Friday, December 31, 2010
It will take us about 4 hours to reach Mbarrara but we will stop along the way when we cross the Equator. There will be picture-taking and watching the water drain in opposite directions on either side of the demarcation line. We will be spending the night in Mbarrara. In the morning, we will leave for another village on the way to Kabale. There we will witness something we are very excited about: okuhingira (oh coo hin jeer a) the giving-away ceremony of the bride to the groom. This is the third and final ceremony in the process of a traditional village wedding. There will be gift giving from the bride's family to the groom. This exemplifies what a fine girl she is and the good family she comes from. The second party is gift giving from groom to bride which used to be known as the bride price. Generous has prepared special clothing for us to wear. Dale and I will be in gomesi - traditional dresses with wide cumberbands. Ashley and Holly will be wearing something different and Bill will most likely be in his own clothes! This should be a real treat! We are all looking forward to this. It should last several hours. From there, we will move along toward Kabale but stop in another village to have supper with Lydia Komugisha and her family. Lydia is an ACT-Muko board member and a trained social worker.
We have nearly forgotten that it's New Year's Eve here. We pray all of you have a most Happy New Year and appreciate your prayers!
Thursday, December 30, 2010
This morning started much too early with Christopher the driver arriving at 8AM after a midnight light's out after two days of travel...you get the picture. We all had breakfast at the Adonai Guest House where we are staying last night and tonight before we leave for the village tomorrow.
We started the morning with a joyful celebration of Jorryn's birthday. She is Richard and Generous' second child and our God-child. We had a huge cake that looked like Clifford, the Big Red Dog at their home and then watched a DVD made from the kids' school play and dances. Jesse, Jorryn and Josiah are quite the dancers! Little Joash is recovering from the mumps (no vaccine here) and is looking really good from his third-degree burns he suffered a few months back when he pulled a pan of hot liquid onto himself. It appears there will be little scarring from what I could see.
At about 10am, the team split and Dale, Holly, Bill and Ashley went with Christopher and Charles and little Jesse over to Jinja to see the source of the Nile and then onto to Bujagali Falls - the huge rapids on the Nile. They had lunch in Jinja. Generous and I (Sue) went into City Center to meet with Ben Tumuhweire, the Director of Juna Amagara Ministries. It was a wonderful meeting with Ben helping Generous with things like reapplying for NGO certification and annual audits and such. We discussed our two ministries' programs and how we could right away partner to even better complete the work of God's Kingdom. We will visit the Juna Amagara school near Muko for our own orphans. Their students are out-performing some of the other schools in the area. It would cost us even less than we are paying now but more importantly, the kids will get more Christian emphasis in school and be so loved by some very commited folks. We made plans to meet up with Ben in Kabale this week. We also made plans for Ben to attend our ACT-Muko board meeting in the future as well as an ACT-Michigan board meeting in February or March! We both got excited about how we might work together and both benefit. Praise God!
Generous and I left his office and went to the fabric market in Kampala. It is so hard to describe to you how difficult and exhausting this excursion is! We got completely snarled in traffic and finally exited the car to walk on down to the market. The first store was about the size of your largest bathroom (not kidding) and there were 6 people in it all talking to me at once trying to buy this and that fabric. Generous is the queen of bargaining. How fun to watch her get annoyed and begin to walk off from the negotiations. I'm standing there thinking, "oh no! I really, really want this fabric!" But in the end she usually triumphs and we get the fabric for a song! I know the sewing group will want to know we have purchased 23 pieces of fabric so far and they are incredibly colors - some very new and different. We plan to buy a few more from Alex Twikirize's sister in Ikamiro who we learned sells fabrics and sews on a foot-powered treadle machine.
We came back to the hotel and met with Stanley Tumuwine who is the owner of the building we are renting as our office in Muko. We had very long negotiations with lots of long "ummmms" (those of you who know their speech will recognize this very familiar part of important discussions. I think I even "ummmed" myself a few times! When Richard and Charles arrived at about 5:30pm then entered into the discussions again and really put the negotiation to the test. We did agree on a very fair price, I think. Now, the ACT-Michigan board needs to determine which scenario for payment.
