Sunday, October 24, 2010

My Sister is Here!

We are having so much fun with my older sister Jenna here that I haven't had time to write. It is SO good to have her here! What a true blessing that after 8 years of our lives in lived in Africa she is finally here to see it. It is so special to know she now knows where we are and how we live and what ministry is like. She can now understand what we are talking about. To be honest it was getting harder and harder for Jenna and I to stay close and I think it was because so much of who I am now is because of our lives in Africa. Now that she has been here we can relate even better.

I think one of the best parts of her being here is that the three of us are together (Angie, Jenna, and I). It just feels so normal and good. We laugh, we shop, we help eachother... We know eachother through and through and it is great to be so open and honest with eachother. What a special time.

We have kept busy. We stayed in Jinja where we took in the beauty, swam, took a boat ride by the source of the Nile, and ate at our favorite places. She has been apart of our home and families in Soroti, went to each of our churches, worshiped with our team, celebrated a friends birthday with us, visited Amecet and held the babies there, met our Indian friends and visited the Hindu temple with them, ventured to market with all six of our kids with us, had a ladies day out which consisted of second hand cloth shopping at the market and lunch together, went to the blind school, the Bible college, went camping and hiking and saw beautiful waterfalls and got very, very wet and muddy...and laughted as we made great memories. Ah, there is so much but I will just have to let Jenna tell you all about it.

All of the neices and nephews are thrilled to have Aunt Jenna here too. Luka can even say her name now. It is a special time for them to have her all to themselves. The only thing that could make them happier is to have all her kids here too.

It is amazing to see God in all of this. Last Spring when we were home I talked to Jenna about coming and agreed to pray about it with her. Who knew God would make a way in such a short time. Her whole time here has been an answer to prayer. I know God has spoken to Jenna in so many ways being here. I can't wait to see how God continues to use this trip in her life. I know she will be more than ever thankful for good driving, garbage cans (she is struck by the driving here and all the trash), and water and electricity that stay on.

We also unfortunatly shared our colds around here with Jenna. Seems everyone is a bit sick right now. Our kids have had coughs and colds for over three weeks. And Josh and I are battling it too. Pray for healing and health for all of us. Tomorrow we travel to Kampala, Jenna flies out Wednesday, then we have a team retreat till Sunday, and Monday travel back to Soroti. Then we hope to stay put and enjoy some routine for awhile. Pray for strength, safety, and a great spiritual retreat with our team.

Pray for Jenna as she leaves. (Oh, tears again.) We hate to let her go and wish we could just see eachother whenever we wanted to - like sister should be able to. It has been great to have her here. May God keep her safe and healthy all the way home. And may she be blessed as she reunites with her family and shares all she saw and experienced. Thanks for coming Jenna! We love you!!!

Can't wait to have you and your family back in two years. (I'm holding you to that one.)
Thank you too Ryan and everyone else who made it possible for Jenna to come! She could enjoy everything here fully knowing her family was being love and taken care of.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

September 2010 (386 photos, 1 video), 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.
Click here to view photos

October 2010 (139 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.
Click here to view photos

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Shaardas Trip and My Sister is Coming!

October 10, 2010
How do you recap three full weeks of life? Let’s start at the beginning…

Dad and Mom Shaarda arrived in Uganda on September 14. The girls were so excited. Luka took a minute to figure out who these people were but by the time we got to the van at the airport he was in grandpa’s arms, touching his face, and saying “nampa” over and over again the whole ride home (not to mention the whole three weeks).

Unfortunately, as Shaardas arrived Tim was getting worse. I have to admit I was quite stressed over his situation. The timing is never good, he wasn’t doing well, and we didn’t know what was wrong. Josh and I did our best to help Angie prepare and get to Kenya with Tim for better medical care. What a lot to think about. God is so good and made a way. I felt a lot better once they were in Kenya but we still had a couple weeks of up and downs, frustrations, and worry. I am so glad we can trust in our God!

