Monday, November 15, 2010

African Adventures With Mark!

Greetings from Uganda! Wow, it feels like a lot has happened since our last newsletter. I will just share a few tidbits of things here in Uganda. The biggest change for us has been a move from congested, polluted Kampala to out in the country, a five minute walk from the school. I love it as I don’t have to use the car and the five minute walk in the morning is good for me and allows an extra 45 minutes to sleep in. I can be home by six for supper with the kids and have my head cleared before I walk in the door. The area is pasture like with gravel roads and small village houses scattered along the bumpy path.
Our grade seven class has just finished their national exams as their elementary school years have come to an end. The 28 members wrote their national exams that are very comparable to grade twelve exams back home as far as stress goes. These four exams over two days decides their entire mark for the year and ultimately decides if they will enter a good secondary school and then have a chance to go to university. After the exams we took them to Jinja, the source of the Nile River and did some ministry to two orphanages and also saw some national sights of interest. It was fun for me to see how much they have grown as individuals and yet hard knowing the difficulties they face ahead during their three month extended holiday before beginning secondary. Their home lives are difficult. The Saturday morning they were leaving they came to my office one at a time for a final goodbye, a new Bible and a big hug amongst tears as they left and made their way out of the school gate and onto life. Not only was it hard for the students but myself as well as I had guardians kneeling down in my office crying for gratefulness. For example one guardian wept saying before The African Children’s Choir took her child there was no hope of the child completing even grade two as the parents had died and the aunt had already several children to feed and care for. Another P7 student was going home to her final parent on his death bed… still others were leaving their primary school years to lead homes where they would have to grow the food, gather it, and prepare it; Only to leave for their secondary education with the weight of home on their minds. Not easy situations. But after this difficult day of sending them off, on my five minute walk home I had a quiet peace that these students would be okay and that God was looking out for them and my part as training them for life almost as a parent had come to an end.
Once arriving at home I couldn’t help but think how fortunate my two children are to not only have two parents but a home where they are loved and taken care of. Seth and Jodie love our new place as God allowed us to move into a bigger house with a much larger yard for a much lower price. The biggest event for Seth was that one of our four kittens and in fact his favorite “Petre” died of pneumonia last week. Jodie and Seth decided that two of the kittens needed a bath in the washing basin outside that was being used for washing clothes by hand. Too many dunks and wash water in his lungs it turns out. He seemed okay at first but five days after his ‘baptism’ the poor kitten became very obviously sick and a visit to the vet couldn’t save him. Dad was busy at work so Seth went along with mom and said goodbye to his little cat. Later that day we buried the little guy under the tree and Mr. Seth put some of his favorite rocks over the spot. He handled his first experience with death very well and to be honest dad probably had a harder time as I have seen too much death in the families of our students at the school, and recently abandoned puppies starving to death or people struck by cars and dead or dying on the side of the road. Yes, we still pray for safety and health on a daily basis for our family.
It is hard to believe that since coming to Uganda about five and a half years ago we have had two additions to our family and so much has been seen and learned. After much prayer and debate about staying here longer we have come to a conclusion about our future for the next period in our lives. It is hard to believe that Seth is three and will turn four in April of next year. With him in mind and other things we have decided to only accept an extension to our contract that would take us into 2012. If we desired there is a clause that could bring it to an end sooner. This was a difficult decision as we miss family and friends greatly back home but feel that God has not ended this chapter in our lives yet. I know that for some of you this is not exactly what you were hoping for. Yes, there may be the odd few of you Oiler or Canuck fans that think the farther away I am the better.
Needless to say that if you ever wanted to come for a visit and see our ministry here in Uganda it would most likely be best if you came before Christmas of 2012. We have appreciated the numerous people who have encouraged us along this path and have supported us financially as I’ve worked at the school; and so many of you have covered us with a much needed shield of prayer. I believe that God has allowed us to be fruitful in our relationships and display effective leadership at the school with students and staff. Until God moves us in a different direction we would be blessed by your continued support. If you have a desire to continue or begin to sow along with us into the lives of these students please let us know as this financial support makes this ministry possible.
We appreciate your friendships more than anything! Please know that we pray for you and think of you so often. We hope to see you when we’re home!
God bless, Mark

African Adventures With Sarah!

