Saturday, December 11, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
So here’s a tough decision that none of us have to face everyday but our social worker grappled with this situation today. We found out yesterday about a woman in a village nearby who had triplets and was asking for help. Our social worker, one of our American nurses and one of our interns went to check out the situation. First of all, I must explain that village here means no running water, no electricity, charcoal or wood stoves, and dirt floors. So they discovered the babies, all little girls, were born 2 months ago. They were all small and probably came early (the mom didn’t even know she was pregnant with triplets until she delivered!). One of the little girls is very small and sickly and may die. The father fetches water for a living and earns probably $2-$3 a day. The mother, age 22, is of course totally worn out and doesn’t have anyone to help her during the day. She was given some formula when the babies were born but she feeds all 3 babies out of the same sippy cup. She also is breast feeding. A small tin of formula, that would probably last one day or two, cost $10 here. Our group did bring two tins of formula and some bottles. The social worker asked the mother about us taking the one sickly child so she could manage the other two. The mother said that in her culture they believe that you cannot separate triplets or they will all become sickly. She is asking us to take all the children.
We really have not come to a conclusion as yet. We know we do not have room right now for 3 babies, but even if we did, we really would not want to take all 3 children from an able bodied, sound minded mother and father. As I stood on my veranda speaking with our social worker, the thought flashed through my mind, “wow, not a decision we face everyday!” I am so often floored by the decisions we are faced with. Decisions that affect peoples’ lives! Would you pray for wisdom that comes only from God for us? We praise God for the one who gives it. Thank you for praying for us!
Saturday, November 20, 2010
"Jesus is a winner man (pronounced weiner man); a winner man; a winner man; Jesus is a winner man; a winner man all the time.
Chorus: (add the electric slide to the moves)
He's a winner man, a winner man, a winner man, a winner man, a winner man, a winner man, a winner man; a winner man all the time. (Repeat and reverse electric slide)
Satan is a loser man; a loser man; a loser man; Satan is a loser man; a loser man all the time.
Chorus: (continue the electric slide)
He's a loser man, a loser man, a loser man, a loser man, a loser man, a loser man, a loser man, a loser man all the time. (Repeat and reverse electric slide)
I am on the winning side, the winning side, the winning side; I am on the winning side; the winning side all the time.
Chorus: (yep, you got it!)
On the winning side, the winning side, the winning side, the winning side, the winning side, the winning side, the winning side, the winning side all the time.
So, I am a little late but wanted to share pictures of our 9-9-99 girl's birthday! Her favorite gift was a bottle of Top Up, which is the Ugandan version of Ketchup. Our kids have gotten accustomed to it and prefer it over Ketchup. No, I usually don't give food items as birthday gifts but she actually told us that is what she wanted for her birthday!
We had Cookie Cake that she helped make.She invited several GSF friends, a missionary friend from Jinja, and her teacher for a party.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Our kids are having spirit week this week at GSF international—love it. Above is a picture of the entire school and teacher on super hero day. Super heroes are as follows: Snowball girl, Pink Powder puff girl, Wonder Woman/Gumboot girl, just an average girl in trouble, Classy Girl, Seminole Boy, the Green Hero, Tambourine Man, and Sugar boy.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Gloria, one of our special needs girls, is in the hospital for pneumonia. She is not doing well and has been very weak for about a year. She has been in the hospital for about 2 weeks now and has been feverish and vomiting most of the time there. I was told today that the doctors are going to try one more antibiotic for 5 days and if she doesn’t get any better, they will recommend that we stop trying and just continue giving fluids via IV. They also recommend that we bring her home and focus on quality of life as opposed to quantity of life. Tough decisions but we are praying that God will bring healing and allow us to bring her home to recuperate.
This morning before I was given this news, I really felt impressed to take Lilly to see Gloria. Lilly is another of our special needs kids and one who can cause anyone to smile. Those of you who have come to visit most likely remember Lilly and her full-body hugs. Lilly makes every situation seem better. Some days I just sit out on the veranda with Lilly and somehow she makes life better. So this morning, I just wondered if Lilly could lift Gloria’s spirits as well. The other thought is that almost any other kid at GSF would be stunned by Gloria’s feeding tube and IVs. Somehow, I knew that that would not phase Lilly.
Later in the afternoon, our farm manager asked Mark if some of us could go and pray for Gloria. Mark and I got ready and filled our car with 2 house moms, one of our American nurses, our tailor, our farm manager, Mark and I and of course, Lilly! And by halfway through the trip, I think everyone was glad we brought Lilly. She made us all laugh with her tries at saying all of our names and with the common phrases she uses all the time.
“Lilly, are you happy?” I asked her.
“Hmm, appy!” was Lilly’s response.
When we arrived to see Gloria, Lilly was quiet but still animated. Gloria was very still and sleeping. We gathered around and prayed. Lilly leaning very strongly on me, was very quiet except when someone would say, “In Jesus Name. . .”
“Amen!” would be Lilly’s loud response.
When we all finished I asked Lilly if she wanted to pray for Gloria.
“Hmm, ray Goriah!”
She then repeated after me a prayer for Gloria. When we finished, I looked down at Gloria to see she had her eyes opened and fixed on Lilly! She realized Lilly was there! Anytime Lilly moved, Gloria’s eyes would follow. When Lilly began to speak again, Gloria began to move her mouth! Wow, what a blessing!
When we finished talking to Gloria, Lilly was ready to continue her new found hospital ministry. She turned to the many onlookers in the big hospital room filled with many patients and their caregivers. She started waving and saying, “Hi!” When we told her to go greet some others, she quickly walked over and gave high fives to unsuspecting people who were expecting handshakes. One of the caregivers in the room even gave her money.
We have now decided Lilly is going to be making more hospital visits because she cheers the ones taking her, the person she is visiting and those in the ward.
We think God for Gloria and Lilly. When you think of them, pray for these two special girls. Pray that they will be able to visit each other in their houses right next door to each other real soon!
