Saturday, April 26, 2014

A refreshing weekend

 About a month ago, I was talking with some of the women on our team about some of my struggles. They prayed with me and encouraged me, but they also suggested that David and I take a weekend away, just the two of us. Corinne even offered that she and her husband, Daniel, could stay with our kids. Soon after that, Corinne and Daniel told us a particular weekend that would work, and I began to make plans. We had heard that Sipi Falls in eastern Uganda was a beautiful place, so I started doing a bit of research. 

On Friday afternoon we drove east heading toward Sipi Falls. It was an adventure as there are very few road signs here. Several times we stopped to ask strangers for help, praying that they speak English. The languages here in the east are different from those in the central region. Uganda has so many different languages. After a beautiful 4 hour drive, the last hour was a drive up into the mountains. We arrive at the beautiful lodge just in time for a delicious meal with a cozy fire in the fireplace. It was actually cool enough to need a sweater and to enjoy a cup of locally grown coffee beside the fire. 

We spent much of the weekend hiking to waterfalls and enjoying the beauty of this part of creation. It was a very good time for us to reconnect and and unwind a bit.   The hiking was also some great exercise. We are both a bit sore. 

As we went on our final hike of the weekend, we headed to the upper loop. When we got to the ridge along the top of the mountain it was so beautiful! We could look out over so much of eastern Uganda. We also walked a ways up the stream that leads to the 3 waterfalls that make up Sipi Falls. It was such a peaceful area. Psalm 23 came to mind. 
   The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.
 
As I continued the psalm in my mind, I thought about the ongoing pain in my tongue and my struggle with fear. 
    Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For you are with me. 

It was good to remember that I can have peace, not only on the mountain top, but also in the valley, because God is with me. 


I am so very thankful for this weekend of refreshment! We are on our way home to return to the work of teaching the missionary kids, caring for our family, loving the children of GSF, and reaching out to those in our local village. Please pray that God would continue to strengthen us for the work he has called us to and enable us to serve Him and those around us in love. 
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are.(1 John 3:1)
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God. (1 John 4:7)

In the midst of the stress of life, my struggles with fear, and seeing the utter brokenness in the world, I want to serve others in love, remembering the love my Heavenly Father has shown me, remembering that He restores my soul, and remembering that He is always with me. I pray these truths encourage and strengthen you for the work God has called you to do too! 

A great turn out!

On Thursday night, our village church hosted a viewing of a film about Jesus which was in Luganda, the local language. There is a Jaja (a grandmother) who we drive to church because she cannot walk well. She also wanted to come to see the movie, so we went to pick her up. 

When I stopped our van at her house, others asked if they could come and ride in our van. I thought that it would be great for more people to hear the gospel, so I said yes. Our van has 8 legitimate seats, although we often find ways to transport 10-12 people since kids usually sit on laps here. But on Thursday night, 25 people climbed into the back of our van! I was driving and Elijah was in the front passenger seat, for a grand total of 27! (The movie was scheduled to begin at 8pm, so David stayed home with our other three kids.) here is a picture of our van so that you can imagine it. I tried to take a photo that night, but it was too dark. 

Twenty-seven people is even more than they usually cram into the vans that are used as taxis around here. In the village, the dirt roads are not very level, and since it is the rainy season the roads are muddy and slippery. While I was driving, I was also praying that God would get us all safely there! 

We arrived, but since many in the village do not have flashlights (called torches here) and our church does not have electricity, we were all just sitting in the dark waiting for the generator and projector to arrive. Jonathan, our pastor and friend, suggested that maybe I move the van so that the headlights could shine in through the doorway to provide a bit of light. While we waited for the movie, I talked with a few of the teenagers from the village about singing some songs. We took turns teaching one another songs in Luganda and English. It was a nice time.

 The delay for the movie was related to incompatible technology, so Mark Gwartney, our team leader, ended up bringing a TV and DVD player from his house. It worked out well to start later because many people came on "African time." The church was so full there was not a place to sit. Many people stood at the doorway or in the back for the whole movie. I stood outside enjoying the beautiful stars and praying for those who were hearing the good news. At the end, Jonathan was able to stand up and share the gospel with probably 200 people. On a given Sunday, our church can have up to 100 people in attendance, but over half of those are from GSF. Some of the older GSF kids came to the movie, but the room was mostly filled with people from the village. Please pray with me that many will come back to worship at Light of the World church on Sunday. 

