Thursday, April 17, 2008

Soroti Suffers Again

April 17

We had a big storm Tuesday night. It came so quick and it poured buckets! The wind was so strong that we couldn’t get the windows closed and once we did the rain still came blew in through our vents. The lighting was a constant flashing like a strobe light. I laid in bed praying for our safety and that the storm would stop. I had no idea how big the storm really was until the next day.

Some people are saying it was the worse storm they have ever seen. Josh’s language teachers’ roof blew off and all their things were ruined. Josh went over there in the afternoon and was literally shocked by what he saw. Power lines are down everywhere and are lying on top of houses and huts. Trees, BIG trees, have fallen. And house after house without roofs and some left with no house at all just rubble. People were busy drying their things and gathering what was left of their roof. (One sheet of metal was wrapped right around a power pole.) Josh came back feeling very helpless.

I just had to see this so we went for a ride before supper. I heard about it from Josh and looked at his pictures, but when I saw it I just couldn’t believe it. I saw total destruction and devastation. It looked like a tornado or hurricane had come through. How can this much suffering happen to people? One of the gas stations canopies was totally tipped straight up and down by the wind. (It is something to see!) We went by our church and so many homes are ruined and trees are down. To be honest you wouldn’t have known unless you had seen the homes before because so much of Uganda looks like condemned homes. But they are homes where people live and now they are without roofs or worse yet walls too. We heard that over 12 people died in the storm mostly from walls falling on them. These areas definitely got the worst of the storm.

We got to our church and I was amazed. The whole roof was lifted up and fell on the next one room home. Our church! It ruined the walls too. I couldn’t believe it – the whole roof. I am so thankful no one was in there. What if it was during Bible study or something? Then we went across the road to Stella’s. Stella goes to our church and her sister Faith just died from HIV. Her whole house was gone! Just bricks remained to show you where the house was. The roof lay a few feet away. How scary it must have been! One lone room remained standing where they all had gathered in the storm – God kept them safe. They told us about several people around who died in the storm. Stella was pretty much herself even after this tragedy. They just keep living like it is just a part of life. We would be in a state of emergency. We would be crying and complaining about our home and things. I was in awe over it all. The kids sat on the tree that was blown over and their clothes spread out drying. Everything was soaked and most of it looked ruined. Where would they sleep tonight? What would they do? How could they rebuild with no money? I felt so sad and overwhelmed. What would I do if it was my family, my children? God have mercy on them!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Josh's Journal (April 9-16)

