Thursday, November 29, 2012

Necessity the Mother of Invention

 As they say, necessity is the mother of invention.  Despite the fact that we've been told that we've entered dry season the last couple of days have brought torrential downpours of rain.  Yesterday David decided that he'd had enough of muddy pants from riding through the rain and decided to design and produce a pair of splash pants.  Out came a green garbage bag, some tuck tape and the scissors and after a few minutes he had managed to create some pants.  He got lots of looks on the way to work but that's not unusual.

Yesterday also brought Sam our sponsor child to the door with a cock for a present. Having learned from last year's adventure with a chicken, we sent him off to our family group where Dodo one of our family boys kindly slaughtered it for us. I'm learning that dinner often shows up on the doorstep like this and so preparing meals also involves a good deal of invention as well.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thrills and Spills

 Is it really November???
Didn't feel like it last week as we enjoyed the thrill of eating some sweet corn and watermelon for dinner.

Can you tell he's enjoying his watermelon?

This little charmer gave us a bit of a scare on Saturday by colliding with a boda (motorcycle) while riding his bike. He escaped with a nasty gash on his foot and a few other scrapes and bruises. We are very thankful for the Lord's protection. It's hard to keep 'a good man down' so out came the hockey stick again today.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Pockets empty, pens ready, heads bent, its exam time!
The last two days I've been invigilating in the afternoons at the secondary school.  When I was first asked I hadn't a clue what they were asking. You want me to 'invigorate' the S2's?  Turns out invigilate is a term meaning to supervise. 

The S2 class contains some of my all time favourite New Hope kids.  Ones who have been around for a while and have seen us come and go and come again.  There's Annet, a David family girl, who is small in stature but mighty in power.  She kneads bread like no one else and sings worship songs at the top of her lungs.  Then there's Claire whose smile lights up a room and makes all her friends laugh even on exam day.  John, one of our sponsor child's brothers, is also in this class.  Tall and quiet, he shyly raises his hand to borrow a pen and whispers a quiet thank you.

The concrete floor in the classroom is cracked and the November sun beats down hard on the iron sheet ceiling.  Beads of sweat trickle down heads bent over their math exam.  Long legs push up hard against desks far too small for them.  As I circulate around the room I watch instruments being passed by some secret code known only by the students themselves.  Boy in desk one, row three puts his hand back and a compass mysteriously travels from the back of the room up to him.  He uses it and then it travels soundlessly back.  My futile attempts to help in these transfers only seem to disrupt the system and so I retreat to the back of the room to wait for the two and a half hours to tick by.

Today was English. By the time we had corrected all the mistakes on the paper we started about 20 minutes late. As they wrote, the sharp ones kept finding other small mistakes; missing apostrophe here, missing letter there. I certainly know who will be good editors one day.

Exams have dominated all conversations for the last month.  The primary school leaving exam in P7 determines whether a child will continue to secondary school.  Likewise the Senior 4 results (Gr. 10 approx.) determine whether students can continue and finish secondary school and then head to university.  The pressure is intense and although the ministry seeks to tell children that their identity is not defined by their results it's evident that many children are under intense pressure to 'succeed.'

Last week as the P1 (Gr. 1) teacher listed off the exams her students write I couldn't believe my ears.  Luganda phonograms, Luganda reading, English phonograms, math, Bible, P.E., arts and crafts . . .
"Arts and crafts," I ask.  "How do you have an exam in that?!" 
"Oh I test their colouring.  They are given thirty minutes to colour a page accurately."
 No wonder the heads are bent and the pens fly across the page with determination.  They've had years and years of practise.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Day to Celebrate

Tuesday was celebration day for the P3 class I've been working with this past term.  Their teachers Uncle Kokas and Aunt Jessica had planned an end of the year party and the kids were so excited.  When I arrived at the school with my bucket of popcorn and cakes decorated by Auntie Tiff the kids were jumping up and down and dancing. 
The 'set-up' crew led me to a shady spot and we arranged benches and bowls and then sat down to wait.  Of course the 11:00 party didn't really start until 12ish which I'm becoming so used to now, I hardly noticed.  While we waited, the small group chatted and sang songs including Christmas carols.  They were a little foggy on the words for Joy to the World but they all know the chorus.  "Let heaven and nature sing, let heaven and nature sing . . ."  Sitting outside in November under the shade of a big tree with flowers blooming and birds singing  all around it somehow seemed far more appropriate then singing it in the dead of winter.  I enjoy these times of simply being with the kids.  

