Monday, November 30, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Also, today, flocks and flocks and flocks of people have been walking to Soroti. Hot Radio, one of the local radio stations, has flown in all the top music artists from around Uganda and there is a huge concert in the sports grounds. I have never seen so many people in Soroti. The streets are flooded. But as I write this entry it is currently pouring rain and it doesn't look like it will let up. (This is the craziest dry season I have ever heard about!) Well, many churches are also gathering to pray for their young people because they believe that if their kids are at the all day concert they are going to hell. Some are worried that if Christ returns right now, their children will be left behind. I was glad to have a moment with a small group from church to explain that their children are not going to hell for going to a concert. Even if Christ returns, he still loves them at that moment. This concert is not a salvation issue. But the parents are truly rejoicing now that the rain is pouring. For the evil has been temporarily stopped.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Yesturday afternoon, after visiting the roadside bicycle repair shop, to put a bolt on my back fender to keep it in place, I biked the 25 minutes out to Pamba. I met at the house of my Sunday school helpers. To my delight Moses and Carol (who has been away at school the past few months) were both there and ready to plan. We sat inside the simple brick house and they brought out their notebook. The first page was titled "Life is Very Hard in Africa" and then they had made a list of the hard things:
- getting water from the well
- farming / digging
- traditional clothing and torn clothing
- preparing meals
- making money
- going to the market
Well, yes, I agreed life could be hard in Africa sometimes, but I wasn't sure how this could be a Sunday school lesson. I challenged them a little and said, "How do we see God in all of this?"
We came up with a plan to add music and prayer and encouragement through each scene of the drama. But they also changed their minds about acting. They want to make it a video or photo exhibit presentation. I am doing my best to work with them on this funny presentation... it certainly wasn't my idea, but that's probably a good thing. I really want to encourage the young people in their gifts and dreams and so I will make this work. We are going to plan a few photo opportunities between now and the 13th of December. I'll let you know how it turns out.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
I tell you, the tears were in my eyes! LOVE!
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For Americans to donate with a cheque:
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Thank you so much for making a difference in Soroti, Uganda.
On Monday they started coming over at 11 am with arm loads of stuff. I don't know where the girls got the budget from, but there were chickens, potatoes, flour, cabbage, a charcoal stove, trays, a crate of soda, and more.
Some of the girls worked very hard in the kitchen. Below you see a shot of dough that will turn in to Chapatis, or Indian flatbread.
The groom had rented a bus to take some of his guests from Soroti to the festivities.
By 8 pm we were all sharing a meal together and then we loaded back on to the bus and headed back to Soroti. Now there is only one more cultural celebration that everyone tells me I need to attend, and that is a wedding. Cheers.
Friday, November 20, 2009
His parents run a hostel for 68 village girls who need boarding while they attend high school in Soroti. And this is where my 14 Princesses reside. I was invited for a slumber party.
It was a rainy night, so we hung around inside the room, talking, singing, and laughing. They were so excited to see my teddy bear in their room and wanted to hear more of "Bones'" stories of adventure. In this particular room, which they called "I don't care" there were 4 triple-decker bunks. Occasionally girls from the other rooms, "Queens" or "Warriars", etc would drop by to chat.
I also joined the whole group in watching a Nigerian film on a tv where the colour is mainly green. It was a good story, for once, about a blind boy who prayed for his family, and after 2o years his father finally came to know the Lord. Really inspiring actually.
I climbed in to bed around 11pm. Thankfully they gave me the bottom bunk. This was the view when I looked up. :) At 8 am we started to greet the day, in song. Slowly we took bucket baths and ate cassava chips and posho porridge for breakfast. And again, this time an orange was sitting in front of me on the floor. The father of the hostel was so proud to have a mzungu stay with the girls. I finally crossed the dirt road back to my house at 10:30 am. A very fun night!
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
It's time to leave this internet cafe. I don't care for the rap music playing in the background. Ciao.
Friday, November 13, 2009
I sat beside a wonderful man who came from the Congo. He was really sweet, and when we understood eachother, he had amazing stories to tell. He mainly spoke French and Sarah and I are both very weak in our French language skills. This man is a refugee to Uganda. Eight months ago he was stabbed in Kampala... not all Congolese people are welcomed here by the general public. He showed my pictures of the stabbing, right after it happened. So cruel... a puncture to the skull. This man has found a job though, and with the strength of God is continuing on. You should have seen the excitement on his face when my ipod carried music in his local language. :) He listened to my music for almost 5 hours.
