Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ugandan Hospitality

Yesterday it was raining, so I drove my friend Privah home. She and her son normally ride a Boda (motorcycle taxi). Zeke rode along since Abraham, Privah's son is also 2, almost 3. When we got to where they live she invited us to come see her room. They live in a concrete building with maybe 5 separate rooms. Her family lives in the last room of the building. Here room is very clean and cozy. She said they have electricity in the evenings. It comes on sometime after 6pm and then goes off again in the morning. She said that there was no reason for them to need it during the day as they are all away at work and it is very expensive. That makes sense. As we walked to her room, many of her neighbors came to greet us. They were particularly interested to meet the little mzungu. Zeke enjoyed showing off for them all. Here is a photo of Zeke and Abraham on the porch of the building. The yellow jugs are what they use to fetch water. 

We went into her room and sat down to look at photos. She showed me photos of her family, of her growing up, of her wedding and of Abraham when he was little. I learned much about Ugandan culture in that brief hour of looking over photos together. Privah is from Western Uganda and she also showed me the difference in dress between Western and Central/Eastern Uganda. 

After a bit of time inside the boys got a bit stir crazy so we moved out to sit on a mat on the front porch. While we were looking at more photos, Privah sent Abraham to buy two bags of popcorn for Zeke and himself. She had a bowl to put the popcorn in and suggested that Abraham eat out of his bag so that his guest could use the bowl, but he wanted to share the bowl so they put both bags in and "shared" as 2 year olds do so well. ;) Abraham would pull the bowl closer, then Zeke would grab a big handful as both of us mothers were trying to encourage them to not be selfish. Here is a photo of our boys on their front porch. 
Abraham is such a sweet and cheerful little boy. Whenever he sees me he runs up and gives me a big hug! When we first met he called me "mzungu." I told him he can call me "Lisa." Privah said that now, whenever he sees a white woman, he calls out, "Lisa." That made me feel special. He is such a precious boy! 

As we were preparing to go home, Privah said, "I want to give you something to take home from my house." She pulled out a basket with passion fruit and gave me half of all she had. I was so overcome with her hospitality. She was so kind and gracious, welcoming me into her home, and generous buying popcorn and sharing her passion fruit. She gave me directions to return home and called make sure I found my way. I am so grateful for this special time with my sweet friend! 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Fruit

I thought I would write a few thoughts about fruit. Here in Uganda there are some delicious fruits available! Most fruit is fresher, tastier and less expensive here, at least the fruits that grow here. Not many apples, peaches, pears, grapes or berries in these tropical parts. But the pineapple is amazing! The bananas are our kids new afternoon snack. You can pretty much always find a woman with a basket of bananas on her head.And I love the mangos! And when you blend all of those into a smoothie, it is delicious!  Below is a photo from Lugalumbo, the roadside market where we regularly stop for fresh produce. when you pull over, the women all run to your vehichle and put their produce in your window. 

There are other less familiar fruits here like Jackfruit which I have not tried yet, and my kids are not yet huge fans of the papaya. But the passion fruit juice is very tasty! The oranges here are actually green, they never ripen to an orange color and they are sour. There is also something the kids from the village just call "fruit." The missionary kids at GSF think it tastes bad, so we have not tried it yet. 

In our worship service yesterday, there was also discussion of fruit. There was an illustration about a mango tree, but the fruit that he was really talking about is the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." As we were listening to this sermon we were both convicted that we need to grow in these areas. So please pray for God to work the fruit of His Spirit into the lives of our family. Maybe when you see some bananas and pineapple at the store, you can remember to pray for our family that we would grow in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Thanks for your prayers. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Growing in patience and faith

One thing that we knew as we were preparing to move to Uganda is that life here operates on a different schedule. The person you are with is more important than your deadline or next appointment. In some ways we really love that. People make the time to stop and talk with one another. It is a beautiful thing and we have really enjoyed getting to know the Ugandans we are interacting with on a regular basis. Below is a picture of me with Privah, who has become a dear friend in our weeks here. 