Monday, November 15, 2010
One thing that makes driving difficult in Uganda is the number of people (and animals) on the roadway. Driving back to GSF by myself yesterday, I decided to keep track. In a 10 km (6.2 miles) distance, there were over 200 pedestrians! Now consider this… These are mommas with babies, small children, kids hauling water on their heads, people pushing or riding bicycles loaded with supplies, etc. Furthermore, the people are ON the road with you, not walking beside the road on a sidewalk. Beyond that, we’re talking about roadways that normally aren’t paved and aren’t as wide as a two-lane street in the states. Rural roads are generally just wide enough for two vehicles to pass each other. And if there is a guy on a bicycle there at the same time, then he either has to bail into the grass or one vehicle has to slow down and wait to ease around the bicycle until the other vehicle has passed.
I know this still isn’t a good picture. Next time you drive in the states, count how many people you pass walking on the road/sidewalk in a distance of one mile. According to the number above, which was a typical day, there were 33 people per mile – again, pedestrians on the road, not walking near/alongside the road. That doesn’t count how many goats, cows and sheep were there also. We learn to adjust and pray more sincerely for safety while driving!
Monday, October 25, 2010
“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, AND IT WILL BE GIVEN TO HIM.” James 1:5
When you are not sure how to pray for us, pray for wisdom in the life-changing decisions we must seek God in. Thank you to each of you who prayed for us regarding this situation.
Saturday, October 9, 2010
I was curled up in the big chair by the door with my heart racing and quoting “When I am afraid, I will trust in you” over and over again. Fear is a huge struggle for me and is quite a challenge at an orphanage in a third world country. It is something I have to constantly give to God. This time it was 4:30 in the morning and I had just gotten a phone call that 9-year-old Chloe was having a severe asthma attack. Usually, when there is a medical issue in the houses in the night, Mark goes to check on the situation and to help. I stay home and pray. Tonight was no different so I sat there to pray— but I couldn’t pray—the fear was overwhelming. I was reminded that it had been exactly 2 weeks since we got another early morning phone call telling us that Norah was in distress and within an hour we knew she had died. The hurt was still so fresh it caused fear to come rushing in.
So I sat crying out “When I am afraid, I will trust in you” and as I continued my focus changed from my fear to the God of the universe who hears and answers. More than that, He loves me and Chloe and everyone else at GSF. He knew what He was doing when He called our family here even as inadequate as I feel to be here but I asked God to work through me, a weak vessel. He allowed Chloe to have asthma but He also placed her at GSF where she can get the medical care and the love she needs. I prayed for God to protect her and also for her to grow in Christ and His word. I knew He was guiding Mark’s hands and mind and the others helping Chloe. I was able to begin praying for wisdom and peace in that place. The more I focused on my Lord and His plans, the more I was able to cry out to Him. Mark returned and said Chloe would be okay but he needed run to the clinic to get some medicine; I was able to tell him that God and I were having a good talk.
Chloe had to eventually be taken to the hospital to receive steroid treatments. She is staying there through the weekend. I praise God for her, for His protection and even the opportunity to spend time talking to Him and hearing Him answer. Later that day, I told Mark that I had been so afraid that I couldn’t pray in the night and all I could do was quote “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” He said, “Amy, that was praying!”
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Since we came to GSF, the day Amy & I feared most was the day when one of the children would die. Several children have passed away over the years. It is all too common in Uganda due to HIV/AIDS and other diseases and hardships. The children who live at GSF have each experienced death directly and it is a primary reason they live here. After serving more than two years, the dreaded day came last week.
Norah’s story began when she was born with HIV, inherited from her parents. Norah’s mother passed away late in 2002 when Norah was 9 years old. Norah’s aunt happened to be the Matron at GSF at the time, so she brought the young girl to live at GSF, and she was accepted despite being older than those who typically come into the home. Norah’s father had some personal habits and problems which prevented him from caring for her. He passed away earlier this year, in March. God had a plan for this girl in bringing her to Good Shepherd’s Fold.
Norah struggled with sickness as is typical for many children with HIV. In the last couple of years, her CD-4 counts, which basically measure one’s overall level of immunity, decreased drastically low in spite of being on advanced medications for AIDS. In November 2009 she contracted a bacterial infection called toxoplasmosis, which caused paralyzation on her right side. Norah was relegated to a wheel chair for a condition which is typically permanent. However, as people prayed and her determination kicked in, Norah gained strength. Earlier this year, she began to walk slowly with a cane, even managing without the cane on some occasions.
Norah loved to sing! She was part of the praise team at GSF, but her diseases weakened her and often prevented her from being able to stand and sing in church. Gaining strength, she joined the GSF choir to sing at a special event earlier this month. Then two weeks ago she stood again in church and gave testimony to God’s goodness: “I thank God that I thought I would never stand and sing in church again, but now you see me standing and singing on the stage again today.” Amen!
Her near-zero immunity was battling against Tuberculosis at that time and Norah fell very sick a few days after that testimony. In her weakened state she developed pneumonia and was admitted to the hospital on Monday, September 20. A severe stomach infection also emerged as her body was virtually unable to fight off the slightest germ. AIDS, TB, pneumonia, stomach infection – she had no defenses left.
Shortly after 2:00 a.m. on Friday, September 24, Two of the house moms came knocking on our door. The house mother who was staying with Norah in the hospital had called. Norah was partly delusional and partly coherent, asking for a Bible, asking for prayers, singing (as she loved to do!) He Is Lord. We prepared to rush to the hospital, but the doctors were coming and we were told to wait.
Little more than a year ago, we had held a crusade at a nearby village. Three men from our home church in Southaven, Mississippi had come to work with us at the orphanage for a couple weeks. Our pastor, Tim Lampley, was preaching at the crusade one night. Though Norah wasn’t feeling well she had wanted to go to the crusade. I sat on the soccer field with her and talked to her during the message, quietly asking if it was sinking in. It appeared that it was the conviction of the message, more than any sickness, that was causing her concern that night. Instead of waiting for her friends, she returned with us to GSF immediately after the message and she wanted to talk to Pastor Tim. I listened that night, as he shared again the gospel message with Norah and she prayed to give her life to Christ. A new creation. A changed heart. An orphaned HIV girl found New Life!
Norah stepped into eternity at 2:45 a.m. on Friday morning as the doctors were working on her. The great pain and many diseases of her earthly life were over as she walked through the gates of Heaven – forever healed.
