Friday, October 11, 2013

A MILLION SMALL PIECES ALL COME TOGETHER…

A MILLION SMALL PIECES ALL COME TOGETHER…

Today is our last day in Iganga. I can’t believe this trip is about to end. It is so hard to believe we have been here four weeks. I really could stay here another few weeks and probably still not complete all that I want to do. We did so much and had a chance to meet so many great people and learn SO much about this country. I really do feel for the first time like I am coming home with so much insight about so many different aspects of Uganda. The learning curve this time has been amazing and I feel like I am returning with some great ideas about how to serve even better than we have in the past. I have learned that it is about what is best for the people here; not about what is best for the people coming to serve! I may be slow but I have finally figured it out and what a difference it is making in decisions we’ve made and how we have implemented the things we are doing. I came with one set of beliefs and am coming home with another. And I truly believe that I am coming home a much better person for all that I have seen and learned.

I started the day at Musana and spent several hours talking to Andrea, Haril and her mother, Pat about a myriad of issues I had questions about. They were so willing to share their views and answer my questions. I felt like I was sitting among long time friends and talking about something we are all passionate about. I really value what they had to say as they are living here full time and have personally faced many of the issues I was asking about. I appreciated their insight as Mzungus working in Uganda and I valued Haril’s take on Ugandan culture. He was able to let me know if my thoughts were correct or if I was looking at them with an American slant. All in all it was a great meeting and I was really sorry to have to say goodbye to them. Next time I go to Colorado to see my friend, Colleen, we are going to have to take a side trip and visit Pat. If she and I lived closer together I think we could get into a lot of trouble together!!!

I left there and went to Bulubande where the rest of the team was painting Bible verses on the newly painted walls of the girl’s dorms. They had done a wonderful job. The paint odor was awfully strong – after a few whiffs I thought I was going to be a little tipsy for the rest of the day. Liz then painted, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord” in big letters on the archway in the entryway to the dorm room. I cannot tell you how awesome it looks. Everyone did a great job and I can’t believe that Liz did it free hand.
 
 
As for me, I stood on a wobbly chair to do my piece. Fortunately Jaimie was kind enough to hold the chair so I wouldn’t fall to the ground. It was so nice to hear the girls come in and start reading what was written. The boys dorms had not been painted yet or we would have taken our talents into their rooms as well. I have to say with the newly painted walls (the bottom half is dark brown, the top white) and green verses the rooms look really nice. What a difference a coat of paint makes. The rooms are so much brighter and cheerier. And of course there is nothing better after a hard days work than lunch. So once again we were treated to rice, beans, and the best pineapple ever. All was going well until Liz found a bug in her rice. After that it was not quite as appetizing but we did manage to eat quite a bit. It was when she flicked it onto the floor and it almost fell into my coke that I lost a few more years of life!

I then went outside and found a few young kids that for some reason had not yet returned to class. I asked Waisuwa to help me organize them into a small circle with their feet pointed up and got some of the cutest pictures. They were all excited to participate and I was only too happy to take several.
 
 
The little girl I mentioned yesterday found me again today and ran up and grabbed my hand. Yesterday I taught her to “gig em”. Well today I taught her to puff her cheeks out and blow out air. So she and I did this for a good long while. Then she held up her hands and wanted to be held. She must have seen the sucker written across my forehead because I was only too happy to comply. She and I walked hand in hand all day. She is just so stinking cute. When it came time to leave I took her back to her mother and she wanted no part of that. If I could I would sneak her home in my suitcase. She just touched my heart and once again I fell in love.


We then came back to the Mum and we proceeded to try to get everything into our suitcases. This is always such a challenge. I am excited to be coming home and seeing my husband, and being able to see and talk to my family and friends but I am going to miss this country tremendously. I will leave a part of my heart here. We have done some good things and today I really saw and felt God pulling all the pieces together for us. We were able to wrap up a lot of things that until today were really at loose ends. God was really gracious in showing us to depend on him and to trust him in all things. Last night I went to bed in a state of panic as to how things were going to come together. I had a list a mile long. And today one by one they all fell into place. I have such a peace about how we are leaving everything. Our God is so good.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Final 4

