Monday, October 15, 2012

Finishing off at this stage

Without this man, Robert - none of it would have been possible. This is the view from the buildings.
Well, we are now homeward bound, or should I say traveling to our other home. It has been a hectic four weeks but one that just reinforces our sense of God's call on our lives to Uganda. It amazed us how quickly we were able to fit back in, and our only regret is not having had time to spent with people and a few people we did not catch up with.
Ron with some of the village children

Sewing kits from Sew Blessed for the children involved in learning to sew.
So, where are we up to? It was a frantic last few days in some ways and we were able to interview a number of other prospective teachers. We always know that you cannot anticipate what will occur
Florence the new bursar - our first employee
on any day and this was especially true in our last days. A great example is when I was waiting for the sign writer to come and had to answer the gate about four times, each time to someone I did not know but they wanted to see me. This included a prospective teacher! We had been feeling it would be good to have a male teacher and so who should come but one who seems like he might be a goer! This was Wednesday, our last full day. It started with another interview with someone who exuded love for children, love of God and passion for teaching. We have been unable to catch her referee yet so the appointment is not confirmed. We also interviewed another lady from our church who we thought would be ideal but
New bathroom - just needed cleaning!
discovered that personality wise she would be terrific, great faith but her giftings were definitely in a different area, no worries we believe the interview was meant to be. As mentioned the  sign writer came and hopefully the sign outside the school will be up in the next day or two. We confirmed the appointment of the bursar, she has the phone with the school number. So, we have two teachers we think will be good and a bursar, with other  possible teachers and the registration process under way. We met
The lounge room from the kitchen before moving in.
the inspector of schools and for the sake of registration and starting point it looks like I will be the head teacher! Application forms have been printed and are given to the appropriate people for distribution. On Wednesday we moved into our new house! Yes, we made it and it is just so lovely. We awoke and looked out through the sitting room on the beautiful view. We had lovely cold showers, and have all the stuff ready. There are still a few things, the solar hot water is ready to go but needs to have something built for it to go on, a little bit of floor needs the Lino tiles put down, the solar electricity needs to be fixed, case of putting the power to the wrong place, no problem just lack of experience. We will have other power but it had not been connected yet, the electrical surveyor was meant to come Wednesday but there was no sign of him before we left, never mind. 
The school buildings are moving well with the walls all up to ring beam, the latest photo I have is from Tuesday. Tuesday we had the opportunity to celebrate with the workers on the building. I love the fact that things can be organized quickly.
Where the school building was up to on Tuesday
We had always intended to have a dinner on Tuesday but I had not done what was needed, ringing Lucy as it turned out! So, Tuesday I got on to her, she came on boda, took some money, bought the supplies and the cooked a fantastic dinner of rice, chips, sensational pork and chicken and cabbage on two
Our wonderful workers enjoying a great dinner and new work uniform
charcoal stoves and a fire for what ended up being 18 people, because of course there are always a few extras. It was a lovely time and we we able to give them all a new fluoro top. This time orange in keeping with the school colours! Time of sharing faith and vision with them and appreciating the work and each other. 
Wednesday night in order not to disrupt the children too much with school and the little ones, as well as the fact that we will be back soon, we avoided the big farewell. Instead we had dinner at home and then took ice creams down to the village to share with the children and to have devotions with them. Of course it was lovely, we so treasure these times with the children and really do love them so much. It was lovely too that Pastor George from Abundant alive came and shared with us. We were given lots of precious notes for us and some for others to take home. So nice that it is not long until we see them again with our tickets booked for 28th December.
Books bought with money donated by Year 7 and 8 students at MECS
The new sports uniform, a skirt for girls with shorts attached underneath!
 Sorry, for delay in postings we have been busy being parents, children and grandparents as well as friends and today teachers, since we got back.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Time is running out!

