Thursday, September 27, 2012

We Finally Got a Family Photo!!!!

We finally got a family photo!  Ever since Jurnee was born, we've been talking about doing a family photo..... Now we've finally got one.  It took several "takes" to actually get one where we were all actually looking at the camera, smiling without crazy looks on our faces.  And without Jurnee moving and being a complete blur.  Still looks like she wasn't totally still.  Seems one of her hands is missing.  I promise you it's really there but I'm sure she's was waving it at something!

You can't really see Yosam fully in this photo...... But, these two kiddos have grown up a lot.

And no picture would be completely complete without the pacifier.  It's just an extension of me, Jurnee!  And I was still for this photo!

Love these kids!  They've been such a blessing to my life!  So thankful to God for them!

And thanks to "Uncle Mike" for taking all the photos!  We enjoyed your time with us.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Night of Encouragement

Last night, Mercy for Mamas hosted a Night of Encouragement for missionary women living in and around Kampala!  Just a little about Mercy for Mamas......  It's a ministry that strives to reduce the number of orphans by reducing mother deaths during childbirth.  They put together mama kits- everything a woman needs to deliver a baby (either at home or in a hospital).  Most hospitals and clinics here do not provide materials, even gloves to doctors.  It's the mother that brings these things to the hospital with her when she goes to deliver her baby.  The cost is too much for many woman, meaning that many women risk their lives and deliver from home without the help of a doctor or midwife!

Back to the Night of Encouragement!  Mercy for Mamas has a small team in from several different states for a little over a week.  One of the things they are doing during their time here are hosting these times of refreshment for missionary women in Kampala, Jinja, and Mbale.  

I wasn't real sure about going.  I've not gone out without the kids at night since Jurnee was born.  I'm not the most social person and felt nervous about being around so many people that I didn't know.  A couple of the volunteers at Vision of Destiny decided that they were going and one is comfortable driving at night in Kampala.  She told me to tag along with them.  This was probably the encouragement I needed to just go ahead and go.  And I'm so glad I did.

Everyone arrived and it was so laid back.  People moved around greeting each other and meeting new people.  I knew a few other ladies that were there and some I didn't really know but had seen at church.  So, it began to feel more comfortable.  Then they served us dinner.  It was a buffet style dinner with a variety of foods.  There was a really nice pasta dish, sandwiches, crackers with meat and cheese, salad, chips with salsa and guacamole!  It was delicious.  

After eating and chatting a bit, everyone introduced themselves.  I was thrilled to hear ladies that had lived in Uganda close to 20 years introduce themselves!  It's possible to survive here really long term!  

Then we had a time of worship.  It was tremendously refreshing to see and hear so many women worshipping God together in one place!  After that there were some door prizes given away.

Next was a time of prayer.  We were asked to break up into small groups of 5-7 people (finding people that we didn't already know) and share openly things that are challenging us and pray together about it.  I was in a group with four other ladies: one that teaches at a Christian University here, one that works with the Church of Uganda, one that works with International Justice Mission, and one that works with AID Sudan.  All really incredible ladies.

I think this was my favorite part of the night!  When looking at these women, at first I felt intimidated.  Each one was beautiful and seemed so together.  I kept thinking I was out of place in that group.  First, I'm almost 8 months pregnant and huge!  And I don't feel like I've got it so together!

The one that teaches at the Christian University opened up first and began sharing.  Each one of us began jumping in.  It was amazing how much each one struggled with similar things that I struggle with- homesickness, feeling inadequate, feeling like what am I doing here- am I even making a difference, and so many other things.  Then we prayed for each other.  It felt wonderful being able to share and pray openly with others who "get it."

Afterwards we were able to mingle a bit more.  I met another missionary that is married to a Ugandan and runs a children's project and lives not too far from me!  She also has a baby girl just a few months older than Jurnee.  We're hoping to be able to get together from time to time, hang out and let the kids play.  I also met a lady that I see every Sunday at church.  We were finally able to learn each other's names.  She's super sweet.  We talked for a while and also hope to be able to get together once in a while.  

As we were leaving we were given goody bags!  They were awesome!  Lots of stuff from the states that we can't find here (or at least not cheaply)- tootsie rolls, starburst, pens, chocolates, ranch dressing, taco seasoning mix, lotion, etc!!!!!  Let's just say the talk on the way home was largely about what was in the goody bags!