I arrived with one of the house moms at the hospital at about 3:30 a.m. to comfort Norah’s house mother, to see the body, to confirm the last details of her life. I am reminded that, no matter how sadly we may view the circumstances of someone’s life, there is everlasting joy awaiting those whose hearts fully belong to Jesus Christ!
“Norah, we look forward to seeing you again.”
Thursday, September 23, 2010
We know that Christmas isn’t all about gifts, just like salvation is not all about gifts either – but the gifts can be further evidence of God’s great love and provision for us. Look at the great lengths He is going just to supply some gifts to a group of kids in Uganda….
After Sam & Suzie Davis went to the St. Jude Children’s Hospital warehouse (see “Christmas is Coming” post below), then it was time to hand off the load to Amy’s parents, Larry & Bonnie Roots, who live in Lynchburg, VA. (The Roots’ are coordinating the transport of these items to Uganda, as they are coming to visit in December.) The Davis’ drove to Knoxville to visit their daughter, Suzanna, who attends college there. The Roots rented a van and drove from Lynchburg to meet them there. Point of reference: Knoxville is a big city and it’s about 350 miles each from Memphis to the west and Lynchburg to the east. Here is what the Roots’ reported about the journey:
To show you how GOOD GOD is: When we were 54 miles from Knoxville I called Suzie and they were 57 miles West of Knoxville. They said Suzanna's dorm is right downtown and not a good place for the hand-off. I had a map and suggested an exit 2 miles from there. When we got there we saw a nice size gas station on the corner close to the interstate so we pulled in and I called to tell them where to meet. They came right to the station within about 3 minutes. Suzanna pulled in a minute after they did. Only God could have done that in a city that size. We visited and passed off everything, took pictures and then we headed back home. It was really neat to see them and their excitement for what had happened.
Amazing! The Roots have organized everything into 8 trunks to be sent to Uganda. Not only is there a gift for every kid at GSF, but the hospital donated hoards of T-shirts, socks, batteries and other items along with the rest of it!
Next step: To get the gifts and supplies here without paying excess baggage fees. God’s transport service is already in place and we will let you know about it later. Stay tuned!
Two weeks ago, Norah stood up in church and said, “I thank God because I thought I would never stand again to sing in church and today I did!” Praise God!
Norah is 16 year old and has AIDS. She gave her heart to Jesus last year and now has hope! Several months later, she began to have numbness on her right side and was eventually diagnosed with Toxoplasmosis and was told she would never walk again. Many have prayed for and with her and God has allowed Norah to walk with a cane and sometimes even just with a limp. God has been faithful and has allowed her to do something she loves to do and that is to sing. She also loves to do crafts and we have been working with her hoping to help her begin a livelihood doing crafts and fashion design.
This week, Norah is not standing and singing but instead is laying in a hospital bed very ill listening to music. Norah was diagnosed with TB and Pneumonia and has a stomach problem that is making her very weak and close to death.
Please pray with us that she will be able to stand in church again and sing!
Thursday, September 16, 2010
It was April 2009 that a team from North Carolina made their way to GSF to work, doing five intensive days of medical clinics with our surrounding villages. One of the nurses examined a lady in her late 20s to find out she had a very advanced case of breast cancer. She was in need of immediate medical help so she was referred to one of the hospitals in Kampala that could treat a case like this one. Her name is Sarah and up until that point she had not been able to seek medical help because of not having financial resources to do so. After visiting the hospital and confirming that GSF would take care of the finances of her treatment through our Mercy Ministry Fund she was scheduled to begin chemo & radiation treatments almost immediately. According to the doctors her cancer was a very aggressive type and chances of complete healing were small. Sarah and her husband and their 5 children, all under the age of 8, live in a small grass hut and sustain themselves with what they grow in their garden and are able to sell. To our surprise, the day of Sarah's appointment to be taken to the hospital came and she did not show.
Months later she did show up, but at this time she did not come alone but had a little bundle in her arms. Sarah had not known she came to the clinic that was pregnant despite her and her husband's efforts to avoid that. But God had other plans and her and her husband accepted the baby as a miracle from God. The baby girl only weighed around 4 pounds and she was going to need special care and nurture.
We took the baby in and gave her the name Amelia. Sarah was admitted in the hospital and went through her chemo and radiation treatments. With very little hope from the doctors she continued to fight this battle and always praised God for His goodness to her. She then had a mastectomy and the doctors admired her strength to persevere and determination to get well. The day of her surgery she was walking around the hospital. We were blessed to be able to help Sarah get the needed treatment and give hope to her and her family of being reunited again.
Early this year, Sarah came to GSF after the surgery and recovery to thank us for everything that we had done for her and her family. As we reminded her that the one she needed to be thankful to and give all the glory to was the Lord, she confessed that she did not know the Lord in the personal way we have been talking to her about and that she desired to know Him in that way. We were blessed with the honor to pray with Sarah to invite Jesus into her life and praised Him for not only bringing physical but also spiritual healing to her life. Sarah did well for several months and was able to be reunited with her family and even come many times to see Amelia.
This week, we got word that Sarah was not feeling well and had gone to the doctor for a check-up. Unfortunately, the doctor told her that her cancer had spread and there was nothing else he could do. He suggested that she go home and be as comfortable as possible. Her husband came Wednesday morning to find out if we could help him go to Kampala to get Sarah and bring her home. Claudia and others were trying to find a driver to take him when he got a phone call from Kampala. Sarah had already died at the hospital in Kampala. Claudia and Adam did the difficult task of taking him to Kampala to pick up his beloved. Today, is the burial for Sarah, a wife and mother of 6 and a child of the KING. Praise God with us for Sarah's salvation and for the year and a half God gave her after her initial diagnosis. Pray with us for Sam, her husband's salvation. There are also many questions left unanswered as to the future for this family. Pray for God's glorious plan to be done and His name to be glorified.
-Much of this blog post was taken from our GSF newsletter in Feb 2010 written by fellow missionary, Claudia Arango
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Christmas is a wonderful time at Good Shepherd’s Fold. We have had some generous donations to provide gifts for the kids in the past. This year a really amazing story is coming together.
