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...

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Welcome to the family...

Welcome to the family....

Since we arrived on April 24, GSF has welcomed 10 children in to the family.  Many of you ask why or how the children come to be with us here.  The reasons are wide and varied.  

Some children come to our attention through the Buikwe District probation officer, they are kind of like a social worker.  The probation officer investigates allegations of abuse, neglect or instances of families unable to care for the children.  Occasionally we will hear about children in need through concerned village neighbors.  Local hospitals will notify us of children in need of temporary or long term care due to severe malnutrition or illness and about children who are abandoned by parents or relatives at the hospital.  Some children come from random people showing up at our clinic, that have heard about GSF and are desperately in need of help.

Our most recent addition to the family is Alex about 2 weeks ago.  He presented in our clinic and was very malnourished and sick.  We took him to Buikwe Hospital until he was strong enough to return to our care.  He is finally beginning to smile, feeling comfortable and we are seeing glimpses of his personality. 

Tom and I are thankful that we are a part of God’s plan for these children’s lives.  Please pray with us for the children of GSF, how we can impact them for Christ, care for their basic needs and help raise them to be God honoring children.  

You know.... the wife of Uncle Tom

So... in the states I was a social butterfly... I never met a stranger...knew lots of people at church, out in public was always running into people I knew....  Tom on the other hand is more introverted and not a social butterfly. So when Tom would introduce himself, the response would often be... Oh your Sharon's husband.  

 The other day I was looking for Jennifer, our kitchen manager to borrow some items needed for refreshments at the women’s conference.  I went to the main kitchen to ask if she was there, I was directed to the administrative building, only to find out that she was not there.  Walking back to the kitchen, I began talking to another missionary when I saw Jennifer walking towards me.  She told me she knew to look for me, when asked how she knew...  she said she  was told by one of the kitchen workers that... 

“A mzungu lady was looking for you”...  (mzungu is a word that they use to refer to a white person, it is not derogatory and there are 7 of us to choose from...)

“Which one..?”

“You know... the one that is Uncle Tom’s wife...”

I was thankful that Tom’s name is known and mine is not!  I am blessed to be his wife.

Nick & Isaac's Fabulous Picnic Tables

Over the summer we were blessed to welcome a team of 5 from the US.  Four of them were teachers and they worked in the school mentoring several of our Ugandan teachers (more about their time here in another post).  The fifth person was Nick, husband to one of the teachers.  He is a skilled carpenter and was such a blessing!   We really enjoyed getting to know him, especially Tom, they spoke the same language... you know power tools... wood... construction...

Initially we were not sure what we would have Nick do while he was there, as we had arrived just a few weeks before them.  In Tom's assessment of the houses, he determined that the facia boards were rotting in many places and really only there for esthetics, so they needed to come down.  Nick and Tom came up with the idea to use the reclaimed facia boards to make picnic tables.  Nick came up with a design that would enable him to build 2 - 3 tables using wood from 1 house!  Well done, as they say here.  The first two tables build were put at our pavilion where many of our maintenance and farm workers eat lunch.  Prior to the tables they just sat on the concrete.

The coolest thing about Nick building the tables was seeing him work with Isaac.  Isaac is one of our workers in maintenance, through benevolence.  GSF some times creates jobs for people even though we really don't have a position that needs to be filled and pays them a benevolence wage.  In this way they are put to work, they feel useful and their self worth is reinforced.  We have the opportunity to minister to them through daily interaction, weekly bible study, they receive 2 meals each day and have access to our medical clinic.  

Isaac is very quite, shy and has a sweet smile.  He has learning disabilities in certain areas, but is very smart in other areas.  Nick really drew him out and they worked well together, it was a blessing to watch.