Yay For Holiday!

The kids are home for their break before the last term of the year starts in September. They alerted so excited to see us and we are excited to see how happy they are. And growing like weeds! I got to hold Elisa (the youngest) during church. He fell asleep so he wasn’t really awake when I took the pic. I won’t be able to hold him much longer, he’s getting big, almost six. And he usually prefers Chris’s lap but he was preaching so I even traded one of the twin babies to hold him. He hasn’t had a mama to rock him, his died right after he was born.

They are all doing so well at school and seem to be developing more of a relationship with their father, which is something we have prayed for. It’s amazing to see such joy in children that have had it as rough as they have in their young lives.

Hope for More Girls!

 

This week we were able to visit one of the largest government schools in our village. Going in to it I did not know this. There was a big miscommunication and I was given the number of girls as ninety. Salima and I took one hundred kits “just in case”.  

They called the girls to come and they came. And kept coming. I start sweating it! After we were all in this thirteen by fifteen foot room we counted 260 girls! I had to run to the car and tell Christian to go to the house and get all the rest that we had! 

It is amazing what God does with us. How we are welcomed into what is mostly Muslim students and teachers, the school is right on the grounds with the large mosque. But they welcomed us and were not offended when I gave them the message that Jesus loves them and God has made us just the way He wants us. After I gave them a talk about how they are “wonderfully and fearfully made” we educated them about menstruation. They asked very good questions and were free about talking about things they’ve faced. Shame, fear, terror when they didn’t know what was happening to their bodies. Jenifer threatened them beforehand that this was a safe place and no one should leave that room gossiping about anyone else so I think that gave them the feeling of freedom to talk. We also talk a little about boys (pretty much stay away from them!), safety and self-defense. Salima is so helpful as she is an example of what staying in school and hard work can accomplish. She encouraged them to not focus on boys and sex but in getting an education that will enable them to have a better life.

It was a huge blessing to be there and give out the kits. And as always the boys were fussing that they had been left out of something so we gave the school two soccer balls for them. That appeased them! 

We are so thankful we are given these opportunities with open arms and the teachers tell us so many times how appreciative they are for the education part. I gave the head teacher our flip chart so that she and the other female teachers can educate the girls further. 

 

Thank you to all who have donated time and money to help us keep girls in school. A big thanks to ladies in Leesville/Anacoco, Louisiana for their contribution that allowed me to have the extras we needed with that large group because of course the teachers also asked for kits!

We now have two seamstresses that are busy each month making more kits! They are so happy to be receiving a good income every month!

If you feel led to help us help young women stay in school, learn how to defend themselves (which is really important here also) there can never be too many kits. 100% of your donation goes to the kits and to the seamstresses that make them go to https://themandate.com/campaigns/hope-for-girls/

And a great big I love you to Raelee who was my photographer for the day! She has a natural talent and I have been encouraging her as much as possible. She has moved up to an intermediate Nikon camera but still gets reigned in for too many selfies and pics of her kitten! She really stepped out of her comfort zone for this one – that many people makes her (and I!) very nervous but I had coached her beforehand of the specific pics I wanted her to make sure she got. She nailed it!

The Goat Project

Early on Raelee and I wanted to get a baby goat. They are “so cute and funny” when they are little. We got a male and female. Over the last two and a half years we have had babies and either the mother or baby or both died. We have had nine die over the two years. No one can tell us why. We believe that some of it is not from “natural causes”. Our whole goal was to have babies, enjoy them until they were old enough to then give away to widows. Finally we are at a point of seeing that this project hasn’t gone to plan. Maybe because that was “our plan” and not God’s plan. I don’t know. But this week we were able to finally give two females away to two widows who have no one taking care of them. They weren’t told they were getting a goat so they were a little hesitant as to why Salima was bringing them to our place. Once they were told they were amazed and so excited. Having a goat is like having money in the bank here. They will hold on to it until there is an emergency or are in great need of money. If they have friends or neighbors that have a male they can breed and have more in their “account”.

We have a male, but we are told it will be better for us to trade it for two females and give the females away. So we are in the process of doing that.

I’m not sure the orphaned baby goat – Sylvester – will be given away. When you’ve gotten up every four hours for a month to feed him, and he now feels he is one of the dogs, you get a little attached. A little – he is about ready to stay outside all the time. As for now he sleeps in our bathroom but when let out is jumping up one everything. No one wants to eat on a table a goat has pranced on!

After the joy of these ladies, I wish our project could have gone on, and maybe we will have another opportunity to try again. But for now, we can’t wait to give the gift of two more!

 

Solar Lights

There are many stories about the widows that got solar lights. One widow was bedridden and her daughter had to care for her. They were excited because now in the night when they would have to clean her up they will be able to see inside and outside – we do have snakes (cobras even) here. One little woman was so excited she went up and down the road and physically pulled people to her home to see her lights!

