Living life together

We are so excited to share with you everything God is doing in Tanzania as well as hear what he is doing in your lives! Thank you for partnering with us in God's work all around the world!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Update about our family after the attack

First we want to thank you for your prayers and encouraging words.  We are sorry we haven't been able to contact you but hope you were able to get a message from Heidi's mom this past week to let you know what has happened.  Heidi's phone was stolen in the attack which was our primary form of internet so we've had a hard time finding access.
This past week has felt like a surreal dream for our family.   It has turned our world upside down.  We went from dancing with joy over the finalization of Nolan's adoption on Wednesday to overwhelming weeping over what happened to Heidi and the girls the following Friday. We are so thankful to have Heidi's parents are here and it has been so good for our family to process this with them here.  Hannah and Hailey seem to be processing the attack in different but in healthy ways.  They feel scared at times and with different catalysts than are normal for them.  The nightmares for Hannah have not stopped or even decreased so we are praying she can get a good nights sleep soon.  Also, this past week we changed our way of transport for Hannah to the school and now she is riding a bus with other kids from her school.  This has proven to be a greater source of fear for Hannah now because she has to pass by the place this happened every day.  We are unsure what to do now as Heidi is not ready to drive Hannah to school.  Hailey seems to be doing okay but will suddenly start knocking on her head and asking me to please get that bad man out of her head.  This has decreased, though, lately.  This past week they were able to draw what happened that day as a family and once they started they couldn't stop.  They remembered details Heidi doesn't even remember but make sense.  We believe that is helping them process it a lot.  Please just pray for their sweet hearts and their minds to slowly grieve what happened and move towards healing.
Heidi has good and bad days.  It has been 9 days since she was held at gunpoint and still cannot close her eyes without seeing the gun on her head.  Any loud noises make her jump and start shaking and remember the gun shots.   Her appetite comes and goes and sleeping has not come easy to her.  She hasn't ridden in the car yet.  She has been making small goals for herself and been very successful in them.  She moved from the bedroom to the dining room the first couple of days.  Then to outside the front door for short periods the next couple of days.  Since then she has made her way all the way to the edge of the compound.  We will take a big step this Friday as we make our way out of Arusha for a couple of days.  There is a little secluded guest house we are going to with Heidi's parents so we can get a little distance from Arusha for a bit.  Please pray for us that this is an appropriate size step for Heidi and can be positive. 
As far as the investigation is concerned, we've made little progress with the police officer. Three days after Heidi was attacked, a woman from church was robbed at gunpoint by the same men based on their description though their character was very different than Heidi's.  In Heidi's case the men yelled and screamed at her and threatened her and the kids life.  They were very aggressive with her. They shot the gun off three times.  Heidi and the girls remember one of the men's faces being so incredibly angry that they were sure he would kill them just because of his anger.  The other woman described the man as a very normal guy that asked for the stuff without yelling or really being angry in any way. He even told her he wouldn't kill her and never shot the gun even to scare her.  He also didn't do it in public so we are unsure if these cases are the same.  The police do believe though that there are many cases around Arusha that connect together and they are sure it is a gang of men.  They started about two months ago shooting women drivers to make a stance for family values, i.e. women should not take the place of a man.  They shot many others in the same that Heidi was followed from so they believe they are the same men.  They changed when they followed Heidi to robbery (though they believe they intended to kill Heidi but changed their mind).  With all of this news it makes Heidi very nervous to leave home.  The men took a lot from her physically but they really took a lot more from her emotionally.  She is talking with a very good Trauma Counselor from South Africa on the phone and trying to sort out the trauma that she incurred that day.  She feels he is very helpful but over the weekend they weren't able to talk and Heidi had some really hard days/nights. 
Please continue to pray for our family.  It has been difficult as well to process this while in a foreign country.  We have grown to feel like this is our home but in this time it is hard to feel at home here. 
Also, Nick starts to lead a discipleship school that is scheduled to begin tomorrow (Monday morning).  We are expecting 35 students from 8 different nations and are very excited, but at the same time feel a bit torn.  This is a very big and important responsibility, but not nearly as important as the healthy processing of this even with our family.  Pray for wisdom. 
We are seeing God's faithfulness every day.  Especially in the way that He is regularly encouraging us and providing for us through all of you.  We love you guys and are so grateful for your words, prayers, thoughts, and support.  If we have not replied to some of your messages please don't feel we haven't received them or appreciated them.  They are priceless to us. 
One piece that we wanted to share that has really carried us through is about when the girls were drawing their pictures of the event.  As we looked over what they had drawn, there was just chaos.  It was so dark and messy and difficult to make meaning from.  But then, somehow, above it all there were several clouds and above the clouds was a figure of a person with a bubble coming from his mouth that said, "NO!"  I asked them who this was and they said, very firmly, "that is where Jesus was during that time."  They went on to tell me that they knew that Jesus was always there the whole time and that he was very clearly saying, "NO!  Don't kill my children!"  That small figure over all of the chaos has proven true in more than just that moment.  Even today, as we continue to work through the rubble of broken confidence and fearfulness is Jesus continuing to speak into the fear, "NO!"  It cannot consume us and will not have victory over us.  We are in a place of mourning but he is turning it to gladness.  He brings beauty from ashes and strength for fear.  We leave you with these scripture that has been foundational for us in this time.
"This is the day that the Lord has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it." 
Ps 18:16-19 "He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.  He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me.  They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support.  He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me."

