Sunday, July 21, 2013

Forgive me in the delay for writing.
Internet has been difficult to come by during this trip to Uganda. A little over a week ago, I picked up my husband from the Entebbe airport for his first (with more to come) trip to Uganda. It has been interesting to see Uganda again through a fresh pair or eyes; from someone I highly respect. To notice the children shouting “muzu gut” (white person) again, to be in awe that women can carry that much weight on their heads, that most people in the village don’t have shoes, etc. After being here for so long, things become “normal” to you and you fail to notice them anymore. My husband has listened to my stories, experiences of Uganda for the past 3 years. For him to come means everything to me. He worked hard at learning the language of the Teso, spent countless hours building relationships with those close to my heart, had a lot of patience while traveling on long, hot, uncomfortable bus/taxi rides, built relationships with students, and all the while, be a servant to me. I could not have prayed for a better husband. It feels complete that he finally understands.
We were able to get the Administrator’s Building built (although we still need windows if anyone is interested in donating the money for that, about $200), provide school fees (students were chosen by participating in a Composition Competition), a free reading program/class, medical care, food, clothes, and much more. The people of Kapelebyong took care of our hearts and have once again, left me, and now my husband, a sense of commitment and to help this village as it continues to grow for the better. We return back to the states on Tuesday night with more goals and desires than ever before in our marriage. Thank you for all of your support to help the orphan, widow and slave. The peoples’ thankfulness here is relentless. We are blessed by that. “…whatever is demanded by truth, by justice, by mercy, or by love must surely be taken to be willed by God.” Thomas Merton

Monday, July 1, 2013

And so it begins....

The past two weeks have been full in the village of Kapelebyong. Laughter, loss of patience, hugging, sweating, babies born, grandmothers passing away,
sunburns, misquote bites, some other bug bites, curriculum planning, walking, walking, walking, talking, talking, praying, planning, agreeing, changing of contracts and planning again. Drum roll please……we are building an Administrative Building Block for John Eluru Memorial Secondary School. The school, built by Hands in Service in 2005 and the school were I’ve continued to volunteer my time with over the past 6 years, is growing in numbers of students and teachers (this is a good thing for the school). This means, the campus needs to expand. Uganda has interesting laws. One of them is: Unless a school has a “center number”, students cannot take their end of term exams on the school premises. They must pay a neighboring school (the closest being 20 miles away) over one million shillings (about $500) so that their students may sit for exams there and be recognized as students by the Ugandan government. A school does not receive a “center number” unless they have an Administrative Building. Therefore, after many long meetings, it was decided upon that the most needed items at the school were an Administrative Building, a scanner copier, and chalkboard erasers. (Being that the school is 2 hours from a somewhat sizable town, chalkboard erasers are hard to come by and making copies is a weekend event.) The school has come a long way since 2005 and it’s amazing to witness the locals taking responsibility and pouring their lives into it. Still, there are families that do not care about Education (especially educating their daughters) and the poverty cycle continues. A fence was placed around the school property by Hands in Service and corn is growing everywhere within the compound which will help the school and community. World Bank is donating a chemistry lab and the building process for that started in December and has come to a halt. The teachers and locals are saying that the contractor hired for the job is corrupt and has used all the money to build the lab on things other than the lab. The contractor extended his contract until September. Locals say it’s so he can find money for his debt. The contractor is not from the area and of course, is not trusted. As far as the Admin Building goes, we a using a local, well known, well educated contractor that we’ve used in the past. Money is handled by me and contracts are being signed Monday. Here’s hoping!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Different, but the same.

