We bought a car!!!!

A special “THANK YOU” goes out to our donors who gave so we could afford transportation.

FullSizeRender.jpgNot just any car…. We bought a 1996 Toyota Super Custom HiAce van.  This beauty is a turbo-charged diesel engine with with automatic transmission, only 167,000 kilometers, and “gently” worn shocks and brakes.  It is equipped with dual-zone air-conditioning (that actually works), a CD player, and it holds 8 people comfortably or 10 people uncomfortably.  The front cattle-guard is protection against out-of-control taxis, crazy motorcycles, or even the stray cow that wanders around (none of which are necessarily uncommon here).

A special “THANK YOU” goes out to our donors who gave so we could afford transportation.  When we look at this car, we don’t see the dents or dings, or hear the rattles or smell the smells. Instead, we see a way to get around, a little freedom, and some adventure for our family.  When we look at this car, we see how much we have!

We needed this car to get Jackson and Sidney to and from their youth group each Friday.  Sidney is also part of a girls small group that meets every other week, and she doesn’t want to miss it!  We also needed it to run into town and grab whatever we forgot to pick up on our weekly shopping trip.   Then, there is the day off each week that a car will enable us to get off campus and away from our house for a few hours!

Our friends also needed this car.  In less than one week of ownership, we have loaned this car to several different Ugandan friends.  One drove his daughter to the hospital.  One picked up a visitor so she could attend chapel with us.  Another friend just needed a ride home!  We did not know that this car would so quickly take us deeper with our friends, but it has.  We did not know how nice it would feel be able to get away for a few hours as a family.  We did not know how fun it would be to take some friends with us out to lunch after church on our day off.  We do now!!  It’s a touch of home here in Uganda.

Thank you to everyone who has financially supported us so we could find out what having our own set of wheels in Uganda would feel like!

We have nicknamed it the Mystery Machine!  What do you think?!?! With a little paint, we could easily be confused with the gang from Scooby Doo!Mysery.jpgJason would be Fred, of course, which makes Kori, Daphne and Sidney, Velma.  That leaves Jackson to answer to Shaggy (and if you have seen his hair lately it is a very fitting name!!!)  Now we just need Patches (our dog who is currently under the foster care of Nana and Pop) to move here and we will be in business!!

God is blessing us in so many ways, and we know this vehicle is just one way that we will be able to connect and serve people here in Uganda!

In light of eternity,

Jason, Kori, Jackson, and Sidney

Ephesians 6:19  Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,

 

Happy Easter Day!

Easter171.jpgEvery family needs an Easter picture right?  Well, here is ours!  Jason, Kori, Jackson, Sidney, and our 24 sons/brothers.  This Easter weekend and holy week was one unlike any we have ever experienced.  It was an unforgettable weekend for us and for the students of The Amazima School. 

It started off with an emotional night at our house.  We had the perfect set up!  Dinner on the veranda with 24 young men, 4 Caseys, 1 Simon (he is our Ugandan Partner and vital to what we are doing here), and 5 special guests (3 teachers from the school, and 2 other house parents).  We had a full table.  Jason and Simon took turns reading from the Bible and talking about the night that Jesus shared the last supper with his disciples.  The boys were happy to be sharing this special meal at our house and happy to have guests there to share with us…. and happy that we had soda!! 

After dinner, we took care of the dishes and the table and moved into a circle.  At that time, Jason read from John chapter 13.  Then, one by one, all of the adults moved around the circle and began to wash the boys’ feet.  The boys were stunned!  Some sat in quiet disbelief that this was really happening and some cried and begged us to stop!  One of the boys whose feet we washed begged us the whole time to stop and let him wash ours instead.  Before it was over, he was crying and overwhelmed by what had just happened.  He wasn’t the only one moved to tears.  Most of the boys were overcome by emotion and could barely accept what had just happened.  Jason and I moved to the last boy in the circle and we each washed one of his feet.  As we did, he just kept saying, “Sorry, sorry, sorry…”  It was a true highlight of our time here. 

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Zach, our friend and another Family Mentor, washing feet.
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Simon, our Family Mentor Partner, washing the feet of one of our boys.

