Tuesday, January 29, 2013

January Harvest

Growing up in Canada the passage of time has always been defined by the seasons.  In Uganda I'm learning that the passage of time is marked by planting and harvesting, dry season and wet season. Last week we were back in the David Family maize fields harvesting again. So for all of you surviving another winter in Canada here are some images of January in Uganda.  


Uncle Eric, crutch in hand, was one of the fastest workers. There really isn't much this man can't do! If you haven't had a chance to read my previous post about him have a look. His determination and willingness to work is inspiring.

Agnes and Jessica two of our strong David family girls.

 Here we are exhausted but happy with the harvest in one of the fields.  A few of our older family members were missing but we got the job done.  The best part for the kids is the ride home on the jeep.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Baganda Way

As part of our staff training days we were treated to an evening of 'Kigandan' culture.  Like so many African nations Uganda is made up of many tribal groups and at New Hope we're blessed to share life with people from many different tribes.  Each have distinct languages and cultures and people often identify more closely with their tribal group than the country as a whole (sound familiar).  The Bugandan kingdom makes up approximately 20% of the Ugandan population

Kate helped me dress for the evening in the traditional gomesi.  There are different styles of these dresses depending on the occasion but the fancy ones have up to 6 metres of material that is folded and worn with a wide sash.

For our meal we all sat on mats on the floor except for the 'father' who is given the place of honour on a chair.  The 'mother' serves food first to the father and then to the children.  Makoote (steamed bananas), gnut/mushroom sauce, yam, chicken and beef were all eaten with our fingers

Following the meal we were treated to traditional dancing and drumming. 
A memorable evening of celebration.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Bishop Muhima

The following post contains some disturbing material.  Please read with discretion.

The soft African lilt of Bishop Edward Muhima’s voice tells the story.

They lined us up outside the vehicle . 1,2,3,4... I was number 5. Palms extended, shoulders bared they search for signs we had carried a gun. Number 4’s hands are calloused.
You’re one of them!
No, no I’m just a farmer.
Kneel down!
He refuses and then the blows begin.
My cherical collar tightens and I watch in horror as number 4 is dragged away. I protest but the rest of the people behind me urge me back on the bus.
Reverend there’s nothing more you can do. Please come!
Reluctantly I turn away.

More horrors remembered.
Pregnant women ripped open to see if they’re carrying boys. Eyes gouged out and the victims made to dance for their torturers. He witnessed the brutal murder of one of his students. As a representative of a Christian student union he stood before Idi Amin and protested that the forced expulsion of Indians from Uganda was “barbaric.” Realizing that Edward was a marked man his bishop arranged for him to flee to the United States. Eight years later he would return to help rebuild his nation and minister to his people.

The retired Bishop of the Church of Uganda shared these stories at our recent staff gathering. It’s rare to hear these memories. So few of this generation remain. For those who do the wounds are still tender and the pain is deep. Tears fell as we listened.  The depth of evil in the human heart is unfathomable. It is only through God's mercy and grace that we have hope.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Going Public

‘Going public’ is how folks around here talk about public transportation. Last Saturday David and I made a trip to the south side of Kampala to visit our friend Laura who is an AIM missionary. On our shopping trips we usually hire a driver which allows us to load up on supplies and have space for our propane tanks which need to be exchanged. This time we decided to save some money by going public.

We squeezed into a local car in Kiwoko for the 14 km trip to Luwero. These cars work on the principle of packing as many people as possible in to make the trip as profitable as possible. Concepts of personal space are disregarded as 13 or 14 people (I wasn’t entirely sure of the final count) share the space intended for 8. Once we arrived in Luwero we boarded a ‘taxi.’ These Toyota vans are the main form of public transport and are in varying degrees of condition. They all sport slogans in Luganda or English which often amuse or puzzle us. Eventually the vehicle is filled with enough passengers to satisfy the driver and we head off.

