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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

December Delights

December's are always my busiest month of ministry.  Youth Conferences, Bible club, Christmas gatherings... on top of that - pigs and life.  :) 
I am excited to say that our piggery is doing well.   
 Two weeks ago 6 more piglets were born into the barn and now we have a total of 17.  A few have already been slaughtered and I have a feeling this Oil of Gladness project may prove to be successful yet.  It's been a long journey, but sometime some equipment will come out of all the hard work.  Microphones and speakers are first on the wish list!
 Merry Christmas to you!
 Santa Claus came to town, and since he refused to greet the kids, they were not happy. :(
 Oil of Gladness has ministered at 4 weddings in the last 2 months.
 Group shot! In uniform with the new drum kit... a special gift from Bethel CRC in Newmarket.
 Sam missed the group shot by moments... so here he is!
 Last week there was a huge youth conference and I was treasurer, registrar and speaker.  Treasurer was both hard and easy, because there was almost zero money to work with... except for the small registration fee that the youth brought with them to attend a 6 day conference. Thankfully I had an awesome crew of neighbours and friends to help me make name tags and meal cards.
 Over 1800 youth registered to attend the annual Anglican youth conference.  A massive event.
 Lots of singing, prayer and fasting, listening, laughing, and learning.
 Hallelujah was a big support to me at the registration table.
 Oil of Gladness let an evening of praise on the Wednesday night.
 Power kept kicking off, so the drums kept us going in local praise and worship.
 Here are the youth escorting the guest speaker to my car, after she finished speaking.  So fun!
 Cultural music
 I am so grateful for Rev. Beseri Otekat and all his hard work in making sure the conference was a huge success!  He is a joy to partner with in the ministry.
Yesterday I had the great privilege of catching up with old college friends.  I'm beyond thankful that Joseph, Glenda, and Keziah drove out of their way to come and see me.  God is so good.

Friday, December 4, 2015

CYCAS in Alebtong

The Compassion site in Alebtong called the Soroti Children's ministry team to come and train them in CYCAS.  For 5 days we traveled deep into the village and taught 29 church leaders and Compassion directors on Children Youth Community and Sports.  We were delighted to journey together and train both children and leaders. 
 Stopping along the way - a 4 hour drive... to climb trees and stretch.
 During the trainings the youth were also being taught some craft skills.  Here is a group learning how to make cement flower pots and other decorating items.
 Another group was learning how to crochet bags and baby shoes.
 Serving the trainees.... that challenged some of the men because they thought that white people never serve... the old colonial thinking.
 Playing fun games
 Water Bucket Relay
 At the end of the day, our typical classroom moved outside for fresh air.
 I taught and babysat at the same time. :)
 Back inside the classroom
 An airplane/airport race...
 With Immigration at the end of the game
"Don't touch!"  Can you get the biscuit from your forehead to your mouth without using your hands?
We had a great week of learning, fellowship, serving, and village life.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Remembering Uncle Andy

On Tuesday, November 17th, God took HOME my sweet Uncle Andy. 
I cried greatly when I heard the shocking news that my father had lost his last remaining sibling.  It's extremely hard to be away from family at this time, but I'm also truly grateful for the love of friends here who have offered prayers, hugs, tea, and a listening ear.
 Uncle Andy was only 55...  a very friendly man who was always ready to listen and offer encouragement.  I will remember him for his hugs, his devotion to the Royal Canadian Legion, his passion for darts, his strong faith in God, his care and compassion as he stayed with Grandma and Grandpa over the years, and his loyalty to friends.
I remember when I was a little girl, there was one day when Uncle Andy pulled up in a big rig and he parked in front of our house on Hwy 86.  Moments later I was loaded inside and we went for a tour around the block.  I always thought it was so cool that he was a long distance truck driver.
Of course, fishing and Andy have to be remembered as well... especially in the last few years when Grandpa, my Dad, and Andy got more and more in to fishing and tiny little motor boats. 
 A few years ago, we spent a week together as a family - just fishing and hanging out and I'm glad that I took that precious time to be with the clan.
I am going to miss Uncle Andy, but I know that I shall see him again!
God is my Rock!
These verses from Habakkuk 3:17-19 (Amp) have become an encouragement to me this week:
17 Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines, [though] the product of the olive fails and the fields yield no food, though the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls,
18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the [victorious] God of my salvation! [Rom. 8:37.]
19 The Lord God is my Strength, my personal bravery, and my invincible army; He makes my feet like hinds' feet and will make me to walk [not to stand still in terror, but to walk] and make [spiritual] progress upon my high places [of trouble, suffering, or responsibility]!  

