Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Adventures With Mark!

I am happy to report that the Williams Family of four have found their way safe and sound back to Uganda and have settled in well. Okay, not totally settled in yet as we have one suitcase to unpack and a few boxes to dig through. Seth and Jodie will fill you in a little more later on this adventure…

The school has had a great start to the new academic year as term one begins in early February in Uganda. Our results from last year’s grade seven class’s national exam came in very strong once again in the country. There are a possible of five divisions that each student can achieve with aggregates within each division. The majority of our students received a division one result (the best) with a few in division two. As soon as the results come out the papers carry the top schools in the country on the front page and several pages with write ups. God was good and our school was the 13th best school in the country out of over 30,000 primary schools. The only disappointing fact is that we are still trying to work out our school registration (lots of red tape and some unbelievable politics that have been very stressful) so currently we write our exams at another school in Kampala which drastically boosts their results. This of course does not allow our name to make it to the 13th position in the country. However, our staff knows, along with the students, that everyone worked hard as a team and it paid off in excellent results. This would equal three years in a row that we would be ranked in the top 20 schools in Uganda if we had our own registration and exam center number. Yes, Lord willing it will come… As a result of these good grades our students have been admitted to top schools across the country for secondary education. We are excited once again to see them do well academically like those that have gone before them and to be leaders that make a difference.

I continue to be amazed somewhat at our excellent results as we do not spend nearly as much time in the classroom as some of our peers. Some schools will have their grade six and seven students in classes by 6:00 AM… yes that early for classes. It does not stop there as they are taught all day, late into the afternoon and then evening classes. I remember coming under fire from some because I refused to follow this kind of schedule and chose to offer computers, art and PE to our students. I think that too many schools in Uganda focus on the exam results and forget about educating the child as a whole. Our school staff focuses on the child’s needs first and then with hard work, discipline and God’s provision we are blessed with success. Our goal is not to turn out top notch academic students for secondary schools, but students who are capable to lead and make a difference in this country’s future. For that to happen they need to know who they are and be confident in what they have been taught academically and spiritually.

With this kind of results it is easy to get excited to dive into another school year. However, my greater excitement is to know these kids and to see their lives changing from the inside out as they receive love and encouragement from the staff at the school when they arrive. Yes, I shed some tears each time I say goodbye to a class of grade seven students. And I am rewarded so often by their love in return. And also by knowing that they know I love them. After the end of year ceremony last year one boy said, “Today I realized Mr. Williams loved us beyond what I thought.”

My friends, lets all go forward in what ever corner we may be at in this world and make a difference where we have been placed. Change must happen from the inside out so we must have God’s help and it begins with one person at a time. I am convinced that all of us are in a position to make a positive influence on someone around us. As Seth would say, ‘Ready, set, go!’

Adventures With Seth!

Hi everybody, from Seth! You’ll never believe where I am! After lots of flying and kicking my soft soccer ball in the airport and being good (I really tried to be good) we made it to Uganda. I remembered my Uncle Francis who lives here at my house and I gave him a big hug when I saw him. And I was even sleeping when we drove into my house but I woke up so fast and jumped out of my car seat and from that time until now (a month later) I have been running around this place in so much happiness!!!!! Most of the time I can just wear my diaper and I can run out in my bare feet and I need a shower every day because I am sweaty and stinky, mom says. And now that I can see all my own toys I keep telling mom and dad that they are ‘mine’!!!! There are pictures on the fridge of my grandpas and grandmas and cousins and aunties and uncles and friends and I like to remember them. And we pray for them at night too. And I have some new books about snow and snowmen and those are my best ones. And I bring my little hockey sticks out on the grass every day and play hockey with a little soccer ball. But I still practice my kicking the soccer ball too. And you know what? I get to eat avocados and mangos and pineapples almost every day. And I swing on my swing under the tree every day. And I’m trying to be nice to Jodie and share my swing with her. But I still tell her it’s mine. She ignores me when I say that. And always she likes me. When she sees me she smiles and waits for me to kiss her and then she smiles again. When I read stories to myself in the kitchen while mom is cooking, Jodie looks at the pictures from her stroller. She sits up as big as she can so she can see. I don’t worry too much if she can see or not….. because they are my books.
But mom says I have to tell all the news because she and daddy are too busy taking care of us to write very much stuff this time. I guess I’ve been a little extra work because I am getting four new teeth at one time. Two pointy ones on the bottom in the front and two big molars in the back. Boy, do I feel grumpy. I cry about little stuff. But I don’t cry about bumps any more. I’ve had a bandaid, lots of scraped knuckles, a bloody ankle, a big scratch on my arm, a bump on my head from our big door, and a swollen scrape on my cheek ( I just got that one today). And I only cried a little bit about the scrape on my face and the bump on the door. Otherwise mommy has been wondering where I got my owies and I don’t know…. I just keep playing! Mom says I have to leave room for Jodie to write and for pictures. Boy, sisters like to talk! When she gets bigger I really want her to play with me….. sometimes I take her hand and say, ‘Come on Jodie, let’s go!’ She smiles so big but mom says she can’t play yet. I really like her. So I won’t say any more because Jodie wants to talk too. I miss everybody…. I really like all of you! Good bye! Seth

