Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thankfulness (by Elijah Fish)

We take much for granted. We assume that there will be food on the table, that there will be clothes to wear, that there will be air to breath. We are very blessed, and we often assume that we will continue to be blessed. As we grow more and more accustomed to these everyday blessings, we begin to think that we deserve them. Serving people who did not have these blessings promised them made me realize that we are not promised tomorrow, but neither are we promised today. Every breath we take is more than we deserve. It is when we truly believe this, and only then, that we can be truly thankful.During the outreach, we washed clothes, fetched water from the river, and helped to construct a mud hut. In the midst of this, the family was very grateful and thankful. They helped us with the various chores we were assigned and couldn’t seem to stop thanking us.

Serving this family made me realize that we all have reasons to be thankful. We can be thankful for as much or as little as we want. 
Written by Elijah Fish

Monday, November 13, 2017

First Quarter Progress Report

At the end of our first quarter of the school year, we met with the parents of our students for a parent-teacher conference. Since I haven't had the time to write as frequently in recent months, I thought I would also provide a brief overview of some of the highlights of our first quarter of the 2017-2018 school year here.

We began our school year with a field trip to raft a section of the Nile River! It was a great trip and a fun relationship building time. To add to the adventure, the buses got stuck in the mud taking us to the drop off point, and we walked in the mud down to the river. It was a fun adventure and a good way to begin our school year together! We are blessed to live in such an amazing part of the world!




This year we have enough students and teachers to be able to offer some electives! Our middle and high school students are now able to choose between Drama class and Physical Education and also between Art and Music classes. It has been fun to see some performances, and watch as our students develop their different areas of giftedness.


In October we celebrated 55 years of Ugandan independence. I always enjoy learning more about this fascinating country in which we live! We use the opportunity of Independence Day to focus on Ugandan history, culture, geography, cooking, etc. It was a fun and educationally enriching day! 

We are praying for an additional teacher. While we do have one more teacher than we had last school year, we are still praying that God would provide another person to serve with us. We have met with a young woman who might be assisting at our school part-time as a resource teacher/tutor as soon as January! In our eyes it looks like a great fit! Please pray for the Lord to direct all of us as she takes time to consider. If you or someone you know might be interested in joining us as we teach some amazing missionary kids in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, please contact us! 

We thank God for giving us a wonderful first quarter of our fifth school year teaching here in Uganda. Thank you all for your prayers and support for our work here! To God be the glory!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Saturdays of challenges and celebration

Most Saturdays are pretty full for our family. Since we teach on weekdays, Saturdays are the day we make the 45 minute drive into town and do shopping for the week, go to the bank, take our children to play sports,  visit with friends in town, and do any other necessary errands. It is also the afternoon/evening when I meet with the women in the Buwundo Beads group to have a Bible study and then buy some of the necklaces and crafts they have made that week. A normal Saturday is busy, but some are more so than others. 

Last Saturday we were on our way to town in a borrowed vehicle because our van was getting repaired. The borrowed van was brought to us on Friday night. In order for us to reach Jinja by 8am when rugby practice begins, we need to leave our house by 7:15 at the latest, so we packed our things for the day, including swimsuits for a missionary fellowship at a pool, costumes for a fall fair in town, along with the bottles, diapers, burp cloths and clothes needed for a baby, and got in the van. Little did we know that the van was brought to us without enough fuel to reach the nearest petrol (gasoline) station. As we got a few miles down the dirt road and started heading up a hill, the van sputtered and then stopped. It ran out of fuel. We found a friend who was willing to go get 5 liters of fuel and bring it to us on a boda. Since there was not a funnel, they decided to use a banana leaf. Ugandans are so resourceful with local materials!


The fuel was enough to start the vehicle once. But then it stopped again. Apparently because we were on a hill, the fuel was in the back of the tank and not enough to keep the vehicle going. After trying to start it multiple times, the battery also stopped working. We coasted backward down the hill to more level ground, but since the battery had also stopped working, we were unable to get the van started. Eventually, our mechanic was able to come with more fuel, a replacement battery and get us back on the road by about 10:00am.  It was too late for our children to make it to their sports practices, but we did get some patience practice. πŸ˜‰ We also were able to make it to Jinja soon enough to spend some time with friends, go swimming and participate in the fall fair. 



