Friday, December 30, 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas at GSF

Christmas Morning, I walked around the houses to greet the mothers who were already up cooking and then the kids.  The toddlers and I sang happy birthday to Jesus!  We then had our family time of enjoying one another and opening gifts and of course, enjoying the yummy cinnamon rolls made the day before!  We also had our visitors over around 10 and then we all went to church at 11. 
The little angels with baby Jesus (which was one of our smallest special needs girls, Mercy)

There were lots of presentations in church.  The kids acted out the Christmas story.
Caralina was the narrator and Megan was Mary.
 After the service, some prepared the church for dinner and other festivities, while others went to get the food, gifts and get ready for more fun.  Then the fun continued and the eating began.

Little ones enjoying a delicious Christmas lunch and soda

Then it was time for singing Happy Birthday to Jesus--Ugandan style.   Here, Joseph and Sebastian enjoying Birthday Cake.
And then it was time for gifts!  Thank you, Greers and their church, Friendly Hills for providing so many gifts.  We also used many toys that some of you have mailed to us throughout the year.
 Merry Christmas to All from Uganda!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Eve--Uganda Style

We decided to make cinnamon rolls this year for everyone at GSF for Christmas!  Our matron, Julianna, Megan, two of our visitors, Allison and Sharon and I all worked on making and baking them. 

Betsy, our faithful and fabulous activities director, organized water games!  For those of you who have prayed for Philip, this is an incredible picture.  Philip has been close to death so many times including just a couple of months ago.  Praise God for his life and for this picture.
Even our two guys in wheel chairs got involved in the balloon toss.

David jubilant after catching the balloon that Titus threw to him.  They ended up coming in second place.

Titus ready to play water balloon fight (aka snowball fight).

That evening we had the traditional Christmas eve bonfire, complete with dancing in the pavilion, eating biscuits and juice and singing Christmas Carols.  Here's Patricia, Alana and Megan.

Mark dancing with Rosie!

I even joined in the fun!

Staff Christmas party

 We had the privilege to celebrate with over 80 employees and bless them at Christmas.  We had our party this year on the 23rd to begin the Christmas celebrations.

Mark and I are seen here with Ja Ja Mary, an icon of GSF. She requested a photo with us.

Each department did a presentation.  The mothers did several songs and dances.  I am here with some of them after the party.

The missionaries did an impromptu lip-sync to rocking around the Christmas tree.  Here are the "single ladies" showing some "western dance moves."  I wish I had a picture of Mark with his santa hat and sunglasses!

We then gave out bonuses, basins of gifts, 4 kg of meat, and also let them all pick out toys and books from our excess supply.  Here is one of our absolutely beautiful assistants carrying one of the basins to an employee.  

It was a great time and a blessing to celebrate Christmas with our fellow laborers for Christ!  That evening, we had a Christmas party with all the missionaries and visitors at our new house (although it is not completely ready for us to move in yet.  We also went to the houses Christmas Caroling. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Our Thanksgiving Weekend

We have plenty of busy weeks or weekends and most are unexpected or unplanned.  Rarely do we have a SCHEDULED busy weekend.  Thanksgiving week/weekend was one of those rare times.  I have been meaning to send all the happenings (both planned and unplanned) of that weekend as a newsletter but time as usual has gotten away.  So I will post the events, both happy and sad here. 

Give Thanks
Thanksgiving Thursday was great fun as we had over 40 missionaries (including kids) at the GSF guesthouse for a feast.  Everyone else on the compound continued work as usual and were very respectful of us and our holiday.  This was our nurse Katie’s first Thanksgiving as she is from England.

