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


13. Sunday dinner
14. Isaac washing dishes
15.Christmas lights
17. Clean laundry (folded and put away)
18.Overnight getaway with Jeff
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


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.


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

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.

Stay tuned….