The upcoming trip that some bloggers are taking to Uganda prompted me to go back and re-read the e-mail updates I sent home during our year there.
I decided to start systematically posting those e-mails. I know my kids will enjoy reading them again, and maybe others will be interested as well. I'll try to post a couple each week until they're all online.
The e-mails served as my journal and are pretty lengthy. We didn't have the luxury of spending a lot of time on editing but they do give a pretty accurate picture of our life in Africa. :-)
This is to let you know that we got here! And God has truly blessed. We know many were praying about the luggage and the airlines let us check through both the extra suitcase and the box with solar panel AT NO EXTRA CHARGE! Praise the Lord.
We had a good trip (although VERY long) and arrived Friday evening, June 22. The first part of the trip was overnight, but on the second half (from Brussels to Entebbe) we had incredible scenery. We saw the Alps poking through clouds, and Italy was clear of cloud cover and we could see towns, small hills, lakes and rivers...Just beautiful! The first sight of Africa was breathtaking. The sand is RED! Then it washed out to a white as we got further inland, like someone bleached it. After crossing Libya and going over Egypt, it turned brown...and stayed brown for hours! We were just starting to see some green when it got dark.
We spent Friday night in a hotel near the airport, and got picked up Saturday morning. The missionaries don't waste trips, so we spent a good part of the day shopping in Kampala on the way to New Hope. I can't begin to describe all we saw and experienced. When we arrived at New Hope, many came out to greet us -- too many to remember all the names!
Our first service at Kasana Community Church Sunday was quite an introduction to Africa! An hour worshipping in song, along with keyboard, guitar and African drums followed by an hour sharing God's Word. We were blessed by the installation of five new deacons, godly men who are involved in ministry in this community, using their gifts in His service.
Ivan's enjoying his job but with Mark down with malaria this week, he's been a bit confused about what is going on. Hopefully by the time Mark leaves on furlough, Ivan will have enough background info to carry on the work efficiently. Mostly it seems he'll be doing a lot of trouble-shooting, keeping various projects going and the crews supplied with materials and instructions.
This week there is a crew here putting in another bore hole well. There were three wells, but two kept drying up. Since villagers from miles around come here for water, another deep well will be a blessing. I guess they were here a few years ago, but were unsuccessful that time in finding water. This time they hit water at 65' but continued going down to about 80'.
We're in temporary housing and it will be a few weeks before we get into our own house. The houses are comfortable but not fancy. They're brick with cement floors and metal roofs. Other missionary wives cleaned and prepared the house for us, and they have been very gracious in answering my questions and helping us adjust to life here.
We have a cistern where rainwater is collected during the rainy season, and each day a young man comes and pumps some of it up into our tank in the attic, so we have water that's gravity fed into the kitchen and bath. Yes, we have flush toilets! The same young man carries drinking water from the bore hole well, which we filter before drinking.
I met Mama Daisy, the Ugandan woman who will be my house help after Mark leaves. She speaks fairly good English. If I tried to do the housework by myself, I'd never get anything else done. Plus all the cooking is from scratch and clothes are washed by hand. Also it is a cultural thing. If we didn't have someone in to help, the Ugandans would think we were stuck up, too good to have an African in our home. I'm hoping Mama Daisy will be able to help us learn some of the language. So far our vocabulary consists of the appropriate greeting and response, plus 'thank you' and 'you're welcome'.
Some of the kids we've met have already made an impression on us...
Buzimungu: about 19 years old, he's in secondary school and quite industrious
Chondya: has already earned enough to buy land and started building his house, which is a few feet high (building is done slowly, as he has the money to buy more blocks). He plans to be in his house by fall, and will finish secondary school the next year.
Nampenda: a beautiful young woman who helps with the babies. She leaves Friday for a job with an orphanage in Jinja.
Lydia: a young woman with a gentle spirit and kind heart. She's in secondary school, and helps a missionary family with their children.
Meg: who is shy but has a beautiful smile.
New missionaries are treated to a week of meals with various staff which gives us a good opportunity to get to know folks. Last evening we had dinner with Michael and Margaret, who have been here for ten years. Michael heads up the agricultural program and Margaret teaches the preschoolers. They have four children and adopted a fifth. Michael is from eastern Uganda and met Pastor Jonnes (the head of New Hope) at a conference he attended while still on staff with Youth With A Mission. Michael is one of the newly appointed deacons at Kasana Community Church.
Most staff live on this side of the road where the church and primary school are located. A couple years ago they began clearing brush across the road to make room for a secondary school and more staff housing. Several large pythons have been killed on that side (one 12 foot python swallowed a calf whole!) and there are also cobras and green and black mambas. We plan to spend as much time as possible on the "primary" side. :-)
Last evening we went to the monthly staff fellowship. We've been really impressed by the staff. They have such a heart for this ministry. Close to 70 of us crowded into the guest house dining room, and we shared in singing and worship. Next weekend the men are having a retreat. Since they can't really leave New Hope without any male presence, they're just setting up tents across the road in the secondary compound. Although Ivan's not overly fond of sleeping in tents, he is looking forward to getting to know the men better and the time of fellowship.
Currently a work team from Iowa is here, with more scheduled from the U.S. and U.K. over the next few months. So for those interested in serving, there are always teams coming and we'll hook you up with the guy who oversees that. Since we'll probably be here through next August, it would be great to have some familiar faces from home come and join us for a while :-)
Malaria is a real problem right now, and many are ill. We didn't bring enough malaria medicine with us and are hoping to get more sent over with the team coming in early July. We appreciate all your prayers!