Saturday, August 30, 2014

Bizarre Sunday

Last weekend, we began our Sunday as usual, not knowing what the day would hold. The kids had Sunday school here at GSF in the morning. Then we all loaded up to drive to church. We are close enough to walk, but in recent months we have been driving in order to make it possible for a Jaja (grandmother) to attend. This week we also drove 2 of our GSF kids who are not able to walk very well. Usually these two just go to Sunday school at GSF and have a worship time with the toddlers here. Again I was so thankful for the vehicle God provided which has made it possible for 3 people to attend church who otherwise would not be able. On our way to church I stopped to express my sympathy to the family whose son died a couple weeks ago. The father had also passed away on Saturday. When I was talking with them, they told me that the burial would be at 3:00 that afternoon.

On our way home from church, several of the Jaja's grandchildren hopped in the van with us too. I think many of these kids haven't ever ridden in a "motorcar" before. Here is a photo of some of our passengers that day. 

On Sundays after church we usually have the Iyas and the Foxes over for lunch. Our church usually gets out around 1pm, and both of those couples live at a place where they cook over a charcoal stove. If they drove back to their village in Nyenga and then began their charcoal, they probably wouldn't eat lunch until after 3pm. We really look forward to these Sunday afternoons sharing a meal and spending time together. 

I wanted to attend the burial that afternoon, so I left soon after lunch to walk to the home in the village. I arrived a bit late and as I was walking up I heard the wailing. As I arrived at the home, I saw some men carrying a woman whose body was completely limp. I found out that it was the daughter of the man whose body was being burried. When I asked about what was happening, I received several different answers. One person said it was shock. Another told me that it was a problem with her pressure. Several others told me that the demons were entering the daughter. I didn't know what to think, so I just prayed for the family. After some time and other bizarre events, the daughter came back to consciousness and was escorted into a house. Please pray with us for this family who have lost a young man and his father in just a few weeks time. Peter is the name of the young man who is working to build our house, and now has to care for both his mother and sister. 

While I was sitting there visiting with some other friends from Buundo, one family let me hold their precious little baby boy who is just a few months old. He was so precious. It was so good to see a healthy baby boy in the village living with both his father and mother receiving sufficient nutrition. I can't tell you how rare this is. While I was holding this sweet baby, some of the women who were sitting with me told me in Luganda that I should feed the baby. I thought I must be misunderstanding and replied that I can take the baby to the mother if he needs to eat. They made it clear through words and hand signals that they meant that I should nurse the baby. I wondered if they were teasing me or if they were serious, but either way, I explained that I don't have any milk. Soon afterward, another woman I had met that day asked if she could go home with me. I could tell she was joking around. By the time I was leaving I realized how much I still have to learn about life here. 

Although I often don't know what to do or how to best communicate, I am thankful that I have a loving Father in heaven who is directing my steps through His Spirit. I am learning what it means to "pray without ceasing," as I see that I need Him every minute.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


As many of you know, last year was my first year teaching full-time since we have had children. It was also our family's first year living overseas. In addition to the teaching load, I also have other responsibilities including paperwork, like organizing and scanning receipts, and communicating with supporters. This combination, along with my health issues, made it pretty obvious to our family that I needed to be teaching part-time, so that I could continue to care for my family and maintain some of my sanity. 

While we thought it was best for me to reduce my teaching load to part-time, that meant that we needed someone else to take over some of the classes I was teaching. Since David was also teaching full-time without a planning period, we were praying that God would send someone to work with us teaching the missionary kids. 

God answered that prayer by sending Cody and Katie Fox to join our team! We are so thankful for them. Cody is an English teacher, which is the subject with which we most needed help. Katie is a special education teacher who is working primarily with the children who live here at GSF with special needs. 

On Monday, Cody took over all of the Language Arts classes I have been teaching and one section of David's history, literature, Bible class, called Omnibus. I am now only teaching mathematics, which I love! I am also able to be at home with Ezra and Zeke in the afternoons since they have shorter school days than the older students. In my first two "free" afternoons, I have been able to organize, itemize, convert currency and scan 71 receipts for the building of our house. This is one more of those tasks that has been on the back burner, so to speak. 

It is easy for me to want to quickly fill up all my available time with things like spending time with the toddlers of GSF or visiting with my neighbors in the village. But I also want to make sure that I prioritize making disciples in my own family first. In particular, Zeke has been a fabulously flexible toddler, who moved overseas at age 2, but he still needs time with and training from his parents. 