Monday, November 9, 2015

A Trip With Incidents

It was important for me to make yet another journey to Kampala.  The work permit in my passport was going to expire on November 14th and I needed to make sure that Immigration had seen and approved my file.  Two years ago, my file went missing for three weeks, and I knew I didn’t have that kind of time.

Since the journey to Kampala is fairly long by bus, I decided that it was time for me to meet some new team-mates and split up the journey. I called Gert Jan and Stephanie Vroege, who live in Jinja, and I asked them if they would like to meet up for a time of acquaintance and fellowship.  They readily agreed, so Sunday morning, I boarded the bus at 10 am, hoping to make it in time for lunch.

Of course, TIA (This is Africa), the bus didn’t pull out of Soroti until almost 11.  Stopping in Mbale we wasted about another hour.  It was pouring rain and the exit to the park was closed, so all buses and taxis were trying to come and go through the same narrow entrance.  I have no idea what our driver was waiting for, but for a long time the bus was parked over the chain fence that should block vehicles from entering or exiting.  The chain was down, and at least four times the bus had to maneuver backwards to allow another bus into the park, before it would go forward again and park over the chain.  Leaving Mbale close to 2pm, there was no way I was going to make it in time for lunch.

Finally, around 4pm, I got off at the second round-about in Jinja and took a boda (motorcycle taxi) to their house.  Wow, what a sweet couple!  They have a beautiful property overlooking the Nile, but their hearts for the Lord are even more inspiring.  I had a slight headache, so I took a Tylenol and continued to enjoy the fellowship.  I was surprised to hear that they hadn’t eaten lunch yet.  They were waiting for me.  So together we sat down and supped on yummy sweet and sour chicken, with rice. 

My headache was getting worse and I started feeling nauseous, so I took a second Tylenol.  Not a fun way to meet new people.  Deciding to take a walk outside and sit on the verandah, I thought the fresh air would do me good.  Sipping tea, I knew it was too late.  Without saying anything, I slipped back into the house and quickly ran to the bathroom.  I lost my dinner.  A migraine had come.  Cleaning up, I went back outside and quietly announced that I wasn’t feeling well.  I asked them if I could lie down on their couch until my friend Beckie could pick me up for the night.  The two young boys were so sweet.  The whole family prayed over me, and then the boys went and got a blanket for me and toys for themselves, so that they could sit beside me.  We talked for a little while and then I feel asleep.  I woke up to Beckie’s call, saying she was on her way. 

I felt ten times better.  I wish that I could have met my new GOM team-mates under better circumstances, but I was grateful for the love, care, and yummy dinner.  Driving over to Beckie’s house I was once again full of energy, so we talked until late in the evening.

The next morning, I hopped in a van taxi and took another 2 hour journey to reach Kampala.  Seconds before exiting the van, the girl beside me threw up on my feet.  O ya, this is the trip! I climbed over the sick girl and got out of the taxi.  Wiping my shoes and toes on the grass, I marched over to Immigration.  The line-up was huge to enter inside, but when I went to the passport window, I was the only person.  Showing my “Receiving Slip”, the lady kindly told me to look in the top file.  If I found my file there, then we could proceed.  Four pages in, I found – “Karen Michelle Lubbers.  Approved for 36 months”!! I rejoiced and pulled out the paper.  I was given a bank slip.  The work permit is $250/year.  In total $750 US. I jumped on a boda again and went to the bank.  There I paid 2,540,000 UGX. I still find those figures shocking even though I have been here for 5 years.  Back at Immigration I submitted the bank slip with my passport and I was told to come back in 5 working days, my visa will be ready!!

Taking another boda into the heart of the city, we found our way to the bus park.  I like it that I now know which buses head to Soroti.  I jumped on the YY Coach and sat for the long journey home.  8 hours on the bus again was totally worth the joy of knowing that I can legally stay longer in Uganda!!

