Tuesday, October 13, 2015

FALL BIRTHDAYS

It was very special for Stanley to be able to celebrate his birthday with his Grandpa this year, as they share birthdays.  Who knows the next time they will be able to do this again!

A special birthday bond
I actually made Stanley's cake the night before, since we were going to be traveling on his birthday.  Since he is past the interest in shaped cakes, I have been making specialty rice crispy cakes for his birthdays in the past few years.  This year, I crushed up Oreo-look-alikes and pretzels and added them to the rice crispy cereal before adding the melted marshmallows.  After it cooled in the pan, I drizzled melted white chocolate on top.  It was VERY good!

Yikes - two adult children now.
On his actual birthdate, we had homemade ice cream for breakfast.  That really earned me the mom-of-the-year award!

Cappuccino ice cream, anyone?
After lunch we traveled down to Mbarara to stay with Keith's parents.  Any trip to Mbarara brings the excitement of stopping for goat meat on a stick.  Yum!

It almost looks like a popsicle S-Jo is holding, but it is goat meat
Our youngest is growing up too fast.  Savannah is quite the little lady and such a hard worker.  She has quite the knack for finding things that no one else can.  If something is missing, we all turn to Savannah for help.

Eight years old!
The day before Savannah's birthday, Keith took all of the children except for Shae-Lynn to help another missionary move into their house.  Shae-Lynn and I used the empty house to our advantage and began preparing for Savannah's birthday party.  I even made her cake and hid it on a high shelf in the pantry.  However, the next morning, someone forgot about the hidden lady bug and discovered that it couldn't fly when dumped from the shelf.  The plate underneath it shattered as Corelle brand does.  I spent a long time picking glass out of the wounded ladybug and then mended the damage to its back.  When the guests came, we displayed the ladybug and let Savannah blow out the candles but didn't serve it, as I was afraid for someone to get a missed piece of glass.  Later, however, our family ate it with no mishaps at all.

Lasagna, Garlic bread, Lady-bug eggs, Olives, Watermelon, and Carrots
That completes our birthdays for the year of 2015.  Thank you for celebrating with us.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY, UGANDA!


It began weeks ago.  The anticipation of who would win the shoes was high, and so everyone began inviting and inviting.  Our focus for this Independence Day service was first-time visitors.  Ugandans are full of promises, and we hear people promise us every week that they will come.  However, with a Friday service not being a regular church-day service, we were hoping for a great turnout.  Although we didn't get an official final count, we estimated that we ended up with about 90-100 first-time visitors!  WOW!  Both the man and the woman who brought the most visitors were promised a pair of new shows from our local shoe store.  All our people did great, but the man who brought the most?  It was Paul Sserunjogi - the lame man in our church who doesn't even wear shoes!

Paul Sserunjogi
Of course, we will be sure to substitute something equally of value, but wow - how convicting to those of us who do wear shoes and have the ability to walk around to invite people!

Pastor Bernard preaching on freedom
We enjoyed trivia questions with flags and keychains for the prizes, and then our guest speaker was Pastor Bernard from Kitende Baptist Church.

The five finalists for the most patriotic-dressed contest
The most patriotic dressed contests is always great to see, and Sarah Najjuko won for the second year in a row.

Sarah Najjuko and her new umbrella
We had brought 302 Ugandan pencils and gave one out to each person who attended.  However, about 30 people didn't get one - not even counting the three missionary families.  God truly blessed us with a great day.  

We even set up benches outside to handle the overflow.  A great crowd!
In preparing for Independence Day, I started searching months ago for something yellow for the girls and I.  I came up empty, but another missionary was able to bring shirts back from the States for Shae-Lynn and Savannah, and she had a very difficult time just finding them.  I ended up just adding yellow ribbon to my outfit, but I'm wondering why yellow is such a difficult color to find?