“One of the first things that strikes us about the men and women in Scripture is that they were disappointingly non-heroic. We do not find splendid moral examples. We do not find impeccably virtuous models. That always comes as a shock to newcomers to Scripture. Abraham lied; Jacob cheated; Moses murdered and complained; David committed adultery; Peter blasphemed. We read on and being to suspect intention: a consistent strategy to demonstrate that the great, significant figures in the life of faith were fashioned from the same clay as the rest of us.” –Eugene Peterson; “Running with the Horses” From my observation, those living in intense poverty seem to be stronger then the majority living in the Western world in more ways than one. For example, carrying a 20 gallon jerry can filled with water while walking with no shoes in 100 degree heat for 5 miles is close to impossible for me. Many living in poverty have more resilience when faced with extremely difficult circumstances, more faith in God, more hope, and stronger wills. Over the past seven years of committing to Uganda, I’ve also realized the conditions of their hearts are no different than the rest of us. To name a few: Difficulties with relationships, judgment of others, assumptions, lying, cheating, falling in love, family issues, gossip, worry and anxiety, selfishness, anger, …all things that come with the human heart. We have a lot of differences, but really, we’re a lot alike.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Uganda: Take 6

I'm going back. With my husband. It's been three years since I've returned to the land I fell in love with at the age of 22. Now at the age of 30, I'm returning with my husband (a dream of mine), with ambition and hope. There are many goals we hope to attain. In partner with Hands in Service, here are our main goals: to provide quality curriculum for John Eluru Memorial Secondary School; finish the building project of a fence around the school so that the school can cultivate and provide food for itself and create a marketable income; add to the teacher's living quarters; provide quality beds for Kapelebyong Medical Clinic; conduct a 5 week reading program with both middle and high school students; spread the gospel of grace to teachers and students. Six days and counting. I fly off June 15th!!!

Friday, July 30, 2010

True Poverty is the Lack of Love

There's a woman named Jesca who lives in my compound. She's 28 and University educated. She is a social worker at the local sub-county.
I came home from school one day earlier last week and she asked me to come with her on some field work. On the way over she explained to me the situation of the 3 children we were going to visit. Their mother had many children with different fathers (None of the fathers stuck around). The mother died two years ago. Some fathers came to get their own children leaving 3 boys behind; an 8 year old (Simon Peter), a 10 year old (Robert) and a 14 year old (Simon Peter)....yes she gave two of her children the same name. These children had no where to go and the mother's family did not want them because of a dispute in the past with the mother. They were starving, eating plants. They wandered into Kapelebyong about a year ago and took shelter in an abandonded hut (since peace, people have been moving back to their villages). They became beggers of their neighbors until the 14 year old starting making charcol and selling it. (Of course I now buy my charcol from him).
As Jesca and I continued walking farther and farther into the bush, the grass was growing taller than me and grasshoppers were scattering everywhere.
We finally arrived and I saw the condition of their hut....about collapse. All three were very shy and quiet. The youngest, Peter, spoke for all of them with a small voice.
Their clothes were so dirty (no soap) and barely covered their "special areas". In fact, the two young ones were sent home from school because their clothes were so dirty and they hadn't bathed. Robert wouldn't speak at all or even smile. I wondered if he was sick (later to find out he has typhoid which we're treating now). I asked them to come over for dinner the next night to talk with me...and I also took their school clothes to wash them...I mean, they are my students (Both P.1, 1st grade).
The next night Simon (14years) was staring out the door at the rain in Esther's room as we were cooking; quiet, maybe nervous. Jesca came in and he began their story speaking in Ateso.
How do we begin to provide for children in this extreme condition; no orphanges around,no NGO's.
Ojada, Esther's 10 year old son who's been fighting cancer the past 2 years, walked in with one of his shirts and gave it to the boys; Dacus gave them washing soap; Scovia gave them another shirt. I almost started crying watching the spirit of giving. The poor giving to the poor.
I told the headmaster of the primary school of their situation. Schools get more aide the more orphans they have.
I'm going to provide a goat for them. Goats produce quickly and can provide a lot for them.
Everyday life in Uganda.....
Scovia's grandmother got her a bag for school but not one for Ojada (she's not the most loving woman). Ojada saw it and said (at 10 years old), "I don't mind if she didn't get one for me, my God will provide for me."
"It is not true that God wants to teach us something in our trials: through every cloud He brings, He wants us to unclean something. His purpose in the cloud is to simplify our belief until our relationship to Him is exactly that of a child..." -Oswald

Sunday, July 18, 2010

When will we learn?

