Monday, June 19, 2017

Choirs Recorded

We were very excited when our friend Dan Dwire heard the worship in the prison and asked if we thought they would be willing to be recorded.  We love the worship at the prison!  It is beautiful, enthusiastic and full of talent.  They have a band of my favorite local instrument - the thumb piano.  The prison choir was also excited about the opportunity to be recorded.  After the recording was approved by the officers, Dan came for the recording.  We are all very excited to share this beautiful music from a ministry we love.

Dan was also able to record our church choir!  One day after women's Bible study Rose was teaching the ladies a new song she wrote.  I love listening to them sing so I asked if they would be interested in making a CD.  Rose said, "That is my dream!"  So for about two months Rose and the church choir worked hard practicing for the recording.  Rose wrote many of the songs from scripture verses.  I enjoy taking Lydia and Grace to practice and listening to the beautiful harmony.  I was impressed with my girls learning so many Ateso songs.  Everyone was excited the day of recording.  It felt so professional to have mics and to hear them after the taping.  It was so much fun to be apart of.  The choir grow close over the weeks too.  I am thankful they are still meeting, practicing and singing in church each week.  They bring me to worship the Lord.  I can't wait to hand them the CD and to hear them on the radio!  I am so proud of all the work they did and the way they are using their gifts in worship.

Our choir director, Rose.

UCFM church choir -- plus a few :)   I love these people!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Our Church Family

 I thank God for our church we are a part of.  It is a blessing to belong to the family of God. 

I love our churches worship.  There praise is joyous and expressive.  They sing, clap, cheer, dance, jump and sweat for Jesus!  And sometimes they don’t.  There is freedom in the worship.  And it isn’t crazy, it’s real.  They also have slower, very meaningful worship songs.  There are lifted hands, sometimes people bow down, cry…  I experience the presence of the Holy Spirit.  I also love how they pray.  There is no shame.  Often we all pray together out loud.  It isn’t distracting because I am talking to God.  I don’t hear others because I am focused on my prayer to the Lord.  I wonder why in our traditions we think we all need to pray together silently.  Maybe we are too private, too orderly, or too afraid.  I love the openness and togetherness I have found in our church. 


I am thankful for the leaders of our church who lead in humility, joy, in God’s truth and in His strength.  They are not paid and it is a hard job with long hours – no off hours actually.  They are trusted and so everyone wants them to help or lead their committee or project.  We are privileged to partner with them in doing the Lord’s work.  Serving with them has been a joy for us. 

 I am excited about the youth in our church.  Our church also had one Saturday a month for prayer and fasting and one of the prayers was for one of the young boys to come to know Jesus because he was slipping away from the church.  Then in August when our church had a youth conference and many youth committed their lives to Christ at the conference and I know God began to work in all of them.    One of our pastors and neighbor, Charles and his wife Margaret, started a Bible study for youth on their school holiday.  I called it their youth group.  It began each night around 10pm!  (At the end of the day after all the work was done and people had eaten.)  Every night we would hear them worship, so we started going (if we hadn’t fallen asleep by then).  It was fun joining the 20 or so youth in their enthusiastic worship under the stars.  Charles taught them using the Freedom in Christ Discipleship Manual.  We continued to see evidence that they were growing through of their youth group. 

The youth group also did service projects.  Two different Saturdays they went out in four groups to visit and serve the elderly in our village.  Each youth took either fire wood or water to the home of the elderly they visited.  At the compound they swept, cooked or just sat with the elderly person and their family.  I love seeing our kids be part of this and proud of them for participating in such cultural things.  They are laughed at sometimes but they don’t seem to mind.  I am not sure they see themselves as different at all.

It seems the friendships our kids have aren’t crossing cultures so much, because our kids were raised here and are completely comfortable here.    They have true friendship and enjoying being with their friends.  They giggle, laugh, tease, play games, walk together, talk, help each other with their work…true teenagers who just like hanging out.  I am thankful our girls are a real part of the youth here – and love it!

The youth are now more involved at church.  Actually they are usually the ones who are always there whether it is the service, choir, cleaning, Bible study…they are there showing they want to grow in the Lord.  The youth are also taking leadership.  They are now teaching Sunday School most weeks, have led worship at church and taken leadership at our evening Bible study.  I am excited to see what God is doing in the youth in our church and how He is going to use them!

I am particularly excited to see boys in the youth group stepping up and now challenging other boys to join.  God has gotten a hold of Tom and Samson and is growing in them and working through them to bring other young men to the group.  I enjoy getting to know them and see them learning, singing, take leadership in Sunday school, Bible study and the worship at church, and being together with the believers.  There are so many young men lost, in trouble and following the ways of the world here. . I pray for Tom and Samson and the other boys that they will remain in the Lord and continue growing in Him.
I love our evening Bible study at church.  Three months ago our pastor announced that we would be starting evening fellowship.  He told everyone that we need to come together and know Truth so we won’t be deceived.  Jesus is coming and if we don’t know the Truth we will be led astray by what is false.  So every Sunday we have Bible study.  We went through Ephesians, Philippians and now are in Colossians.  The pastor assigns a different person to teach a chapter each week.  I have enjoyed teaching.  I love studying God’s Word together.  I learn and grow.  After one of my teachings I received a note from one of our church members saying I taught God’s Word boldly and she was growing from learning.  Yeah!  Our kids really like Bible study and don’t want to miss a Sunday.  Luka likes to read the verses and answers questions.  Our Bible study is casual and interactive.  Luka still talks about the armor of God that we dressed up with.  I feel our Bible study group is the core group of believers.  We are all there to seek and grow in the Lord. 

