Monday, November 28, 2011

African Adventures With Megan!

Look at me!!!
I’m here and I’m happy!
My name is Megan Joy Williams and
I was born on November 23rd at 7:58 AM. I weighed 8 lbs 12 oz and I was 52 cm long. But I think I’m growing already! My brother Seth and my sister Jodie are very excited to finally be able to hold me and kiss me.
I hope you can come and see me sometime soon!

Love from Megan Joy

Along with this birth announcement of our precious daughter we would like to invite you to be part of a special event in her honor.

During this past year we have become increasingly aware of the incredible blessings we have, the provisions God has made for us, and the prosperity of our countries. As we’ve observed intensifying hardship for our staff at the African Children’s Choir Primary School in Uganda, we’ve been compelled to make extra efforts to give in whatever ways we can. So….!! Here’s our creative idea!

Please join us on Saturday December 3rd from 10am to 3pm for a dual purpose open house. We want you to meet our baby girl and welcome her into the world! And instead of bringing anything as a gift for her, we ask that you would come well prepared to give to specific families in Uganda in her honor. We have brought along with us from Uganda unique and practical artifacts that you can purchase and take home as either Christmas gifts for loved ones, for yourself, or even as reminders of Ugandan families who need your prayers regularly. There will be other items available, such as:

· Very nice Christmas trees (it turns out, Mark is a tree planter! He planted them 6 years ago before we left for Uganda!) Up to 8’ tall (4 available)
· African artifacts include a variety of wooden spoons, wooden bowls, shawls, drums, woven baskets and more
· Sarah and some fellow missionary friends have written and recorded a CD! It’s being released next week in the States and the UK and is available here for this event! After production costs are covered 10% of all profits will be given directly to The African Children’s Choir Primary School.

Each item will be priced reasonably and you will be free to give that amount or any amount above that if you would like. When we return to Uganda and are able to dispense the funds of this open house as tangible gifts of food to these families, we will send you a photo and a firsthand report on the blessing brought about by this event! Please come and be part of it!*

There will be beverages, snacks, desserts, and lots of happiness!!!!! You’ll also have the opportunity if you wish, to view a 10 minute video.. ‘The Life of a Choir Child’.. put together by Mark to capture the essence of where the choir children come from and the blessing that the choir program is to them.

It will be held at 30543 Northridge Way, Abbotsford.

Please RSVP! We can’t wait to see you and introduce you to our little one as well!

Mark, Sarah, Seth, Jodie, and Baby

*If you are unable to come on that day you can still be part of this fundraiser by sending a check to

Mark and Sarah Williams
30543 Northridge Way, Abbotsford, BC V2T 6X7

Friday, November 18, 2011

African Adventures With The Williams Four!

After 24 hours I survived my trek from Entebbe back to Vancouver. It is hard to believe the differences between one place and the other. I was greeted at the airport by my two little angels, Seth and Jodie. They came running and I got the biggest hug I have had from them and I did not let go until giving them many kisses. Sarah, my Miss America was in the background and I enjoyed a long awaited hug from her as well.

It was just a week ago that I spent a full day with the grade seven class on a trip to Jinja, source of the Nile in Uganda. The 29 students were enjoying their last event at the school before their long holiday between primary and secondary school. As we made our way through Kampala taking a few short cuts I was sitting up front on the bus and I couldn’t help but realize how bad off many of the homes were. The article I read on the front page of the national paper that said 60% of the population of the Kampala live in slums seemed to be true. The rainy season rains had not helped as there was flooding and everyone was trying to walk in very muddy conditions. As I shook my head I realized that we were passing an area that I had visited many times; homes of children from our school. I could see the muddy path that lead down into a pit of homes ready to fall over. Turning around and looking back I saw 29 students in the bus that come from the same type of homes, happy and enjoying life.

I realized that we were not just providing a top notch education for these children, three meals a day, good discipline and discipleship but maybe most importantly, hope. Poverty seems to breed discouragement and a future with nothing to look forward to. There are no goals being set and no reason to move forward as many Ugandans are trapped in an endless cycle of poverty. I felt very thankful to be a part of a team of people committed to bringing hope.

Our journey continued to a few touristy sights in Jinja and two homes that help baby orphans and those abandoned by aids. Both homes were started by former chaperones that have travelled with the African Children’s Choir at a young age and have left the comforts of the west to fill a need in Uganda. The students were impressed with what they saw and also provided encouragement and excitement for the staff that work in these two homes. It was a little bit of giving back and sharing hope to others.