Next, we went to dinner at Fang Fang, a very nice restaurant in Kampala. We treated Rev. James Karibwije and his grown son, Daniel, to dinner. Rev is the Academic Registrar for Kabale University and has offered to give first priority to our orphans as they graduate high school to enter into a work/study program where their complete tuition is waived! They only need to pay for their books and boarding. This amount will be easily covered by our current sponsorship amount!!! So, our dear sponsors, you can send your orphan to college for current sponsorship amount you are paying. Boaz Twikirize is our first to approach college. He has one and a half years to go. Kapina and Mike Williamsen are his sponsors. As it turns out, Daniel, Rev's son has just finished a masters degree in China and returned to Uganda. He is working for an export service, so Bill and Holly exchanged information with him about our handcraft program.
Wow. A significant day! Our devotion this morning came to mind as I fought (literally!) the people in the market to walk through. So much humanity in one place compared to Midland, MI.
I wish you all peace and happiness as we approach the end of the year. It has been one of great growth for ACT. May the good Lord continue to bless his ministry.
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
We have arrived. Everyone is a little quiet - shell shocked, I think! Christopher, our wonderful and amazing driver has just arrived and loaded all the orphan bags into the van. Today part of the team is going to Jinja to see the source of the Nile and part of us are staying and meeting with Ben, the Director of Juna Amagara and purchase fabrics in the City Centre. The trip was uneventful although very, very bumpy flights both to Amsterdam and to Entebbe. People were getting sick on the plane. All our luggage arrived and we are set to get busy. Be blessed and thanks in advance for your prayers and support.
Friday, December 24, 2010
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
We are finally home. I am unable to access the Internet from my computer for some reason so I am at Brinklow's using theirs. We arrived home at 10:00pm after 37 hours of travel. It was uneventful travel which is always the kind to have.
All in all, we accomplished all the goals we set out with in Uganda. Thanks in large part to the fellowship and partnership of our Ugandan friends. David preached again on Sunday morning at St. Stephens Anglican church in Kampala - Richard and Generous' church. It was wonderful with wonderful music. We dashed from their 2.5 hour service to Watoto Church (Charles' church) in Kampala. It was an inspiring Pentecostal service with great music and a good message. We spent a total of nearly 5 hours in church that morning.
Back at the hotel, we quickly packed all 9 huge suitcases with baskets and fabric and then sat with Richard and Generous and Charles to finish discussing a little more business. A surprise - we realized Josiah - the ACT-Muko Board Secretary had traveled all the way to Kampala to spend more time with us and attend church with us! He is such a dedicated volunteer for ACT and has been since 2003. Josiah teaches school in Ikamiro.
We left for Entebbe airport around 4:30pm just to avoid any possible traffic jam getting to the airport. We stopped at a hotel for one more meal with the Ugandans and then said our goodbyes at the airport curb. It is always so hard to say goodbye but we were also ready to come home.
I seem to be at a loss for words - unusual for me (Sue), I know - but I am exhausted. I plan to leave this blog open for a few more weeks just to capture some activities that will occur as a result of our trip. Again, thank you for reading this and praying for our safety and success. When I get my Internet connection resolved, I will post some additional photos from the trip.
Thanks for now...
Saturday, March 6, 2010
We ended up at a clinic (like Urgent Care) and Generous got tested for Malaria. She is feeling badly with the symptoms of Malaria - achy, headache, extreme fatigue. She insisted I come back to the hotel and leave her to find out the results so we wouldn't have to pay more for our driver (Christopher drove the guys to Jinja). I have not heard from her yet as to how she feels. I am hoping she can join us tonight for dinner again.
The day is still very cloudy but the rain has stopped. It is about 85 degrees with 90% humidity. Instead of complaining of the heat, I'm trying savor it knowing what we face in a couple of days.