We now only have four working days! Oh dear, it seems that we have been doing our best to get through everything but still time is not there. It has been a good week with lots happening and some very good things as well as the usual trickier situations, nevermind. So, since I last chatted what have we been up to? There has been a trip to Kampala, meeting with a women's group, another different one, writing up the spreadsheet, trying to organize electricity, building stuff etc. now for some details.
Some things are just not meant to be easy. We decided it would be easier to put the electricity in my, Anne's, name. So, I was meant to meet the electrician in town about 11 o'clock in the morning.Well, after doing some other things I was ready to go, but he came to us. We needed more than the letter from the LC1 it seemed, so away we went. First to find the LC1, managed to go through the little village and nearly got to the place and we were able to ask for directions. But, of course no one home! Thankfully, the phone number was on some documentation and we were able to make contact and she was able to come and meet us. After sharing condolences since her husband had only recently died we were able to move on. Off to the school to find the neighbor because the power was to come from her pole. However, despite seeing her the in the morning earlier she had moved to her other place of work. We managed to get in there, sign in with the visitors book, negotiate our way around and found her. Then, off to the electricity office. Oh, you can't do that in the name of the school, it is not registered(pity you cannot get registered until you have the classrooms set up!) So, new form needed, 50000 shillings, just to change the name on the form! However, the land is in the name of Hopebuilders Uganda, so where is the stamp! Thoughts of a desperate rush home before the office closed for lunch but it was averted as it seemed we would not be able to get the stamp. Drop the electrician at his place of work, and back into town. Even managed to find the welder to pick up a window, got the stamps for the school and home again! Yes, I was exhausted! Ron just smiled, he knew the frustrations from last year! However, I now feel an accomplished Ugandan driver (maybe).

On Wednesday we made a trip to Kampala mainly to meet with the maths consultant for the new secondary curriculum. However, prior to leaving Robert felt it would be good for Ron to give it a go with some officials in town. So, before our 8 o'clock departure I had typed and printed a couple of letters. Think I got the better end of the deal as Ron had to do the visiting of the people. His visit proved interesting! One, he was told the person was in a meeting, and they didn't know when he would be back, what a surprise! The other, after being fobbed off, he was sent to someone who in his words finally listened. This person listened to the whole story of the donations and that people from Australia were being asked to pay to give stuff to people here. I think it was such a relieve that someone would finally listen. Unfortunately, despite being told he would investigate the revaluing of the container to date we have not heard anything. However, where there is life there is hope and so we pray for its release. I had a very different time. It was great to meet with this lady and to talk about the proposed curriculum changes. The reforms for the Ugandan secondary curriculum is a huge amount of work and things are progressing. When I get a chance I look forward to working through the proposed scope and sequence and the ideas presented. I can see that there may well be a significant part I can play in this area and the experience from last year is very helpful as well as the years of textbook writing. So, it is lovely to see how God works in our lives putting different things in place. In Kampala we also got to do a little shopping for our new house, some electrical stuff and some essentials like vanilla beans to take home! I even managed to score a free coffee at a supermarket. The trip home was less than fun with some crazy drivers doing life threatening things, I am so grateful having Ron being such a safe and competent driver.
On the school front there has been some progress. We have interviewed a number of teachers at this stage and even have another one at 8 o'clock tomorrow morning! We are confident with the bursar and need to meet up with her again. The forms have had another mark of approval and we are nearly organized with the fee structure. Just a brochure and a sign for the front. As mentioned earlier we have the stamps. The sports uniform just needs a Tshirt, so I have the name of places to go for that. We have a tailor to make the uniforms so we can get her into action soon making standard sizes so that there is not the pressure at the start of the year. All this assuming of course that students are on their way!
I have spent time going through all the expenditures. We are so fortunate to have our friend Robert K doing such a great job with the building, he has kept great records of all the monies and today we converted all of it into a spreadsheet, now I know why I am not an accountant, it is so much more fun to talk to a class! Now, I just need to put them all together and do all the calculations. So far so good though as according to the budget we are doing well.
Ron too has been busy, he has done some time at the building site and the new house build
Receiving a gift, the lady on the right was my interpreter
ing wonderful kitchen benches and supervising the tiling of the bathroom. In addition he has organized the solar system for the house with solar hot water and solar back up power. The house is presently being painted, there is the solar to be installed, some plumbing to be done and the kitchen bench to be tiled and sink installed. We should be able to move our stuff in there before we go!
Other things that we have had the privilege of doing are many but one significant one for me was talking to a group if ladies in Njeru yesterday. It was a bit wet and so they were slower coming but this lovely
group of ladies meets each Thursday and is called Women of Hope and they are really taking on that name. A interesting mix of ladies with a few older, lots mid twenties to mid thirties, some HIV positive, maybe half, and some Christian and some Muslim.

