Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Art Projects

This was our last school day before Christmas.  We opted to just do Christmas art projects for the day!  We are using Abeka curriculum for art and luckily enough there were plenty of Christmas art projects.  The kids enjoyed it.

Here are some pics of the kids working on their artwork and some of the finished product.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Tree 2012

The last fifteen or so years Christmas has been a hard time of the year for me.  It's been a lonely time of the year, a month that I've wished on more than one occasion that could be erased from the year.  Having kids the last couple of years has definitely made it better.  Still it was hard and we didn't really do much for Christmas.  Yet, the kids still get excited and count down the days.  

Not sure what has made this year different but I'm really looking forward to Christmas.  I wish I had more energy to do more- bake Christmas cookies, make Christmas candy, and really decorate the house.  But, this year will be different and better and hopefully a springboard to many more fun Christmas memories to come!

So, what started getting me in the spirit of Christmas?  Remember I had a friend visit recently!  One of the projects she did with Jackie and Yosam was to make stockings for the whole family!  They really enjoyed making them and have daily reminded me that gifts are to go in them! 

I was talking with David and told him that this year I really desired to have a "real" Christmas.  That I wanted it to be something the kids will look back on and have memories they treasure.  I (and David too) really desire for our family to have traditions that will keep binding us together and that our kids can pass on to the grandkids some day!  I want them to remember Christmas as a fun time, a time for family.  And of course, we'll be putting up a nativity scene, reading the story of Christ's birth, etc. 

Enjoy the pictures of our first tree decorated as a family!

This was David, Jackie, and Yosam's first time to decorate a Christmas tree!

And what was Jurnee doing during the Christmas tree decorating festivities?
First, the look that says, "I'm about to get into something!"

I'm about to reach it!

Got it!

And away I run with the goods!

The finished tree!  We only had the big kids in our last photo of the night.  Jurnee by this time had her "I need to go to sleep" meltdown.
Notice only the top half of the tree is decorated!  We all decided that it was better to have a half decorated tree than to spend the next week or so chasing Jurnee down to "redecorate" what she "undecorates!"

Can't wait to see the look on their faces when they wake up Christmas morning to gifts under the tree!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Friend Closer Than A Brother

Have you ever had a friendship that you cherish greatly, a friend that is closer than a brother?  I've always wanted a big sister and have blessed to have a sister in a good friend.  I want to share about such a friend.  Although some of you may know her and know who I am speaking of, I'm not sure how she'll feel having her name all over the internet so I  won't mention her name here.........

Our friendship didn't start out in such an obvious way.  We attended the same church for a couple of years but only greeting each other with a simple "Hi, How are you?"  When I came back to Uganda in 2008, her parents were on the list to receive my monthly newsletters.  One day I got an email from my friend asking about child sponsorship after she had read the newsletter at her parents' house.  

She then began sponsoring 3 children (which has been added to over the years).  A few months later, I got an email asking how I would feel about her visiting, meeting her sponsored children, and helping me out in whatever way.  I was all for it as by that time I had had no visitors here in Uganda.

She flew over and we had a wonderful two weeks.  We hung out talking, she helped out at the school in whatever way she saw needed help, and even helped at home doing simple things like washing dishes!  It was the start of a wonderful friendship.  

After she returned to the states we continued emailing.  I've loved it!  I've loved having a friend/sister that I can share life's ups and downs with.  Yes, I have my husband to share with, but there's nothing like having a sister-friend to share with as well!  I look forward to our almost daily emails.

She came over twice more that year.  One of the things that I have loved about our friendship is that she loves Vision of Destiny as much as I do!  It is rare to get a volunteer that can just jump in and help with whatever.  This friend didn't need to wait for me to tell her that something needed to be done.  She could look around and see and do things (and do them well) without even being asked.  She's done things like meet with teachers teaching them how to use our first aid kit, showing them how to clean and bandage a wound, handed out handkerchiefs to all the students and teaching them about how germs are spread.  She's painted classrooms (and chose really fun colors I might add), she's organized shelves, photocopied papers, and been a great advisor to me on what's next with Vision of Destiny.  She's done a ton more but it's a long list and I'm sure you don't want to be reading a super long post!

More than that, she's shared with me when I've grieved, laughed with me over the funny things my kids do, rejoiced with me during the happy times, and what I love most- she can speak into my life when she sees a bump in the road coming up ahead.  She speaks into my life in a way that is not offensive but lets me know that she genuinely cares.  

She knows the desires of my heart for school, for the children, for my family and goes out of her way to make some of those desires a reality.  Like she advocates for new sponsors.  She's helped raise funds for uniforms, food, even rent!  

