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.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

HALLELUJAH! I SEE THE LIGHT!

And it's not from the generator, either!  Tonight our transformer was installed, the lines hooked up, and electricity is in our house once again!  We were able to use the microwave for supper!  Hot water instantly flowed out of the kitchen tap!  Fans are running.  And the most classic of all the kids' comments, "Mom, we can see what we are cooking!"  Thank you for all of your prayers for us!  I am off to enjoy our blessing.

Monday, August 16, 2010

21 DAYS

After 21 days of no electricity, my spirit and energy levels are beginning to sag.  The supply of glo sticks has vanished, candles are now stubs, and the cost of fuel for 3 weeks of generator usage has surpassed our monthly rent.  Trying to remember all that needs to be accomplished (and striving to accomplish it)  in the short amount of time we run the generator each day is exhausting.  Being a missionary does not mean that we wear our prayer-card-smiles every day.  We get frustrated, tired, depressed, and discouraged, just as the Apostle Paul did.  We would love for a day to run smoothly.  But do you know what smooth sailing does?  It lulls you to sleep.  Rough seas cause you to be more alert and aware of the One Who is in control.  The waves remind you to be thankful for the smallest blessing in the journey.     

And so my prayer of late has been, "Lord, I just ask for one little blessing each day to focus on."  Today I was blessed by the close relationship Skyler and Savannah shared throughout the morning.  Usually, Skyler finds every possible way to get a squeal out of his youngest sister, so I was standing back in awe as he insisted on brushing her hair for her (not an easy thing for her to endure with her natural curls).  After admiring his fine work of art (ok...I added a little bit of help lest she be mistaken for a sheep dog), he put his arm protectively around her shoulders as they walked off to find some adventure to partake of (a picture moment, for sure).    They fixed puzzles together, reviewed school charts companionably, and explored the yard in agreeable wonder.  God isn't content with putting just a drop of a blessing in our cups; He has promised to make them run over.  Watching these two blessings bond together in brother-sister love...Thank You, God!  Your eye is on the sparrow, and I know You care for me.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SKYLER


For the last two days, Keith has left the house immediately after breakfast and has been gone all day.  Thus, we celebrated his birthday at breakfast yesterday and Skyler's birthday this morning at breakfast.  My kids think it is great eating birthday cake so early in the morning (and no one had better tell my pastor's wife).  It was hard for Skyler to decide on the shape of his cake, so I decided for him and chose a monkey since that is what we affectionately call him: Monkey Man.  However, it was the most hurried cake I have had to do, as Keith informed me this morning that he wanted me to accompany him in showing some visiting pastors around today. 

Some of Skyler's presents

Something fun that I have started doing is to include an incentive when we give our children books as gifts.  In the back, I attach a post-it note with a message stating that they will receive so much money when they complete the book. This ensures that the learning doesn't get pushed aside so quickly in favor of the toys.

Grace Christian School End of 2nd Term Performance

As I mentioned, we had four pastors visiting from Tennessee and also two men who help sponsor our orphans.  This morning our school put on a short performance for them, and then we took the visitors out to the village of Mbira to show them where we will be building a new orphanage.  It was an encouragement to us to see their zeal and to share with them the vision we have.  After lunch, Keith dropped me off and continued his journey to Entebbe to take the pastors to the airport.  He will pick up Brother Ron Reece later tonight, and they will return tomorrow.  We are praying that we will have our electricity back before then.  Last we heard was that workers had to take the transformer back down off the pole as it was not working right. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY SWEETHEART

Dear Keith,
The Lord overflowed my life with blessings when He chose you to be my mate.  I am thankful to have been a part of your life and to claim you as my best friend.  I pray that God will continue to use you in His work for many more years. 


Hat's off to you, Honey!  You're the greatest!

Monday, August 9, 2010

BLESSINGS OF LITTLE THINGS

Have you ever wondered just how much of a difference little things make? 

When the ORH medical team visited in May, one of the ladies brought a couple of packages of glo sticks for the kids.  As she saw the kids get all excited about them, she said, "Oh, those are so cheap.  I paid just $1 for a packet of 12."  Yet those simple "night lights" have been a big help during our two weeks of no electricity.  Being able to hang one of them on the bathroom door or let the younger children sleep with one has brought a comfort light to the dark nights. 

Thank you for your prayers for us concerning our electricity, but please don't stop.  No work was done yesterday because the man in charge was sick.  Then to add to the problem, there is no petro in all of Masaka or its surrounding villages.  The fuel that is in our generator now is all that we have left.  But we do not feel forsaken.  Our God is still in control.  Instead of focusing on what we can't do without electricity, we have found that we are able to stay just as busy as before.  Electricity greatly helps our lives, but it doesn't control us.

