Sunday, November 8, 2009

Uganda favorites, by amy Gwartney

I'd like to share my Snapfish photos with you. Once you have checked out my photos you can order prints and upload your own photos to share.
Click here to view photos

Friday, November 6, 2009

Reflections on Furlough

As we are half way through our 3 month furlough, I thought I would share some answers to some questions I ask the family today. Enjoy!

What is something you are enjoying in the States?
-Caralina and Mark--the orange juice
-Titus-Disney World and glasses of Milk (its not so good in Uganda)
-Megan-seeing relatives I didn't even know we had!
-Me-having our own space at times

What do you miss about Uganda?
-Mark-fruit we can fresh at the market
-Megan-Buster our rabbit and the weather
-Caralina-the kids
-Titus-running and playing with the kids
-Me-living simply

What are you looking forward to when we get back to Uganda?
-Megan-seeing the new baby bunnies (Buster the rabbit is a new papa:))
-Titus-going swimming
-Caralina-playing with the kids
-Mark-getting back into the routine
-Me-No more packing and unpacking

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The tale of two little girls

Here's a true tale of two little girls and a very Great God!
We have some really good friends who lived in Bolivia when we moved to Uganda. Soon after we arrived in Uganda, they had a little girl named Maggie (enter little girl number 1). When they were given a gift of money for Maggie, they decided to give a portion of that money to us to use at the orphanage as we saw fit. As we held on to the money for several days and prayed about what to do with it, a 2 week old baby girl only 4lbs. came to the orphanage (enter little girl number 2)whom was eventually named Mary. That is when Mark and I realized what Maggie's money should be used for. We were able to use it to get the first supply of formula, diapers and bottles. Elated, we wrote to our friends, Jason and Sara to tell them Mary's story and how we used Maggie's money. Jason and Sara wrote back almost immediately and asked how much it would cost to sponsor Mary and get those things for her every month. Thus, began the sponsoring of Mary.
Several months later, Maggie began to have heart problems and her family had to move back to the States for medical testing and eventually heart surgery. About that time, another couple, Jimmy and Gayla began asking about adopting Mary. They eventually did and brought Mary (now called Zuri) home which is only about an hour away from Maggie.
We had the incredible privilege of allowing these two precious girls and their families to meet last night. What a fun experience and a blessing to see God's hand in an incredible way.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Final Adventure Before Furlough

Departing Uganda on the morning of September 16 allowed one last opportunity for an adventure.  As we were checking in at the airport, all ready for our 3-month furlough to begin, we were informed that the computer showed only 4 tickets for our family of 5.  Yikes!  We assured Megan (the one whose ticket was missing) that we weren’t going without her, but we did tease her a bit.  Several airline agents searched and searched for an explanation.  Finally they explained that we would have to go upstairs to purchase a new ticket for Megan and we would have to do so quickly, because check-in time was almost closed by this point.  Having checked in the rest of us, including our luggage, Amy waited with the kids near the immigration lines.  I went upstairs to talk to the British Airways agents there, looking for a quick resolution to the problem.

We had a reservation showing all five names and the itinerary.  We had paid the travel agency in America for five tickets.  However, it appeared that the travel agent inadvertently failed to ticket one of the reservations.  It was a simple oversight; but now we needed a quick remedy!  At the recommendation of the airline agents, I bought a one-way ticket for Megan.  We determined that we would have to resolve the situation with the travel agent after arriving in the states.  They processed the ticket as quickly as they could.  When I asked for printouts of all the booking reservations (wanting to have as much written proof as possible to show to the travel agent), they told me, “Your flight is leaving soon.  Go check in quickly and we will bring the printouts to you!”  I called Amy so she could send Megan to meet me at the check-in counter with our passports and my boarding passes.  Dashing downstairs and heading to the nearest agent, Megan met me with the documents and Amy took the other two toward the flight.  Megan & I quickly got her boarding passes and rushed to immigration.

