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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Hmmmm.... Bible Club?

For at least 5 years now a few of us have been hosting Bible Club at a local church during school holidays.  It's always a grand time of sports, games, Bible stories, singing, Bible study, points, rewards, and wonderful fellowship.  Slowly over the last year or so the leadership team has become super busy - some have wedded, others have gotten jobs, one moved to Kampala... and yet we all have a heart for Bible Club.  
 A few weeks ago we even celebrated with a birthday party of a one year old princess.
 It's always a joy hanging out with these awesome youth leaders.
 Well, two Sundays ago we had a short meeting in my house, planning the Bible Club for this school break and I must say, I didn't think it was going to work.  Some have great vision and passion.  Some have absolutely no time because they now have other requirements and responsibilities in their lives.  
I volunteered and said that I would try to run the Tuesday afternoon program, knowing that it's not really fair to run the whole afternoon alone with anywhere from 10-60+ kids. 
 But I went.  I took a boda boda (motorcycle taxi) to the church and walked into an empty compound.  No opened church door.  No younger youth to assist me.  Just sunshine and peace.  I sat down on the veranda of the church and thought about texting friends, only to realize that my phone was at home, so I really had to wait and see what the plan was that day.
The Lord had a plan.  A few of the neighbouring children spotted me waiting and wanted to come over to talk and touch a mzungu.  It started with three... then more, then more.  I started with simple questions - name, school, church, etc.... and they started with small stories and lots of giggles.  I have never seen these kids at a Bible Club meeting before this.
 It was so sweet.  An older sister came along and then organized the children to minister to me.  They prayed, sang songs, and worshipped God with their whole bodies.  And then I knew that the afternoon plan was not in vain.  Under the car park shelter, I asked the children in I could share a few Bible stories with them.  They listened with great joy in their eyes.  I was glad I had come.
Praise the Lord for these little ones.  Really, there are ministry opportunities around every corner if I had the time and energy.  May these kids grow up knowing Jesus.

Freedom Boys in a Frenzy

This evening I had the neighbour boys organize the toy room, and then decided to take 3 of them with me to town to buy 2 flats of eggs for the Educational Care training snack tomorrow morning, and a few packets of baking flour because there are birthday celebrations around here this weekend.  Walking along main street, one of the boys says... "Auntie, why do people like staring at you?  Is it because you are not brown?  I don't know why!  You are just Auntie K."  I smiled delightfully.  

While waiting for eggs to be packed at a corner store two or three of the young boys who live on the street came out of the wood work to greet me.  Some of their faces looked new and too young to be living on the streets.  A few of us in town call these young men the "Freedom Boys" and it really is my hope that they will find Jesus and become free of addiction, theft, and other troublesome spirits.  Many of them walk around with a plastic water bottle with a tiny piece of cloth shoved into the bottom of the bottle.  The cloth is soaked in airline fuel or glue which they sniff all day. 

The neighbour boys stood near the egg shop while I started greeting the Freedom Boys.  They (my neighbours) have learned that I greet all people in town - whether mad men about to throw rocks, or dirty young boys who joke around and want high fives.  At first they were few and the Freedom Boys were asking about former team-mates that they miss... (Shout outs to Tim, Rebekah, and Bobby)... then more and more came.  Some fist bumps, some quick stories, and one young boy came and kissed my hand like a prince.  :)  Then they complained of hunger... and as I stood there holding 3 packages of flour and 2 trays of eggs, I knew I had to give them a snack also.  I wanted to buy samosa for them so we all marched down one alley way.... they looked so proud to be walking with me.  

I had sent my boys to another shop where they could sit with their older working sister until I was finished with the Freedom Boys.

The samosa were finished in that shop... so they decided to pair up and share a chapati each.  16 boys meant 8 chapatis from another street vendor up the road.  Well... it was chaos, a lot of pushing, a lot of smiles, and a few older ones joined at the end also wanting chapati, but I didn't give them any because they weren't in the original count and they wreaked of alcohol, so I already new they found coins for the day.  

I never know if I should give the Freedom Boys a snack... but I do know they are hungry, and they just need a little love.  Actually a lot of love is needed.  One day at a time.  

Riding In His Palm

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Mixed Emotions in Uganda

Hmmmm, how to even begin to express the journey I have been on here.  I was nervous about flying back to Uganda, but the Lord provided wonderful seat-mates who kept me company during the flights.  One of them was even a nurse who assured me that I would be fine and often told me to walk around and stretch.  I praise God for a good trip.
Then a few days in Kampala - to rest, get over jet lag, shop, and look for a "new" car.  Scoobie Doo, my old Subaru, remains at the garage in Kampala and I'm hoping to sell her soon.  I went to a few car dealerships, but the process is very overwhelming, and after communicating with friends and a faithful mechanic, I am now having a car shipped over from Japan.  Another Subaru Forester!!  But that means I will be without a car for almost 2 months.
At the garage... again!