We then proceeded to a time of worship with the other students and faculty.  As we walked up the hill together, I walked hand in hand with the boy who kept asking to wash my feet.  I was able to explain to him that the feet washing ceremony was an expression and a picture of how Jesus loves us and that there is not a single thing we can do to repay Jesus for what he did for us on that cross or to earn our salvation.  Our job is to accept what he has already done; to receive the free gift of love that Jesus poured out with his blood.

Jason had done an excellent job of preparing the students for our special night.  We sang songs about the goodness of our God, our protector… about Jesus our messiah… about how his love endures forever… about how his love covers all of our sin.  A lot of students were raising their hands to heaven and singing their hearts out in praise to our savior. 

The weekend’s festivities continued on Friday.  The school is still under construction, including many new classrooms and the new chapel.  As a result, there are many construction workers on campus.  At lunchtime, those workers gathered together for a special message from the school’s headmaster, Mark Guthrie.  Then, the students served the workers a meal of rice, cabbage, and chicken.  

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On Friday night we watched The Passion of the Christ.  It was as emotional as ever.  Some students were seeing it for the first time, and others were asking not to have to watch it again because it made them too sad.  There was sobbing and crying, and many of us were unable to watch most of the scenes.  So many times we think about what Jesus did for us, but too often we forget the horrible cruelty that Jesus went through.  This movie brought the brutal truth to light for so many of these kids, as well as reminding us again of what our Savior did for us.  It is too much to understand, and there is no way we can repay or do enough to earn what has been done for us.  We went to bed knowing it was Friday, but Sunday was coming! 

CHRIST IS RISEN!!!  CHRIST IS RISEN INDEED!!! 

Sunday morning came!  It was truly a celebration.  The boys woke up with energy and vigor, shouting “Happy Easter Day!”  This was truly a day of celebration.  In my opinion, it was much more of a celebration than what the Caseys practiced in the United States.  This was a special day, and I truly believe that no one took it for granted.  Our pastor reminded us that we are not in the land of the living on our way to the land of the dying.  NO! Instead, we are in the land of the dying on our way to the land of the living!!

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Our friend, Daniel, giving the Easter message at church.

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Ronald offering Kori an Easter flower.
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Derick, Sidney, and Joseph
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Sidney… too pretty!

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Because of 12 men who were brave enough to have faith, the whole world is hearing the gospel.  We believe that because of the faith of 72 Ugandan students, Uganda can be a changed country. 

Let faith rise to banish our fear!  May the power of the cross help you to live…

In Light of Eternity,

Jason, Kori, Jackson, & Sidney

John 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.  The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.  Do you believe this?”

Picture time!

After almost seven weeks in Uganda, we are finally getting organized to share some of the activities that have filled our time.  It has been a wonderful start to this mission.  There has been some adjusting.  There has been excitement.  There have been tears.  Most of all, though, there has been joy as we abide in God’s presence and provision.

And now, without further ado, here are some pictures…..

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Jackson kayaking on the Nile River. 
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How about some rafting on the Nile River!!!  Sidney is in the front middle in the light blue shirt and black helmet.  Kori is on the right at the front of the raft in the black helmet. The raft guide spent the whole day trying to get Sidney tossed out of the raft and finally succeeded on the last rapid!  What an experience!

 

