Monday, November 26, 2007

I preached -- Nov. 25

Nov. 25 – I preached!

I know I said I was done typing but I have a few exciting things to share with you. Last night our co-workers (Ugandans) cooked a meal for us before we left. We were so blessed by this kind gesture. We felt loved and appreciated. They made SO much food! I don’t know how they did it. I really enjoyed the fellowship and the relationships we are forming. I am so thankful for them. It was really nice.

After the meal I had Bible study with the girls. We studied Mark chapter 10 in it Jesus talks about marriage and divorce. The girls and I had a long talk about this issue and the sins of their culture. They think every man will disappoint you. I had a good example of how God makes two people one in marriage. By the end I asked what they have learned and what they will do. One girl said she now knows divorce is wrong and has effects. Another girl said she know she has to prepare and find a godly man. She also said she will take this message and share it with the people in her village. Praise God! That’s it. If we all change, follow and obey God then others will see and do the same. We can make a difference one person at a time for God’s glory.

After the meeting I was so excited and told Josh all about it, so he asked me if I wanted to preach it the next day. Josh was suppose to preach but hadn’t come up with anything yet. At first I said no and laughed him off. I have never preached and would be too nervous. By the idea wouldn’t leave my head. I love God’s Word so much and really want to share it. So, I decided to do it. Even if it didn’t go well or I was bad, I tried in God’s strength. I sat down and wrote my “sermon”.

I was amazed that I wasn’t even nervous. I just kept praying, “God this is about you and for you. Speak through me. Be my strength in my weakness. Speak to these people and work in them…” I am sure they were quite shocked when they found out I was preaching and not Josh. I was very happy with how it went even with a translator which can be hard. Most people seem to really be listening and they liked the example. The greatest part is I have done what God asked me to and now the rest is up to Him. It is between God and these people whether they receive the message. God’s truth is so good!

Then tonight I had the Bible study girls over one last time before we go home and they go on break. I really enjoy being with these girls more and more. We made supper for them tonight because all they get is beans and posho (corn flour cooked) ever day. They were SO thankful for rice, meat, fruit, and Coke. Tabitha cooked it for us. (Tabitha and Kristine come to the Bible study too.) After our meal I thanked them for coming to the Bible study and gave each of them a note and a Bible – they were SO excited! Then they told me they had something for me. They had prepared two songs to sing. They were really good! Motions/dancing, bush guitar and all. They sang so well. I really enjoyed it and was touched by it. After all that we watched The Nativity Story. They were very excited and liked it a lot, but it took a lot of explaining. I realized again that you have to be careful with movies and be able to explain things. I told them all to go home and read Luke and Matthew 1 and 2. During the movie they were a constant buzz and they cheered often. Before they left they thanked me again and again. They asked for prayers for school fees so that they can all come back next year and if I could get them pen pals from America. It is such a blessing to be appreciated. Then the hugs came (I am finally getting use to how to hug here – put your face to one shoulder then to the other.) The girls are really sweet and I am thankful for them. They think they are going to miss me so much when we go. They are funny. They are the ones going on a two month holiday from school. I think it is how they show you how much they care about you. Tabitha said the girls loved the night and think I am so nice. I just praise God for how He is working. I am thankful He gave me a ministry that I really love.

Josh goes with people from our church tomorrow to bring supplies to people affected by the floods. (By the way the rains have quit but people are without food and homes still.) Our church raised about $100 dollars, we matched what they gave, and a few others gave too.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Mandy's Journal -- Ugandan Thanksgiving

Nov. 23 – Ugandan Thanksgiving

I love holidays especially Thanksgiving. What a special time to be with family, making traditions, eating stuffing and pumpkin pie, football, snow…so much to be thankful for. Being in a foreign country for an American holiday can be difficult. I wanted to make it special and normal. Angie and I invited any expat that didn’t have a place to go. Everyone was welcomed to celebrate with us. We ended up with 11 adults and 6 kids and 1 baby. So we began preparing. The challenge with Thanksgiving in Uganda is that everything comes from scratch and substitutes need to be made. Wednesday I sent my house help to market for chickens – four of them. She was busy all afternoon slaughtering them, plucking feathers, and cutting them up. That is something we don’t do in MI. (Where is Meijers when you need it?) By evening we had two 9x13 full of chicken – testicles and all. I spent the day making three dozen rolls and two pumpkin pies from real pumpkin. (Never did that before.) We had quite a feast come Thursday – sweet potatoes, mash potatoes and gravy, sweet corn, chicken, stuffing, pies… I really enjoy hosting a special party like this. We had one big table topped with candles cut into gords. It looked so nice and festive. Everyone was so thankful to be there and to have a “real” Thanksgiving. I was thankful to look around and see friends from the Philippians, the UK, Uganda, Australia, Canada, and America. God is so good! The table is always big enough for God’s family. We had such a nice day. There wasn’t snow and we were far from America but we were blessed!