While many Ugandans have heard the gospel, there is very little discipleship. One evening at our home, Jonathan shared his concern that the Ugandan church as a whole does not have much depth in their faith. They have only received milk, and he wants to see Ugandans feeding on the solid food of God's Word. It is our prayer that this outreach will be the beginning of that process of discipleship for many in Buundo village. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Quite a day!

Since there is a team of high school students here from one of the missionaries' home church, we decided to join the team for some of their activities this week. Today was a "field trip" day of a different sort. 

This morning, the plan was to help build a house for a mzee (which means grandfather and is pronounced "mzay"). He is a part of our mercy outreach and became a believer through this outreach. He also attends our church. We were helping to build him a mud hut. This is right up Ezra's alley, an excuse to get very muddy and to build something! As you can see he loved helping mix the mud! 

Some men in the village set some eucalyptus poles. We learned to tie the horozontal bamboo poles using banana fibers and then fill the wall with mud. We were able to get work done on two of the walls before we needed to break for lunch. 

We also had a chance to visit with many of the children in the village and pray with the mzee. The children showed Esther where they keep their rabbits and ducks in a mud hutch. These are kept for meat on special occasions, not as pets, but they were still cute.

Zeke also made a few new friends. As the youngest mzungu around, he is often surrounded with curious kids. He has learned to enjoy this attention and often shows off his dancing skills. Most of the places we go around here, we here someone calling Zeke's name. 


In the afternoon, I stayed home with our younger three children so that David and Elijah could go with the team back to Buundo and invite people to our church for a video about Jesus to be shown on Thursday night. They also took time to pray with those they met and share the gospel. Elijah was in a group with one of the visiting youth leaders and had an opportunity to share the gospel with some local teenagers. Please pray that the seeds planted today will grow and bear much fruit. Also pray for the viewing of the video about Jesus in the Luganda language. 

Our day ended with our weekly, evening devotions. Daniel Iya has been leading us in some worship songs on Wednesday nights, and I always love the opportunity to worship together, particularly when a team is with us to fill the room with our voices lifted in praise. 

I am thankful for the day to serve together with this team! It has been a long, full day and I am spent in a good way. I am up writing this blogpost because I am having some back pain and can't sleep well. I played some volleyball and am feeling it. For those of you who have seen my play sports, you probably know that I'm not very good at "taking it easy." I dove for the ball several times and am paying for it now. Hopefully this ibuprophen will kick in soon and I will get some sleep. Good night! 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Our first Easter in Uganda

Since we have been living here in Uganda for nearly 10 months, it is unusual to think that we are still having "firsts." Life here has begun to feel like the norm. Yesterday was our first Easter here, and I was excited to combine some of our old family traditions from our years in America with some new ones here. 

On Good Friday I was thankful for the opportunity to share the story of Jesus' death and resurrection using "resurrection eggs." I enjoyed doing that activity with our children's Sunday School classes at our church in Georgia, and some years I was able to share the story of Jesus with our neighbors after hosting a neighborhood Easter egg hunt in our backyard. Using the resurrection eggs was familiar, but it was a different experience to be able to share the story of Jesus with the children who are living here. It is particularly chaotic to try to talk to a large group of children of various ages, several of whom have special needs, but I loved the opportunity still. I asked the older children to help retell the story because it is our goal that these children will grow up loving Jesus, equipped to leave GSF to go make disciples throughout Uganda and the world. We want them to know how to share the Good News. Our vision here at GSF is "Making disciples; impacting the world for Christ." It is my hope that learning to share the story of Jesus' death and resurrection is another piece in the puzzle, working toward our mission. 

On Saturday morning I had another Luganda language lesson, during which I learned to say, "He has risen, just as he said!" in Luganda. Then we drove into Jinja to buy food for a special Easter meal and for the upcoming week. While we were in town we also picked up a package at the post office that contained Reese's peanut butter eggs and Cadbury eggs along with some other Easter surprises. It was so fun to be able to give our children (and ourselves) some Easter candy. We were unable to find a ham, but found some back bacon which we decided to use as a substitute. As we were looking for ham and asking around, I realized that a much larger portion of the population than I originally thought are Muslim, and therefore, they do not eat pig meat. 

Since everything must be prepared from scratch, I stayed up very late Saturday night preparing for our Easter Sunday dinner. The next morning came early, and before Sunday school we had a delicious breakfast mostly prepared by the children and an Easter egg hunt. I brought some plastic eggs with us knowing that, when the time came, my kids would really like to have an egg hunt and get some candy. I was so happy to continue that little familiar tradition with my children. 

