Flutes and Encouragement

At the end of day 8 … we are still alive. But quite tired and in need of a good break. You can pray for us as we take the day off on Saturday and then are involved with two different churches on Sunday.

We started the day off at Rauka school participating in the morning warm up then going in to a classroom with everybody and leading worship. We cut it short this morning as every Friday morning a missionary dad comes in and leads P.E. with everyone. Shelvis has two children in the school. They moved to Arua a couple years ago and helped start Rauka school. It started as a homeschool coop between a few parents and he would come in and read to the young kids, but as the school grew into what it is now it became necessary for there to be a P.E. program and he was the obvious fit to lead it. He began by taking the oldest 7 students and appointing them as team leaders while we were singing with the rest of the school. He discipled them a bit in leadership and introduced our key word ENCOURAGE. We split up the kids into seven groups and taught the importance of staying as a group and ENCOURAGING each other. They learned how to do a train and then lined up for relay races. It was hectic as kids changed teams whenever they wanted and then took a water break and kids were clinging to the playground equipment. We then played red-light-green-light and freeze tag and those games worked well with the whole school participating. We ended by ENCOURAGING each other again and talking about ENCOURAGEMENT.

day 8 pic 2

At 10:30 the rest of the group left as usual, but I stayed behind to teach the older class. Steven, Nathan and Alysia went with a lady out of town to a village and had a wonderful church experience. Lindsey and Gabi taught a toddlers swimming lesson and James went to a coffee shop called Borderlands.

I was going to teach music at Rauka to the older class because no one had taught them music before. I was given recorders, which are referred to as flutes here, and a bunch of music books with introductory theory. Everyone else thought it would be a disaster and the incessant squeaking would drive me nuts right away, but I had optimism going into it. I gave them the flutes right away and they squawked away happily at any moment I didn’t have their attention. They all spoke English, but I struggled to understand their accent and a few of them spoke very quietly. I taught them in a crowded classroom with all their textbooks still on the tables and no black board to write on. It was very different in this class than the roomy tent I was in the days before. Their teacher had agreed with them to have a shorter break, but I didn’t know what time classes began and ended at after 10:30.

We had a break at some point and another boy the children knew from last year came and joined them at that time and he said he was just visiting at that point, so I figured he wouldn’t stay long. We moved the class outside where we were relieved by the beautiful breeze revived our focus and desire to learn. It ended up that he would be a student that very next Monday and I felt bad for not giving him a very warm welcome. These people are always so very welcoming! I gave him a flute and he immediately lit up with excitement.

I am looking forward to teaching them again next week. Those 8 kids are very dear to my heart now and I don’t want to let them down, and so want to teach them more. We then began trying to write our names on the flutes with a red felt marker. We then proceeded to sanitize -in a bucket of water and Jik which I think is just bleach- the flutes and rub and wash off the names we had just written on. We went back the class and wrote names on strips of paper and then looked for staples for a stapler to attach them on the ends of the flutes. They took the opportunity of me being distracted by squirming around in the stuffy classroom to blast out a few notes at each other again. I collected the flutes because I didn’t want them to be distracted with them for the whole afternoon and they couldn’t take them home for the weekend. I sanitized them all again. I thought it was a huge success, but it was exactly like the others were thinking it would be. Rolf and Kalia came and picked me from the school around 12 and we got back to VTC at 12:30 for lunch with most of the team. A lady named Amelie was doing laundry for us and then cooked us a wonderful Ugandan meal for lunch.

In the afternoon I spent some time going over some of the music books and came up with an idea for teaching the next week. I also spent some time in prayer for these kids and journaled about our time here. I met a man named Alfred near our guesthouse, and will give him a Bible next week as he expressed a lot of interest. The team gathered at the Kruse’s for supper and enjoyed sharing about all of our experiences.

day 8 worship

– Colton

Hill Top Bible Study

day 7 pic 5

The first hour at Rauka school we spent singing many songs, including one of the children’s favorites. Hallelu hallelu hallelu hallelujah – they really enjoyed singing faster and faster each round. Colton and I then each shared a Bible story, first the story of young Samuel and then the story of Jonah. After that I spent the rest of the morning helping out in Kindergarten class. The teacher was a 22-year-old lady named Mildred. She asked me to teach so we taught them social habits. Ex: How does a grandparent walk? They clearly walk slouched over with a walking stick, so we would imitate that. It was a fun class.

