Thanksgiving day here was just like any other day--the kids went to school and I flew. Being part of a multi-national team in a foreign country, it's not really a holiday that's on the local radar. And it can really sneak up on you without noticing...which is impossible for sure in the U.S.! A few weeks ago we did have a combined U.S. and Canadian Thanksgiving meal with the relevant families on our team, splitting the difference between the two holiday dates in our home countries. We had lots of great food and fellowship! But on Thursday (the actual U.S. Thanksgiving day) Joy and Hannah just cooked up a nice little thanksgiving meal for just our family, complete with two little roasted chickens, mashed potatoes and several other fixins and pumpkin pie. Now we have to start playing Christmas music around the house all the time, so that Christmas can't sneak up on us. :-)
This Thanksgiving we're thankful that God has brought us here to Uganda and is allowing us to be a part of His work in East Africa! We're thankful for YOU, our awesome ministry support team, who make it possible for us to be here through your generous gifts and faithful prayers! We're thankful that we have all settled in and feel like this is "home" and have made some great friends! We're thankful for each of our children and for our family back in the U.S.! We're thankful for the special little foster boy, Gift, who God has placed with us for a time. And we're thankful for all of the BIG things that Gift has taught our family, through his absolute love of life and his overwhelming joy in even the smallest things that we so often take for granted! He's deaf, and has cerebral palsy, and has had an unimaginably tough life so far, but he is so overflowing with joy and smiles and laughs that he literally can't contain himself! He quite literally bounces around and squeals and bubbles over with excitement at even the simplest of things! And he has the biggest, sweetest, most serving heart we've ever seen!
Most of all, we're thankful for the unfailing, unending, underserving love of Jesus, and that He's chosen to adopt us into His family! In the same way that our little Gift can't contain his joy at being a special part of a loving family, we hope that we too will overflow with bubbling joy and excitement--no matter our circumstances--as we contemplate just how blessed we ARE to be children of His, unconditionally loved and accepted by our heavenly Father!
What are you thankful for this year?
Well, while some of you are having a white Thanksgiving and freezing your tails off, I thought I'd give you a quick look around our yard (or garden as they call it here) in Uganda so you can be jealous of the beautiful greenery, and fine, summer temperatures we're enjoying. :-)
We were super blessed to get a house with a big yard here in Uganda. During our time in Indonesia the best feature of our house was it's close proximity to great friends, both national and international. The little yard and obstructed views there, however, weren't really the cat's meow. Nonetheless it was home and so we loved it. But now this is home, and we certainly won't take things like a big yard for granted! It's great for the kids, and there's always birds singing, and butterflies passing through, and monkeys steeling our fruit and garbage, and other critters that we enjoy watching. We also enjoy a pretty descent view over the hills of Kampala, with gorgeous sunrises and beautiful nighttime lightning shows that are even better when the power is out in our part of town...which is pretty often. We feel so blessed to have the large area for the kids to play, and the green things to look at, and the breeze to cool things off in the afternoons! (Our big tree has been dropping purple flowers for a few months now, which look quite pretty scattered throughout the yard.)
One of the first things I did after our crates arrived from Indonesia, in July, was to put up a swing. I've had it for about eight years, but we never had a tree to hang it in when we lived in Indonesia. Actually, we had the perfect tree for the first few months after we moved there (which is why I had it brought over there from the U.S.) but then the tree blew over in a storm and that was that. Anyway, we now have a huge tree right out front, and it's got the perfect branch for a swing. So after several days of looking around Kampala for the appropriate hardware, the boys and I were finally able to put up the long-awaited swing. Yes, my ladder wasn't long enough to reach the branch, and after trying to attach it from the top, I decided the better of the insane ideas was to attack it as you see below. With a piece of plywood on the roof rack of our van, it was actually pretty stable. I kept thinking that this picture that Joy snapped with the iPhone was going to wind up in one of those e-mails about stupid things people do related to safety, or lack thereof. But honestly, it wasn't as bad as it looks...I'm sure that's what they all say. Haha. And now the kids are having a blast with the swing!
