In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

James 2:17

Monday, 16 February 2009

Schools, Valentines and Life in general

Hey Everyone! Thanks for checking in. We have now finished our first full week of teaching at our school and have managed to maintain good and health and humour in the process. Originally, a fortnight ago, we were at 4 schools across Kampala; Kings Seguku, Joy, Alpha and Omega and Children’s Corner. However, it soon became clear that our plea to Fields of Life (our Schools organizers) to give us school in the nearby vicinity of our house had been answered overzealously, with 2 of the school having no need for our help. Joy and Alpha & Omega were well off institutions with good facilities and a strong teaching force which, in the case of Joy, were well travelled and educated. Its was agreed that we would see out the rest if the week before re-assigning our people to where they could be most useful, be it in our current schools or new ones.
So, the final groups are:

Childrens Corner:
Charlotte, Ash, Mikey and Phoebs

Kings Seguku
Jim, Nat and Katie
And the new school:

Treasure Kids:
Jc, Ella and Fitzy

Our leaders have been working with the street kids and have been slowly figuring out there roles in the week days. I will leave them to explain it in due course. N.b. Barney will now hence forth be know as Barndog, Bunny (because that’s how all Ugandans pronounce his name) or Honey Bunny. This is non-negotiable.
In an effort to help you understand the routine we are growing into, here the description of the schools we are at by some who are at them.

Children's Corner:CC is quite a poor school, located just next to a slum. It has no running water or electricity but other than that it is a vibrant and friendly school. There are about 270 pupils from age 3 to 13, and 11 teachers. The team have mostly been spread over the lower years, from Year 4 downwards, teaching RE and English. The children are lovely, tho some of them are a bit wild (they have been caught wrapping up human poo in paper and throwing it at each other in class...). Lessons are typically Ugandan - lots of repeating by rote then copying from the board so it's hard to know how much the children are taking in. There's certainly a very mixed ability range.Every Wednesday there is an hour long chapel service led and translated by Teacher Ritah, but the talks we prepare ourselves. We are currently doing a series on Moses. There is also a fellowship meeting for the staff every Monday which sadly we cannot make as we aren't in on Monday. The Christian side of school life is definitely active tho.Praise points:- Teacher Ritah seems like a really godly woman and does so much for the child evangelism programme at the school. She encourages us daily and hopefully vice versa.- we are getting to know individual children better, settling in well and starting up some friendships.- we have found the staff loo (finally) and it is slightly better than the pupil ones which we had been using before. This is honestly a real blessing as before we had almost stopped drinking so we could avoid them!Prayer points:- please pray that we might become close friends with the teachers at the school. We haven't hung out with them much yet but I think there are some real opportunities for friendship and evangelism among them.- for the health of the four of us at Children's Corner. Ash has been feeling a bit sick most days and not eating much, Phoebs was wiped out after the first day, and Charlotte threw up on the way there on Friday. Mikey's good tho, and loving the school food.- and finally that we would get better at teaching, both in chapel and in lessons. We've slightly been thrown in at the deep end so it would be good to find our feet and teach the children effectively.
Thank you so much!

Treasure Kids
· Found in a quiet area to the North of Kampala called Kosoro
· Its an open school with no school gate and the school kids mix in the playground with others not at school
· Nakato Sarah: She’s the headmistress, calls Ella her sister. She is also a Nakato “2nd twin girl”. Showed us her house on the first day and her 8 month twin girls.
· JC has taught a couple of maths lessons and both he and Fitzy have taught PE. It’s very difficult trying to control 50/60 kids outside however!
· Ella is based in the kindergarten in the mornings but comes back to the upper school in the afternoons. She and Fitzy have taught RE to the highest years, P7 and greatly enjoyed it.
· The evangelism has been moved to Tuesday break times so now we can help. Yay! Possibility f a teacher’s bible study group too.
Praise: Kindly teachers, Friendly Atmosphere.
Please Pray: That we might be able to get more involved in evangelism and that we can teach more lessons.

