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Blessings and Hardships

Dear Friends,

It has been some time since we last wrote due to the busy-ness of life. 2014 was a challenging year that also brought bright blessings and some forward momentum throughout the course of our uphill battle—both personally and for Tamarind.


Blessings

To begin on a positive note, our son Eli was born on April 29th with the exact same measurements as Zach! They are twins, 23 months apart!


Just as we were getting used to being a family of four, we received sad news from Chris’s family: His second cousin, who had just given birth to a little girl while doing promotional exams in high school, passed away. It was a sad day, but she knew Jesus and is in a better place.


This situation left a little girl, one-week old without a mother. Her father was unknown, her grandfather not alive, and her grandmother HIV-positive and looking after her other daughter’s children, as she is also deceased. Unfortunately, this is a common phenomenon and story in this country we call home. The options for this baby were death or to become an orphan in a childcare institution.


Chris and I had 48 hours to make a decision that would change this little girl’s life forever. We believe that God put her on our heart to make her ours! So now we are now a family of 5! 3 under 3! Little Lillie is a wonderful baby, and we are fortunate to call her ours. Every day is a challenge and hard work, but we know that in Him we can do it!


We were also blessed by our supporting church, Engadine Community Church, and one of our key individual supporters who blessed us in a way we could not have hoped or imagined, they jointly gave us $25,000 towards a much -needed new car for Tamarind. We’re not sure what we would do without this vehicle that arrived in the nick of time!

We were grateful to accomplish much during our four-month visit back to Australia.


Our first port of call was to spend some time with Northern Beaches Christian School to visit the team that came in 2013 and meet the 2014 team. We were so encouraged by the teachers and the students. They were enthusiastic and eager to be a part of rebuilding, restoring, and renewing Northern Uganda Communities. We also spent time connecting with supporters and visiting venues promoting Tamarind, sowing the vision of what we believe God has called us to do.


We continue to be so grateful to you, our friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, and our supporters. In our plight to help sustain Tamarind, we conducted a couple of fundraising events in Australia: a garage sale selling off Sarah’s things that her parents had been storing for years (!) and An African lunch to celebrate the African cuisine and give Australians a taste of Africa! There were also pop-up shops to sell the recycled paper bead jewelry.


Progress

Despite the setbacks that are typical here, Tamarind continues its work on the demonstration farm. In early 2014, workers cleared the land and planted for wet season. We had a great team from Northern Beaches Christian School to help prepare the land and move the project forward in our effort to help local farmers with sustainable agribusiness. We were so blessed by the enthusiastic bunch of students who really wanted to know us, and the project in a personal way. Lives were changed both here in Uganda and with the students who came. Two students become Christians! Praise God! Many of the students have said that their trip was a life changing experience. Their hearts were impacted beyond their own expectations. Workers and locals that interacted and worked with the team from NBCS were inspired and motivated to move forward and create more sustainable lifestyles. Another asset to the progress of our agribusiness was made possible when A very generous individual from Engadine Community Church donated finances to buy a cultivator.


Sarah has continued her work with the Greater Love paper bead project, working with the local women to produce a product to sell that will be sustainable and raise a profit for them. I have set up a new workshop space and plan to work more intentionally with local women to provide a good alternative business to farming and produce sales.

Chris decided to start a new business to create some self-sustainability, and practice what we preach. We were able to purchase a truck through an individual donation and some interest-free loans from supporters in Australia. We are renting the truck out to builders and other local companies who need a truck short-term. However, it is the wet season now and business is quite slow. We’re hopeful it will pick up once projects resume after the rain.


Sponsorship

13 Children and 4 trainees are being sponsored through the Tamarind back to school Program. One of our trainees who is an Orphan called Agnas, who has graduated with her teaching degree and become a teacher in a local school! When asked what she gained from working in the Tamarind Program, she replied, “I came to the understanding of knowing what I really want out of life, I also learned how to communicate and interact with people, and gained skills that help me cope in life situations.” We are so proud of her!!!


Prayers

As I said, this has been an incredibly challenging year. Upon our return to Uganda at the end of 2014, I became ill with Mastitis, and Amoeba, and the Flu—all at once. My health has not fully recovered, and I continue to have inexplicable, undiagnosed pain throughout my body.


I also suffered through one of the hardest events of my life on December 30th , 2014. I received a telephone call from a friend who was having an asthma attack. This friend had been in my life for 5 months but was the kind of woman that changes and challenges you to be more of who God is calling you to be. From the phone call, I knew it was bad, so I grabbed a friend who is a doctor to come to her house with me. On arrival she was blue and not breathing. We performed CPR for 1 hour and got a pulse and heartbeat for 2 minutes but lost her on the way to the hospital. She left behind a husband and 3 children, one in her womb. The kids were 18 months and 5 yrs. old.


Her relationship with her husband was filled with challenges, and he was abusive with mental health issues due to post-war conflict. She was American, and he was Acholi. The events that followed were just as hard; let’s just say that dealing with community is hard, complicated work.


So I have suffered some mild PTSD on top of my other health issues and the hard work that comes with being a parent of three small children. Tamarind is a huge encouragement to me, but I am still dealing with a lot.


As you think about our family and the Tamarind project in 2015, please pray for the following:


Health: In addition to my ailments, the kids have suffered from a number of viruses this year. Please pray for our family’s health.


Finances: We have added two additional members to our family and continue to try to accomplish the same work on a very limited budget. Please pray that God will provide so we can continue to make progress in our efforts in Northern Uganda. Our truck business could help to fill our budget gap, but it has been slow thus far. Please pray that it will begin to thrive.


Impact: The team from NCBS is unable to come this year and there is still a great deal of work to be done. Please pray that we can find extra hands and/or accomplish the same work with fewer helpers.


Thank you for your continued prayers and support. Without God and his provisions from you, we truly could not accomplish anything here. We always enjoy hearing from you, so please write when you have time!


Blessings,

Sarah, Chris, Zach, Eli, and Lillie

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