Come join the team…

Due to recent developments here at Mandate Farms Uganda we have had to re-arrange work duties. The C.O.O. of the farms has decided to shift from her current position to Chief Rabbit Caretaker. So the following positions will need to be filled. Please read all qualifications and benefits before applying. Only serious applicants need apply. Positions are:

  1. House cleaner: Hours of 9 am – 4 pm Monday through Friday.
  2. Cook & Dishwasher: Three meals a day prepared. Hours negotiable. Must be able to cook Mexican and Chinese food.
  3. Tutor: Hours of 8 am – 1 pm four days a week. Must have patience and knowledge of second grade work.
  4. Nanny: Hours of 12:30 pm – 5 pm Monday through Friday. Must be able to withstand abundant energy, constant chatter and be able to dance, sing, untangle dreadlocks, counsel, talk down a chocolate induced frenzy and enforce rules. (And be good at hide and seek…especially seeking).
  5. Accountant: Hours and days negotiable. Must have knowledge of Excel spreadsheets, have detective skills to hunt down and decipher receipts.
  6. Secretary: Hours of 7 am – 5 pm Monday through Friday. Must have good people skills, will be dealing with the public daily. Must work with accountant to know how best to deal with the requests made daily.
  7.  Graphic Artist: Hours and days negotiable. Needed for newsletter design, website updates and any materials needed for our organization.

There will be no personal days or sick days. You will be paid in abundance of papaya’s, mangoes, avocados, jack fruit, rabbit meat and a goat for a Christmas bonus. If you feel you can meet one or all of the qualifications, are satisfied with the benefits you can inquire about these fulfilling job positions. Thank you.

I can dream can’t I?

We’re Just Not Normal

Conversation of the day. (It’s been a blur but Raelee pulled a tooth while helping her daddo pick sunflowers. As I am trying to get three people what they need and off the property so I can finish with the rabbits – the all day job, I pass by to see the tooth. “Let me have it so you don’t lose it”) So, five hours and 260 plus rabbits, eight visitors, lunch and supper later I get asked “Can I have my tooth now? For the tooth tree” “Tooth, you gave me your tooth?” “She did, I saw her. You said so she doesn’t lose it” (Thanks DEAR). Frantic, I am trying to remember this whole situation and where the tooth could be. I’m exhausted, all I want to do is crawl into my bed. For a month. I’m praying harder than I’ve prayed all week. “Please God don’t let this be the thing she throws in my face for the rest of her life – ‘Remember when you lost my favorite tooth?'” I go get the jeans I took off, check the pockets. No….Wait. Back it up here. Tooth Tree? What in creation is that? What have I missed? I go back, without a tooth, and I ask “Tooth tree? Really? The tooth fairy is banned in this house – by you – but there is a tooth tree?” “Of course, you plant the tooth and a tree grows. Now because of you there will be no tooth tree” (Raelee is nodding along with the smirking father). “At least if there was a tooth fairy we could write a little note explaining the situation and she would understand and leave something under the pillow” “The tooth fairy is nonsense and she won’t be entering this house” “Oh, but the tooth tree is real.” I found the tooth on the floor of the bathroom where I took my pants off. (Thank you Lord!) I left them in deep conversation about the legitimacy of both the fairy and the tree. We are all three so exhausted I don’t really know if I’m supposed to put money under the pillow or we are planting a tooth tomorrow.

 

 

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Visiting Construction Sites

So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them? Ecclesiates 3:12

Yesterday was a long day for us. First thing we went over to the Gov’t school where we have a crew putting a roof on their office. Raelee and I have never been over there, it is further in the village. The head master and teacher came out and had me sign their guest book and thank me for the work. I noticed Raelee standing alone off to the side, she gets a little anxiety and awkwardness (surprising I know) when around adults she doesn’t know. So I walked over to her and handed her my camera for the first time ever. Showed her how to focus and snap the photo. I took the first two pictures – you look at her first hand at it and you’ll know this picture takin’ mama is pretty proud of her! Some of the pictures of people she took driving down the bumpy road! Definitely going to encourage her in photography and be glad to have someone else take pictures also. Sometimes you don’t realize the things you miss because you are behind the camera taking the pictures!

