Some monday graces

31 10 2011

Do you ever get the feeling- you know you are being carried in the prayers of people?  There are far too many moments to count when I have been aware of this feeling.  Today I feel it too.

Things have not all magically got better – but the awareness of God’s grace to get us through is stronger.  Thank you to those who are praying for us, and for this place. Each prayer is heard by a gracious Father and makes a difference.

Some events from the last few days:

Delicious chocolate pudding/cake, baked on the stovetop… chocolate can make all things good!

Successful trip to acquire goods for ladies classes and for noticeboards – there is much creativity in progress at the moment and updates, photos, links will follow as soon as I have a bit more sensible FOs to show for it.

Great time of prayer with the ladies as we started class today. With second language speakers it takes a little more time of preparation (we wrote down all the words on the board and explained things carefully before starting to pray). 

God has been reminding me that when we MAGNIFY Him (the Afrikaans speak of ‘making His name big’ – so literally beautiful) all other things become smaller.  God lives in the praises of His people and we draw near to Him.  Praising Him in prayer reminds us of the immense power behind us in each situation. 

So a practical way to praise Him is to pray through all 26 letters of the alphabet, with and adjective of praise for each letter.  God is ALMIGHTY, BEAUTIFUL, CREATOR God, etc.  It is a great way to fill up time on long journeys, standing in queues, waiting on streets, etc.  The same concept can be used to pray through your friends. 

This prayer pattern worked well and the ladies wrote the words down into their class books> If they can pray through Lugisu words that is great too!

I have been reading through Ann Voskamp’s book “One Thousand Gifts” since we arrived.  I have been taking my time :it cannot be read as light reading before sleeping but requires mulling over, note taking and meditating throughout the day. I have not been writing down the gifts, as she suggests, but have been alert for God’s ways of gracing me throughout days. This morning I did feel compelled to write down a few more, so here is my list for today. 

#38 Birds gathering to eat the food we offer. (10 bulbuls and 5 cordon bleaus!)

# 39 watercolour blue on doves’ foreheads.

#40 Intricately designed wings of moths

# 41 vivid blue morning sky

# 42 washing machine at work

#43 Messages from special friends in facebook

#44 Hope on a Monday morning

I pray that you will see God’s goodness to you through the rest of the week.


Murky meanings and sharing in love

29 10 2011

After yesterday’s rather negative blog I am trying to choose joy and seek God’s hand in all things.  It is GREAT and easy when things are sunny and positive but rather more challenging when real life is happening! 

We have not had any of the direct negatives of yesterday, and Deon feels like there is a little headway at work.  I was trying to catch up with recording expenses of the last few weeks or so, and was totally stumped by a few receipts.  Want to help?


Because power is so unreliable receipts are written by hand in town.  We do most often get receipts from printed books, but sometimes the little shack-shops only have paper from a notebook.

I was on the shopping trip for the first receipt and had a few clues.  I struggled to figure out ‘supands’, and filled in what I was told – that is ‘sauce pans’.  The chacoal stock is the sigiri: a little clay charcoal  STOVE.  Can you figure out ‘jeregans”? It was a ‘jarry’ can at the petrol station. yes, a ‘jerry can’. A wooden spoon is called a ‘mingling stick’, the last item on the list, if you were wondering.

The second receipt left me totally baffled.  After the date I could figure is a name of a person.  Then there is one piece of… um… uh… I recorded it as ‘a sheet of something’ (But it might also be a shirt?). 

The baffling African ‘I’ sound follows many words.  It is often spoken where no sound is written, and in Zambia I taught children who spoke their names as ‘Gifty’, “Faithy”, etc.  Here I have seen written signs with the effect of ‘jealous make you nast’ – one automatically says the “I” sound, surely?  So to write it is is simply writing phonetically.

I spent a while with the girls from the orphan home next door this afternoon.  I tried to blow bubbles, as I bought a bottle of bubble stuff in Kampala the other day specially for the girls.  Ugh.  There were far more spatters of unblown soapy water on my hands than bubbles in the air.  The few bubbles delighted the girls, which was lovely to see. I am scouring the web for home made bubble solutions to  be a bit more captivating the next time.

We did spend a bit of time colouring in. (Again, the pencil crayons here are really not good quality – all we can do is the best we can with what we have.) – I really don’t like to ask, but if you feel like you want to bring a smile to faces, could you send a few colouring books, crayons and maybe a good bubble solution to the address on this page?  These are orphan girls and appreciate so much.  I DID make every effort to look for better quality stuff in Kampala but then it is flipping expensive!  (There are 15 girls, between the ages of 4 and 13. Simplicity is very effective for them.)