Man, I don’t remember the last time I’ve written a newsletter! Maybe it hasn’t been so long ago but it feels like it.
Perhaps because we’ve moved house just three weeks ago I feel like so much has happened. I am very happy in our new home (just a six minute WALK for Mark to the school instead of a 45 minute drive one way in nasty dangerous traffic). God provided us with a big, cheaper, farm style home that our children love and I am getting used to. At the end of every day we are all filthy dirty with country dirt and it reminds me of my childhood growing up on a farm in Minnesota. We feel very blessed to be here and are thankful for God’s provision.
It’s been strange… I very much did not want to move from where we were. Mostly because of our large circle of friends there who kept me and the kids from being lonely and bored with the mundane. Our friendships with families of children our kids’ ages in the past two years have blossomed into encouraging, stimulating, real fun! It’s been such a blessing. So a 45 minute move down a crazy road that doesn’t invite travel felt like loneliness coming on. But God is amazing… after we decided to move there was a shift in my heart and I felt very settled and even more ready than before to stay in Uganda as long as God wills.
In fact I have been inspired in the past year and a half by a life changing experience that has made me wonder exactly what God is thinking. I don’t remember how much I’ve shared with you about this because it has been a bit dangerous but August 2009 God appointed me, with the support of Mark to take a 14 year old girl out of a deadly situation. This young girl, Hope (whose name has been changed to protect her identity) has since then delivered and is raising a healthy baby boy who is about to make one year old. She has absolutely zero family support as she was abducted into this country by her step sister and her husband as a child slave at the age of ten. So obviously I have felt the weight of her future very heavily since feeling called to intervene for her. (The story about that is amazing, by the way…I can tell you, God has a plan for this girl and her baby, no doubt!!)
Throughout the legal processes and hours of thought and prayer and networking that I’ve been doing with others about this girl’s future, I have discovered that there is nothing within Uganda to offer this girl as far as education or a training program that will equip her, as a teen age mother, to eventually get a job and at the same time, support her and teach her how to raise her child. This would include offering child care since she has no family support. Her options are staggeringly hopeless. The chances that she and her son would be any more than beggars and abused are slim to none. Amidst my research and new-found awareness, I’ve learned that there are vast numbers of such girls in very similar situations within Kampala (most of them from Congo and mothers because of rape - at the moment these girls are on the street).
Anyway, through all of this networking, God has put in my path some highly motivated individuals with the right connections to do something about it. The timing of some of these encounters that I’ve had with caring, equipped individuals is partly what has made me take notice.
Along the way another friend and I have managed to put together the outline of a program that would meet the needs of these girls and their babies. I also bumped into a woman who can access a national alternative education program from the UK for un-wed mothers dropping out of high school. The directors of this program have agreed to release it to us here in Uganda to be tailored for the needs of the girls in Africa and they would actually redesign their materials with our help with the aim of making it available to all of Africa! All they’ve requested is that we find the funding. This is amazing!!!!!
Something in me believes that these individuals have been put together for a purpose that is now. And the core of my passion about this comes from knowing one situation very intimately… looking in Hope’s huge terrified eyes, as she was hiding from her abusers promising her that I would do everything I could to keep her safe and that I knew God had a plan for her.
I don’t know what will be the outcome or timing of this, but I’m telling you all of this so you can pray with us about it. Along the way Mark has been listening to my fiery ‘sermons’ and outrage about the way things are and has listened as I’ve gotten carried away with the possibilities of what God might be doing through all the people I’ve met with passion for this like I have. And mostly he just nods. But recently he’s been asking me how serious I am about this and has been wondering out loud if God wants us to do something about this…. To actually spearhead a mission to give opportunity to young girls whose lives have been desperately sad up till now and are on course to get worse.
If you have any comments or feedback on this can you please send it our way? We’re really asking God if this is something we should do. And if we were to do it, we’d have to have people from ‘outside’ behind it. We have small ways to generate income here, but it’s not enough to kick off and sustain something like this. Sometimes I think, ‘Oh great. Just what Africa needs... another bunch of do-gooders pouring money into a hole that never gets full.’ But I tell you, I know of these girls now… I’ve seen the ‘yucky’ of their lives. It’s miserable. I can’t let this go by without stepping forward and saying, ‘God, here I am. What do you want me to do?’ If He wants to do something with this He WILL! And He will use lots of us to do it. Thoughts please!!??
That’s about all I have room for in this letter. Sorry I’ve not brought much news from the kids. They are in heaven here on the ‘farm’. After our furlough I’m pretty sure we’ll be adding some animals to the area so the kids can learn about chores, gathering eggs, and such.
We plan to see as many of you as possible when we’re home! And my good husband has promised proper internet when we get back to Uganda… it’s now available in new, more reliable forms!!! So I’m looking forward to re-connecting with you and staying a little better connected!
Lots of love, Sarah