This slower pace of life and focus on relationships also means that things often don't happen as planned. Bamboo bookshelves that a street vendor made for us took several days longer than anticipated. Money that was wired to our bank here 2 days ago is still not available to be withdrawn. Desks, chairs and shelves being made for our classroom may or may not be ready for the start of school. Another aspect of unpredictability is electricity. We were planning to have a meal last night that required meat cooking in a crock-pot overnight. But when the power is out, the crock-pot doesn't work. So we just pulled a few things together and will eat the meal tonight, Lord willing, and if we continue to have electricity today. We are learning to live with the unpredictability of life here. 

But I don't want to just learn to be more flexible about future plans. I want to trust God with the future! This has been a struggle my whole life as I want to control things. It is ridiculous to think that I would feel better about controlling my own future than I would trusting the all-powerful, good, gracious God of the universe, but sadly that has been my one of my ongoing sins. This pre-cancerous area on my tongue has been one area in which I am continuing to learn about trusting God with the future. Please pray with me, that God will grow my faith in Him through this struggle. James 1 comes to mind as I reflect on how I desire the Lord to grow me through these trials. I would recommend reading the whole chapter, but I will just post a few verses here. 

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance, and perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." 

Well, I just kept reading and I really recommend reading the whole book! Reading the book of James would be a much better use of your time than reading my blog! And here is another passage from James that we have learned much about over the last couple of years. 

James 4:13-16 "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.' Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that.' But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil."

And since I cannot close a blogpost with the law, I must go to a few reminders of the love of God through the gospel from one of my favorite chapters in the Bible, Romans 8. I have written a few verses here for you, but again I would implore you to read it all! 

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.... For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, 'Abba! Father!'... If God is for us, who can be against us? ... For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, neither angels, nor demons, neither the present, nor the future, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything in all creation shall be able to separate us from the love of God, in Christ Jesus our Lord." 

My Abba Father in heaven loves me better and even more than I love my own children! Speaking of my own children, while I was writing this Esther was dressing Zeke and Ezra as superheroes. I thought you might enjoy the photo. 


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Care packages

I wrote in a previous post that we now have a PO box in Jinja. Many of you responded with asking what you could send. That made us feel very loved! But before giving you our list of "wants" from America, I feel the need to put in a few qualifiers. Living in a country where there is so much poverty and many people are hungry and lack the money for medical treatment when they are sick, really puts things into perspective. We drive through villages each day where there is no clean water or electricity. Today I also overheard a conversation about a young woman who has grown up at GSF and done well in school, but the funds are not available to send her on to college. Her basic needs were taken care of at GSF, but they now want to help equip her to provide for herself and care for her family down the road. So before you send us a care package of treats, please consider sponsoring a child at GSF or helping with a scholarship for one of the older kids. If you are interested click here to see the sponsorship blog. It has been really fun to watch the children at GSF in the sponsorship program receive packages from their sponsors on their birthdays or just for fun. Here is Latisha right after she received a ball and two new dresses from her sponsor. She is such a cutie!

Speaking of receiving packages on birthdays. Elijah's birthday is coming up soon and he would love to get some birthday cards from the states! Since I know my children (and David and I) would also be happy to receive a package with treats, I will tell you the things we are missing the most here:

  • our family and friends (consider coming to visit or at least send us a picture of yourself.)
  • tortilla chips
  • pretzels
  • taco seasoning
  • cumin
  • Tony Chachere's Famous creole seasoning
  • tortilla chips
  • Honey Nut Cheerios
  • chocolate chips (although I don't know if they will melt in transit and we still have a few.)
  • ranch dressing mix packets
  • funny TV shows on DVD for David and I to watch after kids are in bed
Please do not feel obligated to send us anything. We have so much more than we could ever need! These are just a few of the comforts of "home" we have been missing. But it is also good to remember that this world is not our home. Thank you for asking about this. Here is our address in case you missed it before: PO Box 1960, Jinja, Uganda, East Africa


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Worship in the rain

This morning's worship service was definitely a unique experience. The church we have attended the last two weeks meets in a grove of eucalyptus trees. The leaves are all above and we have plastic chairs set up for people to sit. This arrangement works fine during the dry season, but the rains have just begun. 

