Friday, July 26, 2013

Don't let the devil steal our joy!

July 26, 2013

Just when you think things will slow down and we are encouraged to continue on…satan continues to discourage and tries to throw you off.

Wednesday evening Josh had an interview with classis (via Skype) to be ordained for the work he is doing here.  I cannot begin to describe what God did.  He showed up!  I had no idea it was going to be so powerful and encouraging.  I should have known.  Josh and I have been praying about it and I know Josh above all wanted Christ to be seen and heard.  It was exciting to hear Josh answer each question and remember all God has brought us through and how He used us.  Josh’s passion for the lost, His love for God’s Word, and his desire to be like Christ came through clearly.  He serves the Lord out of deep gratitude for what Jesus did for him on the cross.  He is a true humble servant of His Savior.  I admire his wisdom, the peace that surrounds him, and his commitment.  I was so proud to stand with him! 

After the interview people could ask questions.  Pastor Brian Bosscher got up and talked to Josh about when God touched Josh’s life at a youth convention.  Brian was so excited to now be apart of this big day and hear how God has work in and through Josh.  I think we were all crying by then.  After the questions they muted us to vote on Josh’s ordination.  It wasn’t more than a minute or two and they came back on to say it was an unusual, enthusiastic YES!  Then everyone there gathered in front of the camera, reached out their hands toward Josh, and commissioned him with prayer.  It was powerful.  It was so affirming of our calling.  So encouraging to continue what we are doing.  I sat there so blessed.  God was at work. 

After the prayer each person came up to the camera introduced themselves and blessed us with words of affirmation, support, and encouragement.  I was blown away, couldn’t take it all in.  So many people were moved by what Josh had shared.  It was evident God spoke through him.  I just wanted to soak it all in.  Actually, I really wanted to be there!  I wanted to hear more, hug someone, and celebrate!  Josh’s parents were there.  I am so glad they realized this was an important event and came all the way to be apart of it.  Dad came up to the mic with tears and told Josh he couldn’t wait to be at his ordination.  Then his mom came crying.  Then my mom.  She was so very moved by all that took place and thankful for Josh.  It was so good to see them and others who mean so much to us from our church. 

Then after all that, it was just Josh and I again sitting in our house in Soroti, Uganda.  It felt strange.  Something so wonderful just happened, they were all together sharing, and we were just suppose to get ready for bed.  I wanted to celebrate!

My desire to celebrate was still there the next morning.  I wanted to talk to someone about what God did.  I was so encouraged after months of difficult things.  But life continued on and I spend most of the day asking God not to let the devil steal our joy.

Our teammates needed us.  Their son was sick and they needed our help and prayers.  Everyone stepped up and gave their all.  They are now getting good care in Kenya for his pneumonia and our team is caring for their other kids.  God assured me today reading from Deut. 3 that we have not yet seen all He can do.  We have only begun to see His greatness and strength of His hand.  There is no other god anywhere who can do His mighty works. (verse 24)  Amen!  God is with us and our teammates.

Today we were in Obulle and our kids were enjoying their time with friends and talking about being excited to move there.  Even Josh and I talked about looking forward to it.  Then we got home and the owner of the home in Obulle we plan to rent from backed out of the agreement.  What?!  Really?!  Why?!  I was amazed it really didn’t even make me flinch.  I just said to Josh, “ok then we build.”  I know God is calling us there and He will make a way.  Many people here wanted us to build and not rent so maybe this is the answer.  I don’t know but I know we are to live in Obulle.  God has provided people to help build and He will provide land to build.  Yes, we are a bit confused and overwhelmed but we can press on. 

So, that is where we are at and most of what we went through the last few days.  Through it all I know our battle is not against flesh and blood.  The devil is defeated so he can’t win.  He will not discourage us enough to destroy us.  He can not steal our joy.  Cause God is for us!  Thanks for rejoicing with as Josh was ordained as a commissioned pastor and for praying with us for our teammates, the Fishers, and for a home in Obulle.   t

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Another update...

July 23, 2013

I want to write and fill you in but I am not sure how to start or what to share.  I guess I will begin with our family.  Emalai continues to amaze us with how much she moves at her young age.  She crawled by six months (learned to sit the same time) and now, not yet seven months, she is standing up by everything – even walking around holding onto the object!  I am sure she will be trying to walk in a month or so.  It is a dangerous age.  She doesn’t know how to get back down well and forgets that when she lets go she falls.  With tile and cement floors it is a hard fall.  She crawls everywhere and so we are constantly telling the kids to not leave small toys out and to watch her.  Of course while Josh and I were watching her she crawled over to a curb and went face first into the gravel – ouch!  Thankfully she has only had a few bumps and scrapes.  Lots of prayers for safety for Emalai right now. 