A few days later all of the grade seven students were on their way home with memories of their time at of the African Children’s Choir Primary School. They left with a food hamper, new Bible and a little bit of money tucked into their newly treasured Bible. As I said goodbye to each one my prayer was that they would go out, serve Christ and make us proud. They left with a hug and the prayers of many in the days to come as they transition from the watchful care of the primary school into the more challenging reality of secondary school.

As I sit in my warm dry house this evening in Canada I can’t believe the difference a week can make. I know our students are prepared and even though they have hope in the Lord, they will face a tough challenge this three month holiday before they start secondary. As much as I want to continue with them I know my responsibility is at the primary school; being there for those to come and to prepare them for the way ahead. The grade seven class of 2012 looks even more promising academically which is always encouraging to me and our staff. But this class also has some challenging individuals to guide and train. As a team we will work even harder to prepare these ones for secondary school and more importantly life.

As we look towards a new year we are hoping that you would continue to keep us in your prayers as there are many challenges ahead. I am encouraged when I look back at challenges we’ve faced and I can see how God has met the needs of the school every time. However the difficulties continue to mount as inflation will increase almost 30% for this year alone. Budgets will most likely not be increased due to the challenging times in the West. My goal is to raise money for food and fencing at the school. The top portion of our land needs a chain link fence so that we can keep the cattle out so they will not eat our crops. This fence will also discourage people from stealing. Money will also be used to help supplement the food budget and buy things like chicks to start layers in the old carpenter shop on the land. We are also trying to collect as many as 5000 pens, 2000 pencils, 2000 erasers and 2000 pencil sharpeners. (Keep in mind the students do every bit of their studies, revising, and homework on paper so we go through a significant amount of these things every term.) If you are interested or feel led to help us out in any of these areas please let me know and I will tell you more specifically how this can happen. My hope is that in one way or another we can all reach out and make a difference this holiday season to someone around us.

On a personal note, our third little one is due in a week and we are awaiting her arrival! We’ll be sending out an announcement about that for sure! Please pray with us for a safe delivery and healthy baby and mama.

Blessings, Mark

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

African Adventures With The Williams Four!

Thanksgiving Day in Uganda seems a little different than it would back in Canada but still the idea is the same. No turkey, although we did have grandpa with us for the last four weeks or so (no offence dad). Of course grandma has been here too and it was nice for Sarah to have the help putting on the feast! The alternative chicken was good and the missing cranberry sauce has never been a favourite of mine anyway. We also added fish for a local twist and Sarah prepared it the way her grandma always has. That was special! As we went around the table to mention something that we were thankful for I did agree with Seth that the juice was a pretty nice thing and thanks were due.
Reflecting on the day it was great to celebrate it in Uganda as it demonstrated once again that we have much more than we realize to be thankful for. Just having a meal to sit down to after an earlier breakfast and lunch I realized was more than many of the people in this world are accustomed to. One is truly blessed if they have three meals a day and a roof over their head. The latter was also evident to me today as one of the staff members at the school asked for a loan so he could fix the leaking roof on his small house for his family.
Speaking of family that was another area that I realized that I am truly blessed by. With a great wife and two fun, but polite kids with a third one on the way a man can’t ask for much more. I took my dad on a few home visits last week and the three homes we visited found no dad and three moms who are HIV positive. The future is not bright for them but I was so impressed with their desire and effort to fight as long as they can to provide for their children.
Having mom and dad Williams with us it is clear that our Godly heritage from both sides of the family is a big blessing. There are not roots to witchcraft like many of the students here fight off. Having two parents that love being grandpa and grandma to Seth and Jodie is a gift like no other. Seth and grandpa have been buds while Jodie has a cooking companion. Thanks to the Williams and Carpenters for a good foundation to begin our family on.
Moving forward we continue to be challenged to do all we can with the students and staff that we come into contact with. We were able to give a generous food hamper to all those on staff this thanksgiving due to the generosity of many of you. God calls us to make a difference and this thanks giving in Uganda has once again made it very clear to us as a family with our Godly heritage and prosperity that we indeed must share the love we have been given. We know you are also committed to making a difference in the lives of those around you who are hungry both physically and spiritually and we encourage you to keep it up!
Blessings, Mark, Sarah, Seth and Jodie

