29 11 2011

Today here are some photos from various views I have been privileged to enjoy over the last 4 days.  Taking a look at something in a new way is so refreshing!

From the air:

KILIMANJARO!  What an honour to see this peak, the height of heights in Africa, peaking above the clouds.

Arid plains around Arusha (the plane landed for a short while near Kili en route to Dar). 

When I flew in last Tuesday there were numbers of dust eddies sweeping around the red-robed Massai men I could see leading their cattle in search of food.

When I flew back on Friday the groud was soaking wet and every little indent in the groud had a puddle.  What a change in 3 days!

I tried to capture a sense of the kraals / enclosures where cattle are kept: one sees many circles-within-circles as one flies across the landscape.

The coast of Dar es Salaam revealed the exquisite splendour this place has been gifted with.  Can someone help me describe the blue? The awesomeness of this ocean?

The yacht club and and a reef look almost surreal from above!

And then flying into Entebbe.  There is nothing of the amazing blue Indian Ocean but the immense Lake Victoria never ceases to fascinate me and I find myself wondering what it is like living on one of the thousands of islands in the lake. (Entebbe is also far more cloudy than Dar – we have been getting substantial rain, so that Arusha’s aridity seemed as strange as a trip to Mars!)

The plane flew fairly far inland so I could get a sense of the hills and papyrus swamps around Entebbe/ Kampala.

The next perspective is busy street life, end of the day, on Naboa Road.  Sarah had to get some things and I was the one sitting in the car waiting.  Around evening everybody comes out to buy, sell and meet.  These are common views around town:

Looking towards Wanale Ridge, then the opposite corner. 

Would you trust this butchery?  The meat is displayed on the ledge, in the middle of the picture.  Most often the meat is hung up and you choose your piece, have it hacked away by a panga and then pay.

Left is a good example of a boda boda – with passenger and bag.  This boda is carrying far too little! We have seen double beds, wheel barrows,3 m long planks,  tvs and up to five people transported – all sans helmet.

The fish had just been laid out on the table, and  a good bunch of matooke is visible through the legs of the table.  (matooke is cooked and eaten as a staple food).


Final perspective – ground level!  Our most welcome visitor today – the first I have seen in my garden:  Spike! 

He was rather rude and did not want to chat and visit, but I loved trying to get a sense of his amazing form.

How totally awesome that the God Who designed silkworms, spinning tender threads, created these fascinating rodents.  Spare a thought for hedgehog mammas who give birth! 

(I know, I know… the spikes have not formed yet… but that speaks of God’s awesomeness too!)

So – Bird’s view, man’s view and really low.  It is great to see so much in so many ways! 



28 11 2011

The rain is pouring side, Deon is at a work function and the generator is waiting for petrol.  The candles are flickering and as the rain drops fall I begin to get a sense of Christmas.

There is very little of the hype around Christmas that abounds in other wealthier countries: there are some festive garlands in Kampala but there is little to show that it is heading for Christmas time here, so it was quite a shock when I received an sms yesterday morning saying the snow was falling for first Advent in Sweden, where Andrew lives.

I grew up with a wonderful excitement for Advent, with strong Swedish cultural practices particularly around Christmas time.  Advent is a celebration and preparation leading up to Christmas, and there are several ways to spend this time.  This year for my nieces I made (recycled, of course!) advent calendars, with 3 little notes for each day: one is a verse to meditate on, having something to do with the coming of Jesus.  The second was a joke for Christmas, typical kid humour (I found these on a site somewhere) and then a random act of kindness to do each day.   (please send me a message if you would like me to send you these word docs I put together.)

I have seen it done in some churches but it is not typically South African (there is too much sunshine to really appreciate it!) but it is definitely so Swedish:  candle sticks with four candles are pulled out four Sundays before Christmas, and each Sunday a new candle is lit, so that a sloped effect is reached by the time Christmas is near.  It is a lovely tangible way to see the time approaching, and we would get together for Sunday fika (coffee) and spend the time together, taking delight in lighting the next candle in the row.

