We have arrived!

Well, we have now been in Uganda for one week! It is hard to believe in some ways that it has already been one week, and in other ways, it feels like it was such a long time ago after all we have experienced in this past last week.

The kids did really well on the flights here. They had fun watching movies, playing games, playing with a few new little toys and activity books, etc. We had a small lay-over in Amsterdam, where they were able to play in a little, hands-on museum at the airport. We also had a stop in Rwanda, but we did not get out of the plane; it was a time for the plane to re-fuel, and some people to get off in Rwanda, and for others to board. I think it was at this stop on the trip, while we were waiting and sitting on the runway, and so close to Uganda, that we all got pretty tired of traveling! The babies got fussy, the big kids were exhausted, and we all were just ready to be off of an airplane J Overall though, the kids could not have done much better on the long flights over!

When we arrived in Entebbe, we were greeted by our friends, John (Palmer) and Uncle Enoch (staff member at Lulwanda)! The next day, we made several stops around Kampala to purchase some items we needed for our home. We even purchased a car while coming through Kampala! We did not expect or plan to purchase one on the first day here, and from what we hear, it is normally quite complicated and frustrating to purchase a car here, so we were amazed that it worked out so smoothly and quickly! We got such a great deal, that this vehicle will eventually be what Ryan uses to and from home and Lulwanda. We plan to get a second vehicle that Megan can use with the kids around Mbale. The car we purchased is a silver-colored “Wish”…sounds magical, right?! It is a Toyota car, and it seats 7 people! We are thankful that the Lord provided this need of ours so quickly! It has been such a treat to watch Him provide for us already over the last few months, and we are thankful for the many ways of how He shows He loves us. It seems like often we are so busy that we don’t recognize or give glory to Him for all He does in our everyday lives, but in this move, our eyes are opening a little wider to better watch for how He cares for, loves, and provides. Just as the Lord cares for and feeds the birds, He cares for us all the more (as we read about in Matthew 6:26)!

Over the last several days, we have been doing a lot of unpacking, organizing, and just beginning to work through the ways of life here. There are so many different ways of doing almost everything here. There are also things that we do on a daily basis in the U.S. that don’t require much thought or effort, but because of lack of technology, availability, etc., are a little more challenging here. For example, lighting the stove…in the U.S., we simply push a couple of buttons to get the oven temperature that we need and we are set to bake or cook something. Here, we have to turn on the propane tank, light a match, put it in the bottom of the stove, hope it doesn’t go out, light another match (or three or four!) if it does, turn the gas on, and then wait for the temperature to get to what we need. So far, the oven seems to cut off after a few minutes, so we repeat the process again J These changes can be so many things wrapped up together: fun, challenging, stressful, overwhelming, exciting, interesting, etc. Whatever the emotions though, positive or negative, they make the days right now somewhat (definitely) tiring! We are all working on getting on a better sleep routine as we adjust to the time difference, and that is improving a little more and more each day. Despite the moments that feel a bit chaotic, we are striving to live Proverbs 4:25-26, “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Give careful thoughts to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.”

Yesterday evening, after a long day of running errands, figuring different things out, trying to get the twins to eat, or at least drink something (they have been sick for a few days now), we were a little stressed and tired. Natalie, who also serves at Lulwanda sent a text to us asking if she could bring the Tendo kids by to say hello. We had not seen them yet since arriving, so we were thrilled to give them hugs and spend some time catching up with them! After a stressful day, seeing them was a sweet reminder of why God brought us to Uganda and why the challenges we are facing, and will face, are worth it. For those of you who may not know, the children who live at Tendo are older teenagers who grew up at Lulwanda Children’s Home, but now that they are a little older, they live here in Mbale, when they are not at secondary school, they stay at a house that Grace International Children’s Foundation named, “Tendo.” The purpose of them being here is so that as they approach adulthood, they can begin to really learn how to do things like shop at the market, have a bank account, etc. They are at an age that Ryan and I click with, and so spending time with them is time that we truly enjoy and are encouraged by. They are beginning a school holiday, and so we enjoyed hearing about some of their plans for the next few weeks. Some of them are going to a youth conference next week, so please pray that they learn more about our Father’s love for them, that if any of them have not accepted Him as their Savior, that they will, and that they will be encouraged to seek the Lord’s guidance in all areas of their lives.