It starts at St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, USA. St. Jude’s is a hospital for kids with terminal illnesses. Due to their high profile (founded by entertainer Danny Thomas and it’s one of the best such hospitals in the world), there are many donations, including hundreds of gifts for the kids at the hospital.
Here is the twist… Due to the terminal illnesses of the kids, low/zero immunity, etc., the hospital cannot give such toys to the kids, because they have to maintain a completely sterile atmosphere. So St. Jude has a huge warehouse of donated toys, which it ironically cannot use. Not to waste these things, they have a program to allow orphanages and other similar groups to go “shopping” in their warehouse to get gifts for other children elsewhere in the country and world – absolutely free!
Our friends, Sam and Suzie Davis, in coordination with the Orphanos Foundation, made arrangements to get gifts for all 92 kids at GSF – donated from St. Jude Hospital’s toy warehouse. The Davis’s went to the warehouse on Wednesday to go Christmas shopping for GSF! Here is what they had to say:
Wow! It was an unbelievable morning at the St. Jude warehouse. Sam and I and Grace Fragosa from Orphanos arrived at 8:30am. We were welcomed by Velma Carnathan , Grace's friend, who is in charge of the donations warehouse. A few of the toys were shelved, but the over-whelming majority were in boxes. Armed with box-cutters and our lists, we dove in. Three hours later, we were packing up boxes in the Tahoe. We felt like we had something for everyone, but our heads were spinning. There was not one more inch of cargo space in the Tahoe, so we needed to be done. We threatened to tie Grace on the roof but it wasn't necessary.
This is an unfolding story. Stayed tuned for updates!
As we were sitting on our veranda yesterday, 9 year old Chloe told me, "your family is a new family at GSF. Your family is a clear family."
"What do you mean, Chloe? Our family has been here for two years." I asked a little confused.
"Well, your family is a new clear family. You know, with a mom and dad and kids--you have three kids, a boy and two girls."
I was still quite confused but other kids came up and the conversation was lost. That evening, still bewildered by what Chloe meant, I told Mark that she called us a "new clear family."
Caralina, who many times has to be my translator, gently said, "Mom, I think she meant a nuclear family!"
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Good Shepherd’s Fold
GSF is not only an orphanage, but we also operate a school, clinic, chapel and other support services and community outreach opportunities. We are located about 22 kms west of the city of Jinja in Buundo Village, Buikwe District.
The mission of Good Shepherd’s Fold is to provide a Christian home to the orphans and destitute children of Uganda, striving to meet their physical, spiritual, social, emotional, and educational needs that they may be fully equipped to impact Ugandan culture for Christ. It is our goal to be a model as we train and minister to local Ugandans living in community with our ministry.
Children - We currently have 92 children in residence, from infants to 17 years old. Among these are 7 children with HIV and 11 children with physical and mental handicaps. We work with our local probation officers, hospitals, courts and other government authorities to take in children who have been identified as abandoned, orphaned or from other destitute situations. More than 20 older students continue to be sponsored to complete their secondary schooling after moving out of GSF.
School - The GSF Christian School has over 300 students in K3 through Primary 7. Our students consistently score within Division I and Division II on the national PLE exam each year. Scholarships are provided for 80 students from destitute families – these are students who would not otherwise attend any school. The school draws students from 5 local villages near GSF.
GSF Christian School has sent 7 students to the national Primary School Athletic competitions this year. Most of these finished in the Top 10 of their respective individual or team sports. In the team competitions held in Arua in August, our students helped the new Buikwe district to finish fourth place nationally in its first year of participation.
Our clinic offers free medical care to the community when we have qualified medical professionals serving with us. We have plans to expand the clinic when God brings a qualified administrator to join our team.
The chapel is open to the community for church services and we coordinate evangelistic outreach and humanitarian assistance to people in need in this area. Outreach includes visitation for prayer and encouragement to patients in hospitals in Jinja, helping elderly neighbors with cleaning, maintaining or upgrading their homes and feeding programs for at-risk babies and other destitute individuals in our area.
GSF Farms provide much of the food required at the orphanage. We feed 90 children, 60 staff members and 300 school students daily when school is in session. Firewood is taken from the property and hundreds of seedlings are replanted each year to renew this resource. Cows, pigs, goats, rabbits and fish are raised in addition to the extensive agricultural work on the farm.
We host over 100 visitors annually from the USA, Ireland, New Zealand and other countries. These volunteers raise all of funds which are invested in the economy of Uganda while providing excellent services to the orphanage and our surrounding schools and communities.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Teacher Amanda brought muffins and others had gifts gifts. One was an apron - notice I reversed it and Claudia and I showed the mood of the day--or at least tried to.
Then some of the GSF kids started to come by to wish me a happy birthday!
It started out fun and great and continued that way for the rest of the day. Mark and I went into town for the day just to enjoy and get away. That evening we went to Black Lantern, a nice restaurant overlooking some of the rapids of the Nile River. It was a great day and ended up being a day of blessings on Friday the 13th.
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Excitement was in the air on the morning of July 19th as all the GSF missionary kids prepared for school because this was not just any school day! Teacher Amanda had arrived and was ready to start the new school year. Amanda Kruppenbacher is our new homeschool teacher for the 8 missionary kids in grades 3rd, 5th and 8th. The 3rd and 5th graders were especially excited.
That evening everyone was still thrilled with school and had many things to tell us. Titus told us that night that it was one of his best days ever. When asked why, he told us it was because he got to go to school!
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Fast Forward 2 and a half years. Several weeks ago, we got word that Joyce, who had been resettled 2 years ago, was very sick and in a coma. Joyce has dealt with HIV all of her life and had contracted TB meningitis. A van load of kids from GSF went to her bedside in the hospital to pray for her healing. The next morning we got word that she had gone home to be with the Lord and forever healed. No more medicines, no more illnesses, no more hospital visits and stays!
We ask that you pray that God would continue to use her life and testimony in the lives of those who knew and loved her and even in others who hear of her now. Pray for Morris, Julie and Sarah, her siblings as they learn to live without her.
On Sunday we had a memorial service at GSF Chapel for Joyce, and 18-year-old GSF girl who had moved out of the orphanage two years ago. Joyce died on July 9 following several complications from HIV which she had struggled with her entire life. Joyce came to know Christ at an early age at GSF. During the memorial we heard testimony of how Joyce loved the Lord and desired to walk with him, even more so after she had left GSF. Her bright smile indicated that she was a friend to all.
