Tuesday, June 28, 2011


June 27

This week we had a team of 15 from Calvin Christian High School. They arrived Wednesday evening and came to our house for supper. Thursday morning they heard from former child soldiers. It is only by God’s grace that they can tell the horrors of their stories and still say God is good. In the afternoon we went to play soccer with the street boys and heard their stories. It was powerful. Teens from Michigan who have everything they need to hear from teens living on the streets, eating one meal a day, no where to sleep, afraid, longing to go to school, unwanted… The more I get to know those boys the more I love them. On Friday the Calvin group spent time with the blind leaders and saw one of the orange orchards. In the afternoon we all went to the blind school and played goal ball with them.

Josh and I both agreed that it is a bit overwhelming when the group first comes but by the end of a few days it is hard to say good bye. We love that the Calvin group comes each year. They are so easy and fun to have. It is exciting how God can use us in a short time. It is our prayer that God uses this trip to change their lives. That they will by touched by God and never be the same again.

We now have two more days in Soroti – oh my. So exciting and yet today at church in Obule as they prayed for us I could have cried. I love them. We are wrapping up all the details around here and packing up. We will be in Kampala a couple days to help our new teammates buy their appliances for their house, then we will be in Mombassa, Kenya for an IT conference, after that we will fly to MI.

We bought a washing machine this week! A missionary in Kampala was selling theirs so we got it. It is so exciting! I have never owned a washer before. Unfortunately we haven’t been able to use it yet. It took all week to get it ready and then when it was ready our water pressure is too low to fill it and then when I filled it with buckets I blew the stabilizer box so it ran all of one second. Hopefully we will get it to work and be able to use it. What a bummer.

Sunday we had a pasta making and eating party with the team. Our new teammates have Italian roots so he took a pasta maker. The kids loved making the noodles! I have never made pasta before. It tasted great! Thanks Jim for teaching us.

So this maybe the last blog for a while. I will try to keep writing here and there but we will not have internet in MI at our house. Can’t wait to see you all! Thanks for all your prayers!!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Family Planning

June 22

Monday Josh and Jennifer taught all day in Obule. The topic – family planning. Josh likes to say I roped him into it, which I guess I did. Last month when Jennifer and I were out there teaching the ladies how to make mango fruit roll ups they asked if we could teach them about family planning – a hot topic here because the church has wrong information about it and most of these ladies have seven children and are tired! So we thought that was a great idea and began brain storming. But we needed Josh’s help to teach the men and to bring in the Biblical teaching on the subject. The good thing is Josh usually thanks me later for my good idea and for encouraging him to teach something needed– which he did this time too.

We arrived at about 10:30 and we were happy to see people were already gathered, but we couldn’t start before they gave us tea and roasted peanuts. (Obule is hospitable almost to a fault. They cannot let guests come without feeding them – everytime! When will we not be guests anymore? I know they love us and are so thankful, but it takes so much time.) After tea we began with singing and then a little fun. Jennifer and I decided that the husbands needed know what it felt like to be pregnant so we brought a backpack with 25 pounds of flour in it for the men to wear on their bellies. What a hoot! The guys really acted pregnant with the backpack on and the women loved it. The first guy I had lay on a mat to feel what it was like for his wife to sleep at night. It was quite fun watching him struggle to roll over and get up again. The next guy had to take off his shoes and put them back on again. He couldn’t tie them with the “baby” on so his wife had mercy and helped him. The next man had to go some sweeping bending over with the “baby” on board. The women laughed and laughed watching the men struggle to do their task while “pregnant”. All of the men also had to wear it during a session while sitting on a bench. All of them complained of back, knee, and leg pains from carrying the extra weight. I think they got the point. They were really good sports. Even Josh got a turn, reluctantly. Hey, his wife was pregnant three times too.