April 9
Last night Mandy and I went on a Date. The NCAA Basketball finals were going to be rerun on International ESPN at 7:00. We went to the restaurant to watch. It was quite exciting, Memphis was ahead by 5 with one minute to play…and the electricity went out. I would not believe it. I had to wait until today to find out who won (Kansas, after a last second shot tied the game to force OT - and I missed it)…I should have never looked and lived with the notion that Memphis won.
I had my birthday Saturday. It was a very fun day. We spent some time in our little pool as a family and had a nice birthday supper with chocolate cake. Mandy and the girls decorated the house and tried to make it real special. I am 30 years old now. Jesus was 30 when He began His ministry, up to that was just preparation I guess. It makes me excited to see what God has been preparing me to do. May He help me deny myself, pick up my cross and follow.
I am quite frustrated with the Bible college. Only one student has shown up - they were all supposed to be there Monday. Anyway, I got sick of waiting and I felt bad for the one student, so today I started teaching, just Abraham and I. I figured I would give him a head start on the group. Being patient can be hard.
April 16
Last week Mandy had a miscarriage. I know, most of you did not even know we were expecting. We had been celebrating privately with plans of making it public on my mom’s birthday (4-14-08), but we lost the baby a few days before that. I am really surprised how much we have grieved for this baby. Mandy especially has been having a very tough time. I also found myself thinking strange thoughts: will that child be in heaven? What do you do with a baby that small (including the sack it was only the size of a baked bean)? It has been a hard week.
From Sunday to Tuesday Mandy was in Kampala with her friend Tabitha. Tabitha had some medical issues that needed to be dealt with and it also gave Mandy a chance to see a better doctor than is available here in Soroti. I was home alone with Lydia and Grace. I gained a new appreciation for Mandy and what she does every day. I decided it is good for a woman to get away for a day or two - she deserved it.
Tuesday morning when I got up and walked into the kitchen, I could HEAR the ants in the back room / pantry. I know ants typically do not make noise, but when there are thousands of them, chewing, and laying eggs everywhere they do make noise. I am totally against using a DVD as a babysitter, but I broke my own rule for an hour Tuesday morning while I was cleaning up ants. Everything I moved revealed more ants, wings, and eggs. Bugs were absolutely everywhere. I hate ants!!!
Last night tragedy struck. About 10:30 the worst storm in 50 years went through the area. We drove around today to visit people who had been affected. The devastation was astounding. My language helper called to say he would not be coming because the roof blew off his house. After lunch I went to visit him - I have never seen anything like it. His house was not so bad: the walls were still standing even thought the roof was gone, and all his belongings were spread out in the sun to dry. Many of his neighbors lost not only the roof, but walls as well. His next door neighbor (a man with some mental retardation) had a one-room house. The roof and 3 walls fell, all of it fell out so the man was OK. Hundreds of houses were destroyed. Roofs, steal, belongings were everywhere. You could not look away from the destruction because it was everywhere you looked. The power company said power would be back within a few weeks. Hundreds of poles are down. Thankfully the power was knocked out early on, because many houses have lines draped over them. Today people were using power lines for drying their clothes. Trees were also down throughout the area.
When I got back home Mandy said she wanted to go out and see. We decided to drive over where we go to church. The roof of our church had been picked up and spun so it was now setting half on the church and half on the house next to the church (the house had lost its roof before the church roof landed on it). Stella is a member of our church who lives across the road from the church (she is a sister to Faith, the woman who died of AIDS two weeks ago). Stella cares for a number of children. They lived in a 3 room house. They were all huddled in the end room; it is the only room left standing. The roof landed about 20 feet away; all the other walls were leveled. We thank God she is alive. She knew of 6 people in their area who had been killed (walls fell on them or they were hit with flying debris). Even the Red Cross compound was leveled. People are trying to mobilize for disaster relief, but the devastation is severe. People with almost nothing lost everything they had. This afternoon we asked where people would sleep tonight, some said outside, others had no idea - they were still trying to sort out the pieces. Our end of town (the north end) was not hit nearly as hard as the South end. It is raining here again now. I pray it is not raining on the south side of town.
Please pray for all these people who have lost so much. I am having trouble processing what I saw today. A million dollars would help - but people would still be sleeping under the stars for several days (no one can begin rebuilding, because there is no electricity at the saw mills to cut lumber). This morning I was frustrated that the Bible College’s roof had been put on hold because they were waiting for lumber - it seems trivial now.
Speaking of the Bible College, only one student has reported to class, so I have been teaching one student for the past two weeks. He is from Karamoja, a place with almost no believers. He came to Christ a couple of weeks before coming to Soroti. He was a drunkard before that. He wishes their were more students, bt the teaching he has received has been more beneficial than if there were 20 students. We are studying Systematic Theology and he is eating it up. He is so excited by the verses we read, because he never read the Bible before. He is eager to change and apply God’s word to his life. But he also has a lot to learn. He had identified a girlfriend, but he is also married. However, as soon as someone showed him that the Bible condemns this, he stopped making plans. Seriously, he had no idea it was wrong, no idea where to find the book of Psalms, no idea if 2 Peter was in the Old or New Testament. But every day he is amazed at the things he is learning from the Bible - and so far we have only studied why we need theology, what is the Bible, and what is God like. I am excited at how God might change him, and use him to spread the gospel among the Karamajong. I have prayed often for Teso missionaries to be raised up to disciple in Karamoja, here God has brought a Karamojong to learn His Word. He will be a permanent missionary there.


April 16

I went to Kampala with Tim and Tabitha Sunday to Tuesday. Tim had to pick up his new laptop and I needed to take Tabitha, our house help, to see a doctor. Tabitha has had pain since 2004 and the doctors here were not finding the answer. We went to the international hospital in Kampala where they did tests and said it is a pelvic infection but because it has lasted so long it is now chronic. It is good to have an answer but sad she basically has to live with the pain. We will see how the next few months go then decide if we need a second opinion. Tabitha seemed really down about it all especially because it may cause infertility.

