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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.

https://www.youcaring.com/fundraiser-widget.aspx?frid=661681

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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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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Contradiction or Adaptation?

This thought came to mind while Jacob was playing soccer, “He doesn’t take charge and get after the ball.” Then I thought, “He is always taking away things and taking charge in other situations.” It made me think of how confusing it is to be a child (okay and an adult), to reason out when to act in the right accord. We are taught to share, through taking turns and being kind when we play. Then we are told to take charge, go get the ball and fight for it. We are told to wait in line and not to push ahead, hold the door for someone and let them in first. Then we are told, you have to take a chance and pull out otherwise you will be stuck and go nowhere in traffic. Be proud of who you are, but not too proud, putting down what other people are.

There are many more examples in life where it seems life is a constant contradiction; but is it really? I hear all the time that the Bible is full of contradictions, but is it really? In life we are constantly put in different situations and we have to decide what the best response for that specific situation is. You can have a different response to the “same situation” if even one factor is different. Life is not full of contradictions, it’s full of endless possibilities and we have to prepare for them all. We will fail and pick the wrong response, but we will have another opportunity to learn from those past mistakes and react differently.

We can dwell on all the mistakes of the past, worry about the mistakes in the future OR we can allow past mistakes to shape us into the future and keep daily working on not making the SAME mistakes. Because face it we are going to make mistakes, it’s how you deal with those mistakes and change them into something great. My hope is that I continue to teach my kids to make choices based on the situation at hand. To learn from their mistakes and to live a life full of possibilities, not blame the world of contradictions.

 

 

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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.

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Words are powerful…so you should know their meaning.

*This post is dedicated to my late Grandma Dee, the woman who I swear knew everything.

I do not claim to know everything, quite the contrary, I am always seeking new information or rather the definition of old information. I remember I used to be so annoyed that my mom would use big words around us as kids. I would say, “Mom, what does that mean?” She would tell me the meaning and I would respond by saying, “Why didn’t you just use that word, I knew that word.” She was teaching me a wonderful lesson, never settle for what you already know; seek to learn more.

I know that I am not perfect, quite the contrary, I make mistakes and make poor choices. However, I know that I am perfectly and wonderfully made. I don’t always do the best at it, but I am supposed to take care of the body that God perfectly and wonderfully made. I enjoy the fact that here in Uganda my kids get to experience the joy of playing outdoors. Great exercise for the body, mind and soul. Some of my favorite times were when we used to explore our farm; I have a scar on my wrist that is a little reminder of that fun.

I try to speak the truth that I believe from the Bible, in love, even if that means that it may be perceived as the opposite. I don’t hide behind the Bible, quite the contrary, my Bible is open. The song we sang as children in Sunday School, “…hide it under a bushel, NO!, I’m gonna let it shine.” When you meet me, you should know that I am a Christian by the words that I speak, and the actions that I display. I don’t stand on the street, shouting to the masses, but I do allow God to speak through me, in everything I do.  Driving in Uganda, well (that’s a whole other topic.)

From Dictionary.com

Observation– noun

  1. an act or instance of noticing or perceiving.
  2. an act or instance of viewing or noting a fact or occurrence for some scientific or other special purpose
  3. something that is learned in the course of observing things:

Judgement-noun

  1. an act or instance of judging.
  2. the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action; good-sense; discretion: a man of sound judgment.
  3. the forming of an opinion, estimate, notion, or conclusion, as from circumstances presented to the mind: Our judgment as to the cause of his failure must  rest on the evidence.

Prejudice– noun

  1. an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.
  2. any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable.

Injustice– noun

  1. the quality or fact of being unjust; inequity.
  2. violation of the rights of others; unjust or unfair action or treatment.
  3. an unjust or unfair act; wrong.

Criticism– noun

  1. the act of passing judgment as to the merits of anything.
  2. the act of passing severe judgment; censure; faultfinding.

This is my prayer for myself, my family and the World.

May my observations be pure, my judgment be objective, and my criticism be based on merit. May I never show prejudice for that is without knowledge, and may I never show injustice as that is a violation of the rights of others. May I always be growing in knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, as that will guide me in my knowledge of life living. May I know when to step up, step back and step away. May I know when to speak up, shut up, or pray up.

 

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#enditmovement

Dali Utumwa – End Slavery

Here in Uganda at Rising Star Ministries we are pledging to help end it! The end it movement for us is about teaching the kids in our program how to safe guard against being trafficked. It is something that can and does take place daily in and around villages like ours every day. The ways that we have heard of it impacting the kids we work with are in promises for a better life. Promises that they will get school fees paid for and a safe place to stay while they complete school. Promises that they will get to play football for a select team and all their expenses will be taken care of.

The majority of our kids come from homes that usually only have one parent. That parent most likely works long hours and sometimes far from home.  That parent probably uses public transportation that can take several hours to get where they need to be. That parent has many mouths to feed, clothes to provide, school fees to pay, shelter to protect.

So when someone comes and gives them a promise of some help, they jump on it without hesitation, investigation or questions. Even parents who love their child, can be fooled into believing they are helping their child to a better life. Some parents who are overwhelmed take it as a much needed break, one less they have to worry about.

Today we talked with the kids on ways they can stay safe from being a target for trafficking. Told them to also look out for their friends and other family members. To talk to us if they ever are approached about school scholarships, studying abroad, or football select teams. We are also doing our part to educate parents, by requiring them to give permission in person for their child to join our ministry. When we recently took kids to their schools that were offering legitimate scholarships, we vetted the school as well as had the parent visit the school too. If we can lead by example then we are doing our small part in ending slavery.