Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Looking Back...

It's a 10-20-30 Christmas Meme! Enjoy...

10 years ago, Jeff & I were celebrating our second Christmas in Uganda. It was our first Christmas in our own Africa home and we were scrounging for Christmas décor. (Our first Christmas in Africa was spent in Nairobi with the Stephens. And all I have to say about that is "Diane's Cookie Trays". YUM!!!) For our first attempt at Christmas in our own place, we actually found a place to buy a live Christmas tree in Kampala. We paid for it, cut it and wrapped it in a tarp. It was then tied down in our truck for a grueling 6 hour drive over a very rough road. When we got it home, it wasn’t very pretty.

But we put it up anyway.



Merry Christmas Charlie Brown.:-)

I think I hung some tinsel. And we had a woven sign that said “Mary Christmas.” Every shop in town played a Kenny Rogers/ Dolly Parton Christmas album. I remember missing home so much it hurt.

20 years ago, I was sixteen and in my junior year of high school. I was celebrating Christmas in Odessa with my family and my “other” family. You see, I was very in love with a cute boy who was always away at college. Except for Christmas. When he was home. Good times. He and his family were significant in my life, and a part of all my high school holiday memories.

30 years ago, I was six and enjoying Christmas on Byron Street. My memories are sketchy but I do recall a camera that required a monstrous lighting contraption. It was T- shaped metal piece with two large blinding lights on it. One person would hold the lights behind the one filming with the camera. Snazzy. We mocked the apparatus for many years after.
This Christmas most probably involved receiving a baby doll from Santa Clause, bossing around my little sister and eating very wonderful food at Mamma’s house.
Every childhood Christmas memory involved these three important factors. I can’t believe my sister still loves me.
I’m sure we also enjoyed Christmas music on the 8 track tape player (did Freddie Fenter have a Christmas album?) and of course, the musical stylings of Alvin and the Chipmunks.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas filled with memories you will love to remember!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Focus



13. Sunday dinner
14. Isaac washing dishes
15.Christmas lights
16.Electricity
17. Clean laundry (folded and put away)
18.Overnight getaway with Jeff
19.Naps
20.Very cold chocolate mousse
21.Four wonderful meals cooked for me and served to me!
22. Elephants playing in the water
23. Wrapped Christmas gifts
24. Surprises
25. Safe travels
26. Anaiah's smile
27. Audrey's safety
28. Prayer
29. The Great Physician
30. Courage of friends to take leaps of faith

"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Monday, December 17, 2007

Remember

I do not remember much about That Day.

October 3, 1995.

The months and weeks preceding it are mostly a blur as well. Goodbyes. Tears. Unknowns. Many hopes and dreams.

It was a relief and a stabbing pain to board the plane. I was relieved to be done with the packing, the sorting, the buying.

It was a stabbing pain in my heart to think of all the dearest, most precious ones we had hugged goodbye.

When we landed in Entebbe, I felt excited. Nervous. And downright scared.

We came to a land that held no memories for us. No traditions. No people who knew us very well.

Everything was new. This fact made my husband’s heart beat faster with joy. Mine shuttered and quaked at the reality of the unknown.

I remember Dave and Jana’s faces smiling as we exited the baggage claim area. I remember riding in a taxi to their house. I remember feeling overwhelmed…and ready for a shower.

Then…nothing. I can’t remember any conversation of that day or the days that immediately followed.

I don’t know how Andrew and Aimee Jo will remember December 12, 2007.

But I know, I will remember this:


And this:


And this:



I didn’t get a picture of me hugging Aimee Jo. I couldn’t hold back the tears. Tears for all she has been through to get here. All that lies ahead for her.

How faithful her Lord will be.

Jeff and I have "looked back” a lot as we have processed and prepared for the Martin’s arrival.

A world of memories and emotions accompanies every conversation.

But the most delightfully startling fact always emerges:

God has never left us.

Sometimes we’ve deserved His abandon. Through the years, we’ve followed closely and we’ve meandered too.

But He has always stayed the same.

Just. Present. In Control.

I praise Him for bringing these treasures to this land.


We receive them with joy. We honor their presence with respect.

They are not sent easily…or let go of without pain.

The Martin's service and their families’ sacrifice glorifies God.

I’m proud of all of them.

That I will always remember.

Monday, December 10, 2007

At the Same Time

Incongruity. “Not in harmony or keeping with the surroundings or other aspects of something. “

The past week seems full of that word.

Jeff and I began the week with a much anticipated over night trip without our kiddos to a nearby game park. The trip was a wonderful blessing. We did rest and were blessed by delightful meals alone, completed conversations and even some blissful silence. Our time was marvelous.

We arrived back home to Warden duties. (Jeff acts as the Warden for the US Embassy, which means he facilitates communication to the Americans living around Uganda.) At the same time as we were resting as a couple, much Ebola information was circulating and perculating. When we reached home, Jeff called a meeting of the ex-pats in Ft Portal to verify facts and allow for discussion and questions.
The meeting filled our living room. Jeff shared information given to us by the head of the CDC in Uganda. There seemed to be relief in receiving credible information. At the same time we are all coping with the unsettling feelings brought on by discussion of the sickness.

We provided Christmas cookies and drinks during the meeting. Most of those gathered do not meet on a regular basis. There was an odd inconsistency of festive gathering with people of like culture amidst the intensity brought on by the concerns of a serious disease.

The next morning, after several days of upheaval in the scheduling, the children and I finally set our hands and minds to school. We tackled the study of France, division, multiplication, the letter “C” , the physiology of cows and an overview of some endangered species. Isaac started reading sentences and Kinley and Alex wrote wonderful two-point paragraphs. Interspersed in the schooling, I rearranged and cleaned the guest room, worked on Christmas gifts for stateside family and moved the stack of Christmas card supplies from table to desk to kitchen counter...
School was completed. The guestroom is not. Gifts are completed. Cards are not.
The joy of a task marked off the list, accompanied by sighs over the items still remaining on the list.

There is great joy in our home with Christmas décor and lights. At the same time, there is a somber cloud pervading our thoughts as our friends in Bundibugyo battle against a terrible disease and our Ugandan friends struggle through fear and feelings of panic.

We rejoiced over the new life growing inside of a dear friend. (It’s a girl!!!) At the same time, we’ve shared in the grief of the passing of a doctor and hero (Dr. Jonah in Bundibugyo).

We’ve empathized with the intense and painful experience of the last weeks for Andrew, Aimee Jo and their families and friends as they’ve said goodbye and packed up to move their lives across an ocean.

At the same time, we’ve counted the days with joyful anticipation to welcome them here.

Incongruity. Contradictions.

Life.

So many things happening at exactly the same time…

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Prayer Cover

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1: 12


To choose to serve is not the easy route. There are no promises of ease. Or even visible results. In times of testing the promise of our unseen eternity can become our anchor.

