Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Day

November 26

I can hardly believe after all the anticipation of Thanksgiving it is done and we are on to the next holiday. Our Christmas tree is up and Christmas music is playing in our home. I am such a kid when it comes to holidays and traditions. I love it!

But first let me tell you about our Thanksgiving Day. It was a beautiful cloudy, cool day. We set four tables in our yard for 32 guests (our team and a few short term people in Soroti) and lots of food. We put together vases with fall colored flowers in them. One I even used a pumpkin as the vase and put a candle in the middle. So fun! Everything looked great including our family. I was getting nervous because we got a few sprinkles and heard thunder. I prayed for no rain because it would be really tight in our house for the feast. We also were without power for about 14 hours and I really wanted it on for the day. Again I prayed for the electricity to come on knowing God cares about little things too. And the power came on!

Everyone arrived at noon and filled the food table with all the traditional fixings. It was wonderful. Not long after we ate the rain came. We quickly packed up and headed inside. And the power went out. None of it ruined our party though. This year everyone came with a Thanksgiving song, poem, or scripture to share with the group. Our family sang and did motions to “Praise and Thanksgiving Let Everyone Sing” and Josh had a poem to the word “THANKS”. It was a beautiful time of worship expressed differently by each family.

Then we had dessert, the kids made crafts from the turkey feathers, and of course we played football – in the rain this year! It was all the guys and Beckie and I. What a riot! Everyone can’t wait to play again and agreed not to wait till next Thanksgiving. We were soaked but not sweating.

In the evening we had a snack supper and all played charades. By then it had been 8 hours together and 5 of them in a house with 32 people (no basement or kids room mind you) so most people left with a headache, but had a great time. Really, it was such a special day. A real Thanksgiving feel – family, friends, great food, thankfulness, a lot of fun, and an awesome God! (Just wish we could have ended it by watching the Lions – it least they kept the tradition of loosing going. :)) I am so thankful!!!

Yesterday we took down the fall decorations and started putting up the Christmas stuff. Everything happens so quick I just had to sit today and remember every great detail of our Thanksgiving before moving on. Now I am ready to celebrate the coming of Christ! Just like they waited for Jesus the first Christmas we wait again for His second coming. I look around and see a world of suffering as the result of sin. How grateful I am He is here with us now! Christ is our hope, joy, and peace this Christmas.

I sent my journal out before Thanksgiving about our travel back to Soroti and my bad attitude. But I totally forgot to tell you that in the mist of my anger we were pulled over and given a ticket! All of Uganda drives insane but we do one thing wrong and get a ticket. I couldn’t believe it. It is those moments where self control is tested.

Hope all of you were also blessed by your Thanksgivings. That is was more than traditions, family, food, football, and the shopping to come but about thanking God for all He has done and all He is to you. And may your Christmas season be filled with His presence

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Really Thankful?

November 23

I really need a break from Thanksgiving baking (three pumpkin pies from scratch – I mean start with the pumpkin from scratch – sweet potato casserole, turkey decorated cupcakes…) so I fill you in a minute on our week. I believe God has been testing my thankfulness. (Or satan is trying to destroy my thankful heart.)

It all started when we got the news that Grandma Shaarda died. It is a celebration knowing she is with the Lord but also hard for us to grieve so far away. We were in Kampala (capital city six hours from Soroti) and wanted to be back by Sunday so we could prepare for and enjoy the holiday week, but our van was being fixed and surprise, surprise wasn’t fixed on time. This is about the fifth mechanic to try to fix our air conditioner and several other smaller things. We have put a lot of time and money into our AC problem and every new mechanic we have high hopes for but end up unhappy. When the mechanic called Saturday and promised he would have it ready Monday morning we decided to stay and get it done right. But as the mechanic was bringing the van to us Monday (so he says) something else broke and so he asked for two more hours. This is not a good sign…

Four hours later and no van, Josh was about beside himself. Amazingly I stayed calm. There was nothing we could do so I gave it to God. I sent up many help us prayers. I know it sounds funny but we really needed our van, wanted to get to Soroti, and were beginning to not trust this mechanic. Not to mention we had now been away from home four days, spend a lot of money, and had no where to stay that day or night. We sat on the porch of where we had been staying with all of our stuff waiting…all day. I was so proud of the kids. They just played and went along with the flow. At least we got to take a walk and get pizza and ice cream. But poor Josh was going crazy doing nothing and being stuck away from home and ministry. Thankfully, God keeps one at peace when one is upset in our marriage relationship.

Josh finally went to the shop where the van was about 5:30pm after the mechanic turned off his phone because we had called too much. We were worried he was lying to us – our worries were confirmed. When Josh got to the shop our van was still in pieces. Josh was either irate or overwhelmed and about to cry I couldn’t tell on the phone. But Josh doesn’t get like that much so I know he was to his end.

