Wednesday, August 29, 2007

August 26

August 26, 2007 – Sunday

We had a thank you Amecet party here Friday. All of the worker and children (even the babies) came. We wanted to thank them for their ministry and for their care they gave to Moses. Angie and I made all kinds of goodies. We all had fun playing musical chairs and water balloons. I feel a big part of my ministry here is encouragement. I don’t do much of the direct ministry but I can support those who do.

Little, skin and bone, Tom from Amecet died. So sad...yet he is now healthy with his Heavenly Father. They also had to send home kids for the first time because of some abuse happening. They have gone through a hard time lately. Our party came at a good time and I hope it blessed them.

Our guard, Patrick, is now hired directly through us. His gun accidentally went off the other night and scared all of us. A lot! It was so loud. Patrick was in the guard house when it happened. It put a big hole in the wall and the shell wounded his foot. He was shaken up too. It was then that we decided we didn’t want a guard with a dangerous gun. We are so thankful no one was hurt. We know people are praying for us. So now we have a guard with a whistle, stick, and bow and arrow. The good thing out of the situation is that it showed me how much our friends here love us. Sam, our neighbor came running over to see if we were okay.

We haven’t had water for over two weeks! I am trying not to get frustrated but… I am thankful for our rain tank. Our construction is coming along and I feel much better about it all. Our paint is almost complete and looks so nice. We have a lot of room now.

Lydia came to me the other day and said, “I want to be a widow.” So we explained to her what a widow is. She hears about widows so much you know. Today she was playing and I asked what she was doing. She said she was being sad because Moses mother died. I told her that it is sad but God gave Moses a new mom and dad, Uncle Tim and Aunt Angie. She said yes now he has a mommy.

The girls LOVE to sing and are picking up all the songs at church. I will sing, “Who are you?” and Grace will sing back, “I am a winner (in the Lord).”

I don’t know if I wrote this or not but I did confirm that stubborn here means funny or someone who makes people laugh. So Grace is not stubborn like we know it to them but she is funny and that she is.

Did I tell you I am feeling so much better – praise God! I don’t feel the heaviness of stress or frustration. I feel under control. I don’t get so upset. I am not sure what the change. There is still stress and frustration but I feel like I know how to avoid getting so upset by it. I can stay clam. I have been talking to our team about it and they assured me that we all going through cultural stress and fatigue. I have started to take women vitamins. My hair had been coming out so much that I figured I was missing some kind of vitamin or hormone in my body so I decided to try vitamins. And of course I have been pouring out my heart to God and praying. He is my peace!

August 23 -- Widows Conference

August 23 – Thursday

This week there is a widow’s conference in Soroti. Josh and I went yesterday with the girls to see it and bring encouragement. I was amazed -- 3,000 widows in one place. I never felt like such a celebrity. Every where we walked they would cheer and want to shake our hands. I think everyone should feel that special! It is humbling. I felt so blessed and so glad I could encourage them that much just by being there.

The place was packed and people were outside too. They saw us in the back and brought us to the front. It was so hot in there and the speakers were so loud. When we got there they were singing but by the time we got to our seats a lady was speaking. Lydia and Grace did pretty good seeing the lady spoke for over 30 minutes. Grace thought it was church and was asking for a sucker the whole time. After the speaker, Beatrice, the leader of the widow’s initiative, introduced us. Josh impressed all the ladies with his Ateso. I am so proud of him! Lydia surprised me. She sang “Joy to the World” for the women and said her Bible verse. The women loved it and cheered – okay they cheer after everything we say! Lydia did so well in her first speaking engagement. I also got to talk. I told the women how blessed I was by their welcome and shared with them how God has shown me over and over in His Word that He loves widows and orphans. I also encouraged them as mother that we have a high calling from God to raise our children in His love.

I was so excited about the ministry at the widow’s conference that I decided to go again today. We haven’t had much contact with Beatrice and the widow’s ministry but I am thankful for them and impressed with them. I hope I can encourage them in some way. They have a new hospice in town that I really want to see. Anyways, I went to the conference with a thank you card for Beatrice and a donation for the widows. I told Beatrice that so many widows come to us and ask us for help and we feel it is best to help through the widow’s ministry so we don’t have everyone knocking on our door. She was so thankful and got up in front of everyone to tell them. I was quite embarrassed. She said the money would be used for medicine for the sick widows. I told them that we didn’t give the money so you could thank us but to thank God. God has blessed us so we could bless them. I enjoyed watching some dancing and meeting a few people then I went home. What a blessing it is to bless others! God is good!

August 20, 2007 -- Day away

August 20, 2007 -- Monday

I have been taking the month of August off from journaling partly because there isn’t much going on and partly because I needed a break. But it is nearing the end of the month and I am getting the desire to write again, I need to share with the grandparents what their grandchildren have been doing, and I have a new blog to put my journal on. So here we go again…

Saturday Josh and I took a day off with our girls. We went to Mbale to get away from the construction and stress at home. We had such a fun time. We went to the Mbale Resort first to swim. It was hot and sunny the first hour and a half so we had fun swimming. Grace just loves bobbing in the water. Josh is just as much of a kid when it comes to swimming. About the time our lunch was ready the rain started. After a quick trip to the grocery story we went miniature golfing at another hotel. Can you believe it, mini golf in Uganda? We heard about it from other missionaries and I was so glad we found it this time. The place was really pretty with a lot of beautiful plants and the golf was actually challenging and fun. There were water falls and lights for at night. Lydia and Grace loved it! I enjoyed watching them have so much fun trying something new. It just felt so normal to be miniature golfing with my family – it is so good to feel normal! When we finished we ate supper in a hut outside at the hotel. I really enjoyed my day away with my family. What a needed blessing!

Sunday Josh was asked by a couple of his students to peach in their village. So we loaded up and headed out about 8:30am but we did not realize what we got ourselves into. The students told Josh it was 20km away, it ended up being 60km deep into the bush. What a road! It took almost 2 hours of bumping and mud running. (Ever been mud running on your way to church?!) By the time we got there Lydia was car sick, Grace had eaten most of her church snacks, and I did not have the right spirit to worship. Why do I get so upset when things don’t go the way I planned they would? When will I learn? I had to ask God to forgive me once again, because once again once I saw the people and the encouragement we brought to these believers I was truly blessed. The village was quiet and beautiful. I really do like the churches in the villages. They seem to be filled with true worship and spirit. I was touched by the very old man in the back of church waving his hands as we sang, “waving now before the throne of glory.” They had a small band of finger pianos. I love that music! A boy led the singing and they were really good. Josh did a nice job with the sermon and our girls even held it together quite well.

After the service we went to the student’s compound for lunch. They were so happy to have us. I even got my first Ugandan hug from one of them. They sat us in a hut and served us tea and bread. Thankfully there was a sand pile for the girls to play in while we waited for the main course, chicken and rice. Once again they generously served us and gave us gifts of oranges and maze.

Then we headed to our last stop, the children’s ministry. A group of about 50 kids gathered with about three teachers. They sang and dances for us. Then Josh taught the kids the Bible memory they did at VBS. I was very impressed with the work they were doing with children there. By the end of their program my girls were done. They were tired. Who can blame them it was after 3pm. So we thanked them and headed home.

The girls napped most of the bumpy way home. I was thankful for my day, even though it wasn’t fun traveling there. The people were so grateful we came. I was blessed to see God’s kingdom alive and at work in that far away village. How did God get there? I mean how do the people know about Him? Who told them, who went? Thank God someone did! The good news is so good! I really do like the village life. But I know that it is too hard in this season of our lives to live there. I think our role right now is to go occasionally and encourage the believers in these areas. It is something we can do for them. It is good for me and it blesses them too. I will also remember them and pray for them. That area was also hit hard by the LRA and they have a lot of sad stories. I may have complained about our long ride there but the students biked there the day before. A total round trip = 10 hours! God you have blessed me so much.

Now for a short grandchildren update. Grace can now count to three and to ten when Lydia tells her what to say. Just last night she said her first Bible verse. Josh has been teaching Lydia “Let the little children come to me”, so Josh started the verse and Grace piped in, “Come to me.” Isn’t it amazing how smart kids are and how quickly they learn? She isn’t even two. Grace is also in a big girl bed now. We separated the bunk bed and now Lydia and Grace are each in a twin bed. Grace is a show off to often saying, “Look at me, look at me.” Lydia picked up a new Ateso word. The other day she told me Tabitha helped her go “susu” in the yard. Yes, she went peed in our yard. She thinks it is so fun to pee outside. Lydia also told Angie the other day, “when Grace naps Mommy and I read the Word.” Sometimes I hear her pray or give sermons while she is playing with Grace. The other day she was telling her babies something about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Oh, Lydia also knows her right and left. Pretty good, huh?

Happy Anniversary Dad and Mom Beute!!! Thank you for loving eachother!

Monday, August 27, 2007

19 August 2007

We have our internet working, but another thunderstorm has encouraged us to unplug everything. Hopefully I will get a chance to send this soon.

Yesterday we went to Mbale for the day. It was very nice to get away for the day and relax. We began by swimming for a few hours. Mandy observed that the last few times we went it rained early afternoon, so we swam first.

We enjoyed the pool for a couple of hours. While we were eating lunch it started to rain. So we waited for a few minutes, but eventually decided to go and shower - still no running water in our house. By the way, my fish dinner at the pool was nothing shy of excellent.

After lunch we went grocery shopping. There are a few things in Mbale that are not available here so we get a few things when we go. After the Happy Supermarket we went to Mt. Elgon Hotel to play put-put golf. They have a 13 hole course; no greens - it is all concrete. It was actually a lot of fun. Lydia thought it was great. She used her club like a hockey stick - the ball seldom stopped moving until it reached the hole. Mandy was impressed that I got a hole in one on my very first shot. The course had a lot of fun elements: up a ramp and through a water fall; into a crocodile’s mouth; multi-level holes. I think it was more challenging than last time I did it in the States. It was all located in a beautiful garden, lots of plants and plenty of shade. The cost for my whole family to golf: $3.00.