As you thank God along with us for sending Katie and Cody Fox, please pray them as they transition to life here in Uganda. Please pray for me also, that I will have wisdom, love, patience and diligence as I try to balance the needs of my family, the paperwork of ministry, my work teaching, and loving my neighbors, both here at GSF and in Buundo village. 

Monday, August 18, 2014


Recently I have been learning so much from my Ugandan neighbors-to-be. I often go up to visit in the late afternoon/early evening to greet them. Sitting and visiting provides opportunities for building relationships, for learning Luganda and for learning culture. I am so thankful for this opportunity that building our house has provided.

One of the things that I have been learning from my neighbors is generosity. As I have gone to visit, there are certain neighbors who have often sent me with a gift of some sort for my family. I have received an avocado, an ear of maize, some sweet potatoes, several eggs and a large bunch of sweet bananas. Below is a photo of one of our very generous neighbors, Eseza, and her son. (Side note: Eseza is Esther in Luganda and is a very common name here.)

Our neighbors, like many of the people in the village grow much of their own food. The soil is so rich and the rainfall sufficient to grow things pretty well. I have really enjoyed learning about how food is grown and prepared here in Uganda.  

One evening I saw my neighbor, Eseza, walking home from the area where she gardens. She was carrying back 6 ears of maize to cook for herself, her children and her father for dinner. She saw me and immediately began to offer me more than half of what she had. I felt so torn. I wanted to be appreciative of the gift, but I also did not want to take what she was going to cook for her family for dinner that night. I did my best to graciously accept one ear explaining that my children don't eat much maize. (The maize here tastes very different from our sweet corn in America.) She handed me the largest and best looking of the ears she had. She seemed so happy to be able to share some with us. 

The hospitality and generosity that some people have shown to us is so humbling. I have never in my life had to go hungry because I had no food available. I doubt many living in the village of Buundo have had that same experience. It is such a gift to be given food by friends who have worked so hard to just feed their own families. What a lesson in generosity! 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

A day of extremes

Last Saturday was another full day with some unexpected twists. As the day began I knew that we had some things scheduled, but I didn't really know what the day would hold. It turned out to be a day of celebrating life and seeing death, a day of welcoming some teenagers and young adults back to GSF and saying goodbye to others, a day of beginning to feel culturally competent and then realizing that I still have so much to learn. 

On Saturday mornings I usually have Luganda lessons. Luganda is the primary language in this area, although in our little village of Buundo there are people whose first languages are Lusoga, Luo, Kiswahili and Acholi. But since we live in the Baganda kingdom, Luganda is the primary language. During my lesson this Saturday I was not nearly as confused as I have been in previous weeks. I was really encouraged that I am getting some of this. 

After my lesson was over, I thought it would be good for Esther and I to walk up to visit our neighbors-to-be. Our house will be neighboring the village more closely than any of the other missionary homes currently do. This has provided us an opportunity to begin building relationships with several families in Buundo. Since these families speak very little English, I also get opportunities to practice conversing in Luganda. 

We walked up and visited with one family for a while. I went to greet another family, but the 5 year old son told me that they had gone. I didn't catch what he said they had gone for, but I saw him point. It was in the direction of our church, so Esther and I decided to walk through the village and visit with some more people. As we neared our church I saw a tarp and a tent set up at one house and many people sitting around. Usually that means either a wedding or a burial. I could tell as I approached that someone had died. My neighbor, Eseza, was there and came out to greet me. The young man who had died was the brother of someone who is working to build our house. They invited us to come sit with them. Eseza asked me to come inside the hut to see the Mama and sit with the women and the body. I didn't know what to do. I honestly didn't really want to go in there, but I didn't know what the cultural expectation was. I asked a few more questions and got the impression that I ought to go sit with them. So I left Esther outside and went in and sat with the women. I didn't know what to do or say. They showed me the body, and I told them that I was so sorry. I sat a while longer and prayed with them. Knowing that Esther was outside on her own, I told the women that I needed to get back to my daughter. As we walked away, I realized that I still have so much to learn about what to do in various situations. I wish I knew the language better so I could offer words of encouragement, but even if I knew the language, I'm not sure what I would say. I am praying that just by being there, I was able show a little bit of the love and compassion of Jesus to the family. 

