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.


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!

JUNE 2016 (Catching Up)

We started June with a church group of 10.  There were too few for a bus, but too many for one van, so we ended up renting another van, and I drove for two weeks solid - much, much more than I usually drive.  And much to my family's delight (those siblings of mine who say they never see pictures of me), this post will include many of me since one of the ladies in the group took several, understanding that the mom is usually the one behind the camera.

One of the greatest joys I have is teaching.  The Ladies Sunday School is a special delight, and I will greatly miss them on furlough.  As you can see, it is actually ladies and babies since we don't have a nursery.

Another joy I have is being the church pianist (or keyboardist).  Our children, also, contribute to the music of our church with Shae-Lynn playing her guitar and Stanley his violin.  We hope to get some instruments for the others to learn to play, too.

Babies are always so much fun.  However, living in Uganda, if you hold a baby, you expect to be wet on.  Most babies do not have plastic pants and are just swaddled in toweling or blankets.  This baby was born in the deep village just the day before we visited.

One thing we stress in our churches is discipleship, and what fun it is to teach.  One Sunday I came to Annet's door, she took one look at me, went back inside her room, came out with a Bible and said, "I am ready for you to teach me."  I was really thrown into surprise mode.  I noticed her Bible was one of the ones we distribute, so I asked if perchance we had already met and how she got a Bible.  We had not met before, but one of the men of our church had given her a Bible when he was preaching in the prison.  Being a guard on duty, she was listening to his preaching and expressed her desire to have a Bible of her own.  She had been saved many years before and had such a learning spirit.  I was sad to have only been able to meet with her about three times before she was transferred to another town.

With our church group visiting, we tried to visit as many of our village churches as possible.  One trip we were all looking forward to was to the Ssese Islands.  However, less than a mile from the landing dock where we would catch the ferry, we found the road was completely washed out.  Since we were loaded with John and Romans booklets for the islands, we opened up the boxes and distributed them to the hundreds of people stranded on the road.

Although our church's anniversary is in May, we delayed the celebration so that the church group could be a part of such an important service.  The auditorium was packed with many outside.  Several visitors came, including a prison guard I had invited.  Pastor Welder preached a stirring salvation message.

A trip to Africa isn't complete without seeing some wild animals, right?  One way to see many of them is on a boat ride.  The group was especially delighted to some lions, which isn't always a guaranteed sighting.

After we took the church group to the airport, we picked up more people.  We geared up for our Father's Day service and presented each father in attendance with a panga.

Many years ago, I led Joyce and her daughter Monica to the Lord.  Since then, I have faithfully invited Phillip, the husband/father.  Of course, every week there has been the excuse of work.  However at the beginning of the year, he promised me that in 2016 he would come.  I was worried that he would wait until after I had left on furlough. During Sunday School on Father's Day, I asked Joyce, "Did your husband come today?"  When she replied in the affirmative, I couldn't believe it and actually repeated my question to make sure she understood.  It was difficult staying focused as I taught the lesson, and then I nearly ran into the auditorium to find Phillip sitting on the back row.  He hasn't yet returned, but at least he has "got his feet wet."

We eventually did make it to the islands this month.  The waves were higher and more choppy than Keith has ever seen.  Last rainy season was very outpouring, so Lake Victoria is six inches higher than normal.  This is hurting the fishing industry, which is what most islanders depend on for income.  We had a great service in one of the villages and distributed many John and Romans booklets.

Thank you for praying for us and for the many people we reach with the Gospel.