Monday, November 22, 2010

Sometimes you don't choose your ministry

When I first saw this frighteningly sketchy unfinished school chapel building 2 years ago, I said to a teammate, “wow, I'm sure glad I'm not responsible for that building!”
Now, through a series of events and one change of heart, I find myself the sole design professional responsible for presenting an analysis and course of action to the school board. How did this happen?

The eyesore – I mean, chapel - is on the campus of the neighborhood school, where our son Jonathan attends Kindergarten. EMI came to be involved in this project when our office was recently challenged to be more involved in our community, ministering to the needs of our immediate neighbors rather than heeding only the call of far-flung ministries around East Africa. We took our first step in this direction when we partnered with the local police in the design of a police post down the street from the office.

Originally I let my own pride inhibit me from even considering extending a hand to the school. It's a risky project! Are we willing to own that project and stake our (and my) reputation on it? Thankfully my colleague helped remind me that we aren't doing these projects for ourselves – they're for others. And we're not meant to honor ourselves in them – we're meant to honor our Father. I thank God for that reminder and pray that I can humbly own this chapel project and do my best for Him.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Start Your Day with Prayer

One of the best things about my work with EMI is that we start our days with prayer. Every morning we gather under this gazebo and read a portion of scripture, collect our thoughts and prayer requests, and pray. It is surprising how powerfully this focuses our work on our Father, binds us together in unity, and empowers our ministry.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Trampoline : 1, Jonathan : 0

"What happened to your arm, buddy?"

"My Dad kicked me off the trampoline."

It is true, and Phil felt terrible. He was attempting a front flip, but rather than landing it, his feet ended up horizontal, kicking Jonathan with just enough force to knock him off balance...and off the 4 foot trampoline to the concrete step below.

A trip to the clinic for x-rays confirmed that his wrist was fractured. The total bill for Dr's consult, x-rays, and cast was about $37. Nice. We were able to email pictures of Jonathan's x-rays to Phil's Dad who is an orthopedic surgeon working in Kenya (Tenwek Hospital). He informed us that it was a very minor fracture and that 2 weeks in cast was plenty.

Jonathan really loved getting the x-ray pictures of his arm (his bedtime prayer that night was that he would be able to get another one really soon), and in spite of the discomfort, I think he secretly liked all the attention and the novelty of having a broken arm. And as a side note: you will be happy to know that Phil has now totally mastered the front flip.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Smokin' Hot

Have you ever seen such a smokin' hot machine? This Suzuki Samurai is a zippy, rock-climbing, head-turning wonder, and every time I drive it I thank God for his amazing provision for us. We were able to buy this car through generous donations from our friends and family back home. If you're reading this, THANK YOU!

Friday, September 24, 2010

The rest of the trip...

SORRY it's taken us so long to update this thing! We seem to go in spurts: 3 or 4 entries all at once and then nothing for MONTHS! Shame, shame. We can't post anything further until we give the furlough report, though, so here it goes. It was AMAZING. Getting to see so many friends and family was a HUMUNGOUS blessing to our family. All the road-time and plane-time went by so smoothly, and we left the States feeling refreshed and loved. I wish we could post ALL of our pictures on here, it's so hard to choose. Here are a few highlights...

(Left) We had a surprise visit with my sister and her family in Northern Florida who "just so happened" to be back in the States for a few weeks in between countries! The kids loved reconnecting with their cousins

(Right) On a double date with Danny and Marge in Alabama!

(Left) Sharing a quesidilla burger with my beautiful best friend,
Bethany in South Carolina.

(Right) We got to visit Jonathan and Katie Shaw in Virginia just a few days before little Eliot Philip was born!

From there we drove up to PA to visit my Grandpa Deitz and family. It was beautiful there - the kids LOVED all of Gpa's John Deere tractors, we got to see most of my Mom's side of the fam at a potluck dinner, and we caught fireflies on a warm summer night.

More cousins!! We flew from PA to CA and got to spend 4th of July with Phil's fam. We had a fun reunion with Mom and Dad Greene, our two sisters and their families. Unfortunately we didn't get a group shot! Here are some of them enjoying ICE CREAM and trying to get their sparklers lit.

Lunch date with dear friends, Adam and Ali.

From Southern California we took the train up to Central California to San Luis Obispo, our home town...we were so surprised to step off the train and see balloons and banners and a whole group of friends from our church! We had an amazing three weeks in SLO...if we were to post all the pictures of friends and fun times this blog would be unending. Needless to say our stay in SLO and the love and care that was lavished on us by our church family was overwhelming, refreshing, fun, and encouraging...

At the SLO train station.

(Left) Jonathan with his best friends, Caleb and Ezra.

(Right) With Grammy Myra at Morro Rock.

From San Luis we drove up through N. California to Washington stopping all along the way to visit more's nice to have our friends so spread out, we didn't have to pay for a hotel once this whole trip!

(Left) Yummy food with Phil's college friends, Eric and Tam.

(Below) Picnic in a San Fransisco park with Phil's college roommate, Justin, and Tori (and Sugar!).

In Oregon we visited our cousins, the Carlsons, and their quadruplets: Noelle, Jordan, Jessica and Joshua (left). What fun!

Paul and Karen Berg (right) are friends from EMI - they were family away from family last year in Uganda.

