Friday, December 31, 2010

GOOD BYE 2010

What a wonderful month we have had -- busy, yet full of riches. We returned last night from a fun-filled week at Keith's parents.  So many people at their church apologized to him for not properly greeting him before the service because they didn't recognize him.  He doesn't fully understand the transformation that others see and keeps asking, "Do I really look so different?"

December 2009
December 2010

On the 20th, I had a Ladies Christmas Party and enjoyed having the ladies in our home for fun and food.  The next night we got together with another missionary family for a small Christmas celebration.  Then after church on Wednesday we went to an English couple's house for caroling and more food.  For Thursday soulwinning I took the ladies to the hospital for caroling.  Saturday we had an 8:00 Christmas service with a full church, and then we traveled to Mbarara.  We had challenged our people throughout the month with the thought that "Everyone can give something no matter how poor you are."  It was exciting to see several grasp this idea and really give of themselves.  One lady made wildflower bouquets and gave them for Christmas.  She also volunteered to work for another missionary for a day with no pay - her Christmas gift to them.  She gave what she had - talent and time.

Stensaas clan except for Andrew's family

Well, in not writing for so long, I have a lot of blessings to catch up on:
#88: Green grass and gorgeous flowers in December.
#87: Freedom from seasonal style "rules" - Dark and light colors are worn all year.  And there are no rules of what matches - pink stripes with orange plaid?  Only the white people look twice.
#86: Mangoes, pineapples, and sweet bananas - all year long at so cheap of prices.
#85: Slow pace - While the people's excessive slowness frustrates us at times, the general slow pace of life here allows time to sit outside and watch the storks soar, spend extra time with a daughter baking, or shoot some baskets with the boys.
#84: Familiarity of our small town - The thought of America's large cities scares me.
#83: Village ministries - Four saved today.
#82: Prison ministries - The prisoners are so hungry for someone to take an interest in them.


#81: Children's Church - They like to play games that test their Bible knowledge. I love this class.
#80: Enclosed yard -   The wall's purpose is to keep thieves out, but it also gives freedom to our children in allowing them to play outside anytime they want.
#79: Our radio station - Christian music, preaching and programs all day long.
#78: Freedom to witness in hospitals with no restrictions
#77: Unexpected packages - Received two from a church today full of things we like.
#76: Christmas service - It is very important to the culture to go to church on Christmas - no matter the day of the week it is.  Which is how it should be!
#75: In-Laws - For a family of eight to invade their home, they are so gracious and patient.
#74: Seeing cousins play together - Our children are blessed in getting to see cousins every couple of months.
#73: Laughter of siblings - Keith and his brothers always keep us in stitches.
#72: Church expansion - We hear of American churches shutting down, and it breaks our hearts, but to see dad's orphanage getting built - HALLELUJAH!

#71: Wildlife - The zebras with the cows today were beautiful.
#70: Beautiful clear skies where you can clearly see the stars unhindered by city lights.

It has been a great year serving our Lord, watching Him lead, guide, protect, and love us every day.  We look forward to what we can do for Him in 2011.  May God bless each one of you.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

MISSIONS CONFERENCE

Pastor Josue Satunero - missionary to Uganda from the Philippines

What a great week we have had!  We have been stirred by the powerful preaching of Missionary Josue Satunero and encouraged by the fruit of our missions giving.  Each night, we brought in members from one of our village churches and baptized any new converts.  The members sang songs, and the leader for each church gave a report.  By the end of the week we had seen 32 baptized and 1 saved.  Our mission commitment for 2011 is about $2,200.  Our God is great!  Today after our morning service we ate lunch at the church and then met back in our auditorium to pray for each missionary that we support.  What a great ending to a superb conference.

Mbira church singing during the conference.

In daily life, the grasshopper season is drawing to an end and yet the weather is still very cool - ok, temperatures in the 70s are cool to us.  When we hear about the snow the States is getting, we shiver and think, "We are going to freeze to death on furlough!"  As Keith told our people this morning, "I have learned two things in losing weight.  One is that these benches are really hard.  Two is that I am cold!"  On both of these accounts Keith used to make light of our misery.  He says he is truly sympathetic now.  He has worn his jacket more in the last two months than I think he has the whole time we have been in Uganda. 

