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Full timer

I was inspired to write this blog after having a visitor start doing some mission work for a few months. She has only just begun and she had been having a hard time seeing her purpose, why she had given up her summer of making money to come and “seemingly” do nothing. The problem she had was that the only “missionary life” experience she had was from hearing from other friends about their week in another country and how amazing all the kids were and how they were spiritually impacted. I wanted to say well welcome to the “real” mission field. But honestly she will be here for 2 months and she will take back experiences and memories and she will be impacted in some remarkable ways.

I am what I like to refer to myself as a “full-timer”, a career missionary. Granted I am only now 2 years in this time around and life is extremely different than my previous stents with missions. Uganda is home for me as in “we do life here”, I have 5 kids now that I have to raise. I sometimes wonder if people just think I am hanging out talking to cute little black babies about Jesus all day long. When in all actuality recently I am dropping kids off at school, going to their end of year programs, taking them to birthday parties, soccer practice, making them dinner, washing (way to much) laundry. I also teach international students from over 7 different nations who are 3 and 4 years old. I have meetings for teaching, meetings for my kids and meetings for parenting. I also am taking on a role of volunteering at Kampala International Church somewhere in the children’s department.

I didn’t realize that my life would turn into a supportive missionary role. I am a mother and a wife to a missionary. Matt takes on leadership roles for Rising Star Ministries, he is the one who makes everything stay on course. My job title changed when I had to be a mother first and a missionary second. Last year as most of you know I got my teaching degree and so now to be able to send my kids to school I am working. I am putting my kids through school, but I am also teaching and pouring into the kids of other missionaries. I didn’t know that would be my role when we decided to live as “full timers” in Uganda.

My role is just as important as it was in 2008 when we began ministry in Uganda. My role is to tell people about Jesus and I am doing that every single day to beautiful children from all parts of the world, right here in Uganda. God is so great…he is so faithful. While I take a break from teaching (for the summer), I will be traveling more to our ministry center in Gayaza and supporting the staff as they have been doing such a great job taking on my previous job responsibilities. We are blessed to have Emily here working for 2 months with our newest RSM staff member Olyvia taking on the role as librarian and after school tutor.

But to be honest, I need a summer holiday time to recharge, read and spend more time in the Word of God, do fun stuff with my kids and my parents (yeah!). After all God did rest one day, right. 😉

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Momma always said…

Momma always said two wrongs don’t make a right.

There was a post on an expat social group where a guy was posting that he wished that people wouldn’t call him Chinese because he is actually from Korea. He was stating that it was annoying that everywhere he seemed to go he would have people try and talk to him or label him to get a reaction. People reacted to his post saying that he should just get used to it and that they didn’t mean any harm. Other people said if he didn’t like it he should go back “home”. A few people chimed in saying they also get called names labelling them as a certain race whether accurate or not they either said they didn’t care or it was annoying. Another expat then made her own post about this particular persons post saying that she was concerned that no one seems to care about racism and that only those people belonging to that nation could do something about it. But she also got a lot of resistance and people saying it wasn’t racism. That it is very minor compared to all the other things in history done to Africans.
So my mind went through a few questions.
What is racism? Can you define it or does a dictionary define it? Meaning can racism be something that makes you feel uncomfortable, ashamed, angry, sad, defensive etc.? Is racism the right word? If someone is labeling you and it is true do you still have the right to be offended.
If I was a minority in the situation does that make it worse? Is labelling okay? If someone means no harm from the word they use to call you does it make it okay?
Is it okay to sometimes correct them, or ignore them?
All I know is that it is never okay to let someone else’s actions consume you, allow you to lose control, to act in a way that is out of your character, harbor hate, or retaliate in anger.
All over the world people were created in the image of God. Genesis 1:27. No matter your nationality, outward appearance or even the condition of your heart; God loves you, has a plan for you and created you.

Matthew 22:37-39 …“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

The problem we face as a nation is that some people still do not understand the first, as they do not love the Lord; thus making it hard to love others. We need to do our part and show them what that LOVE looks like.

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Common Sense isn’t so common

I haven’t posted in a while but I have been jotting down my thoughts in a journal through this fostering process. Here is a look into my head and heart.

