Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Baby Esunju

On a lighter note, this is baby Esunju or Sunju.  (Ateso for pumpkin.)  We were given this pumpkin as a gift when we visited our friends.  Emalai thought it made a great baby (most things do to her) and she began carrying it around.  Grace then draw a face on it for her.  Malai loves her baby and she takes it to the table for supper and holds it during night time devotions.  Our neighbors ask about her about baby Sunju too.  It gave us all a good laugh and joy to see Malai and her fun imagination.  Slowly baby Sunja sits on the floor more and more but I am not sure we are up to making pumpkin pie with her yet.



And these are just for fun...thankful for a good laugh!


Thursday, October 31, 2019

Betty

Our friends, Isaac and Betty, lost their youngest child Betty this month.  Baby Betty (I will call her that so you know it is the child and not the mother) was five years old and severely disabled.  She was a twin, but the other baby was born dead.  Baby Betty had hydrocephalus at birth and went to Cure Children's Hospital in Mbale for help.  She never learned to sit up, talk or do anything herself.  Her mother and siblings's constant love and care was a testimony to many people here.  Disabled kids are seen as useless even a curse and often kept in a hut all their lives.  I am the first to admit disabilities here are extremely hard and there are no resources to help the family.  You do everything.  So to see this kind of love in Betty and Isaac's family is to see the love of God.

It was a very sad day burying Baby Betty.  She was precious in her own unique way.  It was a hard day for Betty and the kids.  Their tears were real.  I was glad we could be there for them, give a hug and cry together. 

Pray for the family as they continue to find comfort in God.  I saw Betty today and she said it is a difficult thing to loose someone.  However, Betty is a women of faith.  She faithfully teaches Freedom in Christ weekly in her community and in the prison.  Because of Baby Betty's needs Betty could not do all the teaching she wanted to do and even had to give up her fishing business.  I believe God is now releasing her to even more ministry.  Betty is going to do even greater things for God's kingdom!






Mandy and Betty (on another day)

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Pray for Opio Martin and Updates

Sunday Oct. 20th
Sorry to bother all of you on Sunday.  I write with a heavy heart.  We need you to pray with us for one of our youth named Opio Martin.  Right now Josh is driving him, his dad and an uncle to Kampala (six-seven hours away) to be tested for Leukemia or Lymphoma. 

Opio has been sick for over two months now.  He went from doctor to doctor being diagnosed with Malaria, Typhoid, Brusalosis, and TB.  He was loaded with medicines of all kinds.  It made us very sad to see him grow weaker and have no answer.  We have been praying everyday for him.  He would improve a bit then feel sick again.

Yesterday at youth group some of his cousins came to tell us Opio was dying.  Of course this brought Lydia to tears and we were all concerned.  Josh and I went over to see what was happening.  They were now told Opio was poisoned and giving him medicine for that.  We were honestly upset by now by all this.  He wasn't poisoned yet they were pumping him with more meds.  Actually, we thought that maybe all the meds were very much hurting him now.  Opio was awake and talked with us.  His complaints were weakness and headache.  After talking with many people we thought it best to stop all medicine, make sure he drinks and eats small amounts as often as possible, and take him to one doctor in the morning.  We all prayed over Opio and went home with heavy hearts.  It is so hard to know what to do here and who can we trust medically.

About an hour later the family was calling us to come and take him to the hospital now.  Josh took him.  The doctor said his red and white blood cells were seriously low (much lower than the lab work the week before) and she thinks it means cancer.  This was startling news to all of us.  The doctor wanted him to go the next day, today, to Kampala to see the cancer doctors and test for it.  

This morning before church and at church we continued to talk with people and the leaders to make a plan.  I am so thankful for our church.  We stopped the service to explain what was happening and all prayed together.  There were many tears during the prayer time.  I am so glad I am welcomed with all my tears.  It is really hard to see the youth, especially our kids, so sad and worried for their friend.

Our family went with Josh to get Opio.  He was so weak today he could hardly talk.  I told him how much everyone was praying for him and how much we all love him.  His dad cried as I gave him a hug.  My kids looked so sad sitting outside waiting.  Luka finally broke down a bit in tears.  We prayed with Opio and everyone before they went.  Malai had a hard time with Josh leaving and is very concerned for him.

Everything just feels heavy, quiet, empty...

Thank you for praying for us and with us for Opio, his family and the youth.  We pray they see a wise, caring doctor who can help.  We pray for kind nurses to care for them.  We pray for the tests to happen tomorrow and to give us clear answers.  We pray for a miracle of healing in Opio's body.  God is with them and able.  We put our trust in Him.


