Sunday, May 25, 2008

Oh, So Very...


And here is a list to prove it...

31. Hot fudge cake.
32.Ty's visit
33. Silas singing "Lord I Lift Your Name on High"
34. The first cup of steaming coffee in the morning.
35. Help with the dishes.
36. Isaac's laugh
37. Cuddling with Anaiah
38. Prayer time with the team
39. Sleep
40. A definite plan
41. Hope
42. Cool weather and a hot cup of tea
43. Pale pink nail polish
44. Iced sugar cookies
45. Respite at the close of the day
46. Checking on our sleeping children
47. Listening to Isaac read
48. Reading Kinley's creative writing
49. Alex's love of cardboard boxes
50. Silas opening his birthday presents
51. Succesful potty training
52. Jotham's voice on the phone
53. Furlough plans
54. Paper plates
55. The day after a migraine headache
56. Jeff and the kids doing the dishes
57. New bed linens
58. Baxter
59. An organized pantry
60. Support and love from family

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

God's Perfect Gifts

Something I have learned on this foreign field adventure is that God will not fail.

In mid 1999, Jeff and I had hit a stride. We were four years on the Uganda mission field. We had weathered the initial waves of culture stress. We had endured the rebel crisis. And we were parents of an adorable baby girl. Our first furlough had been a blessing and upon arrival back in Uganda, I felt at home. It was a milestone.

Following our annual ladies retreat for East African Missionaries, I had committed to praying for a friend who was hoping to become pregnant with her first. As I committed to pray, I was unkowningly pregnant with our second. I began to suspect my situation and the nausea overcame me. Only this time around, I had a toddler to chase. It was a tough time.

One afternoon, Jeff came home from town and informed me that he had met a German girl who was in Ft Portal for a year to work at the Babies Home. He said she was eager to fellowship with Christians and that he had invited her for dinner.

Our first dinner with Caroline was great, but the conversation was a bit difficult. Caroline’s English was limited and my German was non-existent. Except for asking for a Diet Coke, I don’t speak much of the language of Germany.

Thankfully, Caroline excelled at language skills. Her English improved incredibly (really, how do you do that?!?) and over the next year, she became a soulmate. She supported me through the pregnancy and loved on Alex when he was born. She met with our church weekly. Her bright spirit and encouraging disposition lit up our lives and pushed us on.

She and I met weekly to pray and visit. The gift she was to me really defies the words on this blog.

Women need women to sound off to. To dream with. To share. To drink coffee with and share stories...

She watched movies with me, went on road trips to keep me company. She and I joked about interesting cultural issues we met and shared sarcasm over life in the third world.

I needed this fun friendship so much. She was a gift to me. Saving me from the mundane insanity of daily childcare and home management in a far off place with few or little distractions.

I was sad to see her go when her time in Ft Portal ended. But God had things for her to do. She moved back to Germany, married her prince and God has blessed her with two lovely little ones. I know she is serving Him well.

Her precious ones allowed her to come back and visit us recently. She arrived into our container chaos. But as I came to expect, she jumped right in, served and blessed.

How sweet the fellowship of those who love Him.

I can’t wait until Heaven--- no language barriers!

Ich liebe dich, darling Calo!

Come back anytime…but bring those precious ones too!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Blessing of Fellowship

We were so delighted to welcome Brian, Kristin and Grace Robinson for a visit during March. The Robinsons are members of our overseeing congregation and dear friends. They brought with them loads of goodies and tons of love from our Glenwood family. As usual, when we welcome Glenwood-ites here, it made us long for our Tyler home.

Brian and Kristin are fellow sojourners in our parenting journey. They have four offspring all around the ages of our own. I find an understanding ear in Kristin. She supports, encourages and believes in me. All Mommies need that.

On furlough, we always enjoy sharing a meal with the Robinsons in their home. Our conversation usually turns to missions and the Robinson’s desire to participate personally in foreign work. We’ve prayed for them and loved sharing “the call” with them.

How delighted we were to hear that God’s call was reeling them in. Not just whispering to them anymore! We pray for them as they take on a huge endeavor…moving four kids and a life across an ocean. Let me just say, this is not something for the faint of heart.

But, also, let me say, “Brian & Kristin, you can do this! Because YOU will never walk this path alone. He doesn’t call you down a path and then abandon you. He will never fail.”

Thank you for doing all those dishes, folding my laundry (we are soul mates now!) and unloading (Brian) so much stuff without a break. Chaos of the container overtook us at the end, but your bright spirits and willingness to jump in and help saved my sanity. Truly. I hope you found the blessings you needed for this time as well. We love you and are so proud of you for your choices and your courage.

We are also VERY thrilled that you will be on our side of the ocean! Come see us anytime. I promise I won’t always make you do the dishes! 