After the morning at Rauka school we went to have lunch at a local cafeteria. I had some fried cassava chips with goat stew, some of the others tried ‘Matoke’, which consists of boiled mashed bananas. It was absolutely delicious, like most dishes around here are.

day 7 pic 2

In the afternoon we split up and went to a couple of different places. Alysia went to help out with swimming lessons, Colton and Prof. Carl went to the farm where they were taught how to plant seeds, as two white guys from Canada might not have any idea how to plant anything. James, Steven, Lindsey and I went with Bobby to join a Bible study in a small village near Arua. The Bible study took place on top of a hill, under a tree that had hardly any leaves to shade us from the hot afternoon sun. The view from the top was absolutely breathtaking. We could see all the surrounding villages. There was a white cross on top of the hill and they are building a small roof up there to shade people who come up there to worship and pray. The people started arriving as soon as we got there. There where between 12 to 15 fairly new believers, many from a M background. Bobby shared with us how this ministry started. It all started with one person being led to Christ, who shared his faith with many others, and then several others came to know Christ through this. Unfortunately, that first Christian has recently fallen into alcoholism. Since the culture is honor/shame he is now avoiding his fellow believers but they continue to pray for him and try to reach out to him.

day 7 pic 1

This Bible study was definitely one of the most fascinating things I have ever witnessed. These people are really new believers, they are learning the story and purpose of Jesus and of creation. But they don’t know the middle of the Bible. Bobby taught on the instructions God gave the Israelites on sacrificing animals to atone for their sin. The moral of the story was perfect sacrifice is necessary since sin needs to be paid for even if it is forgiven and that is what Jesus came for. The method Bobby uses to teach requires a lot of patience for the leader. Rather than giving all the answers, he asks a lot of questions which the people need to reflect on and answer. There is a lot of repetition involved to ensure that details are remembered, even though the people can read they still are more of an oral culture that passes on knowledge and wisdom through spoken rather than written word.

I shared my Bible with two young girls, both who are still in high school. Both had only recently joined the Bible study and are supposed to receive their Bible next week. Both spoke English which was great since this allowed me to actually talk to them. They seemed very shy at first but warmed up more towards the end. I am looking forward to hopefully meeting them again next week.

This experience was very eye opening and encouraging. The work of the Holy Spirit in that village and in those people is very evident.

Later in the evening we had a Valentine’s Day supper at VTC together with the Kruses. We enjoyed pizza and heart shaped candies.

Prayer requests:

  • Continued growth for Bobby’s ministry
  • Energy and flexibility for our team
  • Health and safety
  • Pray that Lindsey’s bodas and tuc-tucs stop running out of gas
  • Efficiency in ministry and travel

Blessings, Gabi

day 7 pic 3

 

 

Rauka School

day 6 d

Day 6 in Uganda and we are truly enjoying our time here. In morning we had a simple breakfast together and shared a devotional before walking to Maggie’s school. Maggie’s school is named Rauka which is Swahili for “rise”. Maggie is a Kenyan woman who moved to Uganda with her four children and she started the Rauka Christian school about two years ago. Education in Uganda is very important but in order to receive quality education it costs a lot of money and most families can not afford to send their kids to a good school. Therefore, kids end up in government schools which are free, but the education system is poor and the children do not really learn. The classrooms are full and the teachers are few.

 

day 6 e

Maggie’s school is a great ministry because everyone is prioritizing quality education. Although her school is Christian, they allow kids from other religious backgrounds to attend. Her school has approximately 50 children from nine different cultural backgrounds! It is very culturally diverse! Arua in fact, is a very diverse city because of all of the refugees and UN members who have settled in the town. In the last five years Arua has gone from a population of 5,000 to 70,000 because of the war in Sudan and South Sudan and all the refugees fleeing into Uganda.

day 6 b

When we arrived at Rauka school, we were welcomed by the teachers and students and participated in their morning routine. This routine consisted of dancing, singing, chanting, and praying. Then we had the opportunity to lead worship singing and share a Bible story to the kids. There was a M devotional that was happening at the same time and once the kids finished their program they came over and joined our program. It was pretty cool to have them join us in worshiping Yahweh! After the devotional our team split up and joined the children in their different classrooms. Gabi and I had the privilege of being with the youngest students; 15 three-year olds who love to play! The others on our team were with the older students and had opportunities to teach the class.

day 6 c

At 11:30 am we went to Eden Farms for an hour and learned about plants, trees, natural remedies, and what it is like to farm in the West Nile. We enjoyed hot hibiscus tea with some of the local farmers. They showed us the “tippy tap” which is a simple homemade hand washing station using sticks, two strings and a small water jug. Then we went and satisfied our hunger with some fresh Rolex (common street food made with eggs, veggies, and chapati) with the Kruse kids.

