Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Adventures With Mark

As my alarm went off I found myself struggling to get out of bed but I knew I had a few important days ahead of me. Being anything but a morning person as all of my friends would know I new the first task was to make it to the bathroom to take that luke warm shower to get me going. A few hours later I arrived at school and found the six Rwandese students in our grade seven class were packed and ready to go. As they threw their belongings in the back of the pick up I was surprised at how many students had tears running down their face. They said their good byes to teachers, staff, and fellow students and we hurried to catch the bus to Rwanda!

Yes, we were off… my first visit to Rwanda with six very special students and my good Ugandan friend, Abraham. I had a great seat and enjoyed my view as we got further out in the country side. After a few hours we had a “short call” and out everyone poured of the bus for a potty break on the side of the road. I thought we were in the middle of nowhere until the bus was surrounded by a surprising number of people trying to sell a variety of ‘snack foods’ and drinks for the road. Immediately a young boy who was selling deep fried fish (yes, the head too) caught my eye. He was wearing a T-shirt that I immediately recognized because I grew up as a good Canadian kid playing, watching and loving hockey. It was a Vancouver Canucks T-shirt! I had a little chuckle and felt bad for the little guy that he did not have a high quality Calgary Flames T-shirt to wear!

Beautiful Country

The bus roared on and five hours later we reached the Rwanda border. It was not like the 49th parallel in North America with air tight security. I watched people crossing on bikes without being stopped or even noticed it seemed and even a herdsmen with 8 cattle sauntered through. Once we had our Ugandan exit visa stamped and our entry visa for Rwanda in our passport we made our way back to the bus. All the bags were outside on the ground and they were being checked thoroughly. Perhaps drugs I thought, but instead plastic bags of any kind were being confiscated as these are outlawed in the Republic of Rwanda. (To cut down on the litter factor I guess). As our bus switched to driving on the other side of the road like I was accustomed to in Canada, I could not help but notice the beautiful hillsides. The next hour to Kigali, the capital, was spent looking at the steep terraced hills and lush valleys of tea and sugar cane.

Heroes And Transport

As our bus pulled into the taxi park in Kigali I was ready to pour myself into the lives of these six young people for a few days and learn as much as I could about their families, the challenges they would face back home, and the possibilities for their future. We were met by an older African Children’s Choir member from a previous choir who had just finished secondary school. We all piled into a taxi (mini van) and made our way into the city to one of the two orphanages where our 16 Rwandese students at the school come from. It was dark as they all unloaded their belongings and were given rooms. There was no power as the orphanage had been late in paying for the last few months. We then found a special hire (regular taxi car) and made our way to our guesthouse. During these last few events I have left out details about the driver who was high on something and the fight on the street that almost turned into a brawl… No need I guess as we ended up in the guest house safe and sound.

As morning came I bounced out of bed a lot quicker than usual and took my regular shower. Soon we were back at the orphanage by boda, boda (motorbike taxi) and greeted by our special six and many others. The man who runs this orphanage is a national hero in Rwanda as he saved the lives of over 300 people during the genocide. Whoever arrived at his gate during that time was hidden in different places within the walled compound and when soldiers came time and time again they could find no one but little children.

Making A Difference

Before we said our goodbyes to two of the children Abraham and I met with the six of them and explained that they would be going to secondary school in Rwanda. We reminded them that their being chosen by the African Children’s Choir was no accident and now that they had a good base spiritually and academically from choir training, touring, and Music For Life Primary School in Uganda, they were ready to make a difference in their home country. This was not an easy conversation as all six of them had lost many family members during the genocide and did not have a lot to return to. We ended our time in a circle with some time of prayer with these six amazing young people.


As the afternoon approached we left the students who were in good spirits, and made our way back to Kigali. It took a little longer as our taxi had to stop for repairs, but that provided a good opportunity for some lunch. Once back in the capital Abraham went one way and I went to see the National Genocide Memorial Center.

