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The U.S.A trip

I am back in Uganda after 3.5 weeks in the U.S. what a trip! My husband and I with our 2 kids and 23 soccer players along with frankly 1 good chaperone and 4 other adults. It was quite the experience travelling from Uganda to Dubai, Dubai to Chicago where we had to go through customs, get all the bags, go to a different airline and check in and then RUN to our next flight to Detroit. We had an amazing experience in Detroit. I was overwhelmed by the amazing host families and I was less than excited about being a true Soccer Mom driving a 15 passenger van around the entire Detroit/Rochester/Canton/Westland areas. But my rule in my van was I am playing my praise music and you can put your earbuds in and listen to yours if you don’t like it. And I cannot say enough how much I love using GPS in the Good Ole United States. In Uganda you use it and you get taken to places no one should go and the lady pronounces every street (if you could call them streets) wrong. But in America they even reroute you if there is construction or delays happening!

I was brought to tears of joy when I was able to meet so many of Matt’s contacts in Michigan who were amazing hosts. We had some that were mutual friends and one that was my contact but overwhelmingly they were families that Matt had known through church and other childhood events. It was more emotional because without going into any specifics it wasn’t the best time connecting with Matt’s family. We did get to connect with a few but there are a lot going on and something to really be praying for. I saw with my own eyes people who have impacted my husband’s life from an early very critical point in his life and help shape him into the man he is today. I got to see families that stepped up and took him in as their own son, coaches that inspired him to love the game of soccer, churches that helped him learn about God and come to follow Jesus Christ. I was so blessed to witness those very people show up again at a critical time in our lives and again step up and show encouragement and love. God was present on this trip in many ways and for that I am thankful.

We then took a flight to Minneapolis and as we were in the airport I was sending messages back and forth with a missionary friend who was trying to get me a place for myself and my two littles to stay while we were in Minneapolis. God again is amazing (no surprise there) but she was able to find a great former missionary couple who lived just minutes from all the activities that were being done in the tournament. They were such a lovely couple and showed a genuine interest in investing in our lives even for the short time we were there.

My parents came and got us driving with a less than reliable vehicle all the way from Beatrice, Ne to Minneapolis and were able to take us home with them so we could have much needed family time. The Lord looked out for us and allowed the car to make it home. I was able to spend time with my parents and my grandpa along with visiting with some dear people who I would have otherwise not had the time to visit with. Matt was a trooper as he managed 3 groups of kids because two players who were older played as a guest on a team and then our only girl also played as a guest on a team. He had to get people where they needed to go and had to rely on the other adults on the trip to also help out (some did better than others- that’s a whole ‘nother story :p) I missed being his support and realized we really do make a great team.

The team travelled by bus to meet us in Omaha and again amazing people in our lives stepped up to the challenge of hosting us. I put the role of soccer mom on again as I drove a 15 passenger van and my mom also was the soccer grandma helping with transportation. This time it was a little bitter sweet as I was able to share my story of how missions is for a mom and wife for the last 10 years and how life has changed over that time in Beatrice. I was reminded of the hard times and the great times and the amazing work that God has done and continues to do. I missed out on sharing and being a part of what I would have called my childhood church as Matt took the soccer boys there, but also felt a bit of a disconnect with what that church now means to me as we have spent so much time away. It is a challenge to feel like anything is home when you live away and people move and things just change.

However, when we flew to Dallas a place I have never called home it actually felt very much like home. I got to stay with a wonderful family that I knew in Michigan and the church family there at Skillman truly get what it means to be the body of Christ they embraced our team, they hosted us in their youth room, they drove us around to different activities, they let us share our stories and spent time listening to us. Even when things didn’t go as planned they helped us process things and gave us encouragement and advice. It was the perfect way to end an amazing trip through the United States.

Would I do it all again…maybe ha! This trip was truly unique and I honestly believe it was ordained to happen when it did every single location, person and time all lined up just as God wanted it to. I also believe that it was more than just myself that was impacted and for that I am truly grateful. God works in amazing, mysterious ways and for that I am humbled and in awe of just how amazing our God is.

