Monday, April 12, 2021

Dreaming of all of my favorite things



Today I was hanging my two loads of laundry on the clothes line and it suddenly hit me that in 2 weeks I won't have to do that little chore any more! I'll get to use a dryer! That train of though led me dream about all of my favorite things that I'm looking forward to enjoying during our time back in the States.


#2 Amazing Parks - this is actually the one right by our house in South Carolina

#3 The neighborhood pool

#4 Libraries

#5 Our beautiful home in South Carolina

#6 Aldi and other wonderful grocery stores (clean and organized!)

#7  AIR CONDITIONING! Ya'll the heat is getting to this almost 40 year old!

And best of all...

Our family!!!!

And our church family, Hope Church in Columbia, SC

We leave Adjumani in only 10 days and fly to the States in 13 days!
The Countdown had definitely begun!

Saturday, April 03, 2021

Winding Down our Term in Uganda

Our teammate Tibarek challenged us in our prayer livess during our conference

     Many of you know that we are finishing up this three year term on the field. We fly back to the States on the 26th of this month and will be living stateside for the rest of the year (through December). March was very full and April will be even crazier.
     At the end of March Eli, Carson and I traveled to Kenya so Eli could take some important exams for his PhD and for a Spiritual Life Conference. The conference was a much needed time of rest and encouragement from the Lord and our teammates.

Carson and his friend Penny

Then on March 26 Isaac, Evan and Joshua finished their term at school and we were reunited as a family. We are so thankful to have this month together. Carson has really missed his brothers!

Carson couldn't be happier to have his brothers home

We have enjoyed some special family times while we're in the capital city. In addition we are getting dentil visits and medical check ups out of the way.

 This coming week, after celebrating Easter with teammates here in the city, we will head home to Adjumani to wrap up things there. Please pray for us as we have a lot to manage (packing, handing over ministry to our Sudanese colleagues and saying goodbyes/"see you laters") while also enjoying quality time as a family.

For those of you who are interested in where we'll be and when in the States, this is all we know for now:
April 26-mid June: we'll be in Michigan awaiting the birth of a baby boy we hope to adopt.
Mid June: we hope to move back to our home in Columbia, SC and settle for the summer.

Once we're stateside we will figure out if we can travel around the country and try to set up times to meet with each of you!

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Change Ahead

Wait, haven't I had multiple blog posts with this same subject title: Changes Ahead!?
That's the very nature of being on adventure with God. You never know when He's going to change directions a little or bring a surprise in your path! I'm smiling as I write this because a month ago I never could have imagined what this month would hold!

On February 18th we got an email that changed the course of the next few months. Our adoption lawyers that we used for Carson's adoption knew we wanted to pursue another domestic adoption when we came back to the States later this summer so they reached out to us with a possible situation. Less than 24 hours later the expectant mama chose us to parent her baby!

The baby is due May 12, 2021 in the United States. As you can imagine we're in the midst of a crazy whirlwind booking flights back at the end of April, doing paperwork, and trying to finish our term well. 

So this is what our next 2 months looks like. I'm sharing so you know how to pray! 

March 13-27    We'll be in Kenya for a Spiritual Life Conference with our mission and for some exams                          Eli needs to take for his PhD program. We get to pick up Isaac, Evan & Josh up at                                 school on the 27th and head home to Uganda with them.

April 1-23        We'll enjoy 3 weeks at home in Adjumani as a family. Also packing up for our 8 month                          home assignment.

April 24:           Isaac, Evan and Joshua got special permission from their school to finish off their                                 school year even though we'll be going back to the States.

April 25:           Eli, Carson and I will fly to the States to wait for this new little baby to be born.

We are working on flights for Eli to fly back to Africa in July to pick up the boys from school and return in time for my little brother's wedding on July 24th. And then of course we need to move back into our Columbia, SC home in time for the boys to start school.

Many many details that need to be figured out but we are trying to just take one day at a time.

A HUGE answer to prayer is that Eli passed his defense of his proposal for his dissertation last night so we're super excited about that.

Friday, January 22, 2021

A lot for my heart!

Last week I traveled to Kenya to take Isaac, Evan AND Joshua to Rift Valley Academy. After 9 months of being home and struggling through online school they were all really excited to be back on campus. Isaac and Evan dashed off immediately to see their friends and I helped get Joshua unpacked and settled in his new dorm.

Our goodbye was short but sweet. However when I got home to Eli and Carson and our large empty house, I felt their absence immensely. So much so that I've been in a funk all week. I keep telling myself that it's good to allow myself to feel all my feelings and take my time to adjust. My boys are so much on my mind that it gives me many many opportunities to pray for them. Even though I know Eli, Carson and I are exactly where we're supposed to be and Isaac, Evan and Joshua are exactly where they're supposed to be, it's still really hard.