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Sidney, Kori, and Jackson outside of one of our favorite supermarkets.
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Heading to the village to meet the families of the students attending The Amazima School.
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Taking a few moments to wash the school “coaster” with our driver, Peter, and some boys from the village.  Are you wondering why you would wash a vehicle that travels everyday on dirt roads?  So are we…
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Our friend, Joseph, climbing a mango tree.
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Need some shoes?  Just head over to the local shoe market.  Thousands of shoes are available.  Our Ugandan friends tell us that most people purchase used shoes because one can more easily know the quality of the shoe and the shoes are already comfortable.
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A typical street scene in Jinja.  You better look both ways before crossing the street!
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After a Christmas break of almost 60 days, Jackson and Sidney finally returned to school.  Here they are with three of their friends.  These five students currently represent the entire Amazima Staff Kid Middle and High Schools.
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A few days before school started, Amazima provided medical and dental screening for the children that receive scholarships from Amazima Ministries.
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No vehicle?  No problem!  Just grab a boda boda, and you can be anywhere in Jinja in no time.  Remember to tell them “mpola mpola” (slow slow).  No, Kori does not like them.
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We had our very first visitor!  Our friend and fellow Ugandan missionary Lianna Scholz came and spent the day with us (she has a car, which came in very handy to get to town)!
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Kori and Jason overlooking the Nile River.
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Jinja Central Market.  Here you can find produce of any kind.  Our normal trip includes the purchase of pineapple, bananas, potatoes, cabbage, green beans, and onions, all of which costs a total of about $4.
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Soccer is a daily activity here.  Can you spot Jackson?
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Amazima held a youth conference prior to school starting.  We were blessed to be a part of it by hosting a small group containing many of the young men that now live here at The Amazima School.  Here the students are participating in a good, old fashioned Bible Sword Drill!
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Jason and our friend from Georgia, Zach (far right), hanging with some Amazima School Students.  These young men live in the dorms connected to our home on campus.
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Basketball brings JOY!  No basketball goals on campus yet, but a local pastor willingly hosted a few pick up games!
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Kori hand washing our laundry…can someone please send a washing machine?
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Huge avocados and small bananas are a regular at our house here in Uganda!
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Swimming and sunburns in January! We spent a day off by going to a local hotel for the day and enjoying their pool.  They had the coldest soft drinks we have found in Uganda!

The adventure to this point has been amazing.  Living in Uganda certainly has its challenges, but the rewards have far outweighed any challenges!

Be sure to follow Amazima Ministries on Facebook and Instagram.

In light of eternity,

The Caseys

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.  John 15:11

In a land far far away …

Far is a good word for it.  Far from home.  Far from family and friends.  Far from familiar restaurants and grocery stores.  Far from almost everything we have ever known.  Yet the verse that keeps coming to mind is, “Who am I, Lord God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?”

We will attempt to fill you in on all that 1 week in Uganda has been for us.  First, the plane ride.  It’s LONG!  A three hour flight, then a 7.5 hour flight followed by an eight hour flight, all wrapped up with a two hour drive to Jinja.  We will know you love us if you come all that way to visit, and we won’t blame you if it is too far!

We arrived to our home on the school campus on Friday and got the GRAND tour!  Our Head of School shared his vision and his passion with us.  It was overwhelmingly wonderful to learn about the intentionality of every aspect of the school.  The school is built into the terrain of the countryside.  The buildings are constructed in such a way, the sidewalks, the plants they chose, the kitchen set up, and just wait until we can tell you about our chapel!  Tears of joy were rolling down our cheeks as we listened and envisioned all that God is going to do in this very place.  The most exciting aspect is that we get to be a part of it.  Who are we God that you would allow us to be part of this!!!

Our house for the next two years is small but cozy (see picture above).  We are still adjusting to 4 people sharing one sink, one toilet, and one shower, but we are getting there.  The night noises are LOUD and surprising, and that has made sleeping tricky.  We have good screens so we have been sleeping with the windows open and actually getting cool at night!!!  But don’t be fooled by that… it is HOT here!  This is the hot and dry season,  and it is totally hot and dry.  The red dirt is everywhere and on everything.  We came with new shoes that, after one wear outside, look reddish brown inside and out.  We are learning to scrub our feet better than ever in the shower at night!

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(The view outside our front door.  You are looking at the net ball field and the future volleyball court.  They put our house right by all the sports fields!!)

We have been downtown and out to some villages.  Those are completely different experiences.  Downtown you can buy a “cold coke” and a hot or cold coffee!  We ate Chapati for breakfast the other day, and we loved it!  Our name in town or out in the villages is undoubtedly “Mzungu.”  They yell it at us to get our attention.  Hello Mzungu, bye mzungu, followed by smiling and laughing.

The villages are a stark contrast to Jinja town.  There is no running water and people there live in houses made of mud with thatched roofs.  Many people live in a one or two room house.  They sleep on the dirt floor and eat what they are blessed to grow on the small piece of land they own.  They utilize almost every inch of ground to try to grow whatever they can.  Whether that land is in a valley, on the side side of a hill, or in a ditch they plant.  We are in a drought here.  Most people say it has never been this dry.  Their crops looked so bad it made us cry.  They will not have much to eat this season.  Our interpreter told us food prices will be higher than ever and most people will cut out lunch and survive on just one meal until conditions improve.