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A New Chapter

Haria is one of our girls we have helped support through school to be a Mid Wife. Her training was a little over a year and a half and very extensive. I believe she could almost be licensed as an RN in the States. She scored in the top five in the nation of students training to be Mid Wives and was offered a job at the school to teach when she finished. She could either take the teaching job or go on for another year and a half as an intern under licensed clinics or Mid Wife so that she can finish out two more semesters and be able to work on her own. She decided to accept the job only to find they were not going to pay her enough to even cover rent. So she came home defeated. Her mother told us even she cried when Haria had to come home, knowing it would be hard for her to find somewhere locally to get good training. And I know it was hard for Haria to return with no prospects in sight.

But, God always provides! We called our good friend who is a Doctor, very educated man and asked if he knew of anyone that could help her. He did, he has very good Christian friends with a good clinic willing to take her on as an intern. You could just see the change in her when we told her the news! She is only an hour away, has found an apartment and with our help got everything she needs to start this new chapter in her life. We told her we may never know but that meeting Dr Nelson three years ago may have been for just this time – to help her with this opportunity. Her faithfulness in her walk with the Lord and her obedience and hard work has shown her favor and we are as thrilled for her as we would be for our own children.

And the Lord said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” Exodus 33:17

Pray for Harria as she starts her internship, that she will get the experience she needs, get connected with a true God fearing and scripture teaching church and put good friends in her life. That was one of the hardest parts of her years of schooling up north, there was so much jealousy that she had no friends and was so lonely most of the time.

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The week before last was a rough one. I had had my suitcase packed for me and was going to get sent away. I freaked out our boys. I’ve had a rough year so far physically for me and for Christian and had lost all hope period with life. The mental stress and feeling we aren’t making a difference weighs on me. That is pride though – I wasn’t put here to see what “I” can do but what God can do. There was discord between Christian and I over something lost. But we also realized that some meds the Dr had me on weren’t going well for me.  With much prayer and coming off the medicines God has brought me through – again. He does that you know? Brings you through the darkness and shows you the light there is in your life. He has moved greatly this last week – in my life, in Haria’s life, two of her sister’s lives and has shown me how much the women in prison need to hear about Him and have someone be compassionate towards them. But even that is heart wrenching when they all start coming to me and telling me their stories of some of the horrible reasons some of them are there. And if we hadn’t been moving a loveseat out of our room to give to Haria we probably would have never found the thing that had been lost and fought over because it had somehow gotten under it. Proverbs 18:10 says

The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
    the righteous man runs into it and is safe. 

God is good, all the time. It is us that lose sight of Him but He never loses sight of us. We all go through these times, some more than others. Hopelessness, pain, loss – none are bigger than the other. Mine aren’t more important or worse than yours. I just let mine out in a more public way. Partly to get over it but also so that others may know they aren’t alone and it gets better if we give it up to the One whose shoulders can bear it all.

We are like proud parents – or Aunt and Uncle the last few months there have been big milestones in not only lives we’ve invested in here but also a niece in the states who graduated and is getting ready to start her new chapter of life in College. I pray for my sister – you never know how much sorrow and joy at the same time your heart can hold when your firstborn goes out into the world! There are many things to be thankful for. And I am!

Visitation Day!

Saturday was visitation day with our six kids (among over 400 more!). It is a big deal for our kids to have us come, and many times it falls on times we are out of town. They were home for the holidays between terms when I had my surgery so I did not get to see them. We are blessed that we have a connection with the school and I got to see them the week the ladies from America, Salima and I were able to go and talk to a group of girls and give out kits. We also are there visiting from time to time and get to check up on them but for most of the children that board there visitation day is the only day of the three month term that they get to see family. We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived that the kids father had come without any prompting from us or Jenifer. And when he left he gave the oldest girl some money. That blessed our hearts as much as seeing the children. It’s been a long journey with the kids and with their father – trying to care for them but also to get him to care about them. Sometimes I think that maybe the guilt and shame he felt for not being able to care for them kept him from them. Maybe being able to see how blessed they have been has helped him to overcome some of that and is able to hold his head up now and enjoy his children. I know the smallest boys were all over him and he loved it.

Jenifer always does the cooking to take for them. She also shops and gets them treats and drinks. As we were sitting and eating I started counting and realized we had nine children sitting and eating with us. “I thought we had six children – when did we adopt three more?” I said. “These are their friends!” I’m not sure if they had family visiting, many children don’t. I am thankful that Jenifer knows how things go and made sure to make more than enough food. But, for the first time that I have seen there was someone selling shoes across the way. We always get a list of things needed, but I was asked if we could go and get shoes. So I went with the girls and Jenifer. After a lot of trying on shoes and trying to keep the little boys from running off in new shoes before I could pay, I realize there are about five pairs of girls shoes laid out for me to pay for. Again I asked “Why if I only have three girls are there five pairs of girls shoes here?” and again I was told “These are for our friends!” And there were more friends also shopping and bringing shoes! I told them that they all got to eat the good food but I was only buying six pairs of shoes today!

