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Saturday, October 31, 2009

MY OM Happened

Yippee, the store was officially named after my suggestion. So I go to MY Supermarket, but my local friends now say they shop at Karen's Supermarket. The staff are so excited to see me whenever I come into the store. Fun times.
The pictures speak for themselves!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Set Free

This week I have been super busy hosting a team of people who have come with Set Free Ministries. 3 men and 3 women have made themselves at home in my home and we have enjoyed eachother's company. They are here for six days. The men are leading a Set Free Training. The women are nurses and they are going to various women's groups and schools to share some medical expertise.
I have been privilege to join in on the Set Free Ministries training. It is a three day seminar on learning how to be set free from sinful issues such as - pride, sexual sins, non-Christian spiritual experiences, bondage, rebellion, etc. There have been 45 regular participants, with a few extras staying part of the time. It has been refreshing to pray through all of these areas and give them to God.
This time together with my Ugandan friends though, has once again shown me that I need to continue encouraging them and praying for them. When we got on to a discussion about witchcraft close to three-quarters of the room put up their hands that at some point in their lives they have dealt with a witchcraft. I was in shock.
And then we started approaching the topic of sexual sins and the room started to giggle. I have learned that laughter in the Ateso culture means guilt or uncomfortableness. Many people had questions, trying to justify the culture... what about polygamy? What about the roles of women? What about HIV/AIDS? Were they supposed to list the sexual sins from before or after marriage? And the list went on. I really feel like the room was challenged to make a choice to live differently from this day forward and to share that knowledge with their friends and churches.
We are finishing up the seminar today and I'm intrigued by what the discussions will hold today. But for now, I had better get breakfast on the go for the gang. Ciao.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


While I was reading to and fellowshipping with my friends at SACAB they were eager to show me the purses that they knitted. I now have 9 of them in the gift shop in my house!! They did a pretty good job, but right now not all the handles match the bags. Aah, sigh. It takes a little longer to teach them to fully grasp what I am recommending because they can't see. So if they finish a purse and then a day or two later want to make a handle, they usually get the colours mixed up. God bless them.
Then we got on to prayer requests and they mentioned that every Saturday night they pull an all-nighter to practise kneeology and I thought that was awesome. These men and women know how to pray. I certainly see them as Spiritual role models in this community.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Solution

For the past few weeks I have been having troubles with an upper right molar. It would be really sore and even keep me up for a night, and then two days later be fine again. Last week it flaired just a little, but it was manageable. But then last night I was up between 1:30 and 3:30 again, waiting for the painkillers to kick in. I finally decided that this needs to be dealt with. On November 10th I have an appointment booked at a dentist in Kampala. Yeah! Actually, it's going to be a team event, since the Shaardas, Sarah, and myself are all going at the same time. In the meantime, I would love your prayers over my teeth / gums. I would love to be pain free and be able to sleep through the night until the dentist appointment.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Full Sunday

Sunday morning, 8 am, I hear honking at the gate. Pastor George has come to deliver a super huge turkey for me to roast. He wanted to cook their guests from the UK a special treat. Thankfully I didn't have much preparation to do... just added a few spices, but I must say that I had to rearrange the bird to make it fit in my oven.
By 9:30 am I was biking back to Pamba to attend church and man, was it crowded today. I spent most of the morning outside of the church, hanging out with the children while the other mzungus invaded my space. Besides, the actually service started an hour late because it took an hour to do the introductions of the guests and the church leadership people. I am not a fan of introductions and I really don't think that each person needs to say something, especially when a majority of them repeat what has already been said.
I did join in worship though, and I have no idea why, but Winnie made me come back inside for one particular song, where they tied a piece of cloth around my waste and made me dance in front of the church.
A few of us mzungus were traveling somewhere on a journey with God.
And the church looked on with sheer excitement on their faces.
I left the service at 1pm to check on my bird and a good thing I did... the oven had turned off, even though the gas wasn't finished, so the bird wasn't quite ready yet. Thankfully all of the guests didn't arrive until almost three. It was super fun having a house full of guests who sport British accents and who also love turkey. Thankfully George and Winnie took the rest of the food with them... rice, sweet potatoes, brown beans and watermelon. I think I had the easy part.
The coach pulled out of my yard at 4:30 pm and then some of the neighbours came over for a photo opportunity.
Here is Lydia, one of the neighbour girls.
Here are many of the Princesses and some of their friends from the hostel.
I taught one of the girls how to use my camera so that I could get in on the action.
The girls were very creative in their poses... and don't worry Tim, all of your plants are fine!
Cuthbert. This boy can be such a pain some moments and such a sweetie at other times. I absolutely love this shot though.

