  The guards were roughly talking in Luganda to the two other boys and they had quite a discussion that Timothy and Katelyn couldn't follow.  Then they turned to Timothy and Katelyn and got their story, talked some more among themselves and finally released them.  About that same time, Eric had come back and all the other kids came running up, "Pastor Eric, pastor Eric the kids were arrested!"  He eventually met up with them on their way out.  They were a little shaken up over their "arrest" (a few tears), but then once they were home, we all had a good laugh about their "record."  And we just had to take a few mug shots to remember it by, right?

Happy to be home...

Saturday, July 4, 2015

I'm back...

Whew...time to dust off the blog here.  June flew by with lightning speed.  For the second half we were on at Musana, so we were off line and off cell phones.  I got 9 books read, lots of sleep, lots of laughter and lots of refreshment.  It was a wonderful time.  Sadly, my camera battery died about half way through the trip.  I totally thought I had packed my charger, but even though I looked and looked I couldn't find it.  The day we left, I found it in with Benaiah's asthma stuff...go figure...

Here are a few of the highlights...

Our spare tire came off the van about 5 kilometers from the camp.  Oops!

But while your waiting, you may as well pick flowers and play in mud puddles, right?

The most hilarious car moment, though, I don't have pictures of.  One day, we drove down to the beach.  Everyone jumped out and before we realized it, we had locked the keys in the car.  Since we could kind of pry the sun roof up, we were trying to lift it enough to reach in with a stick and get the keys.  Unfortunately, in the process we shattered the sunroof!  Oops!  We cleaned it up, got the keys and went swimming.  Around lunch time, the rain clouds started to roll in so we decided to head back up to the house.  But because it had rained so much the day before, the road back up was really slick and despite the 4 wheel drive, we just couldn't make it back up.  Some of the workers were trying to help us, but eventually it was clear...we had to drive the long way around...45 minutes through a field, out to a village and up back roads around to the main gate of the camp.  Ugh.  But just as we started in, the rain began to pour down.  Eric and the worker were sitting under the missing sunroof with buckets, trying to bail the car while driving the whole way around.  We had lots of laughs that day!  We had to spend one day of our vacation in Kampala getting it fixed.  It wasn't too bad though...the older kids went to a movie (by themselves...yet another reminder of how they are growing up!) and we hung out with the little kids at a play area in the mall.

A few times, when we looked over the lake we saw clouds of bugs.  Eew!  At least they never came up and bothered us while we were there.

One thing we love about Musana, is how remote it is.  They have acres and acres with very few people.  It is such a great break from normal life!

Bambino, the sweet dog that attaches himself to us when we visit, and Talitha.

Goofing off...

We bought 13 large fish while we were there to take home.  It's such a blessing to have older kids to clean them all!  :)

Silly face...

They have a game there that involves throwing billiard balls to try to hit the other person's balls in the hole.  It's pretty fun and we enjoyed quite a few family tournaments while we were waiting for meals.

This little girl figured out exactly how to play the game and took second place in one of our tournaments.  She even beat her daddy.  haha!  She was so funny!!

We praise God for times of rest!  Now...back to work... :)