Over the mountains from us is a district called Bundibugyo. Some fellow sojourners on this soil are the World Harvest Mission Team. They have served in Western Uganda since the 80’s. They began in Ft Portal and then migrated west, to Bundibugyo.

We have known and respected the team members for all our years in Uganda.

Through the rebel crisis of 1998-2000 we leaned on each other. We prayed for each other. And we commiserated and learned from each other during that very strenuous time.

Several days ago, we received difficult news from over the mountains. A mysterious sickness originating in a village outside of Bundibugyo town, was confirmed to be Ebola.

The World Harvest Team was faced with many difficult decisions. The Team Leader and his wife are physicians. They have many years of experience in Bundibugyo and with tropical medicine and illnesses. They had been helping with the mysterious disease and now find they have been in contact with Ebola.

In a painful few days, it was decided to evacuate their team from the area, including their children.

As of yesterday, all the team is out of Bundi except for the Scott and Jennifer Myhre and a visiting doctor, Scott Will.

Tonight, we received more difficult news. Dr. Jonah, the Myhre’s coworker and very close friend, has died from the Ebola virus. He had fallen ill in Kampala, (he was in Kampala on personal business) put himself into the isolation unit of Mulago hospital and we all began to pray for his healing. The reports were encouraging…he was still eating and drinking. But it was confirmed tonight that he has passed away.

I am asking you to pray for Scott Will, the Myhres and their children. Scott and the Myhres have taken precautions, wearing protective gear as they have treated this sickness, but they are at risk. The death of Dr Jonah, no doubt, increases the fear for them and their children. They have been drained already from a very trying and exhausting situation. The grief will add a crushing weight to their shoulders.

Also, please pray for the entire World Harvest Team as they are facing an indefinite evacuation from their homes during the Christmas season. Now also coupled with the news of the loss of a dear friend. Include in your prayers our friends, the Chedesters, who serve with the World Harvest Team from Ft Portal.

Finally, please pray for healing and containment of this very serious illness.

Your prayer support for our family overwhelms us. Thank you for spreading that prayer cover over our friends who we deeply respect and are honored to serve with here.

For daily updates please visit the Myhre's blog at www.paradoxuganda.blogspot.com.

Thank you for praying.
Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops. James 5:17-18

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sunday Dinner

Sometimes everything falls into place. And nothing gets broken.

Today, Kinley , Isaac, and I arrived home from church first. We opened the door to the powerfully soothing aroma of Sunday dinner.

You know.

Roast. Potatoes, Carrots. Green Beans and Hot rolls.

There was even apple pie for desert.

Somebody say Hallelujah!

Kinley, Isaac and I all began to work in the kitchen. Five year old Isaac, bravely donned a Santa apron and dove into the dishes. His diligent work cleansed every soiled pot and pan before dinner ever began.

Somebody say Hallelujah again!

Kinley set the table, shaped hot rolls, directed Isaac, and shared her thoughts on Dad’s sermon. All the while Isaac reminded us that he is, in fact, “big now” and “so helpful, Huh Mom?!?!”

When Jeff, Alex and Silas arrived after chauffeuring friends home from church…Isaac had completed the dishes and was happy to announce to his siblings that “Mom REALLY DOES love me the best! She said so!”

(Hey—he did the dishes, folks. Favoritism has no bounds when one tackles the piles of dishes for me!)

He also informed his brothers, that, in fact “Washing dishes is the BEST THING you can do for the woman in your life!” (start ‘em young!)

We all sat down to a lovely meal. No one spilled their iced tea. No one punched their brother in the face. And we managed to speak one person at a time for an all time record of five minutes.

Sweet success.

I took a picture of the moment.



The precious faces. The soothing fragrance of comfort food. Memories of countless Sunday dinners before.

I am thankful for this.


There were two empty spots at the end of our table…
And a high chair…
We are ready.
Reinforcements. Partners.
Team.

Stay tuned….

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Thanksgiving Day Re-Cap

The Bird.


The Visiting.




The Sweet Girls.



The Friends.



The Force to be Reckoned With.



The Love.



I hope your holiday weekend was splendid!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Listers



It is the time of year for lists...Christmas card lists, wish lists, party attendees lists...

I love lists. I really do.

And I’m not alone. Others of you out there also feel the supreme joy of Making The List.

Currently, I have these lists written down and in process:

1. Thanksgiving prep for today's lunch
2. Groceries to buy in town
3. Paperwork to complete for the government
4. Computer To-Do’s
5. Christmas prep
6. Next Trip to Kampala groceries and supplies

I love them all.

But it’s funny. I am also good at keeping other lists.
You know. The List of how many ways someone has ever ticked me off. The List of all the injustices forced upon me in all of time. The list of all my losses...

Sigh.

These are not the lists I write down. Nor are they lists I am proud of. But, it is remarkable how quickly I can recall them in detail when I am hurt.
Why is it that when one situation brings pain…it revives the wounds of other situations that are similar? I stub my toe on some issue and out comes the “list”.

Recently, I read Tracey's thoughts concerning loss and grief. Tracey's thoughts and Sandi's comment about the "loss closet" have had me pondering.

I was affirmed when reading these things, that it is normal to revisit other losses when facing a new one.

I just need to be sure the visit doesn’t turn into a permanent situation.

Another blogging sister, whose writing touches me deeply, has been making a list over the last year called One Thousand Gifts. I have been convicted to start my own thankful list, in an effort to turn my focus...And give thanks.

I’ll be posting parts of the list over the next year. I’m working towards 1000….making note of the things that God is giving me everyday.

And I feel this is the perfect day to start ☺

1. New puppies.
2. My children laughing.
3. My husband reading the Bible to the children.
4. Cornbread Dressing.
5. My Mam-ma’s pie recipes.
6. Pumpkin pie with whipped cream.
7. Memories of wonderful family holidays.
8. Missionary community to share holidays with here.
9. Campfires with the kids.
10. Turkey,bacon sandwiches
11. Smores
12. My Blogland Sisters--your authentic sharing so often spurs me on to love and good deeds!


Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!! May your list of blessings come quickly to mind during this holiday season...

Praise!

(Feel free to grab this graphic and start your own list! Let me know if you do...)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Baxter

It all started with a mutt named Chipper. Chipper (aka Chips) lived with my parents before I was ever born. They were concerned about how he would react when they brought me home from the hospital. They needn't have worried. Chips scooted under my playpen and growled protectively when any stranger approached to gaze at me.

Chips lived with us for a long time. He ran away once, was picked up by someone and then found his way back to us. Pretty remarkable. My early memories were divided into two parts..."it happened before Chips ran away..." "it happened after Chips got back."
He was significant in our lives.

Eventually, Chips had to go to doggy heaven and we were pet less for a time.

Then came Ginger. Our neighbors down the street were selling (giving away?) puppies and after one brief glimpse, my sister and I were in love. We begged and pleaded and promised all the amazing care in the world. Which we were very diligent to follow through with...for about three days. Maybe not that long. Mom did the feeding and the house breaking and Ginger was really hers.