This morning, since it was obviously overcast, the pastor explained the plan for when it rains. The children all go into the building for children's church and the adults all go stand in the other building for the remainder of the service. While we were singing our second worship song, the rain began. After getting our children to their building we walked into the other building with the adults. There were over one hundred of us all standing side by side in a room that is a little larger than our living room back in the states. We continued our worship all standing very close in this room. It felt a bit like an early church worship experience, standing there for over an hour and a half;  standing to sing worship songs, standing in small groups to pray with those in need, standing to hear the Word preached, and standing to sing more praise. It was very good and encouraging to me to be a part of this time of worship!

I have been struggling lately with fear regarding the pre-cancerous area on my tongue. Since I can always feel this area of dysplasia, it is an ongoing battle in my mind to trust that God has my future in His hands. I have had several moments lately of feeling my blood pressure rise as I become fearful. I even considered staying home from worship today since I was a bit overwhelmed by these fears last night and this morning. But it occurred to me that worshipping with God was probably just what I needed. 

As I stood in that room and enjoyed singing along with my Ugandan and Western brothers and sisters, I was convinced that God intended this time of rainy season worship to encourage me to trust Him. Here are some of the words we sang together:

"Our God is greater, our God is stronger, God you are higher than any other. Our God is Healer, awesome in power Our God."

"Sovereign in the mountain air,
Sovereign in the ocean floor,
With me in the calm,
With me in the storm.
Sovereign in my greatest joy,
Sovereign in my deepest cry,
With me in the dark,
With me at the dawn.

In your everlasting arms,
Are all the pieces of my life,
from beginning to the end,
I can trust you.
In your never failing love,
You work everything for good.
God whatever comes my way,
I will trust You!"

It was good to hear all of those voices together reminding me that God has my life in His hands. He can heal me if he chooses to or this could progress into cancer.  But whatever comes my way, 
I will trust my God who is the Healer, who is awesome in power, who is working everything for good. The pieces of my life are in His hands! 

I'm sorry that I do not have a photo to share of this worship time, but I hope my description gave you a mental picture of it. Instead I will just include a picture of some of my kids sitting on the back verranda.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Another gift!

I have been trying to make a habit of thanking God even when I am struggling with adjusting to everything, but He has made it pretty easy for me by showing us his provision so clearly and in so many ways! 

When we arrived 2 1/2 weeks ago, we intended to purchase a carseat for Zeke in Kampala. Carseats are not mandated by law, but we thought it would be wise for safety. There was already a booster seat that we intended to use for Ezra. As we went to the store we realized that the selection was very limited and would cost over $200 for the cheapest one. So our team leader, Mark, recommended that we ask the Jinja missionary community if anyone had one available. I was invited to join the Jinja missionary Facebook group and posted the need. Apparently, a family who was here in Jinja left one behind in case another family would need it. This morning we got this carseat which was as good as new and better than the ones available in Kampala. I feel much better about our commute with our younger two both in more secure seats. And it is nice and comfortable for Zeke! It is so great to realize that God graciously put it on the mind of another family several months ago in order to provide this seat for us today! Thank you, God. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

So very blessed!

I have been hesitant to post photos of our rental house here in Jinja because it feels extravagant to me. By the grace of God and the help of our team, we were able to find this amazing, furnished house right near the Nile River which is available because the family who lives here is in the states for about 5 months. It is so beautiful here and we are very grateful for this house easing our transition to life in Uganda. It even has a guest room and triple bunks in the kids rooms which enabled us to invite our friends to stay with us for the weekend! 

This morning I sat on the back veranda to have a time of prayer and worship. While I was sitting here, David brought me an omelette with fresh salsa! I just felt so blessed! After I ate the most delicious omelette ever, I took a picture to capture this beautiful moment. I should have taken the photo before I ate the omelette, but I thought of that after the fact. This photo does not capture the beauty of the birds singing, the sunshine warming my face as it rises, and the taste of that delicious omelette, but I hope it gives you a little picture of God's beauty here! 

Going to Kampala

Today there were several people at GSF who were going to Kampala for various reasons. A one year old boy from the village and his mother needed a transport to a clinic in the capital for treatment for high pressure in one eye. His eye has been bulging since he was a newborn and GSF has been helping him get treatment. One of the missionary kids needed to go to an orthodontist. And two summer interns needed to do some shopping. 

