Friday, April 29, 2011

Robert's Death

April 28

I write this with a very heavy heart. Last night our watchman and friend died. How quickly life is taken. Death is never easy even when it is a believer. For us on earth, it is painful. Robert was a godly, caring, quiet man who stood out in this culture because of his honesty and commitment to his family. It is a loss.

Robert had a tooth infection about three weeks ago. He was in a lot of pain but taking medicine for it. It became so swollen that he ended up in the hospital. The infection was so back it was oozing and he couldn’t open his mouth to eat. The doctor gave him meds to reduce the swelling before the dentist could remove the tooth. About a week later he was back to work with a slightly swollen face.

Since then he didn’t say much about it but it seemed to still be swollen a bit. Yesterday he left our house at 6am and stopped at his daughter Grace’s house (Tim and Angie’s house help) because he was having chest pain. Grace told him to stay and rest or call us but he just wanted to reach home. A half an hour later they found him passed out over his bike down the road. Josh went to get him and brought him to the clinic near our house. Josh said Robert’s eyes were rolled back and he wasn’t doing well.
Josh had to teach all day but went to see Robert again after he was done. Robert was still unconscious and the doctor said they couldn’t get a blood pressure on him until the afternoon when it was 70/40. It looked like Robert had toxic septic shock. He was having a hard time breathing and threw up blood. We talked to Jennifer, our teammate and nurse, and she said his organs were probably failing and with that low of blood pressure there was a concern for brain damage. Why wasn’t the clinic doing more! It is so frustrating. So hard be feel so helpless.

We prayed for Robert all evening. I had ladies Bible study and shared and prayed with them. It was then that I realized we may loose our friend and I cried. As the night went on I kept crying out to God, “Save him Lord. He is a godly man, a witness for you.” Only God could save him.

At 5:30am our phone rang. It was Grace letting us know Robert died. Josh and I hugged and cried. We quietly got ready to join our friends at the clinic. Jennifer came over and sat at our house while our kids slept. Honestly, when I heart Robert died a flood of memories of Mahula, Nigeria came into my mind. Early, dark mornings getting a message that someone had died. It really was the only place I walked through death with people. Every time, and this time was the same, I would get a sick feeling in my stomach and not want to go through what we were about to go through. But we must because we love them.

I held Grace as we both cried. There are no words. We went in Robert’s room (shared with another patient) and Grace uncovered his head for us to see him. How hard it is to see a friend lying there dead. Here they tie the mouth shut and stuff the nose with cotton. I found myself waiting to keep looking at him. It just wasn’t real that he was gone. I just kept crying. As we mourned I began to think it is only sad for us. It only hurts on our side. He is with the Lord. Really, he is in paradise with God! I am so happy for him. But my heart breaks for his family. The hardest moment was defiantly when his wife uncovered Robert down to his knees (he was clothed) and kept touching him. She reached for his hand but it was already stiff. I looked at the wedding ring on his finger and couldn’t help but let the tears flow. Her loving husband was gone. Here one day and gone the next. I simply cannot imagine trying to hold your cold, lifeless husband. His wife cried with fear over the six children they are still caring for. What would she do now as a widow? The children are from their two daughters who remarried and the new husband refused the children from another marriage. Rrr, I get so mad at this culture! What would happen to these kids and Robert’s wife?

We told our kids later in the morning and to my surprise Lydia instantly began to weep. She was so upset. It was so hard to see her hurt. We held them and talk about it with them. Later I asked Grace, who had been quiet, if she was ok and what she was feeling. I told her it is ok to cry when a friend dies. She asked it Robert was in heaven and I said yes. She said so we will see him some day. I told her we would and that is why it is so important to know Jesus. It is really neat because the other day in school we talked about and read about heaven in school. How Jesus is there preparing a place for us. When I walked away I stopped to hear her talking. She said, “I want to go to heaven. It will be so beautiful with all the jewels. And I will see Jesus. I think He will be handsome. I will see all my friends.” Amen Grace!

Josh just returned from bringing the body to the village. Tomorrow is the burial. I will write again later. Thank you for your prayers for us and most of all for Robert’s family.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter Celebrations!

