Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas time--family time!

A challenge at the orphanage is being able to have family time so we were praying and concerned how we would be able have that time on Christmas. God was gracious and gave us that time in the morning without any interruptions. Mark was able to make our traditional coffee cake and we were able to take our time enjoying each other and our gifts. The last gift was a scavenger hunt that we took the kids on while looking for that last present. We will take you on the hunt in pictures:Reading the card that was in the present for all three of them. It said to go look where mom adds color to her face:They found the next card in my make-up bag. They were then to go where dad keeps his tools:
In their dad's closet they found the next card that said they may want to have some "walking pills" (their nanny and poppy's term for m&ms):

Meg ransacked the trunk in the pantry and found the walking pills and card which said, if you are going walking you may need to clean your shoes so they went to the shower room outside where they clean their shoes. It also reminded them that they needed dad's tool box. We don't have a picture of them at the shower room but the card there said that maybe Uncle Bob and Auntie Carolyn (our directors who are in Ireland for Christmas) would like a pineapple when they get back.
Titus found the pineapple with the message but it said maybe they needed to check at Uncle Bob and Auntie Carolyn's house to make sure they didn't have any pineapples already. It also says that it has been said that they keep them in their bedroom.
Up the path with tool box in hand.
The treasure at the end of the hunt! Bikes for each including one for Dad!
A special gift for mom! A duvet and cover!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

catch-up and Newsletter

The last month has been crazy . . . (not unlike the last six months). We were involved in a wedding that threw us for a cultural loop and then the next day Titus woke up with a fever which we eventually discovered was malaria. Through this time, I was dealing with a parasite who was refusing to leave my body and Mark has had computer problems for two months and the internet has not always worked. All of that to say we are doing well right now and learning tons! God has taught us a lot and our latest E-Newsletter shares some of that so instead of trying to write it all again I will copy this newsletter here.

Joy to the World!

“You all look so happy!” is something we hear a lot from friends and family back home when they see a picture of us here.
Happy... I have to ponder that word. Honestly, I am not always happy living here in the middle of the sugar cane fields of Uganda.
To be even more honest, Mark and I have been ready to pack up and leave several times and would have if it were not for the confidence we have that God sent us here and He is molding us more into His image... The confidence to know that our Maker, the Creator of the universe, loves us so much and wants to use us and make us more like Him. Now that gives me joy!
I am not, at times, happy with my circumstances. I am not always happy about learning a new culture that is so foreign to me, but I am joyful in the fact that God loves those in this culture just as much as He loves me and He has much for me to learn from them.
I am not always happy about the many knocks on our door all day and night, but I am joyful that God has placed the little faces on the other side of the door in my life.
It is God who sent His Son, who is the giver of JOY, to earth . Joy
to the world is what we share with the our little world of GSF and Uganda. No matter what your circumstances (and we know some are going through some tough ones) this holiday season, we pray that you will experience the JOY that comes from God!
A Very Merry Christmas and Joy to all! We love and appreciate each of you!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Warranty Service?

Warranty service is a foreign concept in Uganda. If your purchase breaks a week after you buy it, the store owner is likely to give you a blank stare if you try to return it. It's as if to say, "That item doesn't belong to me. It became yours when you bought it. Why are you asking me to fix your problem?" By contrast, check out these warranty stories we have had in the last few days:

1. "Game" is a department store in Kampala that specializes in the western concept of low price guarantee and customer satisfaction. When I went in this week, I asked what I could do about a malfunctioning CD player. It had stopped working, but I didn't have the receipt. The lady told me plainly, "You bring it in and tell me when you bought it." They are now repairing the CD player under warranty, simply based on my word that I purchased it there 3 months ago!

2. That same day I took my ailing laptop to an authorized Toshiba service center in Kampala. The computer has been giving me fits for over 2 months. Only recently did I realize that the one-year warranty in the USA actually had an international service option. So I cruised into the shop on Monday with a copy of my receipt dated December 15, 2007 - exactly one year earlier. The man laughed that I arrived on the very day the warranty expired. However, he didn't put up a fuss. I was armed with evidence of previous service efforts with other stores and my case number from Toshiba USA to show that the problem had been ongoing. He contacted me the next day to let me know that he was ordering a new motherboard. Though it won't arrive for 3 weeks, the warranty is in effect and it's not supposed to cost me a dime (or a shilling)!

3. Upon returning from Kampala last night, we received an e-mail from Amy's parents. Our Black & Decker power tools won't work because the battery charger stopped working. We purchased the charger in May just before we came to Uganda, but the 2-year warranty is only good in North America. So we returned the charger to Amy's parents, via a pastor who had come on a mission trip here. He "just happened" to be from the same area of Virginia, so he hand-delivered the charger to Amy's parents last week. Knowing that it was purchased at Lowes in Southaven, they took the charger into Lowes in Lynchburg to see what could be done. With no receipt in hand, they prayed for God's favor before they went in. The returns desk contacted the tool department manager and sent the Roots to the Customer Service desk. As they were explaining the situation to the lady there, the tool manager walked up with a new Black & Decker charger still in the box. When asked how to ring it up he replied, "It has a two-year warranty. Just exchange it for them." The new charger will come to us when Amy's parents arrive here for a visit in just two more weeks.

Amazing! Whether it was Ugandan, International, or North American only - all of these warranties worked out in our favor, mostly with no questions asked. Just this morning I read Psalm 4. Verse 6 states, "Many are saying, 'Who will show us any good?' Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, O Lord!" In the midst of many trials, God is good; He has indeed shone His light upon us. He relieves our distress; He hears our prayers. "Thank you, Lord, for being gracious to us!"

Sunday, December 14, 2008