As I entered this building I was not sure what expect as I had heard so many things before my arrival. I was amazed that it was two different European countries that started to classify the Rwandans into two different groups, the Hootoos and the Tootsies. They were not two different tribes but rather originally classified by how many cows they owned and later the length of the nose and other defining physical features. Early on the Europeans used the minority group to help rule the country. Bitterness grew and was harbored and eventually the genocide began as the president’s plane was intentionally shot down and the act of violence blamed on the minority group. Soon it become a nightmare that I just could not believe. People were slaughtered in the streets and hunted like animals. Neighbors turned on each other and husbands were told to kill their wives depending on their classification. As I toured this memorial it shared all the details and how in a matter of just a few months almost one million people were murdered and half a million women raped. I read about the Canadian general who saw what was happening on the street and wanted more UN troops sent so it could be stopped. Instead the UN turned its back and a few European countries even provided millions of dollars to buy the arms to carry out the process….And then looked the other way as the horrors took place. People fled to churches and some were then surrounded by soldiers who were instructed by the bishop to burn them. The memorial had human bones, individual pictures of those murdered and clothes uncovered in mass graves. A shirt that said “I love Ottawa, Canada” caught my eye and I wondered as a Canadian why we didn’t do more. As I left the main memorial I went upstairs where there was a special memorial for the children that were killed during the genocide. Their large pictures on the wall had a plaque underneath that told about their favourite sport and past time. Then it was told how they died… What I read I couldn’t believe as some were stabbed in the eyes, macheted in her mothers arms, shot and killed in many other unbelievable ways. The one that brought tears to my eyes was a little boy the age of Seth who was bashed to death against a wall.

As I left I was in shock. Yes, there is still some tension, but Rwanda has started a remarkable process of healing and moving forward. Tribes are no longer mentioned, but instead a person will say they are a Rwandese.

As we climbed back on the bus to head back to Uganda, I had a much better understanding of what our Rwandese students had gone through and the challenges that lay ahead. I made up my mind that I would return to visit these students and refuse to forget them. Over the eight hour journey I thought about that little boy I read about at the memorial center and thought about little Seth and my lovely wife, Sarah back in Kampala. I realized more than ever how thankful I was for my immediate family and the heritage I have back in the West and the country I am truly blessed to be part of. Yes, Canada and other countries like the United States are not perfect, but we should be extremely thankful for growing up in countries where individuals are welcome to be different and express themselves in a country where freedom for all is a cornerstone. I also vowed to be all I can for my family and be a husband and dad who places them first.

Please continue to pray for my six P7 Rwandese students (and a seventh one returning later) that they will adjust quickly back to their culture and do well as they start secondary school. As you think about these students and Rwanda remember to be thankful for the country that many of you are reading this from.

God Bless and have a great Christmas season as the birth of Jesus approaches. Mark

