Thursday, November 26, 2015

Giving thanks in Uganda

Today I am thankful for so many things. I thought I would share a few with you as we celebrate Thanksgiving Day here in Uganda. 

1- I am thankful that the same God who is the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe has loved me and sent his Son, Jesus to bring me into his family. I want to never stop being thankful for that amazing grace! 

2- I am thankful to work at a place that shows a small picture of God's grace in caring for orphaned and vulnerable children. I long for the day when no more children will be orphaned, abused or abandoned, when God's children will all know the joy of being perfectly loved in His family. Come quickly, Jesus! 

3- Right now I am particularly thankful for two families who are here celebrating Thanksgiving with us as they live out a beautiful picture of God's love through adoption. I am also thankful that our school can assist these parents while they are waiting. Our kids are all thankful for some extra friends and classmates! 

4- I'm thankful for the opportunity to teach in a flexible, fun setting. On Wednesday we had fun doing our addition by finding the total number of points on the turkeys we shot. (It was a nerf gun, no worries.)

5- I'm particularly thankful for David! This week he turned 40! I am so blessed to be his partner in parenting, ministry and life. 

6- I'm also thankful for a wonderful day of celebrating with our missionary team, other Global Outreach missionaries and our visitors. Our students recited Psalm 100.

Afterward we all sang "Give Thanks" together. We also made a thankfulness tree. Since we live in Uganda this is our little picture of fall.

7- I'm also very thankful that after all the clean up, I had some sweet cuddle and reading time with my kiddos.  

Today I am thanking God for these gifts and so many more! 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Joan update and prayer requests

Thank you for your prayers for our sweet Joan. She had a successful surgery inserting 3 pins to hold her bones in place. She has returned to GSF for her recovery. For the rest of this week she is supposed to be laying in bed with her arm elevated. Not an easy task for an active 10 year old. This afternoon I brought her some books to read together. She sat up for a bit, but we made sure to keep her arm raised in order to reduce the swelling. 

After two weeks she is scheduled to go back and have a pin and some stitches removed. Please pray for continued healing and relief from pain as she recovers. Pray for her housemom, the nurses and missionaries here to know how to encourage and care for her well. Please pray that the other girls in her house would be kind and help care for her. 

As I have been praying and trusting God to work for Joan's good in the midst of this situation, I began thinking about how children in an orphanage rarely have one-on-one attention. Since Joan is in my cord group, I am hoping to spend some extra one-on-one time with her during her recovery. It has also made me think about how I might find individual time for each of the seven girls in my group. Sometimes it is a bit of a struggle to make that individual time with my own 4 children a priority. 

Now that Cody and Katie Fox have returned, I am able to reduce to teaching part-time again. There are so many things that I want to do with my additional time. I want to spend more one-on one time with the girls in my cord group. I want to help GSF kids who are struggling in math. I want to learn Luganda better. I want to read the Bible with more of our non-Christian neighbors in Buwundo village. There is no shortage of opportunities for ministry. I also know that I need to set aside time to rest. That has become clear to me in the past few months. 

But my first priority is to pray! I don't want to just jump into more ministry just because I see a need and have a little time. I want to spend my time the way God wants and calls me to spend it. Please pray for God to direct my steps as I seek His will for each day, trusting Him to meet the needs for his children! 

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Broken bones

Yesterday, one of our precious girls at GSF fell and broke her elbow. Joan (pronounced Jo-anne) is just a few months older than my Esther. They are friends and were playing together with other girls their age when she fell. Here is a photo of these two girls together at the clinic.
The nurse took her to Jinja, to one clinic to get an x-Ray, to another clinic to have the doctor read it, and then they were sent to a third clinic for meeting with the orthopedic doctor. It was too late, so he was not available and we needed to bring her back to town today. 

The orthopedic doctor saw the x-Ray and realized that setting these bones was going to require surgery and pins. Thankfully my dear friend Jennifer has worked as a surgical nurse, so she accompanied me to decide how to best proceed. After much discussion and prayer we decided to go ahead and admit Joan today. They are going to try to reduce the swelling overnight and set the bone tomorrow morning. She might be released by Tuesday at the soonest. Since hospitals here only provide a bed and the doctors, we needed to gather things for them to use, sheets, towels, blankets, pillows, mosquito net, basin for bathing, mattress for the nurse, soap, cup, drinking water, hot water, etc. 

Please pray for the nurse from GSF who is caring for Joan, for the doctor to have great skill and care in setting the bones and for Joan as this has been a very painful and scary experience. Thank you for your prayers! 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Church work day

Back in the U.S. our family would sometimes participate in a church workday or an outreach service project with other members of our church. Those were always fun times of serving together, but my kids really loved our Ugandan version of a church work day. 