But we DID colour, and I think it was enjoyed. 

I got a bit of a fright as I was thinking to leave.  One of the girls had been standing for a while then made a strange sound, fell to her knees and started quivering.  I recognised an epileptic fit, but the other girls called it ‘collapsing sickness’, which this girl has had since the age of 4.  They rubbed the top of her head a bit, let her sit, and carried on colouring in.  I asked one of the caregivers if this girl has medication. She has not seen a doctor, has no medication and has about 3 incidents a week. If others have some experience please give me some ideas of where to go from here.  It feels awful to leave the situation as is.

I know God loves each of these girls dearly, just as He loves each of us. And I ask that people do not stop praying for Africa, with all its layers of character.  My heart longs to see people free from all that holds them captive to seek the face of a loving and living God and to live joyfully before Him.

only a rant. No happy

28 10 2011

So.  It has arrived.  That time an expat faces when absolutely everything seems negative.  I think it is a lot sooner than in other places.  We are both at a point of total despondency, utter weariness and frustration. with everything. with everybody.

On Wednesday Deon brought home the work laptop with files destroyed. He redid them.  Today the computer came home with those programmes completely wiped off. All the back ups, all the templates, all that was needed for the job, gone.  It is as if every single task must face several Everest-sized challenges before even one step of progress can be made.  I was with him this afternoon as he went to collect a tool he had ordered, and it had not been made; and as he asked one of the mine’s worker when he was coming to work for Deon and he said he would not.  This is just a continuation of ongoing struggles:  Instead of a Ugandan saying, “No. I don’t know how to do that”, they would rather say yes and then not do it at all – in this shame culture seeming not to know how to do a thing is worse than not doing it.  So the crusher Deon needs 3 weeks ago is not available.  We know that the mine is facing great difficulties, but Deon has not received any assistance in preparing the next steps for them and their work. That he has not given up already is testimony to how enduring he is.

I also had a moment today, the likes of which I have not had since I was teaching frustrating adolescents high on hormones.  I was rushing about to several places looking for a number of hardware items.  To explain myself – I wanted to move with speed, no, I did not want to pay the most money possible, no, I did NOT want to sit and wait, or drive across town to get the cheaper piece of Plywood (which could be cut up at THAT SHOP) and bring it back for THIS worker to cut up (I do not drive a 4×4 m truck), no, I did NOT want to be told what I need to get.  It turned out that I did wait 45 minutes in the dripping rain  for them to bring me too thick gum poles that were shoved into the car, against my wishes, dirtying the car’s ceiling and my hands. Eventually I shoved the poles out onto the road, amidst laughter at the Mzungu’s actions.  (not a good move).  When I said this was NOT what I wanted it took another 25 minutes of standing ranting in the rain, crowds gathering, to get my money back. 

My issues are: do not tell me what I want – I know what I am needing.

Give me a choice as to how I want to get it, where I want to get it and how long I would like to wait for it.

Do not try to mess with the Mzungus – we are here to try to make your lives better but do not take advantage of us.  And don’t try to be my friend if you are not willing to give me service – I was told that I must please phone this shop owner from SA because he is my friend.  I don’t think so.


And  while I am ranting today, being screeched at just for having white skin, as all the kids do, has lost its shine. 


Ok. I’ll go now.  But we need prayer. Lots of it.

Difficulties and blessings

26 10 2011

The last few days have seemed to show how life is full of both: real troubles:  like very lazy workers, computers (with specially designed templates) ‘crashing’, work being done incorrectly and having to start from scratch and a few other things. My dear husband is having a very rough time of it and I spend a lot of time praying him through.  A good break would be so welcome now but that is totally impossible in this very pressurized job.  There are also several little difficulties that irritate – when all taken together I can sometimes feel so ratty!  The boys at the market who stand outside my car door as I park and are totally peeved that I will not buy their Irish (potatoes) when I have several kg at home, the people who do not believe in standing in queues, but shove in front of you (at the supermarket, at every store I go into… the abrasive manner is rather difficult to respond to with sweetness!) … there are just days when it gets a little too much to handle.

But then there are wonderful gems of moments along the way too.

This gent on his boda-boda (there is a motorbike there, I promise) we saw around Jinja town.  His load is made up of those light corn-puff salty snacks one can buy.  At least the landing would be soft if he were to fall! 