So thankful to Mercy for Mamas for hosting last night!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Trusting for Provision

This has always been a challenge for me, but more especially since being a missionary.  Ever since I can remember, I've always worked multiple jobs at the same time.  I like the security of knowing that my next meal is provided for, rent will be paid when it is due, and other basic necessities are available when I need them.
It's a little different when relying on support.  It's out of my control.  Some months are wonderful and excess support coming in, making it possible to save for the next month.  Other months are very tight.  So tight that fear can begin to creep in.
The last few months have been those months.  And to ask for support, help, assistance, to me feels like begging.  I hate doing it.  I haven't really made it a priority.  It's not been hard for me to raise money for the school.  Not that all the school needs are met.  But, somehow, I don't feel as guilty asking for sponsorship for a child, money for rent to keep the school going, etc.  For myself, I just haven't been able to do it.
When I was here in 2004-2007, the cost of living wasn't so high and I was single, having only my own needs to meet.
When I came back in 2008, I was still along and although prices had risen a bit, they weren't too bad.  I had enough support to be fairly comfortable.  Not extravagant, but comfortable.  Now, four years later, a lot has changed.
Prices are much higher.  Gas prices can go as high as $7.50/gallon at times.  This makes the prices of everything rise.  Rent has increased.  The house I lived in in 2005 was a three bedroom house (shared by myself and two housemates) and rent was only around $200/month.  That same house now rents for over $600/month.  Food prices have increased.
And now we are a family of five (soon to be six)!  The cost of meeting our needs has grown.  Unfortunately, the support we receive has not grown.  I'm receiving pretty much the same amount of support in 2012 as in 2008.  The same supporters.  This is largely due to my lack of wanting to "beg" for new supporters or increases in support.
But, it has brought fear.  The last couple of months have been tight.  I know that I'm supposed to trust and lean on God for His provision.  He brought me here for a reason.  He won't let me starve or have me homeless.  But, it's hard to trust.  I tend to be more of a worrier.  I don't want to wait.  I don't like seeing my children go without.  I know it's a lesson for them to trust God as well, but it's still hard.
I worry about how we'll pay our next six months rent when it is next due.  I worry about if we will have enough to eat (real fear to a 30 week pregnant woman)!  I worry if we'll have enough money saved by the time the baby gets here to pay for the doctor and the hospital.
So, if you are reading this, will you pray with me that I will trust God for His provision.  Pray that I will be bold enough to speak to people about our need for support.  But, mostly, pray that I won't worry and that I'll be free from fear!

Sunday, September 9, 2012


I miss running- OK, I miss outdoor exercise of a lot of kinds at the moment.  There aren't a ton of opportunities to participate in sports here or groups that train together.  On the way to church this morning we saw an ongoing race.
Very different from any road race I've watched or participated in before.  All the ones I've seen or participated in were well marked off, lined with people cheering you on and water tables.  Also, road traffic would be halted or diverted during the race.  Not here.  The racers just ran alongside the cars, motorcycles, and taxis flying past them!
Seeing the runners really made me miss it!  I miss the Saturday long runs with friends frequently followed by long swims to cool down.  I miss being able to run in parks and on trails.  I miss the scenery.  I miss the conversations (of course we were solving all the world's problems) while on these Saturday long runs.
I miss late night springs on the track.  I miss roller blading.  I miss hiking and biking.  But, mostly I miss running!
I loved running......  Our Saturday runs were usually more jogs so that we could talk along the way.  But, sometimes they'd last 2-3 hours!  It was a time of clearing my head.  Time to de-stress.  Time to build friendships.
I miss the road trips.  I miss being a part of a team.  I miss the long bus rides singing at the top of our voices until we fell asleep.  I miss the team meals.
I wish I could find someone that lived nearby that I could run with here.  Someone that wasn't taking it too seriously.  Someone that is running just for the fun of it.  Someone that is concerned more with the process than the result.  But, mostly I wish there were places to run here.  A park, a paved road, no potholes, no dodging traffic or inhaling the gas fumes!

Friday, September 7, 2012

When Helping Hurts

I read the book When Helping Hurts a couple of years ago (can't remember the author) and would highly recommend you reading it if you are considering either long or short term missions.

Most missionaries don't go to a foreign country with the intention of hurting.  We want to help.  We want to bring relief.  We want to share.  We want to give. Want people to know and feel the love of Jesus.  Often times though, I think we go about it in a way that brings more hurt than help.  Many times it leaves the missionary feeling taken advantage of and those that we are helping aren't growing, but instead becoming dependent.  I know that has been the case for me.  I LOVE GIVING!  But, I have also felt taken advantage of.  It's made me bitter at times.

Sometimes giving out money or free things is just not the answer.  Yes, there is a time to give out things freely or to pay for something for a family.  Not wanting to build dependency is the reason why Vision of Destiny has focused on education.  We provide education but expect the parents/guardians to pay their rent, clothe their children, provide meals at home, however meager these things might be.  Yes, we step in sometimes on emergency issues like medical care, etc.  However, we stay away from things like paying rent or giving food.

The reason we don't pay rent or give food to families has been based on experience.  Sort of like that saying, "If you give a man a fish you've fed him for a day, but if you teach him how to fish, you've fed him for a lifetime."  From personal experience I've found that by paying rent for a family (or such things) that I've really not helped.  As soon as that month's rent is over, the family needs the next month's rent!  I've found the better thing for me to do is to help that family look for ways of paying their own rent.  That has looked different for different families.  For some it has been telling them where I know there might be a job available (meaning they would be earning regular income and could continue paying their own rent).  For others it has been helping them to build an already existing small business.

