Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver, British Columbia

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Broke Truck Mountain

This weekend two of the staff members Paul Were and Livingstone, agreed to go with us up the mountain near Mbale called Mount Wanale. The Go-Ed students, Joy and Jess were here until Thursday, and there was also another couple visiting last week from North Vancouver. They were here in 2007 with CAP Church helping to build in Bufukhula.

In the morning Paul and Livingstone went out to find someone with a truck who could take us. One of their friends had a truck, but the brakes don’t work well so they told him no. They ended up finding a guy with a little pick-up truck whose brakes worked so we decided to go with him. As we started to climb, the gears were slipping a lot, so the truck would jerk and make a horrible sound. After driving for about ½ hour, the truck made a big BANG and smoke started coming out of the hood. Thankfully, we were right in front of a house and could pull over there. The truck driver had to catch a motorbike down to Mbale to get a part for the truck. We decided to hike the rest of the way up the mountain. We were surprised at all of the people who lived up there, because from Mbale it looks like there is one mountain peak. When we got up there though, there were many valleys and hills.

The view was amazing, although we never reached the true “top.” Every time we would climb higher, there would be another peak that was even higher. We were really depending on the truck driver to come back to get us though, because there aren’t many vehicles up on the mountains and there were 8 of us. Along the way there was a small market selling bananas and passionfruit, so we had a nice lunch. I love the way that they eat so much fresh stuff, and don’t have any garbage. About 30 minutes after we’d reached our destination, which was some cell phone towers, the truck driver arrived. We made it back down the mountain without any problems. It was an awesome day!

On Monday we were reminded about the frailty of human life and the sad reality of the seeming disregard for human life that some people have over here. For one thing, the roads here are terrible; they have huge potholes everywhere. Most drivers swerve to avoid them, even big trucks. People drive extremely fast here, I’ve seen speed limits posted at 80, but no one enforces them and they are too fast for the road conditions. Most motorcycle riders do not wear helmets, and none of the passengers do, and the motorcycles are mostly in bad disrepair.

As we were driving home we saw a large group of people standing on the road; it was almost completely blocked off. They had laid small tree branches on the road, which they use as pylons here. A boda (motorcycle) had been hit by a car and the driver and young boy were seriously injured when he fell off. There were huge puddles of blood on the road, streams running across the highway. We were told they both survived the initial crash, but were rushed into the hospital, and we haven’t heard yet what his condition is. We are so thankful that God continues to keep us safe, as we drive on the highway 4 days a week.

On a lighter note, we went to visit Livingstone’s mom and she made us dinner on Monday night. She lives in something like a bachelor suite, and all of the apartments are on the ground floor. She is fluent in 4 languages, Luganda, Swahili, Lugisu, and her language from the Tororo district. She also knows a few English words. I think that it’s so amazing that most people here know at least three languages fluently. We also got to meet Livingstone’s sister and her children. It is very strange here that children under 5 seem to be terrified of muzungus, but all other children are so friendly.

The same was true of Apollo’s son, who is only 3. Apollo is a 27 year old volunteer with FH; he is back in school to get his equivalent to a high school diploma and is currently in the equivalent of grade 10. This is amazing as he travels by bicycle for about 1 ½ hours each was every day after work to get to his evening classes in Mbale. We visited his house on Tuesday. His mother was pounding cassava to mix with ground millet to make flour. I tried it for a few minutes, but the cassava kept flying everywhere.

On Wednesday the 10th and Thursday the 11th, I taught classes for the last time; as I’m meeting with teachers next week. The children asked me to stay, but I told them that my students in Canada were expecting me to come back. I’m very sad to leave these children; they are a lot of fun and love learning. I feel so bad though because many of them look alike to me and since I’m teaching in two different places I get so confused as to who is who. There are three boys in Makhai that I always joke with because I think they look alike and call them the triplets; but they think it’s hilarious because they don’t think they look alike. On Wednesday night we went to visit Paul’s family again. He told us that we could have a small snack at his house, and his wife brought out plates heaping with rice, potatoes, beef, and avocado. One thing we’ve noticed here, is that hosts don’t eat with their guests. They either leave the room until you’re finished, or they just sit and watch you eat. It’s very unnerving and so much different from Canadian custom.

Creature of the week: The most humungous spider I’ve ever seen, crawling up the office wall in Bufukhula.

