New Babies!

So far this month we’ve had four of the women we gave mama kits give birth! All girls!

There were two others that lost their babies that were stillborn, including a set of twins. We pray for those mothers but they thanked us for all of the other things in their kits that helped them so much.

One mama brought her baby born June 2 to see us last week. She was so tiny. She said she was so thankful to have the mama kit when she went to the hospital as they didn’t supply them.

Baby Katherine

Another had her 9 1/2 pound baby at home by herself! I couldn’t even imagine having to do that and be all alone. She was taken to the Dr the next day and mama and baby are doing fine.

Here are two more of the babies that were brought to show us, one was just born this past week and is our “Ugandan Granddaughter”. Her mother is one of our girls that went to tailoring school and will be teaching at our training center. She has a little time anyway to rest and be with her baby – we are under full lockdown here in Uganda. Takia and baby girl are doing well and at home.

A certain little girl was determined our Takia name her baby after her middle name Noelle. I don’t think they knew how to spell it but named her in R’s honor!

Nowelyn Blessing

And baby born June 7 is called Shemora. Her mother only had a midwife to help her so she was very very thankful to have everything she needed so a safe birth.

Baby Shemora

I thank all mothers who have received the mama kits for bringing their babies so that we could see. And so thankful they are all healthy and Mamas’ are happy! We will be having 25 mothers ready to receive their bags July 1 but since we are on lockdown they will be delivered to them individually.

Everything in the tote bag, including the important Mama kit plus other things a post natal woman needs.
We are thankful to Takia that she got so many tote bags done before she had her baby!

Carpenters in the Making

Christian has been very busy trying to get the training center ready, I thought we would have our first class by May. But we don’t have a Lowe’s or Home Depot here so getting the materials for wiring the lights and electricity in the building has been a nightmare. Getting wood the he doesn’t have to plane and recut isn’t possible. So progress has been slow. He’s also been making me cabinet doors and a new cupboard because I had the bright idea when we moved here to have lockers made for our food. But, especially during lockdowns and stocking up they aren’t big enough so they are to go in the training center for the students to each have their own for their supplies.

But, Raelee’s two best friends that are here most of the time are always wanting to help him. One’s dad is in the military and gone most of the time. When you join the military here you are in until you are 65. Sula’s dad isn’t around very much because he has other wives and spends more time gone then being there. So Christian is a father figure for them. When he is trying to work he will have four little hands trying to help with everything and makes it extremely hard for him to get anything done. They can’t do a lot on their own (we thought!) and there isn’t much they can do to help with the training center. We are under quarantine again so they aren’t in school. They are getting too old to want to play house and dolls with Raelee so they always want to be in the barn with him. So Christian put all projects on hold so that they could help him build a dog house. We recently got two Rottweiler puppies after our Dobermans died of cancer. We are tired of them sleeping in the bathroom and when they get full size we need somewhere to lock them in when we have the kids for church or visitors as most people here fear dogs.

The boys were thrilled and actually did a great job even when Christian wasn’t right there. Not that he left them for very long around all the power tools and saw! But he did go to check on some other projects going on and when he came back they had one wall up by themselves. So not only giving his time that he really didn’t have, he’s teaching them early a skill that will give them an advantage when they get older. And an example to be for them. (Personally I think it should have been a little bigger considering these dogs can get close to one hundred pounds! But the boys would gladly build another one!)

In the beginning Christian said “I left them for ten minutes and came back to this. You see what I’m working with?”! He had the flap up at one time and underneath he had yellow safety glasses on!
Very proud of these boys. And I know Christian is because he actually asked to be in a picture! That does NOT happen very often! (And even though she is small Bella sacred people more. But there’s no way she’s going to sleep in a dog house outside. She barks all night anyway when outside. But she alerts us from in the house if there is anything out of the ordinary outside. She’s a brat but a good security dog!

Knowing But Not Seeing

We (The Mandate) support one of our Ugandan daughter’s community ministry. We sent her to college to be a social worker and this past year and a half since she graduated we have been able to support widows, orphans and those that have the most urgent needs. She loves her community and puts her all into helping wherever and whenever needed. Our ministry has really grown and supporting her and mentoring her for the future has been a joy for us.

