Saturday, November 29, 2014

Blessings this Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  We had a wonderful cloudy, cool day here (we could at least pretend it was fall, not sweat so much, and have a fire in our fireplace!).  I so enjoyed setting up and decorating to make the day special.  We had 26 of us for lunch (and supper).  We enjoyed a day of fun and laughing together.  The kids loved the group games!  Thanks for all your support and encouragement.  You were on our Thanksgiving list this year.

Mom & my pumpkin pies

So special to have Dad & Mom Shaarda part of our special day

Carving the turkey

Great, traditional Thanksgiving food!

The girls did a Christmas craft together

And the Christmas season began in our house!

We have a beautiful Christmas tree, a house that looks like Christmas, and family to enjoy it with!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Preparing for Thanksgiving in Obulle

It is almost Thanksgiving!  Josh's parents are here too!  (I will share more about that soon.)  For now I wanted to share some of our Thanksgiving prep...

Our turkey arrived on the back of our teammates motorcycle 

Good thing we have hunters in the family

Luka loved helping Dad and Grandpa.

His Indian hat we made

Mom and I were busy in the kitchen making pumpkin pie from scratch

Have a Great Thanksgiving everyone knowing God is good!  Can't wait to share our pictures from the party...

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Faith Through it All

Nov. 17, 2014

As I have shared we have been going through some difficult times.  I wish I could say things have gotten better but honestly this has been the hardest things we have ever been through.  Our conclusion; we are at battle against the evil one.

In this time of trial I have cried out to God like never before.  Holding on to faith with the last bit of strength I have.  I have searched God’s Word to endure.  I know God is my Refuge, my Shelter, my Defender, Protector, wisdom and I am loved by Him.  He will bring truth out of the confusion.  He will rescue.  He is in control.

I am not saying it is easy.  I have never been to this point in my faith where I begged God to answer, to send encouragement, to protect us.  I had nothing and was counting on the prayers of others for me.  I never doubted God but was tired.  God did send love and encouragement.  Our Ugandan neighbors and friends came.  Their love and faith encouraged me.

The battle isn’t over, but God is with us (and for us).  I would love to share all the scripture God has spoken through, and maybe I will little by little, but I know it was for me.  The Psalms, Job, and the life and ministry of Jesus lead me on.  Thank you for praying for us as we obey the Lord through these trials.
My prayer from Psalm 31
In You, Lord, I take refuge; let me not be put to shame; deliver me in Your righteousness.
Turn Your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me.
Lead and guide me.  Free me from the trap that is set for me.
Into Your hands I commit myself; redeem me, the God of truth.
I will be glad and rejoice in Your love, for You saw my affliction and knew the anguish of my soul.
Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief.
My life is full of anguish.  My strength fails because of my affliction, I am weak.
BUT I trust in You, Lord, You are my God.  My times are in Your hands.  Deliver me.  Let Your face shine on me and save me in Your unfailing love.
Let me not be put to shame for I have cried out to You.  Let the lying lips be silenced for with pride and contempt they speak arrogantly against the righteous.
How great is Your goodness for those who fear You, for those who take refuge in You.  In the shelter of Your presence You hide them.  In Your dwelling You keep them safe from accusing tongues.
Praise be to the Lord, for He shows His wonderful love to me.  You heard my cry for mercy when I called to You for help.
I love You Lord.  You keep the faithful but the proud will be paid back.  Be strong and take heart all who hope in the Lord.   

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Team Retreat

In the mists of some hard times, our team was blessed with a retreat.  We had so much fun together and God equipped  and encouraged us. 

All our kiddos in their new tie dye shirts 

A BIG thank you to our wonderful teachers!  Our kids loved the retreat

We had a team photo scavenger hunt using a mug

We had a family fun night with lots of silly games!

Our teammate, Jennifer, blessed us with her parents help.  Our kids quickly called them grandpa and grandma.

The adults did a Bible study on Nehemiah.  We were encouraged in the Holy Ambition God has given us. 

Good eating too!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Praying for those suffering for Christ

Even though we go through difficulties, I am reminded we are still so blessed.  My minor troubles don't compare to what other Christians are facing.  People are loosing their lives for their faith.  The evil in this world brings me to tears.  It is sick and I grieve.  

Please go to the link below and pray for this family and other Christians around the world suffering.

Pakistani Couple Beaten, Burned to Death by Muslim Mob -- four children now orphaned (she was also 5 months pregnant)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Having Fall Fun

So we don't like Halloween but we do enjoy having fun together.  We have begun to meet once a month as home schoolers to go on a field trip or learn about a subject or play games together.  This month we had a Harvest Party.  We dressed up, learned about Reformation Day, the persecuted church (Nov. 2 was the Sunday to pray for them), eat and played games.  We had a fun day together!

Lydia was a cosmetologist 

Grace was a vet
Josh was Tony Romo

Luka was a cowboy (so cute) but then changed to super hero

Our fun and wacky home school group!

Learning about Reformation.  Rebekah acted as Martin Luther's wife.