We are thankful for:
• Good health.
• Safety.
• Our relationships with FH workers and the people in the communities.
• A fixed toilet!

Please pray for:
• Rain. It has not started raining yet, and the people need the rain so they can plant their crops to have food in June and July.
• Safety on the roads.
• Continued good health.
• Amber’s meeting with the teachers next week.
• Frank’s trip to Kapchorwa next week. He’s going to help build some classrooms.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ronnie, Our Pet Rooster

This week we have continued with work from previous weeks. The students seem to understand me better, especially the grade 5 class. This week I also went to teach a grade two class because the teacher requested it, so she was there to translate for me. I taught them “The Itsy, Bitsy Spider” in English and they caught on quite quickly. I was going to teach them “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” but they already knew it. We sang it a few times, faster each time and they loved it. Frank’s been working on more computer training during the week, showing the staff here how to input information into excel so that it can be sorted, which will save them so much time each year. He also supervised children who were writing letters to their sponsors and went on some home visits, photographed some children for annual update letters to the sponsors. On Monday, he also participated in athletics class, where they were training for the district track meet. We were not sure if they were supporting him or not, because when he would run past the all 600 children would scream “Muzungu!” while laughing. He ran with the older boys (12-17yrs), but did not do that well. He could only complete 3 of the 4 laps because he was trying to keep the fast pace the boys were keeping, and he didn’t want to be last because the last place person each lap would be beaten with a stick by the athletics teacher. He also made excuses that because we had hiked for about 15kms the weekend before his legs were sore, but I was proud of him for trying! He also spent the lunch hours each day playing football (soccer) with the older children.

On Thursday we were invited to a woman’s home in Bufukhula. An FH volunteer named Apollo took us to her house, as she can’t speak much English so he had to translate. She made us matooke (mashed bananas) and chicken. It was so nice. After our visit she presented us with a live chicken. We had to ride home with it strapped on the back of the motorbike and every time Frank would hit a big bump it would squack. We left it out in the shed for the night and then the next morning Frank took it out because he felt sorry for it. He tied a rope to one of its legs so that it could walk around, but the rope was too stretchy and it managed to escape. So, next Frank duct taped it to some banana leaves which he tied the rope around. We had originally named it Harriet the hen, but someone told us it’s a rooster so we had to rename him Ronnie the rooster. Frank loves his pet very much and gave it some oats to eat today. We’ll see how much he loves it tomorrow when it wakes us up at dawn!

Yesterday, I went to get my braids taken out. It took 2 ½ hours for them to do it, with 2 people working on it. My hair felt like a big cotton ball and was so frizzy. I also lost a lot of hair, I don’t have much left L It just kept coming out in clumps; but I’m happy that it went straight again after the first wash. Let’s hope that I don’t lose anymore!

Creature of the week: a big frog in the bathroom, that jumped up on Franks leg when he was about to get in the shower, and scared the “ba-jeesers” out of him (Frank’s term, not mine).

Prayer requests:
That Amber’s cold would get better
That children would be motivated to come to school and learn.

We are thankful for:
Continued safety when traveling on our motorbike.
The staff that we’re working with.
Friendship with the American students who are visiting.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Crow’s Nest Lodge- Romantic by Day, Terrifying by Night

This past week, I continued to teach the grade 5 and 6 classes, and Frank and I finished the library in Makhai. We had sorted all of the books and then put them onto shelves. I can’t wait to take some classes in there. Frank also helped with response letters the children write to their sponsors and he also had some fun games of soccer with many of the boys. We were also honoured this week to receive Bagisu names in Makhai. We were invited to the fellowship service at the church, where they took time to “baptize” us with names and pray for us. The community leaders came together to choose the names.

Frank was given the name Mambu. Mambu was the first Bagisu person and he lived in the mountain right behind Mbale. I was given the name Sera, who was Mambu’s wife. They say that she was patient and encouraging, and always ran out to greet Mambu when he returned.

As the title suggests, we went away this weekend to Sipi. It is about a 90 minute drive from where we’re staying and there are waterfalls and caves that you can hike to. We wanted to stay somewhere cheap and had researched some places before we left. The Crow’s Nest looked alright so when we got to Sipi we went to check it out.

