Sunday, June 28, 2009

Friday June 26th Leaving Guesthouse & Kampala

Friday June 26th Leaving Guesthouse & Kampala, saying goodbye at Myenga Watoto Guesthouse on the steps, drive to airport and saying goodbye at the Entebbe airport...

Friday June 26 goodbye pictures 2

Friday June 26 goodbye pictures on the way to Entebbe Airport, views of Lake Victoria, street scenes and the airport.....

Saturday June 27th - Arriving back at SFO and back in California!

And after a good but long flight we arrived back safely in SFO and back in California.

We had indeed an extra unplanned landing in Calgary for those of you watching our flight information online and those picking us up on SFO, this was for a medical reason for one of the passengers, after initial care by paramedics she seemed to be doing a little better, and she stayed in Calgary.

Thanks for those picking us up from the airport, it was great to share our initial stories with you, and we appreciated your hospitality and flexibilities.

We'll be updating the blog some more with pictures, now that we have our full Internet capabilities and computer access.

And this is to share that we thank you for all your prayers, please continue to pray for Uganda and the work of Watoto, we feel blessed and happy that we could be together with you all a little part of their ministry and vision to do God's work where needed in Uganda through the growing and impactful work on Watoto Church.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday June 26th - leaving Kampala

And now it has come to our final day in our Guesthouse in Kampala.
We packed and had breakfast followed by our devotionals focused on John, where we reflected on how we are pruned to produce fruit in God's plan. We reflected on how that applied to us this week and as we go back to California.

We did a feedback session with Adrew our Watoto Guide, filled out some feedback cards for Visit Africa and the Watoto Church. We also had time to play some more card games, Uno and Nerds were the favorite games of the weeks besides the chess games with the games sets we had purchased in Uganda with their beautiful animal designs.

After lunch it was time to say goodbye to our wonderfull guest house staff Doris, Janette, Annete and Florence. They had been our hosts, cooks and did our laundry as needed, they were always friendly and helpful, and as we were the very first guests in our new Myenga guesthouse, this had been a new experience together for them too. We took our final pictures on the porch with everyone, packed the cars and left for the Entebbe Airport.

We are now in Dubai in the VIP launch as we are waiting for our connecting flight early Saturday morning. With their computer access we can update our blog, but not our pictures, so we'll add them as soon as we are back in California!

We loved your comments along the way, and it has been fun to know that many of you were able to follow our wonderful mission experience in Watoto Uganda.
We pray for all the people we met that touched our lives, that their visions and dreams my come true as they continue to walk with God and be blessed by it. We also pray for safe travels on the final leg home to SFO!

Thursday June 25th back to the Guesthouse

On Thursday, it was time to wake up early with breakfast, and pack our bags back in the cars for our ride back to Kampala and our Guesthouse for a final night there.

A trip of six hours and starting with a prayer for safe travels, Stephen and Jackson (the drivers) brought us safely back to Kampala. It started our with unpaved roads with some baboons still greeting us along the way, beautiful views along the way, and many small villages, schools, and small stores where people sell their goods.

As we were getting closer to Kampala the traffic increased and the roads improved, and we were back in town for lunch together and then enjoyed a relaxing afternoon at the guesthouse with showers, re-packing for our final return home.

After dinner we walked to our favorite icecream store Ciao, and then closed the day with sharing our highlights and key moments of the weeks together while we were working, learning and being receiced with some much hospitality in the Watoto villages, the church and our questhouse. Highlights included Bulrushes with the baby orphans, lunch with the moms/kids at their homes, Sunday service, meeting our sponsored children, Building our class room in Bbira side by side with the workers and learning from them how to build and more about their lives, Safari, visiting the other village Suume with their vocational schools (sowing, catering, woodworking (the cribs for Bullrushes), and learning about the Watoto work in Watoto Central and the cells distributed North, East, South and West and in Gulu where they now also have churches and small group work, the dinner with paster Edi and his wife Martha in the nice restaurant, and all the moments were were able to be with the watoto kids, people, our guide and Stephen our wonderful and always friendly driver....

We were feeling good about all we had been able to do and experience, it feels sad that the Uganda experience and our Watoto weeks are coming to an end. Elsbeth

Wednesday June 24th - Safari Day 2

We woke up at 6:00 and had breakfast at 6:30 for our 7:00 safari!In the beginning of the safari we decided to take a differnt route to have a higher chance of seeing a leopard. We saw many baboon and antelopes and amazingly a hyena mingling and chasing some animals. After 30 minutes or so the 2 cars split up the car I was in the one that went to the bank of the river, and saw 2 crested crains (the country bird). We also got about 20 or 30 feet away from the lazy hippos, this was at the delta, close to Albert Lake. We were lucky enough to see some of them yahn. When we were on our way back almost to the main road there were 10 giraffes on the road and along the side of the road, we took many pictures and were amazed by their grace. When we got back from our 3 hour safari experience we did the devotionals at the pool and then jumped in the water for a refreshing swim and with a beautiful view on the Nile.

