Thursday, August 08, 2019

Parenting


I got to be a part of a very cultural experience yesterday - a parenting seminar with mamas from our church here in Adjumani. Several women have stood up in church recently asking for prayer for their rebellious children and asking these questions: what is happening with our children of this generation? What can we be doing better as parents?


 It was so neat to be involved in this special day. Ironically our facilitator for the day was our single assistant pastor but he did a good job giving us all plenty of opportunities to discuss, share experiences, ask questions, and pray for one another.
One of the most meaningful things to me is that despite how different our cultures are, we still struggle with similar things.

I will say though, after 5 hours of focusing and trying to catch everything in Arabic and then trying to communicate from my heart in Arabic, I was exhausted when I got home.


Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Sleep Training and School Fees

A peek at Carson in the baby monitor
    This week I'm feeling pretty exhausted - not just physically but emotionally too. The culprit: our teething 14 month old who we've been trying to sleep train for the past week. Between teething, sickness and travel over the last few months, we began some bad sleep habits and now are trying to get back to where we were before - Carson sleeping through the night in his own room, in his own bed. As many of you mamas know, sleep training is hard no matter what method or plan you decide to follow.
     Even without sleep training, life has been very full. The big boys and I have been working really hard to finish our school year in the next few weeks before Isaac finishes his term at Rift Valley Academy. We want to be on the same schedule as him so that we can take breaks when he comes home. Eli has also had a lot on his plate but it's been all good stuff: teaching a class at a local Bible school (which he loves!), recording the Women's Group at our church singing Arabic hymns to share with churches all over South Sudan so they can add to the songs they sing in church, continuing the Theological classes by extension and then of course the things we need him for around the house like: fixing our gutters to collect maximum amount of rain water, helping Evan with his mechanics project, and taking Carson on afternoon walks to see the cows (to give Mom a break.)
     The other day I was sitting in Carson's room feeding him his bottle before bed and thinking about life. I started doing the math in my head of how many hours I spend trying to get Carson to sleep or the hours (part time job that it is) to teach my boys 5th and 7th grade...and it hit me.
THESE THINGS MATTER. 
I'm tempted to look at my life and think, "wow, the days are passing so quickly and what am I doing? I'm spending half my day teaching math and grammar lessons and the other half keeping my eye on a very active toddler." But oh, how precious it is! 
    I sat there in my chair, reveling in the thought of how cherished these days are and how much I will miss them not far in the future. All I can say is: Thank you Lord for giving me eyes to see how important, how valuable these days are.
    Another thing God allowed me to see this week as I sat in the baby's room was that even though I so often feel like I'm not doing enough outside of the home (SUCH A LIE BY THE WAY!) God is using the windows of time I do get with people. I often belittle what God is doing around us and through us. But you guys, it's big!
     Several things that were such a joy to me this week were:
1. Helping my friend Joyce with $4 so she could take her 1 year old to the clinic because he was sick. Now he's got medicine and is getting better.
2. Paying school fees for a sweet neighbor boy.

If we didn't live here, I wouldn't have been able to do these 2 things. They are simple but you know what? Especially paying a kid's school fees can change his life. I'm not sharing this to pat myself on the back. But I'm sharing it because it was through these simple things this week: sleep training and paying school fees, that the Lord gently reminded me of how important these things we do are. 
We tell ourselves our lives aren't making an impact.
We let ourselves get tired of the day to day. But -

THESE THINGS MATTER.

      
Carson and Godfrey, the boy we're helping through school.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Thanking the Lord for 12 years on the mission field!

The face of determination 
I remember this moment so freshly in my mind. I had just stepped off the little plane with my two babies to our new home in Sudan and boy was I in for quite the journey that first year!
We were only 26!


The boys helped unload our stuff from the plane

This was our home

Isaac was a month shy of turning 3 when we arrived and made friends right away with our little teammate.


A little boy's paradise


So thankful that one of our teammates was a nurse. Eli wasn't so thrilled!

All this work to make peanut butter!
 I was a young, new missionary, ready to do whatever needed to be done!


We had to learn to watch out for all the critters


One of my favorite memories that first year: Eli made a paint brush out of hair from our pet donkey's tail.
Our donkey Teddy was used to haul water from the river to our compound.

This was their usual wardrobe

A church built on the top of a huge rock

My first Sudanese friend, Halima
She owned a tea shop in the market

Creative solutions for the hot days

Our shower - yes it was outside and roofless

My first garden: I was very proud of it.