The neighborhood kids seem to be having pity on us because they still come and flood our yard in the afternoons to jump on the trampoline or play badminton. Godfrey, one of our boys we sponsor, even rides around the house on the skateboard or sits and talks to me while I cook. It's still not the same though.

 Carson asks about his brothers often and when we tried to video call Joshua last night, Carson wanted the phone all to himself. He didn't want Eli or I saying anything! In just the perfect time, the Lord brought us a new neighbor and their little girl, Danita is Carson's new best friend. I took this picture today. They were sitting in the box we use for the puppy's bed, reading books.

Somehow, maybe in an effort to stay busy, our calendar for the next few weeks filled up really quickly! Eli teaching a seminar today, tomorrow we team teach a Marriage Seminar and we teach another Marriage Seminar next weekend too. Eli's first batch of TEE students here in Uganda graduate on Feb 6 so we're also in the stages of planning the big celebration.

Please pray that we will have wisdom in how full to fill our plates. And pray for our family as we all adjust to this new normal for 2021, each in our own way.

Friday, October 02, 2020

Training Day


Today Eli is doing continued training for his teachers in the TEE program. He hired a sweet family in our church (a mom and her teenage daughters) to cook for 25 people. I went over to see if I could help cook and they taught me how to make Eli's favorite sauce: dried meat in peanut sauce (pictured above). 

By the cooking fire. Boy was it hot!!

Since they taught me something new, I also introduced them to something new: pumpkin spice coffee. I told them it was all the rage in our country right now.

They couldn't believe it had pumpkin in it!

Even Amito who isn't even 10 tried it!

While I helped the ladies chop tomatoes and green pepper and learn how to make some new soups (providing lots of entertainment), Eli was teaching a group of men trying to keep their social distance.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The Perks of Living Here


    You know how even if you’re going through some rough patches in life, as long as you know they have purpose and what you’re doing with your life is of value and meaning, then even in those darker times, you can have utter joy and peace? I had one of those sweet realizations today after a visit with a neighbor friend. Let me tell you her story.

    In January, this friend of mine (Grace) traveled to Juba for an eye check up and cataract surgery. Her family is South Sudanese and she lives right down the road from us. When COVID got serious and South Sudan and Uganda closed their borders, Grace AND her husband who works in South Sudan both got stuck in South Sudan. Their 8 children were stuck here in Adjumani. Grace had NO WAY to get to her children. Can you imagine? Her oldest is 19 and the youngest, 8. So for 8 months now, they’ve been living countries apart. These kids play with my boys and when I found out their parents were stuck in Juba (S. Sudan), I told them that if they needed anything – if they got sick or ran out of food – to not be afraid to come tell us. So over the last few months we’ve been helping with medical check ups, medicines, food, new shoes, even haircuts! Grace finally found a way to get home (that’s a long, tense story in itself: sneaking across the border late at night, bribing soldiers, enduring 2 weeks of quarantine in a refugee camp, etc.) and she is sooo happy to be home with her children. She came over to see me today and thanked me with all her heart for what we did for her kids. I told her I hope someone would do the same thing for me if I was separated from my kids. I also affirmed what brave, courageous, strong children she had. They did so well while she was away. They tried to keep up with their studies even though schools are closed, they took care of their animals: pigs, chickens and pigeons, and SURVIVED! The thing that meant so much to me today was that Grace shared that she believes God brought us here for many reasons – one of them – to minister and care for her family when they needed it. If we didn’t live here, we wouldn’t get to help in these practical ways.

    Another story. I hope you realize that I don’t share these stories to give myself a pat on the back. Each and every one of these situations GOD brought to us and we have trusted God daily with how to help and be Jesus to our community. This story involves my friend Berish. Back in May she found out she was pregnant and wanted to abort the baby because she was in a terrible marriage. She couldn’t find a way to do it so she decided to kill herself instead. One day, I felt compelled to go check in on her and didn’t know that at the very moment I showed up at her door, she came charging out and was heading to a pharmacy to buy what she needed to kill herself. When I realized that was what she wanted to do, I refused to leave her side…even though it was raining and getting dark. Finally I was able to coax her to come home with me and stay with us for the night. That turned into a week. During that week I poured into her with God’s Word, prayer and lots of love through food and quality together. Fast forward to September. She decided to leave her marriage (he left her a while ago without even telling her where he was going, without leaving any food or money in the house), she has started her business up again, a little shop in a town 15 min away where her mom lives, and she is now a blossoming 7 month pregnant mama. I got to go baby shopping with her a few weeks ago and we bought the necessities and oooh-ed and aaah-ed over baby clothes. She is actually excited to meet this little baby, even though she’s also nervous how she’s going to properly care for him without a husband/father. But I believe it’s because we live here in this little community that God brings these unique opportunities and people are turning to Jesus and living for Him now and we’re seeing beautiful things happen. If I wasn’t out with my neighbors I wouldn’t know of their struggles. I wouldn’t get to have a part in their lives. But because this is our life, our home, we get to share day to day with people who need Jesus so badly.