There were guys on the road trying to recruit us to go to their places of lodging, and so the ones from Crow’s Nest took us up there. The main lodge looked quite nice and clean, and had an amazing view of two of the waterfalls, so we continued to one of the guesthouses. It was made from bamboo and wood, was nicely painted, and had a mosquito net. It also had an outhouse (rather than a pit latrine) and a shower. So, we decided to stay.

Lunch was also good, but it took about 2 hours for us to get it; we had ordered beef stew, did she have to go out and carve off a slab of beef from the cow?! When we were finally finished, a guy named Patrick came up and told us he was a tour guide and could take us around to the waterfalls and caves. We hiked for about 10 km up and down the mountains and saw so many beautiful things. We even saw a vervet monkey, which was very exciting!

In the evening I decided to take a shower, and when I walked into the bathroom there was a big, ugly looking lizard on the wall. I ran back to the guesthouse and was sitting there trying to convince myself to have a shower when the power went out because it was so windy. I took a deep breath and told myself that I could still go in there, so I did with the headlamp. But next I saw a rat scurrying along the top of the wall, and when I turned around to leave there was a giant spider in the doorway! No shower for me that night!

All night, as we were trying to sleep we could hear rats scurrying around on our floor and squeaking. We didn’t sleep well at all.

The next day we were traveling to the FH office in a village called Piswa (Peace-wah). It is a remote village way up in the mountains, so an FH staff member had to come in the 4x4 truck to take us up. It was a long and bumpy ride, and even though I usually don’t get sick in vehicles, I was feeling sick. The views were beautiful and we were glad when we finally got there.

This place was much cooler than Mbale, which means that they don’t have mosquitoes. They can also drink water without boiling it because there isn’t anyone who lives above them, so it is not contaminated.

Frank was so excited when he found out there was a cave that you could actually go inside in Piswa. The ones in Sipi were very shallow so you couldn’t go inside. The cave was huge, and in the rainy season the mouth of it is covered by a huge waterfall. Right now though, there are just a few drops trickling down. Roteach (the guy from FH) and James (the security guard) took us to the cave. We had to hike up for about twenty minutes, and in that time acquired a group of children who walked with us. I knew that there were bats in the cave, so I wasn’t too keen to go, but I didn’t want to miss out. The cave was really cool, and we walked into it for about ½ km, so it was pitch black other than our headlamps. You could hear bats flying around, which really freaked me out, but my strategy was not to look up. (If you can’t see them, they’re not there right?) Frank also enjoyed the fact that he could practice his photography skills in such a dark place. He just kept snapping pictures while I was ready to sprint out of there!

Well, here you have it, a condensed version of our trip to Sipi and Piswa.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Frank becomes my personal boda boda (motorcycle) driver!

Amber: This week seemed to be a week of freedoms….Hooray! We have internet at the office now, however since it is run off the wireless phone network, it doesn’t work if too many people are using the network at the same time, but it’s nice to be able to check our email more than once a week and feel connected back home. We also finally bought a cell phone, which allows us to communicate with people easier. This is important since a couple of times people from the Kampala office wanted to talk to us, and someone would have to drive over to where we are staying to connect us. Also this week we got a boda boda (motorcycle). One of the staff had an extra which he has graciously lent to us. The only think is we are going to have to replace the shocks on it as every time we hit a bump (which on African roads is about 8 times a second), the wheel well hits the tire and makes an awful noise. I must say, if this bike was in Canada, no one would ride it as it looks, sounds and feels a bit unsafe, like it is going to fall into a pile of pieces on the highway, however we have been told it is one of the better ones around, and after being on a few others, we know it to be true. Driving motorcycles in Africa is quite different than in Canada. First of all, it is a full time job trying to zig-zag through the maze of potholes at 70 km/h, and avoid on coming vehicles that are also swerving trying to avoid potholes, all the while remembering that I have to stay left…Left…LEFT! Amber is my rear lookout (which is easy for her because she has to ride side saddle…lol) as vehicles also fly up from behind you and would run right over you if you didn’t move into the ditch. It seems there is quite a pecking order on the roads here. Bicycles hit the ditch for motorbikes, motorbikes hit the ditch for cars and taxies and everything better get out of the way for semi-trucks as they are not moving for anything! It’s been a learning experience in trusting that our lives are truly in Gods hands (kind of joking, …but not really), and although I feel confident and am quite comfortable driving already, I don’t know if Amber feels quite as confident in my driving ability, so please pray for her.

