Tuesday, December 24, 2013

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVE


Parties have been held.  The sweets are in the freezer.  Gift bags have been given out.    The house is cleaned, and we are ready for our morning Christmas service at 9:00 when we will give more gifts to each one who attends.  It has been fun involving our children in all of the preparations, whether it be tying bows on bags, filling paper bags with small toys, baking, or cleaning up.  We want our children to have giving spirits and to teach them the joy of doing it.

The girls packing sweet popcorn for those my partner and I disciple
The last two months have been quite busy for us, so I will give you the fast version in pictures backwards.

Our children's afternoon Sunday School with their Christmas bags

  
The missionary kids of Masaka decorated snowmen at our house

Our First American Fast Food In the Country!  It is 2 hours from our house.

In our Missions Conference our people pledged the equivalent of $4,150 for 2014

November & December brought chicken pox to all 5 children

Our 9 hour trip to Soroti for Thanksgiving allowed us to see many beautiful sites

Very thankful for my girls

A Canadian church brought radios to distribute in our churches

The Canadian ladies helped me paint my ladies' Sunday school room.  Beautiful!

The ORH medical team visited in October treating people on the islands as well as the mainland

We have had a wonderful time in service to the Lord this year.  God has blessed us with a great friends from all over the world.  Thank you for your prayers and support of us. 

Merry Christmas!


Friday, October 11, 2013

HAPPY LATE BIRTHDAYS!

It may be old age.  Perhaps it is how busy we find ourselves being.  Whatever the cause, I am terribly late in posting the last two birthdays of the year.  I was even late making their cakes, but I have the sweetest, most forgiving of kiddos.

Dressed up from college classes
Stanley requested the planets.  How simple, right?  Just 9 balls (yes, he wanted Jupiter included, although its planet classification is debated by some).  However, I wanted to make them different colors.  I lined up 9 bowls and added food coloring to each one with a little bit of water.  I tried rolling each planet in its designated color, but that idea failed.  I certainly didn't want to completely cover them with frosting.  Then the idea to "paint" them popped into my head.  I washed up one of the kid's paintbrushes and used the food coloring mixture to paint each one.  Of course, my own fingers were quite colorful when the job was completed, but I got the job done.  Three other missionary boys came over for a sleepless-over, and I think I got as little sleep as they did.

Fruit kebabs, baby sausages, cheese & crackers, cupcakes and tea
We decided to do an afternoon tea for Savannah's party.  We had everything set up outside when the dark clouds rolled in and the wind began to blow.  My faithful helpers grabbed everything, and we set everything up again in the dining room.  Since we had cupcakes for her tea party, I decided on a large cupcake for her birthday cake.

Five special friends: Christina, Shae-Lynn, Abigail, Evanthea, and Savannah

She LOVES the guitar, and so does Skyler.
You may ask, "Do you get to have ice cream for your birthdays?"  There are places to buy decent tasting ice cream, but it is quite pricey.  Then ice cream look-alikes are also sold.  They are made with some strange ingredients as it can set on the counter for hours and still not melt all of the way but become a spongy-glob.

What a big cupcake!
But we are the Stensaas family, and so we must do it the Stensaas way - HOMEMADE!  The two most requested flavors for birthdays are mint chocolate chip and root beer.  Since it does take so much effort and makes so much mess, we always make a double batch.  You can see in the picture the ice cream maker to the left with a large bowl of freshly made ice cream setting next to it.  On the floor is a basin holding the crushed ice.  Then the counter is loaded with all of the containers we use to make 18 kilos of ice.

Big mess indeed!
Is it worth all of the work?  DEFINITELY!




Wednesday, October 9, 2013

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY, UGANDA!

Congratulations, Uganda, for 51 years of independence!


Out of the 196 countries in the world, we are very grateful that God chose Uganda for our place of service.  We love being here!  We get the privilege of seeing God change lives.  We enjoy the friendships of fellow Christians from different cultures.  We get to be used of God to reach people who have never heard the Good News of Salvation. 

Being American citizens with a strong sense of patriotism engrained in us, it is sometimes baffling to us how carelessly some Ugandans regard their Independence Day.  While running errands in town today, Keith greeted many people with, "Happy Independence Day."  These are some of the responses he got:
"Is today Independence Day?"
"It's just a rich man's holiday."
"Why celebrate? With independence we lost our jobs, infrastructure, free education and proper health care."  

Despite the attitudes we sometimes face, we do our best to inspire a spirit of patriotism and celebration in our church by holding a special service.


Tonight we played Uganda Trivia and gave out prizes for each of the 21 questions.  Keith preached a great sermon about three things that come with freedom (responsibility, accountability & sacrifice), and then we served refreshments.  The best part of all - two children found freedom in Christ by placing their lives in God's hands. 