It doesn't seem possible that Christmas is just two weeks away.  Since we had electricity all day, I started some Christmas baking of cookies and pumpkin bread.  All of the presents that are ready have been wrapped, and our kids are counting down the days until we go to Grandma's house and see her big tree (oh, and her and Grandpa, too!).  We are so blessed to have relatives on the field with us!

Blessing Countdown:
#97: Cellphone Plan - No company here charges for incoming calls.  All of the Stensaas families and several other missionaries all use the same company, so there are no charges for calling each other.  Needless to say, our phone bill is very small.
#96: My Ladies Sunday School - So much is still new to them that they soak in as much as is taught.
#95: Fellow Missionaries - The Lord has given us great people to work with.
#94: Simpleness of Shopping - Don't get me wrong, I look forward to having many choices, but having one or two brands to choose from makes shopping trips go quicker.
#93: Our Bed - Custom designed to be 6 inches longer than a normal bed, our feet do not hang off the edge.
#92: Washer & Dryer - Traveling on furlough, wash times are unpredictable.  I have been blessed to have a washer and dryer our whole time in Uganda.
#91: Book Supply - Mostly acquired from other missionaries, we have several shelves of books to enjoy.
#89: Our Church Get-togethers - It is so good to see the church family work together in making our church functions run well.

(Missionary Ladies: my sister-in-law and I have a blog geared toward missionary ladies. You can check it out here.

Friday, December 3, 2010

98 DAYS AND COUNTING

Our official count down for departure began on Wednesday at the 100 day mark.  Never before have we looked forward to furlough like we have this term.  Usually we are dragging our feet and refusing to look at a calendar, but both Keith and I have felt the need for a break.  But as we prepare to leave, I look around and am reminded of all of the blessings I am going to miss.  So, I have decided to make note of one thing each day and will try to include them in my posts.

Mom & Dad, Alisha, Keila and Matt

The Lord blessed us with a great family Thanksgiving get-together.  Thanksgiving day was beautiful with a bright sun and warm weather.  Keith's family met us at the private swimming pool of our friends, where we enjoyed a spaghetti lunch between the splashes of water.  Our actual Thanksgiving meal was on Friday.  We didn't fix turkey, but the two chickens I found were big enough to be considered turkeys.  And the ham was so delicious!  The afternoon was spent outdoors playing a bean bag toss game, football, and wrestling.  And no Stensaas-get-together is complete without ice cream, so with the supper leftovers we enjoyed homemade ice cream.

Shiloh, Skyler (face hidden), Shae-Lynn, Shane helping Kirsten, and Kendra

When the families left Saturday morning, the kids worked quickly to get the house cleaned and the Christmas tree up before Keith returned from soul winning.  I think I have an invisible elf who keeps redecorating the tree.  Almost daily, I find the ornaments rearranged - usually several grouped together on the same branch.


Alisha and Mom.  Shiloh and Stanley in the background
Savannah and Kirsten














Wednesday we had a young man arrive who will be staying with us through Monday.  He is actually in Uganda visiting another missionary, but since we stayed with his family during our last furlough, he had a desire to make a short visit to see us.  The kids have really enjoyed Ben playing with them and lending a hand with their chores, too.

Shane, Keith's body w/o his head, Marcus, Skyler and Stanley

Last night for ladies soul winning, we saw seven saved!  Hallelujah!  Afterwards, the Petersen family joined us for basketball and supper.  We had a great time together. 

Grace Christian School

Today was the last day of Grace Christian School and the day for our orphans to return to their relatives for a month of holiday.  The end-of-the-year program went very well, and we are thrilled at the growth we have seen in them.  This past week I have been receiving many notes from the girls.  I will certainly miss them while they are gone. 

The older orphans learned the basics of violin this term

After our Sunday morning service we will be going to our Kyotera orphanage to see their program and also to be a part of the church ordaining a deacon.  Monday will find us in Kampala, and then we will return on Wednesday when we will start our Missions Conference.  Please be in prayer for these many activities. 