Ginger was with us a long time. Until 1995, when Jeff and I moved to Uganda. Ginger was not doing well and was going to have to be put down. I asked them to wait until I was gone. I couldn't face that goodbye along with all the other ones. I cried when I got the email saying that Ginger was gone.

"Home" for me in my growing up years included a smallish dog...barking at the door when you returned. Playing chase around the couches. Doing funny and intriguing things that would be talked about for years. A buddy when you were sick on the couch. A loyal friend no matter who was against you.

I moved away from that home. We came to Africa, and we quickly purchased guard dogs. But it wasn't the same. I wanted an inside dog, but could never figure out all the logistics of caring for a dog with our frequent travel and long times away from home.

Fast forward to last week...
For our last two trips to the capital city, my husband has been pointing out the dog advertisements on post boards. I have trained my eyes away from the adorable pictures knowing that it wasn't going to happen...so why look.

Jeff persisted. The poster of the Maltese Terrier puppies gave me much pause. Yes, they were adorable. Yes, I would LOVE one. Yes...they WERE adorable.

And at each of my logical reasons why it wouldn't work...my dear husband replied, "But this is something you really want."

Now, if I didn't know better, it almost seemed that my "dogs are meant to live outside" husband was trying to convince me to buy an inside dog.

The next day, as I picked up our meat order at the butchery, Jeff paraded off with all four of the offspring bouncing after him. They returned with huge grins and twinkles in their eyes.

"The last Maltese Terrier puppy is yours, if you agree."

How in the world can you say no to a bunch of jumping, squealing, exuberant children of your womb.

That and... I REALLY WANTED THE PUPPY!!!

We made the deal and met the owner the following day to get the dog.



This is Baxter.

And he has stolen our hearts.

Silas ran laps around the couch today with Baxter. Alex works diligently to teach him tricks. Isaac has become the Baxter-radar informing me what room Bax is in at all times...and what he is doing. Kinley is content to hold him while she reads.

But, I'm doing the feeding and housebreaking (oh goody! more poop to clean up!)...so, everytime he yips when I leave the room...or leaps up into my lap...or cuddles close while I read blogs...I am reminded...

He is mine. Smile.

Our carved out haven in this far off land...feels a little bit more secure...a little bit more "right".

Welcome Baxter. We are so glad you are here!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Where is the Panic Button?!?!?

I am enjoying the new peaceful colors of this blog.

The peace that follows panic is often replenishing...

You see, I have been longing for a blog makeover for awhile now. The professional I enlisted was unable to help me...I don't know why...she went dark...

So after waiting for about 4 months, I had to do something about the pink.

I had received some wise advice on template changing from friends. The email from Ike with the steps to follow has been sitting in my inbox since...January.

I fully trusted his directives...it was the phrase "hit the delete button..." that gave me pause. Nine months of pause.

I am quite the risk taker.

I do not fare well with computer-ese. What should work correctly everytime...will suddenly find exception with me. It's like a law of the universe, or something.

Now, despite, my cautious, hesitant tendencies...there are certain circumstances that will drive me to take a risk...

Apparently, pink is one of those "circumstances." I needed to change the color. Badly.

So, one night last week....I took the plunge. I read and re-read Ike's email for the billionth time. I cut and pasted and saved and backed stuff up---

Then, with a huge deep breath and many, many prayers... I. Hit. Delete.

Faster than a you can say "I'm a techno wizard!" I pasted my new template into the proper box and hit "view blog".

Nothing. Blank page. Emptiness.

I took a deep breath and hit Refresh.

Nothing.

Yes, dearest blogland buddies....my blog was gone. Or at least it appeared that way.

I began to hyperventilate. My heart rate and blood pressure were rising at an alarming speed. My blog had disappeared.

Except...I had followed the rules. The rules of Ike. My original template was neatly tucked away in Word...just waiting to save the day.

I cut and pasted some more and in one blissful moment...the Pink Splendor reappeared with all the thoughts and words completely intact.

I desperately needed to give someone a high five at this point...but my family was sleeping like angels....it was 2 AM.

After all that excitement, I would normally have left well enough alone.

But I REALLY wanted to get rid of the pink. So... I branched out. Off the Rules of Ike. Without a genius help line.

My blog remodel required a template upgrade...which is why the first plan didn't work. I think.

After all, I am no computer genius. I can't reconfigure, or triangulate or "hack"...

But I do know that the subtle Green of the background goes well with the Burgundy, Plum and Sage Fonts...

We know what we know, folks.

And I know I am elated to have a color change for now.

I hope you enjoy it too!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

We've Come a Long Way

Cell phones in Africa still amaze me.

When we first moved to Ft Portal acquiring a land line phone was of top priority. Jeff had been going on about this new thing called “e-mail” and I for one, thought it would never go anywhere. Especially anywhere in East Africa. But Jeff had high hopes for it and knew the first thing we needed was a land line.

Phone wires and electric wires were delicately draped through trees, tied in knots around poles and, in many other ways, creatively strung all around our town.

But, there were a limited number of phone wires available. We applied for one of the wires and after several months of waiting were given one.

Jeff was with the phone technicians as they ran the wire directly from the phone office to our house. We celebrated victoriously when the dial tone could be heard.

We passed around our phone number and rejoiced in our new accessibility.

Expressed joy…that was only short lived.

Dialing was a test of patience. We had one other friend with a phone line and to call them might require an hour long dial-fest. Driving to their house took less time.

Calling internationally was impossible. First, each call cost a mere $8 per minute (ouch!). Second, dialing and redialing yielded little fruit. Many times, the call just would not go through.

When our families would call us we expected to be cut off numerous times. I would make a list of important points to share and then rattle them off quickly before we would get cut off.

Then came the phone line “issues”. Many times there was a fault in the line. We would call the phone company and they would send the trusty technician carrying…hedge trimmers. We watched in shock as the technician began to cut our line in pieces. His plan…cut and test the line to see where the fault existed.

We lost three phone receivers due to lightning. One of the strikes came through the phone and lit up the hallway. Thankfully we were not on the phone or in the hallway at the time.

Then there was the stealing. Jeff went to investigate the line for himself after a rather long period of phone deprivation…only to discover the entire line was missing. When he reported this to the phone company they only replied that people sometimes steal the wire and that we should just wait until they could secure more wire.

Sigh. Those were the days.

All of a sudden…and I don’t mean that as an exaggeration…

Cell phones. Jeff bought one quickly when they became available and we were shocked at its reliability and function. Eventually, our cell phones connected us to more reliable email services, better communication with our parents and friends overseas and to each other.

For years, when Jeff would head off to the village, I would watch him go, knowing there would be no way to contact me if he was delayed or held up for any reason. As more and more cell phone towers went up around the country, Jeff was able to make contact with me even from remote areas.

We still live in the third world... Which means that unpredictability and dysfunction creep in...always. The cell phone lines are now very over used and the connections can sometimes be the pits.