The Christian school across the road from us is basically mud and sticks. It has seven tiny classrooms with over one hundred children now. Crammed in rooms that can’t even fit desks. They asked us in the beginning of the year if we could help them build a temporary building for the seventh grade class since they did not own the land. We did. It’s not a building we are proud of – we had other things going on and without supervision it turned out a little leaned to the left! Haha! A month ago they were inspected by the government and were informed that if they added three more classrooms they will get a certificate and be placed on the list of government approved schools. This will qualify them for some government help – not a lot. But being on the list will elevate them, more people will want to send their kids to the school and they will be able to pay their teachers. The lady that owns the land said she would sell it to them. So they came to us again and asked what we could do to help. We told them that before we would bring it up to our board they would have to at least buy the land and we would ask for the three buildings to be built. They did and the board approved the buildings. Christian has worked hard cutting all the boards, a bigger job here since wood is not the same width or thickness from board to board and as of yet he hasn’t found a good planer; staying just ahead of the crews that are building. And the crew has been working hard – and this time there has been more supervision and a new crew chief! Christian also showed them how to ship lap it and if you look in the one picture you can see the difference in the older building and the newest one. The old one they asked for space to be left between each board to get circulation but we wanted the new buildings to look nice so they agreed to the ship lap sides only up about seven feet and then the windows. With screens! So now, if we can come in under budget we would like to take apart the first one and make it like the new ones. We tried to help with a plan looking forward if they add, build in a way they can tear down the stick and mud building but they have their own plans! So, as long as they are happy and we can still be proud of our work we are all good! We believe in the importance of having the school here and are so happy God has blessed us with favor from the board and their trust that we are good stewards with what we are given. We are thankful for all the people that have given to our organization to help lift this community up and make an impact to the Kingdom of God.

THEN we came home and worked nine hours on sawing, feeding, cleaning and doctoring! On Thanksgiving day I was so very thankful I have been given a husband who, after a full day of work took pity on me and actually looked up a recipe online and surprised me with dinner at 8:30. And it was delicious!

Happy Wednesday!

Well, we have made it halfway through the week and still moving along! Moving a little slower and with sound effects! I had to squat down to get something and thought I’d never get up. Had to get to my rear, kinda roll over to my knees, then all fours and finally back into a standing position. On the dirt floor of the rabbit house. I’ve been working like I’m twenty-five but once I stop my body reminds me I am a little older than that! Ha! Raelee has still been a trooper but she got to have more time off today. She spent a lot of it talking to one rabbit that she is determined to bring inside. And spoiling a few with more sunflowers. Christian worked with me today and we fed, cleaned and doctored all before lunch. Then we remembered we had to fill the water tank. Yikes! Christian says if us old people can do all that those young guys shouldn’t be complaining about anything!

We have a bore hole in the back of the property that used to be a community pump until we fenced the property in. So it doesn’t get used and the water has been pretty nasty. Jennifer and I are convinced that if pumped enough it will clear up. Someone will go pump it for ten minutes and quit and say it won’t clear up. For at least three months, if not more, we have been talking with a company that installs solar pumps to go on our bore hole that we can use for the rabbits water system and drip irrigation for our crops. I have been stressing over it, wanting to get it done before the dry season is begins. The owner (who is American) lives about two hours away. We were told by friends that he is a really busy man for all this time he would set an appointment with us and cancel the day before. Finally he told us he had the trucks packed up with equipment to at least come blow out the well and see if that clears up the water. Haven’t heard from him in almost three weeks now. In the rabbit house is a five hundred liter tank with PVC pips that carry the water through each cage. The five hundred liters last about three days. The rabbit house is at the back of our five acre property and the guys have had to come up to the very front of the five acres and pump water to take back and fill the tank. The guys aren’t here this week so this evening we pumped and filled the tank. It had some water in it but we pumped and poured two hundred and fifty liters into it! We did pump at the back well and the water was crystal clear. The bright side is it was a good work out for my “granny” arms as my loving husband calls them. You know, when you get old and when you wave you look like a flag is attached to the bottom of your arm. Where did this come from? When did it happen? Haha! I probably won’t be able to wave anything tomorrow. We did it different than the guys, they carry the jerry cans down the road, inside the building and hand them up to whoever is pouring. We drove the truck full of jerry cans, I hooked them up to a rope and Christian pulled them up. The two cans in the pictures are ten liters, some we have are twenty liters. We had to fill them all. I told him all he has to do is put a pulley back there and problems solved until we can get a pump!

