"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

Friday, April 29, 2016

Baby Moses

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

We've been busy


and feeding


and chatting


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."

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Bukonde OPCU

Every once in a while, Eric likes to write a blog post.  Here is one from him today!

Today we visited Bukonde OPCU for worship, which included three baptisms and the Lord’s Supper.

The church is up in the hills, and is a beautiful drive.  Here is a picture of Pastor Leonard Mukhwana in front of the church building.  Notice the newer portion of the building on the left – that was added because of increased attendance.  Pastor Leonard’s work is a real labor of love.  The money the church pays him is only enough to cover his costs such as transport to and from the church (he lives about 10km away), but he is a real servant for Christ and for Christ’s kingdom.  

While waiting for the service to start, I looked through the church register.  I noted the average weekly offering of 11,000 shillings, and average attendance of about 55 people.

For comparison, I looked at previous years and found this page from 2011 when the average attendance was 38 people and average offering only 1,380 shillings.  That means over the past 5 years there is a giving increase of almost 800%!  This is encouraging because it reflects increased dedication to the Lord among the saints in Bukonde. (In US dollars this is an increase from 48 cents to $3.50 per week.)

The church recently opened a nursery school, and that was evident in the blackboard and some charts:

When we arrived at the church, it was already set up for communion and baptism:

Here are some photos of the worshipping congregation:

Here is one of the baptisms:

At the end of the service the congregation came to the front for a picture (as well as my family):

Of course what photos cannot directly capture are the faith in the hearts of God’s people, their hope of heaven, the many trials they pass through, and the work God is doing among them.  Bukonde is in a heavily Muslim area, and some are coming to faith in Christ.  Please pray for this congregation, for the work Christ is doing among them, for the fledgling nursery school, for Pastor Leonard, and for the elders and deacons.  Satan is always attacking and trying to disorganize, but when God’s people around the world pray for one another and love one another, God hears these prayers and blesses his people. 

I hope your Sunday today was great.  As you go into this coming week, greetings from the saints in Bukonde, Uganda!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Great News and...a little baby...

We have legal guardianship of Denise!!!!!  Praise the Lord with us!  We are SO thrilled with the work that God has done!!!  We did not make it public, but it was not a smooth road to gain this guardianship.  I wrote the following post right after our second court case, but was too afraid to publish it. But since all is well, I thought I would still put my ramblings on here.  Here is what I wrote:

Court Again: 2 Corinthians 1:9
"As you may remember, a couple weeks ago, we went to court in Kampala.  We had a blast with our big kids and assumed that court had gone well.

We couldn't have been more wrong.  Apparently, the judge hadn't liked us at all and was ready to fail our case.  In fact, as soon as we had left the room, he had turned to the clerk and told her to go through our file and find all the reasons that our case should fail.  Our lawyer found out what was really going on and on the day that we were supposed to get our ruling, went in and asked for more time to bring further evidence in our favor.  The judge had many questions including how we provide for 9 kids, why homeschooling, and what would we do if Eric ever lost his job.  He also didn't understand how it was that we didn't have a house and land in America.  (This is coming from a Ugandan perspective where owning land and building a home is a cultural priority.)  He was also very concerned that we were going to use Denise as maid or someone to "carry our luggage" rather than viewing her as our daughter, equal with the other children.  Many of his questions were fair; many were hard to hear.

"Indeed we felt that we had received the sentence of death..."

When we first arrived in his office, he spent almost an hour telling us how our case was a "dead patient."  He said that there was no life and that there was no good reason that we should be granted our petition.  And in a situation like this we should let Denise go and should not worry, God would take care of Denise.  It was very difficult for us as adults to hear. Perhaps the most emotionally trying experience my husband and I have ever had.  It was exceedingly difficult for Denise, Katelyn and Rebecca to hear.

"...But that was to make us rely not on ourselves..." 

After an hour, we were crushed and were just praying in our hearts for God to intervene and grant life...abundant full life.  The judge seemed to not want to hear anything we had to say in our defense.  We could only listen and pray.

