Tuesday, September 25, 2007

September 18 -- Kampala

September 18, 2007

The night before we left for Kampala to pick up Dad and Mom Beute we got a call around 11:30pm. It was Pastor Patrick Florence was in labor and they needed a ride to the hospital. Josh rushed to get his clothes on and pick them up. Florence was fully in labor when he got there and they feared she would deliver in the van. (This is her third baby in three years so they come quickly.) I was back at home praying for all of them and thankful I wasn’t the one in the pain of labor. Josh made it home safely (we don’t usually travel that late at night so I was a bit worried). About a half an hour later our phone rang. Patrick and Florence had a baby girl. Thank you God.

The next morning we were on our way to Kampala. We left at 5am it was so quiet and beautiful out as we watched the sunrise. We had heard that water maybe over the road because of all the rain and flooding and it was. There was only about 5inches of water but we feared what we would find when we had to return to Soroti. We were pretty successful in Kampala. We got our work visas finally! Answer to prayer. We are now legal for a whole year. What a lot of work that was – not to mention a lot of money. Tim and Angie were able to get a two year, multi entry visa to the States for Moses. What a blessing! People said it would be hard to get a visa and they even got a two year one. Nothing is too hard for God! Our hotel was another story. Many of the hotels have gone up in price and so we have been on the hunt for a nice hotel in our price range. The one I ended up booking (after a ton of phone calls) ended up being something close to a dump. I told Josh I was not comfortable staying there. We ended up going next door to another hotel. It was nice and clean and only $22. We thought it was a good deal until the second night with no power – no lights, no fan, and no hot water. That got old quickly so we were on a hotel hunt again. Thankfully we found a very nice (nicest room we have stayed in) and they were willing to lower the price so we could afford staying there. There is a pool down the road that you can pay to swim at and an ice cream place up the road – perfect! What a blessing to have somewhere to stay that you can also enjoy.

We did the normal running around, shopping, and restaurants. The day Dad and Mom arrived we went to Entebbe (45min from Kampala where the airport is) early to go to the zoo. The zoo is really beautiful it is on Lake Victoria and has a very natural setting. The kids (and Tim) loved the animals. We had a lot of fun. Grace got so excited with each new animal and could say all their names. She always asks, “Is it nice?” Lydia used her Daddy’s binoculars to see the animals. She is a bit nervious with the lion. Monkey’s run free at the zoo and they were all over the trees by the rhino. You could get as close as you wanted – I don’t need to get that close to an unpredictable animal. Lydia was brave enough to ride the donkey this time. She said she was a cowgirl and it was just like riding Uncle Randy’s horse. (She rode that horse about a year ago but she doesn’t forget anything and talks about it a lot.) After the zoo we had supper at an outdoor Chinese restaurant then when to get Grandpa and Grandma Beute.
Grandma arrived with tears so happy to see her grandkids again. Lydia was thrilled to see them, Moses went right to them, but Grace and Avalien took a little to warm up to them. Lydia talked non stop to G&G and it wasn’t long before Grace joined in. Lydia kept telling Grandma she missed her and loved her. By the time we were all packed up (they came with 7 boxes) the girls wanted to sit by G&G and that was the start to my (Mommy’s) vacation – Grandma is here