Yesterday, we still had the borrowed van, but we made sure it had enough fuel. On the way into town there was a stalled vehicle on the bridge which caused about a half hour delay and provided some more patience practice, but we still arrived in time for most of the sports practices. Elijah chose to see the bright side and said that they might miss some of the fitness training and drills, but they would be there in time for scrimmaging. In town, we didn't have much trouble accomplishing our errands other than briefly getting stuck in the mud, but some friends helped us out and it only took a few minutes. We stayed in town for lunch, then went to pick Esther up from a friend's house on the way back home. We had planned enough time for me to have a few minutes at home after unloading and putting things away before going to my Bible study. But little did we know that another adventure awaited.

After picking up Esther, we were heading back toward the main road when a bump in the muddy dirt road caused the two- wheel drive van we were using to slide over into a ditch. Since the wheels were spinning in the mud, our  3 boys, a young man from GSF who was with us for the day, and I all got out to push while David drove and Esther held the baby. 


We were able to get the van to move forward, but never got enough traction to get it out of the ditch. We also got covered with quite a bit of mud that the tires sent flying. 



Many men who were nearby working came to help, but even with many strong men pushing, the vehicle was stuck. I walked with our younger boys to the house of another missionary who I knew had a 4-wheel drive vehicle and was likely to have a chain or tow rope. This family also has a camel named Chewy, so we got a few photos. 


They were not home. While we were standing in front of their gate, Ezra was coming up with all kinds of ideas about how to solve this problem.  He said, "I really like this type of situation because of all the possibilities for how to solve the problem." He is a creative problem-solver and I love that about him! I also love that he was able to enjoy using his gifts rather than complaining about the delays. As we were waiting for the family to either come to the gate or get home, a truck drove by. I waved for them to stop and asked them to drive down the road and assist my husband. They found a rope and tried pulling the van out with that until the rope broke. Then they found a cable of some sort and were able to use that to pull the van backward and then forward to get out of the ditch! 

We arrived home much later than planned and covered with mud, but thankful that we were home! I quickly showered and changed in order to go to our Bible study celebration. This Bible study group completed listening to the entire New Testament in Luganda! We have been meeting weekly to listen to a section of the New Testament, discuss it, worship and pray together. It has taken over a year, but we have been able to start in the book of Matthew and continue all the way through the end of Revelation! Since we knew we would be finishing on Saturday, we planned a big celebration. The women had been cooking most of the day in order to have a big meal together celebrating the completion of listening to the New Testament. The students joined us and everyone had enough to eat! 

It was a wonderful time! I am so thankful that these women and students have heard so much of God's Word and desire to continue. 

While there have definitely been challenges, I also see that there is much to celebrate and be thankful for. I am thankful that in the midst of these challenges, God has enabled us to consider it pure joy (at least mostly), and see these times as opportunities rather than just frustrations. God has provided people to help us in our times of need. These struggles with a borrowed vehicle also help us to see what a blessing our van has been! We look forward to getting it back before our next trip to town, Lord willing. I am also thankful to be able to be a part of this group meeting together to hear God's Word! It is beautiful to see the way several of these women and students have come to know and love Jesus as they have learned more about him. I pray that God will help me to see the challenges of each day from his perspective and rejoice at the many ways He is at work! 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Middle School Years

Can you find me in this photo?
Recently I have been remembering bits and pieces of my middle school years. As two of my children are now walking through this stage of life, I am remembering several of the challenges I faced during these years. I am also realizing how some of the struggles that are common in these years are issues I still struggle with at times. I find myself reliving some of the pain from those years as I try to equip my children and students to process the These are such important transition years as children grow into teenagers and young adults. Here are a few of the things I began learning at this age and still need to remember as an adult.

1- God is my only perfect friend. He is always there for me and I learned to pour my heart out to him through prayer and journaling during these years. Psalm 118 says "His steadfast love endures forever." It is so good to know that even though all friends will disappoint us at times, God never will. He will always love us! He is the best friend I could ever have! As I learn that I am secure in God's love for me, I can think about being a friend to others rather than needing a friend. I still need to remind myself of this as an adult.

2- God has given each of us gifts to be used for his kingdom. During my middle school years, I began thinking about what God might be calling me to do. My youth group leaders and teachers encouraged and equipped me for ministry. I started a Bible study with a few friends in my neighborhood and really enjoyed that opportunity to serve. It is interesting that so many years later I am still starting and leading Bible studies in my neighborhood, although my neighborhood now looks very different. I realized that when I was thinking about how I could love and serve others, I was much less worried about what others thought about me.

