Saturday, September 26, 2015

An unexpected holiday

Here in Uganda there are many public holidays. The government closes for national, Christian and Islamic holidays. We are still learning about some of these. On Wednesday afternoon we discovered that GSF employees were off on Thursday. It was a Muslim holiday and since schools are closed, the staff also was off to be at home with their families. Since the staff vans were not going to run, the young woman who helps us teach and helps with our kids would not have transport. Also our student who lives in Jinja would need transportation. Instead of trying to arrange all of that last minute, we decided to take the day off. It was great to have a day that was a bit more restful. David had a lot of grading to do and is also preparing to preach on Sunday, so a day without teaching was very helpful for him. 

Our kids all found ways to occupy themselves. Elijah helped the GSF boys working in the garden.
Later in the day, there was an impromptu practice for the Amazing Grace Band on our front porch. I love listening to these kids make music together. One day I'll post a video of them. They sound awesome! 

Esther and Anna decided to do some "cooking." They enjoy making various concoctions from what they find in the yard. 

Ezra, Zeke and Bobby had fun with the various creatures they found. On Wednesday we began talking about the letter "G" and on Thursday they caught grasshoppers and geckos. I found these boys testing to see which of these animals were able to swim. I'm not sure why mud was necessary for this experiment other than the fact that they love to play in the mud. 

I was able to visit some friends in the village and check on baby Esther, who has not been able to get enough milk from her mom. When a mom doesn't have much food or easy access to clean water, it can be difficult for her body to produce milk. Please pray for baby Esther and her mom. 

I also took some time on Thursday to just rest. Of course, with so much else going on, it can be challenging to find somewhere quiet, but I took my cue from Penny and looked for any quiet place to rest. 

As I was taking some time to rest, I started thinking that maybe I should go do something more. I could visit my neighbors, I could see if someone was available to study the Bible, I could go to visit some of the GSF kids. But as I sat there and prayed about these things, I knew that God was reminding me to "Be still and know He is God." (Psalm 46:10)  Many times I think that I need to be the one doing things. I want to be willing when He chooses to use me, but I also want to always remember that He is the One who can change people's hearts and lives. Not me.

On Friday, God showed me a beautiful example of just that. A young man who we have been praying for, asked for a Bible to read with his wife. He said that they are wanting to become Christians and want to start reading the Bible together! I was thrilled and so thankful for the way that God clearly worked in the situation without me. He has been working in the hearts of this young couple! I am so thankful to be able to see a little glimpse of what He is doing! Even though there are always a gazillion things that I feel like I could and sometimes should be doing, I am thankful that the work is in His hands! 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

To press on, or to rest...

Yesterday I went for a run, if you could call it that. Over a month ago I was running, stepped in a hole and stumbled. Something popped in my upper hamstring area. Since then I have had pain in the back of my left leg whenever I try to run or even walk uphill. For the first week or so, I thought that I should rest it a bit, so I didn't go running. Of course, life here requires quite a bit of walking, so it was not possible to rest it completely. 

Recently I have been trying to go for some light jogs. If I try to take long strides my leg hurts quite a bit. Instead I have just been trying to slowly strengthen it with walking and jogging. As I was trying to run, I was wondering if I should just push through the pain to try to strengthen my leg, or if I should stop running and take a rest. 

In general I am the type of person who really wants to push myself. When I was training for basketball in college, I ran until I actually passed out. In many races that I have run, I push myself to finish well and end up vomiting. Obviously, those are examples of being unwise, pushing myself beyond my physical abilities. But challenging myself to press on through times of exhaustion and pain in running has been a picture of persevering in life. Even the apostle Paul uses the analogy, "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Phil.3:14)

But the Bible also talks a lot about rest. It begins in Genesis 2 where God says that he rested from his work of creation on the seventh day, and continues throughout Scripture. Rest is included in the 10 commandments, and in the New Testament Jesus says, "Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)

As I was trying to run along the dirt road, I was pondering about these things, not only in regards to the pain in my leg, but in daily life. Recently, David and I have been juggling many responsibilities, and I have often felt like I have reached my limit. I have always been extremely extroverted, wanting to spend time with people, but recently I have found myself longing to just go hide in my bedroom. I  often wonder, do I need to just press on or do I need to rest? Sometimes it becomes painfully obvious that I need to rest. When I find myself not loving my family well, I realize that I need some time alone to pray. As I was out running and some trucks forced me off the road, I decided I needed to walk a bit. 