UPDATE  Thursday Oct. 24
Thank you everyone for praying with us for Opio.  We praise God for the many ways He has and is answering prayers.  We know He is the God who heals.  We are thankful that Opio's bone marrow test results showed no cancer!  However, Opio has Plastic Anemia.  This is where his body is not making blood.  It is serious but if they can find the reason or cause it can be treated or even stop.  One of the causes or plastic anemia is toxic chemicals, infection, or drugs.  This makes us think that maybe all the medicines Opio was given really did almost kill him and cause plastic anemia.  If that is the reason then being off all the medicines (he has been off since Sunday) he may improve by himself.  But we do not yet know the reason or cause so we continue to wait.

Opio's white blood count was down to 780 on Monday.  He has now had two blood transfusions.  

We are very thankful Opio is showing signs of improvement.  He has begun to eat again, he can sit up on his own and even walked yesterday!  Sunday and Monday were very long, hard days.  Josh almost broke down several times as he saw Opio's condition and the suffering all around him on the cancer floor at the hospital.  Josh was relieved when Opio finally smiled at him Monday night.  We thank God for kind and wise doctors at the hospital.

It has been an emotional week in many ways and there is so much more to the story.   For now we wait to know what is next.  We praise God for all He has done and is doing.  Josh came home yesterday.  Opio, his father and Dan (an uncle) remain in the hospital in Kampala.  Keep praying for them and for the cause for this sickness.  God will use this for His glory.

Thank you again for all your prayers.
This is Opio - always smiling!
Oct. 31 Update:
Opio and his father and uncle are all back home now.  We still don't know the cause of the plastic anemia but it appears Opio's body is beginning to produce blood again.  We give God all the credit for the miracle of healing and saving Opio's life!  The doctor was talking about treatments, bone marrow transplant in another country, or life long blood transplants.  But God has heard our prayers and is healing Opio.  May the Lord get all the glory!  

This week Josh took Opio to the hospital here to check his blood.  His red blood cells are now normal and his white blood cells are almost back to normal (doubled what they were).  This is amazing and we are so thankful.  The doctor said to check the blood again in two weeks.  

We visited Opio yesterday at his home.  It was great to see him up and smiling again.  He is still gaining strength from months of sickness.  I know it will take time.  I was worried to see he still sometimes stares off into space.  It makes me wonder if there is any long term damage from having so little blood.  I hope he will fully recover.  His uncle was there and expressed SO much thanks to us for saving Opio's life.  He knows how serious it was, that they had nothing to pay, and understands that all the medicines (and bad/false tests and results here) caused all of this.  We pray that God uses this to teach many people here.  And draws people to also put their trust in God.  Opio's uncle is not a Christian so maybe God will speak to him through this.

Nov. 8
Opio is not doing well again.  He has been in the hospital since last Thursday.  His white blood cell count is down again and he seems to be more out of it, down or something.  We are concerned to say the least.  The cancer doctor in Kampala wants him to come for the test to see the cause of the plastic anemia but I am not sure he can make it on a seven hour trip at the moment.  We are frustrated quite honestly.  Are we getting right answers, is he taking more meds again, is there more behind all of this, or is this how it is here?  

Ok, so now Opio did make it to Kampala and had the test.  We have not been able to talk to the doctor so we don't know the results, but Opio's uncle called and they told him they need 1.5 million ush ($400) to give Opio the treatment he needs.  He will need this treatment 6 times in the next six months.  Wow.  Josh and Grace went to see Opio, his dad and uncle at hospital today.  Opio is pretty miserable.  He has a fever, he hurts everywhere and is coughing.  So hard.


Keep praying!

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Fun School Days!

Overall we love our home school, Africa Adventure Christian Academy (AACA), but sometimes we have to spice things up and have some fun in the mist of all the school work.  So we have been having some fun Fridays and last week Grace and her classmates put together a spirit week for us.  Here are some photos to include you in our fun.

The girls and I made fall shirts for Fall Friday!

We made pumpkin donut holes and hot cider for Fall Friday - yummy!

Fall Bingo



Football Friday!


Spirit week began with "Future You".
I was Grandma, Lydia was a English teacher, Grace was a photographer, Luka a pilot and Malai was a gymnast.


Tuesday was "Delicious Diner", including a cook off.  Each student had to create their own dish with noodles.

Malai and I made Texi Mexi noodles, Luka won with his chicken vegetable noodles, Grace made lemony garlic noodles, and Lydia's were Bangkok beetroot noodles. 