Adios, and A New Wonderful Friend We bid our team goodbye yesterday and came into the hotel and fell into the chairs in the “reception” area. We were really sad to see them go but exhausted to the point of collapse. We sat there for a while speechless (which for this group is almost miraculous) not because we had nothing to say but because it took too much energy to speak. Then we slowly got up and meandered to our rooms where we proceeded to veg out for a while. The team now consists of four – Judy Benson, Jaimie Piatnik, Liz Mendoza and me. Vicki Smith (a wonderful woman on the Tree of Life board with me) had connected me with a young lady by the name of Desire. She is the sister of a young man that Vicki sponsors. She has recently graduated university with a degree in social work. Anyway, we had asked her before we came if she would be able to join us for dinner while we were in Kampala. So yesterday she came out to the hotel and joined us for a meal. She came in and what a beautiful woman she was. Oh, my goodness, she was stunning. I’m trying to figure out what she was thinking as she walked into this hotel, not knowing us from Adam, and meeting probably the four weirdest Mzungus ever. Right away I think we all felt a connection and like we had known each other forever. She started to tell us what she does when we asked if she could back up and tell us her story. And so she began… She is the oldest in her family. Her mother married a Muslim man and converted to Christianity when she was a very young girl. As a result of this, her father left her mom and married another woman leaving her mom with she and her brother and two other children. She said they struggled for years to survive. And yes, I mean to survive. To feed themselves so as to not starve. But her mother continued to rely on her faith and instilled this faith in her children. She fought for them to go to school and did whatever it took to make sure they got an education. They moved constantly because they did not have money for rent but still her mother kept them together. Now she has a university degree. She has adopted a baby girl she has named Gift and is passing that legacy on to another generation. She was amazing. She has the strongest faith and actually has been tested and put it into action. Just listening to her passion for people and seeing the way she lives and loves others was amazing to see. Around 10 pm we finally asked her to spend the night (we did not want her to take a boda boda (motorcycle) home in the dark and we all went to bed refreshed but tired. Sitting in that small group and sharing like family was really a wonderful experience. This morning Haji dropped us at the US Embassy and she went off to work. The US Embassy was an interesting experience. For me, I was a little surprised by how easy it was to get in. I expected much stricter levels of security. Maybe it’s because we all look so innocent (Steve, you can stop laughing now!) but we passed security, they checked our backpacks, wanded us, looked at our passports and sent us to the next station. They had a list of things we couldn’t take in, including computers and phones, so we put our stuff into a locker and were passed through the gate. When we walked into the compound, it was like walking into Utopia. It was beautiful. Once there we walked through a metal detector and were asked to take a seat. Sadly, the woman we were to meet was in South Africa attending an emergency meeting and was not there to see us. This would have been good information to have ahead of time, but it was good to see the procedure to get in so we didn’t feel anything was lost. We dropped Judy and Liz at the bank to exchange money while Haji looked for a parking space. We ended up parking in front of the book store we had stopped at two weeks ago and so Jaimie and I walked in. We were hoping to see if they had collected the books for our secondary school but alas they had nothing. Meanwhile back at the ranch, Judy and Liz were done exchanging money and were standing on the street corner waiting for us. Two Mzungus, and money do not equal a good situation. However, they did have ample opportunities to pick up a man! Sadly, there were none they wanted. As they were starting to quake in their boots I was strolling through the bookstore without a care in the world. Last week as we were distributing Bibles I was surprised to learn that many of the Ugandans prefer the Bible in English as opposed to Lugandan. I really thought that buying them in Lugandan was the best way to go. So later in the day I asked Haji when he reads the Koran (he is Muslim) does he prefer to read it in English or Lugandan. Again, his response surprised me. He said the Koran was not translated into Lugandan and he couldn’t find one in English. So he hadn’t read the Koran in a while. I asked if he would like one and he said yes. So I thought for about two seconds and told him if I could find one I would buy one for him. I really believe I was supposed to do this. Many of you may disagree but I think as Christians we are called to love our brothers. I hope that by giving to him and loving him he may come to know Christ. When we gave the Koran to him today he was very, very thankful. Then we went and visited the market. Liz and Jaimie were adamant that we only spend ten minutes. Well, that lasted about ten minutes. I love that market. I love walking around it and seeing all the wares that people have to sell. Most of them I have already bought on previous trips but I still love seeing what they make. Jaimie bought a mandolin (?) and serenaded us all the way home to Iganga. The words made no sense but she enjoyed strumming and singing. We then stopped in Jinja and ate again at the Source of the Nile and wandered those shops. Finally, we headed back to Iganga in rain like I have never seen before. It poured. It seemed the harder it rained the faster we drove. I had front seat honors because it is the only seat with a window that rolls down and the view is great… especially when you see the truck coming directly at you!! While in Jinja eating there was a woman at the next table… a Mzungu. So naturally I asked where she was from and she told us she was from Witchita Falls, Tx. Small world! Turns out she is a nurse working in Jinja. So we started talking to her about Jaimie’s little boy that she sponsors and his ear problems and asked her advice on where she might take him. She immediately recommended a doctor in Jinja not far from the cafĂ© and so off Judy and Jaimie went to talk to him. So after walking several blocks they walked in and met Dr. Charles, a pediatrician from Britain. He answered their questions and we have scheduled a time for him to see Paul on Thursday afternoon. We then went back and asked Phil if he would let us take Paul to Jinja to see the doctor and he said yes. It is awesome how this has all come together. Dr. Charles said that if Paul needs tubes or other surgery he has a doctor he recommends in Kampala and Phil has already said we can take him!!! Finally we arrived at the Mum and they welcomed us with open arms. James and Steven were here so we sat with them and talked for a while and then went to our separate rooms. Little Lizzie did laundry Ugandan style in a bucket in our bathroom. Our bathroom now has laundry hanging everywhere. Tomorrow we are resting and then going to Musana to meet with Haril and Andrea for dinner. Very excited to sit with them and get to know them better. Every time I come I seem to meet new people and reconnect with others. I continue to say this country is wonderful. The people are kind and gentle. There is so much to love and as I get to know the people better and am sharing truly from the heart I know I am making life long friendships. I have been deeply blessed. One last detail… there are several round a bouts in this country. Every time we come to one we start yelling, “Haji, Haji, Haji” and every once in a while he rewards us by driving in circles around them. With that we all raise our arms like we are on a roller coaster. He probably thinks we are crazy… I think he is right.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

On The Road Home

So many pictures…so many wonderful memories…so many new friends. Today we made our long trek back to Kampala with several stops along the way. First, We were off to Musana, a school that is doing some amazing things. They have plans to be self-sustaining by next year through many business ventures they have started including a small sewing factory, a restaurant in the nearby town, and soon to add selling bottled water from their purifier system - very impressive. They have a huge chicken house, stocked pond, and large vegetable gardens to feed the almost 300 children they serve. Wow! The director has made me pinky swear that I will come back and sing with the children on my next visit. Then, lunch in Jinja, which after almost 2 weeks of a steady diet of beans, rice, and matoke (plantains) was a welcomed treat. Followed by a very long bus ride back to Kampala. Tomorrow morning we will worship at a local church here before heading to the airport. I've included just a few of the many pictures from the trip. Thank you all for your many prayers, blessings and encouragements. They have been sustaining for us as the long days of ministry have exhausted us. Yet, as tired as we are I don't think we'll be sleeping much on our 30 hours of flight time as our minds are busy with thoughts of what to tackle first when we get home. I have appreciated your heartfelt comments and have passed along your expressions of love to those we have served. Be encouraged in knowing that though this is a very impoverished area there is abundant food here with even the poorest families having some land that they are growing beans, bananas, coffee and many other things. And, there are water wells easily accessible for most families in the areas we visited. The church IS making a difference here. This area is roughly half Christian and half Muslim. Our driver Haji is a delightful man and a practicing Muslim, yet he participates fully with our devotions and prayers, and I believe he is seeing Jesus all around him. Please continue to join me in praying for the people of Uganda. The workers are few but the harvest is so great. Looking forward to seeing my family and many of you back in the states very soon.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Iganga day 10

 1 Corinthians 12:12 says " Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all it's many parts
 Form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one spirit."

 Today we visited the ministry house on the way to the Bulabondi school. We were all measured
 By Patrick, (Girls and Josh for skirts and Glen and I for a shirt.) just kidding Josh! Jamie told me to say that! Patrick doubles as a tailor and we wanted to bless his business.

 We learned how to roll the signature paper beads used in their headbands and purses. Paige shared her jewelry making skills and showed them how to make beaded necklaces.

 After that we were off to the school. As we pulled in to our usual spot under the shade tree we found Glenn's student Richard proudly teaching several other men interested in the art of guitar strumming. Funny thing is he only learned the chords the day before and must have stayed up all night studying. Later on we heard him strumming chords right along with Glenn. Really made my heart warm. Glenn is so awesome with the kids. It is a joy being around the packed house whenever he breaks out the guitar. Smiles abound!
 
 Josh and I along with Chimba, pastor Stephen and some other men from the school finished the Teacher desk and stool project. Also used some of the accumulated parts and pieces of used desks to make some shelves for the clinic and nurses quarters at Kokombo. Loaded them up and headed for Kokombo! Team, pastors, chickens and all! Yes I said chickens! You have always heard about that person who rides a bus in a foreign country and a person gets on with their chicken in hand and sit right next to you. This time it was actually us with the chickens!

 We had a great ride home but were diverted to Chimba's house for a snack stop! He had his wife prepare us a couple of bowls of Jack Fruit. According to Josh it is the new super food! Very tasty, a cross between pineapple and papaya only a more rubbery texture.