I couldn't resist including this photo of Keith.  Everyone is telling me that I have found a new husband.  He is saying he needs another 2 inches taken in on his trousers.  I'm so proud of his perseverance.

Blessings (I will be counting backwards to stay in sync with our departure days):

#100: The weather - Masaka has beautiful weather, rarely going out of the 80's. 

#99: The soul winning - Most of the time our door knocking is done at the back doors where people are sitting outside fixing their evening meal or working in the gardens.  They are always quick to bring out a grass mat or bench for us to sit down and talk with them, and they frequently gather neighbors or other family members to listen.

#98: Our orphans - Anything we do for them, they are sure to thank us at the first opportunity.  This term I took special interest in one girl who seemed to always be in trouble, and she has now become my shadow.  Others are known for their smiles or for their servant's hearts.  Each one is so special. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

CANDLELIGHT MEALS - NOT FOR ME

Whoever came up with the idea that candlelight meals are romantic did NOT spend any time in Africa.  I can remember during our last furlough when someone offered to watch our children so that Keith could take me out for a nice candlelight meal.  I replied with an adamant, "NO, not candlelight!"  They were shocked.  My idea of a nice meal?  A bright chandelier hanging over the table illuminating my food (so I can see what I'm eating) and my family (so I can see who I am talking to).  Thursday morning Keith was reading our family devotions after breakfast and suddenly stopped in exasperation.  The candle wax had dripped onto the book.  And, yes, we buy dripless candles - - at least that is what the box says!  However, our children get a thrill out of the unusual wax art that is made from the melting wax.

My children have developed a panic look on their faces when they see me with a box in hand.  "Mom, what are we going to read after you pack all of the books?"  "Mom, what are we going to play with for 2 months?"  And then when they see me armed with a trash can when I enter their rooms, they transform their look into a sad puppy face.  "Can't I keep that?"  "I really do like that."  Despite their overreacting, progress continues to be made, and the stack of boxes is growing.  And the kids are growing, too.  Stanley has finally reached size 16 in shirts (he is my ultra-slow grower); Skyler is in size 8 shirts; and Savannah is somewhere between 6 and 7.  I searched the market for 2 1/2 hours on Friday and found not a single dress for Savannah.  So, I bought shirts to convert into dresses.  I immediately sewed up three, and she insisted on wearing one of them to bed.

I dropped Keith off at the bus stop at 6:00 Saturday morning for him to catch a bus to Mbale.  He will be preaching at his brother's church from Sunday - Wednesday.  Pray for him and the church services.  Also, pray for us as the house seems to fall to pieces, and the children seem to take leave of their senses during his absence.

Our Thankful Poster

Happy Thanksgiving from the Stensaas!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

PHOTOS

Shirts were a gift from another missionary

 Taking family photos at our house is always a major event, hence, it happens only about once a year.  Here are some recent attempts:

While most people never see the equator in their lifetime,
we have passed over it hundreds of times.


Savannah steals the show

Doesn't Keith look so slim!

At least Savannah looks comfortable!

Sunday during our morning service we had a big thunderstorm.  Our auditorium has a tin roof, so the noise of the rain was deafening.  The song leader had to walk up to me and shout the page number so I would know what to play on the keyboard.  He would shout the number to the congregation, the first row would shout it behind them to the next row and on back.  Since they couldn't hear the keyboard all that well, they were just singing their heart out - using their own tune and timing.  It is a good thing the Bible says to "Make a joyful NOISE unto the Lord!"   Despite the rain, we still had three visitors.  Praise the Lord!