But the fact that a little piece of machinery with NO WIRES attached to it can somehow link us to people all the way around the world…astounds me.

Over the last few months, as we struggled through rough times, that precious cell phone was a life line.

Jeff and I would squeeze close with our ears pressed against the phone as dear friends and fellow warriors prayed over us and spoke His words of comfort, exhortation and peace over our heads.

One such call was from our Glenwood support team. It was a conference call full of debriefing and sharing…then a prayer.

Our entire family stood in a huddle in our kitchen. Jeff’s cell phone opened in the middle of our circle. One precious voice after another spoke to our Father on our behalf. With each voice we heard, Jeff and I would mouth to the children the name of the person speaking.

“Bill, Dewayne, Cynthia, Charles, Joan, Lori, Kyle, Jana, Jack, Tootsie, Scott…”

Big smiles would follow and nods…

The prayers spoke over many miles overwhelmed our spirits with strength, mercy and hope.

The gentle, peaceful tears flowed from my eyes for awhile after we had ended the call.

We needed what those prayers provided. Available to us, through the miracle of a cell phone.

We have come a long way, in these twelve years…

And I’m not just talking about the phones….

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The Box People

On our last furlough, we had safely arrived in Tyler, TX and were worshipping with our supporting church for the first time on our visit. During the worship time, we were welcomed and asked to stand.
Isaac, then four years old, asked, “Mom, how do all these people know us?”
Alex, the more informed 6 year old replied, “Isaac, these are the Box People!"
Isaac, then smiled knowingly, "These people love us!”

About 5 years ago, God brought us to a Church and made it our home. Glenwood. We love them so. They pray for us faithfully. They welcome us warmly when we return for a visit. They generously loan us cars, open their homes, and fill our tummies with Tex Mex like there is no tomorrow! They eagerly listen to our reports and surround us with verbal blessing and exhortation. They support us financially. And they send us
huge boxes full of yummy treats, easy meals, worship music, good books, toys and many other treasures when we are back on the field. They have stolen our hearts.

We get boxes often. Each Bible Class will take a month, collect money and purchase goodies. The treasures are boxed and mailed. And eagerly awaited on our end…

Every time I go to town and return home, Isaac asks, “Did you get a box today?!?!”

The celebration when I say “Yes!” is explosive!!!

The dining table is cleared, scissors are found and the family gathers around with much fanfare.

The box is opened with shouts of “Can you see anything yet?”
“I wonder what they sent this time?!?!”
And of course, “WE LOVE GLENWOOD!”



We lift out each item one by one and exclaim. It is now our tradition and we can’t do it any other way.

Jeff: “Macaroni and Cheese”
Children: “YAY!!!!!!” (hear claps and whistles)
Jeff: “Brownie Mix”
Children:gasping “oooooooooo!!!”
Jeff: “Velveeta Cheese”
Children: “awwwwww!”
Jeff: “M&M’s”
Children: “Give them to Mommy!” (what darling cherubs!)

Out come cars for Isaac: (thanks R.R. !!)


Out come the bag of Tootsie Rolls: (thanks Ms. Tootsie!!)


Pickle relish: (we got them Trisha!)


Arts and crafts for Kinley...


The joy overwhelms us.

You see, we can’t pick those things up at our market. And while we have learned how to make and prepare treats that keep us fed and blessed in this place…

Those packets of treasure remind us of home and a fellowship of Christians whose embrace holds us and sustains us… over and over again.

The items you see pictured arrived recently during a season of trudging. With handfuls of M&M’s and the smell of fresh brownies baking…reprieve found us… What a quickening in our step…

Thank you Glenwood! God multiplies your treats and fills our hearts to overflowing!


We love you!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Second Wind

We lost two brothers. Two sons. Two friends.

Sin rarely comes on all of a sudden. It is a gradual wavering, considering, trying. Choosing.

And then Death.

Our awareness of the pallor of their souls came on gradually too. A conversation here. A lengthy discussion there. The random comments.

We sensed and understood their feet slipped on the slope, but we felt strong ahead of them, slowing our pace to point out the next steps. Coming up alongside them.  Offering our hands. Roping together.

We love them so.

I will never forget the Moment. We were watching them tumble over the precipice. Terror and sorrow were ripping up my insides. Jeff and I slid back down the slope towards them our minds racing with how to catch them. How to pull them back.

We secured our feet at the edge of the cliff and tightened the rope to hold them.

The rope pulled taut and we felt the dead weight of their bodies pulling us forward. We anchored shouting encouragement to each other and to them.

Then the weight shifted and with shock, incredulousness and horror…

We saw them severing the rope.

Their lifeline.

They were disconnecting.

And they were laughing. Mocking our struggle above. Our sweat and exertion.
In some sort of ironic amputation they were separating from their Salvation.

We called for help. We tried to convince them to quit cutting. They shouted at us in anger.

And then we watched them fall. With joy on their faces. They thought they were free. We knew from where we lay in the dirt, the soil wet from our tears and the sweat of our battle, that they would hit the bottom and that it would mean their death.

We know because we’ve been at the bottom too. We’ve hit it hard. Blindly sailing towards it’s rocks and crags. Naively thinking we had been set free. Only to find the wounds and gashes caused from the fall bound us more tightly than the ropes that tied us to the others walking the narrow path on the heights above.

We laid in the dirt exhausted from the struggle. Wordless in agony. Wondering where the energy would come from to stand up and climb again. How we would face the trail without those two, our friends, whom we love.

Some others on the trail came up behind us. They looked lost and needed help to find the Way. We know the Way and understand, it is our calling to lead others on it.

We stand on shaking legs weak from the fight. The rope burns on our hands sting as we offer new rope to those joining the climb. With trepidation, we rope up with strangers, comprehending it’s the only way to climb this path. Unsure as to if they will strengthen our step or eventually pull us to the edge of the cliff again.

We trudge. Each step brings with it grief. Analyzing how we might have convinced our brothers otherwise. Wondering where they got the knife. Remembering the fear of the moments just before they were lost. Feeling the wounds created in the struggle.

Trudging.

Memories push in to the cadence of the heavy steps we take.

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed…”
“By faith, Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family.”
“By faith, Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.”
“By faith, Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time.”
“By faith, the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land;”
“By faith, the walls of Jericho fell…”
“By faith the prostitue Rahab…”
“By faith Jacob….”
“By faith Isaac…”
“By faith Joseph…”


We remember and we step again.

“Therefore since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles…”

We wince as we drop the bitterness, the anger. We drop it like lead weights on the path beside us.

“…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

We drop the weight of discouragement. Pride is torn from our flesh.

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Our eyes look up, off the dusty trail. Our eyes search ahead, away from our trudging feet. We strain to see around our own choices. Around their choices.

And we see Him.

“Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

He has gone before us. The path we walk, He carved.

“Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons….No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”
Our muscles ache. The wounds reawaken and ooze.

“Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.”
The new people behind us ask where we are going. They want some proof that we know the destination.