I also had a scan to make sure the uterus was empty. The paper came back saying the “abortion complete.” It made me cry just reading it. I am so emotional and up and down lately. I cry when I think about what we have just gone through, when I think about our baby, how we would be feeling pregnant right now, when I hear worship music, or feel alone or confused. Sometimes I can talk about it fine other times I just cry when I try. I saw a lot of pregnant women getting scanned while I was being scanned for a different reason. I see babies everywhere. It all makes me just think and feel. Sometimes I feel God’s peace in it all and other times I wonder why.

I really missed Josh and the girls the short time I was away. It was good for me. I don’t ever want to take them for grated. Life is just not the same without them. I want to share everything with my husband. I’m not the same without my other half. Life isn’t as fun without Josh. We know what each other thinks, feels, likes… I really love my best friend!

(We were so disappointed that our favorite restaurant, Spurs, in Kampala almost doubled their prices. Why does it seem like anything that we look forward to or brings us some normality and joy is taken away from us? I know it must seem silly to you in MI where you have tons of places to choose from and you don’t even need that break or refreshment so much, but if you lived here you would understand. I will try not complain I just needed to share my frustration.)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Our Baby

April 12

As some of you know Josh and I had a miscarriage. We have been trying to get pregnant and it has been quite an emotional roller coaster. The end of March we had two tests tell us we were not pregnant and I was so upset. But as the days went on our hope increased. I checked again and found out I actually was pregnant. I told Josh we were five week pregnant. Our baby was due December 5. We planned to tell Lydia and Grace and our family the next weekend. Josh was even excited to tell our friends here in Ateso. We could finally begin the plans to go home in the fall, speak at our churches, put Lydia in school, be with family again, and have a baby. I was so excited. I love being pregnant. We have been praying for this and now we were praying for our baby already forming inside of me. I was so thankful!

But our joy didn’t last very long. Last Thursday I told Josh I was pregnant and on Monday I began spotting. I was immediately worried. Tuesday I went to the OBGYN in Soroti. He listened to me then examined me – the most painful exam I have ever had. He said he didn’t think I was pregnant because the uterus was still small. He then sent me for a scan. There he confirmed that there was no baby. I was totally devastated. I cried as I drove around Soroti looking for a place to be alone (there isn’t a place). Was I that dumb to think I was pregnant when I wasn’t? I couldn’t understand. I felt pregnant – nausea and all.

I went back to the OBGYN to have my blood and urine tested. I could not believe what I was going through. First I was examined in a little make shift office with nothing covering me and now I was having my lab work done near a filthy, smelly, fly infested area. The latrine where I had to collect urine was just that, a latrine. I thought about our doctors in Michigan that are so sterile and orderly. The only thing I like about it here is that it is cheap and quick. But do I trust them? Oh, what I would give to be able to know if the lab and doctor knew what they were doing. (The lab lady thought all my moles were mosquito bites – and she went to school).

My lab tests came back saying I was indeed pregnant and have malaria and a urinary track infection. (And my arm is now black and blue from the vein the lab lady broke taking my blood – ouch!) I do not believe I have malaria because I do not have a fever nor am I deathly sick. Everyone seems to test positive for malaria here. (It cannot be trusted.) The doctor still does not think I am pregnant, prescribes some medicine, and told me to return in two weeks. I was SO confused!

I went home and unloaded on Josh. Now what? Just sit and wait two weeks to know what is going on? I am not a patient person. I wanted to know if I was pregnant or not and why I was spotting. Josh was certain we are pregnant and was hopeful that everything would be okay. We don’t trust the doctors or lab here, so maybe they are just wrong. I needed to talk to someone so I told Angie everything. She listened and offered the advice she could. We called the OBGYN in Kampala and he said to wait and see too. Then I went to God and cried out my heart to Him.

Wednesday I began to loose hope. I did not feel pregnant anymore. I wasn’t nauseated like I was a couple days ago. And the spotting became bleeding. I told Josh I thought we were loosing our baby. He however held onto hope. I didn’t know if I wanted to let myself hope. To top it off, we watched the Waltons at night and it just happened to be about the mother getting pregnant and having a miscarriage the baby. I just couldn’t believe it. Was God preparing us or what?