Great to be able to share the love of God with them. It was fun to be there that day as on the first Thursday of the month they exchange gifts. People had taken great care to wrap up a mug or plate or something else and then a name is drawn and gifts are given. Unfortunately I did not know and so gave only a hug with
The ladies group
a present promised. The excitement was so good,the women in their poverty shared gifts, so special and also so fun. Screams of joy and happiness were shared. Ron arrived back having been doing some solar shopping and they insisted on being introduced,they even sang and danced for him! So much fun, love being shared despite what I know to be desperate circumstances, I look forward to visiting with them again. Interestingly my interpreter was a lovely Muslim lady.
Mama Florence excitingly receiving her quilt
Then this afternoon, thanks to the immense hard work of friends and people who are part of the Sew Blessed group out of our church in Australia, we with Anne-Marie were able to give out quilts to the children and mothers in the new houses. It was such a pleasure. The children knew that others in the village had quilts and starting from the littlest as she was handed her quilt she went to put it carefully on her bed. One young girl came to me about three times and
Sheer happiness
thanked me so much. She is a little older and one wonders whether she has ever had anything to call her own like that. The mothers too were so happy and obviously really appreciated them. It is a privilege to be the bearer of gifts for others and we do not take it for granted.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Life is full and fun

It is amazing to see the days fly by with so much filling our moments, hours and days. So many people we have not yet caught up with and yet so many we have been reacquainted with.  Since last writing it is hard to think of all the things that have happened. We are finalizing things on the house and looking forward to seeing it completed before we leave. It is a lovely house that we are sure will have been blessed times within. I suspect we have learnt a lot of lessons fromSuubi  House, not least having a good plumber!
It is hard to remember the details of the days as they blend together but we have been able to get the application form and requirements form ready. I will go over then tomorrow with the director of the preschool who knows about these things and is keen to be able to give them out. Registration day, returning of the forms is not until we get back here.  We have been able to find equipment left here and do some sorting out too, both for the school and the village. For those interested the quilts have not been given to the new houses so there will be photos coming in a couple of days of the giving of those. That will be exciting. The new sports uniform is looking good but since I did not give the tailor the white for the binding, we have a sample with gold. I have to source good tshirts (note to self to ask the preschool director). In fact there are so many notes to self but it is keeping me in line, since Ron is too busy to! I have been able to buy some readers for the the classes with money raised by Year 7 and 8s at MECS when they were doing Special Week about world issues. I have coved then contact and have also 'commissioned' one of the girls at the village to write a story and another friend's brothers who is an artist to come up with pictures, hopefully this will be the start of books from this area. I hope to find older people in the community to give us stories to make up readers, so that culture is maintained. It is so fun knowing so many people and being able to work hand in hand with them.
We need to visit some more schools to get more ideas so that we can plan the classroom furniture and it can be built while we are away. It is such a short time in some ways that we will be away and yet we are so looking forward to holding, cuddling and loving our grandchildren, and of course seeing our wonderful Aussie friends.
Yesterday was a nice day with a later start since we decided to go to the 10 o'clock service instead of the 8. Then into town for a lovely lunch. We unexpectedly saw some other Aussies at the cafe which might have been more of a surprise for them than us, bit interesting! We were disappointed that only one was interested in talking. We were able to look forward to what still needs to be done and also relax. This was good because of course on arrival home Ron had a call to collect some stuff, I had an unexpected visitor and needed to go and pray for a little boy. Please pray for Michael, he is a little boy with a tormented past and can be overcome spiritually to the point of wanting to die. It is so sad,and due to abuse and not being wanted by his father. We are praying for the love of God to impact him deeply and for him to be set free. Then, home to others visitors, then some more, the off to the village for our time there. I think no matter the stresses and strains of the week, it is so lovely to spend time with the children and then together to share in devotions, certainly we really look forward to it. Home again and the were celebrations happening for Blessing having her third birthday!
Today has been full as well. I spent time dealing with the receipts etc and preparing the talk more fully for the afternoon. Then, it was time to compose some letters with Robert K for the registration of the school, and the release of the container. Ron was busy chasing a window needing to have a size change and working on the benches for the kitchen. After a quick lunch he headed to do a bit more prior to visits to the local chair people. I headed off to Njeru and caught up with Judith who with her husband has a ministry there. I took her to a place where she meets with ladies. It was fun and strange to sit and listen for quite a lot of the time as they spoke together while waiting for more to come. Somehow the scene was special, situated under a big mango tree, ladies all sitting in the shade with a big oval nearby and ladies coming out from the other side and walking over, then others coming from other directions. Such an informal and yet organized get together. Sme of these things are so hard to write about because so much is in the atmosphere. It was great to share some thoughts with them, understand some of their pain and to hopefully show them God's love. There was probably about 60 ladies, nearly half of them HIV positive, most widows but of a large variety of ages including a week old baby! Many of these ladies are Muslim but looking for love and acceptance. Such a privilege and so humbling. I cannot possibly understand the difficulties of their lives and yet I get to talk to them. It was great to hear them talk too amongst themselves and so often forgiveness was mentioned (I even know this word but would not dare to spell). Then, we dropped a lady home to a place that has been donated to help the ministry by an elderly man. Then, Judith felt it wise to go a different way home,so I practiced my four wheel driving! The things I do here that I would never dream of doing in Australia! Home in time to go out again. Yes, a visit to the RDO, I think that is right. Anyway, he is the person who meets with the president when he is in town. With a car full we went to meet with him and present the letters to try to get the container released. It has been here since February and needs to be released without Hopebuilders needing to pay huge taxes as the goods we donated. Anyway, seems the president is not coming tomorrow as he is addressing the nation for the Jubilee of independence, so it will be the vice-president who will be asked. If that fails, the president is meant to be in town on Monday so it will be another try then! Maybe we could have a cup of tea with the president! We were invited after the meeting to go to the LC3s place anytime, just give him a ring! Life is so surreal. Tea at 8 after Ron dropped the workers home, then another trip out to deal with getting the electricity on at the new house and school. Home at last and now it is time for bed! Hope you know there is a responsibility if you have got this far through, since there are not even any pictures that you have top ray!