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Adventures With Mark… Home Visits

Term two has just ended. I often think of the students from the school over the holidays as I spend time with my kids. I can’t help but think of how blessed our children are in many ways compared to the students at school. I’m referring to material things a bit but also basic things like their physical needs being met, food every time they’re hungry, their own beds, a safe environment to live and play in, medical care when they need it, and Canadian passports. These are things we often take for granted. My awareness of our students’ living conditions this holiday has been no different in this regard. Every holiday the school staff spends some time visiting different homes with the focus being very needy homes or children with behavior problems. Each person of our four member management team leads a team to different areas where our students call home. This term my group of seven piles into our Prado and heads towards the Luwero area that is out of Kampala and unfortunately famous for the hardships it suffered during the war with Ida Amin in the 1970s. Once out of the city we begin stopping at students’ houses and to my surprise the first house we stop at is nice. We take our shoes off on the tiled floor and greet the mother. Children seem to be popping out of everywhere. As we sit down and visit we are told that when Catherine first joined the choir things were very different and difficult. The mother has worked hard to add much needed extra income by making paving stones for landscaping and boundary stones for plots of land. She takes us out back and we see stacks of her product that she has made completely by hand. We talk about her sales and all of us are very impressed and proud of this mother who is working very hard to provide for her family.
As we continue our visits we end up about two hours out of the city in an area that is very bushy, rural and pretty much at the end of the road. I feel like I am driving on a tree planting road again back in northern British Columbia with Old Yeller, our 4 x 4 ford 350 crew cab. However when I look around at the sparse mud huts I know I am not. Our tour guide from the main town nearly an hour away is Pete’s older brother and without him we would not have found the place at all. We pull up to Pete’s house and we are greeted by his mom. Again several small children also appear out of nowhere. Once inside we are received as honoured guests and shown a picture of the deceased father. The mom is extremely friendly but reminds me more of a grandma as one can tell that life has been hard on her. They are very excited for the food hamper of rice, sugar, posho, salt and some soap. She quickly hurries off to roast for us some local peanuts she has planted. Some cute dresses from some kind ladies in International Falls are given to the smaller girls and left over school packets from the MEI team for the older children. All are happy and once pictures are taken the goodies are put away for Christmas. We have one last food hamper and give it to Pete’s mother who prays a blessing on all of us. It is now 3 in the afternoon and the grade six boy had left at nine in the morning to run an errand for his mom. After waiting awhile we say our goodbyes and leave hoping to find Pete along the way. As we load up a chicken is given to me as a token or her appreciation.
Our guide takes us back on a different bush road and then we come across Pete. His bike from 1942 has a flat front tire or should I say a completely worn out tire and he has been walking for several hours. We pile out and he is very happy to see us as we all greet him with a hug. He does not look good and may have malaria indicated by the sores around his mouth. After some visiting we give him enough money to get his bike tire fixed and he heads on his way for the last trek home. He is excited that we came to his house and knows that most likely there will be a little extra help in regards to food for his mom and perhaps a nice supper. As we finish our drive out I see many shrines and a large compound where many people have gathered. I learn from our guide that this area is a central or ‘source’ location for witchcraft in Uganda. Many of the people there were visiting a witchdoctor and some of the visitors were even witchdoctors seeking more or specific power. We are told that more children than normal go missing in this area and this is most likely due to child sacrifices. I sense something I don’t like and think about Pete the entire journey back into the City and another hour home to my house. As I arrive home one of the first things I do is give my amazing wife a big hug and open the door to the room of my two sleeping children. I see them comfortable in their bunk bed with a soft mattress, pillow and blanket and just stare at them for a while. I give them both a kiss and pray blessings on them while adding protection for them and Pete who I have a complete new understanding for. I go to bed knowing I am helping kids that really do need help and are making the best of very difficult circumstances. I vow to do all I can to be the best I can for the school, staff, students and my family.

Adventures With Sarah... It's a ???