"...but on God who raises the dead..."

About an hour and a half  into everything, our lawyer told the judge that I had been adopted at age 3.  Suddenly, that changed everything.  The judge really is pro-adoption and in his view, the fact that I have been blessed through adoption and wanted to share that blessing with another child, made him ready to grant our case!  At that point, he finally let me stand up and testify to that fact.  And once I did, he said, "Now life has come to this case!  This case was dead, but now it has been resurrected!"

Who knew all these many years, as I was loved and cared for in a foster home, adopted for life and through love by my family, often wondering why my life was the way it was, that God was preparing the way for yet another beautiful story of redemption and resurrection.  In my life, I have often counted the many blessings of my adoption...but this one particular, direct blessing came out of the blue.  I never would have thought that my crazy life story would one day be used by God to redeem another life.

Yes, it is God and God alone who raises the dead:  a dead Christ Savior, my dead heart and now the "dead file" of my sweet dear daughter.  This is only the work of his hands and his grace.  This is God looking down and saying, "I want that girl for myself...so that she can have a future and a hope...so that she can know me, so that she can learn and grow.  She is worth far more than being "just a maid," in fact, she is worth more than rubies."

God is very good to us!  There is no end to his grace!  We will hear his official ruling on April 15th, but he seemed to indicate at the end that everything would be okay.  He even shook the girls' hands and told them to "have hope."  Our lawyers felt confident that all was well.  But please continue to pray that God will grant our petition and request!  And pray for the young hearts that were present, that they would "forget" the things that lie behind and look forward to what lies ahead..."

And we found out this morning that everything is INDEED well!  We praise God for that!  Our next step will be to get a passport and visa for her.  Please continue to pray for a smooth process.

So!  In other news...

On Wednesday, we got a call from a church member that she had found a baby that had been abandoned in a bush next to a field just up the road from our house.  She had called the Police and was wondering if we could help.  So I walked up to see what was going on.  I was introduced to the Police as the woman who would take the baby, which I was very happy to help out with.  So we went to police to file reports and then we came home with him.  We will have him for 1 week while the police investigate and see if they can find the family.  Regarding his future, we don't know what the Lord has in store for him.  If his family is not found, we pray that one day a Christian family will come forward to adopt him.  (I know my audience has a huge big heart for adoption...so I feel I must throw this in lest I get a ton of blessed emails asking similar questions... :-) First, we cannot adopt him right now since we are in the middle of Denise's adoption.  Second, Uganda adoption law is changing so that Americans can no longer adopt while living in America.  And third, since he is a healthy newborn, there is great hope that a Ugandan family will come forward for him at some point.  All of that, of course, is in the Lord's mighty hands!  The best thing we can do right now is pray that God will direct his life in a mighty way with the best, most God-glorifying solution!)

I grieve for his mom.  She must be in such turmoil right now.  "Throwing babies away" is a sad sad occurrence here...not unlike abortion in America.  Often babies get thrown into latrines so as to assure their death.  Because this little boy was placed under a tree in a semi-populated area, I believe his mom was hoping that someone would find him and save him.  So we continue to pray for her that God will use this in her life to draw her to himself and show his love to her.

And we just are so thankful that God saved his life!!  No wild dogs got him...no snakes, rats or bugs!  Two days prior, we had a torrential rain and hail storm that surely would have drowned him.  On Wednesday, it wasn't that hot and it got cloudy, but never rained!  Praise God!  He was very weak after his birth and day out side.  It's only just today that he's really begun to open his eyes and cry out for his needs.  The first day, he was almost limp in our arms.  He's only 4.5 pounds right now!  So tiny!! So precious!!  He has an eye infection.  We aren't sure if it is from dirt from being on the ground or a STD.  It is being cultured and we will find out soon.  Otherwise...he's perfectly healthy!  Amazing GRACE!!

So, here he is...

...and yea, despite the circumstances surrounding how we got him, we are in baby heaven...loving every minute God has given us!

Thanks for all your prayers, friends.  We are so grateful!!!