It was a good day, and we were able to see our “other” girls who intern there every year. We had already seen Olivia, I am her mama here in Uganda! We picked her up from the airport, but in the past couple years we have been able to also get close to Alexis. She is from Canada and had just arrived at the school so this was the first time seeing her. We plan on seeing them as much as possible, make sure they are getting some good treats and take them out to eat in Jinja!

It is a blessing and warms our hearts to see how happy the kids are, how they are growing and learning. We were worried about a couple of them and their grades the first term but have brought them up this term already. They are thriving there and we thank Hands of Hope for the love, discipline, education and the love for Jesus they give all the children.

Celebration 2

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ Acts 20:35   

The week before last was a busy but very blessed week. We had the return of a church group from the States, which for us was a good sign that our first ever time to host a group last year made an impression on the group and not only did some of the same people come back, they also brought new friends. It was awesome to see ones we met last year and to make new connections with great people this year.

Leading up to the week of their coming I had had surgery about two months before and was just starting to be up and about some. I am so thankful that our girl Salima had finished school and was doing all the housekeeping – especially filling everything with water since I couldn’t lift much. She was excited that I was going to teach her to cook and I showed her how to make Natchitoches meat pies and we each made twenty. After that she made about sixty five more by herself. And did a great job. In between all that she did shopping for our projects we would be doing, investigated widows that were the neediest and checked on Raelee and her schoolwork.

Hospitality is not one of the gifts God has bestowed on me. I want to have a welcoming home, I love to make people happy but it doesn’t come easy. So the thought of hosting thirteen people when I still wasn’t feeling myself was an overwhelming thought for me. And when satan knows God is moving and getting ready to do great things he knows just what buttons to push. This year I was very organized, I and Jenifer had calendars and she and I and Salima had many talks and organized the Hope for Girls kits. I patted myself on the back because I thought I had it all under control! Ha! So many other areas started to fall apart. The smooth sailing started to get a little bumpy! But with every bump we recognized it for what it was and prayed and got through it.

I hope to have pictures and stories coming soon from the group – because I was so organized with the food and the projects the women and I would do, this year I was blessed that I could spend more time getting to know these awesome people that came because of their love of Jesus and their desire to spread that love here. There were three women and we were able to be the first women to ever have permission or to even ask permission to visit with female inmates at the prison Christian goes to every Monday. I have been given permission to go each Monday and went last Monday with Salima but that first time having the three American women gave me confidence and it was such a moving experience. We were able to visit one school and give out over one hundred girls kits and speak to them about their worth and puberty – plus this year was great because one of the women visitors was able to give them some tips on personal safety. The men built benches for our Sunday School class that we have been asking for for two years! That caused great excitement with my kids! The also put in thirteen solar light kits for widows. Some of their stories are to come, there are some that are very sad and the impact two little lights made on them was more than you can imagine.

There were many challenges, some sickness, locked truck that tied up half a day, lost luggage (ours that they were bringing but was found! Praise the Lord!), drama among our workers but their were so many blessings, for us, for our village and for the group that came. I am happy that we were also able to have one day of fun and to show them the Nile River and other parts of Uganda.

We or the group may never know how much impact was made while they were here but I know on us personally it was huge. To have women that I barely know stop what they were doing and pray for me as I was trying to keep everything running smoothly for them but also putting out fires and answering to “Mama Raelee” constantly meant the world to me. I was told today that it was such a blessing for the school we visited with the Hope for Girls kits and they have made such a big difference for the girls there. I know for sure there were many seeds planted with every contact the group made. We even got the Chairman to one of the devotions we had every evening. I may not have told him when I gave him the time to come and meet the group but he stayed and heard about Jesus!

With a grateful heart we thank you Celebration Church for your support, your love of Jesus, and your willingness to go out to many different countries to be His hands and feet!

all of us

(Thank you Brandon for this photo!)

Prayer for Harria

Please be in prayer for Harria. She is going to school and interns at the hospital that is treating the Ebola patients who have entered Uganda. I talked to her tonight. She said they are now not working there and the border is now restricting Congolese from coming in. Some of the patients who were quarantined ran away and they believe they went back to the DRC. We pray it does not spread here. And she takes her final exams to get her degree in Mid Wivery. We are expecting her to pass with flying colors since she is among the top student in the country.