Wednesday, March 25, 2009

First Days Back

March 25, 2009
We have been in Uganda for a whole week now. On the one hand it is amazing how quickly time passes. On the other hand, it is amazing how much time it takes to get back into the swing of things. One major adjustment has been the heat. All the Ugandans have been complaining about the heat as well - a true sign that it really is hot. Angie said her thermometer read 115 this week.
Another brake on our settling in has been the fact that our new house is not yet ready for us. As a result, we have not yet unpacked any of our luggage. We are just trying to make due with whatever we had hear, while also living around the pile of boxes and luggage in our dining room. The new landlord did give us a three month discount for the inconvenience, which told me a lot about his character. They have been working there ever since we got here and they keep telling us by Friday it will be ready for us to move in; although, some outside work will still be completed over the next month or two.
I was also quite disappointed to see how little progress there has been at Bethel Bible College. Because of this situation, I decided to get back to basics this week: connect with the Vine. Jesus promised in Jn. 15 that if we stay in Him, we will produce fruit. Ultimately, whether or not the Bible College grows is not the issue. The issue is leaders being trained, missionaries being sent, lost people being saved, and Christians growing in their faith. Therefore, I have focused my time this week, not so much on the Bible College, but on asking God to use me to produce fruit. I have been seeking more of His presence in my life.
On a much lighter note, our kids keep us smiling. Soon after our arrival Lydia mentions how nice it was not to have to wear tights. However, as the temps kept climbing, she decided she liked snow better.
On our way home from church Sunday Grace pointed out a chicken crossing the road ahead of us. I absent mindedly asked, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” Lydia answered very seriously, “Because it did not want the people to catch it for dinner.” Yup, we are back in Uganda. I am glad to be hear. I know God has called us here. I am just wondering (in a positive way) how He plans to use us this year.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

We Made it!

Dear Friends,

We have arrived! We cannot tell you how much your prayers meant to us. After packing 12 boxes, saying goodbye to our family and friends, flying almost 18 hours, and driving over 7 hours - all over the course of three days – we made it home and God’s peace remains with us. Many times in our journey we stopped to marvel at how God answered prayers. Checking into the airport went better than ever. An airport employee actually helped us with all of our boxes, all of which weighed the right amount. We all cried when we said goodbye in the airport so Lydia told Grandpa to tell Grandma some jokes on the way home to make here happy. Lydia gave Grandma her teddy bear named Lydia so that Grandma could take care of it and not forget her. Grace looked at us concerned so I explained to her that sometimes we are sad when we have to say goodbye and so we cry a little. Later she assured me it is okay if we are sad when leaving. Thankfully the girls were very excited to return to Uganda.

Both flights went better than we expected. Our whole family slept the whole first flight and half of the second flight. Josh even said the first flight felt more like 30 minutes than 9 hours. We had a 10 hour layover in London so we decided to splurge and get a hotel room attached to the airport. We were so thankful for a bed to rest and a shower to freshen up. We were all happy and ready to go again. Even down to the little things God was with us and answered prayers. The girls did great going through all the security checks (which can be a stressful point with kids, bags, and a stroller). Luka was happy and content. He has reflux quite bad and blows out of his diapers frequently, but we didn’t have to deal with either of those messes the whole trip. At one point in the airport I looked at our little international travelers wheeling their backpacks and I just smiled. I was so proud of them. It is a long way to travel and they did so well. Dare I say we almost enjoyed it this time? God is good!

We arrived in Uganda at 8 a.m., got all our luggage, passed through customs, and loaded the van where our driver was waiting for us. More answers to prayer! We spent the day in the capital city. We were tired by 4 p.m. but managed to stay awake until 7 p.m. There is a seven hour time change from MI to Uganda so we were concerned that the kids would have a hard time sleeping all night. Thankfully every one of us slept (some of us for over 12 hours). Praise God!

The following day we drove safely to Soroti. The kids did great with another long ride. They were SO excited when we arrived and they saw their cousins again. I haven’t seen much of them since they just play and play. They seem very happy to be back. Tim and Angie, Mandy’s sister and our team mates, blessed us with a wonderful welcoming. The house was clean and they had meals ready for us. It is good to be together again. It makes returning so much easier to have someone (family!) here waiting for you. Tim and Angie were also very happy to meet Luka. He gave them many smiles already. We also got to meet a few new team members that will be with us for the next year.

