Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this : to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. -James 1:27

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Food for thought to teams coming to Uganda...

Really there is not much to think about, but I was just sitting here and wondering the best way to get the word out. So, I figure there are at least some who read this and will be on a team that can pass the info on.

First off...
* Bring your bathing suit. That is right, Mt. Elgon has put in a swimming pool. Probably by the time teams start arriving there will be other things in the backyard, but since they are not finished yet, I dont know what they are. But the pool is there and working. What a nice treat at the end of a hot, sweaty day!! Yeah for swimming year around!

Based on last year, people on teams asked me what they could bring for the kids at LCH. Here are a few ideas, but still email me as time gets closer incase i think of more.
* magazines (specifically with colorful pages so the kids can make paper necklaces)- we don't need a million but if some teams brought one per person it wouldn't weigh too much and we would have enough to make some good stuff)
* Banana Grams- it is a game with letter pieces like scrabble and we played on the trip to Gulu and one of the teachers suggested it would be really good for every class to at least have one set.
* crochet needles and simple yarn- nothing too fancy with all the fuzzies or frills, just the plain jane yarn in nice colors or the ones that fade from one color to another
* board games- any and all since there are 90 kids
* good pens for school- NOT Bic- in black, blue, and red

That is all that is on my mind for now.

Me, Nurse Dyana, and Glenn are headed to Kampala this weekend to do some shopping and just get to the big city. I am very excited. So, I will let you know how things were next week.

Saturday, April 25, 2009


And the winner is....
We are officially on holidays now. On Friday we successfully handed out reports and sent the kids off for a nice holiday (well you don't really send them far since the home is right there, but the school is just trying to be official.) I thought I would share with you the top 3 students with the highest marks (grades).

P6: Emma O, Anthony W, Naster C
P4: Brenda Nabwire, Dinah, Brenda Namakoye
P3: (results yet to come due to a family illness of the teacher)
P2: Patience, John, Abel
P1: Sandra, Shadrak (Wycliff), Sarah Kainsa
Tops: Gift, Noora, Naula Rose
Baby: Davis, Samwirri, Flavia and Esther (one of the village children)

Glenn's Birthday
We went as a family and some friends out for Glenn's 26th Birthday. Whole fried tilapia and chips, yum. Then we came back home for chocolate cake and gifts. Overall it was a great night.

Want a Snack?
I wrote about the white ants last week or so, but here are some photos of what I was talking about. The kids cover the holes with plastic bags and then shout at the ground to try to lure the ants out.
Dell the Cat
This is the newest addition to the family. Mama came home with it a few months ago when it was in the village. To kill anything they sprayed bug spray on it over a course of 3 days. Then, having mercy on the dirty kitten, I gave Dell a bath and we have been friends ever since. Really this is not just a normal cat, but rather an attack cat. It strategically hides behind the plants in the courtyard and as you pass by it wait for the opportune time to jump out and pounce on your foot with serious teeth out. Ha. It is cute but dangerous. But Dell brings me happiness and lots of laughs with his funny activity. I found him in my empty flower pot today.

So, there are quite a few Indian (from India) here in Mbale, but surprisingly I don't often see them with Henna. I was eager to try it when I had the opportunity. The lady, about my age, was really creative with each of our designs and very precise, seeing as she did this all free-hand. It only lasted a week, so I don't know if I will get it again, but it was cool when I had it.

Well on the way...
The new wing of the school is in the process of being built. They have layed the foundation of the whole building and will hopefully began pouring the slab and building the walls during holidays. I went out to take a picture, intending to write something about how Jesus is the cornerstone, but the builders moved quicker than expected (from the time I left the day before to the next morning when I had brought my camera). But I did find this amusing.

I love these kids. They are my joy and delight and I praise the Lord every day for the way He shows me His love through them. My life will never be the same!!


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Long Overdue

Oh my, I forgot how wonderful it is to be in the 21st century with technology. I have changed internet providers and in all aspects this is so much better. So, here are some long overdue photos that I have been wanting to post.

Uganda National Primary Athletic's Competition 2009
Gulu, Uganda
Ivan marching in with the rest of the Mbale team.

The field was bigger than expected. But the "technical crew" had a great view.

Ivan on the line (the far left lane), ready to run in the second postion of the relay.