As we returned, David was finishing his preparations for speaking at a conference that afternoon. Kids who grew up at Good Shepherd's Fold and are now in secondary school, vocational school, or university, all came back for a weekend of spiritual encouragement and fellowship. David spoke to the kids encouraging them about the "one another" passages in Scripture. 

While these kids were back for the weekend, some of the kids who live here now were preparing to go visit their extended family in the village. GSF tries to help the kids remain connected with family as much as possible. It is such a mixture of emotions as we say good bye to some of the kids for a couple of weeks. I know it is good for them to know their grandparents or uncles and aunts, but at the same time, they have begun to feel like family to us. I know that life in the village can be very hard. Please pray with us for these kids, not only for their health and safety, but also that they will be able to be a light in the places they go. I am so thankful for our Ugandan social worker who works with all of these families. 

Since some of the kids were planning to leave on Monday, we decided to celebrate Elijah's birthday Saturday night with the boys age 8 and up. Before they came we had homemade pizza as a family and gave Elijah his birthday present. He has been taking guitar lessons for quite a while and has been looking forward to the day when he might get his own guitar. I think we were as excited to give it to him as he was to receive it. 

After our family celebration, the boys started arriving. (Actually they came about an hour early, but we told them that it was not yet time. They returned exactly on time. I guess if the activity involves birthday cake, boys will be early or on-time.) They boys all had a good time eating cake, running around planning tag type games in the dark, dumping water on the birthday boy and playing spoons. They all seemed to have a great time together. Here they are at the table waiting for the cake. 

At the end of the day, I was definitely exhausted, but thankful for the many opportunities God brought throughout the day. It is my prayer that as I continue to learn and grow, I will be able to demonstrate the love of God to those in my own family, to those here at Good Shepherd's Fold and to those who are our neighbors in Buundo village. I certainly don't love perfectly, but I am thankful that God does! I hope you will remember His great love for you in Jesus and reflect that love to those in your life, wherever He has called you to live. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


A little over a week ago, I wrote about all the sicknesses we have had recently. I am happy to report that we have finally been three days fever free as a family!! Praise God! Several of the kids still have a bit of a cough, but overall we are much healthier! David also seems to be coughing less often. He has been very tired though, so please continue to pray for his healing.

I have noticed some improvement in the way my tongue feels too. Overall I have less pain, and I am regaining sensation in some parts. I am particularly thankful that the pain is no longer constant, but usually only comes at the end of the day or while I am using it a lot. 

I am so thankful for all of your prayers, both for our recent sickness and for my tongue over the course of the last year or so. I'm also thankful for Kim, a nurse here at GSF and a great neighbor who is reading bedtime stories to my kids. David is already in bed, and reading aloud in the evening is challenging for my tongue. Here is a photo of the kids' room and Kim. 

Even though I am tired and a bit weary from caring for sick family members. I have much for which to be thankful. I am thankful that everyone's health seems to be improving. I am thankful for Kim's help with the kids and dinner clean-up tonight. I am thankful that my family is sleeping peacefully right now. I hope to join them soon! Good night! 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

17 years

Today David and I celebrate 17 years of marriage! Yes, we got married young. God has done much to work in our hearts and lives through these 17 years. Today we had to run errands in Kampala with our kids, but we are trying to enjoy and make the most of this time together. Bad traffic provides opportunity for plenty of time together in the van. Haha In the photo below we are at a mall in Kampala. 

Early on in marriage God began to open our eyes to our sin and selfishness showing us more and more our need for Jesus as our Savior. We also have grown much in our dependence upon the Holy Spirit to enable us to truly love one another. Our 17 years of marriage is not a fairy tale story of 2 good people living happily ever after. Instead it is a story of two sinners learning more and more about the love and forgiveness we have received from God, and learning to extend that grace to each other. 

You would think that after 17 years of learning to love as we have been loved we would have made much progress. But our last year of moving away the support of family, church and friends to a foreign country, living in the middle of a children's home, starting new jobs, working together, and learning a new culture has revealed another layer of our brokenness and selfishness. We are continuing to learn how to love one another in the midst of stress and struggle. We are both learning to live with a greater level of dependence upon God as we see our own fallenness. In our weakness, He has been strong. Today we celebrate the 17 years that God has graciously taught us more about his love through our marriage.