Pig Castration

Last week a bunch of Makerere University students came out to our piggery with a few of their teachers.
 The group prepares to castrate our male piglets - four of them.
 An open surgery, the students had great practice on big piglets.
 Lots of action in the barn
 Loads of spectators
And lunch for one happy villager!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Sweet Fellowships

Life is always entertaining and ministry is fun... here's why:
 Hanging out with Tata Felicity - shelling gnuts.  My fingers are becoming strong!!
 I drove deep into Serere district on Saturday to teach in a very hospitable village church.  I was welcomed with ululations and a waving white flag, accompanied by song and dance.
 Anna and Peter came with to translate, tell stories, ask question, and teach games!! I love my team-mates.
 The church was decorated with fresh flowers
 Teaching "Rock, Paper, Scissors" for a "God is our Rock" themed day.
 The children prepared dances for me.
 Then on Sunday morning, at 7 am, I biked to another Church of Uganda in my neighbourhood.  This is the Sunday School room.  Kids crammed in to this room and stood outside the walls peeping in before the 2 hour class was over.
I was invited to speak in the adult church as well, and I kindly requested the adults to buy a few more iron sheets and make the kids classroom bigger - it's so difficult to teach when no one can move around in the space.  We'll see what the adults come up with in the next few weeks or months.  :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Goodbye to Angelina

Yesterday afternoon I arrived at the hospital, trying to search for my friend Angelina.  She had been transferred to the Soroti Main hospital on Sunday and I really wanted to visit with her.  I looked into the women's surgical ward, but didn't see her.  But her family members saw me and quickly led me to her bedside.  With just enough room for me to squeeze in beside her bed, I held her hand and was shocked at the severity of her condition.  Angelina was extremely small, could no longer talk, was hooked up to an IV and a feeding tube, and had huge open wounds, or bed sores on her lower back.  I could see that she was in pain, especially when we moved the blankets and skirt in order to see where to put the iodine and cream. 

I went with her grandson to the pharmacy and bought medication, gloves, and IV antibiotics (you have to purchase those things before a doctor or nurse administers them).  Coming back I was in awe of how things work in the surgical ward.  Around 20 women are crammed into a small room, with their attendants standing with them - who are family members or friends who are their to bring/cook food, change sheets, bath them, etc.  Some women are breastfeeding while others are writhing in pain over broken bones and mixed up x-rays.  Two ladies had their legs tied to a 3kg water weight hanging off the end of the bed.  No privacy.  And as I stood there I thanked God for my good health and prayed that I would never have to be admitted there. 

The doctors had told the family to feed Angelina a cup of milk 3 times a day because she was severely malnourished and weak.  It was hard for me to watch a lot of milk being syringed into a feeding tube because it seemed too much at once.  As Angelina was holding my  hand, I could feel and see her twisting in pain.  When they also added water to clean the tube, she softly started screaming out.  I leaned down and whispered into her ear.  I prayed that God would be her Rock of Peace.  I told her that I was sorry that she had absolutely no control over what people were doing to her body.  And I reminded her that our Great Shepherd is holding her in the palm of His hand.  She kept squeezing my hand during that time.  I knew that she had heard and believed!! 

This morning at 8 am I opened the door to find two of her grandchildren there.  With tears streaming down their face, they told me that Angelina had passed away at 7 this morning.  I held the grand-daughter as she wept aloud.  My neighbours knew that I had lost a friend today.  I went with them to the hospital and watched as her small body was shifted over to the mortuary. Burial will be tomorrow in Katikwe if they can get a casket and food in time.  (Which I'm sure they will... I love seeing how communities gather together to make a big event take place.) 

At 9:30 am I brought many family members back home and then drove over to the Anglican church offices for another long planning meeting for the Youth Conference.  At least we now have the speakers, topics, and workshops all lined up.

I'm glad that Angelina has found peace.  I'm rejoicing that she is SEEing Jesus now!!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Back in Bululu

Pius, a long time friend of mine, once again made a request that I go back to Bululu.  A new church has been planted and the leaders wanted some guidance in children's ministry. 
 Of course I'm up for the task!
 Pius taught some Biblical background on the importance of training children.
 Explaining Scripture passages
 Setting the basics for a fun and relational kids program
 Story telling!! I love acting out Bible characters.
 One friend who came with for the training asked me, "Karen, do you have a book where you get all your stories from?" I said, "Yes, the Bible!"  We both laughed because he knew he had been stumped and I knew he was looking for some sort of script book, but honestly, I only use the Bible and I thank God for giving me the words and courage and joy to teach.
 The kids were colouring book marks.
 I made the adults do a puzzle...
 It took 13 minutes and 5 men to finish a 16 piece puzzle.  I'm glad I made them do it, or they will never be able to teach their children during a relay race or other activities.
 Explaining the "ONE HOPE - 17 STORIES" curriculum
After the training we drove to the landing site for fisherman.  A beautiful way to finish a productive day.  Happy to serve!!