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.