We have been so touched and encouraged by so many of you who have reached out through email, facebook messages, viber or voxer messages, etc. to say that you are praying for us, our kids, the transition, etc. We are so far from home, and knowing that we have many supporting us through prayer is such a comfort for our family. Thank you so much!

Here We Go

Over the last few days we have thankfully been able to spend some great time visiting with family and friends.  We had two commissioning services Sunday, in which the church prayed over our family.  Today we went for one last trip to Atlanta for this summer and let the kids (and the adults) play in the fountains at Olympic Park.  It was a fun day, and one we will hold in our memory for quite some time.  This evening I (Ryan) was able to run with my running buddies one last time this year, and it meant the world to me to experience that one more time before leaving.

In less than twenty-four hours we will be thousands of feet in the air headed for a future we could have not imagined.  A future far away from friends and family, but a future that God prepared us for.  While tomorrow we will say “see you later”, we will thankfully be able to stay in touch and visit once a year.  We are grateful for all of the people that have made this possible by giving of their time, prayers, gifts, support, talents, and encouragement along the way.  Your love, prayers, and support are comforting and confirming for us.  Going forward we are excited, anxious, and ready to get settled in our new home in Uganda.  Please pray that our children will do well on the long trip, and we are all able to get rest along the way.  Please also pray for our family.  We love you all.

May God be glorified in what lies ahead.

1 Corinthians 10:31 – “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

The Countdown…

Well it’s official!  We fly out on 8-23-16 @ 545pm from Atlanta to Amsterdam, then after a small layover from Amsterdam to Uganda.  Thank you for all that have been praying and helping us via donations, phone calls, emails, etc.  Our family feels incredibly humbled, honored, and blessed to be able to share the gospel with the people of Uganda.  We are currently at 84 percent of our budget in recurring donations and are still praying that more monthly donors will join us in God’s ministry at Lulwanda.  One thing that I hope is obvious as our family leaves and serves God in Uganda is that God uses ordinary people to carry out His extraordinary plan.

Gideon was an ordinary dude. His story in Judges 6, has recently been on my mind. He is best summed up as an apprehensive farmer. God called him, a normal man, to deliver Israel from the Midianites, and Gideon’s initial response was “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” (Judges 6:15). God promised that He would be with Gideon and that he would be able to accomplish what he had been asked to do. Gideon’s obedience to God’s call brought victory to Israel, and he is known as one the the great heroes of faith.

There are many examples of ordinary people being used by God in an extraordinary way.  Every time someone makes the comment to one of us praising us for what we are doing, we want to be quick to give God all glory and all praise, for what HE is doing (Matthew 5:16)  Without Him, we are nothing. He is the sustainer and giver of all things, and apart from Him, none of this would be possible.  Apart from those who have stepped out on faith and supported us through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, none of this is possible.

I write all of this to point out one thing:  God wants to use you.  No matter how many kids, your health, or what age you are, God wants to use ordinary ole you to bring glory to Him and share the gospel with His creation.  Never feel like you are not enough, or that anything He is calling you to is out of reach.  With God anything is possible.

The time is now.

We are soon approaching our target departure in late August 2016.  As such, we wanted to share some updates with you.  We believe we have a house secured in Mbale, that will be a temporary residence with the option of it being permanent once we see if it will fit the needs of our family long term.  We have also secured many household items we will need in Uganda and have them waiting for us in our home when we arrive.  We are honored and glad to be able to help another missionary family that is there now who was needing a place to stay up until our arrival as well.  We have a few last minute things we are shoring up in preparations for our departure; finishing up shots for Ryan, Lucy, and Norah, meeting with an accountant about the tax responsibility we will still have in the States, and choosing what medical insurance we are going to go with.