It is good to be back in Soroti. Today I went to the field to visit with the local chairperson of Obalanga, to check up on the mass grave project. It was sad to see it overgrown with weeds and bushes, but the chairman still dreams of grass and flowers soon. We'll see.
Well, I need to bike home before dark settles in. Ciao
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
This morning the Bokma's and I decided to tour Kampala for the day. First we went to the National Museum and toured through some rooms full of artifacts, fossils, stories of tribal history, stuffed animals, and more. In the backyard of the museum were about 15 model huts that we could walk through.
Then over to Kasubi tombs where we got an incredible history tour. At first the guide told us about the outside of the palace.... where 84 extra huts were built. The first Bugandan king had 84 wives and they each had a hut. Today some single women or widows from that tribe still stay there to keep tradition alive. Everything is wrapped in bark cloth to keep this palace / tomb termite free... since it was built in 1882.
Later in the day we headed over to Owino market and o my goodness, I have traveled a lot of places in this world, but I have never seen a market as crazy busy as this one. I guarded my purse and pushed my way through crowds of people to help Sarah find old magazines, full of colourful paper, so that our friends can make paper beads out of them. And then we went on a grand adventure trying to find varnish in a random store, some three stories high... it only took us an extra 25 minutes to locate this shop - full of varnish and other chemicals.
All in all, an adventurous day in Kampala. Heading home tomorrow. Cheers.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Sarah and I thought we were going to the village to fellowship with the family of our dear friends, but we ended up being invited to a Thanksgiving service for a Pentecostal church. We walked into this gorgeous grass thatched village church, where the roof extends all the way down to three feet from the ground. You have to bend your body to step into the side door.
Flowers were strung across the church; old cassette tape tape was used to tie the flowers up. Posters were hung everywhere - Saying "Welcome Keren", "Welcome Sarah". We had no idea what to expect. Then we had to sit at the "high table" in front of the church. The congregation would sing a song, somewhat unenthusiastically, then the MC would say "Hallelujah" on increasing scales of loudness, until the whole crowd was excited. Then he would say "1, 2, 3" and clap to draw us all back together and then we would sing the song again. Sarah and I hated being stared at the whole time and the woman would do their high pitched trilling whenever people mentioned that they were excited that the mzungus had come to join them in their service.
Part way through the four hour service I had to make a short call, or go susu (is anybody catching on that my bladder was full?) so my friend led me through the small village to find the designated spot. I should have gone off exploring in the bush on my own, because I was led to a pile of rocks beside a very active hut. This pile was supposed to be surrounded by burlap sacks and papyrus reeds, but there were many worn out holes in the design. Of course, a person's gotta do what a person's gotta do, so I was soon walking back to the church, feeling much better, except that my heart was starting to pound.
At the end of the service, the group wanted to offer a thanksgiving basket to the visitors, with bananas and fresh vegetables. Our friend decided to auction them off in what he called American style auctioning. He went on forever, but not in a style that I am used to. The basket didn't go the highest bidder, but to the person who brought up the last coin. Finally a pregnant lady bought it for 100 shillings and then she still walked up to the front and placed the basket in front of Sarah and me. But the church had just had an offering of over 10,000 shillings. (Close to $6). I ended up giving the pregnant woman a bag of baby clothes in exchange for the produce and she was so excited.
At the end of the day, we still ended up going to our friend's homestead to pick up g-nuts (peanuts) and eggs. Then off to another farm to eat lunch (but it's 4:30pm). We didn't fellowship with any of the locals. They washed our hands by carrying a pitcher of water and pouring it over our hands into a bucket. And then they served the food and left the room. I have always found that style of hosting rather strange, but it is very typical here.
I was happy to be home around 6pm. Taking painkillers for a nauseous headache and ready to relax for the night.
Right now I am enjoying a few days in Kampala - buying a few treats, a lawn mower blade, eating Thai food, and seeing a some sights. Sarah has filled our day tomorrow with touring museums, tombs, swimming and more. I will head back to Soroti on Thursday on the trusty (choke) old bus!
Monday, November 9, 2009
On Sunday morning, close to the end of the service, a new motorcycle (a piki-piki) was wheeled in to church. The owner wanted to have it blessed and prayed over. The pastor got out his Bible and read passages about when Solomon consecrated and dedicated the temple and how God's eyes would always be upon it. The pastor went on to say that God would always be with the driver as long as he tithed the bike to the Lord. But if accidents started occuring, then maybe God's will wasn't being followed. It was such a strange little ceremony for me to be watching. He asked the elders and assistant pastor to come up front and lay hands on the bike. Another glimpse into the prosperity gospel. So strange.
