Thursday, March 15, 2018

CONGRATULATIONS, GRADUATES!

I know.  You are thinking...this is only March.  Who graduates in March?

Daniel, Abigail, Shae-Lynn and Shiloh singing a special
Being missionaries, one thing you learn is adaptability.  We are good friends with another missionary family here whose kids have grown up with ours.  They are leaving for furlough next month, but wanted to have a graduation party for their graduating son before they left.  We have two graduating, also, so we combined everything into just one party.

Daniel wanted a rice crispy cake, so that was the cake on the left.
 On the right is just a regular cake.
Something that is different in Uganda is that there is no graduating ceremony for when you finish secondary school (high school to Americans).  But our church had a great time enjoying our tradition, especially enjoying the food.

A great time of fellowshipping and eating after the service
Your next question may be, "Why do you have two graduating together?"  One of the misconceptions about homeschooling is that the mom is teaching every subject times how many different grades there are.  I am no super teacher, so I have never taught 6 different subject levels to 6 kids or even 6 different classes to 4 kids.  We combine A LOT!  I just require more out of the older children than I do the younger ones.  That being said, a couple of months ago I realized that Shiloh has been doing nearly everything Shae-Lynn has done in the last 4 years.  So, after consulting with a couple of other people as to the pros and cons of letting him graduate early, we decided that it was the best decision for us.

Friends for 18 years (well, Shiloh would be 15 years)
Shae-Lynn and Shiloh will be taking college classes via correspondence until we go on our next furlough, as well as continuing to attend our Bible college here at our town church.

Great Job!
Please pray for the children of missionaries.  It is daunting knowing that after high school, you have to move to a new country to learn a new culture and begin adult life - without your parents.


Missionary kids need your support, understanding, and love.  
They need friends.  
They need your prayers.

Monday, March 5, 2018

VMAM ON FIRE

While we were on furlough, my husband presented the new ministry he started upon our return to Uganda.  If you have seen any of our prayer letters, you have read the great reports from the Village Mentorship and Assistance Ministry (VMAM).  One of the questions frequently asked was whether or not I would be going with Keith to the villages.  No, I do not travel with Keith.  He travels with two men, so sleeping accommodations would not be ideal as he stays for 3-8 days in the bush.  However, that does not mean I am totally out of this ministry.   As the Bible mentions, there are those staying at home who "tarrieth by the stuff." (1 Samuel 30:24)

Keith leaving early in the morning for a village

Besides the curtains, covers, and other things I have sewn, there is the weekly work I have for this ministry.  Yes, the biggest part is laundry.  But it needs to be done, right?  Praise the Lord for a washing machine and very long clothes lines.

Piles of blankets, towels, sheets, and clothes waiting to be washed
Upon Keith's arrival back from the villages, our entry way and living room are usually holding places for the trunks and equipment until the truck is cleaned and all the linens are washed and repacked.

Despite the stack of trunks, the coffee bar is still accessible
Keith has seen many people saved as he preaches and goes soul winning in the villages and has been able to encourage many pastors.  While we do not like the separation, what a small price to pay for seeing churches getting grounded in the Word of God and helping pastors better reach their people.

Parked in the village
But no ministry is all a bed of roses.  Yesterday as Keith was driving the VMAM truck to the church with Savannah, the back caught on fire.  I was about 5 minutes behind him in our van, so when I came upon him parked alongside the road, flames were shooting out of the tarp.  The locals were throwing dirt at the truck in their attempt to try to put out the flames.  We always have plenty of water bottles in the van, so the kids jumped out with a couple bottles each to throw at the fire.  Keith was then able to get in the back and reach a 5 gallon jug of water to pour on the remaining fire.  I then grabbed the empty jugs and drove fast and furiously to the church to get more water.

