Monday, August 31, 2009

Sickness and Healing

August 30
Here it is the end of August already. Sorry I haven’t written much. Josh and I are going to be the feature article in the fall newsletter for Kuiper College. We had to write our biography so by the time I was done with that I had had enough writing.

Lydia and Grace have a couple new Ugandan friends they play with a lot. They came to our gate one day asking if they could play with our girls. Josh had just been saying how our girls need neighbor friends and was praying about it. The girls play almost four hours at a time together. They play lots of games outside, one day they played in the girls little pool, and sometimes they come in for a video break. They also like carrying Luka. It is nice for me to have the girls playing and Luka entertained. Their names are Spay, Abaila, and Betty. They are 9 to 11 years old. Betty is the only one who doesn’t live with her parents. She lives with her grandma. Her Dad left and Mom is remarried or at least with another man and lives in Amuria. All too common story. Now Grandma has four kids she is struggling to food and take care of. How is it that parents can abandon their own children so quickly? Can’t they see the sin they are living in and the hurt it is causing everyone else? I get so upset about it all. It is wrong and so many children suffer because of it. Betty’s clothes are tattered, her grandma has been sick, and the kids need school fees. I hope God shows me how to help this little girl. The fear is always that they will want more, take advantage, or depend on us. The girls remind us to pray for their friends. Lydia came out of her room the other day with a coin. I asked her what she was doing with it. She told me it was for Betty because she doesn’t have anything. I went and visited Betty’s grandma since she was sick. Her grandma was so happy to see me and so thankful – I guess the one bag of tomatoes I sent went a long ways. I couldn’t communicate much because she only speaks Ateso. They live in a simple hut. I hope to go again with Josh and the girls some day so they know where their friends live and Josh can speak to the grandmother. I am thankful for sweet little girls who have befriended my children.

Luka is crawling! While kinda. It is an army crawl he is not up on his knees but pulls with his arms and pushes with his foot. He gets everywhere! He is quick. He starts in the living rooms, gets to the dinning room, heads down the hallway, goes to the girls bedroom… The girls now know nothing on the floor is safe. He is really cute scooting around. It is amazing how quickly they change and can do things. Josh thought he felt a tooth poking through in Luka’s mouth today too. So maybe teeth are on their way too. (Oh, yeah.)

The other day Josh came home from teaching and Grace came up to him and said she had a secret for him. She told him, “Mommy is with child.” Josh asked if she knew what that meant. She said no. So he told her it meant Mommy was having a baby. Grace said, “Oh not Mommy Grandma.” Don’t you just love when kids make you laugh? Lydia was reading a book to Grace in bed a few days ago. She was doing great then she got to a page that was giving her trouble so she said, “Let’s fast forward that page Grace.” And she turned the page.

Grace has scarlet fever right now. Who would have thought? She started with a rash and a fever on Thursday but we didn’t think too much of it. Friday her fever was up to 101degrees, the rash was all over her body and she wasn’t feeling well. She slept in till 10am that morning. We started trying to find out what it was. We looked in our medical books, checked on-line, and called our missionary friend who is a nurse here. It was a mystery. Saturday was about the same but now the rash under her underwear was really bad and the rash was now itchy. Then we saw that her tongue was white. What in the world did she have? We began to think it was a yeast infection gone bad with Thrush on her tongue. But no one had heard of a rash from yeast going all over the body. I decided to email our pediatrician. Sunday morning we got her email suggesting it maybe Strep. We looked on-line and Strep can turn into Scarlet Fever. Scarlet Fever described what Grace has; sunburn rash that feels like sandpaper, white tongue, temp of 101… Finally we figured it out. The only thing is Grace’s didn’t start as Strep in the throat but in the vaginal area. Now she is on antibiotic. Hopefully in a couple days all this will be over, Grace will be feeling well again, and no one else will get it.

We pray a lot for here when people get sick (especially our kids). There are not any reliable doctors, hospitals, or labs. We have to trust in God. I guess it is a good place to be. God is our healer after all and I have seen Him heal our family several times. On Thursday both Grace and Lydia weren’t feeling well. Grace with Scarlet Fever and Lydia had a terrible stomach ache and headache. At the same time Josh was leading a former LRA kid soldier through the 7 steps to spiritual freedom. We knew this was going to be spiritual battle and had been praying a lot to prepare. We prayed for Josh, David (the former LRA victim), and over our family. We knew satan did not want to give David up and would do anything to stop it. Sure enough our kids got sick. Satan knows were we would be most concerned and distracted. But we have the power of prayer and the power of Jesus Christ in us and over us. What a comfort to know victor is Christ’s. The battle is won and we are on the winning side.