A Saturday in Pamba

On Friday afternoon I received a wonderful phonecall from my pastor's wife. She was wondering if I could cook with a few ladies on Saturday morning while 13 visitors from the UK came to meet with their sponsor children. Yeah, I was delighted to be a servant again. I really feel like my church friends see me as a member and that makes me so excited.
So on Saturday morning I hopped on my bike and pedalled about 15 minutes to the compound of Pastor George and Teacher Winnie.
The children from Goshen Nursery school put on a few presentations for their sponsors. This one was the local version of a chicken dance. Hilarious!
Here is one of the ladies pounding garlic and spice for the rice pilaf.
This is the kitchen I spent most of the morning in. I chopped a pail full of onions and showed the ladies how to use a carrot peeler and a grater. We ended up making beef/rice pilaf, chicken, greens, and fresh fruits for lunch... for close to 60 people.
Then at 3 o'clock I biked over to the home of my other Pastor. He wanted to get together with me and Moses, one of my Sunday school helpers so that we could visit a few of the families with children and encourage them. Moses rode a bike while he took Pastor Francis on the rack behind him - boda boda style - and I followed on my bike.
First we biked through Pamba town, weaving our bikes around houses on packed dirt that could be a road or a yard. We stopped to visit one family that I have rarely seen in church. We visited with the kids, who sat on grass mats and sang for us. We prayed for the children. I shared a few verses with them and they were so excited for the special visit.
We proceeded then to a more rural community of homes, biking through fields of sorgum (which I thought was corn) and cassava until we found some more children. The kids quickly put together a presentation for us.
The children we so delighted to have visitors come just for them.
Again, we shared God's love with these kids, prayed with them and had a great time.
Upon biking back to Pastor Francis' house, we made a surprise stop at a Pork Joint just beside the Pamba market... amidst the local bar scene. Loud music playing. Men sitting around in circles, drinking some brew from a communal pot. Each person has a super long straw that goes from the pot to their mouth.
But don't worry, I didn't go to the bar, I just sat in a circular hut with Moses, Pastor Francis, and his wife Janet... she had arranged the whole surprise feast for us. Yum Yum.
By 6 pm we arrived back at the pastor's home and I spent a half hour singing and dancing with the praise team that was practising there before raising home to beat the rain and and the darkness. I got home just in time... the skies opened up and started pouring as soon as I got to my front verandah. A long, but amazing day with friends from church!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"Please sir, will you be my Shepherd?"

"And let us consider how we cay spur one another on toward love and good deeds." Hebrews 10:24 was the theme of our latest team meeting. It was really encouraging to share and pray together with my team-mates and to once again be reminded that the Lord is the Almighty Shepherd of all of Soroti.

Sarah and I biked home from the meeting and we stopped to chat outside her gate. Children in the background were yelling, "Auntie Karen, give us sweets!" and I was trying hard to ignore them without getting angry. A few minutes into our conversation a trio of secondary students strolled by. Two men and a young lady. They seemed to be minding their own business. Then along the road, bleating angrily, came a male sheep. He started eyeing the students and slowly chasing them. Then he sped up and confronted the group. The young lady played the role of a typical young girl who is in flirty love. She kept holding one of the guys hands and using him as a shield. The other young man stepped aside maybe 8 feet and the sheep stopped and stared at him. Sarah and I were laughing our heads off at this point. Anybody who was out on the road was watching this scene. The sheep was stubborn, determined, and obviously had a reason for picking on this one young man.

How often do I, as one of God's sheep, forget who my Shepherd is and just chase the closest thing that has caught my attention? "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me - just as the Father knows me and I know the Father - and I lay down my life for the sheep." John 14-15. I pray that I will always listen to my Heavenly Father's voice!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Princess Palace

This evening I strolled across the street to visit the princesses on their turf. Fourteen young ladies are coming over to my house every Monday night for Bible study and occasionally they come over at other times to say hello, or to study in the quiet corners of my home. These ladies are living at Mill Hill Girl Child Shelter... and there are 68 of them on a small compound.
Here is a copy of a shirt that they wear. Uniforms are big in Uganda.
I was invited to stay for posho (white cornmeal) and beans.
The cook was so excited to have my drop by the kitchen.
Then the girls took me on a tour of their living quarters. For some it is 12 beds in a room. There are four triple decker bunks in a room, with mosquito netting covering everything.
This young lady was sick, so she wanted to stay in bed. As you can see, the girls have to carry their own water jugs, and some of them even sleep with their suitcases because there is no other room.
But these girls are happy to be boarding here, knowing that it gives them a chance to complete Secondary school, because their village homes are too far away.
The girls asked if I would ever want to spend the night with them at the hostel, and yes, I would. I plan to stay mid-November. I think it would be a blast. I would love to sleep in a room full of princesses and they promised me that I wouldn't have to share a bed with any of them. :) Yeah!