While we were pumping and filling, the boys (with Raelee supervising from a perch in a tree) cleaned out the chicken house. I think they were quite relieved not having to clean urine and manure in the rabbit house! I love them both and they always make me laugh. They love to ride on the truck and thought they could convince me to let them hang off the side when I drove it back up to the house. They and Raelee love to ride in the back. When they realized Christian wasn’t going back up they all three climbed in the front with me and the boys were amazed I was driving. We got up to the house and Indianga was at the gate in the tipper waiting to be let in as the guard was gone for the day. I had to turn the truck around and when I backed up I was watching the building but forgot one important thing….the tail gate was down. Oops! Just barely I bumped the building but the boys looked at me with big eyes waiting to see what I was going to do. I said “Oops”! Got out, went to find the gate keys, let Indianga in and was telling him I forgot the tail gate was down. He said “Whoops”! The only thing it did was smash the plastic cover for the solar wiring to the Church building.

By the time we were finished watering rabbits, watering goats and chickens it was past supper time. I started making tacos and boiling water to bathe. After the meat was done and shells were cooking I realized there was barely a flame under the water kettles, and then poof! there was no more flame – gas was over! The water was near boiling, supper was ready so I say that was perfect timing!

We want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! Remember to thank God for all the many blessings you have everyday – even the small ones like having just enough gas to finish supper! He always provides just what we need!

There is always joy!

We decided to go swimming Friday and Saturday, Raelee and I love to swim. First we went to a hotel she and I went to two years ago, you can pay a couple dollars and swim all day. It has gone down hill since then and they had the pool drained, it had about two feet of water. She begged to stay. I said I couldn’t swim in that. We went to the hotel we stayed at when we moved here, they put in a pool about a year ago. They actually have two pools, one that is shallow for kids. The big pool is really big and I can barely stand in it – on my tiptoes! I will have to work up to swimming the length of it. They are doing a lot of expansion and it is all going to be really nice when finished. You can also pay a couple dollars and swim all day. That’s probably where we will spend a lot of Saturdays – a good way for us to relax and her to have a ball!

When There’s Only Faith

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

This post is a hard one for me. Partly venting but mostly to ask for prayers lifted up. For us, for all missionaries who struggle wondering if what they are doing is matters. For our village and the entire country. Sometimes the only thing I know is that God has a plan for those around us and He put us here as His hands and feet. Sometimes my faith in that is the only thing that keeps me here. I could run away, lately I’ve wanted to run away from the struggles and the doubt that we are making any kind of difference but I can’t run away from the calling God has for us. There’s struggle and disappointment at times in everyone’s life.

This will be our third Thanksgiving to be away from family. I’ve been homesick for the first time since we came. It hasn’t helped that this month the mornings have felt like fall – and then gets to 86′ in the afternoon which is so much like Louisiana! We were in Jinja and saw a display with white pumpkins and I want my mama!

I am always encouraged by the children and their thirst to know more about the Bible and about Jesus. Another boy got his Bible last week and although not all have gotten their own I let them use one in Sunday School as we are learning through the book of the Case for Christ for kids to help us know who Jesus is. But….

Trying to get those around us understand why we are here, why we have the rabbits and goats is a struggle. All they see is a paycheck or think that we are an ATM. And maybe we are partly to blame that we haven’t been clear enough on our intentions although we try to get them to understand we are just tools used by God and everything we do is to try to lift this community up. Sometimes they see, as we are currently building new classrooms for one school to try and help them build it up and children won’t have to be boarded away from home. When they go off to school, parents are only allowed to see their children on one visiting day a term. And it is so expensive, they spend all their time worrying about school fees. Other times, as with the rabbits they believe we are here to make money as a business. So the full-time workers come to do their jobs, complain about too much work and the rabbit urine makes them so sick. Granted, it is not pleasant emptying the pans but it’s part of the job and it isn’t as bad as they make it out to be. We have prayed A LOT about the rabbits and I intend to talk about that in another post – I believe God is giving us a new direction. Maybe not the goals and intentions we had going into it but how He wants to use it. We – all of us – sometimes (often) start out listening to His intention but then get in the way of it with our own small-minded intentions. When His goal is so much bigger than ours.

