Saturday, September 28, 2013

Living and working together.

:: May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them::    -Matthew 17:23

Unity… this word has been popping up in my mind all week long. We recently had a retreat for the Kampala unit missionaries within AIM. During our weekend retreat our focus was on teams. What are positive aspects to working in a team, what are negative aspects to working in a team, and what are some biblical references to teamwork. 

It made me realize how there are all different teams here at Acheru. Not only do we have the staff as a whole team, but each part of this staff is their own team. The nurses, the administration, the kitchen staff, the security, the teaching staff, and the maintenance staff. Acheru would not be able to function with the absence of any of these teams. It just wouldn't work the same. Without the kitchen staff we wouldn't have food, without the nurses no one would get their dressings changed, without the administration funding wouldn't happen, without teaching the children wouldn't learn, etc. 

I got to thinking about how the body of Christ is just like Acheru. We are told in Ephesians 4:16 and again in 1st Corinthians 12: 12-31, that the body of Christ is made up in many parts (us). "The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts, and though all its parts are many, they form one body." This body would not function without every single part. 1st Corinthians 12:27 states "Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it."  

With this body we are told to go out and show Christ's love. If we are not united together and loving one another, we can not show the love of Christ. As a staff here at Acheru we need to work together to be united in all our different parts and show the love of Christ. If we don't, then our team won't work. If we are not doing everything in HIS name, we can not show the love of Christ. Our body won't work.  We must be united in the same love. HIS love.

On a side note…this week at Acheru has been good. None of the kids have been discharged so the classroom has been full. I have seen a lot of progress in some of my students. It's so awesome to see them progress. We are nearly finished with knowing the days of the week! We celebrated our house mothers birthday on Thursday. We invited her over for dinner and had made brownies for her. Birthdays are not normally celebrated here in Uganda. A lot of the time people aren't even to sure about when their actual birthday is. It was nice to share with Margret a little bit of American tradition with birthdays. We also started to complete our painting job on the PT wall. We had the children come and paint their hand prints to be the flower petals. It's been a busy week at Acheru!

Justine (our cook) and her daughter Resty.

Planting some G-Nuts with the mamas!

Jemimah putting her hand up.

Painting day!

Margret and Daisy.

Fiona and Ebenezer

One day we had a 20 minute sing a long with the kids from the north.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Mountains, Safari, and back home!

Another two weeks have passed here in Uganda. Sometimes I sit back and think how quickly this month and a half has gone by. Since returning back to Acheru, after a week of being down in the south western part of Uganda, I have really noticed how important and strong our relationships with the staff and families here at Acheru are. Coming home is always like a big party with everyone running to greet you and tell you about the week. It is a nice feeling. A feeling of being home. 

As I stated above I was down in Southwestern part of Uganda this past week. We started our trip driving to a town called Kasese. We spent three nights in Kasese at a school/organization called Rap-CD (Rwenzori Association of Parents with Children with Disabilites). Rap-CD is quite an amazing organization. It was originally founded by parents around the Rwenzori district that had children with disabilities. This is a rare occurrence to find parents being advocates for their children here. From that small founding group they have now developed a school for children who are blind or deaf, they have a community based rehabilitation group which goes into the mountains to provide training for parents who have children with Cerebral Palsy, and they have weekly zonal meetings for parents with children with disabilities. We were there to assess the place and make a connection for Julie to see if in the future AIM could place people there to work.  

During our time at Rap-CD we traveled around with the teachers to visit students up in the Rwenzori Mountains. It was holiday time for the children. The teachers were visiting their students to make sure that they were being taken care of and enjoying holiday. When I say we went up the mountain…I mean we went UP. Two days of walking up and down up and down the mountain for 4/5 hours! I was so proud of all of us that we made it the whole way (even though during some parts I thought for sure my body would just stop moving). It was a little embarrassing for us bazungu (white people) when we would be struggling up the mountain and we look beside us and small children were running up the mountains with ease. During this time we met many families who were so excited to see us at their house. Everytime we left a house the families would walk down with us just to say goodbye. We always had a trail of about 15 Ugandan's behind us. We were also able to meet the families who receive support from the community based rehabilitation. Many kids with Cerebral Palsy were found in these mountains. Many parents have found encouragement from this program, but we also struggled with parents receiving inaccurate information about their children's situation. They have been told that with the stretching and rehabilitation their children will be able to walk, and that unfortunately is not always the case. Many parents have become discouraged when they haven't 'seen progress in their children, but are unaware of how important these stretches are for their child's future. They have given up. It was hard to hear these mothers, but we just hope that God will provide encouragement for them. 