Adventures With Sarah

After reading Mark’s writings, I felt I had nothing to write this month that would seem to fit together with such powerful content. But then I realized we just celebrated American Thanksgiving and I was overwhelmed and humbled by how God has blessed me and my family beyond what we have ever deserved or ever will. Mark and I both growing up in loving, Christian homes with a mother and father who love us and healthy brothers and sisters……both of us coming from countries where we were free from fear and evil that kills, deeply wounds, and paralyzes a people for decades to follow….and now, being able to be together and give our son everything he needs with no doubt that God will provide and shelter us. Yikes. I feel the kind of gratitude that gives me nothing to say. How can I say ‘thank you’ for all of that? And how could one ounce of me not be grateful? I realized I have a very suitable story to tell…. A story of our Thanksgiving celebration, shared with the most sincere, ‘bubbling over’ and at the same time speechless gratitude, that I’ve ever known simply because I have heard and seen the pain of others who don’t have what I have. I won’t try to say I have felt their pain at any level, by knowing them and seeing the evidence of the scars in their lives. I have tried to understand why I am me, having what I have and they are they, having what they have…. But I can’t. I will never like it… I will never be able to think about it and have all the ends neatly tied up in my mind. But I can tell you this. I will never stop being grateful! Never! Now, let me share briefly, our delightful Thanksgiving (celebrated on American Thanksgiving because many of our friends here are American).
About 7 couples plus all of our children (about 30 people) summoned our creativity (and the women our best Thanksgiving recipes that can be passed off as authentic here in Uganda) and donned costumes in order to reenact the sailing of the Mayflower and the first Thanksgiving, Squanto and all! The very ‘funnest’ aspect of it all was that half of us were American and the other half British. We are all good friends from the same care group at our church, so the good natured ‘ad-libbing’ that went back and forth throughout the play was more fun than the play itself. Mark and Seth and I were Indians. I had a great time painting black shoe polish on all of us and attempting small headdresses for me and Mark. And, our little Indian boy likes nothing more than being naked… so he was having a jolly old time in his diaper with bandanas tied around his waist and shoe polish all over! He actually giggled out loud when we were having a family picture taken. It seemed like he was getting in the spirit of the dress-up thing and catching on to everyone’s excitement. You know, something I realized,….fun things like that party/play seem silly until you have kids. Then it’s a riot. And I was in there with the best of them, costuming, running across the driveway quickly because it was ‘the ocean’, and listening intently while the narrator (Mark) declared that ‘the Pilgrims spent the first Winter on the Mayflower and many of them got sick and some of them died’. (Having young boys in the group who launch themselves onto the ground in ‘death’ makes the dying part seem funny even though it’s not). And after the play…..the food!!! Wow! It really felt like Thanksgiving! And it was fun watching Seth in his little Indian garb, chomping on a cob of corn for thirty minutes with his squishy little gums, not a tooth in his head. As the evening wore on, I missed my family as I thought of them all together celebrating as we always have. But I was so, so thankful to be with my husband and son, living the good life God has given us and surrounded by dear friends. I hope all of you can relate to my joy and I pray that none of us will forget for one second, where our blessings come from and like the song says ‘Every blessing You pour out, I’ll turn back to praise’ let us exalt Him for His goodness to us! Have a Merry Christmas! Sarah

Adventures With Seth

Hi everybody. I’ve been working really hard on my teeth. That’s what mom says anyway. I just feel kind of grumpy sometimes. I don’t have any yet and I think it’s almost time. And you know what else? I got a really bad cold where I was coughing and my nose was running all the time. I couldn’t sleep very good and I was always calling for mom and dad to come and get me in the night. Sometimes they would let me sleep with them when I was sick. That was much better. I’m still working on my crawling… my arms and legs don’t work together very good and I just crash down. But I really want to go and get my ball when it gets away so pretty soon I will be all over this house! I need to go now…my toys are waiting for me to come play. Good bye!

Yahoo For Toys

I really like my toys. Lots of times I don’t need mommy during the day and I just play and listen to music.

Swinging Away

My second time on the swing! It was my favorite thing of that day!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

