Monday, November 21, 2016

Medieval Times

We are studying the middle ages or dark ages in history right now, so we decided to have a Medieval times homeschool day.  We had so much fun planning and preparing for the big day.  When our neighbors wondered what crazy things we were doing now, Josh told them we were doing "active learning".  Great label.  We learned about the Medieval times through active learning.  We dressed up, decorated, had a meal, wrote, read, and played games.  It was so much fun and also made us thankful for the times we live in today.
Our princess

Peasant - aka Robin Hood

Our monk

Lady Lydia

Another peasant (ok, they also called me Belle)
And our jester!  (What a good sport!)

We got metal plates and cups at the market, made a candlelit chandelier, torches and more...  

We even had stocks.

Our friends, the Dwire family, joined us in our Medieval Day.  Eric was our knight.

We had something between a peasants meal and a Medieval feast.
Bread bowls with stew, grape juice, fruit, and pudding for dessert.
The kids had to prepare a poem, creative writing, or write about the person they came as.

Then we played games.
First was a the quest for the Holy Grail.
A scavenger hunt like the search the knights had for the cup Jesus used at the last supper.
(You can read more about the quest for the Holy Grail yourself!)

Then we had an obstacle course to go from a page, to a squire, to a knight.

Throw the caber - the Scottish would see who could throw a huge log (tree!) the furthest.
We used a basket that looks like a log :)

Javelin toss 

Last of all art.
The kids made a family crest which tells everyone who you are using pictures that describe you.
We also made stain glass windows.

You can't have a Medieval day without a castle.  Luka and I had fun making this one. 

This is what I love about homeschooling - I get to be with my kids, know what they are learning, learn with them, I get to be creative, have fun, and make great memories together!

Friday, November 18, 2016

A Time for Everything

Thank you everyone for praying for my Grandma Van Manen and the family.  Monday Grandma died.  She went home peacefully to her Father and for that we are thankful.  We mourn for our loss, but also are able to celebrate Grandma is home!  She was so ready to be with her Savior.  

We had a couple days of turmoil deciding weather to go to Michigan and be a part of Grandma's funeral.  It was truly stressful making such a big decision.  Leaving Uganda in a hurry is a big ordeal, packing and closing up the house, changing ministry plans and home schooling schedule, driving 7 hours to the airport, traveling 20 hours plus...and the big one - the cost!  We prayed, looked into things, waited on the Lord, talked to some people, kept praying...  I felt sick in the limbo.  I wanted to be IN Michigan but I wanted to stay here.  All the in between and work to get there was overwhelming.  In the end we decided - with peace (most of the time) - to stay in Uganda.

 In the mist of the decision we thought about going to Michigan to have my knee checked too.  I hurt it excising about six weeks ago.  I can do everything but everything makes it hurt later.  We suspect the meniscus but will only know with an MRI.  I do not want to be limited until September when we plan to go to the States, but we also did not want to go to MI now and be stuck there for over a month or two to get my knee fixed.  What to do?!

Several times this week Ecc. 3 has come up in our devotions, Bible lesson, and sermons.  I just smiled knowing God knows the right time for everything - Grandma's death, going to MI or staying in Uganda, my knee...  He is in control and I put my trust in Him.  All things are beautiful in His time.

We were very blessed by our family here in Obulle.  Word got out that my Grandma died and our pastor and his wife came to say they were sorry.  They asked if they could come and pray with us, so two days later our church leaders, neighbors and friends came to be with us, share God's Word, and pray for us.  I was deeply touched.  Even though I can't be "home" with my family, God has given us His family.  During prayer Margaret put her hand on my back and I felt so loved and cared for I just cried.    

Thanks again for praying for us and with us.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Fall is so Fun!

Ok before I begin, I am back home again!  This is a post I had ready to go before I suddenly went to Kenya to be with our friends.  I am happy to report Steve is discharged from the hospital and recovering in Nairobi until his follow up appointment on Wednesday.  We praise God for His full healing!  I am thankful I could go and be with Steve and Tanya and see Howard and Aileen.  I even enjoyed my time and the special treats like cool temperatures, nice malls, and great food.  Josh and the kids also did great together while I was gone.  I am so proud of all of them.   Thank you for all your prayers!