Josh did a great job teaching about what God has to say about life, children, and families. It is not an easy topic to teach on. He started out talking about when life begins, then how family planning is not abortion, and onto what is our responsibility as parents. I love how he opens God’s Word and asks the right questions for the people to figure out the answer according to what God says. There was a very special time where we looked at abortion and how it is murder and a stronghold the devil has here. We took time to pray, confess, and allow God to heal. We prayed this from ourselves if we have had any involvement, our forefathers, for our nation, and the church. I know the Spirit was there. I could see it in the room around me. People where lifting their hands, lying out before the Lord, crying… I had goose bumps. I prayed for our nation and church. Abortions are happening everyday – in the church too. Birth control we take that aborts pregnancy, left over babies from invetro fertilization destroyed… God forgive us! I know we did spiritual battle in those moments and God gave us the victory – freedom from that stronghold. We ended the prayer time with singing Amazing Grace.

I was in and out in the afternoon and had to go home to my kids. Jennifer taught on the medical side of family planning and the option that are available here. I really enjoyed my day in Obule. I love the people there and getting to know them better each time.

Yesterday Charles and Margaret from Obule had their eighth child. (Thus the desire for information on family planning.) We visited them about three hours after the baby was born. A very healthy almost nine pound baby girl. We praise God with them for their new daughter.

I have to tell you what a wonderful anniversary date Josh and I had. It is quite something how you can make a simple date in Soroti so special. I took our own candles and music to the restaurant where we ate outside. It was great sitting there talking together. Afterwards we went for ice cream and since there isn’t an ice cream shop or a beautiful boardwalk to stroll on we went to the supermarket, bought ice cream (even in a cone – a new treat here), and sat on the bank steps by the security guard to eat our ice cream. It is a bit funny but was actually nice. I was with the one I love!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Celebrating Marriage!

June 18

Tabitha and I visited Immaculate this week to see how she and the baby were doing. I was so thankful to see Immaculate so happy. She smiled a lot. She wasn’t feverish or sick anymore and her crippled hip/leg was better too. She still limps but at least can walk on her own now. We think the birth caused dislocation and extra pain. She said the baby had been sick with a fever and throwing up. I was concerned so she took us in the hut to see the baby. Thankfully the baby was no longer hot or throwing up and still looked healthy. I stayed to make sure it was still nursing well too. It was good to see that Immaculate loves her baby too. The baby would smile in its sleep and she would tell all of us to look with excitement on her face. Immaculate’s mother came while we were visiting too. She is a beautiful woman too. She said she does not drink and all the neighbors in the hut with us confirmed. I was glad to hear that. I asked about the man in jail for raping Immaculate and they said they needed to bring a birth certificate to see that she is 13 so they can sentence him to prison. The birth certificate cost 5,000 (about $2) to get and they don’t even have money to eat so they didn’t get it yet. I talked with Tabitha about if I should give them the money or not. I purposefully came without anything to give so they knew I am just their friend. But I did not want to see this man go free. Tabitha said we should give it to her and that she would use it for the certificate. So I gave the mother the money.

I was so glad the visit went well. Even though the poverty is staggering with Immaculate, her family, and the whole area, I could walk away with thankfulness. Immaculate had joy and I believe it is because Jesus loved her through us. I will try to visit her once more before we go. I do want to give her and the baby an outfit and she needs a lock for her hut. She lives there alone and props a stick at night to protect herself. She said she is a believer but we did not recognize the church she said she goes to. I will also give her a Bible. Today they called Tabitha and said the baby is sick. Keep praying with me for this sweet girl and her baby.

I had so much fun today giving a wedding shower to my friend Rebecca! It was beautiful!!! Rebecca has grown so much in her new relationship with the Lord and it is a joy surrounding her with godly friends to encourage and support her. We wanted to bless her and her marriage with God’s Word and prayer. Her wedding colors are white and gold so we did a mini wedding reception in those colors. White table cloth, white flowers, gold ribbon on the bride’s chair, gold candle sticks with white candles, gold beads spread out on the table, wedding music playing… And best of all Jim (our new teammate who happens to be a pastry chief) make an amazing mini wedding cake – BEAUTIFUL!

Jennifer, Beckie, Margaret, and Miranda came to the shower. We put Lydia and Grace’s play wedding veil on Rebecca when she arrived. We had a great brunch then all gave a toast to the bride. We played a couple games then gave her our gifts – recipes and an apron, books, music, and a pretty pj (pretty good for finding gifts in Soroti!) After that we cut the cake. We ended with reading from Joshua 24 and Mark 10. Praying Rebecca and her husband to be will choose to serve the Lord as a family and always remember that what God joins together let no man separate. Then we prayed.

