Though this is a year in review, next year's theme at New Hope is "Deeper Relationships." We started thinking about it early. So much of what we have been doing has been focused on relationships. Our desire has been to see what God is doing and I think we have definitely been able to get involved in some of what He is doing.
We began the year moving into our new house so graciously provided by many of you and even as we were moving in we were building relationships with: those who helped us get the house ready in the last few days; those who helped us move in; those who helped us kill the 4 ft. boomslang snake on our veranda (in the picture); those neighbors we borrowed from over and over again because we didn't have tools or kitchen items; those who have visited us, either to just visit, to ask for a job, to sell something, to borrow something, etc...
Birthdays have begun to be common place in Ebenezer Family. We are regularly celebrating birthdays even though some of the children don't know the day they were born. Sometimes the mothers (all of the children are fatherless, though one recently found out his father is still alive) don't even remember what year their child was born so they pick a day, we write it down and regularly celebrate it on that day. This has built a tie with the children that hopefully is growing.
Two brothers have grown very close to our family, John & Mwine (pronounced Mwee-nay). God is definitely working in all the lives of Ebenezer Family as well as our lives where we are both learning to open our hearts more and learning how to love with Christ's love, not our own. We have talked about how to love, what it means to still love someone even when the other person has failed us. Recently the older girls asked to meet with us so they could ask us questions. We loved being able to share our hearts with them about love and marriage and also love in marriage a foreign concept to some.
One comment which was very difficult and painful: "I don't think you can still love me if you know what I've done." The other very painful but real concern is "When will you leave and not come back." We don't have that answer. Only God does. Even as we miss them in this holiday time between school years, we remember back to the conversations we had with them and the time we had to pray with them through rejection, abuse, sin, etc. and to be able to look each one of them in the eyes and give them a blessing from God. Many were in tears as we spoke with them and prayed for them.
Our Ebenezer Family trip (32 of us in all) to Jinja where Godfrey and Florence Musambo, the family parents have a home, was definitely a highlight. Coming back only the day before the children went back to extended family for the Christmas break, we felt a definite connection with them before they left for home.
We were overjoyed to introduce a very dear Ebenezer family to a very dear Clay Center, Kansas team and it seemed a bond grew very quickly. Please pray for the possibility of another team coming back even with some or all of this year's team. They each prayed for and blessed the other and we enjoyed seeing a love grow quickly between the two "families". We spent almost a week with the Clay Center team and were grateful they welcomed us on the safari even when we came back to the bus and there was a bull elephant and family hanging around right in front of the bus. We thought for sure the bull would use the bus for a step stool to get a higher branch. He never did. He was taller than the bus by at least a foot and almost as long.
We shared a wonderful time with both families.
The end of the year has included time to visit some of the Ebenezer children in their homes of origin. Our hearts have been filled with a burden to pray for their hearts-for our Father to reveal Himself to them and to give them safety and hearts that would be open to receive and give love. He is good.
Continue to pray. Only by God's grace, Tim