The memorial went much like our regular services, starting with lively praise music. Many former GSF kids had come back for the special service, so there was excitement like that of a grand reunion in the air, in spite of the loss of Joyce. Near the beginning, a strong cool wind started to blow through the chapel. It was like the refreshing wind of the Holy Spirit telling us that God was present at the service also. As the singing went on it began to rain – a powerful African rain that is somehow different from the rains we have in America. The sound of the rain on the iron sheets overhead was fabulous. With no ceiling or other barrier to soften the noise, the rains literally sounded like wild applause from heaven in the breaks between songs. Then the showers came so hard that it drowned out our voices. Some of those leading the music said it was hard because they couldn’t hear their own voices.
As the din grew all the more, the voices of about 300 people grew more bold as well. Everyone was singing at the top of their lungs, with no fear of being heard by their neighbor. The rain was deafening! Together it was a most beautiful praise as the heavenly angels joined our earthly chorus. And their mighty numbers, shouted through the rain, drowned out our sound as the angels sang.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Now, I have to tell you two things. First, my husband absolutely loves milkshakes and would prefer this over any other dessert. Second, Mark is on a (somewhat futile) quest to find a good milkshake in Uganda. Just recently, Jude an Aussie in Jinja has improved hers and Mark says it is the best in Uganda.
So all that said, when I saw the milkshake sign I decided I was going to get my man a milkshake; just maybe we may find one that meets his approval. So I waltzed up to the counter and asked for a chocolate milkshake. The man looked at me nervously and said, "We don't have milkshakes."
"You don't have milkshakes?" I asked incredulously.
At that, he leaned on to counter and looked directly at me. "Madam, it is easy to make a sign," pointing to the big, bright sign that had caught my eye. "It is much harder to make a milkshake."
Ha ha! So I guess that is why we don't easily get milkshakes here. At least, he was honest.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
Two years ago, Titus followed up his birthday by breaking his arm two weeks later (See Blog post). This year the “event” came 8 days following his 8th birthday…
The missionaries were hosting visiting team for dinner at House 1B, the other side of our duplex. Everyone was gathering, kids were playing and people were preparing for dinner. Caralina took a casserole in a glass baking dish from our house to the other side where we were eating. At the moment she stepped out the door, Titus turned and ran from his friend as they were playing on the veranda. (Oh! This is painful to write…) He ran smack into Caralina … and the glass casserole dish, which was at face level for him, shattered on impact.
Caralina escaped with a small cut on her toe when the glass crashed to the ground. Blood was dripping and Titus was holding his face and crying, “I’m bleeding, I’m bleeding!” By divine appointment, our visiting team has three nurses and a pediatrician among them and they all sprang into action. First order was to stop the bleeding, then to assess the severity of the cuts and determine which ones needed stitches. Dr. Anna, the pediatrician, noted that one jagged cut needed to be stitched that night and it needed to be done well as it is visible on his face. When our primary doctor in Jinja wasn’t available, we realized that we needed to go to the “western” emergency room in Kampala. Everyone was so helpful as dinner was getting cold. Some cleaned up the glass, some sifted through it to find the missing lens from Titus’ glasses, some cleaned up the blood on the veranda, some cleaned and bandaged Titus, some made PB&J sandwiches for us while Amy packed our things. We headed out of GSF at 7:50 p.m. arriving at “The Surgery” center in Kampala around 9:40 p.m.
We asked for a plastic surgeon since the wounds were on his face, but no one was available. They began with the simpler wounds by using Super Glue – not the medical variety used in America (Dermabond), but the kind you buy at the checkout counter of the convenience store! We have been told that it’s basically the same thing, but this was our first experience with it. We nearly panicked when they used it on a cut on his eyelid and it glued his eye shut. I was seriously fearful that he would lose his sight in that eye, but he only lost a few eyelashes instead. Another doctor was called in (his phone wasn’t working, so they called his wife who called him at a party and he showed up a little while later). He had much experience with stitches, so he was able to do the work well.
Titus has a high tolerance for pain, but low tolerance for needles, so the local anesthetic wasn’t going to work and he severely fought the IV line to give him the sleeping medicine. Once they got it in, he immediately zoned out. Four wounds we bonded with the super glue – eyelid, bridge of his nose, and two on the forehead, including one that went deep to the skull. His left ear has 6 stitches and his right cheek/chin has 7 stitches where the jagged cut occurred.
The procedures ended at 11:30 p.m. and then we had to wait an hour until the effects of the sleeping meds wore off. Titus was a bit nauseous, but not too bad. We made phone calls to find a reasonably priced hotel nearby – not an easy task in Kampala, but we found one. They were very friendly and helpful when we showed up at 1:15 a.m. with our poor little boy and his stitched up face. Got to sleep around 2 a.m. – all 3 of us in a king size bed together. We were just grateful that all was well and we could just crash.
So many people helped and prayed. We have a gracious God! The injuries could have been far worse – especially if Titus didn’t wear glasses. Those glasses probably saved his eyes, and God saved them again later from the super glue. Praise the Lord for His wonderful works!
Friday, May 28, 2010
Our little guy turns 8 today. He wanted to go on a "boy trip" for his birthday so Mark arranged for them to go to a wildlife refuge with the boys of another missionary family here, the Greers. They set off on Tuesday with excitement. However, as they traveled on the very rough road to the wildlife refuge they discovered it was impassable and had to turn around. There were potholes that would swallow up an entire car and there were at least 15 trucks stuck in those holes.
So much to Titus' dismay, they had to turn around. They decided to go to one of our favorite places, Sipi Falls and even try out a different lodge. Titus loved it and especially showing his friends a place they had never been before. We are celebrating today with cake with friends and going to dinner as a family to his favorite pizza place in Jinja. Other special treats for him today include presents from many family who either mailed packages or sent gifts with visiting teams. He also got a sweet video via facebook from one of his best friends in America! Thanks Thomas!
Happy Birthday, my little guy!