Fundraising is going well, but there is still a gap in what we need monthly and what we are receiving.  Right now we are sitting at about 67% of what we need monthly in Uganda, and prior to leaving we really need to be at least 75% towards our monthly budget there.  If you wouldn’t mind praying that God will continue to provide so graciously through His people, and additional donors will join us monthly in bringing the gospel, hope, and love to orphans in Uganda.  If you feel led, and or have been planning to set up a monthly or one time donation, we ask that you would set this up online at the following website: Support.  Be sure to choose an amount, frequency, and designate to Missionary Support: Kelley in the drop down.  The sooner we can reach 75% the sooner we can buy our plane tickets and set an official date.  We are continually humbled with how God provides through his people and thank all those who have already given and those who are going to be setting something up.

Please be praying for our children as the reality of this transition sets in.  Pray that our families will feel God comforting them, and for them to be able to rejoice in our absence, for God is being glorified through this journey.  Be praying that God will amaze us with the support He is providing, both financially and relationally with those we encounter.  We need your prayers, and thank you for allowing God to use you.

Natalie, another missionary at Lulwanda Children’s Home shared this sweet photo with us recently.  It is a picture of her, the Palmer family, and our family when we were all together in Uganda last August.  Some of the Lulwanda children were in her office recently looking at the picture, sharing memories and thoughts about everyone, etc.  We look forward to all serving together again soon!

13530438_10108357499396094_2040917491_n

 

 

Moving Forward…

Well, we are currently and officially homeless! We closed on our house last Friday and over the next couple of days, completely cleaned out every nook, cranny, closet, drawer, and cupboard. We are ving at Megan’s parents’ house for the coming months as we await our departure to Uganda. Over these two weeks, we have been incredibly blessed to see and be reminded in so many ways how God is in control of all aspects of our lives, how He knows what is best for us, and will provide just what we need.

Some of these reminders have come in the form of experiences we have had. For example, one day last week, as Megan was taking a van-full of clothes and other items to her parents’ house, along with the four kiddos in the van, she got a flat tire. Initially, this seemed such an inconvenient time to be getting a flat tire! However, the next couple of hours went as smoothly as it could have. There were at least four unrelated friends who just happened to be nearby, free, and happy to help as we needed. Before this, Ryan had been having a stressful morning, so as he had to step away from work for a bit (to help his damsel in distress), he was given the time and opportunity to step back, pray, and sing and worship our Father on his way to and from taking care of this unexpected situation. Megan had also been having somewhat of a stressful/chaotic morning, as the kids were being quite demanding and she felt the pressure of moving out in two days and all that comes with that. Since she was stranded for a couple of hours at her parents’ house, she was given the gift of being able to relax and spend time playing with and enjoying our kids, not being frustrated with them and all that was on her to-do list for that day. God reminded us that no matter what happens, He always is the only One who knows what’s best for us. And, even if it is hard to see in the moment, we are to fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.

Other reminders of God’s sovereignty, provision, and loving-kindness have come from family and friends who have been there for us in various ways. We have had dear friends help prepare for our yard sale, babysit our children for different occasions, helped facilitate the selling of our house, those who wrote encouraging notes, and those who didn’t mind us taking a break from all that was going on to simply talk and pray. We are grateful for those the Lord has placed in our lives to walk with help, support, encourage, and especially pray with and for us. As others have given of their time, we have felt so loved by each of them, and especially loved by our Father.

As far as an update in terms of getting to Uganda…selling and moving out of our house brings us one step closer! We are aiming to be able to go towards the end of July, so we are currently working through logistics such as updating passports, completing vaccinations, fundraising, visiting churches, getting dentist and eye appointments made, etc.

We do have a couple of specific prayers requests and would appreciate you praying along with us:

*Please be in prayer that those who God leads will partner to support us on a monthly basis. Currently, we are a little over 50% in terms of the monthly support we project to need for life in Uganda. The goal is to be at 75% before we leave.

*Please also pray for a home for our family in Mbale. As of right now, there is not an obvious, available house for our family. But, we continue to trust God that He is preparing a home that will be just right for our family in His timing.