Sept. 23 -- Josh's Journal

September 23, 2007
Happy Birthday Dad! I hope you have a good day tomorrow.
I am sorry I have not written lately. I have been behind at school so every spare moment has gone to writing lessons. I frequently finished my lessons minutes before I had to leave lately. On more than one occasion, I have done the study before class, then had to copy what was on the black board the same time the students did so I could come home and type the outline. We have one more lesson on 1 Timothy on Tuesday, then the exam is scheduled for Wednesday. The students all tell me the term is over this week, but the principle is not yet sure when the term will finish…I think he might know something they don’t know, but then again, he might be surprised. However, despite the late nights, early mornings, and tiredness I still enjoy teaching. Two of the students were talking with me after class Friday and they told me I make the Bible easy to understand - I think that is about the biggest compliment I could get from a student.
The Old Testament came to life one day last month. “If you dig a pit and your neighbor’s ox falls into it and dies, you replace the ox.” (Mandy was reminded of Jesus words, “If your ox falls into a pit on the Sabbath, won’t you pull it out that very day.”) We woke up a few Sundays ago and someone ox had fallen into our burn pit (six feet deep). A while back a sheep fell in, but sheep are not so bright. I am not sure how they got it out, but by the time we were ready for church, it was happily grazing. That week I was putting up a barbed-wire fence around the pit when many of the neighbors came to thank me. One even added he was glad I did it before a drunk fell into the pit.
Yesterday was an unusually bad day. We wanted to go swimming in Mbale. The highway connecting Soroti to the outside world has been washed away by the flood (likely won’t be fixed until dry season in January. When we came home from Kampala last week the water was right up to the bottom of the doors. Apparently the ash fault has been washed away since that time.) therefore, we had to try a new route. This route added about 1 ½ hours to a trip that normally takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Imagine driving to Mackinaw when I-75 is closed and the only other route is past Bohning and through Vanderbuilt. Gravel for the first 90 minutes. When we finally got to Mbale, the pool was closed because some wedding celebration had rented the entire area. Therefore, we decided to go to a good restaurant. That was also a bust. First, “we only have fillet steak and fish.” Then “I know you ordered 4 bottles of water, but we only have two. Would you like cokes instead?” Then, “I know you wanted 2 cokes, but we only had one left.” Then, “You food is almost ready” (after we had already waited two hours). After we finally ate (it was good), we went to our favorite grocery store. We drove up just in time to see them locking the doors -- closing early today. When we got home - no electricity, no running water (have not had either of them yet). I started the generator, within 60 seconds the lights flickered and went out. I checked the extension cord - smoke (not supposed to be smoking). Thankfully, I had an extra plug so I could switch it.
Mandy’s parents are enjoying time with grandkids. Their time there is half done. We are enjoying our time with them, but have to leave Thursday. Bad: we have to drive that dreaded gravel road again. Good: I am looking forward to going rafting

Sunday, September 23, 2007

September 8 and 10

September 8, 2007

Yesterday I finally was able to visit the hospice for widows here in Soroti. I have begun a friendship with our neighbor Stella. Stella’s husband is the doctor at the hospice. They are from Mbale and Stella has been very lonely here. I have brought here banana bread, books and magazines, and she has come and read with Lydia. She loves to read and wrote me a couple notes telling me how God has used the books to work in her life.

So Stella and I went to visit the hospice together. Dennis, her husband showed us his office and told us about the place. It opened in March and has had 86 widows treated there mostly older, terminally ill, HIV, or cancer patience. James gave us a tour of the place. It is a beautiful place, quiet, with plants and trees, and a very nice building. There is a lot of empty rooms right now and some construction going on. The organization that funds it is in America. They hope to have a chapel and chaplain some day. Right now there are 23 widows there. I think the main thing they do for them is give them a place to stay and try to keep them comfortable. I was thankful I could bring them some joy just by shaking their hands, touching them, and greeting them. That is when I wish I knew Ateso because I couldn’t communicate with them. They must be so bored just lying or sitting there all day, everyday. Most of them look very frail, but they could still smile. I was glad I went and was able to see another ministry here in Soroti.

Lydia and Grace are doing well and continue to be the joy of my life. I do have to remind myself (a lot) that I need to slow down and enjoy them. I wont care or remember the email or work I did two years from now but I will remember being with my girls and that is what matters. Lydia now wears underwear to bed! I am so proud of her. She is earning money to buy boots in market. She is now into rhyming and figuring out what letter words start with. (We are asked all day long!) Lydia is a very good big sister too. She helps and shares a lot. Grace is in a big girl bed (I think I told you that). Grace seems to be a better listener now and is so much fun. She goes around saying, “oh where Lydia?” or “oh, where, oh where baby?” For the first time the other night she said, “I lub you Daddy.” Talk about a happy parent moment. She also likes to ask for hug and kisses (“kiss a me, hug a me”). Grace talks up a storm and I love just listening to her. Josh built the girls a play kitchen set out of wood for them. It is really cute and they love playing restaurant with it.

We brought banana bread and visited with Pastor Patrick and Florence today. Florence is about ready to give birth to their third child (they will have three kids in three years of marriage – two years old and under). We had such a nice visit and I love the quietness and beauty of the village. (Ahh, Mahula.) I really like them. She is growing pumpkins and gave me one which I was quite excited about – fall time! It is so good for us to take time to visit and encourage our friends here. I want to do it more and be better at that. I too am blessed by doing it.

September 10

Tabitha had her thirtieth birthday so we had her over to celebrate. We had cake, presents, decorations, and Josh made her a balloon hat (which she wore all night and even to her home). I think she really appreciated it. It was her first birthday party she has had. We really like Tabitha and are thankful for her. This is one way we can thank her and show her we love her.

There has been a lot of rain and lighting lately. The past couple weeks we heard popping noises when there was lighting and a light would flash in the house. We thought something much be getting hit in our house. We unplugged everything but it continued to happen and it fried our internet so we think it came through the phone line. The other night we saw, heard, and felt the lighting hit right outside of our house somewhere. I was so scared! It was loud and bright. Our lights went out and the thunder roared. I do not like when it is so close!!! So our internet went out again and so we will be out for another week or so, again.