Today we went with two Bible College student’s to their home churches in Tubur, just 20 km from Soroti…oh no, it turned out to be 60 km and 1.5 hours from our house. A long ride. We left at 8:30 this morning and got home at 5:00 this afternoon. It is hard to keep a good attitude on those bad roads.

First we went to Godfrey’s church. They kept the service moving along quite well - only took 90 minutes. I preached on the Identity we have in Christ, based on Titus 1:1-3. After church we went to his house where they were cooking. It took over an hour before lunch was ready, but that gave the girls a chance to play. After lunch we went to see the children’s ministry that David is involved with. They had 30-40 children present. Many of them were in a choir that had a few numbers prepared to welcome us. They then had me teach John 3:16 in Ateso using motions like I had at the VBS last month. After a few speeches and a prayer we got back in the car to come home. Banging down that road, I was trying to figure out how many trips I would have to take to make it pay to buy a motor cycle.

I have still been figuring it out. Based on our mission mileage here in Uganda, at 15 village visit’s a year, if the motor cycle cost $4000 - it would only take me 4 years and 9 months to break even. I might have to think more about this.

15 August 2007

It has been a frustrating few days. Our house is being painted so we have extra people inside and can’t let Lydia and Grace play in half the house because the walls are wet. We talked about going to a hotel for a few days, but it just did not work out. The internet has not worked since last Friday, so that has been very frustrating as well. Then yesterday Mandy was showering and suddenly I heard her calling my name. She needed a bucket of water from the rain tank because we were out of water.

Our outside faucet had developed a leak (would not turn off); however, when I looked at it on Saturday, it was not leaking at all. It turns out that someone decided to fix the leaky faucet by turning of the main line to our house. I don’t know if they were hoping for a "thanks", but I certainly was in no mood to give one. Now, 28 hours later, no water yet has come from the city. Thankfully, we have plenty of water in the rain tank.

The other nice thing is that we have made some friends in the process. I went to visit the Mannes family. I guess I vented a lot because they invited us over for supper. Then they even sent a pan of lasagna home for us to eat today. We felt so blessed by their friendship.

Hopefully the internet will work again soon so you can read this.

12 August 2007

It has been very rainy here the last few days. We got 1.3 inches on Friday night and 2.2 inches last night. The amazing thing is that by this evening cars were already throwing up dust when they drove down the main road. Puddles still line the ditches, but the road is rounded and packed hard; must be no water soaks in. We got all that water in a total of 3 to 4 hours.

On Monday we had a meeting to try to get the Bible college a little more organized and productive. We agreed that each teacher would take one day a week to hold the students accountable to do the things they were supposed to do. That means 5:00 AM making sure they are up and gathered for group prayers (Tim and I suggested 5:30 or 6:00, but that idea got shot down). It also means supervising study hall from 3-5 in the afternoon and farming from 5-6:30. It is too bad it all has to be supervised, but I think it will make the students better. John Buteyn said the students act like they are middle schoolers. So I asked them how far they had gone through school. Three had finished P7 (about 6th grade), one had finished S3 (9th grade) and 3 had finished S4 (10th grade). Considering the education system here, it is not surprising their study skills compare to middle schoolers.

I also met with SACAB (the blind community) to follow up on their knitting class. The have set Tuesday and Thursday afternoons as group knitting time to keep learning together. I also asked them how the talking Bibles were being used (only two members were present). Francis said he has listened to Genesis, Psalms 1-100, Jonah, MalachI, and some of Exodus (that is 170 chapters in 5 weeks). Magdalene began with Matthew and she is now in Luke (about 2 chapters / day). They said that pushing a few buttons and listening to a speaker is so much easier and time efficient than using a brail Bible. Magdalene said she learned a lot about forgiveness that she never knew before - like that she had to forgive others to receive God’s forgiveness. She said she had forgiven some people that she had been angry with for a long time. Francis said he has gained a greater knowledge of how God’s work in the world began.

The work on the house keeps progressing. The tiles caused a lot of stress this week. The tiles we had gotten for the living room ended up being junk and there were not enough in each box (only 20 instead of 22) so we had to send the tile guy to Kampala to buy different ones. Mandy had night mares that night because someone else was picking out tiles for her house. He came back with some that look like a hard wood floor. I think Mandy was a little shocked at first, but I think she kind of likes them. Personally, I would rather hate how the house looks and have a happy wife than like the house and have an unhappy wife. As a result, I don’t say much when picking out colors and patterns and stuff. I will just be glad when it is all done and we can just live (not to mention we’ll be done paying out so much money all the time). This week we hope to finish the building on the screened-in-porch and to paint inside the house.

Christine and Claudia went to church with us this morning. By the time we get the four of us, Christine and Claudia, Maggie with her 5 kids and two nieces - our van is quite full. Being in church where our family of four has three chairs, each with one square foot of butt space…it makes me look forward to wooden pews and a nursery in December.

It is almost time for bed. A new week starts tomorrow. I hope all is going well with you. Take care.

Monday, August 20, 2007

August 4, 2007 – Rafting the Nile River

So I have to tell you about our trip before I send this off. We left for Jinja on Sunday and stayed at the King Fisher Resort. When we got there it was raining so we went to see the falls where you white water raft. Tim and Josh were supposed to raft the Nile with John and Barb on Monday and Angie and I would go with Dad when he comes in September. Now, however, we were beginning to think that maybe Angie and I should go with Buytens so we could stay back with Mom and our kids and the guys go with Dad. I was in turmoil! Did I really want to raft the Nile River? There are 12 rapids and 6 of them are number 5 rapids – that is as high as it gets in difficulty! Everyone was telling me I would regret it if I didn’t and it was a chance of a life time. The falls we went to see looked big but do able and Angie said the last time they were there they watched rafters and only one person fell out. There are Ugandans there that go down the falls on a jery can if you pay them – really they do, we saw one.

We had a nice afternoon swimming in a beautiful pool and enjoying the landscape on Lake Victoria. It was a bit chilly but fun to be away with our family. We found a nice restaurant for supper – all out doors with lights. Angie finally decided to go rafting and after much agonizing I decided to go too.

What was I thinking?! I am a mother and I don’t even like adventure or anything with the word extreme – like extreme rafting. We got to the rafting/backpackers place at 9am and we felt out of place right away. Everyone was young (actually just acting young – they were in their late 20 or older), single, travelers, most from Europe, with heavy metal blaring on the radio. To top it off they had a rafting video playing with everyone flipping out of the boat – seriously the worst of the worst. We consoled ourselves that they only showed the worst or that we wouldn’t be going down those falls. Boy, were we wrong! We would be right there very soon. It was then that I remembered that I once said I would never raft the Nile. Who would? There are animals in there and the rafting companies logo is of a raft flipping over. Why was I now going? I paid money to do this. Oh, well it was too late to turn back…so away we went.

We ended up in a raft with a young married couple from CT who went to Wheaton and where visiting a seminary in Kenya. Our guide was Mr. Funny Man. He is Ugandan and loved to tease us. I don’t think he said one serious thing. He did keep us laughing. The first while he gave us all of our instructions, I think it is a bad sign when you have to practice tipping out of the raft, being under the boat, getting down, holding on, and floating down a rapids. I really should have had a clue but I really just thought it was all precaution. So he tipped the raft over and we were all swimming in the Nile. Of course the hard part is getting back in! Next we had to jump out and float through a grade 1 rapids. Great, that looked like fun I thought. I started out floating well then got sucked under into a whirlpool and thought I was going to die. I got so much water up my nose. I panicked and couldn’t breath. That is when I knew I was in for more than I imagined.

Our first rapids was a grade 3 and we had fun bobbing up and down through it. Right after that was our first grade 5 rapids. This was the falls we looked at the day before. My heart was racing. My prayer all day long was Lord just keep me in the boat. We paddled forward until just before we dropped into the big rapids and our guide yells, “Get down!” and we all get in the boat and hold on. We made it through and it was even fun! I was so excited. Until we got to the next grade 5 rapids and I realized I needed to get through five more of these.

Our next rapids half of our boat fell out including Angie (I stayed in). Angie came up in a daze and needed a minute before she could see or talk (she had contacts in). Then we hit the rapids where only 5% of the people stay in the boat. I did not want to do this! Sure enough our boat flipped. I am not sure what happened but I was under the boat for a little while downing down the rapids. I thought for sure I was going to die! I couldn’t find my way out and couldn’t breath because I was either under water or being pounded by the rapids. At that point I hated rafting, I was scared. A kayaker came to my rescue. I could see everyone from our raft except for Angie. I panicked and asked the kayaker where my sister was. He assured me she was okay. Soon we were all back in our raft and heading to the next rapids. I really thought I couldn’t do anymore, but what can you do in the middle of the Nile but finish.

The rest of the day went quite well. At one point you can choose to get out or go over a real waterfalls. I got out at first with Angie but once I realized that no one falls out I got back in the boat. (Can you believe it?!) Oh my word, have you ever gone over a falls? We were straight horizontal. I fall over onto someone but we made it over. I watched the boats that went after us and it is crazy how the boat just folds up as it hits the bottom.

After that we had an hour and a half of calm water. We had lunch on our raft (pineapple and cookies). We were all so cold. It was cloudy and thundering in the distance. I longed for tea and a hot shower. Four rapids remained after lunch. I fell out one more time on a grade ¾ rapids. This time I handled it just fine. The kayaker was right there to get me. John and our guide fell out too. Looking back we wonder if there wasn’t a threat of crocodiles at this point. All of the guides where in a hurry to get people out of the water and other guides where hitting the water with their paddles. Our guide teased us about crocodiles the whole trip so we don’t know what the fuss was all about. I was impressed with all of the guides. There were nine kayakers and everyone knew what they where doing.

By the end I was so tired, relieved, and cold. They served pop, water, and beer when we were done but I was too cold for anything. (But a lot of other people enjoyed their “free” beer.) We had a 45min. ride back on a truck. Then we were served a bar-b-q supper at their camp by the first rapids. At the end of the day I was amazed I did it and make it. Am I glad I went…I will be some day. I am glad I can say I rafted on the Nile River.

We spent the next couple days in Kampala getting visas (again), shopping, and getting Lydia’s last immunization. I was really sore two days after rafting and have my share of bruises. I guess that catches you up on everything. Sorry this journal is so long. I shouldn’t have much to say in August – maybe. I love you all! Thanks for reading this and sharing in my life here in Uganda.

