Sunday, December 23, 2012

LADIES TEACHER TRAINING


Ladies Teacher Training December 2012
 What a full and rewarding three days we have had!  We had 47 ladies travel in from 9 different churches to attend an intensive training of how to be effective children's teachers.  Tom and Cris Geer (children's missionaries that train adults and help with Vacation Bible Schools and camps worldwide) arrived for the purpose of reaching African children and teaching adults how to reach them.  Tom traveled on to Tanzania and Zimbabwe, and Cris has stayed with us.

Verse Puzzle: Something they had never done before!
Cris did a wonderful job at giving the ladies plenty of ideas they can implement for building Sunday Schools and for getting the children excited about coming to church. On the last night, nine of the ladies came for baptism.  Pictures are worth a thousands words, so I will stop the words and let the pictures do the talking - except to say 'THANK YOU, CRIS GEER!"

"Dum, Dum, Da, Da, Da, Da..."
Homework: Draw 4 illustrations to illustrate a Bible story.
"Little Peter Rabbit had a fly upon his nose...."
Silliness is an important part of leading children.
They greatly value getting a certificate of completion.
One of nine baptisms
"Whad-de-le-atcha..."
A mother of 12 and grandmother of 20. This is a very precious lady.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

MISSIONS CONFERENCE: FRIDAY

One thing about missions conferences - they humble you.  These pastors and leaders express their thanks over and over again for how God has worked on their behalf.


Brother James Sebyoto is a Bible college graduate who started Word of Life Baptist Church in Lukaya.  This year he has turned it over to another man to start Light Independent Baptist Church in the very poor fishing village of Kalangala.  Our church has been praying with him about the need for a motorcycle for him to travel back and forth between these villages.


Brother Robert is the one who is now leading Word of Life Baptist Church.  He gave testimony of how the church has not lost members in the leadership transition but has instead grown.  Hallelujah!


This was the first time for Brother Moses to speak before a group of Christians besides at his own church, and he was so excited that it was hard for him to stop talking.  Lutoboka Baptist Church was also started by the same missionary that started Lake View Baptist Church (see yesterday's post about Brother Matthew).  Moses spoke of how lost they were when the missionary returned to the States leaving them with no direction or guidance.  On one of our church's soul winning trips to the islands, our people gave out John/Romans booklets in his area.  When he returned from his trip, his people excitedly spoke of some people from another Baptist church.  After a couple of months, Brother Paul made contact with Moses and has since been helping him and his people be grounded in the Word of God. 


Brother Charles has been leading Kisojo Independent Baptist Church which was started by fellow Missionary Marlin Petersen.  Charles is one of our Bible college students and has been doing a great job in leading his members.

We have been blessed by three great days of fellowship and preaching.  The men have been stirred and instructed.  It has been great for all.  Please pray for our church as we will be taking up missions commitments Sunday morning.  After the service we will be having lunch for all of the members to close out the conference.  Thank you for your prayers and support that enable us to personally minister here in Uganda.  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

MISSIONS CONFERENCE: THURSDAY

Another great evening!  It is so wonderful serving the Lord and watching Him work.  Tonight the testimonies were from Julius (a different one than last night) and Matthew.


Brother Julius is a result of our prison ministry.  Because of our faithful men and women that minister to the prisoners every Sunday afternoon, Julius trusted Christ as his Savior and had a desire to start a church in his village after his release.  He has an enthusiastic joy for Christ that is contagious.


Brother Matthew is a result of our radio station - Word of Life Radio.  Brother Matthew had a very rough upbringing and eventually ran away when his dad threatened to kill him.  Being just a teen, he naturally found the wrong crowds and spent time in jail.  He moved to the Ssese Islands and became a fish thief.  At a Pentecostal church, he heard the Gospel and trusted Christ.  A Southern Baptist American missionary built a church building on the islands, but soon left leaving the believers with no leadership.  As Matthew was listening to our radio station (which reaches clearly across Lake Victoria), he realized that we were preaching the true doctrine of the Bible.  On his second visit to our church, he asked if someone could come help them.  That is when Paul volunteered to go (see yesterday's post).  Because of limited finances, Paul can assist this church only once a month.  However, they are begging for him to come more.  They are hungry to be fed.