African Adventures With Mark

It was after 5:00 pm but I decided to quickly check in on our senior girls’ football team that was playing in a tournament. My senior teacher hopped in the car with me and we were off to see the final happenings of the big day. We knew that they had been winning games to take them into the last two rounds and we wanted to show up and cheer them on. Once we turned off the main road we bumped along a trail and then snaked along a narrow ditch to the activities. By now I know not to look for a nice green football field, but was still surprised to see the actual pitch. Yes, it was not green and was probably one third the size of a regular field. We parked so we could keep the vehicle visible and as we got out our girls came running down off the field to greet us as they were lined up to begin the next game. The surprise that followed caught me off guard. As the girls greeted us and jumped up and down, I looked up to see another 200 children running toward us from the pitch. In seconds we were surrounded. They were all clamoring to greet us, having no idea who we were but happy enough that we were with the team that was winning the tournament so far. It wasn’t long before everyone knew who we were for as we made our way up to the pitch we were introduced over the sound system by the announcer and were brought to the special guest tent. Yes, the VIP Tent was a tarp and my seat was the very front middle seat….a big sofa chair. I felt a little awkward as I went with a few other special guests to meet the teams at the center of the field and wished them success. Our girls were excited to have us there and I whispered a few extra encouraging words to them. As we moved back to our seats I realized once again, my plan of blending into the crowd was not going to happen.
Once the game started I looked around and became more familiar with my surroundings. The field had an extreme downward slant from one end to the other, which did make it nice viewing for myself in the VIP area. People were lined around the pitch and cheering for the home team – not us. There was garbage and debris all over the uneven ground on the pitch and even a tree on one side that the girls maneuvered around.
As the game progressed we were fortunate to score the first goal. Our girls were very excited and flipped cartwheels across the field. The announcer had to explain what they were called as this was something they learned on tour and is not a typical form of excitement here in Uganda. Then in the second half as I peered through the binder twine that was used to form the net between the two wooden tree poles for goal posts, we scored another goal. Magdalene made an excellent strike to the top left hand corner. Again, screaming and cartwheels. The girls played hard and in the end we won the game and the tournament! In fact, not a single goal was scored on our team throughout the day.
As dark approached the Muslim onlookers were eager to go home as it was Ramadan and they were anxious to break their fast once the sun had gone down. The Muslim school hosting the tournament was not excited to see a Christian school win their big event. As the girls came forward they received their trophy and yes, you guessed it a GOAT. That’s part of the deal here…The winning team receives a goat to roast. The girls held the trophy high and sang a Christian song even though a Muslim man showed his frustration by kicking one of our girls. I stifled my desire to kick him back or something, and instead put down the video camera and remained calm…. A good idea always but especially that day as our testimony was of great importance there. The girls piled in a taxi along with there trophy and the goat, still singing songs about Jesus.
It was a great day for MFLPS! But to finish the story, as the headmaster, this one goat presented a problem. It would not feed the whole school and everyone wanted in on some delicious goat meat. What to do… Well, a few days later on Uganda’s Independence Day I purchased two more goats and yes, we had a good old party. The three goats were on the menu and I must say they were excellent with the rice. A soda for everyone and all the staff and students went to bed very happy.

African Adventures With Sarah

Ah, yes October. I’ve always loved this month. I have a birthday in October and it seems to be a stellar month for a birthday. Mark says he is taking the day off and I shouldn’t plan anything so, yippee! Looks like Mark has something up his sleeve. This month has been much quieter than September. I am finishing up the term letters and Christmas cards written by the kids to their sponsors. That means filling out 900 papers and cards with child and sponsor names, then proof reading them all when finished and having the kids make any corrections necessary. This term we made it a competition… the best class won cookies and sodas… the winning class teacher won 10,000 shillings airtime for their phone. Boy they all worked hard and it was so fun to reward the winning class and teacher. I made over 100 cookies and no one could have enjoyed them more!
On the home front? I’ve decided I should start a book of re-definitions – A Dictionary for Parents. My first entries will be-
Hypocrisy – smiling and saying “mmmm-mmmm” while shoveling peas into your baby’s mouth. Knowing that the thought of taking a bite yourself makes you gag. (Uganda’s peas are particularly nasty.)
Rise and shine – get up in the dead of night with the flashlight or lantern to take care of the baby
“Wet”ness protection program – the system of tightening the baby’s plastic pants over his cloth diaper until he can’t breath. (not advised)
Anyway, as Seth begins teething seriously and moving around more I am finding the fun to outweigh the challenge (just barely!) God is so good and faithful. I continue to see Him give me every circumstance in my life as an opportunity to make right choices, grow, receive His love for me and give that love to others. Sometimes in the grind of home, the routine stuff, I find the love wearing thin. That’s exactly where He wants me to truly love…. Not on the surface or only when the giving makes me feel “big” or “good.” But when it makes me feel kind of well, frankly used sometimes. In my more glorious moments of actually seeing the needs of others more than I see my own I squawk “God use me!” Then when He does, it doesn’t look like I thought it would and I try to quickly scramble out of it, convinced He must have something “bigger” for me. The little stuff… that’s the big stuff!
Enough “journaling” from me. I pray you are all well and God is giving you joy! Until next time!