 It was a pleasure watching the team spread their love around today. This is a special group with many different talents. It is really fun to see how God is knitting us together!

 Until we see you all again!
 Via con Dios!
-John Rodriguez

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

To Market, To Market

We had spent the last two days building desks, taking pictures, interviewing, giving out goats and chickens to families, and spreading good news with our mercy bag visits at Top Hills School; so we should be pros at all of the above to do it again at Bulubandi School. 

The men got right to work on the desks, while the women visited our friend, Irene, (who heads up the Womens' Ministry at Tree of Life) and her very talented troupe of bead-makers, basket weavers, and purse-crafters.  These ladies meet with Irene every week and learn how to sew, study the Bible, minister to the community, and create lovely items to sell.  We couldn't resist buying a few things to bring back home.  (Our first market experience).

We decided to walk back to the school (about ½ mile or so) and thought we would walk facing the traffic like we do at home, which is on the right side.  That would be fine, if the road was smooth and we could walk without watching our every step.  Eyes on the ground mean no eyes on the traffic, so Liz had to pull me off to the side every once in a while when a truck came by.  There is no sidewalk, and there is no mercy by the drivers.  Thank you Liz!

We played a little bit of Keystone Kops trying to get organized enough to start on the pictures (who has the lists of the kids?, where are the forms for the unsponsored kids?, where are we going to shoot the pictures? where are we going to interview the sponsorship kids?), but we did get rolling on both and ended up with a very productive day. 

After lunch, Sue went into the P5 classroom and talk to the kids there.  She opened it up for questions to her and after the usual "What is the weather like in the US?, "What do you eat in the US," she got the question, "Tell us about the Pentagon." The teacher explained that they are really asking about 9/11.  We were blown away by the level of knowledge and interest a fifth grader had about a bombing that took place when he was an infant (or maybe not even born – grades and ages are not quite the same as in the US) in another part of the world.

I  (Judy H) got to get into my element today reading to a group of kids.  I like to get pretty dramatic when I read, and I was reading a story about Franklin the turtle getting reprimanded by his mother because he went into the woods by himself, when he was clearly told not to.  I was just reading "I TOLD YOU NEVER TO GO INTO THE WOODS BY YOURSELF!" when Sue approached me and thought I was talking to the four sweet, precious kids next to me.  She thought I had lost it and needed to be sent to the bus for good. 

We had our second market experience today when we left Bulubandi.  Irene's husband is a tailor and has offered to make us all skirts if we get the material, so we all went into town to shop for material.  Stall after stall, alley after alley of anything you can imagine.  We looked at shoes (some wanted to get shoes for their sponsored kids) and discovered they are all black.  There are about five different styles for men and two for women and all black.  "Would you like black, …or maybe you would like black?"

After the market, some of us went to the Hope Africa house and spent time with our kids again.  I was able to see the dormitory where my child lives and talk to her and my two new friends, Samuel and Joseph.  It's always fun to talk to those joyful little people!

So ends another day of fun halfway across the world!

Love to all!

Judy Howitt




A sparkly day

"we have different gifts according to the grace given to each of us" Romans 12:6

Jambo!!!  Today was a great day at Top Hills!  Day started out very upbeat as we made our way through Iganga picking up local Pastors and dodging newly made pot holes along the way. Our first chicken casualty causing screams from the front seat left many to ask the age old question "Why did the chicken cross the road?
   Arrived at Top Hills after dodging motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians, Huge sugarcane packed  trucks and speeding  cars. We set up to complete photographing all grades for yearbook project. Jen, Liz, Vicki, and Emily did a great job with all of the children.  Jen is thinking about buying out Lifetouch Photography and starting a new career!  ( not really)...  great job ladies!!!
  Men worked all day outdoors in an ex-classroom/stable to complete 6 new teacher's desks and stools. John, Josh, Pastor Steven, Chimba, along with 4 local helpers worked hard taking short breaks to  play futbol and "scare the kids" !  It has become a welcome sound to hear Josh let out a freakishly loud roar as all the children flock around him to see what he is doing.  Then all of them run away screaming and laughing as loud as they can. No one like you Josh!
 Glen taught a teenager to play guitar.  They  literally worked all day learning chords, and songs. In the end, even one of the teachers, Moses, got to sneak over and take a quick lesson.  thanks so much for sharing your Gift of musical talent Glen.
   Another project we worked on was the Ambassadorship Program.  Judy, Sue, Judy, and me, (Paige) got the Privilege of interviewing the ones who are showing the most potential in school work, and also meet other criteria to become sponsored children which provides many benefits to the child and his or her family. Our hearts were so full as they told us all about their home life, their many siblings, many times living with relatives other than parents, and many of them walking up to 4 kilometers to and from school. These are the best and brightest with dreams of becoming doctors, pilots, engineers, and nurses.  Yay kids!!!!!!!! They sang to us and even showed their ability to read the bible - so precious to hear with their accents!   Those interested will receive a bible to keep as their own. I can't wait to chose a child, maybe two.
  Lastly, some sponsors in the U.S. gave money for Tree of Life to purchase goats and chickens for their sponsored child.  Emily and Judy really enjoyed representing the ones who couldn't be here in person to give their child these very treasured animals. It was a pleasure to give these gifts which will provide milk and eggs for their families.  They are greatly appreciated and Sue touched her first Chicken!!!


Well, tomorrow is coming way too soon so goodnight folks,  
Paige Rodriguez

Monday, September 23, 2013

Iganga day 7

I came to Uganda mostly to see an old friend Kyemba Isma. I did not come here expecting to see great things, as this was my third time in Uganda, or to be moved in some cosmic way. But this country does not let you just visit it. You become part of Uganda. As we climb back on our bus and travel to the Mum Hotel, which is the fanciest place I have ever stayed at in Uganda even though I have to flush my toilet with a bucket, I watch the countryside pass by and I think of what was happening all around me and I realize you can't help but see great things and you are always experiencing a once in a life time event with every stop. Vickie Marquez and I prayed over a child with a fever and watched the fever break and the child immediately cool and then start playing with the other children. I watched Glenn sing songs until he ran out of songs, Judy has placed about one million stickers on children and then came out the next day with a million more stickers and every time she put a sticker on a child they glow with gratitude and excitement. Today I built desks with John, Glenn, Jaimie and a group of Ugandan men, it was amazing. We were only able to get one fully finished but just watching Stephen, a Ugandan pastor, use a power tool for the first time was worth coming to Uganda all by itself, that and Jaimie being chased by a mother hen after she picked up one of its chicks. Neither the chick, hen or Jaimie were harmed during the altercation. I love watching Emily and Paige play with the children and how Haji, Liz, Jen, Sue and Judy keep us all on schedule and organized which may be the biggest miracle of the trip. I have so many amazing stories to tell but I need to get this blog to Liz so we can both go to bed. Good night and God bless.
-Josh