As I did not pack one of my SEVERAL candle holders, I had to make a plan in a rush yesterday – so off to Mbale Shoppers to see what I could adapt for use.  A cheapy little plastic plate and a pack of  4 gold candles worked as a basis, then after a bit of trial and error Deon and I figured to use bottle caps fixed to the plate with a glue gun.  A bit of nature brought in from the garden, this and that pulled closer and our first advent coffee felt rather special with a great mix of Swedish and African – Kung Oskars Pepparkakor and gifflar (Wonderful treats from cousin); banana bread and rooibos tea… and a heart getting ready and making space for the coming.

These lines from the old Christmas hymn capture the prayer of my heart:

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

I pray that Emmanuel, God come to visit man, would really come.  Bring light into sin darkened hearts, to people blinded to true light and life, and end death. 

The rain that is falling tonight is part of an ongoing pattern here in the last little while:  last week the rains disrupted classes and caused difficulties for many.  One lady in my class had her house collapse (from what I can make out – I have not seen her) because the house was built badly.  She is now finding shelter with friends.  For her, I pray Come, Emmanuel. 

I walked to the market that burned down a few weeks back.(Ashes and seeds)  Shelters have been built, and people were sitting huddled in their prospective spaces, waiting –  I do not know how long they were waiting, what they were waiting for.  Sarah said that there has been a lot of money changing hands which is not right.  Corruption is common practice here.  Money does not reach those who need it most.  Oh come, Oh come, Emmanuel.

My heart yearns for people to really pray with for the needs of this place.  There is so much darkness, so many gloomy clouds of night.  I know the Messiah longs to bring wholeness, truth and restoration.  But I believe He will only come if clearly invited to do so and if people called by His name will stand proxy for those who cannot pray.  Oh come, Oh come Emmanuel. 

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might…
In cloud, and majesty and awe.

I long to stand with Ugandans and those from every tribe to sing and  Rejoice! Rejoice!

Some of the last words of the Bible ring out – he says– who is testifying these things — `Yes, I come quickly!’ Amen! Yes, be coming, Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:20   Young’s Literal Translation (YLT))

I love that.  There is the promise of His coming.  And then the continuous tense – be coming.  Every day.  In every way.  Be coming,  Lord Jesus.


Thanks roundup from the last week:

vivid pink bougainvillea and purple jacarandas seen from aerial views.

flying over a volcano.

banana leaf huts with hammocks.

ocean breezes.

blonde children enjoying snow white beach sand.

turquoise ocean turning to teal.

getting back my suitcase with all contents.

celebrating advent wherever I am.

darling days in dar

27 11 2011

Tuesday morning, before the crack of dawn (in fact we heard the crack on the way) we headed off to Entebbe.  Leaving early in the morning is the best way to get to Entebbe and hopefully avoid the worst of Kampala’s traffic. 

It was thrilling to know that I would be seeing family, spending a few days in a different place and travelling.

The journey went well and the traffic in Dar es Salam delivered on its craziness – seven cars from different directions trying to squeeze into a single lane road… although two buses missed a crash by a squeaky 2 mm, all made it!  It was super stunning to be with family again and to hear Swedish gabbling out all over.  (This trip was a result of the genius of modern travel – Monica and her family went to visit her husband’s parents who are Swedish expats in Dar, and seeing as it is only the country next door (It only took about 15 hours to get there!) I took advantage of the situation. 

We left early on Wednesday for A beach resort just south of the city, crossing a bustling ferry along the way. 

Two amazing beach days lay ahead: white sands, gorgeous blue ocean water, vivid azure skies, ice cream drips, coconut palm trees… ah.  Littlest N stayed back in the city with his grandma and the 5 of us had this all fun:







All this on the beach, then exotic bandas (cottages) like this:


After a lot of relaxing, reading, swimming and chilling, we made our way back to the city and there was hardly time to put bags down before the children were in the swimming pool at Anita’s complex in the city, so there was time to play a bit with littlest N too.

And then it was all over far too soon and I was back at the airport before 6 on Friday morning!  There was a bit of excitement along the way as my bag decided that it had spent far too little time in Tanzania too and we had to spend an extra day in Entebbe waiting for the bag to arrive, but we have arrived safely back in Mbale and are gearing up for another busy week.