African Adventures With Seth

Well everybody, I’m sorry but I’m just too busy to write right now. I have to work on my rolling over and my scooting and getting from my bum to my tummy without bonking my head. I have lots of eating to do and I feel a tooth coming on. I’m having so much fun and I wish you could all come to my house! I will ask mom and dad to put on lots of pictures! Mom says they lost a cable to the camera so maybe you won’t get to see the newest pictures of me…. Maybe next time! Bye bye! (Oh, that’s another thing… I can wave bye bye now and I can say ma-ma too!) I’m big! Seth

A Picture of me in July

This is when I was just a baby. I’m pretty grown up now and you can see I was almost tipping over. Yep, but I don’t do that any more (very much).

Me and Daddy

It’s so cool because my Grandma Winnie gave me this jacket that used to be on daddy when he was a baby. I saw pictures of dad and this jacket…. He looked cool just like me!

In My Walker

It’s my favorite thing to go fast around the house looking at new stuff and grabbing everything! There’s lots of cool stuff for me to get and I try not to get in trouble very much.

Fun Times!

I really like to have fun and here's a picture of me fooling around. My favorite time is evening when I like to play rough and laugh lots!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Adventures With Mark

Yes, a dress as you would say, but a traditional Kanzu when you are in Uganda. Why, you may ask… Well, for an employee and friend. It begins on a Sunday morning as I leave my house at 7 AM and meet two other staff members for our journey to the village. At that point I gladly turn the wheel over to the school driver and the adventure really begins. 300 Km later (about 150 miles) and beautiful scenery we arrive at high noon at a small house in the countryside just off the main road. We are on time to enter with the groom to be, for an official ‘Introduction’ who in four months will marry his sweetheart we hope. One small glitch though is that the paid speaker, who will try to out-proverb, out-whit and out-dialogue the other speaker is late. Three hours later and five more Km off the main road the 25 of us representing the groom are lined up and ready to enter the household of the family of the bride-to-be. As we approach the house there is a tent for the bride’s friends and family on one side of the yard and a tent for the groom’s side on the other. The groom pretends to be one of the visitors and sits in the back with his friends. After some conversation and riddles between the two speakers the search is on for the groom. After much pomp and hoop-la an older female relative of the bride ‘finds’ him and pulls him out from the back row and relocates him to the front on a sofa. As our group has come on the scene, I have tried to strategically position myself in the back row so I can leave a little early. But no, that is not how it will be. As the only Westerner and the employer of the groom-to-be, I am seated in the front row beside the groom. Ugh! Looks like I’ll be here for the duration. Anyway, with the groom now found the search is on for the bride. Different groups of women of all ages come out in dresses and dance and pretend to be the bride. After some envelopes with some money enclosed are given to the bride’s family to help find the bride, she appears. At that point everyone traveling with the groom leaves and returns with many baskets of food, gifts, clothes and livestock. A cow is brought and a goat and everything is presented to the father of the bride. All of the stuff being presented had been placed on a list that was given to the groom months ago and written by the family of the bride. In this case a few items are noticed to be missing. This is a huge offense. There is a debate as the groom-to-be sits quietly, head down waiting for a verdict. My mind wanders and gravitates to the clock…The time is now 5:30 PM and I know there is a long trip back ahead. I try to inconspicuously rise in my white gown and white skin and wish the groom well as this debate is now nearing 30 minutes. Leaving, for the only white person in the whole village, proves to create a sizeable upheaval which threatens to stall the proceedings, but finally my two travel companions and I make it to the truck. Kanzus, (not dresses!) are taken off along with the suit jackets and tossed with relief into the back seat of the double cabin pick up. As we leave our conversation centers around our fellow staff member and how tough the bride-to-be’s family was on him. Will they give him their official blessing or refuse to sign the papers allowing her to marry him? Their refusal is a distinct possibility because he did not provide all the things on the list. As the conversation continues I am glad I am married and my pocket book is glad it was a Western girl… As the driver does his best to navigate around potholes, dark clouds are rolling in while the day turns to night. As dark covers everything the rain lets loose bringing added difficulty for the driver. We passed trucks with complete axels missing on dual rear axels….these illegal vehicles are trying to travel at night to avoid detection and fines from the police, just one of the reasons night driving is very dangerous here. As we pass them, on-coming trucks or buses nearly push us on to the side of what is called the road. Every 50 Km or so there is another truck broken down on the side of the road. It is hard to believe this is the main road between Uganda and Sudan. Finally after some frustration we arrive back in Kampala six hours later with the Westerner ready to throw up… It is hard to believe that 300 Km could take so long, but yes, knowing how many potholes there were it’s believable.
The next morning comes early as school begins and I make my way to school a little tired and groggy. After the morning passes there is a knock on my door and in enters the groom-to-be. He tells me he has received the official go ahead to marry his sweetheart in four months with her family’s blessing. This young man is very thankful to me for taking the time to come and join him and his entourage on this very special day. To him it was a great sign of respect and honor. All of a sudden the long day before seems very worth it. I encourage him to follow God and be a strong leader for his new family. He assures me he will and leaves with an extra bounce in his step that encourages me to work harder and support my staff even in these small ways to the best of my ability. However I am still not crazy about those Kanzus!

