Thursday, February 19, 2015


If we were living in America I would say we are "moving" into our new house. I guess now we could say we "have moved," although things are not yet all in place. But here in Uganda, this process is called "shifting." For some reason that word seems to have a more temporal connotation in my mind. I have found that living here in Uganda increases my awareness that this world is not my Home. 

The shifting began a little over a week ago, on Friday night after the appreciation lunch for the workers and the open house/dedication time with GSF staff, missionaries and a few of our neighbors. Those two celebrations were both great opportunities to celebrate this blessing and encourage others in Jesus. At the end of the lunch for the workers, Daniel gave out more Bibles to anyone who did not receive one at Christmas time. I am praying that these men will read God's Word and grow in their faith or come to know Jesus for the first time. Here is a photo in the front of the house of the men who were able to attend that day. 

During the open house/time of prayer Mark, our team leader, talked of our eternal home. It is easy to be distracted by our temporal "homes" and forget to live for the Home that is eternal. It was a good reminder. 

Some of our neighbors were able to join us for that celebration on Friday afternoon, and one of the men came to church for the first time on Sunday. I hope that living closer to our neighbors in the village leads to more opportunities to build relationships and share Jesus with those around us. 

After the open house on Friday, eight neighboring children from the village came over to help us clean the house and prepare to move. I was thankful for their cheerful help sweeping, mopping and wiping things down. It also provided more opportunities to get to know them and improve my language skills. I wish I had a photo to share with you, but the picture in words will have to suffice. They are sweet kids and I am praying that they will know God's love for them through Jesus. 

Saturday and Monday were busy days as we shifted all of our things to our new house. We moved in even though there was still work being done. Of course this process of shifting can be a bit stressful, so I was extremely grateful when some friends on our team offered to help watch our younger 2. Honestly, it was more like I was about to pull my hair out, so I put the boys in the van and drove to go find some help. It was great to have someone watch the boys while David and Cody did most of the heavy lifting. Elijah, Esther and I were mostly trying to organize and put things away. 

On Monday afternoon we discovered that  we could not get our bed frame through the bedroom door, the sinks were leaking, and we were all irritable. Since the boys' bunk beds were not yet dry from being painted, and our bed frame was stuck in the hallway, we decided to just put the on mattresses on the concrete floor. The Gwartney family was so thoughtful and invited us over for dinner. It was great to be out of the mess and not have to worry about preparing a meal that day. After dinner we were all tired, but the kids were so excited and the parents still had a lot of work to do. Elijah got his brothers to lie down, and he played the guitar for them. They were asleep quickly. 

We went back to teaching on Tuesday and worked at settling in during the afternoon and evening hours this week. We finally all have beds and we are getting most things organized. We needed to go to Jinja on Saturday, but we spent the morning working at home and then went into town in the afternoon. 

On Saturday morning, as some friends from Buundo were walking nearby on their way to dig in their gardens, I invited them in for coffee. While they were here I asked if they would like for me to read the Bible to them in Luganda. They seemed excited to listen, and helped me when I struggled with pronunciation. I was excited that our new house has already provided opportunities for reaching out in our first week. 

Please pray with us, that our home here will provide us with many opportunities to encourage others in their faith and to reach many with the good news of the gospel. I am also praying that it will be a place of rest and refreshment for our family so that we will be able to continue to do the work God has called us to do. Thank you to all of you who have helped make this home a reality! 

Thursday, February 12, 2015


I know that all the time I have the opportunity to give thanks, but recently God has opened my eyes more and given me a very grateful heart. I have seen several tangible expressions of God's loving care for us in the past few months.

One of the ways we have seen God's care is through bringing people to himself. I wrote in my last blog post about two new brothers in Jesus Christ. We are so thankful for the way God has been at work here in Buundo village through the ministry of Light of the World Church. 

Another way we have seen God's loving care for us is through your support. We wrote an email a few months ago about several significant expenses that we were anticipating, solar power for our house, water for our home and a tap for the community, and plane tickets for our upcoming furlough. When we received our monthly statements from December and January from Global Outreach we were so encouraged. God has graciously provided through many of you. Even though we do not write thank you notes as often as we should, we are so very grateful for many of you partnering with us in our ministry! We have now been able to buy plane tickets, install the water and the tap, and install solar power for our new house. We praise God for your help! 

A third way I have seen God's loving provision is through good relationships with our new neighbors. Our new home is on the outer edge of GSF property and close to many homes in the village. Most of our neighbors do not yet trust in Jesus as their Saviour. But God has given us several opportunities to build relationships with them, and we are so grateful for this opportunity to share the gospel in relationship and in words as we learn the language. Below is a woman named Safina and her nephew, John. 

Speaking of our new house, we are thankful that it is nearly finished. Tomorrow we plan to have a thank you lunch for the workers and an open house and time of prayer for the GSF staff, missionaries and our neighbors. 

---Hours later---
I had written the first part of this post early in the day when I was feeling very excited and thankful. But just a few hours later I was tired and discouraged that things don't look like they will be completely finished at the house. How quickly I loose perspective and fall back into a discontented spirit. I forgot all of those things I wrote at the beginning of my post. It is always easy to look at the the things we wish were different rather than being thankful. This song comes to mind.... 

"Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here's my heart Lord, take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above."