This was "Hobby Day".
Luka - soccer, Grace - artist, Lydia - dance, me - parties, Malai - playing waitress/cook...

And "All Seasons Day"
We ended our Spirit week with "Game Day".  Lots of games and lots of fun!  I am thankful for our school, the creative memories we make and great students to do it with.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Lusi is Home

Just wanted to let you all know that Lusi has been home for two weeks and doing well.  You cannot imagine the challenges living in the village after knee replacement - mud, cooking over a fire, latrines... We are thankful for her daughter and daughter-in-law who help her.  Lusi has an amazing attitude and trust in God.  She does her exercises everyday and can do more each week.    There is still a long road of healing ahead of her and she has extra pain from what seems to us to be a vein.  We looks at the progress so far and knows she will be well in time. 

Her prayer requests are for God to provide for her as she is not able to work right now, the vein issue, and for her children to come to Christ. She is also praying for Moses (in the picture with her and her grand daughter) who has lived with her since his mother died about two years.  Sunday his father is coming maybe to take him back.  Lusi just wants God's will to be done for Moses.

Thank you for praying for Lusi.  She thanks all of you and sees God is answering!

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Grace's Birthday!

Friday October 11 we celebrated Grace's 14th birthday!
We are so thankful for Grace and all the joy and laughter she adds to our home.  She is sensitive, patient, kind, loves kids, playful, loving, and humble.  She can appear shy to some but to us she can be a ham.  And boy can she dance Ateso style!  She is amazing in the village, learning Ateso, has many friends, working with out neighbors and she also loves the woods with her Dad and Grandpa in Michigan.  Grace is growing into a beautiful young lady.  She loves, seeks and serves the Lord.  We are proud of her. 
One story that sums up Grace.  Grace and Lydia are best friends.  They love each other and compliment each other well.  They are two different people and Grace is very secure with who she is.  While in Michigan it seemed everywhere we went people were impressed with Lydia and often complimented her or us.  Lydia is very mature and good with people.  She is encouraging and people appreciate that.  So one day I asked Grace if it bothered her that everyone loves Lydia so much and think she is great.  Grace replied, "No Mom because Lydia is great and she is great to me too."  I was blown away by her answer.  How humble.  How mature of Grace.  I was so proud of her and challenged by her.  That is Grace, content in who she is and thankful for others.
HAPPY 14th BIRTHDAY Grace!  We love you!!!  

Grace and her friend Egles have birthdays two days apart so Grace wanted to celebrate together.
Grace wanted all her favorite local foods cooked by our favorite cook and neighbor Whinnie.
We had a fun night with our friends.  We laughed a lot playing musical chairs, twister, and charades.
Grace said it was her best birthday yet!






Thursday, September 26, 2019

Lusi Update

Lusi successfully had her knee replacement surgery.  We talked to the doctor the day of the surgery and he said all went well.  We went to see her two days after surgery and she was in serious pain.  Her knee, her heart, her head...so much pain she was just crying.  It was terrible to see her like that.  She said the day before was ok but today she believed she was dying - or maybe wanted to die.  She wondered if this kind of pain was normal after surgery.  We asked the nurse for pain killer but the low dose they gave wasn't even touching it.  After watching her moan and cry for awhile we finally asked the doctor for a higher pain killer.  Whatever he ordered worked.  They gave her an injection and she finally relaxed.  Her breathing slowed down, she wasn't so hot and the pain reduced.  It was so nice to see her ok.

We prayed with her that day, talked with the doctor and nurses about keeping up on the pain meds, and told Lusi and her care taker they had to ask when the pain became too much.  Then we went home and continued to seriously pray for Lusi, the pain and healing.

Josh went back the next day and found Lusi MUCH better.  Her pain was under control and she was able to try "walking" with a walker.  She was so thankful things were better.

Yesterday our whole family went to see Lusi.  Lusi kept asking to see Malai.  Lusi was again doing well and very happy we all came to visit her.  She said God brought us to Uganda for her alone.  God loves her and has done good to her through us.  She was crying as she spoke such kind words to us.  She was really thankful for us.  She said God gave her family through us.  She prays that our kids grow up and do like we have done (be like us).  It was really sweet to hear her express her love and thankfulness to God for us.  You don't always get that from people but Lusi encouraged us with her words.

Lusi walked a little ways with her walker and sat down.  The doctor said she is making progress.  It is hard for us to understand how this is all going to work.  How will she be able to go home in a few days and live in the village and use a latrine?  Keep praying for healing and good therapy to help her.