Tomorrow, David is the main preacher at the St. Stephen's Church of Uganda (Anglican - Richard and Generous' church here in Kampala) at 7am - 9am. Then we travel across town to Watoto Church (renamed from KPC Kampala Pentecostal Church) Charles church. Some of you know the Watoto Children's Choir - this church with a congregation of 20,000 supports the several Watoto orphanages here in Kampala. We will come back to the hotel to pack and leave in the late afternoon for the airport in Entebbe (about 45 minutes away). It is important we get there hours before our flight to avoid getting caught in a traffic jam here in Kampala and possibly miss our 10:55pm flight. We will fly 9 hours to Amsterdam - have a six hour layover - fly 9 hours to Chicago - arriving at 1:25pm on Monday - depart Chicago at 4pm for DTW arriving at 6:29pm on Delta #3489 (Jenny!). A very long journey home and more difficult with the time adjustment coming West.
We look forward to our "conveniences" and relatively easy lives again but I (Sue) always find it very difficult to say goodbye to our Ugandan friends.
Thanks for your prayers and those of you who have sent "comments" to the blog!
Friday, March 5, 2010
Photo: some Ikamiro kiddos along the road.
Today (Saturday) we awoke to a thunderstorm. It can really rain here! Just for fun, here is a link to an amazing YouTube video that is a choir that simulates a thunderstorm in Africa: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05ip-N0H1Ig Check it out.
I thought I would take a few minutes this morning to upload a few more photos as long as the connection allows. Have a blessed day.
The uploads are taking so long and we are paying for the connection so I think I'll wait to share photos later.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
We next headed for the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) centre nearby, to learn about their agricultural programs. We had a great reception from the staff there and they showed us around the ochard where they apples, pears and ather temperate fruits are grown. I learn that these crops have a very good chance to succeed in the area but was not satisfied with the care given by the staff.
Next we headed to the ACT-Office for the distribution of clothes and other gifts. A large crowd of foster parents and children had gathered. Sue and Generous took to the distribution as David, Charles, Tim and Ced proceeded to meet Rev. Joshua of All Saints Church to discuss possibility of ACT partnering with the two Churches (All Saints and Uganda Martyrs to use the land they occupy at Muko market for a redevelopment plan including the ACT Centre. Rev. Joshua and his assistant were supportive of the idea. A downpour ended our discussion and we headed to the Muko Campsite for lunch. As lunch closed, Rev. Joshua said he knew another piece of government land near Muko which might better suit oue plans. We thanked him for this info and off we went to see the land. To our mazement, this is a dream plot of land for our proposed ACT Centre. The 2 acre land is adjacent to the newly paved highway in the Muko prime area where we badly wanted to find land for the centre. Its just a golden opportunity if this land could be given to ACT. Although the Habuhinga opportunity is now on course, it has the challenge of 8km of difficult murram road off the highway. Habuhinga would also towards the boundary of the sub-country (hence less accessible) than the plot we had just seen located right in the centre of the sub-county.
The whole team believes this is the best location for the ACT-Centre. The challenge is now to include it in our request for land and hope to convince all the officials at the sub-county and the District that it should be part of land offered to ACT (along with Habuhinga). This calls for prayer. We hope you are standing with is in prayer on this matter. Thank you. This is indeed another incredible day. God is leading us to know and discover things in Muko we could never had come across without him moving ahead of us.
Thanks to Chairman Charles Tuhaise for his blog report above; I would only add a personal reflection on relationships and team member well-being. To say the least, there have been no illnesses or injuries--although we did not expect any. On a personal note, I can state that the culture shock is beginning to abate somewhat, although my learnnig curve is still quite high as related to Ugandan Culture in regards to family and marital customs, view of how to use one's authority, how to approach one another for a conflict resolution or negotiations in business, etc. I am learning much. As to the culture shock, perhaps a brief illustration may help. When we first arrived, many of us (not Sue, of course) approached our initial meals with the private thought, "Will I survive this?" The next day our thoughts evolved upwards to, "Can I tolerate this?" Now we come to our meals thinking, "Wow, this is great; I am looking forward to it!"
My personal relationships with the clergy here is at an all time high. I believe this has made a tremendous difference in how things are going--the trust fact is quite high now. For example, Father Fred (Roman Catholic) and The Rev. Joshua (Anglican, Church of Uganda) have churches right next to each other (about 150 yards apart and are the only two churches in Muko Marketplace). Until I became their friend, the two of them had not yet personally gone to talk to the other one--although they "knew of each other from a distance." Now they are eating together, discussing joint ventures, collaborating (possibly) on land use and with their two separate schools (also next to one another). I deeply appreciate how ecumenism can change the immediate world around us.
