Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Big Update

Hi everyone.  I wanted to update you for so long but I hardly know where to begin.  I have been trying to process so much but have been too busy keeping up with life to do a good job of it.  Maybe I should give you a quick “what have we been up to” then get into my feelings. 

Well as some of you know we were not able to get into the house we planned on living in right away.  The renters would not leave so we were left with a few options until the church could get the renters out.  We decided to live in the basement of a widow lady from the church.  The basement had a kitchen, a sitting area, bathroom and two bedrooms.  It was a little tight with the six of us but we were happy to have somewhere to unpack for a while.  Our kids are so good about being content, flexible, and thankful. 

After 6 weeks we moved again (I really do not like moving – what a lot of work).  We are now in the house we intended to stay in.  I was worried about another change for Emalai but she did well.  We all like having more room, storage, and all the widows.  We are thankful it all worked out.

Lydia, Grace and even Luka enjoyed school at Hudsonville Christian.  Luka saw how excited the girls were and wanted to go to preschool.  The first day of school (April 14) there was an inch of snow on the ground.  It was pretty but we didn’t have clothes for snow!  The first week was a bit crazy for us trying to get everything everyone needed to live here.  The girls missed the bus twice that week because I didn’t have socks for them or we couldn’t find what we needed.  I was overwhelmed.  We all think 7am is way to early to be ready and get on the bus.  The girls like school but really miss their time with us and playing.  School really takes up their whole day when you come home and do homework and have to get to bed on time to get up on time.  As much as they love it here they are ready to go home too.  They miss their friends, teammates, their house, and even the food.  It is so amazing to me how much Uganda is their home, not Michigan.

Between living further out than we ever have before and living in Africa for over 10 years, I am late to almost everything.  I am so embarrassed.  I am getting better but I realize how much of my life isn’t based on time and how all of life here is.  Too often I feel like I spend my day in the car bringing the kids to school, going to the store, doctor, meeting someone, picking the kids up…  I am not use to going anywhere.  I have so much routine in Uganda.  I find I long to find routine here.  There is a lot of peace in routine and in simplicity. 

Josh was able to turkey hunt this spring.  He was so thankful to be in the woods again.  He shot his biggest turkey ever.  Luka, Malai and I walked with him to get the turkey after he shot it.  I am so glad Josh is able to do what he loves and refreshes him.  It isn’t easy sacrificing the things we grow up enjoying.  How thankful we are for the opportunity to do some of those things once and a while.

Some of you remember that my 99 year old Great-Grandma was placed in hospice just before we left Uganda to come to Michigan.  I was blessed to be able to see her twice before she died.  It wasn’t easy to see her not look like grandma anymore and to be suffering but I am thankful I was able to tell her I loved her, pray for her, and say goodbye.  She would have been 100 in June.  I can’t imagine all she lived through and saw.  She loved sharing all her stories.  She will be missed.  She was so involved in all of our lives and came to all the baptisms, weddings, holiday parties…  We all knew we were important to Great-Grandma.  What peace to know she is home with her Father.  I was thankful to see so many relatives and be able to stand by the grave side with my mom.  It is hard but good.  Seeing the aging process in my grandparents is sad.  Makes me value time and people more.  I am sad when people are too busy to care and put schedules and activities above people.  We will all grow old and hope we are not forgotten.  Relationships seem to all too often be surface level here.  We are too busy to have time, too care, too broken ourselves to be open.  People in Africa don’t always value people, but they do have time for people.  All I know is Jesus loved people  - not things, self, or the world – He cared and took time for people.  What matters in life?  What do we value? 

We have been speaking every Sunday at our supporting churches.  It can be tiring sharing each week, talking with people, and sometimes having to pack on Friday, travel 2 hours, stay with Josh’s parents (which we are thankful for), then travel back and unpack on Sunday.  BUT it is always worth it and we end up encouraged.  It allows us to process through the year and be reminded of our calling there.  We love sharing about what God is doing in Obulle.  We share about how excited we are to be serving together with the local believers and how those who have been trained are now doing the ministry with us.  We talk about our new home in the village and how that has blessed our relationships there.  We express the need for people to come and teach our children and the desire we have for others to join our team and service in the schools, health care, and businesses in Obulle.  We are strengthened by people’s response and sharing with us that they pray for us and love reading what we write.  We are also thankful our kids do well with visiting a different church every Sunday.  They are very easy going and out going. 

Josh has been preaching at some churches.  He is so gifted in sharing God’s Word.  I love when he preaches because I learn and am challenged.  We have had some powerful services with lots of emotions (and I am not the only one emotional!)  Josh preached on Eph. 3:14-21 talking about our place in Christ and how we are loved by God, so that we can know God’s love for the world and see Him do so much more than we can think or imagine by His power.  The Spirit was at work and many people responded to the alter call afterwards.  It was beautiful to see a young girl go up with her parents sobbing, to see a husband and wife surrender before the Lord together, to watch a family let God lead them… Lyia, Grandpa and I all fall to our knees too.  It is an awesome thing when God is at work among us.