Well I guess that is all for now…because we are going to MI! I’d call it vacation but we are also speaking. We will be with family though and get to celebrate so much with them. We have four days til we go to Kampala then fly out the next day. We are in packing and putting away mode. I just hope we remember to do everything we need to before we go and take what we need to. Thanks for praying for all our traveling. You can be praying for the girls. They get motion sick, it is a long plane ride, and an 8 hour time change. We love you all and will see you soon!!!

Mandy's Journal -- Nov. 11 - 21

Nov. 11 – A break and Angelina’s Church

I am happy to report we now have water and internet again, thank you God! However, our hot water heater is not working now, possibly hit by lighting. We are thankful our lighting rods should go up this week.

Last week we went to Mbale. We just felt like our family needed to get out of Soroti and do something. Since we had to take the old, long way out we decided to stay the night. We had two really nice days at the pool. We all enjoyed swimming. The kiddy pool has a new slide and the girls loved that. We stayed at the hotel with mini golf so the girls liked that too. We also stayed over so we could watch Sunday night football (on Monday here). We were quite upset when the hotel people couldn’t get the station to come in but we were able to watch the last half of the game and we woke up on Tuesday to finish watching Monday night football. We ordered out at an Indian restaurant that we hadn’t eaten at before. It was really good and I look forward to next time. We had a nice time and I was thankful we were able to get out and have a special time.

We went to Angelina’s church today (blind Angelina). I had a bad attitude again. Sunday’s have been hard for me lately. Josh went early to and phoned to tell us when the service began. When the girls and I arrived the churches welcome committee came out and cheered (shouted and waved). Sorry to say I wasn’t in the mood. Thankfully God changed my attitude. I was quickly humbled and repentive. The church was in what we would call a condemned building. I guess it was the some ones house but it had huge holes in the ceiling and walls, it was dark, and dirty. It looked more like animals lived in there not people. Yet, in the mist of that God’s people were worshipping! I could see it on the faces of the people and hear it in the singing. These people loved the Lord. I enjoyed their singing. They were good and had a children’s and women’s choir. We had two sermons. A guy named Robert preached one on being transformed. I was very impressed with it. Sometimes we wonder where Ugandans get their sermons or they just go round and round, but this guy did a really nice job. Josh also preached. The girls enjoyed playing with the kids outside, kinda like nursery. After church they invited us for lunch at the pastor’s house. It was really nice. Everyone was entertained by our girls. We met some very nice people from the church. Grace, Tim and Angie’s house help, Dad goes to the church. Josh had a long talk with him. He is like a history book. He was almost killed three times. Once during Idi Amin, once during the Ateso rebellion, and once when the LRA was here like so close to death the gun happen not work when he was being shot at. God had a plan for this man. I just marvel when I hear these stories. I can’t fathom being through any of that and now here he is still praising God. That is faith! The pastor’s house is one room and he has five kids. Wow. I was humbled. What wealth we have. All they have to do is look at the van we drove up in and it shouts of my wealth. I am SO humbled. God I have so much and I have complained and worried. I am so sorry. It is so easy not to think about it when I don’t know people or only compare myself to others like me, but when I get to know and love people here and know how they live it is hard. I felt like I came home with a lot on my heart.

Nov. 16 -- Guests and our girls
We had a busy week with guests here two people from IT Canada and John and Grace Miles our regional director for the UK. Everything went really well we were just busy making meals, showing them around, and transporting them. We had a nice supper with everyone here who is associated with IT. It is good to be united and fellowship together. We really appreciated getting to know our John Miles. I think we can work better together now.

While our guests were here Sam came and shared his story. He was with the LRA for about three weeks. He helped a boy escape, he was beaten with the end of a gun, he watched others beaten, he saw some killed, he was infested with lice, his feet were open wounds, and he escaped during a shoot out. I just sit there thinking this happened to our friends and I think God must really have healed him for him to talk about it and give God glory.

Grace made us proud the other day. We were doing our Bible verse at night with the girls and Grace said the entire thing, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit come and you will be my witnesses.” Pretty good for just being two. She did the motions and all. Kids are so smart. We are so excited to see the Word hidden in their little hearts. Grace knows her name now. When people ask she says, “Gace” but no one understands her yet. She is full of cute words and facial expressions. I hope I never forget them especially when she says in her low, little voice “I lub a you.”