A mouse in the house

We arrived at Top Hill for John and anyone else that wanted to help make desk's for the school. The others helped organize and take class pictures and individual pictures. Just as we finished taking pictures of Kinder it began to rain and then a down pour. We all rushed into a class room. Where we waited for the rain to stop. The students in the class were still being taught, until it began to rain harder, then it became difficult to hear from the rain hitting the metal roof top.
When the rain began to slow up then the men went to a covered area to start on the desks once more. Then we were called in to a class room for lunch. We are so grateful for their sweet hospitality. While we ate the rain stopped. After lunch we were able to start class picture & individual pictures. We completed primary 3 and by then it was already time to go. We left Top Hill to take Women's Pastor Irene home. Once we arrived to drop her off, she offered us to come in and see her home. What a privilege it was. To see her beautiful home.
From there a few of us we able to visit the children's home and see our sponsored kids. They taught us hand games and their favorite thing was to say statue and you had to freeze. Then they would day "over" for you to unfreeze. So funny. Enjoyed hearing them laugh. It was raining when we were dropped off and it continued to rain during our stay. We were all in the cooking area to stay dry.
When it came time to leave we had to walk down the road a bit to get on our bus. The road was so muddy and slippery. We were all slipping and sliding down the street. Laughing all the way to the bus.
We came home to a lovely surprise....a mouse! Not who I wanted to be roommates with tonight. We asked the front desk if they could help us catch it, so they stuck the squeegee under the bed to try and lure it out. Mission failed. It's still hiding in our room, it will probably crawl all over us while we sleep. Here's to hoping we make it till the morning.

-Vicki

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Hi everyone. Today was another amazing day. We went to church out in Kokombo and Pastor Wilson started by telling us the service would end by 1 pm. We started at 10 and to my amazement we actually finished before then. For those of you who have worshipped in Uganda the singing goes on forever. It is such sweet music. Glenn was able to share his worship as well. His music continues to bring joy to so many and today was no exception. The kids just poured into the church all sitting on the ground one right smack next to the other.

As we got there I saw a young girl holding a baby. I immediately asked if I could hold her and she handed me this bundle of joy - one and a half weeks! I could feel her little breaths. It was such a great moment. I kept her close until I began to feel a little wetness seep through and then I handed her off to Liz. At one point Liz, Jaimie and Emily were all sitting on the ledge of the church all holding babies. It was beautiful. These kids who have so little have so much love. They just grab onto your hands and do NOT want to let go. They go where you go. You start with one and before you know it you have a whole chain of kids. 

After church we were served a wonderful lunch. One little boy, probably three, followed us in. I asked if we could feed him and of course were told yes, I fixed him a plate filled to the brim and he just sat there and ate and ate and ate. By the end of lunch his little belly was full! It was such fun watching him eat. He ate every single bite on his plate. I think if I had filled it up again he would have eaten that as well. After lunch we went on the Lee Bowers tour up the mountain. I kept using the photography excuse to stop. Such pretty scenery deserves to be captured. Besides I was so far behind the team that they couldn't hear me gasping for air. But alas I made it. And it was worth it. At the top I asked one of the gaggle of kids who followed us up to take a picture of the team. My goodness, she did an awesome job! On the way down we stopped and met a Muslim man who we shared with. We gave him a t-shirt and I asked if I could take his picture. Next thing we see is this old woman running up and she starts dancing. We gave her an empty cloth bag and she dropped to her knees and kissed Judy's feet. The man then told us that the land in that area belonged to his family and if we ever wanted to build he would give us the land to do so because he wanted us to be his neighbors. Think about that. We gave him a t-shirt and he offered us his land! I was just blown away. At that point Jaimie suggested that we come back up the mountain and give them both a mercy bag. So as we approached the church, Jaimie, Glenn, Josh and Liz proceeded back up the mountain. Much to their surprise the man was no longer there but a young lady was willing to lead them to him. And so they followed past one village and then past another. Just as they were about to give up and turn around they found him. He was so thankful. For those of you who know Jaimie this will not surprise you. This was suppose to be a quick trip up the mountain so we kept the kids from Kokombo with us. However as they started walking up the hill kids started randomly following. Jaimie stated "Jaimie, Jaimie, Jaimie", followed by "Josh is Weird, Josh is Weird, Josh is Weird". Meanwhile Josh is suggesting "Jesus loves me" but Jaimie is Jaimie so you get what you get. Then every so often unexpectedly she would turn around and go "boo" and all the kids would scream. Wish I'd been there. She is wonderful with kids and has her own weird way of connecting!!! 

Meanwhile back at Kokombo we decided this would be a good time to hand out the t-shirts we had taken and some of the hats that some of the women from Riverside had made. Now here is the shocking part...not really! We had exactly the number of t-shirts, hats and scarfs for everyone there to get one. No one went home empty handed! How cool is that. We then took a picture of all of the kids and there was one little boy completely naked except for the hat on his head and his little green shoes. Oh, so cute! (he did have a t-shirt too, just opted not to wear it! 

The day was awesome! We didn't deliver the Mercy bags to Kokombo. We were too busy doing what we felt we were being called to do. But it was a great day. Seems each day gets a little better than the day before and I'm not quite sure how that is possible. The team is great. Such wonderful hearts for the kids. They get it. They get that the reason for the trip is to share and to love. And they are all passing with 100%. Wish they were all staying for the month!!!

Its getting late and I am very tired. Thanks to all of you for your prayers and support. I miss you all but wouldn't trade this experience with these people for anything.

 Love you.  Sue

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Iganga day 5

I really really do not even know where to start. When God said GO, I really had no idea that he would bless my pants off like he has. AND I know I can say the same for our whole team. Well maybe not Sue. :) I thought I was going to be the one ministering to His people. I am. But they are ministering to me soooooo much more.

We started off the morning after a WELL needed good night's sleep, at the crack of 7:30am, again with breakfast and devotion time. Let me just tell you, french toast in Iganga is better than any french toast in the states. Period. 

We then headed to Bulubandi, a school and orphanage here close in Iganga sponsored by Tree of Life. Blew me away starting when we drove in the place. If you read Sue's post last night, she talked about yesterday that the kids were in school when we pulled up @ Top Hills; there was not the "welcome line" like we always hear about (though they came out reAAl quick). Today, Saturday, the kids flooded us as soon as our bus stopped. Handshakes, hugs, smiles and more smiles, the kids loved on us from the first minute. We met, we shook, we learned their names as they learned ours. Pure heaven once again.