Our days have been very unpredictable.  For three weeks our electricity went off every day between 6-7 in the morning and was off for 12-14 hours.  Yesterday and today we have had electricity in the morning, but not in the evenings.  I'm confused as to what the power company is doing.  However, progress is still being made in packing and cleaning, which is good.  Our small garden is growing which keeps the children busy.  The small section of our yard that we are using is not very fertile, but I thought it would still be good experience and work for the children.  The birds (or lizards) are stealing the mulberries, but the strawberries look to be coming in good, as well as the pumpkin, chayote, and cucumbers.  The lettuce and carrots are doing poorly, but we will enjoy what comes in.  As you can tell from the picture above, everything is very green and beautiful.  God blessed us with such a beautiful place to serve Him.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

FALL or PRE-FURLOUGH CLEANING

Do you ever wonder what happens to a missionary's house while he is in the States?  Our previous furloughs we took things off of the walls, draped sheets over the furniture, and locked the doors.  Some missionaries move out of their houses, and others store everything in containers.  This time things will be different for us.  A fellow missionary will be returning from their furlough in January and will be staying in our house during our absence.  This will keep our house occupied, as well as give them time to find a house of their own.  So the cleaning, sorting and packing has begun. My book-loving kids are begging, "Please don't pack these books, yet.  What will we have to read?" 

Washing the living room walls
 
For several weeks in a row, our ladies soulwinning team has seen someone saved each week.  Tonight my partner and I were making visits and were able to lead a Jaja (elderly lady) to the Lord.  Please pray for the men's soulwinning on Saturday.  At the invitation of the widow, they will be going to the village of the man who died in the accident.  We desire for God's name to continue to be glorified.  Wouldn't it be great if we saw revival in this village?  Last week the men went to our church in Lukaya and helped them put a roof on their building and partial walls.  Our two churches enjoyed sweet fellowship, delicious food, and a goal accomplished.

Building and cooking team in Lukaya

I know I have mentioned this before, but I am so proud of my husband's weight loss accomplishment.  He now weighs less than he did when he entered college 20 years ago!  After altering his trousers in three ways, I don't think I can do anything else with them.  The first step was to move the button over about 1 1/2 inches.  After he lost some more, I then took in the side seams.  My final alteration was to sew up the back seam, cutting 2-3 inches out.  We are hoping they last until we reach the States.  I have taken up the sides of several of his shirts, but they still have a tent-look.  I think next Tuesday will need to be market day.  People in town ask him if he has been sick to lose so much. 

Keith modeling his old trousers

Shiloh is doing well, and we appreciate the many notes of concern and prayer.  Thank you for praying for us.  Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

SHILOH'S ANGEL

We have given Skyler an additional name - Shiloh's Angel.  At 1:30 this morning, Skyler woke Keith and I up again with the words, "Shiloh's sick."  (Even writing about it sends my heart racing.)  The symptoms were the same as our last scare with the addition of headache and blindness.  In garbled speech, Shiloh kept asking if we could take the mask off so he could see. 

Shiloh & Rufus - His Diabetes Bear
Let me give you a peek into our hospital experience.  We arrived at the hospital to find the emergency room door locked, and no one around.  I went in a different entrance and began knocking on doors.  A nurse woke up, and I told her that I wanted an I.V. of Ringer Lactate for Shiloh..  I asked her to call either one of two physicians whose names I had given her.  After 40 minutes of waiting, a totally different doctor came.  This doctor and nurse stood by watching as Shiloh vomited and offered no assistance.  I asked them if they had anything I could use to wipe the examining table so Shiloh could lay back down, and the nurse handed me two pieces of gauze.  After an hour, we were given a room (that hadn't been cleaned from the previous occupants), and the I.V. was started.  When you are admitted to a hospital here, you bring all of your own linens and toiletries.  Although a little of Shiloh's vomit had gotten on the sheets while in the emergency room, I had no choice but to use it for the bed in the room, too.  Keith went back to the house as one of our supporting churches had requested a Skype call at 4:45 a.m. our time for their Missions Conference.  (And there was no room for him to stretch out anyway.)  At 5:00 people began preparing breakfast for themselves and their sick relatives right outside our window on the sidewalk.  At 5:30 the nurse checked Shiloh's vital signs.  At 6:00 she asked if we wanted holy communion (this is a Catholic hospital).  At 6:15 she brought pain medicine (which I declined for Shiloh since I knew he would never be able to swallow such a huge tablet and would vomit it anyway).  At 6:30 the noise of talking outside my window became so loud that I opened the curtains and said (in as nice of voice as I could muster after just 3 hours of sleep), "EXCUSE ME, SIRS!  Could you, please, go someplace else to talk?  You are talking very loudly, and we need some sleep."  As their voices reduced in volume, I caught about 30 minutes of sleep, which helped a lot.  After 400 ml of I.V. Shiloh returned to his normal self - including sight.  We are thankful for this "backwards" hospital that at least has the drip Shiloh needs.