Friday, September 10, 2010

Adventures With Mark... Joy & Sadness!

This is one of those catch up newsletters that brings both joyful and disappointing news. As many of you know the school is still under construction almost three years after it was started in January of 2008. We had local inspectors out last week looking around as we are working on registering the school and they were very impressed. They consider the new facility a first class school and one of the best in Uganda. This is exciting news as we are becoming well known in our new community for many other reasons as well. Just last month we had an organization called “Libraries of Love” that is based out of the US came and give us 500 books to add to our library collection. Not only did they add these to our collection of about 9000 books but they provided the money to build built-in book shelves along one complete wall and added some paint. Thank you Trudy for adding us to your list of the ever - increasing amount of libraries you have set up in Uganda.
Later in the week we had some secondary school graduates come and with awe stated that our library is better than their high school library. We know that many of you have helped along the way with adding books to this amazing collection and we want to thank you so much. God has multiplied what was a library of about 100 books seven years ago to now one of the best if not the best elementary libraries for all of Uganda. The greatest thing is that our students love their new library and are excited every week to come and read. There are tables in the library for a complete class to come and enjoy themselves for a full hour.
Unfortunately we are feeling the effects of the financial difficulties in the west more than ever and beginning September 15 the building project will come to a halt and the school will be used as it is until more money is raised. We have made excellent progress but still lack funds for painting of the exterior and interior of most buildings, plastering of the school block, completing the access road, landscaping, completing the playground area and other things. We will slowly try to add a few things out of our school operational budget hopefully like flagpoles and other odds and ends. I wish God’s plans were a little different but such is life, but we are very grateful for what has been done so far.
I want to close with a special thanks to a good buddy of mine who made his way to Uganda for a few days with us before he flew to South Africa on some school business. “Buster” it was great to have you and your support in all areas has been awesome. It was a highlight of the year to have you come and see a little bit of our life here. Like my good buddy, many of you support us in so many ways and we are truly grateful for that. I wish we could do more to repay the favor but at the moment the best we can do is pay it forward and pass all the love and generosity onto the students we interact with who are not so blessed. Thanks for loving us and please keep us in your prayers. God bless…

Friday, September 3, 2010

Adventures With Sarah... Seth & Jodie!

