Saturday, June 19, 2010

Random Thoughts

I think I won't mind rainy season too much. The rain really cools things off, especially at night. The interesting times come when I'm shopping in town and have to run for cover or I'm riding a piki. Rain hitting you in the face and splashing on your skirt while on a motorcycle is something else. I have a new appreciation for cross-country motorcycle riders in America.

Doug and I have a new language program since we returned from 40/40, and things seem to be looking up. We now do language separately and more frequently than we were able to do before with our previous teacher.

Today, at my language teacher's house, she offered me some termites. I said, "Sure, but let me get my water first out of my bag." When I looked in my water! I forgot it on the table back home. Oh well, I had said, "Yes," so I took one...just one. It really wasn't too bad. It tasted a little like the grasshopper I had in Kampala. She said they were just cooked with salt, but for some reason, just like the grasshopper, it reminded me of a barbecue taste. I'm sure this interests you to no end, huh?

Language is taking up a lot more of my time, and I study a lot more at night now, so I'm only getting on-line ever so often. I'm sorry my posts have been scarce, but maybe now that we are better settled and on a routine, I can work blogging into my schedule.

In my Bible study time last week I read about one of the good kings of Judah who had a temporary lack of good judgment. He always sought out God's advice, except one time when trouble was coming. Instead of asking God for help, he asked...Egypt? I thought to myself, "How ridiculous! God has always come through for you. He's the Creator of all things, and you are going to choose to ask Egypt for help over the God of all gods?" Today, as I was writing in my journal, it hit me (a week late) that I do the SAME thing nearly everyday. Problems and concerns are at my feet every day, all day, and I always try to fix them myself. I hardly ever ask God, unless it's something I consider "big."

How foolish I am.

I hope that starting today, I can change that about myself. I want to be a God-seeker in everything, and train my children that He is the go-to person first and foremost; not themselves or me.

Thank you so much for your emails and letters and words of encouragement. I have been out and making friends and developing relationships and things seem to be so much better since 40/40. We really do appreciate it when you pray for us, and I can see God moving here. Our team experienced a few salvations this week, and that is always encouraging!

Finally...a celebration

For the grandparents: The day after our crate arrived, we finally had an official party for Karis. We invited Alissa and Kelli (journeygirls) over because their birthdays were June 6 and 12th, respectively. We had tacos with queso (because I found 2 boxes of Velveeta in my crate!), and we enjoyed an evening with a Funfetti cake mix.

new packages

A sweet lady and her kids in Mississippi that I don't even know, sent my kids some "happys." Little did she know that Caleb watched Ben 10 on the airplane on the way to Africa, and fell in love with it. He's never seen another episode, but he talks about it all the time. Good choice, Jennifer.

Kelley Adcox acts like she doesn't have a full-time job, husband or children, and she keeps blessing us with boxes. She even remembered Karis' birthday. She sent stickers and books for all the kids (they like books this size they can take to the church service where they don't understand anything that is going on). She also sent spicy seasonings for Doug. He was happy.

Check out the kool-aid mix! I got to put a few of those to use this week.

I went out visiting in a new area and I met a wonderful lady who helped me with my language. I have been back several times to visit her, and on the third time, all the children playing with my children, followed us home. I invited all 13 into the courtyard, and while they played with Kylie, Karis, and Caleb, I went in and made two pitchers of Kool-aid. This happened again the following day, too.

I'm praising God for ministry opportunities with this kids and for the barries that Kool-aid breaks down.

What kid doesn't like a red mustache spread half-way across his face?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Arriving late one night...

Underneath those tarps are all our worldly possessions, but to tell you the truth, we could have done without a lot of them. It's just hard to know when you are packing for a place you have never been to before.

Caleb is doing the "happy dance." He was so excited to see his guitar, drum, and toy dinosaur. He'd been talking about them since we arrived.

More happy dancing.

There they all are. An amazing crane hooked to the truck would lift each one off, and set it down.

I have already started a box labeld "USA." In it, are things that need to go back with relatives or friends when they return, because I don't need them here.

Who would have known that I would only have one drawer in my kitchen? I brought three drawer organizers, and none of them fit in the one drawer I have!

Who needs grilling utensils when they don't make grills here?

Who needs winter clothes when there is no winter?

Who needs socks when all you wear is flip flops?

There are also a few items that have found their way to the shelves in Kampala since we packed our crates. I did find some sunscreen in Kampala for a high price, but it is there. But no worries, I have a three-year supply for now. There is also the real-deal Tabasco here, but we brought enough to make it awhile. Thank goodness for re-stocking opportunities, though.

But some items that are NOT on the shelves in Kampala, I was so glad to see in my crate: Velveeta and Rotel! I made tacos the night after the crate arrived JUST so I could have an excuse to make queso. Yum!


We returned from 40/40 with lots of surprises waiting!