The guests really liked the girls and Lydia loved having guests. One of them commented on how Lydia talks beyond her years. Lydia also wears “earrings” a lot now. She takes necklaces (big ones) and puts them around her ears. She wants real earrings but when I told her it will hurt just for a minute when they put them in she decided maybe she should be five when she does that. We were talking about when she didn’t listen to us that day at the supper table when she said, “yeah, but sometimes I make mistakes.” I couldn’t help but laugh. Yes, Lydia we all make mistakes sometimes.

Nov. 20 – Lydia’s Malaria

As many of you know Lydia had Malaria the last few days. She started out with a cold then on Friday she played at a friend’s house all afternoon and when she came home she didn’t feel well and had a fever. We gave her medicine and she fell asleep at 6:30pm. That night her temp went up and by morning we knew she needed to be tested for Malaria. Poor baby was pricked to test her blood and sure enough it was positive. By the time she got home her fever was 103 and she was as white as a ghost. All she wanted to do was sleep. The next couple days she was up and down. She would play and be fine until the fever came back then she was down and very uncomfortable. Her fever would spike up quite quickly and she would say, “My sickness is coming back.” She was really good about it all. Sunday afternoon the fever got up to 104 and then we were a little worried. What would we do if it got higher? I called a missionary nurse who told me how much medicine I could give her. Lydia was beside herself. Hot then cold and miserable. Then she throw-up. We put her in a bath and finally the medicine kicked in. Now she thinks bathes make her feel all better. Sunday night was a long night with fevers but they did begin to come down. Yesterday she was quite a bit better but she still hung onto a 101 fever. Last night she finished her malaria medicine and all night her muscle convulsed or something and she was in a panic yet still asleep. This morning we read that the medicine can do that. Today she is much better except for her cold. She still has a head full. We are all tired for disturbed nights of sleep and probably from worrying. Thank you all for praying for Lydia!!! It brought us a lot of comfort knowing people were praying. We praise God that He healed Lydia!

Nov. 21 – Girls Bible Study and Tabitha’s situation

I am very excited about Bible study this week. I realized I only had two more weeks with the girls and that some of them may not be returning to school next year. I really wanted to share the salvation story with them. So we looked at when Jesus asked, “Who do you say I am?” We also read and talked about being a follower of Jesus – we must deny ourselves (Jesus is Lord), take up our cross (submit), and follow Him (be like Him). I am sad to say it has been a long time since I shared the gospel with someone and prayed with them. I was SO blessed and excited by it! There isn’t anything better in life. This is what we live for. I don’t know who accepted the Lord for the first time or what the Lord did in the girls hearts that night but I know the Lord has disciples in training. I am so thankful I could share God’s love with the girls.

Tabitha now has four kids she is caring for. The whole situation is SO sad. I am really troubled by it all. Her sister (by father) drinks a lot and is with another man now who doesn’t want the kids so they leave them at Tabitha’s door. Tabitha is beside herself. She doesn’t have the money or time to care for them. She knows these kids need love and are just being hurt. The youngest is 2 and basically is alone all day. Can you imagine?! The other day she left and he was napping and when she returned he was gone so she had to go find for him. (And they live on a main road too.) The other kids go to school. I am SO angry with this mother who doesn’t deserve the title. Her sins and every man she has been with are affecting and destroying these kids. The need love, need to be wanted, cared for, and protected. All they know is no one wants them. How sad. I really should do something to help but what? I really just want to shake the mother. I think we will visit the probation officer (social worker) and see if they can help. You can be praying for them.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Josh's Journal Nov. 18

Nov.18Nov. 18, 2007

I met a Ford Explorer on the way to church this morning. I know you don’t think that is too big of a deal, but it startled me. I have not seen one of those in 9 months.

On a much more serious note, Lydia came down with malaria Friday night. She was playing at a missionary friend’s house in the afternoon. She came home tired. She fell asleep on the couch at 6:30 p.m. and slept until 9:00 Saturday morning. She seemed OK in the morning but spiked a fever just before lunch. Immediately after lunch I took her for a blood test at the clinic. Within 20 minutes the test results were back that she has malaria. We treated her with Co-artem, plus Tylenol and Motrin to keep the fever down. Even with all that medicine in her system she still had a fever about 102 all night long. Today it is a little better, down to about 100.5. I try not to panic, but it is kind of worrisome when my kids get these deadly diseases.