After lunch we learned how to slaughter a chicken (we bought it in the market yesterday) in the Lugbara traditional way. The Kruse family have a day guard who is Lugbara and he showed us how to butcher and prepare the chicken for supper. Then we hosted several Third Culture Kids (TCK’s) and ran a kid’s program for them while their parents were having a Bible study. We sang songs, performed a drama about the Good Samaritan, shared a devotional about Jesus walking on water and played several games with the kids. After the parents picked them up in the evening we ate our chicken and more chapatis!

After a full day of activities, learning new words and meeting new people, we cleaned up supper and talked about more ministry opportunities for Thursday and Friday. All together it was a very busy day but also a very good day. We saw God at work through the people we met and through His creation.

Prayer requests: Sleep! Not everyone has been sleeping well at night. Please pray for continued health for the team! You can also pray that we can be focused on the present with open hearts in the ministries as we get to observe the culture and serve people.

Praise: The weather; I love being outside in the sun and the constant heat! And the VBS program is going well!

Thank you for praying for us! Blessings!

Lindsey

 

 

Learning, Laughter, & the Streets of Arua

Day five began similarly to the previous day. We started off with a breakfast and devotions together and had a cool start to our day.  We sat together and learned from some people about culture in Arua. We talked with David, a missionary who has been in Arua for approximately 30 years. David is experienced and is a part of an agricultural ministry here in Arua and shares with short-term teams, things that should be understood when meeting up with the culture of Arua. As well as Robert, a local who has worked with David for a while. We talked about greetings, clothing, food, squatty potties… Yes. Squatty Potties. A simple hole in the ground… Enough said… as well as gifts, and faith. This was very good for us to hear. Even though the months leading up to us coming here, we did learn about culture and quite a bit of it was refreshing, it was still good for us to hear, because now this is real. We are in Arua. We experience the things that we talk about. We get embarrassed if we don’t remember some of those things. (But more on that later). It was also good to hear these things from someone who has been around Arua for a long time, and while he may not be an expert, he certainly is experienced.

day 5 rolex maker

After eating a lunch of Rolexes (fried egg, onion, & tomato wrapped in a chapati – really good), we spent the afternoon doing a scavenger hunt. To help us get acquainted with Arua, the Kruse’s set us up with a list of things we either needed to get, learn about, or take a picture of. We were split into teams of three and were dropped off in the main town area market. We were tasked with getting different prices of meat from vendors, to find a specific type of bread from a specific bakery, or to learn 10 words of the Lugbara language. There were a lot of cultural experiences and awkward/embarrassing moments for each group to experience. For example, Steven, Alysia, and I were dropped off in the market by a Tuk Tuk (A 3 wheel Taxi) and figured our best bet would be to ask for directions to the nearest pharmacy, so immediately we went to the first person we saw and asked them. To which they responded, “Why didn’t you just ask the Tuk Tuk Driver to take you there?” to which, we didn’t have a good answer.

day 5 nathan tuktuk

It’s interesting how many things you have to learn or re-learn when you come to a different culture, and how much extra time simple things take. Like crossing the street took probably 5-10 times longer than it normally would and felt like a triumphal victory when we finally managed to do so. Or every time we would say thank you in Lugbara – Awadifo – every person we would say it to, would correct us in how to say it and say it many times for us until we got it right, and then the next person would correct us entirely differently after some laughing. It was certainly a unique way to learn about a culture, and there are so many more stories that could be told, not just from our group, but all of us that went out.

day 5 nathan market

Prayer Requests:

  • More Sleep & Energy – Some of us are trying to finish up our Jet Lag, and others have been able to make the adjustments needed. Pray that those that need more sleep would be given the rest and energy needed so that they can help in ministry to the best of their abilities, and if not, then that they would be still be able to give glory to God through the lack of energy.
  • Remembering the Cultural lessons – The last thing we want to do is come and ignore the cultural lessons that are important, and hurt what God has been doing here in Arua. So we want to be respectful of Arua’s unique culture.
  • Glory to God – That we would continue to give glory to God for the things that we see he is doing here in Arua and that we would continue to be willing workers for His Mission.