Skyler said that he had been having a scary dream about a bug that grew really big, which caused him to wake up.  I believe God allowed Skyler's dream so that he could be his brother's life-saver once again. 

Please pray with us that we will be able to find an endocrinologist who is willing to work with us during our two-week stay in Austin, Texas before we start traveling on furlough.  Our prayer is that Shiloh will be able to be fitted with an insulin pump that will help to control the blood sugar better and that we will gain further wisdom in helping Shiloh.

Thank you for praying for us, and please - don't ever stop!

Friday, October 15, 2010

HOT DRINKS - COOL WEATHER

Where would we be without computers?  Well...I found out as I was nearly a week without mine.  My greatest fear when it first gave me the totally black screen was that everything was lost.  Praise the Lord - my documents were retrievable but all emails were wiped out.  Which means...all of my email addresses, too.  But that is such a small amount of loss compared to the possibility of everything being gone.  So...if you have corresponded with us in the past year, you might want to send us an email letting us know your email address.

This week we have been getting plenty of rain which gives us nice, cool weather perfect for African Chai or Hot Cocoa.  We have a spice here called Tea Masala that makes the chai soooooo good.  I am already stocking up on it to take back with us on furlough, since I am so addicted to it.  Drinking chai is my stress reliever (yes, I drink a lot of it), my comforting drink (especially when having a culture day), and my method of warming up (must be the pepper in it).

AFRICAN CHAI
⅔-¾ cup sugar      
5 tea bags
½ stick natural vanilla or 1 teaspoon real vanilla
2-3 teaspoons tea masala, optional
1 quart water (1 liter)
1 quart milk (1 liter)

 In a 2-quart sauce pan, combine the sugar, tea bags, vanilla, tea masala, and water. Bring to a boil. Add milk and heat through.

Most of my children prefer hot cocoa.  Of course, who can resist a cup when a couple of marshmallows are floating on top.

COCOA MIX
4 cups powdered milk
¾ cup cocoa
⅛ teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar

Mix well.  Store in airtight container.
TO USE:  Pour about ¼ cup of mix into cup.  Add hot water and stir.

Have a great weekend and enjoy a hot drink in your cool weather!

Friday, October 8, 2010

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SAVANNAH!

Savannah has finally reached the age everyone thinks she is - three years old!  She is tall, talks a mile a minute, and has a storehouse of "wisdom" from five older siblings, so for several months people have thought she was older than two. 




She was blessed to have her Grandma & Grandpa and Aunt Alisha be here for her special day.






Savannah loves her sister and tries to imitate anything she says or does.  She likes to use Stanley as her horse and take rides around the house.  She looks to Shane as her protector to save her from the dogs (and to carry her around).  Skyler thinks up new ways to get her to scream, and Shiloh is her quiet buddy who she depends on to help her. 

Siblings look on as she opens her presents

How thankful we are for our six blessings and the joy they bring to our home.  We pray that each one of them lives fully for Christ as His servant.

Friday, October 1, 2010

HAPPY BIRTHDAY STANLEY & OTHER CONGRATULATIONS

Grandpa Stensaas (61) and Stanley (13)
I'm two days late posting Stanley's birthday pictures, but some unexpected events came up.  Stanley was blessed with two cakes again this year.  He shares a birthday with his Grandpa, so when Mom & Dad stayed with us last week, I fixed a chocolate cake for the birthday boys to enjoy together. 

Shane getting dunked by Keith
On Wednesday, we took the kids swimming.  Some Danish friends allow us to use their private pool, which we especially enjoy doing for birthdays. 

Stanley wanted to float his penguin in the pool.  I wasn't willing to risk it.
I'm not sure what inspired his request, but Stanley asked for a penguin cake.