Thank you, Lord, for the freedom we enjoy in Uganda to freely worship God, and thank You for the freedom we have in Christ.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

LESSONS FROM CREATION (Pt. 2)

Remember when I mentioned our theme for my Ladies Sunday School class?  IT HAS BEEN SO MUCH FUN!  Not every week has been full of games and visuals.  After all, how do you visualize wind?  I thought we could run the fan on "hi" for the whole class, but we didn't even have electricity that day.

However, let me share a couple of themes from the past month.

Butterflies: Using my Cricut, we were able to cut out several butterflies to use for a review game.  I did learn an important lesson in doing this, though.  Construction paper on Cricut mats - a miserable mess to clean up!  Those small fibers love the stickiness. 


While doing our shopping in the capitol a couple of months back, I spied these butterfly notebooks and grabbed up all they had.  On the day of class, I told the Lord, "You know I have just 14 notebooks.  You must control the size of my class."  That day, our attendance was low - 13 ladies.


The Fragrance of Beauty: Roses are not only lovely to look at, but they smell good, too - just as we Christian ladies should in our spiritual walk.  I gave bookmarks with the lesson's main points and memory verse printed on them, and then we had a drawing to give out the other items.


Flies and Bad Habits:  I began this lesson mentioning interesting facts about flies, such as the fact that they vomit on their food before eating it.  We all know they are disgusting, but so are bad habits!  Another missionary had some American visitors come, and they were SO gracious in bringing fly swatters to give out.  (Thank you, Bible Baptist!) The fly swatters were so cute, that I was actually mentioning to God that I wouldn't mind a low attendance.  There were 17 fly swatters.  Eighteen ladies came, but one was an American visitor, so I did have enough for the Ugandans.  The next week the ladies were excited to report that these fly swatters really do work - for wasps, mosquitoes, and all sorts of insects.


Ladybugs: I know that if I were to teach these lessons in the States that there would be numerous teaching helps and prizes to use.  Being in a third-world country, oftentimes it is you pleading God to feed your imagination to come up with things.  That is how these ladybug pens were born.  There were no ladybug gifts to buy, so I thought about just giving away red pens.  The plain red seemed... plain, so I added black spots.  Then I noticed the little red end to the pens.  A perfect spot for a ladybug!


We talked about the importance of talking, walking, sitting, dressing, acting and thinking like a Christian lady.
 

It has been a great journey through these lessons on creation, and I am actually sad that we have just a couple of weeks remaining.  God has made available to us a wealth of lessons to learn - just look at His creation!

REAL-LIFE SCHOOL

One of the joys of homeschooling is being able to incorporate life skills into daily curriculum.  My mom loved to sew, and she made sure all of her children learned, too - yes, even my brother.  (We used to set up hospital and repair stuffed animals.)  I have used this skill over and over and over again - making curtains, clothes, repairs, adjustments and numerous other things.

When a fellow missionary began caring for orphan twins and mentioned their need for clothes, a bright light came on in my teacher/mom's head.  What an opportunity for Shae-Lynn to learn some sewing skills!

Stanley and Shae-Lynn holding the twins after church
We began with dresses and headbands that turned out very cute on the already adorable girls.


A couple of weeks later we took a trip to the clothes market, bought four onesies, and then made matching skirts and headbands. (We had originally set out to buy dresses, but I wasn't willing to pay $4 for very used baby dresses!)

Sarah: Often dressed in pink.
We have been blessed to have the opportunity of babysitting the twins for several overnight stays during the past two weeks, so another skill is getting taught as my children learn childcare.  The girls are so lovable with distinct personalities.

Sophia: Dressed in any color except for pink
Two more dresses are cut out and ready to sew up. We had better get busy as we all know how fast babies grow!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO US AUGUST PEOPLE

Shae-Lynn is doing great in carrying on the rice krispy cake tradition.
 Another year has passed!  Wow - I am not getting younger.  However, I have the best husband and children who try to convince me that I really am not old. 

I love the drawings of everyone in our family.
Since we have three August birthdays, we decided to do one party for all three of us last Friday.  We were blessed to have 5 other missionary families join us for an evening meal and a time of fun and fellowship.  The Lord has given us such special friends.

Maybe if we had paintbrushes this big, we could have finished the painting much quicker!
Since we have spent so much time in house improvements this month, I thought it was fitting for Keith's cake to reflect our work.  We have now taken a break from the renovations and are enjoying the wonderful results.

Skyler, our 9-year old
 Skyler was having a very hard time deciding what he wanted for his cake.  He first asked for a whale...then a shark...then an eagle...then a fox...then a wolf.  Because I haven't been able to find marshmallows in the stores since our last birthdays, I had to make marshmallow cream for our cakes this time around.  I discovered that getting my creations to keep their shapes was much more difficult.  Marshmallow cream does not harden up like regular marshmallows.

