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Friday, January 9, 2009

Happy New Year!

We're sorry we've been a bit slow to keep this up-to-date, but a new year is always a good time to make new resolutions, and ours is to get better at this! We returned to Uganda just before Christmas having spent 4 months in the UK, visiting friends and supporters, attending conferences and also taking a break at the insistence of our trustees.

Whilst we were in the UK our team here have done a great job keeping things running, but as you might expect we returned to a fair few challenges which have kept us busy since we got here.

January is a massive time of year for us. It's the main holiday - the equivalent of our summer holiday in the UK - the LMC Cup of Uganda football tournament gets underway (watch Tim's blog for updates on that), we set the budgets for the coming year and analyse the expenditure for the previous year, and of course it's the new year - a time to refresh ourselves with the vision, to renew our commitment and to plan for the future!

So, this month we have visiting us two of our trustees, Rob and Margaret - who are going to work with Emily (the White Eagles Manager) on all the finance stuff, Rob's wife Katharine, Rob and Katharine's friend Nick, Tim's friend Josh, our friend Florence, who is coming to get away from it all to write a book she's been working on, as well as our daughter Josephine and her husband and two kids - John, Jonah and Georgie!

We've brought 3 of the girls up from the girls home - Robinah, Judith and Veronica - to help out, and give them a chance to earn a bit of pocket money.

Visiting Nazareth Children's Home

One of the ministries of River of Life is to regularly visit an orphanage about a mile up the road from us called Nazareth Children's Home. We've been doing this for about 6 months - taking a team of the White Eagles to help wash, cook, clean and generally help out. Yesterday we visited with 5 of the younger White Eagles - Kisakye, Kevin, Juuko Ivan, Ivan Mukissa, and Teddy.

Nazareth is run by an elderly lady called Josephine, with two helpers - Carolyn and Pross. Between them they're looking after what must be more than 25 kids, half of them under 3, on very limited resources. Babies are often abandoned there - in fact the latest arrival of a healthy looking 4/5 month boy was just yesterday morning.

I was last there in September, and 2 very malnourished babies, Babiriye and Josephine, were really struggling - you can read about it in the November Newsletter. Through some generous supporters we were able to get them on to a feeding program at the local Mission Hospital and we have been providing good milk for them since they've been discharged.

They're hardly recognizable from the babies we met 4 months ago - alert and healthy, it was awesome to sit and play with them. Hopefully they are none the worse for their ordeal and won't have suffered any lasting damage from being so malnourished.

But whist we were there, one of the oldest lads, who has been there for years, suffered an epileptic fit. All I could do was sit with him, pray for him, and hold his head to stop him from bashing it against the wall, and make sure he didn't put his fingers anywhere hear his mouth. Of course there is no money for medication to manage the fits - when you're struggling to feed 25+ kids you're forced to make difficult decisions on priorities.

We're praying about whether we can step up our commitment to Nazareth and provide more ongoing support. It's such a wonderful place - and the kids are so so friendly - it's a real blessing to be there and in the face of such challenges experience real joy.