Friday, July 19, 2019

Heading Home

               Our time in Michigan is almost finished as we will leave for Uganda on Saturday, August 3.  We always depart with mixed emotions.  We are looking forward to being home in Uganda, seeing our friends and church family, and being part of the ministry again; however, we also hate saying goodbye here.  We are thankful for spending time with family, seeing friends, sharing at churches, and enjoying the beauty of Michigan.  On top of all that are the mixture of emotions regarding the adoption (see our blog for more details).   Part of missions is living in paradox – love and hate, hellos and goodbyes, coming and going, packing and unpacking, joy and tears…  Pray for us as we pack up and head back to Uganda to unpack and adjust back to life there.

Adoption Update
                Many of you know that we were chosen by a birth mother the end of May to adopted her baby in Michigan.  The baby boy was born early, June 24, but the birth mother changed her mind and decided to parent him.  We were excited to add to our family and everything seemed so perfect. The change of mind brought grief, disappointment, and confusion. 
We are back on the waiting list to adopt another baby, but as missionaries timing is complicated.  After praying, we decided to go back to Uganda to wait.  Once we are placed with another baby we will return to Michigan for the adoption.  There is always uncertainty in adoption, but living in Uganda seems to add to the uncertainty.  We continue to relinquish control and choose to trust God in this process.  We are praying for wisdom each step of the way. 
We still desire to adopt. It is another way to show God’s heart of adopting all of us. However, it is teaching us more about how God feels.  He waited for us.  His adoption plan was perfect, yet He was rejected. His love is unrelenting. He is true and faithful through it all.

How God Used our Time in Michigan
We thank God for all He has done while we were in Michigan.  We were able to speak at 11 supporting churches.  Each Sunday we were encouraged by people who rejoiced with us at the way God is expanding the ministry and producing great fruit.  We loved hearing that people could see our love for the people we minister with.  We were blessed by seeing many people who pray daily for us and the ministry in Uganda.  Josh was able to share God’s truth at many churches and people were challenged to share Jesus in their words with others.
People from one church shared that they began to use the FIC Discipleship book in their small groups after attending the Discipleship Course we led two years ago.  They testified that one of the great things about the Bible study is that life-long Christians and new believers all benefit and grow together.  One new believer, after learning it is truth that sets us free, turned himself into police so he could be free by living in truth.   We praise God. He is ministering through His truth in the lives of believers!
In June Josh taught for a week at the Christian Reformed Conference Grounds.  He taught part the Freedom in Christ Discipleship Course.  Each day people were touched by God’s truth. They learned their identity in Christ, identified lies they believe, and saw the need to take their thoughts captive. They were challenged to forgive others. They saw the Biblical difference between our roles and responsibilities.  One person said, “this week changed my life.”  Another man testified, “I had told my wife I would never serve on church council again.  Now I am willing to serve.”  Praise God for the work He is doing in His children.
Lydia and Grace professed their faith at our church the beginning of June.  It was a beautiful celebration of their faith in Jesus!  They each shared their testimonies as a witness to all who heard.  They danced to “No Longer Slaves” and Josh preached a message on being New Creations in Christ.  It was a powerful and meaningful service. We were excited to share it with many of our friends and family.
Lydia was also able to go to Guatemala on a mission trip with our church.  It was a great opportunity to do missions in a new area of the world and use the Spanish she has been learning in school.  We were not surprised when the missionary from Guatemala wrote about how much he appreciated Lydia and when fellow teammates were touch by her joy.  One team member told us we have a lot to be proud of because Lydia is an amazing kid.
We also saw God work through daily life in Michigan as we had opportunities to get to know people and pray with them.  Whether it was the lady at the store, a worker who served us, or someone at a church, they were touched by God when we took time to pray with them.  Lydia is especially gifted in reaching out to people with the love of God.  It is a constant challenge to me to represent Jesus today.

Pray & Praise:
  • Pray for our preparation and travel back to Obule.  We begin our travel Aug. 3 and arrive in Uganda Aug. 5 (after an overnight in Qatar).  We hope to spend two days in the capital city with friends before doing our final travel to Obule.
  • Emalai was seen by a neurologist because of all the headaches she experiences.  The doctor believed Emalai’s large tonsils may be preventing her from getting enough oxygen at night.  After a sleep study last week, the doctor’s belief was proven true.  Emalai’s snoring, jerking and kicking at night and headaches seem to all be related to not getting enough oxygen while sleeping.  So…she needs her tonsils out.  However, we are now two weeks from leaving so we will have to wait until we come back for the adoption.  We praise God that two vitamins the doctor also recommended are reducing Emalai’s headaches.  Pray for Emalai to know God’s protection and healing.
  • Pray for everyone in Obule.  Pray for an abundant harvest this month.  Pray for Angel, one of the youth, who is not emotionally or physically well.
  • We praise God for $4,500 raised for our adoption through the sale of Ugandan things in Mc Bain and in Hudsonville!  Thank you for your generosity!
  • Praise God for the generous gifts from Georgetown CRC and Faith Community CRC for a knee replacement for Lusi!  We hope Lusi will have her knee replacement next month. 
  • Praise the Lord for Achia’s adoption!  Achia has a long story and is now Mandy’s sister and lives in Michigan with Mandy’s parents.  Pray for all her tests and therapy as they help her with her disabilities and seizures.
  • Praise God for Lydia’s sweet 16 birthday July 31!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Adoption Update

Thank you for your prayers as we have gone through the adoption process.  Most of you know that a few weeks ago we were chosen by a birth mom and "linked" to a baby that was scheduled to be born in July.  We were thrilled to prepare for "our" new baby boy.  Sunday morning we got a message that the birth mom was having complications, was hospitalized, and that the baby was going to be born this week.  We were blown away a bit by how quickly it was suddenly moving, but very excited to welcome him into the world.  We were informed because the birth mom wanted us to be at the hospital when it happened.  Sunday night we got a text message that she was considering changing her mind and wanted us to call her in the morning.

Monday morning about 9:30 Josh called her.  She said she had already delivered the baby and that she had decided that she would parent him.  Josh tried to express kindness toward her.  She asked if we are ok with her decosion.  Josh said, "I am not trying to manipulate you or make you fill guilty, but we are very sad.  We loved that little boy.  We love him very much."  We had given our hearts to him though we never knew him.  We are aware that he was never legally ours, but we were fully committed to him.

Yesterday we grieved.  Still are actually, but today feels a little better.  We are confused by what God is doing as so many things seemed to line up as if His hand was at work.  We just have to trust that He knows best.  

We have asked Adoption Associates to put our names back on the list for birth moms to see.  We still believe that God knows the baby who needs us as parents.

Originally we were supposed to return to Uganda in late July.  Once we were chosen for an adoption we began to make plans to stay here until November in order to finalize the adoption.  At this point, we do not know when we will be returning.  We will make those decisions next week once our emotions have a chance to process this grief a little more.

Thank you for your prayers.