At one church we were able to just share.  The whole service we were able to interact with the congregation as they asked us questions.  I loved it.  We talked about the concerns living in Uganda, the difficult year we had, how we feel about life and the church here, how our family is able to know God by being dependant on Him…  It was a moving service where God used the interaction to touch all of us.    

Josh and I had a wonderful get away together to Chicago.  We had so much fun eating, walking around (like 12 miles in three days), laughing, having so schedule or responsibilities, reconnecting…  We visited Moody Bible College, church, and radio while we were in Chicago.  I have always wanted to see it and I am glad we did.

You all know about the health issues in our family; Malai is getting tubes in her ears, I had cataract surgery, Luka’s urine levels were a little off so we had more test to make sure his kidneys are skill working well, Grace is living pain free on medicine for her abdominal migraines, and Josh’s corrective hip surgery is June 18 with 9 weeks of recovery.  Our new niece, Annika, was born at 28wks and is beautiful but fighting Meningitis.  Pray for her.  She reached 3lbs last week! 

We are thankful for summer break and have been enjoying camping, cottage, splash pads, picnics and ice cream!  I love being with my kids and enjoying special things we miss in Uganda.

So now for some of the feelings.  Some times I really struggle here.  I can get overwhelmed.  I see all the stores and restaurants and they are full all the time with people buying and eating.  We live in luxury here.  Everything is available here all the time.  Sometimes I feel so out of place and wonder if anyone understands how I am feeling or understand where we come from.  The wealth here is overwhelming and people here don’t even know it.  Most days I do well.  I realize we are here for a short time and so can enjoy this special time.  I know we will be back serving in Obulle soon and that allows me to “take a break” for now knowing we will return to our calling.  I pray and know God will use us while we are here too.  We love encouraging and even challenging the church here as we share what God is doing in Obulle and with our unique prospective living abroad and coming back to the USA.  We are thankful for time to rest and renew and be with family and loved ones.  We can relax and let our guard down a little – weather that is good or bad.  We don’t have to watch for snakes and worry about unrest and stand out everywhere we go.  Saying that I realize the temptation is false security living in MI where it feels safe and comfortable and that can lead to forgetting we need God.    

I find you have to be so intentional here.  You have to choose to remember God.  To remember He is the healer we need to run to, He is our protector who keeps us safe in an unsafe world, He is the one I need not things of the world, I am called to share His love and truth here too.  So easily living in MI can become all about self.  It seems so much here is about self and it is hurting marriages, families, and the church.  God’s way and kingdom is the opposite, He calls us to selflessness.  We live in a culture that promotes the opposite of what we are called to be.  Our Lord tells us to lay down our lives, to love selflessly, to serve, to be last, to give… So who are we listening to?  What truth are we believing?  What lie are we believing?  I am afraid the church hear and sees the world’s message all around them all day long and they fail to read, hear and know God’s truth in His Word. 

It is summer here and all I hear about is living for the weekend when we go boating, to the beach, cottage, vacations, sports…and it is all about ourselves.  I AM NOT SAYING GOD DOES NOT WANT US TO REST AND ENJOY.  God created rest and enjoyment and it is a gift from Him!  But it must be in its proper place.  Is God still first?  It will show in my time, money, activities and words.  I live in a third world country where you live to survive not to please yourself.  I don’t think people here understand that living like we do in America is not normal but a privilege.  Here it is expected and people feel they deserve it.  Where my neighbors in Obulle just hope to have enough food for the day and hope to be able to educate their children.  We live in polar opposite worlds.  And somehow we have to learn to function well in both. 

I pray a lot for the church, for marriages, and families.  I know the joy and peace of doing things God’s way (no I am not perfect but I am seeking the Lord and putting into practice all He has told me to in His Word).  His desire for us, for our marriages, and families is SO good, right and loving.  There are blessings when we obey.  It makes me very sad to see God’s people trying to find peace and joy in the things of the world.  They become so busy with sports, work, everything we own, self, entertainment…we don’t have time for our marriage, kids, and most of all God.  Everything is out of order.  And there are consequences.  We are broken and hurting inside but too busy to stop, listen, and deal with it.  I know God is the healer.  He longs for us to return to Him.  To know His desire, follow His ways, and know His blessings.  How I long for God’s beloved children to know and experience Him.         

Although it is hard living on the mission field, I love that everyday I live with purpose.  Everyday I see, hear, and feel the pain of sin in our world and the need for Jesus.  I am called to live among those in need and to share Christ with them.  It is built into my life.  But it is no different living in Michigan either.  It is hard living here too but I can choose to live with purpose.  We are all commanded as God’s children to make disciples.  Right here in Michigan I see, hear and feel the pain of sin in our world and the need for Jesus.  I am called and so are you to share the love and truth of Christ.  Since April when we came to America, I have seen people from about every nation living here, I have seen people sick, mourning, and in pain, people lost and living far from their Creator, people broken in almost every church pew, people living in sin, people hurting inside and confused inside, dressing and doing immoral things, people hungry, people throwing away or selling everything they own before they die, abuse, people about to divorce, people who don’t know the Word of God...  We have the Good News!  We have hope, we know the healer, we have love, and know the Prince of Peace.  We need to share Him with others – wherever we are.     