So, thank you for all your prayers! God has so clearly been with us. His peace is felt. He helped us in many ways. We thank God we are home safely. We told many people as we prepared to return to Uganda that we knew all would go well because we had so many people praying for us. Your prayers gave us so much peace and encouragement.

With all that being said, we still need your prayers. Today is Saturday March 21 and we have been in Soroti for three days now. Adjusting has gone better than we expected so far but we have a long way to go. Ups and downs are bound to happen. We quickly realized that we had forgotten how hot it is here. It is hot! Daytime temps are over a hundred degrees. Lydia keeps saying it is a HOT, sweaty day here. She decided she likes snow better. Heat really takes everything out of you (and can bring out the crabbiness in you).

Pray too for Grace. She seems to have the hardest time with change and stress. She doesn’t communicate it well so she has melt downs or gets upset quickly. She is having a difficult time at night. She gets out of sorts and doesn’t stay asleep. Last night Grace was crying and nothing we did helped so I asked if we should pray for her she said yes so we know she is troubled by everything going on. We are thankful that God is her comforter.

Thankfully Luka has been so good. Most of the time he just goes with the flow and happily coos and smiles. He has been sleeping very well, too. Last night we had no power (actually all day) and the girls woke up from the heat and all the noise, but Luka slept through it all.

We will be moving into another home next week, hopefully. We found this house to rent before we left. It is only a mile from where we are now. Our current home will be made into a guesthouse for all our visitors. Pray for us as we make yet another change. It may not be the best timing for more stress and change but we know it will be a great place for our family.

Lastly, pray for the ministries here. Especially pray for clear direction as we continue to minister here. Things change a bit when you are away for awhile and we want to make wise decisions. We pray God will lead us and use us where and how He wants.

We will keep you informed as much as we can as we adjust back to our lives here. The updates will most likely be put on our blog if you want to read them. Thank you again for praying for us! God is faithful and true.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Luka's Baptism


The time has come again to say goodbye. We had a wonderful four months in Michigan. Our main task while we were here was to visit supporters and raise our support for the next two years. We were able to speak at all 18 of our supporting churches. We were so glad we could share with you our lives and ministry in Uganda. We were touched by your encouragement, love, prayers and generosity. We also visited about 50 individual supporters. What a blessing to reconnect with all of you. During this financially challenging time, we did not know what to expect raising support, but we praise God that His people still give! We are truly thankful.
We are grateful to everyone who blessed our time on home service. Georgetown CRC provided a beautiful home in which to live. The hospitality house allowed us to relax and enjoy our stay; it gave us stability and allowed us to have routine. Hudsonville Christian School and Miss Klien welcomed Lydia and gave her a great first time school experience. Thanks for making it special for her. Many of our supporting churches helped us with other needs. Supporters helped, had us over, and gave generously. We appreciate your love. Finally, we are thankful for all the help and love from our family. We were blessed by all of you.
Now as we prepare to head back to Uganda, we go with all of your support and prayers. It is hard to leave. We have fears and sadness BUT we know you are with us. Your prayers, love, and encouragement strengthen us and remind us of God’s calling in our lives. We look forward to being with our team in Uganda, seeing our friends, and continuing the ministries there. We are thankful God is in control and has good plans for us. So with much anticipation we return to Uganda knowing God has work to do and wants to use us.

Pray for us:
Praise God for the birth of Luka.
Pray for God’s comfort and peace as we prepare to return to Uganda. As the time comes closer we have experience some worry about taking our kids far away and fear about flying. We know Satan likes to attack us at our weak points and make us worry, but we also know God is our Father who cares for us and protects us. We can trust in Him. Pray for God to be near us.
We will be flying March 16th to 18th, then driving to Soroti on the 19th. Pray that everything goes smoothly as we travel. Pray that the kids do well with the long flights and layovers. Pray for our health and safety.
Pray for us as we adjust back to our life in Uganda. May we have God’s peace and strength as we adjust to the 7 hour time change, hot weather, culture, and separation from family again. Pray that the kids do well with it all. We will also be moving into a different house when we return to Soroti so pray that all goes well.
Pray for our families as they let us go again and adjust, too.
Thank God for a great home service and the support He provided.
Pray God blesses His work in Uganda. Pray that students will come and that Bethel Bible College will advance this year. Pray for His leading and wisdom as we serve there.