“You have not come to a mountain that can be touched…But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. “

And then we hear it. The chords. The voices. The Song.

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire, he set my feet on a rock, and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.”

Suddenly, a second wind overwhelms our breathless lungs. And the Song pours out. Undefeatable. Uncontainable. Loud.

We have each come from Death. The death we chose when we sinned.
On the narrow path, we are all pit dwellers…lifted up. We all have the Song.

“The Lord God is my strength, my personal bravery and my invincible army. He makes my feet like hind’s feet, and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering or responsibility]!

Our steps quicken again. The procession around us throngs. Our singing, the praise, reminds us.
He sees us all. And Saves. He alone.

No one falls outside of His awareness. No one dies that His heart doesn’t break.

No pit is too deep that He can’t lift us out.

And we ARE going Home.

We must only press on and rejoice.

This is what He has called us to, for today.

He is Enough. El Shaddai.

Scripture References: James 1:15;Romans 4:18;Hebrews 11 & 12;Psalm 40:2-3;Habakkuk 3:19

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Glory!

It is with great joy and celebration that I announce to you dear blog friends...

"I have completed my family's laundry in my working washer and dryer."

If you are curious as to why this is news...see the previous post.

I don't know what happened, but I'm pretty sure about Who...

We did nothing but pray. Jeff had worked and reset to absolutely no avail when we discovered the problem over a week ago. The machines would not operate. And there was a burning smell...which is never good.

When we got back I waited before facing what I thought was the inevitable. I tried the dryer first...then the washer...and now about 8 loads later...the gentle whir and tumble of my beloved friends fills my heart with praise.

Doing laundry never felt so good...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Too Little...Too Much

Ft Portal is currently undergoing EST. Electricity Shortage Torture. ("Torture" is obviously my own description.) Several months ago, UMEME (the only power company in Uganda) announced that they had to repair a major fault in the Ft Portal power lines and it would take some months. Months. They set a schedule to turn off our power at 7 am and then turn it back on at 7 pm. Everyday. But, unfortunately, they have misrepresented the truth. They rarely turn the power on at 7pm. In fact, it is quite impossible to share the schedule with you. It is a WWAGAR schedule. ("Whenever we are good and ready...") The power often comes after 9pm and goes off again at random hours in the night and early morning.
Which means we are getting very little usable power... unless, I become a complete night owl and never sleep...

To magnify the problem, our house is hooked up to an old, overused transformer which is known to catch on fire. Yep. You read that right. Fire.

When our transformer sparks and shoots out fire, our house looses power. So when the rest of town is using their already limited power, we sit in the dark. And think the loveliest thoughts. ☺

Two weeks ago, as we were preparing for a much needed trip to the capital city, our transformer spouted fire and we sat in the dark. For 4 days. We are a family of six, which means the already overwhelming laundry pile was growing exponentially while we waited for the power to be fixed. (We did wash some clothes out by hand...but that process was also thwarted by the unbelievable deluge of rain...hand washed clothes do not dry out well in such wet, moist weather.)

On Saturday night, our power came back on! Praise! I turned on the washer and the dryer and thanked the Lord for whatever minutes of washing we could accomplish.

Which wasn’t very many.

Our lights started buzzing. The power was spiking so high, our breakers were blowing like crazy. I stopped all the machines…but not soon enough.

On Sunday morning, when the power came back on again at normal volts, my dryer and my washing machine would not work.

To understand the depths of my grief…you need to read my past posts…here and here.
These washing and drying machines have been long awaited in my life and have brought me the greatest joy. That UMEME, who I already have more issues with than I can communicate politely on this blog, may have taken these precious ones from me…
makes me think words I shouldn’t.

Like…”Fooey”…

My tired brain has been on overload following a difficult season of ministry…so all I could do was pray desperate prayers for the healing of our machinery …unplug them…and quietly shut the door. God’s will be done.

I squeezed out water from the dripping wet washing machine load and hung those clothes out with the still wet load from the dryer. Then packed dirty clothes for our trip. Sigh.

In the power spike of that day and the previous weeks we have lost a TV, a microwave, washer and dryer and our inverter.

That is a rather long and discouraging list.

There is a bright side:

Our computers are still functioning--for which we are very thankful.
And we have solar equipment on the way in a sea container.

Which will get us off the spiking, machine destroying, rarely working grid...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

That's "Share-Oh" to You



In all my years of hanging out with the short crowd, no child has ever learned to say my name first. I love my name...but it's combination of "r" and 'l" sounds leave little learners struggling.

Even in Uganda, where "r" and "l" sounds are easily interchanged and confused, many grownups can't pronounce my name. I am often referred to as "Sharon" or just "Che...."



Enter scene: The Brilliant Jotham. (cue trumpets...)








Jotham learned my name very early in his word repetoire! He has said my name and Silas' name before any other of our family member's names. Which secures his place forever in my heart! (You had a pretty solid hold there, Jotham, before you ever learned to speak!)

He calls me "Share-oh" and I'm grinning just writing that.

Jotham, we love you, man! Thanks for bringing such joy and laughter to our lives!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Very Best Thing

From my journal:
September 12, 1997
“It’s Friday and I’m at the end of my 11th week of pregnancy. Other than the nausea, its hard to believe I’m pregnant. I think about you all day, every day. I’ve had malaria twice in 3 weeks so I’ve felt concerned for your wellbeing. I prayed by the hour that God would protect you and I feel peace that He is protecting you. I’ll be praying that prayer for you for a long time now---for God to protect you. I also pray for your heart as it develops. I pray God will create your heart to be one that seeks God and follows close to Him.”

December 1, 1997
“Since your dad and I were babies, God has been preparing us to serve Him. His plan was for your daddy and me to be married and serve Him together. He brought us here, to Uganda, to teach the Tooro people about Jesus. We have prayed very often for God to bless us with a family and now there is you! You are still forming inside my body, but God already has a plan and purpose for your life. He is developing you to enable you to serve Him. We pray that you will give your heart and life to Jesus. A close relationship with Him and with God is the very best thing I know and the very best thing I could wish for you.”




As long as I dreamed of being a Mommy, I dreamed of this day.



God has always Been, in your life. Your Dad and I confessed our faith some years ago. Your grandparents are God followers. Your great-grandparents were God followers. Stories of your Creator have been whispered over you and taught to you for your entire life. Prayers have surrounded your existence since before we even knew you were on the way.

But. You always have a choice. Our infinitely wondrous Lord, designed it that way.

And no matter how hard we wish it...how deeply we long for it...

We cannot choose Faith for you. Your decision to follow after Him...is yours alone...

Last week, you publicly confessed your choice.

"I believe Jesus is the Son of God."






The incredible thing...the almost unspeakable greatness...is...

That your statement of Faith...is not limited to what you understand now...

Your statement of Faith is...unlimited...because of Who He Always Is, Has Been and Will Be...

You will change, precious daughter. You will grow. You will stumble. You will learn. You will fall.

