Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Cost of Living

Saturday we were in town for a few errands (including the ever joyful retrieval of a care package at the post office!). Prices here range from normal to outrageous to incredibly cheap. Here are the observations from our morning in Jinja.

The cost of mailing a letter to the US? $1.20
The charge for retrieving a package that won't fit in our PO Box? 60 cents
A 500-gram tin of infant formula? $11.00!
Cell phone airtime (for approx. 7-10 days)? $12.00 each phone
2 kg (4.4 pounds) of potatoes? 88 cents
1 medium (and dirty!) head of lettuce? 94 cents
24.6 litres (6.5 gallons) of diesel? $36.00!

Across the street from the fuel station (after being grateful that fuel prices are dropping below $6 per gallon), we grabbed "Ugandan fast food." We asked the guy at the curb to prepare 5 Rolexes. No it's not a watch; it is an Indian-style chapati (flat bread) with an omelet rolled into it. "Two with veggies and three plain, please." It was a great lunch in the car as we drove back to GSF. The total cost for our whole lunch (5 Rolexes)? $2.40!

That's better than the 99 cent menus in the states - and much more filling!

By the way, the Ugandan Shilling is about 1,600 per US Dollar. We calculated the conversions for you. :)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Queen, and Baby Airy

Titus and I took Mary on a walk yesterday around the property of the orphanage. We had two others who joined us from the beginning of the walk and several others who joined in as we walked. Grace, an 8 year old twin and Lily, a mentally disabled girl from next door were our walking companions.
Lily, as usual, kept us laughing and talking the entire time. "Whose this one. . . the baby?"
"It is baby Mary, Lily."
"Baby Airy seeping"
"No, Lily, baby Mary is not sleeping"
"I take the baby"
"Okay, Lily you walk with me"
"I don't know" (Lily's favorite phrase when she doesn't understand what you have said)
This continued on for most of the walk. We would talk amongst ourselves, and others would join our walk, and every once in awhile, Lily would say something about Baby Airy.
As we continued our walk, Grace noticed something in the sky and remarked that the queen was up in the sky.
"The queen?" I asked.
"Yes, see look at the plane and the silver line"
Others chimed in that it is always the queen going overhead. (Uganda has a president and first lady so I am not sure if they are talking about the first lady, a fairy tale queen or the queen of England as Uganda is a former British colony.) They then began to tell me that the queen's airplane is the only one that has a white or silver line behind it. I tried to refute that but to no avail. To them, only a queen would be rich enough to ride in a plane with a silver line behind it.
So we walked on home with the queen overhead and Baby Airy in the stroller "seeping".

Friday, September 19, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Praying for a child

I held a sweet baby in my arms last night as she cried. I remembered holding my own children late at night and how I would take the time to pray for them. To first of all to pray that they would stop crying :) and then to pray for their future and for God to work in their lives. As I began to pray for this sweet baby, I realized that her past had been pretty dark and the prayers for her were more desperate than the prayers for my own children. My children had a home to call their own, a healthy Christian mom and dad who loved them, and no obvious threat of a horrible disease looming in their future. But Mary lives in an orphanage, her mother died and no one knows much about her dad and most think he is also dead. It is believed that her mother died of AIDS so the sad reality is that Mary very well could be HIV+.
So as I pray for Mary, I pray for a home she can call her own with a wonderful mom and dad who love her. I pray most desperately for the thing that could hinder the other two requests from happening and that is that Mary is not HIV+. I pray, I hope and I love. God reminds me that He says "I know the plans that I have for you, plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11 This is the promise I am claiming for Mary.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Jesus Video

I have heard stories over the years of the ways that the Jesus film is used in so many languages around the world. Now was my chance to experience it.

First, we went to Bukolongo, where about 300 sugar cane workers live, many with their families. They come from all over Uganda looking for work; therefore, we showed the film in Swahili, which is a common trade language in this region of Africa. So we did the whole "rural Africa video" thing.

Crammed in the back of our well-worn truck were a generator, 3 benches to hold a sound system, speakers and stands, projector, Video player and DVD player - along with 30 youth and adults from GSF, all standing for lack of space. On arrival, we hung two white sheets on the side of the truck, hooked up the sound system and powered up the generator as there is no electricity in this village. We had a quick prayer meeting that the lightning in the distance would not bring rain on the field where we were setting up the movie. (We only had a few drops!)