Adventures With Jodie!

Hi! It’s me, Jodie. But I don’t really know what to say because I feel shy. I like to smile at people but when they want to hold me then I feel shy a little bit. I like to talk too but my favorite thing is just watching everybody and seeing what they do. When I’m trying really hard to do stuff then my tongue sticks out and my lips make a little ‘O’ and I’m working really hard. And I’m getting bigger…. I can lay on my tummy and hold up my head and I can almost sit by myself! Well, I think I can sit by myself but mom says ‘almost’ because always she has to catch me when I’m ready to be done and that is right away.
I like to sleep in my own little bed. When I’m not there then I can’t sleep and then I get really tired but I just can’t sleep so I keep my eyes open and watch everything and then when I finally get in my bed I just scream! But that’s the only time I scream. Mom says I’m a really good girl. I like to spit bubbles. Even in the night when I wake mommy up (one time every night) I like to start spitting bubbles sometimes. Then I just smile because I think it’s funny. And I love to put my arms around mommy’s neck and she kisses my cheek and I grab her hair in the back and I just snuggle with her. I really like that and I think she does too. I think mom really likes me and daddy really likes me too. Sometimes when I see dad walking around I like to watch and smile and then when he looks at me I smile so big and then I kick my legs and wave my arms for happiness. I like my dad. I like Seth too. I want to play with him. But sometimes he’s really rough and mommy has to rescue me. I like when mommy makes roaring lion noises and I’m the lion and I wrestle on Seth and grab his hair. He thinks it’s funny but then he wants to wrestle me and he doesn’t know the rules that I always have to be the lion otherwise I cry. I guess I said lots of stuff. I have to go now and sleep. I am 5 months old and I’m growing every day because I’m getting my rest and my milk. I hope daddy puts on good pictures of me (maybe ones of me swimming! I like swimming so much!). Good bye. Jodie

Adventures With Sarah!

Well, it’s Sarah. I think the kids could write all day and I would enjoy reading every minute because they’re my sunshines! I should quickly update you from my perspective. It is so good to be back in Uganda! I didn’t know how this transition would go and I’m happy to report that it is good! I really think this climate is the best kind for raising kids. No big bundling up and unbundling and 10 minutes of play and then we’re freezing. We do have to do the sunscreen faithfully but otherwise it’s just so easy.
As far as work goes I am in the busiest term of my year. It’s a 2 month process because I do it as I can here at home when the kids are napping and after they’re in bed. It’s low key paperwork and a few days at the school taking photos of the kids, getting updates from the kids, giving them sponsor letters and having them write letters. I enjoy it and I really get to know the kids better. Each child has 4 sponsors (with a few exceptions) so there’s quite a bit of correspondence to manage. I often bring Seth and Jodie to the school and they enjoy being with daddy at work, hanging out with the staff and seeing the kids.
I’m enjoying my own kitchen! Making bread, strawberry jam, yogurt, granola, salads, and dinners every night. I did miss that when we traveled.
I need to sign off because Seth is now awake and ready to roll. I miss everyone so much and am thinking and praying for so many of you! With love, Sarah