I prayed that God would save this baby – He can do all things. I asked for the bleeding to stop to show us everything would be ok. Thursday I had a touch of hope again because I felt nauseated again, but I was also still bleeding. My abdomen has been tender since the beginning but now it started cramping. I began to really worry. I went to the internet cafĂ© to read about miscarriage and tubal pregnancies. They described my symptoms so I was ready to go back home and tell Josh we needed another scan to make sure we didn’t need to go to Kampala for treatment. But when I got home I knew I was really bleeding. I went to the bathroom and found out I miscarried.

I asked Lydia to get Josh from next door where they were having a meeting. Josh came into the bathroom and knew right away. We just cried. Josh went and told Angie. Our Ugandan friends saw him crying so Angie shared with them and they began to pray for us. Josh and I sat in the bedroom in tears. Josh said he kept hope till the end but now it is all so real. I didn’t want to feel anything anymore. I was tired. Angie came in and gave us her love. It felt like all our dreams for the next year were shattered. I planned for so long to be pregnant this year. No going home? I needed that to look forward to. We have had so much discouragement living here. Struggles, frustrations, sickness…what next – I’m scared to ask. Why does it have to be so hard sometimes? Still our pain lay in the fact that our baby was gone.

I longed to be with our families. I wanted to cry with them and be near to them. I called my Mom and told her what happened. Later Jenna called and shared in our pain. The next morning Jeremy and Sonja called and cried with me. She also called my doctor for me. Josh talked to his Mom too. I needed to be reassured from them that we are mourning our baby and that is ok. It is also a comfort to know people are praying for us now. The joy we thought we would be sharing with them this weekend ended up being sadness.

I am surprised how tired and kind of sick I have felt since the miscarriage. I just want to lie down all day, but it is getting better. I am very down and emotional. I am thankful for Josh. I just need him near by right now and the girls need him. (The girls just think I am not feeling well.) It is a process of mourning. Mourning our loss, our hopes, plans. I have prayed through this whole journey. God knows every thought, feeling, desire. He has a plan. I don’t know it or understand it, but God is in control. This baby was His from beginning to end. I know God will teach me something through all of this. I know I understand better and feel more for women who have trouble getting pregnant. I know my plans and desires need to be done under God’s will and I need to accept that will even when I don’t like it. Faith, it is what gets us through hard times.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Birthday & Burial

April 7, 2008

We have a new pool. It is big enough that we can all fit in it and the girls need swimmies on when it is full. We have really been enjoying it so far. We go for a swim in the late afternoon as a family to cool off and play before supper. We haven’t had rain for about 5 days again so it has been hot. Tim had a cement slab made out back for the pool and has planted some palm trees too. It is our oasis.

We celebrated Josh’s 30th birthday! It began with a date night on Friday. Then Saturday the girls and I decorated the house with 30 birthday notes, streamers, and balloons. We made omelets for breakfast – one of Josh’s favorites. Tim, Angie, and family came for supper to celebrate. We had bar-b-q meatballs, green bean casserole, fried potatoes, and applesauce – Josh’s kind of meal. And of course, chocolate cake and ice cream for dessert. The girls and I made Josh cards and birthday certificates. After the girls went to bed, the adults played cards. Although we didn’t have any great gifts or places to go, we had a fun time celebrating Josh’s birthday. We made it special. We are SO thankful Josh and want him to know how much we love him.