As it turned out, we caught up with Amy and the other kids in the immigration lines and the boarding process was going slowly.  So we were fine on time.  Having been in the states for 3 weeks now, we have been able to resolve things with the travel agent.  They were very apologetic for the mistake.  They are reimbursing us for the $1,350 ticket we had to purchase in Uganda and they are making another reservation (at their expense) for Megan to return with the rest of us on December 16.  We are grateful that it has all worked out fine.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The 5some

Every three months the kids who have had a birthday in the past three months get to go to KingFishers (a retreat center nearby) to go swimming and have birthday cake. It is fun to take them but recently we realized that many had very ratty swimsuits or none at all so we ask our church to collect swimsuits for all the children at the orphanage. Now every child age 18 months-12 years old has a swimsuit to wear when he goes for his birthday! Here is a fun picture of 5 little girls who are so excited that they all got the same type of swimsuit.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Malaria strikes again

A partial root canal and then fever off and on for several days led me to believe my gums were fighting battle. And then it happened the fever, the chills, the nauseous feeling, the headache and aches everywhere came on ferociously! This was a horrible infection in my teeth or could it be malaria? Surely not, I thought. But it did feel like that especially as the fever spiked and went down. But Mark tested and put up two fingers to indicate there were two lines (yep, just like a pregnancy test two lines means positive).

I have actually recovered faster than the last time but malaria was a lot worse this time. I am grateful again for a bed, a fan (and the power to run it), medicines to get rid of the malaria and take down the fever. Small things that some in the villages nearby don't have and don't have acess to.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


I sat today with Susan, a mother who is desperate and heart broken. Her 14 month old boy, Shafik, was a normal healthy little boy several months ago just beginning to walk and saying mamma and papa until one day he got a fever. She took him to a hospital where he received treatment. They were going to release him but she asked them not to because he was still so weak and not quite right. A mother's intuition. A day later, he began to have seizures. She then told me that he had water on his spine and they released it. I have been told before that that is the way people here describe a spinal tap. They then began to treat him for meningitis but the medicines did not seem to help. By this point, he could no longer hear, speak, see, sit up or even swallow. He could not move his right side but physiotherapy is helping this. Because the meningitis medicines did not help, they refered her to the TB clinic and said they think he has TB of the brain. With desperation on her face and in her voice, she told me "I think they are just guessing, now." In my heart, I responded "I think you are right."

I spoke with my fellow missionary and dear friend, Claudia, afterward. We both feel so desperate to do something to find someone who knows these things and can do something to help this child and his needy parents. I wonder to myself, "how could this be prevented?" You may remember "Tiny Rose", whose situation seems very similar - a child who is developing on target, gets a fever and then loses much of her abilities. How can we keep this from happening to other children in the nearby villages? I have now seen two children like this and one is too many.

It is tough when there is so much suffering here and you seem helpless to do anything about it. Would you pray for Tiny Rose, Shafik and for prevention of this happening to others? Would you pray for Susan and her husband that this situation will bring them to the Great Physician?

Saturday, August 8, 2009


The other day, Titus noticed a whole bunch of caterpillars in the tree right outside of our house. He and Mark counted 45! The next day they had invaded our backyard and were all around our house. We have been told by the farm manager they are harmless so although we don't want them in our house, our kids have had a great time playing with them. Megan has one she swears really likes her and likes to hang on her shirt.

I wish I would have gotten a picture of her today with 4 on her shirt.

Looking for a new pair of pants?

I remember as a teenage girl going to the store looking for the right pair of jeans. I would place them up to my waist to see if I thought they would fit. Seems logical, right? I always thought that was the way to figure out whether a pair of pants or a skirt was worth trying on, but seems like I may have been wrong all these years.

I have watched the girls here at the orphanage go through clothes that generous people have brought for the kids. They would pick up and wrap the waist of the skirt or pants around their neck. Yep, the neck! (If you are one of the enlightened ones who do this also, please forgive my ignorance and be patient with me). I finally asked one day why they did that and they told me that was how they could tell if it would fit. I just shook my head and thought how silly teen age girls are.

Well, I have lost some weight and wanted our guesthouse helper who is also a seamstress to do some of her magic and take in the waist of one of my skirts. I took it to her and asked if she wanted me to try it on so she could see how much to take in. Oh, no, she said, just put it around your neck. What around my neck? So knowing she was a good seamstress and knew what she was doing, I hesitantly put it around my neck and then gave it to her hoping it would fit when she brought it back. She came back two days later and guess what! It fit perfectly!