Our team in 2007

All I can say is thank you Jesus for protecting us and blessing us from our first year through to our 12th!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

A Typical Week in our Life

On one of our major road trips
Last week our home church in the States asked us to do a week of daily postings on Facebook sharing what a week in our life is like here in Northern Uganda. It was so much fun to take pictures throughout the day that people might be interested to see and document what we did in a week. So I thought it would be fun to share the same photos and stories here on our blog.
The first photo shows that traveling has become a big part of our lives as this is Isaac's first year at Rift Valley Academy, a school for missionary kids in Kenya. Every 6 weeks we drive to the capital city to either pick Isaac up for his month long break at home, or for his mid term break which is 6 weeks into his 3 month term. We're so thankful that we now live somewhere close enough to see Isaac this often!!! It is worth all the miles we trek in our car!

Hauling water for laundry
Until today, this is how I've been doing laundry. City water doesn't come very often so we depend on our rain barrel a lot. We have a washing machine that runs off our solar power but I try to use as much rain water as possible to save what's in the main tank for the taps, showers, and toilets inside.
I said until today, because Eli figured out a way to install a pump to pump water from the rain barrel up to our main tank so we should be good for water now. Yay!

Studious 5th & 7th grader
This is what I spend most of my week doing: home schooling these two amazing boys.  We have tried to get on Isaac's school schedule so that we can take off of school when Isaac's home and work hard when he's working hard at school too. 

Carson joins in for some of the subjects

Eli working hard in his office
Although Eli's favorite thing to do is teach, since he is running the ministries alone (without teammates), he also has a lot of admin - budget, emails, phone calls, ordering books, grading papers, etc.) He usually spends the mornings in his office and then goes out to the refugee camps or has meetings in the afternoon.
Eli meeting with our church leaders under our mango trees.
Eli also really enjoys conversations with pastors and church leaders sitting under our mango tree.

Evan's new project
One of Evan's 13 "Tasks of Manhood" that we gave him on his birthday in March was to completely take a part and put back together a motorcycle. Eli found an old, cheap moped and Evan and his friends have been loving taking it apart and learning mechanics as they go. When Evan gets stuck, Eli jumps in to help.



Carson loves being outside visiting with neighbors
After a full morning of school, the boys and I all take off out of the compound. They go off and play with their friends and I do the same thing. :) Most women do their hard work in the mornings like working in the garden, washing laundry and cooking. Then they just kind of hang out in the afternoons. When Carson wakes up from his afternoon nap, he and I head out to greet and visit different neighbor friends. Sometimes we stay close to home, other times we might go to visit a friend who just had a new baby or we try to go meet someone new.


My friend Justin getting her hair braided.


Everyone loves Carson!
Carson is quite popular in our village. He doesn't always love being held by everyone but they all sure love him. His name is hard to pronounce so he goes by John which is his middle name. I've even been in town and people know his name!

At "De-de's" house

De-de means Grandma in Maadi language. This is De-de Grace and she is our village grandmother.


A trombone lesson with Dad
We don't want Evan to lose what he worked so hard to learn last year with the trombone so we do music class twice a week. Eli played the trombone in high school and college so he is helping Evan learn some new songs (another one of Evan's 13 tasks.)

Joshua coloring on our porch with his friend Amani

Some of Eli's Bible students
Eli is running 4 different TEE (Theological Education by Extension) programs in and around Adjumani and in refugee camps. The way the program works is that the students read their books on their own during the week (around their regular jobs) and then they meet on Saturdays with a facilitator/teacher to review and discuss the material. They also have to write papers and take tests as part of the program.


So glad to have a few women in the program!


The church where they meet

I'm so excited that the rainy season has finally begun!
Though it's still very hot and muggy and the rains haven't picked up like they should in this season, everyone is planting, including me! I've planted a vegetable garden, an herb and lettuce patch and lots of flowers! Hopefully we'll even get some grass growing here pretty soon!



Isaac at school
An update on Isaac: for those who don't know, at the beginning of May Isaac broke his arm up near his shoulder while playing rugby at school. He has to keep it immobile and in a sling for 6 weeks. Eli and Evan took a 2 day journey to visit him at school and make sure he was doing alright learning how to do everything one handed. He has been so brave and had such a good attitude through all of this. We are so thankful to the Lord for giving Isaac this special strength and stamina, especially with us being so far away. We also thank God for Isaac's dorm parents and friends who have taken such good care of him. This picture was taken by a close friend whose son also goes to school there (seated in blue next to Isaac). She just went for the weekend and took some treats and love to our boy and sent us lots of good photos and videos of how Isaac is doing. The day after Isaac was injured another friend/guardian of Isaac while he's at school drove from Nairobi to spend a few hours with Isaac and then another friend just sent him a little care package. So Isaac's getting an outpouring of love and that's been a very big help - not only for Isaac but for us too.


Treats brought from Auntie Emily :)
S