I see Mark has written a great blurb that I hope you have all had the time to read. His work is inspiring! I must say, I’ve done home visits and I find them incredibly challenging. It takes huge amounts of physical energy, focus, and emotional energy. Home visits also provoke many questions in my mind about God, fairness, reality, justice, eternity, and a multitude of other big issues. To be in a position to bring food hampers to needy families is a great privilege, but the desire to do more and ‘fix it all’ never goes away. And facing the fact that you can’t do that is not easy. Anyway… that’s my ‘feelings’ input on Mark’s story.
I’m going to shift gears here and pass on some very exciting news that we just found out yesterday…. It’s a girl!!!!!! All four of us went and saw a wiggling, squirming, shadowy creature on a very small screen. According to Jodie, ‘If there’s a pee-pee then it’s a boy but if there’s no pee-pee then it’s a girl!’ There was no ‘pee-pee’. I think Seth may have been a bit disappointed to be honest… maybe Mark too for a few minutes… I think they were envisioning another body to wrestle with and go to sports events with. But Jodie and I were quite elated! I was convinced from day 1 that this was a boy so I was shocked! I had predicted both of our other kids accurately so it was good for me to be completely wrong! We can’t wait to meet her!
As far as our kids are concerned… all is well. Seth is doing school from home and though he likes his friends he is extremely content to spend days on end just at home… sometimes I have to work hard to convince him that a play date at someone else’s house would be fun. Jodie is sincerely his best friend. Jodie is a little mother to all and can be extremely bossy. Her tomboy characteristics are hilarious. I have given up on dresses and fixing her hair (I cut her some sensible bangs and we don’t fuss). But she loves to play with make-up and be cooking in the kitchen. Her baby doll Kira, is never neglected and is frequently attended to with bandages and medicine because she’s sick. I love my kids!!! They’re full of adventure, dirt, laughter, fighting, and taking care of each other. What more could a mother want?
Lastly for me when we are home there are a few things we already know we are going to need. And I want to throw them out there in case any of you have ideas. As it is, our plan is to hit the thrift stores when we get home… but if there’s an option that’s more guaranteed we’d be happy for it! I’m going to need a rocking chair of some sort for this little one. Hopefully something not big and lazy-boyish but more like a glider or other non-space-hogging apparatus. Also, our kids will need a bunk bed. Anybody done with one? On this one we have nothing specific in mind and are not fussy. We’re happy to buy both of these items at the going rate, I must add! And finally I’m putting together a write up that I intend to send to Abbotsford car dealerships. I’m not sure exactly what I will say but I will tell them what our family is doing here in Uganda and the basic idea is, ‘we have three kids, are home for three months and own only a VW Jetta which will be impossible to fit three car seats into. We will have to come up with something else to get around!’ (Our Jetta will be fine until the baby comes). I’m going to ask them if they’d be interested in loaning out a vehicle to us for any length of time as part of their ‘Christmas good cheer!’ or whatever. I have no idea if any of them will respond or if I’ll be able to get this write up to the right people. But before I do that I want to mention it to all of you in case you have a better idea or possibility for us or even if you know the best way of communicating this to the dealerships. I’m not stressed about it and have no expectations on any of you so be certain of that please! I know God will provide what we need and we’ll glorify Him with the blessing!
That’s all for me….. I am very excited to be coming to Abbotsford in a few months and also very much looking forward to Grandpa and Grandma Williams being with us here for a month prior to that. They will fly back with me and the kids and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that already! We’ll keep you posted these next few months. Enjoy the Fall!!!! Love to all of you! Sarah

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Adventures With Sarah & Kids… The Home Front

How is the summer everyone? We’re thinking of you there in Canada eating berries and other summer fruits and in the States buying bags of fresh field corn for only a few dollars. (Soon anyway!) Evening picnics and long days with plenty of daylight to work outside on projects or just play in the yard. That’s how we envision you these days and we pray you’re all having great family time and safe travels if you’re camping or holidaying!
We’re very fine… life here is going along as normal. A few flu bugs here and there and an unexpected exposure to a tropical parasite which everyone but mom needs to be treated for (lovely!). Otherwise we spend our days at home doing some low key home school, baking, playing trains and marbles, and cooking together almost every day. Seth and Jodie are both very good at cracking eggs and mixing without splashing. Jodie’s favourite kitchen utensil is the whisk… and she loves to say that word. And Seth’s favourite meal to make is pancakes. Then he and Mark play a fun game where one flips the pancake as high as they can and the other tries to catch it with the plate. The cats benefit from that game quite a bit. Number three seems to be growing just fine…. Squirming around lots… especially when we play monster with the kids and run roaring through the house. This one is going to come out ready to play! We will be finding out the sex of the baby in a few weeks. Fun! We’ll let you know! This is me at five months pregnant.
That’s all from us this time. We wanted to be sure that this month Mark has a chance to share plenty about the school. We’ve done lots of thinking back this year too many of the goals Mark had during his first year and we’ve seen that many of them have been reached! It’s been exciting to think about. And there’s plenty of goings on to fill you in on. So we’ll sign off and turn the computer over to Mark.
Lots of love to all of you! Sarah, Seth, Jodie, and?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Adventures With Mark… Utilities & the School Front

