Monday, July 20, 2009

We're Home!

Hi Everyone,

Thanks for your prayers. Just a short note to say that we arrived safely back in Canada earlier this evening (July 20). We had a long trip back from the safari to Entebbe where we stayed the night before flying out Monday morning. We picked up a pair of stranded cyclists (French & English) in the park....stuck there because of mechanical problems. They rode with us until Mpigi. Before getting to Mpigi we stopped to repair a spare tire since one van had gone through three tires....and the other van overheated in the middle of nowhere, but we had lots of water to pour into the radiator to keep going.....ahhhh Africa!

We left Charlotte, Pat & Morgan Kenyon in London and the rest of the team, now just 11 of us, did the quick transfer to our next plane....and here we are.

We look forward to sharing how this trip has impacted our friends in Mpigi and, in particular, how it has impacted us over the next few months.

Thanks so much for your prayers and support!

God Bless

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Winding Down

Hi Everyone,

We are now at the Safari lodge...after an eventful trip...but first the last few days of our week.

One team went into Sanyu baby home and then had to negotiate the taxi park in Kampala. Think 200 vans parked so close together that you cannot walk between them...and everywhere else is people....and that is the taxi park. It's always an experience going there! The youth of our team did a great job leading 230 african children for a day of VBS on the life of Jonah.

Thurs, the youth went into Sanyu and another team went into the local prison to do care and compassion there..and have a football game. On Wed Pastor Paul did a one day church seminar for leaders...about 60 people attended and it drew rave reviews.

We had to keep our tuck ins in each children's home to a minimum on Thurs night as Wed night the girls home broke into tears because we were leaving soon. It's incredible the kind of bond you can develop with these kids in just two weeks. So THurs night was a quick good night to each home and we said our goodbyes as they went on their way to school. The girls home made cards to give to many of the team...beautiful cards that will remain keepsakes for many of us.

Fri we got up bright and early and started the long drive to Queen Elizabeth park for our safari and debrief. Our van blew a radiator hose on the way, but the drivers were able to fix it. Then the other van got a flat about 10km from the lodge....and a second flat the next day out on safari!

the lodge we are staying at is amazing....nicer than most places I've stayed at in Canada. I've never been here, so it was a nice surprise. It is located on the ridge where two lakes come together so the view is breathtaking. Across the lake you can see water buffalo, hippos, and sometimes's quite surreal being in this kind of setting even though I've done it before. Our early morning game drive didn't reveal a lot of animals..but we went out on a boat in the afternoon ans saw elephants, crocs, water buffalo, and hippos up well as a bunch of other smaller that was fun. As I type, the team has gone back out before our late dinner to try and spot some lions which have been tough of late to see.

Our debrief time is not all just animals....the team has received 5 pages of debrief notes and lots of questions to start processing. We have met twice already and will meet one more time to discuss how this trip has changed our view of our world, ourselves, our country, our God, and anything else that comes up. If you think about it, please pray for us as we move to the 'mind work' part of our trip.

Tomorrow it's back up to Entebbe....a 9-10 hour drive...and sleepover night at a guesthouse there....and in the morning it's off to the airport to fly home.

looking forward to seeing you all soon.

Grace & Peace,


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Half way through week two

Hi Everyone,

I attempted to get a post up yesterday....took a boda (motorcycle) into Mpigi to the one computer internet cafe only to find the power had been out in the town since 5:30 am.

"When do you think it will be back on?" I asked the owner.

"Hummm" with a shrug of the shoulders was the response.

Translation: "It will be back on when it comes back on"

So back to the 10 acres I go.

Type A personalities have to do a lot of self-talk in Uganda. It's not that tasks aren't important...there is tons of work to do. But everything takes longer than you think it should. Coming here you quickly realize how much we value time in fact, if we were honest, we might say "worship" our time. Here in Uganda you are confronted with the way we expect our time to be wasting our time is a personal affront. Efficiency as the highest good. The rural life of Mpigi challenges our values.

The team is doing great. Two more days of Care and Compassion, washing clothes, and a ton of painting. We were able to complete both rooms in Suubi house (the third children's home) that were left unpainted by the 2007 team (we ran out of time) well as paint a mural on their wall (which the other two homes already had). Great day of ministry and practical work.