July 28, 2007

Lydia can spell her name! She is so smart. The other day she told me, I need to go see if Grandpa and Grandma Shaarda are they still white or if they are brown now. How her little mind works. She is always talking about what brown people eat and what white people eat or say.

We celebrated Lydia’s forth birthday a few days early (cause we are in Kampala for the real thing). Lydia helped me decorate the house with balloons, streamers, and signs. (Thank you to everyone who sent such thoughtful birthday decorations and gifts to make Lydia’s birthday so special. She knows she is loved.) We made a cake in the shape of a four and invited some of our friends. Tim, Angie, Avalien, Moses, John, Barb, Sam, Tabitha, and Kristine and Claudia came. We had so much fun! Lydia opened all her presents – princess dress, books, games, colors, and more. We sang happy birthday and ate yummy cake on Dora the explorer plates. What a birthday. We all enjoyed talking and laughing. We were blessed to see Kristine even smiling and laughing. I am so glad we can celebrate with our friends here.

We had a sudden visit from Brad and Amy Nyhof. The Nyhofs live in Seattle and know Rick and Annie. They started emailing us in January because they were interested in coming to Uganda. They ended up coming here with a different mission in Kampala but they were driving through Soroti and wanted to stop and meet us. They arrived Friday evening and left Saturday evening so it wasn’t much time but we were blessed to have them here. We talked till late on Friday then gave them a whirlwind tour on Saturday. They were very touched by Amecet. They love kids and have two small kids of their own. (By the way Lucy is still hanging on. She struggles to breath and seems to be suffering.) Amy is a hairdresser so she ended up giving us haircuts in the afternoon. They ended their visit by praying over us. We are thankful for their visit and encouragement.

Then we packed up our house so the construction can begin while we are gone. We even put plastic over the door and counters to keep as much dust out as we could. They are breaking down two walls and filling in another. I am just glad we wont be here for the real mess. We will see.

July 25, 2007

Amecet has a new girl named Lucy. She is just over a year and on her death bed. When I went to see her (Lydia was playing outside with the other kids) the workers were with her crying. How sad, how hard I don’t think I could do it. They said sometimes they are the doorway to heaven for some kids. I thanked them for loving her in her last hours.

July 24, 2007

I was able to visit the blind school in Soroti today. Josh went a few weeks ago and Barb and I wanted to see it too. Again I was so blessed by Lydia and Grace. They played with the kids and brought a lot of God’s love to them. The headmaster at the school was very nice and impressive. The school was very nice. But my heart just goes out to these kids. They are so many difficulties in a third world country. There are five year olds up to high schoolers. Some of their families don’t care for them of want them. The school is in desperate need of money and supplies. I said to Barb, it is really sad when our jails in the US are nicer than the dorms at this school. They have been there for over 50 years now. I was glad to hear that doctors come each year to check the kids and do surgeries. Sometimes I wonder how much more my heart can take. It would be so much easier not to see it at all. But that would be wrong! I wrestle with God – What can I do? How can I help? I have enough to do? I am tired. Then God reminds me, give my love. Share a smile, touch them, and show them you care. That is being Jesus to the least of these.

Lydia came up to me today and said Eugene and Tabitha’s cousin died. I said yes they did and explained that they got very sick and God took them home to live with Him. I told her that it makes us sad sometimes when people we know die and that it is okay to cry, but that we know God loves them and He loves us. Then like a normal kid she went on playing. During our prayer time she prayed for Eugene and that God loves him.

July 23, 2007

We had our weekly team meeting this week and I brought up my problem. I can’t pin point it but I get so frustrated and stressed at times. I struggle with living so close to people. I have learned I need my space and time alone. I need family time alone. I HAVE NOTHING AGAINST TIM & ANGIE AND I LOVE THEM. I am an ultra organizer, planner, and like to have some control. I need to let some of that go. I think it really is a bit of everything that piles up to make cultural stress, tiredness, and adjustment. I have also realized that I fear “failing” again. I couldn’t make it in Nigeria because of the isolation and now I am with people – what if I can’t do it?! I just cry saying it. I know the devil is trying to discourage and create disunity, so I will continue to pray, work through it, and be honest.

Did I tell you how tiring construction is? We needed tile so we went to the only two shops in town that sell tile in Soroti. They had about 10 total between the two shops and we didn’t like any of them. So Tim and Angie headed to Mbale one day to try there. They found one they really liked but they didn’t have enough and they could try to get more in Kampala but it wasn’t likely to get more of the same kind of tile. So they took their second choice. We liked the tile they got and ordered our own to be transported here. Today we finally checked the tile. We had to go through them one by one to find 70 tiles broken and half of them have no glaze like the sample one and feel like sand paper. I was so frustrated. Can’t anything be easy? Can’t I make any right decisions? I am so done. So do we send them back and chance finding another one we like and that they have enough of? Do we waste the time and money? We already have enough invested into these. We ended up keeping the tiles so we will see.

Kristine came home from Eugene’s burial in the village. They felt in the morning, drove two hours there, had a quick service, and drove two hours back. She was so tired. And Claudia is still sick. All we can do is pray for them, love them, and continue to help them.

John and Barb are doing well and we continue to enjoy having them here. I went and saw Barb teach knitting to about seven blind people and I was amazed. How impressive. Blind people knitting – I don’t even know how to do that. Barb is a good teacher and knows what she is doing. There is a man there named John Steven his wife died and felt him with five small children. He was a school teacher and put all his children through school. He went blind awhile ago after five years of headaches. He now takes care of his two grandchildren because the mother has left. I was so impressed with him. What kind of man does all of that – a godly one! John Steven is one who will get an orange orchard, and he sure deserves one.

Josh started primary school! He enrolled in first grade to learn Ateso. The people here think it is so funny. He tries to go for about an hour sometime in the morning. It is a class of 70 students – can you imagine? 70! And one teacher. Josh tried teaching one day because the teacher never showed up, but the teacher down the hall didn’t like that. The teacher didn’t come for two days because of a burial and the kids just sat there. Crazy, huh.

Jer. 33

Barb helped another little boy with CP (Cerebral Pulse). I met Chris at church on Sunday. He is about 9 months old and had Meningitis that caused CP. His mother brought him to Barb and Barb showed her stretches she should do with him. Barb said that he was much better than Eugene was.

Grace said another sentence today, “I makin nunuls” (I’m making noodles). She also loves to say “kilo”. She must hear me say that enough in market. Grace now calls Barb, “Barbie”. And to show Graces true character her new favorite is, “I not!”

July 23, 2007 -- Monday

Yesterday morning Josh’s phone rang while I was getting the girls ready for church. I didn’t know the man on calling but he said he was with Kristine and that Eugene had died. What?! Really? How, why, when? Eugene had been sick but seem to finally be doing better. I went over and told Tim and Angie the news. Josh was helping at Sunday school so Tim agreed to watch the kids as Angie, Barb, and I walked down to Kristine’s.

As we walked, my heart sunk deeper and deeper. I did not want to do this today or any day. I did not want to see little Eugene dead. I did not want to cry and hurt or see others hurting. It is too hard. I have been here before, many times in Mahula. Here we were again to share God’s love.

I also thought about how tired I have been lately and too busy to care and be a good friend. I haven’t even updated you on her lately – how a couple of weeks ago Eugene was dehydrated and how Kristine came in a panic. Just the other night all three of them have been sick and they tried to get Eugene into Amecet until he was better but Amecet was already too full. Lately every time Kristine came I didn’t know how to deal with her anymore or how to help her. I was tired of helping with the sick kids, always going to the clinic and giving more and more medicines – was it the right thing to do? I didn’t want to create dependency and have her come every time she needed food, money, or help. I really struggle with this. We are called to give and be generous yet to do that here means opening up your door to everyone. I do not want to be their answer. I am a quick fix. The problem will just come back again. What they need is God. Anyways, I failed to listen to Kristine and lacked compassion. Now I felt guilty. I did not share God’s love because I was too tired and busy. Now was the time to repent and change. I had another change to be a true friend – to be Jesus.

When we got to Kristine’s there was a group of men sitting outside and we could hear weeping inside. I wondered what where the cultural norms here when someone dies. I guess we would soon learn. Kristine was sitting on the ground wailing in front of the couch where Eugene laid. A few other women were in the room too wiping away tears. I went in and held Kristine as we cried. She was shaking. I tried to tell her through my tears that God loves her and God loves Eugene and he is with God. How hard it is to see a precious baby we knew and loved now dead. I kept imaging his BIG toothless smile. (It makes me cry just writing about it.) How his mother, who truly loved him and knew him, must mourn and feel the hole in her heart.

We sat with her for over 20 minutes, not saying a word just sharing tears. Kristine wailed. She cried out Eugene’s name, talked about her suffering, asked God why, told God He can raise the dead… I am not sure if it is culturally what is said when one mourns or if it was just Kristine’s heart crying. Later someone came in and calmed Kristine down enough to get her to tell us what happened. She said Eugene woke up around 2am crying. She said he had sores under his mouth. She woke her neighbor who told her there is nothing we can do until morning. Eugene fell back asleep about an hour later. When she woke up in the morning Eugene had rolled to his back when she picked him up she found him dead. I asked Barb if she could pray for Kristine before we left. We prayed and cried over her. We assured her of our prayers and if she needed anything to come. She asked us to check on Claudia who was outside with one of the girls. Claudia also has Malaria and continues to fight diarrhea and vomiting. As we walked out the door I put my hand on Eugene’s face. If nothing else I wanted to show the people there that we love Eugene and that it is okay to touch him (so often it is taboo in their culture to touch a dead body). Sometimes you just need to hold a loved one one last time.

As we walked home we didn’t know what we should do next. They asked for help with food for the burial so Josh and John ran to the market while the rest of us finished getting ready for church. The church service helped to give us all peace and reassured us of our hope in the Lord. Pastor Francis preached on Psalm 23. Even with the sadness we feel, we feel hope and see that God can even work through this. Eugene’s suffering is over. Kristine can finally rest. And God can draw Kristine and other close to Him for the first time. When people are in hopeless situations, they come to know real hope in Christ.