(Shopping in Kampala is always great.  There are several treats available in the big city that we cannot find here, and it is wonderful to get some new art materials or treats for the sweet jar.  We also got a WASHING MACHINE on this trip – amazing luxury! )

I have been looking for a particular kind of basket for a while, and I heard Kenyan ladies sell them.  I was a bit late for class today (another irritation arose!) and I dropped Sarah off to wait for the others and quickly went to look for a new knitting project bag – mine was coming apart at the seams.  I did not find what I wanted but as I was heading to the car I saw a Kenyan basket seller with great baskets. I bought 2 (with aforementioned Irish seller present throughout, still urging me of my desperate need for potatoes). As I was selecting my colours I saw that the seller had little reading specs… totally AMAZING!  I have been trying to help Mary, my oldest student, who really struggles to read our class notes (her arms were just never long enough!). I bought one of the 2 pairs this lady had, in the hopes it would work. 

Mary is able to read a Bible, follow class notes and see working detail of stitches for the first time in ages!  When I arrived back at class only one student had arrived, and Mary only came in a long while later.  I was so glad she was there!  The chance to see her reading easily, taking note of detail, brought such joy – to her and the others in the class! 

As there were so few of us today we did not do literacy but worked on craft: we are presently working on a weaving technique using large plastic woven bags.  The item that inspired this used yarn/wool to weave with. We have started to use plarn (plastic yarn), which we intend to iron fast, and make purses etc from these.  Here are some of the effort in progress:

Little Mark was a happy-chappie today, and I had to try capture his smile (not as easy as it would seem!)

This is a very typical way for babies to be carried here – safe, cuddled on the back and it leaves hands free for the assortment of other items moms need to carry.

I am trying hard to keep it in my heart:Wallpaper-Nahum-1-7

house watchers

23 10 2011

Since spending a long time in India about 15 years ago I have been fascinated with geckos.  I love their ability to jiggle legs in a peculiar fashion and actually get somewhere by doing so!  Almost transparent bodies gliding across walls in a variety of shades and sizes remain captivating. 

Trip west Jul 11 472

Trip west Jul 11 470



Garden 013

While admiring these little dudes when we stayed at the hotel, one of the cleaners noticed my intrigue and chatted a bit with me.

The Lugisu name for gecko is ‘bulinda nzu’ – “which keeps the house”.  So besides being particularly cute, these creatures are also so helpful in keeping homes free of mosquitos and other bugs.  I wanted to celebrate geckos, so this one was for them. (they can be pretty darned difficult to photograph, but can make good pics, like this little one trapped in the kitchen sink one day.)


Thinking of being good for something, I came across this blog entry today and I think it ROCKS!  A mama got her two children involved in doing Random acts of kindness in their community for a full day.  Imagine if we did one kind thing once a week, when people least expect it?  Make the world a happy place, methinks.     RAK day

We really do not need to look far to find places to help out here.  Deon has a philosophy that those that often need things the most do not ask for it.  There are many many here who ask: a few times a week kids will ask for money: as I stop at our gate, in the sweet aisle at shops.  I resent these opportunists – sorry, but I do.  They would not ask local Ugandans (I think), and just because of different pigmentation it is assumed we long to throw money at darker skin. It seems like there are people who come on a visit and DO just randomly dish out candy/ money – and I think it sets a rough precedent for those who stay here: let your random acts of kindness be smart, please! 

But there ARE genuine needs all over.  Recently a girls orphanage moved into the house next door to us.  I was hesitant at first, knowing how people often expect money to be thrown their way, and our home has been our haven – I loved the stillness and peace of the place.  The girls have proved to be great.  From the day we first met they have wanted to bless ME and sing for ME, and they are not too noisy and boisterous (I think boys would be a lot rougher). 

This week we have sent over some of the bounty we have gathered this week: lots of avocados and tomatoes and some extra loaves of bread we have baked.  I am cautious in going forward (I am doing a lot already, and perhaps I am scared of losing my  heart totally to these girls!) They sang songs for me yesterday and introduced themselves: there are 15 girls, between the ages of 4 and 13.  They seem to be abandoned/ orphans – often children left at a home will be sent to some family over holidays.  These girls stay with the home all year through.

At times the need around is so overwhelming.  Pray that we would know the right places and the right ways to give, that we would have God’s eyes for what is the right thing to do.  Pray for these girls.  Girls in any African country are vulnerable – to be married off early, to be sold for the use of others as slaves or as wives (often there is no difference, here) , to be raped, to be unloved.  These girls are precious to the Father – how can I convey His love as a Father for them?