Of more than 300 who watched the film on the life of Christ, over 100 responded to the gospel invitation at the end. Praise God!

The next Sunday we went to another local village, Buvonia, and set up in the middle of the trading center there. There were at least 400 people watching the film in Luganda (the local tribal language here) this time. A handful responded to the gospel and local pastors will follow up with these folks in both locations.

Our truck wouldn't start following the film in Buvonia. It was after 10 p.m. and the possibilities for malfunction were so numerous that we didn't know where to begin. After calling one of our drivers from GSF, the kids decided they could attempt to push the truck and I would pop the clutch to get started. After turning around to the road, we made several attempts, both forward and backwards, as the level space was short for attempting such a maneuver. Nothing. After sending a text message to Amy and the other missionaries asking for prayer, and before the driver arrived, we tried to crank the vehicle one more time at 10:30 p.m. It started!

Describing this truck will take a whole blog post itself, so I may have to come back to that. Needless to say, we were grateful to make it back to GSF safe and sound.

Praise God for His work through our weaknesses!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

9th birthday African style!

Megan had a good 9th birthday last week. It started with pancakes for breakfast until I noticed the skillet was not staying hot. We ran out of gas for our stove! So with skillet (still with uncooked pancakes) in hand and a few other essentials, we got in the truck and went to the guesthouse for pancakes. "A party in a truck" is what our friend, Lucretia, called it. Megan and Caralina then went to the homeschool co-op and took cupcakes which Megan had decorated. When we returned to the orphanage, we saw a bunch of little girls running toward our house. They had been waiting all day to "water" her. It is an orphanage tradition to pour basins of water on the birthday person. Megan was pretty resolved to the fact that she was going to be watered and she let them get her.

We then went out with the missionaries from the orphanage for pizza that night. When we returned, we invited some of the little girls next door over to decorate the rest of the cupcakes.

We went to Kampala and Entebbe the next day to take a short term missionary to the airport. We used the opportunity to take the kids to the Botanic Gardens for Megan's birthday. It was fun to get away as a family and see some of Uganda. The gardens are beautifully set at the edge of Lake Victoria. We got to see lots of neat birds. At the end, we had not seen the monkeys but a guy came and told us where they were and he would take us there. We declined knowing he would then expect some money for his service. We later got in the car and went where he told us. We found bunches of monkeys and were glad we were in the car as they even climbed the up on the windshield and looked in.
What a fun way to celebrate her birthday!

Saturday, September 6, 2008


We kept Mary (the baby mentioned in a previous blog) last week in our home as we are trying to get her healthy and basically fat enough :) to be put in one of the houses. She is a sweet, beautiful baby.
She did have tummy problems several different nights from around midnight to around 3 in the morning. They don't have mylecon here so pacing the floor, turning on the fan for noise, and praying a lot were some of the tricks we tried. The hardest part in it all was having the reading contest during the day and a crying baby at night, but God was gracious. We are so grateful for her sake especially that her tummy is better now and she is sleeping better. She is now at the other missionary's house this week and will return next week. We are looking forward to her return but are enjoying our sleep for now.

Reading contest

Since all the kids are out of school for a month, I decided it would be fun to have a reading contest. I planned out the forms, the prizes, and the rules. I had all things organized but because I cut my foot and could not walk very well, we had to change the place of venue to our veranda (porch). So the first day, I told some of the kids what we were doing that day and told them to spread the word. As they all gathered, I shared with them the prizes, the goals, and the rules. I made sure all was very clear on what they were to do and then said "okay, let the reading contest begin." And begin it did. "Auntie Amy, may I have a book?" AWWW! They don't have books and all the books are in the pavilion where it was planned to meet before I cut my foot. So off went Mark and some of the big boys to get boxes of books. Then came the next dilemma, I don't know what level each child can read. We divided them up in grade levels and found some of the older ones to read to the younger ones. Some of the kids I expected to read just couldn't read. The amazing thing that by the end of the time, these kids were reading better and wanting to read more.
The final outcome: Over 16,000 pages read with 58 kids participating. The priceless outcome: even today after the contest was over they were still coming to me asking for books!