April 26, 2011

I hope all of you were as blessed as we were to remember our Saviors death and celebrate His resurrection. I kept saying Christians should be the happiest people in the world. The world should hear us rejoice this weekend. We have the victory!

Many of you will remember at Christmas we had a party for the street kids in Soroti to share with them the birth of Christ. Since then it has been my goal to share the rest of the story with them on Easter. It is amazing how I could talk myself out of things I know God wants us to do – I don’t know what to do, I am too busy, maybe it wont work, they will be fine without it… Thankfully when God puts something on my heart I can’t shake it and just have to be obedient – and pray!

Thankfully I have my family and team to encourage me. Josh, Jennifer, Rebecca, and Sherry all helped. On Saturday we went to the house that is open for street kids to come to three days a week. Martin, Dennis, Kennedy and others help council the boys, make crafts, and play with them. I am so impressed with the work and heart of these men who desire to help these street kids. There are a couple boys that now go to school and another boy wants help going back home and starting school there. I think I could even see that the boys were cleaner and happier than they were at Christmas.

Our time together started out with playing soccer and Frisbee. Josh was the goalie for the shoot out and the boys loved it. We then moved inside and started the “program”. Lydia and Grace did motions to the song “Hosanna”, Josh told the Easter story using props, the boys drew pictures of what they wanted to give to Jesus and laid them at the cross, I gave an invitation to receive Christ as their Lord, they made necklaces, and we had a snack – colored Easter eggs decorated by Jennifer! It went so well we all enjoyed our time with the boys. They listened intently and had lots of smiles. It is so good to share Jesus!

My heart goes out to these boys every time I see them. I really do love them because Jesus loves them. No child should be living on the streets because their families don’t want them or they have no one to call family. Many of them drew a picture of themselves sniffing a bottle (glue of some sort to give them a high) and gave it to Jesus at the cross. No one wants to feel pain, hungry, afraid or alone. I pray that this Easter party reminded each boy they are loved – loved so much Jesus died for them. It is my prayer that each boy knows Jesus as Lord and have new life and peace in Him.

On Monday we went to the Elim House (a transition home for kids who were left on the streets). There are eight kids there now most of them in their early teens but one is only six years old. They have a new boy who father died, mother went mad and then died, and doesn’t know any of his relatives or where his siblings are. Makes your heart break doesn’t it. It has been nice to interact with these kids for almost a year now. They are very polite and quiet. Our program was basically the same. I don’t know how God used it in their lives but I am sure He did. It was a joy to celebrate Easter with them. They were so grateful too.

Our family and team also remembered and celebrated this past weekend. Thursday Josh told the story of Jesus washing His disciple’s feet and washed the kids and my feet. Lydia and Grace thought it was great. Then they washed Josh’s feet. On Friday our team met for a Good Friday service where we also had communion. For Easter everyone came to our house. The kids did an Easter egg hunt – which made them very happy! Then we had a feast – it was suppose to be ham but since Uganda has hoof and mouth going on there is no pork or beef to be found around here. But our meal was still awesome. We then had a worship service. The kids did motions with ribbons to two songs. They were a highlight. Josh reminded us all that Jesus work is done, He has the victory, and we now have the power of His resurrection in us.
After our service we walked down the road to where some people where singing and dancing. They were from the Acoli tribe. They used calabashes and a group of metal sticks that they hit it with – sounded awesome! Lydia joined right in and danced her little heart out. She had the biggest smile on her face. She loved it! Grace shyly stood watching.

We ended Easter with dessert (lemon meringue and banana cream pie!) and games. It was a beautiful day. We had a great time celebrating Jesus resurrection! I want to leave you with something someone sent to me. I think it speaks it all.

Jesus had no servants, yet they called Him master.
No degrees, yet they called Him teacher.
No medicine, yet they called Him healer.
No army, yet the kings feared Him.
He won no military battles, yet He conquered the world.
He committed no crime, yet they crucified Him.
He was buried in a tomb, yet He lived today!

Don’t you feel honored to know and serve Him? Jesus the greatest ever!

(Pictures are coming...)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Relaxing night away?!

