Monday, March 28, 2011

Friends and Retreat

I've shown you pictures of some of my national friends here in Arua, but I haven't shown you pictures of my ex-pat friends, so I thought I would.

These are some of my friends who live in other countries, but I get to see them in a couple of weeks in Kenya, and it will be so fun to connect again.

Here in Arua, some of the ex-pat ladies had a retreat to celebrate our study of the Book of Esther.

We had a "banquet" and got all dressed up.

Some of us who didn't have dresses went to the clothing market in town and bought prom dresses for $5 each.

These are all the ladies (minus Vikki, with the camera) that attended. They are from Canada, Germany, Austria, England, Ireland, Kenya, and America.

This is my teammate Pam. She has lived in Arua for 10 years.

Below is Sandra (L) and Meg (R). They are both leaving this summer.

Sandra home schools Pam's children, and Meg is the one God sent to teach Kylie ballet (she also washes dishes every time she visits). Do you think her mother will let me keep her?

Sherry is my dear friend who Meg actually works for and with. All the pictures that I took at Thanksgiving and on Christmas Eve were at her house. I have a lot of fun with her.

She has lived here for 20 years.

Now you can see Vikki. She's on the far left. She has been here about 15 years (I think).

These are all the ladies from America.

Maggie is my friend and neighbor (two houses down) from Kenya. She moved to Arua the same week I did. After I learn Lugbara, maybe she'll teach me Swahili.

This sweet lady led the retreat and did an amazing job! Her name is Joanna, and she has been here almost five years.

The banquet.

Kampala friends

Some friends who used to live in Arua, live in Kampala now, so we try to visit them whenever we are down that way.

The kids love to play with Fatu and Osobie.

This is a picture of Osobie helping Caleb try on some of his dress-up clothes. Kind of a Wolverine/Superman thing helping a Ninja Turtle.

Maybe we need Dad's help...

And another highlight for the kids was getting to play with Mercy. Her dad came in for a two week visit, thinking that after another court date, he could fly home with Melissa and Mercy, but to no avail.

Mercy's mother arrived in Uganda at the end of AUGUST to finalize her adoption, and except for twenty days at Christmas where we kept Mercy so she could return to Kansas to see her husband and other two daughters, she has been in Uganda. Her journey is unlike any other adoption story you have heard. If you ever want to read her story, her blog is

If you want to order some of these cool shirts that me and the kids are wearing to support Melissa & Cody Busby as they go through this arduous process, her email is

The shirts say, “act justly, love mercy, walk humbly.”

But if you don't do anything else, please pray for Cody, Melissa, Emma, Avery, and MERCY Busby.

Back on February 14...

I would be remiss if I didn't tell you about our "blessings" that came for Valentine's Day this year.

Audrey Smith is a trustee for the International Mission Board. She is amazing. She has kept up with my family since I met her Sept of 2009 in Jacksonville, Florida, when we were appointed. And when I say "kept up," that includes being an amazing prayer warrior for us (her and her whole church), writing encouraging emails to me, and coming all the way to Africa to check on us and other missionaries in this part of the world.

I think I've even mentioned in a newsletter how she brought me oh, so many Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookies! She got them before they were even being sold by the Girl Scouts. This lady knows how to get things done!

She and her husband Mike, who is a pastor, flew over with other trustees, but she is the one who visited Arua.

They brought items for schools, for the baseball team, and for us. You can see by the picture (Karis wearing Mike's hat), my kids warmed up to them in just the two days they were here

Audrey spent one whole morning with my kids so Doug and I were free to visit with some people. During that time, she made a video of them for my mother.

I'm telling you, this lady is awesome!

Another highlight was some of our leadership getting to come with Mike and her.

Tim (on the left) lives in Kenya, and Steve, lives in Johannesburg.

We often see their names on emails or on information about changes, but it was really nice to get to meet them face to face.

It's always a big deal when the "boss" comes to your house (for some reason, I just thought of "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" when the boss is forced to come to Clark Griswold's house by Cousin Eddie). But I digress...

Anyway, you can't control your kids in what they will say or do...enter Caleb.

