Sunday, December 15, 2013

A different way of measuring time..

Eight months have flown by!    Without the normal seasonal queues we are accustomed to seeing Tom and I both were surprised that Christmas is upon us.  The passage of time here is different In NC spring is marked with tulips, crocus and daffodils in February and March

 April and May is welcomed by Dogwoods, Redbuds and cherry blossoms 

June, July, August and September.. roses in abundance, Crepe Myrtles, Black Eyed Susan’s, petunias, lantana and so much more 

October and November are resplendent with all the flowers in their final push of blooming defying the frost to come and kill them and the amazing colors of the leaves heralding the onset of crisp frosty mornings that take your breath away for just a moment then invigorates. 

December the hustle of Christmas preparations, anticipating time with family, the possibility of a “snow”.

I am finding the ebb and flow of time much different here at GSF.  I no longer measure time by the change of seasons and holidays, I now measure it by how a child is improving with the loving care of all here

seeing the march of the toddlers out for their morning walk 

By how many kids are on campus when school is in session 

Seeing all the school children lined up for porridge in the morning, hearing their shouts and laughter as they gather for school. 

 Knowing when children will be away on home stays during the holiday and that the campus will be much quieter I pray each day that God would allow me the grace to appreciate this new way of measuring time and learn lessons that draw me closer to Him.  

I know God measures time different than I do. How does He measure my time? Of the 24 hours I have been given, does He measure it by how many I spend with Him or the “seasons” of my life when I am not attentive to His Spirit that lives with in me? I am thankful for the assurance that the God of all creation has measured my time even before I was given this “life time” I am His masterpiece, uniquely created for the work He wants to accomplish through me.

I pray each day that God would allow me the grace to appreciate this new way of measuring time… Time with Him… and learn lessons that draw me closer to Him.  These days He has given me are not my own, this life He has given is not my own… they belong to Him.  I am to use this time to love and commune with God and love others in His name.
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Missions - Uganda

This video was made by a team  from JFBC in GA that we at GSF had the privilege of hosting! I hope you are blessed by this glimpse in to Ugandan life and the hope that we all have in Christ Jesus.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

JFBC.... Loving on the Missionaries

JFBC = Johnson Ferry Baptist Church = A GREAT TEAM!

The team from JFBC came in September and spent 5 days teaching our house moms, aunties and ladies of the surrounding villages a program called “Mother Wise” and “Tiny Tykes and Tunes” for the non school age kids so that mom could attend!  It was a great time for them and everyone was sad when the week was done.  

They also loved on us missionaries as well!  

We had an evening of food and socializing... great fun!

Linda and Julie came prepared to cut hair... a great blessing as it can be hard to find someone here that is good at cutting mzungu hair.  Case in point, a few weeks after we arrived Tom went to Jinja to have his hair cut.  I have not see his hair that short since boot camp!!  Instead of just taking an inch off, they only left about an eighth of an inch!!! Took from June 24ish to Sept for him to grow enough back to need a trim!

Lori & Terri painted the ladies nails... I loved my color bright blue with lime green polkadot!

They also brought hair bands and bobs for the girls...

Thank you for blessing us with a fun night!


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Bathing 102

Bathing 102....

In my post in May “Bathing 101”  I talked about how we bathed, but not what our bath area looked like.  

Tom has made some improvements to our bathing area!  Sweet!
So now, we have a stone walled & floored bathing area that makes it feel more like home.  Mind you the rest still applies... only having 4 min of hot water etc..

Tom and I hope to install a solar water heating system for all of house 1, the duplex we share with the nurses, in the near future like was done at the guest house.  It would be AMAZING to have a 6, 8 or 10 min shower!!  I am so thankful for the improvement that have been made!

Toasted Marshmallow

Toasted Marshmallow

I finally had the chance to drive after nearly 5 months of not driving...  

Tom and I are searching for a 4 wheel drive vehicle to purchase.  Tom found this white Suzuki Samuri and the owner let him bring it home for a test drive.  We really need to know how the vehicle we purchase will do on the “paved roads”, I use that term loosely, as often the paved roads are just as rutted and pot holed as the gravel roads... and on the dirt roads through the sugar cain fields leading to GSF.  However the state of the road conditions will have to wait for another blog post.. the adventures of the Toasted Marshmallow is the focus of this post.  

So.... me, Stephen, Dayna and Sarah piled in this tiny little Marshmallow and off we went.  I drove first, which created quite the stir on campus.  As we passed out of the gate, the toddlers were on their daily walk... very seriously several of the little one said...

“Auntie Sharon, Auntie Sharon... you are not a man!! Why are you driving? You are not a man!”  

With that encouragement out the gate, down the road and in to the sugar cain we went.  I wanted to make sure I was comfortable driving sitting on the wrong side and shifting with the wrong hand, so we took one of the roads that run through the cain across from GSF.  It was fun to punch it a little, then we ran out of road... saw a flock of at least 16 Crested Cranes, did what should have been a 3 point turn.. that was really about a 10 point turn... for some reason the girls in the back seat were worried about going in to the big ditch... 