Pumpkin Bowling

Saturday, November 1, 2014

From the Heart

Nov. 1

Let me just be honest, things have been difficult since we returned to Uganda.  Because it has been hard and I have been down, I have been longing for Michigan, family and fall time like I haven’t in a very long time.  I am homesick – after 13 years on the mission field.  I know full well that America is not the answer.  I get just as frustrated with the sin and junk there too.  But the traditions, comforts, memories, and normality all make life easier and more comfortable.  There have been days lately that I long to take a walk with Malai in the stroller, feeling the cool air, and looking at the fall colors.  I want to be apart of fall fun and go to an orchard, play in the leaves with my kids, and walk in the wood.  I even want to walk through a store and look at fall decorations and buy fall treats.  I miss family.  I want to be apart of their lives and be with them when they get together.  I want to wear jeans and a sweatshirt!  I want to do what you think is normal and no big deal, but are huge blessings to me. 

When I am in a downward spiral I begin to – dare I say it – hate it here.  The dirt, chaos, and rudeness in town annoy me.  The way people treat each other, the world, and the sin and abuse make me angry.  I wonder why we are here and if we are making a difference.  Is there any hope when all you see and hear about are suffering and sin? 

I love our home and most things about Obulle.  I try to make things special.  I love decorating our home for the fall season, but something about on one else caring about it, 90degree weather, and no where to go puts a damper on it.  I have people over and get togethers to celebrate and have fun, but I have learned you can’t count on people or things to make you happy.  Then we have been sick and the home I love becomes the place of boredom. 

At this point I want to remind you I am venting, processing and being honest with a “friend”.  I am not insane, depressed, or always like this.  I am just expressing how I have been feeling overall – not ever minute or even every day.  I am being real about the struggles living here and what we have been through lately.  Mostly I write it because so many of you thank me for it and know how to really pray for us.

I have also have great joys.  My family is at the top of the list.  The way Josh seeks God and in all things does what God calls him to in His Word, continues to impress and challenge me.  I am fully aware that because my husband loves and obeys the Lord, I benefit.  Josh loves me (and the kids) selflessly.  Our home is blessed because of it.  Our kids are blessings too.  The way they take care of each other, help when we are sick, play with their friends, their positive attitudes and most of all their faith challenges me everyday.  I am thankful for them. 

Our family also enjoys visiting people here on Wednesdays.  We meet someone new or see a friends home for the first time.  We are always so warmly welcomed.  We get to see how they live, hear their joys and challenges, and sometimes eat together.  It is in these relationships that God uses us.  Our neighbors, Charles and Margaret, are friends we have grown to love and appreciate.  I am so thankful we can go to them to share our hardships and pray together. 

Sometimes it feels like the trials over shadow the blessings in our lives.  We have been back in Uganda for over two months now and other than a few weeks someone (sometimes up to four of us) is sick.  I don’t know how to describe to you the stress of having a child with a high fever.  Not knowing what it is and no doctor to go to can be a helpless feeling.  We pray and trust each time.  Then there is being the one who is sick in bed for days.  I don’t know if I am just bad at being sick but I get so down, lonely, bored and feel so yucky.  At this point I am afraid to say we are healthy and well.  Just yesterday I was about to send out an update email thanking people for praying and letting everyone know we are healthy now, then Malai woke up from her nap with a fever.  I really hope we are done with sickness for a very long time!

We were shocked and saddened to find out another teammate (family) is leaving the field.  I feel bad for our kids.  Lydia’s lip was just a quivering with tears welling up in her eyes.  She wrote later, “Why God?  What is wrong with us?  Why does everyone leave?  Why do people choose the world and not see how good You are.”  I wish I knew.  We didn’t say much to our kids but they are getting old enough to just feel things.  Every time a teammate leaves it hurts.  We don’t just work together but we are like family with birthdays and holidays, friends with get togethers, and worship and pray with one another.  It is a loss.  New teammates come and you love, give and trust again.  I have become tired.  There is stress, pain, and details with each loss.  So we look to the Lord as our strength, wisdom, peace, hope, joy, truth, and love.  I wish I could share more.  I find being wife and mother can be a hard position (I love it but it is tricky with also being apart of a team).  I am a missionary but not the missionary and am on the team but also not fully because I am a mother.    

Then there was the accident.  The same week our teammates resigned our other teammates, including my sister, brother-in-law and baby, rolled their van down a hill into a stream.  We were all upset by this.  Most importantly we thank God!  No one was badly hurt and it is truly God’s hand that saved them.  God is with us no doubt working behind the scenes when we are unaware.  The accident did make me to almost grieve as I processed it.  I could have lost my four friends and baby Amara.  We could have had to go get their bodies and deal with the 9 children left behind.  It is a sobering thought.  Josh and our nurse teammate went to pick them up after the accident.  It seems Steve had a concussion, bruised ribs, and whip lash otherwise everyone was just sore.  It was a long, hard day but we praise God for keeping our friends!  

Since being back to Uganda I have valued and appreciated our time in America more.  It was hard with all the medical stuff and Josh being the team leader from afar, but I loved being with family, traveling together and seeing new things, going camping and to the cottage, being apart of school and church…just being normal.  What great memories!

I guess that is it for now, the good and the bad.  Like Lydia said everything makes me want to run to the other side of the world away from our problems and fears.  But this is the world we live in.  We are reminded over and over again that God is with us, loves us and He is doing great things.  And this is why the enemy is out to discourage us.  John 10:10 says the thief comes to steal, steal and destroy but Jesus has come that we may have life and have it to the full.  Thank you for your prayers and encouragement!