Thursday, May 23, 2013
Dear Friends and Family: Our computer troubles continue...... The ACT Uganda computer that is in for repair not only wasn't ready for us this morning but will not be fixed until after we leave, due to the fact that parts must be ordered from Kampala. So, with no access to the internet from the village for the rest of the trip we will be forced to send blogs from the Internet cafe in Kabale. Sure makes us appreciate our access to technology back in the United States! This morning John and Michelle remained behind in Kabale to visit a potato crisp factory with Justus and Stephen, who have been invaluable to the Ag team during our visit. Karen, David, Elizabeth and Kelsey made the 45-minute trek to the village. We arrived to see the peace pole being set in concrete in its new home in front of the ACT Empowerment Center. “May peace prevail on Earth” is repeated in Rukiga, Kiswahili, English, and Kinyarwanda on the four sides of the pole. With the new walkway lined in brick and the new wall of lava rock at the front of the property, the center is looking nicer every day!
Karen and Kelsey began violin lessons with Francis, and Demus. Time was spent teaching them how to tune their violins and replace strings when necessary. Other students trickled in and lessons continued throughout the morning. Meanwhile, Elizabeth set to work sorting and packing the beautiful baskets, trivets and ornaments made by the women of the MEP program. Their work is steadily improving and really is “functional art”. After lunch, Karen interviewed Francis, Isobel and Demus while Elizabeth videotaped, asking them to share their thoughts, hopes and dreams with us. It was very interesting and touching to hear. Karen can't wait to share these with our MukoHOPE team. Lessons and packing continued throughout the afternoon. We fulfilled a dream for Francis when he actually phoned his sponsor in Ohio. The connection was lost after a few exchanges, but Francis was thrilled to speak to his American Mom. Dave spent a good part of the day working on finances, the budget and directing the building of the rock wall. Using his prison experience, he was able to coordinate volunteers to help construct the wall. Starting out with only Herbert volunteering, eventually a total of eight people ended up contributing, including a 2 and a half year old boy! All the volunteers were paid, and David demonstrated real humility by stepping back and allowing the volunteers to build the wall in their own way.
While the rest of the team worked at the Center, John and Michelle set off in search of more land parcels. While the goal was to see larger plots for the commercial endeavor, the team got to visit some other sites instead. The first stop was at a smaller greenhouse research station, where the potential size and design could be implemented. Greenhouses in Uganda share the same purpose as in Michigan: to extend the growing season. However, in Uganda this is done by lowering the sun's intensity, not enhancing it. After the greenhouse, we stopped to see the farm of a HANDS team member. Herbert's farm was similar to the Garden of Eden, both John and Michelle were extremely impressed with the techniques that Herbert has been employing. His garden demonstrated permaculture, water conservation, soil erosion prevention, and sustainable agriculture. The team enjoyed a nice lunch of cliff bars and the fruit of Herbert's land. After lunch, the team ventured just down the road to measure some more plots. These plots were mainly comprised of volcanic rocks, however, the team was able to see beyond the rocky terrain and visualize the great potential of a demonstration garden site. Tomorrow John and Michelle are praying that, after the board meeting, they will finally get to see some larger land parcels for the commercial endeavor. However, as the team is continually learning, God's plans do not always line up with ours, and we continue to pray for guidance as our trip concludes far too quickly.