Today, I was gifted the opportunity by being loved on by 6 girls. Gloria, their little ring leader, took me by the hand and made me one of them. They first showed me the big painted tree on the side of the school, which adorns their hand prints as leaves and grass. The girls were so proud. They then showed me their school rooms and where they attend church. They told me about Jesus, and I reassured them that He not only lives pointing up, but in each of their hearts and through them. Yes, yes, yes, was their answer back. They then showed me their school garden, that they are learning to take care of. Judy B explained to me tonight, that the garden is not necessarily big enough to supply all the kids @ Bulubandi, but gives them the skills and life lessons to take the knowledge back to their families. Such beauty…give a man a fish vs. teaching. Brilliant. :) After my garden lesson, they then said, "We want to sing for you". The girls lead me to another classroom, where I had a concert I would have paid big money for. Their voices were so sweet. Indescribable. 

We finished up @ Bulubandi and then my heart went pitter patter. Da da da DA! It was time to head to Phil's to meet the kids I have heart so much about, including my sweet Moses Okere.

We pulled up to Phil's house with Hope Africa. Kids…kids…kids. Sweet faces. All different. All so excited to know you. Laughter and shyness. Perfect.

We stayed at Phil's for a while, toured his house, and met all the wonderful women who were so busy preparing our fabulous lunch feast. Pots and fire everywhere, getting ready to serve 150. I can't imagine! I get worried sometimes preparing for our home group of 28ish. One of the first kiddos I met and was around all day was Paul Losiya, who is sponsored by my/our associate pastor Linda and her husband Randy. I introduced myself and finished with telling him Moses Okere was my son. He answered back, "Really? He will be so happy to see you." After more greetings, we all looked at each other, giddy, and said, "lets walk to the children's house". It seemed like the way there was one of the longest walks of my life. Walking hand in hand with our kids, we finally made the turn to the house. We walked in and were swarmed with more precious smiling faces. Everyone here is SOOOO happy to see and meet you, where at home we run by people with our heads down sometimes trying to pretend we didn't see them. Here, they search for you. After meeting several kids, Paul Losiya comes up to me, grabs my hand, and says "lets go get Okere". Be still, is the only thing I could think of so that I didn't run out of my dirty chacos. There he was. Moses Okere. Handsome, tall, slender, and with a perfect and shy smile. I thought for sure it would all flash before my eyes, but the Lord had it. It was slow motion. Just what I needed to take it all in. Mama Jennifer was here buddy.

There is so much…my head right now feels like I am watching a movie in fast forward, backward, and slow motion at the same time. These kids. Oh. They are just perfect. Meeting all these kids that our church and our people have had so much heart invested in for the past 5 years…for real!! AND our sweet people who minister to them everyday. Getting to know them and the kids. Turns out, most of these kids are spitting images of their sponsors or one of their own children. Paul Losiya is sooooo Linda Marceau. Moses Okere could NOT fit any better into being a Taylor. Brenda Adaka, spit fire just like Jenny Rudd. Masiat Kaufko has a sweet and tender heart of gold, just like Julie Page, and is soooo competitive in dodgeball just like Owen and Aiden. There are so many, and I can not wait to return to figure them all out. Tina and Marvin Melson, your sweet boy told me over and over and over again to tell you that he LOVES you.  Jim and Lisa Fullerton, don't worry. Glenn and I assured your Christopher Pedo that you are an awesome drummer. :) Esther and Evans, your two…again…spitting images of each of you. Quite funny actually. All of these children are precious. Nicole White, Eliya asked me to take a picture of him for you, to pray for you. There are so many others. I had such pleasure by grabbing the each of them and tell them I knew all of you. I loved telling them how much you love and pray for them. They all love you so much. So much.

Praise God for all he does, including taking care of our team all all of His people here. Besides some lack of sleep, the blessings of health of flowing through each one of us. Keep the prayers going.

(Tried to upload pics, but not working. Will try again later. So sorry!)

Babe, I love you.

Blessings,
Jen

Iganga day 4 by Glenn Green

We Americans have a lesson or two to learn from the Ugandans.  These are a beautiful people who know real joy and have smiles broader than it seems their faces could possibly hold.  These are a people who are so loving that they hug and kiss a perfect stranger more warmly than I with my own brother.  These are a people so gracious and giving with what they have that it seems they are without a care or need in this world.  These are a people who have not forgotten what it is to live and share in community.  Hmm…it seems to me Jesus was trying to address one or two of these.  I am instantly in love them. 

Today was our first day to spend with the children at the Top Hills School.  So we took another long "bumpy" ride down red dirt roads, zigging and zagging between motor bikes carrying everything from water jugs to tin sheets to bunk bends, zipping past pedestrians so near the bus I wondered if they might get sucked in by the draft, and barely missing most on-coming traffic by mere inches.  As we gawked out the window (looking like the tourists we are) we saw thousands going about their daily business. In what would pass for no more than shacks back home there are thriving businesses selling furniture, providing cell service, simple open-stove restaurants, and all manner of stores and shops.  Almost every structure here is built from the same red dirt as the roads we rambled down in the bus.  As we pass from village to village and town to town these brick structures can be seen everywhere among the lush greenery and fields of sugar cane and maze.  In many of the villages large ovens have been created at some of the homes for making and baking these bricks.  Many of the houses and shops can take as much as a few years to finish depending on flow of money and the ability to fabricate enough bricks at a time to build with.  It seems there is a bustling marketplace around almost every bend.

Upon our arrival at Top Hills we were greeted with the same love and exuberance we had been shown the night before when the Pastors welcomed us to our hotel.  As we piled off the bus saying hello to the Pastors and staff, suddenly a flood of children came pouring out of the school – and they just kept coming!  I'm not a good judge of numbers but there were well over 100 students ranging in age from 3 years to 14 years old.  I confess that for a brief moment there was a quick panic that came over me as the reality of the situation settled in.  Here we were about to be mobbed by this throng of children who wanted to touch us and talk to us and we could barely understand anything we were saying to each other.  After many "I'm sorry's" and "I don't understand what you're saying" the older children seemed to take a cue and began to help with translating.  I was struck by how fascinated they were with us.  It was as if they had never seen white people before (which I know is not true).  Simple things would captivate them, like arm hair, and they would stroke our arms for minutes at a time.  We soon moved into a game of "Duck, Duck, Goose."  It was at this point that this blog story will take a very personal turn for me.  Because at this point I went to grab the guitar we have purchased specifically for this trip.

From this time on until lunch I don't even know how much time passed.  I couldn't even see what the others were doing.  Guitar in hand I made my way out onto a portion of the grassy field and sat down, motioning for the children to come sit.  There was an air of excitement and I could hear the children closest saying play something for us.  The next part fills my eyes tears yet again as I think about it.  I began to play the guitar.  The children began to clap and cheer and scramble for the best places to be able to view what was happening on the guitar.  Again, it was like they had never heard someone play a guitar before.  The children pressed in on all sides vying for good positions as the older kids put little ones on their shoulders or made room for them down front.  After a couple songs I prompted the children to sing a song as well.  One of the staff led them in the most beautiful song.  The words to the song went something like "welcome visitors, we are happy you are here" as the children gleefully sang and clapped along.  Imagine yourself down on the field of the smallest stadium in the world.  As I sat on the ground in the midst of these kids and looked up in every direction it was like looking at stadium rows of little people all singing across to each other and over me.  Yes, I went all weepy with tears of joy!  It was one of the most beautiful and powerful moments I've ever experienced.  We went on to exchange songs back and forth for a long time like that.  We eventually moved to some shade and continued to sing before being invited to a generous lunch of Matoke (plantains), eggplant, rice, avocado, chicken, beans, fruit, and flatbread. 