The other day, I was going through my closet and found another skirt that needed to be taken in so I took it to our guesthouse helper again. Except this time, I held it up to my neck even before she asked. So next time when you are in the store and want to see if a pair of pants fit you, all you have to do is put it up around your neck. Never know what you will learn. Still not sure how it works though.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Birthday pictures

So I am a little behind schedule but wanted to post our 7 year old, T-man’s birthday! We invited the missionaries and visitors for a birthday party that night complete with mac-n-cheese and applesauce (a rare treat here!). The favorite gift was from his sisters—arrows and holder for his bow.

The next night we invited all the little boys from the orphanage to come over to watch Tom and Jerry cartoons (compliments of Thomas, T’s friend who sent it to him for his birthday) and have popcorn.

What a fun time and a treat!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

PSALM 91:14-16

I thought I would share some verses that have been an encouragement to me.  God says. . .


Because he has loved Me and has known My name. . .

I will deliver him.

I will set him securely on high.

I will answer him when he calls on Me.

I will be with him in trouble.

I will rescue him.

I will honor him.

I will satisfy him with long life.

I will let him see My salvation.


Praise God for his promises!  I pray He will teach me to love Him more.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


We came to Uganda to work with close to 100 children at GSF and interact with another 250 children at the school. We share their stories and pictures with you here on this blog. However, today, I thought I’d write and show some pictures of the 3 kids who are our primary responsibility, our joy and have captured our hearts! They indeed are our favorites! Our desire is although our lives are consumed with ministering to many kids that our kids will grow up knowing they are a high priority in our lives. We are so proud of them and their roles here at GSF. Although they have their own struggles, I think they are some of the best missionaries around!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Story of Aaron Coming to GSF in Pictures


picture of Joann and Angel

A thanks goes out to Gayla who asked me to put a picture of Angel and Joann on the blog.  One of our interns took this picture and I think it is such a good picture of both of them.  They are doing well and adjusting.  Thank you everyone for your prayers for them.

Monday, July 13, 2009


A grandmother brought a baby, Aaron, to the orphanage today.  Her daughter is not well and is staying with relatives while she the grandmother takes care of the baby along with 4 other children.  Aaron was getting only one or two meals a day and is 8 months old.  Our family agreed to take him for the night to find out if he sleeps through the night and help get him get on a feeding schedule before moving him to one of the houses.  This afternoon, he began feeling quite warm so I took his temperature and it was 102.5!  We tested him and he has malaria.  We are so thankful he is here to get the medical care he needs.  Needless to say, we will be keeping him a few more days.  He is a sweetie and has captured our hearts. 

Sunday, July 5, 2009

little Angela

We got word that Angela died this morning in the hospital.  Our hearts ache for the suffering that this little girl went through here on earth and yet rejoice that her suffering is now over.  Thank you for your prayers.  Please continue to pray those here who loved and cared for her for the short time she was here especially for Claudia and her girls.  Pray also for God to use this in Angela’s family to bring a realization of the great love of a heavenly Father!  Thank you again for praying!

Friday, July 3, 2009

This morning's update

Thank you to everyone for praying for Angela.  Just got word that she made it through the night-Praise the Lord!  She is on iv and feeding tube but opened her eyes when Claudia said her name this morning.  The doctors said it will be a miracle if she makes it.  We believe in the God of miracles.  Thank you for your prayers!  We will keep you updated.

On a much smaller scale, I am doing better and had a good night last night.  I take my last dose of Coartem (malaria meds) this morning so hopefully I am on the road to recovery.  Thank you for praying for us as well.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


A little girl came to our orphanage on Monday who was so malnourished and the hospital told us that she would die if they let her go anywhere but to us.  Claudia, another missionary here took her into her home feeding her small amounts of chicken broth and eventually having to give her a blood transfusion.  We just got news that she started having heart failure and Claudia and Bob are on the way to the hospital.  Please pray for little Angela and for wisdom for doctors and nurses and those with her. 


We would appreciate your prayers as malaria has hit our family again.  I (Amy) got it this time.  We would appreciate your prayers as we have our largest team here and Mark is also fighting a cold.  I have been on medicine since Tuesday evening so getting better but I am just ready to be over it.  The fever and aches continue.