Well, I was eased in slowly to the teaching profession here. My first class only had 44 students in it. I’m teaching grade 6 Math and English in Makhai on Mondays and Wednesdays, and grade 5 English and grade 6 English in Bufukhula. The grade 5 class in Bufukhula is the biggest that I’ve taught, 123 students. It was quite crazy, because I think that they also have a difficult time understanding me. (and vice versa) I hope that this class gets easier because it was quite a struggle. It seems that the students learn mostly the same things as my class in Canada; Social Studies is the only thing that seems really different, as they learn about Uganda and other countries in Africa. Something that’s been very challenging to me is that some teachers here still hit their students, and in one case it seems it’s being misused. Please pray that I will find a way to influence change over this, as it’s very upsetting to me.

On Wednesday, Frank and I sorted some books that were donated to the Makhai School library. They have about 60 books right now (not even enough for a whole class to read). Many of them were donated by a team that came from the UK last October. The community is hoping to continue building their resources.

Frank: On Thursday, I helped make bricks. They’re made by putting mud into a mould that is built to make two bricks at a time. They then lay the bricks out to dry under banana leaves for several days. In April they will burn them to dry them even more. The locals seemed pretty surprised that a “Mazungu” (white person) could do manual labour. After every fifteen minutes they would say “Man you must be tired!!” to which I would respond “I am not quitting until the others I was working along side quit.” I don’t know if they were just being polite by letting me know I could take a break if I wanted, or if they actually think that we can’t do ANY manual labour (although it didn’t help that cause when I told them that machines make our bricks). Anyways it felt good to play with mud for a day,…it brought me back to my childhood. The community of Bufukhula is beginning to prepare for the team from CAP Church in North Vancouver that comes every year. They will be helping to finish two classrooms and build teacher’s quarters. That’s a lot of bricks needed by May! The teacher’s quarters are necessary because Bufukhula doesn’t have a very big population, so many teachers travel from far away. The principal leaves her house at 6:00am every morning to walk the three miles to school. School begins at 7:30am. Another teacher rides his bike 22km to school. I can’t even imagine!

Amber: On Saturday it was Valentine’s Day. It is only recognized by the people in town, the people in the villages don’t really know about it. We went with Vicki to pick out fabric for the dress that I’m having made. We found some, but I didn’t buy it yet. I’ve also chosen a pattern, which I’m very excited about. Frank also saw a traditional shirt that he likes.

We then went to the Oasis of Life restaurant. It was started by a British man and serves European food. It is a beautiful place and has awesome food (the best in town if you’re ever vacationing in Mbale, lol). Frank tried to order the crocodile steak on the menu, but the owner of the restaurant is the only one who cooks it and he is back in England right now. Hopefully we’ll have a chance to try it somewhere else before we leave here. The Oasis of Life also founded a church, but on Saturday they met on the back lawn to have a church service. It was packed and it lasted for about 1 ½ hours.

After that, we went to the Mbale Resort where they have an outdoor swimming pool. It was refreshing, as it was really hot. I loved some of the rules on their sign: Do not blow your nose in the pool and do not spit indiscriminately in the pool. Most people in Uganda don’t know how to swim because you can’t swim in most of the lakes and rivers here due to bacteria in the water, or crocodiles. There are only two pools in Mbale, and we’ve been told that the one in the sports centre is dirty. As it is, the water at the resort began turning the white parts on our bathing suits green.

This next week, Frank and I will begin playing sports with the children during school and I’m hoping to take over some library classes so that I can read storybooks to the children…one of my favourite things to do. We’re also getting two students from an American university who will be staying with us for 3 weeks. They’re taking a class about development, which was set up by FH and their university is partnering with it. They’ve been in Kampala taking classes, now they come to Mbale for three weeks to do some practical work, and then they’re off to Rwanda for more classes. It seems like a cool program. So far, none of the universities in Canada have accepted to offer credit for a program like this.

Creature of the week: a bat in our hallway (which we see once in a while, but never long enough to think about catching it).

We are thankful for:
· Continued health
· Friendships with staff here
· Messages and support from our family and friends at home
· God’s faithfulness

Please pray for:
· Parents here raising fees for their children in high school to go to school.
· Our continued partnership with the staff here finding ways to use our skills.
· Continued health and safety.
· Makhai and Bufukhula communities as they continue with preparations for development.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Amber’s Nails Are So Long She Can Barely Type, and Does Anyone Want to Mail Us a Starbucks Latte? Make it Extra Hot!