Savannah drying off and getting warmed up
Also on Wednesday, my husband reached his goal of losing 70 pounds!  Congratulations!  For seven months, he has worked diligently.  He has a great amount of self-discipline, and I admire his perseverance.

Skyler throwing toys into the pool
Yesterday Skyler lost his first tooth - and we're not sure where!  He had shown me that it was loose, and then this morning he discovered it was gone.  This is the first time one of our children has TOTALLY lost the tooth!

During ladies' soulwinning, I received a call from one of the groups I had dropped off saying that a piki-piki (public motorcycle transportation) had ran into one of our ladies.  Upon arriving at their location, I found Christine witnessing to the man who had just collided with her.  He prayed to accept Christ and received eternal life. Christine had a minor cut, bruising, a broken shoe, and fruit to her account.  We had a total of three saved last night.  Praise the Lord for a great week!

Monday, September 27, 2010

HOSPITALITY

"Mom, when can we pick up more people?"  I was a little baffled.  It was Sunday morning, and we had just picked up four of our neighbors for church, making our 8 passenger van tight with 14 people now in it.  Everyone was quietly laughing at Skyler's seemingly outrageous question.

Skyler exhibiting hospitality to a tailess lizard
"What do you mean?  Didn't we just pick up some people?"  I asked him in a puzzled tone.

"Not here, from the airport!  When can daddy get more people?"  Our kids love company!  This is the 270th day of the year, and we have had visitors in our home 114 of those days.  (This excludes the lady living in our guest quarters who teaches at our orphan school.)  God has richly blessed us with many visitors during this term, and our children think it strange when we don't have guests. May they always keep the mind of Christ in being "lovers of hospitality."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

HAPPY HOMESCHOOLERS

"Ok, Shiloh, you have a spelling test today.  Let me get your book."  As soon as the words were out of my mouth, Shiloh was headed out the door with a piece of sidewalk chalk.  Running away from his lesson?  Not at all.  Shiloh loves to take his tests on the driveway.  And because it is so fun, the others are scrambling out of their seats wanting to take his test, too.  After eleven years of homeschooling, I have learned a lot myself.  One thing is to let the students have fun while learning.  Why writing spelling words with chalk is more fun than a pencil, I'm not sure, but I sure have a better day when my children are eager in their work.

Shiloh enjoying his outside spelling test
Another lesson I have learned is to use the curriculum that the kids love.  This year we used The Story of the World for history for Stanley and Shiloh.  The book is so interesting that the other kids were finding excuses to be in the living room to listen as I read, and Stanley could be found reading the book on his own. 

A simulation of the 1883 Krakatoa Volcano in Indonesia
We finished Volume 1 early in the year, so I decided to fill in the rest of the year with some geography.  That lasted for only a couple of weeks before I gave in to their "Can't we please do another Story of the World book?" 

Savannah modeling the Pikelhaube (spiked helmet) of 1842
 Today as they were coloring a map of Africa as it was divided up by the Europeans and fixing a puzzle of Africa, one of them asked, "Mom, aren't I African?"  "Well, you are kind of African-Americans except for Shane.  You were born in Africa, but you are an American citizen."  Hmm...won't that throw people for a loop when they mark that on an application!

Shae-Lynn & Shiloh coloring Africa

SNAKES and ROBBERS

One of the blessings of missionaries is seeing new churches started.  What is really exciting is to see the nationals answer the call of God to step out in faith and begin churches on their own.  Brother JJ Kalanzi and his family has done this 30 minutes from our Masaka church in the village of Mbira.  This is an area where many of our orphans have come from, and the church was begun as a result of several of the orphan guardians getting saved.  The Kalanzi family is doing a great work for God, and the devil is not happy.


Two weeks ago, Brother JJ brought 15 new Christians to our Wednesday evening service to be baptized.  Praise the Lord!  On his return back to Masaka from taking them home, four men threw a log in front of his vehicle, forcing him to stop.  They pulled him from his Prado and began searching it for cash and cell phones.  Brother JJ fought the one man guarding him and then ran into the bush.  He waited in the dark for about three hours before the men left, and he was able to return home.


