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!