    Now a story from Eli. A major problem we’ve seen since moving to Uganda two years ago is that there are a lot of men who call themselves “pastors” and lead churches of their own but have had no Bible training. Many of them are out to make a living from their congregation. Many are preaching heresy. In the last year, Eli has had 100 (give or take) students who are lay leaders and pastors who don’t have much Bible training. Even during the COVID lock downs, they have persevered with their studies to be better equipped to teach their congregations and to know how to preach God’s Word. When I think of how many friends of mine who have been hurt by so-called pastors, I’m so thankful that there will be 100 less of those, thanks to this theology program Eli is running. In December this first group in our district in Uganda will graduate and a second group in South Sudan graduates as well.

     On days like this I think of our donors. I sure don’t feel like I’m very good at writing prayer letters or special thank you notes to keep in touch. I feel like it’s so hard to properly communicate how important this partnership is. They are the senders but also the SUSTAINERS - the ones who keep us here. We truly could NOT be here if it wasn’t for our churches and individual supporters back home who give every month to join us in our ministry here. So thank you to each of you. I wish you could see how key it is that we LIVE here, day in and day out. I wish you could see the faces of the people in my stories and hear their testimonies. We are so grateful we get to be here. Please know that even when we share about the tough things going on, we are so so glad to be here.

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

An unexpected fork in the road

 A few weeks ago I hung some Scriptures on the wall in our bedroom about suffering, including the verse above, Psalm 34:18. Little did I know how much this would comfort me in the days to come, reminding me of God's nearness in my current heart break. Let me explain.

Almost 3 weeks ago, our 14 year old son fell off his motorcycle and badly injured his knee. We couldn't tell what was injured on the inside but he had a nasty wound on his knee that went pretty deep. We were doing our best to care for it but his leg and foot started swelling, even 4 days later, so we decided to go to the capital city to get an orthopedist to look at it. Thankfully there was no infection but he had a small crack in the bone below his knee so he was given a brace over his knee to keep his leg straight and crutches to keep his weight off his leg.

When we packed for Kampala, I went ahead and brought clothes for a week for everyone plus our bag for the baby we're adopting, because the paperwork was done and we knew we could get the call any day to go pick up the child. Every day the wait felt like forever. Then on Friday, our adoption agency asked if they could call us that evening. I knew something big was up. I was hoping it was good news. We were ready. My parents had even come from their town in western Uganda to help with the boys. But the phone call revealed devastating news. The medical report had arrived for the little girl we were hoping to adopt and it showed that she has cerebral palsy and severe mental handicap. We are not approved in our home study for children with special medical needs. And because of where we live, we know we don't have the resources to care for a child with those needs. I really can't find the words to express how it felt to hear that. 1.) because we so badly long for that little girl to be adopted and have a forever family and 2.) because after 11 long months of waiting, staying up late filling out paper work, calling and texting and emailing back and forth with our agency, etc, we were back at square one. We had our suitcase full or little girl clothes, her car seat, and we anticipated returning home to Adjumani with her. Kenzie, the little girl I'd already fallen in love with, prayed for and ached for, didn't get to come home with us.

The drive home to Adjumani on Sunday felt extra long as I spent many of those hours looking out my window, all my thoughts and feelings swirling around. I want to process this and allow myself to grieve but I'm also scared of the downward spiral. I kept going back and forth in my mind - playing through all the reasons I should be sad, disappointed, even angry. But also knowing that we still have hope that God has a child meant for our family. Acknowledging that I have soooo much to be thankful for - a life of fulfillment and purpose, a family I love with all my heart and an incredible community. 

So for the time being our baby clothes and toys are packed away. The suitcase I'd packed with everything we might need that first week with our new child is stowed under our bed. Right now I know I'm meant to be ALL HERE for my family and ministry that God has for me in the present. But I can honestly tell you that I KNOW our new family member is coming. God has not closed that door and He has not released Eli and I from the calling to adopt from Uganda. 

Well, online school started for Isaac, Evan and Joshua yesterday on August 31. They will do first term of the school year here at home, online, and hopefully will be able to go back to school in Kenya in January. They are missing their friends and all the activities and sports. But this mama is sure enjoying having them home. 

So far so good. Eli is busy pushing his Bible students through their program so they can graduate their first group of students by December. I will continue to lead the Bible study for the young women (youth) in our church and disciple the few ladies that God has put in my life. 

Life goes on.