Friday, February 28, 2014

Lightbulb moments

One of my favorite moments as a teacher is when the lightbulb goes on for a child that has been struggling with a particular concept.  As an administrator.... I guess I have to say that the same is true when the teaching staff have one of those lightbulb moments.

For months I have been working with my Ugandan staff on hands on teaching and engaging the learners.  There are so many moments that I just want to throw in the towel because they just don't seem to understand.  I continue to show ideas and take them by the hand on how to engage each learner and not just have them copying written work off of the blackboard.

Not sure what has changed this week but it seems for a couple of my staff... the lightbulb has switched on!  And to top it off... it is contagious. They have been requesting materials to do projects with the children... they have hung up the childrens work in the classroom...  ultimately putting into practice some  of the things that have been discussed at teacher's meetings.

Some things are learned by necessity... Monday we released our village pastor from his duties so that has left some holes in the school like registering new children...collecting term fees... and running chapel.  The first two things I am now doing.  Yes my Luganda skills have progresseed enough that I understand what is being said... still can not respond fluently but have enough of the language to get my point across.  I am leaving tomorrow for 2 weeks... needed someone to step up to lead chapel.  The staff did an amazing job running chapel today.  Allen led music... I assisted in teaching a new song...Irene taught the bible lesson ... and Stella closed out chapel with a recap of the lesson and prayer. I could tell that they were fighting some nerves when it started but you could sit and watch their confidence grow!

Exciting lightbulb moments!

Monday, February 24, 2014

The visitors

I am doing this just because it has become a funny topic of conversation.  Anytime something funny is said... David makes the comment... is this going to show up on the blog?  Why yes it is!

Tonight we were talking while making dinner and the comment is made that women cause all the drama...just look at all the tv shows.  And when women are dramatic this causes problems that men have to fix. 

I am not going to be dramatic and name any names of who said this first comment but I responded with if men were more intentional then maybe women would create less drama. 

There is a purpose for this blog and it ties into the children's church lesson this morning on the sin in the garden of Eden and not casting blame.  This is a huge cultural issue here... it is always someone else's fault.... responsibility is not taken...and an excuse is always available.

Let's ponder Adam and Eve's situation for a minute... the disobedience has occured... God goes to Adam who is supposed to be the spiritual leader of his household... Adam responds to the all knowing God of the universe... this woman that you made gave it to me... then Eve chimes in... it wasn't me... the snake made me do it. (Yes I am putting it into my own words!)... can you just see all the pointing of fingers!

Being responsible is taking the consequences in a given situation rather than trying to get someone else in trouble.  Don't blame the manufacturer of a product whem it was your carelessness in the first place that broke the item.  When you have done something wrong, step up admit the wrong, say sorry, and make the situation right.

Scripture seems to reference that Adam was standing by the side of his bride when the snake was asking the question.... did God really say?  When I get to meet Adam face to face in heaven... I am going to ask why he didn't intervene and tell the snake "yes... God did say and I am casting you away!"

So men be the responsible leader in your household...protect your wife and model what it looks like to not cast the blame on others. Women... let your husbands lead and protect you and also model to the little eyes watching what it looks like to take responsibility for your actions!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Child of the day: Kabubi Willy

Willy is 11 years old and one of 5 children that lives with a single mother in the village of Kawafu. His mother is a farmer and is able to provide fair living conditions for her family.  Due to farming the land they have access to food.  Willy enjoys all kinds of food but eats mainly matooke and meat.  His future career wish is to become a teacher.  At home, he helps with digging on the farm, fetching water, and washing dishes.  He doesn't sleep under a mosquito net but does have a mattress to sleep on.

Child of the day: Ddumba Robert

Robert is a 6 year old little boy with a great smile and a big heart.  His father is dying with AIDS and his mother is not around. He lives with the grandmother in very poor living conditions.  He normally eats matoke and vegetables but on special days like Christmas and Easter eats rice and meat.  Robert enjoys reading and playing.  This is his 2nd year at Integrity Primary School and he excels at his academic work. 

Friday, February 21, 2014


After last weekends fire... I have had the lyrics of "it only takes a spark to get a fire going..." playing over and over in my head!  This has gotten me thinking  of how any type of project is step at a time.

School has been in session for three weeks and we have an overwhelming need to expand.  Had to add on to our staff yesterday with an assistant in baby class.  With 34 children in baby class and one teacher... I had been stepping in a lot to help teacher Syria and felt awful when another child came to register for this class knowing that she was already stretched pretty thin! Just imagine being in a room with 30+ 3 and 4 year olds... by yourself from 7:30 til 12:30. 