After navigating the multi point turn and getting back to the main “road” we hung a left and headed for Buikwe on the advice of Stephen who has been learning to ride Robb’s motorcycle and using the cain fields.

“There are some great places to drive.. just over the next hill”  

So over the next hill and the next hill... passing through Kidusu & Kikube Villages, passing bodas (actually being passed by bodas) and taxis, I was feeling pretty confident in the little Marshmallow.  We passed through Buikwe, feeling sure we would come upon the “great places to drive soon”.  But we were all having fun, enjoying the ride and the fun of driving a vehicle that felt just like a Tonka Toy!   Sarah and Dayna said it was like being in a roller coasted sitting in the back of the Marshmallow.  As we passed through Buikwe we were over taken by a taxi.  Let me just pause to explain that the taxis here are not the yellow cars we are use to in the states.  Here they are more like the Scooby-Doo van painted white with a blue checked strip on it, normally bleaching exhaust fumes, running on about 3 cylinders packed with as many passengers of various kinds as possible.  But I digress, the taxis & boda-boda descriptions will have to be another blog post.

Well, after being passed by one particular taxi, who obviously had some serious emission control issues, we began to smell something burning... We thought it was the taxi that had passed us, but the taxi got further and further ahead and the smell did not go away.  Hummm.. sure does smell like the sweet smell of a car overheating... Now mind you that the Marshmallow suffered dash display issues... aka... nothing worked.  Well I take that back, the spedo made every attempt to work, bouncing merrily between 40km ph and 60km ph.  So we all decided to pull off and investigate. Not to mention that I was thinking “oh long has this thing been running hot and what kind of damage did it do to the engine.. that had just been rebuilt...”  So at the next left, I pulled off and killed the engine... as smoke billowed out of the engine compartment... Stephen asked if we should pop the hood and take a look. I said no, lets let it cool off some and I’ll call Tom.  So, we did just that... I called Tom..

Sharon: “Hi Honey... there is a slight problem with the Marshmallow, it appears to be overheating, although I can’t tell because nothing works on the dash... sweet, burnt smell, and strangely enough about 12 inches in front of the drivers side wind screen the paint is bubbled and brown...”

Tom: “Over heating.. shouldn’t be doing that... I need to finish with the something here... let me call you back...”

Now mind you, here if you break down, you don’t call Triple A... you either figure out how to fix where you broke down or figure out how to get it to someone who can fix it.

So, while we were waiting on the now Toasted Marshmallow to cool down and Tom to call back quite a crowd of locals gathered... Picture the scene, 4 Mzungus and a very small, very white vehicle surrounded by curious on lookers, all offering help or suggestions.

After about 5 mins of waiting, Stephen suggested we pray... excellent plan...

After about 5 more min of waiting, Sarah started making friends with the local kids by taking pictures and showing them.. they love to see themselves in photos.

After about 20 min of waiting, we decided it had cooled down enough to pop the hood... well we discovered that it had not overheated at all... the battery was to tall for the area and one of the terminals was making contact with the hood and sparking, hence the sweet burning smell (paint and gasket).  I my companions if any one had a knife.. no knife but a pair of small sissors.. that will do.. I proceed to try and remove the rest of the gasket that had been melted and try to make room for the “to tall terminal”.

Tom finally calls back and I immediately tell him the good news! He tells me that Louis has already left and on his way with water.  After describing what I see, he asks if we have any fabric we can use to cover the “to tall terminal”.  Well just so happens that Dayna had purchased a new used purse in Jinja recently and there was a bandana still in the purse.  So Tom told us to wrap the cloth around the terminal and that would prevent the metal on metal contact creating the arcing. Now I must admit that this suggestion caused some concern among my fellow adventurers... what if it catches fire?!  So we 4 reasoned it out together, arcing caused by electrical current passing from metal terminal to metal hood, place barrier between the two and interrupt the circuit.  (Plus Tom knows way more about cars that we do and wouldn’t suggest anything that might catch fire).  So we are putting the fabric on the terminal when Louis arrives.. we finish up and set off home, Stephen driving this time...  

Needless to say we decided not to purchase the Toasted Marshmallow!  

In all seriousness, please pray for us as we seek a decent 4 wheel drive vehicle to purchase.  Vehicle here are very expensive and all are used.  Pray specifically for a vehicle in good mechanical condition, that has not been wrecked or worked on by anyone untrained, for a good & fair price and that we would be dealt with honestly, and wisdom for Tom as he evaluates the vehicles. 


Friday, October 4, 2013

Update on Sweet Alex

I just wanted to update you all on sweet Alex.  Love this boy!  

We took Alex to visit a doctor in Kampala shortly after he arrived.  He has some special needs and we needed to get on a program for him.  

I went with Nurse Sarah and assisted her with Alex and 4 other children that had to be seen at the same clinic.  The trip was long for all of us.  Visiting the doctor here is not a 1 or 2 hour endeavor.  Normally it requires a trip to Kampala which means leaving GSF as early as 7 am, packing snacks, diapers, change of cloths (in case of accidents), water, toys... you get the picture.  