I never thought about how hard it would get dealing with suffering and death as your children get older. Lydia is almost four and hears and understands so much. I told Josh we needed to tell Lydia about Eugene. Lydia knows Eugene. She talks about Eugene and Claudia all the time. She even named Avalien’s black baby Eugene and her monkey Claudia – and they are always Eugene and Claudia! I couldn’t tell Lydia without breaking down so Josh told her. She did what any normal four year old would do, “Oh…why…where is Heaven?” Then she was off playing or trying to ignore it. How do you explain to them yet not worry them about death. I am realizing how often Lydia hears people talk about suffering, sickness, and death. A lot of it comes from Amecet and the stories of the kids there. I need to watch what is said and help her deal with what she hears and sees. I can’t take it away but we do need to be sensitive and address it. God will use this too in her little heart.

After church we were scheduled to go to Peter’s village for a meal. Peter goes to Francis’ church and has taken a real liking to us. Josh planned to stay home with the girls since it usually means an all day event. Before we left Josh went to see how Kristine was and what was happening. They were collecting money for the transport to the village. They needed about $80 to get to the village 70km away. Josh helped some. They hoped to go in the morning to burry Eugene.

There was nothing we could do for now to help them, so we continued as planned to Peter’s family in the village. It took about 25 minutes to get there. When we arrived they welcomed us with flowers, waving a flag and shouted. The compound was really nice. The whole area was beautiful, green, and so quiet. I love it. Every time I get back to a village I get those mixed emotions and long for this life again. We had a very nice afternoon (ok long day) there. We were very impressed with this family. They were SO happy to have us there. It took about an hour or so for all of them to stand up and tell us who they are and their story. The father of the compound is a gentle, kind man. He and his wife had eight children but two died. All of their children went to school which they are all very proud of. He paid for their schooling by fishing. One of their sons is a teacher. He did most of the talking and was very much a people person. They served us Cokes and cookies. It was the first time I have heard someone pray to sanctify this Coke.

After a couple hours we took a walk to see the one son’s fish pond he made. He raises Tilapia to sell in market. It was really neat to see.

When we got back food was served. I will never get over the amount of food people give their guest. This was the most we have ever been given – rice, potatoes, posho, atop, fish, chicken, goat, cabbage, sauce, pineapple, bananas, avocado… It was all very good. Again I was totally humbled by their generosity!!! They could have paid for school fees but honored us with their best. I am amazed by that. Then they sent a huge rooster home for Josh and eggs for the girls. They thanked us for coming but it was all of them who really blessed us.

We went to Amecet in the evening to worship. Every time I go I feel more love for these kids and am so thankful for the workers there. David, a boy that came almost 6 weeks ago totally malnourished, has changed so much. He was SO thin and never smiled or talked. Now he is dancing, singing, and talks to me. You would hardly even recognize his face – it is so much rounder and fatter now. What a lot a little love and food will do. There is a new little girl there, Hellena. She has a beautiful face and I fell instantly in love with her. She has a heart wrenching story too. Hellena is one years old and has been cared for by her 10 year old sister. Her mother died and her dad remarried so they didn’t want her. They were even going to spear her – can you believe it?! Hellena is very malnourished. I think she maybe 10 pounds. I held her and she just snuggled. I love her. Pray for Hellena and the other kids at Amecet.

July 21, 2007

I have been listening to sermons on Romans by John Pyper as I walk and they are really good. The only problem is I come back with my head and heart ready to burst wanting to share the truths I just learned. The other day it was on grace. Grace is a hard thing to really understand. I believe in it and have received it but how do I describe it? John Pyper was saying how once you have received grace you owe it to others to share it with them. You will want to share and give grace to others because you have been given it. Grace shows in your life. You don’t judge, your not selfish, you are fill of grace for everyone – everyone! Those you hate, those who hurt you, those who are sinners, those who are different… This doesn’t mean we accept everything, truth still is truth, but we give grace – God’s grace. Because He gave it freely to us!

I have also felt God lay on me my desire or passion. I want to encourage Christians to know and love the truth in God’s Word. To be authentic as they obey and serve Him. I want to share God’s Word. This is life to me.

Gracie counts now, “wee, wee, wee” and she has also learned to say she is sorry, “I sausee.” I am not sure she means it yet since she hits Lydia quite a few times a day.

July 17, 2007

It is already the middle of the month and I am finally writing. I feel like we have been really busy and by the end of the day I just want to sit and read or have fun and play a game. Not a lot has been happening though, just daily life. But I will try to fill you in on a few things.

It seems like everyone realizes Grace is learning new words every day. She says almost anything but some of it has to be interpreted by Dad, Mom, or Lydia. Our favorite lately is when we pull in our drive way and Grace says, “O, o, o, om!” Grace sure can make us smile which is a good think cause she can sure make us want to give up too. She can be a screamer and stubborn. Even the people in town notice after Josh and her have only been there for 5 minutes. She will be disobeying and we will ask if she wants a spanking and she will say yes. Actually it is “da” (yes). We are beginning to wonder if she is Russian.

Lydia has always talked our ears off. I still get a kick out of how she says dessert, “delizart”. It is so funny how kids speak what they think they hear in a word. Lydia has been a good big sister and helps a lot. She continues to sing and loves to set up all her little toys when she plays alone (Grace and Avalien’s nap time). Lydia has been playing with her magnet paper dolls a lot lately. She sure has imagination. I love watching her play.

Sometimes I really like routine and routine is something you can have living here. Lydia and Grace go to bed so well together now. They are in bed at 8pm and comfort each other as they go to sleep. And they stay in bed and quiet all night! Grace now sleeps in Lydia’s bed for nap so some day soon Lydia will be moving to the top bunk. Did I tell you Grace doesn’t use pacifiers anymore? She gave them up herself. She had a sore in her mouth and since then she lost interest. We figured it was our chance to take them away painlessly. And it worked no more pacifiers. No more “plugging” her up when she cries though. Now if we can just get Lydia to get up to go to the bathroom at night.

On July 1, Sunday, we grilled hot dogs and kebabs and even had smores. Lydia loved it! It wasn’t the fourth of July but it was Canada Day so Tim was happy. The fourth of July was our first all day rain. It was a very ordinary day here. But it did make us think about all of you.

Avalien turned two on the seventh. We had a nice little birthday party – bar-b-q, cake and ice cream, and gifts. The next day we went to Mbale. We enjoyed a day at the pool – a continued celebration. We had a nice lunch too. The girls sure love swimming with their Daddy – the water was too cold for Mommy.

VBS went well. Well as far as I know. I was able to go twice in the two week each time for about 15 minutes – that is all Grace could handle. VBS was from 4:30 to about 6pm Monday through Friday. It was at Pastor Patrick’s church in Aropi. John and Barb came with all the material and led the stories and crafts. Josh did the bible memory every day in Ateso. Pretty impressive, I think. Josh loves VBS! The kids memories two verses with motions – they really knew them. The Bible School students where also required to come. Josh then taught a children’s ministry course with them. About 80 kids came. When I was there it seemed a bit loud and disruptive. Part of it was defiantly the language barrier and there are too many babies there with their siblings. But the kids where there and seeds where planted into many little heart. Kids were told about and experienced God’s love. That is success.

The Sunday after VBS was finished we invited the parents of the kids to come to church and hear and see what the kids have been learning. We wanted a way for them to be connected to the church. All the kids were there, quite a few of the mothers, and a few fathers. It was a good service with a lot of singing – the kids really sing and jump. John reviewed the stories from the week and Josh gave a gospel presentation. He did a really nice job.

We climbed another “mountain” (more like some big rocks) Sunday with Sliedrechts and John and Bard. The week before the others climbed the other mountain and saw monkeys so my girls were very excited to go look for monkeys. Usually we like to climb mountains to get away and enjoy the beauty, but not so much this time. We had about 25 or more kids follow us everywhere we went. They didn’t speak English but boy do they speak Ateso because they talked the whole time! I thought our chance of seeing monkeys was ruined, but we did actually see a few monkeys on the rocks in and in the trees. Grace hasn’t stopped saying, “monkey rock” since. Every time we go to town and see the mountain there we hear it over and over again.

Construction continues here. I will be glad when it is all done. The workers are great and I hope they continue to come around, but the stress of it can be done. The garage is complete and looks really nice. It did turn out a lot bigger than we planned. I am not sure how. Tim and Angie’s side of the duplex has been a mess for almost two weeks now. They torn out a couple wall, filled in a couple, put in more outlets… Now their old garage will be an addition to their living room and there is an office. What a lot of dust! We hope to do about the same but we plan to be in Kampala during the messy part of it. And now they are doing a screened in porch attached to the new room. When we get done with this we will have plenty of room and it will be very nice. But first we have to endure the chaos. All the decisions, picking out paint, finding tile, making the right plans… I have confirmed what I always thought -- I will never build a house! I am not good at making decisions or being able to envision what it will turn out like. The money for all of this is an issue too. Thankfully the landlord takes most of it off our rent but we need to pay upfront for it. Can you believe he allows us to deduct what we do from rent? That seems to be how they do it here. Rental houses are like bank account or investments here. You can’t trust the bank and it is almost dangerous to own cows so property seems to be the way to go. They see that you are improving their house so they pay for it (and they don’t have the money to do it.) Our landlord has been more than nice and seems to like the best. We think he plans to live here when we leave.

We went to Amecet Sunday for their small worship time. The older kids sang, danced and played drums. I was touched by these HIV positive kids singing “no more sickness there we are going to see the King” and “no more dying there we are going to see the King.” The meaning of the song came alive to me. Sick preteen kids, full of energy, singing praises to their Lord. They know true hope.

Our guard Patrick now attends Francis’ church where we often go. He has proved to be a real leader. He seems to have a heart for kids and has started a Sunday school and leads the choir. I was so impressed to see him up front singing with the kids. He has the biggest smile. Patrick has also been studying the Bible a little bit with John. He has been sharing what he has been learning with his boss and boss’ wife, now they are asking for a Bible. That is awesome! I am so proud of Patrick. He has such a young faith and reading ability yet he is filled with Christ and sharing Him with others. I still can’t get over that this boy whose parents where killed and who was forced to be a soldier for so long, loves the Lord and knows His joy.