I have these memories to keep me going:

Lists of thanks were noted – grace on grace, blessing on blessing.

the little rat bites that could bring the house down

21 11 2011

The day started beautifully (especially for a Monday).  Made porridge for breakfast, did not get lunch packing confused, and all in a good time. 



Then had a good Bible study time, with extra reading time, and even shared it with this calming presence:

Then reality struck. 

We have been disturbed for a while with a clicking sound coming from outside the bedroom.  Sometimes once or twice or night, and lately far more regularly.  At first I thought it was a night guard cocking his gun, or striking the water tank just outside our room, but we ruled that out.  I thought it might be the Thai geologists in the flat taking a shower – but even they are not enthusiastic enough for 5 am showers.  It is loud enough to wake us, and really was becoming frustrating. 

Deon went out and looked, for the umpteenth time, early yesterday morning.  He saw the cause: sparking on one of the wires linked to an outside light was leaving a sooty black patch on the ceiling, and the wires were sparking.

We turned off the power to that line and  today the electrician came in to fix the problem:

Rats have been eating through the wires.  Just a few little mouths, with tiny tiny teeth that found plastic coated wire appealing to the appetite. 

They gnawed through the covers and exposed the threads of bare wire. 

Give that a bit of rain, a bit of current flowing through and you get sparking wires.

We are very glad that this did not turn into a fire, possibly burning down the house (it was very very close to ceiling boards and wooden frames.) 

Wires were replaced and fixed and it seems like all is good in the electricity department.

And then I stepped out into town.  A trip to the bank usually raises my blood pressure and today was the same: credit card for online transactions – application made in August.  SA bank statements brought in September (at their request).  Today I was told that the SA currency on provided statements does not tell  the credit office anything… exactly what I asked them about.  More arguing, requests… argh. 

Then driving around the block (A few times) to find parking at the supermarket, as I was pulling into a space (eventually) a big transport cart was moved right in front of me and the mover drove off leaving the cart where I wanted to park. I had  to wait for goods in the store, coming out to another parking-related irritation… it was one of THOSE days.  Power was sporadic, things did not go magically and happily.  This continued on the way to class: the road I usually take was blocked off by a fence and policeman carrying a Big Gun  and I have to take a bumpy detour, camera ran out of batteries at start of class…


Now, I know none of these things are huge nor are they worth losing sleep about.  “Don’t sweat the small stuff”, my brother would say.  But one little thing on top of another on top of another… it wears me down.

Like little rat teeth, gnawing away at my patience, long suffering and stealing my longing to display the fruit of the Spirit.  Song of Solomon says it is the little foxes that ruin the vineyard.  Just the small things, and in plural form, that come in and chew away at the insulation, exposing the raw wires beneath. And the sparks do fly. 

As I began my class today I knew that I was not fit to teach others how to be like Christ.  We were learning about Jesus casting the demons into the swine.  There is SO MUCH in that story:  and I saw myself like the village people.  Those who did not say, WOW, Jesus, you can take a man possessed by thousands of demons and release him totally.  You have such power and you are worthy of praise!  (even the demons acknowledged Christ’s deity, where the village people did not.)  No, the village people asked Jesus to go. Maybe they were concerned about the financial loss due to the destruction of their pigs.  Maybe they were wary of Jesus omniscience – they wanted to hold onto their demons. 

May I never be like those village people, chasing the Redeemer from my life.  How amazing to have the testimony of the man released, who even though he wanted to go with Jesus obeyed Him and stayed behind in his town as a visible reminder to others of Jesus’ total liberty.  Luke 8:39   – He went about telling all of what Jesus had done for him.


And when the rats start chewing, switch off the frazzle-pop source, change the wires and fix up insulation.  Crawl deeper into Christ.  Seek His guidance.  Trust His grace for each situation.  And continue telling others that it is Christ alone that enables our freedom.


Thankful Monday:
#134  We still have a house, and that nothing disastrous happened.

#135 Thunder rolling against mountains in the night time.

#136 Safety on the crazy roads.

# 137 Learning lessons as I teach

# 138 chances for refreshing. 


Oh ja… I will be away until about Saturday and computer is staying home.  Looking forward to some wonderful beach time in Dar with my cousins from Sweden  – LOADS to be thankful for in this opportunity! 