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Knowing the Risk

This past Saturday Anesta and I sat in the kitchen out in Maasailand and prayed for the young girls that were not yet there.  Three weeks ago something had happened that had discouraged the men to ever let their girls come back to our regular Saturday meetings.   It was a miracle on our part but made the men angry.  The government had randomly showed up and had taken the names of all the girls in attendance of the Saturday meeting that did not go to school.  This is against the law in Tanzania but they have been turning their heads to what is happening in Engikaret.   That Saturday their eyes were opened to how many girls were held back from school.  This was a huge miracle to us but it made the men feel betrayed by YWAM.  Two week later we sat in the kitchen and prayed for these girls to make it to the meeting.  We weren’t sure if any were coming due to the fathers being so upset and angry with our staff.  As we prayed I looked through the crack of the door and saw 5 little girls come into our meeting area.  My heart leapt with joy but also fear took over my mind.  How could these girls come here knowing that they could get beaten?  How could they knowingly risk their lives?  Should we send them home?  I talked with Anesta and she had the same concern.  She was extremely excited that they had shown up but after talking to some of them , fear struck her as to what would happen if their fathers found out they showed up. The first group of girls explained that their father that morning before leaving for market threatened that if he heard they left, if he saw them at the meeting he would cut off their legs so they could never come again.   He said they would be beaten until you couldn’t recognize them.  Even with their father threatening this, they came.  After hearing this we started the meeting.  We started singing the Maasai worship songs and praising Him for being the one who watches over us.  Praising Him for how good He is and that He is the only God.  With these 5 little girls we sang thank you songs to Jesus.  My heart melted as I looked out the door and saw more coming.  The long er we sang the more girls came, each group with a different story of how they were threatened.  Burning, cutting, and beating was threatened.  One group even had their dad stay back from the market that he goes to every Saturday to make sure they didn’t come.  They told him they were going to a seminar and he didn’t understand what that meant so he let them go.  They were terrified but made it.  After the last group came in Anesta and I talked and said we needed to finish up to send the girls that had first arrived home before their father came back from market.  We finished up our worship time and Anesta, Nick, and I talked to encourage them that they are strong.  That Jesus in them is what is making them strong.  We closed by praying protection over them.  When we closed we thought they would run home out of fear but they stayed.  They wanted more.  Anesta told them to go home!  They were soo desperate for more they didn’t care the consequence.  They wanted to hear that Jesus loves them.  They wanted to know that they were important.  They wanted to be uplifted because at home they were stomped down.  As we drove away I watched as they walked back to their bomas, head held high.  I don’t know if any incurred the consequences their fathers threatened but I know they were not scared because they knew who they were in Christ.  They knew their Jesus loved them and that was more than any physical pain they might endure.  I am so blessed to be able to spend time with these young girls.  Through the trials that our family has been facing lately it has been so encouraging to see the faith and joy these girls display in the midst of their trials.  They have taught me so much.  Please join with us in prayer that they will have the chance to learn more about Jesus and be able to go to school.  There is a battle going on in that area that only Jesus can win.  We are trying and are constantly hitting walls that seem impossible to break down but we know we need to hold firm and those walls will crumble in Jesus name.  God loves those girls more than I do and is fighting for them.  Thank you Jesus!!