After Sunday school we went to church and I was so happy to see many visitors from the village of Buundo. We had an even more lively than usual worship service. Many around the world greet one another with the words, "He is risen." And then another replies, "He is risen, indeed." But here in Buundo village, at Light of the World church, we shouted these words in 3 languages so that the whole village could hear! Below is a photo of our Easter Sunday choir singing and dancing unto our risen Savior!

After our worship service, which people around here call, "going to prayers," we had a big Easter lunch for all the GSF kids, house moms, GSF big brothers and sisters who returned to their family here for the holy day, and missionary families. There is also a short term team here on their Spring Break. It was quite a party. Here is a photo Caralina took of the toddlers and their plates full of food. It is amazing to see how much these little ones can eat! 


After the meal at the pavilion David and I did some gardening. We have been working on beautifying the campus in preparation for the upcoming 20th anniversary celebration. It has been a good outlet for us both. After gardening for a bit, it was time to head back to the house to finish our Easter dinner preparations. As I previously mentioned, we had back bacon as out ham, topped with fresh pineapple and brown sugar, along with potato cheese casserole, (finishing up the velveeta we brought back from the US) pineapple cheese casserole, green beans, and strawberry jello (sent in care packages).  We had some friends join us, the two nurses who live in the other half of the duplex, Kim and Danielle, and Sarah, who is here adopting two children. Zeke fell asleep on the couch and missed the meal, but he filled up on candy earlier in the day so he was content. Here is a photo of our dinner table. 

Danielle and Kim even made rice crispy treats and shaped them into nests adding M&Ms as little eggs, using some of their own treats from America. It was such a nice evening! I am very thankful for a wonderful day celebrating our risen Lord!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday

Yesterday morning as I went outside, the sky looked very ominous. The dark clouds were rolling in and the thunder was beginning in the distance. It seemed fitting weather on Good Friday. 

This is a day on the church calendar when we celebrate the death of Jesus, the righteous, sinless Son of God. Isn't that a bit bizarre that we "celebrate?" In some ways, this good day is terrible. Jesus was unjustly punished and put to death. And in some ways these dark foreboding clouds are fitting. When we have a storm here, we often lose electricity. In a recent storm, an aunt of one of the GSF house moms was killed by a lightning strike. 

While storms and Good Friday can seem like bad things, they also bring life. When Jesus died on the cross, he took the punishment that I deserve and gave me his perfect righteousness. His death has brought me eternal life. That is why we call this day "good." Storms also bring life here. The rainy season brings many new flowers, fruits and vegetables. In a place where so many people depend on their gardens to provide food for their families, these rains bring life. Even the rain itself is often collected as drinking water for those who don't have access to wells. Below is a photo of some of our vegetable gardens at GSF.

In my life, the storm that has been at times overwhelming is my ongoing struggle with my tongue. Honestly, even though I recently had a good check-up, fear about my tongue has been a constant struggle for me. A hundred times a day, every time I speak, eat, drink or swallow, I am confronted with the odd sensation of the damaged nerves. In most of these moments, my initial response is fear and anxiety. In these moments I often pray, asking God for healing and peace while I wait. Then I remind myself that I just had a check-up, that it will take time for the nerves to heal, etc. It is emotionally and spiritually exhausting to go through these emotions so many times every day. I have been struggling with the dark clouds of fear that this pain brings. That is part of the reason that I have not written in the past week or so.

While I often plead with God to take away this pain in my tongue, I am reminded how Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane. Yesterday, I talked with all the children at GSF about how Jesus struggled and suffered in the garden. Three times he pleaded with God to take this cup from him, but then he submitted his will to the Father. "Not my will, but yours be done." Jesus knowingly, willingly went to Judas who was coming to betray him and deliver him to be crucified. He did this because of his love for the Father and his love for you and me. Please pray with me asking God to remove the pain in my tongue and bring complete healing. But I also want to pray that until God removes the pain, he will be glorified through this struggle in my life, that His will be done. Please pray that he will give me the strength to persevere in this struggle and trust him each of the hundred times a day fear and anxiety creep in. 

This Good Friday, I am reminded of some of my favorite verses from Romans 8. 