PS For all you moms and dads who have daughters, there still may be time for you to move to Uganda and demand all those goodies that the groom-to-be will bring…

Adventures With Sarah

Yikes…. Another month has gone by already! The significance of one month is very evident when you have a little one. He’s always doing some new thing and changing in some way. It’s a blast, and at the same time there’s always some looming challenge that wasn’t expected or just makes you feel like an idiot. As I look back over the past 5 and half months I just laugh about the journey it has been. Let’s just take Seth’s feeding time as an example. Our little trooper has eaten his meals in 4 different countries, spanning three continents…. He has declared his hunger and porked out in the car on the side of the road, in the car at McDonalds, in McDonalds, in the car at the grocery store, in the grocery store (don’t ask), in the dentist chair, in countless homes across North America, hanging thousands of feet above Greenland, in a little maintenance golf cart in the London airport, and in more white plastic deck chairs than I’d like to remember. And now here we are fully settled into our home in Uganda and I still find the child thing a new experience every day. I don’t know what I was expecting….all I know is I’ve gone scrambling for the very thick “What to Expect in the First Year” book hundreds of times already which at first glance gives the impression of being entirely too detailed because of it’s sheer size. In reality I’ve ripped hungrily through the pages and wished for more as I’ve tried to glean some helpful tidbit to suit the situation at hand. As I laugh at myself here I realize I am having so much fun with Seth and am so thankful for my friends, helpful books, and Mark!
As far as work is concerned, I am really enjoying getting back to it. I have been working mostly from home…. Getting letters addressed and ready for kids to write to their sponsors, helping them get started, and then proof reading their letters. When I have gone to the school it is really fun and so sweet to see all the love there for Seth. But the down side is, it is so noisy and helter skelter that a full day there with Seth is pretty much out of the question. My boss in Canada has asked that I write a proposal suggesting what things I feel I can do that fit into baby schedule. I am very thankful for that and am about to submit that in the next few days. For the time being I will finish the letters and Christmas Cards for the sponsors for this term and then look at what else I will be doing…. I’m pretty excited…. There are some great possibilities!
Enough from me…. There’s a little munchkin on my lap who is flapping his arms wildly trying to access the keyboard….. his little face lights up when he gets within a few feet of the computer… will have to give him a crack at it. One little request…. I am struggling with scheduling my evenings….. Seth seems to be fussy then and it’s a busy time with dinner, clean-up, washing diapers for the next day, baby bath and bed-time…. If any of you girls have some tips I would appreciate it. I’ve been experimenting but suggestions would be appreciated! Thanks! Love you all! Sarah