(Frank) Ahhh…the power. Well, last week as we tried to upload pictures to our blog, the power would go out just as they were about to finish uploading. We were on the computer for over an hour, with only 25 minutes of actual internet, broken into 5-10 minute increments. Thankfully, the people didn’t charge us. The power this week was off more than it has been on. On a couple of occasions, we were sitting in the dark at night and the lights would come back on and one of us would say “Now lets just hope they stay on” and not five seconds later, they would go back off. So needless to say, we have been going to bed really really early, as doing anything by kerosene lamp is really hard. The one thing I have been able to do is play guitar, as they had one in Makhai which needed to be repaired. They said that if I would repair it, I could use it, which I was very grateful for, as it now gives me something to do in the evenings.

Well, school is underway, which is great for the children, but not for people trying to catch taxis in the evening as we found out on Thursday. We waited for about an hour at our turn off. Every taxi that went by was full, and in Africa, full means having 20+ people plus their groceries (which often includes live chickens), and anything else they have with them packed into a little van similar to the old Volkswagen vans (it’s quite cozy!!). Amber and I wanted to phone a private taxi from Mbale to come and get us, but our friends said no. One of them had a motorbike so he drove us individually about 5 kilometers away, where we could catch a taxi. Thankfully we caught a car (private car wanting to make some extra money….I think?) that drove us in. Our friends told us that one night they had waited until 9pm to get a taxi and then ended up phoning a private taxi to pick them up. A private taxi costs about 1/5 of their monthly pay.

This week of work though was quite fun. We are finally getting used to how things operate here so we are now starting to find ways our skills can be useful. This week Amber observed some school classes in both of the communities we work in (Makhai and Bufukhula). She met with the head teachers of both schools and next week will be teaching classes in both schools. The schools are very short on teachers and classrooms, making class sizes really large (120+ in some) and so Amber helping in this was welcomed.

(Amber) Wow! Classrooms here are very different! Frank told me that they purposely build the classrooms so that the windows are high enough that the students can’t see outside. I observed 5 different teachers this week in various subject areas, and the methods that they use all seem to be the same. It is a lecture style with note-taking and a bit of student interaction. However, I must say that for 80-120 students in the classroom, it sure does seem quiet! Much quieter than my 18 students J Next week I’ll be teaching English and Math lessons to some grade 5 and 6 classes; the grade 1-3 students are taught in Lugisu, and the head teachers were afraid that the grade 4 students wouldn’t be able to understand my accent. (I’m also afraid that I won’t be able to understand theirs.)

In Uganda, primary education (K-7) is free. However, senior school costs money and many parents can’t afford it. That means that many students drop out, or some go back to repeat grade 7 just so that they can stay in school. It is a huge struggle for many of the parents here to make enough money to send their children to secondary school.

(Frank) I have found ways to help this week by doing some construction estimating. There are a few structures which are being built in the communities (2 classroom blocks for the school, a kitchen for the Makhai school, and teacher’s quarters) at various levels of completion. Last week I spent some time with the FH engineer/builder learning how things are built in Uganda, and this week I was sent to do quantity estimation for the remaining work. I also spent a day changing some former sleeping quarters into a school library, as the Makhai school has received a few books from the UK ( I mean a few….man do they need more!). On Friday I spent the day doing some computer training in the Mbale office. The whole staff spent the day there and I started by teaching typing skills. Some of them were sitting and practicing all day on paper keyboards I made, and others on keyboards not attached to anything. It was so awesome to see how excited they are to learn computer skills as currently they write EVERYTHING by hand, even the lists of one thousand children they have in the program (multiple times a year for different charts). This requires days, if not weeks to do every year, so they are very eager to learn computer skills. It was decided that I will be doing computer training every Friday, and Amber will be planning her lessons for the following week. Also, construction on the new buildings should resume soon, so I will be assisting with that.

Friday night as we were kicking a soccer ball in the yard, some kids came running in with their dog. We knew them from before so Frank asked what they were doing. They said that they were scared of another dog, which at that moment came running into the yard. We’ve been quite concerned about animals here, because we weren’t immunized against rabies and the nearest center for the rabies injection is about 5 hours away. Amber was near the office door so she ran inside, but the kids and I ran to a big tree in the middle of the yard and began to climb it. Unfortunately, the crazy dog attacked their dog. Its owner eventually came and called it away. It was pretty scary and the kids’ dog had some deep teeth marks in it.