The baton pass...

Internally Displaced People Camps (IDP camps)
Girls fetching water.

Notice how many and how deep the huts go back. Also, notice the huts that are broken down besides us. When the family was moving back to their home in the village, they would break down the hut that they lived in for the last 5-20 years and then go back.

I cannot take credit for these next photos. Naster took these while we were walking through the camp. I think she has a knack for photography, what do you think?

Inside of one of the huts.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Just saying Hi

Hi. It has been a little while since I have posted. Really, I am a bit discouraged with the internet in my room, still fighting a battle for them to compensate me from the lack of access the first month. Things just take time here in Africa. So, when that is fixed I will have many photos to share.

But I wanted to say Happy Easter. Ours was very rainy. I was woken up at 6:30 am so that the girls could fetch some water from my bathroom since their tank was out of water. But around 8am the rain came, seriously, and didn’t stop all day. Around 9:45am we left in the car and van to head to church and pick people up on the way. This is late to just be leaving for church seeing as service was suppose to start at 9:30. But when most people don’t have a car, we knew if we went on time we would be the only ones there. But by the end of the service, the church was fairly full. There was extra singing, some time for testimonies, and presentations by the kids of church. Also, some of the LCH kids came into town and presented 2 songs. It was a real treat. Then we had a big lunch here at home. Nothing real eventful after that.

But I was able to go to an Easter celebration on Sat. with all the ex-patriots in Mbale. Nurse Dyana even came in town and went with me. I am trying to get closer to the American girls I have been knowing. This week alone I did henna with them, went to an Indian lady to have my eyebrows threaded and a facial, and then to this Easter BBQ. So, Lord willing, we will continue to find connections and commonalities.

It is funny, as I sit here writing this, there are echos from everywhere of little kids hooting and hollering. Since the rain was so much yesterday, there are these little white ants that come from the ground after the rain. Children like to catch them, pull off their wings, fry them, and eat them. (I think I wrote about it last year). Well, the day after the rain kids from all areas find the ant holes near their house and find plastic to cover the hole and trap the ants inside the plastic. But to lure the ants out of the hole they shout into the hole, believing the noise attracts them to the surface. I really wish that it didn’t take forever to upload video because the sight and sound is priceless.

Here are a few more funny things I heard this week:

- If it is raining when the sun is bright and sunny out, that means a leopard is producing.
- If you jump someone (meaning step over someone, like step over their outstretched legs) then that means they will produce a child that looks like you.

Next week the kids begin their exams and there are 2 weeks until the first term ends. I am eager for the change of pace during the holidays and the chance to play and spend more one on one time teaching the kids.

Well that is it for this update. I am so grateful that I serve a living God and that there is hope beyond the grave, sin, and satan. HE IS RISEN!!!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Gulu Final Report

What can I say about Gulu? I just wrote an “official” report to keep in the school records that seemed very uneventful and somewhat dull as I was writing it, but I would say our trip was far from that. I am glad that I have the chance to write about it now (rather than later) so that I don’t forget some of the great things that happened.

Well first off, I know that most of you are asking what happened with Ivan?!?!?? Well, competitions began on Tuesday. But like most things here, the scheduled time was 8am and the actual events did not begin until about 12:30pm. After many speeches from the different guests of honor and the marching in of ALL the kids, then the games began!

I thought it was really neat during the introduction to learn that this year’s National Primary Athletic Championship held a record number of districts represented from Uganda, 74 in total. I would guess there were over 1000 kids that competed in the junior and senior competitions. Though, I really don’t know how some of these boys in the senior were actually in primary. They looked like grown men. It was also neat that in the speeches the local officials recognized that having Gulu host this competition was part of their healing process. And that it was there to show that peace has been restored in northern Uganda. Very true.

Wednesday was also spent at the field watching events. Ivan’s competition happened around mid-day. He was the second runner in the 4 x 100 relay. Unfortunately, his team was disqualified for crossing over the lap line and improperly passing the baton. But we finished the day at the field and were able to watch some of the athletes named as the Champions of certain events. I wish that he could have continued BUT what an honor that it was that he made it all the way to Nationals. Even his coach was encouraging him that since this was his first year, he saw how things were and next year he will be ready even more.