This morning during their church service, one of the men noticed something in the beams.  After realizing what he was seeing, him and some other men started clearing the church out.  The church members thought, "We must be having a visitor!"  Whenever a special guest comes to church, it is customary for everyone to line the driveway, then sing and clap as the visitor arrives.  Then they realized that the visitor was already in the church.  The men knocked down and killed a six-foot snake.  I'm not sure of the exact type it was, but they call it a monkey-eating snake.  Praise God for His protection on this church this morning.  Remember to pray for JJ & Harriet Kalanzi and Mbira Baptist Church.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

PRINCESS OF UNMATCHED SHOES

Mismatched - But Both Sandals

When Shane was little (and much shorter), I can remember him arriving at church and immediately taking off his shoes and socks every week.  He could tolerate wearing them the short distance from home to church, but then off they came. 
Mismatched - But Both Closed-Toed

Savannah is the opposite; she loves wearing shoes - but unmatched ones!  When we get home from church, off goes one shoe and on goes another - of a different style. 

Unmatched - But Both Crocs
 Because she is always wearing unmatched shoes, it becomes quite the challenge to find a match when we do leave the house, even for other family members since she likes to wear our shoes, too.

Unmatched - Totally!
How beautiful are the feet of my darling daughter.  May she always find a way to brighten our day.

Friday, September 10, 2010

SIZE 52?

One of the things that missionaries find themselves doing a couple of times a year is filling out questionnaires from supporting churches.  These range in length from one page to four or more pages with varying questions.  Last week I was filling one out that asked for the clothes sizes of our family.  That one always throws me for a loop.  By the time two or more boys have worn the shoes, the size has completely worn off.  Or if I have purchased the shoes here, I never remember what the conversion is (my son wears a size 39?).  I was checking the label of a pair of trousers, and it said 52.  Hmmm...what size is that?  I couldn't find a single American size in one of the boys' stack of trousers.  (Trousers are worn on the outside.  The term "pants" is used for the undergarment.)  So how do I get clothes with such strange sizes?

My shopping for clothes involves several hours of searching and digging.  In our area, we have two clothes' market days a week.  Sellers buy bales of used clothes that have been shipped from Australia, England or America.  Each bale is sorted by type: dresses, children trousers, men's shirts, etc.  These clothes are then dumped out on tarps in the market area for anyone to dig through.  And they love to help you look for things since they want you to buy from them.  However, if you aren't accustomed to their ways,  garments flung into your face at regular intervals may seem offensive.  Being a frequent shopper, I am known by several of the vendors - especially those that sell trousers.  A tape measure is a must for me as to bring white kids into a field of Ugandan vendors is quite the spectacle, and I get little looking done.  So, my tape measure and a list of measurements are essential items to take along.  As is the case with most purchasing here, the prices are negotiable.  Being of a different color, we expect the prices to begin higher, but most usually will come to a reasonable price -- most of the time.  A couple of weeks ago I came home very discouraged from shopping since my goal was to get shirts for Stanley, and I came home with just two.  I had found three others, but the lady wanted three times the amount I had paid at another vendor (my white skin).  Upon arriving home my first words to Keith were, "Please take me to an American thrift store where I know the price won't be according to my skin color."

Sunday, September 5, 2010

HUMILIATION or HONOR

An incident occurred yesterday that I am not free to mention here but would like to ask you to pray about. In the wee hours of the morning when sleep failed me, the Lord gave me the following lesson that I taught in my Ladies' Sunday School class this morning. This is an abbreviated version.

Luke 1:49 “For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.” How could Mary say this? She had just received word that she was expecting a child although she was unwed. Because of this condition, she could have been stoned (Leviticus 20:10). No doubt, many of her friends shunned her. Perhaps mothers even prohibited their children from speaking to her.

Why would God bring such “humiliation” on someone who was in His favor? God had a gift of honor hidden beneath the wrapping paper of scorn and embarrassment. Honor that would last for centuries.