On Saturday we were invited to the home of one of the FH staff named Paul. Him and his family (wife and one year old daughter) are about our age (a little older, but close enough), and are great people who made us feel at home as soon as we got there. We spent the day visiting and getting to know each other, eating lots of great Ugandan food and playing games. Since this is what we love to do in Canada with our friends, it really felt like home here for almost the first time, like we were just hanging out with our friends on a Saturday. Their daughter named Lynn Angel is 14 months old, and weighs almost 40lbs! She is the biggest baby I have ever seen in my life, and was joking around that she could have a bright future in the WWF. I think I pulled my back out when I lifted her the first time. She kept going around and picking up children, who were much older than her, and carrying them around calling them “baby.” It was so funny!

Oh ya, they do have coffee here. It’s the stuff we would put in our coffee percolators, but since most people here don’t have electricity, they just put it in their cups and let it sit for a few minutes before they drink it. The grounds settle to the bottom…but it’s just not the same. And we use powdered milk.

We are thankful:
· For our health.
· That we have finally found useful ways to contribute our skills to the work here.
· That the bites on Amber’s leg seemed to be swollen mosquito bites and are okay.
· That we were protected from the crazy dog Friday night.
· That we have began developing friendships with the people here and are beginning to feel at home.

Please pray for:
· Continued good health
· Amber’s teaching.
· That our work here would have a positive impact and initiate lasting change.
· The parents here that need to find money for school fees.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Power Goes Out for What Seems Like the Hundredth Time, and Frank Risks His Life on the Side of a Mountain!

Well, this week has been quite interesting. We could only include some events, as there was so much to write about. First of all, we’ve been told that the rainy season begins in March, but it has been raining for the past week at least once a day. Strong winds and thunder and lightning have come with it, making for some impressive damage to almost all of our banana trees out back as well as a lot of time without power.

On Sunday Frank and I were both feeling sick so we stayed at the office all day. We were supposed to go to an introduction party, a bride was introducing her husband to her family, but unfortunately we couldn’t go. These ceremonies are where the groom is expected to pay the bride’s family a minimum of three cows for her. At first we were quite interested to see this in person, however, after talking about this custom with some Christian locals we realized that this “ownership” of the wife results in her often being treated as a bought object instead of a human.

Monday was a public holiday and we were feeling better, so we went to look at some of the shops in Mbale. We also went to play catch with a football outside our office and within minutes about ten neighbourhood children asked if they could join us. So, Frank taught the older boys how to play American football while I played soccer with some of the younger children. It was a lot of fun and the kids stayed for about 3 hours; I think they would’ve stayed all night if we hadn’t told them that we had to go.

We also walked around town with Vicki, looking at some of the hotels and then we went to a wedding meeting. In Uganda, people have 5-6 meetings before their weddings to go through the budget and raise money. They sell pop, and auction off mystery gifts to raise money. We didn’t stay the whole time though because dark clouds were looming overhead…

Halfway back to the office, the skies opened up and we were caught in a torrential downpour. The three of us tried to take cover, but Frank and I were completely soaked anyways, so we decided to run back to the office. Within minutes it looked as if we had jumped into a swimming pool. Hundreds of locals who were taking cover were laughing at us, as they thought it was funny that we’d go out into the rain. This tropical rain is something we’ve never experienced before!

On Tuesday I (Frank) went with the FH engineer to look at a school structure being built two districts from Mbale. When we arrived it rained VERY VERY hard for about two hours, which the locals said would make it impossible to reach the school on motorbikes because of the severe mountain slopes, and washed out roads. We decided to go anyways, as I was thinking to myself “Self…how bad can it be?” Well needless to say, it was really bad. During the trip we came off our bikes twice, and the other bike went over three times. We looked at the school structure being built and I had a chance to see the existing school structure. I have included a picture of the old school structure. About 800 students go to school at this school, with about 80 students who sit on rocks on the floor in each of the classrooms (photo). The community with the support of FH has now built 4 classroom blocks (photo) making learning conditions much better. When we finally reached the office in Pisway (photo of town) it was still raining, making it impossible to go back, so we were forced to stay the night. It was such a beautiful but cold place (+5 which is COLD by African standards) perched on the slopes of Mount Elgon. I thought Livingstone (the engineer) was going to freeze to death as he was shivering the entire time we were there, while I on the other hand enjoyed the break from severely hot weather of Mbale. This area used donkeys for transporting crops and everything else as it is impossible even with motorbikes to reach most places, so there were very many of them in the area and they kept us up at night because of the constant “EEEE AWWWW”ing.

