Friday, February 3, 2017

Thursdays


Every Thursday I take the kids into Kampala for tennis lessons.  It takes about 45 min to get to Makindye Country Club from our home in Akright Estates, and is a great investment of a whopping $11 for all three kiddos to have a lesson from a Ugandan instructor who has represented Uganda five times in the Davis Cup!   Not only is he a great player, but a wonderful teacher as well.

We discovered this gem from another EMI family whom we have become really good friends with.  They have three children, two of which have been taking weekly lessons for several years now.  So, since they live in our same neighborhood, we usually carpool and make it a great day of escape from the usual home school routine. Its our weekly scheduled PE class, not to mention a wonderful retreat in a blissful garden complete with swimming pool, playground, trampoline and large football pitch.  The kids love running around while I take an African Tea with my girlfriend(s)...that is another EMI mom usually stops by to fellowship and pray since she lives just down the road from the club.  Her older kiddos are in a school nearby, but she always brings her youngest son with her.  He also loves running around with the boys, while making pit-stops by our table for his usual ketchup with a side of chips.

The ladies' tea talk usually begins with the two other mothers discussing their week's parental struggles and victories with their adopted boys.  One friend has adopted two boys, one Ugandan and one Rwandan, ages 5 & 7, and the other has adopted one Ugandan boy, age 5.  I never mind the conversation, being the third wheel with only three biological children, as its absolutely fascinating conversation that brings total glory to God.  They share, consult, ask, pray, encourage and sometimes just vent.  I'm sure if we weren't sitting in a country club they would sometimes actually scream at the top of their lungs.  Their stories are hard, really hard.  Most days they just flat out don't know what to do.  Yet every week their calling by God over these children and over their families is totally realized.  They are in complete obedience and wholly covered by His Grace.  They feel His presence and speak of it always.  The strength and endurance by each of these sweet sisters is ever so powerful and thus reminds me of the Lord's character and His fruit, by which is often demonstrated through our pain, suffering and struggle.  If we are not weak, He cannot reveal His strength through us.  If we are not helpless, then He cannot send His Helper.  If we are not fools, then He cannot provide His wisdom.

This particular week, Allison sat nearby overhearing all of our conversation.  Somehow the Lord has already put adoption on her heart.  She glows when she talks about adopting a child.  She begins to giggle and her posture grows taller.  I have no idea what her life holds, but the Lord is planting seeds of a wild adventure full of His Glory!  So, as we got back in the car to leave, Allison was full of questions and I was at a loss for answers.  She immediately suggested that I speak up in the conversations with my girlfriends and share all that I know.  She reminded me of my degree in Human Development and Family Studies, then a Masters in Educational Psychology, and finally my experience as a foster child case manager.  Allison was completely confident that I had all the answers to their parenting questions.  She was sure I could handle their children and bring them all back to harmony.  Ha. I love her belief in her own mom, but wow. Oh wow!  I sat for a moment and thought....no, not really, not one class, one textbook, one professor, nor one experience with foster children could or would ever help.  Nothing I had ever been taught or read about would help.  Not one iota of personal gain or life story would answer the questions my friends had.  In my mind, my role in these conversations is clearly defined - to listen, learn, and observe God's redemption over humanity, displayed before my very eyes.    

My friends are walking through the valley of the shadow of death.  They are raw and tired.  However, they are together and covered.  In one moment of our time together, my friend referenced Psalm 121.  She relies on the Word to get her through.  He is her keeper and shade.  He preserves her and is her help.  How can any word of advice replace His help? Yet we (or I) so quickly revert to this world for answers to questions that are of an unseen reality.  If He is Love, and each of these women have been called to love these specific boys, for such a time as this, then He is their only avenue for love.  He has the technique, words, body language, tone of voice and power to heal their broken hearts.  He is their only and final source for victory.  He knows their innermost being and knows the path to restore them back to Him.  He is the only missing link and He is the only one that fits.   

