Monday, March 30, 2015

The Agenda

One feature that permeates most gatherings we attend is the agenda.  Whether it be a quick meeting to discuss a proposed trip, a dinner party to bid farewell to a colleague, or a birthday party, there is usually a formal agenda which is read out or posted.  It was no surprise then to find an agenda posted on a chalkboard when we went to a visiting day at a secondary school recently. 
Our secondary school ends at S4 (Grade 10 equivalent) and so our students are often sponsored to attend other schools to complete S5 and S6.  These schools arrange visiting days where parents can travel to visit their child, receive an update on their progress and discuss issues with the staff at the schools.  An added bonus for the young people is that parents often bring food as a treat.  We decided to attend one of these days in part to transport some mothers and grandmothers to see their children, and also to touch base with some of the young people we've been involved with during our time here. 
We thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon.  Not only did we get to tour the school including the dormitory, we also were able to witness the big smiles of joy as mothers and grandmothers were reunited for a few hours.  Then it was off to the parents' meeting which was a fascinating study in public relations.  The agenda was followed closely with parents concerns addressed in a open forum.  

It was encouraging to hear from the head mistress of the influence one of our New Hope sons (middle of the picture) is exerting as 'head boy.'  As well as his studies and other duties he regularly schedules worship services in this school.  

Following the meeting we adjourned to a spot on the grass to enjoy a first class picnic with the New Hope students.  I had made the cake. The other women had prepared and carried rice, potatoes, g-nut sauce, matoke, meat, cabbage ... We had a wonderful time sharing this banquet and chatting.  Our own agenda included being an encouragement and we came away being encouraged. That's often the way of things.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Happy Birthday Girls

It's March which in the Morton household means birthday time for girls.  Hard to believe they turned 17 and 15 this year.  I loved their little brother's comment. "They're too young to be that old."  That's exactly how I feel too!  As we watch them grow, we are amazed by the ways in which life in Uganda these past three years has shaped them.  Part of the joy for us as parents is seeing how they have embraced life here in all it's joys and sorrows and managed to navigate the challenges of living in another culture with such grace.  It's been important for them to have close friends their own age who are also living cross-culturally and those bonds of friendship have become strong.  Here are a few photos of the girls with their 'kindred spirits,' to quote Anne of Green Gables.

We spent a weekend in Jinja to celebrate the girls' birthdays.  Here is Christina with her Dad. No doubt which side of the family she takes after.  Below you can see the remains of a milkshake, a very special birthday treat and Christina reading birthday 'texts.'  Yes she's a teenager.  Interestingly enough David and I had never sent a text in our lives before coming to Uganda.

 Here are the girls thrilled to be jumping into a swimming pool with their friends.

Then it was home to Kasana for a very special surprise birthday breakfast for Catriona.  Her friend Kara surprised her later in the day with another party with all her little friends in Treasures Class and Special Needs.  She loved every minute of it.

Two C's, Two K's.
Two Canadians, Two Americans.
Four special friends.

Future Brick Layer?

We spent some time last week at another of New Hope's children's centres in Kobwin.  Originally this centre took in former child soldiers who had been abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army (a group which terrorized this part of Uganda for many years).  We always love visiting here and this time was no exception.  We are always embraced and welcomed whole-heartily into whatever activities are going on.

 This time John and two of his pals from Kasana were invited to join the brick laying class which happens every Monday.  Providing the children with these vocational skills is a large part of their education.

 Uncle Julius was a very kind and patient teacher and John's invited back any time for further training.  

The girls had another cooking lesson from Auntie Christine.

 This time they learned how to make 'ebo' a traditional sauce of g-nuts and greens.  It is delicious served over rice or 'attapa' (millet) another traditional dish.

 We were so blessed to be among these people of faith yet again.  As you can see David and Uncle Charles even have matching shirts so we must belong!

Road Trips

Road trips in Uganda invariably include many of the features of road trips everywhere. There's the initial thrill of going and then as the hours pass by the inevitable, "Are we there yet?" For years our family has played the alphabet game to pass time while travelling.  Spotting the letters of the alphabet in succession can be a frustrating business at times but there’s little doubt that it passes time.  Last week we think we cracked an all-time record by spotting all 26 letters in the space of about a minute while stuck in a traffic jam in Kampala.  Suzie’s Hair Boutique took care of 12 letters! 

Then there’s road food.  Our kids are always excited about the prospect of ‘chicken on a stick,’ or ‘chicken in your face’ as others like to call it.  Roasted chicken on a pointed wooden skewer is sold along the roadside by vendors.  As you pull up along the road groups of vendors surround the car thrusting chicken literally in your face.  The $3.00 price is well worth it.  Swiss Chalet doesn’t need to worry though, because those pointed sticks would no doubt be considered a safety hazard in North America.