Adventures With Seth

Hey, I have something new to tell you about food. I get to eat smooshy stuff now! Have you ever tasted carrots? They are the best! Don’t worry about green beans… they’re just yucky! Mom still sneaks them on the spoon with my carrots and I pretend not to notice but I always know what she’s trying to do. I like sweet potatoes okay but daddy says they aren’t like the sweet potatoes at home… they are white and they are okay I guess. Mom says that pretty soon I will have fruit… she says it’s too sweet for me right now because then I won’t eat my vegetables and other more yucky stuff that she wants me to eat… like oatmeal! I let her know that was not a good idea when she gave me that oatmeal….but I ate it anyway because she was being bossy about it. One bad thing about food…sometimes you have to be careful because you can’t go poop! Mom said no more rice cereal even though I like it because when I try to poop…. Well anyway, it’s just not so good.
You know what my best thing to do is? Going outside! Mom puts my hat on me so the sun doesn’t hurt my eyes and we go outside. It’s so great to touch things and feel the pokey grass and hear the birds and kids playing and stuff. Sometimes I get to be in my walker on the porch while mom and dad have breakfast out there. (By the way, I am the boss of my walker now! It’s my favorite thing!) I just love to be outside and when I get big I’m going to go out by myself for long times and get really dirty!
I can roll over really easy now but mom says I’m lazy. I can scoot backwards and in a circle on my tummy. I can give kisses but sometimes daddy’s whiskers make me scratchy! I like to pull the hair on daddy’s chest and arms… I pull really hard because it needs to come out! Daddy laughs and says, ‘Ow!’ because I pull really hard! I’m pretty strong…. Yesterday dad took me outside and with my one hand I picked up a bag of posho (corn flour) that was one half a kilo… dad said that is more than one pound. So I guess pretty soon I can wrestle with dad.
I better go now… I need to go to bed. I’ve been having a little trouble in the evening with my attitude. I just feel grumpy so I cry for a while. I think I’m just too tired but I want to have more fun so I don’t want to go to bed. I’m trying to get better so I will go now and sleep. Bye! Seth

Uncle Dan

Uncle Dan came to see me one day. He drives the cars at school where dad works. I think he is funny.

Rubber Ducky

I remember the first time I took a bath at great grandma and grandpa's house - I hated it, but mom would not stop even though I cried the whole time. Now I like my baths and have a fun time with her. She gave me a new toy to play with and she calls it Rubber Ducky. He and I take a bath together all the time now.

Me and Dad

This is me and dad. I couldn't figure out why his face kept changing colour. Now I am into his hats and like pulling them off his head.

Uncle Douglas

Yes, this is me enjoying some time with one of my many new friends in Uganda. Uncle Douglas goes to the school were dad works and is in grade four. We get along well and I like him. He came to visit me one afternoon when he was on school holidays.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Adventures with Mark

It has been a very busy time since we last updated you with a note from Africa. We have been blessed with personal visitors and many other visitors seeing and joining in the work that is being done here in Uganda. We also had a group of our students leave to tour for a month in Australia and represent the organization. This added extra responsibilities for me here as fellow organization staffing from Uganda accompanied them. Through the busyness much has been done and God continues to work in the hearts and lives of so many young people.

We are currently on a three week term break where I will have a week off to spend some much needed time with two very great people – Sarah and Seth. We will be staying at home and just catching up on sleep and a little relaxation.

Through the busyness of the last few months there are many things that stand out. I think though, I will not forget a recent home visit with one of our students. He was in trouble for stealing a second time and so I decided to visit his home with our senior teacher as the term came to an end. Unfortunately his plight seems to represent so many children here. His mother and father have AIDS and he is the only child out of seven who is in school. The others can’t afford their school fees as the parents try to earn enough money for basic needs. Their home (a tiny shack) has no electricity or plumbing and one bed for everyone. The entire house is one room with a curtain splitting it into two and very little furniture to fill the 10 foot by 15 foot room. As I left I was discouraged as we talked to the father about the challenges we are facing with his child. He was visibly upset and frustrated and did not want his son suspended from school because, among other reasons, he would have to provide for him during that time. After a serious conversation with him and challenging him to own up to his responsibilities as a father, we left and also challenged the young boy to return after term break with excellent behavior as this is his God given chance to break the poverty cycle in his family and one day help them move forward. My heart was heavy as the senior teacher and our driver talked about the situation while we jostled along the alleys of the slum in the school truck. We all knew this student was running out of chances, but we all refused to give up and committed to continuing to try to mentor him and just maybe we will see our work come to fruition some day. In the mean time this student will be lifted up in prayer and we will not give up. Not now or in the future.