At this moment, I'm reminded again of the gift of Uganda.  Thus far in my walk with Christ, which up until now has been geographically located in the US, I've only called upon the Spirit for help when my earthly answers haven't solved the problem.  I may have not seen prayer as a last resort, but it surely has not always been my first.  Why is that?  Why can I not first see that my supernatural battle needs a supernatural weapon?  Well, I'm learning.  Slowly.  The Lord had to first drop me in East Africa to teach me such a lesson.  Now that I'm here and have recognized my sin, He's left me here to practice the way of repentance.  So I'm now learning to call upon Him moment by moment rather than failed attempt by failed attempt.  I believe Uganda, rather their Ugandan family members, have brought them to the same place.  The Holy Spirit's help, wisdom, understanding and discernment is the only way out of any valley we experience.  I just all too often try my rock climbing skills before I practice my falling on my knees skills.  Thank you Lord, thank you Uganda, and thank you friends for leading a life in the Spirit.   

So, every Thursday turns into the Lord's testimony.  It turns into a bridge from a garden with tennis and tea to a throne room with milk and honey.  I love Thursdays and I love my friends, their passion, their calling and their longing.  Thursdays are good.  




Saturday, January 28, 2017

Happy New Year

Shalom, "peace," is one of the richest words in the Bible.  You can no more define it by looking up its meaning in the dictionary than you can define a person by his or her social security number.  It gathers all aspects of wholeness that result from God's will being completed in us.  It is the work of God that, when complete, releases streams of living water in us and pulsates with eternal life.  Every time Jesus healed, forgave or called someone, we have a demonstration of shalom
From A Long Obedience in the Same Direction
by Eugene H. Peterson

 (Julia and Bradley headed to a "play-date" with some friends down the road from our house)

I love this small word from Peterson.  It sums up our entire year of 2015.  We look back and see Him healing, forgiving, and calling our entire family.  Then we see 2016 being a complete demonstration of the Lord's shalom poured out over us.  Now, we are experiencing 2017 as the releasing of streams of living water in us that pulsates with eternal life.  Praise be to God and to God the Glory!  Wow! Oh, so good.  

Oh, so good, but not quite easy.  How can that be?  I wish all of you were walking this path with us, then you would see the paradox as we do.  Uganda is hard.  Its rough and raw.  Its striving and surviving.  Not like the striving we are used to from the US, but striving just to live, to just breathe another breath.  New Years Eve here is taken very seriously.  People gather together at football pitches, stadiums, churches and many other public venues to pray and give thanks.  They spend the entire 24 hours or more just thanking God above for allowing them to live one more year.  Its a celebration of life, actually being alive!  It seems New Years in the US is primarily focused on where you are, what you are doing, who you're with, what you have on, who you will kiss, and what to drink -then making sure that you have a designated driver!  Pretty different reality.  

So I'm thankful to God for allowing us this new life, or new perspective on life.  Its ugly and the stories from every Ugandan we meet is full of pain, loss, poverty, disease, death, hunger, and grief.  Yet the beauty of it all seems to be their reliance on the Lord for their very next meal.  Its good, oh so good!  Just being in the presence of such reliance is teaching me the same.  He first causes me to realize my foolishness of believing I had such control over my next meal, breath, or heartbeat.  Then he wakes me up to my pride preventing me from my Saviors presence.  This perspective is on the reality of His Kingdom verses my egocentric short-sighted nature.  Its full, lasting, and its good.  What an honor it is to be here and walk with these precious people through their pain.  But in all honesty, they walk with me through mine, as the Lord pulls me out of myself and into His grace.  Thank you Lord.  You are glorious!

In this New Year, let us all be more like Him, beg for His revealing, plead for His guidance and walk in His grace.  And may our circumstances cause us to rely completely and totally upon His strength, for this is where we come to know Him more. 

Friday, December 30, 2016

Merry Christmas

We enjoyed a very Merry Christmas with wonderful friends.  It very well might have been the best yet!  Minus the family and friends that we are missing in the states, this Christmas was so full!

I would say that its richness began right after Thanksgiving.  We really enjoyed the lack of shopping, parties, performances, over indulgent food and all the hustle and bustle of the season.  It was nice to not even have the option.  It was nice to not have all the cultural promptings of Christmas (snow, lights, sweaters, green & red decorations, Target's Dollar Spot lined with toys, gift exchanges, Christmas carols sung, school recitals, etc.).  We all mentioned that it didn't "feel like Christmas."  Nothing in our environment "felt" like Christmas.  Nothing was ushering us into the warm fuzzies of the season.   No pumpkin lattes,  just the standard 75-80 degrees and partly cloudy.  So I would say that we each had to dig deeper into Christmas as truth, not a feeling.  Christmas in the raw.  Christmas without sparkles, cinnamon, and fireplaces.  Thankfully, fortunately, the Lord met us all and revealed a new detention and perspective. It was fresh and good.  Besides our DIY Christmas tree, we didn't have one man-made frill.  And let me tell you, its really satisfying.  My cup overfloweth.  