On Friday morning I (Amber) woke up with a huge red welt on my leg that looked like a big bite of some sort. It was okay and we continued on as usual with devotions, prayer, and worship. But at mid morning…SNAKE!!! That’s right; I was coming out of our room, and saw a green snake stretched across the hallway. Well, as you may know, I wasn’t about to call Frank because he would’ve passed out in the hallway beside it, so I called for Paul. But there are two Paul’s and they were trying to decide which one of them I was calling. I yelled that I didn’t care which one of them it was; it could be both but just to come out here now! Needless to say we’re having snake soup for supper (just kidding), but that snake will never return.

Our prayer requests for the week:
· Please pray for the children who are returning to school this week, and for Amber who’s been asked to teach some classes- many of them have about 100 students in them.
· For families who are required to pay increased school fees.
· For good health.
· That the computer training that Frank will do will be effective and useful.
· That the sessions that we do with the youth about vocation, education, and relationships will speak truth to them.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

In week two, Amber now has black hair, and Frank finally can say hello in the local language!

Week #2

Sat., Jan. 17 was our day off, I went to the Salon to get extensions and then braids in my hair. Although I asked for blonde, I received black with some gold strands in it…not quite the same. It took 9 hours to do, and by the end of the day I was extremely hot, but glad to have experienced a salon in Mbale.

While I was at the Salon, Frank attended a wedding reception with Livingstone, Miriam, and Victoria. Because there weren’t any utensils and they ran out of water at the wedding, Frank says that some of the guests were washing their hands with Coke before eating. It was very interesting to attempt eating rice and stew with his hands. (He says that he only ate a few mouthfuls.) There were also many street kids running around at the reception, trying to get food. Frank gave one of them his plate of food and then ten of them began fighting over it. The street kids are children who have either been orphaned, or they leave their families because there are too many children and they are not being taken care of. (Some families here have as many as 20 children)

On Sunday, Jan. 18 we went to St. Andrew’s Anglican Church with Miriam. They have 3 different services, 1 in Lugandan, 1 in English, and 1 in Lumasaba, which is the local language. We went to the English one of course, and found that many of the songs were the same. The pastor seemed humorous, unfortunately, it was difficult for us to understand her accent. The service was 2 ½ hours long, which is much longer than most of us are used to.

From Monday, January 19-Thursday, January 22, we have been going out to the field, 3 days in Makhai and 1 day in Bufukhula. You may remember that last week we asked you to pray that we would adapt well to the weather, and your prayers have been answered…well, in a different way. It seems that the weather has adapted to us instead, and it has been cloudy and a bit cooler the days that we have been doing home visits. Home visits consist of walking to the homes of sponsor children to ask the families how the children have been doing in school, health wise, spiritually, and whether they’ve been helping out during the school break. (The children don’t return to school until February 2).

This week we’ve had a group of faithful children who follow us everywhere. On Wednesday and Thursday they were with us from 11am-4pm, no matter what we’re doing. Yesterday when I was doing some filing and Frank was working on the computer, they just sat outside the window staring at us. They have also sung us some songs and played tag with us.

Yesterday (Thursday), we were in Makhai and watched some men who were building an office for the church. They use bricks that are hand made from the dirt here and fill in between with cement. There were some women making lunch for the men, which consisted of posho (maize flour mixed with water), beans, and some meat with vegetables. I got a chance to try to stir the posho, but it was very thick and difficult to stir. At one point I almost pushed half of it out of the pot and onto the ground! The women all thought that it was very humourous!

Today the Regional Director and the Executive Director came for a meeting, so we got to listen in on some of the inner workings of FHI. Also, it’s Frank’s birthday, so we’re going out to the Resort Hotel for a nice meal tonight…maybe we’ll try some tasty goat!

This week please pray for:
· The other staff here, as many of them have been falling ill with malaria and other things.
· That we would continue to be patient so we can hear what God is asking us to do.
We are thankful that the weather has not been so hot and that we continue to be healthy!