So if there are not trucks forcing me off the road, what can help me know when to press on and when to rest? In Genesis, the seventh day was set aside for rest. The problem is, when you and your husband teach Sunday School and sometimes Children's Church, help with transporting kids with special needs to church, sometimes preach, serve as treasurer and an elder, assist with church mercy needs, oversee the GSF kids movie, sometimes host guests for lunch, cook and clean for a family of 6 and monthly participate in GSF family church in the evening, Sundays can be a bit exhausting. Recently I have realized that I need to find some other times for rest.

As I was talking with another missionary she mentioned that she finds it very helpful to have a time of personal retreat for quiet, prayer, listening to sermons and Bible reading every few months. As we were talking about how long we have been back since furlough I thought that it certainly had been 3 or 4 months. It has actually only been 2. I love living and serving here in Buundo Village, Uganda, but I am also wanting to be wise in order to get the rest I need to effectively serve long-term. Please pray that I would know when to press on and when to take time to rest. Also, feel free to pray for healing for my leg. :) 

These passages come to mind in the midst of my weakness.
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us... So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." (2 Cor.4:7,16-18)

"But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (2 Cor.12:9)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

An exciting, crazy weekend

This weekend has been very exciting and a bit crazy in many different ways. Friday began with not having water at our house. David spent much of the early morning tying to figure out why our pump wasn't working.  Finally we realized that there was a phase failure (like a brown-out) in the electricity on campus where the pump is connected. The houses had lights on, so it was a bit confusing. I was fetching water to use for cleaning up from breakfast and flushing toilets, etc. Eventually, when the generator came on, we were able to refill the water tank that our family shares with our friends in the village. We are so grateful for the running water that God has graciously provided for us on most days! During our morning devotions with the missionaries and the MKs who are on campus, we talked about the importance of looking for beauty in order to live lives of thanksgiving, glorifying God. I mentioned how I can easily get overwhelmed with all the brokenness and fail to look for beauty and give thanks. We shared an encouraging time of thanking God together. Zeke, as usual, gave thanks for Bobby. These boys are like brothers. They often show up at school dressed alike.
I have been working with these two on Kindergarten and really enjoying it. Last week as we were talking about things that start with the letter P, we did a pointillism art project suggested by our curriculum. We painted a purple pansy using our erasers to create the dots. The pansy was already on the page, but they really enjoyed the project and the pictures turned out beautifully!

  On Friday afternoon our kids finally got what they have been asking about for over a year, a new puppy! And it was at the end of the week of studying the letter P!
It took a while to agree on a name, and as you can imagine there were all kinds of suggestions. Finally we agreed on the name Penny. She is one-half Rhodesian Ridgeback and one half local mix. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are also know as "lion hunters" which makes my boys very excited. We will not take her hunting, don't worry. We are training her to be a pet, and so far she has been very sweet! 

Friday night did not provide a lot of sleep, but we have been through plenty of those before. Four kids equips you to handle a few sleepless nights...

On Saturday morning Esther usually cooks pancakes for us, and this Satuday was no exception. After breakfast and clean up our kids really wanted to go to the Arrango house to show their friends the new puppy. Of course, Claudia's kids are now all asking for a puppy too. (Sorry, Claudia. You can always send them up to play.) 

The next event on the schedule was Esther's fashion show with the toddler girls. She has sewn 11 skirts and 11 headbands for the girls who live at the toddler house. She also made a skirt for herself to match them all! The girls were all very excited!
They then went on a walk around campus to show their new clothes! It is hilarious to watch these girls posing as they model their skirts and headbands! 
The toddler boys of course are wanting something, so shorts might be her next project...