When we first moved to Uganda we met a very educated Doctor and I was so discouraged, we didn’t know the culture, found we were being taken advantage of and just really didn’t know where to begin or what to do. It was a little embarrassing to fall apart on his office. His words have stayed with me in everything we do here “what are you going to do that will have a lasting effect even after you are gone?” The water wells are definitely something that will last but investing our time in teaching, mentoring, parenting these girls we have will go on long after we have gone. (He also said we are working among a very stubborn people where we live!)

We don’t leave our farm that often to just visit in the village. It’s hard, we want to make relationships but because needs are so great it usually just ends up being people after people asking for money. We know it’s hard but for us as a ministry we want to get to know people and not just be looked at as an ATM. That is why we are so thankful for and why we support Salima. I and our daughter were able to go and visit with the people Salima has been caring for and people along the way so that they can see we are real, we want to be friends and we don’t feel like we are above them. Even after six years we are always learning and today I learned a lot. It was also good for our daughter. Even though she is growing up among the poor she is usually on our compound and hasn’t really seen what real poverty is.

I want to add that I am usually behind the camera, I don’t like to be the center of attention or feel worshipped. It makes me feel that I am better than them. And I don’t. But their customs are to show their gratefulness by taking pictures of us giving the food and things we have. I would rather take a picture with them rather than pictures that highlight what “we are doing for them”. So I try to balance my humility with their customs. Not always easy!

Besides just being widows, which there are sixty two, some have grandchildren that have been orphaned and they care for. One of the things today that got to me the most was a widow that has a granddaughter and grandson that are around twelve and thirteen and the conditions of where they had to sleep. Their entire house was about 12×15’ and the two kids slept at the end of the grandmothers bed on a torn up 4’x4’ piece of foam. We gave them a mattress and blanket and it was like Christmas to them. It was like Christmas for me. No matter how the ones we visited today have to live and do without they have joy. And it is infectious!

This piece of foam is what the two children were sleeping on at the end of their grandmothers bed
She was so happy to have a “real bed” and blanket.

I’m thankful for Salima, now I feel I can get out of our little bubble and get to know people. Which has always been my prayer.

We are under a quarantine again but the past couple weeks there have been more things of God happening than in six years. He is bringing so many good things out of this awful pandemic we find ourselves in.

Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10

My Playlist This Week

Jammin’ ‘n Slammin’!

I think I’ve listened to Toby Mac’s new song more times than I can count and watched the video almost as many times! I don’t know how many times we’ve seen him perform live but I know the first time was not long after he went solo. Our granddaughter and grandson are fans of his also. I think maybe his video for this song is his best video so far! Can’t wait to hear the rest of the CD!

Crowder ❤️❤️. As soon as we got busy this week with so many projects all at once the devil started in from all sides. Problems with girls we love as daughters. Our own daughter that was being manipulated and teaching her stealing and hiding things from us was okay. Now those consequences have fallen heavy on our shoulders. Table saw that was needed for the training center broke down and Chris couldn’t keep it going this time. And people, there’s no Lowe’s, Home Depot or Walmart here! Electrical wire for the training center – no one had any! It was one thing after another of the devil trying to steal our joy. In the kitchen one of those days I just started yelling “run devil run”. Scared Raelee a little bit I told her he is real and he is trying to steal the joy we’ve had the past few weeks and I’m not going to let him have mine.

He also has new songs and they have been played almost as much as the new Mac’s songs! And am I the only one that doesn’t see red hair? 🤣

https://youtu.be/6TzECToPYIk

So these are songs I’ve played a lot this week! I love in “I Am” the chorus – “I am
Holding on to You
I am
Holding on to You
In the middle of the storm
I am holding on
I am!