Recently she really blessed me.  My first experience of having a child here in a different country wasn't the greatest.  Cultural differences were noticed.  I won't go into all those details but it was just plain hard.  So, this year on baby number two, you can imagine the dread I was feeling, worried about repeating the previous experience.

I was amazed yet again when I got an email from my dear friend asking if it would be of help if she came over for a couple of weeks!  Would it be helpful?  Yes, more than helpful.  And it was.  God timed it so perfectly.  She arrived and a day later baby Joelee made her entrance into the world.  My friend stayed with the bigger kids, played with them (read let them get on her nerves for two weeks), and spend hours talking with me.  It was such a refreshing time to me.  It was so much more relaxing than when Jurnee was born!  

And to top it all off, she knows that one of the desires of my heart is that my kids have as close to a "normal" life as possible for missionary kids.  I want them to have some of the simple things that I had as a child, that your children most likely have, but that because of constraints of finances when you live on support, it's just not possible for me to do. 

One of the things that I've been desiring for a long time was for them to have their "own" rooms.  I don't mean just sleeping in their own room (girls in one and boys in the other), but being able to have a room that is decorated for a little girl or a little boy.  Nothing over the top or extravagant, but something like having a comforter on their bed or bed sheets of a color that they like.  

Imagine my surprise!  One of the things she decided to do for us on this trip was to make the kids' rooms look like kids' rooms!  The girls' room now looks like a room for little girls- decorated with pink and purple!  And Yosam's room is now a room for a little boy- complete with Spiderman that he loves so much!  No longer do their rooms just look like rooms that have beds shoved in them just for sleeping.  It's really a room that they can enjoy!  

Take a look at some pictures of the new rooms!

It's such a blessing to have such a friend.  I don't take it at all lightly and appreciate God's gift to me through this friendship.  Words cannot express what my friend's last trip here meant to me, how honored and loved I felt.  It meant more than anything to me that she cares enough about our family to want to be here when our new addition arrived, that she wanted to celebrate with us, and that the desires of our heart are significant enough to her that she wants to make those desires reality.

So, in ending, a very warm thank you to my dear friend and a huge thank you to God for bringing her into our lives!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

In Her Own Timing

Joelee has already given us a few good laughs..... along with her big sister Jurnee, since she's been home!

First, it was amusing just the way she entered the world.  I was supposed to be induced at 6:30 a.m. and she decides that wasn't the way she wanted to make her entrance.  She decided to come on her own just an hour before.  Just in time!

Then after being discharged from the hospital....... no poop for a week.  We began getting a little concerned (the ped. wasn't as she said that's just normal for some newborns).  Anyway, after paying the consultation fee, the doctor looking her over, and going to get something to remedy her no poop for a week..... the ped opens Joelee's diaper and received an outpouring of poop like no other!  Guess she didn't want the doctor's remedy!

So thankful for this sweet baby who seems to do things in her own timing!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Meet Alice!

Alice entered Vision of Destiny's sponsorship program in 2010.  She's a total orphan and lives with her aunt.  As many children that live with extended family members, she was being used mostly as a housegirl and not given school fees.  The little she had been attending school was in poor schools where her foundation was very weak.

Upon entering Vision of Destiny's program, she began attending a Christian boarding school.  Attending a boarding school meant she would be able to be like other students and focus on school!

After about a year and a half of trying to catch up, Alice realized that she was too far behind.  She came to me and asked that instead of wasting her sponsorship money and failing in school, could she attend a vocational school for a year.  After attending a vocational school she will be able to look for a job and become self-sufficient!

Since it was the middle of the year, it would be difficult to find a school to take her.  We decided that it would be fine.  She then began to research different vocations and schools and decided on hair dressing.  She will begin her course in Jan. 2013.

Her aunt wasn't too happy about her not returning to school for the last term of this year and threatened to send her to the village to get married.  I was able to convince her that this would not be beneficial to Alice.  I then asked her aunt to allow Alice to help me with Jurnee for the remaining months.  Her aunt agreed!

Jurnee absolutely loves Alice!  Most of the time you'll find the two of them playing outside or laughing together as they play with Jurnee's toys.  Alice has been such a blessing to our family.  Jackie and Yosam also enjoy her company and Jackie frequently begs Alice to sleep over at our house- which she often does!

Pray for Alice as she prepares to head back to school.  Pray for her to be able to catch on quickly, remember what she's learning, and for her to be a Christlike witness to her fellow students.

A special thanks to Alice's sponsor for making it possible for Alice to have a better future!