I called to get a place to stay for the night and Josh got a cab to pick us up and take us there. Thankfully we could get into a nice place where we could enjoy the night as a family. Josh and I watched football while the girls played on the playground and Luka napped (late nap!). We ordered supper and later watched a movie while Josh exercised. By the end of the night Josh said he felt a lot better.

We had a nice morning but as the clock ticked Josh’s stomach became knots again. Again there was nothing we could do so I sat before the Lord in prayer. He has a good plan for us. We finally got our van and were on the road by noon.

But this is when I lost it. We were no more than an hour away and our new AC stopped working! I was so upset I didn’t know weather to get mad or cry! We just spend almost 2million shillings to have this fixed, we wasted days away from home, and this mechanic lied to us. I wanted to leave this country now! Quit it all and go where I can get things fixed and where life is easier. (I told you I was beside myself.)

I sat there and thought, “Nice thankful heart Mandy. Where is your thankfulness when things get ruff?” I prayed for God to help me change. As the miles went by in our hot van, we saw a couple trucks along the road that had been in accidents. It seemed to say to me, “You have so much to be thankful for.” It is true. I am so blessed – even without AC.

A little while later I decided to try the AC again – it worked! I don’t know why or if it was a gift from God but we road with sweatshirt all the way home!

When we got home I was overcome with thankfulness. I love our home and was so glad to be there! I don’t know if our AC will continue to work but I know God taught me it isn’t always easy to be thankful but we always have something to be thankful for. I know my Father and that makes my heart thankful.

Hope all of you have a blessed Thanksgiving thanking your Father. Can’t wait to tell you all about our Thanksgiving soon – 31 people will be here!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Grandma is with the Lord

On our drive to Kampala Thursday we got a call from Josh's dad saying Grandma Shaarda passed away. How do you react to that news while driving down the road in Africa? We were with friends and we didn't want to tell the kids right away knowing it would upset them and we needed time with them. I feel for Josh who has now lost two grandparents in six months and away for both of them. We love them. How gratiful we are that we were able to see Grandma and take pictures with her before we left. She has been in the rest home for years now and hardly communicated anymore. We are thankful she is now healed in her heavenly home with her Lord. I am sure her and Grandpa are singing before their Savior. Awesome! So as we rejoice we also mourn our loss. We would love to be with the family right now and give Dad a hug.

Please pray for Josh's family as they have Grandma's funeral this week. Pray for us as we find away to grieve here and share with our children. As we all mourn may we also be able to praise Grandma's salvation and witness to all of us.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Give Thanks

November 15

What a lot to be thankful for! There are big and little things every day that are worth giving thanks. Too easily I can compare, complain, and become ungrateful. But when I am a thankful person and focus on all the blessings in my life there is so much joy. God is too good not to be thankful. Here is a look at my week of thankfulness…

After church Sunday we had lunch with some of the church leaders. The Fishers from Hudsonville, MI are here visiting our team so I thought it would be a good time to share how God has changed the lives of these leaders and their families through Josh’s teaching on God’s Word. I asked the leaders to testify about God’s work in their marriages and families. Many of them said that before the training they regretted marrying their spouse and they had no relationship. They didn’t communicate with each other. But after they learned what God says they now serve one another and make plans together. One woman said she did not know her husband loves her but now she does. A few men said how they now help their wives at home. They also said that they all neglected and abused their children but now see them as gifts from God. They now know it is their responsibility to teach their children not the churches. I was amazed. These are all Christian leaders and they had no value for their children. They said home is now different and the children are happy. The one couple changed so much that others are coming to them and asking how they can change too! Even a church had him and his wife come and share with them. Praise God! When others see a change in you and want what you have that is discipleship happening. I was thrilled to hear all God has done! Before we left we took a group picture and it was the sweetest thing to see these Ugandan leaders put their arm around their wives. You have to know that touching your wife in public is a big cultural no no. But they did it because they now know God’s way is better -- and others are seeing and believing. Amen!

We had a really bad day in school yesterday -- so bad we didn’t finish the day but waited till Dad got home to give a talk. (That is not what I am thankful for.) But it ended up being such a good teaching day. We got to talk a lot with the girls about obedience, forgiveness, and consequences. The week before we had talked about tough love from the book of Numbers. On our bad day Grace spilled my coffee off my desk. I didn’t get upset but was disappointed and asked her to help me clean it up. She said, “Guess this is what tough love is.” I asked her what she meant and she said you didn’t like that I spilled your coffee but you love me anyways. It is those moments I want to saver. They are learning and God is putting it in their hearts. I praise God for teachable moments.

