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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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American Pride

When we study History, one would think that we would learn from it. I just got done watching a movie on the Olympic athlete James Cleveland “Jesse” Owens, called the “Race”. Find out more about him… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesse_Owens

You would think that it would make me reflect back on how the Nazi’s were so horrible. What is really horrible is that fact that we were doing the same thing and some respects still are on a subtle level. At least the Germans were not hiding their hatred, Isis is not hiding their hatred. But why are Americans still struggling to admit that they are prejudice of those who are not White, Male, and Christian?

The Olympics is a time when we are all about USA, no matter what that looks like. People cheer for the USA to win. It becomes everyone else is the “bad” team and USA is the best team. I will admit we at this house have been cheering and celebrating the victories of the Olympics. My kids even are pointing out the American flag and cheering for the “good” guys. But are we the good guys?

We have so much diversity in the USA and we put the blinders on when it comes to sports. We forget about all the obstacles that athletes of different race, gender and economic status have to face. We forget that many of these athletes have to work twice as hard as others just to get recognized. They only can complete because they are so good, one would be stupid not to have them apart of their team.

But what happens when they miss the mark? What if they don’t win the Gold or the trophy, or the title of Champion? When they don’t have their uniform on, how are they treated? Before they are “discovered”, how were they treated by the masses? Human beings, Americans who have families, bills, and responsibilities on top of the immense pressure to be the Best.

Every four years people watch on television and cheer for USA. We need to be cheering for more than just the athletes, we need to be proud of more than just winning. We need to be “proud to be an American”. Right now I don’t know that I am that proud of anything that Americans are doing or have been doing over the years.

How can we as Americans be worth rooting for fulltime not just every time there is an Olympics on TV. One thought would be to respect each other, pray for each other, forgive each other and listen to each other. I still hold onto the hope that America will one day be a nation that truly is united as “One nation under God, indivisible with justice and Liberty for All.”

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Back to school

Well I will be starting school again. Never thought I would be staying that, let alone doing it in Uganda. I am going to start online courses to obtain my teaching license. I have one year to study and complete two tests plus a written exam at an approved testing site. This process is already an answer to praying questions. Questions like, what am I going to do for schooling for my kids? Answer, meet neighbors on a social sight, found out where they sent their child, checked it out, opportunity for me to volunteer twice a week, allowing for tuition to be waived for Jacob. Jacob loves it, so do I. Next question, how do I continue being able to volunteer without a Visa? Answer, find a way to earn my teaching certificate. How do I go back to school? Where? How do I pay for it? Answer, ask questions, get answers and be blessed by an investment. It feels good to be invested in, it also is terrifying to face the fact I could fail.

Prayer works and God is answering those questions I have each moment, not all at once but bit by bit he is showing himself to me and his will for my life. Opportunities are in my future, God has placed me on a path, a journey and it’s me to listen and follow his voice. I turned 25 in Uganda and now I am turning 32, hard to believe that this is the journey that God wanted me to follow. Pretty cool how God has shaped me and molded me into who I am today. It was in Uganda that I found my real passion for teaching, I have always worked in roles where I was teaching, but never as a “teacher”. Now I am brushing up on my skills and am ready to take on the title. Very excited for what is in store in my future and the lives that I will get to impact for His glory.

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Why sometimes it would be easier if it were only a mission trip…

We are in our second month here in Uganda and reality of permanency is kicking in. As much as the kids would benefit from homeschooling and all the benefits that has to offer.  We have been searching for a good fit for our kids to socially adapt to this new world we live in. But that is for another blog, and another time. If you have ever been on any kind of mission trip you know that it is a short period of time that holds a lot of impact. It usually means you get away from your version of reality for a while, usually you are impacted and then you return home. You might be fired up for a while and others are excited to hear about your trip and then after time life goes on. That is how my life was when I went on my mission trips in my youth and young adult life, short impactful trips where I grew and hopefully helped out the people we served. I remember having a week or two just packed with things to do, very little down time, you were always busy and when your head hit that pillow you usually were out fast.

Now a peak into my reality as a FULL TIME MISSIONARY…wow that’s still crazy to think about. Days are different here, there is no one that is filling your day with an agenda of people to serve and fun places to travel to. The food is no longer new and exciting, those cute little kids that always wanted your attention are still amazed that you are there, but are less eager to impress and please. Those adventures traveling in packed vans is now just you and your family dodging traffic to hopefully not have any adventures that day.  The group of friends that you had is now just your family that you love, but could really use someone else to talk to and get away with to talk about life. The family you left behind and called once to let them know you made it and are safe, now you skype for 5 minutes and try and talk about everything in that time once a week if you’re lucky. Those friends you left behind that are eager to hear about your trip, slowly start to get busy with life and seem to forget about you. The people that supported your trip now are wondering how long you will last and if they can really fulfill their commitments to you.