 

IMG_1823   IMG_1825   IMG_1985   IMG_1986

These girls are so great with our kiddos and sweet to be willing to help babysit them!  We are thankful that our kids have some wonderful teenage role models to look up to.

IMG_1830     IMG_1829     IMG_1835

Heather is not only a great sign-maker 🙂  We were so thankful and touched that she, along with her boys, Codi and Collin, were willing to get up early on a Saturday morning to help us out!  And, thank you to Chandler (you can see her walking behind Heather, smiling away as she works!) for all of your help sorting through those piles of clothes!  Uncle David and Auntie Erin make any day more fun!  Thank you to you both, for all of your help over those couple of days!!  And, thanks to Grandpa King for keeping Ryan comfortable while working the yard sale.

IMG_1972     IMG_1981     IMG_1994

Laura, her daughter, and friend came without being asked to help when Megan and the kids were stranded on the side of the road with our flat tire – what a blessing they were that day!  We are so thankful to Scott for helping us walk through the process of selling our home.  Not only did he make the process simple and easy on our end, but he continually offered words of encouragement, comfort, and confirmation.  And, what a wonderful help Stephen was to Ryan in moving and transporting big furniture items out of our home – thank you!

There were so many more who helped us, even still are helping us, and so even if we don’t have a picture of you, please know that we love and are grateful for taking time to serve our family!

2 Corinthians 4:18 “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

 

The Lord is Good

January was a full month…After wrapping up the holidays, we started homeschool again, although we didn’t take two full weeks off at Christmastime. We are trying to not take more school breaks than needed, so that if/when things get quite busy for our family, we will not fall behind in our school schedule for this year. Things are going well in terms of home schooling, and Audrey is really beginning to gain confidence in her reading. When she reads a couple of sentences without having to sound out any words, she is quite thrilled and will exclaim something like, “I’m really reading!”   It has been a joy to have so much quality time this year with her and Simon while watching them learn and grow. It is not always easy each day, especially with a couple of little 23-month old distractions running around, climbing on the school desks, getting into the crayons, etc., haha! Regardless, it has been a blessing for all of us. We are still praying about what God would have us to do in terms of school next year for Audrey and Simon. We are more open now than we have been before about them attending the small school in Mbale instead of homeschooling, and see that there could be many benefits for both of them, as well as our family in general, to go in this direction. We know that God will make things clear for us in His timing, and we are thankful that there is even more than one option available for us in terms of education.

Over the MLK Jr. weekend, we, along with Audrey and Simon, were able to attend the Fellowship Dinner that Grace International Children’s Foundation (www.ugandaorphans.org) has each year to thank their supporters, share updates of the children at Lulwanda Children’s Home, and allow others to come and see what God has done over the past year. It was a blessing to be there for many reasons. We enjoyed spending time with Rob and Cathy Marshall, and the kids loved going to look for turtles with Mr. Rob. The Marshalls are both an encouragement to us in many ways, and we are so grateful for their advice, care, kindness, and love of the Lulwanda children.

FullSizeRender

We also were thankful to be able to spend some time with Natalie, another missionary from Lulwanda who is currently in the states on a sabbatical. She has served in Uganda for several years now, so her experience and insight is helpful to us as we are preparing to move. We were also thrilled to be able to see and catch up with Pastor Morris and his wife, Aidah. Pastor Morris is the Pastor in Uganda whose church we will attend in Mbale; Lulwanda is under the umbrella of his ministry. Audrey and Simon finally warmed up to Morris and Aidah and had fun playing with them! Our kiddos can be quite shy, so it was one of the highlights of the weekend to see them open up and have fun with them!

A couple of other exciting milestones for January…we saw snow in GA (not much, but enough that the kids pulled out their sled!), and we put our house on the market! We are trusting God here as well that the house will sell in His timing. God is the only one who is omniscient, knowing all of the details of what is best for our family and how everything will work out over the next several months (well…and far beyond the next few months!), and we trust His plan is perfect. If we were all to know what God’s plans entail for our lives, or for any particular portion of our lives, it might prevent us from truly seeking Him. We know that God has ultimate authority over all, and trusting in that will allow our faith to grow in Him, more so than any amount of knowledge or foresight ever could.

