Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Teachers wanted!

Since our classroom building project has begun, we are daily thinking about next school year. We are excited about our new classroom space, but we are still praying for the need for teachers. Our four full-time teachers are currently juggling 12 different grade levels. We are thankful that we have a part-time assistant and have added a part-time PE teacher. While this has been very helpful, we still need more help. If you are interested in teaching with us, please contact us through the "click to write them a message" link on this page. Here is a brief description of our school and need for teachers.
Our 2016-2017 students and teachers

Good Shepherd's Fold International School was established in order to provide a quality Christian education for the children of missionaries who serve at Good Shepherd's Fold in Buwundo Village, Uganda. We have also opened our doors to students whose parents serve with other local ministries. Our school hopes to prepare missionary kids to help them transition smoothly to American schools and universities. This school year we serve six different families educating 27 students pre-K through 12th grade. We currently have 4 teachers. We would love for one or two more teachers to join our teaching team. Since we are all currently a bit stretched, we could shift schedules and use teachers for any grade or subject from pre-school to Pre-Calculus. This is a support based position.
Our current teachers

Please pray with us for this need and contact us with any questions. Many thanks!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Time for school fees

(I wrote this post back in February, but wasn't able to publish it at that time. It is dated, but I thought some of you might find it interesting.)

The Ugandan schools have all just begun, and many families are struggling. The local schools run on the calendar year, which makes sense, but this year there are some specific challenges. Christmas is a time when people usually spend more money to travel to be with family and to buy a special meal. For many this is the time of year they eat meat. But this year, Christmas came at the end of a very dry year. The rainy season never came, and therefore people's gardens are mostly empty. Most people in the villages grow much of their own food, so many people are hungry. Not like the hungry where your kid comes home from school, hasn't eaten in a couple of hours and says, "I'm starving!" No, I mean go to bed at night hungry without having any food available for dinner. The translation for the word hungry in the local language is literally "there is biting or pain in my stomach." During the school year breakfast and lunch are included at most schools, but on holidays the family needs to provide these meals. The lack of rain has also made water scarce. In some places people are having to pay a lot to get water for bathing, washing clothes, cooking, and drinking.

And now the perfect storm has arrived. (No, not a rainstorm. We all wish!) It is time for students to go back to school, but many families cannot afford the fees. The first term is when many students need to buy uniforms and books and other supplies, too. So at the end of a rainy season with no rain and a holiday the money is gone. Many people in Uganda are trying to figure out how to afford to send their children to school. A grandmother showed up at my house with two of her grandchildren this week explaining that their fathers are gone and they don't have a way to send these kids to school. She is not from our village. She walked for at least 30 minutes from her village to come ask for help. Since I did not know her at all, I referred her to the social worker for GSF to see if there were any scholarships remaining. I don't think that there are.

While we cannot provide school fees for everyone, I am thankful that many women and students in our village have been able to save money through our Buwundo Beads and Crafts group in order to be ready for this time of year. Many of you have made this possible through purchasing the beautiful things they have made. Thank you! If you want to hear more about how you can support these students by purchasing or selling these items, please contact me.

Here are photos of some of our students during our Bible study time. Each week we meet to listen to the Bible discuss what it means and how to apply it in our lives, and then I purchase the jewelry and crafts they made that week. I only purchase from the students during their holidays, so that they can focus on school the rest of the year. Most of the year our group is 18 women who are mothers and grandmothers. Please pray for our students as they go back to school and begin a new year. It is my prayer that they will remember many of the things they have heard from God's Word as they listened to the entire book of Matthew and much of the book of Mark during their holiday. I praise God that several of them are continuing to come for Bible study on the weekends. I am also praying that they will study well and progress academically this term. Please join me in praying for these students as they begin this school year!

(Students are now at the end of their second term and preparing for their third term in the school year. I look forward to getting back to Uganda to see how they are all doing!) 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Lifting My Eyes

Have you ever had a time in life when your questions about the future make it hard to function in the here and now? Lately that has been my struggle. We have been talking and praying about some future plans, and my immediate response has been to try to figure everything out and worry about how it will work out in the process. (These plans do not include any major changes in our work here, just questions about how it will all turn out, and how to juggle the needs of our family and ministry.) I often get so focused on all the possibilities and details that I fail to trust God with my tomorrows. After waking with a stress headache for a few days, I decided that I needed a day for a prayer retreat. I usually do this a few times a year, although it is my goal to make time for a prayer retreat at least quarterly. Here is my agenda for these days. I want to talk with God about all of my concerns. I want to saturate my mind with His Word so that I can focus on Him and not just all of my fears and struggles. And I want to be refreshed by resting in His loving care for me. Since writing often helps me process all my thoughts, I wanted to write about what God is teaching me today.

This morning, I had some specific verses that came to my mind as thought about my desire for this time. Psalm 121:1&2 "I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth." Thankfully, I couldn't remember from which chapter in Psalms these verses came. I decided that I would try to structure my time using the acronym ACTS, Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication to focus my prayer time. It seemed like reading through the Psalms would be a good way to begin a time of Adoration. As I scanned the first 120 chapters looking for this passage, I was so blessed to focus my eyes on my Lord and adore Him. It is amazing how reading these truths about God can change my perspective! This morning I read that God is my Rock, my Shield, my Fortress, my Deliverer, my Strength, my Protector, my Stronghold, my Shepherd, my Salvation, my Support, my Light, my Creator, my Keeper and my King. I also read about his steadfast love, his righteousness, his goodness, his mercy, his faithfulness, his justice, his protection and his care for the brokenhearted.

Finally as I reached the passage about "lifting my eyes to the hills" it reminded me that everything looks so different when I fix my eyes on Jesus. When I remember what an amazing, loving, gracious God I serve, I don't feel like I need to worry about or control tomorrow. I know that I can trust Him with every tomorrow! While I still have many questions about what the future will bring, I know that my Lord has it all in His hands and I can trust Him to work it out for good! He has been faithful to his people since the creation of this world, keeping His promises and providing for our greatest need through His own sacrifice. I can also look back in my own life and see how He has worked for my good in ways that I often did not understand. I remember when my husband first talked about the possibility of moving overseas; I was so full of anxiety and fear that I vomited. Now, I absolutely love our life here and am so thankful for this amazing opportunity that we have. I can also see ways that God has grown all of us through the process.

I believe that as I spend more time focusing on my Lord, remembering the faithfulness of God in His Word and also in my life, I will learn to rest more and more in the peace of God rather than live my life in fear and worry. Instead of dwelling on the "what ifs" and spending too much emotional energy on trying to figure everything out, I want to "fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith." (Heb.12:2) Today I want to repent of my pride in thinking that I can figure it all out and instead, cling to my loving Heavenly Father who knows all things and has promised that He is working for my good. (Rom.8:28)

Breaking Ground

On Friday morning we had an official ground breaking ceremony beginning the construction our new classroom building. It was exciting to gather and pray for both the construction process and the future use of this building as we plan to use this space to equip and disciple the children of missionaries.
Daniel Iya, an engineer who serves here at Good Shepherd's Fold overseeing building projects, uses each building project as an opportunity to equip men from our local villages. These men learn marketable skills, but Daniel also uses this opportunity to disciple these young men. We pray that God will use both the process and the final product to fulfill the Great Commission and make disciples of all nations. If you would like to contribute toward the cost of this building project, click on this link and select "GSF International School." We are also praying that God will bring another teacher to serve with us as our ministry here grows. I will write more about this need later, but if you or someone you know is open to serving missionary families by helping to educate and disciple their children in one of the most beautiful places in the world, please let us know! Thank you for praying with us and supporting our growing school!