Friday, September 28, 2012

And still more...

It seems like yesterday I wrote but since it was about the weekend I know it was a number of days ago. Well, things are progressing. Hopefully for those of you that are interested I will be able to fill you in a little.

Our house is moving along very well. The bathroom is beginning to look like a bathroom with the tiler nearly finishing today. Then, there are windows and doors in, though there is not glass yet, but hey some houses never get glass! It is still secure. (Just in case you are reading this mum, yes we will get glass) the pillars out the front are beautifully decorated and most importantly the septic tank has been made. By the way, you would not believe the number of bricks that go into one of those!
New logo for the school.

With all the progress on the house there has been a little less movement on the school building but it is still growing and next week with all the workers working there I imagine it too will amaze us.
The school stuff! Well,the uniform is looking good, hopefully I will be able to put some photos in to show the samples modeled by the children at the village. I love the way things work out, you talk to one person and they give you leads to the next. We have found a good place to get the jumper and socks made as well. So if you are so inclined, imagine the addition of a bottle green jumper to the outfit with the wonderful logo embroidered on.
We have not been inundated with applicants for the teacher roles but are following up what might be a very good option but the people are some distance away. So, please pray. From what we have heard they seem ideal and it would be good for them as the only reason they live elsewhere is for work. There are some other options and we are hoping and praying for some more. The bursar position is looking good with referee being followed up.
The registration for the school is moving along. There has been some positive feedback from important people and we need to get some signatures for the next stage. We will endeavour to get a sign made next week for the school. The all important application form is looking good,which will set some peoples' minds at rest. Registration does not need to happen until we return but people need the application form and school requirement form. Both of which are now ready for checking by better eyes than ours. Next is an advertising brochure for churches.
We had a trip to Kampala on Thursday which was good. Of course, the actual drive is never great but it was as good as it gets with only one 'jam'. I was able to meet with the Director of Curriculum, which was really nice. Such an honor to be introduced as friend and colleague. A lot of work is being out into a totally revamped Ugandan curriculum. I was able to give him a set of textbooks with a teacher manual for one level as well. Donated by Pearson, thank you so much and graciously carried here by Natasha despite the added weight for their bags, thank you. He was totally delighted and took great pleasure in showing off his new library! The team lead from Ireland, working for Cambridge Education was also really pleased as they have had some difficulties getting some resources into the country. We were able to chat about many things and hopefully it was helpful. I was encouraged by him that systems struggle to be changed but nodes of change do make a significant difference and can bring about big change.The other purpose of our visit to the curriculum centre was to buy some curriculum documents for the school. Baale was able to come to the rescue as they are out of print, he gave me his own copies without question. We give out of our abundance, they give out of their limited resources. We do feel totally blessed.
Site plan for those interested, just a small part of the whole plan.
The week has been good. I love the way you never know what might happen each day. Oh, how neglectful of me. Ron had the massive job of drawing up the plans for the school and house using a simple drawing program. However, they turned out very impressively and seemed to satisfy the engineer. Nothing like that was needed for Suubi House where we are staying but it is necessary for the school. Hopefully I will be able to include the basic plan so you can see what is planned for.
Life continues to be unpredictable with power off and on some days. Fortunately, no long outages and generally water has been there (though we do have a tank to defer to). We enjoyed a fairly violent thunderstorm last night. We have plenty of visitors, including an unexpected job interview at 7.30 one morning! We appreciate the car, I have even driven it and enjoyed the experience. Heard today that even a boda driver commented how I had grown fat! However, I love the fact that it just means I Iook young!
Mobile Library - African style. Actually just moving books but couldn't stop them reading! Good sign for the future.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A blessed weekend