"We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."(Romans 8:22, 23, 26-28, 32, 35, 37-39 NIV)

This Easter weekend, let us cast our cares on Jesus. He is a high priest who understands our weakness. His Spirit is interceding for us. And most importantly, through his death and resurrection, we have eternal life! As I struggle through the storms, I pray that God uses this trial to bring life, growth and beauty in us all. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Tongue update

It has been nearly 3 months since the surgery to remove the precancerous area on my tongue. My surgeon recommended that I have follow-up appointments every three months. Since it is obviously not feasible to fly to Atlanta four times a year just for a check-up, I found a doctor here willing to oversee my quarterly check-ups. He is an American dentist who has experience in tracking dysplasia in his patients, and He works here in Jinja! (It was my dentist in the US who originally found the spot on my tongue.)

Today I drove into town to see him for my first visit. He took time to carefully examine my tongue, making several notes as he measure and photographed the area where the surgery was done. I felt like he was very thorough and told me that he will monitor and see if anything changes over time. He also said that he did not see anything that looked concerning today. Praise God! My appointment today put my mind at ease quite a bit. 

Many have asked how my tongue is healing. The incision has healed, but I still have a lot of nerve issues. It basically feels like pins all along the side of my tongue. My tongue also gets tired and by the end of the day it feels worn out. I still have a slight lisp, but if I speak slowly and carefully I can speak pretty clearly. I don't know if I will ever be able to read Fox in Socks, but that is ok.  I also still need to drink quite a bit of water to clear food out of my mouth when eating. You don't realize how much you use your tongue to move food around until it is hard to do. But for the most part my tongue is fully functional. 

This ongoing issue with my tongue is a daily opportunity to depend on God or to live in fear and anxiety. By God's grace, he has given me more days of trusting him with my future than times of living in fear. I am thankful for this grace, but the struggle is by no means over. 

One of the blessings of this struggle is how it has helped me think about what is important in life. I want to spend my life doing things that matter for eternity. None of us know what God has for us tomorrow. I am so blessed to have the opportunity to live and work in a place where I see God's work in tangible ways in the lives of those around me. Seeing God's redemption in the lives of these children, physically, emotionally and spiritually is an amazing privilege. This afternoon I got to hug on these two precious children, Pinto and Moses. 

Tongue update

It has been nearly 3 months since the surgery to remove the precancerous area on my tongue. My surgeon recommended that I have follow-up appointments every three months. Since it is obviously not feasible to fly to Atlanta four times a year just for a check-up,I found a doctor here willing to oversee my quarterly check-ups. He is an American dentist who has experience in tracking dysplasia in his patients, and He works here in Jinja! 

Today I drove into town to see him for my first visit. He took time to carefully examine my tongue, making several notes as he measure and photographed the area where the surgery was done. I felt like he was very thorough and told me that he will monitor and see if anything changes over time. He also said that he did not see anything that looked concerning today. Praise God! My appointment today put my mind at ease quite a bit. 

Many have asked how my tongue is healing. The incision has healed, but I still have a lot of nerve issues. It basically feels like pins all along the side of my tongue. My tongue also gets tired and by the end of the day it feels worn out. I still have a slight lisp, but if I speak slowly and carefully I can speak pretty clearly. I don't know if I will ever be able to read Fox in Socks, but that is ok.  I also still need to drink quite a bit of water to clear food out of my mouth when eating. You don't realize how much you use your tongue to move food around until it is hard to do. But for the most part my tongue is fully functional. 

This ongoing issue with my tongue is a daily opportunity to depend on God or to live in fear and anxiety. By God's grace, he has given me more days of trusting him with my future than times of living in fear. I am thankful for this grace, but the struggle is by no means over. 

One of the blessings of this struggle is how it has helped me think about what is important in life. I want to spend my life doing things that matter for eternity. None of us know what God has for us tomorrow. I am so blessed to have the opportunity to live and work in a place where I see God's work in tangible ways in the lives of those around me. Seeing God's redemption in the lives of these children, physically, emotionally and spiritually is an amazing privilege. This afternoon I got to hug on these two precious children, Pinto and Moses. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Family church

On the first Sunday evening of every month, all the children, house moms, and missionary families gather for a time of GSF family worship. There are daily devotions in the individual houses, and weekly devotions as a group. But this monthly time is a special opportunity to welcome and pray over any new children, sing praises together, share testimonies, and listen to some teaching from God's Word. Tonight this time was very special to me. 