IMG_9487 (1)

Thank you so much for continuing to pray for us, support us, and encourage us. We are humbled each time we think about those who tell us they are praying for us, those who send little notes of encouragement, ask about progress, as well as those who have given a one-time gift or signed up to be a monthly supporter. We are thankful for how God has already begun providing for our needs, and we continue to pray for others to come alongside us, as we plan and prepare for our mission at Lulwanda. If you sense God calling you to join us, you can find more information about how to support us on the support page of the blog (here), as well as on GICF’s webpage (ugandaorphans.org). By partnering with us, you are also helping impact others for God’s kingdom and sharing in the responsibility, as well as the rewards, of making disciples of all nations. Any amount is a huge blessing, and will help make it possible for us to serve the orphans of Uganda. We are also continuing to seek for opportunities to share with others about what we are being led to. If you would like to talk or have questions, please let us know, and we would be happy to set up a time to meet in person (or talk on the phone if you do not live in GA). We are thankful for opportunities we’ve had to share with a couple of church groups already, and another opportunity coming in March, but we would also love to come and share with your small group, missions team, church, etc. if possible as well. Please feel free to contact us through email (rmkelley0802@gmail.com), facebook, or call/text.

Lamentations 3:25, “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him.”

 

Happy New Year!

We pray that you each had a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s with your family and friends. We certainly enjoyed fun, special, sweet, and memorable moments with our family throughout the season.

We wanted to give an update on what is currently going on with our transition to Uganda…

We have been speaking to a real estate agent and plan to get our house on the market by the end of the week. We prefer to sell it, instead of renting it out, and are praying that it sells in God’s timing.

We are currently in the midst of fundraising. We have been so grateful to friends and family who have begun to support us financially. It is very humbling to see how God is working things out for us to be able to serve Him at Lulwanda. If you feel led to help us financially on this journey, we would be incredibly grateful; we are in need of others who will partner with us on a monthly basis, as well as those who are willing to donate as they are able. Any amount of a donation is helpful and is used by God to help work out His plan. More information can be found HERE. We need to raise a certain percent of funds before we are able to move, so we have found great encouragement through the donations that have already begun to come in– thank you again and again!!

We are praying about what type of fundraiser we might be able to do to help raise money for the expenses we’ll have of setting up our home/life when as we get settled in Mbale. We are currently throwing around a couple of ideas, and if you have any, please feel free to share!

We will be traveling to Houston, TX over the MLK weekend to attend Grace International Children’s Foundation’s yearly Fellowship Dinner. We are looking forward to having the opportunity to spend time with the GICF Board Members, Natalie Rolfe (another missionary from Lulwanda who is currently on furlough in TX), and Pastor Morris and his wife Aidah (the Pastor from Uganda who we will be working with).

We would deeply appreciate your prayers during this time, prayers that we would not be overwhelmed by all of the upcoming changes, that we would not become overwhelmed in the day to day activities and logistics that need to be worked through to make the move possible, etc. Please also pray that as we face decisions, we would be quiet and still, so that we can clearly hear what God is telling us to do. One specific example of a decision we will face in the next couple of months is if we will continue to homeschool once we are in Mbale, or if Audrey and Simon will attend the Tyler International School, a very small school for families like ours in Mbale. Of course there are many others decisions we’ll be facing, but this is one that is especially on our minds right now.

We are so thankful for your many prayers. A couple of verses that have continually been on our hearts and minds lately are Proverbs 4:25-26: “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.” We pray that just as these verses help ground us and remind us of where we are to be looking amidst all of the upcoming changes, decisions, etc., that they would settle in your heart and remind you of the same truths.

In Him and with love,

Ryan and Megan

Beginning to Prepare

We are ready to hit the ground running in terms of working through logistics and raising funds, so that our family can move to Mbale, Uganda.

As we are beginning this process, we would love to be able to share our experiences from August, as well as how God is asking us to move forward with you individually, your church, Sunday school, life group, Bible Study group, etc. If you are open and willing to allow us to come and share, we would be very grateful for the opportunity. Please feel free to contact through phone (Ryan, 678-327-3321) or email (rmkelley0802@gmail.com), whichever might be easier for you.