From the first day of competition, Naster, Glenn, and I got to enter as “technical crew” from Mbale and sit in the only stands at the field. Glenn told the people at the gate that we were there to take photos of the Mbale competitors, which was true. So they asked to see our cameras and let us in. It was so nice because we had a great view and were able to sit, rather than stand and be crowded by all the people watching from the sides of the field. And, it was true, I did take photos of all the Mbale athletes. Meanwhile, Teacher Francis stayed with Ivan and Abel. As we saw the athletes marching the tour of the field, there was Abel, right in the action. It made us laugh to see him there, as if he was an athlete too. Maybe next year.

But our trip was so much more that the sports competition. I already wrote a bit about the visit to the IDP camp. Still, I am so encouraged that is was a bit uneventful because that shows even more that peace is being restored. But I also try to imagine life in that camp. Having to leave your home with at least some amount of land and a garden and maybe a bigger and better house, then to have 48 hours to leave the place you have known (and often a place that your family has stayed for generations). Then to go to a camp, where they find people from all over, already settled, and must find a small piece of land to build their little mud hut. Literally, I could reach my arms from one house to the other. Our guide told us that over 3000 people once lived in that camp. That means 3000 were displaced from their homes and that was only one camp!! I really can’t imagine what life would have been like living so close just for safety in numbers. Or what it would be like to have the threat of the rebels come and kill your family or snatch your children to brain-wash them to be soldiers. And this has happened for SO long. But praise God, that it is only Him that can bring peace!! Now there are only a few hundred that are still living in the camps, mostly trying to raise funds to relocate back to their homes or because their children are now enrolled in a school in town. But I am still not sure where they get food from because I did not see any farm land. Maybe the NGOs are still helping with that? Overall, it was eye opening to realize the conditions that so many lived in for so long.

We also had many laughs playing games in the evening. There is a game like scrabble called Banana Grams where we were able to use the letter blocks to race and make certain words or create as many words as possible. This was the highlight of every evening. The kids also REALLY enjoyed getting to choose what they would eat for dinner. And we learned some funny habits of some of the kids. For example, Naster likes to put catsup on her food and Abel stayed with the same meal, chicken and rice, throughout the whole week. For Abel, this was his first time to ever eat at a restaurant or sleep in a hotel so that also brought many laughs as he would discover new things.

Gulu seemed very different from Mbale. It was bigger than I expected and more modernized, though all of the buildings were the same height and shape. I noticed that there are no Boda Boda bicycles there BUT there were many women that ride bicycles (which is unusual to see in Mbale). As we drove north, the land got flatter and dryer. Mbale is much prettier, though I did enjoy seeing all the palm trees with big orange coconuts on them. Overall, I like Mbale better and am glad that I live here.

The other random story is that one morning Naster and I were sitting on the patio of the hotel and a boy came up and sat down at our table. A bit confused, I followed his greetings and then just looked at him, wondering what it was he was wanting. He told me he had a letter for me and then passed it across the table. It was saying that his sister was in the hospital and they hadn’t eaten in 2 days. I know this seems like a sad letter, but I often get approached with such stories so have to pray for the Lord’s discernment in what is true and where to help. So, I finished the letter and was very weary of what to do. In all honesty, my heart was closed and I just wanted him to go away and I didn’t want to buy him the posho and beans he was requesting. SO there was some awkward silence for a while until the Lord put in my head, “He is a human being, so treat him like one. You must LOVE.” So, I started asking questions about him and his family and the sick sister. Something got brought up and he mentioned that he had escaped from the Rebel army. This intrigued me so I asked more questions about that. In all honesty, his story seemed a bit flawed, like he was just playing me to get some food. But the Lord had convicted me to love so I did and when Glenn came down from his room we all went to the market together. I do think that he was making everything up, but that is not my concern. The Lord will deal with him on that and my call was to respond in love and respect him as a person.

The last night, when we were at dinner we found a crowd of people that were celebrating with one of the local political leaders. Having had a few too many drinks, they were loud and were dancing the local dances. One lady came to our table to greet us and then gave us a little dance showcase. It was amusing and Tr. Francis said it was Gulu’s way of saying goodbye and sending us off well.

So, we are back in Mbale and the rainy season has started. Thanks for your prayers.