As I have had time to reflect on all this, I realize that I am still so blessed.  As I lay in my comfortable bed in my house made of brick and concrete, I realize there are people in the next village over who live in mud huts and have no means of transport except to walk 30 minutes to an hour to our clinic to get the malaria medicine needed for them to get better.  I feel weak and tired but can’t imagine how they feel after walking that distance just to get medicine.  Unfortunately, the majority of the time we have been here, GSF clinic has been closed to the nearby villages due to the lack of medical personnel.  So if we are not open they have to go further and possibly not get the medicine for free.  As you pray for us, please pray for more medical personnel so we can reach out to the community around us.

Monday, June 22, 2009

a favorite picture

This is a picture I absolutely love.  Mark’s mom took it when she was here recently and I had thought about posting it.  In light of the fact that yesterday was Father’s Day, I thought I would post it in celebration of my best friend who is growing more and more into an incredible father.  What I admire all the more is the way, he loves all the children here and desires to be a picture to them of how much their Heavenly Father loves them.  He will be the first to tell you that he is not perfect, but I absolutely love the fact that one his highest priorities in life is to become more like His Heavenly Father. 

Angel, Joanne and their mom

The van pulled up right by our house and I walked out to greet our social worker and nurse along with 4 month old Angel, 5 year old Joanne and their mom.  Their mom was discharged from the hospital and was a little nervous about letting her kids go to an orphanage so the social worker wisely choose to bring the mom here to see where her girls would be staying.   Fortunately, their mom should be fine; we are hoping she just needs help getting back on her feet so her girls can move back with her eventually.  It is obvious she loves her girls.


When Joanne got out of the van she refused to shake my hand or even look at me.   Angel looked at me and her tiny face lit up with a big smile.  We took Joanne to see her new foster mother, Ursula and get her some new clothes.   Although, Joanne was unsure of this new place and this new woman who was going to be her foster mother, within 5 minutes she was clinging to Ursula and seemed to be more agreeable to the situation.  I left Angel with her mom at Joanne’s new house while I went to look for some clothes Angel’s size and a few more supplies for Joanne.  Several hours later, Ursula and Joanne brought Angel to our house with big smiles on their faces.  Joanne was on her way to the tailor to get her uniforms so she could start school on Monday.


Angel has done really well in our home.  She is very tiny so we are working on fattening upJ.  We are hoping to get her on a good schedule (which she is close to it already) and move her to the baby’s home soon.  Pray for Angel, Joanne and their mom for spiritual restoration, physical healing, and practical training  for their mom and that some day they will be able to be back together again.  One of our desires here at the orphanage is to begin training and working with mothers like Joanne and Angel’s so they can nurture and provide for their children. 




Friday, June 19, 2009


We were informed yesterday about a woman dying of AIDS at a local hospital.  Her 5 year old is taking care of her while she cares for the 4 month old baby.  At the hospitals here, each patient has to have their own person to stay with them and take care of their every need at the hospital.  GSF is taking the 5 year old and the baby in to GSF today.  The 5 year old will be put in one of the girls’ homes and we will be keeping the baby.  Their names are Joann and Angel.  Yes, we get the Angel J.  We’re praying she is J!



We were informed yesterday about a woman dying of AIDS at a local hospital.  Her 5 year old is taking care of her while she cares for the 4 month old baby.  At the hospitals here, each patient has to have their own person to stay with them and take care of their every need at the hospital.  GSF is taking the 5 year old and the baby in to GSF today.  The 5 year old will be put in one of the girls’ homes and we will be keeping the baby.  Their names are Joann and Angel.  Yes, we get the Angel J.  We’re praying she is J!


Thursday, June 18, 2009

A new business

There is a town named Lugazi which is about 30 minutes from us that we pass every time we go to Kampala.  As we go by, we always look for our favorite sign and are sure to point it out to any visitor in the car with us.   While bringing the Gwartney family to GSF, our van overheated so it gave a great opportunity to take a picture. 