Where to start? Well unfortunately let’s start with the power and water problems that we are now facing. Last week began with an announcement that load shedding (power on for 12h and then off for 12 hours) was going to be kicking into high gear. Yes, the government was in the arrears with a few private generator companies and owed them hundreds of thousands of US dollars. So they said they’d generate no further power until payment. Then last week ended with no water as a result of private companies shutting down who pump the water in this area of Uganda also as a result of no pay by the Ugandan government. Needless to say things go into high gear when there is no water and the communication that it will not be there for at least a week. The only water in the area came through the local police department and to Seth and Jodie’s excitement when we paid for a water truck to deliver it turned out to be a red police fire truck with a full tank of water for our tanks and then some for the school. A second load was brought to the school for drinking water and in the meantime at the school, the children haul water from the lake for showers and toilets while even our bath water is re used for flushing. Yes, you are all welcome for a visit…
As far as the school goes I guess I’ll start with the most recent highlight at the school. We were honoured to host the national volleyball championship tournament at our school for the second year in a row and to participate in it as well just this past weekend. It was remarkable to see how excellent some of these teams were! Considering that this country is extremely focused on football (soccer) it was great to hear that in some parts of the country volleyball is actually ‘the’ sport and these teams work hard and excel! Our girls took second place! And sadly our boys were beat out in the semis. Our junior boys came in second and our junior girls came in third. It was kind of fun for me to be interviewed for the television broadcast and then get phone calls in the evening from people excited to see me on TV. Unfortunately we don’t have a TV so missed it! It was a great day all in all.
Our organization was also a finalist for the Tumaini Awards(Swahili for hope)in Uganda that look at NGO’s that are involved in helping Ugandan children. One of the categories was NGO’s involved in Education and yes you guessed, the African Children’s Choir was voted the top NGO doing education work. Later the judges said that if there was an overall NGO category we would have been it! Yes, some satisfaction to see the hard work continue to bear fruit and be recognized and yet most importantly glory to God!
Yes…. Looking back…. Having moved out into the country on the lake has been a dream come true for the school and I’ve been so privileged to be here during this time. The years we spent smack dab in the city were not the most fun. The fact that I walk to school is incredibly amazing considering the long dangerous driving I’d been doing for 5 years. God has been to protect me and all those around me anytime I drove!
And this year has been very encouraging in the aspect of the teamwork displayed by the staff. They seem to be finding a good groove and are mostly all pulling in the same direction with passion for the students and for excellence! As the principal that is extremely encouraging!
And the students are displaying a much improved level of good behaviour. I remember saying so many times to Sarah when we were there in the city, ‘If these kids (especially the boys!) just had more space we would not be dealing with so many issues of conflict and frustration from them.’ They were always well provided for but the space they have now is a really ‘feel good’ space and has been such an advantage in this area! It has been great to see that we deal with much fewer cases of anger, fighting, and bickering than we used to. And I believe the well trained staff have so much to do with this. I am so thankful!
My big challenge this year has been the soaring inflation rates. Please keep this in your prayers as we struggle to keep the school running to an acceptable standard under great financial pressure. I know this is a global concern right now so it almost seems silly to ask for prayer about it. But it’s a very real concern for our school and our staff and their families, as I believe I’ve mentioned earlier this year. You can pray for good health for everyone… students, staff, staff families, and ourselves. The added financial strain of sicknesses, whether minor or major, would be wonderful to avoid! God has provided for the school this year in many unexpected ways and some of you have been His provision. I thank you for that and more importantly I thank Him. I know the school and these students and staff are more important to Him than they are to me and I am blessed to see how He cares for them.
That’s all I have for this month. Let me close with a picture of two of my biggest supporters in my office enjoying a treat from dad. I hope this letter finds you all well and enjoying the summer! We look forward to our time home this winter!
Take care!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Adventures With Sarah!