Josh preached Sunday on Psalm 121 “Where will you put your trust?” It was a very fitting sermon for me and my family. Psalms 120 to 135 all go in sets of three – the first Psalm of the set is about trouble, the second about trust, and the third about triumph. We will all face troubles where will you put your trust in these times? Before the triumph comes we need to trust in God. Psalm 121 says, “I lift my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?” It says hills because there where many hill and high places to choose to put your trust in. False gods where worshipped on these places. We have a choice – in which thing or god will you put your trust? We need to put our trust in the only true God. He is the creator of everything. He knows you and cares about you. He never leaves you and will protect you. Trusting is God will lead to triumph.

(I was also touched by the song on Ps. 121, “Oh, how I need you Lord, you are my only hope, you are my only prayer. So I will wait for you to come and rescue me, to come and give me life.”)

July 1 – Sunday

The other day Grace and I walked over to see Kristine. Grace was pointing to the kids and saying baby. Kristine asked Grace if she was a baby and Grace said, “no, big girl.” I couldn't believe it. She understood what was said and she responded with a new sentence. Now she tells everyone she is a big girl.

Lydia loves her quiet play time. She plays so well by herself and seems to really need that time. She will play by herself quietly for about 2 hours most afternoons while Grace naps. It really is cute to watch her set up all her little toys. I hope I never forget these things about my children.

We have been without water for almost 10 days now. Talk about added stress. Josh talked to his parents today and their church started praying. I talked to my parents and they started praying. By evening Josh realized we already had answers to those prayers. We got some water and rain. Prayer works and we are thankful for all the people who cover us with it!

Friday Josh and I finally got our anniversary get away. We were suppose to go in May but didn't because Tim and Angie were waiting to get Moses and didn't feel comfortable with watching our kids if they had to pick Moses up too. We weren't sure we were going to end up going this week either because of sick kids. Grace had a fever with no other symptoms and Lydia throw-up the day before we went then seemed fine. John and Barb watched our girls and assured us things would be fine. I prayed all week about it. It is hard to leave your kids in the States with grandparents let alone in a foreign country with visitors. I really wanted to be able to completely enjoy this time away with Josh.

God answered all of my prayers. The girls did great and Josh and I had a great time. We left Friday morning for Sipi Falls. It took two hours to get there so we had a wonderful time talking and taking in the beautiful scenery. We stopped in Mbale and got some snacks then climbed the mountain to Sipi Falls. Mountains are so amazing and you never get use to them, they are always breath taking. Sipi Falls is about a mile high in or near Mt. Elgon. The falls themselves fall 100meters. We saw about a dozen other water falls on the way there. We stayed at Lacam, a lodge on the cliff above the falls. Talk about a fun, romantic place to stay! We decided Lacam and Whitestone are our favorite places to stay for a romantic get away. Lacm is a rustic romance though. Everything is beautiful with grass, flowers, the sound of the falls, and an amazing view. Our banda (room) was made out of bamboo and had a thatch roof. It had two beds, sitting area, porch, and bathroom. We could sit in our room, on our porch and enjoy the view. You could even enjoy the view from our shower which had a big screen window – they assured me no one would see me. The bathroom had a toilet but is really was a lantern, a sink, and a shower where the water just flowed out to the ground. Surprisingly the bathroom was really nice too. They heated water for the shower in barrels outside with fires under them. At night they lit lanterns for our room and along the path outside. It gave a very romantic glow and I love it. It was very cool to cold in the mountains. We slept with two blankets on!

One of the beautiful things about being away with no kids is having no schedule. We simply enjoyed whatever, whenever. It rains every day in the mountains so we took a drive while it rained further up the mountain. We had lunch then took a hike to the second falls in the area. Then we hiked to some local cave where people use to live. It is fun to see new places and it was all so beautiful. We sat for awhile on our porch in the evening just soaking up the view. I was in awe of it all. At night we had a wonderful four course meal by lantern. I sat there eating in a bamboo building, with no electricity, in the mountains of Uganda and though Disney World tries to make these kinds of places and here I am sitting in the real thing. I felt so blessed!

The next day we slept in, had a nice breakfast, and I sat and sipped tea on our porch just because I could. Then we took a two hour hike down to the bottom of Sipi Falls. It was quite hard going down (slippery and steep) and Josh asked if I was sure I wanted to go. I had seen the falls from above where we stayed and I really wanted to see it from the bottom so we kept going. It was a tiring but beautiful hike. They grow a lot of coffee in the mountains and bananas. The Falls were amazing! We got really wet from the spray it let off and we couldn't even get that close. I was glad we did the hike and saw it. We have a lot of good pictures (like 100 from our time away). By the time we make it back from our hike I was exhausted and it started to down pour. We make it just in time but others we saw were just starting their hike – it must have been so slippery for them.

Then we headed home. We will never forget our anniversary get away in Sipi Falls and we can't wait to go back again. I am so thankful for my husband, the fun we had, a great place to stay, and the beautiful place God created!

It is already July 1 so I better send this one off and start another one. I love you all and look forward to seeing you in about five months!

June 24 – Monday

Yesterday we took a long, bumpy ride (almost 2 hours) to a village near Otaboi. We went to a church there to help Simon, one of the workers at Amecet, preach on marriage and family. The church happened to be Pastor Patrick, who teaches at Bethel Bible College, father's church. The village was beautiful and even gave Josh and I the urge to live in the village again. I was SO impressed with the church and the singing. They had a “band” of about ten guys playing thumb organs (or pianos). It was the coolest, beautiful, fun music I think I have ever heard. I loved it! They are so talented. It was really good. The service went really well too. Everyone was so nice and I could just feel that these people loved the Lord. It was a privilege to worship with them. Josh and John both preached and did a nice job. After the service they feed us a big meal of rice, chicken, posho, and pop. They love to honor their guests. We got home about 5pm (we left at 8:30 in the morning). What a long day but a good day. I was blessed by God's people.

Barb is helping me make a curtain for the girls room. It is SO cute! It is the colors in their quilt Mom Shaarda made. The curtain has big squares all put together like a quilt and then we made fabric flowers and bugs on some squares. I am very happy with it – and it was fun to work on.

We got out couch and chairs! Actually the original order (ordered in March) was ready a few weeks ago but I was not happy with it, so we had someone else make it. Edward has been making all of our furniture now and we are much happier with his work. He is quick too. So we got the couch and chair then I had to work on getting cushions. You would think something would be easy to do here, but no. It took me three days and two tries at it. I got very frustrated so Josh took over and helped me get it done. Like always it isn't perfect but I am happy with how it all turned out. We have a beautiful wooden couch set with dark green cushions. And we are SO thankful to have a soft place to sit!

June 20 – Wednesday

Tuesday our Indian friends who own the grocery store had us for lunch. Boy do they know how to do hospitality! They put me to shame. They had about a dozen people for lunch and served us wine, pop, bottled water, juice and a lot of each one! We sat and talked with them for a while then the food came. Rice, potatoes, chapattis, beans, tomatoes, carrots, onions, and much more! They are so generous. And I though bringing them a loaf of banana bread was nice. I am humbled by their sacrificial giving. We had a nice time and all walked away very full. How can we thank our friends? How can we share God's love with them. I hope we can have them over sometime soon.

Josh took Tim, Angie and family to Kampala today. Their van is ready and they were going to do visa work for all of us. Josh left at 6am and will hopefully be home by 7pm tonight. What a long day of driving. It takes about 5 and a half hours to get to Kampala. It will be great to have two vans.

I took my first boda ride the other day. Bodas are the bike taxis here. There are very few cars here and a lot of bikes. It really is nice and quiet with all the bikes here instead of cars. I like it. I had to stop at the clinic and the others were gone with the van. I didn't have time to walk the mile so I hoped on the back of a “taxi”. My boda driver was very nice. I asked if I was too heavy and he just laughed and said no. He tired very hard to miss the potholes. I held on and tried to keep my balance. I made it there and even took another boda home. It was fun!

Grace now says “ok” all the time. It is really cute. Did I tell you she speaks Ateso too? She says, “obia, come” (obia means come, she includes them both usually).

June 18 – Monday

We went for a Sunday drive with our visitors yesterday. We wanted to go to Lake Kyoga but took a wrong turn and drove an extra hour. I was thankful we had other people along to “enjoy” the ride with. (Grace cried about half the way, but she does have Malaria too.) We did eventually find the lake though and it was beautiful! There were a lot of boats (more like a canoe) and fishermen. They were very friendly and even offered a ride in their boats. Seeing how the boats were a third full of water, there are alligators, and if you swim you get a sickness called Bilhartzia, I though staying on land was a good idea. The Lake is really big. We were on a peninsula and I kept thinking we could pretend like we were in Gulf Shores. It was a nice afternoon out seeing another beautiful place in God's creation.

Today was the big shower, Angie's baby shower that is. Honestly, I am glad it is done. What a lot of work and I am tired. It was fun though. We had it at Soroti Hotel. Barb and Lydia helped me set up in the morning. We had blue ribbon, balloons, mints, and cake... I think 13 ladies and 4 girls ended up coming to the shower (Baptist missionaries, Amecet people, and our visitors). And the guest of honor, Moses. We played games, Angie told the Moses' story, opened gifts, and ate lunch. I hope Angie and Moses know how happy we are for them and that they are dearly loved.

I am really enjoying having Jodi and Butyens here! What a blessing to have their help, encouragement, and fellowship.

June 16 – Saturday

I haven't written in a while so be ready for a lot to read.

Our neighbors, Sam's uncle (Joseph), his wife, their 8 children, and others who rent from them, had us over for a meal. Joseph is a pastor and works for a ministry with Finland people. They told us to come at 4pm so we arrived a little after 4:30 thinking that was pretty good knowing they would probably run late. Finally somewhere close to 7pm the food was served. Lydia and Josh stayed the whole time (Lydia loved playing with the kids) but the rest of us ended up going home for a little while. Our neighbors really treated us though. We had pop, meat, and several Ugandan dishes. They prayed for us too. I felt so blessed by them! What a nice night.