God bless and keep praying for the much needed ministry here.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
We got phones that work finally. We were sold SIM cards that had been expired. Two of our phone numbers are: 011-256-785-878-455 and 011-256-785-805-134. Please use these numbers for emergencies only. We might be out of range at many times as well.
We got called back to the CAO's office after David posted the blog below. That alone meant things were moving for ACT. We met with the gentleman in charge of land use and management for Kabale District. What a great guy! He was so interested in ACT that he asked to ride along to the village and up the mountain to Habuhinga Hill - the proposed land for ACT Centre. Balbaba, by name was literally an angel on our side. When we got to the hill, he negotiated with the village council chairman--not an easy task. But after a great deal of negotiation and relationship building, we were successful in getting the council chair and several of the men who used the space for their cattle to agree to the next steps. (By the way, Israel...not knowing what was being said to him, accidently bought a cow. Don't tell Lisa Renas, but the shipping bill may be rather large...in reality we renegotiaged for four cabbages! What can you do with college students? Israel is actually a very good team member.
Sue spent the afternoon with the women of MEP (Muko Empowerment Project). We discussed their basket-making and how the business will be paying them a wage once they have received more training and attain a highler level of quality. Then Sue taught the women about quilting! They had never seen quilts before. We actually passed around cut pieces of fabric with all the right tools purchased in Midland. The ecumenical sewing group in MIdland provided the fabric and tools. Sue showed them how to make a 4-patch. She was most surprised that most of them already knew how to sew and made perfect patches. We then spread them on the lawn and they exclaimed with delight to see the beginnings of a quilt! Sue will bring their patches back to Midland to show the sewing group. We explained to them how the women of Muko will make patches and the women of Midland will sew them with batting and backing to make the table runners and such. They were very happy to know they would be "sisters' with the group of women in Midland.
We came back to Kabale early tonight - 6:45pm. It is still light and we have some hours to take a breath and debrief our day.
David led us through a great lectio divina for our devotion last night. We are touched already by the wonderful Ugandans and their joy and hope. It is much we, as Americans, can learn from. Blessings to each of you and thank you for your prayers.
Monday, March 1, 2010
David Pierce was trusted to post this blog...Sue is still trying to get our phones to work and is at the MTN (phone office). Ced, Tim, and Israel have gone to the Ikamiro Village to begin training on solar cooking and water testing. Charles Tuhaise is with me and we will soon travel to the Village, as well, to examine the proposed property for a new ACT Centre. Sue, David, Charles spend the morning at the office of the Chief Administrative officer (CAO) and we met with the assistant CAO. We are seeking their endorsement to petition the government to grant a lease for the land for the new centre. The meeting went very well--I remain amazed at the gentle style of negotiations and great respect for authority granted to all officials.
Yesterday, Monday, we spend a very productive day in a Board meeting with the entire ACT-Muko board--all were there. Some had walked in the rain and mud for miles to be there..but all were in an incredibly good mood with warm hospitality. After the board meeting, since it had rained buckets most of the day, the road to the Ikamiro Village was impassable--but we went as far as we could helping the Pastor of the Village (Rev. Julius Kyarikunda) get as far toward home as possible. The driver of the van, Christopher, is the worlds's best driver--no exaggeration. He is competent and safe...even though we had a few magical moments on the top of a very narrow road that was as slick as a January ice road in Michigan. I just try not to look while we are in traffic or on the narrow mountain roads. My prayer life has increased substantially in the van!
I appreciate hot water--though I have only seen it once so far...and I appreciate water, per se, though my room had none since a day ago. and I appreciate electricity...especially since I have it occasionally in my room--but not usually when I expect it. That said, I wouldn't trade this trip for any other...God is amazing and I see Him constantly in the people of Uganda--it makes other inconveniences rather insignificant and truly unimportant.
Last night the team had a moving and deeply person time of devotions and sharing...the team is quite close and spritually awake.
I hope Jenny had a good birthday, yesterday...sorry we have no working phones yet.
The team says "Hello and God Bless to all...and thanks for your prayers and support."
