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Monday, December 30, 2013

Sisiyi with O.G.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the OIL of GLADNESS instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.”
Isaiah 61:1-3
 Often I sit back and think about how the Lord has been using and blessing me in the past few months.  I totally love my Jesus!  And I am so very grateful for His people.  Oil of Gladness Live Band has become one of my truest treasures this year and just after Christmas we were able to get away into creation for a two day retreat.  13 of us traveled to Sisiyi Falls - for a time of prayer and worship, relaxation, fellowship, encouragement, and fun.
 Odell Moses is one of our musicians - amazing on guitar, keyboard and in vocals.
 Along with his sweet daughters!
 Chatting with the staff of Sisiyi Falls.
 Playing football
 Teaching the kids how to play Sorry
 Encouragement awards at the evening bonfire
 Worship and gifts
 Morning greetings from Isaac and Moses
 Kristyn, Isaac and David
 My good bud Sam
 Another wonderful Samuel
 David and Kristyn
 I was amazed that no one in the group knew how to make a pyramid... this was our first attempt!!
 A little break along the road as we traveled 2.5 hours East.
 Exploring the falls... I fell in a hole and was extremely muddy.  :)
 After that, the boys took good care of me.  :)
 Climbing up the top of the falls
 Looking over Teso Land
 Sitting on top of the world!
 Worshipping the King of kings!
The whole crew - Oil of Gladness! 
L-R: Grace, Moses, Kristyn, Isaac, Karen, Sam, Sarah, Pauline, Beckie, David, Faith, Sam, and Irene

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Joys

I have so many reasons to rejoice over this holiday season. 
But Number One Reason will always be JESUS!!
 Team Christmas party and gift exchange
 A celebration of pork as Oil of Gladness is grateful for the work on the piggery.
 A new hairdo
 Becoming a biannual event
 Christmas day - hosting friends with lots of food, dancing, and games
 I've found an equal partner in Scrabble...
 I was even able to create snow in my front window!!
 Seeing old friends - after he (Pius) was gone for four months...
 I just like this shot
 Lots of music
 And singing (but I lost my old microphone)
 Entertaining the crowds you can't see... over 20 people were visiting my house for Christmas!
 Being dramatic!
 So grateful for my friend Teddy!
 And my sweet brother Moses
 I gave away two more knitted bears
And blessed many others with some fun and practical gifts!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Baking with the Boys

For the past year+ I have been working with the children from Rockview Baptist.  The kids love it when I come with homemade cookies, but this time around the boys wanted to learn how to bake.  I invited the teenage boys over to my house to teach them how to bake for a day.

 Learning how to measure accurately and stir slowly is a tough thing to accomplish.
 Each boy had an ingredient to measure.
 Coconut cookies, and banana cookies = a successful day.
15 boys baked and watched a movie!

Pink File Found

Oh, I feel horrible, I can't believe I didn't update the world on how things went at Immigration.  My God is so good.  I was hoping to have a passport with a stamped visa ready to show you, but that will have to come at another time.  In the meantime, let me tell you what happened last week.  I took the bus on Wednesday all the way to Kampala.  I was wondering how long things would take to renew my whole file once again.  I came prepared with photocopies of everything.
I hopped off the bus at 3:30pm and quickly jumped on a boda boda (motorcycle taxi) to go to Immigration.  My sweet friend Hellen was already there, waiting for me.  She had once again gone into the offices to search and ask questions.  When I arrived, she brought me straight to one officer that almost looked frustrated that Hellen was disturbing him again.  After greeting me, the officer told one lady to find my file... there was no way he was going to make a second file.  This lady walked out of the receiving office, and I'm not kidding you, 20 seconds later, came back with my file!!
Not only was my file found, but inside was a 2 year work permit renewal!!  I've been granted to more years in this wonderful country.  I was so excited and I only know that things worked out as quickly as they did with the help and prayers of God's amazing people.