After his doctor appointment he was not improving as we would like and actually loosing weight.  Nurse Dayna and I visited a ministry that rehabilitates severely malnourished children.  Rene was a blessing and encouragement, gave us great advice how we could help him.  Alex is now living with Claudia, one of our missionaries that has, over the years, kept children like him in her home for more intensive one on one care with great success. He is now improving and gaining weight, laughing, standing up and walking by holding on to objects!! 

Praise God! Thank you for your prayers.  Continue to pray that he would improve and gain strength.

This picture was taken on the way back from Kampala... left at 7 am and returned to GSF at 6:30 pm.  Poor tyke was tuckered out!

Gardening Attire Ugandan Style....

Okay... so many of you know that I love to be outside and love gardening! It is very therapeutic for me... I worked for over 10 years in the landscape industry so my dear friends at NGN will get a huge kick out of what I have to wear to garden here.  

Most women just garden in skirts... seriously!  Not me... well sort of not me... I wear my boots, pants and to conform with local norms I wear a skirt over top of my pants.... ugh!!! Seriously it is really hot... but I am submitting to the local custom of covering the “bum and thighs”... 

Go ahead ladies laugh!! I do each time I put this get up on!

Monday, September 16, 2013

What would you have...?

If you woke up tomorrow and the only things you had were the things that you thanked God for today... what would you have?

Think about these words.... These words sobered and gave me pause  the first time I heard them.  I keep it in my devotional to remind me to be thankful and thank the one from whom all blessings flow!  When things are going great thank Him, for He is blessing you, when adversity comes, thank Him, for He is maturing you.

1 Timothy 1:17
Every good gift and every perfect present comes from heaven; it comes down from God, the Creator of the heavenly lights, who does not change or cause darkness by turning.

Desires of the heart...

Desires of the heart... answered

It has been a desire of my heart since childhood go on safari and see the elephants, giraffe, lion, hippo and more in their natural habitat...  Africa.

Tom, Robb, Stephen and I had gone to visit another ministry and help a now adult GSF “kid” move to where his new job was now taking  him.  We had a lovely time visiting with the other missionaries and seeing their ministry in a difficult and remote location.  It is always encouraging to see how God is working out His plan for all people by using others.

God knows all the desires of our hearts, the smallest desire to the grandest.  He answered one of mine on Monday August 19, 2013.  I had the privilege of participating in a safari in Murchison Falls National Park, Uganda, East Africa.  It is a huge national park covering 3,840 square kilometers, which equals approximately 1,482 square miles.  

There were many amazing things about the day, not the least was that it started at 4 am!  Tom, Robb, Stephen and I all gathered early to have coffee and get on the road by 4:30 am.  Yes, that’s right, we were in the vehicle at 4:30 am (and that is a US 4:30 am not a typical Ugandan 4:30 am, which in reality  could mean 5 am or 6 or 6:30...) When we arrived at the gate around 7:45 am, we paid the entry fee.  That was the first amazing thing... it was only $35 USD, you can’t get in to Carowinds or Disney that cheap!

After passing through the gate Stephen, Tom and I proceeded to climb out on to the roof rack via the sun roof.  We were greeted by herd of gazelle.  Next we saw giraffe, water buffalo, crested cranes, a red & black bird called a bee killer and more.  After about 1.5 hrs of driving (mind you somewhat slowly) one of the supports on the roof rack broke.  So the guys had to get in the car or stand up through the sun roof, luckily I was still able to ride on the roof!  Sweet!!

The animals would just watch us go by with our cameras clicking away, with this look on their face... like we were the tourist attraction not them.  I wish I could tell you about this in person, typing out a description and posting some pictures just doesn’t do the experience was so cool!  Thank you God!

We pick up a guide about 2 hrs in to the park, his name was Simon and he has been a guide for 12 years.  It was great to learn from him, he was able to spot things we didn’t even see.  And he was funny!  We stopped next to a herd of water buffalo, and they were maybe 20 feet or so way from the vehicle.  

Robb asked...   Do they ever became aggressive and attack vehicles?
Simon.... Oh yes, they are very strong and move quickly.  But you do not need to worry they are a happy family enjoying the mud!

First highlight of the day was when Simon took us off road and spotted a lioness and her 2 cubs with a fresh kill.  Our vehicle was only about 10 feet from them!!!! Awesome!!! I was sitting in the sun roof with my legs dangling in the vehicle.  

I asked Simon... Can I stand up on the roof to get a better vantage point....

Simon... No, that would not be good...

Sharon... okay then, point taken, sit still! 

I did move a little and the lioness opened one eye and raised her head a little, then laid back down.  

Second highlight came right at the end as we were about to exit the park.  We had been looking for elephant all day.  We saw a large herd way off in the distance, but none close up.  Well we round a corner and there they are not 15 feet from us!  A herd of about 12, adults and young.  They had just pushed over a tree and were all feeding off the leaves.  There was one “baby” elephant that just kept posing for me.

I did ask Simon if I could stand up, again he said no... not a good idea, but they were so close I was able to take some great photos.

God often blesses us with treasures like this here on earth.   Thank you God for answering a desire of my heart!  

What is a desire of your heart...