You know the saying common sense isn’t so common. When you haven’t been shown by example how to problem solve or maybe shown the wrong way to solve a problem you just accept things as they are. Fostering day 4- If I dwell on the absence of knowledge and don’t teach correct behavior I will foster continued ignorance. 17th December- They don’t know the joy of Christmas, never received gifts, they don’t even really know their birth dates. It hasn’t bothered them, but it bothers me. What traditions do you have, any? I don’t just want to push American tradition on them, but if they have no tradition can’t we make our own together? 19 Dec. I feel like the honeymoon period is over, which is a good thing as we can start to try and build real relationships. Communication is our biggest obstacle not only through actual language, but the idea that the proper way to deal with problems is through talking it out. Culturally in Uganda the child should not talk to the parent, just accept everything and hide their emotions. We knew this because we see it everyday, especially in the school setting. The teacher talks you listen and you only respond when called upon. If you don’t understand then too bad, it is up to you to figure out a way around that problem. How then to we teach them to exhibit good speaking and communication skills? Eye contact, voice control loud enough to hear without raising voice disrespectfully, speak clearly, listen to the question and respond appropriately (even if the response is “I don’t understand.”) 20161225_185229

We are trying to help by playing games as a family that incorporate some of these skills, talking to them the way we want to be spoken to, allowing them an outlet to speak their hearts and minds to both the social worker and our male mentors (coaches). This process is one that of course is difficult for all members involved, it hasn’t always been amazing. However, as we allow GOD to work in our lives, hearts, minds and entire being we will find answers to questions and peace in knowing the right things to do and say.

Pray for us as we start again a new phase in this process of fostering. The boys begin school next week Tendo is in P.7 (last year of primary) Kitiibwa (p. 4-5) he failed to pass last year due to many factors but mostly he is a very poor reader, we are trying to work on his reading ability to increase so he can show that he knows the material covered from P.4. Happy starts P.4 prayers that he also improves with speaking, and understanding written and spoken English. Pray for Matt as he runs two programs and manages the fundraising and leadership in our home. Prayers for Jacob and Parker as they progress through their education and adaption to having older brothers in the home. Myself as I balance life as a teacher (and head of Early Years), tutoring, parenting and spiritual walk and health.

To be continued…

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Busy at the Arnett house

We have been so busy….life has been nonstop it seems since the week before school when teachers had to report. It is definitely time for an update. I am leading the Early Years Team and heading up the K3 classroom. It has been fun! Parker and Jacob have both been doing great in school and enjoy their friends and their teachers (especially Parker).

We made it through the hectic schedule of balancing Uganda’s school break and our International school not being on break. We did a lot of traveling back and forth from school to our ministry. Matt is also keeping life busy by volunteering at the Senior Acacia School as the soccer(football) coach.

I have mentioned before that we have always talked about adopting and wouldn’t you know the moment that we get started with filling out the forms to get started with the process, God has a new plan for us; Happy, Kitiibwa, and Tendo.  Three boys who have been a part of Rising Star for several years. We got to know them better when we first arrived in May 2015, they were always participating in Rising Star activities both on and off the football pitch.

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So the past 3 weeks have been filled with prayer and preparation. We hit a road block, but we are pushing through because God is bigger than a greedy government official asking for an unnecessary outrageous bribe. Can you imagine someone asking for 500,000 Ugx ($150) to literally do the minimum part of his job which is to check the status of the homes and file paperwork? Then when we refuse to pay him, he refuses to do the home inspection. Thankfully we have quality, qualified, God-fearing Ugandans who know the law and will help us move around this and continue on our journey to help this family.

How are we helping? Well we are going to foster these amazing boys and also hopefully help their sister who has been struggling to provide for them, by sending her back to school. We are excited for their arrival and due to the road block we will be delayed a bit, so we are sending the two youngest Happy and Kitiibwa to a boarding school right by our house. This will allow them to finish out the year and hopefully they can move to the next grade and not have to repeat.

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3 beds ready for the boys once our paperwork goes through. The start-up costs are high and we could use all the help we can get. Please pray for us through this journey.

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Life Matters-The success of our Future

Why is it that sports are the key to success in the lives of so many? Why if you are good at a sport that equals success in life? We give scholarships and recruit people to play for “our” team. We want to win! You see it all over the world, where someone who without a sports scholarship would have “failed” in life. Why is that? Why is it that we as a society think that we should only be helping those that essentially can help us? Why is it that we push kids through high school and college to get their education, but only if they are the top performers at their sport or talent?

Why do we not invest in everyone regardless of their talent? We find that here in Uganda with Rising Star. We can fairly easily find support for children who are good athletes. Schools will pay for their education in order to get the “star” athlete to compete for the pride of their school. But what about those that do not have an athletic bone in their body, sure they may like to play but they are not at the “top” level of performance. Well one might think they can focus more on their academics to make it further in education. Study harder to get good grades and earn scholarships that way.

I want to challenge our thinking as a human race. A profound thought….what if we treated everyone as equal when they started school. Picture this you are the teacher of a classroom of 3 year olds and you know everything about these kids, what country they come from, how much money their parents make, what kind of house they live in, what kind of meals they get at home, and a multitude of other information. Then you decided that no matter what obstacles they start out having because of whom they were born to, that you would cater to their every need. That you would make sure they succeeded in life because you invested in their life. That you in fact leveled the playing field of sorts; that every child was given the opportunity they needed to succeed. You went above and beyond the norm and you made sure that when they left your class they were set up for success.