At 4:00 we went on a boat safari up the Nile to the water fall we had been to the day before. On the way there we saw a huge elephant eating and drinking on the side of the river some people were on the top ( roof ) of the boat and had a great view from there. Then it started to rain and rain with some lighteening and thunder but it was over soon enough. Our boat driver took us up close to some hippos and we saw them running it was amazing! Another time when we were close to some hippos 1 charged us...... then fell over in the water... Up stream a ways we saw some fisher eagles on the top of dead trees. Next came the crocodiles, we saw some that must have been 20 feet long!! The crocodiles wers close to the fall. As we got close to the fall there was a little island that we went on to get a standing view of the fall. On our way back we had to hurry because were running out of time so we only made a few stopps. We had dinner at 7:30 after that we all gathered and andrew gave us a closing prayer and shared with us his personal journey with Christ, and his hopes and dreams to be able to bring in his art or art therapy into the work with or along his Watoto work. It had been another wonderful day. Liam.

Pictures Safari Day 1

A few pictures from our Day 1 Safari...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tuesday June 23rd

Today we woke up at 4:30.... it was interesting! But worth it since we drove the six hours to the safari place. Along the way we drove on a road that had approximately a billion speed bumps in a one mile stretch. We stopped to look at the most powerful waterfall in Uganda! It was amaaaaazing except the titsi fly attacks began then. After that, we took a ferry across the Nile and saw a herd of elephants on the other side. Mark has a crush on Steven the bus driver.

Then we got to have lunch at the hotel, which was delicious and the hotel is so cool! Our keys are in the shape of little wooden hippos. Then we swam. Pretty sure the water was straight from the river. We left for our first safari drive and got to sit on top of the van to look at all the animals... WE SAW SIMBA!!!!!!!! And also Pumba. Steven offroaded a whole bunch to get us a better view, it was sweet. Dinner was also good. Desserts were weird. Pineapple was epic.

I'm tired.
-Mark. Slash Erin.

Monday June 22nd

First thing Monday, we went to the Suubi village to look arond at the vocational school and library that they have there. Suubi is Watoto's largest site, located on top of a hill with a beautiful view of the surrounding hills. We even got to try some of the food from the cooking school.. the samosas were delicious!

We then returned to Bbira for a dedication of the classroom we built. Along with the resident pastor and the building crew, we joined in song and prayer before saying our goodbyes. The pastor shared with us his gratitude for our visit, and discussed the "ripple effects" that our trip has had on the surrounding community.

Then we shopped! At one of the marketplaces in Kampala, we successfully obtained a large selection of drums and knives, as well as some assorted clothing and jewelry. Lots of fun. We got home pretty early so Andrew took some of the kids to Ciao Ciao for some yummy and cheap gelato, woot woot!

-Monica (and Erin a little bit)

Monday June 22 Class Room Dedication

The day we dedicated the class room together with Bbira village mgr Arora.....

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Fun Day Saturday June 20th - The Narrative

High above the Nile River, the Sunnyvale scouts viewed the scene, poised upon their horses...

Following up on the pictures posted early for June 20th:

The day had started unlike any of the others... after three full days of brick laying and wall raising, the team got to sleep in an extra hour or so. :-) After a devotion and breakfast, the team began their journey and headed out for Jinja, Uganda (about 50 miles east of Kampala. The itenerary was ambitious: to experiance Uganda from as many modes of transportation as possible.

Bus: Under the expert navigation of Steven, the team passed east out of Kampala on the Watoto bus, passing through the industrial part of the city (already bustling early on a Saturday morning) and headed out into the eastern countryside. The trip went smoothly, rolling over green hillsides, through green forests and among farms raising tea leaves. Though only a little more than 50 miles from Kampala, the trip takes ~2.5 hours. Traffic is quite busy (the number of stop signs and traffic lights we have seen can be counted on one hand) and the road is one lane in both directions.

Boat: Though mostly associated with Egypt and the Old Testement, the Nile River actually has its source in Uganda. And it is quite a rushing start, with many sets of rapids located just off of the source. We de-bus and view the river from a small bluff overlooking the rapids. From there, we descend to a calm cove off of the river where we board two boats. For the next hour or so, to tour a calm section of river between the rapids, observing the local water fowl and exploring a small island in the river. We return to shore and spend a few moments watching kayaks come through the rapids.

Quad-bike/ATV: Next up is traversing the bluffs above the Nile river via quad-bike (also known as ATVs (All-Terrain-Vehicles). Between the suits, helmets, goggles and bandanas, we look like a set of airport workers trying to mimic World War 1 motorcylists. We are quickly trained on the basics of the ATVs (the younger folk have automatic transmissions, while the older folk have manual transmissions) overcoming some initial stalls and running into the brush and head out into the jungle. We zip along the ridge above the river and through paths used by some of the nearby villages (the ATV shop provides some if the monies from these tours back to the local economy). We enjoy the view as well as the opportunity to try the ATV's in the open in a small field. After over an hour of driving, it is a relief to return and remove the equipment and have a chance to wash out the dust.