Aimee Staples and Stefanie Kellum provided us with a box full. Coloring books, movies, food, and peanut butter. Thank you for remembering the picture-hanging kit and the twisty ties. Ahh, luxuries. What a welcome home gift. Thanks, guys!

Carol Boening outdid herself by sending us each a solar flashlight. Aren't they cool. My kids are sleeping with them under their pillows so they are easy to find. The lanterns they were using at night were hard to find, but these flashlights even come with a glow-in-the-dark strip on them to identify them in the dark.

She also sent zip lock bags and candy galore. It will take my kids a full year to eat all that candy, but believe me, they started right away.

Aunt Cortney sent everyone calendars and also a "Little House on the Praire" book. Can you believe they don't sell pocket calendars, or wall calendars anywhere in Arua? But to be fair, I have seen a picture of the latest political candidate with the twelve months chronicled below the picture. I just wasn't feeling it.

More birthday for Karis. My mom sent her a cooking set and some new flip flops. The dishes will come in handy for all the "dirt/leaf" cooking my kids do.

My mom also sent glow-in-the-dark sticks, shirts for everyone, and apparently, Doug thinks the Dove chocolates are for him...

Thank you, Justin and Lauren. My kids LOVED the mini-junk cereals. There was quite a race to line up which ones they were going to eat the next morning. Yeah for taco packets and salad dressing packets, drink mixes and cocoa, and praise Jesus especially for Louisiana hot sauce!

Flamin' Hot Cheetos and Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. I could just stop there. Kelley Adcox knew JUST what Doug and I LOVE! But on top of all that, we got some school supplies, knick knacks for the kids and towels.

What a blessing you all are to me. Prayers said on our behalf is my greatest blessing, but, next to that, I appreciate your thoughtfulness. Whenever parts of "home" arrive, it makes for such an exciting day!

We love you all!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

June 15

I am WAY behind on blogging because we have not had internet since we returned home. I'm at a neighbor's house right now, but I hope the problem is fixed at our house soon. I will catch you up to date as soon as I can. I'm penning the stories in Word, so I'll be ready to post whenever the internet is up and running. I did add four stories today (below), so that should keep you busy for a while:)

Re-stocking and Medical in Kampala, May 25-June 2

We flew from Zambia to Malawi to Kenya
This is Lynn Skuza taking a picture of himself with us, waiting at the airport in Kenya.
To Entebbe, Uganda.
The taxi ride from Entebbe to Kampala was an event in itself. Even though the driver we called had been told twice to bring a van, he brought a small Toyota car. Doug, the driver, and a guitar were in the front.
Lynn, Jan, me, a large suitcase at my feet, and three carry-ons were in the back seat with Karis, Kylie, and Caleb on our laps, respectively.
The trunk was full to busting with everything else. Keep in mind this was luggage for 7 people for a month! Craziness!
Lynn, Jan, and I did not have feeling in our feet when we finally reached the Baptist Guest House and two of the three children were asleep on top of us. Quite a 45 minute ride!
We arrived to find a note on the table telling us our crates had arrived in Kampala and were at customs. So Doug had to go early the next morning with our packing list to go through the crates and answer questions about what we brought and why we brought it. He didn't make it back until almost dinnertime.
The end of that story is that Doug had to go one more time, they weren't happy with a lot of our stuff, and said they would "be in touch."
Three days later they relented and let us deliver it to the Guest House in Kampala. Whenver we get to Arua and get unpacked, we can start packing up all the furniture and dishes the mission let us borrow, so that we schedule a date for our crates to arrive!!
Re-stocking is another thing we did in Kampala. Going into new stores, aisle by aisle, seeing what we needed. Some stuff we still needed to get for basic house set up. Shopping and traffic got to be exhausting, but we are so blessed to have a chance to do it.
Caleb also got his 4-year old shots and Doug and I got our third Hep B immunization.
Karis finally got her gift from both sets of grandparents and us. An American Girl. We carried her across the ocean in a suitcase back in January, so it was good to finally get her out, and Karis was thrilled. This is all she asked for.

Karis and Molly.
We crammed a lot into a few days. After getting all our errands run, we treated ourselves to a cultural adventure.
We drove to Ntende to see a company of orphans perform culture dances from all the different areas of Uganda. It lasted three hours, and I wasn't bored once.
Notice the pot on this girls head and then notice what happens in each picture.
In this last picture, you can see the other girls leaving the staging area and walking up steps with the pots on their heads. They not only did steps, but also did some major dance moves while carrying them around.

One extra blessing was getting to see my friend Becky. She and I traveled to Uganda together back in 2007, and now we both live here. Standing between us is Henry. He was my interpreter in 2007, and now he works for Becky. It was so good to see them both.

We went to a wood-carver's shop, and saw some amazing handiwork.
Bosco showing Caleb some of his carvings, and then...
he actually gave Caleb tools to use on someone's order! I was so scared Caleb would mess it up.
And right before we left, Doug and I fulfilled our promise to Kylie and Karis that we had made at 40/40. They could have their first pedicure. Believe me, after 40/40, our feet needed it!