Faith, the lady from our church who has HIV and I just wrote about in our newsletter, died Saturday morning. It was only 5 months ago she found out she had HIV. I went to the funeral or burial in the village on Sunday. I took Maggie and a few neighbors who sold with Faith at market. The rest of our church members and all of Faith’s relatives rented a couple trucks and piled them high with people to get to the village. When we arrived Pastor Francis and Pastor Patrick were giving a message. There were people everywhere sitting under tarps listening – and some sleeping. The sun was hot under the tarps. I bet there were over 200 people there. Most were sitting but others were cooking, getting water, preparing the grave, or just busy with kids and visitors. Maggie led me to view the body. The coffin sat in the middle of all the people with Faith’s mother and sisters sitting next to it. There was a handkerchief over her mouth (which is what they do here) and a white clothe over her body. She looked as thin and sick as the last time I saw her. The message ended but the men were not finished digging the grave so the pastors just continued talking until they got the okay. Just before the burial they announced one last time to view the body. Women began to wail. It is such an eerie sound. Some just sobbed. My tears began to well up. Death is so sad. There is nothing like seeing your loved one forever covered in dirt. It brought me back to the other deaths we had walked through with our friends in Mahula. It is so hard. While the crying continued singing began, songs of hope in the mist of sadness. Christians finding comfort in their faith in God. It was beautiful. God was there. Holding the hurting, bringing His peace, and assuring us of our hope.
Then a few men put ropes around the coffin and carried it to the grave. The pastor read a few verses then they again lifted the coffin and lowered it into the grave. But it didn’t fit so out it came again and they began to dig a little more. Just as a cultural side note, the coffins here have a window where the face of the person is. I am not sure what they need to see but it is there. Finally, the coffin was in place and slowly everyone walked away as the men finished the job.
We then talked with Stella, Faith’s sister who goes to our church. She was the one who cared for Faith and for Faith’s two small children. I almost got mad as I looked around at 200 people who came to the funeral because they “cared” about Faith but none of them help one bit when she was sick and dying. How sad. I also saw Faith’s 6 year old daughter and 3 year old son. I feel SO bad for them. How confused they must be, scared, and maybe angry. Stella and Maggie wondered if the kids knew. I assured them the kids know. They saw her sick, hear people talk, and now saw her dead. They may not understand or be able to communicate it but they are hurting. I wish someone would sit down and talk with them. I wish there was something I could do but they don’t even speak English.
The funeral ended by serving food to everyone. Can you imagine serving food to 200 people when you have to walk to get every drop of water, the nearest market is a few miles away, and you cook it all over a fire. They served us posho and beef. I still can’t believe how much some people eat and the pieces of “meat” they eat. (I am so spoiled!) After we ate we loaded up the van with people. Stella and Faith’s kids came back with us too. The kids were crying when they had to go. My heart broke. This is when I met the father for the first time. He is the one who didn’t help his wife in anyway – no care, not even money. He was even mean and has not cared for his children either. I asked him if he was coming home because his children need him. He said he would. We will see.
It was a day of bumpy roads and lots of emotions. It left me tired. I pray that somehow through Faith’s death this family will know God more.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April 1 -- Mandy's March Journal

March 5, 2008

We visited our neighbors Joseph and Martha the other day. As I was sitting there I felt like we should ask them if they have a Bible. I though that would be a funny question, they go to church and we have been friends for a year and now I was going to ask. But I have learned not to ignore something that maybe from the Holy Spirit. I would rather error on the side of doing than on the side of regret. So I asked them if they had a Bible. They said they did not. Thank you Lord I heard you right, this is why you wanted me to ask. The next day we brought them a Bible. A few days later Martha told us she reads it every night.

Last night we took a walk to see Denis’ new house (hut) he built. On the way home we stopped by a ladies house because Lydia and Grace wanted to see her cat. The ladies name is Margarita. She is a widow living all alone in an old IDP camp. Her husband was killed by the Karamojan 12 years ago. In 2003 she had to feel her home when the LRA came. She speaks really good English and cooks at the High School next to our house. She was just a nice grandma type. I really felt for her. What a sad story. I am always struck when I meet someone who has been affected by the things I have heard about. They are real people.

March 15, 2008

We had a nice family get away last week. We spent the first day in Jinja at the Nile Resort. We enjoyed the view and had fun playing in the pool with the girls. Lydia and Grace got a little too much sun. They were so tired they literally fell asleep in two minutes as we rode the rest of the way to Kampala. We stayed at our friend Kate’s apartment (she works for World Vision). It is so nice and we are so thankful for a free place to stay. It is beautiful, in the perfect location, has a pool, and a maid comes in everyday. I think the thing we liked best about our time away was Spurs. Spurs is a restaurant that is very close to an Applebees. They have the added bonus of a trampoline for kids. We love the double thick milk shakes. Their prices are right, they are quick, and have good service. That is why we ended up going three times while in Kampala four days. One night Grace only wanted to go to Grandma’s for supper though. She cried and cried for Grandma.

We also did a little shopping, relaxed, went to church, and to Didi’s World (the Disney World of Uganda). The girls loved when the “Christmas lights” came on at Didi’s. Lydia went on one grown-up ride with me, the octopus, but by the end she didn’t like it and was crying. I road the ocean motion all alone – felt a little silly – but it was fun. We had a good time. Monday we took Paul and Ann Tameling and John back to Soroti with us. We stopped in Jinja for a beautiful lunch on the Nile. Tamelings and John are already grandpa and grandma to the girls.