Grace International Children’s Foundation has added us to their webpage, so please feel free to check out their page for us HERE.

We have copied and pasted some of the Lulwanda children’s writings about their holiday break in August below for you to enjoy. Some wrote specifically about our family, others wrote about their introduction to baseball (our favorite line: “that one was to be buried,” haha!), and there is a sweet summary of what one girl learned during her Bible Study group time.

We continue to be so thankful for your prayers as we seek for God’s guidance in each of the small and large steps of this process we are beginning to work through.
With love,

Ryan and Megan

“There was a day when Uncle John told me that there was a family that was going to come and one of the twins is called Norah. I was so happy that I even asked Uncle John to escort them but he said the car was too small. I was sad that I was not going to escort Uncle John to bring the Kelley’s family. It was a Thursday when I saw them. I was so excited to meet Aunt Megan, Simon, Audrey, and Lucy. They were so nice and loving. But Norah never wanted anyone to carry her at first. But Lucy loved people so much. Uncle Ryan was a caring person. He always treated us whenever someone said he is sick. I was so sad when they were leaving I even wanted to cry. But they said they shall come back next year so I was not so sad. The Kelley family was so nice to us.  Thanks,Nora”

“I enjoyed playing with them. I enjoyed carrying babies, I like most Norah to carry. She was so playful. I liked the way babies move. I think next year they are coming back. I saw the father of Norah so hard working. He helped us in the family and in the farm.  Robinah”

“It was a Thursday the day they came to Lulwanda. I saw them and was so happy to see them to Uganda and the main place they loved to visit most is Lulwanda. I saw the twins and I was very happy and I said that, I will always carry them. The most stubborn baby was Lucy and they loved to fight. They were fighting for the mother to carry them but when Lucy saw when they were carrying Norah she began to cry and Lucy tried to speak and the words were hard so she only said Mama. When you want to carry them you have to make animal sounds to make them happy and they accept you. They are God fearing and they love playing with children. And when we got injuries Uncle Ryan treated us. We love him.  The End.  Naula”

“I was very happy when I read on the notes board that we were going to have bible study because I wanted to learn something about my new life with God. I got saved on April 1st. Teacher Natalie taught us that we are God’s children and our bodies are the temples of God. We read from the book of Romans 12:1-2. It says I appeal to you sisters and brothers to present your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God which is your act of worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind and by testing you, you may discern the will of God what is good, perfect, and acceptable. I learnt that I was bought with the price which is Jesus’ blood. I should not be like a chameleon because it si conformed to the thing it is on but I should be like a butterfly because it is transformed from a catipillar to a butterfly. I also learnt not to follow the world. I also learnt that God has plans for me. It was a very good bible study.  Thanks, Nora”

“This was my first time to play baseball. At first I was just watching the players. Then Uncle John suddenly hit the ball and it went high that no one could wait for it to come and then catch. It was so speedy and if it had caught someones head, that one was to be buried. I also admired the way the ball went and I felt I should also try. But when I just caught it I felt all the heaviness, until I picked a small one. I made a joke and said for everyone to get a big distance. All people laughed, wondering if I can really do it, but the first ball fell down in my feet. Everyone laughed again and felt to give up. Then Uncle told me to look at the ball and hit it. On my try I made perfect. Everyone clapped while saying, “That’s amazing!” – Egulasi

“It was one Saturday when Uncle John and O.J. told us that we are going to Namaje to harvest maize and we were Primary 6 and Primary 7. We went and started but Uncle Jerad grouped us into groups. One group cutting, another group collecting, another removing the covers, and another group putting in the truck. We started and we were happy. Uncle Ryan helped together with Katelyn and Uncle John. As we were harvesting an old woman came from no where and started shouting the name of her son James. She made noise and Uncle Jerad and Uncle John said I have never seen such a person. He said that it was his first time. But the woman remained shouting and she started dancing without any music. When she got tired she went back to her home. A short while she came back saying that I want that mzungu to come with me at my home. Uncle James came together with Aron and chased the woman but the woman was saying in her language where can I pass until another man came and took her away from us. But the woman was still looking at the mzungus and shouting come with me. That made that Saturday an enjoyable day. Everybody liked it.  The End.  Naula”

August was quite the month for our family!