3- Words have a great deal  of power. In middle school I was feeling jealous of another girl and said something hurtful about her to one of my friends. A year later she told me that someone told her what I had said. She expressed how much those words hurt her and explained that she avoided me for a year because of the pain those words caused her. I am thankful that she had the courage to confront me and that made a significant impression on me. Proverbs 12:18 says, "There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." I still struggle at times with my words, but I pray that my tongue will bring healing to those around me.

These middle school years can be challenging times, but it is also a wonderful time for equipping and growing in many ways. I am thankful for the opportunity to speak into the lives of our children and students in these significant transitional years.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Thankful for my mission family

Bringing a foster child into your home in order to eventually adopt is a very different experience than giving birth. Another adoptive mom on our team suggested that the "birth pains" are stretched out over a long period of time as you go through the whole process. One major difference is a bit of confusion about when to celebrate. If I had given birth to a child, I know that my family and friends would come to the hospital and probably have a shower to celebrate the child. But I didn't know how or when to celebrate Evie joining our family. 

Our missionary team sometimes has game nights where we get together just to have fun. Since many of us had recently returned from the states, I was excited to hear that someone was planning a team game night for last Friday. When we arrived, I found out that it was a surprise baby shower welcoming Evie to our family and to our missionary family! I cannot explain how much I felt loved and understood and so happy that I even began crying! I had longed for this type of celebration for my daughter, but didn't even realize how much I desired it until our missionary family surprised us with this party! 





Our team gave us this basin full of essentials like diapers, wipes, baby wash, formula, etc. and made these beautiful cupcakes to celebrate our baby girl. 

They even had beautiful decorations!

They were all trying to hold an adopted or foster Ugandan "baby" as we walked in to celebrate with us. We are not alone in this process! Our team actually has more adopted missionary kids than biological ones, but many of the children area bit big to carry. πŸ˜‰

While I am sad that Evie has not yet been able to meet any of her new grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins since they all live across the ocean, I am so thankful that she has such a loving missionary family who took time to plan a beautiful celebration welcoming her into our family! In Psalms 68:6 the Bible says that "God places the lonely into families." I am thankful that God placed Evie with us, but I am also so thankful that He placed our family in a missionary team that has beome a second family to us! 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Rejoicing and Grieving

As I get to know my precious new daughter, I have such a mixture of emotions. I love her deeply and am beginning to see a special bond form between the two of us. 
 
Yesterday, she wanted to be held close and in the afternoon and evening she kept reaching for my face and bringing her nose to touch mine. It was so precious and I thank God for the connection that is beginning to form. I want her to know that I want to be her mama forever.  I want her to know that she is special to me. She enjoys our whole family and they all love her dearly. Here is a photo from the first time our children met her when she was just a few months old. 



These boys particularly love giving baby Evie cuddles and are thrilled to help care for her, except when she has dirty diapers. πŸ˜‰ My older two are amazing helpers and I love how they care for her! Evie shares a room with Esther so each morning Esther gets her out of her crib, brings her to me for cuddles and then goes to prepare Evie's bottle and my coffee without me even asking. Esther is such an amazing help to me and will be a wonderful mother one day. One night after I put Evie to bed, she started fussing again. When I went in to check on her Elijah was holding baby Evie and singing Jesus Loves Me for her. My heart was so full! She is enjoying getting to know David and particularly curious about his beard. (She only had women caring for her at the babies' home.) I love watching her connect with each family member in a different way. 