The Gwartney Team

At the beginning of May, we had some very special guests come visit us in Uganda. Mark's Mom, his brother and sister-in-law, Scott and Cathy, and their two girls, Christy and Casey were able to come, do Awana games with the kids at the orphanage during the school break and then go on Safari with us. Mark's mom was able to stay an another 10 days which was an extra blessing. One fun part of the trip was that our kids did not know that Christy and Casey were coming and were completely surprised when they walked through the airport door. What an incredible gift to be able to share with family what it is like to live and work here! We had a great time and so grateful for it!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Interns are In

Our five interns arrived Friday evening.   Most of them are staying for 7 weeks; one of them is staying for a year.  It has been a joy to have Ben, Chris, Margaret, Sarah and Zach with us these days.  They are all 20-24 years old and full of fresh life.  The interns are teaching Sunday School, helping the kids write to their sponsors, teaching in the school, working with our special needs kids daily, assisting with visiting teams and doing some manual work around the campus.


Zach is a friend from NICS who teaches at ICS Singapore.  Ben just graduated from Ole Miss.  Chris has been in junior college and has enrolled at Mississippi State for the fall.  Sarah and Margaret are both students at UNC-Chapel Hill.  We are grateful to have each of them here!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

update on Mary

So many of you have prayed for Mary and God has answered many prayers for her. One of the biggest answers to prayer is that Mary will soon be Zuri Renslow. That is right, her adoptive family, Jimmy and Gayla Renslow and their kids Boe, Mack, and Leia are here in Uganda going through the adoption process for Mary. We ask that you pray for them as they go through this process as it can be a long and stressful process. Their blog is . It shows pictures of Mary/Zuri now and gives a great perspective of the orphanage and Uganda. It will also help you see more how to pray for them as they go through the process. Please pray specifically for Monday as they will be going to court again. Thank you again for the many of you who have been so faithful in praying for Mary.

Monday, April 20, 2009

More Midnight Medical

Monday, 2:15 A.M. - Thunder and lightning were flashing outside and the winds were beginning to howl as a storm blew in. Then came a knock on our bedroom door, waking us out of our sleep. Caralina said that Auntie Gertrude (one of the substitute house moms) was at her window calling for us.

Hopping out of bed, we discovered that one of the girls in her house, 7-year-old Chloe, was having an asthma attack and none of her inhalers were helping her. Chloe has asthma regularly and we have a slew of inhalers and a nebulizer for treatment. As I was putting on a pair of sweatpants to dash next door, the skies opened up in a downpour, so Amy grabbed a poncho for me too.

Arriving at the house, Chloe sounded horrible - reminding me of a similar asthma attack I had as a child. We gave her two puffs of the first inhaler, tried steaming water for her to breathe and gave a couple puffs on another inhaler with different meds in it. Nothing helped and she was miserable - coughing and straining to breathe so much.

Our fellow missionary, Claudia, was there as well and we decided that Chloe needed to get to the hospital. Claudia's car was having trouble - even after driving down to House 2A, it wouldn't start. It was about this time that the power went out, leaving the campus in total darkness from the storm. My car battery had gone dead a couple days earlier requiring us to push-start to go anywhere. Having parked on an incline, I was able to push-start my car alone, so we loaded Chloe in with Gertrude and headed off to Buikwe hospital, about 10 minutes away. Arriving around 3:45 a.m. the nurses quickly (though with little compassion, having been wakened from their own slumber) put in a pic line and administered four doses of medications. Chloe's breathing started calming immediately and then it returned to normal. They put her in a bed in the adult ward, since the children's ward was full. They had to move a non-patient out of the bed in order to make room for Chloe, just keeping her for observation.

The hospital guard came in about that time, asking me to go turn off my car. Knowing it wouldn't start again without pushing, I had locked the door and left it running in the parking lot! It was better than trying to find people to help push-start the thing through a muddy parking lot at 4:30 in the morning.

5:30 a.m. - Trekking back to GSF, I was grateful that the road wasn't too muddy after the rain and I climbed in bed for a little sleep before the roosters started crowing.

Chloe returned to GSF today and she is much better. Praise the Lord, who graciously guides us through every adventure here!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tiny Rose

There are times when we experience things here and can't write about it right away simply because it takes the time to think about it and allow ourselves to internalize it. Honestly, I am still processing a situation that came to our attention on Monday but I feel I must write about it to actually process it more. We had a seven year old little girl come to the orphanage on Monday weighing less than 20 lbs. Rose was getting very little if any nourishment, stimulation or exercise. Her legs are crossed and her arms are very stiff. The story is that she was a typical baby and toddler until at 2 years old she got sick. She didn't get proper treatment so she became much of what she is now. Her mother ran off and her grandmother who shows affection for her has been caring for her. However, her grandmother's health is failing; therefore, so has Rose's condition. We are still trying to find out more about Rose and her story so we know best how to help her but as she is getting fed and exercised throughout the day she is getting stronger. On Monday and Tuesday, she was non-responsive and had a very blank look and a faint cry. By Wednesday, she was responding to sounds and voices and has continued to look and respond better everyday. My heart aches and emotionally it has been hard but God has her in a great place now where she will be loved, fed and nurtured. Please pray for tiny Rose as she blossoms into what God has for her. This picture was taken on Wednesday...

