"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

Friday, June 16, 2017

A little update...

It hasn't quite been a month since I've posted, but almost!  I always hate it when the blog has to be silent for a time.  But it's birthed out of my extra and lately, I haven't had much extra to give.  These past weeks (really since we've arrived in country) have been up and down and up and down with my adrenal insufficiency...a couple weeks of feeling low, followed by a few good days, followed by more weeks of being low.  It's been difficult to regain the stability that I once had. Simple illnesses can knock me off my feet because it aggravates my adrenal insufficiency and it seems that I've had quite a few lately.  Cortisol is your fight or flight hormone, so when your body is called upon to fight an illness, you need to have your normal supply of cortisol that gets you through a normal day, plus extra to fight whatever is bugging your body.  When you rely on medicine for all your cortisol needs, simple illnesses suddenly become a bit more complex. Shortly after my last blog post, it was a small ear infection that took me down for a few days followed by a slow climb back to normal.  We are continuing to pray that God will be gracious to us to pull me up more and allow me to remain at a good place, where these little bumps in the road don't knock me down quite as much.  In the meantime, I am also praying that God will grant me contentment in this trial and to place my hope in him rather than in healing.

Despite this, Eric and I were blessed to have a few days away this past week for our 17th anniversary.  We needed to go to Western Uganda for work related things, so we tacked on a few extra hours to celebrate as well.  Near Fort Portal, Uganda there is a beautiful lodge that overlooks a crater lake.  We spent the night there.  In this picture you can see the lodge from across the lake in the center:

This is looking from the lodge out over the lake.  Eric and I walk/ran the rim of the lake in the morning.  It was so much fun!

After our night out, we drove around the Rwenzori mountains through this valley that empties out into the Rift Valley.  So stunningly beautiful!

While we were over there, we saw Cocoa trees for the first time!  Here is a cocoa pod hanging from the tree.

They found one that was ready to be picked and opened it for us.  So cool!  The flesh is sweet and the pit (or nib) is chalky, but you can taste the chocolate flavor (kind of like dark chocolate...it is bitter too!)  Normally, they ferment the bean, then dry it, then roast it.  The flesh is also often used in things like cocoa butter (in lotions, etc...)

We also had the experience of eating crocodile ribs.  haha!  They taste a bit like chicken only a little tougher...

I was so thankful for our days out.  The kids did a fabulous job while we were gone.  But we sure are glad to be back together again and back to our normal work.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Volleyball Tournament

While the Ugandan schools are on term break, we decided to host a volleyball tournament for the secondary students.  It ended up going alllll day long....from 9 AM to 6 PM!  But we had a lot of fun!

Awesome score keepers!

Timothy hosted a chess tournament simultaneously for something to do while the players waited for their turns.

We fed everyone rice and beans for lunch.

The winning team!  By the end, they were so so tired, but they got Uganda Cranes jerseys for their prize.

The volleyball tournament happened to be on Eric's 40th birthday!  So, our friends helped him to celebrate by dumping water on him...an African birthday tradition...

Then we served cake before everyone left.  So thankful for this man!  May God bless him with many more years to serve in his kingdom.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Church at Kakoli

Yesterday we worshiped in Kakoli village.  The church in Kakoli has suffered a lot in recent years.  God sovereignly allowed them to pass through many trials due to wicked leaders and in it all, they lost the building that they were worshipping in but have grown in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.  We praise the Lord for all that he has done!

The drive out to Kakoli is beautiful!  All along the way, there were people gathering white ants...manna from heaven...as the dry season ends.  These white ants are a great source of protein while the people wait for crops to grow.

We were so sad to see how horrible the crops look right now.  The corn that has managed to grow in the drought is already tasselling out when it's only a few feet high and even the cassava (which is saved for hunger season because it can withstand almost anything) was so dry and beginning to die.  It is so sad.  Most people in the village are down to one meal a day.  The Daddies, Mommies, and children are sleeping hungry. They are using more calories than they are able to consume.  It's not starvation point yet, but hunger for sure. It makes me hug my own children a little tighter at night and breathe prayers of thankfulness that I don't have to hear my little ones cry for food as they are falling asleep or watch their hair turn orange with the lack of nutrients.  We praise the Lord that the rain seems to be beginning again, but for many people, it's too late.  Some will be able to re-plant.  Some won't have enough seed left.

Yet here on the side of a mud hut of a church member is written in large letters, "God is able to supply your needs." A visual reminder of truth!