- One of the maintenance men came to me the other day and asked for spa glue. I believe this was probably the one that ended up being the hardest for everyone. One thing we have learned about Ugandans, they like to shorten words. So spa glue is a shortened version of Supa (or Super) Glue.
- One of the boys came to the door and told me that my bowel was on the table. yes, Paula this one was easy. Bowel is the way they pronounce bowl. I cannot say bowl without thinking about how it is pronounced here and laugh.
- Some of the big kids asked if they could borrow some fla. I was impressed you all got this one so easily. Fla is flour.
- One of the big boys said he wanted a new jumper. John and Vicki got this one right. Jumper is a jacket. It was pretty funny to us the first time when one of our teenage boys asked for one. He also thought it was funny when we told him what we call a jumper.
- The four suits in card games are di, supa, flower, and mutima. Which one is which? Paula was right on all of these. Mutima means heart in Luganda.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Here's a challenge for you, I will give you a word or a phrase and you comment on what you think the italicized words mean. Let's see how close you can get.
- One of the maintenance men came to me the other day and asked for spa glue.
- One of the boys came to the door and told me that my bowel was on the table.
- Some of the big kids asked if they could borrow some fla.
- One of the big boys said he wanted a new jumper.
- The four suits in card games are di, supa, flower, and mutima. Which one is which?
Friday, May 21, 2010
Wow, my mind began racing. When a problem comes to my attention, many times my mind goes into full throttle to figure out what I can do to fix the problem. My mind indeed did this very thing when I found out about this little girl. Where could we put her? The house we have our babies in is full to capacity. Mark and I just can't take on another responsibility and have her in our home. Claudia, our fellow missionary who has a major heart for babies, already has two in her home along with 5 other children. The thoughts went on. My problem is that as I try to figure out a situation I get stressed feeling more and more responsible for coming up with a solution for the dilemma at hand. Then I get even more stressed about little issues--like egg salad sandwiches (oh dear, we need to get those down to the office for lunch!) and necklaces (wait! I lost count!). I felt myself getting stressed.
Fortunately for once, I stopped! I walked into my room and laid flat on my back on my bed and I stopped. I waited and I talked to God. I was still. And as I laid there still, I was reminded of God's love, promises and names. He loves me, He loves that little girl and He shall supply all her needs! He is the God who created her; He is the God who sees her--He saw her abandoned in the hut before anyone else saw her. He is omniscient and sovereign and knows all things about her life and is in control of her life.
Then once I was still enough to know who He is and to listen, I was reminded of the system in Uganda and how it works. She is now at the police station and they will contact probation who will then contact one of the orphanages it works with. That orphanage may be us or it could be someone else.
"Oh, Lord!" I prayed, "You know that little girl and you know what is best for her. You know that if GSF is the best place for her then you will provide and show us where to put her. "
It was like God reminded me in that moment, "I will give grace and wisdom when it is needed." Not sooner or later.
I then got up and knew that in that moment it was time to focus on egg salad sandwiches and God was so totally in control of that little girl's life, I need not worry about it.
We have not heard anymore about that little girl but I have complete peace and know that God knows exactly where she is and the number of hairs on her head.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Here’s a little story just to remind you that kids are kids everywhere - they just have different ways to express themselves:
Mark and I were out with some of the little girls on our back veranda today when one of them lost a bead from her new earring she had just received for her birthday. So we all began looking in the dirt next to the veranda. Imagine a bunch of little girls leaning over with little bottoms in the air, and then all of a sudden one jumps back quickly and says, “Aye, someone brought pressure!” Yep, soon some of the others were holding noses and it was obvious someone had “gassed” (the term they normally use). And just like anywhere else in the world, there were snickers, accusations and denials. And Mark and I are still laughing tonight about the term “brought pressure.”
Monday, May 17, 2010
We have had a medical team here this week and it has been incredible but pretty crazy. Okay, life here is always pretty crazy! So Friday, wasn't any different. Mark was going out the door at 8:30 to go up to the guesthouse to see the team and take some groceries and other supplies up there. "Wait, I'll go with you!" I called, eager to get a few minutes with my man. (Those of you who have been here you know well that the drive from our house to the guesthouse is about 30 seconds to a minute long. But I will take anytime I can get especially when a team is here).
We went up to the guesthouse where the team was praying. I heard one pray, "and Lord, be near to the missionaries and help them. They are here all the time and deal with these situations and problems all the time." I didn't think much about it at the time but tucked it away in my mind.
We unloaded everything and then went up to the chapel where the clinic is being held to drop off more things. As we walked into the chapel, I noticed the line of people already waiting to be seen. Our matron, Juliana, pointed out a few who had come back for a re-check and explained their situations. I was reminded of a little girl who had broken her leg several weeks ago and was just seen the day before for the first time for the injury. We sent her to the nearby hospital only to be told there was no one to do an x-ray; now the mother has refused to go anywhere else. There were others in the clinic that morning - ones who had babies with high fevers, elderly who had walked several miles with no shoes, young widows with many children and so many others. I finally left feeling a little helpless and overwhelmed.
On my walk home, I was met by two of our helpers in the toddlers’ house to tell me that our newest little boy was having problems again. Sweet little boy was found abandoned several weeks ago and had a medical problem which is going to eventually require surgery. After talking with these ladies, it seemed we were going to have to do something immediately. I sent them both on errands and then turned back around to go talk to Mark and the visiting doctor about what to do.
As I walked back to the clinic discouraged and overwhelmed, my mind came back to the prayer my visiting friend prayed for me and my fellow missionaries. I thought about how inadequate I am to be here. And I honestly, thought to myself God why, am I here? Why am I one of the ones who are to stay here? I really was expecting to be reminded of all the great things done here or of all the smiles and hugs I get all day and to be told it is all worth it. But God said in His still small voice Because I called you! There is no other reason needed! God told our family not in an audible voice but through many confirmations, open doors and burdened hearts to be here and that is why I am here. It is not because of anything I am; as I said before I am very inadequate. It is not because I am content or enjoy being here because there are days I don’t. It is because God called Mark and I and our family to come that is why we are here. It is not about us but about God and His Glory.
So as I walked through the day, I walked knowing my God had called me, loves me and is in control of my life. He loves this new little boy who was able to wait for a few more days and may be having surgery on Wednesday. He loves the many people in the clinic who were seen and helped. He is a great and awesome God and He calls!