We were able to meet one girl who was an orphan. She had been taken in by her distant sister's family. She was about 12 years old, did not speak, and was deaf. She had never been to school before. After talking with the family for a bit, the pastor decided he would enroll her in school. She would begin the 16th of September. As all this was happening I just kept thinking how this girl has no idea how much her life is about to change. How many doors are going to open for her because she now has the chance for an education. She will now be given the chance to learn a language where she can communicate with others. She will now see that she is not alone and that there are many kids who are just like her.

After our time at RAP-CD we went on a safari! A few quick notes about the safari:

1. Animals we saw (because I know you are interested!): Lions (male and female!), LOTS of elephants, hyenas, crocodiles, buffalo, hippos, baboons, red-tail monkeys, Black and White Colubus Monkeys, wart-hogs, Cob (ugandan's national animal), many bird species, and Water Buck.

2. On the second game drive we ran into an elephant who enjoyed chasing our car. We were behind the elephant and every time we reversed he would come running after us. Eventually he got to close  and we had to drive off track and hide in the bushes. What a failed attempt this was as the elephant came around the bush looking for us! We finally got in front of the elephant, which I learned is the safest place because we can not out drive an elephant while in reverse. After being in front we were able to speed away before we were charged.

3. Male lions were out! We wanted to get up close, but since they were spotted the game park rangers were out and about ready to fine anyone who got off track. We found better luck with the female lions the previous day. Our fearless driver, Isaac, took us off the course really quickly to get super close to the female lions. It was so amazing, we could have gotten out and touched a wild lion! No worries though, we are smarter than that and stayed in our vehicles.

4. Unfortunately there are no giraffes in the southern part of Uganda. I will have to travel up north to see them. Our driver was a fellow giraffe lover and at the end of the trip he felt bad we didn't have any so he went and bought me a wooden giraffe. 

5. I crossed the equator line!

Now I am back at Acheru and just enjoying being home. I have started back with my classes (though as always the children are different). Colin has left (if you remember my little buddy from the previous post), but there are many new kids to love on. Recently I have really started to get to know the women from the north. Three of the mothers from the north have even started coming to school! They decided that they were tired of not knowing how to sign their name and so they have been coming to class and I have been working with teacher on helping the ladies learn to write their names. It has really been a special time for me. I have learned so much about their families and backgrounds during our class time. Many older women have never gone to school. They married young and began working at home. The husbands saw no need for their wives to be educated. These women now see the importance of just knowing how to spell your name. They are so excited to arrive every morning and work until 4 every day! Outside of school I have spent a lot of time just sitting with these women. After a while they may begin to teach me a song and 15 minutes later we are jumping around while singing that song at the top of our lungs. 

Uganda continues to be a blessing everyday. As much as I miss home, I couldn't imagine being anywhere else right now. Everyday is a new experience and everyday there is a new blessing. 

A few fun facts:

1. I am becoming quite good at using a squatty (a whole in the dirt) as a toilet. There is a trick to it!

2. I also have learned how to take a bucket bath, and learned what time of day is the best so you don't freeze. Luckily both 1 and 2 are only needed when traveling.

3. I am learning to cook a bit! 

4. I have learned how to wash clothes properly now. No more damaged fingers for me!

5. My language skills are getting much better. Just today I went into town and was able to greet and bargain for prices in Luganda! Here and there I stumble around, but the people always have grace for my language. They just love that we try. 
Our elephant friend who chased us. He is really this close. Not zoomed in.

The Acheru group at the equator!

The female lions!

Daddy Lion

Waves of goodbye from far away

Our followers

Teddy. One of the adult students

Aidah, Lilian, and Teddy