We want to thank each one of you for praying for us while we were in Uganda last month!  Knowing that so many were praying with us before and during the month was really encouraging and comforting for us all.  God certainly has blessed us with family and friends who know Him and are sensitive to hearing Him and following the Holy Spirit’s promptings. Each note, message, email, etc. that was sent to us while we were in Uganda was encouraging, uplifting, and so often directly related to the challenges we were facing, the truths we were learning, and so on.  Thank you!!

The month of August was a good month.  There were challenges we faced, days that were difficult, and times that we were tired. But, we recognize that even in those moments, God was teaching and showing us what He wanted us to see and learn within the time that we had in Uganda as we sought to prepare for what He is calling us to.

In an effort to describe what much of the month looked like:

-From a day to day basis, Ryan spent the majority of his time at Lulwanda Children’s Home where he was able to spend time with the children and staff, begin to familiarize himself with the clinic, help with various tasks around Lulwanda such as harvesting maize, played sports with the kids, and much more.  He also had opportunities to spend time in a hospital for a couple of days to learn how to effectively administer malaria tests and meet some of the area officials who oversee orphanages and medical facilities.  It was also important for Ryan to experience and learn how to take care daily life tasks, such as going to the market, purchasing electricity, taking care of things at the bank, etc.

-Megan spent the majority of her time with our children, also learning how to take care of day-to-day tasks (such as going to the market, stores, preparing and cooking meals), and at Lulwanda to spend time with the children and staff, beginning to get to know them and develop relationships with them.  There were several house moms and children who were willing to help out however possible with the twins, or whenever the twins allowed 🙂  Katelyn, a recent high school graduate from our church, is serving at Lulwanda for several months, and she was a tremendous help to Megan, especially in terms of the twins.  She was very sensitive to knowing when Megan needed help, when the twins were getting fussy, etc., and she was quick to just come and take one of the babies for a walk, distract them from being fussy, play with them, or even get them to sleep.  She was such a blessing for us, and we are thankful that God worked it out for her to be in Uganda at the same time we were!

-Audrey, Simon, Lucy, and Norah were really so flexible with all of the different and new things we had going on.  They enjoyed the days we were at Lulwanda…Audrey and Simon played until they were exhausted those days, and Lucy and Norah were incredibly patient most days with the many little ones who wanted to hold them, help them walk, push them in the stroller, and play with them.  Audrey found a few things she liked to eat in Uganda, so we are thankful for that (never mind that some of them were the waffles, french fries, and ketchup from the local, Americanized coffee shop!).  Her favorite thing about Uganda, as she would say, was getting to play with Lilly everyday (a friend from Georgia whose family is also living in Uganda and serving at Lulwanda), and all of the humongous bumps in the roads.  She would laugh hysterically as we drove over them, and as the month went on; it never grew old for her.  Simon seemed to most enjoy playing outside so much, and he had a couple of sunburned cheeks to prove it.  He enjoyed the time we were there, but by the end of the trip did say he wanted to go to our “regular house.”  He enjoys helping Mommy cook, so he also had a fun time in the kitchen with me making pizza, cookies, muffins, etc.  The babies had a difficult time adjusting to the time difference for the first couple weeks of the trip, and we had several nights where they were awake for 2-3 hours; it sort-of felt like we were in the newborn stage again for a while in terms of the amount of sleep we were getting.  They did finally adjust though, and with more sleep, things did not seem as overwhelming or as stressful as they did for the first couple of weeks.  Other than sleep though, they did really well and the change in culture didn’t really seem to affect them.