Monday, April 26, 2010
Thank you for your prayers for Gloria. She is home and doing better.
During church, we have a time of testimony. The kids can get up and praise God for whatever is on their heart. Some of the kids will get up and say “I thank God for my life.” Others will thank God for doing well in school or other things. One testimony stuck out to me this week and that was of little Esther age 8. Esther is in Gloria’s house and has also seemed to enjoy taking care of her. Esther got up and with her beautiful smile lighting up the room she said, “I thank God, Gloria got home from the hospital.” As I glanced over at Gloria in her wheelchair, I thought how blessed we are! So on behalf of Gloria and Esther, I say thank you for praying!
We are currently looking for a new housemom for Gloria and Esther’s house and would ask for the right mom for that house. It is not an easy task to be a mom to eight girls and especially when one has so many needs as Gloria. But Gloria and Esther and the other 6 need a mother who will love them.
Monday, April 19, 2010
We are reminded how precious life is and how God has created each life for His glory. We are especially reminded of this with our special needs kids. He teaches us so much through their lives. One of those precious lives is Gloria. We do not know much about her past but in her present state she cannot walk but gets along pretty well crawling and scooting. She also doesn’t talk. The last few months have been rough on Gloria as she has had chicken pox and typhoid. She also has been in the hospital several times for other reasons. I got word yesterday that she was throwing up and very weak again. We put her in the hospital again and are waiting for results. Would you please pray for Gloria, for her future, and for wisdom in how to take care of her? Would you also thank God for her life and what He can teach all of us through her and others like her?
Saturday, April 3, 2010
The trouble began when our sound system burnt up some internal wiring a week ago. The sound board was sent to town on Monday so that it would be repaired by the time of our Good Friday outreach to the village of Buvunia. On Friday, we were given the bad news that the system would not be ready for a few more days, so we prayed about an alternate solution. With a 15-person youth team in country, we were planning to show the Passion of The Christ movie in Luganda to this village in the evening and it wouldn’t be possible without the sound board. I sent a text message to a few friends in Jinja at 2 p.m. to see if anyone had a system we could borrow. Some fellow Global Outreach missionaries responded and our visiting team picked it up from them after finishing some other outreach events in town.
Departure plans were delayed by various circumstances, so we left GSF at 7:15 p.m. when it was already getting dark. It has been raining hard in recent days and, knowing the road to Buvunia is already rough, I was fearful of driving our open-air truck loaded with 20 people and all the sound equipment in the back. Prayers and praises were offered up before departure and as we rocked and rolled along the dark path to the village. At one point everyone in the back got out and walked because we were near the village and they felt safer on the ground compared to being thrown around in the back due to the severely rutted road.
Once on site in Buvunia the setup began in earnest. A sheet is hung on the side of the truck to produce a screen. The generator is hauled out back so the roar doesn’t disrupt the movie too much. Rustic wires are plugged in all around. Prayers were offered up asking God to hold off the rains as it was already starting to sprinkle. Then we discovered that something was jammed into the 220-volt power outlet for our converter/regulator box. We couldn’t go on without it. Someone proceeded to open the voltage box, and rig up a way to plug in the cord inside the box (don’t ask me how this worked – and I’m sure the whole contraption violated several safety regulations in the USA to say the least). Then the microphone cords were shorting out, but we managed a quick announcement of the movie and proceeded to start it at 8:30 p.m.
Though there are many distractions in such a setting, the film went on well and maybe 200-300 people gathered, gripped by the intensity of the show, which is a novelty itself in the first place. The flogging and crucifixion scenes are extremely intense. The stars above are brilliant when there is no other electricity around to drown them out – it makes for an awesome movie house. At the end we invited people to Jesus, recognizing the price He paid for our sins, and routed them to local pastors/churches in their village area.
Afterward we loaded up the truck and van once again to head home at about 10:45 p.m. Putting on the headlights, I noticed they were very dim. Sure enough, the truck battery was dead and not giving the slightest hint of starting. Our GSF teens knew what to do, but I think the American youth were confused about push-starting a vehicle. The dirt path is fairly level, but there was nowhere to slope down to get good enough speed to start the truck. Forward once; everyone turn around and try it in reverse. People from the village joined in the fun, but it was nerve-wracking for me as the driver because there were so many people around; it was very dark and everyone is right on the vehicle trying to push. I cringed at the thought of running over someone in the scene. All forward once again and the push start finally worked! Everyone loaded up and we headed back up the muddy road toward home. About half way our van, following me, began filling with smoke from the engine. Not knowing the problem, all the girls loaded into the truck and a few guys remained with the van. We went on home to GSF, planning to return for the van and the rest of the group. Fortunately, the van started and they met us at home before we went back. The dashboard lights wouldn’t go off and we had to unhook the battery to get it to shut off completely. About 30 minutes later, nearing midnight, we were deluged by another wonderful African thunderstorm.
Weakness. Dilapidated vehicles. Failing sound equipment. Poor roads. Rainy weather. I told the team today, “Our best efforts were absolutely pathetic.” In our weakness…
Strength. We arrived safely. The video went on. The crowd gathered and watched intensely. The rains held off. God’s effort overrides ours. …He is strong!
The whole program and the results are entirely, utterly, absolutely dependent upon the Lord, The Almighty Everlasting God.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
I noticed the other day that the last of the curtains had been hung in the houses but my American mind stopped in disbelief. Those mothers hung the curtains "backwards" (facing outward not toward the inside of the house)! "I can't believe they hung the . . ." I stopped my thought, wait a minute, who says the curtain has to be hung where you can see the beauty of it from the inside. Why not hang so everyone on the outside looking in can enjoy the beauty? I had to remind myself that these women live most of their lives outside. With Uganda being a tropical country, Ugandans do not need big houses. They cook and visit outside. The bathrooms are even outside. So from the outside looking in, the visitors will be able to enjoy the beauty of curtains even if they do not go inside.
Who says you have to have your curtains facing the inside?
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
As he told the story, Caralina and others made sure each person got a vitamin that morning.
When the story was finished, Mark asked Solomon, one of the older boys, to open the trunk of the van to reveal the boxes.