Ultimately we hit the 100 children mark this week and I have had to turn away numerous children who wanted to be in upper primary grades because we just aren't able to offer that due to not enough classroom space or staffing.  The original thought was to build a two room school block every other year while adding one grade per year.  On the years in between we were planning on putting in other buildings like teacher housing... visitor's housing... latrines... etc.  Even though we just finished this current school block in January... there is a great need to start immediately on teacher housing as well as another school block!  I guess it is a good problem to have.

So... I have been pondering how to get the funds for this and realized... I don't have many friends that could just write a check for the entire school block (about $20,000) but I know lots of people that could spare $1.  So just as a spark causes a huge fire... one brick starts a new building toward providing an education for these children as well as hope for the future.  We are introducing BRICK BY BRICK...building a child's education one brick at a time!

Ultimately I would like to see this new school block in progress by the time I come back to the village in the early fall so that it will be ready for Primary 3 & 4 by the 2015 school year that starts in February.   Will you come on board and help us reach our goal of 20,000 bricks???

Each brick is sponsored at $1each and these are tax deductible... can be done either on line with a credit card or sent via check to the In the Field Ministries office in Washington state.  This can be used as a great project for schools... church groups... or individual families!  (put BRICK BY BRICK in the comment line)

BRICK BY BRICK... building a child's education one brick at a time!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Show a little love

Well it is that time of the year when my favorite holiday arrives... no it's not groundhogs day or presidents day but valentine's day. (Yes, I am one of those really odd singles that loves valentines day!)

Each year about this time I post something on the subject of love and this year will be no different... however I have not exactly settled on a specific topic.  I really thought (at least until today) valentine's day was an american holiday and being the only muzungu/American in the village... I thought I would celebrate by myself.  That is until our staff meeting today when we were going over the holiday schedule and calendar and one of my staff asked if we got off for valentines day.  So I think... thanks to Whitney sending pink frosting... I may just have to make a cake for Friday!

On the topic of love... a friend recently asked if anyone has caught my attention here.  My answer was... not really but I have caught the attention of many guys in the area.  (It is really hard to blend in when you're the only white person for about a 45 minute driving radius and  ALL the boda drivers know where the village of Nabisooto is by the muzungu who lives there!)

In all reality these guys have no serious chance as number 1... Most are married and I don't desire to be a 2nd or 3rd wife...nor share my husband.... number 2.... I have a pretty steep bride price... I think last time it was discussed it was something like 500 cows!

After being in the village for 5 months, I have learned women are to do two things... work and have lots of babies.  Both of which I have no problem with... but I do have an issue with the way the men here treat their women.

So I guess here is my valentine's post for 2014....

Men, treat the women in your life well!  She is a gift and a treasure whether she is a sister, daughter, mother, or wife.  Her greatest need is to be loved and for each woman that looks different.  She deserves to be treated with respect and kindness.  Lift her up daily before the LORD.  Be her knight in shining armor... the prince to sweep her off her feet... protect her and honor her for if she is a daughter of the King of kings she is  a princess.  Court her whether you are engaged or have been married for 50 years.  Show your daughters what a real man looks like and how a lady should be treated and she will not search out company to lead her astray. 

Men cherish the women in your life... not just on valentine's day but every day of the year!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

No judgement allowed

So I will preface this note with a warning label... if you are prone to unfiltered judgement... stop reading here!

For those still reading.... what you are about to read may shock you but desperate times call for desperate measures!

My day started by hitting the snooze button a couple extra times this morning... couldn't get the cats (yes that is plural) out of the house... when I finally walk up to my office a bit before 7am... I could hear yelling and crying from one of the classrooms... after putting my backpack in my office... I went to investigate the ruckus to find one of our new children pummeling another child... after breaking up the fight... trying to figure out what was going on from the upset children speaking very fast Luganda... giving one of those children morning detention of scrubbing out the kitchen... the other I sent to wash his face, hands, and legs...I set to work bandaging a little girls finger that had been sliced by a panga... and all of this happened before 7:30am when classes are to start.

And it gets better from there... delivered 40 pairs of shoes to the rightful owners in the appropriate classrooms... found that we had 2 children in classes that were not fully registered... had a little one come late that wasn't feeling well so he came to sit with me  while I tried to get paperwork done... he eventually fell asleep in my arms and slept for almost 2 hours.  Everytime  I tried to lay him down he would rouse and start fussing again.  Had another child come to register today.  The clinic staff started health lessons today.  The topic was toothbrushing so that was started for the school year after the children ate.  While all this is going on requests are being made that have me running all over campus..."I need the pipes and tools tonfix the kitchen sink."..."Get me a red pen."..."Assist me with tape".... "may I get the posters for the classroom?"