Some of the "Groom's Family" all decked out in our traditional garb
The next day, Friday, was the wedding introduction for one of our staff members who grew up at GSF.  The introduction is the time when the groom gives the dowry for the bride.  It is a HUGE deal and each side hires a “speaker” to represent them—a drama of sorts.  The neatest thing about the introduction in my opinion is that the groom had worked very hard at the dowry but still did not have as much as usual.  The speaker spoke for him saying he was still young so he was not able to have as much for the dowry.  They asked the bride if she would still accept him and she said “Yes!”  Beautiful.  At the end, the groom’s guests/family bring the dowry gifts in.  Amy helped carry in the leg of a cow. Ha!

The Happy Couple
Saturday was the wedding for Isaiah, GSF farm worker, and Norah, his bride.  The wedding was beautiful and took place in our chapel.  All the GSF kids also got to go which was fun.  Amy helped them find clothes to wear to dress up.  Our girls helped all the GSF girls get their nails painted on Friday.  Over 350 people attended, which is more than double the number expected, yet there was still enough food for everyone.


‘He gives and takes away’
The morning of the wedding, as we were all getting ready, Big David, our tailor, called Mark and told him that his 2 year old needed to be rushed to the hospital.  Mark could tell it was an emergency and one of our drivers was heading toward the hospital at that moment.  We got word about 45 minutes later that 2-year-old Simeon didn’t make it.  Simeon was developmentally delayed and medical exams had not yet turned up the reason.  He may have had a heart defect.  It was so sad, but David (who had been very instrumental in planning the wedding) said the celebration must go on and they would have the burial the next day.  Big David said, ‘The Lord gives, and He takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’ 
Little Simeon in May; Big David is in the background
Sunday was a tough day.  We had a shortened prayer service at the church.  David and his family live on the GSF compound so all the kids knew Simeon.  Some of the older girls were very close to him and cared for him often.  We loaded our bus a two other vehicles with 45 people to attend the burial.  We went about an hour away to David’s home village of Kakira for the burial.  It was somber ending to an exciting and packed 4-day weekend.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

laughter, a blade of grass, and a leaf

So God is really teaching me a lot about looking for the blessings of the day.  He is reminding that every situation is an opportunity to see Him work.  Several days ago, I got a text from one of the house moms early in the morning asking for a Bible.  I was thrilled that she wanted one although I thought she already had one.  I have to admit that even in such a simple request, I began analyzing the whys and then the hows of getting it to her.
God gently said, "Just go take her one."  I had to smile, my great, all-powerful God telling me to chill and stop making it complicated.  I got dressed, and walked over to her house in the cool morning breeze. On my way, I got to greet and say good-bye to the secondary kids as they drove out for school.
When I arrived at house 4, I was greeted with a huge smile and a great, big thank you from the recipient of the Bible.  And then she said. . . "I just texted the matron, but the water is going everywhere in the washroom; the tap is broken."
Oh, dear! So I walked back and God gently reminded me, "this is an opportunity for you to see ME."  I did see Him in the laughter of the little girls as they showed me the water squirting everywhere.  The water tap on the back wall had broken totally off and the water was a constant flow out of the back wall.  Water was going everywhere and the girls were splashing around.  I tried wadding through the water to see what I could do but it was absolutely impossible to put the tap back on.  We all started to laugh that I would try to put it back on!
Now, let me say at this point, that I am a girly girl and don't understand the mechanics of anything but know how to pick up a phone and call someone who does.  Problem being, it was 7:15 in the morning and the mechanics were not around yet and Mark was still getting ready for the day.  I did know where I thought the shut off valve was so I walked around the back to see; all the while the girls are watching and laughing.  The shut off valve did not have a knob, I would have to have a wrench, pliers something (remember I am a girly girl).  I sent one of the girls to our house to get something and hoped she would come back with Mark and his tool bag.  But I stood there for a moment realizing that the water was still coming and wouldn't stop till I did something.  All the while, I realized I was enjoying the girls and the moment.
Okay, I will try to turn it, and then I heard, "Auntie Amy, it is stopping!"
"Oh, it is still going!"
So I tried harder.  I looked around to find something to help me get a better grip.  I looked around for a leaf but couldn't find one so called for one of the girls to go get one.  I then picked up a blade of grass and wrapped it twice around where the knob should be (remember I am a girly girl and MacGyver I am not), somehow it worked and I heard again laughter and yelling.
"It is stopping!"
"There is little, Auntie Amy!"  one of the little girls cried out laughing!
Finally a big leaf came and I was able to shut it off totally.
They began to chant, "It is over.  . . It is over. . ."
I went to look and there was not even a drop coming from the wall.  As I walked away, I thanked God for laughter, a blade of grass and a leaf and for the opportunity to see Him in the moments of everyday.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Progress of the House