Our first week with Shaardas was way busier than I would have liked but such is life. I just rested in the fact that we prayed along time for their visit and God knew exactly what was going on. We took care of Tim and Angie’s kids the first few days then the Kaisers, new team members, arrived and since Sliedrechts were gone we were the ones in charge. I think the hardest part for me was that my attention was so divided. Everyone “needed” me and I just couldn’t do a good job with everyone. I knew that our time with Shaardas was so precious and I wanted to protect it but the fact was our team mates were all in need too. So Dad and Mom got a good picture of our real lives here in Soroti. I was thankful for their help with loving the kids and preparing meals for the visitors.

Anyways, our first adventure with Dad and Mom was on our way to Soroti we spent the night in Jinja at the source of the Nile River. We stayed at one our kids favorite swimming resorts so they could have some fun with G & G. It is beautiful there and we just had to share the beauty with them. We took them on a boat ride and showed them the Nile River. I think Dad and Mom were still over whelmed by being in Africa at this point but were still able to enjoy their first adventure. It was so fun just to be together in Africa again. The last time they came (to Nigeria) Lydia was 6 months old. How exciting to now be sitting eating dinner with them in Uganda.

Dad and Mom were once again taken back by African life as we traveled the roads to our house. It is just plain different here. We drive on the other side of the road, people everywhere, seems like chaos, different vegetation, poverty, bad roads, different food… It is always good to see Uganda through new eyes again.

Dad and Mom were very happy to finally be in our home in Soroti. Sometimes seeing and being apart of the normal everyday things means the most. I loved showing them our home because it is my place of work and where I have made a place of comfort for our family. Mom and I spent most of our Soroti days at home. I did school with the girls a couple days each week while Mom played with Luka. Mom and I were also busy cooking and baking together. She was SO helpful with the kids and in the kitchen. Boy, is she a great dishwasher! Thanks Mom! After all our time together, she knows me well the good, bad, and everything in between. How thankful I am for a godly mother-in-law who loves me no matter what.

Dad tagged along with Josh a lot. Josh taught in a couple villages and at the Bible College so Dad got a good taste of the ministry Josh does. Dad was quite impressed to say the least. Dad loves people and did a great job meeting new friends here. We put Dad to work on a few projects too. Josh doesn’t have time to get everything done and it can be frustrating to do projects here with lack of supplies but working with his Dad on things made it fun. And now I have a new shoe rack and bean bag toss! Dad had the full experience when he got sick one day with the good old runs. So glad God kept them healthy and safe otherwise. Dad also very much enjoyed his time with the grandkids too. Luka is Grandpa’s little buddy. I was touched the morning Dad prayed with the kids before leaving with Josh for the day. What a great witness their Grandpa is to them.

Dad and Mom did and saw so much I wont be able to share it all. They met the blind and went to one of the orange tree orchards, visited Bethel Bible College, the blind school, Amecet children’s shelter, met with our team mates several times, met our other missionary friends in Soroti, went to our church, met our Indian friends… Dad even preached his first sermon here. He did great – new calling? We were also able to celebrate Dad’s birthday here. He went with Josh to teach that day and Mom and I joined them later. So for his birthday lunch he got local food in a hut in the village. That should be a birthday not to be forgotten. At night we grilled hamburgs, had cheesecake with strawberries, and the kids made a shirt for him. How fun.

We took Dad and Mom to our favorite local restaurants here in Soroti too. One of them is well basically a hole in the wall maybe even a dump that serves local food. We like it because it is cheap and quick but I knew it was quite extreme for Dad and Mom. Thankfully they were willing to try anything and even enjoyed the experience. They found watching Luka eat local food with his fingers very amusing. The other restaurant is our more American style food with a nice outdoor atmosphere. We went on Tuesday of course so we could also enjoy Monday night football replayed. Now they know how we have fun.

One weekend we took them to Sipi and Sisyi Falls with our team. We went to see the falls and to go camping. It is just beautiful there. Dad hiked behind one of the falls with us but there was so much water coming down that everything was muddy and it was really loud. Camping was fun as always. Luka loved the like creek that flows through camp. The first day he got good and muddy with his clothes on. The second day he got muddy in just his diaper. I was so glad to share this special place and our team with Dad and Mom. (We also went into Mbale the next day to go swimming and show them but it was a true Ugandan experience. The pool at one hotel had no water and at the other only the kiddy pool was working. Then it rained. Oh well.)