The picture below is of Rose on Friday with several new things to help her improve.

The physical therapist who comes every week told me we should try to get a special pillow made for her to help her sit up. When I showed him a picture of a boppy pillow, he said "exactly!" I took the picture and some fabric to our tailor at the orphanage and he made this for her within a day. One of the nurses from the team who was here, suggested we keep shoes on her and put gauze in her hands to help them open up.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Greensboro Medical Team Makes Impact at GSF

The Christ Community Church Team from Greensboro, NC saw over 800 patients and had more than 70 make decisions for Christ. We also brought in two new special needs kids who were in desperate situations as a result. There were many people sent to the hospital for tests and even surgeries at the expense of the team. This outreach may have literally saved the lives of a couple of them. We are rejoicing over all that God has done through this team and He has expanded the ministry of GSF at the same time. Praise the Lord!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Heaven had a party

Posted by PicasaRejoice with us and the angels in Heaven! This sweet girl, Patricia, gave her heart to Jesus on Sunday. For about 6 months, she has been telling us that she is not a Christian so we have been praying for God to work in her heart. After hearing a Sunday school lesson based on John 3 and the comparison of the Israelites looking to the serpent that was lifted up and the Son of man being lifted up, she decided she wanted to look to Jesus. Praise God with us and ask God to help us as we disciple her. Pray with us for other children who are searching also. Mark and I are both planning on speaking with several even today who are wanting to know more.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Before and After

When we came for our exploratory visit in September of 2007, a little boy, named Solomon, was brought to the orphanage. He was 14 months old and weighed less than 12 lbs. We took the first picture the day that Solomon arrived at GSF. The second picture was taken a few days ago. He is a sweet little boy who gives sheepish grins and is always ready to be picked up and loved. Praise God that Solomon is a thriving little boy!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

We prayed for a miracle

On January 25 we wrote about baby Catherine who had multiple heart defects, including a hole in her 2-month-old heart. There was no hope given for surgery to be done here in Uganda. We prayed for a miracle and, we have to believe, a miraculous healing was received.

Catherine's mother gave her life to Christ - what greater miracle is there than the gift of salvation?! Soon after, our Directors had a group of doctors in North Carolina willing to donate their services to perform the necessary surgery in the USA. GSF called upon Samaritan's Purse (Children's Heart Project) and the US Embassy for help with logistics. The roadblock: no hospital was found that would accept the charitable case which would potentially incur over a million dollars in hospital costs alone.

We continued to pray for a miracle and, we have to believe, that it was miraculous for baby Catherine and her mother to keep coming to church every week. Many people in Uganda and the USA were praying.

We prayed for a miracle and, we have to believe, it was received at 1:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 8 when baby Catherine, having spent 2 days in critical condition in a local hospital, went to be with the Lord. Her heart is forever healed and she is in the arms of Jesus.

Please keep praying for baby Catherine's family, for her mother to hold fast to her new faith in Christ and for a local community (being grateful for all that GSF tried to do) to be drawn to Jesus all the more. Thank you for praying with us.

I don't ever want to drive a taxi in Kampala

Last week Titus and I (Mark) went to Kampala to renew my passport at the Embassy. I also needed a new battery for our car, so I asked one of our mechanics where we could find one in the city. After stopping at the embassy, we headed toward the part of town where we might find the auto store.

Our challenges began when we came upon a stoplight where the police were not allowing vehicles to move from our direction. I eventually turned off the car, as many others had done while we waited for 15 minutes. I'm sure they had a good reason to hold us up, but we never saw what it was.

