Saturday, August 30, 2008

"No Hill For a Stepper"

Today’s furlough recap begins with a brief reminder of a story that I have yet to re-tell in its entirety: the Airplane Journey. For this post’s purposes however, I’m going to skip to the end of that story which involves a Cesna 206 that will soon be needing a protective home. My husband has been searching for several years now for a solution to that particular dilemma.

Some months ago, Jeff happened on an airplane hangar for sale on ebay. He began communicating with the seller who turned out to be a Christian very interested in foreign missions. After some amazing and very encouraging interaction, the man decided to donate the hangar to the mission in Ft Portal.

The only issue was how to get a huge double wide hangar across a nation and an ocean.
And then across two more nations.

I guess you could say we had a "mountain to be moved".

“No hill for a stepper,” as my dad used to say.

We started asking for help.

A friend of a friend of a friend….maybe you know this drill. In the church network, it is really incredible who you can find once you start looking. We connected with a gentleman living near (several hours) to where the hangar was located and he agreed to rally the troops at his congregation to get the job done.

When he asked for help at his church, the men there stepped up. Good grief did they ever!

A group of guys, whom we had never met accepted a very difficult challenge. Over a period of two or three weeks, men drove several hours into a desert to measure, clean, power wash, prime, cut, disassemble, label, load and secure a large metal building.

Why?

Because they love Jesus.

The reason was simple. The task was not.

The building was well packed, trucked across the country to Texas and now awaits other items to fill the box before it ships.

Unbelievable. Really.

Free stuff on Ebay.

A team of guys working very hard under difficult circumstances for strangers.

All to the Glory of God.

We honor and appreciate that service and will do all we can to use these offerings for the good of His Kingdom and for His purposes.

You never know how God is going to call you to serve. Or what hill will rise up in front of you.

Many, many thanks to these incredible guys for their labor and service!


We so appreciate you!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

It's a Snazzy New Do!

Check it out guys! Finally, after a long design journey I found Lara and she made my blog beautiful! I love the design and hope you do to.

Thanks Lara! I loved working with you and appreciate your persistence even through the midst of a hurricane.

Blessings everyone!

(To see Lara's other work and check out her site click on her button in my side bar.)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Breathing In

Because we found gas so cheap in America (wink, wink) we decided to do some driving while in California. You know. Economics.

We headed south towards a certain Hilltop. There were some unbelievable servants there who we needed to speak with in person.

As we waited for Sunday to roll around, we sauntered and strolled the boulevards and lanes of the Happiest Place on Earth.

Which, unfortunately, became the Rainiest place on Earth and stayed that way for the duration of our visit. But we are Cashes. When the weather turns sour, you pull out the appropriate gear (which you always have with you because one of you is in fact an Eagle Scout and Always Prepared, ahem,) and press forward. No turning back.

(I am hearing the song “Aint No Stopping Us Now” in my head).

We walked and waited in lines and enjoyed our time at the Happy Kingdom. We paid. We played. Rain or no rain!

We did have fun. The only sad issue proved to be the elusive Jedi Show. When we pulled out the maps on day one our boys immediately pointed the Jedi Show. It was, as they say, “A Must See!” for our family.

We dutifully arrived early, chose seats, waited for instructions and anticipated the great battle with Darth Vader…three times. Three times we sat in the rain and waited for a Star Wars voice to announce to all the children that the Jedi Show was cancelled due to rain for safety issues.

They are announcing this, I might add, to a bunch of parents who are allowing their children to ride roller coasters and swings and race cars in a torrential downpour. But the Happy Kingdom deems waving a light sabre on a damp floor “unsafe”. Makes you stop and think doesn’t it? It should anyway.

We did get to meet Darth Vader in person. He is lovely. A real charmer.

So is this guy.

Who scared me.

We saw some old friends who were delightful as always.





And we enjoyed being together.


A good deep breath. With a few giggles thrown in.


One brief side note...
Of all the amazing-ness that is the Happy Kingdom, you might be surprised at the things that impressed foreign missionaries the most. The ground for instance.

We sat on the ground for parades and fireworks shows. Ground that many, many feet had walked on.

And, here’s the thing…

It was so CLEAN!

In our homeplace on the Dark Continent, there is not one stretch of footpath that you can sit on without becoming filthy. Jeff and I obsessed for a solid 20 minutes on the cleanliness around us despite the masses walking,eating, drinking and celebrating on the paths.