The messages Keith has been bringing each night have been just what we the people need.  He connects so well with the people and applies the Biblical truths right into their culture.  How thankful I am that He is willing to be used of God.  Thank you for your prayers for our conference.




Wednesday, December 5, 2012

MISSIONS CONFERENCE: WEDNESDAY

Tonight was the beginning of our missions conference, and what a great start it was.  Keith is preaching each night, and the pastors or leaders from our other eight churches are giving testimonies.


Brother Henry was first to speak.  He pastors Mbirizi Baptist Church and assists with Katovu Baptist Church.  Mbirizi church is praying for land on which to build their own building. Bro. Henry was talking about how their children's program has grown, and they are really needing a room for a children's Sunday School.  A Muslim man was talking with him and said, "You will never be very many.  Your religion takes just one wife.  We take sometimes four so that we can produce many children."  Bro. Henry replied, "That's ok. You produce the children, and we will bring them to Christ."


If you have read any prayer letters or updates from us, you already know Brother Paul.  He is the lame man in our church that must crawl everywhere, yet he is ministering to the Ssese Islands in Lake Victoria.  He is helping with two churches there and must take a boat between the islands.  A couple of weeks ago, he asked our church to pray about the need to reach all of the 84 islands by boat evangelism.  We began praying as a church but did not mention it to any outside sources. Two days later, we received a call from the U.S. with the news that someone had a desire to help us with the purchase of a boat for Paul.  We waited to give him the news until tonight after he had given his testimony with the prayer request of needing a boat.  His mother has asked him why he can't minister safely on the mainland. He replied, "When the time comes for me to die, it doesn't matter if I am in a boat or on the mainland.  What matters is that I am serving Jesus."  His mom says that his heart is dead to all but the ministry.


Then before Keith preached Brother Julius testified to the work he is leading in Katovu.  This church has gone through a lot throughout the years, yet a core group has remained faithful.  It was at this church that Keith baptized over 40 people not too long ago.  Praise the Lord!

Thanks to the Geers for loaning us their flags.  It really spruced things up!
We are very excited at what may happen this week in the area of missions.  Please pray with us.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

IT'S NOVEMBER!

Yesterday when I checked this blog, I was shocked that it had been over a month since I last posted!  It seemed as if we had JUST had our Independence service.  Time does more than just fly -- it disappears!

I just returned from soul winning where my team saw four people trust Christ.  Four weeks ago, we witnessed to two men at the watering-hole (like a well); one man got saved but the other wanted to wait. We have gone back to visit Isaac every week since, and when he saw us coming tonight he got a big smile on his face. He said, "Last week after you left talking with me, I thought really hard about what you said. I decided I needed to pray. But I went to look for you, and you had gone. I did not sleep well. Today you have come. I am ready to pray."

Then we went to visit a teenage girl who had trusted Christ last week. Her mom was sitting on their porch, and when she saw us, she said, "You are my visitors, aren't you?  You have come to talk to me."  She, too, got saved, and then told us, "Last week when I returned home, my daughter said we had had visitors and that she had become saved. I was sorry to have missed you.  But today, I am now saved, too.  Please come back and help us know more."

Then two more ladies put their faith in Christ.  We had so much fun tonight!  But I have to tell you a "behind-the-scenes" story.  Since Friday I have felt my body fighting off sickness - sore throat, aching body, stomach ache, and today a migraine.  I was trying to be sensitive as to whether or not I should go to soul winning tonight, but I didn't feel the Lord leading me to stay home.  Upon arriving at the church, the headache had progressed to the point I was feeling nauseated, and I was fighting back the tears.  I really didn't want to be there, but I prayed, "Lord, use me in spite of myself because myself does not feel good at all."  I thought that I would have to leave my team and return home.  However, from the time that Isaac prayed until I arrived back home, I did not even notice the headache.  I am so glad not to have missed out on such an exciting evening.