Things with the blind have been going very poorly. We met about a week ago to make a plan to market the knitted items. We had a great plan, until I learned of all the other problems involved. I became aware of severe disunity within 24 hours of our meeting. I called a second meeting two days later. Tim also came to help me with this meeting. At this meeting we seemed to pinpoint some of the problems (specifically those involved) so Tim told those people to come to our house for a third meeting last week. At that meeting we learned that the problems dealt not simply with unity; there has been a history of abortion, divorce, immorality on the part of some of the members. When others rebuked them it did not go well. Some were denied membership for this immorality, which only caused them to start their own organization. I was very distressed. I was upset that some who claim to be leaders in church and have leadership roles in SACAB live in sin like this. I was sad, frustrated, distressed. I was ready to abandon the project because I felt like I was funneling money (so far small amounts, but orange tree orchards will begin soon) and time into a group with so many problems. Should I take back the knitting needles? Should I tell them to forget about the orange trees? Should I just quietly disappear from their group?

After I had considered these things I felt that instead of leaving, I need to get more active. The verse that came to mind was the words of Jesus: It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I need to confront those who have lived in a pattern of sin. I need to share the freedom that can be found in Christ, the grace and forgiveness that is available, but also the fury of God’s wrath for those who continue to live in sin. I need to disciple these people as much as they will allow me. I went over to Francis and Angelina’s last night about 10:00. I had to bring Angelina some money so she can get Ben his CT scan and X-ray. We took a few minutes to pray together. I felt much better after that, but we still have a long way to go.

On Wednesday I will be going about 60km into the bush to a center / town called Otuboi. I will be beginning a leadership training course based on The Timothy Institute materials produced by Calvin Seminary. I have been trying to get this going for 6 weeks. They knew I was leaving for December and wanted to have at least one session before I go. We are going to be meeting once a month. The course about Pastoral Care is 11 lessons long. I hope to be able to complete two lessons each time we meet so we can finish in 6-7 months.

On a lighter note, Pastor Danny, a missionary from the Philippines, and I are going fishing tomorrow morning. I will let you know how it goes. I hope all is well with you. Have a happy Thanksgiving!!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Nov. 8 Josh's Journal

November 8, 2007
Our internet worked yesterday (it was on for about 24 hours) but not today, so I decided to add to my communication to you. I am still plugging away at learning Ateso; although, it again feels like an impossible task – amazing how moods fluctuate regarding language acquisition. I am also working on the course for BBC called Christian Doctrine / Systematic Theology. I am enjoying the study, but it is slow progress as far as getting the course outline done.

Monday and Tuesday Mandy and I took the girls to Mbale for a little get away. We had a very nice time. It is rainy here Monday morning so we almost did not go, but we called Mbale and they said it was sunny there so we decided to go. Monday was partly cloudy, Tuesday was hot and sunny so we enjoyed the pool for hours each day. We had a great time. We tried a new Indian restaurant (new to us) and it was excellent. The room at Mt. Elgon Hotel was very nice (a hot shower was sooo nice once). I was able to buy Bible for the group of girls Mandy meets with on Wednesday nights (since I have not been able to get them here in Soroti). I also priced motorcycles ($3,000). I hope to buy one when we come back to make trips into the bush much easier, cheaper, and quicker. I have plans to start a leadership training program an 60 km from Soroti (it took 90 minutes by car) so that is the biggest reason I hope to get a motorcycle. We even got to watch Sunday night football and Monday night football. Actually, Sunday night football was frustrating because every room in the hotel watches the same channel. They told me I could watch ESPN but it took 90 minutes to find the man who knew how to change the channel. Granted, changing the channel in Africa is more complicated than in the USA, but honestly…by then it was in the third quarter and the Cowboys were ahead by many more points than the Eagles will score this month. Tuesday morning we woke up at halftime and the Steelers were already ahead 35-7, but we watched the rest of the game before breakfast anyway. We were also able to find some cheeses and a couple of cans of Mountain Dew to buy – oh the highlights.

Here is a funny story: Tim bought this eagle back in July because it was being abused. He hoped to release it, but it can’t fly – so that was exhibit one of our zoo (actually it was exhibit two, but number one escaped). Eventually it needed food and the frogs by our house decreased in population so Tim made a sign advertising that he would buy frogs from kids. Tabitha said people in the neighborhood began talking about us. On Thursday two reporters from ETOP, the newspaper, showed up at our house because they (their office is in town) had heard that some whites were buying frogs to eat and they wanted to write a story about us.

Here is not a funny story: Patrick killed a five foot long Egyptian Cobra outside our gate Tuesday night. (It should have stayed in Egypt.) Thanks for every prayer offered for the safety of our kids.