Thanks all for your prayer and support. Let us continue to serve God in the way that He has called us.

Nathan

Stories & training

Monday was a great day, filled with many laughs and adventures! The day started off with us having our breakfast together at VTC. The breakfast consisted of delicious bread, succulent fruit and jam, oily peanut butter, and sludgy coffee. We had a relaxing time of devotions and prayer and laughter as we shared a meal together as a team

day 4 prayer

When we finished our food, we walked over to Rolf and Angela’s house, which is about a 10-minute walk uphill from the Vocational Training Center guesthouse (VTC). At Rolf and Angela’s, we had the privilege of listening to Bobby and Scott. Bobby talked to us about his farming work in South Sudan, and his pastoral work here in Uganda. After Bobby left Scott came and shared his story. He was in South Sudan before he came to Christ. His story was very inspiring and his work here is quite interesting. After his talk we got the opportunity to enjoy food prepared by South Sudanese ladies at a church nearby. This was an amazing time of fellowship with the South Sudanese people, while learning about their culture. We enjoyed some kisira (like thin crepes) and beans, which is what the refugees would receive as their regular food ration, as well as some ginger coffee to end off our time there, which I really enjoyed but the rest of the group were a little more skeptical of the taste.

day 4 ss home

After the meal we had the afternoon off so we went swimming at the local pool. This was a good time of relaxation and laughter with the group and the Kruse’s. Closer to the end of our time at the pool Steven and I got the opportunity to talk to Eric, a guy that worked at the YWAM base here in Arua. He told us about the base and the work that he does there, in teaching the story of the Bible. We finished off the evening by having a supper and hanging out with the Kruse’s at their house, and then retiring to VTC, taking excruciatingly cold showers that are the worst. The day was filled with many stories and many adventures and many good times.

Some prayer requests for the team:

  • Continued prayer for sleeping and jet lag – some people have had very restless nights.
  • The heat – it is very hot (+35C) and takes a lot of getting used to.
  • Energy – lack of sleep causes an energy shortage.
  • VBS Program – we start our program tomorrow at Maggie’s school and could use a lot of prayer for it.

Thank-you for your continued prayer and support, knowing we have people lifting us up in support and prayer is incredibly uplifting for us here. Thank-you and may God bless you today!

James Parkinson

day 4 phone load

(buying load for our phones)

The Long Ride

day 2 3 before travel

After arriving at the Sunset hotel at about midnight, we showered off the sweat that had already collected on us during the short drive from the airport, tucked ourselves into our mosquito nets, and went to bed for the few remaining hours of the night. Breakfast was at 7:30 am and we got to enjoy our first taste of fresh bananas and Ugandan-made omelettes. Then we took time for our first team meeting, where we shared about our lack of sleep during travel and our excitement over finally being in Uganda. Following that, we packed up our bags, grabbed our fourth water bottles of the day, and set out to walk to the mall to find a SIM card for Professor Carl.

day 2 3 papaya holiday home

We almost didn’t have to walk, because Steven, in his usual friendly way, waved at a motorcycle – called a boda out here – shortly after we set out. The driver immediately turned around and came back to us, and we quickly realized that waving at a boda driver means you want a ride. Something I noticed during this walk is that Africa is very red. The dirt is red, the houses made of brick are red, and the tiles on the roofs are red. And Ugandans do not skimp on colour in man-made things either. Buildings are colourful and marketplaces are open to the street, with vendors displaying their wares. The walk was tiring though, because we were in the hot sun the whole time, so we decided to take a van on the way back to the hotel.

