Thursday, November 24, 2016

Giving Thanks in Uganda!

This week many of us spend some time counting our blessings, thanking God for many of his good gifts in our lives. For almost a year now, I have been recording things for which I am thankful. The book, One Thousand Gifts by ann Voskamp, has helped me grow in the practice of thanking God, listing the gifts even in the midst of struggles. On Monday morning I encouraged my students to begin their own lists. We had about 20 minutes to write things for which we are thankful. I was encouraged that many of my students were able to list over 100 gifts from God in their lives during that short time. Reading their lists brought a great deal of joy to my heart! Some of them even listed math!

As we were preparing for the Thanksgiving holiday, we thought that it would be a good time to incorporate a service project. Another one of our neighbors has a mud house that is falling. He had begun gathering poles and reeds to build the basic structure for another hut. Our children have always enjoyed helping to mix and add the mud, so we offered to help. We also found out that several of our other neighbors had some projects that they could also use some help to complete. We decided that the Wednesday before Thanksgiving would be a great time for our students to help us serve our neighbors. We also decided that it would be a great opportunity to share a meal with them. Below you can see the photo of most of our students before starting to work. (A few of our high school students had an anatomy test to complete before joining the rest of us.) You can also see the big pot of matooke (a cooked, mashed banana) that we were preparing for lunch.

As we began we divided our students into four main work crews. One group was digging a pit for a latrine at an elderly couple's home.
Another group worked mudding their cooking hut.
 Several other students worked slashing and digging a field for another elderly neighbor so that she can plant it.

Some other students worked mixing and carrying mud and packing the walls for the new hut. 

We had a few other jobs here and there like fetching water...
planting flowers...
and just visiting and praying with the neighbors.

I was so thankful for the way our students worked and really blessed our neighbors! We have some amazing kids who know how to work hard. At the end of a hard day of labor, the field that our students were digging was almost done, but the rain had begun. Instead of heading home, they decided to stay and finish the job, even in the rain! 
By the end of the day, the group of 3 students dug the latrine pit over 5 feet deep! And the students who were helping with the mud huts, really made some great progress! We are letting the bottom half of the wall dry for about a week before adding the top part. 

I mostly supervised, but in my short times of digging I joined many of our students with blisters that tore. 
I thought our sore hands might be a good reminder for us all about how much we have to be thankful for. 

While Wednesday's work helped us to be thankful, the time together with the other Global Outreach missionaries in Uganda also reminded me of the people I am thankful for here who have become family. Here are some of my team and family here in Uganda who all ended up wearing similar colors for the day.
We had a great time getting to host about 60 people including our GO missionary families, a family in Uganda to adopt and several military personnel.
And the kids' tables were outside under the solar panels. 
 It was a bit crazy, but also a lot of fun! We also were thankful for lots of delicious food (and paper plates we brought from America!)
After the meal we had some good time just hanging out and visiting!
We even had a game of American football! 
It was another full day with more gifts than I could list here. After a bit of clean-up, my family had time for a family game. Well, most of us, Zeke was sacked out on the couch. 
We ended the day teaching our kids to play Spades. It is fun that they are now old enough to enjoy games like this together!
I pray that we will continue to thank God for His many gifts even beyond this week of Thanksgiving! 

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