Tracey and Shannon headed off for home on Saturday and they will be missed. The Dycks and Davis, who work in Kibaale with PAOS, stopped by for a few days and it was good to see our PPAC people who are here in Uganda for 2 years.

Today the Youth are running a day VBS camp for 230 kids in the Masembe's school....they will be tired. Pastor Paul is doing a one day Pastor's training...he will be tired too. And a few of us went into Sanyu Baby house in Kampala to help out with the 52 babies that call this place home.

Tomorrow the youth will be at Sanyu and another team will go with Brent to do ministry in the prison.

Early Friday morning we start the long drive to the safari location to start our debrief. Please pray for safety on the roads. It's about a 7 hour trip and the rules of these highways are not the same as Canada!

All are healthy and expressed appreciation for this opportunity to be here during our last team meeting which we held outside at night around a big camp fire. Tonight we shut off the generator and all the lights so we can see stars we've never seen before.

Thanks for all your prayers. The next post might not come until after the safari/debrief as I'm not sure about their internet access.

Grace & Peace,

the team

Friday, July 10, 2009

Week 1 is Done

Hi Everyone,

Well, our first work week is done and it has been a great success. Many hours of laundry, painting, home visits, time with the kids, and Church.

All four sub-teams have had the chance to go on Care & Compassion now, and some of the stories from the homes visited are so hard to hear. One young man (an 18 year old) lost his mother to AIDS and ended up living with his Father and Grandmother. When they both died, he found himself responsible for himself and the 10 other brothers & sisters (biological or not) in their home.

Stories like this are the norm...and they leave you feeling somewhat numb. We just do not have a 'file' in our brains to put things like just shouldn't be. Our teams were able to visit these homes and bless them with some food and, more importantly, some things to help them sustain themselves in the future--chickens or pigs and different kinds of fruit trees. I'm sure one of the more memorable parts of the trip will be driving around in a van with pigs running around on the van floor...a true african experience!

Wed we split up into girls and boys. The female team members took the Children Home girls to the zoo near Kampala. Many of these kids do not travel outside of a 5 km raidius so to drive 2 hours to a zoo is a real treat. The boys stayed back and played soccer....after they were given soccer uniforms that we brought from Canada....they were stoked! Of course the final game--Canada vs. Uganda--had a trophy on the line and, regrettably, we lost and the boys received the award...great joy!!

Wed night it was off to Mpigi town church for 6 of us to attend a 2 hour church service. Charlotte and Ryan shared their testimony. Shannon gave a 'word' and Scott preached. We were all very tired at the end of the day!

Thurs it was the boys turn to go to the zoo. The girls played games, made necklaces with beads, played volleyball with new volleyball shirts (on the new court/v-ball net that Pat Kenyon got us) and painted their nails.....yes...they had a blast!

We are now in Kampala...the crazy busy city where traffic is best described as chaotic. We'll spend time at the mall (here at the internet spot), and then go to the craft market to see how good of negotiators we are. After that, it's off to dinner for an authentic african BBQ (pray that it is cooked properly!). We'll arrive home late....9:30-10:00pm and get to bed.

Tomorrow it's our eye clinic, a Pastor's meeting, a youth group rally, and time with kids...and this is our 'down day'! Sunday is church, another eye clinic, a special ladies meeting, another church meeting, and a team meeting....and then off to another work week...

Tomorrow we say goodbye to Cheryl and on Monday we say goodbye to Tracey and Shannon. The Dycks will be joining us today. CHeryl has been feeling under the weather and needs to travel home so please pray for her. Most of us are doing well we are thankful.

thanks for your prayers.

Monday, July 6, 2009

We're in Uganda...and Alive!

Hi Everyone,

Sorry for the lack of posts...but if you wanted consistency you should have sent us to Calgary and not Uganda!

We are here and we are all well. I am happy to report that our one 'sick' person recovered amazingly well and we all arrived ready to roll.

Friday was spent at the ten acres...they pulled the kids out of school and they were all lining the side of the road clapping to greet us. Then they treated us to 1 hour of dancing and singing for our welcome. It was great, but some of our team who did not sleep well on the plane were stuggling to stay awake near the end! The rest of Friday was setting up tents, touring the 10 acres that will be called 'home' for us...and then playing with our Children Home kids.

Saturday was our chance to spend with the kids as they will be in school during the week. I was so proud of our team and how they all jumped into things...initiating with the kids-playing soccer and other games, holding them, visiting them in their was great to see!