April 23

Josh and I woke up at 5am Monday morning to leave for our night away at Muchanson Falls (game park). Jennifer came over to sit at our house until the kids woke up and then took them to Dwire’s house to stay with them for the night. I have been looking forward to our get-away for a long time now. It is always exciting to wake up before the sun to travel somewhere. I was enjoying my vanilla coffee, watching the full moon in the West, and the sunrise in the East. We were less than an hour from the gate it would be 8:30 and we would have the whole day to enjoy the animals and the hotel. But then…

We broke down. Our van over heated. We waited a half an hour for it to cool down before we added water. I actually enjoyed my quiet time with God beside the road. But we also got a call from Jennifer letting us know that Grace woke up sick and throw-up. Great. So I called Amie who said it would be fine and she had no problem caring for Grace. Thank you Amie! It seemed our get-away was being attacked so we prayed together.
Josh filled the radiator but it was leaking. We knew we were about 3km from the next town so we slowly went forward. We got to a police post and someone there took Josh to get a mechanic. He was an Indian man who just moved from Kampala up to this town because the whole area had no mechanic – thank you God! He checked the van out and found that the water filter/pump something was broke. He drove us to his shop (under the trees in his yard surrounded by huts and kids) and began removing parts. He said it would take two hours. By this time Josh let me know he wasn’t feeling well either. Really?! I decided to nap while Josh made sure they were doing good work. Two hours later the mechanic went to get the new part and found out there were none in town – surprise, surprise. We should have known better. He would have to go an hour away to get the part and come back. I had been doing really well up until this point. I stayed calm and just tried to enjoy our time together. God knew our problems and there was nothing I could do about it. But now I really wanted to go our day was being wasted.

Josh went to get a vehicle to take to Muchanson. He came back with a taxi van. I thought oh Lord could it get any worse. We put our stuff in and headed for the gas station. I attempted to put up the window and it broke, it was so dirty I didn’t want to touch much, and Josh realized the breaks were barely functioning. We stopped went back to the guy asked for our money back (gave him a little for his inconvenience of course) and found a nice small station wagon type car to rent. The man was a bit nervous about letting us take his vehicle but who wouldn’t be – this is crazy. What a lot of extra money this trip is costing! But we were finally on our way again. Just Josh and I and our little car.

This was the first time I could tell Josh was really stressed, nervous or something. He was not feeling well at this point either. Every odd noise on the car we almost panicked. But it did have AC and we did make it to the park – four hours late but finally there, yeah! The car did not handle the game roads like our van but as long as it didn’t rain we should be able to get out. So we continued to pray. We saw lots of antelope, some giraffe, and elephants on our way in. I am not sure if we just wanted to get to the hotel or if seeing the animals isn’t as exciting as the first couple times, but we kinda flew through to be done driving.

Josh and I splurged and stayed at the really nice lodge this time. It was so nice! The view was beautiful and service was great. We ate lunch (all the meals come with the cost) but Josh was probably at his lowest sick wise so he didn’t eat much. I just took in the view from our table, good food, and quiet time together. I was so thankful. After lunch I let Josh rest while I walked around and just sat and enjoyed my diet coke. I love being away. Letting go of schedule, to do’s, worries…and just relax. After nap time we went to the pool. Dad and Mom you will appreciate this, I even collected small, round, smooth river rocks to take home. By now it was time for an evening safari.

We only went for an hour but it was so fun. The colors were vibrant with the sun setting. We got nice and close to a group of giraffes and to some elephants. The elephants were actually on a bridge we had to cross so we sat and waited for them to move. Seeing animals in the wild is really cool. Josh even enjoyed it and was feeling much better. We got back and had a wonderful, candle lit meal together. I loved every bit of our long meal.

We slept in and had breakfast together looking out over the Nile River. It was so peaceful. Our only bummer in the trip was we failed to see lions, but we did see more giraffes and elephants pretty close up. Our ride home was thankfully uneventful. We got our van back and gave our car back. We stopped in Lira a town about an hour and a half from Soroti because Josh was told someone we know in Kampala sold his soft serve ice cream machines to someone there. Sure enough we found it! Some missionaries who run an orphanage opened a café with ice cream, homemade cinnamon rolls, pizza, coffee…it was so nice and good! Why can’t we have that in Soroti? Maybe someday. We also stopped at the Kenyan sellers who were in town and did a little shopping. We got back at dark and picked up the kids. Amie had supper all ready for us – she is so thoughtful.

