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!