The auto store was on a one way street where we had never been. So we had to navigate through a market area to reach the far end of the street, not knowing exactly where on that street the store was located. En route, we ended up winding through narrow streets, avoiding masses of people, bicycles, parked cars and even a huge pool of muddy water that would have swallowed us whole had we not been in a 4WD! I have never seen so many people in one place in this country.

Titus was being great, but the congestion was wearing on us and it became increasingly difficult to figure out where we were on the map. Abandoning all hope of finding the street, much less the auto store, we turned our efforts towards finding a way of escape from this part of the city. We were obviously in the central market and taxi park area. Choices ranged between sitting in traffic vs. driving away from the direction we wanted to go. Which object will move first - the disabled man in a wheelchair bike or the huge bus sitting inches to his left? Would we prefer a faster route of escape behind the truck belching black exhaust, or the "cleaner air" behind the immobile fruit cart?

Twisting this way, then that way, we ended up at a complete standstill behind some taxi vans. Taxis usually have ways of navigating around anything, so I had followed the flow of traffic with them. After sending a text message to Amy asking her to pray that we would be released from this black hole in central Kampala, a man walked up and told us that we were sitting in the line to enter the main taxi park in the middle of the city - that is why we weren't moving. The lane of traffic on our right was moving only slightly faster than we who were totally parked, but another man began directing us to move to that lane. We had to go forward and back by inches, literally, because the traffic was so tight all around us. Finally we got a nose into the other lane and they stopped a bus (a miraculous feat by itself) to let us ease into the right lane.

After creeping along with less and less leeway between the vans on our left and the sidewalk posts on our right (in fact, we left the bus behind because he was too wide to make it through) we finally broke into the open road beyond the taxi park. No sooner had we managed this, then I looked up and... Lo and behold, there was the auto store we were looking for!! I pulled into an open parking space on the street and we went in an got our battery. Success!

Only by the grace of God. I say it again, "Only by the grace of God."

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Update on Joshua

Thanks everyone for praying for Joshua! He is doing well now and back at home. I found this picture of Mark and Joshua taken last month. It is a great shot and I thought everyone would like to see it. We would appreciate continued prayer for Joshua.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Never a dull moment

Last night, my girls and I were in the kitchen washing and peeling potatoes and carrots when I heard the house mother of the little boy's home yelling through my window. She yelled "Aunt Amy, Aunt Amy, Joshua is dying!" Talk about shivers going up and down your spine and dropping everything you are doing (in fact I left the water running in the sink) . I yelled to Mark and he ran out the door while I started calling people. Fortunately soon after, Mark sent me a text saying, "Everything is fine for now." I let me kids know and went on over there.

Joshua is 2 years old and was being treated for malaria. It is thought that he had a seizure due to the fever from the malaria. Mark took him and the nurse to the hospital last night. This morning they determined that Joshua also has pneumonia so he is the hospital for one more night. Please pray for Joshua as he heals.

A little background on Joshua is that he was found in a nearby city abandoned. He came to the orphanage just a few days after we moved here. He yearns for security and love. We would appreciate your prayers for him in this as well.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Could you go to Ugandan Kindergarten?

We have been told that in Uganda, where birth records are often sketchy, schools have a little trick to find out if the children are 5 years old. Children are asked to put their arm over their head. If the child is able to touch the bottom of the earlobe on the opposite side of their head, then they are 5 and can be admitted to school. The belief is that younger children cannot do this. We tried this with our 6 year old and discovered that if he was in an Ugandan school he would not be considered 5 because he cannot touch bottom of his earlobe. Hmmm.... Is this only African children that this applies to? Do we just have an unusual child? Or is this merely a Ugandan wives' tale? Not sure, but our helper who is 30 said that when her parents took her to 1st grade, she had to do that. We are going to try this with some of the kids here at the orphanage and see what we find.

So here is something for you to try. Put your arm over your head and see if you can touch your earlobe and see if your children can. I'd love to hear your findings. Can you or your children be admitted to Ugandan Kindergarten?

Saturday, January 31, 2009

If only. . .

There are times we all say "if only I was a fly on the wall." In this picture maybe it would be more appropriate to say "if only I was a lizard under the container." I wish I knew what Henry and Titus were talking about. The beauty of the holidays is that there have been fewer kids so they get to spend more time one on one and we all get to know the kids here better.