I love having women to fellowship with. We laugh, we cry, we bless one another. It is so fun for me to be creative and love on people. We love you Rebecca! May the Lord fill your marriage. (Rebecca and I have grown so close that she has asked me to pray about coming to the wedding in CA in August. At first I was like yah right I am only home three month in MI far from CA, but then Josh said I have his blessing because Rebecca needs support from her Christian friends. So we will see…)

Today is also our anniversary! Josh and I have been married 12 years. What a true blessing. So it was extra fun to celebrate marriage today as it is our anniversary. When God is the center and foundation marriage is so good. I love my husband. He took me on a safari in April so tonight we will just go for supper together. Thanks for all the emails and cards everyone.

Thank you too everyone for thinking of us and praying as Grandpa Shahl’s funeral took place this week. We felt very loved and remembered. Thanks. God’s peace has defiantly been with us.

Happy Father’s Day Dad! So thankful to have a great father and wonderful father-in-law. Thank you for following and sharing the Lord with me!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Day Like None Other!

June 11

You never know what a day may bring or what the Lord has in store for you to do.

The day began unusual with a breakfast date with my husband. Beautiful, quiet place with Josh, a cup of coffee – and the NBA finals replayed on the tv (I know I am so weird but I like it too). Shortly after we got home from our date Tabitha returned from the police station where they have finally arrested the boy who impregnated Irene (until he pays the fine for impregnating a minor). She begins to tell me about a thirteen year old girl there who had a baby last week because her father raped her. She said the girl is sick, weak and crippled. The police ladies asked Tabitha if she knew anyone who could help this girl. I asked a few more questions to make sure we should get involved. I talked to Josh and called Jennifer to see what we should do. Jennifer agreed that we can’t know about it and do nothing. Josh and I felt we had to do something to show this girl she is loved. So off to the police station Jennifer and I went. My last word, “I have no idea what we are getting ourselves into.” How true.

We got to the police station and found out the girl had left with her mother. The police lady was pleased to see us though and wanted to take us to the girl. Next thing I know they have the man who raped the girl in the office giving them directions on how to get to the home. I was so discussed with him – how could any human? I was shocked once again how normal a person can look that has done such an evil thing.

The police ladies took us to camp Swahili where the girl lives. The moment we got there we had a crowd around us – adults and kids alike. We found the girl, Immaculate, lying on a mat by the baby. Jennifer saw right away that she was anemic and had a fever. I scooped up the baby -- a beautiful, healthy newborn. The mother was not there but some of her younger dirty siblings were and a neighbor was helping. After a long discussion, mostly not in our language, it was decided that we would bring her to the clinic to get checked. The baby had no name yet so Immaculate named the baby while we were there, Kristine (after her mother). Then Immaculate got up to bath before coming with us it was then we could see how crippled she was. She could not walk without falling unless someone helped her. The police kept saying it was a desperate situation. Most are here but this girl really did need help. I didn’t know what we could do but we would love her with the love of Jesus.

We took Immaculate to the clinic where the doctor said her tear from birth was infected and ordered some lab work. While we waited we took her to Amecet to see if they could help in any way. While Jennifer waited with her I went to get Margaret (our new teammate) to go to the store and get some things for the girl and baby. Of course it started to rain one of those long, heavy rains. Josh was in Obule with Jim doing church visits with the leaders there, my kids were at home with Tabitha (oh, Luka was with me), Jennifer was at the clinic waiting for me, and Margaret and I were stuck at the supermarket. It was a crazy day. With the help of our Indian friends, who pulled my van up to the door and escorted us with umbrella, we were able to go. Margaret was impressed how they treat us like royalty (guess that is what you get when you spend a lot of money at their store each week :)). When we picked up Jennifer and Immaculate and shut off the van and when I went to restart it there was nothing. Nothing! So we prayed and a few minutes later the van started again. Amecet decided the baby needed to stay with the mother which we agreed with but we just don’t know what to do for her seeing she can’t carry the baby because of her handicap. They also said that it was not her father that impregnated her but her husband.

