Sunday, March 17, 2013

Leaving, coming and going

High schoolers from Nakaseeta at Hope Community
What a strange life the pair of us, now enjoy. We live here in a beautiful house with a great view, eating the delights of the land, the avocadoes, the guava, the mangoes and the bananas to name just a few. We have many friends in the best sense of the word and plenty of worthwhile activities to fill each day. Then, we up and leave and go back to our other home, one many thousands of miles from here where we too enjoy friendship and family and plenty to fill our days and our stomachs are filled less from the land and more from the store! This in between time is difficult, there is great excitement at seeing friends and family.
Laboratory at Hope Community - great facilities helping the community
Looking forward to seeing our little grandchildren and how much they have grown up in the time apart. Anticipation at feeling cold again, joy at the thought of not being bitten by mosquitoes and other insects constantly in the evening particularly. Yet, there is sadness too! Each day here holds so much value. Interactions seem to have a bigger impact, the work somehow seems more worthwhile and the reliance on the one we serve seems even closer. I know it is only a few short months and we will be back. However, then I think about how I will again be leaving our family and friends! This morning I think I realized though that there are two unchanging states, one is that I am with Ron and that makes an incredible difference. The other that the God we serve and love is there in both places. He is here when I am not and He is here when I am. He is there when I am not and He is there when I am. This is the true assurance. I am not the one who does the work and so as I trust Him in both situations, He is there to meet the needs, not only of me but more significantly of those I love in both places.

We are now with our heads looking towards a flight back to Australia, but in our bodies trying to make sure that all the ends are tied up. Tomorrow there is a visit from Global Development Group (the ones that make tax deductibility of Hope Builders possible) and so they will mainly be interested in Village of Hope but there is responsibilities there especially Ron as a director of Hopebuilders here in Uganda. We too have been beneficiaries so there will be a bit of a check up on us as well.Tonight we shared devotions with the children for the last time for a while. This morning it was a great church service with praise raising the roof - it will be strange to be back in a more sedate atmosphere! Visits to friends and catching a drink yesterday with one couple. A parent day visit to Hope Community High School and catch up with the children there. Fortunately, we have now placed and paid for all the children in the different places with a quick trip to the primary school up at Nakaseeta on Friday. Sometimes seems a long time from morning to night as so many different experiences are fitted into each day.

Just so you can see why Ron didn't wear the suit jacket! Nest I think!
The school continues to grow with a couple of enrolments this week. We have not yet got anyone definite to fill the post of 'fill-in' person to give teacher's a break in the day, to take out groups for extra help and to be available when a teacher is absent. Though, we are working on it and not worried. A whole morning at the bank but no school bank account as yet. Teachers have been allocated responsibilities for our absence. Most of the teacher reviews are successfully completed, just one to go. The house has nearly been gone through to make sure it is ready for a teacher and bursar to move in. Now, it is a matter of making sure that at least one person can do each of the things we need to have done and the appropriate people can access what they require to do their jobs. I think we have worked it out but it certainly is easier for people like the cook when we are around to buy the supplies! We are very pleased that there will be email access and that the bursar will be able to check it and make good contact with us. We are desperately trying to make sure that people that are already too busy are not given extra responsibilities. I have told our bursar she can take as many photos as she likes - we want to see how things are going.

We have yet to cross some 't's and dot some 'i's but largely we are doing well. We will miss here so much but will also love being there!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The school is officially opened

It is official - the school is open!
We have just had a great day of rejoicing, thanksgiving and celebration as the school was officially opened. It was a big day but went really well. Almost full attendance of pupils, lots of parents and people
have been involved in the process, about 160 people in all.

The day started early with Ron needing to pick up the caterers about 20 minutes away. It was then a matter of getting things ready - all the chairs from the classrooms moved to the tents, a bit of decorating and making sure everything was in place. Ron also had to go and collect the chickens (live of course) and the meat (fortunately already dead).

Tent is ready but nothing else!
Some children of course arrived early, or should I say very early, before 7.30 am. A lady I have come to known
Nearly ready - chairs in place, table decorated
came to help set up, and did a great job. Unfortunately, she had to go home, I don't think she had any food for the family until I gave her some. So hard to really comprehend. Of course there were other little interruptions to the preparations - a few visitors including an unexpected job interview, just to keep us on our toes! Rachel and Robert as usual were a great help.

The proceedings were meant to start at 11.00 and we even had the bus arrive early with parents and children, so we were off to a good start. The children then showed their parents the school.
Happy arrival!
Then, time for speeches and presentations. The P1s (or Preps as we know them) did a great job and were so fun of course, the P2s did a great job
P1s performing - nearly in order
Robert all dressed ready to go
with a poem and songs and the P3s also showed their talents. It was a great chance for telling the story of the school, thanking so many involved, thanking our family for their sacrifices and talking about how the education will be done. The main local authorities were there to celebrate. The Kakira town council is in full support of the work, for which we are thankful, and it was again expressed today.
Now that is one BIG pot of rice
Our pastor was able to pray for the school, another
Teacher Sarah showing off her lovely classroom
special thing. Robert Kafeero spoke well as the Special Guest Speaker, which of course you have to have. All in all, the formalities went really well, despite being desperately hot in the tent and blazing sunshine outside the tent.