We were all visiting in the yard, and the next thing I knew, Caleb had brought two light sabers out. He walked over and gave the green one to Steve, to challenge him in a duel against his red one. The duel was going well, but when Caleb thought he didn't have the upper hand anymore, he dropped his light saber to his side and lifted up his hand in what I like to call, the "Emperor Claw," and he started hissing like the Emperor does when he's using the "dark-side" on somebody.

Steve knew he was beat.

Gotta love a visit like that!

Water shortage

Funny story.

Well, not really, but it could be.

I heard at Bible study last Wednesday that the water in town was going to be turned off...again (it's been off a lot lately). Thankfully, the city water pumps into our water tank, so even when water is off, there is a small reservoir we can use. We were also told that both town pumps were broken, so it could be a while before water comes back on.

What I didn't realize when I heard this is that it had already been turned off.

Fast-forward to the next day. The kids and I were at my team leader's house when he told me he had no more water in his tank and he has spent part of the day pumping water into it from his rain tank.

I thought I should call Doug just to be sure. He said, "I just crawled up there two days ago, and it was fine, but I'll check and see."

When I got home, he told me it was EMPTY.

I'm sure it was. I had washed three loads of clothes in the last two days. OOPS!

So...Doug, being the incredible man he is, thought of a system to get water in our tank (we don't have an electric pump).

Step One: Fill up basins from the rain tank (Thank you, Jesus, that we have had some rain).

That was tricky since the spout is so close to the ground, but our washing basins fit perfectly under the pipe.

Step Two: I pour the basin into a bucket tied to a long rope, while the second basin is filling.

Step Three: Doug hauls up the bucket to the top of the tower.

Step Four: Pour it in.

Ahhh! Sweet, rain water.

This is our set-up, with the Sudanese neighbors next door as an audience.

We worked on this for awhile, until Doug had to go to baseball practice.

Funny part?

Two hours later, the city water was turned back on.


(Side note for all those subscribers that get this in their email: I really try hard to make the blogs look good, but for some reason when they come into an email, the pictures and words are never where I put them. Sorry.)

Mango Update

Apparently, mangoes aren't all bad when they aren't fully ripe. My sister, who lives in Costa Rica, has informed me in no uncertain terms that her mouth was watering as she read my blog and looked at the picture of the tree full of immature mangoes.

In Costa Rica, they call them “mango celes”, although neither one of us is certain they are the same type of mango.

She says this: "The Costa Ricans (and I) peel them and serve them with a squeeze of lemon juice (or unripe mandarin orange, which is even better) and a bunch of salt. I have been known to drive several miles out of my way to find a fruit vendor selling these along the road. I don’t know what the mangoes in Uganda are like, but I know they’re a HUGELY popular item here — sold whole along the roads; cut-up (with salt and mandarain) in bags along the roads; in grocery stores; in restaurants; at fruit vendors’ shops..... And I know they’re hugely popular in Indonesia and India as well. So, if you haven’t really tried one, you might want to give it a try! It’s nothing like a ripe mango; it may be even better!!! (You do have to like sour, though!)"

So there you have it, folks. The world traveler says unripe mango is delicious. It's good I didn't know that ahead of time or else God would have had a hard time making His point to me.

Thanks for the info, Kelly.


Goats, goats, and more goats!

I'm pretty confident that sums up a lot of Africa, and probably other parts of the world.

My children are fascinated with them, and I don't understand.

Maybe it's because they are everywhere, unguarded, so they seem like their own little pets or something.

The goats are tied to a rope, which is tied to a bush of some sort, and then they are left throughout the day, by the road to graze.

Since we walk most places, we pass a LOT of goats.

Caleb is always trying to see how close he can get to them. He wants to pet one so badly, but they are pretty skittish.

Then one day, I took them with me on a walk to see a friend, Grace, and she had two baby goats in her yard.



You have to admit. They are pretty cute.

My kids - not the goats - who did you think I meant? :)

This made my boy very happy.

Caleb, who is now 5, has become quite the movie quoter. It's a gift. My brother had it too. I don't know how, after watching a movie once, a person can quote so many lines from it.

Well, Caleb's latest quoting conquests come from "Shrek Forever After."

Things like, "Do the roar," or "Nobody's smart but me." One he says is, "I don't care how big your eyes get, Player, I'm not...." and then Caleb fills in his own line, depending on what he doesn't want to do at the moment.