But, He will never change.

Who you confess Him to be today...He is.

And nothing can ever alter that.

May the enormity of that Truth, expand exponentially in your spirit every hour...every day...that you choose to believe...

He is the Son of God.

I love you, dearest Kinley.








We are all so proud of you!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Advice from the Experts

Our team has grown this week! Anaiah Dawn Martin was born Sept 3 to Andrew and Aimee Jo…and we are so elated that she has arrived! (for pictures of this adorable one link to Aimee Jo’s blog and/or Andrew and Aimee Jo’s blog in my sidebar!)

Anaiah will join the ranks of some of God’s most precious servants in foreign service…the Missionary Kids…referred to in mission-ese as MK’s or TCK (third culture kids). The life of an MK is very unique with distinctive challenges and blessings . One of the most helpful and supportive groups an MK can be a part of…is fellow MK’s.
So Anaiah, we welcome you to your own little MK community.



In a very informative interview with the MK experts in our household, this advice was given for the newest MK on the Ft Portal team:

On Life in Africa:

“Africa is the funnest place on the planet!”
“Never try to stop learning the silly language. “
“Be funny!”
“Try to make friends”
“I will give her my trains.”

On the Rutooro Language:

“If you don’t know what people are saying just smile and say MmmmHmmm…”
“Oliyota means hello.”
“Nangwa means No”
“Eggo means Yes.”
“Enjoka means snake.”
“Then she’ll give me BACK my trains!”

What you need to live here:

“A bed.”
“A mosquito net.”
“CD Player.”
“Pillows and sheets.”
“..and a good house.”
“You could live with us.”
“Then she’ll give me BACK my trains!”

On safety in Africa:

“If you see a snake, run inside!”
“Don’t ever touch lizards, rats, fuzzy caterpillars, spiders…”
“…or the MOST breakable things!”
“…or crocodiles…or hippos!”
“Definitely can’t play with sharks!”
“If you touch the fuzzy caterpillars, you will get little things in your hand that hurt—if there is an African nearby with fuzzy hair, rub the skin on their head and it will take the stingers out!”
“Don’t drink the bathwater!”
“Or the ocean…”
“The ocean has salt!”

On the food in Uganda:

“Try the matoke!”
“I’d give her fish and rice ‘cuz she loves fish and rice.”
“Everywhere you go there are sodas so if you are thirsty ask for a soda!”

On the Game Park:

“You always have to keep your eyes open---you may see a lion or an elephant or two.”
“There is a nice lodge. “
“Its fun going on the boat launch!”
“The boat launch is cool cuz it has a boat and a launch. Get it? Boat launch.”

On trips to Kampala:

“You go to Kampala to get food, cheese, cakes ice cream…”
“Go to the mall---where there are lots of nice things.”
“It’s fun going swimming!”
“Go to Khana Kazana. It is Indian food. Eat chicken curry and butter nans."
“The spicy sauce burns my mouth.”
“The baby toys are at the stores. I’m gonna give them to her.”

On Parents:

“There are many dangerous things in Africa, so stay close to your parents.”
“You should love them.”
“Try to do good things.”

On God:

“He never tells lies.”
“Trust in Him and miracles can happen!”
“He’s always working here.”
“Love God.”

What they want to say to Anaiah:

“I will be good to Anaiah. Be nice to her.”
“I hope you will be a good friend to us and love Africa!”
“I hope you are very cute!”
“I hope you have a good rest!”
“I’ll give her every present that I love!”
“We can’t wait to play with you and have sleepovers and baby sit you!”

Never fear, dear Anaiah. Your support team is ready with good advice, a wealth of personal experience and a train or two for you! (If you are willing to give them back, apparently.:-)
We love you already and believe very much, that God has chosen YOU, just as He has your parents for this life of overseas service. May He fill you even now with courage, strength and a fortune of Faith. He created you beautifully and we are so thankful for you!

Come see us, sweet girl! And don't forget your parents!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Facing the Facts

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead---since he was about a hundred years old---and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.” Romans 4: 18-21

I’ve been relishing the reawakening of hope in my spirit. Hope that I had surrendered to a current deluge of not so great…facts.

Realizing, that my hope had been temporarily misplaced. On people. On plans. On the Seen.

When the only safe and sure place for Hope…is with the Promise Keeper. The All Powerful.

Jehovah.

He. Never. Fails.

“…I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Playing Along...

I've been tagged...here's the rules:

1. I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.

2. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.

3. People who are tagged need to write a post on their own blog (about their eight things) and post these rules. (If you don’t have a blog, email me)

4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.

5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.


Eight Random Facts About Me

1. I do not like milk. Never have. I learned to eat it on cereal by pouring it down the side of the bowl so it doesn’t touch
the cereal much and make it too milky and soggy.
2. A big part of the “coffee” experience for me is about the cup. I like delicate cups, interesting shaped cups and proper
teacups. I can drink the delightful beverage from a plain ‘ole mug but it does decrease my enjoyment factor a tad.
3. I have to check the doors to our house to be sure they are locked and check on every kiddo, before I can lay down to
sleep.
4. I can always talk myself into buying a new pair of shoes.
5. I cannot watch scary movies at all. (To this day, I MUST lock the door on hotel room bathrooms, before taking a shower,
thanks to a dreadful viewing of Psycho when I was younger.)
6. I have always wanted to learn how to dance.
7. My absolute favorite dessert is vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup.
8. I had a phobia of riding horses for most of my life.

I tag Tracey, Kim, Jennifer C, Dana, Sierra, and anyone else who wants to play!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

It's a Small World After All...




Born in Tawain, raised in Guatemala, converted to Christ in Honduras, current resident of Canada and graduate student completeing practicum in Ft Portal!

This lovely jewel has awakened my awareness that God is doing EVERYTHING to bring us to Himself. He can turn the world around to make it happen.

And for this treasure, He has.

I received an email several months back, from a great friend and supporter of missions (she is an missionary kid, herself!) letting me know that she had a friend who was living in Ft Portal for the summer. Would I be willing to meet her friend and offer encouragement?
But of course! We connected and met for lunch. In the course of our conversation she said the words that won my heart, forever..."I'll help teach your kids!" Agueda has become a wonderful part of every week, guiding our brood through the joys of gymnastics...or "guh-nastics" if you are Silas.
She has worshipped with our town church, amazed us with her creativity in teaching the Bible class and generally been a super encourager for me and for Jeff.
We've needed her bright spirit and cheery disposition. What a gift.

But as this international life has taught me to expect...the moment of farewell is inevitably here.
I thought about taking her passport so we could keep her around a little longer...but I'm pretty sure a certain fiance' would have some strong words to say about that.

So, we will release her to an exciting year ahead. Praying blessings upon blessings as she goes...

Dear Agueda, as God has so faithfully brought you into fellowship with His people up to now...May He abudantly supply every need of your spirit, faith and service.

We will surely miss you! We praise God for bringing you into our lives!

