Sorry for faithful followers, this last period of time has been quite hectic as they say here. We feel like we have not stopped at all in the last week but lots of that has been good. For those that don't know a container was sent from Australia in September last year. It arrived in Jinja in late December this year and it has taken the time since then to have the duties waived and the container to become available to us. It finally arrived at the village Friday a week ago. Unfortunately, customs wanted to check it so we had to wait until Monday before opening it. There was a lot of self control used as we actually had the key to the container and there were no seals! We were good.
Monday the container was finally able to be opened. We had given thanks on the evening of Friday. It was not until Wednesday evening that we were able to celebrate properly as a village and give thanks to God for His provision. So, what does the container mean and why all the fuss? I have been surprised by how much it has meant to me in quite a few different ways.It was fairly full - fortunately the custom agent had to go elsewhere or it could have been a very long process going through every item!
In opening the container I have been reminded of God's goodness and the faithfulness of people. So many of the things in the container relate to people I know and love. A large part of the space was filled with wood and other equipment that came from a house that was being demolished. The deal was that if the house was demolished then anything could be taken. A group of faithful people spent a lot of time, energy and effort in demolishing the house so that things could come here to Uganda. Some of this is wood, bathroom fittings and cupboard doors. These will be used for the roofs of the next two houses and to furnish the guest house that is being built. When I think of this 'stuff' I think of people that gave their time that had not been here and may never be able to come. Theirs was a gift without accolades, without the reward of seeing the children who benefit but one that was a true gift and sacrifice. The guest house might sound not very important but it is hoped that this will significantly help the sustainability of the village. It will provide good accomodation for visitors, teams and others and thus make money.
A large part of the contents was clothing donated by an Australian company. It is good quality but did not meet the requirements of the customers for some reason and so we were given it. This is such a blessing already and will continue to be for people here. There are clothes that will meet some of the needs of the children in the village, lots of the clothes are larger than the children. However, there are so many people in the community in need. I sometimes have to pinch myself to realise that I am living in a place where people often have only one set of clothes. Many people we have met and know, get cold because of not having a jumper. The more we are here the more we realise what a blessing these clothes will be. We continue to keep the connection with the families of the children and so this week while doing so, the children were able to choose a person to bless and take a piece of clothing. This is so good for us, it means that the children get a chance to give, and they love it. We look forward to so many opportunities to bless others. A friend was travelling to a remote village and was able to take a box of clothes. A little boy I know had only two Tshirts to wear both at least 5 sizes too big and with huge tears in them, I was able to give him a new Tshirt - his smile was priceless, probably the first time he had been given a new Tshirt. I was saying to a little girl with not very much how she would get something, she said "Muzungus are good people". I am not sure that all white people are good but the gift of these clothes is from good people.
The picture shows one of the first recipients of clothing.
Then, there is the box of beading materials that I open. I knew about it and who it was from but had not known the contents. It is an extravagant gift from someone to this place. It is a great collection of materials that will help set up a number of people in a business I think. I am praying for the right person and the right teacher but know that God has a purpose for it. As a person who loves craft I love the act of giving this.
Or, the sewing machines. We are so looking forward to using these not only for the mothers in the village and the children but hopefully others. One of these machines I think so fondly of. It was the machine of a friend of mine's mother who died a couple of years ago. The machine is in great condition according to the person we took it to in Australia, much to his surprise - he expected a donation to be in poor condition. This machine has lovingly sewed clothes for family and friends and now will be used for a purpose that would have been close to the heart of the mother. Other machines and other things were found by a person desperate to find things of use for the village and community here. Time and effort and resources to equip people here.
Then, there are big things like a water tank which will mean that there will be more water when the water is off and other times that there won't be the cost of water. A generous donation that makes the using free water possible, making a big difference to the sustainability of the village.
Of course the children like best the bicycles and the slide. These are things so commonplace in Australia but not here. Learning to ride a bicycle is an essential skill but one that is hard to obtain because so few people have bicycles. I know that there was a bicycle that went in by mistake and so one young man doesn't have his bicycle anymore. Let me assure you that when they are allowed out of the shed they are on the move all the time. Bicycles work well for children of some ages but a slide works for the little ones as well. They didn't know exactly what to do at first but now... So much fun to be had. One child when interviewed said they weren't sure about the village until the swings came, then she was happy. It is so lovely for these children to have swings, slides and bicycles.
Then, there was tools and equipment that had been purchased by money given. These of course are important, make a huge difference in the building of the village but are less significant to me. Also, there were second hand tools. There are lots of things that can be purchased in Uganda but good tools tend to be limited and so this are priceless... The older ones will also enable the boys (and girls if they want to) to learn about how to use tools, something very close to Ron's heart.
We had the opportunity to put things into the container that we thought we would need here. Seems we have managed for 5 months without needing them!!! Some of these things are nice to have, a saucepan and a frying pan that have solid bases. A bread machine that makes bread - though twice the power has gone off during the process and so the loaves have not been up to our usual standard. Books to read - where is the time? Knitting wool - not really sent for me but I can't wait to teach the children to knit. A doona - tried it for a couple of nights but definitely too hot for Ron. Another set of towels - great, now it doesn't matter if it rains and the towels don't get dry when I wash them. Gifts and stationary - so nice to have things to give away. Containers for food etc - when we move to the guest house I am soooo looking forward to filling them. Strange to say - we could have managed without it but are thankful for the extra things. On a personal note there was Christmas presents from Anita and that was lovely to receive. The children love the earrings and the lovely smell of Aunt Anne.
So, what am I really trying to say in this blog post. Thank you, thank you to those whose gifts I have mentioned and to those who gave things I have not mentioned. We spent time praying a blessing for you the other night and in doing so I felt quite emotional. We get to give out things, to see people's faces when they receive lovely gifts and can use good equipment. However, it is people that cared enough to give their time, their goods and their money that made this possible. Even, the process of packing the container was very time and energy consuming. Thank you because you have a part in building up Uganda, spreading God's love in a practical way in this part of the world and of giving hope to these people. Our prayer is now that all the goods will be used faithfully and well especially where we have responsiblity to distribute such as the clothing.