I think it’s been two months since I’ve written… more? Maybe. Our move to a village-ish road just minutes walking from the school, (fabulous for Mark and all of us) hasn’t felt like a village move at all. We’ve been so busy that the adjustment has been very easy, considering that isolation was a small fear for me out here. But, indeed, no problem! God is good!
I’m gonna leave most of the writing to the kids because they’re so much fun and capture my life pretty well too (whatever makes them happy usually makes me happy… whatever they’re having trouble with usually bothers me too… so on and so forth).
Just one quick blurb of interest…. In November this year, Lord willing, our family will become a party of five! We made it through the first trimester (I say ‘we’ because all are impacted when mom feels gross, exhausted and grumpy). We know very little except all is well and we will have this little one in Canada as we have our other two. The only difference will be that we will not travel around this time. Our last baby delivery/passport obtaining/multi thousand dollar trip around North America fried me for good. I vowed to Mark and myself that I would never do it again with a brand new baby and I’m sticking to it! We will fly to Vancouver and plan to stay in the Abbotsford area somehow and not travel from there. I feel lots of remorse not to see so many of you but then I think of the reality and I know this decision is absolutely necessary! We’ll keep you posted as things develop! We appreciate your prayers for good health and development for the baby and a safe pregnancy. Thanks! Lots of love! Sarah

Adventures With Jodie...

I love living in Africa! It’s ‘spring’ all the time! I swim… I play outside in my underwear… I ride my boda boda (three wheel bike) every day… I help Seth plant stuff and we pour gallons of water on leafs that we plant and soon they will be trees!....I play with my cats every day (they catch rats so the rats don’t come in our house)…and I love to cook with mom. My favourite thing to make is soup and I put in all the vegetables and the meat. I even get to help pour in the flavour stuff. When we’re not cooking real food then we’re making play dough food and putting it in a drawer that is our play oven.
My brother is my best friend. I love to play with him most of anything. Sometimes he tries to boss me and tell me how to do everything but that doesn’t work with me. I tell him no way. Then if he keeps trying to boss me then I start crying and someone comes and tells him to stop bossing. So I have a trick…. Sometimes when I want to be the boss then I start crying too and people are supposed to think that he was trying to boss me. But usually that doesn’t work. I guess that’s not a good idea.
Guess what? I’m going to be a big sister! Mom’s tummy is getting a little chubby and sometimes I pat the baby. And sometimes Seth is too rough with mom and I shake my finger in his face and tell him very sternly, ‘Don’t squish the baby!’ I will be a very good helper with the baby because I have my own baby Kira that I got for my birthday when I was two and I take very good care of her.
I like to pick my own clothes. I do not like pretty things at all! If someone says it is pretty I don’t want to wear it. And I also decide for myself if I think something is pretty. Then I tell mom I don’t like it. I want to be handsome like Seth. I like comfy boy clothes and if mom or dad tells me I look handsome then I’m happy because I just want to be like Seth. Sometimes mom says I don’t get to decide what I’m going to wear and she picks and then I have a hard time with my attitude for a few minutes. Then I forget and start playing.
I better go. I have lots of playing to do. Bye bye. Jodie

Adventures With Seth...

I am such a big boy now. I turned four! Soon I will be five and ready for school. I keep telling dad that I want to be big like him and that one day I will be a dad too. There is so much to tell but two exciting things that has happened recently is that a team from dad’s old school came to our house to stay for a while and I got to go with dad on a safari with them. Us guys went and Jodie stayed home with mom… It was a long trip and we even stayed a night and saw lots of animals. Wild ones like giraffes, water buffalos, elephants, hippopotamuses, crocodiles, baboons and many other cool things. Then not too long after we got back dad had some time off from school and we built a ladder for Jodie and my bunk bed. We used lots of tools so I had my tool belt from grandpa Mike on. The ladder works great and now even Jodie can come for a visit on my top bunk. Until next time see you later and before you know it I will be turning five and also have a new little baby sister or brother.
Quote of the month: While driving by a row of electric poles along the side of the road Seth says: ‘Is that a clothes line for God?’

Adventures With Mark...