I decided to go along to spend time with the others and to get chicken. In Jinja you can get whole live chickens, but that means you have to slaughter it, pluck the feathers and clean it. So we haven't eaten chicken here. But in Kampala you can buy frozen or fresh chicken like at a grocery store in the states.  We also needed to get some things for our school like a printer/copier which are not as readily available in Jinja. 

It was a good trip, although a very full day. I enjoyed looking around the stores and spending time with the other women on this trip. I was also glad we were able to use our van to assist with transportation. While I was in a store called "Game" I ran into our friends from London, the Ruhl family. Apparently God really wants us to be friends, since he puts us in the same place often. It was great to see them again! After getting supplies and frozen chicken along with a few other grocery items, we got in the van to head back to GSF. Then we stopped for lunch at Cafe Java about 2:30. It was delicious! I ordered a chicken burrito and savored every bite. It was a very nice time to share a meal and tell stories of how God has called us to where we are now. 

I am very thankful for this day trip to Kampala. It has helped in several ways. First, it has helped me to be more comfortable in Kampala shopping for things. Our initial day in Kampala was very overwhelming since we arrived jet lagged with 4 tired children; today was much better! Secondly, it has been a good day to better get to know some of the other women here. I am very thankful for this time together. Also, I am happy that our van provided transport for a family in need. Please pray for this little boy to continue to heal. Those of you who have contributed to our support have helped make this possible. Finally, I am thankful for a delicious lunch and safe travels! 

Below is a picture of our family in our van, for which we are very thankful! Since we have a 45 minute or so commute, we are so grateful that God provided us with a reliable vehicle! And we are also thankful for the many of you who have helped us purchase it! 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Another day in Jinja

Today we decided to work in town on finding things that we need for the classroom, getting food from the market, and taking care of a few more details of life.

Below is a photo of Esther grinding the beef in the market to make mince (ground beef). You pick the portion of the carcas you want, they cut it off with a machete and chop into pieces that they put into the grinder. Normally they charge 1,000 shillings (about 40 cents) for grinding and they do it for you, but the butcher thought Esther would like the job. She enjoyed it, but we still paid them for the use of the grinder. 

I also learned that to receive a package, you walk around the back of the post office into an area that seems like a back alley/loading dock and you find Moses. You pay him the customs fees (they weren't too bad), sign in two different ledgers and then you can take your packages. I am thankful that a summer intern at GSF showed me how to do this, because I never would have figured it out on my own. I was just picking up packages for other missionaries and for  kids in the sponsorship program, but we now can receive mail too. Claudia Arrango, another missionary on our team, has generously offered to share her box with us since it was going to take much time and money to get our own. So we can now receive letters and packages at PO Box 1960, Jinja, Uganda, East Africa.  

Overall today has been fairly productive although our desire to get some high speed Internet (which would be slow to normal speed in the US) in order to work on banking and other necessary paperwork has not yet happened. David has gone back out to try again. We did do our shopping for the rest of the week, met with the man who will build more desks and chairs for our classroom, found someone else who makes bookshelves, and found a restaurant with good chips (French fries) for lunch. It has been a good day and we are eating spaghetti for dinner tonight so the children should be happy. It feels like we are settling in a bit, for which I am thankful! 

Another day in Jinja

Today we decided to work in town on finding things that we need for the classroom, getting food from the market, and taking care of a few more details of life.

Below is a photo of Esther grinding the beef in the market to make mince (ground beef). You pick the portion of the carcas you want, they cut it off with a machete and chop into pieces that they put into the grinder. Normally they charge 1,000 shillings (about 40 cents) for grinding and they do it for you, but the butcher thought Esther would like the job. She enjoyed it, but we still paid them for the use of the grinder. 

I also learned that to receive a package, you walk around the back of the post office into an area that seems like a back alley/loading dock and you find Moses. You pay him the customs fees (they weren't too bad), sign in two different ledgers and then you can take your packages. I am thankful that a summer intern at GSF showed me how to do this, because I never would have figured it out on my own. I was just picking up packages for other missionaries and for  kids in the sponsorship program, but we now can receive mail too. Claudia Arrango, another missionary on our team, has generously offered to share her box with us since it was going to take much time and money to get our own. So we can now receive letters and packages at PO Box 1960, Jinja, Uganda, East Africa.  

