Thursday, May 27, 2010

So as my time in Uganda comes to an end I sit back and ponder on the things that have been accomplished. I have spent many of the last 90+ days with the Ugandan people. I have been pouring myself into them as if they were in my everyday life, but at the end of the day, I am going back home. So what is it that they gain from my “pouring”? What do I gain? What has the Lord gained?

My heart fills up when I think of the memories I have made here in the past couple months, adding them to the many memories made in the years prior. There is a very special place in my heart for these people and I am thankful that I can call this place my home away from home. The sincerity of these people keeps me humble and anxious to return.

The inconveniences of life back in the states are not that of the inconveniences in Uganda…

Our power goes out or we blow a fuse causing the outlet in the bathroom to be out of order until an electrician can come and fix it for $200; any source of light or electricity in Uganda is like gold.

The local grocery store is out of stock of Tillamook cheese and you have to settle for the generic brand, or you don’t settle and you drive 20 min to another grocery store; Uganda doesn’t eat cheese, you can get it but it is about $20+ a block and no Ugandan will justify 40,000 USHS for any food.

We see temper tantrums all the time because kids aren’t getting the next best toy that they think they deserve; a typical Ugandan kid is perfectly happy dragging a jerry can around all day, laughing as it hits the rocks and potholes causing the jerry can to lose control and flop around like a fish out of water.

Camping in the states a couple times a year brings out the ever-so-evil mosquitoes that we fight off with candles and spray; every night in Uganda people suffer from mosquito bites, many people can’t even afford nets for their beds at night; Malaria carried from these mosquitoes is the number one cause of death in this country.

I am not telling you these stories to make you think twice about the lavish life we live in America. I am telling you these stories because this is why I love it here. Every day is a gift and you never know what you are going to see, hear, smell, taste. These people have nothing yet they strive everyday to be better people. The simple good morning hugs followed by the life stories and overbearing laughs over a cup of African tea; it’s these times that we all look forward to so much here. Just like in the states, everyone here has a story; some bring tears, some joy, some confusion…but everyone has a story. I have had the privilege this past couple months to hear and witness hundreds of stories. These stories are hidden deep in my heart and they have helped me in developing life long relationships with the people of Uganda. God has a plan for each and every person with a story. It is amazing to see the hearts of these people and their love and devotion to God. Despite what life looks like to me as I walk the streets of Uganda; life is okay here even though the problems, poverty and pain is endless.

We here at Christopher house have the opportunity to bring more life into this community. We have these kid’s lives in our hands 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. The training that takes place within our walls could be the only quality training these kids ever get. We have been given the opportunity to go into the schools and teach, this in and of itself is huge. For the educations system to be shown what it means to be a quality teacher, what discipline should look like, what interaction looks like, what trial and error looks like. We encourage character development, we encourage kids to ask questions, we encourage kids to think outside the box…all of which is foreign in these school systems.

Because of this training; over 1300 kids are studying, learning, growing, developing motor skill, social skills, dancing, singing, playing futbal, painting, sculpting, playing instruments, playing netball, reading, writing, learning English, acting, drawing and much more. We are trying to instill good manners, habits, morals and values. We talk openly about what it means to love, share, grow, be kind, stand up for yourself, laugh, eat right, abstain from sex, befriend the opposite sex, share emotions…the list goes on.

Our work here has just begun. It has been a blessing to be a part of this organization and I hope to return on the Lord’s clock. My time here has come to an end once again and I am so thankful to have spent the last 3 months with these people, these children, God’s people, God’s children. I pray that He has been glorified and I will continue to pray that He is glorified with this ministry as they pour their love and lives into this community of many, many people that need to experience true love.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

It's been a little while since my last update, and let me tell you it has been a busy couple weeks. I am hoping that all these pictures will give you a glimpse of what we have been doing here. There has been a lot of fun, a lot of learning, a lot of growing, and a heck of a lot of kids!!

Our school program is now on hold because the kids have finished with exams and are now on what they call "holiday". Basically they have 3 "holiday" breaks a year...this "holiday" is for 4 weeks. We simply change our schedule from going to schools and training, to having the community kids come here to the center Tuesday-Saturday. We have a special "holiday program" for them to be a part of for the next 4 weeks. Most of these kids that we have during holiday program are our original Christopher House kids. These are kids that are off at boarding school during the year, they don't go to school within our community so this is the only time we get to interact with them. Holiday is always very exciting for the kids because they are reunited with their closest friends, even brothers and sisters, that they haven't seen for quite sometime. It is a time of intense training, learning, growing, performing, and a lot of fun with a purpose!!