Quotes and common phrases heard around our house from the kids:
Jodie to Seth while dancing in front of the TV with her dance videos: ‘Hey! Hey! Do dis!’
Jodie while running away from a scary monster or crocodile (usually daddy), ‘Na-nana Boo-Boo!’
After several months of being plagued with stomach afflictions mommy says to Seth during a bathroom break, ‘So do you have any owies in your tummy today?’ Seth replies matter of factly, ‘Nope. Just bugs’
Jodie while toting a little purse on her shoulder: ‘I want some money. I put it in my person’
Jodie while watching mom put on her make-up: ‘I want some wake-up too, mom’.
Jodie when having a hard time climbing into her car seat: ‘Ooh. I need new batteries’
Seth while half sleeping after being awakened from his nap: Mommy lays him on the couch and says, ‘Man you’re getting heavy!’ absorbing the compliment he says kindly, ‘Yes. And so are you!’
Seth very excitedly after being informed that he and Jodie get to watch Dr Suess’s ‘Horton Hears a Who’, ‘Oh! I was thoughting about Horton!’
There are lots of other fun things they’ve said that I always forget to write down. Though some of my days I think I just want to get out of the house, most of the time I think my kids are the greatest human beings on the planet and I feel so lucky to see them every day!
Jodie is still going through a very clingy ‘mommy’ phase. She can go about 10 minutes without knowing where I am and then she starts walking around looking for me (even if she’s enjoying one of her movies). If she can see me she does pretty well but if not then she looks around till she finds me and wants to be involved in what I’m doing. So I have lots of help in the kitchen! I spent a few months trying to curb it but found that made it worse, so I now include her in what I’m doing and she loves it. She will often call out loudly ‘Sarah!’ (or more accurately ‘Sawah!’) because that’s what she hears all of Seth’s friends call me. Her favorite thing to say is still ‘I can do it by myself!’ when anyone tries to help her with anything. Her sentences are getting longer and she loves to be bossy! Last week on the way to church she started talking as we left the driveway and she talked the WHOLE fifteen minutes to church. (“Daddy, look at da chicken- I see a cow!-Hey! What’s dat sound?-I wanna drink-a-water-Look at dat guy, mom-See dat, see dat?- I see a man on a bi-co (bicycle)-we goin to chuch!”) About half way through Mark says quietly, ‘Wow. Do you think she’s always going to be like this?’ I predicted she will.
Both kids love to help make pancakes or cookies and are both pros at cracking eggs on the counter and putting in their thumbs to dump out the marvelous slimy egg. We’ve begun talking about flying to Canada and America on an airplane (for our visit at Christmas time). Seth completely gets it and talks about snow and hamburgers at McDonalds. He recently went with us to a birthday party for one of our friends and he saw a gray haired couple there as soon as we walked in. Though we show him both sets of grandparents’ pictures on the fridge all the time he stopped dead in his tracks and said, ‘Is that my grandpa and grandma?’ Of course mommy almost cried. And the couple who are also missing their grandchildren almost cried as well. They go to our church so since then Seth and Jodie have seen them a few times and enjoy them.
I hope you are all well. Can’t wait to see you! Sarah

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

African Adventures With Mark

I will admit that it is one of those few times were I just am not sure what to write… I am sitting here in my office at school and the lunch bell has just rung. Being that I am immersed in the school at least five days a week and sometimes six as most schools have morning classes on Saturday I think it is time for me to take a walk and take notes for you on what I find.

Let’s begin with our kitchen staff of three who arrive while it’s still dark and are here by 6:00 AM to prepare breakfast for 165 hungry mouths. Today we are having a rare treat of meat and rice for supper. The usual is posho and beans which is not my favorite. However, the ground maze-like starch/paste tends to fill a person up.

Like most institutions here in Africa we are facing tighter purse strings due to the difficulties in the west. We are trying our best to grow some of our own food as a way to add something to our budget cuts. Our 500 mounds of sweet potatoes will be ready to harvest in about three months, last about three months and help spice up the menu. Unlike western sweet potatoes these are more of a cross between potatoes and what we consider sweet potatoes. My absolute favorite meal here is sweet potatoes with a pounded ground-nut sauce with some mixed in fish (tilapia) from nearby Lake Victoria. However that is a rare meal and a real treat for me.

All our food is prepared on one of the five big wood burning stoves that we have in our kitchen. The pots are massive and are built especially to help conserve the amount of fire wood we use. The pots are so enormous and heavy that the food has to be scooped out into smaller pots.

Even though I will admit that I struggle with the main staple on the menu – poscho and beans-, it is amazing how much the students and staff can pack away every day. It is not a favorite of the staff but they do a great job of putting a smile on each and every time. They are enjoying our new staff room that is about five times as big as our old one and has a fresh coat of paint on.