Scoobie is now addicted to the attention of mechanics
Now I have been in Soroti for just over two weeks and I don't know how I am adjusting.  My house was super dusty so I spent a long time cleaning up 8 months of dirt and rat poop.  Thankfully no termites or other destruction. I'm grateful for Helen, who helped me to wash all the bedding, curtains, and more. Trust me - the house is now organized! I was greeted with love and tears by the neighbours.  I have truly missed them over the many months that I was away.  They delightfully made sure that home was protected and prayed for my timely return.
The kids in the next flat

Vanessa at work, and the twins visiting their sister.
Opio and Ochen love moving to town with me.

The neighbours in an upper flat
Playing in my kitchen... I love their laughter
I am trying to get back into ministry, but my body is struggling still.  I have a lot of pain in my waist and every few days my legs, feet, and sometimes hand swell.  I have never experienced this before, so it makes me nervous.  Also, I don't have the energy to walk much, but I am trying.  Since I don't have a car, I am forced to walk to the market... which moved and is now even further from home... but after walking to the market, I again need a nap.  I still don't feel like myself and that has me concerned.  I will be going back to Kampala in the next two weeks to work on the car issues, but to also see the doctor there and have another check-up.  
All that being said... I am meeting up with friends and getting out to a few schools and churches for follow-up, encouragement, relationship building, and to set up future ministry opportunities.  A partner missionary was in Soroti last week, and so I was able to travel with her to visit a couple of ministry sites and I enjoyed that immensely.  
Guiding teachers in crafts and creative teaching methods.

Together we made lion masks and turned them into
hanging mobiles (not the phones. ha ha)

It was fun seeing each different personality come out in the
 simple art... things new to these preschool teachers.

Lesson Preps with Diana Boot
So, I am taking it slow.  Trying to get around, but also trusting in God's timing.  Since I gained weight while in Canada, many Ugandans believe I was never sick and that I have lots of money from there... so there's that.  I didn't bring my laptop with me during all those months, so I am also getting caught up on my financial/donor reports and hoping to write a newsletter soon.
I just thought I should send a little update. 
Please keep praying for me.  I still feel weak and sometimes scared, but I'm so very happy to be HOME and serving God in the little ways that I can! 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Clarity in Grand Rapids

An 8 day vacation turned into an 8 month medical leave of absence.
It has been a long journey, but I see the Lord's hand in so many ways.
I am grateful for six months of quality time with parents.
I am glad that I could be here to mourn with those who mourn.
I'm thankful for good medical and emotional care.
I praise God for supportive mission agencies and churches, friends and family.  
Global Outreach Mission and Resonate Global Mission have prayed for me and encouraged me so much along the way.
Last week I was able to have a good "practise" run for travel and activity.  For almost 5 months I had been having extreme leg pains, especially while spending time sitting in vehicles, but thankfully that has mostly gone away and I was able to travel with ease.  So, flights are being booked for me to return to Soroti, Uganda in early April!!  I'm so excited to be going home.
I can't believe I did a whole winter in Canada.  
 While in Grand Rapids I had a week of visits, fellowship, and closure.  I was able to catch up with many colleagues from Soroti, most of whom have chosen to move back to the States since I left, and I wanted to hear their God stories.  It was great to fellowship, talk, and share together. 
I also went to chapel at Kuyper College and shared with staff there.  I truly value the education and missional direction that I received in such a precious school.
While there I came across a pice of art that I was a part of creating.  These feet were all footprints of former child soldiers with the Lord's Resistance Army, and I remember washing the oil based paint off their feet with kerosene... my bare hands stung for days.  :) 
 I also caught up with cousins, donors, Resonate Staff, friends, and was pampered by my college roomie.
I tried dying my hair purple, but at least the highlights came out beautifully.
 Sorry, just sharing a few glamor shots.  :)
After the week was finished, I felt great and had final confirmations that it is time for me to head back to Uganda.  So, now I am home, packing a few too many bags for flight and praying that the Lord will bless this transition back to Soroti.  There is so much to do when I get back there and I want to make sure that I listen to God's voice during this process.
I need to buy a car.
I will catch up with many friends and ministry partners.
I will have to restock my kitchen.
I'll need to find my way around the market, since the old market has been torn down and set up further away.
I will buy a postcard in Kampala and send a letter to my doctor... because that was her final prescription for me - "Take painkillers to get home and send me a postcard from Kampala".  (But I'm thinking of buying the postcard in Soroti, because apparently it's a new thing for the local post office to have these cards and they are missing me.  The staff keep asking my colleagues when I am coming back because they are just not selling stamps like they used to when I was there.)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

