Friday, December 31, 2010

A Day of Transition

We are eating lunch at the moment - I am across the room from the team who sounds very happy but very, very tired. We will leave shortly to travel to Mbarrara this afternoon. Everyone is looking forward to taking a nap in the van on the way. We awoke at 5:45am to reach the Kampala market by 6:30am to shop for handcrafts with Generous. We were at the market for about 2 hours. Lots of bargaining and carrying things back and forth to the van. We didn't find many baskets at the Kampala market this morning so Christopher took us to Buganda Road market which was nice but more expensive. I got more baskets and others had time t shop for gifts for family and friends!

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

A Most Fruitful Day in Kampala

Dear friends,
This morning started much too early with Christopher the driver arriving at 8AM after a midnight light's out after two days of 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

Dear friends,
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.
Sue Waechter

Friday, December 24, 2010

Dear all,
As I sit here on Christmas Eve I am thankful first, for the birth of Jesus Christ. I listened to the Lessons and Carols from Cambridge, England this morning and thought about the sacrifice Christ made for me. I am humbled.

I am also spending time contemplating our mission trip beginning this coming Tuesday, Dec 28th. Five of us are going again to Muko to work ibega hibega (shoulder to shoulder) with our Ugandan partners to add orphans to our Muko H.O.P.E. (Helping Orphans Prosper and Endure) program, build upon our M.E.P. (Muko Empowerment Program) with villagers creating handcrafts for sale to earn a good wage and support the programs of ACT and work alongside Tito, our Mobilization and Agriculture Officer in the garden beds. In addition, we will be continuing our work to acquire land and purchase our current office building and plan expansion of it. So, as usual, we have lots to do in a short time. We would appreciate your daily prayers for our safety, health and energy.

Our team consists of myself (Sue Waechter, ACT-Michigan Board Chair); Dale Anderson, a member of Blessed Sacrament, quilter and Master Gardener; Ashley Bair (Karen and Dave Viele's daughter) who is a senior at Michigan State University in Social Work; Bill McHenry and Holly Oemke, students at Alma College and leaders of the S.I.F.E. (Students in Free Enterprise) program. The photo of the team is Bill, Ashley, Dale and Sue (Holly is was not there for the picture).

Electricity willing, we will do our best to add pictures and at least words to this blog daily so you can learn all we are doing in the village and in Kampala. For those of you who are nearby Midland, remember to mark your calendars for our potluck and presentation from the team on Saturday, Jan 15th! We'll have many stories to tell and news to update. We will also be making a presentation at Holt Presbyterian (date to be determined).

I wish you each a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. God bless you and your family!

Sue Waechter