I have moments that are amazing, were I am feeling on top of the World and can see God moving through that moment. There are times that I have so much energy and can get loads accomplished. Days where I am speaking truth and someone actually seems to get it and make a decision to follow that truth. Times when I feel appreciated for the work and sacrifice that I am doing to help them. And then there are times when I feel alone, tired, worthless, unheard, underappreciated and ignored.  It’s a daily balance to keep reminding myself that I have a purpose in life; that purpose is to listen and serve God daily. Serve no matter what I am feeling, experiencing, learning, impacting or sacrificing. I don’t lead a glamorous life in my eyes, but in someone else’s maybe I do. I am just doing what needs to be done to serve a God that I believe in and that created me in His image to do the work of His kingdom.

Some examples of this glamourous life I lead both yesterday and today. Yesterday, I was feeling ambitious I was going to walk as far as I could before Matt caught up with me in the car. (He never caught me) I walked about three miles most of it was dirt road, along the way every single person I passed stared at me. Most said something, ranging from good morning, Muzungu(white), and the always awkward hey baby (to which I always think come on now I am in my thirties and I am married with two children). I was dirty, exhausted, annoyed, but also felt accomplished, proud and confident that I could take on the day’s challenges. We had our weekly meeting, I worked on the program for Saturday, we went to visit a school for the kids, ate some local food and then the teaching began. It started with the usual two kids who were so eager to come in.  We worked on math and after a short time a few more trickled in and then I had a table of fourth graders who were working on material that was at the first grade level. Some got it and others struggled, but the excitement of learning was there. These kids go to the government school where our office is located, it was evident that they could not manage at the grade level that they were placed. They could pick some of my English, but I know it was a challenge. I felt good, but exhausted after about 2 hours of working with a variety of ages of kids. We went home (thankfully Matt drove me) and we were able to see our kids, they gave us big hugs and said “I love you, I missed you.” We made pizza, talked about our day, and went to bed.

Today, Matt left for work even before Jacob got up about 8. Parker was up several times during the night and finally up at 6:30 (late for her). Fed the kids, the dogs, and swept and mopped the house. I attempted to rack the yard of dog poop, but the rack did not cooperate (and Matt didn’t bring the weed whacker home anyway so I was happy I stopped). We started our lesson by noticing that there was some oranges that had fallen, so I brought them in and we talked about why they weren’t ready to eat (besides the fact that they were the color of lemons). We cut them in half and I had the bright idea to paint with them. We had some dried out paint that I added water to and we mixed it up, we were having fun. Then the first spill, then the second spill and then my OCD kicked in and I said ok it’s time to clean up. The kids did their best at washing up (making more of a mess) and I sent them outside to play. I worked on scrubbing the rug and thought, why didn’t I move this before painting. I got most of it clean and attempted to climb our tile, uneven, smaller than your foot stairs and slipped. Paint everywhere, walls, floor, rug (again), face, arms, skirt. In the background kids arguing and screaming at each other. Got that cleaned up and then found some lunch to heat up. The kids had pizza and chips and I had left over noodles, the kids ate all the chips and the pepperoni off the pizza. Back to lessons we learned about the letter “F”, fitting as I wanted to use a word with that letter once or twice that morning. We did it we finished some school work it was almost three, time to nap (Parker) and so it was movie time. I started a load of laundry, due to the paint fiasco and put in the Lion King. We had a surprise, daddy came home early, we popped popcorn to go with our “F” theme of finger foods and I enjoyed some down time (in between the commentary of Jacob, retelling the story as it happened). Hung the clothes to dry attempted to write this blog, let Jacob use the computer instead while I cleaned the rug again. Matt made chicken, rice and snap peas. Parker woke up from nap once in a crazy frenzy, finally passed out again on me, woke up in time for dinner. During dinner, Parker had a tantrum in the bathroom (I still don’t know why), refused to wear clothes, eventually put her clothes on, got mad that she didn’t get dessert (because she didn’t eat dinner), watched some tv attempted to put kids to bed…and here I am writing this blog.

Two completely different days, life is unpredictable and some days I am just barely able to get through it. But in just those two days lives were impacted; in everything that I do I am impacting the world around me. My hope and prayer is that impact is for good and not evil; that the grace and love I give and receive is centered on Christ. The time that I am able to read the Bible and pray is a time that then is reflected in my interactions in life. I have been made more aware these past months that I can only account for myself and my actions. I can’t account for anyone else, however I can impact the choices of others based on what I am doing or saying. Speak truth, in love and someone will listen even if you never live to hear about it. Have a blessed day!

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What’s so different?

Well it happened Jacob almost made me cry by saying he wanted to live back in Nebraska. We asked why and he said because he missed his friends. It is true we haven’t made many friends, I mean everywhere we go he has kids wanting to say hello and greet him, touch him and play. He just hasn’t really enjoyed playing with them for very long. It is different, they don’t talk to him about the things he is interested in. Like action figures and cars, or certain cartoon shows and movies. He isn’t in their homes playing around with their toys and playing with the outdoor playground. He isn’t in school and even Sunday school is lots different. Basically he is over the whole staying with mom and not being able to just go explore. We have some work to do, it’s only the beginning and time with change things but it still hurts. So today we are going to skype some friends back home and hopefully that will help until we can get a routine and some normalcy around here. Granted it will be a different normal but it will be good.