Daniel Iya led our time of worship. Elijah played the drums along with a few other boys. And we all enjoyed singing! When the songs were over children took turns sharing testimony of things for which they are thankful. This is how it goes: a child stands up, usually in front, and says, "Praise God," and we all respond, "Amen!" Then the child says something for which they are thankful. After many children spoke, Zeke went up front. He said, "Praise God." We all replied, "Amen." He froze staring at all the children for a minute or so and then said, "I thank God for GSF." 


As I looked around, my heart was happy that our family could have just a small part in caring for these many children. Above are a few of the precious boys who have a special place in my heart. On the left is Danny; he was the first child I held here at GSF when we came to visit. He still gives me hugs, and is a good friend to the many boys here. He is a very sweet boy. On the right is another Daniel holding Kenny, one of our children with severe special needs. Daniel is such a kind boy always helping the children like Kenny, who cannot get around on their own. Instead of just parking Kenny's wheelchair, Daniel unbuckled him and held him for the hour long worship time. I am so thankful for the way I see the love of Jesus through these boys. 


After our time of singing and testimony, we prayed together for our 3 newest family members. I wrote about these three in a previous post. Today the mother of two of these boys passed away. They came to GSF a few weeks ago because she was so sick that she could not care for them anymore, and her illness was terminal. Please continue to pray for them all. After praying for them we sang to them. Here are the words:

   "Welcome to the family. We're glad that you have come to share your life with us, as we grow in love. And may we always be to you, what God would have us be, a family always there, to be strong and to lean on." 

I was nearly in tears as I thought of the beauty of how God is blessing these children with a family singing to them and praying for them just as they lost their mother. I am so thankful for our GSF family! I am grateful to be able to live out the words we sang. I pray that God would give us the strength and grace to love these children well and point them to Jesus.
David ended the evening by talking about the gospel with these children, praying that each one of them would know the grace of God through Jesus. It is a blessing to be a part of this very large GSF family! 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Hungry

Our dear friend Stephen left yesterday. He is on his way back to the US. But the day before he left he shared a passage of Scripture with our team at our morning prayer time which really resonated with me. He read from John 6. Here are a few excepts: 

Jesus said to them, " I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.... For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." (John 6:35&40)

As Stephen shared about how we feel our need for food as a tangible thing, we can also recognize our need for Jesus several times throughout each day. Lately this is how I have been living, feeling my very tangible need for God. As I struggle in daily life, trying to trust God with my anxieties and the needs of so many around me, I have found that the thing that comforts my soul is time talking with God and reading His Word, the Bible. 

At various times in life I have struggled with the discipline of a daily "quiet time." It has been hard to "make time in my day" to read God's Word. But recently, I wake feeling like I absolutely need to read the Bible and pray. I realize my dependence on God as much, or more, than I need food. I remember about 7 years ago, I was going through a difficult time. I could not settle my mind at night. For weeks, the only way I could fall asleep was that David would read God's Word to me. It would quiet my mind and encourage my heart. While I cannot say that I enjoy trials, I can say that in the midst of struggling, God has been gracious to show me my need and dependence upon Him. 

Before that season of struggle, I remember hearing a worship song that disturbed me. Many of you have probably sung these words, "And I... I'm desperate for you. I... I'm lost without you." My initial gut reaction was, "That sounds pretty pathetic." I acknowledged that it was probably theologically accurate, but I still felt uncomfortable singing those words. I like to be strong. But God in His grace to me, continues to break me free of my desire for independence and personal strength. He reminds me that "His grace is sufficient for me, for His power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9) Over time, I have begun singing about being desperate for God wholeheartedly. I have grow to love the hymn, "I Need Thee Every Hour." Here are some of the words:

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;

No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.

I need Thee, O I need Thee;  Every hour I need Thee; O bless me now, my Savior, I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their power when Thou art nigh.

Refrain

I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, or life is in vain.

Refrain

I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will;
And Thy rich promises in me fulfill.

Refrain

I need Thee every hour, most Holy One;
O make me Thine indeed, Thou bless├Ęd Son.

Refrain

Interestingly, the song that I did not like, back when I was "strong" (haha) also has these words from John 6:

"This is my daily bread, your very Word, spoken to me." 

I am learning to live dependent on God's Word. I'm sure this is an ongoing life lesson. But if you are struggling with making time for God, just ask him to break you a bit. As Jesus said, the healthy don't need a doctor, but the sick do. He did not come for those who think they are "righteous" but to call sinners. (Mark 2:17) It is still uncomfortable for me to feel weak and broken, and to see my utter dependence upon God, but he is using that uncomfortable state to draw me near and encourage me with His Presence and His Word. 