In many ways it seems like we have been gone for a while already from North America and yet it seems like just yesterday that Uncle John dropped us at the airport with our 16 bags and carry ons. It has been very crazy since we have returned with school very busy and lots to catch up on. We had a team from my old school in Abbotsford, MEI with 12 fabulous students some of whom were my former students. That was very fun and rewarding to see these young people most of whom I had not seen since grade six. It was great to see these young adults come alongside the students here in Uganda and bless them with love and different activities. Yes, I would admit that as an educator it is the biggest reason we do what we do or perhaps I should say that it is the biggest reason I do what I do. To see lives changed and that zeal for life and helping others that young people bring is so exciting. Seeing and working with young people from Canada and Uganda has also helped me focus on my own little family as they continue to grow up. I am trying hard and enjoying every minute spent with Seth and Jodie. God has blessed me with two, soon to be three great kids and fantastic students at our school and young adults from MEI that I can be proud of. Continue to make a difference wherever you are placed…

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Adventures With The Williams Four!

Wow, what a busy but good two months we have had back in North America’s winter wonderland.
Our winter fun began with a bang as we landed in Vancouver on the 22nd of November to be greeted by the coldest weekend for that time in November in the past 55 years. Yes we all had a severe shock but thanks to my buddy John and his nice warm pick up service from the airport in his silver bullet Dodge Ram we managed.
After some unpacking and repacking we zoomed off on a night flight a few days later to Minnesota. Some of the many highlights included time with mom and dad Carpenter where Seth got his tool set and put it into action to build a bird feeder with grandpa Mike. A snow storm added to our fun as tunnels where built with Uncle Kenny and a big mound of snow was used as a slide with cousin Alaina. A highlight for Mark was taking the kids skating for the first time. The rink was empty except for us as it was a school day and no one around. Then one of Mark’s dreams came true…he was given permission to drive the zomboni around the rink! He of course put the kids on too and then went too far by singing Oh Canada at the top of his lungs in the heart of MN, USA while cruising around the rink. He will never forget it! Thank you Josh for making that happen! What a memory!
As a family we also enjoyed catching up with the Carpenter side of the family and our trip to the center of MN – International Falls. Seth even remembered Grandpa Bob and Grandma Dori’s house from two years ago when Jodie was born. He also created some new memories sledding with his big cousin Mason and wishes he could join him at McDonalds for another fun meal. Everyday Seth and Jodie checked on Smokey the Bear to make sure he was not sleeping. We miss you Grandma Dori & Grandpa Bob!
After a cold and snowy visit in the US we had some time chasing more snow around the Canadian prairies. A highlight was Christmas with mom and dad Williams and enjoying all the trimmings and partaking of too much good food. Grandpa enjoyed making ice cream with Seth and Jodie who sampled the homemade treat a few times before it made its way to the table. Not sure if Seth and Jodie enjoyed it more than grandpa. Jodie’s highlight was some New Years time in Canmore with her good cousin Ellie of two years. They are only two weeks apart in age and they were in their own little world as cousins.
Five days were spent together with the entire Dan and Winnie Williams tribe in Canmore – 8 adults and nine grandchildren to be exact. Sarah and Mark enjoyed a quick visit over New Years with good friends from the old Lethbridge gang who journeyed from different parts of Alberta. As fate would have it once a trip to Saskatchewan was under way the surprising warm weather stopped for another burst of Canadian winter. Edson Baptist Church, good friends and family were visited along the way with 92 year old grandma Clara being the highlight. She is still going strong and prays for us twice a day. Please keep the prayers coming grandma! Mark also enjoyed a few hockey games watching his Calgary Flames live at the Saddledome – thanks Shannon W. and Jeff for making this happen. After a trek across the mountains toward Vancouver and a good visit with relatives in Kelowna on the way we are ready for the final leg of our trip. We hope to see many more friends and family in the Lower Mainland.

Overall it has been a very busy and special time. Sometimes it has been challenging for us as a family and especially for Seth and Jodie. They’ve been sick a few times and their schedules have been topsy turvy. But what an amazing trip! People have opened up their homes, let us use cars and helped fill up our tummies and gas tanks from one place to another. The support of us personally and also our work with the African Children’s Choir has been amazing. We only hope that one day we can return the blessing of hospitality and generosity to so many people who have shown God’s love to us. Thanks Phil and Shannon for letting use your car along the Canadian part of this journey. If it were possible we would love to return the love to all of you when you visit us in Uganda. But we know we can ‘pay it forward’ by being generous with those we know in Uganda and blessing those God gives us. Thank you all for being the part of the Body of Christ that He has assigned you to be. We’ve had precious times of fellowship and encouragement with so many of you as we realize we face such similar things and serve the same great God!