Once back in my office I think back to some early home visits last month and remember students who had no food at their house. Our small food hamper was the best bright spot for the whole week. In the hamper was some more of my not so favorite posho and beans. I remember seeing a boy in the food line for lunch today that I had visited during this past term’s holiday. At the time of our visit his family had been without food for three days. Today I noted how eager he was to receive his big mountain of food and I understood why. Yes, I am one of those very fortunate Canadians who do not always realize the feast that most of us have almost every day back in the land of plenty. It’s true some are less fortunate in Canada but compared to my little friends here in Africa it is hard to compare. God bless you and remember to be thankful and enjoy your next meal as I am learning to be. Take care, Mark

African Adventures With Sarah

Have you ever administered eye drops to a near two year old when they have Pink-eye? Poor Jodie has had it (as have I) and I want to bless the generous people who sent over M&Ms. Because without them this eye drop thing would not be going so smoothly! She eagerly climbs up on my lap saying, ‘Drops! Chocolate! Chocolate!’
Then she says sincerely, ‘Cry cry, mommy.’
‘Are you going to cry, Jodie?’ I ask.
‘Yes’, she says. But she never really cries. She just can’t wait to get her chocolate.
Otherwise we are all fine. Much to the horror of many of you I’m sure, I recently took Seth out to the clinic on a boda-boda (motorcycle). On the way there he rode between me and the driver. On the way back I asked if he wanted to drive. Of course! So he held the handle bars all the way home (pretty far actually) and I tell you, his eyes were shining like little diamonds when we got home.
The only other report I have is an update on my Sudanese friend, Hope, the fourteen year old mother whom we’ve been helping. She and her baby are doing great. Baby Andrew is six months, healthy and happy and really loves his mama. Hope is taking three hours of tutoring classes a day and has really come alive now that she has some studies. She lives with an African family and nannies their children in the afternoon. This is an excellent Christian family who have modeled a healthy family and taught her so many things already. It’s so great for her! Her refugee status in Uganda is about to be finalized so we can begin to look into options for her future (this status takes her out from under any family authority or rights that could be forced on her and puts her under the care of the Ugandan government). From that position she has many options. God is good!
I need to sign off. Lots of love! Sarah

Friday, May 14, 2010

African Adventures With Mark!

Yes, I will admit that it may be time for a lighter cultural blurb for my part of the newsletter. In Uganda it seems like everything grows and being a guy who likes to toy outside in the garden I enjoy the fact there is no snow like back home to disrupt things. About a year ago we decided to plant a few sweet bananas and matokee (plantain) trees in our back yard. We harvested some Matokee a little while ago, but my prize was the sweet bananas. They are similar to the typical yellow bananas one buys back home in north America, but about half the size and sweeter.

Finally just last week, our first sweet banana tree was ready to meet its fate. The upcoming four suckers shooting out from beside it were a sign of the Ugandan fertility. Seth was excited to see the bananas finally come down. We had been waiting for them to ripen on the tree but after several months our night guard, Francis, kindly informed us they would never turn yellow while on the tree but must be cut down first. Good to know. So for the big occasion we brought the video camera and panga (machete) to do a little chopping. Seth took a few turns with the panga and of course Jodie had to have a turn too. (All swings with the sharp tool were guided by dad.) Finally it was dad’s turn and with a few chops things began to move a little quicker than expected and the tree started to come down. Seth who had been looking up at the tree, bright eyed, saw what was going to happen and began to run. Not fast enough…. The timing was such that he made it far enough from the trunk to be struck on the face by the clump of the much awaited bananas and was flipped to the ground under the light weight branches. He was very traumatized and did end up with a significant scratch from his forehead, across his eye and down onto his cheek; A direct hit from the bananas. Needless to say daddy felt very bad and tried to apologize while Seth wailed. Jodie ran around saying, ‘Bump-on-da-head! Bump-on-da-head!’ And unfortunately the video camera was rolling and caught it all. Seth received an all purpose Band-Aid and now looks a little tougher around the face. Currently we are waiting about a week for the bananas to ripen and turn yellow so we can eat them all up.

As a dad I felt very bad about Seth, but also was very excited just to do something fun with him, Jodie and Sarah. I will admit that I enjoy the kids more and more everyday. Seth and Jodie are a lot of fun and keep us hopping all the time. God has blessed Seth with some good friends and the picture here is with two brothers who live about 100 yards down the road and love to come and play with Seth. They are a little bit older, but are great boys who treat him with lots of love. We have been blessed with a great family, a good home here in Uganda, food to eat and friends for us and our two wonderful children. God is good!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

African Adventures With The Williams In Picture

African Adventures With Sarah...