There is another video to the same song “I Am” on YouTube that is very moving, from the movie “Son of God”

We started off last week, first a sit down with one of our Ugandan daughters and have a tough talk with. And then I had to had to have a talk with our other Ugandan daughter! I, and then with Christian had to have a difficult talk with her but we told her when she repents that God is there to forgive. We have forgiven her. He uses our pasts, I found myself in somewhat a similar position thirty-five years ago, before coming to Christ but He has used that situation that the devil could have used for evil, God used it in a very big way for good. We will always be by her side but there will be consequences she’s going to have to face. The consequences of my actions still affect people in my life that I love, but thank God He forgives and as His word says:

“The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” Psalm 103:12

These are some of the songs that have helped me get through without wanting to run away (okay, maybe hide for a minute!). Music, especially songs that glorify God or say the words that your heart feels are important to me and sometimes I forget how healing and how encouraging they can be. Music touches the soul.

Don’t get me wrong – these past few weeks have been the most encouraging and exciting weeks we’ve had in awhile. Just not without challenges!

We’ll see what next week’s playlist represents! Bye y’all, and thanks to all the new friends who have started following our sometimes crazy antics!

Never Early…Never Late

Don’t give up!

If you’ve followed my blog for long you know all about the rabbit project. About four and a half years ago I felt God put it on my heart to raise rabbits to help with all the malnutrition here. The plan was to have a training class, to show how rabbits can be raised easily and inexpensively and they can feed their children and themselves meat every day. Because it was something new I was laughed at and if it wasn’t going to make fast and easy money then most people weren’t interested.

It is such a frustrating thing to see so many children that only have a corn flour porridge everyday, even when the family has chickens and eggs. But they are sold for school fees or to buy the flour so that they can make it stretch. There is no nutritional value in maize flour. And though the focus on education is important, hungry and malnourished children don’t learn as well if they aren’t healthy.

What I would like you to get out of this is, just when you are ready to give up, as I have been, God shows up. That’s the hard part, patience through the times you don’t see things happening in the way you envisioned or even thought was the vision God gave you. I’ve been struggling whether I was mistaken, that maybe the idea was just my own. I spent forty hours a week in the first few years trying to do all “I” could to at least sell some to help keep feeding two hundred to sometimes four hundred rabbits!

Then God gave me the answer and the blessing of seeing my dream of feeding those most vulnerable come true in a big way just as I was ready to give up!

The same Pastor friend that is working on the school for orphans and is already caring for about 134 teenagers and the few small ones found out we raise the rabbits. He was so excited he wanted to start training right then! And we were leaving in two days to see our son for two months! But the excitement he had that there was a way besides chickens and agriculture they could have their own food to feed these children was infectious!

Taking notes and soaking in as much information as they could!

Pastor and a teacher or two and some students started coming in the end of March for two days every week. They went through all the training of feeding and sicknesses, how to recognize and treat. And the fun parts of cleaning the cages and how important that is.

For the last three to four weeks they have built their own cages and are ready for some rabbits! I am so excited for them but I am blessed beyond measure that even though “my plan” didn’t go as I expected and on MY time frame, God knew. And this will be a blessing not only to the kids there at the school but prayerfully to their community once they see that they too can raise rabbits for meat easily and inexpensively.

We are thankful we have been able to bless this school, and these children who have no one else but this man who has been Pastor/Mother/Father to them all. As much as we can whether it is through the Hope for Girls or helping with raising rabbits or their school as they come along, we want to walk with them.

Thank you Lord and Hooray for Pastor Emerson and Global High School! As you have been blessed, you don’t even know the blessings you have given us!

Don’t give up. If you feel God has given you a calling, a project or a ministry just know it’s not always (rarely is!) in our own timing or understanding. But if we are faithful and keep at it unless He tells us to quit the blessings are beyond measure!

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

God’s Appointments

I was going to write a different post but I got some news yesterday I want to share. I want to share for two reasons, one is you never know the fullness of God’s plans, even on what we would think is a small scale. The other reason, we sometimes don’t even think about the way in which God works. Our vision of Gods kingdom is so small we can’t fathom the mystery and greatness of His works. We only see one thing but God sees all and not only is He working on you and what He asks you to do but he is already putting other plans in place so that it all comes together when you least expect it.