Bible reading with the computer.
 We have completed 55 days of school - something I wasn't sure I would make it to.  The children are so patient with me.  Teaching six children, six grades sounds something like this, "Spell 'bridge.' No, that's not right; think what one less than 6 is then what plus that equals 9.  But in what direction do the leaf's veins run? Sound it out. Do you hear what I hear? Silence from the washer; who hasn't hung up the clothes, yet?"  Sometimes we burst out laughing because the answers I'm giving get confused with who it is supposed to go to.  I love being able to teach my children.

A big highlight for the month of October was being able to be a part of our home church's missions conference via livestreaming.  This was the first time for our church to be able to do this, and we were SO blessed.  However, next year I am giving ourselves off the week from school.  Trying to maintain our African life while "attending" a stateside missions conference left us exhausted.  But the preaching was so good and just what we needed.

One of the difficulties of being on a foreign field is finding ways for our children to earn missions money.  In third world countries, labor and local products are so cheap that no one is interested in hiring the missionary child.  However, we are seeing the Lord bless our children's efforts as they make and sell cookies, fudge sauce, tortillas, play doh, etc., as well as offer their time for house-sitting or babysitting to other muzungus (white people).  How important it is for our children to see God meet their needs and not just their parents.

Best friends: Savannah and Ann.
 We are so blessed to be children of God.  Why would someone want to worship and serve a dead god?  Our God loves us eternally - past, present and future.  His Spirit lives inside of us.  We are so blessed!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY, UGANDA!

 How privileged we are to be able to be here in Uganda as they celebrate 50 years of independence.  We have been praying, planning, and preparing for this day for nearly three months.  This morning we had a special service at Masaka Independent Baptist Church with a specific outreach to the lost. 

By 12:30 the auditorium was packed!
We were praying for 200 people.  We ended up with 173 adults and at least 50 children. 

We gave away 6 Ugandan flags as part of the prizes.
 For the first hour, we had a time of Uganda trivia with prizes. We gave away 2 quilts, 2 solar-powered-fixed-frequency radios, 6 Ugandan flags, and 5 Ugandan lapel pins.  When we went shopping in Kampala two weeks ago, we looked everywhere for Ugandan decorations and gifts.  We found the flags and lapel pins being sold by a hawker on the street and the balloons in the store (although only one store in the whole city had the black). That was all the Ugandan items we could find. We bought material locally, and I sewed the 11 yards of bunting.
 
He's my man!  Such a great preacher.  Such a great heart for the people.
Keith preached on being "Free Indeed," and 4 people came forward to be saved.  Praise the Lord! 

Every little bit of shade was filled with people.
After feeding on the Word of God, we fed everyone a large meal of rice, beef, matoke, cabbage, and g-nut sauce.

The Stensaas Family showing our Ugandan colors.
 We are so thankful for all who prayed for this day and prayed for us.  Although this morning on my way to the church to decorate I saw a group of riot police and army soldiers, we haven't heard or seen any disturbance from problem groups.  Pray for us as we try to visit so many visitors in the coming weeks.

Happy Independence Day!


Sunday, October 7, 2012

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SAVANNAH!


She has been counting down the days with stickers on the calendar for the past month.  She has been so excited for her birthday to arrive. And now?  My "baby" is 5 years old!  She has inherited her parents' height, so the ladies at church were having a hard time believing that she was ONLY five. 


Savannah is such a joy to our family and keeps us laughing.  She loves to steal "my honey" from me and lavish him with hugs and kisses in an attempt to make me jealous.  She is determined not to let her status as a girl hinder her from competing with her brothers, but then at other times she tries to play the baby-of-the-family card to get what she wants.  She is very devoted to her sister and strives to do things that will please her.  No matter what I'm doing, she wants to help, so I often keep small jobs tucked away in the back of my mind for her times of needing to feel helpful. 


We are very blessed to have this bundle of joy in our family, and we are looking forward to seeing her grow in character and godliness this coming year.  We love you, Savannah Jo!