That about wraps that up except as I write this the mechanic in Soroti is going to buy a new engine for our van. Yikes! Oh well it has to be done. It was the third mechanic who told us we needed a new engine and this time he added we wouldn’t make it two hours away from Soroti like it is. Hopefully we will have a new engine by the end of the week and miles and miles and miles…of driving without any break downs!

So I am going to send this/post this so I can get on to writing about Easter and the time we had sharing with the street kids. So stay tuned for more…

Friday, April 22, 2011

Prayer Request

As you remember Jesus death and celebrate His ressurection please be praying for us as we share the good news with the street kids on Saturday and Monday. After our Christmas party with them I felt is was important to share "the rest of the story" with them. Pray for a clear presentation of the Gospel, for the Holy Spirit to open minds and hearts, and for these kids to know Jesus as their Savior. Thanks!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

It's a Big one!

I have to start with an appology. I have tried three times now and it will not keep the pharagraphs I made. So I guess you will have to read it all as one! April 17 I looked at my calendar last Sunday thankful for a quiet week ahead of us. Next thing I knew our quiet week became very full. I am not complaining just amazed at how quickly life can change and how flexible we need to be day to day. I really need to learn that I may plan but God holds the plans. Sunday we went to Obule for church. Josh teaches out there and we have wanted to surprise them for awhile with a church visit and finally got to. I really prefer village churches over the ones in town. I love the singing, dancing, and instruments. Everything is man made not electronic. The kids were singing right along with the adults instead of staring at us like at our church in Soroti. They were really good little dancers too. Luka even joined in. Luka loved the village! He played the drums with the kids and walked around with the kids exploring everything. He was at home outdoors, free to roam, and “talking” with the other kids. The church service wasn’t too long but of course they wanted us to stay after so they could cook for us. They are so thankful for Josh and his teaching and that we came, but it is still hard to accept their food when we are the last ones who need it. Monday Luka, Jennifer, Daniel and I went with Josh to Otiboi for the graduation of the first five courses of Timothy Leadership Training up there. Lydia and Grace stayed with Kaisers and did school together – thanks Andrea! Luka did good all in all but he is such a boy. He was diving in the dirt all day, rolling around, kicking his ball, playing cars, and making noise. Thankfully there was another little boy there who played nicely with Luka. Josh was very encouraged by the graduation and should be. Most of them shared testimonies of how God used this teaching to change them, their families, and/or their churches. It was really amazing to hear that things they learned three years ago they were still doing and people were coming to the Lord because of it. (Example some of them talked about still doing visitations through that neighbors have seen their love and also have come to know Jesus.) It was a blessing to see God using TLT to change lives. I am really proud of Josh. They love him and are so grateful for his teaching. He endured a lot of challenges and persevered even with it got frustrating or numbers got low. The people saw all Josh did to make it happen. Thankfully Josh doesn’t always listen to me who said maybe you should stop going there. Whoops. God led and used Josh in the lives of these church leaders. I am so glad we got to celebrate with them! Then came Tuesday. Tabitha arrived for work and I asked her how Irene (her 17 year old niece she is raising) was because she had stomach pain and went to the doctor. Tabitha fell to the ground and sobbed like I have never seen her do before. I ran over and held her but she couldn’t even talk because of her weeping. She finally got out that Irene is pregnant. Tabitha was devastated. She was hurt, angry, scared, shocked, worried…it was a very emotional day. I held her, listened, and prayed with her. Tabitha has sacrificed so much to raise her four nieces and nephew. She lost her friends, a man who wanted to marry her, money, her time… To top it off the culture (everyone including her pastor) constantly tell her to get rid of the kids. They tell her they aren’t hers anyways, no man will ever marry you, and these kids will never care for you when you are old. Tabitha stood up against all of this because she loves these kids. She has suffered a lot and struggles to feed all of them. And now this. How would she feed another mouth, what would people say now, how can Irene complete her education… so many unknowns. Tabitha was simply hurt and afraid. We went and got Irene partly because we needed to get the whole story from her and partly because we were worried she may do something to herself or the baby. Irene is very shy and now with this she is shy and ashamed. It was hard to get anything out of her. She just sat and quietly cried. I really tried to focus on forgiveness and love. This was not the day for any decisions or looking to the future. Tabitha and I told Irene that we forgave her and that God will too if she repents. What a God of grace we serve. This is when what we know all becomes reality. From what I got out of Irene she was about five months pregnant plus the ultrasound said it was a baby girl so I knew she was far along (and she had changed – grown and was showing). She said and Tabitha confirmed that she