The burned tarp
The culprit was a can of bug spray that had either rolled or had been put by the batteries which are used to run lights, sound equipment, and charge electronics.  With all the bumping around, it had evidently sprayed out starting the fire.  A mattress was right above the batteries, so it caught on fire quickly.  When it was pulled out of the back to smother the flames, the locals wasted no time taking off with it.

The fire starter - a can of bug spray

Where the fire started at the batteries
The truck itself is fine, and just needs a little bit of paint on the bars.  The tarp is being patched.  New batteries, wiring, and a mattress will need to be bought.  Keith suffered a burn on his forehead, and his church pants are ruined, but his life and Savannah's are spared.

This trunk was on a shelf near the top of the bars
Keith is scheduled to be in another village on Friday, so please pray that everything gets fixed and replaced before his scheduled departure.

The last sight I have as the VMAM team leaves each time
Thank you for praying for us.  You never know when our lives are in danger.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SHAE-LYNN

Our precious daughter has turned 18!  As much as I have enjoyed every step of our children's childhood, having a teenaged daughter who has such a beautiful heart is a special joy.


When the kids turn 18, they get to pick any type of cake they want.  Shae-Lynn chose the chocolate lasagna cake I had for my last birthday.  It is so good and rich!


We had a great time celebrating with two other missionary families with food, fun, and fellowship.  


A couple of months ago, Shae-Lynn had stumbled across some Short Best Friend / Tall Best Friend shirts on Amazon.  She sent the photo to her tall friend Abby, saying that it describes them so well.  Abby's family took the photo down to our local t-shirt imprinter, and he was able to replicate it exactly.  Shae-Lynn's gifts reflected her love for coffee, coconut, and photography.  


We are so thankful for each of our children and look forward to seeing how God uses them in the future in His service.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

BARBECUE JACKFRUIT

Quite possibly, we have found a company that will alleviate my frustrations with internet that has prevented me from frequently posting.  We are giving it a try, and so far so good.  With other companies, I could only upload photos at 6:00 in the morning, and even then it would take about 30 minutes.  Any other time of the day, it would take up to 2 hours or just get stuck.  Right now, in the middle of the day,  I just uploaded 2 photos, and it literally took less than 10 seconds.  I realize this still isn't as fast as most American internet, but I am so excited and hope this good service continues.  It will really help with school work, too.

My kids will admit, when it comes to meals, I am very good to them.  I am not a mother who forces Brussel sprouts or sauerkraut down their throats.  I remember once when Shane was little that I made him eat squash.  As I was cleaning up the mess of him throwing it up, I declared I was not going to be that mean mom.  Instead, I have learned that if I want my kids to like something, fix just enough for myself, eat it in front of them, and they will soon come begging to try mom's special food she is eating.  It truly works!


However, I do enjoy trying new recipes, especially when I see a savings in them.  We have an unusual fruit called jackfruit that is as big as a watermelon and grows on trees.  It is very messy to harvest the fruit, but it is very good raw or dried.  We had heard how some people, especially vegetarians, use the fruit as a substitute for beef in meals, specifically barbecue shredded beef sandwiches.  We were given some jackfruit, so I decided to try it, closely following the recipe online.
It was a failure!  
I even had a hard time swallowing it without the gag reflex kicking in.  My kids were so good in trying to eat it, but they were greatly relieved when I didn't even make them eat the usually required 1/2 amount that was on their plate.  I told them that since they didn't have any stories of their mom making them eat horrible stuff, that I had to provide at least one for them.


Don't feel too sorry for them.  The barbecue jackfruit was quickly forgotten and I was forgiven even before these cinnamon rolls appeared for breakfast the next day.


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

DECEMBER 2017

I. LOVE. MY. LIFE.  Having my family with me all day.  Serving our Lord in a foreign country.  Knowing people from all over the world.  I am so blessed.


But life isn't all a bed of roses.  One of the recent thorns in my life has been our internet.  Whenever I want to sit down and blog, then internet is SO slow, that I am not able to accomplish anything.  So, you, my readers, will just have to bear with me as I try to figure out how to be more up-to-date with the postings.