We have just spent a couple of great days this weekend, being blessed by children. On Saturday, it was really lovely to be able to make the trip up to Nakaseeta. First the business of buying food and supplies, which of course is always a bit of a fun adventure. On arrival in town we caught up again with William, he is a friend who we met as a result of him driving the bus for us. However, of course the friendship has developed and we appreciate him very much. I don't think I will get over the fact that people will go out of their way to help you. He does not get any return for this other than friendship, yet nothing is too much bother. We have so much to learn about helping others.  It was fun to get the oil, sugar etc from the same place and to be welcomed by "hello mummy, you have been lost!" so, many people in all parts of our lives. In fact, she and William shared a joke about how I will always carry stuff.
Children singing to us at House of Peace
Our arrival with all the food out the front of House of Peace
Enough of that, off we went to the House of Peace, and let me say I appreciated the new car, it is definitely more of a four wheel drive and the road was worse than it has been. Then, we arrive. Oh, they were happy to see us. Fortunately, I had the car behind me so that I wasn't bowled over by Aisha  and Christine. The love they have is so special, they are truly special girls. On the way, we realized that pads had not been on the list and would be needed. I quietly asked them and discovered that they were needed. I struggle with life if anything is missing, these girls didn't ask, they just cope. There is no matron now and they do the cooking. That means a two hour walk to school, a day at school, two hour walk home and then cook dinner for all of the 40 children. Some study if there is a chance and bed. It is not their life that stood out but how their circumstances do not determine how they live. Yes, I am sure that things do get them down but what they showed to us was not this. It was love, acceptance and thanks. They honored us for traveling so far on an airplane, for caring for them, yet what we have done is so little compared to their daily life. When the rice was unpacked from the car, there was great excitement, obviously they have not eaten rice for a while. I know that just recently it has just been posho and salt. Now, posho and beans is barely palatable but posho and no sauce, no thank you! I suppose the thing that moved me the most though was a song they sang, that Patrick had written. I do not remember the exact words but it went like we are the youth, we have been left without a generation to bring us up, we come to you for advice. They have been let down, they have been orphaned, largely by AIDs, others have not been there for them in the way they should have been and now they need to move on with their lives but they are just children. Who has let them down? They speak for so many, the responsibilities of parenthood are large, the responsibilities of being blessed are large, suddenly helping and walking with them seems such a privilege again. It was so sad to say goodbye, to feel like one was leaving without adequate time. However, to know their prayers go with us gives us strength.
Some of our friends, the children at House of Peace
Then, today we had a great service at our church here, though being placed at the front and the sound system not being appropriately adjusted took the edge off the singing. However, we did have a great teaching on gifts of the spirit and five fold ministries. Then, back to Wairaka to share the service here with the children. The children ministered (as the expression here is) with singing and it is always good to see the children from the village share their love of God. The children were also amazing as they were in the service for two hours, with two children on my knee due to very limited space and sitting on a wooden bench I was probably more fidgety than most of them.
We have a great afternoon spending some quiet time and then went to the village and spent time with the children. We are so loved by these children and there is no doubt that the feeling is shared. It was an afternoon of fun, laughing with little ones playing in bags like a sack race. Or, dancing and watching dancing, and a trip to show the children the new house and school. Though the later was disappointing for many of them as they were the older children and will be too old for the school. Then, a wonderful supper, we miss matoke and meat followed by devotions. The new and the old together combined to sing, dance, worship in all sorts of ways. One of the children gave a strong message from the verses, beloved let us love one another because love is from God and if we do not love then we do not love God. In a great clear way, with no condemnation shared the truth, if we are not loving one another, then even if we are going to church and looking like the best worshipped, we do not really love God. The words in the Bible are clear and he did not take any liberties but spelt it out plainly. There was nothing to add, what a great work God is doing in and through the lives of children of Uganda. As children grow, they will change this country, more than 50 percent of the population are under 15 years of age, their impact can and will with God's help be significant.