Josh and I took the girls for a day away last Saturday. We went to Mbale to do a little shopping, go out to eat, swim at the pool, and have some family. The girls love the pool, even though it wasn't very warm and it sprinkled the whole time. Tabitha actually when with us. I really enjoy her and she helped with the girls. We even found Mt. Dew at one of the grocery stores – Josh was happy. We had a nice lunch at a British restaurant, fish, burgers, and fries.

I wish you could see Lydia jump around in praise at church. She loves the singing and often jumps around with the other little girls. I am always so impressed by her going over by the other girls. She holds their hands and sits with them on a mat.

The doctor at the clinic here now knows me very well. I have been in a lot lately between taking Kristine and the twins, our girls, and myself there. Lydia some signs of a bladder infection, I have a pelvic infection, and Grace now has malaria. Lydia is doing fine, I was really uncomfortable but am better now, and Grace had a high fever but other wise seem to be doing ok. I am tired though from all the trip to the doctor and keeping up with everything else. Hopefully we will all stay healthy now.

I have really been feeling like satan is trying very hard to oppress us lately. I have felt an awful heaviness – stressed and frustrated. I began to hate the feeling. I can see how the devil is trying to use disunity out here. (With those we work with here, family, IT...) I was SO tired of it all and of feeling this way. I really prayed about it and against satans work. Jesus is always victorious! I feel so much better. I feel light, relaxed, and happy again. There are still days and times but I recognize it and continue to pray against it.

I am really enjoying our friends Dennis and Sam. They are so nice and fun to have around. Our girls love them and they love our girls. Dennis and Sam push them on the swing, chase them around, and throw them up in the air. I am thankful for them!

Our guests arrived Thursday evening – Jodi the director of outreach at Evergreen Ministries and John and Barb Butyen. John and Barb also go to Evergreen and their son helped at Amecet last year. John is a sixth grade teacher at Zealand Christian and Barb is a special ed consultant. They will be here until the first part of August and will be helping at Amecet, doing VBS, teaching knitting, tutoring at the Bethel Bible College, and whatever else comes up. Jodi is here just until Wednesday. We are renting an apartment right across the path from us and that is where the Butyens are staying. It is a basic one bedroom apartment with a separate bathroom but it is nice and close. I clean it up as best I could before they arrived and we furnished it with beds, a table and chairs, and stove top.

I have really enjoyed our guests so far. They have brought encouragement, laughter, and great fellowship. I am so glad they are here. And of course the girls LOVE them. They have been great fill-in grandparents for the girls. They are all very helpful and easy going. John has brought us a lot of laughter already.

Hey we had an earthquake. Can you believe it?! John and Barb asked us in the morning if we felt the ground shake last night. I heard something but never felt it and figured it was a truck. Later another missionary told us there was an earthquake on the West side of the Uganda in Lake Albert. It was an 5.9 on the rector scale. Never though I would be able to say I experienced an earthquake – if you can say I experienced it.

Tabitha, our house help who I also see as a friend, has pain every once in awhile from a surgery she had. The other day I asked her exactly what kind of surgery this was and she said it was a tubal pregnancy (I think it ruptured too). I was shocked. Tabitha is not married. She is a Christian and goes to church. But it seems like everyone sleeps around her. I decided to have a long talk with her. We talked about what the Bible says, I asked if churches are teaching this, we talk about marriage... She said that even if you marry someone here he will leave you for another women. It seems so hopeless here. We talked about how she now has to fear AIDS. I tried to encourage her with my testimony and that of Josh, Tim and Angie. I told her starts to change one person at a time. We ended by talking about forgiveness and how much God loves her. She admitted that sometimes she has voices of guilt, shame, fear. I talked to her about satan's work and Jesus' power. I hope I somehow helped. I feel so overwhelmed and at a loss for what to do with such big problems here. I get angry too. The next day I was doing my devotions in Matthew and God's Word continues to speak to me so much. I reminded again that this is what people need. They need to be in God's Word. They need to know Him, His ways, fall in love with Him, and obey Him. I asked Tabitha if she was interested in studying the Bible with me sometime and she was very happy about that. I pray I can priorities this and find some time to meet with her.

I should also update you on Kristine and the twins. I brought them to the clinic again (it is beginning to feel like a full time job). Claudia has diarrhea and a fever and was put on three different medicines and Eugene was recommended to see the pediatrician at the hospital. The pediatrician is only there on Thursdays so I sent Kristine with money to go without me. She ended up waiting all day and never saw the doctor because of the long line of people. She did see a nurse though and she wrote that Eugene has no focused vision and is probably deaf. How sad does this have to get?! She will try again next week to see the doctor. The next day Eugene also got diarrhea and a hight fever. He is now on meds again too.

Kristine seems to be at her end. She has come to Angie and I several times crying and stressed. The twins are a lot of work but the father of the twins is the real problem. From what she has said I think he is abusive (for sure verbally), he drinks a lot, he is not giving her much money if any, and he does not like or listen to Christians/Pastors. He told Kristine it (the twins) are her fault, he didn't tell her to produce. I told her it takes two and she just smirked. He also talks about getting another women. I want to tell her to leave this mean man but I know that is not the answer. This man needs to know his Savior Jesus Christ. We pray with Kristine quite often. I hope she is experiences God's love and feels His peace. She too needs the Lord – He is her answer.

June 7 – Thursday

We went to a “real” market today – you know the Mahula kind that is one day a week and is where everyone goes. (About 5 or so miles out of town.) It brought back memories. Grace liked the cows. Angie, Lydia and I liked the cheap, used clothes. We had crowds gathered at times. Tim and Angie were a wonder with their two black children. Tim just plays with them when people ask if that is their child (meaning did you have a black baby?), he tells them it is a miracle. At the market someone said you have a black baby and Tim gasped in surprise and said I do?!

June 6 – Wednesday

I am a new Auntie! Moses is now Tim and Angie son. Moses is so sweet, quiet, and beautiful. He really is precious! Monday Tim and Angie went to court with all the signed papers to adopt Moses. Everything went smoothly until they met up with Mose Aunt at Amecet. She was there to pick up Moses. Somehow she was not in on all the paper signing and she was mostly worried she missed out on some money. She was saddened though and took sometime to hold Moses and grieve. Angie was heart broken and confused. But they had already gotten the judges approval and the sister too knew this was best for Moses. What a lot of emotions.

While they were gone Lydia, Grace, and I made welcome home and it's a boy signs with streamers. I really wanted to make this special occasion as special as you can when there is no other family around, no one to show the new baby off to, and no where to go and celebrate. We also planned a taco supper and made a cake in the shape of a rattle.

I have been overwhelmed lately and haven't known how to feel with the busy process of adopting Moses (and it isn't even my adoption), but when they came home with Moses I hugged Angie and just cried. What a beautiful, exciting, emotional thing.

And now they adjust to having two children. Figuring out Moses routine, sounds, how to take two kids for a walk or to the store, holding a baby while making supper, loving Avalien while busy with a new baby... Moses is a good baby though and Avalien is doing great. He differently knows he is in a new place and is unsure of all the change. A lot has happened to him in a short time. Lydia and Grace LOVE him. Lydia is good little mommy. She loves to help Angie and just wants to be by Moses. Grace is very loving gets in His face and says, “hi baby” all day long. She really is cute by him. She kisses him and talks to him like we probably talk to her.

I wish you could come and see the girls. I am sure they have changed a bunch since you saw them last. Lydia is full of imagination. The people here love her and think she is so funny. Some of them know by now to ask what her name is today. She is just fun to be with and listen to. She continues to sing and now dances too. The other day she was going away with Josh and she was shouting out the window things I say to her when I go away, “I love you, be good, take good care of Gracie...” Grace is a strong willed stinker but she is so darn cute you just laugh sometimes. She has personality! She does and says the silliest things sometimes. I wish you could hear her. The girls love the song “Who's the King of the Jungle” (remember that one Chris?) so now after every meal Grace will say bubble, bubble. She also says, Bible, come, sho (so), see, yaap (lap), Tabta (Tabitha), mean nup mean nup (clean-up clean-up)...I love listening to her talk.

Josh went to visit a blind school the other day. He took Lydia too and she played with the kids. Josh told me little bit about it and it made me want to go and see the school and students myself. My heart just aches when I hear about needy people, yet I often wonder how much my heart can take. I feel like I am really stretching my heart already.

Today Tim and Angie took Moses back to the doctor because of his cold and fever. I went too because Lydia has had some on and off bumps on her head. (She are fine.) Some of the kids from Amecet were sick too and needed to see the doctor. A few of the kids are HIV positive and one of the boys is 6 years old and SO thin. Angie commented that it is when kids have AIDS that it is so sad, so unfair. I couldn't agree more. They didn't choose a sinful life style, take risks, or anything. They are just the result of other peoples mistakes. I see sin that destroys and leads to death. (I know not everyone who has AIDS has sinned to get it but the disease is a result of sin.) I have heard so much about AIDS but for the first time I see the faces and know the people. What a difference it makes. It is all only numbers and words until you experience it yourself. I really feel for these dear children. All they know life to be is sickness and suffering. Thankfully, I read again today in the Bible about how God loves all He has created (Ps. 145). That is our hope and peace – God loves all of us!

Another heart wrenching story from Amecet, last year there was a three year old girl brought in because she was almost beaten to death. I guess she was going to be used as a human sacrifice. They drug her behind a car (or were about to) and she came in with all nail marks on her body. People who do that kind of evil to a child have to be possessed by satan himself. It is just plain evil. (And I know it happens in America too because I read similar testimonies while working at Crossroads.) The little girls did great at Amecet but still would freak out at the sight of blood. Angie told me they were getting another child who was almost beaten to death by his family. I am so thankful there is a God who loves and can heal.

We have been without power for 48 hours now. It makes me very thankful for a generator but we can't run it all the time so life is still frustrating without power.

May 31 – Thursday

Today we went back to the doctor with Eugene The doctor gave him some medicine and wants to see him in two weeks again. There is a doctor at the hospital that we can bring him to about possible therapy. It is so sad and hard for me to understand why Eugene has CP when his mother already has twins and no husband or family. I do know it keeps me close to God as I trust in Him for help and wisdom.

