Sunday, May 26, 2013

Friday, May 24, 2013

Dear Friends and Family: Hard as it is to believe, today is our last day in the village with people we have come to know as friends.  We started off our day with a stop at the Internet Cafe, where we were finally able to send our blogs for Wednesday and Thursday.  Despite numerous tries, we were unable to attach pictures, but we promise that we have many wonderful pictures to share with you when we return, which will tell you the story of our trip much better than words ever could!  As usual, we began in the mist, but soon the sun broke through and we could enjoy the green hills of Uganda as we drove. Along the way we picked up our friend Haward.  We missed seeing him yesterday, as he was needed at home to help his family. Arriving in the village, we were greeted by Generous, who was busy getting the center ready for the meeting of the ACT Uganda board.  Behind the center, men and women were busy preparing breakfast and lunch for everyone.  Chicken, beef, matoke, rice, beans, cabbage, pineapple, watermelon, and African tea and of course was quite a feast! Included in this feast was even some spaghetti! A rare, but familiar treat for the visiting team!
The board meeting went extremely well, led by our excellent chair, Lydia. The US team was given the opportunity to share with the members of the Muko Team the activities we have done these past two weeks as well as projects we endorse in Michigan. The team seemed very impressed and willing to continue to work hard in order to continue develop the board and organization here in Uganda. There was some lengthy discussion about which schools the children should attend. We were happy to have Maureen, a probation officer from the Kabale District. Maureen was especially valuable in explaining that her job was less about working with children in court and more about protecting them and keeping them from abuse or abandonment. She shared with us that some children are accepted by sponsors that later stop their sponsorship and the children are left on the street. We assured her that we are careful to prevent this from happening to our ACT kids.
Having to leave the board meeting early, John and Michelle left with the members of the HANDS team in order to measure more plots, with the intention of measuring plots for the commercial endeavor. The first plots measured were close by, yet on a steep gradient which would make any mechanization difficult. After measuring three neighboring plots, the team headed back to the ACT office for the delicious feast.
            In the meantime, Elizabeth, Kelsey, Dave, Josiah and Demus, went to talk to the headmaster at Muko High School. Demus, who only has two terms left of school, was worried that he would be unable to finish due to the expensive tuition fees. Elizabeth, while conducting interviews, was extremely touched by his story, and, in an act of loving grace, consented to provide funds to help him complete his schooling. The trip was successful, and Demus could not stop smiling the whole time he was eating lunch. The appreciation was evident, and Elizabeth was strongly touched by the chance to make a difference in a life that has touched her deeply while on the trip.
            After lunch, the HANDS team once again left for more plot measurements in Ikamiro. There they met an elderly man who appeared to own half of the land in the county! John, Michelle, Herbert, Moses, Tito, Siriaco, and Obed (who has been helping take measurements) measured the largest (and prettiest) land plots that they have seen yet. James, the owner, had more land plots for the team to measure, however, if they had done all of it, they would have been there all day! They made a quick stop at the home of Friday and Ronald, the orphans that Michelle's family sponsor. Their older sister, Mila who is only 16, is heading their family. Michelle gave some skirts, shirts, and shoes to Mila, who laughed and clapped at receiving the gifts. Clothes were also donated to the village by the team, which will be distributed by Josiah.  It was another touching moment of how even the smallest action can make a real difference in the lives of the people here.
            Meanwhile, back at the center, Karen and Kelsey gave their final violin lessons. The students looked through most of the first beginner book to see what would be coming up for them as they practice. They all knew “Kookaburra” and jumped ahead to that page to learn it! Karen, Generous, her sister, and her brother all rehearsed “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” to perform together at the wedding of Alexander the next day. Kelsey and Karen will be playing “Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring” and the Pachelbel “Canon” at the wedding. Francis, Haward, and Demus will also be performing some African music. This is a miracle that they are this developed in one week of lessons. Alexander has requested that Elizabeth shoot video and take pictures at the wedding, so we should be able to share some of this special time with you when we return.
            It was a heartfelt and difficult goodbye to everyone at the village as the team packed up to leave. Many pictures were taken, and even more hugs were given. It was extremely hard to say goodbye, but armed with the knowledge that some of the older orphans would be attending the wedding tomorrow, it wasn't quite as hard as it could have been. A few of the orphans have joined the older ones at the Centre daily and we have learned to know them better. We are excited to share with a few of our sponsors the details of these encounters. However, it made it harder to leave them. 

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