Another favorite of his is when Rumpelstiltskin says to Shrek, "You're not going to eat me?" And Shrek replies, "I already had a big bowl of curly-toed weirdo for breakfast."

So when I saw this goat outside our compound, I ran to get the kids and the camera to show them I'd found a "curly-toed weirdo."

Great Mom, huh?

The kids didn't laugh.

They wanted to love on it like every other goat they'd ever seen...and this one let them pet it.

Shows you what I know...NOTHING!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Someone, Somewhere Prayed

I wrote you about taking a freezing shower on day 16 with no power, and even though I didn't hear from anyone, I know someone must have started praying.

Day 17 - Power came on at 3pm!

Thanks, God!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Good fruit

We go to church at ORA (Orphans, Refugees Aid International) often and then spend time after church loving on the kids.

(singing "This Little Light of Mine")

This is Peace and her son, Levi. She leads worship and teaches the children.

All the children speak Lugbara, so it is a great place to practice our language on the first grade level where we are.

One of the kids' favorite things to do after church is climb the large mango tree on the property.

LOTS of kids like to climb it.

Can you see Kylie up in the top branches?

Here, I'm zoomed in.

Karis and Caleb also like to climb.

The trunk is rather large, so this is how the children have to get
into the tree.

Most of the orphans are pros at it.

This tree could bless these children more than being just a place to climb, but they are missing out on the best part…the fruit.

This particular tree bears so much fruit, it would be enough for all the children to eat as much as they like with still enough to give to families around the base, and STILL have hundreds to sell.

This is what the children are eating instead.

The mango has just started developing at this stage and it's very bitter, but they will climb up, pick them, throw them down to their friends, and soon, everyone is eating a very small, bitter, green mango.

It broke my heart.

Then I heard God saying, "Kathryn, you do the same thing."

"Not me, Lord. I like my food ripe and sweet."

"Kathryn, I try to bless you and I want to give you good things, but you are not patient to wait for them. You take things into your own hands, push me out, and decide that you know what is best. When you do this, you miss out on ME, and you can't be a blessing to others."

I was even more heartsick.

He is right. I'm not patient. I need to grow where I am and not wish for a quick escape. I need to rejoice in my struggles. He is stretching me through the waiting process.

"He acts for the one who waits for Him." - Isaiah 64:4

A couple of quotes from the retreat reminded me of all I still have to learn.

"God has no problems, only plans. There is no panic in heaven." - Corrie ten Boom

"I am here by God's appointment, in His keeping, under His training, for HIS time." – Andrew Murray

God wants us to trust Him one step at a time. He wants us to "outlive our lives." And He wants to not only give us good fruit, He wants us to share good fruit with others.

"I am the Vine and you are the branches. If a man remains in Me, and I in Him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from me, you can do nothing." - John 15:5

Trash Pit

Don't gross out, okay. This is just life here.

Our trash pit in the backyard, where we put all trash except food, became quite full, even with all the burning that takes place every day.

A few weeks ago, Patrick decided to dig it out. Most of the pile is ashes from all the days of burning, so he decided to distribute the ashes over the backyard.

Caleb watched intently.

It wasn't long before he had a stick in his hand, pretending he was doing the same thing as Patrick.

Then next thing I knew, Caleb and Karis were both out there with tools, digging and carrying piles of ashes to the wheelbarrow.

This picture doesn't do justice to the amount of dirt that was
actually on them, but you get the idea…

Caleb may or may not have been sick for a day (probably from licking his lips), but we won't talk about that. We're all good, and they had a good time.

Shearing time

I forgot to share with you another aspect of my missionary life.

I SO wish I had gotten a picture, but I didn't. Sorry.

No, I didn't go to a local sheep shearing.

Doug cut my hair in the backyard a couple of weeks ago.

I think the neighbors got quite a kick out of watching us.

It was going to be a one-inch trim, but by the time he got it all evened out, he had cut off three inches.

What a man! He was just thinking ahead to what would be best for me during this dry, hot season.

I have a wonderful husband!

Would you let your man cut your hair? Just curious.

It's the Little Things

God amazes me in the little things.

Doug has been praying for a year that God would send someone to Arua that could teach Kylie ballet.