Overall today has been fairly productive although our desire to get some high speed Internet (which would be slow to normal speed in the US) in order to work on banking and other necessary paperwork has not yet happened. David has gone back out to try again. We did do our shopping for the rest of the week, met with the man who will build more desks and chairs for our classroom, found someone else who makes bookshelves, and found a restaurant with good chips (French fries) for lunch. It has been a good day and we are eating spaghetti for dinner tonight so the children should be happy. It feels like we are settling in a bit, for which I am thankful! 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Giving thanks!

"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever!"

Today I woke thinking of several things that I am thankful for. As I wrote down this list I was thinking how different my expectations are here in Uganda. You might find my list a bit humorous. Here are some things I am thankful for:

1- Solid bowel movements- We have had no diarrhea in the household for over a day! Yay!
2- Electricity- It has only been out for 3 short times in our 10 days here! 
3- Fresh fruit smoothies- Zeke and Ezra are sometimes having trouble finding food they like, but they are eating banana, pineapple, mango and yogurt smoothies. 
4- A visit from friends- The family we met in London drove over to visit from Kampala. Our children have enjoyed playing together and we have enjoyed talking. Their visit has made our rental house feel more like our home. 
5- A fan- It is so nice to have some cooler air at bedtime.
6- Going for a run- This was the first time I got out for some excercise in Uganda. It felt good, but the burning trash did make it hard to breathe.
7- Burritos with cheese- We thoroughly enjoyed eating our last bits of cheddar cheese that we brought with us from the states. 
8- Swimming- There is a pool near our rental house in Jinja and we took our friends there for a few hours. It was good to just relax and have fun swimming with our kids! 
9- Flavors- We found the one place in Jinja that sells wheat bread. 
10- Email- It has been so encouraging for me to get messages from family and friends! Thank you! 

These are just some of the many little blessings of life here that we are thanking God for today! 

Friday, July 12, 2013

A day of grieving and rejoicing

Yesterday a little girl who lived at Good Shepherd's Fold named Tiny Rose passed away. She was a girl with special needs who was well loved. We never got to know Tiny Rose since we have only been here a week, but many who knew her were both sad and happy. It was often said today that Tiny Rose is running and dancing in heaven, things she was not able to do here on earth. Please pray for the GSF family while they grieve and celebrate Tiny Rose going home. In a place where sickness and death are common, our longing for heaven is a more tangible thing. 

Revelation 21:3-5 says, "And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling of God is with men, and He will be with them, and they will be His people, and God himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for these things have passed away.'" 
What good news! We look forward to that day. Come quickly, Lord Jesus! 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Setting up school

We have spent most of the last two days starting to set up our classroom. There is still much to be done, but we have begun organizing the curriculum, going through books, cleaning up the room and making plans for bookshelves, desks, curtains, etc. It has been a lot of fun for David and I to work together on this project. And our children have been enjoying playing with their new friends while we work. We had to leave campus earlier yesterday in order to get some supplies in town and the children were disappointed to leave their friends. We are excited to move beyond just learning to handle daily tasks and to start preparing for the work we came here to do, to teach. Of course there will be plenty more learning about daily tasks, but we are starting to get our feet under us. Here is a photo of David working in our classroom.
On a side note, please pray for us as several of us have had some upset stomach. Not sure if it is just adjusting to the food here or a virus that had been going around GSF. Thanks for your prayers! 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Going to the market

Yesterday we needed to purchase some food for making meals this week. There are a few different places to buy things. Items with a long shelf life are sold at supermarkets, which are similar to American convenience stores. Nothing like Publix. We purchased a few things there and then went on to the fresh market. And that is not the high end American Organic Supermarket. It is the fresh market where people bring their produce and butchered animals and fish they caught last night and you haggle over prices. It was quite an experience! We were verythankful to have our new friend Privah there to help us get fair prices. Apparently there are often different prices for muzungu like us. But with Privah's help we were able to get some good deals like 4 mangos for 1,000 shillings which is about 45 cents. But meat and fish are almost as expensive as they would be in the states. Many Ugandans only eat meat occasionally. After seeing where meat really comes from, Elijah said he lost his appetite. We will probably start eating more meals with beans. 