Yesterday was a hard day. It was the first day she was just fussy and I couldn't figure out why. The first week and a half that she was with our family she was generally a happy, easy baby. Then yesterday afternoon she did not want to nap, cried a lot and I was not able to settle her down. I couldn't figure out what was wrong or how to help. I asked Elijah to take over and went to my room and cried. I have had those moments with all of my children, when I couldn't figure out what they needed, but this time I had an added thought. "We have only had you as apart of our family for a little over a week, but you have had 6 months of life that you did not know me. My other children knew my voice when they were born from their months growing inside my womb. You didn't know that I would be your mom when I was visiting you at the babies' home and you are just now learning what it means to have a mother who loves and cares for you." As I processed this grief that we both experience whether consciously or not, I remembered that adoption always comes out of brokenness. As I look at her beautiful face, I see scars that I will never know exactly how they came about. It breaks my heart. But God has given us the privilege and responsibility of loving and caring for her from now on. As we grieve over what was lost, we will also rejoice in the way God has brought her into our family! He is the God who brings the lonely into families and creates beauty out of ashes. And I thank Him that we get to be a little part of that in the life of our dear Evangeline Kisakye. Her names mean, "the one who brings good news" and "His grace." I pray that her life will be a picture of God's grace to all who know her and many will come to know the good news of God's love through her life! 

Friday, August 25, 2017

Celebrating!!!

This week has been very exciting for our family! We have brought a new baby into our family! She is currently our foster daughter and after a year of foster care (which is now required in Uganda), we plan to apply for adoption. 
We are calling this precious little girl Evie, which is short for Evangeline and her second name is Kisakye which is Luganda for Grace. 

We began the process of applying to foster to adopt early this year and in God's perfect timing it all came together this Tuesday, the day before our first day of school. A bit crazy, but wonderful too! So here is our first day of school photo of the Fish five! (Ezra 4th grade, Elijah 8th grade, Evie 6 months, Zeke 1st/2nd grade, and Esther 6th grade.) They are all thrilled to have a baby sister!

Even though we were a little less prepared due to spending all Tuesday working on bring home our baby, the first day of school was great! Here is a photo of our students and teachers on the first day.Everyone seemed happy to be back except Bobby who was in pain from breaking his arm a few days previous. We also have a new teacher who joined us this year! She is in the front left and is already a huge blessing to our school! In the above picture we are standing on the back verranda of our new classroom building. We are thankful for God's provision in so many ways this week. We moved into our new school building, with a new teacher, brought home a new family member, and started a new school year! What an exciting week! We are also thankful that our precious little girl sleeps through the night and is generally cheerful! I'm not sure how I would have made it otherwise. Please keep our family in your prayers! As you can see I'm quite literally trying to juggle caring for Evie and my school work. 

We are very thankful to be able to care for this precious baby girl!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Tongue update

As we visit with family and friends, I am often asked about how my tongue is doing. For those of you who might not know or remember, a few months before moving to Uganda, my dental hygienist found an abnormal spot on my tongue. It turned out to be pre-cancerous. We decided to watch it and see how it healed from the biopsy. Not long after moving to Uganda, we realized that the abnormal area was spreading. I came back to the US and had surgery to remove all abnormal cells and find clean margins which led to removing about 10% of my tongue along the right side.

It took quite some time after that surgery to recover. It took time for my speech to return to normal. It took time for the pain to decrease. And it took time to adjust to the fact that my tongue needs a break in the afternoon when I have been teaching all morning. God has taught me many things through these times, most importantly to trust Him with the future. I also have learned to see each year I get older as a gift. 

I had to modify the recommended follow up care and check-ups after my surgery. Obviously it was not going to be possible for me to fly back to the US every 3 months just to have someone look at my tongue. We found a good, American-trained dentist who was willing to look at my tongue and communicate with my doctor in the states. Since the surgery my follow up care has been a combination of check ups with my dentist in Uganda and with an otolaryngologist when I am back in the states. 

Early during our time in Georgia, I went in for a check up. The doctor said that everything looks great and he sees no sign of a recurrence of the abnormal cells! I was so relieved when I heard that news. (My blood pressure was a bit high at the beginning of the appointment.) I also asked about the ongoing burning sensation I have on the side of my tongue which gets more painful with use throughout the day. My doctor explained that in some cases the nerves do not heal properly after surgery and the burning feeling is a possible result of this. While it is disappointing that this pain probably won't go away, it is relieving to know that this pain is not an indication that something is wrong.

Thank you all for your prayers and concern for me and my health. I am blessed and encouraged by so many who care for me and my family! As we face each new day with unknown adventures around the bend, it is good for me to remember that God is with me through it all, and He has brought me into his family where so many have walked with me through trials and joys. We are thankful for your ongoing prayers for our family! I know that the days ahead still hold many joys as well as many challenges and it is a blessing to walk this road together with brothers and sisters in Christ!