only had a period once and then the next month must have gotten pregnant. She was not raped so that is good. It sounds like the boy who impregnated her likes to chase girls. His family is a mess and too poor to feed who they have too. Tabitha does not want Irene to be given to him (here once they get pregnant usually the boy’s family pays a fine and the girl is given to be his wife) because she fears she will just be mistreated there and not fed. It never seizes to amaze me what a mess sin makes! Everyone is hurt by it. I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see it myself but Irene really seems to be very naïve. She is such a child yet. She spent two days with us now and she was happiest when she was playing with Lydia and Grace. I look at here and think you are a child with a child inside of you. She doesn’t want to be a mother. She missed so much of her childhood with a mother who neglected her. How sad. Tabitha and Irene also needed to deal with their thoughts of abortion. Please try not to judge here because Tabitha loves the Lord, but in a devastating situation her first thought was we need to get rid of this problem. They just wanted to be done with it. Tabitha wept as she confessed her sin. She knows it is murder. She is so thankful she did not find money to do something she would have regretted forever. Irene still wants to be done with this “problem”. I think deep down she knows abortion isn’t right and she wont do anything but she is so lost and frightened. On Tuesday we had Irene talk to two people about abortion. One of them is my friend here in Soroti who had an abortion three years ago. She shared with Irene the physical and emotional pain it caused and cried as she said there is not one day I do not regret that I killed my baby. The other lady is our pastor’s wife who does crisis pregnancy work with a midwife from the hospital. I am more than ever thankful for their ministry. It is the only one here and it is so needed. We also took Irene to the clinic too to test for STD’s and HIV. Jennifer also had listened to the baby’s heartbeat to make sure things sounded ok. I know it is hard for all of you to understand what I am saying. To be honest it never fully hits home to me until it happens to someone I love. I knew this happens to girls here all the time but the deep pain and issues didn’t matter so much to me until it happened to a friend. When you walk through a crisis with someone you love it can change your whole perspective. Through this I quickly realized the girls here have only two painful choices. She either has to have the baby and her whole life is changed forever or she has to have an abortion and end it all. These girls are young, afraid, alone, scorned; desperate, poor…they are stuck. That is why so many leave their baby’s for someone else to find and care for. They don’t know what to do or where to turn. Then the police find them and put them in prison for abandoning their child. Poor girl. What about the guy who left her so helpless? Where does all of this leave me? I so badly want to help. Even rescue them. The thought of adopting the baby has even come into my head. But what does God want? What is His plan in all of this? Right now we are just crying out to God. Asking for His will to be made known. We are doing what we can to support and encourage Tabitha and Irene and counting on God to lead each day. The baby is due August 29 when we are in the States. This is where God reminds me that they need Him not me. He will never leave them. Oh, what a lot of thoughts and feelings. I can’t get it all into words. So please pray with us. Thanks. And our week wasn’t done yet but it was all in all good. We continue to have fun with our team and other friends here. It ended up that we had three different times playing games and eating with them this week. What a good release from our emotional draining week. We also went to Elim (home for former street kids) on Saturday to help them clean their yard. It was great. Lydia, Grace, and Luka all got involved raking, sweeping, and hauling trash away. It is so good for all of us to get out and do ministry together. I know it meant a lot to the Elim kids too. It’s even fun to all work together. Lydia kept saying, “Mom this is so much fun! Can we come again next week? Let’s help them Spring clean every year.” Their yard was looking great when we left! With all that we even managed to get five days of school in too. We have to if Lydia has any chance of getting her Math and Phonics done before we go to MI. I changed things up since I am now the only teacher. Instead of doing each day by subject we now do every subject everyday (like a normal school). Lydia loves it and asked if we can always do it like this. Whoops, I guess I did it wrong for her for ten months now. Grace is starting to read words! It is always exciting to see a child learn something new. She really has come a long way from learning the alphabet at the beginning to now reading. She can add and subtract too. I am so thankful. Luka is doing great too. Everyone is amazed at his ability to talk. Poor Josh thought he would have one introvert with him in the family but doesn’t look like it. I love two year old talk! Precious. He plays so well too. He is a natural at sports too. Our friends are amazed at his position, throw, and game face. Where does he learn these things from? It is cute to say the least. Well that is about all the energy I have to put into this very long journal that has taken me three days to complete. Thankfully Josh and I have a night away to look forward to this coming week. Be blessed! (I will add pictures when we get back - it isn't working today.)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