I was confused why the police would have told us that if it wasn’t true. I decided to try to talk to Immaculate more because she seemed to know some English. From what she said to me it was her grandfather who raped her. I think she thought we were going to take the baby or help more than we did. I also talked to her about how the rape was not her fault and that she is innocent. That God loves her and the baby very much. She hardly said anything and I don’t know what she understood but I wanted her to know she was loved. I prayed with her too.

After was dropped Margaret off at my house and got Tabitha, we went to bring Immaculate home. On the way Tabitha asked Immaculate more questions for me to clarify some things. From what she got it was her mother’s husband or boyfriend with which she had four children that raped her. Whoever it was it is wrong! She also assured us she would care for the baby. Of course the crowd gathered when we arrived. Tabitha and Jennifer helped Immaculate and the baby to their home. I gave Tabitha a bag with food and soap but she said if all these people see it they will become jealous and steal it or treat her badly. I was so annoyed. Literally you can not help here because it makes trouble. Jealousy and selfishness reign. I have lived here four years and I still don’t know how to give and help right. Giving here is complicated and dangerous if done without a trusted Ugandan friend (Christian friend)! This is so important so I have to say it again, giving and helping here is not what we always think and we must be very careful. Immaculate’s mother finally showed up so Tabitha said we could now give the bag to her. I was so thankful for Tabitha’s help and wisdom.

Here is where the day got a whole lot worse. I decided to back up while Tabitha and Jennifer were helping Immaculate home. It was still rainy and muddy, kids were everywhere, and I backed right into a hole – a big hole for garbage I think. I was so mad at myself! I thought a crowd had gathered before but now I had a crowd. I wanted to hide. Thankfully men began to help. One man said he was a driver and would help drive it out. For some reason I let him. I stayed in the passenger seat the whole time to watch him. Later I thought, he smells like he has been drinking – what have I done?! Everyone smelled like they had been drinking even Immaculate’s mother. So there I was stuck in a hole, in a camp, surrounded by a crowd that has been drinking, while they are picking up our van to get it out of the hole. Oh man! Needless to say, I said a little prayer. About then Tabitha and Jennifer came back. Luka was sitting in his car seat this whole time calmly taking it all in.

The people (men and women now) dug, picked up the van to put boards down, and pushed. I kept thinking these people are getting muddy to help a stranger. I was impressed by that. FINALLY…we got out! I was so thankful!!!

Now I was worried about a riot over money to thank them for helping. Tabitha said some of the people wanted to just let you remain there and sleep in a hut for the night. Others wanted money for helping. Thankfully some said no we need to help her. Tabitha gave the two men who helped the most a little. And with that we were off. Unfortunately, we will have to go back there again next week to check on Imaculate and the baby. But I will not be backing up!

Not the end of the story. When we got home Josh shared with us what happened in Obule where he and Jim where. They visited a couple because the man had believed a cultural lie that he could no longer be with his wife because of the surgery she had so he took another wife only to send her back because he couldn’t pay for her. Wow, what a mess. So the wife is still upset and the man is guilty. Thankfully, they could share the grace of God with them. Then they met with a teenage girl who is oppressed spiritually at times. They shared God’s Word with her. She confessed her sin and rededicated her life to Christ! Then they prayed for deliverance and claimed Christ’s authority over her life.

So my conclusion, I was stuck in a hole and the van didn't start because of spiritual warfare. In Obule a girl was being set free and found new life in Jesus so satan was not happy. BUT we won! God is so good!!! I was so glad at the end of the day our team gathered around our table and recognized God at work. An unloved teenage mother was loved and another girl now knows Jesus. As crazy as the day was I’d say that is a day worth celebrating.

I have to add there is a lot going on once again to pray about. Yesterday Josh’s grandpa Stahl died. We knew it was coming but it is still difficult to let a love one go. We are so thankful he went peacefully. Pray for grandma who lost her best friend, Josh’s Mom, relatives, and for us as we grieve far away. Again we see how live is in Jesus. We rejoice that grandpa loved the Lord and shared it with all of us!

