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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Week

This past week has been another one of those busy weeks, all over the map, that for the most part I tend to truly enjoy. But continue down the post and you will see some hard parts too.
 I love watching Opio and Ocen grow up and they have a very special great-grandmother!
 I trained with a small group in Kumi on Monday... the importance of children's ministry
 And a much larger group on Wednesday in Bululu.
 I know that a few times I have mentioned rains, but they were rains that have given false hope.  Things are not well here in Teso land.  The rains that came a few weeks ago sent farmers to their gardens, to plant the last of their seeds.  Now it is so dry and hot again that the crops are wilting away in the sun and people are starving.  The food prices have almost doubled and almost every day someone comes to my door asking for food.  It is hard to be discerning and helpful.  But every once in a while I really feel the Lord's conviction to help provide for families.
 Here is one of the grinding mills where I can get posho (cornmeal)... it's next door to the place where I pick up maize brand for the piggery project.,. which is also getting expensive right now.  
Please pray that the rains will return and that people will have hope.  Even mangoes are delaying to grow this year.
 On Good Friday I went to my friend Teddy's village.  We loaded up a few groceries from town and headed away for an overnight of fun and relaxation.
 The host family couldn't believe I was asking for milk to cook food.  People here have never made a creamy sauce before, but I wanted to make a creamy curried goat meat stew to share.  (It's also very rare for a mzungu to prepare a meal when you are a guest, but I cooked the whole supper!)
 Cooking over gas made out of cow dung (bio-gas) made the whole experience a whole lot easier in the village.
 The next day Teddy rolled out chapati for everyone to eat with their minnow sized fish stew.
I finished celebrating Easter week by going to the youth's Easter Explosion music concert - which was fantastic, and then supping with many team-mates.  
Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Back to Alebtong

Yesterday was another long but fun journey to Abedeber to speak with 80 teens from Compassion.
 We shared about God's love, relationships, and staying in school.  We broke up into groups to talk to the girls separately because many of them leave school when their menstrations begin, in order to get married.  
 I shared about God's plan for marriage and waiting for the right partner, God's perfect design for life.
 When you rush into relationships - you can end up broken, diseased, shamed, and full of heart-ache.
 What's a training without a Penguin icebreaker!?
On the way home we had to wait for the crane / tow truck to pull out a disastrous accident.  One very smashed lorry, carrying cement, overturned in the night, with at least one person dead.  I always pray for safety on the roads when I travel... 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Visitation and Stoplight

Sunday was a day of driving.  I took my neighbours to see their son in boarding school for visitation day.  Once per term, families are invited to come and visit their children at school, share a meal, and meet with their teachers and dorm parents.  
 I couldn't believe the size of the plates that these students were using to get their lunch!! They were like mini basins.  Woah - that's a lot of posho (cornmeal) and beans.
 This was just some of the family that gathered together on Sunday - Aunties cooked, cousins fellowshipped, and parents caught up on the progress reports.  It was worth the drive to Malaba!
And we drove home under the most incredible rainbow.
 Yesterday, 17 people packed into my sitting room for an introduction to the Stoplight Approach.  It's a new material being developed about creating environments that keep our children safe in school and in the community.  I really want to go further with this material here in Soroti.
 It combines the brain, psychology, and the Bible... to understand children's needs and how to best educate them when they are feeling safe.  Using the colours of the Stoplight...
Red means a child is in fight, flight, or freeze mode - not feeling safe.  (Survival mode)
Yellow means a child is emotional - maybe hungry, tired, stressed.
And green means a child is safe - feeling loved and valued.  It is best to teach in the safe zone... that's where their IQ really grasps what is being taught.
I thank God for this training!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Sharing God's Story

Yesterday, in the middle of rain, a few kids collected together to hear the Good News!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Clothes for a Sister

Last week I went "digging" for some new clothes.  "Digging" is a local slang word for a few of us Westerners who love to look for second hand items amidst the piles of clothes that are sold in street corners or in market places.  Well, I found a few cute items and added them to my closet.
As a general rule of thumb, I try to get rid of a few items whenever I bring "new" ones home.  So, last Friday I gave a few dresses to my friend Hellen.  I told her to take them home with her and give them away in the village, however she felt was necessary.
Hellen came back a few days later with an awesome story!
A neighbour of hers had been sitting on the verandah of her simple mud home.  She was weeping out to God saying "If only I had a sister, maybe she would buy me a new dress.  I have nothing in these times."  Just moments later Hellen came to her house to visit.
Hellen gave her the dresses and the lady started to cry.  She couldn't believe that Hellen would just give her the clothes without any strings attached.  Or without keeping them for herself and tailoring them to a smaller size.  Hellen was happy to be a middle person, blessing a lady who had a real need.
And I'm glad to be a secret sister!!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

In all Things - Give Thanks!