day 2 3 lake victoria

Just before lunch we got to meet Jonathan and Rachel Koski and their two children, Miriam and Max. They were very excited to welcome us to Africa and especially excited that we were going to Arua, because that was their home for a long time. We enjoyed getting to know them a little bit and hearing stories and advice from them on life in Africa. Our next undertaking for the day was to get from Entebbe to Kampala. It was about an hour drive and we got to stop at Lake Victoria for a bit. Unfortunately, there was no swimming because we were told we could get sick if we swam in the lake. We enjoyed the drive though, and arrived at the Papaya Holiday Home for our night in Kampala. There we relaxed for the evening before heading under the mosquito nets for our second night in Uganda.

day 2 3 elephant 2day 2 3 baboon

day 2 3 nile 2

Sunday, February 10, was another travel day. After another breakfast of omelettes and toast, we packed ourselves back into the van for the eight-hour drive to Arua. This was a long, hot drive, but with plenty of fun and excitement mixed in with the sweat. We got to see elephants, baboons, hippos, and antelope, as well as the Nile River! We also started a quote book, because we are realizing that we have a really funny team!

day 2 3 van breakdown

About twenty minutes from VTC, where we are staying during our time in Arua, the van overheated and a water pipe burst, so we sent a boda driver to collect a mechanic for us, who fixed the van and sent us on our way again. We arrived at VTC at about 6pm, where we were greeted by Karl and Rachel and moved in before walking to the Kruses’ house. We enjoyed a relaxed evening with them to close off our first day in the place we have been preparing for so long.

Some prayer requests:

  1. Continued adjustment to the heat and time change. Jet lag is still affecting a few of us.
  2. Good connections with all the people we are meeting.

Thank you for all your prayers as we learn about this unique blend of cultures!

–  Alysia Thiessen  –

 

Travel to Uganda

fbt

Wow! Where to start? Well to begin with … WE MADE IT! We are in AFRICA!!!!!!!!! Thanks so much to all of you who have been praying for us, especially for safety while travelling. For the most part we had a very easy trip. We left Winnipeg at the expected time, made it very swiftly through the Toronto airport to arrive at our connecting plane on time. We however had an unexpected delay on the plane before leaving for Brussels. There was a miscount concerning the number of people on the plane which gave us a 2-hr. unexpected delay! This delay did not defeat us, nevertheless we were concerned if we would miss our flight in Brussels. After departing Toronto, we spent much of the night sleeping, or for some of us, trying to sleep! The pilot made an excellent landing through the fog, and we arrived safely in Brussels. We ran fast through the airport hoping not to be late for our connecting flight. Thankfully we arrived exactly at the time of boarding. From there, we spent the next 9 hrs. sleeping or trying to sleep. We arrived here in Uganda at 11 pm local time and arrived at our hotel shortly after! We all took cold showers, wrapped ourselves in mosquito nets, and fell fast asleep!

God has been so good to us this trip. There have been 5 special highlights for me personally already at the start of this mission. 1) The first highlight was finding a chapel at the Winnipeg airport. 2) On one of the flights I was able to connect with a father and his 14 month old son. 3) On the flight from Brussels to Rwanda I was blessed with a window seat. There I spent 30 min admiring and being in awe of the beauty of God’s creation as I looked speechless at the Swiss Alps and the blue Mediterranean Sea. 4) I met a couple from BC who were also heading to Uganda for mission’s work. I was blessed with their excitement for Jesus, the Gospel, and His mission. 5) This morning I woke up before everyone else and went for a walk on African Soil!!!!! There I met and interacted with the Ugandan security guards watching over our hotel. They were: filled with joy, hospitable, and very welcoming as the welcomed me into their country!!! As a team we were blessed to spend much time together as we traveled. I think this was a great bonding experience amidst the close quarters and abundance of time spent with each other!

Overall, spirits are high, excitement is rising, some are still getting used to the time change, but God is good and has been very faithful!

As we continue this mission here are a few ways you can continue to pray for us:

  • Some are suffering from jet leg. Pray for quick recovery.
  • Be expectant. Here at the beginning of the mission we have a lot of downtime. Pray that this time will be good times for us as a team to connect well with each other and grow in unity. Pray also that we would take every opportunity captive for the Lord’s work.
  • We are driving up to Kampala today, and Arua tomorrow. Pray for safety.
  • Pray that God’s will will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven!

Thank you all so much for your many prayers and support. We are so blessed knowing that many are covering us in prayer. Continue to stay updated on this blog as well as our Instagram page: MX3 Uganda!

Until God’s name is made great in every nation – Mal.1:11,

–  Steven Warthe –