The benches around the trees were made good use of as well!
Parents and friends lining up for food

The caterers were fantastic!
Happy children, showing off to parents
What a feat, they came with pots, plates, forks, we provided the food and firewood. Then, a wonderful meal. It really was nice, the meat was tender, the chicken cooked to perfection, fancy rice, irish (potatoes) cooked two ways and the obligatory soda made the meal complete.
Children all lined up, first wash hands, then food

It was also great to be able to interact with parents and so many of whom are becoming friends. We needed to elect a parent representative for our School Board of Management and this was achieved with three candidates. There were four but one of them doesn't yet have a child at the school!

Hope Builders team including us
Teacher Aidha with one of her students
We come away, continuing to be grateful to God for all He has done, His guidance, the strength He has provided and the provision of our needs. We are also
Our pastor praying a blessing on the school
so grateful as we really feel the backing of the families as well. This is really important and the support was real. A couple of parents spoke and it was great to hear them echo the importance of their role in the lives of their children. Here in Uganda the school and the parents can be very separate but we feel confident of the involvement of our parents. So, we are truly thankful and feel so blessed.
Ron giving a great speech

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Moving along...too busy but happy

A few of the children enjoying their lunch under the tree
Two weeks since I wrote but not a minute to spare, well not many anyway. I will try to be brief as it is now getting late in the evening, the mosquitoes are biting, desperately need of a shower (the dust is horrific) and sleep is calling. Despite the best efforts for a rest we are not managing it so well. Today we had definitely planned to be quiet - well suffice to say after five hours of church (Ron preached both services), a brief lunch in town, we had three different groups of visitors and a trip to Hope Community before tea and devotions at the village.

Just a few (???) avocados on one of our many avocado trees
Our house with new paint - pity about mess on the verandah!
It is so good though to be doing what we are called to. There is variety in each day, opportunities that we cannot predict and movement towards what we believe God has called this place to be. We see God moving in the lives of people we are around but also the funny little things that happen. Like, going to a cafe and 'happening' to have my ipad (truth was we had no internet and I thought I might get a chance to catch emails) which I normally never take into town. At the counter there was another Aussie who works with United Nations and he wanted to pay in US $, the waiter (who I know a little) said at a particular rate. However, I had checked the day before and seen a big change (for its good) in the Ugandan shilling.

The good old Currency converter to the fore and the cafe was not undersold. Not that the guy wanted to, but had no idea of the exchange rate. Result, thankful to be in the right place, at the right time to look after in a small way Ugandan friends.

Or, the family who we have been able to give a sponsorship to their son. They also have a son who is very disabled and unable to walk, talk and thumps his head a lot. You know that this is making a difference to them, having someone who can help a little. Acting as God's hands. They appreciate so much and yet it is so hard. The father gains as much work as he can find. The mother has to care for the child and the other children! Have they made bad choices - no! Yet, by giving them something they want God to bless us. We are so thankful for the blessings of God, but so much want the people to know it is not us - we are only obedient to the call. 

Another group under a different tree with the P1 teacher
The school environment is moving along. There are beautiful benches around three of the bigger trees and are thoroughly enjoyed during the hot sunny days that we are experiencing at the moment. The pupil population has remained at 66, which is good. A wonderful time each day is when the bus arrives, the children run to be the first to greet me. I then shake each hand and say good morning. It truly is great fun and also very important in so many ways, not least teaching the children to greet in English.  I have had opportunities to teach different classes and that has been interesting and good too. It certainly
Removing stumps - hard work by a man who comes to help in exchange for sponsored children
helps in seeing that the ideas will work (even if they don't understand me!) and that things can change. Just tonight I was reminded of the need for change. A girl from the Village of Hope who is not at our school, was showing me her work. She is trying so, so hard but cannot read and has trouble with English. Yet, when there was a pattern to follow she would get the correct answer but obviously had not idea as she had bananas playing football!! So much to do.

The process of registration is moving along. We have overcome attempts for bribes and are well on the
A new inground water tank with Alex. Ron has guttered the kitchen ready for this 
way to having the required documents. A trip is planned first thing tomorrow to pick up some letters and then to go to the Ministry.

Hoping for a great day next Saturday (in case I don't post again until after that) for the official opening of the school. Only 50 kg of rice needed! Again, an opportunity to share God's love with the people of the community and to explain more about being a Christian school. The LCIII (who I think is called the Mayor) is very keen to come. Children are excited and items are being prepared.
The official entry - it now has pillars on either side, name coming
Sorry for the bits and pieces but wanted to make sure an update happened.