However, we are safe and some people aren’t. There has been so much rain there is flooding all around the area (I think in a lot of Africa right now). They say it is the worst it has been in 35 years. People are loosing there crops, some have to leave their homes and live in schools, a few have died, and they are afraid the major road to Soroti and beyond will be flooded soon. The saddest part is that the people most effected are the people who were also most effected by the war and they have just returned from the refugee camps. There is so much suffering. We will have to see what happens in the next couple weeks.

Our neighbors, Joseph and Martha and their two small kids, are thankful for their new zinc roof with all the rains. They had a grass roof and it leaked so bad that they couldn’t sleep when it rained. It would rain in black because of the mold and the ground would be flooded. I was looking at their one room home the other day and the Lord seem to say to me, “Mandy, your bedroom is bigger than their whole house.” (And they are a family of four.) I have so much. God continues to teach me about being generous with all He has given me.

Lydia continues to sing (and amazes me how she learns song) and the other day she added, “Okay, I have a testimony.” They give testimonies each week at church. I decided I love having girls! It is simply so cute and brings me so much joy to watch them sing, dance, play house, dress up… and I just can’t imagine boys doing that.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

September 7 -- Giving

September 7

I was so excited the other day when I really felt God talk to me and teach me. I was doing my devotions and God clearly spoke to me about giving. I really struggle with giving especially here where we are surrounded by need, are always being asked, and once you give they only come back for more. I have been realizing what a selfish person I really am and that I don’t like who I am, how I respond when people ask me for something (money). Yet, all over in God’s Word it talks about giving and caring for the poor and needy. What do I do with all that? How do I apply it here in Soroti yet keep it under control? Some missionaries say you just have to have a hard heart – jokingly some what I think. But God had something to show me in His Word.

I was reading from Luke 6: 27-36 where it says,
- “give to everyone who asks you” (vs. 30)
- lend without expecting to be repaid (vs. 34)
- “THEN your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (vs. 35-36) Did you hear that he is kind to who the ungrateful and wicked. Not those who are grateful and kind.

After I read this I wanted to dig deeper to see what else God had to say about giving. I read the footnotes and other references. That led me to Deut. 15: 7-11 that says,
n vs. 7 do not be hard hearted or tight fisted. (I am)
n vs. 8 be openhanded and freely lend. (not me)
n vs. 9 careful not to harbor wicked thoughts (when giving). (I have)
n vs. 10 be generous, without a grudging heart, THEN God will bless you in all you do.
If that wasn’t enough I read Proverbs 21:13 and 26,
“If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.” And “the righteous give without sparing.”

Wow, I was so convicted after read all of this. I have sinned. I give grudgingly, I am not openhanded or give without sparing, I want to be repaid… I needed to repent. God, I am sorry. I don’t know how to put this all into practice here but I want you to teach me. Help me. It is so easy for me to give reasons why I don’t want to give to this person or to that but as God pointed out to me in the footnotes that many people think that being poor is somehow the fault of the person and that kind of reasoning makes it easy to ignore the poor. We are not to make reasons, excuses, or ignore we are called to give, to be merciful, to help, and to love.

I am not sure how you give to everyone openhandedly, but I do know I need to learn to give with a right heart. It isn’t mine money, it is God’s./ I need to learn to hold on a little looser. Nothing is mine it is all a gift from God that I am responsible to manage well FOR HIS KINGDOM (not for me). I want to obey God. I will listen closely to what He wants me to do. My attitude is really what needs to change. I want to give out of love and mercy not because I have to or should. I know now that every excuse is just that, an excuse. I need forgiveness. God is so merciful and good to me. Thank you God for teaching me your ways and allowing me to know Your heart of love.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Sept. 8 -- Josh's Journal