Since my last update, I have been able to do some traveling and have some down time of my own. For Easter, a group of us went to West Africa. We stayed at the Pan Afrique Hippo Resort! A friend of mine in Jinja met a guy who is in the Peace Corp doing work in Kasase, West Africa. He stays close to this Hippo Resort and goes there often and asked us to join him and some of his Peace Corp friends for Easter weekend. It was a blast. Shell beaches, huge hippos, warm swimming water (at your own risk) good food, great company, African tea, Congolese dancing, futbal, volleyball, limbo, was quite the African vacation.

As most of you know I had a couple visitors this last week. Not only did the boyfriend come...MY MOM CAME!!! What a surprise that was. I had no idea until I saw her in the airport. Jayme and her had planned it since the beginning, they booked their tickets together and kept the secret for over 6 weeks!! Come to find out...EVERYONE knew she was coming, except me. We had an amazing time. We ate a lot of amazing "Shelly" food, bombarded the craft markets, had some relaxation time at Shiloh, went to N'DARE cultural center where different cultural dances are performed, went to Jinja and did a little bungee jumping (mom passes on that), rafted down the NILE river (mom was ALL over that), and last but certainly not least they got to spend a couple days at the center with the kids. I really think they enjoyed their time here, it was an 11 day trip that I am sure they won't forget...I know the kids benefited from their visit for sure! Because of the volcano in Iceland they got to stay an extra day, which was super fun!!

Now they are back at home and I am back to work and we have a lot going on in the next couple weeks. Some of our kids are getting ready for a big dance performance, others are auditioning for a film, and others are finishing huge art pieces! I will be sure to get some snaps and videos of those activities! Well I better get going because I have a lot of pictures to upload and it may take hours. Until next time...enjoy these pictures and please...never stop praying for us. This community needs your prayers and support. Thank you all for not forgetting about us :) we love you and will be in touch! God bless all who are reading this!!

Sheena and the rowdy bunch!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Here are a few photos of what we are currently doing in our departments...

March 17, 2010

So many kids, huge language barrier, one love!

When I was here in 2006 we worked with about 200 community kids. We broke them up into "houses", 50 kids per "house". We had the house of David, house of Luke, house of Elijah and house of Joshua. House of David came to the center on Tuesday, Luke on Wednesday, Elijah on Thursday and Joshua on Friday. We taught the same curriculum every day to all 4 houses, the little kids (age 4-7) would come in the morning from 10-1, the big kids (8-15) would come in after school around 2-5. On Saturday, we would have ALL 200 kids, ALL day!!! It was somewhat organized chaos! The kids loved to be around all the other kids, and Saturday was the day to shine! The kids would do different performances depending on what they were working on throughout the week. The kids also loved Saturday's because they got served lunch!!

Things have changed a bit since I was here in 2006. Our community program turned into a Saturday program only. We see the majority of the same kids on Saturday's along with a bunch of new faces from our local Bbunga community! Now throughout the week we are focusing on 4 programs; Art, Music, Drama and Futbal. We have partnered with 12 schools within a 5 mile radius of Bbunga!! This equals up to over 1100 new faces!!! Some of the schools come here to the center for classes, and for the schools that lack transportation; we commute to them. We work with 3 schools a day Tuesday thru Friday, then our community "organized chaos" on Saturday, then exhaustion sets in and we head out to Shiloh (our property out in the bush where we live) for Sunday and Monday to rest!

Each of our programs has a head instructor and an assistant that work here at Christopher House Development Center. Elijah and Harriet run the Art department, Enoch and Fred run the Music department, Alisha and Salivia run the Drama department, Abdul and Motovu run the Futbal department; Quinn and I mainly help with Futbal because there are soo many kids, but there are days we work with Alisha in Drama or Elijah in Art.

Instructors and assistants are responsible for creating a curriculum that fits our standards, one that brings learning, motivation and creativity to all kids. We are trying to build these kids from the inside out, challenging them to step our of their comfort zones and allow them to be creative, to have fun, to be children.