 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

MIRROR, MIRROR ON THE WALL

When we first came to Masaka several years ago, we were the only white people.  Now, there are so many that we don't even know them all.  There are two families that periodically attend our church - an English couple and a Greek/American family.  Two weeks ago the Greek family was moving to a new house, so Keith and the boys went to help.  As they were working, they asked Keith if he would be interested in a mirror.  It had been given to them while on deputation, but they had never found a place for it.  Imagine my surprise when Keith brought home an Ethan Allen mirror.  It wouldn't fit any of our dressers, but it sure does look awesome in our living room.  It is so heavy that Keith and I could barely lift it up on this shelf that he made for it.


Did we need this expensive mirror?  No.  Do we like it?  Definitely!  Does our God take pleasure in delighting His children?  For sure. 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, STANLEY!



How quickly the years pass!  Stanley was the only one of our six that was born early, and we believe it was because God decided to bless him with the sharing of a birthday with his Grandpa Stensaas.  Despite us living in the same country, it is still rare that they actually celebrate together.  However, Mom & Dad were on their way home from being up north, so we were privileged to have them join us for presents and homemade ice cream. 


Stanley is my picky man, so coming up with a cake design for him was difficult.  Actually, his choice was a satellite.  I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to make a glob of rice crispies resemble anything that is orbiting earth.  Then I remembered that he got his violin this year, so that seemed to be the perfect idea.  Happy Birthday, Stanley!  May you give God more of yourself this year in service to Him, and may you see His blessings upon your life.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

BACK TO SCHOOL

It almost seems strange starting school in September.  It has been easier for us to use the Ugandan school schedule all of these years.  However, because the time has come for our children to start graduating, this year we switched to the American system.

Shane - our senior
Shane will be returning to the States in May to graduate from our home church.  Wow - it doesn't seem possible.  I can still remembering the struggle of teaching him kindergarten!  Some of you can relate - first year homeschooling...first child...great expectations...nothing goes as planned.  But we both have survived 12 years, and now he is a senior!  I am proud of him that he has bravely endured my rough teaching, many days of interrupted school time, and years of classroom on the road or in hotels.  Thank you, Shane, for your patience with me.

Stanley - our sophomore
Give Stanley a book - nearly any book - and he is happy.  Thus said, he hasn't had to work hard at school.  In fact, a day seldom goes by that he doesn't offer an additional tidbit of information to go along with what we are studying.  His knowledge humbles me, and I am thankful that I can learn from him.

Shae-Lynn is in 7th
I'm not sure if it is third-child status or first-girl status, but Shae-Lynn would have been happy to be Amish and attend school for just 8 years.  She would much rather be making cookie dough for Grandpa, organizing my room, or fixing lunch than to be writing a report or drilling math facts.  However, she has the most initiative.  I assign them a whole week's work at once and leave the daily scheduling up to them.  Shae-Lynn is usually done in three days. 

Shiloh is in 5th
Although he gets good grades, Shiloh doesn't get excited about school.  Now if his Legos can attend class with him, then there is enthusiasm!  Since we have been back from the States, he has really become a reader, tackling teen-level books.  He is taking after his mom in staying up late at nights to read.

Skyler is in 3rd
If I could somehow bottle all of Skyler's energy and direct it toward school, I would have a genius in my house.  Yet despite his rambunctiousness, he is the one who enjoys working at his desk the most.  The rest of us would much rather lounge on the couch in casual study.  However, with six children in school this year, the desks are going to have to become mandatory.

Savannah is in kindergarten
And now Savannah has officially begun school.  In just two days, she completed the work I had scheduled for the whole week.  Shh!  We won't tell anyone and just let her sail as fast as her mind will work.  I see myself in her (scarey, I know!).  I loved school, so I hope at least one child will have that same love.

