Saturday, February 28, 2009

Never a dull moment...

A fun day with the whole team in San Antonio (in front of the Alamo)
How can you resist this face?
Martin showing off his new kicks (we needed new ones, don't ya think??)
Suresh and Gift massaging our shoulders- this is what we do all day (just kidding!)
One of my favorite pictures- Rose, Sarah, and Yeshoda

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Quirky Kids

All families have their quirks.  And with thirteen kids, six adults, and different personalities galore, ours are abundant:

-When we watch animal movies on the bus, the kids compare each character to someone on the team (i.e. Lincoln is "Baloo" and Suresh is "Mogli" from "Jungle Book").

-Martin and Neha have an obsession with my hands.  Martin always says, "Auntie, how did you get so soft hands?" and Neha always takes my hand and rubs her own face with it, saying "So soft, so soft!"

-Isaac does not like when Jay and I show affection toward one another.  If we are hugging in front of the kids, Isaac comes up and tries to get in between us and says, "No thank you!  Not right now!" 

-Sarah is our roller coaster of emotions, up and down all day long.  She has her funny moments though, and has started occasionally referring to us as "Girlfriend," as in "No way, girlfriend!" or "You're crazy, girlfriend!"

-Ezera says "No thanks" probably a hundred times a day, but he pronounces it "No sanks."

-Martin (who's last name is Batte, pronounced Bah-tay) has developed a serious gas problem (I'm completely serious), and the kids get so mad at him when he lets one loose.  Jay started teasing him and calling him "Stinky Batte," which has definitely stuck with everyone!

-Isaac and Zurufah (our two littlest Ugandans) have some kind of romance going on.  Isaac is constantly battling with himself over whether or not he loves her.  This usually depends on whether or not the feelings are returned on that particular day.

-Lincoln almost always refers to Jay as "Mr. Coffee," which he thinks is the funniest joke ever made.

-Suresh likes to play soccer without any shoes on, which we allow to a certain extent.  If it's under forty-five degrees, we have to say no, but he still begs!

-Isaac leaves at least one pair of socks at every host home he visits.  He calls them "stocks," though.  Even though I should be mad, I love hearing him say, "Auntie, I only have two stocks left..."

-If Yeshoda or Neha mess up on any of their solos in the concerts, they immediately sticks their tongues out and roll their eyes (an unattractive reflex that we are trying to overcome!).  Must be a Nepali thing!

-If I am carrying something and Rose comes up to hug me around my waist, she says "Two hands, Auntie, two hands!"  And I have to put everything down so that I can hug her with both arms.  

-When Jimmy has a speaking part, he yells every word, getting louder and louder as it goes on.  "...and my hope is in you ALL DAY LONG!!!"  

-Zurufah has started writing me letters once a week, which I thought was just a show of affection (and a battle for my attention).  This week though, I realized she's just trying to butter me up when I received the weekly note that just wants to know, "Who do you love the most out of all the children on Central Team?  I won't tell anybody!"  That little stinker.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Can't believe it's almost spring!

As I have mentioned before, some days I say, "Oh my goodness, it's only February."  And then other days I say, "Oh my goodness, it's already February??!!!"  Even though we have several months before the tour is over, Jay and I recently had some decisions to make, the most important being whether or not we would be returning to be team leaders again next year.  After much prayer and consideration, we agreed that this will be our only year on tour.  We will be devastated to see the kids go, and nostalgic when we go to a concert sometime next year to see new children perform, but we think this is the best decision for us.  We know, from the bottom of our hearts, that God called us to be with these children and to be a part of this awe-inspiring ministry.  But in the end, there is a time for every season, right?

With that being said, we enter into the scary place we have been in before: LIMBO.  We were in this position at the exact same time last year, when we were waiting to hear whether or not we would get to be team leaders.  Only this time around, we are trying to sell our house (our house in Dothan is on the market...any takers?) AND trying to find another job (anyone need an amazing, dynamic, hard-working, Jesus-loving worship leader?).  Come June, we will officially be "homeless" and jobless.  

I have come to accept the fact that God puts us in positions like this on purpose.  I am terrified by all the "what ifs" in this scenario.  What if Jay can't find a job?  What if we have to move home with our parents?  What if we can't sell our house and are stuck with this mortgage FOREVER?  But this year, God just keeps reminding me that His grace is sufficient.  That no matter what happens, no matter what may go wrong, He is more than enough for me.  If my Father granted my every whim and desire, I might lean on my own strength instead of His.  These "obstacles" may be exactly what I need to realize that, no matter how much I want to, I can't fix everything.  

I am doing this amazing Bible study on my own right now called Experiencing the Heart of Jesus, by Max Lucado.  In it he writes, "For all we don't know about thorns, we can be sure of this: God would prefer we have an occasional limp than a perpetual strut.  And if it takes a thorn for Him to make His point, He loves us enough not to pluck it out...A few stumbles might be what you need to convince you: His grace is sufficient."  And no matter what, His grace will be sufficient for us.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Our First Communion

Ah, a child's first communion.  I remember when I was little, wishing my parents would allow me to drink from that tiny cup and nibble on that tiny morsel of "bread."  Looking back, I can understand my fascination.  The people around me were part of a club I was not allowed to be a part of yet.  I felt left out.  Now that I have grown in my faith, taking the Lord's Supper has become so much more to me.  I understand the significance behind the ritual of "taking the wine and the bread in remembrance of Him."

This Sunday, my childhood memories came flooding back to me as I sat on the front row of a church with Jimmy, Martin, Isaac, Gift, and Lincoln.  As we were getting ready for the service to start, I realized the church was taking communion that morning and I gave the boys a crash course on the symbolism of the Lord's Supper.  Because all of those boys have accepted Jesus as their Savior, I told them I would let them take the juice and the bread, and explained the significance of what they were about to do. 

It took all I had to keep from laughing at their candid questions and remarks.  First, they passed out the "bread," which was really just a TINY square of a tasteless cracker.  The boys asked what it was called, and I told them about "unleavened" bread.  Somehow they misheard me, and for the rest of the day kept talking about eating the "un-heaven" bread.  Of course, Gift does not follow the instructions from the pastor to wait, and starts chowing down immediately.  Martin, on the other end of the spectrum, leans over to ask me if he can put it in his pocket to save for later.  Isaac asks if he can have more because "it wasn't a very big snack."  

Then comes the grape juice.  I was praying and praying that the boys wouldn't overturn the whole tray of the little cups into their laps (and onto their Ugandan-made costumes).  We passed that hurdle, our only mishap being that the boys felt the need to peruse each and every plastic cup to see which one had that extra drop to savor.  (I have to admit to doing this when I was a child, too, which made me all the more prepared for their antics!)  The juice actually went smoothly...much better than I had anticipated, despite the fact that I caught Martin lapping up the juice from the cup like a dog who has just returned from a long run.

I will say, though, these are the priceless moments I will cherish forever.  I was so happy to be there for that "first" in their lives.  I had told the children that after they had received everything, they should pray and remember what Jesus had done for them.  After a long pause, Isaac asked so seriously, "But Auntie, I don't remember Jesus.  Should I remember Him?"  I gave him a clearer explanation of how we should just think about how He sacrificed Himself for us by dying on the cross, and then I prayed aloud for all of us.  I'm actually surprised that this was our first time a concert has coincided with a Communion Sunday, but I hope it does more often.  It was definitely an unexpected blessing for me...just like my first communion was so many years ago.