So Josh met with David. David’s story is unbelievable. It is unthinkable what evil does to people. And his is only one story out of many. I don’t know all the details but here is a summary. David was abducted by the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) with his parents when he was a nine years old. A few days later they killed his parents. David and the other boys were marched to Somalia where most of the boys were sold as slaves in exchange for weapons and bullets. David was then taken to Sudan to be trained as a soldier. By force he participated in killing, abducting, human sacrifice, and was forced to take a wife. David was caught escaping once and then was shot at and abused for it. After five years he did finally escape. He was in the Congo and turned himself into soldiers there. The soldiers then abused him. Finally, someone helped him back to Soroti. He is now 15 years old. David struggles with a lot of fear, is tormented by evil spirits, and has no family or place to go. Thankfully a pastor here has taken him in and really helped him. Josh also met with him to help him become free from the bondage he is in. He was able to denounce the evil he was exposed to, forgive all those who hurt him, and be released from the fear that gripped him. There is freedom in Christ. Pray for David. No child should have ever had to go through all he did. We simply cannot imagine. Pray for so many others who need healing like David did and others who are still held captive by the LRA. Just this weekend we met Helen. She is 19 and just escaped in June. She even recognized David. We pray God continues to use us to help somehow.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

July 09 (190 photos), by Mandy Shaarda

I'd like to share my Snapfish photos with you. Once you have checked out my photos you can order prints and upload your own photos to share.

Lydia is 6 years old!

August 9, 2009

So Lydia is now 6 years old! July 31 was the big day but we got to celebrate all week. On Monday we had the team over for cake and presents. Lydia gets so excited about her birthday. I think she started the count down a few months ago. She was so thrilled when the time finally came. Her mother on the other hand is always sad to see another year gone by…oh, all the good memories. We put decorations up for the big day and made a rainbow number six cake. Of course the highlight for Lydia was the presents. She was very happy. On Tuesday we had a princess birthday party with Lydia’s friends here in Soroti. What fun! We made crowns, played birthday bingo and musical chairs, frosted cupcakes, and opened more presents. Wow, what a good birthday.

Then we headed to Jinja for a couple fun days. It was beautiful out and both days the girls swam for about 5 hours. It was so nice. Finally on the 31st, Lydia’s birthday, we were in Kampala and went to her favorite restaurant with a trampoline. They even sang to her and gave her a birthday ice cream. Lydia told everyone all week that it was her birthday. She even had a group of other missionaries sing happy birthday to her in market. Being the social bug she is she loved everyone sharing in her joy.

It was a great week and Lydia is worth celebrating! She is a gift from God. Her love and joy are contagious. God is using her to love many people. God be with Lydia and fill her with more of you each day of her life.

We are back to being our little team again (Sliedrechs, Bokmas, Karen, and us). Our summer visitors all left last week. The business is over. That is good and bad. We will miss all of them yet it will be good to slow down and fall back into a routine again. We are adjusting. It is unbelievable that Sliedrechs leave in two short weeks for four months and then we will only have two and a half months and we go. Time, it seems to fly by lately.

We had a wonderful week away. We spent two days in Jinja at one of our favorite resorts. It is always such a blessing to be away as a family enjoying the fun and beauty of the pool and gardens. We had fun with Sliedrechs and the summer visitors swimming and eating out together. Then we were in Kampala for a few days. We went to two craft markets. I bought a whole bunch of paper beads and necklaces. They are so many and they are so beautiful. I hope to use them when we are home visiting churches. The ladies got manicures and pedicures (well I didn’t I got my haircut) while the guys watched the kids jump on the tramp and drank milkshakes. Guess everyone was happy. Our kids went to see their first movie at the theater. We saw Up. Lydia thought it was pretty special. Grace was a bit scared. At night we ordered pizza. Can it get any better? Life is good. On Sunday we went to the international church and headed to Entebbe (where the airport is). We spent the afternoon at the zoo. We had such a nice time there. Then it was time to let our guests fly home.

Our family stayed in Kampala a few more days. We got the van fixed again, got Lydia’s immigration done for another year, and Luka got immunized. Now we are home. I have been sick with intestinal problems since then. Actually the whole family does but mine is by far the worst. Luka doesn’t have it thankfully but he has an on going cold and cough. Hopefully, soon we will all be feeling better.

I forgot to tell you what Grace said after the fall at Sipi Falls. We arrived at Sisiyi Falls where we camped and she got out of the van and announced, “Don’t worry guys there are no vines here!” I thought it was really cute. Yesterday the blind came to see Josh. Grace came in the house and said, “Dad, the old people with canes are here.” Funny girl.

Luka is now sitting up on his own. He sure is a sweetheart.