September 8, 2007
I finally finished NT Survey. I felt like it was the course that would never end. I don’t think I want to know what the students felt about it. I thought it went well, until I marked the final exams. One student got 100%, the rest failed their final exam. Thankfully they had done well enough on the rest of the course to pass the class. Now I have begun a careful study on 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. Having to teach more in depth is more my style, so I am really enjoying this, but I am also having to stretch my lips farther to keep from drowning - I generally finish the lesson minutes to hours before class starts. Needless to say, the students did not get the whole class outline on the first day.
We have a new schedule at the Bible College. Pastor Francis sees BBC as training for future leaders, not merely an educational facility. We knew this and appreciated it, which is part of the reason we looked forward to coming. However, we did not know all that it meant when practically played out. We had a staff meeting a couple of weeks ago. It was decided that each teacher needs to take role at early morning group prayers for the students. So now every Wednesday (last week it was Wed. and Friday) I arrive at BBC at 5:00 a.m. to make sure all of the students are awake and assembled in the classroom for prayers. Then we prayer together from 5 to 6. At 6:00 they are supposed to do personal devotions, but it doesn’t get light until 6:30; therefore, I suggested to start prayers at 5:30 - but everyone shot that idea down, even the students. On Wednesdays I also have to supervise the afternoon activities. From 3:00 - 5:00 I have to make sure that all the students are studying. From 5:00 - 7:00 I need to make sure they are all working in the field. I worked with them digging up peanuts last week. The neighbors all stopped working to watch because they had never seen a muzungu work in a garden before. One of the students even asked if I was glad God made me white - since I like doing things that white people don’t do.
Grace and Lydia keep growing. Grace has been much less defiant lately, which has been really nice. She still has all her spunk, but now it is just funneled into being cute and having fun. We think she will keep Grandpa Shaarda laughing in December by all her expressions and words. She is quite a character. Lydia is growing up. She has gone all week without wetting the bed. She gets 200 shillings every morning for staying dry. This will continue until she has enough money to buy the boots she wants so she can play out in the rain.
I am so happy to say that the work on the house is finished. We have to paint the kitchen yet, but can’t decide on a color. I said anything but black, Mandy has not idea; the result: no paint yet. So we will leave it as is until Mother Beute arrives to pick. The drain in the porch needs to be redone, but that is all. We put in the basketball pole yesterday. It is quite a pole. It will be the nicest court I have ever had at a house where I lived. We will even have a full size backboard. The cement needs a few days to cure, but should be ready by the time we come back from Kampala. We have to go Wednesday to get our work visas; we only got one year, but it is better than two months which we have been having until now.
Ben has been transferred to International Hospital for his chemo treatments. He still lives in a rented house, but all his treatments will now be at IH. It is a little more expensive, but the care is much better. They were amazed at the difference. During his last treatment at Mulago Cancer Center he was given one bottle of water to drink with the chemo, he was sick for five days. During his first treatment at IH he was given six units of fluids with the chemo, he never got sick. I also have the phone number of the doctor at IH so I can get answers when I need them; although, I don’t always understand the medical language involved.
We went out to eat last Saturday night. We ordered ahead so we new the food would be ready at 6:00 (at least not before 6:00), so we needed to use up a little time before we arrived. We decided to go park by Soroti Rock and look for monkeys. We had only been there about 3 minutes when a mother and baby appeared. They were probably 150 yards away so they were out of Grace’s range, but she thought she saw them. They were sky-lined on top of a rock so I was quite easy for Lydia to find them as long as they kept moving. They were around for about five minutes before left.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

September 4, 2007

September 4, 2007

Friday we had Dewires over for coffee. We had a nice time and the girls enjoyed playing. They were impressed with the home improvements. In the afternoon Angie and I went to Manes’ yard sale. How fun, how normal. I got a few things and really enjoyed fellowshipping with the ladies. We finally met the other Baptist missionary. We stayed all afternoon talking.

I forgot to tell you a few weeks ago there was a parade in Soroti to stop child sacrificing. I bunch of little kids (and teachers) marching with signs. I began to think, child sacrificing must be pretty bad (common) around here to have a parade against it. How sad.

Saturday we had a nice cloudy day, cool, quiet day here. We have been enjoying a lot of clouds and rain lately. It is nice. I even wear long sleeves on occasion.

I had a bad attitude on Sunday. We went to our neighbor’s church and as I walked there I got mad. I am not sure why really but I was upset that I see “everyone” going to church on Sunday and so few living it out all week. If being a Christian doesn’t change your life than you aren’t a Christian. I mean it has to make a difference. I am so tired of hearing about people here sleeping around and being unfaithful yet many of them go to church. It seems to be culturally accepted. I told Josh he needs to be preaching on this sin. When I got to church I started to soften. How do I know you these people are or what they do? Am I to judge? No, I am to give grace. Oh, what a sinner am I. I bowed before the Lord, asked for forgiveness, and worshipped Him.

Monday, Labor Day, we actually got to do something fun to celebrate. We were invited to Dewires for a grill out. I love having things out of the ordinary to look forward to. We had a really nice time. I think it is so nice for the Baptist to include us. The ladies were asking Angie and me all about how we do this and that. The guys even talked all afternoon. The kids had a great time playing and were so good. (What a lot of kids, I think about 14 and four of them are two year olds.) Not to mention how good the food tasted. A real American summer meal – burgers, baked beans, potato salad, dessert… What a fun day.