Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pause

I'm sitting here, in the dust, the sun is hot, but I don't want to move. Actually, I'm afraid to move. I am paralyzed by indecision. There are too many choices and I don't know which direction to go. I feel alone. Where are the people? Why is it so quiet here? A slight breeze blows past my face but I barely notice the gift it is. That's how it is with me these days. I've lost my sense of wonder. I've grown cynical, and closed. I know, because I've been here before, that eventually, I will get up and just start walking, there is no other option, but I have no idea toward what I'm walking. I close my eyes and remember the other times I sat here and the way it all seemed to work itself out. I will myself to recapture wonder, and realize, I am again holding on way too tight to life. I need to let some air into this place. I need to re-learn how to breathe. When I open my eyes, I hear someone saying, "take all the time you need." And I relax a little. I breathe in, and then out. I open my hands, catch the breeze and realize what a gift this place is.



Sunday, September 20, 2009

My Man Cooks!

Yup! My man can cook, thank God! And he has totally changed my view of Ugandan cuisine. It is SO yummy! Beans, matooke, dried fish, greens...I hope y'all get a chance to taste this party in your mouth when you eat Patrick's food!

And he also has good taste in decorating. Hey, mom, see the wall hanging you made him hanging above the TV? :)




Seeing Sasha

I got to see Sasha her last week in Uganda before she took off for Cambodia! I even got to room with her! Sasha was one of our students on the 2006 HIV/AIDS school in Cape Town and she has been in Soroti, Uganda for 2 years! So, it was a big deal for her to leave and a huge, awesome blessing to hang out with her while I was there in Soroti. Sasha, may you experience great, wondrous things in your new home! Love ya!!

Ang Tulay (The Bridge)

So...what the heck have I been up to the last few months? Ok, so if you've read my newsletter, all of this is in there so sorry for the repeat, but I've added what happened in Arua which is new, so you can skip ahead to that part! And I've also added the few pictures I have:

Ang Tulay (The Bridge)


Ang Tulay! Actually, the timing of my arrival in Uganda was perfect because the team from Precious Jewels Ministry in Manila, Philippines, came back in June to begin training YWAM Uganda to implement Ang Tulay in Uganda! I attended the sessions last October, which is Phase 1 of the program, then we attended Phase 2 in November and now we are in the midst of Phase 3 and have been since June!

Ang Tulay simply means, “The Bridge” in one of the Filipino languages. It is a week long “journey” over the bridge using steps that help both children and adults work through their grief and trauma. See the link below for more information about Ang Tulay and also Precious Jewels Ministry.

http://www.preciousjewels.org/angtulay.html

What I love about it is the creative nature of the program. It includes stories, music, art, drama, small groups, and activities. I have seen with my own eyes the difference just this one week can make in a child’s life, helping them to share their painful experiences, for some, maybe the first time in their lives.


IMPLEMENTATION


From June we have been adjusting the program to fit the culture of Uganda. I’ve been part of the team working on activities that use local materials, while other teams worked on stories, others worked on visuals until we were ready to actually run an Ang Tulay session.


JINJA

We began in Jinja, first a 2 day mini Ang Tulay with the YWAM base children. Then we did an entire week at Siita’s Nest Children’s Home near the base. I was an assistant small group leader there, with 9 kids, aged 14 and 15 years. It was intense but very rewarding, helping the children open up and work through many issues ranging from the death of parents due to AIDS, abandonment, abuse by relatives or step-parents and worries about getting a good education and the finances to continue on in their studies.

SOROTI

We took a week break after that to re-group and prepare for Ang Tulay in Soroti, eastern Uganda. This is where there is currently a famine, people are struggling for food and some have also died from the lack.

It was such a joy to bring these young people from the village for a week and feed them 3 good meals a day as well as tea in the mornings. One of my favourite parts of the week was serving the food and handing each child their plate knowing they were getting proper nutrition at least for this one week.

These youth are part of Life Skills clubs in the village run by YWAM Soroti’s FACE program. FACE (Facing AIDS with Compassion and Education). They are vulnerable children, usually from families struggling with HIV, poverty, lack of education etc.

I was again an assistant small group leader with a group of 16-17 year olds. We had a challenge of language, but we managed with the help of one of the girls who knew English well and could translate into Ateso for the other members. It was such a privilege to be allowed into the painful experiences these youth shared with us. At times, it was very difficult not to cry in front of them as they shared about deaths, beatings, being sent from home to home, and their deepest desire to be educated but no one to help pay for their fees. Some of the youth remain in the primary school level because it is government funded though they are old enough to be in secondary. Some of them also came with only one set of clothing for the week, no soap, no mattress. We gave out soap and toilet paper and brought mattresses for them and I think they were really blessed to be so cared for and leave their troubles for that week.

I got so attached to these youth and it was hard to see them leave knowing some of them are going back into difficult situations. But we believe they gained some good tools for handling their situations and we keep praying for them.

ARUA

Now, I am back in Arua. Two weeks ago we began preparing to have Ang Tulay here on our base with our staff so they can see the benefit for themselves of this program. I was in charge of supplies and materials as well as songs and icebreakers for the week! On Sunday after not knowing if our Jinja team would even arrive due to the riots in Kampala, it was a great joy to see our Jinja team to arrive!

The week was challenging but amazing and rewarding! Our staff all responded positively. Every morning, we began preparing early, and didn't stop until late at night. But for me, it was a privilege to be involved and see some of my close friends and fellow staff members being touched by God in special ways.

The Filipino team has made a commitment to YWAM Uganda of 5 years to implement Ang Tulay here. So, we continue to move forward eventually being trained to train others! I had no idea the process is so involved but I see the huge need for this ministry to be done well and effectively. I’m glad the Filipino team is taking us through step by step!

My life these last few months has been all about Ang Tulay and these children and youth. I have definitely felt a shifting within myself, an opening up of my heart to the young people of Uganda. I hope and pray I will get to continue walking with these children and see their lives changed!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Riots In Kampala

For the last few days, riots have broken out in Kampala, because the president has refused a tribal leader entry to the city. Our team from Jinja that was meant to travel today to Kampala to catch the bus to come to Arua, had to delay their travels because of the violence. So, we don't know if they'll be able to travel tomorrow or not. They are coming to help us run the Ang Tulay here.

Patrick, who works in Kampala, was in the midst of the riots, but at least safe in his office building. He said he heard gunshots, and the military was everywhere and he even witnessed someone being beaten by a bunch of men! I was so, so happy when he finally got home and was away from city centre!!

Hopefully, these two leaders, both with a lot of influence, can come to an agreement instead of inciting violence among the people!

Some of my Ugandan friends are struggling, wanting so much more for their country than this!

To read more, follow the links below:

Story:
http://globalvoicesonline.org/2009/09/11/uganda-nine-dead-in-kampala-riots/

Images:
http://independent.co.ug/index.php/component/content/article/106-myblog/1745-images-from-yesterdays-kampala-riots