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!