Shae-Lynn, myself, and other missionaries
Maybe we should all just wear the football jerseys like the boys.  (I didn't realize until today that Skyler is the only one without a jersey; poor guy!)

Shiloh and Stanley are on the ends with their missionary friends in between
We had a great day, but most of all we hope that the people realize what a precious gift of freedom they have in their country and most of all the freedom they can have in Christ.

Isn't Alvin too cute?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

AUGUST BIRTHDAYS

August is the busiest month for birthdays in our family, as well as in our extended family, as well as in our surrounding missionary family.  However, August is also when sickness hit our family this year.

At the beginning of August we visited one of our village churches that was halfway to Keith's parent's house, so after the service we continued on to Mbarara for a couple of days.  We came back to Masaka on Keith's birthday, but Mom Stensaas celebrated the birthdays the night before with cake and ice cream.  However, I came down with the stomach flu and was up half the night.

Keith has started drinking coffee this year,
so a BIG cup of "coffee" was his cake.

Needless to say, I headed straight to bed after arriving home and still didn't feel well for Skyler's birthday the next day.  I finally recovered on Thursday, and then Friday Stanley began running a fever with shakes and headache.

Pizza anyone?  It truly looked like the real thing.

Skyler joined the ranks a couple days later, then Keith, then Shiloh, then me.  One of the unusual things that hit Keith and I was pain behind the eyes that lasted several weeks after the fevers went away.  Thankfully, we are all recovered, although the eye pain reoccurs at least once a week.

Shae-Lynn does such a great job with my cakes.

Eventually the cakes were made, but we have yet to make ice cream.  (A big crime in the Stensaas family!)  Perhaps today we will get to that.  We are thankful for all of the birthday wishes that came our way.  We are blessed with family and friends around the world.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

HAPPY JULY


I really don't see how time gets away from me so very quickly.  I love to write on this blog, but somehow I need to find a specific time for writing consistently or something!  After all, it has been over a month...again...since I posted.  So much has happened!  Let me start with the most recent and gradually work backwards.

The student body of PVI singing.
This past Saturday we had Parent's Day for Providence Vocational Institute.  We have been holding classes for 1-1/2 years now and currently enroll 31 students.  Awards were presented from the Sport's Day they recently had, and several local government officials came.

Principal James Sebyoto and Director Keith Stensaas
Keith and I celebrated 22 years of sweet married life in June; however, our anniversary happened to be on the day we took our oldest son back to the airport.  (The first time he left for the States was on Mother's Day!  We have to stop sending him away on important days.)

Pastor Innocent of Faith Baptist Church with Keith preaching.
One thing missionaries learn is that holidays or special dates are not sacred.  It isn't unusual to celebrate an event several days or weeks before or after the actual date.  One of the village churches had asked Keith to preach for them this month, so we decided to make those days that we would be away as our anniversary celebration.

This is the path we walked to the church, also crossing a small stream.
Because of a gift from some recent visitors, we stayed in a motel on Lake Victoria which was very beautiful.  Upon check-in, the manager suggested we get the weekend package.  Not only was this cheaper than paying for two days, but all three meals were included rather than just breakfast!

I am so blessed!

This dual-level swimming pool was just for the residents,
and we had it to ourselves.  That is Lake Victoria beyond the trees.
Although we had planned to stay just two days in Kampala, our stay was extended an extra day as our daughter and her aunt returned from the States.  Keith's sister Alisha had been having some medical problems and needed someone to accompany her to the States.  We volunteered for Shae-Lynn to go, and it provided a great learning experience for her.  (Alisha was able to get some answers and is on a treatment plan for the next three months to see if there is a change in her symptoms.)  It was exciting for Shae-Lynn to come to me with some decisions she had made during her absence, and it was good to see her siblings step up and mature some without their responsible sister around covering for them.


During our absence our dachshund gave birth to five cute puppies.  Ann is a very good mama, so they are all thriving and growing quickly.


