October Update and Funny Things

First, if you haven’t checked out Evan’s last blogpost which features Annabelle as a “Pom Pom Girl” in her school parade – go check it out! Being here in September, a month filled with national pride and festivities, was fun and interesting. I have never lived anywhere that has so many parades. In our town alone there must have been at least six separate parades. We caught bits of at least three and heard many of them. We got to see a wonderful array of cultural traditions and it was grand.

We are currently in the season of Harvest. It is a beautiful time of thanksgiving and is celebrated in the churches and schools. In the services, the children present poems, songs, dances, and process up to the altar with gifts of fruits, vegetables, and sweet baked goods. Even the children who do not normally care for church or chapel services seem to love Harvest time. There are quite a number of children who have to literally fight to have food in their homes and who are hungry frequently – many of whom are developmentally behind and physically stunted due to lack of nutrition. It is a joyful remembrance and a reminder for all of us that God is the One who provides from His bounty and that we must be grateful for what we have. Even with the drought this year the altars were overflowing.

Annabelle and I got to travel on a bus to Diocesan Day (a day for the entire Anglican Church of Belize) in Dangriga. It was a very long day and by the end we were both unbelievably dirty. But it was so much fun too! We got to participate in a huge church service in an outdoor basketball court. We also got to meet the Bishop of Belize, the second topmost politician, and Annabelle got to play some games and we spent a lot of time with our dear friends who go to the village church and have two children about Annabelle’s age. I’m so glad we got to be here for that event.

There are truly countless stories of tragedy, and hope, and beauty, and laughter, from my counseling, from conversations with people in the street, from all around. There are many reasons we came here but the rhythm of life we have here is slower and simpler and we are still relishing being able to be present here. We are going to soak up what we can over the next two months before we head back.

Another Installment of Funny Things

If you say, “Hey Babe” or “Good afternoon Beautiful” to me when I pass you on the street, I have resolved to be rude (which goes against every grain of manners I possess). I do not look. I do not respond. I pretend as though you have said nothing. If you call to me a couple of times and when I ignore you, you say, “My friend likes you and wants your number,” I will respond, “Oh, ok, my husband will be interested to hear that.” And I continue on my merry way with a smile on my face. When I arrive home, I will inform said ‘husband’ that such an interaction just occurred. Honestly though, I don’t relish these moments, but they are far better than the 4.5 months I spent in Sierra Leone back in my early twenties. I had wondered how it would be here in Belize and it is much better. Back then I easily got dozens of marriage proposals every day from strangers on the streets of Freetown and I found it exhausting and frustrating by the end of the day.

We have all been dewormed. In the Fall and the Spring at St. Andrews School they deworm all the children. Evan and I have been meaning to get dewormed for months now… and we finally did it this week. They are some intense pills for adults – six different doses. Anyway, it was overdue! I feel a bit like a dog or a cat but that’s just life here. We’ve been told this particular medication is not available in the U.S. so we’ll be buying some to bring back with us for a session after we return. More deworming to look forward to.

Speaking of worms… one of the things I miss a lot from the U.S. is our compost pit. Ever since we moved to Charlottesville we have had compost piles. The one when we had pet bunnies was a particularly good one, but I liked not having all that vegetable and fruit and eggshell waste going to waste. 😊 It’s been difficult for me in a place with significantly depleted soil to be throwing all our good vegetation scraps into the rubbish. So, several months ago I started a compost bucket. However, since where we are renting, I didn’t have a good spot to dump the compost and eventually it got maggots (an unbelievable amount of creepy, crawly, slimy pale buddies) and it started to smell awful. After Evan disposed of it and we still smelled it for days he put his foot down. Alas, that was the end of composting here. If we lived on our own land or even just had more space around our house, I’d be a crazy compost lady. Maybe one day my dream will come true…

Last, but certainly not least for funny things, Evan had to go back to the States for a funeral last week. He did a video chat with us from the Atlanta airport. He flipped the camera around and said to Annabelle, “Look where I am!” (meaning the airport). Annabelle immediately said, “Woah, look at all those white people!”