I just want to clarify one point. I don't "get" God by what I do, reading His Word and talking to him in prayer. He has brought me into his family by the work of His Son, Jesus Christ, through faith. That is a gift that I do nothing to earn. (Ephesians 2:8-9) and nothing can seperate me from that love (Romans 8:38-39) But in His grace to me, He reveals himself to me through His Word, the Bible and in times of prayer. I am comforted by his love when I read about and remember His mercy to broken, desperate, hungry people like me. I pray that you will know that mercy and grace too! 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spring Break (sort of)

As most of you probably already know, here along the Equator seasons are very different. We do not have fall, winter, or spring, only rainy season and dry season. (The rainy season has just begun again.) So obviously "spring break" doesn't make much sense in Uganda. 

Although we are in Uganda, we are still following an American school schedule, and we have just completed our third quarter of school. It has been a fun and very different school year than any other year we have taught. We are really enjoying our K-11th grade school for missionary kids. It is always an adventure to teach on many different levels, but it is a lot of fun too. The students learn a lot from one another and they are a really amazing group of kids. Since we completed our 3rd quarter of school and since the Gwartney family was going on a trip with family, we decided it would be a good time for our "spring break."

We adopted the 5 weekdays of the Gwartney family trip as our school "spring break." I have explained that it is not actually "spring," but it also has not been much of a "break." We have taken the time off of school other than a bit of grading and reading, but our activities, while fun, have been a pretty exhausting. In my previous blogpost I wrote about the full day on Sunday and the long night that followed. On Saturday, the previous day, we drove to Kampala to take our children to see a movie, Mr. Peabody and Sherman. The movie was enjoyable and funny. We were also able to buy some supplies that are only available in Kampala, but any day that you have to drive to and from and through Kampala is a stressful day, not to mention the stress of shopping. Those who know me well, know that I don't really like to shop unless it is for plants for my garden. 

As we prepared to go on our trip on Monday, I was already running on a deficit as far as energy and sleep. But even after a night with kids vomiting, we still decided to go. Our plan was to go to a place called "The Hairy Lemon" which is an island in the Nile River. Portions of the Nile flow through and around the island providing creeks and pools and waterfalls. Our kids love exploring outside and playing in water, so we thought they would enjoy this adventure. 

It was a bit of a drive, but when we arrived, they were all very excited to get in the canoe and head over to the island. 
As soon as we arrived the kids started playing in the water. At first they played in the large open area and then after lunch we played in the little creek near our shelter. As the children and I were in the creek I noticed a long green snake on a shrub overhanging the water. Since I did not know what type of snake it was, I got all my children out, and we moved to another area to play. I needed to take Esther back to our shelter, and when we arrived I found the snake inside. I went to get someone on the staff to take care of the snake, but by the time we returned it was missing. While I was trying to find the snake David and the kids were relaxing in a stream. 
 After finding the snake in the place we were planning to sleep, I struggled to enjoy our time there, but everyone else had a blast. The owner did tell me that what I found was an emerald tree snake and that it is non-venemous which eased my mind a bit. 
David and the kids played in a waterfall, waded in streams, climbed on a climbing wall, and we all played with a beach ball in the large open area. I figured I could easily see a snake there. 
We also saw some fascinating wildlife, a tortoise walking and munching on plants, a Nile monitor lizard running ver fast, red-tailed monkeys jumping from tree to tree so far they appeared to be flying, many interesting birds wading and fishing, and of course, the snake slithering and scaring the life out of me. Here are pictures of our monkeys on the climbing wall. 

Everyone had a fun time, but I was unable to sleep much with high anxiety about snakes. I fell asleep for a bit, but then woke with a nightmare about many snakes. We decided that instead of staying for a second night at "the Lemon," we would just stay and play for the morning, then head back to Jinja for a play date with the Lawsons and maybe find a place to stay. 

While we were playing at the Lawsons, Jennifer was helping me look for places to stay. It can be expensive and hard to find a room for 6 people in Western type accommodations, so Jennifer invited us to stay with them. The kids were thrilled to have a sleepover with some of their best friends! Here is a photo of the kids all playing together in the Lawson's yard. 

On Wednesday morning we went to a place in Jinja that sells cinnamon rolls for breakfast, ran a few errands and headed home from our adventures. We start back to school tomorrow morning. We definitely had a full and adventurous "Spring Break," although I would appreciate your prayers as I recover from our adventures.