Following lunch our team was assembled into 4 groups and assigned a translator.  We then hit the dusty trails out into the surrounding village to go evangelize.  We carried with us bags of staple foods to give to the families after ministering to them.  I heard stories from a couple of the teams of some accepting Christ as their Savior and others who ministered to sick children.  Our team was blessed to reaffirm God's goodness to those who already know Him.  We prayed for many widows and orphans and reassured them that God sees them and hears them.  It was a special time for every team that will be treasured memories for years to come.

As we came back to the school we quickly loaded the bus with many of the Pastors and staff to give them a lift home before making the long bumpy ride home ourselves.  Our evening ended at the hotel with dinner and a warm reuniting with our friend Phil Jones from the Hope Orphanage.  We head there tomorrow where many of us will have our first opportunity to meet our sponsored children.  Needles to say, we are giddy with excitement.

All this has been Day 1 of ministry in Uganda– and God saw that it was good!

Be Blessed!

Glenn Green – 9/20/13

Thursday, September 19, 2013

We Have Arrived! - Update From Sue!

Hi everyone... Yes, we are finally in Iganga. Seems like every year it takes longer and longer to get here. I do want to give a thumbs up to Delta. They were excellent from the start. They were so good to us all. Well except for one tiny detail. After arriving in Entebbe all our luggage arrived...except one of Liz's bags. Sadly, it was the one with ALL her clothes. It stayed in Kigali, which I'm not sure is any better than if it had remained in the States. So we went to baggage claim who told us there were "many" flights from there to here and it would be hand delivered to our hotel. Well as of tonight it still remains in Kigali! We did go into town today to buy her some undergarments (a highly non-spoken about item in this country). One of our Pastors took us and though I had told him what we needed he misunderstood and thought she needed a skirt. So his only question as we stopped at the first "shop" was if she wanted long or short! Needless, to say, this brought a few chuckles to our faces. When he finally understood what we were looking for he turned a few shades of red. I think we know each other better today than before! We arrived here safely and have to say we are all exhausted but eager to go to one of our schools at Top Hills tomorrow to see the kids. It was so good for me to see Haji this morning and then be greeted by the Pastors this afternoon. I felt like I was seeing old friends. I promise to blog more tomorrow but after a little more than five hours sleep since Tuesday I am too tired to think. Love you all.
Glenn leading worship in Entebbe this morning.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Team Uganda is on Their Way!

Team Uganda is boarding a plane right now. Please keep them in your prayers as they travel and then serve in Iganga. Below is a message from our Overflow Prayer Coordinator Debby..... Though you are not journeying to Uganda with them, you are each a vital part of the mission team as well!  Your prayerful support of these missionaries will make all the difference between a trip that was just “okay” and a trip that will transform lives.  There is no one right way to pray during this time.  Therefore, pray as you are led for your missionary.  Here are just a few guidelines we would suggest for all of our prayer partners:

1.       Pray daily for your missionary – begin today. All except four will return to the U.S. on Sept. 30th; Sue, Judy B., Liz, and Jaimie will remain in Uganda until Oct. 14th.   

2.       Pray daily for your missionary’s family - for their health and safety, peace of mind, and provision in the missionary’s absence.

3.       Blog posts from the field are powerful prayer generators! Check out the following blogs daily for updates and stories during the trip:
Riverside Community Church Missions blog:
riversidearoundtheworld.blogspot.com/
Uganda Tree of Life Ministries: 
http://www.ugandatreeoflifeministries.org/

4.       Continue to pray for your missionary for several days to a week after he/she returns from their trip and transitions back into home life.  I will send more information on this later on.

5.       Pray in confidence as you are led by the Holy Spirit.  Be encouraged that even when we do not know what to say in prayer, we remain faithful to pray and He makes intercession for us continually (Romans 8:268:34; Hebrews 7:25).

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Preparing for Goodbye - Lesotho


Hi all,
My time here is so quickly coming to a close. How fast three weeks can pass by. Miss everybody back home, but already starting to miss new friends here as well. I thank God that He allowed me this visit. I pray that I am able to come back for a longer stay. Wanted to start this post with a few corrections to prior posts. Had Jo look it over this morning, I have made a few mistakes in my reporting. First of all in talking about the work that Merrill and Bekah have been doing with the shepherds, I misunderstood. They did not translate the Bible, that was done when the first missionaries came. What they have been doing is working with shepherds, getting them to understand the Biblical text so that they could put it into story form that other shepherds will understand and be able to learn, and then recording it on the solar powered 3mp players. And Merrill was over an x-ray lab, not radiology lab. I think that is right.She is not a doc. And I think that the way I have it written it sounds like I led the men's group as well as the women's this last week, and I did not mean that. Sorry. Jo oversees the men's, but they lead it themselves. Both are incredible groups. I have been so impressed with both. Wonderful hearts for God in each. Yesterday I had my last session with the women's group. Only two were able to be there. Two precious women. They are two I will really miss. We looked at the cost of discipleship for early Christians and for Christians today. Not an easy lesson, but they have the maturity to look at this and take it in. Then the Sunday Bible study group had a braai - my first! (It means bar-b-q). Really great. We had chicken, sausage,and pork in a great spice rub. And with that we had green salad and then Jo's potato salad. I provided Mexican hot cocoa and pecan pralines. Quite a delicious feast! Then we watched and discussed the movie The End of The Spear. Quite sad, but so inspiring and thought provoking. It was a wonderful afternoon and evening.  One sweet note....at the women's group they honored me with singing a worship song in Sesotho. They harmonized and it was so beautiful. I love hearing their language. How I hope to one day learn a smidgen at least. It is very melodic or something. I love the sound of it. But I'm finding that my mouth does not make the sounds all that easily. Pray that God loosens my ear and my tongue. I was not able to go to church yesterday. Too many stairs to conquer. But I missed the worship so. So  I was so glad for the worship song at the study. Oh, for another correction, Maseru is the lowest point in Lesotho. I knew it was at least close! Today, we are waiting for Merrill and Bekah to come down from the mountains. Please pray for Bekah, as she is having health problems that the doctors have not been able to diagnose yet. Can't wait to meet them in person. Will say farewell to theMonday night Bible study tonight. So sorry that I missed that chance for the Fri and Sat groups. I am learning to use my crutches, and adjusting to not putting much weight on my right leg. Having to get a bit creative. But I think that my upper body strength is already starting to improve. So grateful to God that it was not worse. Sure didn't need my head breaking the fall! Another correction: The man that we spoke with in Morija is curator of the Museum there. We're not sure what his position with the craft shop is or will be. So enjoyed meeting him.  Now, I wrote about a 3 1/2 hour bible study. Some of us were there that long, however it started an hour late, and the last 30 minutes were discussion. So it went 31/2 hours for those of us who were there on time, but there was only 2 hours of instruction. Jo tries very hard to keep the study to two hours. And the last correction is that it doesn't really freeze in Jo's house. It feels like it some nights and mornings, but no, it stays around 40 degrees. So during the sunny part of the day it is warmer outside than in, but it reverses at night and in the mornings. I tried to take a picture of the steam coming out of my mouth and off my laundry one morning when I was hanging laundry on the line. It didn't come out well. Several nights Jo has lit a fire in a fireplace in her living room. That is heaven. Love those nights. I never use my fireplace at home, but there is something, apart from the warmth, that is so soothing about it. Hot tea by a fireplace - now that is luxury. Jo is out hanging up my laundry as I write. She has been so helpful, so kind to me since my fall. She is a strong, faithful, remarkable person. I have met several of those since I have been here. Know some of those back home.
What a journey this has been. Well, some exercises for my leg are calling my name. God be with you, Millie.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Saturday in Lesotho