I wish I could describe to you how special the time with Grandpa and Grandma was to our kids. Just precious. Grandma helped Lydia with homework, baked with her, and even gave her her first piano lessons. Luka kept “nampa” close by but also enjoyed reading books on Grandma’s lap. Grace was able to have an early 5th birthday party while G & G were here. We went all out. It was Grace’s birthday carnival. We had face painting, balloon making (with a clown and all), ring toss (with out new bean bag toss of course) ,bean bag toss, a sucker tree, clothes pin drop, a craft, and of course prizes. Even Grandpa won a couple games. It was like a real carnival and it was a blast! Can’t wait for next year!

Some friends from McBain sent money with Dad and Mom to buy the former street kids at Elim house new clothes. Mom and I took the money and bought 13 pairs of pants, 13 shirts, and two dresses at the second hand market. Later all of us went to Elim to bring the clothes to the kids. When we got there some of the kids were literally in what we would call rags. The youngest boys shorts were ripped with his backside showing. So the kids all sat down and we handed them their new outfit. They ran inside and came out looking so nice! They were all smiles. It was so cool to see. What an exciting thing to do. I may have been more blessed than the kids.

At the end of Dad and Mom’s trip we went on a safari. We traveled to Murchanson Falls and enjoyed seeing many, many animals. The only thing we didn’t see was a lion or cheetah. My favorite is still the giraffe. They are fascinating. It is really cool to be so close to them in the wild. Luka loved the monkeys and now goes around saying, “monchy, Ooo Ahh” actions and all. We did two game drives and one boat ride. From the boat we saw lots of hippos, some elephants, crocs and other animals. We had a really good time except for all the driving with a one year old in the vehicle and it was blazing hot (and of course our air condition broke). I also would have liked to stay at the really nice hotel with a swimming pool but we stayed at the cheaper “camp ground” and saved $360 a night – okay that is a big savings that was worth it. I did really like the food and staff where we stayed and we even ended up paying to swim one afternoon. It was defiantly a fun way to end our time together.

After the safari we headed back to Kampala where we had one day with Dad and Mom before they flew home. I was so thankful God answered our prayers and gave us peace as we said goodbye again. The kids did so well letting Grandpa and Grandma go. Never easy. I cried half the day the week before thinking about it. But it is good to be back home now and with just our family. Luka asked for “Nampa” the morning after he left and Josh told him he went bye bye on the airplane. Luka just slammed the door in Josh’s face in response. Guess that is one way to let your emotions out.

So that wraps up the Shaarda visit, now I have to fill you in on everything else. Don’t worry I will say it for another time. Thanks for all your prayers while Shaardas were here. God is so faithful in keeping everyone healthy and safe and blessing our time together. We got out van worked on in Kampala and the mechanic said we had about 100 more kilometers before we would have been broken down along the road. God is with us! We are all a bit weary here with cold so we are trying to caught up before my sister Jenna arrives Thursday – yup, my sister is coming to visit us for the first time ever!!! Okay it isn’t ideal timing but we will take it. Please pray for her as she travels here and pray for her husband and five kids she leaves behind. (Thank you everyone for helping out with the kids so Jenna can come!) Pray for God’s blessing on this special visit too. I’ll be in touch…

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Goodbye to Grandpa & Grandma

Wow do I have three weeks of writing to catch up on! But it will have to wait a week or so. Tomorrow we leave Soroti with Grandpa and Grandma Shaarda and travel to Muchanson Falls for a two day safari. Should be fun! We are sad however that our time in Soroti is over and we are felt with only a few more days together. It has been so good being together. I can tell you right now there will be tears when we have to say goodbye. How thankful we are that they came and shared in our lives here. Can't wait to tell you about all the fun we had together!

Pray for us as we travel these next few days. Sunday and Monday we will be on safari, Tuesday we will travel to Kampala, and Wednesday Dad and Mom will fly out. Our family will be in Kampala til Saturday to help our new team members get supplies. Pray that every one stays healthy and safe this week and Dad and Mom have a good flight back to Michigan. We will send lots of hugs with them! Thanks everyone for keeping us in your prayers.