I am thankful for the church choir which has consistently been growing.  Rose is the leader of our church choir and she writes most of the songs from scripture verses.  Through her commitment and using her gifts the choir keeps growing.  Every Saturday the group gathers to practice for Sunday’s choir.  The youth are very involved in the choir as well and I love hearing the young men sing.  Our girls love being in the choir and sing most songs in Ateso.  Sometimes there are motions with the songs too.  I am so proud of our girls!  Recently the choir even recorded to make an album and be on the radio!  But that is for another blog to comeJ.  I love listening to the choir sing!  It is beautiful praise, enthusiastic and causes me to worship.

Hebrews 10:25 tells us not to stop meeting together but to continue to encourage one another and all the more as the day of the Lord’s return is near.  May we find blessings meeting together with our church families.  And may we all prepare for Jesus is coming!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

8th Grade Graduation

"I have no greater joy than to know my children are walking in the truth."  3 John 1:4
Happy 8th grade graduation Lydia and Abbie!
Even though we home school I wanted to make Lydia's graduation from middle school to high school special and memorable.  We decided to have our good friends, the Dwires, join us in the celebration since their daughter was graduating too.  We decorated, had a program with singing, awards, and certificates, and a nice dinner.  It was fun preparing for it and celebrating the girls!  We are proud of Lydia for her academic achievement, but even more for her character that is like Christ.  Lydia is incredibly positive, joyful, flexible, kind, selfless, pure, and wise.  She blesses us and challenges us every day.

We made shirts for the special occasion.
We chose the verse 1 Cor. 10:31,
"All for the glory of God!"
Josh kept teasing Lydia what she was going to wear a graduation gomez (the cultural women's dress here - it is big with big puffy sleeves).

We had a great time decorating and getting ready!

Our students and teacher at AACA, Africa Adventure Academy, gave Lydia the award for wisdom.  We studied being wise from the book of Proverbs this year and left Lydia fit God's definition of being wise.
Wisdom comes from God, a wise person follows God's principles, chooses wise friends and is a wise friend, speaks wise words, is humble, recieve correction, is a leader...

Lydia fills our classroom with her smile and thankfulness!

So, here is Josh as a rapper!  He did it because the kids spontaneously started rapping at the dinner table one night and made a rap for graduation.  The kids wanted to do for the celebration but Dad did not.  So he surprised them and wrote and sang his own rap.
Giving the girls their certificates of graduation

Our thanksgiving meal - we are thankful so we had turkey!

Graduation cap cupcakes for dessert
High School here we come!
Congratulations Lydia.
May God continue to grow in you and be your truth, wisdom, way and joy.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Friday, May 12, 2017

Retreat on the Coast

We were blessed to have a retreat at Diani Beach on the coast of Kenya with our FIC directors, Howard and Aileen.
Honestly, the whole trip could have been a disaster but we chose to make it a blessing.  The girls were recovering from serious colds, I got it and had plugged ears the whole trip from flying, and the others all got it too to various degrees.  And it rained every day!  We were told it never rains on the coast - until we came.  Some day were cloudy with occasional showers and some day were all day rain.  It really could have spoiled our time, but we have amazing kids and positive directors and we were able to have a great time.  We swam in the rain, walked the beach while it sprinkled, played games, eat great food, and chose to be thankful for our VERY MANY  blessings!  What an attitude change when you focus and how blessed we are.  God is with us and so we are blessed.  His world is amazing, creative and big - and we get to see and experience it.  I have a loving husband and we have thankful, fun kids to be with.  Our director and his wife shower us with encouragement and we enjoy being together.  We had a great time in a beautiful house with a pool and a great cook who make us lobster, shrimp, fish and other Kenyan treats.  The kids loved playing on the beach - and we loved playing with them!  We collected sea shells, make sand castles, and swam in the Indian Ocean.  The tide is crazy there, the beach is beautiful white sand, and the water clear.  The dark clouds make the sand and sea even more beautiful with the contrast.  It was low season and with the rain we had the beach to ourselves.  Lots more I could share but I will let the pictures tell our story.  I praise God for His world and my family that I get to share it with.       

Howard and Aileen are our kids African grandparents.  They love and encourage our kids so much!

Our house for the week - across the street from the beach.

Kenya beaches are different from other places.  You have lots of people sell you things, ask to take you on boat rides, or camel rides.

Masai sellers and now friends

We had so much fun swimming with our kids!

Swimming in the rain!

We had fresh lobster being on the coast (and affordable).

Fisherman (snorkel and spear gun) came in with blow fish and octopus! 

Grace found this adorable turtle she really wanted to pay to take with her on the plane

We really enjoyed our meal times together!
We went on a tuk tuk for some fun on our rainy days

Even had hermit crab races

Rain, rain go away come again in Obulle!
You just had to laugh so you could enjoy.

Thanks be to God!