During a lull in the singing the little girl in the red shirt softly asked "Aunt will we know ourselves in heaven?"

When the rest of the class finally gathered they took turns writing on thank you cards and then came the serious business of eating cake and popcorn. When that was done they went around in a circle giving testimonies about what they were thankful for and I was once again struck by how the simple things like having a teacher or being able to go to school are seen as blessings by these children.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Zipporah Update

Yesterday we were able to take Zipporah and her two boys into a hospital in Kampala to get some more extensive testing done.  We were able to see a paediatrician who referred us for further tests and thankfully we were able to see her again in the afternoon to discuss the findings. She was able to rule out TB and attributed the swelling in the abdomen to malnutrition given the results of the ultrasound scan and blood tests.  His skin condition may be scabies for which she prescribed a lotion.  We are thankful that nothing more serious was discovered at this time and we will wait to see whether the skin condition improves with treatment. Addressing the issue of malnutrition is complex, and so again we ask for your prayers that we will be given wisdom as we seek to reach out to Zipporah. 
 The town where she's living is 40 km away and so maintaining regular contact is somewhat difficult.
On the way back we were able to stop and see the one room she is living in. The tailoring course we mentioned in an earlier post never materialized and so she is trying to earn some money buying and reselling charcoal for a small profit. 

Sidonia's Newest

I walked out to Kabbubu a few days ago to visit Sidonia and her family.  I had heard from Christine that the baby had arrived.  Sidonia delivered at home during a torrential thunderstorm, the conditions being too poor for her to walk out to the road to get a ride to the hospital. 

Six of her nine children

She and her children were so excited to see me and welcomed me warmly. I was somewhat surprised to see the baby's fair skin but learned later that this was not uncommon in newborn babies whose parents have lighter tone skin.

Sidonia's situation is not uncommon in the community around where we are living.  Although government education is free many sturggle to find the money for uniforms, exercise books etc. Only two of Sidonia's children go to school.

This little one was very shy at first but warmed up enough to have his picture taken outside the house.  Please pray for us as we continue to reach out to this woman and her family.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

New House

Around the middle of October we moved over to the secondary school site which is across the road from where the family groups, primary school, administrative building, clinic and church are located.  David has been very thankful to have his bike which he brought from Canada on his last trip. He uses it to ride back and forth to work and also to get into Kiwoko where we go to the market.  John is also pleased to have his bike and makes trips to the primary site most days to see his friends.  The girls and I are getting lots of exercise walking back and forth.  If you don't stop too many times to greet people and chat it's about a  fifteen minute walk. 

 The house we're staying in now was the home of the enterprise farm manager. He and his family have returned to the States. We're slowly getting a handle on the grounds around the house with the help of a secondary school student.

 We've been able to eat some peppers and collards (green leafy vegetable not unlike spinach) from the garden and are hoping to plant some sweet potatoes soon. The pictures show some views around the house so you can picture where we are

A spectacular rainbow one Saturday shortly after we moved in taken from the back of our house looking towards the Dangers house.

Update on Zipporah and Ryan

Last Friday we were able to take Zipporah and her son Ryan into Kiwoko hospital.  Ryan was examined by a doctor from England and had some blood work done.  We will have to return at a later time to get an ultrasound done of his neck and abdomen.  We are hoping that these tests will give Zipporah a better understanding of Ryan’s condition and what the prognosis is for him. Ryan endured the tests and long wait very well but certainly was a happier little boy after a lunch of beans and pumpkin at our place.  We also learned that Zipporah hopes to begin a tailoring course and we were encouraged to hear that if she completes the course she will receive a sewing machine.   Please continue to keep her in your prayers.