Imagine that every single person in their life, invested in their life. Their parents, their educators, their doctor, dentist, coach, pastor, neighbor, relative, policeman, store manager, and stranger. Imagine that no matter their relationship to one another, everyone worked together to make sure that child succeeded. That child and every child that crossed their path. You see it is not impossible for us to enrich each other’s lives, to make a better future and successful nations. It takes individuals to invest outside of the “stars”, to make everyone a star.

At Rising Star and at Acacia my goal is to treat every single child with the respect and decency they deserve. To learn their story and to make sure that I give everything that I can offer to make sure that when they leave my care they are set up for a brighter future. What is your role in making the future brighter for our children? My prayer is that we can lead by example and start a new way of thinking that every life is valuable, that no matter the predisposition they may have that we make it a level playing field of opportunity for success.

#livesmatter #dosomethingaboutit #changetheworldforgood

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Uganda year one recap

 

Two weeks left until school is out for the end of the year holiday. Our family starts back up at the end of August. This past year has been an amazing experience for us all. Jacob will be starting kindergarten and he has benefited so much from being in preschool. He can read and write, is so creative, grown taller and has made many friends. Parker will be starting school in the 3 year old classroom part-time. I will be her teacher along with 8 other students. She also has grown and is so imaginative, playful, friendly, and looks up to her brother. I have enjoyed balancing all things educational, from creating fun learning experiences at Rising Star, to volunteering two days at Jacob’s school and studying for my teaching certificate. Matt has been on the field and out in the field with Rising Star Ministries. We have seen so many blessings and opportunities for our ministry and feel the kids are benefiting greatly from the necessary improvements this past year.

What I can take away from this past year is that you can never plan for everything. I don’t know why we think we can. Parker has lived in 3 different homes in her 3 years of life, we hope that only one more move is in the future. We have done a lot of work to the future Rising Star Ministry site and it truly is taking shape, minus a major feature the building. We hope over the next year or two that we will start utilizing that space more effectively as a space for ministry. My plan in the next year or two is to be working 4 days a week at school and 2 days a week at Rising Star Ministries. I am wanting to hire an Ugandan teaching assistant to work during the week to help with the after school program. This will allow for me to not be overwhelmed by all the hats I have been putting on, and allowing for more staff to help with any language barriers.

One major accomplishment on the part of my side of the ministry is the new books that my mother helped purchase for me. I first learned about “Bob Books” from Jacob, he was learning how to read with these great books. So I have about 10 kids that range from Kindergarten to 4th grade that I have been teaching how to read. They came to me not knowing how to use Phonics to sound out words, but by guessing what the word was by either pictures or repetition. Dauda makes me the most proud, he started the year in 3rd grade and got demoted mid term back to 2nd grade. He started learning the sounds the letters make and then quickly was able to blend. He has enjoyed coming and reading through as many “Bob books” as we will allow. We are impressed not only with his reading ability, but also his ability to help his peers. He can explain what a book means in his native language Luganda, and we are working on him being able to speak more English.

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Jeremiah 7:22-28

 

They say that when something happens over and over and you expect different results you are crazy. Well call me crazy! Driving in Uganda is what makes me crazy. It is a way of life to drive with just yourself to care about. They say when a Ugandan gets into a car they lose the ability to fear death. When I get into the car I fear death might come. A police officer once told Matt that the guy who was cutting everyone in line was just doing what Ugandans do. Her exact words, “Ehh, that’s what they do, it’s just expected.” In my opinion, even if something is wrong, if a culture does it enough it becomes right to them. So yes, it is wrong to speed, overtake cars, turn in front of others, knock people and keep going, make three lanes when there is room for one, and I could go on. However, if it has become so normal to do those things; so normal that even the police who know the law don’t stop you; then why would you stop? I find it very difficult myself, to do the right thing, when everyone else is doing the wrong thing. Even more when it means I might never get to my destination, let alone on time. Is the answer if enough people start doing the right thing THAT might be the new normal?

I think it might be the hardest thing to teach someone who sees something as normal, but explaining that just because everyone does it, doesn’t make it right. That “everyone” might be doing it wrong. Something might be really hard to enforce if a majority of people are doing it, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be enforced. If a rule or a law was put into place, but now no one follows it, does that mean the law itself needs to be changed? If you change a law shouldn’t you then put a new one in its place?

All that I am posing is that we as Christians have a responsibility to act in such a way that is pleasing to the Lord. So what that looks like? For me it means that I need to keep myself in check, with what the Word of God says. I need to understand why I was instructed to act a certain way. Truth be told law is a good law if it was put into place to protect the person following the law. As a mom, and a teacher it is my responsibility to put rules in place, and enforce them for the benefit of the child. All that being said, obey the law set before you, because it is there to help you, protect you and guide you to a life worth living.