So many things to say... how do I even begin?
The last two weeks Francis, Joel, Allan and I spent in OUR village. I love the sound of that... our village! But it truly is starting to feel like home to each of us and we are growing a love for the area and the people of the area each day we spend there. Allan had been up in Akampala for the past 3 months as he was overseeing the construction of the building we will be using for the school, so to him especially that place feels very much like home.
The trip began with some sadness as Francis and Joel went first to the village of their relatives to mourn the loss of their dear uncle who passed away just days before from HIV. He had been suffering a lot this past year and suddenly his spirit let go and gave in. That family has had a lot of grief this past year, but thankfully, God continues to sustain them and carry them through.
Our first couple of days in the village we gave applications to the LC1's (Local Counsel leaders) from the three closest villages within walking distance. They were to be distributed to those who were most in need within their villages. Our target was to, firstly, take in orphans, secondly, those children with one parent, and thirdly, others who, in various circumstances, had greatest need. We also had some running around to do with finishing up a few small things regarding construction of some of the doors and chalkboards for the school, and searching for teachers to hire. After a few days' time the applications all began coming in and Allan, especially, did an incredible job helping the villagers who didn't write to fill in the details on their forms for their children. It took some work to sort through them, as some people from one of the villages (not Akampala) tried to 'pull the wool over our eyes' and lie about some of the children being orphans when in fact their parents were alive. Thankfully, we had help from other villagers to try to sort these out so as to make fair choices. Francis and Allan met with the parents in discussion on two different days, explaining what our plans were, and how we wanted to go about things, allowing them to voice their questions and concerns and also confronting the issue of lying on forms. I really was so proud of them for how they handled everything and were so respectful towards the people. It reminded me once again, how grateful I am to have fellow Ugandans to work with, who not only can speak the language (Kumum) but who understand the needs here, and can relate to the challenges of living life in the village. After much prayer and sorting through forms, the children were finally chosen for our school; 66 kids from the three villages. From most families we took only one child at this point, but for a few rare exceptions. Uniforms were given to the kids all in one day, and wow, did they look good! Both the children and their parents were SO proud! I admit, it was difficult to see the disappointment on the faces of some of the children who we weren't able to help at this time, even some of those who already seem to have found a special place in my heart. However, I know that this is only the beginning and, with God's help, in time more opportunities will come for some of those kids. I realize the importance of looking at the big picture and staying positive, being thankful for those who we can help and taking one day at a time. There really never is an end to need and to those who are in need. We need to be thankful for the little we can do and for the lives we can touch, whether many or few.
We also were able to find and secure 2 teachers from the area, one for the nursery class and one to teach P1. Both were very happy for the opportunity and I trust will do a good job. Already Francis and I have purchased some teaching aids and material to help them with their tasks ahead. We have yet to find some material for the religious education aspect (religious studies is actually in the curriculum of all schools here), but will do so before classes begin in September.
We also agreed upon a person to hire for the tasks of cooking porridge in the morning for the children, making shopping lists, keeping the school and schoolyard tidy and being our eyes and ears there when neither Francis, Allan nor I are around. We also have plans to construct a small, simple kitchen in the next couple of weeks where this work can be done.
Other than the business side of things, the 4 of us also took time to play. The boys spent almost every evening playing soccer with the local village guys, and I swam nearly every day in the lake, and taught another lady my age to swim as well. We played with children, walking with them, playing games, organizing coloring sessions and Joel and I spent some time attempting to teach some of the village kids the alphabet as well (some of which was successful I believe).
I also had my first experience sleeping in a hut and found it to be cozy and can only compare it with camping. I do indeed, enjoy sleeping in a hut! I also learned many words in Kumum and have found that it is easier to learn than Luganda. I can't wait until I am able to spend more time in the village and really be able to devote my time to learning the language.
Our next visit... We are planning to return to the village for a few short days at the end of the month, to meet with teachers, take teaching supplies and get everything set so classes can begin in September. I am happy that at least a few of my last days in Uganda will be spent up in our village. I have such joy in my heart when I am up there.
Francis' Visa - Francis was denied his visa on his first try (as is often the case). He will try once again, and we'll see what happens, but either way, I will be moving forward with planning to speak and raise money with or without him in Canada. I have many things to do in preparation for that.
Prayer and Finances - Please continue to pray for us as we move forward. We always ask that God would grant us wisdom and discernment. We don't want our own ideas to shape this ministry but we truly want God to be leading each step of the way. He sees all that is down the road while we only have a small dream in our brains and can't comprehend all that He may have planned. We also continue to pray for finances and ask that you also would help us in this area as well. In order to keep moving forward, we have had to spend money in faith that it would be provided. I really had no idea how expensive things would be in Uganda (and how many added expenses would come up along the way), however I do know that God is great and I believe and trust that each dollar that we need to spend He will provide for. If God lays it upon your heart to help us, whether out of your own pocket, by helping us to fundraise, or by praying for us in this matter, we thank you!!! We rely on all those at home for this ministry to move forward. And to those who have helped us, you have done a great thing. I know I am the one with the privilege of seeing the people's faces in person whose lives you are pouring into, but on their behalf I say thank you! Your gift really will make a difference in the lives of those in Kaberamaido.
For those who want to give, you can do so by sending a cheque written out to 'Rays of Hope for Uganda' to Joanna Hulowski at the address below, or you can call my mother and give a donation on your credit card as well.
RR5 site 23 box 165, Prince Albert, SK, S6V 5R3
One last note... Personally I will be looking for some temp odd jobs around Canada to try to take care of my own personal finances. If you or anyone you know has leads to any odd jobs I can do that would still afford me the flexibility I need to travel some please let me know.
Thank you for your support, your love, and your prayers. I will be seeing you all shortly as I am due to arrive back in Canada September 3rd.
Much love in Christ,