When we begin preparing to come to Uganda, one of our visions and goals was to build a missionary house on the GSF land.  This would alleviate the need for missionary housing and would provide a house for us so that we could stay long term.  God has been so faithful in taking us on a journey of building this house.  He has provided many generous donors and given us a fabulous organization (eMi) to work with.  This blog post may be more for our parents, close friends and donors to the house but wanted to show you the progress.  We have been told that the move in date is approximately 4 weeks away, 

View from the road

Our back veranda where we hope to see many monkeys
View into our living room/dining room from the front door and through some scaffolding

Sunday, October 30, 2011

No More Lies

She stood in front of me.  I took her hands and told her to look in my eyes.  I found out earlier in the week that she had been habitually called "the HIV girl" by a housemate.   The accuser sat behind us as I looked deep into this broken little girl's eyes.  "I want you and everyone here to know something.  You do not have HIV and never have.  It is a lie that you are an HIV girl."
Relief flooded over the little girl, a weight was lifted.  Her accuser ashamed, cowered in the corner.  "You don't have to believe the lies," I continued.  If someone tells you something, you can come to your house mother or to me and ask.  We will tell you the truth.

We all have an accuser, one who lies to us in our heads and through other people and things.  I am so often guilty of having a terrible weight on me, because I have listened to the lies of my accuser just like that little girl did.  God's word and His Spirit is our truth and as we read and recall His Word and listen to His Spirit, our accuser cowers in the corner not able to feed us lies anymore.

Isaiah 43:1 & 10 NIV

But now, this is what the LORD says-- he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
"You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Miss Middlest's garden

Miss Middlest came triumphantly carrying a bunch of carrots she had grown in her garden.  Miss Middlest doesn't like groups of people but would prefer one or two close friends which I have to tell you is problematic at an orphanage.  But this sweet girl has found a little bit of land and with a little bit of love, lots of work and one or two friends to help (many times secretively), she has a bounty. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

the reason we are here

To introduce children to the God of Jeremiah 29:11

For He gives them a hope and a future!
Welcome little Betty!  Your life is in His hands!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Gifts for the staff

When our last team left, they gave money for us to do something for all of our 81 staff members.  These are the buckets and supplies we got for each of them.  They were thrilled!  Thank you, Westover!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Happy Birthday, Uganda!

May the young hearts of today be molded and shaped to be the Godly hearts of your tomorrow's leaders.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Not for the faint -hearted!

I was the one who always opted and still do opt out of watching movies, riding rides or reading books with warnings like this. Because I AM the faint-hearted! So what am I doing in Africa? God has a sense of humor? Yes, I believe He does but I don't think that is why I am here. I think it goes back to that verse,
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised , hath God chosen , yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are : That no flesh should glory in his presence. . .
1 Corinthians 1:27-29
Because honestly, it is only the Lord that can make me strong when I walk to my front veranda and see this laying there (yep, just a few feet from my front door)! I have people call me a hero sometimes but I have to tell you it is God who is my Hero and the one I run to when all these creepy crawly things show up. He is the one who receives the glory.

A notice to all snakes in Buikwe District, Uganda who are even thinking about coming to visit Good Shepherd's Fold Children's and Babies Home--it is advisable that you not come because our children know how to use stones--Just Saying!