You know you’ve reached Kampala when the people on the road are walking faster than your vehicle. Eventually after some shouting and crafty vying for position our driver succeeds in getting past the worst bottleneck and we arrive two hours later at the Kampala ‘taxi park.’ A bus terminal of sorts, the area is packed with taxis. Drivers eagerly hunt down passengers and conduct you to their vehicles. Once again we wait for the vehicle to fill up before we begin the next leg of the trip. An elaborate game of musical chairs begins as passengers get on and off. Taxis are often loaded down with curious cargo on the roof or under the seats and for this leg of the journey I had the dubious distinction of sitting with a live chicken under my seat for a while. We let the conductor know where we wanted to get off and after negotiating the price we’re finally dropped at the side of the road. Laura lives up a steep hill on the south side of Kampala and so we boarded a boda (motorcycle) for the trip up the hill. Etiquette demands that women sit side saddle. Thankfully I was so tightly wedged between David and the driver that there was little fear of me falling off.

We thoroughly enjoyed our time with Laura and then it was back down the hill to wait for another taxi. One comes quickly and we arrive at the Kampala taxi park again. By this time of day the park is filled with vendors selling all manner of things. We find the next taxi we need and wait on board for it to fill up. In the space of five minutes 19 vendors approach me to buy everything from handkerchiefs, belts, bread, cold drinks, fruit . . . One chap in a Bob the Builder hat tries to convince me that I really need the water he’s selling.
“I like your hat,” I tell him.
 “Do you want to buy it?” he replies.
After repeated refusals he flashes a smile and says “Thanks for appreciating my hat.” 

We managed to snag the front row seats which gave us the dubious advantage of seeing all the traffic coming towards us. At times I wondered whether the taxi in front of us with the slogan “Better safe than sorry” would have been a better option. By 5:00 we were back in Luwero and then there was the wait for another small car to fill up to capacity. We bumped our way along the final 14 km and finally stumbled out of the car around 6:00. We arrived home tired but thankful to have survived ‘going public.’

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Just Playing

Years ago when I was in teacher’s college I studied the role of play in child development and over the years I’ve continued to be a fascinated observer of children at play. As I’ve observed children around me here I’m continually amazed at the ingenuity of children. When children have adequate nutrition, a safe environment and time, then play results . A case in point is the son of our former sponsor child. At his last medical appointment in Kampala, Ryan was very lethargic and withdrawn until we had lunch. With a full tummy he was all go and we were astounded at the change.

Our day with Sam and his siblings just before Christmas provided more interesting examples of children’s play. I watched as Sarah carefully laid out little pebbles in intricate patterns arranging and rearranging them to make pictures. An old bicycle tube became a hoola-hoop. A vine became a skipping rope. Construction scraps were quickly gathered up and used to practise hammering and sawing skills. My favourite example was the see-saw Dan and Sarah made out of a piece of wood and a tree stump. Dan even tried to use a rock and some discarded nails to attach the board to the stump. Running, jumping, skipping, building, pretending, imagining, laughing . . . the joys of play!


'David' Family Vacation

The day after Christmas we left Kasana for a trip down to Musana Camp on Lake Victoria.  As well as the five of us, we had twelve members of our David family group.  Over the holiday period some of the children at the ministry go and visit relatives or extended family but there are always some who don't have somewhere to go.  We decided that it would be fun to take the ones in our family group who remained and our family parents, Uncle Mulu and Aunt Lucy, for a vacation.  Travel in Uganda is always an adventure and this trip was no exception.  A few miles from the camp our bus got stuck in some mud and after we all piled off it took some heavy pushing to get us going again.  Once we arrived the fun began putting up tents, making beds and preparing the evening meal.  We made spaghetti the first night which was a bit of a challenge for some of our members who wondered why in earth anyone would eat something that took that much work to eat.  The rest of our days were filled with worship, games, football, swimming for some, hiking, watching DVDs and just sharing laughter and fun over food. The pictures that follow reflect some of those good times.

We played some fun games including trying to write all the numbers to 100 while other players grab your pen.

 One afternoon some of us hiked to a waterfall on the property.  David and three of the brave ones went right under.  Then most of us got very dirty trying to climb up the side.  Catriona and I slid down a couple of times before being hauled up by Kiweewa.