And so dear ones, it is going to be an interesting few months. With each passing day our minds turn more and more to the winding down of things here, making an international move, and readjusting to life back in the U.S.A. For Annabelle, of course, a year is a seventh of her life and this has been no small adventure. While she is anxious to get back to the U.S. and especially anxious to see all those she loves, we know she will miss things about life and people here. We had another rough patch with school a couple of weeks ago. However, after processing what happened and working through it, I think she seems to be better and happier at school than she was previously, and I think there are little friends she will miss quite a lot. Please continue to pray on the school-front for her.

Please also continue to pray for us as there are so many things that will be happening here. Starting tomorrow, over the next five weeks there will be two different priests visiting from the States and the Bishop of Belize will also be joining us one Sunday. We are so glad they are coming and it will certainly be a change of pace!

We continue to be so grateful for each of you. I’ve heard from so many who continue to read these writings and who continue to pray for us. Thank you!

Daily bread

Over my life as a Christian, I have learned a lot about God.  Often I realize in retrospect something He has taught me.  I listen attentively to sermons to glean what I can, I seek out a deeper understanding through my own studies. I pray for discernment and understanding. However, it is rare that I am aware of being in the midst of being actively taught something by the Lord.  


I recently attended the New Wineskins Mission Conference.  I attended two break out sessions on healing.  I believe miraculous healing through prayer can happen.  In fact, I have received healing twice, once a physical healing and the other healing of a deep, long standing emotional wound. As I sat in the sessions, I decided I wanted to learn more about healing and, even perhaps, how to be an instrument of God’s healing.  So, I bought 4 books on the subject. 
As I flew back to Honduras, I thought maybe I should start with myself.  I have carpal tunnel in both my wrists and thumbs. (Side note to all you avid thumb texters…you will be here one day. As I told a doctor once, I am like a cat – clever but ineffective since I have no use of my opposable thumbs) I prayed with complete faith and belief for healing.  


Here is what happened.  First of all, the Lord taught me about daily bread.  “Give us this day our daily bread” is not just about bread! This is something the Hondurans know very well.  As Angel says, “Yesterday is gone, we don’t know if there will be a tomorrow, all we have is today.  Live today as though it is your last.”  Anyone in recovery understands this concept as well.  “One day at a time.”  Instead of waiting for a dramatic healing event, I understood the Lord was teaching me to pray for healing one day at a time.  All I need is for my hands to be pain-free today.  “As Jesus said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” (Matt.6:34) So I start each day with a prayer, please heal my hands for today.  Tomorrow is another day.


After several days, I realized He was teaching something else.  Throughout each day I will have moments when I realized my hands don’t hurt.  I say a quick prayer of thanks.  Occasionally, my thumb or my wrist will start hurting, sometimes in the middle of the night.  I say a quick prayer asking for healing.  Within a minute or two the pain subsides. I was pondering this and reflected on the time He healed me physically.  I had a bad case of tendonitis in both Achilles tendons.  I could hardly walk.  I had a huge knot on each tendon.  I had just started my ministry here and worried it would severely impact my ability to fulfill my responsibilities.  Two orthopedic doctors had examined them and both had said there was nothing to be done.  One day, I met an extraordinarily spiritual woman.  Suzy introduced her as Sister Lupita, a prophet.  I asked her to pray for my ankles, which she did. That afternoon, the knots were gone and I was painfree. It was a miracle! Dr. Jim, one of the orthopedic doctors who had examined me, was amazed that my tendons were totally healed.  This was over 8 years ago and I haven’t had a twinge since.  I suddenly realized that I rarely think about them or what God did for me.  Sometimes I will tell the story to illustrate our miraculous Lord, but mostly I just thoughtlessly enjoy healthy tendons. 


This time,  with my hands, the Lord didn’t give me a one and done miraculous healing.  Instead He helps me one day at a time.  This is my lesson – to depend on God when I have needs, to lean on Him in times of trouble, to be thankful at all times for all things, and to walk through this life hand in hand, day by day with Him.