One more update.  My Grandma Van Manen has about 2 to 7 days to live.  The hospice doctors said she is in full death stage.  I am so thankful she was able to talk and be with everyone up until this point (now she can't talk).  She has complete peace and is just waiting to be with her Savior.  It is truly special and peaceful.  I was praying for Grandma the other day and became very excited for her.  She is about to be home in the Kingdom of God!  She will be removed from the worlds sin and mess, free of sickness and pain, with her Father forever.  The song came to mind, "...what a day of rejoicing that will be.  When we all see Jesus we will sing and shout the victory!"  Although Grandma's finish line is victory, we still grieve the loss for us.  It is still hard.  It looks like we will not be going to MI for the funeral. It is times like this we are reminded that serving the Lord on the mission field does come with sacrifices.  I don't think it is so much missing the goodbyes but realizing I have now missed 15 years we could have been together.  It is a sacrifice.  I know the Lord honors that and I can trust Him.  Please continue to pray for my Grandma and especially the family.

Ok, and now the Fall Fun...

The end of October we had a Fall Fun Fest here at our house.
People were welcome to come in fall attire, we played fall games, and ate fall foods.

Pumpkin ring toss

Pumpkin bowling

Guess how much the pumpkins weigh
We also had an adult meal I called our friends-giving meal.
It was so fun and beautiful.
 We had sparkling apple cider, pumpkin soup and bread for appetizer,
a thanksgiving backed dinner, and caramel fondu for dessert.

We cooked an early Thanksgiving meal as a family - YUMMY! - because our  neighbors were selling a turkey to get school fees for their daughter and because I am in the Thanksgiving mood.  Emalai loved her turkey leg and actually ate almost two of them!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Surprise trip to Kenya

I just want to send a quick note to fill you in. Some of you may know our fellow missionary and friend Steve Tiesinga was medically evacuated to Kenya this week because of extremely low oxygen levels.  They were not sure the cause but it become serious.  Tanya, his wife, went with him. Obviously Tanya was a bit overwhelmed by everything, so their missionary friends/family in Soroti met to decide who should go and be with Tanya and help out. Long story short, it worked best for me to go. Everyone has a role in helping - some with caring for the Tiesinga kids, some with meals, help, prayers, being really is an awesome "family" we have.

So after getting tickets to fly to Kenya and lining up a driver, I went home packed (Josh had already started for me when he was done teaching) and said goodbye to Josh and the kids. It was a whirlwind. I woke up that morning to a normal Saturday and by 2:30pm I was on my way to Kampala to fly to Kenya. The drive went well but I didn't get to the guesthouse till 11pm. On the ride I was so glad I could help and be there for Steve and Tanya but I also become very scared. What if I was the wrong one to go and be with them? What was I going to see or be a part of? Could I do this? I was very encouraged by the other missionaries and their thankfulness that I was willing to go. I kept praying knowing God was in control and He would give me what I needed. I was surprised by this sudden change of plans but God wasn't.

I flew out Sunday morning and all went very well. I arrived at the hospital just before 11am.  I was thrilled when Tanya met me and told me Steve was going to moved to a ward. Steve was in the High Dependency Unit (HDU) where they need monitoring. I sat with Steve and Tanya talking about all that has happened but still Steve would have to stop talking to keep his oxygen up. He was a little white and it was really warm up there. Soon we were moving to a very nice private air conditioned room. It was so much better. Similar to our hospitals in Michigan. Steve now has no monitor they just check every 4 hours. He is on Oxygen but it is down to 4 liters (if you know what that means). 

From what I understand, Steve has acute respiratory distressed syndrome (ARDS). They are saying it is a complication from Malaria. Steve lungs filled with fluid (Pneumonia). 

So after Steve was all settled in and eating lunch, Tanya was ready to get out and have lunch. We ended up at the mall and had a very nice time together. We even found a Cold Stone Creamy and had ice cream! I did not expect to be doing that today but it was nice and I am glad I can be here for Tanya.

We spent the evening with Steve chatting, processing... Steve color is fine now and he can talk easily. He gets very tied and out of breath when he has to get up for the bathroom. We ordered Dominos (the real deal - where are we?!) for supper then Howard and Aileen, our Freedom inChrist directors, came and took us to their home for the night. 

We had a lovely, quiet, COOL 😊 morning at Howard and Aileen's. They made pecan waffles for us. I love being with H & A. They just overflow with faith, encouragement, love and prayer.

We are now with Steve again waiting for a doctor visit and update. Everyone here have been so nice, professional and helpful. Sometimes Steve and Tanya have guilty being here and "enjoying" as he is improving, but then he gets up and is too weak and out of breath do take a shower. It is going to take time and they are going to be here a while, but he is going to be ok and we praise God for saving him and healing him. God gets all the glorying! His timing was perfect, He provided, He hears His children's prayers and He is so loving and personal. We have a great  Father! I am so thankful Steve and Tanya see this and express it too. They want God to get all the  glory.