Everyone at the market seemed happy to meet our children offering them gifts of carrots or G-nuts which are like peanuts. After we had been walking around awhile, a man rode by on a bicycle with something between Italian ice and sherbet. It was a very nice treat and helped them have a good attitude and persevere. Another little grace. After that trip to the market I thanked God for Privah and for the man on the bicycle along with many other little graces. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Our first Sunday in Uganda

Today we attended Acacia Baptist church for worship. It is a church with a muzungu (white Westerner) pastor that several local missionaries attend. When we came in, a Ugandan man in front of me told me that I must be a very powerful woman to have these four children, that I was like an African woman. That was a very nice compliment, although it does not feel true to me today. 

David and I both really missed our church family from Faith Presbyterian and were both in tears at some point. I think this has been the first thing for David that was very hard and sad about this transition. Our children asked lots of questions about why there is not a church building. We met in an outdoor area sitting on plastic chairs. Ezra spent much of the singing time playing in the dirt. He was filthy by the third song. During the sermon children were dismissed to children's church. Elijah went with the older kids. Esther and Ezra together went to a class taught by Katie Davis, author of Kisses from Katie. Afterward she mentioned that Ezra was particularly helpful. That made me very happy to hear. I took Zeke to the Pre-K class. Since he was not comfortable, I stayed with him.  It was taught in two languages targeted at 3&4 year olds, but it was the class I needed. They taught the children about David and Jonathan's friendship. The teacher asked if anyone had a best friend and if anyone ever had to move away from their best friend. (Cue tears) She had the children repeat after her the verse, "A friend loves at all times." Then she had the children repeat "Jesus is my best friend. He is always with me." Those were the words I needed to hear! Jesus is my friend who is here with me and always loves me. I am learning to lean on his friendship more each day. And I want my friends here in Uganda and back in the states to know that I love you all because of Jesus' wonderful love for me. He will continue to fill my heart with His love. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The first few days

Our flight from London to Uganda was pretty rough. Zeke was fussing often and I spent much time walking the airplane aisles trying to settle him. So I did not get sleep that night. I was pretty exhausted! But there was much to be thankful for. We arrive safely with ALL of our luggage! As we landed and looked around Elijah said, "I think I'm going to have a blast here!" It took us a while to go through immigration, but we were granted 90 visitor visas which will give us more time to settle before having to apply for resident visas. Sometimes only 30 or 60 days are granted. This took a little while so our new friends from London helped collect all of our containers while we were waiting. It was just another blessing of our time with this kind family. After we walked through customs, Mark and Amy Gwartney warmly greeted us. It was so nice to greeted with a hug and to hear that they were so happy to have us here.  After a rough night it was the encouragement that I needed. We were all very tired, but we were able to do some shopping and begin the process of figuring out how to get phone and internet service here. This proved to be a several day affair and a source of frustration and discouragement for me, but it was good to get started.
Zeke at one of his happy moments on the plane.

After some shopping and lunch we headed to Good Shepherd's Fold. As we were driving, Elijah said, "I can see why they call Uganda the 'Pearl of Africa.'" It definitely made our bus driver smile to hear this. Proverbs 17:22 says, "A cheerful heart is good medicine." Elijah's cheerful spirit has been good medicine for me these past few days. All our children fell asleep in the bus on the way, so we woke them as we turned on to the dirt road that heads to GSF. We were greeted by hundreds of singing and dancing children. It was sweet and a bit overwhelming as we were so tired. I was in tears. Our teammates, Tom and Sharon Batley, generously offered us their home on campus for our first three nights in Uganda. It was great to be near the team, to be able to share meals together and for our kids to quickly make new friends. Within minutes of arriving, Zeke and Ezra were playing with kids at the toddler house playground, Esther was playing school with several girls on the Batley's front porch, and Elijah was making friends with Hayden another missionary kid who will be in the same grade in school. It made me very happy to see my children quickly adjusting and enjoying life on campus at GSF.