I don’t know how my hands will feel tomorrow but today, despite hours of painting which should have left me writing in pain, today my hands don’t hurt.  I talk to God all day, asking for help and thanking Him for His grace and mercy.  I think I like it this way best. (By the way, I haven’t opened the books yet!) So pray with me, “Lord, give us this day our daily bread”…whatever that may be for you and take His hand today.


For I am the Lord your God

    who takes hold of your right hand

and says to you, Do not fear;

    I will help you.
Isaiah 41:13

Spiritual Warfare in Madagascar

Patsy McGregor (left) and Jacky Lowe (right) have had similar experiences with spiritual warfare in Madagascar.

Jacky Lowe woke up in terror. Never before had she experienced a nightmare like this one. She had just returned to Madagascar from a visit to the United States. In this dark Thursday night, deeply disturbed in her spirit, she struggled to find the peace she needed to return to sleep. She got up from her bed and paced her home in prayer for two hours before returning to her bed. She continued to pray to the Lord as she fell back asleep.

Jacky is not the only Christian in her Madagascar community to experience such a disturbing dream this past year. Her fellow SAMS missionary Patsy McGregor has also suffered from a nightmare the first night returning from a trip – on a Thursday as well. This is hardly a coincidence: Jacky and Patsy have received reports that a local group of witch doctors prays against Christians, marriages, and families every Thursday night. “Why would witches pray against marriages?” I asked Patsy. “Because marriages are strong,” she replied. In the words of last week’s New Wineskins for Global Mission Conference theme (September 26-29), God’s people are #BetterTogether. 

The Anglican Diocese of Toliara, of which Patsy’s husband, Todd, is the bishop, ordained and commissioned ten leaders on August 25: one priest, three deacons, and six evangelists. With such growth, I am not surprised that the devil is nervous. “Spiritual attack is ongoing on a daily and weekly basis. It’s very heavy,” says Patsy. “We have done a lot of ‘spiritual sweeping’ to get the darkness away. God is stronger and breaking through!”

Here in the West we rarely encounter such obvious spiritual warfare. One could say this is because our senses are dulled by entertainment and comfort, and the devil has an easier time distracting us from God. Whatever the reason, we can respond in two ways to this story. First, we can pray for spiritual protection over Jacky Lowe, Patsy and Todd McGregor, and their community near Toliara on Thursday afternoons Eastern Standard Time (Thursday night in Madagascar). We can pray in Jesus’ name that the witch doctors would be freed from the forces of evil. Second, we can live daily with deeper assurance that the spiritual world is real and the material world is not all there is. St. Paul’s words are true: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:12 – 13 NIV)

Stand firm and pray, friends.

Kate Ulrich, SAMS Home Office

Photos and Video from the Hansen’s Fall Term

Hi everyone! I have some photos and video for you.

First a quick update:

I have been leading chapels at three different schools this term. It has been fantastic. We sing and pray and I teach through the Fruit of the Spirit. Basically we’re talking about character formation. God gives us the Holy Spirit to guide and empower us to live well. And God wants us to live well so 1) Our lives will be good and joyful, 2) Our lives will be evidence of God’s character and power, and 3) so we will live as natives and not foreigners in the world to come.

I’m teaching 6 chapels every other week. I have a time lapse of the St. Andrews students. Each school is a different experience. I’ll try to grab some video of the different schools and elements of the service. Below is also one of the songs I’ve taught them.

 

Independence Day (Month!)

September is full of celebrations and parades for Independence Day. There were so many holiday days, half school days, and parades that it was amazing we were able to get anything else done. Every school has a parade. There are town parades, church parades, etc… I have some video of Annabelle’s parade and a late night church parade. The church parade was super fun and the video is of a new friend of mine singing on the back of a flatbed semi trailer with a full band and sound system. It was crazy!

Caye Caulker

Missy mentioned our trip to Caye Caulker for Annabelle’s 7th Birthday. Here are some photos from that trip!

Annabelles First Day of School