Mary looked upon this as a “great thing.” Great things come in different forms:
* To the street child, a meal & bed
* To the young girl, a new dress
* To the young married couple, a baby
* To a baby, a toy
* To a family, a new home
* To parents, seeing their children walk in truth
* To a Christian, the salvation of another

And each gift comes in a different wrapping:
* A new dress or toy may come wrapped in beautiful paper with ribbons and bows
* A baby comes after 9 months of discomfort and hours of pain
* The building of a new home may come after years of hard work & saving
* Children following after God comes from parents willing to choose what is best and right for them and what is not always popular
* But the salvation of others comes at a great price and in many layers. It’s package is wrapped in persecution & death (Jesus & others); the giving up of personal wants (missionaries & soulwinners); the humbling of the giver; the enlisting in God’s army (battle against the devil)

Yesterday ten souls were rescued from the clutches of hell on Kalangala Island and 1,200 John/Romans were distributed with the potential of many more getting saved. But then the devil attacked. This beautiful day of soul winning was wrapped under painful, battle-scarred wrapping paper. Do we serve a cruel God or are we focusing more on the wrapping paper than on the gift? Did Mary mention the humiliation she would suffer or the honor of mothering the Savior? She focused on the gift and not the wrapping. What is our response to what God desires to give us? The pretty wrapping paper covers those things that are just temporal. Don't cast away the gift because it's wrapping isn't as glamorous as the gifts of the world. Embrace what God offers, and focus on the honor He desires to bless you with.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

HOME SWEET HOME

It is very rare that we are away from our home for more than a couple of days at a time, so when we returned to Masaka yesterday from an 8-day absence - - oh...Home Sweet Home!  It had been about seven years since we last visited the ministries in Soroti, so there were many changes that we saw during our visit.  We were blessed by the hospitality of the Pittmans and enjoyed the fellowship of all of the missionaries there. 

Cool Princesses - Savannah & Micayla Pittman
It is amazing how different one town can be from another, although they are in the same country.  Because Soroti is flat, bicycles (or boda-bodas) are the main public transportation.  Here in Masaka, motorcycles (or piki-pikis) are used because of our hilly terrain.  We saw just as many women as men riding bicycles up there, while down here it is socially unacceptable for women to pedal a bicycle, although they do ride "side-saddle" when being transported.  Most of the people in the Soroti area are tall, while our population is of average height.  Everyone we spoke with during our short visit could speak English, even in the village; but the elderly people and those living in the deep villages of our area do not know English.  Trying to sing in the Ateso language for church was difficult as the dialect is totally different from our Luganda.  The majority of homes in the villages around Soroti are mud huts with grass roofs.  While we do have many mud huts, most of ours have tin roofs.

Thank you for your prayer for us.  Shiloh had one episode while we were in Soroti where his glucose levels kept dropping despite our giving him additional sugar.  It seemed to take an extra large amount to get his blood sugar normalized, but God was with us and guided us in wisdom. 

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME

Yellow because I'm Keith's Yellow Rose of Texas.  Red because he loves me so much.

How special I feel.  This year my birthday celebration lasted for over a week.  Nearly every day, I was presented with a gift.  When Keith returned from Kampala on the 13th, he brought me two large bouquets of roses for my birthday.  (We can't get fresh flowers here in Masaka, so he was sure to plan ahead.)  On the 15th, Brother Ron Reece, who is visiting us on a survey trip, blessed our family with many gifts, including a birthday gift from him and his wife.  Shae-Lynn and Shane gave me their presents on Wednesday, the 18th. 

Gathering at Mom & Dad's house in Mbarara.
Keith's family always has prank gifts for him.

Keith gave me one of his presents on the 19th, and then while we were in Mbarara, we celebrated all of the August birthdays on the 20th at Mom & Dad's.

Savannah enjoyed helping me unwrap.

Shae-Lynn was determined that I have our traditional rice crispy cake, so on Monday the 23rd she made me an elephant.  I think she did an excellent job for her first rice crispy creation.  It won't be long before I can retire and let her design all of the birthday cakes.

What a cute birthday cake designed by Shae-Lynn.

Thank You, Lord, for another year to serve You - the Giver of life, the Lover of my soul.