Saturday, December 1, 2012

Days to Remember

August 8, 1997. . . I remember the day clearly.  We were newly weds; in fact we had been married exactly one month.  We were running around town that day getting things ready to move in a few days to Singapore. We hadn't had time for lunch when we realized it was time for Mark's dermatologist appointment.  He had a spot on his stomach that a doctor at a walk-in clinic noticed when he had gone in for a sinus infection several weeks earlier.  His primary care physician then referred him to a dermatologist.  We were told by several that he would probably get a "scrape" to remove the mole.  So we went to the dermatologist expecting a short appointment.
I sat in the waiting room while Mark went in.  A few minutes later, a nurse came out and asked me to come to the back because they were beginning to do surgery on my husband!  I was in shock as I walked to the room where my groom was laying.  The doctor explained that the mole on Mark's stomach was most likely a melanoma, so it was very important to go on and remove it and much of the skin around it.  As I stood there holding Mark's hand as they prepared to remove this mole, I tried to process all that this entailed.  I must mention that I began to feel very weak because I also had not eaten lunch.  As I finally sat down, the nurse who was working on Mark noticed I was very pale and called down the hallway for a coke for fear that I was about to pass out. (Mark won't let me forget that part!)
Several days later, the lab results came back showing that Mark indeed had Stage 2 Melanoma but thankfully they had removed it all.  We were blessed to have caught it.  Mark's dad had skin cancer years ago and it is a miracle he is alive. I am very grateful for that walk-in clinic doctor who noticed Mark's suspicious mole and for the referral to a great dermatologist.  We found out later that this dermatologist is a leader in the field of melanomas.  We have continued to see Dr. Cognetta through the years and know that it was God who sent us to his clinic 17 years ago.  Through the years I have thanked the Lord countless times for the three doctors who, in many ways, saved my husband's life.

November 27, 2012 . . . As is our practice, we went for our routine appointment to Dr. Cognetta's office. Not just Mark but now it is a family affair.  Mark has had many moles removed over the years; several that have been pre-malignant and one other that was a melanoma. Photos of Mark's moles have been used in Dr. Cognetta's research.   In the last 5 years, he has been clear of any "suspicious looking" moles and we are grateful!  The kids all saw Dr. Greene, another doctor in Cognetta's office whom he trusts very much.  Dr. Greene saw a "suspicious" mole on Caralina and had Dr. Cognetta look at it.  They agreed to take it off just in case.  Yesterday morning, we got a call from Dr. Greene that the mole was a very early melanoma.  We are so grateful that they caught it so early.  Caralina will have minor surgery again on Tuesday to remove more of the skin around this mole.  We would appreciate your prayers for that.  God has already shown His faithfulness once again to preserve our lives.  We are grateful!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

GSF's Newest

Five year old, Sadie, was in need of a home and was blessed on Tuesday to come to GSF and now to be able to call it home. 
Richard, or little Richie as I like to call him, is two and half years old and was in need for someone to care for him.  He now has some beautiful women who not only care for him but love and treasure him. I am counting on the fact that we will see a smile on his face very soon!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Miracle Story #3--An 8 footer!

Some of the missionaries were talking at our house when got word from the headmaster of the school that a snake had just been killed in his office; he was praising God for His protection.  A few minutes later a procession of kids, a guard and an almost dead snake flung on a stick made their way to our house. 

The story is that the headmaster was moving a box in his office and realized it was very heavy.  It looked like there was rubber or tires inside so he called some others to come in and look.  When they examined it, they realized it was a snake.  Fortunately, the snake had just eaten a bird so was not interested in a fight.  They were able to safely take the box out and kill the snake.  We measured it and it was 8 feet or 2.4 meters long!  We are not positive what it was but it may have been a Black Mamba--We are praising God for His protection!  Mark prayed with everyone to thank God for His protection and to show all the kids that He is a God who protects!

My man with Watchman Richard and using his own machete to make sure the snake is finished!  What?  Your man doesn't have his own machete?

This has to be my favorite picture from the event!  Great one of our kids!