(We had a small micro-finance group running for a while that was beneficial to those involved in it.  I wish we could continue to run it but it needs another full time missionary here to run it.  David and I are just stretched to thin and can't maintain everything.  So, although that's another post all by itself, that is a prayer request- that God would send us people that could help run other projects!)

Back to the point of this post........  I've really just learned that by handing out money for every need, I'm not helping.  I was left feeling taken advantage of, which bring bitterness, which eventually hardens a person's heart.  It's not been easy to say no.  I feel bad.  I want to give it.  But, I have to look at the bigger picture.  Do I want my hands feeding this person for a lifetime or do I want them to use their own hands to feed themselves for a lifetime?  Of course, I'm meaning using their own hands while leaning on God for direction and provision.  

This has been a real issue at the school.  A lot of people feel that because their child is being sponsored that they should receive everything for free.  Sponsorship ($35/month) doesn't cover all of a child's needs.  It just can't.  Prices have risen here to a point where that sponsorship barely feeds the child breakfast and lunch at school for the month.  We've not been able to stretch it to cover supplies and other needs the school has.  God has been faithful and has each month provided other large one time donations that have helped us to keep things going.

This term though things look a little tight, tighter than normal.  Impossibly tight.  Stressfully tight.  So tight I question whether we are going to be able to make it to the end of the term.  It's going to be a huge test in my faith.

I love working with the parents and guardians who want to walk next to me and fight with me to see that things continue working out (and they've come up with some really creative ways to pitch in and help).  They are a joy to serve.  They share in carrying the burden.  That is probably 95% of the parents/guardians we work with.  They want to feed themselves for a lifetime.  They know that by their child having education there is a chance for a better future!

Now the question remains, how do we help without hurting the other 5%?  How do we teach them to fish for themselves?  How do we keep them from becoming dependent?  How do we teach them to fight for their own children?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


This may not be an exact quote but I'm sure many of you have heard it a time or two so will know exactly what I'm referring to!
I've heard that as long as we are here on earth we'll always feel homesick.  It's the longing for our home in heaven and not feeling complete until we get there.  It's not those exact words but I think you get the point.

I've been so homesick lately!  It's so odd for me as I've always felt so comfortable here.  I know that even if I went back to the U.S. I'd be longing for Uganda.  Guess it's that thing of never really being satisfied.  But, according to the "quote" above, I'll never really feel at home, not until I reach my final destination in heaven.

Why am I homesick?  I really have no idea.  I know the things I miss, the things that I wish were available at my fingertips here.  Walks in the park, drinking a coffee while reading a book at Starbucks, movie nights out with friends, eating out with friends, hanging out with friends at home, Bible studies, my home church, praise and worship, real friendships (that's another post all by itself), climbing Pinnacle Mountain, road trips, paved roads, electricity and water all the time, etc., etc., etc.

But, I try to remind myself I've what I've gained in being here.  A wonderful husband, three adorable and loveable kids, being more reliable on God than ever before, He's my best friend, swimming with my kids, nights out with the family, the kids at school, the people I'd never have met if I wouldn't have been willing to come here, all the things that I've learned in my time here, praise and worship in another language, baking with Jackie, teaching Yosam, all the laughs I hear from Jurnee, late night conversations with David, date nights...... the list is long!

So, I try to remember I'm where God wants me to be, walking in His plan for me, and that wherever I am that is in His will I am home.  Ultimately "home is where the heart is."  And my heart is here!  I just have to remember that and cherish the memories I have from the years before Uganda, continue to keep those long distance relationships going, and love with all I have those that are around me now!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


It seems I've disappeared from this blog........  When I first started it, I was pretty good about posting fairly regularly.  Over the last couple of years, it seems the rate of posting has been on the decline.  Why?

At times I just don't have much to say.  Not that there isn't anything to talk about or new stories to tell.  I just get into a funk and don't want to share.  Sometimes my heart feels shattered.  Sometimes I'm torn between being open and keeping myself closed.  Sometimes I think that what I want to say is too boring or I can't say it eloquently enough.  Other times I'm frustrated.

One of the things that has pushed me to blog less is that when I started this blog it wasn't so much about ministry.  It was a way to keep up with friends who are now scattered all over the world.  We figured instead of emailing each person individually, at least we could have the highlights of our lives posted on our blogs for all to read.  It would be a way to keep up to date with each others' lives- who had gotten married, who had a baby, adopted a baby, deaths, frustrations, joys, tears, etc.

Somehow though, I think I've gotten so caught up in Vision of Destiny and talking about Vision of Destiny on this blog that it's lost its meaning to me.  There's been so much that has gone on in my life over the last couple of years that's never been shared.  Jackie and Yosam are growing up......  Jurnee is almost a year old and I've hardly shared her life here at all......  Funny stories of day to day life........  Thoughts that have been thought...... Prayers that have been prayed.......  So much that hasn't been shared.

I'm hoping that as I try to start back blogging, I'll find it fun again.  I'm hoping that you guys will get to see more and more glimpses into my heart and life.  More pictures!  Hopefully I'll just get back into the habit of blogging again!