That night (Wednesday) the team celebrated the Lord's Supper together. It was a good time of communion and prayer. I was thankful to have been there although I was struggling to stay awake. The next morning also began with a time of prayer with the team, but as the day wore on I became more overwhelmed with how different everything is. I think the jet lag and culture shock began to kick in full force. Thursday and Friday were days with a big learning curve for me. I was very grateful when Amy and Sheila both came over to check on me. I had been crying quite a bit and they sat with me listened to my feelings, affirmed that this is normal for this type of transition, and prayed with me. I was so thankful for that time! After that they also decided to both pitch in and provide dinner for our family. It was delicious and Ezra even had 3rds. I am very thankful for our missionary team!

Here are some of the turkeys at our rental house in Jinja.
Today is Saturday and we moved into the house in Jinja that we will be renting for the next 5 months. It is a 30-40 minute commute, but we are trying to think of ways to redeem that time as a family. It is a nice house and we are very blessed to be able to stay here for the next 5 months. It will also help us to get to know the town of Jinja better. Our house here has some additional little blessings, two dogs, Fred and Ginger, and a family of turkeys! Really, there are six little poults, aka baby turkeys! Tonight we drove around downtown a bit and had dinner at a restaurant called the Keep. Jinja does have a handful of places to go out to eat. Tonight we were told that the items we ordered were not available and the internet access was down, but it was still a good time out as a family. We are now trying to settle all the children down for the night and hope that tomorrow will have the opportunity to worship together with several other missionary families at a church here in Jinja. We would like to attend the church plant near GSF soon, but we are just going to stay here in town for the weekend as we try to get settled and get used to our new home, where we brush our teeth using water from a bottle, and try to keep Zeke from drinking the shower water. Haha.

Sorry I didn't have any pictures of the kids at GSF or more of our kids. I have been forgetting to take photos. But things have become a little more normal with some rest and a place to unpack our bags. So I will try to add more photos next post.

Friday, July 5, 2013

A fun day in London full of blessings

(I wrote this blog post in the London airport, but was unable to send it.) We arrived safely and on time in London although with very little sleep. As we were preparing for landing Ezra said, "I wish this flight was longer." Zeke was fussy and a bit impulsive running off while we were going through immigration so that we could spend the day here. It was an opportunity to grow in patience for us all, but God had a great little blessing for us. A family was in line ahead of us and heard that we had a daughter named Esther. They also have an Esther, who is 3 years old and they were spending their layover in London on their way to adopt their 4th child in Uganda. Each time the line doubled back we learned more of the other family's story and in the end decided to spend the day in London together! It was great fun to have a like-minded family to laugh together and explore together as we were all very tired. I think being together helped us all keep a sense of humor. And it is great to have made some new friends! Some of our highlights from the day include riding double decker busses, walking around Trafalgar Square and Big Ben, finding Ezra in the London airport after he was missing for about 10 minutes, and riding a train. Here is a picture of our kids with our new friends and some random strangers near the lions at Trafalgar Square. Well, I'm going to try to publish this without the photo since we are now in Uganda and the Internet is too slow. Sorry.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Today is the day!

I can hardly believe it is here! Tonight our plane is scheduled to leave Atlanta at 9:30pm. We fly overnight to London, have a day layover, and then fly overnight again to Entebbe, Uganda! As a friend sarcastically said, "I'm sure you will arrive well rested and ready to go." Haha. When we land in Uganda, we will do some shopping in Kampala, then drive about 2 more hours to Good Shepherd's Fold. I am so thankful that our gracious teammates have arranged for us to spend our first 3 days and nights at Good Shepherd's Fold to help our family with the transition. Then on July 6th we will move into our rental home in Jinja! So much excitement and change in this week ahead. Please keep us in your prayers! As I spent some time in prayer this morning, the Lord brought this song to mind. We sang it in worship last week, and I wept through most of it hugging my dear friend beside me. I hope these words are an encouragement and blessing to you also.

Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
A few of my dearest friend
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change, He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
His voice Who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart,
Playing with some dear friends
And all is darkened in the vale of tears,
Then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
Who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul: thy Jesus can repay
From His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul: the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord.
When disappointment, grief and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and bless├Ęd we shall meet at last.