Thanks for all your prayers. I will update as I can. The plan is to fly back to Uganda Thursday and be with my family again Friday.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

God's Precious Jewel

Here we go again...last night my mom called to let me know that Grandma Van Manen is not doing well and they will be calling in Hospice.  

I think everyone is a bit shocked by this.  Grandma had been doing so well, but a few weeks ago started to say she didn't feel well and didn't eat much.  She continued to not eat and has lost 20lbs in about a month.  The doctor said everything checked out ok but the blood work showed that maybe her body was beginning to shut down.  Now Grandma isn't eating or drinking and is no longer getting out of bed.  She still knows people, is with it and knows what is going on, but sleepy.  Grandma doesn't have pain, doesn't complain and at peace - which is a praise!

Grandma Van is the grandma I was closest to and is very special to me.  I had many sleepovers at G&G Van and LOVED them.  Their house was so special and fun to me (even down to the "junk draw" Grandma had that we got treasures from).  I knew Grandma loved me and always made me feel valued and beautiful (she would often sing, "Here she comes Miss America" when she saw me).  Grandma always had time to "be" with me.  We would take a walk to see the peacocks, swing together, read to me...  Grandma would always kick Grandpa out of her bed to sleep downstairs when I was scared and wanted to sleep with her.  She would chase Uncle Brad with a yard stick when he would tease us.  Grandma was always good at sharing with me.  We would talk about when she was growing up, her family, even go and look at the houses she use to live in.  There were lots of holidays at Grandma's.  I loved Christmas the most.  Grandma loved Christmas too and had us over to help set up the tree, her Christmas village, and her angel collection (remember counting all the angels?!).  When I was older I have great memories in Florida at the "playhouse" as Grandma called their place in there.  They loved when anyone came to stay with them there.  Grandpa made fresh OJ and Grandma made fresh lemon pie if Grandpa could convince her.  We went to baseball games, flee markets, to see the manatee and alligators, and went to most restaurants in town including the Amish one.  Good times...

Just last year when we were in Michigan my mom gave me a whole folder that Grandma had kept of all the notes, pictures, poems I gave to her and then of any card or newsletter we sent since on being on the mission field.  How can I not feel loved and valued?  Grandma was a lover.  She loved children, loved the Lord and loved me.

Most of all Grandma shared her faith and love for God with me.  She had a main role in my faith in Christ.  Grandma talked about and lived out her love for the Lord.  She would correct me when I said Holy Cow and tell me only God is holy - she is right.  She was not just a Christian but spoke about God with me.  She warned me not to make the mistakes she did.  We all know Grandma wasn't perfect - no one is - but she did love with the love she received from God.  I am thankful for someone in my life who was willing to talk with me about God and their faith in Him.

So now I sit at our home in the village of Africa while my Grandma lives her last days.  I am so thankful I said goodbye to her when we left Michigan in January, but I still want to be there to see her again and say goodbye - to pray with her and love her as she would me.  (And now I am crying again.)  I don't know if I will ever know how to do this right - is there a right way?  I am grieving and want to grieve but don't always know how.  It doesn't seem real, yet I know it is.  We wrestle over going to Michigan and being there for loved ones and having the closure, BUT it is overwhelming to think of the cost, quickly changing plans with home schooling, ministry and teaching for Josh, pack up and close up the house, leave friends here, drive 7 hours to fly about 20 hours one way, then the emotions of being in MI with family for a funeral for a few weeks and travel and adjust back to Uganda...whooo!  Yet, we would if we knew it was right.  Who can tell us the right thing to do?!  It is a major cost in all ways, but I don't want to regret.  I want to go and stay here - both - yet neither...  Sorry, I am so confused.  So, I am praying and waiting on the Lord's leading and comfort.  He knows what it best and good for me.  I can trust Him.

Thank you for listening, being there, and praying.  Pray for Grandma.  Pray for my Mom and the family as they go through this - again for many of them.  For my parents it will be all four of their parents in just over a year.  Interestingly,  both of their fathers died about a month apart and now it looks like both mothers may too.  My aunt just lost her father a few weeks ago too.  A lot of loss.  Thankfully we know that with all the loss each one is great gain - to be with their Lord!  Grandma Van always sang "Precious Jewels" to me and I love knowing she is a precious jewel for His crown.

When He Cometh

When He cometh, when He cometh
To make up His jewels,
All His jewels, precious jewels,
His loved and His own.

Like the stars of the morning,
His brightness adorning,
They shall shine in their beauty,
Bright gems for His crown.

He will gather, He will gather
The gems for His kingdom;
All the pure ones, all the bright ones,
His loved and His own.

Little children, little children,
Who love their Redeemer,
Are the jewels, precious jewels,
His loved and His own.