Friday, July 14, 2017

Feeling Loved

Since my last post, I have been overwhelmed by the number of people who have "checked in" from both sides of the ocean. While it is hard to live in two different worlds, we are also blessed to have people who love and care for us both in Uganda and the United States. I have been encouraged and blessed by the many people who have read about our "furlough funk" and have been praying for us and have been gracious to us in many ways.

This week I posted on Facebook that we would like to borrow a car for a couple weeks. It wasn't a need, but would help simplify things as we all have appointments while we are here in Georgia. In one day we were offered three vehicles! Elijah suggested we hold out until someone offered a Lamborghini, but I thought we would gratefully accept the first offer. Yes, he is almost a teenage boy!

Another family wrote that same day and offered to bring us dinner one night. They insisted that they not stay to eat with us so that we could just have a quiet, relaxing evening. I felt so loved and understood! 

I received a message from a woman who has just joined our missionary team telling me that she is praying for me. She is the one who has just moved her family overseas and she is writing to encourage me!

We got a babysitter and stayed out late with some old friends, sitting on the tailgate of their pickup hours after the restaurant's closing time. It was a joy to have several hours of conversation with people we have known and loved for many years! 

The next night we were able to have dinner with other friends whose whole family is a blessing to our whole family. As you can see our boys love spending time with them!


Even though there are many hard things about our time here, God has shown me how blessed we are to be loved by the body of Christ! I am thankful for those of you who support us in prayer and who partner with us financially! I appreciate those who offer cars and meals and friendship! Thank you for loving us well and being God's hands and feet to minister to us as we live in two worlds! We thank God for you!


Saturday, July 8, 2017

Furlough Funk

While it is wonderful to be with so many people we haven't seen in years and reconnect, David and I both have been in a bit of a funk. Living in two worlds brings many blessings, but also several challenges. Coming back to the US does not really feel like coming home.  Don't misunderstand. We love visiting with family and friends! We love driving on smooth roads. We love that we can run to the grocery store or go out to a restaurant so easily. But being in the US is not easy for us. If we tell you the same story multiple times or if we seem a bit confused it is probably because we are a bit out of sorts here.

These are some contributing factors...
  •  We have slept in 7 different places since leaving our home in Uganda. (More if you count overnight flights, but we don't usually get much sleep on those.)
  • We have the same 2-5 minute conversation with a dozens of people and neither David nor I love "small talk." I do love getting together with a small group or an individual for an hour or more where we can really connect and learn more about each other's lives, but we don't have the time or ability to do that with everyone.  
  • Those who ask our children if they are happy to be "home" get very confused looks. Zeke was 2 years old when we moved to Uganda and has lived there for 4 years. This country does not feel like home to him even though that is what his passport says. 
  • We need to increase our monthly support as some donations drop off over time and we are having increased expenses, but talking about money is often awkward and uncomfortable.
  • We have paperwork that we need to get done while we are here, but computer challenges and other technical difficulties contribute to frustration. 
  • We have had too many long days in the car. Young boys, in particular, don't love being strapped into one position without exercise for hours on end. Neither do I. While our kids have done exceptionally well, it has still been challenging.
  • We use furlough as a time for counseling and addressing issues that might get ignored in the busyness of life and ministry in Uganda. Even though it is very beneficial, talking through our struggles can be emotionally exhausting. (Overall, I am so thankful for this opportunity, but some days it does contribute to our furlough funk.)
  • We don't have a regular routine. I find myself not making sufficient time for prayer, journaling, Bible reading and personal worship. 
While all of these challenges often lead to being in a bit of a funk, I know that God has good purposes for our time here in the states. I want to practice the habit of thankfulness, not only when I feel like everything is going smoothly for my family. I want to have patience and grace with my family as we all feel this funk at different times. Please pray for us. Pray that we will love each other well and be gracious to each other. Pray that we will know how to prioritize as our schedules fill quickly. Pray that I will not overschedule our family as we are not used to running around so much. 

Even as I share these challenges, I also want to say that we do want to spend time with you! I tend to try to squeeze two years of relationship into one month. (No wonder my introverted husband is so exhausted.) I still want to meet with friends and share with small groups about our ministry. I just might have to sometimes say that I can't get together because my family needs rest. 

We are very thankful that we are now staying in a missionary guesthouse where our family can relax a bit. It is a place we have stayed before, and we are able to stay for a month! Other than a quick trip to the Chattanooga area, we can be more settled than we have been for the past month and a half. 