As we left Uganda at the end of the month, we had the privilege of spending some time with, and eating dinner with one of Megan’s dad’s cousins, who is a missionary with African Inland Missions and lives in Uganda. It was so nice to hear about the ways she has served the Lord over the years and spend time with her. The trip home was a little eventful, with a computer glitch labeling the babies as “do not board” by the TSA, but we made it all back to Georgia only five hours later than expected and were happy to rest in our own beds that night.

Throughout the month, we felt confirmation that Uganda, and Lulwanda specifically, is where God is leading our family. The board members of Grace International Children’s Foundation also feel confident that this is what God desires. So, we are beginning the process of working with GICF to plan through logistics and set goals/milestones for the steps needed to get back to Mbale. We will do our best to keep you posted on our progress. We are aiming to move next spring, but that will depend on how logistics work out, fundraising, etc.

Thank you so very much for your prayers, notes, messages, texts, and so on!  We love each of you!

IMG_6073    IMG_6116

IMG_6199    IMG_6194

IMG_6187    IMG_6352

IMG_6342    IMG_6323

IMG_6290    IMG_6213

With much love,

Ryan, Megan, Audrey, Simon, Lucy, and Norah

Update from Uganda

(August 21, 2015)

Much has happened since the last time I spoke to you all.  Shortly after my last post the whole family got sick (with the exception of myself and Audrey) and our patience was put to the test.  They are all well now but in this post I wanted to share one truth with you all; Africa is not an easy place to live.  I have been reminded every day of ways in which we have it made in America, but never realized it.  Just going to the doctor and having blood work done to check for parasites is quite amusing and different.  Need some oatmeal, or some milk, or some cheese?  Have fun going to 6 supermarkets to locate it.  Then there is the whole checking out at the supermarket.  Type A personalities only need apply.  It’s also fun being stared at constantly and being called Muzungu a hundred times.  The power goes out constantly and the internet is spotty at best.  There is no air conditioning and being on the equator it gets warm/hot.  There are no rules or laws when it comes to driving, it’s just every man for himself.  These are just a few examples of how things are very different here.

With all the chaos and feeling out of our element though we are reminded of one thing; God called us here.  It’s not by chance that Megan had a revelation years ago that we would be in Africa.  It’s not by chance that God softened my heart towards the idea over the course of a few years.  It’s not by chance that John and Bobbi needed help medically at Lulwanda and we had just began our search towards long term missions there.  It’s not by chance that God stirred in the hearts and minds of our supporters to show their faith in giving through prayers, time, love, and financially.  God is in control, no matter how chaotic or difficult things may be.  We can take comfort in the fact that we are all together united in following God’s will.

Things at Lulwanda have been great this past week.  The first two weeks were tough due to some discipline issues John was having to deal with there, and of course being new we were still trying to figure everything out.  All the children are at home together for what is called a Holiday.  This is the time that all the children have completed school and are free, similar to our summer break.  There have been many fun activities such as teaching baseball, baking, painting, and music.  Today I got to witness the most electrifying birthday party I have ever witnessed.  We’ve also been developing our relationships with the children at Lulwanda.  I have always loved being able to help those who are sick, hurting, or in need, and learning how to perform malaria tests has been something they’ve needed a while now at Lulwanda.  Caring for them when they are ill, or have a scrape or cut is a great opportunity to meet their needs and show them love.  Megan and the girls are also becoming closer with every visit, and the twins are a smash hit.

Things I would ask you pray for; I’m meeting with the district health officer on Tuesday to find out what I need to do to be certified in country to operate the clinic.  I would ask you pray that goes well and God would help me be charismatic and loving as to get that relationship off on the right foot.  I also would have you pray that Megan would continue to feel more comfortable every day.  She has begun cooking (and it’s the jam), and has started to settle in more and more, and I’m so thankful and proud.  Being a mom of four is tough in ‘Merica, but in Africa its no joke.  Lastly I would ask you to pray for continued health and that we will continue to follow God, no matter how hard the circumstances may be.

We love you all,

Ryan & Megan, Audrey, Simon, Lucy, and Norah-BEANS!

IMG_6296    IMG_6170

IMG_6154    IMG_6109

IMG_6097    IMG_5943

IMG_5949    IMG_6185