Kings is found out to the east of the city on top of a hill with a seriously impressive view! Nat stays in the nursery most days while Jim and Katie help in the upper school but Katie will be going to and fro. It is hard because the nursery is on the other side of the valley from the upper school.
The school itself was originally crammed into the nursery but is now in a half finished double story building with boarding facilities. It s a walled compound with a kitchen , a dirt volleyball court and a dirt football field on various plateaus above it on the hill side. The nursery is built around the Headmistress’ old house and most of the class rooms are made from woven straw panels and corrugated iron roves, some of which leak in the rain and all over which will drown out a teachers voice should with and precipitation. The toilets in both areas are drop pits. Pretty simple.
Nat has so far spent her time teaching basic English to the younger kids as well as doing bible talks and playing games. She finds it rewarding but at times, very frustrating. Before she got there, they had literally nothing to work with. The teachers are slowly teaching her Lugandan and they get along very well.
Katie was thrown straight into the upper school this week coming from A&O but coped admirably, teaching English to P3 and P4. She is still getting used to the food but is forming good friendships with the welcoming staff.
Jim is teaching p6 and P7 science as well as running volleyball and football at lunchtimes. The curriculum is basically GCSE/A level but it is going well.
Basically, both upper and lower have good teachers but they don’t have enough and the resources are spread thinly. The kids want to learn but need more help then they are getting

Praise: Thanks for a great school with intelligent well behaved kids who will let us teach. Also praise for great teachers in both upper and lower schools. Thanks that we are slowly being able to teach better and better.
Prayer: That we can help al the kids understand properly, since although they are taught well, there aren’t enough teachers and some aren’t great at English. That we can work hard on the evangelism front, that we can get more accustomed to doing it and that we can be ready to give a talk to the whole school in the weeks to come.

So, its been a good start. But there is still much time to go, much to be done and we havn’t even started our street kid ministry. Watch this space.

Otherwise, we enjoyed a fantastic candle lit valentines day with a secret santa present scheme and flowers! It was decided that we should dress up which lead to a dinner of mini pizzas attended by many handsomely dressed young men and gorgeous young women (and a more that averagely well dressed bunny…) Much fun had by all!

So now, we’re basically chilling at the American Recreation Association, enjoying some well earned volleyball and swimming related rest.

I’m fresh out of stuff to say.

God Bless!


P.s. Feel free to become followers of the blog or leave comments. We’d love to hear people’s thoughts.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Life in Makindye, Kampala....

Our first two weeks in Uganda
We have struggled to learn Luganda,
But we’ve picked up some words
Phoebs has seen some cool birds,
With binoculars on the veranda

We started at schools on Wednesday,
Some were good, some were only ok,
The teaching is tricky,
But we’re not to be picky
So maybe for us you could pray?

Kampala the city is busy,
Boda rides can make you feel dizzy.
The rain in the air
And the heat everywhere,
Has made the girls hair go all frizzy.

Traipsing through Owino market
With no particular target,
‘Mzungu’ was shouted everywhere,
Lots of people stop and stare,
And ‘Squeakers’ the bus we can’t park it.

The food so far has been good,
Many carbs but lacking in pud.
Matoke and ‘wacky cake’,
G’nut sauce ain’t hard to make,
But posho tastes slightly of wood.

Locals can’t pronounce Barney’s name,
But they are not to blame,
As a result, oh so funny,
It has been changed to ‘Bunny’,
Causing laughter all the same.

Chapel was led by Charlotte and Ash,
During which something happened in a flash:
Assembly in the playground,
A man was arrested and found,
They continued preaching on Moses,
Whilst the man was dragged through on his toeses.

Friendliness and smiles are prevalent,
And to ‘Aunt Daisy’s’ house some were sent
To drink soda and chat,
Some sugar cane we have spat,
Although no disrespect was meant.

In the garden we play volleyball,
Our guards built posts for us all.
We need all our might,
To ignore mozzie bites,
And barter goods at local stalls.

Whilst the boys miss their meat,
The girls’ brownies are treats.
Power cuts in night,
Gave us all a big fright,
But we’ve risen to all of these feats.

We have had a great few days,
And now all of us can say:
Let’s praise our Heavenly Father,
And sing ‘Webale Mukama’
Throughout the rest of our stay.

Nat, Mikey, Charlotte, and Ella.

Prayer Points: Sunday 8th February

PRAISE: 1. For the growth of team relationships and a willingness to serve each other.
2. For our evening sessions and bible studies. For Barney and Heidi. And for all we are learning about our Shepherd. 3. For the beautiful country of Uganda and the warm and friendly people. 4. For our good health.

PLEASE: 1. That we would settle into church and street kid work quickly. 2. For the team going into new schools this week, that we would be bold in our proclamation of faith and that we would show God's love to the children we teach. 3. That we would have more oppurtunities to speak to locals about Christ crucified. Also to know how to use our time effectively.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Its Ok! We're alive!