For the past many months we have been living in a very dry Teso Land.  Many of my friends in the village (those who live off the land alone) are down to one meal a day, or even borrowing/sharing with the neighbours.  We have been praying for rain for a long time!  Rice and corn are more expensive now days and that makes it harder for people to survive.
Also, my friends Rachel and Eddie, in the Chalbi desert, northern Kenya, are experiencing even more drought - with goats and camels dying far too often.  It is my hope to go and visit them soon in the desert, so encourage them in their work there.
Even though the land is dry, people's thirst for God's Word is not!  People are desiring God's Word and willing to share it with the next generation.
This past week I was in Kaberamaido for another two day training in OneHope and other children's ministry tips.  During the second day of the training the skies opened up and the rains seriously poured down.  I couldn't even be upset that God had taken away two hours of training time.  We just sat down and enjoyed God's abundant blessings upon the land.  
We also thanked God for keeping us safe because the van brakes broke about 30km from Soroti.  We slowly crawled back to town that night and praised God for His journey mercies.
 Group discussions - learning together
 It was too hot inside the church on the first day, so we moved the class outside
 I was talking about the ways that children learn - attention span, environment, multiple intelligence's (word, people, self, logic, music, body, visual, and nature) and more
 I am always energized sharing with God's people
 Playing games
 Sharing the load with my team-mate Julius
 Telling Bible stories clearly
On the first day I saw this man struggling to read... so
 I went home and found a few specs for him to try.  He was so grateful!
 Distribution time... counting out another 10,000+ manuals for the village kids.

 The rains came!
 Even school kids were watching God's provision
 Joy Joy Joy
The teachers were excited to have new curriculum for them to put into practise

Monday, March 13, 2017

Ministry Movements and A Wish List

Sunday afternoon Bible study had 7 ladies sitting in my living room.  What a joy to gather together and study God's Word.  We have just started new study on "Connecting with Others" through the Sermon on the Mount.  Lord help us to be more meek, humble, servant-hearted, pure, loving, and  righteous peace makers.
In the middle of last week I was part of a huge two day training with church leaders and Sunday School teachers.  There were 108 attendees and we handed out close to 11,000 OneHope kids curriculum.  I think you can see the boxes stacked on the back wall.
I love teaching with a variety of ministry partners because each person brings his/her own skills, passions and expertise to the training.
While sitting with the team - we dreamed about a wish list for the ministry... it started out with honest needs and then became a super fun wish list.  Only the Lord knows the future of children's and youth ministry in Soroti area.
1. 2-way radios (Walkie-talkies) - for when we are moving in separate vehicles, and traveling in villages without cell signal.
2. Mobile Speakers - a portable speaker system that could maybe even run off of a car battery.
3. A generator
4. A projector - to show movies and teachable movie clips
5. Camping tents
And now the dreaming begins...
6. A minibus or coaster and / or a Land Cruiser
7. A clown suit
8, A radio and/or tv station
9. A "Coffee House" or Youth Drop in Centre
10. Established office
11. Youth Camp Ground
12. Youth pork joint.  :)
Since the first day was International Women's Day, and there was no school... even Opio and Ocen accompanied the team for training.  "Auntie Karen, your church is FAR!" (We drove 45 minutes to the village of Kalaki.)
 Moses was teaching on 7 Ways to Ask Questions... to understand a Bible passage - for either personal devotions, or coming up with a lesson plan for children.
 Singing and games is always part of the plan!
 Teddy is very fired up about Discipleship now days!
 These questions always lead to some great group discussions.
 After processing the questions, we realize that the work of teaching and raising children is not an easy task!
 Interviews, drama, sound effects, modelling, drawing... so many ways to explore a story.
 These days are some of my favourite reasons for being on the mission field.
 I pray these leaders will put some new ideas, excitement or thoughts into practice.
Tag Team teaching is fun... Teddy, Julius, Moses, Peter... we all help each other out... for explanations, interpretations, games, or morale.  
Now I just went out to get some more manila papers, markers, and manuals for another big training taking place tomorrow.