By the way, the school and house continue to progress at a great rate, tiling for the bathroom tomorrow and by the end of the week, maybe the school building will be up to ring beam.
Yesterday we made a trip to House of Peace, Nakaseta to visit the children there and to take some food for them. The new ute handled the 600 plus kilos of food with ease.
We were accompanied by three lovely young ladies, Anne-Marie from Australia and Joyce and Melissa from Holland.
The children at the village were very pleased to see us again, and as usual they performed a number of welcome songs for us that they had been practising for days. The songs were all written by Patrick, one of the boys at the orphanage. The short video below includes a special welcome for Joyce and Melissa.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Progress and process.

Only a few days here and already we feel like we are back in the groove. It is such a privilege to be part of the lives of people here. Our welcome back has been fantastic even to the boda driver calling out "Welcome back" as he drove past. I think he only knew me from the road! We managed to hold our own and did not fall over when greeted by children on mass. Our ears have suffered much screaming and squealing with joy. It is so lovely to see so many. By and large people are well, and managing. Fortunately, being called fat is a good thing because I have lost count the number of times I have been told that, aiming for the same number in reverse on my return to Australia (good luck with that)!
It has been lovely to fit back in. I loved a quick trip to the market and down the street. There is no fear, it is just adjusting back, like putting on a comfortable jumper. Walking familiar roads and being greeted is so nice. Much of the accolades are of course unwarranted but the knowledge of true friendship is treasured.
It is interesting to see the growth in me, I almost wonder whether I became more African in some of my ways while away. I recognize the ability to move to the beat of a different drum, and to thrive rather than be worried. Love the spontaneousness of receiving a phone call and then Ron heading off to Kampala when really we were going on Wednesday, well that was the plan.

Looking at the school from the drive with new house in background
Kitchen and lounge in new house - benches needed!

Lounge room with bedrooms and bathroom on the left doorways

Such pleasant surprises for us too, the school building is progressing so well. Our house as part of the school is just needing the finishing to be done, like benches and sinks etc, a little plastering and then painting. The four classrooms in the first block including the staffroom and office are well underway. The walls are nearly up to window level with a great concrete floor already in. The verandah goes all the way along outside the classrooms and also looks great. Despite the wet season they have managed to do so well.
We are so looking forward to our new house, not that Suubi House isn't fantastic. For me I feel a bit like this is it! The encouragement we have had from people both here and in Australia continues to confirm the call of God on us and for this school. Maybe it is this that makes it feel so so special. I cannot express the sensation, it is not that everything has been done perfectly (no significant problems though) but rather this is how it is meant to be.  There is a beautiful view from the school to Lake Victoira and with the fence defining the boundaries it is easy to see where it all goes and fits.
We have sat together with our friends here to discuss what we need to do and are eagerly seeing God provide for us in so many ways. Today Ron was able to buy a twin cab ute (pick up as I am trying to remember to call it) and it seems to be a great deal. We have yet to employ teachers but I suppose we have only had a couple of days here. I think we have agreed on the name Jinja Christian School and training centre, we are close to being sure of the motto, Building Strong Foundations, next is the anthem! Thanks to a very talented daughter in law, Rebecca, we nearly have a logo, next is the uniform. I think I call this progress and we are so thankful that we are at the moment enjoying the process. Many thanks to those praying for us, we do not take those prayers for granted, we know we need them more than anything else.
Front of the new school classrooms