This is going to be a rough week. Christian fired all of our full-time workers today. Well, he told them all to go home for a week without pay and don’t come back until next Monday to see if they still have a job. He sat them down, explained that we pay them more than they would at any other job in this area, but they were welcome to go if they can find a better one. We would be happy for them. If we hire more help (because apparently they work too hard) he explained they will have to start paying taxes, and that is on their monthly wages and the lunches and breakfast that is paid for on top of that. By law we don’t have to give them lunch money or supply breakfast. He explained what they would be left with. This is after having a meeting last week to put a stop to everyone, every month asking for pay-day loans. Every month six to eight times a month we have to go through this whole thing and say no. We explain the money isn’t there until the first of the month. It’s hard to say no. It’s tiring to say no. But it wouldn’t help them in the long run. We know from learning the hard way ourselves.  They asked if he could just dole out a little of their pay as they need it! He told them to grow up, we helped them set up saving accounts, we deposit their pay. All they have to do is withdraw what they need as they need it. It all came to a head Saturday, we left Friday evening to spend the night and next day at a local hotel that has a swimming pool. Had a good day. Came home to hear a sixth goat in about four months had died. And that there was fighting among the workers and fingers pointed that someone was poisoning them. We were so excited a couple of months ago that we were going to get to give two goats to widows, we were trying to find two that the greatest need. There’s some reason they are all dying. This last one had a month old baby and because we were gone and they wanted us to see it, they left it laying dead from sometime Thursday night to Saturday evening. The baby beside it trying to nurse when we got home. Everyone here has goats and it is not normal for that many to die. They are fine one day and dead the next. They were also complaining that the work is too hard in the rabbit house seven and a half hours a day. Thirty minute breakfast break and an hour lunch. That was it. He told the workers that they may as well go take a widows food because in not caring about the goat situation that is what they have done.

Christian has been cutting all the lumber for three school buildings and roof for an office at another school, he’s been busy for a couple months with school desks and building a fence for the bulls and goats.  I have been schooling Raelee and doing the things I have to do. So we haven’t spent as much time in the rabbit house, we have had a few visitors come to talk about rabbits and get advice but haven’t spent as much attention as we probably should have because we had confidence in the workers we now have in there. It was awful yesterday. There are a few rabbits that I knew were sick and was told a few times they were getting medicine. We are going to put them down tomorrow, they are beyond getting better. I found the medicine hidden, none of it used. Food bowls caked so much there was no room for fresh food. Spent half the day yesterday cleaning bowls, replacing hay bottles. A few didn’t even have food bowls. Today Raelee and I fed the rabbits, doctored rabbits and it took us two hours. Me and a seven year old. This evening her two buddies came and in about one and a half-two hours we cleaned all the gutters and emptied urine. About 250 cages. So close to four hours it took me, two seven year olds and a nine year old to do the seven hour workday work of three men. Twenty minutes of that was chasing an escaped rabbit – he’s still loose. And I cooked lunch and supper. It’s not easy work but it’s not back breaking either. I’m sorry but I don’t have a lot of sympathy. But I know we can’t do all that we have to do normally and take care of two hundred plus rabbits and five acres that includes at least two acres of crops. It’s going to be tough this week, but the boys asked me if they could come back and help tomorrow. Our chickens haven’t been laying eggs and nobody could tell us why. Six have disappeared. We went in to get eggs yesterday, there is supposed to be about a foot step down when you go in but the floor is now even with the bottom of the door. You figure out why. The nesting boxes are full of waste. We thought maybe the boys could help dig it out. But I asked them why they weren’t in school today and they said they were sent home because they couldn’t pay their school fees. I had one of them go get their mama and worked out a deal to pay enough to get them back in but they would come the rest of this week after school to help out. She and they were so excited. I told them I would be checking with the school master to make sure they didn’t skip out to come work, next week are exams and I don’t want them to miss. So we will have a little help. Christian is almost done cutting boards and our part time guard will be helping him on the grounds this week until we decide what to do. All this to say sometimes working for the Lord is hard, emotionally and mentally mostly. We know how to work hard, we can get through a week of it physically. The toll for all missionaries I think is living in a culture that is hard to understand, not seeing what we think progress (on our part) should be and being away from our loved ones. For us it is also only having each other to vent to and we are in the same boat! We still laugh almost everyday, we still have faith God is working even when we don’t see it. We still know this is where we are supposed to be. We know we aren’t the only ones that have struggles and disappointments and ours are small compared to others. Serving God isn’t always easy or fun but everyday I still say it is well with my soul. And that’s a big thing.

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? Romans 10:14