Horse/Hiking: From the quad-bike run, we reboard the bus, make a somewhat quick stop for lunch and cross over to the other side of the river. There some of the group dons English riding gear and trots off into the jungle to enjoy the sights while the other part of the group hikes down to the Nile and has the opportunity to wade and/or swim in the river. Both groups return to the stables (though one group has sorer bottoms than the other :-) ) and have the opportunities to watch a family of monkeys play in the trees.

From there it is back onto the bus for the trip back to Kampala (with much snoozing on the bus) and dinner. A most excellent day exploring the wonders of Uganda...


Monday, June 22, 2009

Sunday Watoto Church Central

A great day at Watoto Central.....

On Sunday morning, we got to go to the ten o’clock service at Watoto Church Central in Kampala. Formerly known as Kampala Pentecostal Church, Watoto was an extremely lively and exciting church service complete with an amazing choir and enthusiastic preacher. Some things were definitely a little different than at Sunnyvale Pres... ha!

After the service, we got in the bus and drove to Bbira village, where we had been working during the week, for a traditional lunch in some of the houses with several groups of orphans and their housemothers. We were warned ahead of time about the food, but it turned out to be delicious and the kids and mothers were so sweet and hospitable. Later we also got to play outside with some of the children, give them the toys and gifts we brought with us, and I even got to meet the famous Moses (the first baby at the Bullrushes)!

In the afternoon, we had some rest at the guest house before going to a traditional African dance show. It was really cool with all the drums and crazy costumes, minus the longwinded “comedian” and unexpected storm that moved everyone inside... but then we got to watch the women balance like seven pots on their head and dance! WOO! And then we left. Good day 

-Erin (and Mark a little bit)

Fun Day Saturday June 20th

A fun day around the Nile, Jinja with ATVs and horses....

Day Three Building Pictures

Day three building pictures, we made it! All the outside walls up of the class room and half of the inside walls, for the next group to build the attached class rooms.....

Third Building Day (Fri June 19th)

Our day started with John 10:7-16 about the Good Shepherd. It is hard to believe this was the last day of building! Certainly at this point we have mastered our brick-laying skills! Laying bricks up on a scaffolding balanced on, you guessed it, bricks, was a fun adventure, as was throwing the muchanga up high (that is the Lugandan word for mortar!). We were able to get two walls of the classroom 5 rows above the window line as well as several internal walls well on their way. We actually finished our work slightly ahead of schedule.
We returned to a continued lack of water and began our foray into advanced sponge bathing. We had to make haste as the Watoto staff sponsored a dinner for us at a nearby hotel with a French restaurant. We met Pastor Eddie and his wife Martha. The meal was a lovely mushroom chicken, mixed vegetables, french fries (yes), french bread and a dessert of fresh fruits inlcuding passion fruit and stawberry ice cream. And if that were not enough, Elsbeth had arranged for a visit by the head of an organization called Mempro which is aimed at empowering young women and raising their self esteem. Ms. Hilda Tandria brought a short DVD that explained the aims of the program and showed the staff, volunteers and some of the clients served by the program. It was a long and blessed day! Today's update brought to you by Jennifer Hanlon

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day two, building

Hi all,

We are in the middle of Day 2 of our building, inserting the window frames and now placing bricks between them. Not quite as busy as yesterday, which is a relief as most of us were dead tired last night.

The classroom we are building will be part of a high school in the village of Bbira. One of the construction workers grew up in a Watoto village. Currently students must move to a new village when they reach high school level, as not all villages have a high school. For children already orphaned, this creates another painful separation. It is good to picture this school impacting future children so they can remain in the same family unit all the way through their education years.

We had fun with a group of kids at lunch today who helped Isaac look for lizards. No lizards, but plenty of piggyback rides and fun times. Gotta get back to bricklaying now!


Pictures day 2 building

Day 2 building, great progress

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Andrew our guide is just great...

Andrew is our local Watoto host and guide, we are using his laptop to be able to update this blog.

Check him out

First Day Building picture

Pictures from building

First Day Building

After an early start we started our devotionals at 6:15 am (no joke) and enjoyed our early breakfast, so well prepared by our hostesess.

And then yes, we are starting on our building job. And after about an hour drive from our guesthouse we arrive at the village. We get an overview of the amazing village build for the children, with their homes and school buildings. And we are starting to build the class room for the high school on the slap prepared for us.

Amazing to build under great supervision and teaching and lots of help and guidance by our local staf our first rows of bricks!

Pictures from Bulrushes and Watoto Church Intro