March 2011 (69 photos), by Mandy Shaarda

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Weekly Update

April 9, 2011 I forgot to tell you about the well drilling project we visited last week. Our friends in Soroti, Rick and Sherry, are here for five month working on hand dug wells. One of the wells they are working on is in Obule where Josh teaches. Through Josh’s connection Rick began a well project there. The people in Obule are different. They seem to be really genuine and willing to try new things. I thing God is working in the people of Obule. We are excited about it all. So we went to see them working on the well. It was so cool! Four guys pull a rope while two guys hold the pipe and drill piece and water/mud sprays all over them (I know I am not doing justice to this and lack technical words so see the pictures for the full story). I loved seeing the community involved and excited and Rick and his heart for this project. Water is a gift. They named the well Grace and they gave it the verse from John 14:14. One man even wrote a song and they sung it for us. I was so glad I went to see it all. We went again yesterday and they were about ready to put the pump on top. We had a meeting so we couldn’t stay but hope to see it Sunday – and drink from it!

We visited a baby ostrich the other day. Have you ever seen a baby ostrich? Touched one? Oh, the interesting things you get to do living in Africa. They are big even being little. Feel funny too – not feathers yet. It was very curious and liked my nail polish on my toes and necklace which scared my kids. And that was the end of that. Animals are not this family’s thing.

Our team is now down to us, Kaisers, and Jennifer. Everyone else is visiting the States or preparing to come. It is different but we have all enjoyed our intimate time together. Last week we had a meeting with our friends from England on Meyers Briggs stuff – finding out our personality types and how it works with the team. It was such a blessing we had them again yesterday to talk about how our personalities work with our spiritual lives. What a lot of insight about each other. I know it has helped all of us. After both meeting we had supper together. Last night we grilled burgers and played games. It was fun to laugh with everyone.

This morning I had a breakfast Bible study with the ladies (ladies from our team and a few other missionaries here). Everyone is really enjoying our times in God’s Word together. And who doesn’t like going out for breakfast with girlfriends? We were going to take a break Wednesday since we met twice this week but everyone wants to meet again. It really is exciting how every time you read God’s Word it speaks to you. Studying it verse by verse has helped me a lot. We just sit back and see what God has to teach us. We are now studying Abraham and it is clear already the cycles of sin and the love of our God.

I saw the father-in-law of my Indian friend today and asked how they were. He said they were in Kampala because the girl was poisoned. So sad – evil -- but common here. They think it happened at school and that maybe a jealous business owner did it (because they own a successful business). She is doing ok but they will not being coming back to Soroti but will live in Kampala. I am bummed. She was my friend. Pray with me for them. I know God can use anything to draw people to Him.

We had a nice night away this week. I enjoyed my visit to a home school co-op there. Felt I learned some to do’s and some don’ts. It was really nice to meet the teachers and talk with them about mission life, teams, and culture. We have so much in common. Our kids loved swimming of course and their hair shows it – green! It is good to get away and leave everything behind for awhile. I need to get away from my house to let the to do list go. It was nice to play in the pool, use the treadmill, soak in the hot tub, and eat at new restaurants (a new Westerner style coffee and food!). And of course the championship game – we wont go there. Thankfully Josh still had a great birthday!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Blessing, Birthday and More

April 4, 2011

I am not sure any of you will read this since so many of you are enjoying spring break. Some of my loved ones are on the beach right now soaking in the sun. We have enough sun here to last a life time! Really though I could have thrown quite a pity party about not being on the beach with them but God has given me so much encouragement these last couple weeks that I am just thankful to be here.