Did I mention that the water for the rest of GSF was not working on Saturday? We were thankful that we had been able to fill the tank for our house and our neighbors on Friday. Saturday was mostly a fun day on campus introducing many of the GSF kids to Penny. Two of the teenage girls were sick with malaria, but they are now on treatment and seem to be recovering slowly. Please pray for them to return to full health quickly. 

I spent some time Saturday preparing for various teaching opportunities. For the past two weekends, I have read the Bible with some of my neighbors in Luganda. I am certainly not yet fluent, so it takes me quite a bit of preparation time, learning to read the passages and praying for God to work in spite of my language limitations. Our late afternoon Bible study went very well, and a few more women said that they would like to have their own Bible to read with us and at home. I was even able to make a bit of a joke in Luganda, which made me very happy. They were laughing at the way I was acting out the story we were reading rather than laughing at my lamguage mistakes. Please pray for God to reveal Himself to these women as they read His Word. At the end of our time I prayed for them and their families, at least I tried to. I always get a bit nervous that I will accidentally say something heretical because of my limited language. Please pray for me also as I am learning, "slowly by slowly" as they say. 

As I was leaving the women showed me that the white ant swarms had arrived. They look like clouds, coming out in huge swarms. Apparently the eggs are laid in the ground and after the first big rain, which happened that morning, they begin to come out of the ground. As they crawl out of the ground, their wings begin to develop and eventually they fly away. They are considered a local delicacy, so all of the neighborhood children were out trying to catch them to take home for dinner, or to eat right then and there. The toads also came out in large numbers trying to catch a dinner for themselves. 

When I returned home a bit later than I had anticipated, Esther and David had made our pizza for dinner. Zeke and Ezra were outside with Bobby collecting a huge bucket of toads.
Elijah was at church, practicing with the "Amazing Grace Band" to lead worship on Sunday. When Elijah returned, we found that our everything pizza with our precious pepperoni from America, also had some white ants. We removed them because our family has not yet become accustomed to that local food. 

Then next morning we found the evidence of the swarming insects lying on our front porch. 

Sunday was also full teaching the Middle and High School Sunday School class from I Timothy, then going to church and teaching children's church. I had this "great" idea that I would do a fun project to reinforce the lesson I was teaching. I taught about God's promise to Abraham to make his descendants more than the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Then we talked about how God always keeps His promises. We talked about how those who trust in Jesus are now called "children of Abraham." So I decided that we would have the kids draw stars with a white crayon, then paint water colors over top to show the stars. Below we painted on some glue, then sprinkled on sand, and then drew a cross. I am learning that these creative projects are a bit more chaotic when you have about 50 children who speak 3 different languages, who don't have any of these supplies in their homes, and who are all ages from birth through 9 years old. Oh, and no running water at the church. It can be a bit crazy! Many of the children are very helpful and stayed to help me clean up. The nice thing is that you don't have to worry about a little spilled sand when you have dirt floors in your classroom. Here is a photo of the project after it got a little crumpled. I wanted to take photos while the kids were creating, but there was no spare moment. 

As you might imagine, I came home from church and crashed! I took a little bit of time Sunday afternoon to visit with neighbors and the GSF kids, but I also took some time to rest and to write. I am thankful for the many opportunities God has given us to share His Word with others. Please pray that He would be at work in the hearts of all of us, the MKs we teach on weekdays, the GSF kids we interact with daily, our neighbors in Buundo village, and those we know through our local church. Please pray that we would have the energy to serve in the ways He has called us to serve, and also that we would be able to rest. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Our GSF family grows...

Each time we brought new children into our family, it was a time of great celebration and joy. Now as we bring new children into our expanded GSF family my heart breaks a little more with each story. But I am thankful to be able to be a part of an organization that can care for these little ones. Please pray for these three children who are meeting so many new people and adjusting to a new life. Please pray that we would care for them well here, as well as all of the other children he has entrusted to our care at GSF. If you are interested in sponsoring these children, feel free to contact me for details and I will connect you with our sponsorship coordinator, or go to  Please pray for Mercy, "Precious" Esther, and baby Jesse. 
God is good and can comfort these children as their loving Father. Pray that we would know how to be his hands and feet in their lives.