My last post mentioned that smiling little boy – Suluman – I wanted so much to take home with me. The one that had been abandoned at a young age (he is four and I think I said he was three) I had even asked Pastor Emerson if any of the children are ever adopted out. Apparently there were more people around listening (something that is common here I’ve found many times. I’m not going to say busybodies, but….In our village especially!) I turned to Chris and asked him if we could pray about it. I will just say, I am 57 and am raising an eleven year old girl so I already have my hands full. And they say this one is a little firecracker! Of course Chris said we could pray about it if that’s what I wanted to do but there would really have to be confirmation it was God working it out!

I believe God has a sense of humor, along with His plans and not mine. I have said many many times I don’t even like kids – except my own and grandkids! (Don’t judge me!) Once they hit 3-4 you can have them! I also say that especially here with so many beautiful children that have no families, that is why God gave me Raelee. To remind me that cute little baby does grow out of that cuteness and dependence on you and one day grow their wings and fly from the nest! . (That’s why I’ll stick with animals!) But since I got saved He has put me with children. Most times because I was the only one around to do it and a lot of times it wasn’t willingly but I always was blessed. (Unless it was teenagers – I just don’t know how to relate to them!) But here knowing the things these girls, boys and babies go through, my love for them all has grown.

So, it seems the word was spread around that some mzungus had come to their school and wanted to know if they could take him home. Whispers that mzungus were going to adopt him and take him away. (No offense but rumors can spread so fast that we find out what we are doing almost before we even do it in our own village!)

A lady came to Pastor, seemingly upset. He said she had often come around and sometimes would bring him food or clothes and even as we were there had bathed him and dressed him and he had walked off holding this lady’s hand. Pastor Emerson said there were times he wondered about this lady’s affections for this one boy. She told him she had heard that mzungus might be taking him away and she was very distressed. She told him she was his mother. Her husband had left her and she couldn’t care for him as a baby so she had left him there. But through the last few years had still been in his life and did what she could to help when she could. She was so afraid that he would be taken away by the mzungus and she wouldn’t see him anymore.

Through his own tears, of joy and amazement of God and God’s timing Pastor Emerson told me this story. And through my tears I said “Well, I got my answer to prayers pretty clearly”! A child belongs with his mother and I am so thankful that she was courageous enough to step up and say she was the one who left him because she knew she couldn’t care for him. She had pictures of him after she had him and they had it checked out with the Chairman of their area. She has a new husband and I don’t know their situation but either they still can’t fully care for him or she feels he has become at home there she still wants him to stay with at the school. She still wants to give him whatever she is able to. We pray there will come a day she can take him home and they will be a family.

It’s an amazing story of love, between the talk with Pastor Emerson and how his girls need the help of Hope for Girls to how it also gave a woman the courage to say she gave her baby up. God is always working situations but we don’t see the fullness. He knew exactly what would happen and in His timing. We sometimes get so wrapped up in what “we” are doing for the Kingdom that we don’t realize what He is doing all around us when we obey and GO!

I have the joy of knowing I will still see him when we go there but not all the work of raising him! And great joy he will know he is loved by many, especially his mother who was scared and just wanted a better life for him than she thought she could give.

Studies And Fun!

Salima has been teaching our six children so they won’t fall behind. She has started teaching in our big building. The government also has classes on TV twice a day according to their grade levels that they watch at her home. We are proud she has taken this on by herself. We don’t know yet how schooling will be handled once quarantine is over since children have missed pretty much an entire term. And they also have Bible class. The girls were telling me so many scriptures and stories in the Bible today. Salima brought them to clean the apartments next door – she usually cleans once a month so it doesn’t get overrun by spider webs. She said they need to learn how to clean!

She has them separated by their grade levels
Phiona at the board, Naomi and Becca watching
Elisa and Musale
Masale and Becca
Having fun after classes! Elisa (the youngest) is such a funny little guy!

Birthday Girls

Thursday was two of our girls birthdays. They are sisters five years apart but share the same date! Their older brother and sister share a same birthday also. It was the first day we have seen them since we quarantined almost two months ago so it was a joy to see them. We got to visit for a few minutes but it was the highlight of the last two months! They are both (along with their sisters) are the sweetest girls, always joyful and have a huge love for Jesus and for their community. And us! They bring us joy but Salima is such a great and close friend to me. I think I might have been the happiest to see her!

Salima turned 25
Takia turned 20