When Oh So Tired

19 11 2011

Just rest more! 


I realise that I have been silent here for a few days, but both Deon and I have got tired minds and bodies.  There has been very little chance for true rest for Deon, even on a Sunday, and we try to grab a few hours of rest when we can.

A term I heard this week, in dealing with a school learner with special needs is “adjusted expectations”.  There is a set target that must be reached, student wants to do totally zilch, but both sides compromise to reach a new goal.  I am now in my own phase of “adjusted expectations”.  There are always about 763 things that I still want to do in a day, but my body simply will not co-operate!  My mind lags even further behind. 

So I figure – God does not expect me to do every single craft thing I want to.  And I can simply lie and read for a bit or lie cuddled in Deon’s arm, and it is necessary for resuscitation of goals and targets… they can be adjusted.  There are too many experiences of my body forcing shut down by becoming ill – that is just not smart. 


So as soon as body is a bit better recovered (few days away next week with cousins in Dar should help! YAY) there will be more posts. 

There is a strong realisation that right now we are where God wants us to be.  God wants me praying for these friends, these students and this tribe and nation for now.  But warriors need to be rested too.

So a small artistic inspiration to share some close moments with One who really cares to listen this weekend.  And be blessed by the One who loves you so much HE just can’t take His eyes off you!

so let us come near...

getting through the ABCs

16 11 2011

Again, class attendance was very low today.  A heavy downpour about 45 minutes before class was due to begin did give me that premonition.  But I have a number of activities available so that we can still use the time productively. 

Sometimes if there are only a few on a Wednesday we use the time for more knitting or crafts.  Sometimes I will do a filler literacy task.  I have to be RFA (ready for anything) but I am not always as prepared as I would like to be.

I never know in advance who will be coming, so it is a fun guess to see just whose face appears around the dirty doorposts of the class.  Today I know that God was in control of who attended and I was glad for the time I had with the ladies today.

Mariam and Shina were the only ladies there, besides Sarah (my assistant, translator and wonderful supporter ) and me.  Shinah just needs a lot of love right now, and we got to pray for some of the things she is experiencing. And I could spend some time with Mariam. 

This is my bag of tricks for Mariam.  Mariam is about 23 years old.  Mariam cannot write her name without help.  Mariam is just one out of millions in the world who goes under the rather casual term of “illiterate’.

These are some statistics I found this evening on the Unicef website, for Uganda:

Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 66.8%
male: 76.8%
female: 57.7% (2002 census)

So officially about 67% of the adult population are functionally literate.  Mariam is part of the about 40% of female adults in Uganda who cannot read or write.  Apparently she did get to P3 (about 3rd grade) but that does not mean that she learned anything.

Here are some of the challenges I face:  Mariam is pregnant with her second child and is often ill, so she often misses class.  It is very difficult to keep a consistent learning programme with that kind of attendance.  We are working our way through the alphabet, letter by letter, and have only reached G. (I did do M, S and O with her before as well.)

There are not adult friendly tracing pages or activities to teach the letters. I spend a lot of time trawling through kindergarten websites to find information (I was also trained for teaching the high end of high school, not for teaching littlies how to read and write!) and I do my best to adapt those for an adult.  (The fun bit is that teaching capital B can be taught using words like boobies – see the two of them?? ^_^)

There are also so many ways to teach the alphabet with western / American ideas that African small-town people have never come across.  A is for armadillo and aeroplane.  Really?  How do you teach what an armadillo is? And I have never seen an aeroplane even flying over our town! I need to think of words that are relevant to the life experience of the ladies in the class. 

There are things to be grateful for: I am working on an alphabet chart in Lugisu, so that the words I teach are easier for someone here to learn.  I am not solely responsible for Mariam’s learning- she is a big girl, and there are times that she fills her book with pages and pages of letters: lots and lots of e, f, g filling up the pages.  We have a translator to help with language, Mariam laughs a lot as she learns.  She still struggles to put together the most  basic of words (I think she read the word egg the other day by herself) but when letters come to her more easily than in the beginning she feels so proud of herself.