Friday, February 21, 2014

A short video to say thank you from us and our students and a couple of things upcoming for the village we are working in, Kiserian,, about 25 km outside of Engikaret.  We met some people from Australia that came with us to class for about six weeks and loved what they saw.  They found some funding for the beginning of a Primary School for children walking 13 km every day to school and back again.  Also, there is a fellow missionary here that has shown some interest in building a water dam that will possibly work into a water well that we are praying might become a possibility.  We are liaising these projects hopefully within this year as well as a short documentary shot from a National Geographic/BBC movie maker following the children on their walk to school.  The Australian friends of ours are hoping that will help to continue to generate money for the completion of the Primary School.  Thank you so much for your prayers and support and welcome to come visit what we are doing!!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

We are here!!!!

I woke up this morning feeling the urge to write a post to everyone letting you know we are still here!!!  I know it has been forever since we have updated anyone in any way and I wish I had a really really good excuse.  We have started over a dozen of new updates and never got around to finishing and posting them and then it seems too late.  The past 3 months have been the busiest months of our lives.  The craziness is still going on but seems to have dulled a bit.  I guess it has slowed down long enough to make sure this is posted!:)  These past 3 months we just wanted to update you briefly about everything that has happened. 

-First of all we have been adjusting to life with 3 kids (especially getting used to a toddler again).  We have loved it but there have been a lot of times of struggle.

-Someone in our family has been sick almost every day for the past 2 months.  It started when the lice came at the beginning of July and the sickness hasn’t let up since.  In August we didn’t have one day where one of us wasn’t dealing with some sort of stomach bug.

-Lice… All I can say is I am praying every day it doesn’t come back.  With no running water, no dryer to help with the girls stuffed animals, no lice shampoo I went out of my mind. I never knew bugs could do so much harm and could affect someone mentally like they did our family.

- The literacy and English courses out in Maasailand ended well and they seemed to have learned quite a bit in the past 6 months of classes.

-preparations for  Taa ya Mbali (Maasai discipleship school) took a lot of work but it was well worth it.  The maasai that came were excited to learn and left with a lot of great knowledge. We had a teacher come and teach about circumcision among the girls and the harm that it is causing.  The greatest part was that he is a maasai himself and had a lot of good understanding of culture and ideas to help them continue their rites of passage without causing harm. 

- Nick has been getting ready to lead the DTS here in Arusha.  The leadership team asked nick to please consider leading the DTS this one time to help the base out.  Nick and I prayed about it and agreed to give this next 3 months of the lecture phase to the Arusha DTS.  Meanwhile the literacy and English schools in engikaret will continue through another staff that has committed to take over.

-Building this house has been such an amazing miracle and blessing but has come with a lot of work.  Honestly the beginning was not much work at all. Nick just loved being down at the house, helping but it was necessary for him to be there all the time because we had a good contractor.  But, that all changed at the end. The problems starting showing up when they were putting the finishing touches on.  A lot had happened with the plumbers and they had forgotten a lot of little things that seemed small but meant that a lot of things didn’t work.  We moved in September 1st with water spilling out everywhere on our floors and our kitchen being unfinished.  The upstairs, which nick was in charge of building, is unfinished because the wood is still wet and was actually growing mold.  But, we moved in!  We had to because my parents where coming in 4 days and we wanted to be settled before they got here.  The kitchen was finished 3 hours before they showed up and we were putting things away until the moment we left for the airport to pick them up.

