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