I have so much for which to be thankful! God has provided for us in amazing ways... places to stay, delicious food to eat, a great vehicle to drive, relationships with friends who welcome us back, time with people who have visited us in Uganda, ministry supporters who have partnered with us in prayer and finances for years. God has provided faithfully and I trust that He will continue to do so. I want to draw near to Him in times when I am struggling. I want to remember that He loves us and is working for our good in the midst of all this transition. And I want to thank Him for his many gracious and abundant blessings! 


Friday, June 23, 2017

Driving Day

Today began with David picking up our two oldest children at our church sometime after midnight as they returned from a Braves game with the youth group. A few hours later Esther woke sick to her stomach probably from something she ate at the ballpark. Eventually she fell asleep on the couch and I slept in a recliner beside her. We got a few more hours of sleep before it was time to get up and pack for a day of driving. As expected, some of us were a bit cranky. (Yes, I have already apologized to my husband and my eldest who experienced the majority of my grumpiness.) 

As we were preparing to pull out, our good friend prayed for us to remember the joy we have as children of God. Honestly, I had been dreading today a bit. Another long day in the car with kids who want to move and run around. After the initial conflicts, we had several hours of good interactions, some naps, some movies, etc. As we began to near our destination, it all fell apart. Exhausted kids past bedtime, everyone tired of sitting in one place, and ready to be there. Thankfully, everyone could regain composure enough to greet their grandparents who they haven't seen in two years. We are now all snug in comfy beds in a hotel that my kids think is amazing! 

At the end of a challenging day and particularly after ending our drive with several conflicts, I know that it helps me to count my blessings and keep the perspective of the whole day. My children, some of whom began the day with not nearly enough sleep, got along in close quarters for many hours! Praise God! We even had some good conversation and enjoyed riddles and jokes together! (We also had DVD players and naps sprinkled in there.) There is much for which to be thankful, but right now I'm thankful that we all are falling asleep in comfortable beds! Good night! 
 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Wanting to make my Father smile

As we were preparing to stay at my parents' house for a week, I was a little anxious about how things would go. I knew that my parents are used to living in a house with just two adults and one dog, not 8 people, 4 of the whom are children, 6 of whom are dealing with jet lag and the culture shock of re-entry. My dad and I emailed in advance about ways to prevent unnecessary conflicts, and he got bicycles for my children to have something familiar to go do and get out some of their energy. The kids loved going out and riding around the block. Unfortunately it rained most days so there were some times that we were stuck inside. 

While some of my anxiety was just wanting this visit with my parents to go well since we don't get to be together very often, I realized that a large part of it is my very strong desire for my father to be happy with me. Even when the issue isn't about me, I feel like I need to fix the situation so that my dad is happy.

I am very blessed to have a father who loves me, tells me that he is proud of me, and hugs me. I know that many other people do not have that blessing. My earthly father has loved me well. He has often been a picture of grace to me and comforted me in difficult times. One of my favorite memories is when I was in high school and extremely anxious about taking the SAT. My dad told me that no matter how I did on that test, nothing could make him love me more, and nothing could make him love me less. I remember feeling such a tangible sense of relief from my anxiety during that conversation. 

So why is it that I feel so anxious and such a great desire to make my dad happy even though I know he loves me? As I have taken some time to reflect on this, I realized that my anxiety is rooted in looking to my earthly father for the security, love and acceptance that only my Heavenly Father can ultimately provide. This is what my Heavenly Father has said to his children:
I have loved you with an everlasting love - Jeremiah 31:3
I rejoice over you with singing - Zephaniah 3:17
Nothing will separate you from my love for you in Jesus Christ - Romans 8: 38-39
There is no condemnation for you because you are in Christ Jesus - Romans 8:1

These words do not come from a Father who doesn't see my faults. This comes from a Father who knows me completely, knows that even my righteous acts are like filthy rags, but still chose to love me and bring me into his family. I don't deserve this gracious, sacrificial love. But he has chosen to clothe me with the righteousness of Jesus! 