Monday, October 19, 2009


On Saturday night, the Indians in town were having a New Year's celebration. I didn't realize that their calendar was completely different than mine, but it is. At 8pm the Shaardas and I pulled up in front of OM Supermarket to visit our friends there before heading to the temple for fireworks. It was a wonderful visit... as we sat around talking about what the celebrations meant. And Josh was able to share a little bit about what Jesus means to us. I continue to pray for the truth of Christ to be grasped in their lives!
All of us girls wore our Indian outfits. I brought Lydia and Grace outfits when I went to India in June. They look adorable.
As we were sitting around, the owner of OM told us that he was opening up a second supermarket in town by the end of next week and he is trying to come up with a short name for it. He likes how short OM is, but he doesn't like how the Ugandans pronounce it. Ugandans say O.M. when really it is OM the name of their prayers. Anyways, I came up with MY Supermarket and he loved it. I am curious to see if it will be painted on the storefront next week or not.

Around 9 pm we went to the temple. The Shaardas stayed in their van because the girls are afraid of the sounds and smoke, but I made my way into the crowd. I must admit I was nervous, since little rockets and sparklers were being lit in every direction. Occasionally I would get hit with flying paper, but for the most part it was thrilling.
It was a short program, because it was drizzling, and about to rain harder. So by 10 pm we were all home again.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Coffee Break

The season is slowly changing here from wet to dry season. Apparently it is getting hotter, but I don't feel that. But I did wake up with the sneezes and the sniffles. So I have put on a big pot of African tea and will soon catch up on my journal before heading over to the Shaarda's to teach Lydia. Now days, 6 year old Lydia is "ROCKIN!" through her studies and she is such a joy to tutor. One day her math rational was very good and I said, "Lydia, you are so smart. Brilliant really." And she responded, "Aunt Karen, you have to be if you want to be in school." :)
Last evening I was able to catch up with my Coffee Break Bible study group in Newmarket, Ontario. Praise God, the internet worked for a whole hour and a half. I met with all the ladies as they met upstairs for opening devotions and then the computer toured its way to the basement of the church, where I met great friends and sat in on my old Bible study group. Okay, I was a little jealous of the Tim Horton's coffee cups and the dutch treats, but I was totally blessed to sit in with the small group of ladies and talk about Paul's missionary journeys. The Spirit of the Lord sure does move in wonderful yet mysterious ways.
I'm thinking today is going to be another full day... with teaching, visiting friends, running the Resource centre, reading to my friends at SACAB, and attending Josiah's birthday party. Hopefully my toothache won't act up again and that I won't have to carry too many tissues with me. Here's to a new weekend!


This week, my extra project is to clean up the termite mess that I found in Tim and Angie's garage. These nasty creatures are fast. The built tunnels across the floor, up a wall, and started eating a shelving unit. I have swept up these tiny wood eating creatures, and my guard and I are trying to spray the area, but twice now I have witnessed these bugs trying to persist.
The worst damage was to some electronic equipment, but I think it is finally getting under control.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Thanksgiving Turkey

Yesturday I went back to church in Pamba and to my surprise (and I must admit, delight) there were only 20 or so kids in my Sunday school class. It was the first time we could have a more intimate session together and everyone was able to share what they are thankful for.
After church I went with Pastor George and his wife over to their compound and joined them for lunch and great fellowship. Soon it was time to pick a turkey from their flock. We walked around the yard until I found a turkey that I thought was the perfect size.
So I picked the turkey (front left) and a young boy ran to catch it for me. Woah - turkeys have strong wings. Mom told me once that I used to play in the turkey barns when I was a little girl... and I think I must have had more courage then than now.
A huge pot of water was put on to boil and the turkey was carried to the edge of the compound, we laid her on banana leaves, and soon she gave her last squawk.
For about 20 minutes we hung her from a mango tree, to drain the blood.
Then stuck her in a pot of boiling water and began to quickly pull out all of the feathers.
Then a young lady assisted us in cleaning out the bird and before I knew it... it was 4:30 pm and I was biking home with a turkey in a big pot on the back of my bike. I stuck it in the fridge over night and then raced home from school today at noon to decorate the bird and put her in the oven.
Ta DA!! My second turkey. Last year I cooked my first turkey, but I didn't really get to share it for Canadian Thanksgiving because my nephew Caleb decided to be born at the same time. So I was delighted to share this yummy bird with my friends.
Actually, I thought there were going to be 16 people for dinner. 7 mzungus and 9 Ugandans, but a few of the Ugandans brought a few other Ugandans, and before I knew it, I only had the neck and half a gizzard of my precious bird. The rest was eaten in a hurry.