The others in the class are quite supportive: I often have to leave them to work on a task so that I can teach Mariam alone.  They try to whisper the correct letter to her when Mariam struggles, and they are glad when she achieves a new skill.  I know that they get tired of it, but they help count her stitches over and over in knitting, because Mariam cannot count very far at all.

Do you realise how blessed you are that you can sit and read this?  That you are able to work out your money spent quickly in your head? That all the little things that have to do with numbers and letters are not just foreign squiggles on a page but meaningful constructs that can convey love, reason or sorrow?    The understanding of ABCs is a massive blessing-  we can count it even letter by letter.

So what if things don’t turn our hunky-dory?

14 11 2011

One of the projects I have been busy with for the last week or so is a pair of house slippers for me.  A delightful surprise package for me from Yasmin contained real wool – wonderful stuff!  And now that we have a washing machine there was just one thought in my mind: FELTING.

I scanned the web for patterns for what I wanted and did not find a pattern so I modified the closest  pattern I could find.  I did not use the wonderful gifted yarn – this is FAR too experimental!  I had a few balls of wool that I brought from SA, and used a bit of that to create these slippers (with the aim of never getting lost in the house the colour is so bright!)

The wonder of pure wool is that it felts – shrinks and binds together.  So, yes – I know these are a little big for me. I was still filling hopeful, eager…

And they FLOPPED!  (I guess they should be called flip-flops now?) 

Although the binding worked well, the shoes will never fit my feet.  I have been wondering at some options… should I advertise them on Chinese Ebay?  I think I will pass them along to some girls here for dress up, or similar.  (The machine ran the cycle for 3 hours – just too long!  They were meant to shrink about a third in size.  This shrank about half.  Oh well.  As long as I can learn from my mistakes!)


After a great few days of just taking it easy at home I am feeling a bit better.  All the aches are over, now the bug must just work its way out of the chest.  But I am pretty certain it is not Malaria, or similar parasites.

It was a rainy and rather miserable afternoon today and class attendance was low.  I was looking forward to the lesson today:Jesus calming the storm in Luke 8.  A great deal of theology here tends towards prosperity teaching, and it is preached that believers should live victoriously, in abundance and prosperously.  So trials are seen as almost demonic.  I used the chance to point out that while the disciples were with Jesus the storm came up.  They were not doing anything wrong… the storms are a part of the journey.  And Jesus pointed out the need for the disciples to keep their belief in Him.

It is reassuring to know that we are not promised plain sailing; John 16:33 says that we will have trouble.  But with Christ in the boat we can smile at the storms!  Perhaps, like my felting, the product that emerges after the hectic wash is not exactly what I had imagined it would look like. But there is still a use.  And, always, it is about His purposes, not mine.

Little Hadijah spent a bit of time around me as his Mama was working today.  This littlie is independent and persistent – he was scuttling all about the floors and is perfecting the new technique of climbing up against objects.  I loved how he clambered over me as I stood trying to capture his footprints in the sand. 

Look at the grip on my skirt.  Look at his feet climbing on mine. 

How about THAT kind of faith in the storms?  Knowing that the Great Big God is with us, and whether He stills the storm or walks through it with us, He will not push our clinging hands away.  He will always love and let us walk in His grace and care.


And then I got this pic of Hadijah.  I just had to include this here… doesn’t it look like the typical one charities would use to raise money? 


This is just a typical expression from Hadijah.  He is contented, serious, well-fed and quite healthy!  I don’t ask a thing for him.

Except prayers.  Pray that Hadijah, and all the other littlies in Uganda would grow up with a wise, mature understanding of faith and that they will be faithful fruit-bearers and storm-weatherers. 


Thanks for today:

#90 – quiet weekends for recovery

#91 -blessings of sweet package from Sweden, from my dear bro.

#92 –Comfortable climate when family in Joburg is sweltering

#93 –Picking up tailoring that looks well done.

#94 – multi-hued fabric scraps to stimulate creativity and hopefully generate income.

#95 – Generator working when power is off.

#96. – Family care when ill.

#97 – sweet smiles of babies.

#98 – being able to teach in so many situations

# 99 – Cari.  What an amazing support link that God provided!