O ya, I recently heard too, that people are paying for a "Christian" group to come from Kampala to bless their homes and pray for evil spirits to be removed. These poor people pay large amounts of money to have their homes blessed, and sometimes it turns into a disaster. A truck load of prayers will come. One of them might sense that there is some sort of symbol buried under the foundation of the house... leftovers from previous witchdoctors. Well, they begin to dig the foundation of the home, and then say... oooh, the spirits have moved the relic to the other side of the house and continue destroying more of the foundation. So sad! I can't believe what some people will do in the name of Jesus.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
This evening Sarah, Mandy, and I got together for our last Bible study before the Shaardas head back to the States. We checked out Psalm 59 and reflected on how God truly protects us and guides us, even when we are unaware. But sometimes we are aware, and we thank Him for that too... like a few weeks ago when a local thief came to my gate. Somehow the goosebumps on my arm told me to not even let this guy in the compound and thankfully the guard was there to back me up. Or how some young kids who were riding a bicycle far too big for their little legs weaved uncontrollably in front of me and we almost collided... only God knows how I stopped in time - with both feet jumping off the bike.
Tomorrow will be my last day of teaching little Miss Lydia and then we are heading out on my bike to Mama's. It is a restaurant that looks like a shack or a hole in the wall and serves local food, but that is Lydia's choice for our celebration meal. It's actually a yummy place to eat! :)
This month is my last full month in Uganda (for now). It's hard to imagine what I have yet to do here or what God wants me to do still. How many more times will I read to my friends, bike to town, lead worship or teach Sunday school? How often will I be able to visit with friends or speak to people in the villages? How many more times will I faintly hear the calls to prayer coming from the Muslim mosque or be able to chat with my Indian friends in town?
I must admit, as much as I get culturally frustrated here, I really love it and don't really want to be leaving. I have a feeling God is calling me back to Uganda. Praying for direction.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
We started off the meeting with a time of encouragement and I was truly blessed and affirmed by my team-mates. They spoke about I am a 'person changing people'... how I simply meet, encourage, humour, befriend, and teach people. Not normally a person for tears, I must admit that I choked up this morning.
And to top it off, my two precious students presented me with an apron that they had had made and then they designed themselves. Such a sweet momento of my year of teaching Lydia (and Grace).
Monday, November 2, 2009
Saturday afternoon I started preparing a few dishes for a shared team meal. I also biked to town to pick up some Bibles for my Princesses. The owner of the bookshop had texted me and told that they were finally in, but when I got there, the owner was no where to be seen and the other staff didn't know anything about Bibles. So instead, I walked across the street to My Supermarket and bought some icecream as a special treat for the gang in my home.
Saturday night there was a bonfire planned for after dinner, with a time of praise and worship. Usually I send my guard out to buy would, but when I was biking home from town I noticed that there was only one bundle left at the nearest vendor, so I decided to pick it myself.
Here I am, biking in the yard with my bundle of firewood, about to make its way to the fire pit.
Dinner was yummy! Praise and worship was awesome.... spontaneous... with Bokmas, Set Free people, Shaardas, Lawrence, Jackson, and my princesses in attendance. It was unplanned and heartfelt. God is good.
I don't know how to describe Sunday yet. My Sunday school kids were rowdy and stubborn. The Pastor wanted to invite me and two of my guests over for lunch, but I don't him we couldn't stay because one had to teach a class that afternoon, and the other one wanted to eat lunch with the rest of his team-mates. Well, we settled for a soda... but that still took at least a half an hour. The pastor asked us what kind we wanted and then he left to buy them, while we sat in his tiny living room, alone. Josiah and I pulled out a National Geographic photography book to look at while we waited. Then Pastor and his wife came back and pastor started into a long monologue about ministry and his life. I finally, but kindly, was able to interrupt by saying, "Pastor, I think you are doing an amazing job serving in Pamba. Why don't we pray for you before we go." I prayed and then we left. :) He did understand though that we were on American time with schedules to follow.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Everyone was handed a piece of bread to eat, and some people found this to be a very emotional experience. I pray that many people have truly found freedom from all their past hurts, sins, and burdens.