Hi all! Yesterday was a long day. A week ago I fell and hit my knee on the edge of a converter. I thought that it was just badly bruised. However, night before last I felt a sharp pain.It had bothered me all day. The next morning I told Jo, and we decided I needed to see a doctor. We drove to Bloemfontein in South Africa to the hospital where Jo's doctor has an office. She sent me for ex rays there in the hospital, then over to an orthopedic surgeon. I've torn the inner meniscus and tendon on my right knee. I will need knee replacement sometime soon, though he could not do it now because of the inflamation. I now will be bringing home as souvenirs crutches and a leg brace. I must say that the care was very good. I also saw a physical therapist who taught me how to use the crutches properly, put some kind of pulsing disks on me and heat, and taught me exercises to be doing. We started out in Maseru at 7:30 in the morning and returned to Maseru about 9 that night, but that includes a rather long wait at the border. On a good note, Jayne Wilkins, AIM's AIDs/HIV coordinator came in from the mountains and spent the night on Jo's couch. she also borrowed the shower. Hot running water is a luxery for her. The drive down for her is 6 hours. I wasn't shure I'd get to meet her, but she needed supplies. It was so good to meet her in person. This morning two one on one's cancelled, so Jo, Jayne and I had a good visit. The two of them told incredible stories, of ministry, of survival, and of the culture here. Jayne had to leave fairly early to run errands and head back up. Tomorrow she will go over to where two other members of the team have been working to help them pack up and come down into town. So I will meet them. They are Bekah Larson and Merrill Short who have been working with the shepherds in the mountains. They have just finished getting shepherds to read the entire bible that they helped translate, not just into Sesotho, but into the narative form that they understand. It has been put onto solar powered 3mp players. The hope is that the small group of shepherds they have been working with will take the scriptures into the mountains of Lesotho to other shepherds. They should be here Monday. Please pray for me these next few days, as I adjust to crutches, and especially for the almost 30 hours of travel I will be doing starting Wed evening.  Well more than that if you take in the 4 hour drive to Joberg (not including a wait at the border.) Thank you so much for your prayers. Thank you so much for your support. I was overwhelmed when I first came, but now I'm not ready to leave. There is so much to learn, and so much ministry needing to be done. I thank God that I was able to be here, and Pray that He open the door for me to come again for a longer stay.
God be with you, Millie

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Lesotho - Deep into the Heart of the Country and it's amazing History


Dear all,
Had such a wonderful day today. The weather was a bit milder. Jo drove me to the Morija where the seminary is  located where my team leaders are hoping I will teach. There hasn't been an AIM team member on staff there in a while, and they are really wanting this, and I have a seminary education.The town of Morija is is about 40 minutes from Maseru. It was a nice drive, passing the Royal Village where the King and his brother and their families live. I did not realize that they did not live at the palace in Maseru, but they prefer to live in the old royal village, and to drive into the palace each day. On the way, we saw so many shepherds and flocks on the side of the road,in the fields, and in the villages. The first of the 8 pictures that I just sent is of shepherds and sheep and cows under the trees of Morija (the shepherds are in the back of the pic - look hard!). This is a historic town. It was the first settlement of missionaries in Lesotho. That was in 1833. There were 3 at first from Paris Evangelical Missionary Society. We walked down to a couple of the older cemeteries and found graves of family members, and at least one of these early missionaries. there were also newer ones that Jo knew, and members of families that Jo has known. Jo and another team member, Merrill short, had lived in Morija when Jo first arrived.  Merrill at one point was in charge of the radiology department of the missionary hospital there. The first missionaries started a school which is still in use, and a print shop which is as well. They printed the Bible and other books in Sesotho. The second picture I sent is of the first church in Lesotho that these missionaries built. It is now used by the Lesotho Evangelical Church. The next picture is of the Craft Center of Morija. We had a wonderful visit from the head of this craft center, and then met another of the staff who is working to get  local clays to use in pottery. They both asked me to consider working with them when I come. This is very exciting for me. We then stopped by the Morija Museum and I bought two books on Lesotho history, a Lesotho map, and a DVD on Lesotho history. Then we stopped by the teashop there and ordered lunch. This was served out in a garden area. The next two pictures are of the teashop, and Jo waiting at our table for our delicious meal. There at this garden I finally saw a spiral aloe. It is the national plant of Lesotho. I had seen photos and was hoping to see one. I think you find them more in the mountains. The last two pictures are of the entrance to the seminary that is there, and of the library of the seminary. We met a couple of the professors from there, and I learned that there is a need for someone to teach pastoral care, which I love. That was very encouraging. Jo bumped into a number of people she has not seen in a number of years. We also walked up to where some of the AIM missionaries used to live, and then up to a missionary home that is now a radio station. We were given a tour by a pastor who now heads this up. This was the first radio station outside of Maseru. While we were there school children were touring it, and one was interviewed on air. We got to watch for a few moments. He looked so young and nervous.Then we headed back to Maseru. My one on one this evening was rescheduled for tomorrow.  It's bedtime!  Tomorrow will be a busy day of one on ones, and then the men's group that Jo will lead will be in the evening.Have my hot water bottle at my feet, and need to tuck my computor under the covers on the other side of the bed so that it doesn't literally freeze, say my prayers, and turn out the light. Hope you all have a blessed night tonight. Millie







Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Taking Flight in Lesotho

Dear all, Had an exciting morning yesterday. Headed out early to go to the military airstrip. Mssion Aviation Fellowship rents form them. They fly AIMS missionaries out of the mountains, fly docs and clinic workers and supplies all over Lesotho, and help those in the mountains in so many ways. Jo has a pilot's license, and lived in the mountains for nine years, so knows the MAF missionaries. She asked if I could ride with them if there was room. They agreed to not only let me, but for free. It usually costs $100.00 per trip. I did from my own money, not support donate to their ministry, but was so grateful for their generous offer. So Jo dropped me off at eight at the hanger. It was full, but at the last minute, someone did not show and I got to go. Not only that, but I was able to ride co-pilot - at least that postion. Had a wonderful view. It is a 4 passenger plane going out for the first time for them. It's prior use was in the Phillipines. The trip was great. I never felt sick. Yes! The flights were smooth, except one or two moments of turbulence. We landed at three airstrips, none paved, but well grated. The last one so reminded me of stories my dad used to tell about flying into and out of Hong Kong. As you take off, you fly off over a cliff. It is so amazing to see the ground just fall away. We flew up to 12,000 ft. It was a hazy day, so the pictures aren't wonderful, but I'm pretty pleased all the same.Saw so many sheep on the mountains, but never got a good shot of that. Do have some shots of kralls, the rock pens the shepherds use at night, and their stone huts. Some of the other pictures show mountain villages. Melvin, the pilot explained that they don't build villages high in the mountains, that is left for graving the herds. They don't build them near rivers, for they have a fear of rivers; legend has it here that evil spirits live in the rivers. They don't get their water from rivers either for the same reason. They build their villages near the many natural springs that flow in the mountain. Got to run. This evening I will conduct a one on one for a couple. This will allow Jo to attend to other ministry. That is one of the things I hoped to do while here. Jo teaches and mentors over 60 people now, and that keeps her so busy. I am so glad to be able to help her with that. God be with you. Millie











Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Update from Lesotho - Millie


Days are spinning by. We continue to do one on ones and bible studies. I am continually amazed by the young men and women that God has sent Jo. Some are ambassador's children, many have traveled to other countries, one is in ministry, some own their own businesses, others are in management positions of businesses,and  most are in their twenties are early thirties. They are the movers and shakers of this society. A number lost parents somewhere in their childhood, for so many households in Lesotho are headed by someone under eighteen years of age. So much of Jo's ministry is in leadership development, in helping mentor these young leaders as they learn to live out their faith in all aspects of their lives. The one on ones has much to do with this mentoring, though in one a young woman accepted Christ, and in another forgiveness issues were dealt with. Jo has now asked me to take several of the one on ones. I have done so once so far. I taught on the Father Ladder and God brought freedom to this person as she forgave a relative and relinquished inner vows made. We will continue the next time we meet. Every Thurs a men's group meets, every Sunday evening the woman's group that Jo is letting me lead, then there is a beginners bible study that meets on Fri evenings, that was so large that part now meets on Sat. night, and a more advanced bible study that meets on Monday nights. This last Sunday, with the woman's group, I continued to teach about discipleship, talking about the passion that we should have in following our Rabbi. Next week we'll look at the cost of discipleship.Now to the photos. The first one shows a small sandstone quarry. We saw a number of them as we went out into the countryside one afternoon. Buildings here are generally either made of quarried limestone, or cement bricks, or stones plastered in cement, or more traditionally plastered in a mixture of cow dung and mud. The last varies in color from a yellow ochre, to a grey, to rust, depending on the soil used. They are such wonderful earthy colors. All the sandstone is quarried and cut by hand. We passed several tektons on our way out, standing by the side of the road, chisel in hand, with a stack of cut stones piled nearby. Thought I'd get a picture of one on the way back, but didn't see them then. Missed my chance. Kept thinking of the tekton (builder) who became our Rabbi.The second picture is of a village farmer and his cow cart. I overexposed it. Sorry, Hope that you can still make out the blanket, knit cap, and gum boots he is wearing. So many men here dress like this even in town, but especially the farmers and shepherds. One of the things that had amazed me is that you will see sheep and cows down in Maseru, the capitol city,  grazing right up next to the street. A shepherd will be somewhere near. You see them everywhere, in the city, in the villages, up in the mountains. Jo showed me how to wear the blanket when I bought mine. The Basotho are known as the blanket people. Blankets are worn by women as skirts over pants, and as capes by both men and women. They are heavy wool and though are made in the England, are only sold here. They are held on by a large safety pin, and the women pin it in front, and the men on the side. You will see older women with one as a skirt, and one as a cape, or mothers, with blankets as skirts, and smaller blankets fastening a baby on their back. I've seen women carry bags and such on their heads.The last two photos show dongas, the deep ravines that scar the countryside, and carry with each rain more soil of Lesotho into South Africa. One of our team members has said that it is the greatest export of Lesotho, and without compensation. This same afternoon Jo took me a bit farther into the countryside into the near and low mountains to get a feel of what mountain village life is like. It was so quiet and peaceful compared to the crowding and confusion of the city. Bedtime is calling. Those of you who know me well will be amused to know that here I go to bed by nine or nine thirty, generally, and wake up between five and six, or sometimes earlier.
God be with each and every one of you.
Millie




Thursday, June 13, 2013

Update from Lesotho

Hi all!
Yesterday Jo took me to see two historic landmarks of Lesotho. These photos are from this outing. The first three photos are of Ha Kome - a hiding place for several Basotho families during the late 19th century. They took refuge in this overhang area - shallow cave if you will - to hide from cannibal tribes that were coming through the area.While there we were able to try some of the traditional foods. First we had something that was like yellow hominy,the second was a drink, often refered to as Basotho yogurt, made from sorgum, and then we had finely ground maze, finer than our corn meal and roasted so that it had a wonderful roasted popcorn flavor. They gave us each a little bag of the fine meal.  I made part of mine into breakfast this morning. The first picture shows the beautful woven fence around one of the houses of Ha Kome. The second is the visitors center there, and the third shows the rocky overhang that hid the houses built into the rock. The floors and walls of these homes were very smooth, plastered in a mixture of mud and cow dung.The forth shows another landmark which is the symbol of the country. It is a mountain structure named Qiloane. It gives its shape to the straw hats worn by the Basotho people. The hats are called mokorotlo. The fifth picture is just the countryside near Maseru, and the 6th shows the round thatched roof homes called rondavels. The7th picture shows a village. Each village has its own chief. The last one shows another rondavel. On the way home Jo treated me to a traditional meal of papa, cooked greens,mixed vegetables, and grilled pork. she purchased it from an outside vendor near the church we attended Sunday. The papa, which is like very stiff grits, is used to scoop up the other foods. I enjoyed it all very much. Last night I sat in on a 3 1/2 hour bible study that Jo taught. It was a difficult study, challenging some of their traditional beliefs, but a number of them expressed thanks to her last night or today per email for speaking truth to them.
Today I went with her to do a one on one session. Other wise today has been a day of laundry and preparation and catch up. Most days run from morning into the night with one on ones and bible studies. Tomorrow will be one of them, so I'd better start getting ready for bed. Miss you all.
Millie