Also Tim and Angie, my sister and brother in law, went for their last frozen embryo transfer only to find out the embryos didn’t live through the thawing. Pray for them as they again mourn. These are precious babies thrown away by someone who made too many and given a chance to live by my sister and brother in law. I am so thankful for them – just wish I could be there to hold them. Pray for their peace as they allow God to heal their broken hearts.

Like Angie and I were saying today we rejoice because those who died are in heaven with Jesus but we mourn because we loved them so much. How I long for everyone to know the hope and joy we have even while crying.

Pray too for our kids especially Grace. She has been breaking down crying a few times the last couple weeks. I think it is just unable to communicate what she is feeling. She is missing loved ones, excited to go to MI, yet unsure about leaving her home, maybe worried about death… We decided to not tell the girls about grandpa because they already have worries and wouldn’t understand which grandpa this was because they have so many. Even with not telling her last night she was asking about heaven, dying, and said she doesn’t want to go to heaven…then started balling. The only thing I could get out of her was that she missed Avalien (her cousin who is in MI right now). So pray for peace for our kidos.

Let’s leave on a happy note, Luka moved into a big boy bed today! He loves it and even stays in it. (Wait that means for the first time in 8 years there will be no one in a crib – I am not sure I am ready for that!)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Some Pictures

One Month!

June 7, 2011

Wow, June already. We are now down to our last month in Soroti before we go on home service to MI for three months. I realize how far I have come when I have mixed emotions about leaving our home, work and friends for three months. Yes, I am excited to be in MI and be with family and friends there, but our lives are here and that is a major step for me. I am so thankful that I love my life in Soroti! Of course it comes with lots of ups and downs but I have great peace serving and living here. Our month will be full! We have new team members to orientate, Calvin Christian High School group coming, home school to finish, friends to help and be with, teaching in the village, and preparing everything here and in MI. Pray for us as we put it all in the Lord’s hands.

We went to Kampala last week. Thankfully everything was peaceful and we were able to have a successful and enjoyable time. Our friend Rebecca went with us. I am so thankful for our growing friendship. She has a desire to grow in the Lord and has been learning so much. She has an amazing testimony that proves to me again that God is the answer, He is true, His ways are the best, and life without Him is a painful and messy and life with Him is true life. I love it! She has thanked us over and over for showing her how to live as Christians as individuals, parents, in our marriage, and family. She has really encouraged us.

We also picked up our new teammates from the airport. Jim and Margaret Guzzaldo and their one year old son Elliot have joined our team. We had a nice couple days in Kamapala before driving to Soroti. We have been spending a lot of time together helping orientate them and getting to know one another. I love their openness and willingness to learn. I have already enjoyed my talks with Margaret about her life and all God has and is doing in her. God changes lives! Pray for their adjustment and for a great month together before we go.

Josh went to the village yesterday to help the TLT students there put into practice what they have been learning. He went with the pastor’s wife to visit a church member who hasn’t been coming anymore. The couple stopped coming because he took a second wife and was under church discipline and she stopped because people were talking about her. Josh and the pastor’s wife talked to the wife about forgiving and coming back to God and the church. The husband brought out his Bible and shared with them verses that made him worried that he had lost his salvation because of his sin. He felt very guilty and worried. Josh shared verses with him about repentance and encouraged him to come back to fellowship with Jesus and the church. What a great visit. These people were just waiting for someone to come and help them back to God and His church. How often do we fail to take an hour out of our day to visit someone in need or stuck in sin? This one visit may change the lives of a whole family.

Jennifer, our teammate, is doing better. She is still exhausted but finally feeling better. What a reminder how serious Malaria really is. (Don’t worry our family takes anti-malarias so we don’t get it.) I really wish we had gone with our instants and been with Jennifer while she was being treated in Kampala and Jinja. I didn’t realize how bad it was because she now realizes she couldn’t even communicate it with anyone. How thankful we are that people pray for us and that God is our healer – once again.

Wish I had more time to write. God is always doing something in my life. The kids are doing well. They are ready to go to MI and go between excited and tearful because they miss everyone so much. The count down begins!