Keith setting up meetings for furlough

If you would like to do a little thing and be a big blessing, could you send a birthday greeting to Keith on Wednesday, the 11th?  (kstensaas@gmail.com) If anyone can figure out how to send a real double whopper with cheese or a glass of ice via e-mail, that would make his day!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

IT'S A TIE

Tonight puts us at 11 days without electricity, which is our record from previous times.  The power company brought the transformer back from Kampala, but they have decided to move the location so that it will be inside the compound of a hotel that is across the street from us.  They are hoping that this deters further transformer sabotage.  The holes have been dug for the new poles, so possibly this week we will get our electricity restored.  As we were waiting for Keith & Shane to bring back petro for running the generator tonight, the rest of us were eating by candlelight.  My camera makes it look a lot brighter than it actually was, for I could barely see Skyler and Savannah when I was taking their picture. 


Stanley showed Savannah how to make shadow-pictures on the walls, so she had a lot of fun in watching Stanley's "dinosaur" gobble her up.  Shae-Lynn made some comment about how nice it was to have a candlelight dinner.  Our first term on the mission field ruined any thoughts I had about how romantic candlelight dinners were.  We ate by candlelight so much that I told Keith during our first furlough to take me to the brightest lit restaurant around!  Jesus is referred to as the "Light of the World."  To be a light that covers the whole world...well, I think Jesus likes bright lights, too!

"Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."  John 8:12

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

CREEPIES & CRAWLIES

When the Lord was working on my heart as a teen to be fully surrendered, one area I battled with was being willing to go anywhere in service to the Lord.  I did not want to go Africa - the deep, dark continent with wild animals, snakes and other dangerous creatures.  However, God didn't let me forget Romans 12:1 until I fully turned my life over to Him.  Thus, when I considered Keith as a potential mate, I had no reserves in his surrender to Africa. In our 15 years of residence here, we have not been bitten by anything deadly - except the mosquito.  We do see creepy, crawly things occasionally.


Rats can be a nuisance and are often difficult to catch.  This one in the picture evaded rat glue and also ate poison without any effect.  So...Keith declared war on the critter, cornered him in the school room, and ended his terror on my house. 


This week Shae-Lynn accidently stepped on this large spider, temporarily stunning him.  I'm not sure what kind he is or if he is dangerous.

Our last camping trip, the kids found this snake skin next to our camp site.  We have never seen snakes near our tents, but now we know that they are around that area.

At our present house, we have not had any snakes.  There is a family of mongoose that roam the neighborhood and sometimes sneak into our compound.  I believe they keep the snakes away, for which we are very grateful.  Australia and South America have much more dangerous creatures than Africa does, but the same God who protects us here is the same God over the whole earth.  If God  is working on your heart to be fully surrendered to His will, do not hesitate.  It is a joy to serve Him - even amidst the creepy crawlies.

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."
Romans 12:1 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

IT'S A BOY AND A GIRL!

Our family has increased in number with the addition of two puppies.  Within two weeks, we have had two of our dogs die of old age, so we were needing to get our dog population built back up.  I am not an animal lover, but dogs are a necessary part of our life here for security purposes.  I had two phone numbers for people who were selling dogs, but the first number I tried did not go through.  I called the second number and learned that they had two litters of German Shepherds ranging in price from $200 - $400.  I knew that we could not afford that much for a dog, but as I was thanking the gentleman for his help, he added, "We do have two runts that we would be willing to just give to a good home."  Hmmm....let me think on that price!  Isn't God good!  He allowed the first number that I tried not to go through, and He provided two dogs within our price range.  (And guess who it was giving them baths last night and fixing their breakfast this morning!)

Monday, August 2, 2010

IT'S A BOY!

But not ours!  On Sunday, August 1, Levi Alexander Stensaas joined the Stensaas clan - the fifth child of Andrew & Jacky.  They are in the States on furlough, so we have to wait five months before getting to hold the little fellow.  He was a birthday present for his sister Addison.  However, she was hoping that her mom would be home for her birthday.

Jacky & Levi: Doesn't Jacky look great for just delivering!

What a joy children are and how blessed we are to have an abundance of them in the Stensaas family.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

EGG EXPORT

This past week we have had trouble finding stores that have eggs for sale.  We were baffled as to why the chickens would be going on strike.  Then we discovered that the chickens are still producing, but our eggs are being taken out of country.  Several large trucks came from Rwanda, went directly to the farmers, and bought all the eggs they had on hand.  So...maybe it is the Rwandan chickens who are on strike!  There are also several buyers that come from Sudan, buy up the eggs, and then sell them for double the price as they are purchased here.  I'm not sure why the Ugandan chickens lay eggs better than other countries, but we thank God for farm-fresh eggs!