The picture is a home visit upon which we gave a little girl a new t-shirt with the help of Uncle Bert and Auntie Diane. Her Christmas came early!

Adventures with Sarah

Hello everyone! I think all of us have experienced that strange time thing where a period of time seems to whiz by and go on forever at the same time. That is how my August has been. It was wonderful! We had so many visitors…we had 5 different parties of overnight guests (a total of 37 nights). And there were also teams here from the States and Canada who came to do ministry at our school and other schools in Uganda and Rwanda, whom we had the privilege of spending time with. We had several big dinners at our house during that time and were blessed to have the teams over for coffee times to share their experiences. One of the joys in those kinds of visits is how we can clearly see that the actual lasting impact made on either the short term missionary or the people they loved while being here, is incalculable. Surely only God knows how He will use the powerful experiences that individuals have when they reach out to each other across cultural boundaries and just give to each other of themselves… nothing super natural is done by the participants but just through their fellowship and the genuine love of Christ in them, (again, both visitor and ‘visited’), healing, revelation, and deeper understanding of Christ often takes place. Mark and I feel so blessed to be in a position to see that, firsthand. To all of our friends (new and old!) who came on teams and some independently, we thank you…. For the richness you brought to our summer and for the love you showed Uganda!

I could write more....Can you guess what I could go on about for three pages? Yep…..our ever growing, precious little boy. But I do know how excruciating it can be for a loving individual such as yourself to attempt valiantly, to fully engage in a gushing depiction of the ‘cutest child ever’. To spare you the effort I will let Seth tell you just a little about himself and I will paraphrase my account by saying, I did not understand, until becoming a mom, the power little children have over the universe. I have not forgotten that God is in control of all things, but in this little galaxy of Makindye district, Kampala, there is a tiny being, trying to edge Him out! And he seems to have come with a complete understanding of what it takes to guarantee the world will revolve around him….sometimes by being so adorable that the world just wants to revolve around him, and other times by accepting nothing less! I hope you enjoy the pictures! We love you all! Thank you for loving us! Sarah

Adventures With Seth

Guess what everybody? I’m getting bigger! I am almost 5 months old and we went to the doctor again and I am 15.6 pounds! And you know what else? This time when they gave me pokes (now I know there’s two bad ladies at that place) I didn’t even cry at all! Well, maybe tears in my eyes but no crying! I juts kept sucking hard on my bottle of juice. It’s really fun being a baby most of the time. For lots of days there were so many people at my house and they gave me hugs and kisses and they are me new friends. I really like people! I miss all of those visitors… I tried to cry at mom and tell her that she should hold me and play with me all the time after they left but she said no, so I just started playing by myself again and watching her bake bread and stuff.

Guess what new stuff I can do? I can roll over and walk around a little bit in my new walker that mom and dad found at the store. One day, I got a little cough from some cold air by the Nile River and I thought that was cool that I could make that big noise, so I kept doing it sometimes and then I would smile when people noticed my coughing. But I got tired of that. Now I learned that I can make a bigger noise… dad calls it ‘squealing’ but it’s really just talking loud. I do it when I’m having fun. Oh, and one more thing…. last night I slept in my own room for the first time! Dad put my suitcase in my big crib and I like it and I slept good. I think they will take my suitcase out after I really like my crib because I’m almost too big for the suitcase and I just don’t need it any more. I have to go now….. I have to do lots of eating and sleeping today. Good bye. Seth