-2 volunteers from Wenatchee Valley Praise Center came here to volunteer for a month. We are so grateful for their hearts to come and serve. I am in charge of their schedule and their transportation so needless to say, I have been busy with some sort of ministry every day with them.  With 3 kids, it has been a little overwhelming and crazy busy but I just have to take some breathes and continue on!

-Hannah started school!!! Which is a huge improvement from last year. Last year she had a very hard time going but this year she LOVES it and is already starting to read quite a bit. She loves to learn and we are so thankful she has such amazing teachers at her school! 

-As I wrote above my parents came!!!! They came to meet their grandson and see the family as well as do ministry with faces for hope.  I was quite nervous that they wouldn’t get to know Nolan because he is so shy around strangers.  Well, not just shy but screams if they look at him!! But he attached to my parents right away. It was such a blessing. The girls are loving having their grandparents here as well as Nick and I.  We realized we hadn’t played games late at night for a long time!

So, that is what has been happening over the past 3 months.  We are so grateful for your support and your prayers over this time. Thank you for loving us and encouraging us.  We will update you with pictures soon but just wanted to get something out there to say “WE ARE HERE!!!”  That is how we have been living every day in this crazy chaos we are in right now.  I wake up and say to Jesus, “I am here” and that is about all I have to give right now but I know that is enough. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

It would take a Miracle....

A couple of weeks before  Nolan came home I attended a womens retreat here in Arusha.  A woman flew in to speak to us; Kim from Mosaic church in LA and she was an amazing speaker. She encouraged us and empowered us to be the women God made us to be.   There were so many amazing things that she taught us there but one thing that stuck with me, and I know with a lot of the other women, was something she had us do the last day at the retreat.  We took a notecard and wrote “It would take a miracle……” and filled it in with whatever that miracle was.  It stunned me that something as simple as that was such a HUGE statement for me. I hadn’t really thought about a miracle in my life.  I instantly felt the Lord press upon me my heart’s desire; to bring home a baby. I wrote, to stay anonymous of courseJ, “It would take a miracle to increase my family”.  It seemed completely hopeless at that point.  As I wrote it, I cried out that God would do a miracle for His glory alone. About 2 weeks later, Nolan came home.  We had been waiting and fasting and praying and I felt the Lord give us our miracle and all we could do was give glory to God who had his hand in it.  After Nolan came home I felt like the Lord said “don’t stop there, continue to believe that I do miracles!”.   I then wrote down something that honestly, once again, did not believe it would happen.  “It would take a miracle for us to build a home here at the YWAM base”. 

Since September of 2012 the base has not had running water in the homes and it has been slowly trickling out of a spicket. The dust has consumed our lungs in our home and Hannah and Nick’s asthma has slowly gotten worse.  It would be one thing to breathe it outside but the way it sticks and coats everything in your house and then you sleep breathing it in is almost unbearable.  Nolan’s room is also our storage area and something covers every inch of the walls.  About a year ago Nick and I had talked about maybe moving off the base to a place with running water and better windows and a little bit more space.  Our house is used often by the western students to come stay at when they are sick and it is getting hard sharing the toilet with sick students, especially when there is no running water.   My kids are often knocking on the door, needing to use the toilet when a student is already occupying the bathroom.  We started looking and realized that we would be paying about the same to stay in a much nicer home with running water (HOT SHOWERS!!!) and a yard.  We prayed about it but really felt that we needed to plant ourselves on the base to be a part of the work going on here.  If we moved off base I would stay home all day, nick would go to work and come straight home. There would be no interaction with our fellow YWAMers and we really love that interaction.  Though it was tempting we came to be part of a community.  We had a lot of Western missionaries express that a time will come that this will feel like too much for us. That we will outgrow our home and will want running water, the dust will start to make us sicker and we needed to plan ahead for a home.     We then started getting different ideas.  We started asking around the base if there was any land for sale.  There was a small piece attached to the property but the man heard it was us wazungu (white people) looking and he put the price up very HIGH.  So, in September, we asked the leadership if they would consider giving us the last bit of the land at the end of the row of houses to build a house.  They prayed about it, talked in their meeting and said,  “yes.”  We went to several people around the base and asked their opinion. They were all very excited and told us that they knew at some point we would grow out of the house that we have and have to move off base. This was so much better though that we would stay on base with them.  They thanked us for wanting to still live here at YWAM and for not already moving off the base.  