I just read Mark’s blurb and had a good laugh. How tragic. As of this writing the bananas have turned yellow and Seth is all into it again and excited about having his picture taken with Jodie and the bananas…still bandaged above the eye.

My kids are doing very well… the thing I’m enjoying most is how well they get along and sincerely enjoy each other. They have their scuffles but often I will hear one of them start to giggle and then the other and then they shriek and carry on with some rough house tumble or climbing game. Jodie is no sissy! She’s going through a bit of defiance…I think she would like to be events coordinator of our family and having her diaper changed or washing hands for dinner is surely not in her program. We’re working on it and she actually seems to be remembering she’s not the boss. Seth is getting much more social… he used to mostly want to stay home and play with mom. Monotonous! But now it’s all about friends and play time. I love it! I’m so glad he has good friends!
Seth and Jodie with their best friends Jalil and Adelle.

I really wanted to share something with you that has impacted me this month and I hope it speaks to you as well. We’re in the rainy season here. So almost every day there is a good bit of rain and there can be hours of steady, heavy rain that makes almost torrents of muddy water on the streets. And since the roads here are full of pot holes they fill up with the dirty water. A pot hole full of muddy water is very difficult to guage and a miscalculation can lead to a severe jolt and the emptying of the puddle in a huge spray.

On a rainy day recently I was driving somewhere and struggling with watching so many people walking in the rain and mud… some with umbrellas, some without… just trying to get somewhere. They don’t own a car and some can’t afford a taxi (which is extremely cheap) so they have to walk. Anyway, I was wanting to give people rides but I know that is very unwise and have only done it a few times. I started praying for many of the people walking and then I started to look at their faces. And I was very interested to see that most of them were looking directly at me as I drove by (there is seldom any fast driving in town… especially on a rainy day). And I started to notice they were watching the road very closely… watching my tires. They would then look right at me. I realized they were watching for pot holes. They were concerned that I would go barreling through a pot hole and spray them with water, spoiling their clothes for the rest of the day. And I was reminded of that scripture (which I can’t find right now but I think it’s in Proverbs) that says we should ‘consider’ the poor. That’s exactly what I saw on their faces. They didn’t expect me to pull over and pile them all in the car… they weren’t presuming that I should start handing out umbrellas or taxi fares. They just wanted me to consider them. And though I continued to pray for them I felt free from the guilt I’d been feeling for driving in my dry car. God sometimes directs me (or I’m inspired) to reach out with significant or minor acts of kindness. But on this day the lesson was, ‘Sarah, consider the poor. Don’t spray them with dirty water. And by the way, be thankful for your car.’

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Adventures With Mark... The BIG Move & A Proud Canadian!

Well, I have to admit that it has been far too long since we have last communicated. Since our last official newsletter we have celebrated the birth of our Lord and moved to our new school. Yes, it was not so much of a glorious adventure, but a lot of hard work with some definite excitement at the same time. It took a staff of about 30 a full week to pack everything and truck it an hour down the road out of the city and to unpack it. Even two months later we still have boxes as we await the completion of storage areas.

The official start of the school year began with our new school also as a construction site with many doors and windows, missing and plasterless walls. My temporary office was a classroom that also included the library, staff room, and work desks for the deputy headmaster and house manager, dirt floor rough brick walls and empty window frames barred over with wood. After a week in my new home three other rooms were occupancy ready as the concrete screening for the floors had set and we moved into our new permanent office home. Luckily for me a snake had not heard the moving date and came early for a visit one morning. I was not in, but he was spotted through the painless window and quickly disposed of. (99.9% of snakes in Uganda are considered poisonous). That’s what we get for moving to the country! No more city pressure. Just snakes! There have been countless temporary allocations for the library, classrooms, staff room, and school supplies as the construction continues. Yes, we have had an adventure, but thankfully the students are very excited to be in their new home as there is a lot of space to run around. About six snakes have been killed but God has protected everyone and provided much needed energy for the staff who have worked extremely hard.