Many thanks to Madeline, Samuel, Aaron and all the Grandparents who made this trip possible. Thank you for sending your precious Mom, Dad and sister to us. We pray they carried blessing and encouragement back to you.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Big Metal Box--Conclusion

It arrived.

After much angst, much waiting and many, many months,that big metal box finally rolled into our compound. I could hardly believe it.

A frantic afternoon, evening, night and early morning ensued. Just as we opened the doors, God opened His clouds. The rain poured and poured. But we couldn't stop. The truck driver wanted to go home and the box had to be emptied in order for him to do that. So we worked. And carried. And hauled.

And got very, very wet. The Martin's goods were to be kept in our car port which very quickly became The Muddy River of Destruction. Jeff rallied the troops and laid metal trusses on the ground to stack the Martin's treasures on. Our goods were hauled to our veranda and inside our living room. Kristin (visiting from Tyler) cooked food, pointed people to the bottled water and managed to keep a path cleared through our overflowing home. She also, very capably, held our dirty dishes at bay. No small feat my friends. No small feat.

I walked miles in and around our home as did every member of the Unloading Posse. Every box...every item...was rejoiced over and admired. Comfy furniture, camping gear, home organization items, a real American mattress...all bring pure joy! Even the drum set that somehow made it's home in the corner of my living room, was welcomed with much rejoicing! (Don't be surprised Jana dear, when Em receives Bagpipes for Christmas from Auntie Cheryl this year!:-)) Each box was like Christmas. My kitchen and pantry were filled to overflowing. MacnCheese, Dr Pepper, canned spaghetti sauce and pie fillings...

It was 2AM when the last crate came off the truck. A very tired team of men succeeded in emptying our big metal box. We would have high-fived if anyone had one ounce of energy left. :-)

There are no words to adequately thank all who worked to make this shipment a reality. Charles and Joan Colwell, who served us over and above. Jana, Kristin and Lori for shopping and buying so very well! For all our Glenwood family who gave so generously to purchase the church tent and chairs. Also our loved ones in Tyler who snuck on goodies and helped pack. For Andrew, Jeff and Ryan and their exhaustive efforts on both sides of the ocean. And finally for the team of guys (Brian, Bob, Peter, Jeff, Andrew, Derrick and co.) who unloaded and unloaded and unloaded that wet, rainy Saturday.

We love and thank you all.

May God use these tools to rejuvenate us, further His kingdom growth and bring honor to His Name.


Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Big Metal Box--Part Two

About 5 years and an Airplane Saga later (Airplane Saga to be shared at a later date:-))another container became a reality for the Ft Portal mission.

Through a "Master-full" feat of endurance, my "never say die" hubby had a repaired airplane engine that had to be shipped. In the same months, the Martin family had made their commitment to serve in Ft Portal and needed to get their household items here.

The shipment took shape.

All the logistics are daunting for such a shipment. The cost of the container itself and the fees for moving it hither and yon are expensive, so it is inherent in every missionary heart that each tiny bit of space be used effectively. We are paying dearly for it...we should fill it well.

On our last furlough, we worked with the Martins on preliminary plans. We discussed companies and costs. We made lists and shared ideas. Then we began to budget.

We enlisted a wonderful couple to gather our items in Tyler, TX. Charlie and Joan offered their time, know how and storage space to help us with the container. We flew back to Uganda thankful for their willingness to help.

As the months drew near for the actual packing of the container, we began to discuss our being present for the daunting task. We felt that Jeff would be a blessing to completing the process, so we bought one ticket and sent Jeff back to the States.

He, Andrew and Andrew's cousin spent three sleepless days and nights shopping, filling, building, organizing and securing a world of physical blessings into one big metal box. As the box rolled down to the nearest sea port, the guys crashed hard, weary to the bone. Their efforts were successful and the box set sail for our foreign homes.

Within six weeks we received word that the box was on African soil. We all rejoiced, but Jeff and I set our minds to wait. We knew, now would be the hardest part.

The container moved somewhat smoothly through Mombasa clearing and customs. We received regular updates (which impressed us considerably) of the clearing process. By early November, the container had reached Kampala.

And then the real fun began. We were optimistically hopeful that we could get the box by Christmas. There were some treasures for the kiddos that would look lovely under the tree. So we hoped and set our hands to the task.

It is indescribable what took place next. Derrick and his uncle and Jeff began to go from office to office to office to office.... from desk to desk to desk...from person to person to person. We would be told The Process. We would set out to complete The Process. Upon reaching completion we would told that we must begin again. On another Process.

After several rounds of The Process Shuffle we were informed that we owed alot of money for taxes. Alot.


We've been living in this foreign land for awhile now and have well honed our reactions to such atrocious bits of news.

We simply inquired of The Next Process. The Process for People Who Cannot Afford Alot of Money for Taxes.

We were respectful. We were resolute. And we began to follow still more procedures.