I need to wrap this up and send this off as soon as we have power again – these little stresses really frustrate me lately. I do want to share one more thing though. God continues to teach me more about His heart and how we can serve Him. I was reading Isaiah 58 in my quiet time the other day and I was so excited about what God showed me! The chapter starts out talking about fake worship and how one can do all the outward acts but not come near to God's heart. Then verses 6-11 God tells us what he really wants. True worship is action! “Loose the chains of injustice, set the oppressed free, share your food with the hungry, provide the poor wander with shelter, clothe the naked, not turn away from your own flesh.” To worship and love God is to stand for truth, help and love those in need, and to share freedom in Christ. God desires for us to DO something out of love for Him. To worship God is be do as He would do and be like Him. We must share His love, mercy, and truth. Sometimes we ask where God is when people are hurting or in need. God has put us here to be His love to those people. “THEN your light will break forth like the dawn...THEN you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.”(vs. 8-9) When we truly worship God THEN He our light will shine and God will hear us and answer. I will let you read the rest and let God speak to you too. Sometimes I am amazed how clearly the Bible speaks to us. It is all there. We ask how we should live or what we should do but all we need to do is be in His Word more and obey it. I am so thankful for God's truth in His Word, it speaks life to me!

Okay I am going to add one more thing, but you can skip it if you don't want to hear more. The end of Is. 58 talks about the Sabbath and I was amazed by it's truth for today too. It says,

“If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you
please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord's
holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not
doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in
the Lord, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to
feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob. The mouth of the Lord has

First of all, when God says something we need to listen! I was very bothered by what is happening at home with our churches and Christians attitudes about it. Churches are canceling services without much trouble. What are we saying to our children, non Christians, the world, let alone to God? Over and over we heard that it was time for family. That is not what the Bible says. It is a day to honor God, it is His holy day. If we use it as a day for “doing as you please” or “going your own way” we will not find joy in the Lord. I think we have a lot of things wrong in our culture and we have failed to read God's Word to know what He says. God wants us to know His joy but we must first obey Him.

Hope you didn't mind the sermon but when God teaches you something you just have to share it. God is so good! I love you all and our Father in Heaven does too. Thanks for all of your love and prayers!

May 30 – Wednesday

I don't think I have told you about Kristine yet. A few weeks ago now a young women named Kristine came asking for work. She had her baby with her and said that the twin was at home. I had been praying that God would show me how He was going to use me here and I felt this might be part of the answer. I talked awhile with Kristine and prayed with her. I told her I would be praying for her and asking God how I can help her. Kristine is about 20 years old, she is an orphan herself, has twin 6 month old babies (Eugene and Claudia), and the babies father is in and out of the picture it sounds like. Last week I brought her some food and clothes for the babies. Then Sunday she came to greet me with Eugene. I saw that Eugene seemed different and she said he cries a lot, doesn't sit up like his sister, and is “flexible”. Eugene can't hold his head up and just bends his neck back. She said he had Meningitis when he was one month old. Angie came out to see them and we began to fear that Eugene might have something like Cerebral Pulse. I told Kristine I would like to take the twins for a check-up – Eugene also has a fever.

So today I took Kristine and the twins to see the doctor. Claudia is a beautiful, healthy baby. Eugene is a smiley little guy. I was happy to see Kristine's one room home is very nice and she has nice clothes and blankets for the twins. The doctor talked with Kristine and examined Eugene a bit. He confirmed our fears that Eugene seemed to have what he called “Pulse”.
He first wanted some lab work done because of his fever, cough, and rash on his behind. Then we would see the doctor again and he said something about physical therapy. Eugene didn't even cry when they poked his little finger for blood. They also needed stool and urine samples but I figured it was easier for her to try to get it from home. Then I would bring it back and
we would talk with the doctor again tomorrow after the results were in.

After our time at the doctors we walked next door to Amecet. At Amecet Kristine talked with the Ugandan social worker there and they gave her some food for the babies. She is to come back in two weeks to talk with them again. The people at Amecet are so kind. They held the twins and welcomed Kristine. I am so glad I can help Kristine and her sweet babies in some way. She has along road ahead of her. When I first met her she said something about how hard it is and how she thinks of leaving the babies, but she really loves her children! She is just alone. It is a lot of work and I am sure scary at times. She told me her mother left when she was only 6 months old. She lived with her father in the IDP camp. He drank and was poisoned one day. He became stiff all over and died. She went to school until the money was finished. Sam went to school with her. He said she then found a man to “care for her”. Please pray for Kristine, Claudia, and especially Eugene I will keep you informed.

Moses' Grandfather and Aunt came and signed the papers at Amecet. It was hard for them yet they knew it was the best for Moses. (His Grandfather has AIDS too.) So now they are waiting for the father to come and sign. They said it will be no problem because he has had nothing to do with him and doesn't want him. Today Tim and Angie ended up going to Moses' family in the village (10min from here). They said the family loves Moses but there is no one to care for him. They want to see him to see how he is growing and will throw a party for him when he goes home to America. If all goes well Moses should come home with Tim and Angie by the end of next week.

Samuel, the toddler at Amecet who's mother was young and tried to put him down the latrine, he is going to go to the orphanage in Mbale soon. It is so sad to me. All Sam has known will be taken from him. How scary it will be. His mother hasn't come to see him anymore and they realize she doesn't want him. Who will let him know he is wanted and loved? I feel for the staff at Amecet too. They must get so attached just to see them come and go. There is another new baby there who's mother tried to kill him by refusing to feed him. And did I tell you about Janet. She is now two weeks old. Her mother died and they think she has downs or something. All I can do is give this all to the Lord who knows all things and cares.

May 27 – Sunday

Remember how I asked for prayer for our Indian shop keepers here and a way to witness to them? Well the other day Angie and I were getting groceries and Situ (See two) the friendly man was working so I decided to ask him if that was his wife I saw in the shop. He said it was so I told him that we love Indian food. Before I could get my next words out he invited us to come and eat some of their Indian food. I was so surprised. He took us to the back of the shop, which is their home, where his wife was cooking and their two year old daughter was sleeping. Stu's wife know very little English. She made us a wonderful little meal of potatoes, mango sauce, and these great flat bread type things. She rolled out the dough very thin cooked it on a frying pan them put it on a fire where it puffed up – how fun. We had a nice time talking and eating with them. Situ has been here with some of his brother since 2000. His wife came three years ago I think. Situ owns the store, Om, with his brother and cousin. I was very touched by their hospitality and generosity. Angie asked if his wife would be willing to cook for us and we would pay her. He quickly said no but that they will cook for you anytime, money is not a problem, we are friends now. Praise God! We are friends. I hope this is the open door we prayed for. I was so excited about our time with Situ and his wife. In Nigeria we were always fed when we visited our friends, actually when Josh was hungry for local food we would just go out greeting until someone fed us. It doesn't seem to be quite the same in Uganda so far. I don't think people have as much here. But the hospitality of the Indian culture was impressive. I loved it. It challenges me to be generous and hospitable too.

The adoption process continues for Tim and Angie. They are waiting for the Grandfather's signature. Tim and Angie go everyday to hold Moses. Angie said she lies awake at night feeling like a part of their family is missing. The waiting is really hard. The other day Angie was there and Micheal, a five year old with HIV, said to Angie your taking Moses home and going to be his mother. Angie said yes I am. Then Micheal asked, “Can you take me home to live with you too?” Talk about break your heart! It does get harder to go to Amerce because we know the kids now and love them. The kids come and go. Some go back to their families, some die, and some stay because they have no home. Yes they are loved and cared for at Amerce but no orphanage can give the individual love a child needs. A few of the kids just cry every time you put them down. They love to be held and have special attention and play time. Tom, a little boy who is just bigger than skin and bones and looks so sad, really craves love. Micheal is maybe the size of a six month old but is really over a year and a half. He is weak and tired yet he can laugh and smile with the rest of them when he is played with. (And boy can he eat!) Franco is such a sweetheart and knows how to love. He is capturing all of our heart. Grace and Lydia now know the baby place and tell us every time we pass by there. Lydia talks about the kids a lot and uses all of their names for her babies. I am so glad they love to go there and play with the kids.

Oh, I forgot to tell you that the orphanage in Jinja now called Tim and Angie and said they have a baby for them. Caleb is a month and a half and was left at the hospital. Tim and Angie are really wondering what God is doing and telling them. They are going on with adopting Moses but if things do fall through they now God has other babies in the waiting.

We had the privilege of witnessing baptisms today. Patrick's church (Patrick who teaches at the Bible College) had seven ladies and one girl who were being baptized. So we loaded everyone in the van and headed to the lake. Talk about memories from Mahula – a overly full vehicle, singing loudly all the way there... I was so glad we went though. Baptisms will always be a beautiful thing. It always brings tears to my eyes. What a time of celebration! Some of the ladies were really old and unsure of the water but when they came up from being baptized they couldn't have smiled any bigger. Lydia really enjoyed watching the baptisms too. I am so glad she gets to share in these experiences. What a great day – the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and God's family was growing. Praise the Lord!

May 24 – Thursday

We have plane tickets to go home!!! We arrive in Chicago on December 1 and leave again January 1. Sorry if it ruins any plans being in Chicago and on New Years Day but we saved about $1,200 this way. (Don't worry you don't have to come to Chicago.) Boy, are tickets a lot for a family of four. It makes me worried about the future, but for now I will just be happy for this trip. We are so excited! I already have a list of a few things I want to do.

Dennis, one of the High School boys who helps with our yard, his father was really sick so Dennis went to Gulu to help the family with money for the hospital. It turns out that someone had put a curse on his father and his father could hardly move. They thought he was going to die. We helped Dennis with some money and he was able to get his father to the hospital. He is now able to move again – praise God. Dennis was also kicked out of his house here in Soroty because of his tribe. He is Acholi. Remember Santos? His son was the one used for a human sacrifice just before we came. Dennis was living on Santos' land but apparently the boy who killed his son was also Acholi so now they want nothing to do with Acholi people. Dennis was removed from the school he was going to too. The whole situation is really sad especially because they are all Christians. There is a real need for unity and trust among believers here.