Hey Everyone! Oli- ot-tee-a! (How are you?, phonetically, in Lugandan). Team Smile 09 and landed in Uganda and is making waves. Everyone is well and spirits are high. Our flight was problem free and we are now, after 5 days, very much used to our new home in the suburbs of Kampala, in Makindye (Maa-chin-de). The girls are in ajoining rooms of two and the boys an in bunk beds. In addition, we have a dining room with a nice large table and chairs, a sitting room with some cushioned bamboo based furniture and a small balcony, the location of many games President/Bin Man and Jim and Phoebs' ongoing attempts to site all species of Ugandan Birds (and the ellusive Velvet Monkey!) Much time is also spent playing volleyball and catching games in the amazing garden.

Kampala, as a city, is a just alittle bit on the crazy side. The roads are packed with minibus taxis and the streets are filled with people, basically all of whom are black africans. We visited on Thursday and went in two groups with two Ugandans from Calvary Chapel Street Kid initiative, Derrick and Andrew (whom I'm sure you will here more about later), undertaking a small challenge to help orientate our selves withe the important surroundings. What quickly became apparent was that no matter wherewe went, we stood out, beinjg the only whites visible and we soon became used to calls of 'Mzungu', local dialect for 'white man'. Its not an offensive term, merely a very general one. The taxi park made the streets of London look like a picnic, it was quite literally crawling with interlinked taxis. You have to be quick and assertive to cross the roads and on no curcumstances should you wait politely for the traffic to let you go. Like Barney.

Owino Market was similarly busy, with large numbers of people selling there wares of western clothes and brands and also food. There is of course, one price for the Ugandan and then another considerably higher one for the Mzungus. It was certainly the busiest and most cramped market any of us had seen before and was often quite intimidating with lots of salesmen trying sell us there wares. It should be noted however that the Ugandan people are incredibly welcoming and polite. In the same market, high fives and fist bumps were shared with shop owners who happened to be wearing England Shirts. Two days afterwards we also played some barefoot beach football against some local kids and although our untested feet were fairly' savaged' we played well and had fun (though we lost horribly).

On the Christian side of things, we have started our Seminars and Bible Overview and attended Calvary Chapel this morning, which treated us to a very different kind of service. Although it is a very Westernised Church, with the sermon taken by 'Pastor Brian' a white american from Southern California, there was none the less an hour of amazing hymn singing, led by the church choir, before the sermon was even begun. Pastor Brian spoke strongly of the need for Christians to love one another, drawing from 2 John 1 7-21 and spoke in a familiar style, even throwing in 80s pop references. It is quite likely that this will be our main church for our time here but we will also try out others. We talked with many of the congregation afterwards and this resulted in our invitiation to two boys, Moses and Sammy, for lunch back at our house. After dinner, Sammy, a street kid with no family, stood up and thanked us so much for our hospitalityand his impressed on us his immense gratitude that a group of Mzungus had shown him any kindness or love, something that he had been without for much of his life. For all of us, it was a special moment and underlined just how much we could be achieved here, even with a simple meal and some compassion. We will hopefully see more of the two of them at Calvary.

So, the week head. Teaching should start mid week and in three near by school. we'll be teaching in 3 groups (2 3s and a 4) and appear to have the chance to teach English, Maths, Social Studies (History, Geography etc) and Sciences. Many ideas and plans have been formulated and the team are excited to get started. We will also take evangelism seesions once a week. On friday eveing and Saturday monring, we'll work with the street kids (or in orphanages) and have Sunday for Church and rest and Monday as a preparation day for the school week. It should be a 9-4 day.

We are all so greatful to God for this chance to come here and do his work. And it looks like we will have the time of our lives in the process. Please try to include us in your prayers as we start out teaching during the week.

God Bless


P.s. we will try to keep the blog as updated as possible. watch this space.


@ The main languages spoken are English and Lugandan.
@ Much of the land is fertile and well-watered
@ According to
the census of 2002 Christians made up 84% of Uganda's population, 6.00% were
Mulism, and 4% traditional ethnic and a small minority Baha'i and Hindu.
Uganda is the first country in the world with a massive aids problem to halve
from 25% in 1992 to 8-10% in 2000.
@ Life expectancy for a man is 51 years,
and for a woman, 52.
@ The area of Uganda is 241, 040 sq. miles meanwhile
Britain's is 244, 820 sq. miles. However the population of Uganda stands at 31.9
million, while Britains is almost double that at roughly 61 million.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God and of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5