The kids each received one gift and Jim and I didn't exchange anything....it was awesome!  Only the day to reflect on. Only Jesus. Nothing cluttered our view of Him. Nothing cluttered our time with Him.  What a gift!

We spent the morning as just the five of us.  Then, for lunch we had over our current guard & his family, our previous guard & and his family, and a sweet couple we have become really good friends with from EMI.   The day was full of fellowship and games.  Jim led in an Advent reading, songs, and prayer.  We then played Ludo, an old African game (actually originated in India).  As well, we shared a simple meal while each person shared their testimony of the Lords Glory this year.  It was such a good celebration of Christ's birth, as we honored his presence in our lives.  We were blessed.

Wonderful Christmas Uganda, Thank you!



 Enjoying a competitive game of Ludo
 Player Architecto
 Allison watching Jolly (and her two daughters) knit a flower. Allison received a knitting kit for Christmas.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Late November...feels like Early May

Time has stood still for us.  We departed the US on Sept 11th and its now Nov 29th.  Where has the time gone?  It feels like we just got here.  I've realized how much the change of seasons causes my mind, body and spirit to progress through the calendar year along with reality.  But all is different here, when the weather the the exact same every day.  Its absolutely beautiful every day!  I love the sunshine and the rain.  I love the mild temperatures and the brisk mornings. (All Ugandans say that its freezing outside if the temps fall into the 70s.  They all come to work dressing in ski coats, scarfs, hats and sometimes glove...no kidding!)  Truly,  we are enjoying the weather and atmosphere of Uganda. 

However, I look at my calendar and realize that time has moved at an American pace while I've been adjusting to the African pace....very slow and easy.  Everything takes twice as long to complete.  Everyone moves twice as slowly.  Time has drastically slowed.  All together though, I'm enjoying it.  The new pace has caused me to slow down and think, reason, pray, read, sleep, talk, and really listen to those around me.  Its been good.

So here I write, only my second entry since we arrived. ( I had plans to write every Friday....still do.  Just may be awhile before I meet that goal :-)

November has been a RE-settling month.  We found our own home to rent and moved in at the first of the month.  Its a perfect peaceful place for our family.  Its a little off the main road and out of the hustle and bustle of Ugandan commerce.  Jim's work commute is about 20 by car and 15 by boda (motorcycle) or his bicycle.  The construction on  our home began 9 years ago (we like to think that the Lord was preparing it for us when Bradley was born), but was just finished this month.  We are the first people to every live in it.  Its 3 bedroom 2 bath with a living, kitchen and dining.  We also have a room outside (called a boy's quarters) and a guard house (with small sink and toilet).  Our guard, Joseph, lives there full time.  He works from 9pm-6am every day and does a little yard work in the daytime hours.  He just began to plant a garden for us yesterday!  We also employ Resty, our "house-help."  She comes 5 days a week and works around the house.  To understand the entirety of what she does and how much she works, you'll just have to come visit!  She is amazing!  It blows my mind to believe she has so much housework every day (in addition to what I do), that she could work full-time, but she does!  We are so thankful for them both!  God has appointed them for our home and ministry.   They have been vital in us settling and sustaining our life here.  Thank you Lord!
Jim's work has proven itself fruitful.  EMI was ready and waiting for us to arrive and put him right to work.  He's already been out to visit several current projects in Lira and Jinja.  He has also been to Martyrs University to sit on a design review panel for students as they presented their projects.  And needless to say, Jim has already made himself acquainted with our entire neighborhood (president of HOA, Mayor of Kajansi town, president of Rotary, most neighbors and their guards).  As well, he has become the ambassador of our village to the US Embassy.  Anyone surprised?  People her are. They say, "how can Jim have only been here for 2 months and know so many people?"  I don't know, I'm just along for the ride :-)  And its quite an adventure.
 Oh, and by the way, same for the kiddos.  They have made so many new friends.  Bradley is out now on a play-date (they have a real trampoline, so its an honor to be invited to this particular house :-). The girls are have already babysat for a neighbor and are planning our next party!  Not much has changed in their worlds, just the side of the world they live on.
 Jim and Bradley took a "boys" trip to the equator on the motor bike.  We have one car and the motor bike.  Jim drives it to work most days and I keep the car for grocery shopping, school, and play dates.
 What is it with kids and umbrellas?  Julia spent the morning in the rain-just living a dream of hers :-)