(Just got to warn you, I don’t mean to complain but here come all our daily frustrations.) Since we have been home we have been without power. Actually, today is our first day with power again (6 day without). Talk about frustrating. Our fridge could barely keep up even with the generator on a few hours each day. The muffler on our generator came off so it was really loud for a few days until we found someone who could fix it. We just got internet back yesterday too. Poor Tim and Angie have also been without a van because no one seems to be able to fix it correctly. So we have been sharing a van and trying to work around each others schedules. And Sliedrecht’s computer crashed. Can you believe it?

Oh, I didn’t even tell you about our guard Patrick. The day we left for Kampala we got a call from Tim there was a situation. Patrick seems to have gotten our neighbor girl pregnant. We were so angry and sad that we just ignored it until we came back. Poor Tim and Angie had to deal with it. The short story, Patrick still denies it yet sometimes admits to it. Weird. It seems he lies more than we knew. The girl is only 17 and we are told is not right in the head. She stays with her uncle, who we know and is a pastor here, and his family. Patrick had to pay 200,000 (over a $100) to the family or be brought to jail. Once again we helped out and now he has to pay us back. He went to the village to sell some of his animals while we held onto his bikes to make sure he would return. And he is no longer our guard. The whole ordeal really makes you feel defeated. Is there anyone doing what is right here? Is there any good here? When we came we were shocked and saddened when our Ugandan co-workers said we shouldn’t trust anyone here. Now, a year later, we feel like we can’t trust anyone here. This week I really felt like it was satan saying to us, “See I have control here. You mine as well leave.” Oh how satan would like to discourage us and have us give up. That makes me want to fight. God is in control. God is at work here and He is working through us.

On the up side, I have started a new Bible study. Actually, I don’t exactly look forward to it yet but it is getting better. I meet with any women from our church that come and a few neighbor women I invited every Wednesday at 3pm. I say 3pm but by the time I round up women here, drive there and them round them up there and wait for them to come it is more like 4pm. The first week there was seven women. It is really different and harder when everything has to be interpreted. Some of the women can’t read and I don’t think any of them are use to answering questions. It went slow but good. The second week only three that came I was discouraged at first but remembered all the praying I did for God to work. I knew these where the women He wanted there. We ended up having a very good lesson and I was encouraged by the end. One of the women talked about how the message spoke to her. Her husband has a “call girl” and she sometimes comes to their home to stay. (Can you imagine?!) The husband at least use to confess to be a believer. We talked about how Jesus ate and came for sinners. How we are to love even the unlovable. These women NEED God’s Word! This women, I think her name is Grace, can’t read so without something like Bible study how would she know? My neighbor Stella came too and thanked me. She had learned so much from each lesson and told me when we break it down it help them to understand. I was so thankful for the encouragement. God is working! We will see what week three brings.

My night Bible study with the hostel girls continues to go well. I do look forward to that one. The other night we studied when Jesus washed his disciple’s feet and the last supper. We then washed each others feet as Christ commanded us to serve each other. I also had chapatti and maranda fruity for the bread and wine. It was a very special night.

Thursday a couple of our missionary friends had a yard sale. They had a lot for sale and it was so much fun to garage sale. (Sorry but it is true, I really miss finding good deals.) We had a really nice time fellowshipping with the women and kids too. We were there three hours. Poor Lydia was so afraid of their three hyper dogs that she sat on top of their slide the whole time.

Lydia has not stopped praying for a baby brother and she now tells everyone. I bought a few baby things at the sale and when she saw them she said, “Is this for my baby brother I am praying for?” Then she told Tabitha who looked at me. When I told her that the girls are praying for a baby she just laughed. Angie asked her if a baby sister would be ok and Lydia said no it would be a baby brother. I said to Lydia it is good to pray to God but she needed to remember that sometimes God answers yes, no, or…and they Lydia finished my sentence with “wait”. I asked her how she knew that and she said her Max Lucado video told her. Now every time we pray she has instructed us that we have to pray for a baby brother. If we forget she tells us and we have to pray again. I am surprised how serious Lydia is about this baby brother thing and Grace just follows the cue.

