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June Updates from Gulu

Permanent housing for our kiddos:  We’ve had a lot of challenges since starting and each and every one has come with its unique, inspiring, wonderful solution. Our current biggest push is to build beautiful housing for our dear kiddos. The next building is really coming along—built a lot by prayers, making our own bricks, donations of cement, sand, aggregate rock and other materials from friends and people in the area. We are hoping to build 4 such buildings so please do pray with us for the Lord’s miraculous continued supply. We’re building structurally very sound and beautiful buildings for a fraction of the normal prices, simply because the Lord leads and guides, has folk we can barter with and all. 

Generator —We’ve almost finished building an all-weather housing for our important generator. You will notice in the back of the photo, this very important element to our existing in the bush, which means all classrooms are lit every night from 7pm at sundown, till 9 for the young ones and till 10 for the older ones. Of course the photo above is dominated by our wonderful kids, flipping out at our new ZongShen 3 wheeler motorbike transport, which by the way is a whopping answer to prayer for us!) In the trailer is Oyella, an exceptionally helpful boy, who’s always ready to jump in to help lifting or carrying, with preparing our weekly goats for Sunday meal, or whatever’s needed. An orphan with a real heart. With his elbows over the rail, is Ojok. He’s a secondary school student whose family ran into a lot of difficulties with death and sickness so he wasn’t able to study past S2. He’s helping us as staff in the meantime, and with the money he saves from helping us in the school and farm and wherever the need is, will be able to return to High School next year, with enough money to pay all his school fees. We have 6 secondary students who are orphans and former graduates from our school, we pay for their school fees as they work with us in their term holidays. It’s a wonderful arrangement for them and us.

Donation of books from our friends in China:  It’s wonderful just seeing how small the world is and how we can help each other, regardless of age, race, nationality and all. We have several wonderful friends in China who help translate our newsletter, several have sent books and others send kind donations. On the right you’ll see a set of wonderful books we received from our friends in a Foundation in China which are absolutely perfectly tailored to our children’s needs. With a whole set of Ladybird readers, (which is one of the most tried-and-proven reading systems) and many books with clear descriptions, photos and information to expand the worlds of our dear kids who have experienced so very little. Thank you so much!!

Snakes: Well, being Africa, it’s very common for us to be keeping very vigilant and alert about snakes. This last month, we killed 8 of them. Well a few others but just smaller ones (including vipers). But the main concern are the cobras. 6 of the ones we killed were about a meter long and 2 were 2 meters long! Just as well the children are bush kiddos and they’re very alert and quickly shout when they see one, enabling the teachers or staff to run to kill it right away! This is a challenge for all villages and schools, especially North of our country. You can see in the photo out my window just as dawn begins breaking, how grass outside our slashed school yard is naturally so high and thick—pure elephant grass. It’ll grow way taller than this till the dry season is about to come (December, Jan and Feb) when it’s reaped and used for housing roofing. Thanks so much for your prayers as these are very deadly and we marvel at how the Lord keeps us from all opposition—natural and human! J

Security: Speaking of human opposition, our security situation has been much more challenging this last month. An excerpt from our local daily newspaper yesterday regarding the escalated bad security and crime in Gulu yesterday said: “Crime has forced many businessmen and women to close their premises as early as 6p.m., which is affecting their livelihoods. Also, many people in the area who are still picking their lives up after a 20–year insurgency by the Lord’s Resistance Army against the government are now afraid of venturing outside their homes at night. On Tuesday, Mr. James Baba, the State Minister for Internal Affairs said at Parliament that over the last six months, 51 people had lost their lives in Gulu to suspected criminals.” Daily Monitor June 27, 2014.”   Because several were killed not far from our place, our local Commissioner of Police suggested I sleep in Gulu town, while being at the school during the day, since I’d be ‘bait’ for the armed robbery thugs—at least until we got security guards. We since got 2 wonderful armed guards though, so I’m back at the school. =) But as the Bible says: “Unless the Lord keeps the house, the watchman is staying away in vain” so your prayers that God continues to watch over us are much appreciated!

Special Gifts: We must say that without the generosity of those of you who give so kindly and generously, and who remember to pray for us, we would never have this miracle in the bush! This month was no exception with special gifts that came even above the norm. Thank you so much dear Meera for the whole box of medicine which is absolutely perfect for our children’s needs for malaria medication, against worms and all sorts of ailments. We are very grateful! We received more early learning materials from Korianne and Mike in Australia and they’re such a help for the kiddos learning English. We had a gift of 140 brand new (meaning no holes!!!) mosquito nets so each child now has a fresh net just at the onslaught of malaria season. Perfect timing indeed! One very interesting idea was from a new friend David who knew his colleague Nicola had been with us some time ago. He wanted to give Nicola a special gift for her birthday, so decided to send the money he would have given to her, to us to make beautiful sweaters for several of our kiddos! It’s a wonderful idea and our kiddos benefited by being cozy and warm these brisk mornings because of receiving a gift on behalf of Nicola!

Our Farm: Things are really flourishing with the heavy rains that come mostly at night. corn/maize is growing high, and will be ready to harvest exactly when the grain we’ve stored will be nearing the end. We’ll replant and the next harvest should be ready for just near the end of our school year in November, which will also meet a very real need. Apart from corn, we’re growing onions, tomatoes, cabbages and the kiddos’ latest favourite—ochre!

So that’s the news that made the news this wonderful June! Thank you so much for remembering us in prayer, and in your kind giving. We really can’t thank you enough and just know the Lord isn’t going to fail to reward you mightily.

With much love and heartfelt thanks from all of us,