Monday, September 17, 2012

On our way

Well, today is the start of the next stage of the journey. A big week to try and complete things here, in readiness for a month"s absence. We are so thankful for the opportunity of having leave but did need to make sure that classes had appropriate work left, ends were tied up and responsibilities dealt with.  We feel so fortunate to have such a great family as we up and leave them again.  Of course, in many ways despite being for a shorter time, there is a lot more to leave. Two beautiful grandchildren who we love so very much. Love as a grandparent seems so easy, you understand the demands on the parents, remember the tiredness, the concerns of caring for a small baby but now we only have the responsibility to love them and support the parents!  Just this evening on the way to the airport with Anita and Stu we were able to have dinner with Geoff and Bec. The beautiful babies played on the floor, held hands, eyed each other off and generally made everyone happy.  What a blessing.
Now, we are returning to other family, not blood but ones who we also love very much. They too are easy to love but in many ways we do feel responsibility. The year in Uganda showed us what responsibility is taken on by NGOs and other organizations that take children into their care. If you are moving children, you do take away even the totally inadequate support they have, they become your responsibility. Not one to be taken lightly, now we as a couple obviously have not done this but the Village of Hope has 49 children dependent for their upbringing on Hope Builders which means us and others who partner with them. We look forward to seeing the smiling faces of many of our friends and of course the children.  It is so lovely to know that when we said on Christmas Day to the children that we would be coming back that they will know it is true. So many thoughts go through my head as I sit and wait for a dellayed plane, have we changed this year, if so is it good, what will people notice as different. I don"t believe we will be the same as we were before the year there, or even the same as when we left. Hopefully, we will have been able to digest more of what we learnt last year, have gained spiritually and emotionally in the process.
Two worlds are difficult to live in, we have responsibilities in each., family in each and homes in each. The last couple of weeks, we have been adjusting and trying to get ready, no we haven"t been eating posho and beans but mentally preparing for our other world. It would be a romantic fantasy to assume that everything is easy in either world and so it is important to focus on the good, the things that God has planned for us to do, to take what we have and share it and pray that as we share it is multiplied. We want people everywhere to know that life is not something to be endured, but lived to the full. Unfortunately, living to the full can be thought of as being about living for self. In both our worlds we find that it is as you share with others, love others and look to see other as Christ sees them that one gains life. Would love to do this better but it certainly is our aim.
And so the adventure begins, when we can finally get on the plane to it!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

New adventure unfolding

Now is the time, the big adventure is beginning. We are five weeks away from returning to Uganda for a month, the land has been purchased, the house is well on its way and the foundations for the school are being dug. It is real, there is an incredible sense of excitement, anticipation and of course nervousness.

As I watch the Olympics I see men and women prepared to give up their ‘lives’ for their sport. To put everything into something that they believe they can achieve. In some ways I suppose I can emphasize with them in a way I never imagined would be me. We do have a goal, we have set aside almost everything for it, our family is sacrificing for what we are doing and our energies need to be directed this way.

It is such a strange thing when you find yourself in a position that you never believed or thought would happen. The reality that in just a few more months we will be jobless (no more leave without pay) and truly our focus will be our work in Uganda. Yet, we know we are not alone. It is amazing the people that God has put in our path, the opportunities to talk about it and that money is coming from different places. We know this is much bigger than us and fortunately that God is in control not us.

Since returning to Australia we have been busy doing things that needed to be done, relating to selling houses, buying some land to build a smaller place, moving out into a ‘studio apartment room’ in our  fantastic, generous friends’ house. We have been teaching, recognising the extreme differences in education opportunities, methodology and resources between Uganda and Australia; not that we had to teach here to realise that.We really appreciate the support from MECS, keeping my job, providing a job for Ron. We don't take it for granted and hope that we have been able to make valuable contributions this year.

The best thing about being back in Australia has been that we have been able to be here for the birth of our first two grandchildren. Two of our children (and their spouses) have had children, one a girl and one a boy. Such a special thing being grandparents and we certainly are enjoying it very much. In fact it is of course the thing that we are going to miss most by going back to Uganda.

So, where are we now and what planning have we done for the new school? The land was bought before we left and the house is nearly complete. It will be ‘our house’ at this stage, will be used for accommodation for us, administrative purposes as needed and then when the school is fully functioning it will become the home of the ‘head teacher’ of the school.  The excavations are underway as shown in the picture. The school foundations for the first classrooms will be happening in the next few weeks.

We will be heading over to Uganda on the 15th September and will be aiming at dealing with the registration process, checking on building progress and the most significant thing is to start the employment process for the school. We want to have some teachers ready so that they can start preparing for teaching and be involved in the processes.

Another challenge at the moment is to do two main things. Firstly, we want to get people together that are interested in being part of the ‘team’ for the project and secondly have a get together for people interested in what we are doing and providing opportunities for people to support the project. We of course would love to hear from anyone wanting to be involved. 

Footnote: Gold for Uganda!!!!