As we looked at the budget we realized that building a home would be less cost than paying rent here for 9 more years, which for now is how long we feel we will be here.  That seemed like a good investment to us and we started making a house plan that would work for our family. We headed home in October and spent three months in the states raising every day ministry/personal support as well as raising funds separately for a house.  While we were home we talked about different options of borrowing money from people or the bank but really felt we needed to wait on the Lord. We didn’t want to move forward without confirmation.  As we returned to Tanzania I was sure that we had come to an end of this idea of building a home. We had been able to raise half of our budget while in the states but still needed a lot more.  Every time Nick would talk about what to do from here I would sit and think that it just wasn’t possible.   After Nolan came home I started to really believe it was possible. I wasn’t sure how but I had “it would take a miracle” in my mind and I really felt I gave it over to God and waited on His timing. Both Nick and I along with many people we talked to here and in the states, felt that building a house was what we should do we just didn’t know how we would get there and see the miracle happen.  A couple of weeks after Nolan was home we got an email from a friend asking what was going on with the house and what we still needed.  She said that when it was shared in her church (one of our supporting churches) that we finally brought Nolan home.   It reminded someone that we were wanting to build a house and he wanted more information.  He thought maybe they could get a team together and come here to help build the house.  She sent us some questions and we responded immediately, excited for what would come of this.  Two days later we received an email from someone else from the church that didn’t know about the other person asking about the home.  He had a couple of questions for us including how much more we had to raise.  He told us that he was in the midst of building a house and God had really brought our family to his family’s heart. He wanted to pray about helping us financially. We answered his questions and waited for his reply.  After only two days he wanted to let us know that he had deposited the remainder of the budget we needed to build our house and to go ahead and start building!  We were in a little grocery store when I got the email on my phone.   Nick started dancing around and I just broke down crying.  I couldn’t believe it.  I sat in disbelief in the store and re-read the email until it finally sunk in.  We had only met this family once during our time in the states.  We had little connection with them but God used them to be a HUGE blessing to our family.   God is amazing and He is so worthy to be praised. 

We are so excited for the house that is being built.  Here are a couple of pictures.  We started the building about a month ago and the roof is going on next week! We cannot believe how fast building can go if you have the money in hand (and without so many permits).  The builder has told us that we will be moving in by September!  We are hoping that is true.  Right away I didn’t believe it but after seeing how fast this is going, I wouldn’t be surprised. 
The piece of land at the end of the property that leadership gave us to build on

The girls playground for the first 2 weeks of building until they had to use it to fill in the foundation.  The girls loved it and used it as their slide!  It did entertain them for hours on end.

Setting the foundation

This is after only 3 weeks of building!

This is just for your enjoyment!:) This outfit is the outfit Nick was brought home in from the hospital.  It was so small on Nolan but Nick had to try!

The walls are up!!

Thank you for praying for this house and for being a part of the many things God is doing here in Arusha, Tanzania.  Thank you for those of you who gave towards the building of the house. We hope someday that you will come visit us and stay in this blessing that God has given us.  I have been praying about what to put on my next index card “It would take a miracle……” and waiting to hear from the Lord.