Maybe for the first time ever, we celebrated America's Independence Day alone.  I truly felt that I had a holiday.  We ate simple meals, used disposable dishes all day (a big deal for us), and relaxed.  We took a walk to the post office, stopped at a coffee shop for drinks on the way home, and relaxed.


I didn't spend hours in the kitchen preparing food nor did I feel as if I had to entertain all day.  Before bed, one of the children said, "This has been such a fun day!"  We all wholeheartedly agreed.


This was also the first time for us to celebrate Father's Day with two of our children gone.  It makes us realize how short our time with them really is.


We are looking forward to some great things happening in August.  What a privilege it is to serve the Lord!


Tuesday, July 21, 2015

HIGHLIGHTS FROM APRIL...LATE

Somehow, this post got lost in the drafts...oops!  Better late than never, right?

I know...we are more than halfway through May, and I am now posting about April?  One thing I have to remind myself is that this blog isn't to govern my life - it is just a way to share my life.  I wish I had more time to sit down and write, but I don't, so I must learn to be content for when I am able.

I made this skirt from a dress that was Keith's mom's.
Shae-Lynn wore it, Savannah wore it, and now
it is being passed down to other cousins.
April began with Easter celebration.  The Friday before when Keith and I were in town, we saw a group of Catholics carrying a large cross through the streets, causing traffic to stop as people gathered around to bow down to it.  This brought to the forefront of our minds the blaring reason we are here - to open their eyes to the truth.  We don't worship the cross, but the Savior who died on it and is risen again.

The cross kind of blends in with the background, but it is about in the middle .
Every year we have a group of college graduates with the AMT program that visit for two weeks.  Four came this year, and we certainly gave them a wide view of all that missionaries do.

One of our favorite places to eat in Kampala is Java's.
A fishing village Keith took the men to on the Ssese Islands.
Rafting the Nile, which doubled as Stanley's senior trip.
We now have three teenagers again.  Shane is no longer a teen, but Shiloh has now joined the ranks of teens.  It really doesn't seem possible the I'm getting that old!

We waited for Keith and Stanley to return from college,
hence Shiloh is in his pajamas.
Not very imaginative,
but I had to come up with something to shape the rice crispies into!
As his second cake, Shae-Lynn made a cookie pizza which was loved by all.
During their stay, our NGO (Non-Government Organization) of BIMU (Baptist International Missions of Uganda) had their yearly meeting.  We were so blessed to have the president of BIMI Dr. Snyder be our guest speaker along with BIMI African Director Eric Bohman.  We were especially privileged to have Mrs. Lori Bohman attend, also, and speak to the ladies.

Missionary Kids that are such great friends.  Savannah on the right.
My daughter talked us ladies into posing with masks.
 I won't tell who the other three ladies are.
Shae-Lynn and Savannah sang a special with their friend Abigail
at the BIMI conference.
The MK teens enjoyed an overnighter before the conference began.
Friends since birth: Savannah and Elexus.
Honestly - they were friends.  Notice they are on the same
sides and wearing the same colors seven years later.
With all of Keith's family wearing glasses and all of my family wearing glasses, our children are doomed to wear them, too.  Skyler has now joined the ranks of glass-wearers.  When we picked them up, he cried and cried.  The lady at the counter said she had never seen a child complain about wearing them, but that most kids lie on the eye exam in order to be able to get them.

Not a happy patient!

I don't think Savannah will have any qualms
 about wearing glasses.  In fact, she already has a pair picked out!
With the Petersen family visiting the States for a couple of months, Keith has taken over the teen department.  The first teen activity we had at our house and played basketball and a couple of other fun games.  They all had such a grand time!

The teen girls' basketball game
That about sums up our busy month of April.  Thanks for your prayers for us.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

FAMILY TIME


We have been SO blessed by having Shane visit us for two weeks, but tomorrow we take him back to the airport.  Today we were able to squeeze in a couple of family photos.  I hope you enjoy them.