Month after month passed. Reams of paper were filled with letters and rubber stamps, then carried from one official to another. Derrick basically moved to Kampala for awhile. And Jeff wisely navigated us all through a maze that could have very easily had no end. We had no idea, really, where the maze would take us. We just continued turning the corners, overcoming the obstacles and asking for direction.

In mid March, just a flow of visitors began to grace our home, we received word that we had, in fact, reached the end of the Process line.

The final papers were signed. We could bring the box home.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Big Metal Box--Part One

When we first moved to Uganda, most living supplies were not easily available in this land locked country. In the capital city (about 7 hours drive from us at the time) we shopped at two smallish "supermarkets" that carried Kenya made items and we bought our meat from one of two nice butchers in the capital city. Here in our own town, meat could be purchased live and butchered yourself or bought in the fly-infested meat markets of our local shops.

Larger items like refrigerators, stoves, living room chairs, beds, dressers...all were either not available, very used and broken or super expensive.

We were advised, as we planned to move our life across the ocean, to purchase some goods and send them on a sea container. A sea container is virtually a big metal box. It is filled at your home in America, trucked to the nearest sea port and then shipped to Mombasa, Kenya. Where it is then loaded on a truck or a train and brought across Kenya and Uganda into Kampala where it is stored.

In Kampala, you must clear the container with 500,000 different people. (oh, I kid) After the final person signs the final document, you can load the box back onto a truck and have it driven to your home for unloading.

In 1995, we shared a 20 ft container with another family. We had 10 ft of space. We brought our wedding gifts, a propane stove, a propane refrigerator, and a propane chest freezer. We also brought a couch, loveseat and an old recliner that was my Grandpa's. Jeff had two motorcycles and my sweet Granddaddy had fixed us up with every lawn and small engine article available to man (chainsaw, weedeater, lawnmower, tiller, generator).

We did not receive our container on this side until 9 months after our arrival. Nine months of sleeping on the floor, sitting on the floor and struggling through meal prep from scratch with only two burners to work with.

Our landlord loaned us an electric refrigerator for those nine months, but after our first trip to the capital to stock up on meat, we returned home to 5 days of absolutely NO POWER...which translated to $50 of precious meat, spoiled and ruined.

Jeff and I became vegetarians at that time. Not by choice really. Just by necessity. We ate alot of soups. And we longed for fajitas from home. As we enjoyed our vegetable soup, Jeff and I would talk about American food. For hours. Then we would cry. (Or I would cry. Jeff would just look sad and hungry. :-))

We made it, though. And when that shipment arrived we rejoiced. Jeff and his Dad (who was visiting us at the time) drove across Uganda twice with loads of our treasures. We began the agonizing work of setting everything up. Propane tanks had to be secured and fittings reworked with no stocked hardware store to help out.

Over the years of adjusting, settling in and having a family we were blessed by the items from that first shipment. We did need to purchase locally made items, as well as using what we brought from the States. We purchased beds with foam mattresses and had shelves and dressers made by carpenters in the area. The shelves and cabinets proved to be difficult endeavors. Wet wood became our nemesis, warping furniture beyond recognition. We borrowed some furniture items for our babies and scoured the Sale Lists posted in Kampala by departing expats for other items we needed.

Every missionary or expatriot that would move back to the their homeland would put out a sale list. Such sale lists were gold. From the departing missionaries one could score American bath mats, transformers, baby furniture, TVs and other treasures. Granted, the items would be well used and worn...but gold, nonetheless.

Always, in the back of our mind, a "if we had access to a container" list grew.

When the Lord led us to Glenwood church of Christ this mental wish list had grown long. In one of our first meetings with Glenwood's mission committee, they asked about helping us with a container. The idea was suggested that they buy the container, park it in their parking lot and fill it over a period of time. A list of desired goods was requested of us. We were stunned. We eventually did make a list and continued to dream of another shipment.

Saturday, May 03, 2008


It is amazing to me how very much I can miss this piece of cyberspace.

I have had posts sitting in "edit" for some weeks now. But I have not been able to sit down and get them posted.

Tonight, as the clock nears midnight, I am finally getting back to this place I love.


Rumor has it that Wireless World is in my future. More frequent posting could be anticipated.

I hope.

It's hard to dive back in to a journal when I haven't been posting regularly. Lots of thoughts, struggles, obstacles and victories have happened in the meantime and all those events change me a little. Stretch me. Pain me. Make me grow.

I would love to share more about this season of ministry in our lives and I do believe that someday this time of struggle will become blessing to others who are striving in a similar environment.

I hope.

But for now, just for a time, all the ponderings must simmer a bit. Some seasonings of life are bitter, but if they stew long enough, their flavor together with others enhance a dish to sublime.

I hope.

I've been clinging to this verse for the last few weeks. A good inspiration for a very tired heart.

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

I'm anticipating the "overflow" as I learn, still, to put my trust in him.

Joy and peace to you!