We had a quick visit with my college friend, Hannah (left), before driving the last leg of our trip up to Phil's brother's house in Washington.

After a special, fun-filled week with the Nathan Greenes we closed up our summer in the States and flew back to Uganda.

Thanks for sticking with us through this long summer travel journal...

Be on the alert for upcoming blogs about our new life in the city, and updates on the kiddos!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sunny FL

Our first week back in the States has been a great one!
The trip here was long and tiring, but it was such a treat to come straight to Mom and Dad Gray's house to crash. It's been so special to see the kids re-connect with their Grandparents. We've had such fun times at the beach, on the tennis court, at the park, eating ice cream, and visiting friends...

Federer and Nadal get ready to duke it out on the court.

David and Lindsay Lange made a road trip to FL to see us. Here we are at Chuck E. Cheese!

The kids LOVED the beach...the water was so warm!

With Grandma and Granddad at Hillsborough River State Park
(Granddad used to swim with the gators here when he was a boy!)

Mmmm, McDonalds icecream cones!!

Double date with Elisabeth and Dennis (whose wedding I came back for in Nov!)

We even had a nice visit with Great Grandma Gray and Aunt Mary.

What a great start to our summer! We're so thankful for the friends and family we've already connected with and excited about all the folks we'll get to see along the way! We head out on Tuesday (June 15) to begin our long journey up to PA. We'll be stopping in Niceville, FL; Birmingham, AL; Columbia, SC; Newport News, VA; and finally Duncannon, PA before flying to CA for our west coast adventures.

Roadtrip 2010 here we come!!

Friday, May 21, 2010

We Were Robbed

This past weekend someone broke into our house while we were away.

We hear about these things all the time, and robberies like this are especially common here, but I was surprised by three things:

1. My own attachment to things. They were just things, but they were my things.

2. My own shock when we discovered the thief. Should we be surprised by the deceitfulness of man? After all, "we have met the enemy, and he is us."

Things stolen: iPod, 2 cell phones, solar lantern, frozen chicken (?!), one bra (?!?) and $500 cash.

3. The local police are using GPS technology to track the phone that was stolen and arrest the user!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tacky Night

One of the best things about living in new places is the people we meet and the friendships that are formed. One of the hardest things is saying goodbye to these friends...

Jeremy and Tamara became fast friends - they are a wonderful couple here with Equip working in the slum. We've witnessed them experience very difficult times in ministry and yet persevere in love and serve in the Lord's strength. We've seen them endure the heartache of having no children to becoming parents of two Ugandan children and now one on the way! The Lord has blessed us through them in so many ways!

Danny has been a big part of our family this past year. He was part of the Fall 2009 EMI intern group here in Jinja and felt called to stay on to help us with the Mto Moyoni project after his was through. He's been living with us since December and was such a huge help on the job site as well as a wonderful friend and encourager in our home.

We'll miss these people so much, but feel so blessed to have had them as a part of our life this past year.

Here we all are (plus Danny's brother, Brian, who was visiting) on "Tacky Night". We all scrounged through the fabulous clothes section of our open air market here in Jinja and didn't have too hard of a time coming up with these fab outfits.

Left to Right: Phil, Danny, Brian, Jeremy, Emily, Tamara, (Evelyn hiding), Jonathan

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sipi Falls

We took a wonderful, relaxing trip to Sipi Falls on the slopes of Mt. Elgon in Eastern Uganda last weekend. We celebrated Emily for the terrific mother that she is, hiked around the beautiful falls, and enjoyed thoroughly the cool weather and delicious coffee of the highlands. Here are some pics.

First Buildings Complete!

This project has been a deep yet rewarding challenge for me. While I am glad to be wrapping up now, I am so thankful for the relationships and for the experience.

Our first two buildings are in use now. I had a good friend of mine bring his camera over to take these shots.

Jonathan's Birthday!

Our son is now FIVE! It is a delight to have Jonathan in our family - he brings such joy to us and as we watch him grow we are amazed at the God who created him.

The day before his big day we celebrated his birthday with Elijah, Judah, and Hannah Jore who came over for a morning of fun and pizza lunch. We had a water balloon fight, decorated cupcakes, watched our chameleon eat 3 flies, and played tape the tail on the donkey! What a blast! The only downer was when I found Evelyn sobbing in the corner because it wasn't HER birthday party (just a few more days, Eva!).

On his actual birthday Phil took the kids to the pool (Jinja Nile Resort), and we let Jonathan choose where he wanted to go for his birthday dinner (this was a BIG deal to him), he excitedly chose "Ling Ling" - the Chinese restaurant in town. Miss. Kelly and Uncle Danny helped us celebrate. We played baseball with Jonathan's new water bat while we waited for our food, and our waiter kindly ran to the store and bought us some candles to put in Jonathan's cake (since we left the bag of party goods on the table at home).

Birthday morning - watching PBS kids shows with Eva.

And the celebration continued... The day after his birthday Phil took him on a Nile River rafting trip! Our friends John and Zane came along on this special Father-Son trip. Their guide took them over some thrilling rapids and also let them jump out of the boat and swim in fun coves along the bank.

It's hard to believe he was three years old when we left the States! It's been an adventurous year and a half for our little guy! Hot season and malaria in Sudan, swimming in the Indian ocean, bus trip to Congo, rafting the Nile...I think it's safe to say he's done more than most kids his age :).