We have had four power outages in 10 days.  We are doing our laundry by hand!  We are trying our best to adjust to new foods and no car to drive.  We are struggling with phones and technology working like we are accustomed.  Despite all that, we are thankful!  Thankful for family time, new friends, soft beds, fans, cold water, and a God who would let us serve Him in this way.

Today we are missing air conditioning, cookie dough, basketball season, FCA, cheez its, and our families.  We’re sure the list will change daily.

In in light of eternity,

The Caseys

1 Chronicles 17:16 “Who am I, Lord God, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?”

Mweraba…..

Mweraba… (That’s goodbye in Lugandan.)

Tomorrow, at 7:45 am central time, the Caseys will board the first leg of the long anticipated African Amazima Journey.  The past few days have brought about many goodbyes.  Those goodbyes are sad, yes, because we are leaving so many people that we love.  And yet, there is an overwhelming excitement to get to Uganda.  We will definitely miss so many friends and family that we know we will see again.  However, there are some things that honestly, we will not miss.  So, before we go, we thought we would say a few goodbyes:

  • Goodbye, hustle and bustle.  Of everything in our lives, we will miss you the least.  Our calendar just lost a lot of weight.
  • Farewell, unhealthy competition.  We’re glad to leave you behind so that our friends and community can once again be our friends and community.
  • Adieu, too much technology.  It will be good to have real conversations again.
  • Sayonara, fast food.  Thanks for all the unhealthy meals that helped to clog arteries and increase our fat stores.
  • Adios, air conditioning.  Actually, we WILL miss you.

In all seriousness, though, we will miss you.  We will miss our town and it’s ridiculously crazy intersections.  We will miss our school, teachers, and coaches.  We will miss our FCA huddles… we have come to love you and enjoy fellowshipping and learning with you.  We will miss our church community… we can’t wait to hear what awesome things you are doing. And most of all, we will miss our families.

Please pray for us.  One of our favorite prayers is straight from God’s word:

Lord, make me worthy of your calling… make every desire be for goodness… let every deed be prompted by faith… so that the name of Jesus is glorified in me.

And as we go, we would like to give you a blessing:

Brothers and sisters, may you never tire of doing what is good. May you be holy in all you do as you live out your time as foreigners in reverent fear.  May you remember that you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.  May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.

This isn’t goodbye.  This is a “we’ll see you soon.”  Because we know we serve a Living God that gives us the Holy Spirit that unites us all.

Tunaalabagana!  (That’s Lugandan for “see you later.”)

In light of eternity,

The Caseys

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12  With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.  We pray this so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus.

What time is it? GAME TIME!!! HUH!!!

In 20 days we will get on a plane, which happens to be the first of three legs, and eventually (after 28 hours of combined flight time and lay overs), we will land in Uganda for our two year mission at the Amazima School. We have been preparing for this since May. We’ve prayed, we’ve taken vaccinations, we’ve raised support, we’ve planned, we’ve trained, we’ve been through a car wreck…. and finally, it’s Game Time.

This is getting real. Only 20 days! While we are ridiculously excited, in all reality, we’re not exactly ready. We’re still in public school. We’re still playing basketball. We haven’t packed and sold everything yet. This is crunch time! Yet, we are trying to be careful and not let the joy of our last few days be taken from us.

These last few days will be filled with lots of packing (boxes and suitcases), goodbyes or “see you laters,” Christmas festivities (which are only proving to make time go faster), and “last times.” You know, you go to watch Jackson or Sidney play basketball, and you think, “Oh man, this is the last time they will play Plainview basketball for two years.” Or, this is the last FCA huddle I will lead. Or, this is the last time I will lead worship here. Or, this is the last time I will eat my favorite cheeseburger at Cafe’ Alley. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything you want or see to everyone for that last time.

It’s difficult to describe how we are feeling. Emotions, both wanted and unwanted, are high. Here are a few reasons why:

  • It is difficult to pack and plan a two-year African journey while you are still involved in all your regular activities.
  • It’s also difficult to pack for 85 degree Ugandan weather when it is 28 degrees in Oklahoma and you’re singing “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas.”
  • We’re ready to be there. We’re ready to be finished with preparing. God’s timing is perfect, we know this, but we’ve been planning and preparing since May. That’s a long time. It’s like being in the 9th month of a pregnancy…. let’s do this already!
  • Sometimes sadness exists because you know the next goodbye could be the last for a while. This can make it difficult to enjoy the moment. Sometimes, this sadness overcomes you before you even get to the last goodbye.
  • Emotions are tricky and sneaky. Those big last things aren’t really getting us. It’s the emotion in the little things that sneak up on you, and the combination of all those little emotions can be overwhelming.