Come back and see us...you are always welcome here.







Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Back to School



We did it! We officially started school. We have had one full day...from 10am to 5 pm of kindergarten, 2nd grade and 4th grade. With some preschool activities thrown in intermittently.

The kids are thrilled. Isaac giggled through his entire lesson. He said, "I love doing this work with you, Mom!"

What a gift to hear those words. The fun of new books. New lessons. New schedules.

"Lord, help us during this year of discovery. Open their young minds to all You would have for them to learn. And open my old mind to all You have for me to refine...patience, compassion and joy in Your calling for me, for now. Never let us stop learning or seeking. In Jesus I pray, Amen."

Monday, August 20, 2007

Another Goodbye...For Now...

When having babies on this continent, we chose to face the delivery in larger cities, with hospitals and capable doctors. After our daughter’s birth, we had to wait nearly 6 weeks, before we could return back to our home. It was a long wait. We were thrilled beyond words, the day we loaded our own truck and headed back to our own house. Because she was a newborn, we opted to drive the paved road, which was much longer, instead of inflicting the bone jarring experience of the unpaved road on her tiny little person.
We called ahead to find a place to stay for one night on the way. Nick and Renee agreed to keep us.
Nick and Renee were a part of a new mission point. They were in their first year on the field. They had an 8 month old son.
That one night stay was a memorable blessing for me. I found in Renee an instant connection. There were things I needed to talk about. Renee started every conversation for me. She dove right in. She listened as I debriefed my labor. Shared her own story. Gave me helpful hints on nursing. Passed on some infant toys. And loaded a HUGE box full of spaghetti sauce, instant meal mixes, koolaid and muffin mixes to send with me.

Did I mention, she made me laugh? ☺

I so badly needed the sister hood Renee offered. I was on the eve of The Moment. The official moment when I become the Mommy. All the support systems and adopted "aunties" were behind us. Daddy would go back to work. And it would be just me and that tiny little being. And I would be in charge. Gulp. I knew it was coming and that evening with Renee, encouraged my heart. I might not get it all right. But I wasn't alone. And that message resonated in me for those first months of learning about the world of Mommying.
Through the years that have followed she and I have given birth three more times each. We were always pregnant together.
We weren’t able to be together very often…but our conversations began with Renee’s direct approach and very honest sharing. It’s a quality in her I have admired and encouraged. I appreciate a woman who can speak her mind. Especially when she is also funny!

Through the years, the gatherings I’ve attended with Renee have been brought to life with her energy, hilarity and openness. She loves people, loves a party and can very easily shock the living daylights out of you with her straightforward and hilarious way. ☺

She is equally straightforward about her struggles. And God’s victories in her life.

I’m proud of you Renee. And so thankful for the moments of sisterhood we’ve had.

I’ll miss you. Especially when I want to start a conversation and can’t quite figure out how to word to the question.

Bless you as you go—may your next year have many great moments with your families, amazing shopping sprees at Target and a party when you need one!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Ponderings and Convictions

This thought from Anne Lamont's, Plan B Further Thoughts on Faith:

(speaking about Jesus) "I don't think much surprises him: this is how we make important changes-barely, poorly, slowly. And still, he raises his fist in triumph."

I am being convicted..."..barely, poorly, slowly..." of the sin of my impatience.

Impatience with my kiddos. Impatience with those we minister among. Impatience with myself...

How can I demand (even quietly in my soul) that the changes I WANT to happen should be completed...fulfilled NOW?

How can I dare surrender my Hope, when the change is slow to come?

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." Psalm 27:14

"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who HOPE in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." Isaiah 40: 28-31

Friday, August 03, 2007

Redecorating

I love to redecorate. The furniture in our home never finds a permanent placement. Our chairs, tables and wall decor "visit" many areas of our home through the months. I rearrange, change colors and update whenever I have the opportunity.
Things are changing in our home this week...

And all it has involved is a paint brush, paint clothes and a tin of glossy paint.

Alex announced to the family this morning, "Mom's painting something else white!" :-)

Four, tired, messy, and scratched wood pieces of furniture have been revived with beautiful white paint!

We are all pleased with the results...and I have half a tin of paint just waiting to redeem more worn out furnishings.

If only refurbishing this blog was as simple as a can of paint!

For awhile now, I've been tired of pink. Pink is a perfectly lovely color. (shout out to Aimee Jo the queen of pink!) I loved dressing my baby girl in pink's delicate shades. But generally, I'm not a pink kind of girl.
So why did it end up on my blog?

I wasn't paying that much attention. Blogging wasn't something I thought would last long for me. I had no idea the blessing, release, and FUN I would find in Blogland.

Several months ago, I started fiddling with different templates. I cautiously perused the html codes....knowing that to someone it all makes sense....someone other than me.

I never achieved the "look" I wanted. And I grew frustrated.

So I did what any frustrated and stumped rookie decorator should do...I called a professional!

Susie at Bluebird Blogs (www.bluebirdblogs.com) is working on a design for me...and I can't wait to see how it turns out.

In the meantime, as I wait, I've revisited my current template and attempted to add some blogs to my blog roll. For some reason, (I'm sure a simple one) the titles on the headings are in a different font than I meant them to be...but since its not offensive or ugly...I've made the executive blog decision to Leave It as It is for Now. All further html changes will be left to the professionals!

So, I'm off to scrub the white paint from my hands, enjoy the gleaming white tables in my kitchen and wait to see what Susie has in store for us here....

Stay tuned!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Taking It Easy

When we began making plans for our trip to the AAMC conference several years ago, we decided to travel the “easy” way…flying. Driving from our home to the coast of Kenya would take 5 long, hard days one way. We decided to save our shillings and buy plane tickets.
Here is the rundown of our easy trip:

We left our home at 8:30am arriving in the capital city at around lunchtime. We grabbed a quick lunch and exchanged money for our trip. We drove the remaining hour to the international airport.
We arrived at the airport well ahead of time, and approached the desk to check-in.
The woman at the computer informed me that three of our family were booked on this flight, but three of the children were booked on the early morning flight the next day.

Um. That won’t work.

Jeff trekked upstairs to ask the “higher ups” if they could help us. Here was the wise advice of the airline manager:
“Just leave the three children by the check in counter overnight and the agents will help them on board in the morning.”

He seriously said that.

My, oh my.

Thankfully the kind women at the computers, thought better of that idea, (especially after witnessing the energy levels our children were displaying) and did everything they could to get us on the plane…together. That night.

We wrangled our energetic young ones for nearly two hours, hoping there would be at least 3 no-shows for the evening flight. Twenty-five minutes to departure we were all given boarding passes and told to HURRY! We rushed to immigration, needing to move quickly to board the already loaded aircraft.

Immigration.