One elderly man in the church has a mud hut that was falling down. It was crumbling in many places. The church leadership felt like it was necessary to do a few things to secure his current living situation and then to pray about a better long-term solution. Since it is the rainy season, we have intense storms often. The wind and rain were basically blowing through his house. 

The church decided to help by providing some poles to better support the structure, and then begin re-packing the mud. Ezra got the job of mixing the mud. 
It was his dream job! You dig up dirt, pour in water and then begin stomping to mix it all up. He told me how much he loves the feeling of the mud squishing through his toes! 

After the mud is mixed it is carried over to where it is going to be applied. Here is a photo of Esther, our nurse at GSF and a visitor carrying the mud. This stuff is heavy! 

Elijah's favorite part of the work is applying the mud. You throw it to make it stick. Yes, our kids were being asked to throw mud! What more could you want in a work day!

I mostly visited with the family, prepared a meal for the workers and the family, and cared for the children. I like to get dirty and work hard with the rest of them, but it was necessary for me to take care of other logistics. I also enjoyed a little bit of time taking photos with the children who are our neighbors. They love to see their own faces on the screen!

We worked for much of the day and I hope that the house is a bit more stable and can keep him dry on these stormy nights. I also am praying that God would use this example of the church caring for the needs of those around to demonstrate the love of God through Jesus. Please continue to pray with us for our neighbors to know God's love through the person of Jesus Christ.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Ugandan Introductions

Here in Uganda there is a ceremony when the groom-to-be is officially introduced to the family of the bride-to-be. The man is expected to bring many gifts to the family, and eventually after some negotiations, the father of the bride or a male representative signs a contract with his father or male representative giving her to them. It is a very interesting ceremony.

We attended our first introduction ceremony last weekend. Since we know the groom well, he asked us to drive him and some of his representatives. We were supposed to pick him up at 10am to reach the family of the bride by 11am, but I know enough about Ugandan culture to know that was not going to happen. At 10am we received a phone call that we should not come yet. Since this is a traditional ceremony, and we were traveling with the groom, we needed to wear traditional clothes. Here is a photo of me in my gomez and David wearing his kanzu. 

A few hours later we were called to go pick up the groom and his entourage. We packed in all the gifts including clothes for the family members, a huge bag of salt, a 50kg bag of sugar, boxes of soap, a chicken, cooking oil, baskets of vegetables and various other items. One of the most important things is the envelopes of money for various family members. Here is a photo of some of the items in our trunk. 

The ceremony is very serious, but it is a little funny. It was all in Luganda, but this is some of what I was able to understand. The visitors are seated then various members of the bride's family are brought to be asked if they know these visitors. They all answer "no" and are given money for their "transportation" expense. Eventually an aunt is asked if she knows the visitors and she answers that she does not have enough money to know these visitors. An envelope is passed, she goes back into the house, apparently to decide if the envelope contains enough money to "know the visitors." She came back and suddenly knew us. ;) Here is a photo of some of the family members. 

You might notice that all the women are kneeling and the men are sitting this is the case for the whole ceremony. And when we visitors finally met the rest of the family, we women always kneel before the man we are greeting. It is a difficult custom for me to adopt, but I went along with it for the sake of cultural sensitivity. 

When the agreement was reached between the families, the bride was brought out. Of course she also knelt before the family of the groom. Once all of the greeting of each family member and the contract was signed, we all shared a meal. Of course this was lunch at about 4pm, so I was feeling pretty hungry. Once the meal was over, we prepared to return to the house of the groom where there was a big party awaiting. Most of the village seemed to be there to celebrate. There was another meal, music dancing, and so many people! The party went late into the night. We know because even after we left we could still hear the music.

We enjoyed this day of culture learning. It is interesting how this experience gives me a picture of some of the biblical references to marriage and betrothal. We also enjoyed the opportunity to build relationships with more of our Ugandan friends. For some reason, wearing their traditional clothes, going to an introduction and speaking Luganda have opened doors and relationships. One woman said to me, "Now we can really see the love of God in your heart because you are together with us."  I am thankful for this opportunity to communicate the love of Jesus simply by giving a day to be with our Ugandan friends. Many of those who were with us that day, do not yet know Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. We praise God that recently one of these friends has come to faith in Jesus Christ! We are praying that God would continue the work he has begun in the hearts of many others. Jesus has purchased his bride with much more than chickens or goats. He purchased us at the cost of his life. We look forward to the day when He will come back for his Bride. There will be a huge celebration on that day, the marriage supper of the Lamb!