The walk home from the waterfall ended with us emerging onto a large grassy area overlooking Lake Victoria. 

Johnny our littlest family member 

Matooke cooked in gnut sauce!

David and Uncle Mulu clean the Tilapia for dinner

Kiweewa takes aim during one of our many football matches.

The smiles on Jujuu's and Catriona's faces sum up the fun!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Christmas Gutters

David first visited our sponsor child Sam and his family four years ago.  At that time they were living in a thatched mud hut which was painted beautifully with pictures.  Unfortunately the thatch was in bad repair and the leaky roof let in rain.  In partnership with the church here we were able to help build a brick house with a corrugated metal roof which was completed in 2011.

Water: in Canada we often took it for granted. We turned taps on without a second thought. Living in Uganda has taught us what a precious resource water is. Rural Ugandans, like Sam’s family, often walk long distances to obtain clean water at bore holes. Although Uganda often receives torrential downpours during the rainy seasons, much of that water is never collected for household use. Installing gutters and a water storage tank is one way that rainwater can be collected and used. We approached Aunt Jovia, Sam’s mom, with the idea and received an enthusiastic go ahead. After contracting a man to build a cement base for the tank and gathering supplies we were ready.

The Saturday before Christmas David and I drove out to Sam’s house in a borrowed jeep. We began by trying to remove the make-shift gutter that had been attached to the house. The noise brought Sam’s Jajja (grandmother) out of the house to see what the commotion was about. She settled down in a shady spot to supervise operations for the day.

The first casualty of the day was David’s Ugandan hammer that snapped as he tried to remove the first bracket. Off to Kiwoko we went to buy another hammer. By the time we returned a small crowd had gathered curious to see what we were up to. David kept everyone entertained with a running commentary on the proceedings.

One of our goals for the day was to have Sam and his siblings participate as much as possible and so before too long we had them measuring, hammering, sawing and climbing the ladder. When they weren’t directly involved they happily played with scrap nails and wood practising their hammering skills.

By mid-day we were ready to eat the lunch of beans, posho and pumpkin that Jajja had prepared.  Then it was back to work installing the gutters and cleaning out the storage tank before adding the last piece of downspout.

Everyone had a lesson on turning the tap on and off and then posed for one last picture. We ended the day by handing out some Christmas gifts and headed for home.


We’d been told that dry season was here and so wondered whether it would be months before the tank would ever collect any water. At dinner time on Christmas Eve we heard the distant sound of thunder and held our breath. And then it came. Perhaps the longest, most persistent rainfall we have experienced in all our time here. It rained and rained and rained. Our own cistern rose 2 metres. It was all I could do to keep David from rushing out to see what was happening at Sam’s. Christmas morning David spotted Sam’s older brother and ran out to ask him what had happened. The 1000 litre storage tank was full!
Water: our welcome Christmas gift this year.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!
Thoughts and favourite images as we begin 2013.

Thanksgiving to God

• For the way the Lord has and continues to prepare the way before us. There have been so many ways and each one is amazing in itself.

• For the warm welcome to Uganda we received and the fellowship with our brothers and sisters in the Lord here. We are thankful for the opportunity to be a small part of God’s work here.

• We are thankful for the many of you who are supporting us so we can serve in Uganda. And thank you for the encouragement and news that we receive – it is always good news!

• For the health and safety we have enjoyed. This year we have done a lot of traveling, made many transitions and pushed our limits – we will never know all of what we have been delivered from.

• All our visas have been processed and received. We are thankful this is done for a year.

• We are enjoying a warmer winter! God has been giving us some extra rain which is good for us who planted late and keeping the cistern full of rain water.

• Home schooling transition has gone well and we are now almost half way through the year.

Prayer Requests

• For grace, thankfulness and wisdom each day in our relationships as a family and as a community. 

• The new year is going to be an ongoing transition as we implement new processes and reporting into almost every areas of the organization.

• Zipporah, our previous sponsor child; we are very conscious of our need for wisdom as we assist her after the death of her husband.