Isaac has a new passport. “Well done, Mom!”… for remembering it would expire this year and securing a new one before traveling to Kenya!
BUT, his new passport had no dependent’s pass stamp in it. (This is the pass the children and I pay for every three years in order to live in Uganda). The immigration lady was not happy. She questioned us. Complained. Huffed. And INSISTED that it was IMPOSSIBLE to allow Isaac to leave the country.
We, amazingly, stayed calm. We assured her, we had not smuggled our 5 year old into the country. That we had in fact paid for his dependent’s pass, just like the other three children, but had neglected to carry the old passport with the proof. We pleaded and promised that we would most certainly pay the visa fee upon return, “WE LOVE UGANDA and YOU, DEAR IMMIGRATION LADY….PLEASE let us on the plane!”

She agreed, albeit grudgingly, and we finally wheeled our 6 bodies, 5 carry on bags and 6 stamped passports on board.

Upon arrival at Nairobi, it was late and our youngest two were very tired and uncooperative. We arrived to a FULL immigration lobby, with long lines at the Visa counter. (We all must pay for visas to enter Kenya.) I began filling in our arrival cards and visa forms (that’s TWELVE forms total) all the while shouting “SILAS RYAN STAY HERE” more times than anyone cared to hear.

We joined the neverending line.

A kind gentleman in an Airport Immigration uniform, paused when he saw me wrestling Silas in my arms…and asked if we were on holiday (the British word for vacation). We nodded and smiled hopefully, also adding that we were going to attend a conference. His helpful attitude dissipated and he said, “Oh, a conference.” He left us standing without assistance.
Having learned our lesson, the next immigration man that paused at our whiny clan received a rousing, “Jambo! We are on HOLIDAY!”

With the magic word leading the way we were escorted around the long line to a special help desk where three men began discussing if they COULD help us since I had written “holiday/conference” in the “Why are you in Kenya?” blank on the forms.

Jeff smoothly convinced them it was a holiday-like conference…and they agreed to help.

After 20 minutes of discussing all the places we had visited in Kenya, how two of our children were born here, and reminding everyone within earshot that “SILAS RYAN SHOULD STAY HERE!”…we were stamped and allowed to walk down the stairs to collect our bags.

We found them all….PRAISE….and pushed on through customs.

We met our taxi driver, loaded up our bags and were just about to head out to the hotel, when another taxi driver approached and began to….shout.

Yep. Our taxi driver was getting what-for from another very ticked off individual. And then the police showed up. Which usually doesn’t mean things are going to get better.

We sat for 20 minutes, while the 5 men pointed, argued and paced. Our taxi driver assured us there was no problem (all evidence to the contrary) and eventually, returned saying there was no case and we could leave.

At the hotel I had to fill out another form, then was given two rooms. The great finish line was near…and the keys wouldn’t work. We were escorted to a lovely waiting area full of glass tables, crystal, large glass windows... and Silas. Good times.

We finally made it into our rooms…slept…woke up early… and went downstairs to meet our driver for the return to the airport for our next flight.

Our driver didn’t show up.

At the last minute we were tossed onto a large bus with Kenya Scouts headed to Amsterdam.

We arrived at the airport and stood in the long security line waiting to check in. After waiting for a half hour, we learned that we were at the wrong terminal… and must go down the road a little ways. Terrific.

We joyfully pushed two carts of luggage and herded our munchkins on a busy road, to the next building. Thankfully, the security line was very short and we were quickly unloading our bags onto the security conveyor belt.

Security personnel began going through Kinley’s carry on bag. They said they had seen something sharp in her bag. While hefting our large bags back onto the carts, I kept my eyes on the hands of the security man, sure that he was after her camera or disc man. He emptied her bag three times, the lady behind him insisting she had small sharp articles in her bag. Finally, having found nothing, we packed her things and moved on. As we stepped away from the security desk, Alex, sheepishly held up his hand full of nails. Nails. “I don’t know how these got in my bag Mom. Sorry.” I snatched them from his hand and quickly deposited them in the nearest trash can.

We checked in and found our “waiting lounge” for the next flight. We waited and waited. The scheduled departure time came and went and our lounge became VERY full. There were no planes in sight.

About 30 minutes after our scheduled departure, the airline employees, shouted into a very poor intercom system, “Please exit the lounge and reenter so that we can re-check your boarding passes.” We were about 175 people at this point and outside the lounge was a space as big as, well, a thimble.

We CRAMMED our mass of bodies and carry on bags into the one inch (or so) that was the area beyond the lounge and laughed very hard, when the airline employees announced they were requiring this ridiculous check, “to save time”.

We finally, one hour after scheduled departure, boarded our plane and took off for the coast.

Our return trip involved a 7 hour delay which resulted in a 3 hour earlier departure…long story that still wouldn’t make since even after I explained it to you…and a late arrival back in Uganda.

Many,many miles...4 waiting lounges…12 luggage carts…3 taxi’s…3 pleading conversations…4 airplanes…4 hotels and 33 forms later…

We arrived back home safely.

The Easy Way.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Jellyfish by Isaac


I was in the water and I got stung by the jellyfish. I was having fun in the waves. My leg felt bad. I screamed loudly.
Guards came to help me. They poured something on my leg [vinegar].
Mom and I went to the room. And I felt better when I got in bed.
You can still see the mark on my leg.
I always think about the jelly fish and getting stung.
I feel better.
I love everybody.
And that’s the end.



Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Coastin'




Our family was blessed to attend the All Africa Mission Conference last week, held at Turtle Bay Resort in Watamu, Kenya. We decided to go some days ahead to enjoy the beach as a family, then attend the conference.













We had a great trip.



The waters of the Indian Ocean are warm…making for great boogy boarding and ocean fun. The low tide provided unending opportunities to walk across the reef, examining every tiny pool of water for fish, eels and crabs.







Silas and Isaac were enthralled with the Biggest Sand Pit ever…aka the beach and happily spent hours, digging, burying and burrowing through the white sands.




We went for long walks.

We laughed.



We rested.



We played.



And we braided...







The conference began on Monday evening and was a great time of fellowship. We were blessed to be with missionaries who came before us and led us through our first years of adjustments and settling in. We met new friends whose stories make us proud of how they have chosen to serve here. We shared with our peers about life on this continent…
And we met some amazing souls serving God in some very difficult places.



Our kids were thrilled to enjoy activities organized by volunteers from the Northwest Church in Seattle Washington. They painted T-shirts, went on walks, played games and enjoyed DVD’s. We were showered with fun gifts every day…taco seasoning, American shampoos and soaps, lotions, art supplies for the kids, koolaid…etc.









We praise God for safe travels, rich fellowship, fun memories…





And home. It feels nice to arrive back home. I’m thankful for that.

We, unfortunately, brought more home with us than fun souvenirs. Our family is cycling through the Mandatory End- of-Vacation sickness. This time in the form of cough and high fever. Thankfully, it didn’t hit us at the beach, but has been at its worst since arriving home.

Thanks to all who prayed for us this last week. Our travels were…eventful (more on that later)…but safe. And we are so thankful we were able to make this trip and participate in the conference.