Thank you to all the amazing people who stepped up to God’s calling and made this trip a success. I hope you were blessed through your time with us and keep praying for us and the people who you met along the way. For those of you we didn’t get to see but sent us a gift or just followed our journey thank you for your prayers and your gifts. God Bless you!!!

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The gift of sharing

I teach at an International school and some might think that I don’t see any needs. That everyone I teach and work alongside have it good especially financially. You see when you are in the “villages” needs are more obvious; more in your face. I bet you also go about your jobs and think about your coworkers as all having jobs, no real need. But what if you looked a little closer, who cleans your office? Who locks up at night or prepares the school lunch? Who do you see, but don’t hear? Well at Acacia some of the people you may not see or hear are the very people who work longer hours than me. They do the jobs that most don’t want to do. They help a lot in many areas whether it is in the classroom, the kitchen, the playground or outside acting as security.

A short time ago it was “teacher appreciation” and while I do think we should acknowledge all they do, I felt a bit weird. I felt like appreciation in general doesn’t happen enough. Mother’s day and Father’s day happen, but often people are left out. No special day is set aside to say thank you to them. I am proud of Acacia International School because we do have a few who “get it”; that there needs to be appreciation for all the people who make things “happen”.

A while back Parker had brought a show and tell and she was proud of a stuffed animal. One of the grounds keepers (do anything you ask people) James mentioned he wished he could get a nice stuffed animal like that for his child. He didn’t ask he just thought out loud. My assistant who is amazing and recently had a baby had just come back and all the kids at school were invited to wear pajamas and bring in a stuffed animal. She mentioned that nice stuffed animals are “so expensive”, again just thinking out loud.

I decided that my kids who have an abundance of stuffed animals could give up one. I sat down and talked with them and they agreed that they could find one stuffed animal that they could give. Parker also decided that for her birthday she wanted to invite “adults” to join in. So she wrote little invitations for the secretaries, the kitchen staff, the grounds crew, the security and the cleaning crew (and her principal).

mrjamesMsRachealSo if you could do me a favor, pray for those who are unseen. Do something kind for those who need a little acknowledgement. It doesn’t have to take much, everyone can find an area where they can sacrifice a little to make a big difference. Another thing, your children can teach you lessons in how to be generous, just keep encouraging them to think of others.

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View from Parker

A while back I decided I wanted to hear from my kiddos what they thought about their lives in Uganda. Their perspective of what we do in Uganda. I can’t help but laugh when I hear Parker because honestly she is always talking like she does in this video.

Remember that show “kids say the darndest things” well sometimes I wish I had a recorder at all times with this girl because she does say some of the oddest, funniest and cutest things. She definitely gets her vocabulary from her great grandma Dee and my mom (grandma).

I do wonder and pray that her experiences in Uganda will be filled with blessings. She has a love for Jesus and the knowledge of a 4 year old of who God is and his son Jesus. Along with the desire to go to heaven, the idea that Jesus died for our sin and forgives us. My prayer is that as she gets older that curiosity and desire to understand more grows and turns into a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Parker is someone who can make friends with anyone. Talk until you can’t handle anymore. Gives great hugs and kisses and would love for you to carry her or hold her hand everywhere she goes. She is smart and can memorize scripture and retell stories with great detail. Don’t tell her a secret because she won’t be able to contain her excitement and will just have to tell someone. She makes cards for literally anyone she can think of and can pray the sweetest prayers for people. She hates getting her hair brushed, but wants it to be nice and long. She wants to dance and be a ballerina “but I need ballerina shoes and the costume too”. She has a contagious laugh and the funniest facial expressions. She is dramatic in every sense of the word which can be good and frustrating at times.  I think she has a tinge of car sickness only because she has thrown up in the car at least 3 times since living in Uganda (2 of those times we were in a traffic jam and she vomited out the car window).

My prayers for her is that she continues to love education, cares about others, loves Jesus and is protected from harm. I love my little snoopy…Parker bean.