Needless to say I am feeling a bit stretched and pulled thin in places.  Finally make it back to my apartment to charge my laptop only to find that when I plug it in it makes funny sounds and is not charging just needs to hold out a few more months.  Checked messages only to find matters that pull at my heart and others that make me hit my knees in prayer.

Was sitting on the chair just wishing I could hop in the car and go get dinner....hungry but not motivated to cook a meal from scratch.  Looked in my pantry and found remains of a christmas care package assortment... remember NO judgement... I found pre packaged pancake mix...a mint chocolate chocolate mix and half an old fashioned peppermint stick. So I chopped up the chocolate bar because there is no such thing as chocolate chips here... and mixed it in the pancake batter to make chocolate chip pancakes and boiled water to make a peppermint mocha.  I know.... not the most healthy dinner but remember no judgement. 

After dinner I longed to soak in a hot bubble bath but since all my basins are too small for me to fit entirely in.... I settled for going to work in the garden and pumping water at the bore hole with the brown eyed cuties.

I am sure when I leave this place that there will be lots of things that I will dearly miss but at this moment... I am missing someone who understands my language... a hot bath.... and a meal that is fast and made by someone other than myself!

Breaking News

Well since my recent post on getting answers... inquiring minds have wanted to know specifics on those answers.  Like I said in that post... some will like the answers and some won't but ultimately I am at complete peace about the decisions that have been made. 

So the big news first... I am headed back to the 808 state at least until December to finish grad school.  I have to be back in Oahu for the intensive face to face classes from June 14 through July 12 but was debating on what to do after that.  From July through December I have one remaining class and have to finish my portfolio (this is what I chose over writing a thesis).  I am finding it very difficult to skype in with the classes due to the internet connection in the village and being in the islands will allow me to walk with my classmates as the 20 of us have gotten really close in the 3 years.

The ultimate goal is to come back down to Uganda for short term visits a couple times a year to assist as the school grows.  I will still be serving as administrator and will be a text or email away.  The short term visits will also allow me to bring others with me that desire to serve and help.  This place and people have grown extremely close to my heart so I can't just leave forever.  With that said... living here by myself for 9 months has been very challenging and not something that I am called to do permanently.

The other question that has been asked is when are you coming back to visit... so I thought I would post the dates that I would be certain places so if you are in the area we can meet up. 

May 15 ... leave Uganda fly to Dubai
May 16 ...leave Dubai fly to Netherlands...visiting with Marjon and Gerben
May 17... leave Amsterdam fly to GOT, Sweden.... visiting  with Marcus
May 21... leave Sweden fly back to Amsterdam
May 22... leave Amsterdam fly to Raleigh Durham, NC, USA!
Visiting family and friends... thinking of doing a get together one evening so that I can see many people at one time...let me know if this interests anyone
May 27... going to Asheboro Zoo with Stacie and the kiddos
June 2... leave Greensboro, NC and fly to Phoenix, Arizona to visit Whitney
June 7... leave Phoenix, Arizona fly to Honolulu and then onto Molokai to arrive at 5:30pm!
June 14... leave MKK to fly to Honolulu
not sure when I head back to MKK but I will keep you posted!

Feel free to message me if you want to get together and when as I know the calendar will fill up fast!  Look forward to hearing from you soon!

Money matters in Uganda

Today after the brown eyed cuties lunch I walked down to where they were brushing teeth to take some picts.  While there I had noticed a group of people in front of the clinic.  I was introduced to an elderly gentleman who was holding some sort of treasure wrapped in paper in his hand.  We shall call him jaja as I didn't get his actual name.

Anyway jaja proudly shows me the treasure that is wrapped in paper that he has been holding onto for American dime.  With the help of the clinic staff I told him what it was and how much it was worth.  I explain to him that it was worth less than 500 Uganda shillings.  He wanted me to exchange it for him so I did and he wanted a picture so I took one of him.  He hugged me and then he walked away elated with most of those standing around following him. 

After all of this I inquired of the clinic staff of who the man was and what that was all about.  From what they said the younger guys watching this entire situation had told jaja that the coin was worth a lot of money... enough to buy two bodas and a car.  I have a bunch of practical jokers living in the village.  They kept telling him he needed to go get it exchanged and he would be rich.  By the look on his face when I gave him 500 shillings for it... he didn't seem too disappointed.   I walked away from the entire situation, after giving an American money lesson to some of our brown eyed cuties, feeling very amused.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

No sibling rivalry here!