We are all really a bit like the little geckos.  We are all meant to help keep house for all in the kingdom.  Watch out for others, bring a bit of laughter and pleasure to others and make the world a better place for us all to live in.

friday’s rousings

21 10 2011

I have been meditating on the words for a while now:


Awake my soul

Chris Tomlin has reworked these words:

For You and You alone
Awake my soul, awake my soul and sing
For the world You love
Your will be done, let Your will be done in me

And while these words resonate with me, my heart still stirs with the ancient hymn’s melody.

Crown Him with many crowns,
The Lamb upon His throne:
Hark! how the heav’nly anthem drowns
All music but its own!
Awake my soul, and sing
Of Him who died for thee,
And hail Him as thy matchless King
Thru all eternity.


And as my heart grieves for a friend who lost her son far too young, and I know of an old Swedish missionary who has gone to be with Jesus this week, and the reality of life’s brevity seeks to overpower my thoughts, I am reminded:

Crown Him the Lord of life:
Who triumphed o’er the grave…

Who died and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring
And live that death may die.

And although it sometime requires great courage ,my soul must sing:


To Thee be endless praise,
For Thou for us hast died;
Be Thou, O Lord, thru endless days
Adored and magnified.

in which there are innumerable photos of gorgeous kids (and some other stuff)

20 10 2011

Life is continuing quickly here in Mbale.  It seems that after August the year speeds up momentum, heading all downhill towards Christmas.  Sometime you just have to hold on tight and go with it…

I promised my friend, Deborah, that I would come present some classes at her school.  this is something I look forward to but also shudder at: nursery age children are not my specialty (and as I write this I am pooped-  they take a lot of energy to entertain!  Kudos to all parents and teachers of preschoolers!)   But I also enjoy inspiring a bit of creativity and getting out my inner drama queen. 

I knew the craft  I wanted to do first and then tried to figure the theme around that, and God gave a great verse just in time this morning.


As I taught it, acted it, memorised it, I meditated on it… how amazing that we can share in His goodness! 

Something that has blessed me over several years is God leaving His diamonds all over the place – like this:


or the glow of sunlight spreading diamonds across water’s skin, or multitudes of diamonds in shining eyes, or in the stars splashed across heavens in the night… if we just look we will see the diamonds there. 

Yes, the earth is FULL of the GOODNESS of the LORD! 

This was the crux of what I wanted to share with the children – to look for God’s ‘shiny little blessings’ all over.  And if you have ever seen fish dart about under water, catching the sun on their scales as they jiggle in the H2O, then you would know of their diamonds on offer too.


So we made fish, glittering and shiny.  (In endorsement of all things re-used and recycled, the idea for shiny came to me when I remembered that we had little squares of tin foil that Deon tried to use for geology, and they would not work for that.  So foil was cut up, lots of little edges of paper from class notes, old adverts from magazines, wrapper from printing paper, etc (even little parking stubs from town!) were cut up into confetti for fish-glamorisation.)

Here are some results:


Obviously, bling on fish goes down well.  I will not claim any expertise in handling preschool craft classes well, so I learned a few lessons to take with the next time – but I love the idea of getting God’s word into little hearts.


Can you see us all… with the actions:

The earth is FULL of the goodness of the Lord…


The school is set in a WONDERFUL place:

and is filled with beautiful faces.



(I got rather carried away taking photos of the highly photogenic little ones… if you want to buy some photos contact me to negotiate a deal…)

My friend who runs the school does a fantastic job.  Deborah’s love for the children is noticeable and she tries very hard to do what is right.    I thought a lot about the idea of the ‘little people’ as I was thinking of her today.  You know, the ones who are NOT the Mother Teresa’s, Billy Grahams or Rick Warrens of the world.  Those who do the daily grinding chores in unobscure little villages in Africa and India and Mexico;  those who are  from families and comforts the yare used to and who do not get the popularity and fame of so many BIG people.  Deborah is a ‘little people’, who is changing lives forever, I believe.

She is the only Korean living in our town – which is lonely already.  Deborah has been at this nursery school for just over a year.  She came to Uganda 7 years ago and has only been back to Korea twice.  She arrived not being able to speak English, so the English Deborah has learned is tinged with UganEnglish!  She is the only non-Ugandan working at her school and faces difficulties from many sources.  She is needing to buy facilities for the school – the owner of their present premises is selling the place for a ridiculous price. She does not receive much financial support.  She does so much in her own calling, always with a smile and with the amazing grace of a true believer in Jesus.  It would be awesome if you prayed for this dear friend, and if somebody wanted to send a letter or some delightful Korean treats (I know you ALL have some hidden somewhere…)  it would encourage this friend tremendously. 


So enough from me already.  If I don’t blog too often it is because I may be cutting up fish scales, or helping Deborah with English  notes or some other such creativity…