So whether it is easy to be grateful, like when I wrote the beginning of the post, or more challenging, like right now being awakened at early hours and not getting enough sleep, either way I can trust my Saviour that he is working for my good and rest and rejoice in his loving care. Well, even that faith is not something I can conjure up on my own; it is a gift from God. 

I am praying that God will help me continue to grow in faith. It is so easy for me to fall into a complaining spirit in my heart. Rather than thanking God for the amazing weather here most of the time, I complain in my heart about the heat and dust. Rather than trusting God's timing for all things, I complain in my heart when things are not finished on my timeline. Rather than remembering that God loved me so much that he sent his own Son to take the punishment I deserve in order to bring me into his family and give me eternal life, I forget his love and look to my circumstances or other people to make me happy. As I write this I realize how ridiculous my lack of faith is. In these early morning hours, I am praying that God will change my heart to make me more grateful for all of the ways he has shown his love to me. I am asking that he will give me a joyful, grateful heart today. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A full week

I have wanted to write about the many things happening recently, but have lacked the energy and time. So here is a quick update. 

-Triplet girls who are not quite a year old and their 4 year old brother came to live here at Good Shepherd's Fold last week. They are precious and are keeping the house moms very busy. 

-We bought plane tickets for furlough. We plan to arrive in Atlanta late on April 20. We will need to travel to Global Outreach home office in Mississippi soon after arriving, but plan to be in the Athens, GA area for the month of May and again for then end of June and early July, visiting family in Florida in between. We are looking forward to seeing many of you then! 

-On Saturday I sat and talked with my friends in the village for quite a while. I am learning to communicate more and enjoy sitting and visiting. Normally the women sit on a mat on the ground and they bring a stool for the visitors. But for the first time they let me sit down on the ground with them. I felt like I was finally being treated like a friend, not just a guest. 

-As I visited with another family, I realized that one woman was in severe pain. Her tooth was causing so much pain that tears were running down her face. Elijah came with me, and I drove her to the clinic/hospital nearby that usually has a dentist. Since it was Saturday, she was not there. The guard at the clinic knows me now, so he directed me to the dentist's house just down the road. She agreed to see my friend, Juliette, and directed us to enter the front of her house. There was a room with a dental chair and all her equipment in a tool box. Juliette had a bad cavity and infection in one tooth that needed to be extracted. The dentist gave her some shots of novicane, waited until it was working and then pulled the tooth. Afterwards she gave Juliette antibiotics and pain medicine. The total cost for the procedure and meds was less than $4. And all done in an enclosed porch at the home of the dentist. I had been concerned that the tooth might be pulled without concern for the pain, but I was thankful that was not the case, particularly since Elijah was with me. He did look down and cover his ears just in case. I was able to sit and hold Juliette's hand and pray for her while her tooth was being extracted. The next morning she met us at church. It was the first time I had seen her there. I don't know her heart, but I am praying that if she does not yet know Jesus, she will come to know him. Her mother is my friend Jessica who recently came to faith in Jesus and was baptized. Please pray for Juliette's physical healing and God's work in her heart and life. 

-Also on Sunday a young man came to our church and told the pastor that he wanted to pray to receive Jesus as his Saviour! He prayed with the pastor in front of the church. Then we all prayed for him. Pastor Jonathan reminded us all that there is celebration in heaven over one sinner who repents. (Luke 15:7) After that, we celebrated communion together. It was a beautiful celebration! 

-On the first Sunday night of each month we have GSF family church. This is a time for all the GSF kids, housemoms, and missionary families to be together for worship, prayer, teaching and announcements. It is also the time that we officially welcome any new children to GSF. We welcomed the triplets and their brother along with a little girl named Sarah with CP. She is a sweet little girl who smiles beautifully. After introducing these new children and praying for them we all sang to them. These are the words we sing:
   "Welcome to the family; we're glad that you have come to share your life with us, as we grow in love. And may we always be to you what God would have us be, a family always there, to be strong and to lean on." 
Every time we sing this to a new child I get choked up, thinking of how these kids all come from such broken situations, but we are asking God to help us be family to them and to show them the love of Jesus. 

-On Monday I met with some women and teenage girls in the village about using one of their skills to make something that I could buy. I would love to support our neighbors in this way. Hopefully they can have another way to earn money working from home and using their skills. If the project turns out well, many of you will see the results when we are in the states. 

-Later Monday afternoon, as I was walking in Buundo I met a young man named Franco who has been working on building our house. I had seen him at church on Sunday, so I told him that it was good to see him there. He told me that he was now a Christian. Daniel Iya has been meeting with the guys who work on the house and sharing the gospel. He also gave all the workers Bibles at Christmas. From what I could understand, this young man attended an overnight prayer service on New Year's Eve and asked Jesus Christ to be his Saviour. We have been praying that God would use the building of our house to bring these men to know Jesus, or to grow in him through this process. We are so happy about this answer to prayer. Please pray with us for this young man as he grows in his relationship with Jesus. 

-We have recently been without electricity and without water at various times. I am remembering to be thankful for these luxuries when they are available. 

-We have an extra student for a month. She is from China and her family is here in Uganda for the month of February. It is a great opportunity to encourage her in the gospel before she returns to China. 

Life here is very full. I am thankful for the opportunities God brings into our lives each day. Please pray for us to have energy and wisdom as we follow Him.