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Pink File is Missing

6:32 pm - the phone rings... It's the director of the NGO (Non-Government Organization) that I am serving under, here in Uganda.  I have been in the process of getting my work permit renewed since August, and just now, he calls to tell me that my file is MIA at Immigration. 
Last week I had strep throat, now I have a cold and I'm so tired.  I just spent the day seriously working out in the village, and the last thing I wanted to hear was the my work permit request is missing.  I wish I could describe the room where my file could possibly be - but I won't do it justice - just millions of pink manila files - with no chronological or alphabetical order.  The director the NGO has been searching for my file, but has now requested that I come to Kampala and physically find it myself.  Honestly, that's the last thing I want to do right now amidst kids camps, pig sty building, and Christmas plans. 
7:00 pm - I am in tears.  Frustrated.  Bitter.  Confused.  And brainstorming about what my future could look like.  Can I get another 3 month special pass?  Will the file be found, or do I start all over with the work permit application?  Do I back my bags for a brief trip out of Uganda again, because on the 24th of December I will once again be without any kind of visa in my passport.
7:30 pm - I am sitting in my neighbour's sitting room, and they begin to offer words of encouragement.  They even call a prayer warrior in Kampala.  The phone was handed to me as I heard this lady cry out to God for my paperwork.  Now I had tears of awe... God is doing something here.  I've never been prayed over in such a heartfelt manner before.
8-8:30 pm - Texts come in from friends in Soroti.  They are praying, and going to God with this battle.  "The battle is not yours, its the Lord's.  So be still my dear favourite mzungu sister.  God will make a way... right?!  I'll keep on my knees." And then: "He knows ur name.  Remember u r a princess of Jesus.  No weapon formed against you prospers.  It will work out just fine.  Just imagine Jesus is close by and He is.  Everything will work out."  Then a text from Kampala - a dear friend is going to immigration tomorrow to spend the day physically looking for my file.  Hallelujah!!  A final text came: "Yield to Him.  When we r weak, someone said that He's so much more.  Help is on the way.  Be strong and of good courage.  Let (allow) the peace of God in Christ to consume u."
Sometimes I hate technology, but I already know that people around the world are praying.  Now it's 9:30 at night and I'm no longer teary eyed.  I'm hopeful.  Hopeful and excited... to see how God is going to work this whole situation out.

Og's Hogs Begins

Saturday - the dreams for OG's Hogs piggery start to become a reality.  O.G. stands for Oil of Gladness... the praise band that I have joined this year.
 We drove out to the village early in the morning and began to measure out the piggery.  I am so excited about this process... as a band - Oil of Gladness - we are really praying for equipment - like a drum kit, speakers and mikes, etc and we know we can't get those things without having a plan.  So we are working together to raise pigs, and maybe in a year and a half or so we might be able to see enough fruits of our labour to buy some instruments.
 Initial steps... digging out the foundation
 Bringing, thankfully, already burnt bricks to the jobsite.  We started carrying them on an old wooden door, because we had no other means, but later on a neighbour brought us a wheel barrow. 
 Unloading the bricks at the new location!
 I'm happy about bricks... bricks equal hard work, teamwork, and the start of a dream!
 Sorting through old bricks to find whole ones to use in the foundation.
Here are a few members of the Oil of Gladness band, celebrating the end of day !

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Serere Youth Conference

This week a youth retreat was organized in the village and I was so impressed.  Church leaders worked hard to pull off a multi-denominational event... Catholics, Pentecostals, Anglicans, and others served together to host almost 900 youth.  Each of these youth came with the fee in hand, which is so different than the conference in town last year - where most of the youth wanted to attend the conference for free.  One child even walked over 30 kilometres to attend this retreat.
My role for the first two days was to look after registration.  Thankfully I am beginning to understand Teso pronunciation and the spelling of certain names.  Salume, Musa, Oliver, and Debolah are there amidst many Sarah's, David's, Michael's, Joseph's, and Mary Grace's.
 Unexpectedly we had a lot of children show up for the conference as well, with money in hand, so we quickly put some "Sports Outreach" leaders into actions, so that the little ones could have their own workshops while the youth talked about Work, Sex, and Relationships.  Otherwise the kids would join the youth for worship and sermons.  Such a great experience.