I had one of those bad mom moments the other day.  Grace was asking me for this and that while I was busy and she kept adding to what she wanted and I finally said you make life hard.  Later that day she came and apologized for making life hard.  I felt so bad.  I didn’t mean she makes life hard but that she was making things harder and complicated with all her requests.  She seemed to really feel bad that SHE made life hard.  What a dumb thing I said.  I had to apologize.  I was wrong.  Oh the mommy regrets and guilt.  I sure don’t do things perfectly and I have learned saying I am sorry and teaching my kids through my mistakes really helps. 

Luka has been doing preschool work here and there.  All of the sudden he is doing really well.  He can write his name and even add things.  The other day he came to us and said, “look at my perfect L”.  Sure enough there was a perfectly written “L” on his paper.  Way to go Luka!  He is a funny boy.  His favorite thing to say is, “I don’t love that” instead of just saying I don’t like that.  He told some one yesterday that he wants to be a farmer in Michigan when he grows up and he will go hunting everyday. (Josh is thinking, "that's my boy!")

Our family is really struggling with jiggers (sand fleas that get in your skin, lay eggs – a sac, and makes a bump you have to remove).  We’ve lived here six year and never had one the first five.  Now in the last year we have had 8 (6 in the last six months)!  We think it must be coming from the village (Obulle) but why is our family getting so many?  For the most part they don’t hurt but you do have to cut off the dead skin and get the egg sac out.  It leaves a good hole in your foot.  Grace had her first one this week and Lydia just had her third one yesterday.  She hates medical anything and gets so scared.  So it was a bit traumatic as this one was on the tip of her finger just going under the nail.  We tried to do it when she was sleeping but she woke up half way through it all.  We are now praying against jiggers in this family!

I am so thankful for our church in Obulle.  Charles is one of the leaders and I really appreciate his humble wisdom.  He knows God’s Word and has applied it to his life.  The last two Sundays he has challenged the church to memorize God’s Word.  He asks people to share a verse they know – or he calls on you.  It has made me think about how serious or disciplined I am about memorizing God’s Word.  I want to but do I do it?  Am I ready to share a verse?  How about more than one?  Do I know where they are found?  We all need to be challenged to know God’s Word.  How can we share it with others if we don’t know it?  Like Charles said what if some day the government takes all the Bibles away, will we still know and have His Word? 

I often see Charles cry when he prays.  When he prays for forgiveness, when he worships His Father, and when he prays for those who have not yet heard the good news.  He is a missionary.  God is using him.  I believe God’s heart for the lost will some day bring him and his family to do missions in another part of this country or to another country.  And what an answer to pray that will be!        

In the last few months I have seen two girls who went to my Bible study I did with high schoolers.  It has been about four years ago.  I was so encouraged they came to see me, remember and still appreciate our time together.  That brings me joy.  To know I made a difference in some ones life.  I loved those girls and the Bible study we did together!  I am 100% convinced that it is God’s Word that brings change in some ones life.  It is true of my own and all the people I have been blessed to walk with.  Yes, God uses other things and people too but without His Word there is no lasting transformation.  Josh and I are passionate about bringing God’s truth to people.  To teach God’s Word and allow Him to do the work of transformation.  His Spirit opens minds and hearts.  To be honest I was really upset this past week with all the sin here and the mess it makes.  So many Christians living apart from God’s ways and then crying out for help.  I simply don’t know what to do.  All I can do is look to God.  People don’t need me, money, food, jobs, school fees…to change them.  It is all bandages that will come off and the sore and pain will still be there because there hasn’t been true healing.  Only God can heal.  I know my friends here need to know and live according to the Word of God.  This will bring true change.  My hope, my peace in the mist of this sinful world is in Christ alone.  He truly is the answer for all things.  I trust Him.

God has been refining our team and the enemy has been doing his best to destroy and discourage our team.  It has been a difficult time.  Our team of 18 adults and 20 kids has now become 11 adults and 12 kids.  Like I said I know God is at work in all of this but it doesn’t take away the pain.  It has been months of ups and downs, stress, and mixed emotions.  I think I am tired.  It is sad to say so many goodbyes.  I think we all need some encouragement.  I am thankful for the team we do have here.  Through this all we are stronger and closer.  God is drawing us nearer to Him.  He is showing us His

work through us.  We hold on knowing God is in control.

Josh has a big day Wednesday.  He has an interview with classis to be ordained.  He is nervous and excited.  He will be skyped into the meeting at Georgetown CRC.  Pray for him and those in the meeting to have wisdom.  

That’s all for now folks!  Thanks for all your prayers!!!      

Saturday, July 6, 2013

What our teens have taught me

July 5, 2013

Happy 4th of July – one day late.  How thankful I am that our country was founded on the Lord God.  I know it is the reason our country has been so blessed.  I pray we do not continue to kick God out of our nation because the Bible is clear about those consequences.  I pray for God’s people to stand up for God and the truth found in His Word.  Freedom is a gift.  May we not take it forgrated.  

We celebrated the forth with our team and American friends.  We started the day with a breakfast buffet at Soroti Hotel, played kickball in the afternoon, and had a potluck and campfire in the evening.  Our teammate Steve even set up 50 sparkler candles spelling out “USA”.  We enjoyed our day until the rain ended our fun abruptly.  Oh well we need the rain too.