As for me, I've plugged in to a wonderful women's bible study (studying James).  Its mostly neighborhood women.  What a great connection and wonderful community of help!  They made meals for us a we moved and pray for us daily.  I've been very fortunate to find such great friends so quickly! Outside of bible study, I've found myself busy with home school and settling our home.  I've completed our 150 photograph wall...all of the pics taken from May to August, full of our prayer partners and supporters.   Its in our dining room and gives us a great reminder every day of the team God has placed us on!  We love it - We love you!  Go team!
Just a few more pics...this is the view outside of our kitchen window.  I watch the guys balance on 2x4s and just pray.  They've got skills!
Yeti Brown Jose!  The best guard dog ever - or not!  He sleeps through everything, but barks all day at passerbyers. His new best friends are Joseph and Resty.  They play ball with him and I think they've been feeding him posho and matoke at lunch time.  
Jim, never quitting on the Broncos, even if it means watching in the middle of the night. 
And the beginning of a large collection of photos - "Things Balanced on Bodas"

 






Friday, October 7, 2016

First Day of 4th, 6th & 8th Grade!

Julia is "Going on a REALLY long field trip."
Allison is "Studying Abroad."
Bradley is "Living out The Jungle Book."
Science Lab has a whole new meaning. We are "pet sitting" this chameleon for the weekend.  Bradley did a little dance when I told him - he was so excited.  Said that his life is half complete now.  I asked what is the other half needed to make it whole.  He said, "meeting Jesus!"  LOL!  Who knew? Chameleons are right up there with meeting Jesus face-to-face!  


Saturday, September 24, 2016

We Made It!

We are so thankful to have made it safe and sound to Uganda!  We arrived into our new (temporary)  home around 1:00am on Tuesday morning.  Since then, we have had a full schedule every day at the office, into Kampala, at a staff member's home for a meal, church, car shopping, or house shopping.  Much to do!  Thankfully, we've has so many people helping us and teaching us as we go.  
This is on our first day, after we had just had dinner with some friends and took a walk on the golf course nearby. Bradley decided to jump INTO the ditch full of water, rather than over it!  He was covered in red mud!  Thankfully, he was laughing and okay.  
This is a pic of our temporary home.  A current EMI staff member and his family live here.  They are on home assignment in the states until January. So we are able to sublet it from them until we find a place of our own.  This process is going well.  We've already spent two days looking at 5 homes in the neighborhood and 3 are a potential.  We will go again this week to look at a few more. 
Night out for dinner at another EMI staff member's home....playing Qwirkle!  Love that game!


Now for the TOP 10 things learned in our first 10 days...
1. African ants are WAY smarter than US ants.  Their communication skills are beyond human intelligence and they can go where no man has gone before!
2. Always slow down when moving through your home.  The amount of steps, lips, ledges in Ugandan homes are astronomical in number AND uneven!  You can easily loose toe nails.
3. Driving on the left and sitting on the right is not as
difficult as one might imagine.  The hardest part is just getting in the vehicle to do so. 
4. Electricity is a privilege.
5. Driving on snow and ice is good practice to drive on
Ugandan red dirt in the rain.  Its as slick as black ice.
6. Children adjust to a new time zone in half the time of an adult.
7. Ugandan fruit and vegetables have color and flavor that the good Lord intended them to have!
8. Ugandan roosters cock-a-doodle-doo ALL DAY LONG.
9. Ugandan avocados speak my love language.
10. Turns out, Yeti is a wonderful guard dog.  Well, at least he can sound like one.  All of our neighbors are amazed by him, and have never seen anything like him! 

Thursday, September 1, 2016

And We're Off!

We have our flights booked!  We will fly out of Houston on September 11th.  Absolutely, positively, amazingly, soooooo very excited!!!  
 As you can see below, Julia started writing a book about our life.  She and Allison are constantly writing and creating. I hated to tell her that we have to change the title to "Life in 21 Tubs." We just couldn't fit it all in.