Henry, age 9 and his sister Juliet, age 13 both live here at the orphanage. Both their father and mother have died. They have a sister who is 22 and a brother who is 16. Henry is HIV+, but you would never know just looking at him. I think he probably is one of the fastest runners here at the orphanage.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Holiday Camp

The Ugandan school system takes the months of December and January as holidays. We take advantage of this opportunity to send many of the kids at the orphanage to family members so they can rekindle and develop the family ties that are so very important. We, however, have had around 40 kids who for various reasons stayed here during the holidays.

The challenge then begins. These kids especially needed to be loved during this time and kept busy and out of trouble. In walks, Sadie! Sadie is from Alaska and has stepped in to help us during the holiday. Sadie organized a reading contest, face painting days, trips to the zoo and safari and many other things. She has been a huge help to all of us here. We are grateful!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A miracle needed

There was a prayer service in our little chapel of Good Shepherd's Fold today. We were praying for a miracle for a 2 month old baby, Catherine, who has several heart defects. Her mother brought Catherine to GSF from a nearby village the other day. Our Director sent the mother and baby with two nurses to a hospital in Kampala. They found out that the defects are too great and the hospital here cannot do the surgery. When doctors in America were consulted, it was determined that Catherine could not physically make the trip to America to have surgery. All that to say, if Baby Catherine survives it will be a complete miracle from God. When the mother stood in church to give a testimony and ask for prayer, she openly admitted that she is not a Christian. Some people had told her that if she were a Christian, then she could find healing for her baby. Her mother was given the plan of salvation several times today. We are asking everyone to pray for Catherine’s physical heart to heal and for the spiritual hearts of her family. We need a miracle from God and we know He can do it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Nanny and Poppy

My parents have come to visit us for 2 and a half months. We are thrilled to have them and to be able to house them next door to us. We have all enjoyed being able to show them around. Our kids still get excited about telling them something new that they hadn't told them yet. I love watching them with the kids here at the orphanage and watch the kids enjoy getting to know them. My dad is already teaching several art classes. What a special blessing it is!

Happy Birthday our 12 year old!

Our sweet Caralina turned 12 on January 2nd. We are so proud of her! She is an incredible help to all here at the orphanage especially with the little kids. She enjoys helping and is learning to help in ways that are beneficial to all. She enjoyed having her Nanny and Poppy here to help her celebrate. Because we were traveling on that day and had received lots of things from the States, we had a very unique Birthday cake that evening.

water, anyone?

We picked up my parents from the airport at the beginning of this month. On our way back to the orphanage, we went by the computer place in Kampala to see if Mark could drop off his computer as we wait for the mother board to come in. As we began to turn into the parking lot (which is rare in Kampala), the van stopped working and we coasted downhill into a parking space. We quickly realized that the radiator overheated. As we were discussing what to do and where to get some water for the radiator, we glanced in the grass next to where the van had coasted to a stop. Someone had left a half a dozen semi-full bottles of water! Coincidence? I think not.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

My favorite new tradition

As you have read in my previous post, we had a quiet Christmas morning doing some of our own family traditions, (including our coffee cake) and enjoying our gifts. And then began our new Ugandan Christmas traditions.

We had a Christmas service at the chapel (which is very common in Uganda) and then got the gifts from our house and went to the pavilion for the meal with plates and forks in hand (yep, it is byop--bring your own plates)! Our meal was a buffet of sorts which included matoke (plantains), rice, "irish" (potatoes), ground nut sauce, cabbage, chicken, and beef (from the slaughtered cow). It was actually very good but I did miss my ham. We had made a new tradition throughout the week before Christmas to make and eat some of our favorite dishes from back home, so not having the "traditional" Christmas meal wasn't so bad.
Next was my favorite part which I think is more a GSF tradition than a Ugandan tradition. We pulled out the birthday cake for Jesus AND party whistles, blowers and birthday hats! We sang Happy Birthday to Jesus and then the whistles began to blow, music began to play and many broke out in dance! It was a huge celebration of Jesus' birthday; the biggest I have ever been to. It didn't stop until the music was turned off so we could start the next part of the program which was the conclusion of the advent tree while some of us cleaned up and prepared for the gifts.

A church in CA. donated the money for us to buy gifts for the 36 children who stayed here for the holidays. We had fun buying them and giving them out and seeing the gratefulness on their faces.