God continues to allow me to meet with other missionary women throughout my week and I love it. I love being able to love them and help in anyway. I recommended a training called Transformation of the Heart to one of my new friends and she came back from it saying she has joy for the first time in her life. My friend has been through a lot and I am thrilled to see God bring peace and freedom to her life. It is so exciting to hear and be apart of. To see God change some ones life is the greatest joy on earth!

Our women’s Bible study continues to be a blessing too. Did I tell you we are starting in Genesis and going through the Bible? Yes we plan to be here for years. We are hitting the main stories and some of the unfamiliar ones so we can all learn more. We are on to Noah this week. I love going deep with the ladies and taking each verse and learning from it. This past week I was all prepared but did not feel like leading – my attitude was not right. So I prayed! God is so faithful. He entered that room and spoke to us through His Word. Now that changed my attitude in a hurry. It is an exciting time I look forward to each week – God’s Word and godly friends.

I also had fun with a couple of my friends as they highlighted my hair! I was quite nervous seeing this was my first at home experience but they did a great job – subtle, natural lightening – and we had a great time talking (all three hours).

I am so thankful that my friend Sherry is helping teach Lydia while Beckie is visiting the States. Actually, Lydia is the one who is really excited. The first day she came out and said, “Mom, she is a great teacher!” I know I maybe a wimp but teaching four days just kinda takes over my whole life, everything else gets put on the back burner, and I get cranky cause I can’t do it all. So we are all thankful for Sherry and Andrea who teaches Grace the same days. Are we blessed with great friends and team mates of what?!

I could tell you so much more about our week but you may be bored by what I think is filling you in. Sometimes I need to learn to keep my mouth shut and realize not everyone needs to know everything. So what do you want to know?... Today I picked up Angelina and Charles (the blind man who Josh led to Christ a few months ago), and his son Ivan to take them to the blind school. Ivan was going to attend the school and he was SO excited. Ivan is eight years old and has been going to the nursery school in the village but learning nothing because they don’t know how to help him from there. Angelina, a blind leader Josh works with, saw that Ivan needed to go to the blind school so she organized it all and I had the privilege of taking them today.

I took Lydia, Grace and Sherry with me. I was so proud of Lydia as she led Ivan by the hand. I love to see compassion in my kids. It is difficult to lead a blind child when they don’t speak any English but she tried. Ivan was all smiles. He was thrilled to be at school. I was so happy for him. I love visiting the blind school. The teachers all know us now and most of the students. Sherry was so impressed and touched by it all. We visited several classes. The students all said their names, where they were from and what they liked about school. The whole thing is fascinating. These kids are amazing. The do it all – blind! And they are happy. Really they put me to shame and put life back into perspective for me. I love them. I was excited to see several of the students this time had made great improvements from the last time I was there. There is one girl there from Karamoja who was blinded when she was caught in cross fire. She came with so much trauma and anger but today she was smiling and could now speak some English. I was so proud of her! There is also a boy who did not speak for one year but now is talking. I love seeing what education and a lot of love can do. So Ivan is now at school.

Angelina was telling us how impoverished Charles and his wife are (four children and two of them are blind). She said Ivan had no clothes so she got him some and she gave one of her skirts and shirts to Charles wife who has none. Angelina said they eat only once a day. I asked how they would pay for school (we helped with all the things he needed to stay there) and she said the school is accepting whatever they can bring of anyway they can help. My heart just breaks for people like them. I am so thankful for Angelina who helps in so many ways and gives. What an inspiration. So often we are so careful here how we give and who we give to because it creates such a mess and huge dependency problems (long story I wont get into and you may not understand unless you live here – trust me) but with people like this who are trying I can’t wait to help in some way. It really is a blessing to bless others. I am thankful God gives me these encounters to wake me up and challenge me.

Hey, it is Josh’s 33rd birthday tomorrow! So write and let him know how much he means to you. I am so thankful for him. He is an amazing husband and father. Truly seeks after God. I am doing a Bible study on David and I know Josh is also a man after God’s heart. His life is worth celebrating. (On birthdays I like to thank the parents too for choosing live and for a job well done. So a BIG thank you to you Dad and Mom Shaarda!) We are going to Mbale over night tomorrow partly to celebrate, partly to visit a home school co-op there, and partly to watch the final four championship game. Go Butler!