Charles Tuhaise wants to give a word:
As we held our Board meeting yesterday, torrential rain poured all day. The beautiful hills of Kabale had mist rising from the valleys, creating such spectacular scenery... What came to mind was, God has given Uganda so much wealth. This is not a country we should find poor people. I was sharing with David as we waited our turn on the computer to do this blog that what Uganda needs is good and informed leadership to turn this enormous potential wealth from God into good infrastructure and services for our people. May be ACT is one way to see this happen.
Just a word of greeting to all ACT fans and Associates. Thank you for keeping us in your prayers. The mission visit is going fine and our meeting this morning with the Deputy District Chief Administrative Officer about our request for land was very positive. I just got a call from the office calling us back to meet the district land officer about our request. I now sign off as Sue, David and I head back to the land office.
God's blessings and peace to you all.
Charles & David.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
We stopped in Mbarara (about 2/3rds of the way between Kampala and Kabale. (total 8 hours drive). It was dusk and Sue and Israel dashed into a darkened alley way with tiny shops of clothing. We found one with men's clothing and Sue began tossing shirts and pants his way! It was completely pitch black and we really couldn't see anything. I used my Blackberry to light up the counter so the woman could write out a receipt for me!
Off we dashed and over some newly paved highway and some typical really huge potholed roads we made our way to Kabale. Christopher, our driver drove the van and Charles Tuhaise drove his car. After Mbarara town, it got dark and we still had 135 kilometers to drive to Kabale. Night visibility was nearly nil. Charles later said he was driving on auto-pilot, but thankfully, that was after we arrived at our hotel in Kabale.
We arrive in Kabale at 10:30pm. Another very, very long day (the third) of travelling. Our hotel in Kabale is very nice. We left this morning at 8am for the village. The new highway is awesome but it still took us about 45 minutes. Everyone was very excited to see us. Tito greeted us on the road and ran along with the van to the office. We attended All Saints Anglican church (right by the ACT office) this morning from 11am to 2pm. Before that, Charles suggested we drive up the highway above the marketplace toward Kisoro to see an "aerial" view of the marketplace. It's the first time we have had that view! We discussed ideas for land for ACT activities.
David was the main preacher in the service and as always, was outstanding. Charles translated his sermon as he went along. There was much dancing and singing and praising God.
Following the service, we had a huge lunch prepared for us Ugandan style. After lunch we started the ecumenical service under a large tent. We are estimating there were about 300-400 people there. It was momentus! Charles did a roll call of all the churches who were attending and there were 7 churches represented. David again preached and painted the vision of all Christians coming to gether to restore the church. It was truly inspiring. Father Bruno translated this time. This service ended 5:30pm and there was many photo ops and visiting. All in all, a very, very good day of fellowship with our precious partners.
We arrived back in Kabale by 7:30, had dinner and Charles and I are now sitting writing this blog. He has some greetings for you:
Hi everyone. We just had an awesome day in Muko at the inter-church fellowship. Apart from what Sue reported, what was remarkable for me was that we I asked God for a rainless afternoon in my prayer this morning. Rain would really have made the inter-church fellowship difficult. The tent was a 100-seater and we had nearly 400 people turn up. Guess what. God answered our prayer. Its rainy season here, but as we started the afternoon meeting, the sun suddenly broke through the clouds as to confirm God's presence at the meeting. The whole afternoon we had a beautiful sunny afternoon as rainfilled clouds threatened an invasion at a distance. But something (I think God's presence) just kept them away. It started raining as we drove back to our Hotel in Kabale. Talk about answered prayer! We saw this today.
We thank you for coming back to read on the progress. Overall things are moving as expected since we arrived in Kabale. We have a board meeting Monday morning and look forward to another successful day.
Thanks, Charles...We are signing off now. It's 11pm and we are both pooped!!! Take care, keep praying and tomorrow night we will try to get back sooner to town and maybe upload some photos. Be well. Goodnight. (Sue)
Friday, February 26, 2010
We got to bed at 1am and are a bit tired. Christopher, our driver, has loaded all the suitcases (except Israel's) and we are off! Please pray for safe travel today to Kabale.
