Sunday, December 25, 2016

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

We want to wish each of you a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!  We were very blessed to be with our college boys, Keith's parents, and back again at Andrew & Jacky's in Ohio.  What special memories were made!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

NOVEMBER 2016

Gifts come in many different forms.  Some are wrapped.  Some are monetary.  Some are acts of service.  We were blessed to have a professional photographer gift us with family portraits.  We are not a photogenic family, but Jenna did such an awesome job in making the photos turn out so nicely.



Although we have been back in the States since August, this was our first opportunity to visit my dad.  We surprised him with a week-early birthday party and really enjoyed spending some time with him.



Once again we were thrilled to be included on a school's field trip; this time to the zoo.  We had such a great time together and enjoyed seeing animals not native to Uganda.




Thanksgiving found us at Keith's brother's house for not only celebrating Thanksgiving together, but also to attend their missions conference the week after.  The cousins were a little apprehensive about seeing each other, having been apart for 6 years, but it didn't take them long to reconnect.  In the picture below, nine out of the sixteen Stensaas cousins are standing in order by age.


November continued with several missions conferences and cold weather setting in.  Our Ugandan blood isn't used to these cold temperatures, so I'm afraid our coffee and hot tea consumption has increased.


We have been blessed in so many ways - the greatest being knowing Christ as our loving, saving Father.  Thank you for praying for us as we travel the States.

OCTOBER 2016

October brings our last birthday in our family for the year.  I think this is the first time Savannah has ever had foil balloons, so she was elated when we presented her with two.


Furlough is my break from making birthday cakes, so Savannah's "cake" was a pile of fudge marshmallow cookies - something my children have never had.


On our last visit to Keith's parent's house, we took advantage of their fire pit and enjoyed roasting hotdogs and marshmallows.  We have so much enjoyed our time with them.


October is a busy month for missions conferences, and we thoroughly enjoyed the many meetings we were at.  After finishing in California, we drove back to Austin, Texas to be a part of our home church's conference.  So many of our home missionaries were there, and it was a very exciting time getting fed from God's Word.





Being back in Austin, we were able to see Shane and Stanley and have some good times with them.  One late evening all the kids gathered around my computer to watch their Grandpa Stensaas' testimony that was put together by Lancaster Baptist Church and shown at their missions conference.  I encourage you to watch it for yourself at this link.


Savannah has replaced Shane as our outgoing furloughing child, and she has made friends in every place.  Of course, missionary kids seem to gravitate to each other, and they seem to breathe a sigh of relief in finding someone who truly understands them.


One of the church's we were at invited us to be a part of their homeschool day at Sea World, so our children got to visit there for the first time.  It was a perfect day with more memories added to our travels.


Good-byes are never easy, especially to your own children.  It has been so much fun seeing the siblings interact, and it was hard leaving Shane and Stanley behind again.  Please pray for them and us as we continue to travel.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

SEPTEMBER 2016 (Catching Up)

It is a privilege to serve our Lord as a missionary.  It is a tough life; I will not lie.  However, God daily loads us with blessings.  One of the blessings we experience is furlough.  There is not too much to do while in Uganda to take a vacation for.  We do go camping once or twice a year, but there is not much else to do.  While on furlough, we enjoy as much as possible between churches.  My children have certainly seen more of America than I ever did at their age, and I am grateful for the great time we can have in between the long rides.


We headed toward California after leaving Austin, Texas.  Our first night, we found a discount for a motel online and reserved a room.  When we pulled up to the address, we thought, "Oh, no, we made a mistake!"  The outside of the motel wasn't very impressive.  However, the inside looked as if they were really trying to fix it up.  And the big bonus?  There was an inside heated pool.  We were elated, and I felt that God had really gifted that surprise for our kids.  The second night on the road?  Another pool!  It wasn't inside, but the weather was so warm and beautiful that the water was very warm, too.


California is a place full of beauty.  We enjoyed seeing the Golden Gate Bridge, Muir Forest, and Fisherman's Wharf.



An extra treat for my daughter and I was to be able to attend a Ladies' Conference.  This was such a blessing and a time of spiritual refreshment.


It was a treat for me to be able to fly up to Washington to visit my family.  Last time we visited Washington, the weather was very rainy, dismal and cold.  This time I was able to enjoy the beautiful colors of fall with clear skies.




Being in California for two months, we were able to drop in at Keith's parent's house several times and stay with them.  What a great time we had together!  The Lord has blessed them, and we are so happy to see how God continues to use them in reaching the world for Christ.  Keith's grandparents, whom Savannah had never met, drove over to see us, and we enjoyed catching up and reminiscing.




We have had a great furlough start, and we praise the Lord for all He has blessed us with.



Sunday, October 16, 2016

AUGUST 2016 (Catching Up)

We left our home in Uganda on July 31st and landed in the States on August 1.  During our layover in Dubai, Keith found his favorite fast food restaurant - Burger King - and got his whopper.   After Keith and the boys had walked the airport for awhile, they came back with a very excited Skyler.  "Mom, you should see the watering holes that you can actually drink from!"  I think he has tried every drinking fountain from Ft. Worth to where we are.