Lydia likes to pay for things with her play money lately. She has paid the man at the grocery store (which they think is so funny) and she tried to put her paper money in the tithing. It really is cute she digs through her little purse and pulls out her money so seriously. Grace still wears undies but doesn’t know how to tell us before she has to go so we have to keep on her. She is my little baker. She loves to sit and watch and help. Lydia enjoyed doing preschool books with Grandma Ann this weekend. Ann thinks Lydia is very smart for a four year old.

We have enjoyed and appreciated Tamelings and John. The conference seems to be really hitting on the issues that need to be here. I feel like God is using them here. They are very encouraging and have a lot of wisdom to share. The other night they were sharing a bit of their testimonies. I was in awe what they have been through. Paul was about 7 years old in the Netherland during WWII. He and his family did what they could to help during that time but he was caught a couple times. They put him in the camp there where they did some really awful things. He would not even go into it because it was so bad. He said he understands the things the LRA did because he was seen it all. He was only a little boy. He had nightmares until he forgave all of those people through Set Free a few years ago. Then Emmanuel, the pastor from Kampala that works with Set Free, told us about when he was in Rwanda. Rebels stopped their vehicle and out of the 20 people he was with only 5 lived. He told the whole story of what happened. I was amazed by their stories. First of all because I have been SO blessed! I have only known safety, health, peace, love, Christianity…in my childhood, with my husband and children. I am so thankful to God. Secondly, I simply can not imagine the evil in this world and that scares me. Really it could happen to any of us at anytime. The world is not getting any better. The only hope we have is in Jesus. I need His peace.

March 25

Grace is funny. Her babies are always called “baby Mosey” and she often has a baby Mosey in her tummy. Her new thing is, “just pretening” (pretending). She also told me today that she had a “pwobwum” (problem). So cute.

Josh and I have been enjoying a date night about every week. It is great because the girls love when Tabitha baby sits and even ask us to go on a date. Josh and I enjoy going for supper and talking or watching sports if it is on. Silly, maybe, but we looked forward to our date nights.

We had a huge storm last Wednesday. I was in the middle of Bible study at church when the wind began to blow. We ran to the van just as the rain started to pour. The streets were like rivers. I couldn’t even see where the street was when I was on the back roads. Our compound was full of water too, new pond I guess, but within an hour it was gone. It has been raining pretty consistently since so I believe rainy season has begun. I really like the cloudy days and cool – dare I say cold to us – nights. I get to have my blanket on!

We had a really nice Easter. My Bible study girls came and sang at our church. They led worship and sang three songs as a choir. They sing really well and everyone enjoyed it. We even sang a few Easter worship songs we know, “Lord I lift your name on High” and “He is Lord”. It is good to celebrate Easter. Late year they didn’t even mention that it was Easter in church. After church the girls came over for pop and goodies. I was asking each one of them about their families. One girl’s father died from witchcraft, one from AIDS, and one was killed by the LRA. Of the nine girls there, three of them have fathers still alive.

In the evening we had an Easter egg hunt with the girls. Angie got chocolate eggs in Australia. Then we had an Easter feast – ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, carrots, salad, and dessert. It was great to really celebrate with family and friends. We had Tamelings, John, Sliedrechts, and Tracey (missionary friend). The table was even all decorated. I love doing that. We did the resurrection eggs and sang Easter songs for devotions. I wish all of you could have been there.

March 30

Lydia has learned a new word. She now tells me she appreciates my meals and how she will just appreciate it when she gets mail. Grace was sick last Monday for about 6 hours. She threw-up, took a nap, sat on my lap, and then was fine the rest of the night. Lydia got it tonight. She got a bad headache, threw-up, fell asleep, and then woke up and ate supper. I guess we are done with that round of sickness. Grace is finally telling us when she has to go potty now! We will soon be out of diapers (except at night) for the first time in four and a half years.

We had the new CRWRC people for supper last week. Jack and Ellie are here for four months. We had a nice time together. Our friends the Dewires came Thursday. Lydia and Abby played in the morning then the family came for lunch. It was a cloudy, cool day so we ended up playing games all day and having supper together too. It was an unusual fun day with friends.

We don’t have internet anymore so things have been slow. So I apologize for all emails we don’t reply to and for an outdated blog. Hopefully soon we will have something worked out.

That is the end of March. I are thinking about home a lot lately. I love you all!