Probably one of the most popular questions I got asked on furlough was what curriculum we use.  We have used so many good things over the years, but this is our set-up for this year:
* Bible: Shane through Shiloh are using Plain Path Publishers; Skyler and Savannah are learning chapters from the Bible using booklets I made for S.S. years and years ago.
* English: Easy Grammar
* Spelling: Spelling Power
* History: Shane will be reading a lot of biographies and doing reports each week. The rest are using The Mystery of History Vol 1, while doing ancient city lapbooks from Live and Learn Press.
* Science: Apologia Physics, General Science and Botany with lapbooks from Live and Learn Press.
* Math: Math-U-See
* Savannah and Skyler are also using material from Sing, Spell, Read and Write.

Keith Stensaas Family - August 2012
May you all have a very wonderful and productive school year!

Monday, September 3, 2012

AUGUST BIRTHDAYS

The month of August is our busy birthday month with 3 out of the 8 of us having birthdays.


Keith is now soaring to greater heights at age 41.  Since we were hit by lightening the week of his birthday, we thought a lightening bolt was appropriate for his cake.


Skyler is now 8!  Wow!  Where has time gone?  I'm not sure what inspired the choice of a snowman.  My policy is that I don't make the same thing twice, so my kids are getting creative...or desperate to come up with new cake ideas.  This snowman turned out so cute that I had a hard time cutting the little guy.


 And then there is me!  Hmmm!  Shae-Lynn made me a lovely heart-shaped cake.  Then Keith's family decided to re-celebrate on our family vacation.  Notice the little tombstone cake on the ground?  I guess they have had enough of me.


Thank you to all who sent birthday greetings.  We appreciate your thoughtfulness.  Poor Savannah has the last birthday of the year, so she is having to learn patience in waiting for the month of October. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

WELCOME TBI STUDENTS


It has finally arrived - the Tri-Annual Bible Institute for our village pastors and leaders.  We have been praying and preparing for this event for months.  We are excited as to how God will use these men to reach many souls for Christ. 

Our first Tri-Annual Bible Institute class

However, since this week is just beginning and I don't have much to share regarding it, walk with me back a week to days full of unexpected turns and twists.  On Tuesday we had a big rain storm with marble-sized hail stones.  Keith and I happened to be driving to the church and had to pull over under a tree as we feared our windshield breaking.  As we were waiting for the storm to lessen, we tried listening to our radio station, but there was dead silence.  Our fear was that the station had been hit and everything had been fried.  We were glad that we were wrong.  However, the inverter had been zapped, which is what everything goes through for electricity.  Early Wednesday morning Keith headed to Kampala to see if it could be fixed.  Needless to say, Keith's eyes bugged out when he saw the bill of $1,000!  But then the man found out that we had just purchased it in May.  He didn't want his products to get a bad reputation of needing parts replaced so soon after purchase, so he said it would be written off as still being under warranty.  Thank You, Lord!

This is our church kitchen. The pans sit down inside of the "stove.  They are HEAVY to lift out!

On Thursday Keith sat down to print the booklets for the students this week, only to discover that the storm had also taken out both of his printers at the church.  Unable to do anything without the printers, he was getting ready to come home when he discovered his motorcycle had a flat.  He left it parked at the radio and walked home instead. He decided to take a bus to Mbarara (where his family lives) and buy a printer from there.  He waited for 1-1/2 hours that night and finally came back home as no buses ever came through.  Early Friday morning he drove down, made his purchase, and returned by noon to start the printing. 

Lunch of matoke, posho, rice, g-nut sauce, and cooked cabbage.
Then Saturday morning dawned.  On the second load of laundry, my washing machine decided to give up.  I finished the load by hand, and then started working on binding the booklets Keith had printed.  Not even half-way through, the binder broke.  When Keith came home, he was able to rig up the binder enough to cooperate and finish the job, but the washing machine problem is in the motor and is a hopeless case, I'm afraid.  He was able to replace the tire on his motorcycle, but when he was driving it home that night, the headlight burnt out!

Thankful for our home church outfitting the dorm with beds & mattresses.
We are hoping that our "little black rain cloud" has moved on and that nothing will prevent this week from being great.  Sixteen men are staying in our dorms and are excited to be learning foundational truths that will help them be better pastors and leaders to their churches.  Please pray for this week, for these men, and for Keith. 

Every night is church service this week. Keith preached about becoming a light that draws people.