We all tasted his whopper, but it wasn't very impressive.
One of the most heart-breaking moments was when our plane touched down in Ft. Worth, and while everyone was standing up getting their luggage down, our youngest sat down in her seat, stared out the window, and started crying.  "I want to go home," she told me between sobs.  It is very hard leaving our home, pets, friends, and ministries.  It is hard feeling totally lost in a country that we are citizens of.  It is hard living out of a suitcase, sleeping in a different bed 4-5 times a week, and having to be the bold ones in introducing ourselves over and over again.  We need your prayers and understanding as we travel on furlough.  It isn't easy.  However, we understand the importance of personally thanking our partners in the ministry (the many churches and individuals) who have supported us and have enabled us to serve our Heavenly Father in another country.

Upon our arrival to Austin, it was so good to see our son Shane, as well as other family members and friends.  Our church family spoiled us with numerous meals, gift cards, and love and care.

One of my older sisters and my niece
The four brothers I used to babysit when they were little.
August is our busy birthday month, but while we are on furlough, I don't make any cakes.  Keith and Skyler first celebrated their birthdays with lots of ice cream, and a donut cake for Skyler.  Yes, I am that mom that allowed donuts for breakfast.

You can tell by the dark windows that we are having a late-night celebration.
Happy 12 Years, Skyler.
Then on the 19th, Keith and I went to Corpus Christi for a getaway.  A church member loaned us his convertible, and a supporting church paid for our hotel room and a visit to the aquarium.

The warm Texas sun felt good in the midst of all the rain.
Amazing the size of a shark's mouth!
Upon our return to Austin on the 20th, Keith dropped me off at a church member's house where the ladies had prepared a grand birthday party for me.  I have never had such a big celebration.  I was surrounded by friends who have known me for very long, who have prayed for me, and who have loved my family.

The flower "cake" was so pretty!
These crazy ladies performed special songs for me.
The ice cream bar was delicious!
The end of August Keith flew to our first meeting, and then the day after he returned, we all began our furlough traveling.  We traveled through rain until we left the Texas border.  The rest of the states we have traveled through have been very dry.

A dinosaur bone at one of the welcome centers.
It was very difficult driving away from our two oldest sons while we took to the road.  This is the first time for us to travel with just four of our children.  Please keep our college sons in your prayers as you pray for the rest of us traveling.

We look forward to seeing many of you soon.  Thank you for your love toward us.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

JULY 2016 (Catching Up)

With just one month before leaving on furlough, July continued with speed.  We praise the Lord that our two youngest took the important step to be baptized, both having trusted Christ as their Savior quite a while ago.  They are not water-lovers as my older children are, so they have been fearing getting "dunked."




Amid the chaos of packing up our house before leaving, we had a multi-family yard sale.  We praise the Lord for all that was sold, especially since yard sales are not a Ugandan thing.  We were able to give each of the kids some money for spending upon arrival to the States, and to give Stanley some for starting Bible college.


As a mom, one thing that I love to see is camaraderie amongst my children.  I want them to be best friends with each other.  To see them serve the Lord together brings such joy to my heart.  Shae-Lynn manages to get her siblings to sing specials with her every once in a while that we all enjoy to hear.


One Sunday when my daughter spotted a new baby in the congregation, she begged me to go with her to meet the mom.  When the mother told me the baby's name was "Abraham," I said, "Oh, that is a good Bible name."  Then she replied, "His whole name is Abraham Lincoln."  I'm not sure how she came to learn about Abraham Lincoln, but Shae-Lynn now can say she has met and held Abraham Lincoln!


One of the hard things we face are the many "good-byes" we must say as missionaries.  Savannah and her friend had a play date together and enjoyed some silliness before having to say "good-bye."  These two have been together since they were born.


Another tough "good-bye" was leaving my soul winning team.  These young ladies are very close to my heart as I have led all but one to the Lord and have discipled them all.  It is very tough leaving them behind, but I know they will continue to be faithful in their witnessing.


The Lord has blessed our children with other MKs (missionary kids) in our same town.  They are able to see each other every week, so having to tell their friends "good-bye" was difficult for them.


Being a missionary, you learn to do many things yourself.  I have cut our family's hair since Keith and I got married.  However, during this last month, I decided we were going to splurge and take all the boys to a barber.  They all looked very sharp for our departure!


In all of our furloughs we have taken, we have never used our full luggage allowance in going TO the States.  We broke that record this time.  In helping Keith's parents bring their remaining things from Uganda, moving Stanley to the States, and bringing things for other people -- we were maxed out with our luggage.  We made quite the line going through check-in.


July 31st we boarded our plane and left Uganda for our 4th furlough.  Please pray for all we left behind.  It is very difficult stepping away from the ministries, friends, and our life for many months.  Pray for all that we face.  We will be traveling coast to coast, sharing with churches, friends, and family all that God has done in Uganda.  Pray for our safety and for our health.  We look forward to seeing each of you!
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