To try to finish up the year, I am just going to do a photo recap of the past few months.

The fair came to town.

Yes, we held this snake.

Skyler, another teen in our household.

Keith left on his birthday, so we just did cupcakes.

My daughter made me an amazing dessert for my birthday!

Keith began the village ministry in September.

October 9 was our Independence Service.

A visitor to our compound.

No more single digit kids in our family!

Moreen and Robert were married December 16.

These were the cakes I made for the wedding.

My kids lent their help with trying to get ready for the Ladies Conference.

54 Ladies attended our Connect the Dots Conference.

There were dots everywhere!

A major bee problem in our roof required a professional to come and remove the roof.

After 3 days, the queen was finally found.

These live chickens are on their way to the market for Christmas.

Our Christmas service included a deaf lady.

Cousins - such love and fun.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO Y'ALL FROM THE STENSAAS IN UGANDA!

Friday, August 25, 2017

BACK HOME

I am sorry for my long period of silence.  This has not been intentional.  In fact, I have lost track of how many times I have attempted to post.  We have even tried switching to a different internet company.  The U factor is at work against me (U=Uganda).  I was surprised when I logged in today and found that a portion of a previous attempt was saved.  So I will fill in the missing pieces (such as all the pictures that didn't save), post this one, and if it finally goes through - then I can write a current posting.  This was written the middle of July.

Landing in Uganda - What a Welcome Feeling.

One of the big adjustments we make when returning to Uganda is the undependability of everything.  I actually started writing this post after one week of being here.  Due to terrible internet service, it took me until Thursday to finish it.  But then when I tried to preview it before sending it out, all the work vanished except for 3 sentences.  Yes, I frequently hit the "save" button, but for some reason, the Uganda factor kicked in and getting a post written and sent has been anything but simple.  So...we will try again.

We got a quick tour of Dubai during our layover.

It is good to be back home.  Sleeping in our own beds.  Putting our clothes in closets and dresser drawers.  Drinking African Chai and eating sweet bananas and pineapple.  Attending the same church.  These are every day activities that we miss when traveling on furlough.

View of Kampala, the capitol city, from our motel room

But there are the difficult adjustments, too.  Water going off every - single - day.  The Muslim prayer call beginning at 4:45 or 5:00 each morning.  The crazy traffic.  The dust.  The noise of living in town.

Roadside market

And there is the beauty.  Green trees and grass.  The welcome we received from our people.  My flowers still blooming.  The weather (between 62 and 78 since we arrived).

I Love Flowers!  It was nice to see them still living in my flower beds.

Our days have been very busy and full as we literally move back into our home.  When we left, everything had to be packed up.  In addition to unpacking, we also repainted our house.  Since the curtains all had to be replaced due to the intense Equator sun, we did some color changing in some rooms.  We don't, yet, have everything back on the walls, but the pathway through the house is getting better and nearly all the curtains are hung.  We don't have any time to be lazy since we have four visitors arriving next week.

Shae-Lynn helped in getting the curtains ready

Keith has accomplished so much in all that is on his list.  He found us a van to purchase within our first week, and he has started paperwork on the ministry truck.  His Ugandan driving permit should be completed this week, and mine next.  During our absence, five of our six dogs died, so Keith has bought 3 new ones to replace them.  The kids all have new mattresses and the girls a new bed frame, too.  He quickly hooked up the water filter and the washing machine and dryer, so we appreciate their availability.

Shiloh exercising the dogs

One of the things Keith and I missed the most was being able to be involved discipleship.  My soul winning team wasted no time in giving me three ladies to disciple upon our return.  What a blessing it is for Shae-Lynn to also have some young girls to teach.

I am humbled that I am given the chair and they insist on sitting on the ground

Shae-Lynn usually ends up with 10 kids listening to her teach the 3 that are being discipled

We are home - the place of service God has chosen for us.  How grateful we are!