Snow in April!

First day of school in MI

My Great Grandma died just before her 100 birthday

Josh's turkey

Fun with Grandpa

Josh and I visited Moody in Chicago - by the way GREAT truth on their radio station 89.3 in MI!

Luka's preschool graduation

Josh's run over Mackinaw Bridge

Fun weekend in Mackinaw - skipping rocks

Hartwick Pines

Fun at the cottage

Lydia and her teacher (and mine in 5th grade) Mr. Mengs

Katie and baby Annika

Splash pad 


Friday, June 13, 2014

Bummed but still Blessed...

Thank you for praying for us as we deal with many health issues in our family.

Mandy had cataract surgery and everything went well.

Emalai ear infections finally cleared up only to get another ear infection a week later.  She will be getting tubes July 14. 

Grace is doing really well!  She was put on medicine for abdominal migraines and since then the pain and nausea are gone.  After three weeks on the medicine, Grace forgot to take it one night and the next day we were back to tears because of the pain and nausea.  No doubt the medicine is working and we will not forget to take it again. 

Josh’s hip surgery is June 18.  The ball of the hip bone is too big and starting to break cartilage.  We were very discouraged after his doctor visit to hear he will be on crutches for 4 to 6 weeks, isn’t allowed to fly for 6 weeks, and can’t handle luggage for 8 to 10 weeks after surgery.  This means we will not be going back to Uganda until August.  We are very disappointed.  We want to go home and do the work God has called us to.  After a weekend to processes this change of plans, we know none of this is a surprise to God and He has a good plan for us in this too.  What peace there is in knowing He is in control and is with us here and still at work in Uganda.  So, God has us in Michigan for now and we are thankful for extra time with family and to rest after all of our speaking engagements. 

The biggest disappointment with the change in plans is that our church, Georgetown CRC, was planning to send their first team to see our work in Obulle the beginning of August.  Now that we won’t be there, they will be postponing until next summer. 

Please pray that Josh’s surgery is successful and recovery goes well.  We are not looking forward to having an injured daddy for a month.  Pray he is completely healed before August 20.   

Pray for the Georgetown team as they deal with the delay in coming.  Tickets were bought, work taken off, shots, schedule…  This too is in God’s hands.  We look forward to their visit even a year later.

Some of you read about Josh’s sister and brother-in-law having a baby at 28 weeks of pregnancy.  Annika is a beautiful little 2lb 9oz baby girl.  She has been doing so well however today it seems she has picked up an infection.  Please continue to pray for Annika and her parents Chad and Katie.  Annika will be in the hospital till her due date, August 24.

We are tired of doctor visits (about 39 in two months), but when I want to complain I remember how blessed we are.  We are getting the care we need, this is temporary, and God is our healer.  I feel more now for everyone who deals with medical issues daily.   We are blessed to know others are praying for us.  I have been touched by your emails, concern and care.  Thank you everyone.     

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Big Beute Family Picture

This is my (Mandy's) Family -- all 35 of us! 

Grandpa & Grandma and their 19 grandchildren

Dad, Mom and their 8 children and 7 in-laws

Monday, June 2, 2014

Baby Annika

I have SO terribly much to write about.  It is all on my heart and will some day soon be in words too.
But for now I want to introduce you to our newest niece, Annika Dawn.  Annika is already very special to all of us because she was born three months early.  Josh's sister Katie and her husband Chad have been through an unexpected whirlwind.  Thursday her water broke at just 28wks of pregnancy.  She was taken to the hospital where they hoped she would stay for 6 weeks before delivering the baby.  But three days later, June 1, Annika was born.  What a lot of emotions!  We were all praying in church yesterday!!!  We are so thankful she is 2lbs13oz and beautiful.  It is simply amazing.  How precious life is.  Seeing her yesterday brought instant tears to my eyes.  She is fully formed, alive, and SO tiny.  If nothing else it has busted me up on the fight for life again.  This is a full, beautiful, precious human at 29wks.  Her little hands and feet were moving, she was sucking, and had the tiniest little cute cry.  It does break your heart however to know she still belongs in her mother.  Like Katie said, "she is only half baked."  Chad and Katie are doing very well for all they are going through, but it is a long road ahead.  Annika is expected to be in the hospital till her due date, August 24 I believe.  (We weren't even suppose to be here to meet her!)  Pray for Annika to be protected and grow well.  Pray she feels the Father's love all around her as He continues to knit her together.  Pray for strength and peace for Chad and Katie.  It is hard to leave your baby and go home empty handed.  Pray for the whole family as we support them and walk this journey with them.