Unbelievable.

And the electricity and lights we witnessed there. Always on.

Shocking.

As I said, our time in Anaheim was not just to see Mickey.

There were some crazy souls over on the Hilltop that we needed to hug and thank for a task that will most certainly blow your mind.

It blew ours.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

California


We dreamed of this moment for many reasons.

First this:




Then this:


Then this:


Our missionary community in Uganda is a blessing to us. As we share meals made from scratch and wade through struggles in a foreign place together we often dream of what it would be like to grab a quick meal at a fast food restaurant or shop in an American store!

We were so thrilled to meet up with the Calhoon family (from our Uganda missionary community) in Sacramento for a few days and enjoy some of the amenities of the US. We delighted in our first In&Out burgers, shopped at REI (but of course!) and relaxed with Destiny's family on a Sunday afternoon.



We also held that new baby as much as possible!!!

We loved being able to see our friends and connect in person for a brief visit before going our separate ways again. Many thanks to their family for graciously sharing their last day together with us.
We parted, with prayers for safe travels and hopes of seeing them soon on the flip side, at home again in Uganda.

Next on the Cash Family agenda...

Destroy the agenda.

No schedule. No plan. Just our family. Our kids. Some laughing. Some games. Some fun. Hopefully some rest.

The responsibilities of Home Ministry Assignment were right around the corner. But we had a few breaths to take first.

Monday, August 04, 2008

American Soil



Our flight from Dubai took a mere 16 hours.

Let me just say that again for emphasis.

Sixteen hours.

Only if you are a parent of a very active preschooler can you understand the depths of fear such a time frame can instill.

We discussed our plans long and hard before buying the tickets.

Would we survive a 16 hour flight with four kids?

The answer was a very blessed "Yes!" But we do not boast arrogantly. We know it was a gift from God.

I also thank the airline personnel who arranged our seating.

Flying with four kids is pretty easy when you aren't seated by any of them. :-)

Poor Jeff. (Can you hear the depths of my compassion?)

He was on the row of seats with our three boys. Kinley was across the aisle from him. And I was seated across the aisle on the other side.

It was an innocent situation, I promise. I did nothing but walk in and take the first seat given to us.

(FYI...when you put that headset on and turn on a movie, its like no one else is around. And my arm was well out of tapping range if I leaned over to my right far enough...)

The kids did handle the flight very well. Our airline had an amazing entertainment system that kept us all occupied for a huge chunk of the time.

Nonetheless, we were thrilled to feel the plane touch down. And I was awash with emotion over the cowboy hats and Texas accents that greeted us at immigration and customs.

It was Texas, Y'all. And it felt good to be there.

We gathered bags, secured luggage and rolled our belongings through the doors to find Nana and Papa waiting. We shared weepy hugs and laughs and smiles and made our way to the hotel.

The next few days were spent recuperating from the 16 hours and the jet lag. We ate yummy food. Celebrated a birthday and Mother's Day belatedly.




We went shopping (Target!!!) and pierced some ears.






And we slept. As much as possible. Our bodies were worn out and we needed to rest.

Those first few days on American soil with Nana and Papa as back ups for child wrangling helped us get our feet back under us before we began more travels.




It was hard to hug them goodbye after only a few short days, but with the promise of a longer visit in our near future, we prepared ourselves for the West Coast.

First stop...California!

Dubai

Our physical journey began in May.

Our battle weary souls were prayed over and hugged away from our foreign home by the Longs and Martins. We checked in at the airport with blessed little fanfare. Even the expected immigration issues, (Silas passport stamp was held up and delayed) went smoothly and easily.

After months of planning and preparing we found our travel experienced selves seated on the eve of yet another furlough.

Six well packed carryons were before us and not one of them contained diapers or baby food. When our flight was called, every individual person carried their own bag to the airplane. There were no strollers and everyone would sit in their own seat. It was a moment I halted our entire family on the way to the airplane to commemorate. My children and husband smiled at Mom’s Moment, but none appreciated it as I did.

We have crossed a threshold. And I am pleased about that.

Our first flight was relatively short. Eight hours. We landed on a hot peninsula in the Middle East. Dubai.

It was a new place for us. A new experience. We were longing for the chance to just blend in with the tourist crowd for awhile. Turn off our brains and recuperate from the churning previous months.

We needed an Oasis. We looked for one in this desert.

