"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

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Emma's Birthday Surprise

Last night we celebrated our friend, Emma, on his birthday.  There is an African tradition that the birthday person gets water dumped on them.  Last week was our friend Florence's birthday.  The kids got her when she was opening a fake gift.  Emma had been bragging to everyone that he wasn't going to fall for anything like that.  Game on, Emma.

The kids made him a nice red cake.  Note Timothy in the background moving into position.

The paparazzi are pretty good at distracting their victim.  The kids also have huge smiles because they know exactly what's coming.

The kids made the first cake out of posho...it was only for looks.  The real cake was wrapped up as a gift.  What a blast.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

December Photo Project: Day 25

 Merry Christmas, dear friends!

We were so blessed to be able to celebrate with many friends today!  Lots of visitors! (I think we had about 45 extra...I kind of lost count...haha!) We had a delicious meal of turkey, chicken, beef, rice, matooke, chapati, sweet potatoes, gnut sauce, cabbage, watermelon, and pineapple.  Best of all...we were able to hire someone to do the cooking and clean up, so I was able to enjoy too!

Rebecca made some of her delicious apple pies for dessert!

Then after lunch, we had all the youth over for dinner and a lock-in.  Life in Kikamba (the slum where these kids come from and where our church is located) can be tough Christmas night.  Christmas is full of drunkenness and awful temptations. Two years ago, I spent Christmas night with the girls there and saw first hand some of the horrible things that can happen to these vulnerable kids.  We wanted to provide them a "way of escape" so that they could "endure" the temptations of the night. (I Corinthians 10:13)  I think this is one of the toughest things we've done...haha...we aren't so young anymore!  The kids were good though...just very full of energy...haha! (like teenagers everywhere!) But, like all hard things, it was also good and I'm glad we were able to provide a safe place for the night.  We did volleyball, hotdog roast (most kids had never heard of hotdogs before and wondered about their name...haha!), talent show, movie...then we separated girls and boys: girls at Paige's house and boys in tents at the bottom of our yard.  I think some of them slept for a couple hours!  haha!  Then this morning Eric, Paige and Pastor Charles took them swimming.  After swimming, they were very quiet and subdued...I think we wore them out. Ha!

December Photo Project: Day 24

Today, we gathered with God's people to worship.   

Then, we had our usual open compound time.  We are super happy that we were able to get some playground equipment for the small children to play on.  It's a fun new addition!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

December Photo Project: Day 23

Today is a bit of an unusual photo... it's actually an excuse to say thank you for praying for me and to give you an update on my health since so many of you have prayed for me in this area.  If you aren't aware, quite a few years ago now, I was diagnosed with Primary Adrenal Insufficiency. (Fun history fact: it's the same disease that JFK had, but kept very well hidden during his presidency) It is considered a rare disease in which the outer cortex of the adrenal glands fails and the body stops producing cortisol...a hormone necessary for life.  Cortisol is a stress hormone: whenever your body is under any type of stress (life stress, sickness, happy stress, emotional stress, etc...) it produces cortisol and prevents your body from going into shock.  For those with Adrenal Insufficiency, our bodies produce none, so we must rely on a low dose of steroids to give us all we need.  For several years, I was very stable.  Like most AI patients, I would need to pace myself and get plenty of rest and take extra medicine when I was sick, but it really wasn't too big of a deal.  But two years ago, I started to spiral.  No matter what I tried, I constantly struggled to make it through the day.   I have been exhausted all the time...and my exhaustion has been accompanied by deep, sharp, shooting bone pain, low-grade fevers, debilitating brain fog and would, more days than naught, leave me on the couch.  It's been a real struggle that many people have been praying for.

A few weeks ago, I started to realize that there was a real potential that I wasn't actually absorbing my steroid tablets.  Maybe it's my struggles with celiac or maybe just years of being on a steroid that has done damage to my stomach...not sure... but I knew my digestive system has issues.  A few weeks ago, I was extremely discouraged one afternoon and I cried out to the Lord in a torrent of hot messy tears and during that prayer, an idea came to me that maybe I should try to inject all my steroid.  I actually had never heard of this, but I started looking on an Adrenal disease facebook group that I'm a part of to see if there was anyone else who had done this... turns out there was!  Lack of absorption can actually be a fairly common problem and the solution is to use insulin needles to inject the steroid...and best yet...I could find everything I needed right here in Mbale!  (even a box for sharps! ha!)  

So for the past few weeks, I have been injecting all my steroid (following a circadian rhythm dosing schedule, so it ends up being 7 injections a day) and I can hardly believe how much better I feel!  It's been amazing!  I have had zero bone pain, zero brain fog, much more energy, and my blood pressure has risen so that I have no more dizzy spells when standing up!  It truly has been an act of God's grace to me to bring me up out of the pit that I've been in for the last two years.  I can still get tired (sometimes very tired), but it is NOT the same kind of painful/can't see my way through to even communicate with the family tired.  So while I'll have to pace myself the rest of my life (and that's okay...not a bad thing!), I feel like I've been granted a huge measure of healing these past few weeks!  And to top it all off...I'm taking less steroid than I was in pill form!  Don't need as much anymore! 

Some people in my situation will end up getting an insulin pump and using it to pump the hydrocortisone instead.  Perhaps, if God wills and the insurance company will pay then that will be in my future.  (I hope so!!)

In the meantime, I am ever so thankful for this answer to many prayers and ask that you continue to pray for God to protect and sustain me!  Adrenal failure is no fun...it's a beast of a disease...but I can really see how even this, God turns for his glory and for my good.  Much praise and glory to God!

Friday, December 22, 2017

December Photo Project: Day 22

Today, while the big kids were with the youth group cleaning the church, the littles and I went swimming...a super great activity during dry season... haha! 

December Photo Project: Day 21

Yesterday, we went down and back to Kampala in one day.  It was kind of a crazy day.  haha... We left at 5am and didn't get back until 10 pm.  Benaiah, Talitha and I had a few hours to burn at the mall while Daddy did some errands. 

KFC ice cream...a yummy Kampala treat!

We had a bit of fun in a costume/ toy store...

And we listened to this awesome little band.  They sounded really nice and were playing a lot of classic hymns.  It was a real blessing!

While we were waiting for Daddy to come pick us up, this little girl was standing next to me, then she put her head in my lap and promptly fell asleep...still standing up!! haha!

And here is the awesomeness that I managed to capture a photo of...haha...Santa comin' to town!  There are many reasons we love Uganda...sightings like this being at the top. 

December Photo Project: Day 20

On Wednesday, the youth in the church decorated Christmas cookies and then we went Christmas Caroling.  It was so much fun!  For most of the kids, caroling was a brand new idea and experience. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

December Photo Project: Day 19

I wasn't intending for this to be my picture for the day, but it was such a crazy busy day that this was all I got.

Yes...we killed the Christmas turkey yesterday.  This is Lego building at it's finest, folks... haha!

Monday, December 18, 2017

December Photo Project: Day 18

Our tradition has been to go get milkshakes after the girls' dance recitals.  Because of scheduling conflicts this year, we weren't able to go right after.  But today we made good on that tradition and had a grand time of it.  

all gone...

December Photo Project: Day 17

Day 17 brings you some really sweet friends that like to come to visit.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

December Photo Project: Day 16

 Poor doggy gets a bath every Saturday from the littles.  From mildly annoyed to the great shake off:

December Photo Project: Day 15

Yesterday the Jacksons hosted a good ol' fashioned American BBQ for the students of KTC.  Before lunch, they played football (soccer)... married students against single students.  The marrieds won.  The singles insisted that it was because they don't have wives who make them good food to keep them strong.  haha!