Love this of my teammates!  Notice our "Colombian Queen" poking at the bird still inside the snake and our newbie, Sheila, not sure what to think about this.  You may wonder what I am doing.

Enjoying snuggle time on my veranda with Letty, one of our newest.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Our newest miracles

So I have been long in writing any post.  I was just debating on writing a miracle story or introduce our newest kids.  As I debated, I had to be honest and realize that our new kids are miracles.  Mark and I have talked and expressed to others that it is bitter sweet when we have a new child arrive at GSF.  Bitter because they have to come to an orphanage and the reasons in their young life that has brought them to this place.  Sweet because it is a miracle and gift from God that they are now in a place of safety and love and an opportunity to hear about the God who loves them.  So would you praise God with me for the 3 new miracles at GSF!

Baby Ben came to us at 3 days old at the end of April.  His mother died soon after Ben's birth but his father comes to visit him regularly
Letty (above)and Gloria (below) are step-sisters and were being cared for by their grandparents along with 10 other children.  They are also cousins to the 3 cute pair that just arrived in April.  We praise God for each life He brings and the opportunity it allows us to share His love to a child! 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Miracle Story #2-A Family is Found!

He is one of those kids everyone knows by the end of their visit at GSF and one of the most requested kids to be sponsored.  He is happy and personable around strangers.  But several years ago, those of us on staff at GSF knew something was missing in his life. . . A Family.

As a baby, he was left at a different children's home by a woman who only left her first name and a village (the name of which was misspelled).  His feet were turned and he was unable to walk and was labeled as lame.  He was soon brought to GSF where he eventually was taken to have surgery so that he could walk and run like a normal kid.  When he reached 13, our social worker, Keren, went on a mission to find this friendly boy's family.  She took the first name of that woman and went to the village that she assumed was the right one since it was misspelled on the paperwork.  She began asking boda (motorcycle taxi) drivers and store keepers if they recognized this lady's name.  Eventually, she found someone who knew a man who had a sister by that name.  She was taken to that man who then took her to his family.  As she talked to them, she found out that woman by that name had four children.  One of them was lame.  She had taken him somewhere in Jinja but the family did not know where.  As Keren talked with the family, the pieces all began to fit and she knew she had found the piece that was missing in this boy's life. . . A Family!

What a beautiful day when this boy was told that his family was found!  The last year and a half, he has spent going "home" during the holiday and building a relationship with his uncles and grandfather.  He especially enjoyed spending time with his grandfather and hearing stories of the past.  It hasn't been easy getting to know a family you never knew you had, but he will tell you it has been a blessing.

This week, I had the difficult task of sitting with that boy and telling him, "your grandfather has passed."  We got word on Tuesday morning, that his beloved grandfather died.  He and I talked about how grateful we were that he had the blessing of knowing his grandfather.  He told me, "grandparents are an important part of a family; they have so much information."  Later that day, before he left for the burial, he walked into an office where Mark and Keren were meeting.  He looked at Keren and said, "Thank you, Auntie Keren for finding my grandfather.

I indeed believe this is a miracle story for a boy that had very little time to get to know his grandfather and more about his family.  God knew that and brought them together before the grandfather died!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Welcome D,D, & E!

This beautiful trio is the newest addition to GSF!  As you can tell they are adjusting quite well.  We would love your prayers for them and God's plans for their future!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Miracle Story #1-Philip

A few days ago, I was leaving the office block at GSF when I saw him.  I stopped and stared.  Gratitude filled my heart and a smile crossed my face.  I called to our administrator, "Come out and see a miracle."  We both watched as a group of school boys played soccer, but we were both zeroed in on one boy--our miracle.  I told her how I had seen him playing soccer every night at his house.  How he is always running and playing and carrying all sorts of things these days.   He had gained over 10 kilos (22lbs.) in the last 5 months!

Our miracle. . . Philip!