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No return flight…the first few days

The kids are adapting well in regards to comfort. They do well with kids but still struggle with adults talking to them and the phrase commonly used is “how are you?” They don’t really know how to respond. They are shy in the states too, so this is something that will come with age and time. Usually Parker opens up to situations if she sees that Jacob is acting as though he is having fun or feels safe.

We have gotten several bites, but we are all still in good health. The kids have been very tired though adjusting to time change and just overall comfort. They like to sleep in…wish this would have been the case back home. Adapting to the food and their appetites has been hard, but I think that with time and with the change of venue of being able to cook for ourselves this will change. They still love the sweet stuff like juice and any candy that we have left over from our travels.

Our routine getting to become more productive and adaptive is contingent on us finding a home that meets our needs. Language is a big factor too, the kids that Matt and I worked with are all grown up and not around as much. The new kiddos will have to want to be invested as the kids once were. We have some work to do to build up those trusts and relationships.

It is rainy season here which means that bugs are more present and temps are cooler in the morning and evening when the sun is not out. Cool as in a long sleeve shirt or light jacket is comfortable. Also when it rains productivity slows considerably, its usually a down pour and with the conditions of the roads and transportation it serves as  an excuse for some to just wait until it stops to do anything. I however understand how much harder it is to travel if you don’t have access to good roads and good vehicles. When we were searching for a home the road we went down for one got us stuck, let’s just say that one was out of contention real fast after that. We need to be able to get in and out of our home.

Parker is liking the basin baths and so is Jacob, they never really cared for warm baths or showers. Power has been available which is great and hopefully it is something that they have figured out how to keep running now that the previous construction is finished and power and water are stable.

I am wanting to start learning the language as fast as possible, maybe because when I don’t understand people it makes me uncomfortable. They could be talking about me, they could need something that I can’t understand how to help, and they could better open up and share what’s going on if we could communicate more clearly. Even talking to adults it is surprising how many things are lost in translation of even two people who know English but don’t fully understand phrasing and accent.

The homemaker side of me is in definite need of being fulfilled and that means we do need a home, even if that home is temporary as in we are renting. I can still make the home feel like ours with beds and space, cooking, cleaning, and just the increase in self-reliance instead of having to wait on others to get things done. I like doing things myself and doing them the way I want them done.

God’s timing and trust is everything. It is how we will be able to survive here, to be happy and to call it home. We have been preparing for this adventure for so long, now that it’s here we need to remember how hard it was to get here and fight to stay so we can impact. I am excited and am ready to get after it.

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The Count Up…

The day we figured out we could go to Uganda and started packing was day 1, March 16th. Matt said I couldn’t start packing until after that Sunday. Monday we started with Jacob helping me take pictures off the living room wall. Fitting I thought that we took the boys off the wall first, the very boys we were going to be reunited with very soon. The boys that Jacob refers to as the Uganda kids he is going to play with. On day 5 I decided that I was going to ask questions to Jacob about the process and things that he would be encountering and try and remember to write them down. So I asked Jacob what toys he wants to bring right away and which ones he can wait to have later. He says “All of them, well a handful.” I ask well which ones are your favorite and he says “superman and cars…I want to bring toys to share with the Ugandan kids.” I asked do you think there are toys there? His response, “No.”

So we collectively as a family have really purged so much of our stuff. At times it was refreshing but other times it was hard. I know they are just possessions but some possessions are difficult to let go, to sell for maybe less than what you feel they are worth. But each time I think about it, I am reminded of how in Luke it talks about Jesus sending out his disciples and says for them to take nothing with them, so I think well at least we are able to take some things. Today I cleaned the kids play room and literally put more than half in the garage to sell. I at times thought okay, is this fair to them and then I remembered that they still have so much. They are blessed with more than just material things like toys and clothes, they have two parents, four grandparents and even two great grandparents. They have 4 uncles, 4 aunts and 8 cousins. They are blessed with family that knows the Lord and parents that are living what God has called them to do. So yep its hard to leave the stuff, the people, the entertainment, but what am I called to do is to go where God leads. I am so excited and so is my family, so don’t feel sorry for me or my family, so feel envious that I am doing something so challenging. Instead, pray that God will call you to do also follow what He has for your life, pray for my family and our health and safety, pray how you might be able to join our team. I am proud of my kiddos and how they have handled this change so far, I am hopeful that during the entire process that when times do get hard we will have the comfort and words to say, along with the strength to turn to God for wisdom and comfort. I also look forward to all the funny things as well as the thoughtful things that my kids say. Day 17, yesterday Jacob and I were enjoying the nice weather and trees came up in our conversation. Jacob wanted to know what kind of trees are in Uganda, he said “Describe them to me, what do they look like?” There are several different trees, beautiful ones, I described the banana trees that hold the Matoke a staple in the diet there. What kind of questions do you have about Uganda? Send me a question I would love to let you know what kind of life we are headed toward in just under a month.