Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this : to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. -James 1:27

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Top FOURTEEN of 2014

This has been a long time coming. Ponders and reflections during my furlough have illuminated some of the best parts of the past year, and I would like to share them with you:

14. Senior 4 finishers: When I first moved to Uganda in 2007, I taught our oldest children who were in P4 class. This year marked this same group of children sitting for their big national exam in Senior 4 class. I can’t believe how much they have grown and changed. To God be the glory!

Sylvia, Allen, Anthony, Emma, and Ivan receiving their "success cards" before their S4 exams.

The S4 students when I taught them phonics when they were only in P4 (almost 8 years ago)

Many years ago: Ivan, Emma, Anthony, Naster, Mercy, Zulufa, Doreen, Allen, Ritah

All grown up: Mercy, Doreen, Ritah, Zulufa

13. A Passover Seder: Bobbi and I hosted a seder for the missionary community. We spent the day preparing the traditional food and necessary elements of a seder and shared fellowship together as we all learned how a Passover celebration would have been conducted and the symbolism of each element as the whole seder points to Christ.

Bobbi and I spent all day preparing food and the special items for the passover Seder.

12. The Forest and the Falls: One of the teams took our children for two fieldtrips, exploring under the canopy of Mabira Forest and hiking to the bottom of Sipi Falls.

Griffin Falls

Sipi Falls

Climbing down this crazy ladder with 50 children was not a simple task. 

11. Moving House: Though I did not really enjoy moving houses twice in 2014, I do love the house I am currently in. It is the first time I have ever lived alone (in my life) and is such a sweet set up to have this 2 bedroom house but be on the compound with the Palmer family.

Moving truck in Uganda.

My new place down from the Palmer family.

10. My assistant: There are so many sweet little friends that I have at Lulwanda who love to help me, watch me do my work, or just be involved in whatever I am doing. But my best little helper has been a dear girl called Mary. She was by my side at all possible moments during holiday and has a natural ability to figure things out and take the initiative to be one step ahead of me as a helping hand.

9. Safari: Summer is busy and wonderful with teams and visitors to Lulwanda. With 42 days of non-stop “program coordinating” for the teams, it was such a blessing to pause and escort one of the teams to a safari park in the west of Uganda.

I got to ride on this little seat on the front of the Land Rover as we drove through the park. What an exhilarating experience, especially knowing that if a lion wanted, it could come eat me.

How cute is this little guy?!!!

8. Bunko and Prayer: There have been many transitions in the mission community over the past 2 years, but there is a really great group of missionary ladies around. And this year we started meeting together to have some fun and fellowship through a common (southern state) game of Bunko. Lots of laughs and shouting (and sometimes the ocational dive to get the loose di of a Bunko rolled). But there is also a sweet group of ladies who started meeting together every Tuesday morning to get deep to the heart and pray for one another. It has been such a blessing to be part of this group.

Tuesday mornings at Endiro Coffee shop we meet to pray together.

Though this is not the prayer group or us playing Bunko (we are having too much fun to take photos during that time), these are most of the ladies I was blessed to do life with in 2014. As with the nature of the missionary life, some of these friends are still around Mbale and some have moved on to the next place God led them.
But it was wonderful to have them in my life in 2014.

7. Slumber Party!! I have had the dream of hosting slumber parties at my house with some of the LCH children and this year that was fulfilled (with the huge help of the Palmer’s). Hiking, swimming, movies, cooking, and games.

Hiking to the nearby waterfall at the base of Mt. Wanale


Cooking supper.

Playing dominoes

The little sones came over for a day of fun.

Water gun fight!


6. Christmas in America: Every other year my Christmas is like yours, filled with the sights and sounds and smells of holiday cheer. And let’s not forget the cold weather (vs the high 90s temperatures in Mbale during December). Though I don’t love the commercialism of Christmas, there is nothing that can replace the Christmas “feel” that the western world offers.

I stopped in London to visit Tiff on the way to Texas and was able to see the  sparkles of Harods
and their awesome window displays.

Texas Christmas
Christmas morning before everyone arrived.

Dad and I went around the neighborhood and found some great bits of nature to make this lovely centerpiece.

Christmas day family photo.

5. Paris and an English wedding: My sweet friend Tiffany moved from Mbale back to her home in England to marry a wonderful man and I had the privilege of standing with her as a bridesmaid. But since I was out of Uganda anyways, it only made sense to make a pre-stop in Paris (right?!). Another sweet friend, Julie, met me in Paris and we were the ultimate tourists for 3 wonderful days- taking a walking tour of all the major sites, biking around Paris to the less passes places, and enjoying the sights and sounds of the “city of love.”

4. Fishing in Manafwa River: This was a first attempt and likely to be repeated. The kids had a blast catching grasshoppers in the field to use as bate and making their homemade fishing poles.

Willy got the only catch of the day

Ambrose preparing his hook.

3. The super fun Term 1 holiday that we had at LCH:  From Tjeko Fun Day to a Good Neighbor Day to board game playing to slumber parties. Not forgetting the birthday party that I let my group of “party planners” take charge of the day’s activities and the outcome was awesome. So many laughs. So many memories. In case you missed the video the first time I posted it, here it is again.

2. The kindness of the Lord: My furlough time in the States was one of the best I have had. Such a great time of resting, relaxing, and reconnecting. But even more than that I was repeatedly reminded of God’s abundant love of me by the kindness He showed through His people. From financial provision to tangible gifts to an awesome Christian counselor that specializes in working with missionaries. He literally answered all of my needs and wants and allowed me to be loved and blessed by so many. Wow. I am still so humbled at such kindness rendered.


Beautiful Autumn colors

My parents moved out of Austin and built a house on the lake.
This was my view every morning as I looked out the window from my bed.

In the Hill Country, there is not a day that you don't see deer

I had such a great time with Dad and Janece. Thanks so much for all your love (and yummy food). 

Got to see Eddie, meet Kinley for the first time, and even be there for her 1st Birthday Party!!

Had two slumber parties with my Granny and celebrated her 90th Birthday with a little surprise party!

Reunited with some of my Tim Team members.
Got to eat in the Farris' Chic-fil-a (a dream in the works since Tim Team finished) and meet new little babies. 

I went to Midland and was able to see Jackie, one of my college roommates.
I do regret that I didn't take a photo when I visited the rest of her family in Denton.
Oh how I love the Beeler family!

Got to stay with two very special ladies while I was in Midland, Cheryl and Julie.
I even got to attend a women's conference with Ann Voskamp and Jennifer Rothschild while I was there.

And it snowed!!

My Ugandan BFFs in Texas with me (Callie and Melanie).
Who would have thought we would all be together in Gruene Hall?!

Callie grew up in Buda, but we didn't know each other until Uganda.
What a blessing to have one of my "everyday friends" so close to me during furlough!


Got to visit Jac in Florida.

Jac and V. took me to the Tampa aquarium

Got to meet baby Jenna and see Gennean again.

Sweet lesson learned from creation.

The Santa Cruz boardwalk

And its sealions.

In Nov, on the way from Uganda to Texas, I stopped to visit Tiff in London for 5 days.

 1. The wonderful Palmer family: Bobbi, John, Jackson, and Lilly. I love them. They moved to Mbale in February 2014 to work with Lulwanda and they have been an incredible blessing not only to the Home, but to my life. Funny, caring, wise, down-to-earth, and full of life. These are only a few of their many assets. They have taken me in as part of their family and my 2014 was immeasurably richer with them in it.

Here's to 2015 that is full of more joy, more depth, more life, and more love.