Many of you have heard about Philip, many of you have prayed for Philip, many of you have cried out to God on behalf of Philip.  You have had the privilege of hearing about, praying for and crying out on behalf of a miracle!  This little guy has had his share of miracles in his life.  If you ask anybody who has ever worked at GSF, they will tell you that that boy is a walking miracle.  Some will tell you that they have lost count of how many times they thought Philip was going to die.  He has always been so weak and sickly; I've never seen him play any sports until this year.
Last October was much the same.  Philip had a fever one night so our nurse took him to a very good clinic that specializes in the disease Philip has.  Upon seeing Philip, the doctor took one look at him and said, "this boy is not going to make it out of the hospital this time."  She was afraid he had a deadly case of pneumonia.  Emails, phone calls and prayer meetings began and many people all around the world began to pray for Philip, an 11-year-old who at one point weighed as low as 35 lbs.  I could go into many details but I will say he was a very, very sick boy and the doctors gave very little hope.  It was as if he was as good as dead.  However, many of us felt God was giving us hope and that He was not yet finished with Philip.  We continued to pray and asked many others to pray.   Finally at the beginning of November, Philip got to come home.  Even at that, there were indications that the doctors were sending him home because they didn't know what else to do.
Philip continued to improve and beat all odds against him.  God was on his side!  Now he is that little guy  that is running around playing soccer, racing with the missionaries, and laughing with everyone!  Thank you for your prayers for him.  We praise God that, although Philip still has an incurable disease, He has the great physician and healer on his side.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Slideshow: In His Hands

We were visited recently by Ryan Estes, a professional photographer from Pennsylvania. He sent about 35 photos from the few hours he spent at GSF and graciously allowed us to share them however we wish. This is just a quick iPhoto slideshow set to one of our new favorite songs. Thank you, Ryan, for capturing GSF and our family in some great pictures!

The song is "Arms That Hold the Universe" by 33 Miles.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Miracle Stories

I was sitting on a rock overlooking GSF the other day, talking to God.  I was discouraged and feeling as if nothing was really happening around here.  I asked God, "God, are you still working here in this place?"  He began gently reminding me of miracles He has done in this place recently and in front of me, and I had so quickly forgotten.  I was then prompted to begin writing these miracle stories down simply so that I can reminded of what God is doing.  We get so easily discouraged and overwhelmed by the work that we need to be reminded of His goodness and power!  If these miracle stories encourage you and point you to the miracle worker, then I have done even more than the original purpose.
 So for the next days, weeks, or months (not really sure), I will share with you some of our miracle stories here in this place.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Christmas Crackers

I decided to get Christmas Crackers this year for the first time for my American kids and the two single ladies next door.  I knew our British neighbor could enlighten us on Christmas Crackers; what I didn't realize was how excited she would be to introduce this tradition.
Preparing to pull the crackers open.  Unfortunately, some didn't even pop!
Katie in her plastic crown and putting on her sheriff badge that was in her cracker

Everyone else a little slower in figuring out this cracker thing and getting their things

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Lina's 15th!

Caralina's birthday always seems to end the holiday festivities in our household as it is on the 2nd of January.  This year was no different.  In the evening of New Year's Day, our family took her out for pizza at Surjios and met some friends there.   The next evening we had the teen girls at GSF over for dinner.  We tried taking some pictures; most were quite goofy but it still shows what beautiful teen girls we have!  We ended the night as we do many times by looking at old pictures of all of them.  Thankful for my teen girl and her friends!

Megan, Teddy, Joy and Ritah in the back row and Jenny, Caralina and Rebecca in front
So now the holiday partying is over and back to the "real world."  And as always after a great holiday time, routine is grand change of pace. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Other side of the world but close to our hearts!

There's a Bible Study group in Tallahassee, FL, USA. . . (Mark's mom's Bible Study)

Who pray for a Bible Study group in Buundo, Buikwe District, Uganda, (the house moms and helpers at GSF)

They wanted to show the group in Uganda in a tangible way that they love and pray for them. 

They took these beautiful scarves and put their hand prints on them.  They then rolled them and but a big ribbon around each one (notice the ribbon's on the ladies heads--quite resourceful!).  They also made a note for each one with pictures of the process of putting the hand prints on the scarves.  The mothers loved them!

Thank you, Tallahassee Ladies' Bible Study!