I think they really enjoyed it.
We left the salon, and headed for Jinja, about 2 and a half hours away. Jinja is where the Nile River begins at Lake Victoria. This is the place where we were going to have our cluster's prayer retreat.

Things forgotten

Before I leave the subject matter of Zambia, I looked at some of my pictures and realized I could show you a few things I had forgotten.

What are mornings looked like going out on a Daily Field Assignment in Lusaka (this is us walking to catch a taxi to go into town)

This is Doug and his helper in Lusaka – Joseph. He was 18 and the youngest helper there, but he was pretty incredible!

We were told to eat with our helper in town and try something strange, if we could. All the guys were taken to places where they ordered caterpillars, capenta (small dried fish), and other different fare.

All of the girls were taken to places that served chicken, beef, or fish. The only thing I knew I hadn't had was the FULL fish, so I ventured out.

I will have you know, that besides the caterpillars and capenta (I saw these in a store - they are usually outside with flies all over them),

I ate in Zambia, I have since had two grasshoppers here in Uganda! (And, by the way, they are MUCH better than caterpillars).

In Lusaka, this is the place at the seminary where we had all of ourmeetings and meals. In the windows, if you can see, are green bags tied up. Each family unit had a green bag (or two, in our case) filled with all the bowls, cups, plates, and silverware a family of 5 might need for one meal.

After each meal, we were required to go through a 4-basin dish washing system

And then wave them in the air until they dried and you could put them back in your bag.

I actually dressed up for church on Sunday. This picture is for my mom. Caleb was trying hard not to smile and hurt his injury. He was not allowed to go to church by the nurse for fear he would eat something offered by the church, get sick, and then throw up, pulling apart the glue. This is the day I was served caterpillars and capenta, so it's a good thing he stayed home.

Here are the girls on Sunday morning in Lusaka.

Karis, Kylie, Olivia, and Hannah

This is one of the seed pods off one of the trees at the seminary that Caleb would play with every day and use as a guitar or sword or something. This is what I thought he had fallen on because it was in his hands the last time I saw him that morning. I'm so thankful it was a pen and not this.

And lastly, this is us at a real restaurant in Lusaka, right after we had watched a movie (movie theater posters in the background). I'll try not to take this stuff for granted anymore.

The Ending

Karis birthday had been filled with so many amazing things, and we weren't even finished for the day.

We drove 9 km to a village to shop and on the way back to the guesthouse, my family's taxi fan out of gas. The journey girls' taxi waited with us, while the third taxi went for gas.

What we didn't know is that since the third driver wanted to drive to town rather quickly, he dropped the Skuza's and Mullican's in the middle of nowhere near a Baobab tree which you can climb to take pictures.

They had no idea when or if their driver would return or why he was racing to town. He just let them out and drove off.

45 minutes later when the watered-down petrol arrived, we were short a funnel.

No problem.

The journeygirls' driver had a beer bottle under his seat. Break off the bottom and you've got a good-as-new funnel.

Off we go.

At the restaurant, they let me order my kids' food first. The kids ate and were finished before anyone else go their food. Karis put her head down on the table and fell asleep. No birthday dessert, but definitely a good day.

I ate as quickly as I could and then I took a taxi with Lauren and the three kids to get them to be as soon as possible.

Kylie had started being sick on the 19th at Ibis and she wasn't throwing up anymore, but she was still not back to normal. We had started her on Cipro that morning and she was showing improvement, but it had been a long day for her as well.

Later that night, I woke Caleb up to take him to the bathroom. When I laid him back down, he started talking in his sleep.

"Mom, I'm thirsty because the baboon took my sandwich."

I think all three of our kids had a full day of adventure for Karis' 6th birthday.

Doug's loose screws

Because of all the many baboons, all food went back up until we were on the bridge.

What bridge?

This one that we had seen from the Falls.

We got a pass from immigration and walked to the center of the bridge where we entered

We saw a beautiful, full double rainbow,

and then safe from Isabella and all the baboons, the kids ate lunch in Zimbabwe.

The view took my breath away, until…

Something else did.

Lauren (our journeygirl friend) wanted to do the gorge swing, but she wanted someone to go with her.

Doug offered.

No big deal, right?

Wrong. This is where they were going.

So after signing his life away, kissing his family, and paying to do this, he and Lauren jumped off a ledge into the gorge (111meters/364 feet).

Their screams didn't last but a few seconds because the fall took their breath away. Quite a fall.

Can you see that small spot? That is Doug and Lauren at the bottom.

I zoomed in a little, but not too much. I wanted you to see how far away they were.

Coming up.


We have video proof if we can ever load it. That is one of the reasons I don't have a picture of them falling – I was busy videoing