We look forward to the two worship services tomorrow in the village. The first will be at All Saints Church and David is preaching. Then we will have lunch and the big ecumenical service begins at 2pm (or thereabouts...) David is preaching at that service as well. We expect hundreds to attend from at least 17 churches: Church of Uganda (Anglican), Roman Catholic, Pentecostal and Muslims.
Be well - we miss you and wish you all could experience what we are experiencing. We'll do our best to convey that through this blog and when we return.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
ACT-Michigan Mission Team visit to Uganda Feb 2010 Schedule
Here is our schedule as it stands today. When in Uganda, we will be 8 hours ahead of EST in the U.S. If you want to send a message to the team, you can text my phone at 989-859-1700. To receive texts is free for me; to send them $.50 each so I likely will not reply unless you ask me to! Thanks for your prayers...
Thursday, Feb 25th
Leave for DTW at 10:00am from Waechter’s.
Leave DTW at 2:30pm for Dulles then Amsterdam
Friday, Feb 26th
Arrive Entebbe at 8:40pm (KLM #561). Pick up by the Adonai Guest House van.
Richard and Generous and Charles to greet us at airport
Saturday, Feb 27th
8:00am Christopher pick us up at Adonai Guest house to go to Turinawe’s to see the kids before we leave.
9:00am or later, leave for Kabale. The drive to Kabale will give us time (8 hours!) to talk about some of the work.
Sunday, Feb 28th
10:00am Service at All Saints Church of Uganda in Muko Marketplace (Rev. Joshua, Dr. J. David Pierce preaching)
Lunch and fellowship with partners. (provided by All Saints Church)
2:00pm Ecumenical Service in Muko Marketplace between Muko Martyr’s Church and All Saints Church. (David will be the main pastor in the service)
See clinic and possibly Habuhinga land. Meet with Blasio at Clinic to discuss the solar power and water
Monday, March 1st
AM - Meet with ACT – Muko Board (Agenda items: ACT Project Approval Process land, ACT Centre, MEP – building the business, Muko HOPE, Strategic Planning, review document from ACT-Michigan Board for project proposals.
Lunch with ACT-Muko Board – Muko Campsite
2:30 PM (Muko) - Meet Mr. Didas Mukasa (Chair LC111 Muko Sub-county) about the land for the ACT Centre
3:30 PM (Muko) Mr. Nelson Bikangiso (Muko Sub-county Chief) about the land
Meet with Blessing to discuss how Muko HOPE is going and his vision.
Tuesday, March 2nd
9:00am Meet with Kabale District Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) regarding the land
In village, meet with MEP women and leaders to plan the future of the business. (Israel and Sue) At the same time, David, Ced, Tim & Charles go to land to further investigate the site and the building possibilities and water for clinic (inspect the gravity water scheme) and inspect the solar power system. If time allows, visit the HOPE Seeds nurseries.
Lunch (at Bunyonyi Campsite Restaurant)
Sue teach quilting techniques to the MEP women. Ced teach solar cooking or water education
Wednesday, March 3rd
Spend time with Blessing visiting a few orphan homes.
Meet with the Orphans/Guardians at the ACT office for thanks/greeting/distribution of orphan packets.
Ced, Tim, David and Charles continue with land/building/water agenda
Thursday, March 4th or Friday, March 5th
8.00 – 10.00am visit children in schools – Kabale
11.00 – 1.00pm EVALUATION OF THE VISIT
2:30 pm. Depart our way back to Kampala, arriving around 10.30pm.
Friday, March 5th
AM Market - Purchase baskets/handcrafts to bring back
Minister of Education or Early Childhood Education officials to hear presentation about the Legacy Center and the Tote program
Other Meetings in Kampala?
Saturday, March 6th
Purchase fabrics for the Ecumenical Sewing Group
Sunday, March 7th
7:15am – 9.30 am Worship in Kampala at the Turinawe’s church St. Stephens Kisugu Church of Uganda (Rev. Huntington Mutebi) (David participate in service)
10.00 – 12.00pm Worship service at Watoto Church (Charles Tuhaise’s church that sponsors the Watoto orphanages and Children's choirs)
Fly out at 10:55pm.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Packing, Packing, Packing