Here is what we found:

And this:



Our oasis even had snow:




My photography skills (or lack thereof) do not do the ski resort justice. A ski resort people. In a mall. In the desert.

Pretty crazy stuff, Dubai.

One morning as the children and I slowly started the day, Jeff set out to find us some food. He began to walk across the hot dusty lot across from our hotel. The wind was whipping the sand in his face and the desert heat was bearing down on his head. He was just thinking how thirsty he felt and how hard desert life was, when he looked up through squinted eyes to see:

The Golden Arches.

Oasis indeed. His desert travails led him to the best french fries ever made. There was much rejoicing when he returned with two large bags of food from McDonalds!

Our American restaurant wonderment was not over. On an outing the next day, our family headed off to the beach. We expected it to be warm, but I was shocked at the intensity of the heat. In a word…fire. That beach was the hottest place on the planet. Seriously. I thought I would fry. My attitude went from happy, delightful tourist to cranky, grumpy white girl in about 2.2 seconds. Jeff and the kids quickly jumped into the water and cooled off while I grumbled around the beach chairs wondering why on earth I had married a camel impervious to high temperatures. I pouted on the chairs for awhile wondering how guilty my family would feel if the heat did in fact kill me on that Jumeriah Beach. Eventually, I gave up my scowl and shuffled down to the water to find such sweet, sweet relief. The water cooled me off quickly and made my attitude way more tolerable. We (meaning, me) lasted about two hours on the beach adventure. We decided to drag our overheated selves across the flaming sands in search of airconditioning. Somewhere, there had to be relief! I enticed my beach loving family with ice cream and food.

We changed into our clothes and washed sand off our shoes about 700 times with scalding hot water, then began to look for a taxi. As we stood on the street, Jeff pointed out a welcome sign across the street.

Chili’s.

I had never been so happy to see that big red chili pepper in my life! What a delightful meal. While on our little desert vacation we also enjoyed the delights of Little Caesars and Johnny Rockets.

We ordered Chinese take out. Swam. Sweltered on the beach (which I think I might have already mentioned :-). We enjoyed a water park that had eleven huge water slides that were all interconnected. You had to wait in line for quite a while to get started. But once you were on the slide it was a thrilling and long ride. Jeff ranked it as the coolest water park he had ever been to.

We shopped in a souk and bought beautiful textiles and clothes.

We learned many things about the ancient Bedouins in the Dubai museum.

And we enjoyed fresh squeezed apple juice overlooking the Dubai Creek.


We took our time and began to breathe deep again.

Dubai, is a land of contrasts. Women in full burka strolling alongside Europeans in micro mini skirts. Burning desert sands alongside indoor ski resorts where it snows every night.

A land of intrigue.

A land of welcome.

We were thankful for its open arms and very much enjoyed our sojourn there.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Home Ministry Assignment

For many years overseas missionaries have been known to take a "furlough". This is commonly understood as a time to visit one's home country, visit family, report to sending churches and perhaps rest from the strain of overseas life.

Recently, I heard "furlough" being referred to as "Home Ministry Assignment", the current mission-speak for home leave.

I appreciate what this term conveys.

We are on a break from potholed roads and bland food. I have been on a break from planning meals and cooking. We are on a break from homeschooling.

Rather than thinking of this time away from Uganda as a "break" though, it is more accurate to think of it as simply, another type of assignment. "Rest" is as allusive as it is when we are serving in Uganda. We must be deliberate about our resting and breathing deeply and stepping away from work.

I will confess to you, this is not our strength. We tend to eat, sleep and breath our occupation.

But, through our years of furloughs we have tried to create moments for our family that lend themselves to rest and regrouping.

I type today from my parents dining room. Their dining room in small town USA. I have spent the last few days/weeks visiting with family, perusing old family pictures, scrapbooking said pictures and remembering. All those little and big moments that God orchestrated to shape and form me. I'm sure that will be a blog post in itself eventually, but before we get there...

I want to go back to the start of this Home Ministry Assignment. God has granted us mercies at every turn...sometimes He has just graciously heard our cries. We have certainly offered HIm many praises. He has astounded us over and over again with His Creation and reminded us of the goodness of His Spirit at work in His people. We've been loved on, encouraged and prayed over in exact moments to reveal God's timing and continuous activity in our lives.

We've needed that and praised Him for that Grace.

Over the next few weeks, travel with me as I remember some stellar moments in a physical journey over many miles.

We will begin in a desert....