I mean, what are the chances, right?

In January, a lovely lady taking a gap year before college, arrived here to work with the Catholic mission.

I met Meg on her second day in town, and after about a month and a half, I invited her to a family meal. We invited her on “Pizza Night,” because what American wouldn’t want that? The kids decorated cookies that day for our dessert that night, and they each made cookies for her.

When she arrived, I was still finishing the pizzas, so she played outside with the kids. Meg mentioned later that she had talked to Kylie and found out Kylie took ballet back in the States. She then said, “That was my thing.”

Doug was excited, and I asked her pretty immediately if she wanted to teach Kylie dance one day a week. She didn’t even bat an eye before she said, “Sure.”

Later that night, I looked her up on facebook, and I looked at some of her pictures from high school. It turns out, she attended Ballet Magnificat’s summer camps in Jackson, Mississippi, so I knew dancing just wasn’t her “thing,” it was her “THING!”

Having lived outside of Jackson for eight years, I know a little about Ballet Mag. I have friends that toured with them, and I saw some of their performances. They are a ballet company focused on giving glory to God through dance, and they are GOOD!

I told one of Meg’s bosses that she might be teaching Kylie dance one day a week, if that was okay, and she told me that would be great. Then she told me that Meg had earned money in high school by teaching dance!

Doug’s prayer wasn’t answered by just some girl who danced in high school, but by someone who taught dance and was good at it!

We only have a couple of more months before Meg returns to Arkansas, but we are thanking God for the time He did give us with her. She is a delight.

She comes to teach on Wednesdays and then returns again for pizza night on Fridays. We love having her around, and we hope we’ve blessed her as much as she’s blessed us.

Ask God for the little things. He wants to bless you.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Yes, that is a cold chill you felt all the way from north of the Equator in Uganda, Africa.

Don't be's not the weather that is giving me the chill.

It's my shower.

Our town has been without power for 16 days and counting.

That means no hot water for showers. Brrrrr!

Don't get me wrong, with the heat here, sometimes a cold shower actually feels good, but other times...not so much.

I heat up water on the stove for the kids' baths, but I'm just not a bath person, so I'll suffer with a small scream as the water hits my head.

I feel so blessed to have solar (as I have mentioned several times before and will continue to mention), but our solar is not geared to run hot water heaters, toasters, irons, electric refrigerators, etc. Anything with a heating element. It would drain our batteries too much.

So the town has no cheese (there is only one man who carries a few wheels of it at a time anyway), hardly any cold drinks, and generators running wherever necessary. Our freezer was unplugged, and a dear friend of mine is letting me keep my food in her freezer. She is only a block away, so I just walk over whenever I need something to defrost for dinner.

The town also gets its water pumped by electricity, so no electricity, no water.

Thankfully, we have a water tank that has collected water, and we are okay right now. A friend told me she is getting up at 2am every morning to go stand in line with her jerrycans at the bore hole since the outside taps in her area of town have not been working. She says that some people come with 20 jerrycans, and if she doesn't get there before them, she will wait all night.

She says many people are really suffering during this dry season with no water and food prices going so high.

Again, I am reminded, I have no right to complain about a cold shower. I thank Jesus that I do have water to take a shower, water to heat up on the stove for my kids' baths, water to drink, and water to cook.

Not only that - it comes out of the tap in my home and I don't have to carry it two miles, up hill, both ways...and that is NOT an exaggeration!

I have light at night, a place to charge my phone and my computer, and I can still communicate with you, and you are worth a cold shower!

Solar Joy!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Through the windshield: part 3

This is a field.

No big deal, right?

This was not tilled up by a tractor.

Some hard-working women and men did this by hand with a single tool in their hand.

Coming from someone who has seen hard-working men and women do this in America on tractor, I have great appreciation for what it may have taken to get this done by hand.

A school yard

So much looks like this, too.


Maybe they couldn't find anyone to paint an advertisement on their building to help pay for it.

This is what a roadside lunch looks like.

Roasted cassava, anyone?

Does anyone see any safety violations?

Yeah, me either.

These are the kind of suburbs we pass.

House in the hills, anyone?

You will be glad to know that this concludes our tour.

Thanks for humoring me.