Lydia also had a hard time doing her school work that day so I decided she needed a thinging cap. I took a big birthday hat and put a sign on it that said "I love to think!" She was so embarrased but it changed her mood and she even did her school work.

I am so thankful for a peaceful heart and joy in my life. I am so content where I am and in all we are doing. So thankful God has made His calling clear and is with us.

We are doing a marriage Bible study with our teammates and I praise God for the work He is doing through it. What a privilege to share God’s Word and see Him make marriage beautiful.

On that note I am so thankful for our team. Things seem to be getting better and better. God is working in all of us. We are all learning to rest in our Father. We also have Fishers here and they have brought us encouragement and wisdom. It has been fun to be together.

I climbed Soroti Rock for the first time with our team Monday morning. I had real mixed feelings waking up at 5:15 but I am glad I went. I love how God speaks when we are quiet before Him. One of our teammates read a Psalm and the words “God’s eyes are on the nations” spoke to me. As we sat on top of the rock watching Soroti wake up, I was encouraged that God watches everyone, everywhere, every day. How awesome is our God! He is in control. I have also been focusing a lot on God as my Rock with all my emotions and thoughts and being on that rock assured me of God’s help. He is God.

On a lighter note, I am thankful for Luka and his success in potty training so far. The other day he decided he could do it standing up and came out all excited cause he made bubbles!

We look forward to traveling to Kampala this week to take Fishers to the airport. May God will you with thanksgiving this week too!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


November 6, 2011

Happy November everyone! I just love this time of year. The holidays!

I had such a good week and I feel very thankful, yet there were other parts of the week that put so much on my plate and heart that I was overwhelmed and concern. Over the years I have learned to bring all my feelings to God. I am an extreme feeler so God gets a lot of them from me! He faithfully takes all my concerns and gives me peace. He is in control and I can rest in Him.

Our school week was such a blessing. I know God has answered so many prayers. This summer as it looked more and more like a teacher wasn’t coming and that I would be teaching the girls full time for the first time, I know if God was forcing me to be the teacher then He will give me all I need to do it. I did not worry but chose to trust in His promises. And now for me to say that I enjoy teaching, that is a true blessing! I love our little classroom and routine we have going. The girls are doing so well too – less complaining and more focused. I have learned that I need to be fully engaged and not trying to do other things in the classroom – just be teacher. This week we started talking about Thanksgiving. We read the story of the first Thanksgiving and I was amazed at what a mission story it is. Two cultures coming together to thank God. I am even learning in our school! We drew a beautiful picture all together of the first Thanksgiving day. We also had fun learning about the five senses. I will try to post some pictures of our experiment with taste. Love those fun moments!

It has been really rainy here and I love it! We have had more rainy, cloudy mornings than I can ever remember. I know all of you in Michigan think I am so strange to get excited over rain and clouds, but it makes our normal sunshine and 95 plus degrees into something like fall (well if you call 75degrees fall :)).

I sat outside the other day as Grace and Luka were playing in the sandbox making sandcakes. I could think of plenty of other things to do but decided to just sit there listening to their joyful talk and watch their muddy little hands. Some day soon my little ones wont be little anymore and there will no longer be sandcakes. I look at pictures and realize how quickly life goes by. I have been with our children almost every day of their lives and yet still they are growing up so quickly. As a parent I have learned to spend my time by what will be important 5 years from now. Will I care if I stayed in touch with people over the internet, if I made extra money by working, or if I was with my child? For me it puts it all into perspective. The world tells me that I can do so much more and have so much more, but God reminds me that the most valuable things I can do is raise my children and the best thing I can have is a godly family. I love my kids. I don’t want to miss a moment with them. So today I will listen to them make up beautiful songs as we take a walk or drive somewhere because some day all too soon the songs will be over.

Our team talked about community this week and I was thinking how unique our community is on the mission field, especially as a team. There is a unique tight knit, closeness. We see each other every week – sometimes every day depending on what is going on. We go through life together – the good, the bad, the sad, the hard times, fun times… We have a common passion and desire. We are the only ones who understand each other and what living on the mission field is like. We are each others fellowship, family, co-workers, church, accountability, Bible study, babysitters… To be honest there are times this is too close for me, but God has taught me so much through it. I need my team. They need me. I think it is how God wants it to be. I know for me, I have learned it means being selfless. We all have places of community or family as we like to call it on our team. For true community to happen it has to center on Christ. He is the one who binds us together in a common love, grace, and truth.

If you see my Dad tell him happy 60th birthday! Friday my family celebrated with him 60 years of life. What a blessing! To bad we couldn’t be there. Pray for my family as they celebrate in the joys of life and as they deal with the hardships. Seems there is always something happening in the big Beute family. I know we are all in God’s hands and will keep praying for one another.

Praying you had a week to be thankful for too!