While you celebrate Fathers' Day, I want to remind you that no matter what your relationship with your earthly father is like, you can have this type of loving, joyous, fulfilling relationship with your Heavenly Father. Your father may be gone, he may be a lousy father, or he may be a very good, loving father like mine. But our Heavenly Father is the only One who will ever love us perfectly and forever. He is the Father described in Luke 15 who rejoices when the younger son returns home and goes out to the elder brother to invite him in to the party. He lavishes his love on his children! He smiles at you and me! 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Our summer schedule

We have reached the states and are currently in South Florida staying with my parents. If you received our email, you might already have our schedule, but here it is again. 
Until June 9- South Florida
June 9-16 - Central Florida
June 17-24 -  Athens, GA
June 24 - July 1 - North Carolina coast with David's family
July 1-31 - Athens, GA area
Aug 1-8  - South Florida
August 10 land in Uganda! 

If you want to catch up and/or hear updates about our ministry, we would love to meet with you! We also have a few goals while we are here in the states and would love your prayer and partnership in accomplishing these goals! 
Goals: 
  • Reconnect with ministry partners and provide updates
  • Spend time with family and friends
  • Help more people know about what God is doing in Buwundo, Uganda
  • Add financial partners to our monthly ministry support team
  • Find partners to help distribute Buwundo Beads and Crafts in the states.
If you are interested in partnering with us in our ministry, please go to: 

globaloutreach.org

If you are interested in getting together to just catch up or to hear more about our ministry, please contact us so we can set up a time to get together! We are so thankful for your prayers and support! 
 
πŸ™ˆAnd don't worry, we won't wear our Ugandan dress clothes to meet you at a coffee shop stateside. πŸ˜‰

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A mother's love

I am richly blessed to have grown up in a home with a mom who loved me well and helped me know God's love for me. She continues to be an amazing blessing in my life. But I know that not everyone is celebrating today. My grandmother passed away last December and this is my mom's first Mother's Day without her mom around. My mom also had the gift of many years with her loving mother, but some children never have experienced that blessing. We live and work at a children's home in a country with millions of orphaned and vulnerable children. There are so many children who do not have the blessing that I have had for 40 years now. 

I cannot imagine how my life would have been different without the love of my mom. She has always been an amazing support and encouragement to me. I never had to wonder if there was anyone who loved me. If I was sad, I had a mom who would comfort me. When I went through a particularly challenging time in my teenage years my mom sat by my bedside and rubbed my back and spoke words of truth to me for hours. She prayed with me and for me. She still does. I strive to be this kind of loving mother to my children. But as I look around, I cannot help but think about the many children right outside my home who do not have a mother's love.

On this Mother's Day, I want to remember to show the love of God to all the children I know. I pray that on this Mother's Day, I will not waste time thinking of how I want to be appreciated by my husband and children. Instead, I want to show God's love to the many children in my life. On my own, my love will run out, but I have a Heavenly Father whose well never runs dry. As my heart breaks at the many in need of love, I want to remember that God has given me the gift of serving as His hands and feet in the lives of those around me today. I pray that God will give me His grace to love others well as I come into contact with so many in need of love today. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Life without a phone

Last week my phone fell out of my pocket into the toilet. Until then I didn't realize how dependent upon that technology I had become. Even here in Uganda, where much of life is outdoors and interacting with people, I still check my phone many times every day. (Although, those who have tried to get in touch with me might say that I don't check it enough.) It is interesting that I feel out of sorts and disconnected when it means that I have a 2 minute walk to talk with someone rather than a quick phone call or text. I also have realized that my first tendency when something is on my mind is to communicate with a person rather than pray. I have been processing a lot recently and find myself wishing I could communicate with family and friends more easily. We already have the challenge of the time difference and the international phone call costs, but now I don't have a phone with me to easily make a call. (If you are trying to get in touch with me, you can call David or send me an email which I will check daily.)

I remember another time in my life when I couldn't talk to anyone else and realized how much I needed to pray. I had driven to Macon, Georgia from Athens to visit my grandmother, aunt and uncle. I had an almost one year old Elijah in the car with me and I was pregnant. We were very excited to be expecting our second child. While I was in Macon, I began cramping and bleeding. On the drive home I knew that I was having a miscarriage, but because of the lack of cellular service, I could not call David. I couldn't call my doctor. I couldn't call my mom or my close friends. That was when it occurred to me that I had my closest friend with me. No, not my baby in the car seat, but the God of the universe who loves me, gave up his life for me and works all things for my good. (Romans 8) He was with me in that time of grief when I felt all alone. I spent that two hour drive pouring out my heart to God, "casting all my anxieties on Him because He cares for me." (I Peter 5:7) That day was 12 years ago.