As we move forward into more of a daily routine we are still working on finishing the first phase of the building project. Classrooms are still having doors and windows added along with plaster and flooring. Sidewalks and plaster on the outside of some buildings are also being worked on. The plan was to have things completed before we moved in but that did not end up happening. Currently we continue to trust God to provide for the completion of the school. Our faith based organization has seen donations decline since the ‘credit crunch’ which has affected their general budgets and caused cutbacks at the school. But through all of that, God has been good and we have been able to meet our operating targets (though we feel stretched to the max) and provide an excellent education for the children. However, I continue to feel a hunger to have the school completed which means simple things like plastering, paint, landscaping and important things like fencing and an access road developed. Yes, on some rainy days you would not be leaving our property without four wheel drive.

On a different note I continue to see how good Canada is the longer we are in Uganda… During the Olympics I was dying to see some of the action and especially the men’s hockey. In fact the night of the big game against the US, a Canadian friend and I spent until 2 in the morning trying to find the game televised somewhere. After searching everywhere we found nothing and went to bed not too happy. Yes, I will admit that some of you would laugh at a few of the places we poked our heads into just to see if they were airing it on their big screen (most pubs here are dedicated almost solely to soccer matches. And they are generally, should I say, ‘rustic’). But we wanted so badly to see that game and just as importantly to stand in a far away land and sing so proudly OH CANADA! It turns out we won and I sang OH CANADA several times the next day on the way to work in the car where no one could hear me or even see the odd tear coming down my red and white cheeks. Yes, Canada has a lot of work to do, but from the glasses I am looking through there are not a lot of countries better.

Well, I should sign off, but we would love to hear from you and all the best in 2010 from the Williams Four in Uganda

Adventures With Sarah... LIfe As A Family In Uganda

This is such a long time in coming. I think I’ll say that Christmas was amazing as we saw it through the eyes of our little ones. No snow but what a sweet time of being together and being excited about new toys, yummy food, and the lights on the tree. We did begin our tradition of giving to a needy family. Seth had so much fun wrapping the gifts for the children (whom we didn’t know) and then announcing to them excitedly what was in them as he handed them over. Jodie enjoyed the handing out as well. It was very special to see how God led us to a family for whom we had the right amount of presents and who were in a location that didn’t attract a swarm of other children we couldn’t give anything to. Giving food to the mother was a blessing as well. What a privilege to be able to care for our own family and have enough left over to love someone else! That is not the reality for the majority of families over here.

Another way I’ve realized how blessed we are is through recent sickness our kids have had. I think I’m going to map out our Feb/March for you a bit.

Feb.19.. Sarah sings at a concert with some friends she’s been writing songs with… while prepping to leave Jodie grabs the hot iron and severely burns her left hand. This resulted in two weeks of changing the bandages twice every day and no playing outside in the dirt. (As well as severe clinginess to mommy which resulted in very low productivity!)

Feb.25.. Seth begins screaming with stomach pain very suddenly and begging for a ‘bandaid’ on his tummy. Sarah borrows a car from a friend and rushes him to the clinic. He is diagnosed with amoebas and needs 5 days of very nasty meds.

Feb. 26-28 Sarah leaves Mark with both kids (Jodie with a bandaged hand and Seth taking yucky meds) and speaks at a church women’s retreat which she has been involved in planning since November. Everyone fared very well while she was gone. Three cheers for daddy!

March 8.. Seth gets a high fever and diarrhea. Is diagnosed with a bacterial infection which is very common here right now, and has 5 more days of yucky meds.

March 12.. Jodie begins to have fever and diarrhea.. she was cutting a big molar and these are normal symptoms for Jodie cutting teeth (she struggles!) (Bacterial infections aren’t contagious like viruses but you need to come in contact with the bacteria itself through physical touch and then get it in your mouth)

March 16.. Jodie’s tooth starts coming through but she begins to vomit. Mommy takes her to the clinic and she has a bacterial infection as well. The doctor prescribes very yucky syrup that she must take every 6 hours for 7 days (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

March 17.. Jodie can’t keep down any food or fluids and starts to dehydrate. A friend drives Sarah and kids to the clinic while Mark tries to wrap up his work day quickly and come home. Jodie gets anti-vomit injection and spends 3 hours at the clinic just to be sure she would be able to keep down her meds.. her prescription is changed to a once a day antibiotic for three days (hallelujah!)