That afternoon we all enjoyed unloading the boxes into one of the offices for storage.
We want to thank SBEC (especially the 7th Grade class), Northwest Health Products, NICS, World Help and Liberty University, along with many others who prayed and took part in sending a ton of vitamins to Good Shepherd's Fold in Uganda! God used many instruments to orchestrate a beautiful miracle.
We are now giving daily vitamins to over 300 students at the GSF school, more than 30 GSF teens, special needs kids and toddlers, as well as sharing with other ministries in this area. To God be the Glory!
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
As we all left the van, Mark stayed behind to make sure everything was secure. He then remembered that he had noticed earlier in the day that the lock on one of the windows was missing. He stood by the window trying to figure out what to do when he decided to pray. He said, "God, you got these vitamins all the way here, You don't need a lock to keep these vitamins safe. Please keep them safe."
When he stopped praying, he looked down to see a small wire laying between his feet. He promptly took the wire and fixed it in the window to lock it. We serve an incredible God!
We woke up early the next morning to get to Sunday school at GSF so we could share with the kids what God had done. Stay tuned for more pictures!
Sunday, March 7, 2010
A few weeks ago we posted a developing story about A Few Vitamins. Now we are “at liberty” to tell you more of the story. In February, the whole lot of vitamins was shipped from Southaven, MS to Forest, VA at the offices of World Help. The shipping was donated by a source unknown to us. God provides again!
World Help is leading a large group of young people from Liberty University (our alma mater!) on a Spring Break mission trip to Uganda this month. Though they aren’t coming to visit GSF, World Help committed to bring most, possibly all, of the vitamins to us since there are more than 40 young adults on this team. Hand carrying items into Uganda is by far the best way to get things here, so the Lord provided the small army of people it takes to carry a ton of vitamins (about 40 pounds per person).
Yesterday, the students packed all of the extra luggage for the trip and it will all be weighed tomorrow to make sure they are within the airline weight restrictions. The team flies to Uganda on Friday and we will meet them soon after they arrive on Saturday to pick up the vitamins. Since there are literally more than we can use here at GSF, we are giving 1,000 bottles of the vitamins to the team to give to the other orphanages and ministries they are visiting in Uganda. This was not only practical, but a way of saying “thank you” for delivering this cargo to us.
Stay tuned for the completion of the story!
Friday, February 26, 2010
Saturday, February 20, 2010
God graciously moved us through the malaria. It lasts about 3 days. Some days are miserable, but the Lord is our help at all times.
Now we have chicken pox going around. There are 5 kids at the orphanage who have it and we’re trying to keep it from spreading to the other 90 kids! We wouldn’t mind the rest of them getting it, except we are always concerned for our HIV kids.
GSF received two new babies this week. One was only 5 days old when he arrived. His twin brother died at two days old and his mother died the following day. Pray for this boy’s grieving father. GSF will care for the baby for 2-3 years. The other boy we took this week has a teenage mom who was raped. A teacher in the village has been caring for him for a few months – she had previously counseled the mother not to have an abortion. This wonderful, life-saving woman simply cannot care for him now that school has begun, so she brought him to GSF. The boy’s name, Muzarsi, means “God is gracious.” How fitting.
Friday, February 5, 2010
Just a quick note to ask you to pray. Megan had malaria last weekend. She is over it now. Titus & I both tested positive for it last night. We had a rough night. Caralina tested positive for it today. Amy isn’t feeling well, but hasn’t run a fever yet. She is starting the treatment for malaria. We should know by tonight if that is really what she has.
On top of that, we got a phone call at 2:30 a.m. last night. David Malisi, our tailor, had an emergency with his son Matthew. Matthew was having seizures that wouldn’t stop – his whole body was stiff. The condition could possibly have been meningitis or tetanus, both of which are very dangerous. David didn’t know that I had malaria, so we called Claudia and she and Amy went together to check on Matthew. Amy eventually stayed at Claudia’s house with her girls while Claudia took Matthew and the mother to Buikwe Hospital. Matthew has been admitted, but we don’t yet know his condition.
This week our family has been visited by malaria. Megan had malaria on Saturday and really just started feeling better yesterday. Mark and Titus both tested positive today. Tonight we sent Caralina to get some more medicine from Bob and Carolyn. They did not have any at their house so Carolyn drove down to the clinic with Caralina to get some more. Unfortunately, Carolyn could not get the clinic unlocked so she and Caralina went on a search for the nurse in order to get the key for the clinic. Caralina came home and told me about the trail they took just to be able to get the medicines for her daddy and brother. At the end, she told me that Auntie Carolyn at one point in despair jokingly said “your brother and dad could die before we get this medicine to them.” Caralina then looked at me with all sincerity and maturity and said, “Mom, I know she was just joking but then I thought about all the people around us who struggle to get the medicine and may die because they can’t get it.” Wow, a aha moment for a 13 year old.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Right before we went on furlough, a team from our church came to visit. Our pastor, Tim Lampley, spoke at a village crusade and Norah listened to him speak although she was not feeling well. When she got home that night, she asked to speak to Pastor Tim and Mark. After talking briefly, she gave her life to Christ! A teen who, many would say, has little or no hope found her hope in Jesus. We praise God for this change in her life!
Unfortunately, she had another change in her life while we were on furlough. She contracted toxioplasmosis, which is a parasite that has paralyzed her right arm and leg. We were saddened by the news but grateful to hear that she seemed to be taking it well. She is now in a wheelchair, but can briefly stand and take a few steps.
Since we arrived back at GSF, Norah's hemoglobin count has been very low and she has had to receive two blood transfusions. It has also been determined that she must start the stage 2 HIV medications because the stage 1 medications are no longer working.
Due to her condition, Norah was not able to go with the rest of our teenagers on a retreat to a mountainous area. Because of this, we all decided that Norah would get a shopping trip to town.
Mark, Megan and I took her to town yesterday to shop for a specific pair of sandals she wanted and to have lunch. Mark did well to maneuver the wheelchair over the broken and uneven sidewalks. We went to many stores before we finally found the exact sandals - the ones covered with goat skin! Please pray for Norah to grow in both physical and spiritual strength.