Because they no longer have a building, we worshiped under the mango tree.  It was a lovely morning.  Only minorly interrupted by a cock and a hen giving a, ahem, "science class" behind the pulpit and Talitha jumping off the mat and running to inform me...with many giggles...that the chickens were wrestling...

Talitha kept her hands busy during the 3-hour service by braiding her brother's shoelaces.

Here is some of the singing.



Afterward, we were invited over to the home of one of the church members for lunch.  We have many memories from this home...some sweet (like the marriage introduction of their daughter) and some very grievous (like the burial of her husband and then son).  This is also the home of Peace.  Some of you may recall that she is Katelyn's friend, whom Katelyn was raising money for so that she could attend nursing/midwifery school.  She is finishing her second (of five) semesters now.  She's such a sweetie.  She told us of how she had no idea after her brother died how she would manage to pay for school that semester but that she fasted and prayed and then how the Lord provided through Katelyn's efforts!  She praised the Lord over and over.  She kept saying, "I don't understand how after all that we have passed through, I am just so happy.  Happier than I've ever been!"  Such a beautiful example of a godly woman! 

Talitha, who has been looking forward to eating in the village again, finally got her wish.  Village food does have a unique and super yummy flavor to it.

I had also posted this on facebook and here is the back story plus a little update.  Our little friend Sharon, who is from the church in Kakoli has a major heart defect.  In fact, we found out this past week that she was born with her aorta on the completely wrong side of her heart.  She also has a hole in her heart.  And actually, it's that hole that has enabled her to live as long as she has.  This past week, a clinical officer in our church here in Mbale took her to the Heart Institute in Kampala to get it checked.  Originally they said to come back in a month to do a heart catheterization, but then we got word that she was to have it on Friday.  We found out later that there were three scholarships available for this procedure and all the slots were filled.  But Thursday night, one of the three became too sick for it, so they put her in.  She will return to the Heart Institute in a few weeks to see if the doctors have made a plan for treatment.  There is already talk, however, of her needing to go to India for the surgery, which of course is a very huge deal.  Would you consider praying with us that God will make a way for her to have surgery?  We don't know how all of this will work out, but we can pray to our heavenly father and trust him to do it.  Her life is precious in the sight of the Lord.  It is worth every effort to save it.

This is her and her mom standing outside of their home.  They made it back to Mbale from Kampala late Saturday night, so they rode with us out to Kakoli.  Poor girl, she was so tired and still very sore from her procedures, but such a sweetie!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Ministry Update

We are excited to be back into the ministry here.  And we have been thrilled to see how life and ministry carried on without us while we were gone...in fact, it grew and matured while we were gone.  What joy!  God's kingdom never depends on us and our work.  It truly is he who builds his church and it is his grace that brings us to be a part of it.

Our first Sunday back, Dr. Charles Jackson baptized 22 people! And several others made profession of faith!  

This little girl...her name is Alice.  On our last Sunday in Mbale before furlough, she came to church severely malnourished.  She was worse than many horrific pictures that you see on the internet.  Our hearts broke as we knew that we would not be able to be a part of her healing and we began to pray for her.  Our teammates took her under their wing and nourished her body, tutored her, got her into school and fed her spiritually.  Then our first Sunday back...who is this healthy looking girl being baptized?  It's hard to believe it's Alice!  But here she is!  God is good!

This is our friend Claire.  Having worked more closely with her, it is a blessing to see her making her faith public as well.

Here is a picture of our first time back for Sunday Night Circle time.  When we left, we were averaging just under 100.  While we were gone, Paul and Robina Magala were sweet to continue for us and they had around the same amount.  Our first Sunday back, however, the group size suddenly jumped to 180!!  We were very surprised!  (The second Sunday was 175)  It felt a bit big and chaotic the first Sunday, but the second Sunday we were more well prepared and it went better.  We are thankful that the Magalas are still willing to help us with this ministry that we love so much!

We had brought back with us 125 little flashlights for our young friends from WalMart.  Thankfully, one of our Uganda friends knew a place in town where we could buy something similar to top up for our extra numbers! haha!