There is no mourning, though. This is an opportunity: an opportunity to love, serve, and obey; an opportunity to see the world and to learn just how blessed we are. This is a challenge: a challenge to test our obedience, to grow our faith, to completely trust in God. We’re finding that God is using the events of every day, still, to prepare us, whether it is letting go or praying more.

As fast as time is going, this may be our last post before we arrive in Uganda. (Not that this post is all that great or interesting). We just wanted to share with you some of the emotions that race through your mind as one prepares for a two year mission trip.

With that said, we know that God is working all things for the good of those who love him. We love him. We trust him.

And remember, take some time to enjoy some Christmas music and some hot chocolate. Take some time to string some popcorn on the tree. Take some time to remember the Majesty of our Savior that came to earth to take on our sins so that we may become His righteousness.

In light of eternity,
The Caseys

2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Show Me the Shillings!!!

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Other title contenders for this post included: (1) All About the Benjamins and (2) ‘Mo Money ‘Mo Problems; but there has to be some unwritten rule about missionaries quoting rap songs, and it’s hard to argue against the combination of Jerry Maguire and Ugandan currency.  Are you smiling yet?

Smiling . . . we seem to be doing that quite often these days as we plan, prep and make major changes to our lifestyle.  Even now, as we are in the heat of fundraising for our trip, we can’t seem to stop smiling about all that God is doing in our lives.  We have had some experience with fundraising, since Kori has been working for FCA for the past few years. However, now, as we prepare to move to Uganda to serve at The Amazima School, we know that we will be 100% dependent on the financial donations of others.

You may be thinking to yourself, “Self, that seems scary!”  Surprisingly, it’s not!  (Cue the smile!)  Because we know God will “Show us the Shillings!”  It’s all about God.  It’s about his plan.  It’s about his provision.  Already, we have experienced some WOW God moments:  our home sold without us listing it; our current employers have graciously allowed us to work until we need to move on; our teenage kids are 100% excited about this life change… and so we have no fear that God will provide us the funds necessary to take this journey.  With that said, there are practical steps that we must undertake in order to get to Uganda.
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Jackson and Sidney sharing our story with a vacation bible school this summer.  The kids collected coins all week to donate to our mission.

(By the way, did you know that every missionary blog is required by code to discuss fundraising at least one time per year? Not all of us reference fundraising on our second blog post, but we are trendsetters…..)

Many of us, at one time or another has been asked to give money to a cause.  We are some of those people, and unfortunately, we are guilty of treating those honest fundraisers like Peter treats Lumbergh in the movie “Office Space.”  A fundraiser walks up, and we walk right around that person acting like we don’t even know that person is there.   (You know that scene on Office Space … classic!)

“Fundraising is so easy,” said no one ever, because it definitely has not been easy.  We continue to contact people and groups to which we are close.  However, fundraising has been enjoyable.  Asking people for a few spare moments so we can tell them our story is fun, and every time we share our story, our excitement is increased.  And WOW, God!  He has met us every time.  At one meeting with a husband and wife they were committing to giving before we even finished our story.  At another meeting our friends couldn’t wait to tell us how God had spoken through someone else to say give to the Caseys!

Don’t worry, we are not asking YOU to show us the money.  However, you are hereby warned:  we are PRAYING, and the Holy Spirit is WORKING.  We TRUST that the Holy Spirit will lead us to the right people.  So if you see us coming, don’t treat us like Peter treated Lumbergh.  Instead, hold on to those Shillings, or dollars, or whatever currency you carry, and let us tell you our story so you too can smile at what God is doing.
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This is our prayer card and follow us information.

 If you want to give, here is the link for our donation page:   http://www.rceinternational.webconnex.com/53909

 

You can give us a shout at caseyandthesonshine@gmail.com with any questions you have.

In light of eternity,

The Caseys

2 Corinthians 9:7  God loves a cheerful giver!