On the way to Kabale

Okay dear friends, now it is Friday morning and we are waiting for our bus which is two hours late (this is Africa).
The week has been excellent. As Melissa put it, emotionally draining. The needs can be overwhelming.

Melissa spent the week teaching in various classes at the school. She also met with several groups of older girl students. They spoke very openly about sexuality, std’s, the fact that they feel very pressured to give sex (this turned out to be a big issue, as they say they are kicked or otherwise hurt if they say no) to boys. They opened up to her about a lot of things. I am so very proud of her.

Linda’s workshops with the girls and the boys were a huge success. They really have some potential. It is so much more than a business – it is hope and a way out. At the same time, it is a business, and she will be making them some micro-loans to help them get started. They will repay regularly, slowly by slowly, as they sell her product (she will withhold the payments from what she owes them). They are overwhelmingly grateful.

Margaret and I spent lots of time with the women. Again, they are so very thirsty for practical teaching. Others on the team helped the school with some bookkeeping basics, helped to paint the reading room, taught in classes and spent time with the administrators to help them get a handle on the huge challenge that is running a school under these conditions.

Now we head out to Kabale to work with an orphanage there. I don’t know when I will post again. I absolutely love Africa. The red dirt of Africa has made its way into my lungs and I have a persistent nagging cough. But I don’t mind. The precious people of Africa, my brothers and sisters, big and small here, have truly made their way into my heart. I can’t express my feelings…

Thanks to all for your prayers. We have felt them. The other day, the Restoration girls were all crowded around a table, working intently on their pieces. They started to sing sweet songs of their love for Jesus… I was almost paralyzed with awe as I recognized the Presence of our risen beloved Saviour… I felt Him so tangibly there, loving those girls, smiling at them and blessing them with hope and love… This is Africa, and this is a place He chooses to be.

Day Two – morning noon and night

I won’t be doing a play by play for each day since the internet time is so limited. We’ll see how much we can manage to post for now…

Morning – The church building is a simple but effective structure of raw plank 3/4 walls, a zinc roof, uneven red mud floor and an assortment of benches. The women came in for our meeting “slowly by slowly” as they say here… We had about 15 women for the leadership training. Many couldn’t come because the meeting was in the morning, and they work. Some work in the school, some are “diggers” (farmers). We had a rich time with those that were there – sharing with them the characteristics of godly leader (such as trustworthiness, being teacheable, etc.). They asked thoughtful questions – relating to marriage and other topics very relevant and pressing for them (“how do I stop fighting with my husband? why do I always want to win the argument?”).

After the meeting our team leader delivered some sandwiches to us (the team was spread out between the school and the church). Then it was time for the jewelry making workshop. The other team members continued at the school, teaching in various classes and meeting with administrators etc.

Afternoon – My daughter Linda led the jewelry workshop. It seemed a bit chaotic at first, because there were several unexpected guests… Many people wanted to participate who did not necessarily qualify (like some dear older ladies who couldn’t see very well!). But as usual, it all sorted out and was a great blessing. Linda was to lead the workshop for four more afternoons. The main purpose was to train the 12 girls who live in the Restoration House nearby. These girls live there because there is nowhere else for them. They have been abused (like when a male guardian demands sex in exchange for paying school fees, or worse) or abandoned, etc. They are the most amazing group of young ladies. They will be able to sell Linda their jewelry (some have proven to have real potential) and she will resell it in the States.

In Uganda, adolescent girls are among the most vulnerable. This training will help them to have a source of income and a door of opportunity to escape the cycle of destitution. Linda is creating a small “crafting society.”

Evening – Wakiso Boys Brigade. The Brigade is an organization that has small bands (literally) of boys that play in weddings, etc. This gives them some income. Many of them come from very poor background. 6 of the boys from the Brigade have been selected to receive the jewelry making training. They are highly motivated and already have some skills. Linda began their training and they picked it up quickly, which was very encouraging. It is especially gratifying that one of them seems ready to take some leadership in that area.

It was an excellent time in that little back courtyard… We had to stop at dusk because of the light situation. While we met in the back, about 40 boys crowded around our make team leader as he taught them the basics of sex education! From what we hear there were some very interesting questions – some totally off the wall, and some relevant! The ignorance is huge.

A revealing fact is that when Mark asked them what the first thing that came to their minds when the heard the word “woman” – they said “prostitute.” So far to go… but they are making good progress. Some of them even quote the Bible (“go forth and multiply”) as an excuse to have unfettered sex!

We left and headed to a mall area for dinner and then another night under the net!!

Night of Day One

Our room is small and adequate. There would be hot water if there was water pressure… Not to worry, cold showers are invigorating! Falling asleep was difficult – and around 3 am, lying awake very much tucked in under the mosquito net, in the pitch black (since the electricity had gone out around midnight; they are having regular outages), I must confess a certain clautrophobia! Jet lag did have an effect and I lay awake for about three hours. Eventually daylight came and it was a beautiful day.

Uganda – first days

We arrived in Kampala airport an hour an a half late; we’d departed London late due to the lovely bad weather! As we waited to buy our visas and go through customs, I was struck by the variety of people entering the country along with us… at least four groups, all Christian, there to to do humanitarian aid. At least a couple to work with and support orphanages, one to work with a school for the blind… and I thought once again, “This is why I love the Church!!” So much criticism (some for good reason) of believers, but when you are in places like this, and you see so many people joyfully enduring very uncomfortable conditions out of love for their Ugandan brethren, it is very encouraging.
Day one – after checking in at our guest house, we rested a while and then went to the Wakiso school, where the children presented a program for us. It was priceless, complete with song and dance…. in a completely run down and poverty stricken school. A school with almost no supplies, books, etc.
That evening we went to the Wakiso Boys Brigade home. It is a small home where a grandmother and her family live, and in the back, in a small room, live 15 boys who used to be on the street. They have four bunkbeds and they sleep two to an individual bed. They play musical instruments at weddings and such, and in this way make a meager living. Most of them pay for their own school fees this way. They put on a fantastic presentation for us, in the small dirty courtyard in front of their house, with their band. Four of them did all kinds of fantastic acrobatics for us as well, on the uneven mud floor, as the band played and goats and chickens scratched nearby. Two lazy dogs slept through the whole thing. The boys kept us breathless and praying, because as they stood on each other’s shoulders, the top boy would be about two feet from the wire carrying electricity into the house. Jesus sat with us in that courtyard, and He was blessed.
I will post more when I get a chance. Our internet access is touch and go.
Many blessings to you all…