I was just super grateful to share Thanksgiving dinner with so many wonderful friends.
After dinner we had a time of Praise and Worship around a bonfire and even more friends were invited. I counted 39 people at one point. We sang songs, and yippee - had two guitarists playing. I shared some thanksgiving Bible passages and we all spent time either praying or saying what we are thankful for.
Peter once again graced us with his music.
At the end of the evening Josiah, Sarah, and I sat around my table, eating a delicious piece of pumpkin pie that Mandy was able to bake for the occasion. Yum Yum. A satisfying evening. The Lord is good and I am thankful for friends, family, food, and wonderful fellowship.
Now I have to stay awake until 11:30 pm when my whole family is going to skype me from their Thanksgiving Day gathering.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Tender Spots

I have just added a new photo... here the ladies are knitting with at least three colours each in their buckets.
Twice this week I have gone to visit the blind at SACAB (Soroti Agriculture and Craft Association for the Blind) and I have been completely blessed by visiting them. On the first visit they gave me a pair of knitting needles because I wanted to make a few samples of crafts for them. Well, two days ago I picked up these needles and now I have a nice blister on my pointer finger. These thin needles have a sharper tip than the blunt fat needles I use at home for my prayer bears. And it's been 9 months since I have knit anything. So my finger is a little tender.
Then on Tuesday I went back to continue reading from the Max Lucado book and to check out their progress on knitted purses. After two chapters, my voice was a little tender but it was totally worth it. You see, five of them sat on the floor, (sorry for the older picture, because these women were knitting yesturday), knitting and listening intently. I started reading a chapter called "The Touch of God" and it described how the leper was healed by Jesus. Jesus didn't just say "you are healed", he also touched the leper. Wow!! As I was reading a fictional paragraph about the leper walking down the street, hearing people call out "Unclean! Unclean!" while pointing at him, the blind started saying, "Hey, that happens to us. When people pass by, they say, hey, this blind man is worthless. Nothing. Helpless." And then they clapped and smiled as they thought about how much Jesus loves them. It was absolutely precious to be there at that moment. To encourage the work of their hands and to pray with them. How Awesome is our God.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Princess Penpals

O, I have been meaning to ask for a long time. Are there 10 ladies out there who would like to become penpals with some of my princesses. They all wish to have a friend in North America that they could write letters to. They would love to receive encouragement, Bible verses, stories about life in North America. Please let me know if you are interested. Thanks. These princesses are all of high school age... between 16 and 20.

The salon

Good morning friends,
I just finished having a low-key weekend and those aren't necessarily my favourite. On those days I let the little things really get to me and I don't know how to deal with things rationally. I got really upset with a neighbour who decided to wash her clothes inside my yard. She didn't ask and it was during my Sunday afternoon nap. She took her screaming child with her and I just ran out of patience, inside my head... I was steaming. But, I never spoke to her... she has no idea I was mad. (But I do need to talk to her about using the water from the compound.)
On Friday I had a delightful afternoon. I decided to take some knitting ideas and a book over to the blind at SACAB. I showed them how to make a few crafts out of the wash clothes they have been knitting and then I spent 45 minutes reading to them from a Max Lucado book. They are so excited to have me come back on Tuesday to read more chapters.
I was glad to see that some pastors are coming to check out the Resource Centre. I would love to see all those valuable books being used. (Maybe I need to challenge myself to get out of the Fiction section.)
On Saturday I taught a super long morning of school and it was fun. Then in the afternoon I went to visit some friends to get my hair braided in Kiswahili braids. Nice and tight.
Gordie was assisting Lucy in braiding my hair.
While my hair was being done (it took an hour and a half) I watched some teenage boys do their laundry with great diligence. Goodness, and to think that some people back home don't even know how to turn on a washing machine.)
Saturday night there was praise and worship at my house. The power had been out all day and we thought the rain was going to fall... so we couldn't have a bonfire and had the candles lit. But 5 minutes before the evening started the power came back. WooHoo. Some neighbours came and joined our team for an evening of worship and prayer around the theme of "Grace" and even all of my princesses came. I was so excited and the group nicely filled the living room.
Sunday was my tough day, but thankfully Sarah got me out for a walk and some friends came over to jam in the evening. God is good.