May 21 – Monday

The girls are starting to really pick up on the culture and language here. Sam taught Lydia a song in Ateso the other day and she has been singing it ever since. She often asks Josh how you say something in “a language.” She learns like her Daddy. Grace now bows/squats when she greets people. How she picked up on that little detail I don't know. Kids are smart. It is really cute in church when the Pastor says Praise the Lord either Grace or Avalien says Amen or Alleluia.

The big news is Tim and Angie are adopting baby Moses! Wow, what a change of plans. They were things after July and going through an orphanage in Jinja now they may have Moses in a week and are working with Amecet here in Sorority. What happened was they had to have the probation officer here sign some papers and when they met with him he insisted they adopt from Soroty. He said there are people who will adopt in Jinja but who will adopt in Soroty. He told them about the great need and said he would help them. He also has been helping an American family go back to the States with their adopted child. That is an answer to prayer for Tim and Angie to have someone who knows the process and can help. He also deeply wants our mission to start an orphanage in Mbale for HIV children. They have the land for us and everything. So keep that in prayer for us and for the right people.

Anyways, so on Saturday they met him at Amecet with Els, the Dutch lady who runs the place. Actually we all went and played with the kids. We took Tabitha and she was great with the kids and held the babies. It has been fun getting to know the kids. We left early and when Tim and Angie came back they said that Moses and Grace where both in need of a home. Moses is
7 months old but only 8lbs. He was premature and hasn't been growing till recently. His mother died of AIDS but she loved him and took the right steps so that he remained HIV negative. Then Grace is 4 months. They are both beautiful babies! Because they said Moses is in the most need of a home Tim and Angie feel that is who God has brought to them.

Now Els will go to Moses village and speak with any remaining relatives, all the legal papers will be signed, and Moses will go home with Tim and Angie. Angie said it is hard to see him and not take him home now. She has trouble sleeping at night now. Josh asked them if they feel like they are going into premature labor. I am sure they have a mix of emotions but I know they are mostly excited.

On another note, we had a big termite hatch and everyone was scooping up bugs to fry and eat. Our backyard was crawling and so our neighbor send their kids to come and collect dishes full of flying termites. (Don't worry we have it all on tape and even picture.) Josh and Tim wanted to taste this fine treat and requested that they bring some when they were cooked. (Josh has wanted to try them since Nigeria where they also did it.) So they brought a bowl of cooked bugs over (YUCKY!) The worse part is that Grace and Ava lien loved them! The guys ate enough to say they did and be polite but they did not enjoy them. The girls on the other hand, we had to take them away from them. Avalien had bug parts all over her mouth. Lydia is just old enough to realize that it was and wonder why everyone was eating bugs. It was real life fear factor, yet the little girls had no fear. Wait till you see those pictures.

Tim, Angie, and Ava lien when to Mbale for a night away this past weekend. So we had a very quiet but nice weekend. We grilled hot dogs and even played a little baseball with the girls – with a curtain rod and ball. (Our yard is big enough for family whifle ball, wouldn't that be fun?!) Grace knows more word than I can remember to tell you know.

May 16 -- Wednesday

You need to be Grace's parents to interpret her some days. She often says, “a boo” which can mean a book, a bug, or a boogie. She got the pictures of A. Rebeka, A. Katie, and the guys and has been saying, “A Babka!” with great enthusiasm ever since (we think she is trying to say Aunt Rebeka). Grace is really starting to talk and knows so many words. She says Ame (Ava lien), banana (hosanna), basket, Bible, I don't know, one more, all done... Every morning we her here from her crib calling, “Daddy, Mommy, Alysia.” She can be such a goof and just makes us laugh to watch and listen to her sometimes.

Sam has been hanging around a lot and we really like him. He cuts our grass for us and we pay his school fees, but he is really just a good friend. He is very social, nice, and trustworthy. The girls love Sam! The other day Sam told us about when he became a Christian his father beat him (maybe tried to kill him) and he had to live with other family since then. I think he was only 8 years old. His father is a drunk and none of them are Christians. I think Sam almost cried telling the story. Such suffering, yet he has held on to God. He has a Heavenly Father who loves Him!

Dennis is a friend of Sam's and also helps us sometimes. Dennis is from near Lulu where the war has hurt the most. His father was abducted and was with the LRA for years. When he finally escaped he was “crazy in the head”. His father is the only other Christian in his family. Dennis has lived in Sorority since the war has been taking boys and it was too risky for him to stay there.

I was asking Sam and Dennis a bit about the LRA. Both of them have seen so much (Sam was abducted for a few weeks and Dennis lived in the midst of the war). They hesitate to talk about details. Sam said that two police men were killed in front of them and they had to look otherwise he would have to kill or be killed. They said the way the LRA kills is not nice. He went as far as motioning that they slit their throats. (I have a hard time even writing about this.) I said it must be very scary and asked if they cried. They said no, if you show fear they will make you kill or kill you. I simply can't imagine the effect of all of this on each individual not to mention a whole nation! There are a lot of hurt people who need healing. Even our guard, Patrick, still cannot sleep at night because of night mares. How does a child get over the evil things he should have never seen? May it is the American way of thinking that these people need to be counseled and have healing? People here sure continue on and look to Jesus. I said to them that only Jesus can heal these wounds and this country. They agreed. The boys don't see an end to the LRA. It is all they know. Their whole life the LRA has had control and has terrorized. I struggle with how to deal with all of this. What is my role, what can I do, why does God have me here? In the US I heard about what is happening and was concerned. But now I live here and these are not just people in Uganda anymore they are my friends. I really pray, somehow, I can be used to bring God's healing. I do know that Josh and Tim are a good model of godly fathers and husbands which is one thing these boys need.

Yesterday we had a new missionary lady over for supper. Josh met her at a shop a few days before. Today Amie Dewie and the kids came for a while. Lydia was thrilled. Thursday we go to Manes' house for supper and Saturday we have a visitor from the UK for supper. What an unusually busy week. Fun!

May 15 – Tuesday

Last night we had a really nice rain and with it came another hatch of flying ants. I normally would have been quite annoyed by a hundred ants flying in my house but last night I just laughed because of my girls. Grace was super scared of the ants and was walking around saying, “no, no.” Lydia came out of the bath and ran around naked chasing the ants trying to get them. I just smiled with amusement.

Angie and I took the girls to Amecet, YWAM orphanage, for a visit yesterday. If you can remember, John, the guys who's sister-in-law died, her baby is there now. The baby's name is Petra and is so little (1.8 kg I think). But looks very healthy thankfully. There were a few other new children but the others we are starting to get to know. Our girls were a bit clingy at first and Lydia was quite disturbed letting babies cry in their beds. But soon the girls were helping give the babies bottles. Lydia played great with the older kids and had a great time. Grace sat by a baby, who is suppose to be her size, and held his hand. Angie sure loves kids! She always has one scooped up in her arms. Some of the children have HIV and have dry skin and rashes. We had a nice time there and it is good for all of us.

May 13 – Sunday

Happy Mother's Day! Thank you Mom for loving me and leading me in Christ. What a gift you have given me. And your faithfulness to God is now bringing being shared around the world. Thank you to my Mother-in-law for bringing up a man of God and for accepting me as one of your own. And to all the other godly mothers I have the privilege of knowing, I thank God for you.

A couple days ago we decided to get about 20lbs of meat to grind. Of course that night our power went out and was out for more than 18 hours. I was so mad! The meat was beginning to smell but we went ahead and had our house help grind it any way (she said it was still okay too). I am so glad I didn't have to grind all that meat. What a long, messy, and smelly process.
We now have meat, which we decided to cook extra well just in case. And so, after talking about and shopping around for a generator, we now own one. Yeah! Josh's Aunt and Uncle generously help us with the money for one. The generator is big enough to run our fridge, lights, and fans. It can't run anything that heats and will only be on for a few hours at a time, but that is all we need to keep our freezer frozen and to have lights for bath time. The electrician is coming tomorrow to wire it to the house for us.

This may sound a little funny but God has been teaching me a little bit about what it means to love and pray for our enemies. I really felt like the people in control of our electricity were my enemies the other morning with the meat incident. I was anger yet some how reminded that that is when God calls us to love. When it isn't easy we are to be different than the rest of the world and show love. I've been thinking a lot about this with Steven. He lied to us, took advantage of our generosity, and even tried to steal from us and God wants me to pray for him and still love him. This does not mean continue to let him use us but to lead him with love. I am thankful that our ways are not God's ways. And I am thankful that He is teaching me His ways.

For the first time since we got here I have been feeling a bit homesick. It must be a mix of reasons why: people being sick, discouragement, summer approaching, garage sales happening, we have been here almost 3 months now, bored, stressed, questioning what I do here, weddings being planning at home... Somethings must sound funny to you, but it really is the normal every day stuff that brings comfort and we tend to miss. Summer seems to do it to me. I know everyone will be together so much and I wish I could be there. I love going to the cottage, going garage salting together, smelling fresh cut grass, tubing, grilling, all the fruits and vegetables, going for ice cream and looking for deer, sitting by a campfire... So please enjoy it all for me. Isn't it just like human nature to want what we can't have and to glamorize things. I commonly have this problem (sin?) of wanting the best of both worlds. I do want to live and serve in Uganda but I also want to be able to go home and enjoy. Even though I am very busy here with the girls and keeping up with the house and food, I find live on the mission field can be very boring at times. We are at home all the time. There are no parks to go to, no stores to walk around in and enjoy, no friends or family to go and visit, no babysitters, and no plans on the calendar. Am I a complainer or what?! Sorry. This is how I vent sometimes. Then God puts it all back in perspective again and even challenges me. I look around and see real suffering and need – what am I complaining about! I have been so blessed! I was upset about my weight the other day and thought I should pray about it. Boy did God speak to me. How sad and wrong is it that I am praying to God about having too much to eat when my neighbors have to skip meals because they don't have enough. I have things all wrong sometimes and am full of myself. In my devotions God showed me Psalm 116:7, “Be at rest once more, o my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” Isn't that a great verse. It just speaks to me. Have peace and be content Mandy, look at all the ways God is so good to you. Amen!