Eric and I had two new ideas that we really wanted to start on our compound when we got back.  The first is a breakfast club.  This idea came about after listening (on some of our many long car drives!) to an audio book on the life of George Meuller.  He had started a breakfast club for the orphans of his city.  In Uganda, breakfast is a hard meal to come by.  It's the first to be dropped during times of hunger and many children won't ever get more than a cup of tea in the morning.  Then they are expected to go learn at school on an empty stomach.  We thought, wouldn't it be neat if once a week we opened our compound for breakfast and a short Bible study to elementary aged children.  We've done it twice now and it has quickly become my favorite ministry.  (Partly because I'm a morning person? maybe.  ha!)  The mornings are so refreshing here, the kids come fresh and calm (ha! If you've ever been around a large group of Ugandan kids, you know that by lunch time they are anything but calm!).  We somehow, by God's grace, landed on a great system of organizing everything and each of our kids has a little job to do.  The kids say a memory verse to get into the gate, they pick their food and tea, then they sit and eat and Eric does a devotional.  Then, they are released one row at a time to wash their cup and go to school.  We serve them a mandazi (a fried piece of dough...much like a donut), an egg, a banana and a cup of tea.

The second program we really wanted to do was a youth night for the high school aged kids.  We wanted it to be a more intense time of Bible study and especially prayer with them.  We also serve them supper and play a few games.  We have limited this program to kids that are involved in our church and who attend school...there are about 35 of them.  They are a great group of kids.  They have been so respectful and have really enjoyed our times together.

Eric has begun teaching at KTC this week.  He is teaching a course called Survey of the Bible.  I'm sure he would appreciate your many prayers!

Friday, April 7, 2017

We're back in Uganda!

Thank you for praying for us this past week!  It's hard to believe that a little more than a week ago we packed our bags, said our goodbyes and hopped on the plane.  It's been a good week, although we struggled more with jet lag this time around.  We are thankful to be here!  We have finally finished unpacking and are starting to sleep a little better.  The stress of packing, traveling and jet lag wasn't too kind to my AI, but I'm starting to feel normal again too.  Here are a few pictures from the last week.

We had 25 bags on the plane!

Saying good bye to my sisters...

These two...they look alike and have a similar drive in life (read: high energy with a sprinkling of mischief thrown in).  They traded clothes at the last minute...down to Williams splint... and Daniel jumped in the car with us.  Hmm... Thankful for siblings that are more observant than parents...

More cousin twins...

Our last lunch in America was Cracker Barrel...we got takeaway and went to a local park.  Only problem? We forgot to ask for plates!  Ha! Cardboard it was.
 We flew out of Philidelphia and had to be at the airport very early!

One last prayer before checking in...prayers for safety and many prayers of thanksgiving for how God used our furlough to bless us in so many ways.

On the plane:

Flying over the Nile:

So our first flight had been super delayed and by the time we were landing in Doha our next flight was boarding.  As soon as we were off the plane we began to run!  Our next gate was through another security check and across the airport!!  Eric ran ahead to ask them to hold the plane.  The rest of us ran as fast as Talitha would go.  We passed one man in a suit with a walkie talkie and he asked us which flight we were on.  I called out as we were running, "Entebbe!  There's 11 of us!" He radioed ahead.  Then another lady met us..."Are you the 11 for Entebbe?"  Yes!  And she directed us down the stairs to where Eric was, we all jumped on a bus and were driven out to the plane, still parked and waiting for the party of 11 to board.  Whew... So we barely made it.  Unfortunately, 19 of our bags didn't make it.  When we arrived in Entebbe we had to spend a couple hours in the airport...first Matthew and Jimmy didn't have the proper stamps on their yellow fever cards so the poor guys had to get vaccinated the moment they stepped off the plane.  Then we went through immigration and then the bulk of our time was spent filling out crazy amounts of paperwork to get our bags back.  But Qatar airlines did great.  The next day they met us at a shopping mall in Kampala where we were picking up a few things and brought all the bags to us.

We loaded everything up to travel back to Mbale in this bus.

Then the sweet reunions began!

The Magalas even made a huge Ugandan feast for us!

Moses!!  He's grown up so much!

Talitha is so happy to have her 'big brother' Ivan back.

The kids have done so well throughout our transition!  It's always difficult, but were so blessed and encouraged to see how God carries them.  Goodbyes are hard, but their hearts were full of peace.  They were peace-filled, joy-filled and tear-filled goodbyes...I'm thankful for that.  All of us are happy to be home.  Talitha is very happy to be home...especially since home included a brand new kitty!  Mind you, we have also had many power outages and 2 days without water...haha!  Back to normal life, right? ;-)