My Memories of Fred Thielke

On this deeply foggy evening, I am sitting back and going through all of my old photo albums to gather a few precious photos of the Fred Thielke I knew and loved.  I thought I would share them with you... and maybe if you want to leave comments at the bottom of this blog, others can also see how their world was affected by this energetic, fun-loving, adventurous friend of ours!
While at missions orientation last week, we had a workshop on missionary kids (MK's) and third culture kids (TCK) and how intertwined their lives are in regards to culture, language, thinking, and relationships.  I have found that even though I do not have children of my own, some MK's have truly found their way into my heart.  Fred Thielke is one of those.  
When I was growing up, Fred's Dad was my senior pastor, and I remember going to their house to study the catechism, while Fred ran around in diapers and learned to talk.  I guess that means, I have really known this man my whole life, and so when I heard the news the other day of his passing, I broke down and cried.  
Fred Thielke has been living in Mexico for the past few years, working with the US Embassy there.  Earlier this week he was climbing with a friend, on the highest mountain in Mexico - the Pico de Orizaba.  Apparently he fell, and was in and out of consiousness while the Mexico rescue teams tried to evacuate him in bad weather conditions.  Sad to say, he didn't survive the accident.  My heart is sad... and it bleeds for his family.
Here are a few shots of our time together over the years.
From 2001-2004 I worked in the Philippines... and was blessed to work alongside the Thielke family for two of those years.
I joined the Theilke family for a holiday in Thailand;
Fred and I hung out a lot during our time there.

He makes friends with everyone.  :)

I think Fred learned to hug lots from the Filipino culture that so deeply shaped his life.  

Fred always cherished adventure and creation.

We were both in the bridal party for good friends in Manila.

He loved his brothers!

He was so helpful... a great leader... I saw that while leading
a Summer Missions Program in Tacloban city.

Hard working and full of smiles!

Fred was like family to me... my little brother!
A missionary nephew.

Many people loved hanging out with him.

He always seemed fearless!

Oh Fred!

Me and my brothers...
I mean... Fred and his brothers - Tim and Matt

Family dinner in India

A tight trio

So affectionate.  :)

He cherished his cousins too.

Hanging out... 

He made my day when he traveled two hours to come hear
me share stories of serving in the Philippines.

Fred with his extended family in Canada
I don't know what more to say.  He was so full of life.  He loved deeply.  Explored completely.  And will be missed by so many.

There will be a memorial service for Fred Thielke on March 3, 2018 at Community CRC in Kitchener, ON, Canada.
Dwayne, Gladys, Tim, and Matt Thielke... I am praying for and with you!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Orienting new Candidates to the World of GOM

For the past few months I have been looking forward to going to the Global Outreach Mission office in St. Catharines, ON, and being a part of the orientation process for new candidates.  I wasn't sure if I would have the energy to make it through the whole week, but I thank God for the strength I had there.  This year was a small group of trainees and every one of them was heading to Africa.  Yeah!!
Throughout our week together we had a full schedule of seminars - dealing with Finance, Personel, Development, Transitions, Missionary Kids, Partnership tools, Policy, Awesome Newsletters, Legal stuff, Team work, Member Care, Social Media, Mission software, ministry profiles, and Photography.  We were encouraged to take some RSDI throughout the week as well.  "RSDI" = Rock Solid Digital Image... so here are a few that I want to share with you, to tell my story.
To every tribe, tongue, and Nation... (Amanda's RSDI!)
Presenting Biblical Dramas
 Every day I opened our sessions with a time of devotions and I was able to share God's Word through some dramatic readings.
We stayed at an amazing Retreat B&B!!
The Woman at the Well
"Telling God's Story"
Popcorn is always needed for a good missions movie!

Earning Dodson Dollars... and winning a can of meat at the end of the week.
 I was considered the "Missionary in Residence" so I was able to bring lots of advice, clarity, encouragment, questions, and love from a missionary position.  I pray that my presence there was an inspiration to both the office staff and those going out on the field.
A Concert of Prayer
 Every orientation involves a time of praying for the mission field, His Workers, and just praising God for who HE is, confessing and relieving our burdens, and resting in His presence.
For me... I leave Toronto
And serve in Uganda
 Most of the week is spent stuck in the board room, having discussions and power point lectures or presentations, but at least one night we can escape and see God's majesty around the corner!
A very cold Niagara Falls
"The Works of His hands!"
Another trainee heading back to Uganda!!

The American falls

I love this World 

Sitting in class
One of my biggest roles was to be a proxy for Tina, another candidate who was unable to travel to the office because of pregnancy.  Tina and I communicated through a video conference the whole week and I made sure to voice her questions or comments to the group.  She too is going to be in Uganda... so I'm excited to have some new GOM team-mates on the field.  
Tina in Boston :)

Teamwork... it's hard to build without a plan or communication

God's Word is our constant Lamp
All the new candidates left with lots of food for thought!