Since that day, I have had several other extended times of choosing to be alone to talk with God about struggles and joys. I know that I need that! But it is usually by choice. Recently, I have had a lot on my mind, and I am reminded that while it is good and healthy to talk with family and friends, I need to make sure that I am talking with God first. He is the One who cares the most about my concerns. He knows what I need and He is working for my good, even when my phone falls in the toilet!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Maundy Thursday Reflections on a Day of Outreach

Our school's student government worked together with Good Shepherd's Fold's outreach social worker, Penelope, to organize a day of service to assist an elderly woman who has cancer and is currently caring for 4 of her grandchildren ages 9, 7, and 5 year old twins. This woman is a part of the GSF outreach program and is receiving some assistance and medical care through that program, but she has been too weak to dig in her garden or do much around the home. Penelope suggested some things that were needed and some work our students could do to help. Here we are at the home of the jjaja (grandmother) with some gifts. 

It was great to see our students take initiative and think of ways to earn money to assist this woman in need. They organized a Saturday morning bake sale and car wash and raised almost 700,000 shillings! 

This money was used to buy many things needed in her home and to build a cooking hut. During the rainy season, you cannot cook outdoors, but if you cook with firewood or charcoal inside your small hut there are many other problems that arise. For this reason many people have two separate structures, one for cooking and one for sleeping. 

During this day of service our students were able to assist with many different needs around her home. Some cleaned out her house. 

Others washed the clothes for the family.

Others washed dishes. 

Some began digging to prepare mud walls.

It quickly became apparent that fetching water for making the mud, and all the washing was going to be a BIG part of the day...



This first crew brought back a good amount of water that
was used in a matter of minutes. I went with the second crew, and was a bit overly ambitious. In my foolish pride, I decided that I could carry two 20 liter jugs (approximately 90 pounds). Of course I had no idea how far away the water was! It took about 5-10 minutes to walk there with empty jerry cans. It took 25-30 minutes to walk back uphill to reach the house. I would make myself walk 50 steps and then take a break. There were a few times that I was about to lose my grip so I only made it 40 steps. I am regretting my hardheadedness now as my whole body aches. I didn't sleep much last night because of the muscle pain every time I turned over. Apparently I still have some issues to work through...


Mixing the mud was the favorite part of the work day for several of our younger students!

The puppies that we found there were another highlight for the young ones.


We also took a lunch break to eat some chicken on a stick, chapati (the local flatbread), and gonja (roasted bananas).


By the end of the day, the hut was mostly built and the mud was on the walls. The local men, who we had hired with the money the students raised, were going to finish the building making sure it was strong, and then they were going to put on the roof.

I was very thankful for our hard-working students and their cheerful service. As we took this day to serve, I remember what Jesus did the night before he was crucified. He washed the feet of his disciples. He said that the Son of Man came to serve, not to be served, and to give His life as a ransom for many. When I feel this muscle soreness from just one day of service, I want to remember my Lord and Savior, Jesus, who came to earth and served others his whole life. On this Maundy Thursday, I remember that he gave us the command to love one another as He has loved us. We can only love as because He took our sin and selfishness and died for it. Then He rose from the dead on Resurrection Sunday so that we can have new life in Him! I am still flawed in my service, wanting to impress others with how much water I can carry (and paying for it later), but I am thankful that this week is not about me. It is about Jesus! He has loved you and me, broken people desperately in need, and shown us immeasurable grace, lavishing us with His love, and giving us new life in Him!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Celebrating Palm Sunday in Uganda

I love celebrating this special Sunday here in Uganda. We have palm branches that we can cut and bring to church and there is even a donkey on our campus! At church this morning, everyone got a few palm leaves to wave as we celebrated and worshiped together.
The children from our children's church class learned the song, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord." They sang part in English and part in Luganda and did a great job!did a great job!
When the children were dismissed for children's church I counted 101 children in our small classroom. 
Of course anything can be made into a weapon...
These helpful young men stayed children's church to help sweep the area with some of the branches that were left behind. 
It was good to remember how Jesus entered Jerusalem and the people worshiped Him. We still worship Him today!