Sunday was Church...for three hours. The team introduced themselves, Tikvah & Pat taught children's Sunday School, Brent & Paul A taught the youth, Pastor Paul preached...and all of us learned the meaning of 'dancing before the Lord'! In the afternoon it was time with the kids. Canada has yet to win a game of soccer, so we'd ask for your prayers for that.

Sunday evening we had our first official team meeting. It was so encouraging to hear some of the thoughts and reflections from our team....people have already been impacted and it has only been the 'prelude' to our two 'work weeks'.

That began today. Two teams left for Care & Compassion visits after loading their van up with fruit trees, food, blankets, and live chickens and pigs!!! (How's that for a truly 'African experience'?!?). This will be a significant but challenging day for those two teams as they face some of the stark realities of poverty--both material & spiritual...please pray for them). Two other teams are at work painting the new children's eating shelter that has just been constructed and helping the house mom's with thier work. One sub-team got a 'laundry lesson' and started at the children's clothes....I suspect none of them will take their washing maching for granted again.

Tomorrow the teams switch projects.

One impacting thing that we have heard already is how significant it has been for our Church to be in partnership with Peace Portal Uganda for so was expressed in several different ways...and we are beginning to see a new level of trust and openness in a place that is used to seeing Westerners drop in and then disappear...never to be seen again. That's encouraging!

Parents, your youth are doing great! They all say 'hi' (actually that's not true because they didn't know I was coming here...but I'm sure it would have been true if they had known). Seriously, they really are doing well and you would be proud of them if you could see them. Now, don't stress out about this next part...

After five years of coming to Uganda and actively searching for a live African snake...I finally saw one! I ran to tell the others and by the time I came back it was gone! But I saw one nonetheless. FYI...there is a spray that they put around the 10 acres that keep snakes away (just to help you get to sleep tonight).

Grace & Peace to you all,

PPAC 2009 Team

Here I sit at an internet site in Mpigi. I just spent 2 hours waiting in line at the bank to exchange money. When I got to the front a guy went in front of me and paid a bribe to the guy working so he could cut the line...some things are really different here!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

In and (almost) sound

Hi Everyone,

Sleeping in the upright position is never that easy....legs are too long, people too close, bathroom requirements by the people sitting near the all conspires to ensure you arrive in London feeling a bit on the tired side. Usually our 'pick me up' is a quick jump onto the Tube into downtown London to go and visit the queen (or at least where she stays...some of the time). Unfortunately, we arrived a bit late and the customs line was way too long so, for the first time, our team is spending the next 8 hours in the Airport.

Terminal 5 was just built and opened last's pretty fancy...just not made for hot weather....seems our British friends did not plan for we sit here steaming and waiting.

The flight over was generally uneventful. Tragically, the July movies were not uploaded onto the plane so we were forced to choose from June's movies which were clearly second grade....It was quite hard...ohhh the sacrifices we make.

One of our team members hasn't been feeling too well on the flight over so we would appreciate your prayers for a healthy recovery. Otherwise....all is well.

Better go...we have go, sit and wait.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Vancouver Airport...a nice place to wait

24 bags were carted to YVR by Grayden Biffart's big truck and distributed to the 12 team members that are traveling together (4 members of our team are already over in Uganda setting things up for the rest of us).

Parents hugged their kids, said their last words, shed a tear or two, and, in faith, left their beloved offspring under the care of Scott (foolish? I'll let you be the judge!).

Almost 1550 pounds of luggage was checked in by a somewhat grumpy BA employee...everyone cleared security...and now here we wait at gate 64 for our flight.

The start of missions trips are always interesting. Everyone has been planning for so long, the anticipation builds, the day finally arrives and then....sit & wait....and then wait some more...and then a bit more. Then, get on a plane and sit....and wait again. All this excitement and energy needing to be contained. Some contain themselves better than others. I'm happy to say our group is doing great.

Sara, Lauren, Ryan, Tikvah, Tessa, and Ruthanne have found an appropriate outlet for their energy: Dutch Blitz. Jon has stuck on his headphones and gone to his happy place. The rest of us lounge around.

We'll try and confirm our safe arrival in London with another blog post. After that a lot depends on internet reliability in a place not terribly reliable...but we'll do our best to keep you journeying along with us.

Boarding in 10 minutes....

Grace & Peace