Hudson's birthday was in July and my parents bought him some soccer goals (which I found at a South African store in town). Hudson loves to play soccer but we've never really had any room for him to play, so this has been a blast for him. Now if we can just keep the balls from popping on the thorn bushes at the edges of our yard. We've had about a dozen holes so far, and the ball never stays inflated for more than a half hour before it must be refilled again.
Britton's thing is basketball, and when his birthday rolled around in August, my parents got him setup for that. They paid for it all, but it took a combination of my mother-in-law bringing the attaching equipment when she came over in August, me building the backboard myself, and a massive effort on the part of our day guard and me to find the pole and rim and other stuff. The rim later broke repeatedly (and was welded several times) and was just not working out, so we finally had one brought over from the U.S. with our friend, Walt, when he visited a few weeks ago. We also had to pour the pole full of concrete and put some steel in there to reinforce it, b/c it was wobbling so much. But finally, it's finished and Britton is really enjoying being able to shoot baskets right outside his house whenever he wants. He just started last week on the school basketball team and is looking forward to a great season!
I mentioned we have a lot of birds in the yard. There are SO many different kinds that show up, it's amazing! I did a post a few weeks back about the hawks in our yard. I think they're actually called Kites, but anyway, those are one of the most frequent flyers here. A few weeks ago I was working outside when I heard a rustling of wings and looked up just in time to see a half-eaten chicken falling out of the sky, bounce off the roof and land just a few feet from where I stood. Then, two of those big Kite birds swooped down just behind, a tangle of wings and beaks and talons, and pulled up just before hitting the ground. The whole thing was very odd--I almost got clocked on the head by a chicken that dropped out of the sky!!! Obviously they were fighting over it when one of them dropped it--or maybe they were aiming for me on purpose? Anyway, they spent the next 10 minutes fighting in the air and taking turns swooping in to see who would be brave enough to get it back, since it was now lying just feet from our back door. It was fun to watch!
One of the most exciting birds we've seen here recently was a pair of hornbills. We've only seen them about twice, but boy are great!
These ones look a little awkward in flight, what with the huge beak and all--at least in the picture below--but they're still pretty cool! (I did a post a while back on some of the other birds here, including one in flight that was a lot more graceful looking. You can find that post here.) I remember occasionally looking out the window of my plane in Indonesia and seeing pairs of hornbills flying over the jungles of Borneo. They were a different type of hornbill, but it was always so magnificent to see them soaring, in black and white, over the wildest, greenest parts of the jungle. I'd love to fly like a bird! Someday I'm going to have to try hang gliding and/or para sailing!
There's lots of smaller things in our yard too. Sometime I'm going to walk around for an hour or so with my macro lens and then do a whole post on the tiny critters in our yard. I love macro stuff--it's like a whole different world that we often miss as we go about our busy lives!
But this is one of the mall critters that I wish we would miss altogether. Unfortunately, these mango flies are EVERYWHERE! We have about a billion of them in our yard, and about half that many in our house. They're much bigger and slower than the average house fly in the U.S. and they seem to fly around in packs (swarms? schools? flocks? whatever you call it) of hundreds. Apparently these are the ones that will lay eggs in the undergarments hung outside to dry, which will then get under your skin in "special places" and later form a large "pimple" that will one day pop open with the little wiggling worms crawling out to produce more flies. Yeah, it's a lovely thought. (This is why you don't hang the undergarments outside, or if you do, you have to iron them before wearing to kill those critters!) That, plus the fact that they devour any pile of poo they find from our dog or any other creature, and then always seem to want to land on our food afterwards to relax--yeah, it makes them our most reviled local creature!
Back to the fun stuff--with the blessing of such a big yard we've been able to use it for more than just our family. We've been able to host an number of MAF events with our very large team here, and we also regularly host the junior high youth group from our church. There's also a group of local kids that live down the road that like to come over to play "football". Their regular place to play is a small, rugged patch of dirt, with two sticks at either end for goals. So this probably feels like a world-class pitch by comparison. It's not only a lot of fun (Hudson and Tanner and I always join in) but also a great ministry opportunity as we build relationships with them.
Well, I hope you've enjoyed a quick tour around our yard. If you ever come visit you can see it first-hand, and maybe join in for a game of football or basketball! :-)