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.