Many village families are really large… some with multiple wives each with 10 to 12 children… so to find a family with one wife and only 4 children is considered a small family!

Charity and Davis live with their mama and tata (local term for father) along with their two younger siblings in a small house near the ITFM campus.  The parents are peasant farmers living on someone elses land.  They are very poor due to working for others and making a very small income.

Charity is 5 years old and her birthday is the 24th of September 2008.  Her full name is Ampiire Catherine Charity.  Her favorite school subject is writing and she enjoys singing.  She desires to be a health worker or nurse when she grows up.  At home she helps to fetch water, clean the compound and clean the utensils.

Davis is 3 years old and his birthdate is the 10th of June 2010.  His full name is Byamukama Davis.  His favorite school subject is reading charts and he enjoys dancing.  He wants to be a teacher when he grows up.  Davis has an on going skin condition that causes scabies looking bumps all over his arms, legs, and abdomen.  

Both of these children have such great smiles and very laid back calm personalities!  They are a true joy to be around!

The Joy of Sponsorship

In the months that I have been here many friends and family have commented on my pictures saying things like 'we see children like this on tv infomercials but don't really believe they exist.  Your pictures have shown us they do exist.'

Unlike Santa Claus and the Easter bunny.... children living in extreme poverty do exist and they are more prevalent than the percentage of children living in comfortable homes with food and their own bedrooms.  I can assure you this is not just an Africa issue but also an America problem. 

For years, this has been  a vivid reality in my mind.  After traveling to several 3rd world countries I realized that I was spending more on specialty coffee each month than these people earned in that amount of time.  (And really I didn't by most standards spend that much on coffee.)  So I started making coffee at home and using my savings to sponsor children.  So far I have been given the privilege of sponsoring 4 children through the years and even though I am here with these little brown eyed cuties... I continue to provide for my little brown eyed cutie in Indonesia.

At this point I would like to say how my sponsored children have grown up to change the world... but at this point all I know is how much they have changed my life. 

They have challenged my prayer life.... as they are praying for me daily!

They have inspired me to do more as they do so much with so little.

They have blessed me immensly with their kind words and unconditional love.

They have shown me that sometimes the simple life is better than the busyness to make money.

Each child holds a special place in my heart.  Out of the 4 children... I have only met one face to face... but one day as I am walking down the streets of gold... I hope to see these precious little ones walking along with me telling me stories of their childhood.

As we have just started a new school year, the number of children that we are serving daily has increased and we expect the numbers to keep growing.  With this said, I am going to start telling the story of some of my brown eyed cuties that are available for sponsorship.  Sponsorship is $35 per month and it provides the child with a quality education, a safe building to learn in, qualified local teachers, a meal during the day, medical treatment as needed, and ultimately the hope of Jesus.  In return you receive a letter or picture from your child each term.

International Christian network is who we use to handle all the sponsorship paperwork but if you see a particular child you desire to sponsor...message me your name, address, email, phone, and the child's name and I can submit it to Jennie at ICN.  Many of these children just started so I am in process of getting all the forms scanned in, pictures taken, and this will be sent to the US for processing the end of February.

The child of the day...

Her name is Neema Vamugo and she loves to dance! 
Neema is from Congo and is now dwelling in Uganda as a refugee with her sister's husband.  They live in a mud house with iron sheets for roofing. They rent portions of land and grow their own food for survival.  They have very limited resources on their plot of land.  Neema's chores during the day include fetching water, cleaning the compound, and taking care of the younger children.  They get their water from the swamp and even though she sleeps on a mattress in a mosquito net she has had malaria many times.  Neema normally eats cassava, sweet potatoes, and vegetables but on special occasions like Christmas may have rice, banana, and meat.

First week of school

New kitchen... new uniforms... new shoes... new teacher ... and best of all LOTS of new students.

This has been the first few days of year two of Integrity Primary school.  As of this moment we have 90 children enrolled and it seems each day brings more families to register their child!  Take a look at what we have been up to and if you would like to assist in continuing to make this possible you can give at...

Mamma V loving her new kitchen

Paulina enjoying her cassava and posho!

A place to sit and enjoy their meals!

Agnes is glad to be back at school sporting her new uniform.

Charles and Christina... two new children being silly in front of the school!

All of the nursery children at recess!