One of the special gifts I received today was Baby Lucas being born to JJ & Harriet who pastor one of our village churches.  Please pray for Lucas as he has been put on oxygen due to a difficult birth.

My birthday baby - Lucas - with mom Harriet
Another special gift was being able to see four out of the five missionary families today that we had over for our party.  I had a very fun day, and I say a big thanks to our Heavenly Father for each year He has given me to live for Him.  I am SO blessed!

Monday, July 29, 2013

LESSONS FROM CREATION

Teaching is very rewarding.  Not only do I have the privilege of sharing God's Word with hungry souls, but I always learn so much, too.  For several years I taught our Children's Church and our Ladies Sunday School, but then our schedule changed, so I now just have the ladies.  I really can't decide which I like to teach better - the children or the ladies. I love them both!

In the midst of teaching one series, I am always on the look-out for what I will be teaching next.  When we were about halfway through our study of The Women in Proverbs, I decided that Lessons from Creation would be our next series using many of the devotionals from Julia Bettencourt. Room decorations are non-existent in Uganda, so everything must be made from scratch (very much like the meals).  However, since Keith took our son to the States in May, one request I made was for him to bring some decorations to fit my theme.  To our home church ladies, I say, THANK YOU!  Several ladies sent things to hang up that were perfect.  When my ladies walked into the newly decorated classroom, they couldn't stop thanking me for the new look.  They are enjoying it so very much.


This week, we talked about "Apples of Gold" from Proverbs 24:11.  We had a snack of apples, our lesson concerning our words (Appropriate, Pleasant, Pure, Lovely, Encouraging, and Soft), a drawing for three apple gifts, and a guessing game of how many times the Bible mentions the tongue, mouth, words, and lips.  The 18 ladies had a really good time.


Other creation topics I will be covering in the coming weeks will include wind, butterflies, roses, birds, flies, trees, ladybugs, frogs with lily pads (Fully Rely On God), lemons, and sunflowers.  If you have any ideas that would help in teaching, I gladly welcome them.  I want to make each week memorable for these ladies who are hungry for God's Word.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

MID-JULY UPDATE

You are probably wondering where I have been, right?  Me, too!  Although we have been moved into our house for 2 months now, we will probably be in a fix-up stage for at least a year.  My husband is doing all he can to make our house nice and comfortable for our family.  Our big project for this last month was a little bit of tiling.  I will let the pictures walk you through our kitchen and dining room.  The first section shows photos of the areas before we moved in.

The entry. A closet where the wheelbarrow is and the pantry door to the left of it.

The dining room.

The kitchen where the sink and cupboards would be.
In the kitchen where the stove would be.
 After much clean-up, cement and a little paint, we moved in.

Entry way after moving in.

Dining room.

Kitchen with cupboards. There is no counter top, yet; just rough cement I have covered with some linoleum.
We have cement floors throughout the whole house.  Of course, we have lived with cement floors in some part of our houses since we have been in Uganda.  However, the kitchen floor was so rough and unfinished that it could only be cleaned with a scrub brush.  My husband took pity on me and decided to tile the kitchen for me...and a little more.

Entry way decorated for Independence Day.
Dining room.  So much brighter!
The kitchen actually looks bigger with a whitish floor.

I am so very blessed.  The tile really does brighten things up and makes these room look more cheerful.  It may be some time before we can do the rest of the house, but I am loving the new look of these rooms (and they are easier to clean!).

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

16 DAYS AND COUNTING

Andrew (Keith's brother), Keith, and Shane
Yes, we still have more than two weeks without Keith.  We are blessed to have been together SO much in our marriage, that when circumstances require us to be apart from each other - it is difficult.  However, we are VERY thankful for technology and the capability to be able to e-mail and Skype each other every day.

Graduate of 2013: Shane Stensaas
Shane is enjoying the "honeymoon" of American life with his dad being there to help him get settled.  We pray for him every day, and little brother Skyler still longs to see him.  He has been the first one out of bed every morning to check to see if Shane is online to talk with him.

Savannah and her friend Molly Mop (can you see the face she drew?)
With our move, we ended our school year sooner than we had planned, so our children have been on break for about 6 weeks.  In the midst of our move, we got new curriculum for next year, and our children have been begging to start.  Thus, yesterday was "Back to School" for us.  Keith will be bringing the math books, but we have plunged into everything else.  I want the flexibility of being able to take off for events going on this year rather than having the children work double-time to make up missed days.  I am looking forward to seeing how it all works out.

First day of school. Mom's bed - always a favorite place to hang out
Thank you for your prayers for us.  Last Saturday as I was driving, a tire lost all of its lug nuts and came off.  Thankfully, I was going slow enough to stop before the tire went rolling down the hill.  Went I got back home, I broke down in tears feeling so grateful for God's protection as I thought about all that could have happened.  Your prayers are needed!  Thank You for praying.