I’d be lying if I said I had no fear. I’ve become so comfortable in this place that I forget it’s a war zone. A gun shot here, death of a Ugandan neighbor there; but when there is a death (a murder) of an American you know, one your age at that, it hits closer to home….it becomes real again. It strikes the fear chord in your brain; the one you try to tell, “Perfect faith casts out all fear”…but who has perfect faith?; especially when fear overwhelms.
“When I speak of fear, I mean merely animal fear, the recoil of the organism from its destruction; the smothery feeling; the sense of being a rat in a trap.” –C.S. Lewis
As the bombs struck in Kampala one week ago, killing over 80 Ugandans (educated ones; but should that matter?) and Nate Henn, it reminded me that Uganda is a time bomb; a volcano waiting to erupt. War ends, and then it begins again. Will we ever learn? Those who pick up the sword die by the sword….but so do those who don’t pick up the sword. Why do swords have to exist at all?
All I can do is pray in weakness. Prayers flow from my lips that I don’t even know how to translate. I pray for those trapped in the lies that they are slaves to; lies that killing others and yourself will give you blessings from Allah. All I can do is love my enemies; to wake and thank God for the breath He is giving me. Because no matter what happens here, it is under the will of God…and God forbid I be anywhere else.
“Knowing that the Good Shepherd is watching and protecting me gives me courage to go through the valley of the shadow of death. Even in the presence of my enemies, I can enjoy a rich feast because God is with me. Faith in God leads to can-do boldness and daring action.” –Paul Miller
Pray for the families that have lost their loved ones; for their hearts to turn away from anger towards forgiveness. God, show us how to forgive! Pray for their deep sorrow; knowing they can no longer kiss the lips of their loved ones…can no longer hear their laughter.
"Islam is a religion of peace and does not condone violence. Those who killed people in the Sunday bombings should be condemned. It is wicked to kill innocent people and Islam does not allow suicide bombing." Sheikh Yahya Ssegganga, leader of Old Kampala Mosque
"Al Shabaab made a big mistake. This is all out war!" President Museveni
"How long, how long must we sing this song....Sunday, Bloody Sunday"-Bono

Friday, July 2, 2010

Sounds in the night...

Where do I being? If you and I were sitting together one on one, I would tell you so many stories…but as for now…I must condense.

Almost everyone in my village has typhoid….and the Ugandan government could care less about cleaning the water. Even the teachers, doctors and nurses have it. Baby Amelia has been fighting it all week.

A local soldier was shot and killed by a Karamajong rebel last weekend about 20km away from me. His family lives next to me. I stood there watching his mother, wife and brother wailing, convulsing, and crying thick tears for the loss of their loved one. I couldn’t help but cry with them…watching as his new born baby screamed. It’s rare to watch a grown Ugandan man cry. One of his brothers is a student of mine. My male students always come of as so strong….but he just laid there on the ground in tears. That was just the second day of me being back in Kapelebyong.

I’ve been working in the hospital assisting in births. I stood next to a woman who was in labor for two days…only to watch her give birth to a still born. The mother was bleeding internally. The baby laid there lifeless…a really human baby…with no movement….a baby girl. The mother just laid there crying…9 months…and nothing. In this culture, the family was ashamed of the mother and left her at the hospital by herself disappointed in her…as if she had control of the situation. I just sat next to her, crying with her and praying over her…lucky enough, she is still alive and recovering.

There’s an orchestra that performs in the village at night. The mosquitoes humming outside my net preying for dinner, crickets and their violins in my walls, the frogs boasting their deep croaks; then the roosters start crowing around 4 a.m….far before sunrise (stupid birds), the calming coo of the white dove, the cows grunting as the herder awakes them to graze…the babies crying because their mother’s have awoken them to a cold bath…locals greeting, “yoga a to porauch” (good morning). In 2007, the sound of the rooster at 4 a.m. was a calming sound to me. Back then there would be gun shots all through the night. There was even a man shot and killed outside my door. So I’d lay there awake with my heart in my throat fearing being killed. So the roosters crowing meant dawn was near…which meant safety….which meant a few more hours of sleep….