So on the same day (yesterday), I was washing dishes and saw something that just didn't seem right-A lovely dragonfly on my dish drainer! Isn't he long? But I don't care how lovely or long he is, he still freaked me out when I was washing dishes.

I have a very wise friend who told me one time, "Many say that God doesn't give you more than you can handle. I don't believe that, God gives you what He can intrust in you to allow Him to handle." I am grateful I can allow Him to handle all these critters!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Prayer at the Bank

I had a chance to publicly share Christ in a very unusual way today.  While at the bank doing some business for GSF, I was sitting at the Assistant Manager's desk.  It was the end of the business day so the workers were trying to put things into the vault.  No one could find the key!  The bank managers are Hindu and there are Muslims who work there also.  But many of the workers are believers in Jesus.  I was the only customer remaining, because I needed something that was in the vault and the bank had closed by this point.
They searched everywhere, focusing on the manager's desk where I was sitting, because it is directly in front of the vault.  I felt God telling me to stand and pray out loud.  I was afraid to do it.  Once, I told the manager that God knows where his key is.  He laughed nervously and kept looking.  A few minutes later, while they were still frantically searching, I told him again that I would pray to God, because my God knows all things.  Again, he nervously laughed.  There were at least 6 or 7 people searching for that key for more than 30 minutes now.
Finally, there was enough courage in me to fully do what God was saying. I stood and announced in a loud voice that there is a God in heaven and he cares about the affairs of men.  "God knows where the key is and I am going to pray that He will show you where your key is."  Then I prayed out loud to the One True God and asked Him to shine His light on the key so that all the people would know that He alone is God.  All the Christians said a big "Amen!" when I finished.  I have never done anything like that in my life.  After praying, I quietly started pleading with God, that His reputation was now on the line (probably more concerned about my own name, in reality).
Within ten minutes they found the key in a drawer that had already been searched many times by several different people.  Many people started saying "God answers prayer!"  One man shook my hand to thank me.  I just sat quietly and pointed to Heaven.  Even the Hindu bank manager shook my hand and said "Your prayer was answered."  The Muslim worker got into a cordial, yet pointed conversation with one of the Christian clerks – I'm supposing (as they were speaking in Luganda) that they were talking about whose God had answered the prayer.
Friends, if you only knew how nervous and afraid I was to stand up and do this.  I don't know what will come of that act of courage.  Pray that God will work in the hearts of those people in the bank.  May they continually be reminded that there is a God, and He is One God, and He is concerned about the affairs of men – even at the bank.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Kids give back. (Story behind the pictures on Wordless Wednesday)

One year old twins have signs of malnutrition and their grandmother is clearly overwhelmed with caring for them and their 3 year old brother and 5 year old sister. So nineteen young people and six adults from GSF went to clean the compound and mud hut. Our desire is that the grandmother will be able to keep all 4 grandchildren and that we will be able to help her do that.

We cleared out the two huts and then cleaned the huts and compound.

Some of the kids dug while others gave all four children baths. Most of the things that were done that day were initiated because a kid saw a need and did it.

The biggest need besides actually cleaning the house was the mound of laundry that needed to be washed. And no washing machines here just the 5 finger variety. (okay, so the picture I posted doesn't show them actually working but I opted for the picture where they were not leaning over--I think you understand and I know they appreciate it).

Here's some fun pictures after the bathing.

In Uganda, all twins receive a name according to their birth order and gender. For example in this family the first born twin is the girl so her Luganda name is Babirye and and the second born twin is the boy so his name is Katto. The neat thing is that we have twins at GSF who are Babirye and Katto. In fact, here below are the two Babiryes having fun together.

The four children dressed in new clothes and bathed.

So when I got to this picture, I just had to laugh. I didn't even know it was taken. Not sure what I was thinking but I do know that going to the village always causes me to reflect a lot. In fact, it takes me awhile to process what I see. Maybe as I was waiting for someone to bring me a clean rag, I was starting to reflect on it all.

Grateful for what I have and what I can give!