Thursday, May 5, 2016

From HR* to MTI

I wouldn't believe it all if I hadn't just lived through it.  The last two months have been a whirlwind.  The Lord sold our home in a blink of an eye.  We listed our home FSBO on March 13th and closed with no realtor on either side on April 15th.  Now come on.  Only the Lord can do things like that!

all in one months time....

2 garage sales
7 day trip to Vail for Partnership Development
5 trips to Goodwill
6 pizza orders, many more frozen dinners
2 sleepovers
1 tooth pulled
3 days in Partnership Development Training
36 hour road-trip to TX to drop off dog with dad
2 trips to Eagle, CO to store what we are keeping
20 math lessons
3 trips to Littleton to store our 15 tubs headed for Uganda
birthday party for all three kiddos
40th and 47th birthday celebration
sent the "leftover stuff" to Grand Lake for mom's attic space
Jim finished 5 projects, and closed up shop!


Needless to say, our heads were spinning and the kids spent WAAAYY too much time on their iPads last month. So when we landed at Mission Training International (MTI), we were exhausted.  HOWEVER, what a wonderful respite just the first week has been!  MTI is absolutely amazing and continues to blow our minds every day.  The stories and life experiences from the staff cause our jaws to drop every day!  The other missionaries studying with us are from all over, going all over!  It is brilliant!

Allison, Julia and Bradley are having a blast.  They are quick to rise and head down to the kids program for a full day of their cultural curriculum and language program.  They have each already made such wonderful friends, headed to Japan, Russia, Jordan, Turkey, Guatemala, Swaziland, India, and Albania (just to name a few).

We are spending the first two weeks, primarily on a language acquisition program called PILAT.  It in itself is blowing my mind.  We are speaking Russian, Hindi, and Jah (a tribal language in Vietnam).  Before we started, I couldn't understand the benefit from learning these languages (with us headed to a primarily English speaking country - with Lugandan being the largest tribal language in the Kampala area), but now realize the technique is really the key.  We are learning HOW to be a language learner, not so much what the language is/or isn't.  I'm so bummed our public school system waisted two good years on me/my education as a Junior and Senior in high school.  They were trying to teach me Spanish by spoon feeding me vocabulary words and showing me how to conjugate verbs...oh so wrong!  It obviously didn't work.

All said, we love it!  What a privilege it is to even be here.  The Lord is opening my mind and heart to a much larger canvas to paint his Glory and Gospel.  Oh He is soooo good.

A few pics of the last month....
Our 15 (might turn out to be 18) tubs headed to Uganda
Allison's last night at our church youth group.  They all gathered around her, 
prayed and commissioned her to go and make disciples of all nations!  
 What a radical experience it is to witness other 12 yr olds praying words of
 blessing and strength over my 12 yr old.  Wow!  Powerful!
 Youth Group Leader, Pastor Jarod....Yes!  He is coming to visit with his wife! Amazing!
 Sweet friend Ainsley

 Amazing leader and mentor, Jessica.  
She has such a tender place for Jr. High girls.
Jess has been so instrumental in Allison's walk with Jesus,
teaching her God's Word and Truth.    

Arriving at MTI, May 2nd.
 Beautiful weather and glorious setting just north of Colorado Springs.  
Only 45 min from our old house. 
Chart regarding Language Acquisition 

*  HR is Highlands Ranch, CO

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Sharing with FRCS

We are so grateful to Front Range Christian School for allowing our kiddos to share their own stories in each of their respective classrooms today.  They each did a wonderful job and earned an A+ in public speaking!  Jim and I continue to tell them that this move to Uganda is not only about daddy, but is all about their lives and the people they reach as well.  They are each so excited to go and serve in any way they can.  And needless to say, the Lord has already opened so many doors for them to be able to do so!    
(Bradley reading his story)
(Bradley's classmate surrounding us and praying for God's sovereignty and provision throughout.  Its overwhelmingly humbling when a 3rd grader lays hands on you and prays for God's will to be completed!) 
(Julia delivering her speech.)
I'm bummed that I didn't get photos of my sweet Allison delivering hers, but as you know, SHE ROCKED IT!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Under Contract

We are under contract on our home!  One more day in which the Lord is confirming our move.  We plan to close April 29th, then head to Mission Training International for the month of May.  This home has been another appointed blessing.  Each home in our story has been so significant, and this one is no different.  We are so thankful and ask for your prayers to close successfully.    

This was Allison's 10th bedroom in her sweet 12 years of life!