March 18.. Seth starts vomiting. Sarah thinks ‘there’s no way he has another bacterial thing because he was just on antibiotics, so maybe it’s just a stomach flu’. At 5.30 PM he starts having diarrhea and his fever spikes. Sarah’s pretty sure it’s not a stomach flu by now. Mark gets home as quick as possible, house-girl, Joyce stays with Jodie, and we’re off to the clinic. Seth needs an anti-vomit injection (by the end of the day he’d vomited 12 times) and is on a drip for 4 hours to re-hydrate him. We left the clinic at midnight with more meds for a bacterial infection and his fever under control.

March 19.. Jodie is better and taking her last dose of antibiotics. Seth is still lying on the couch and not even talking much. Has diarrhea all day and no appetite but keeps fluids down. At 7.30 PM he starts vomiting again. So we call some friends to stay with Jodie and rush him to the clinic with a fever of 102F. He gets another anti vomit injection and stays at the clinic till about 11.

But on the way there Mark says he’s not feeling well. By the time we get there he goes straight to the bathroom and then to one of the sick beds at the clinic. Imagine the surprise of the doctor when he tells us we can take Seth home and we say, ‘Could you please check Mark first?’ Apparently Mark had gotten some food poisoning from something he’d eaten that day and was struck with severe diarrhea and vomiting. (Are you laughing now?) A friend of mine was nearby so agreed to ride along with us home to hold Seth because he was too weak to sit in his car seat on his own on these bumpy roads, and I drove while Mark clenched his teeth and clutched a barf bag all the way home. That night Sarah stayed up till 3 making strawberry jam for a sale the next day. Sarah sold jam at the sale until 2 PM and then had practice for leading worship on Sunday. Mark was well enough to watch Seth on Sunday while Sarah and Jodie went to church.

Note-able moments of the month? 1.Showering liquid diarrhea off of Jodie and hearing Seth come to the bathroom saying ‘I have to puke!’. He ended up on the toilet having diarrhea and puking in a bucket at the same time. The laundry was mountainous! 2. The look on the doctor’s face when we told him Mark needed some medical attention. ‘Really?’ he said. 3. On Seth’s fourth day of his third stomach affliction he was beginning to feel better. Late afternoon he said casually, ‘Mom, I need to go diarrhea’. ‘Okay, come on let’s go!’ Sarah said. He began to saunter to the bathroom singing cheerfully, ‘Diarrhea! Diarrhea! Diarrhea!’.

But, my thankfulness comes from the fact that I can take my children to the clinic when they are sick. Many children here die from such illnesses because their parents don’t have the money for or cannot make it to a clinic. God has blessed me in so many ways!

Adventures With Seth & Jodie

Seth. Do you know that some cats are mommies? My cat is! She had three babies in the night. So I got to see them when I woke up in the morning. They are very tiny and they usually like me. Sometimes they cry but then I give them back to their mom. I’m always very gentle with them and I tell Jodie to be careful. I love to just sit by the basket and look at them and pet them and talk to my cat, Tonka. She’s a good mommy. So when my friends come over I show them my kitties. Next time I will tell you how much I have learned about school.
Jodie. I like baby kitties. When Seth is holding them I always say, ‘Too?! Too?!’ which means I want to hold them too. First I sit down, but then they stick their little claws on me and I drop them on the floor and I cry and they cry for their mama. But you know what? Their mama is really tough. Because for a long time there was a rat coming into our kitchen at night trying to find food and daddy and brave Uncle Francis were chasing him with sticks and making traps and stuff. But he was always getting away. Then one night mommy was sick so daddy got up in the night with me when I cried. I asked for milk and daddy went to the kitchen. And you know what? That rat was on the counter top!!! So daddy grabbed Tonka who was under the table with her babies and he threw the cat at the rat! And daddy said she grabbed that rat so fast you could hardly see it!!!! Man I wish I could have seen that!!!! But daddy still made my milk for me. Then he ran into the bedroom where mommy was trying to sleep and made big muscle arms saying, ‘We caught the rat! We caught the rat!!!” I think I’m going to be brave like Tonka when I grow up! Next time I will tell you about all the words I can say. I’m big! Bye bye!