I had a ladies birthday party and goodbye party for our teammates.  It was bittersweet I guess.  I went with a bamboo theme and put it all over the room with candles, a fountain, and music.  I love atmosphere!  The ladies shares good food, laughter and tears.  It is important to encourage one another, appreciate and celebrate each other, and say goodbye well.

We had a crazy week.  Sunday Autumn had been sick about 10 days, on medicine and still spiked a 104 degree fever.  So we made the call and decided to go 7 hours into Kampala to get lab work done and find out what was wrong.  I had knots in my stomach about it.  It brought back memories of going when Luka was sick.  I knew Autumn wasn’t that sick but I still didn’t like it.  I didn’t want to leave Josh, Jimmy, and my kids here alone, but we also wanted to do what was best for Autumn and treat her as our own child.  So our teammate and nurse, Jennifer, Autumn, Zephie, Emalai, and I went to Kampala.  I am so thankful God answered every prayer and provided a really smooth journey.  Everything went so well.  We were at the hospital all afternoon but by evening we were confirmed that Autumn had a virus.  She was also doing better and did not have another fever.  I know God healed her!  We prayed and He answered.  So the next day we traveled another 7 hours back to Soroti.  By the time we got home my butt hurt, Emalai was done being trapped in, and we were all glad to be back home – healthy.   

Side note, on our road trip to Kampala we saw the biggest Nile Perch I have ever seen.  I have heard about them but now I have seen one.  It was on the back of a motorcycle and it was probably 4 to 5 feet and almost 100lbs!  Wow, what a sight!

We had an earthquake the other night.  Most of my family didn’t even notice but I just got in bed and it was shaking.  Josh told me it was probably just a truck but we have been in another earthquake and a truck doesn’t shake your bed.  Sure enough the next morning people were talking about the earthquake.  It was small but what a weird feeling.

We had a surprise birthday party for Jimmy.  He turns 19 July 15 when he enters boot camp.  He went with Josh teaching Friday so the girls and I went to work getting ready.  We decorated the house, made a cake, birthday shirt, and got his present ready.  When they arrived home and he opened the garage we blasted him with water balloons and yelled, "surprise!"  He was!  We had a fun night celebrating -- birthday bingo and all.

Our teens are preparing to leave us.  Kinda mixed emotions on our end.  It has been a blessing!  But we are tired and ready to be our quiet family again.  I love Autumn, Zephie, and Jimmy.  I am so thankful they were willing to open up to us and share some very hard things.  I appreciate their new faith, getting to know God’s Word, and learning to live it out.  I am grateful for their help teaching and loving our children.  I am thankful for their good attitudes and flexibility.  I enjoy the fun we had together playing games, talking, and just sharing life.  God was so right.  He clearly put it on our heart to let these three teens come and be apart of our family and ministry.  I am so glad we obeyed.  What a blessing it was to love on our three teens from Lake City!

We have been staying up way too late with our teens either playing games or having really good talks.  I tell Josh it is worth it and really good but by morning I need my coffee!  I also took time to be with each of the girls.  I have been so touched by their stories.  My heart is so full of sadness and anger I want to pretend I didn’t know what happens in this world.  At the same time my heart rejoices at the hope, healing, power, and peace Jesus can bring.  He is real and true!  People can be changed and saved by Him!  I can not express it enough dear Christians, we have to be sharing the good new of Jesus in this world!!!  I think about all the churches in our home area and then about all the lost, broken, hurt, unloved people and it just doesn’t make sense.  Don’t get me wrong, I know it is in the church too.  We are all called to love the Lord and to love others.  To go into all the world and preach the gospel.  To be the salt and light of the world.  To lay down our lives, pick up our cross and follow Him.  Yes, it will take time, selflessness, maybe tears, and frustration.  But I am telling you there are people in their homes suffering, angry, and very hurt.  They are probably people hard to love.  Or they are putting on the best fake they can.  Behind those door there is abuse, addictions, hunger, loneliness, fear…  Who will love them?  Who will take time to care?  Who will listen?  Who will help?  Who will bring them to Jesus?  There is no greater reward, no greater joy in this life than to walk with someone as they meet Jesus.  As they find forgiveness, healing, grace, hope, and love in their Savior.  As their lives change because they know their Father.  Oh, church get up and walk next door and befriend someone who need you.

We leave tomorrow after church for Jinja where we will spend the night and enjoy.  Then we will head the rest of the way into Kampala.  The teens fly out Tuesday evening.  We plan to take a couple days to rest and have fun as a family before heading back to Soroti on Friday.  Pray all goes well with our travels and goodbyes.  Emalai has a really bad cold and couldn’t even nurse today, so pray for her too.  By the way she is crawling all over now!

Thanks everyone!
BIG Nile Perch!

Jimmy's Birthday Party!

Enjoying his present - cookies!

Emalai enjoyed new food traveling - kept her quiet  but messy!

Ladies Lunch

Malai is 6 months old

and crawling!