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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Presents with a Purpose! Our Alternative Gift List this Christmas

It's that time of year again where we offer you the fabulous opportunity to purchase a present with a purpose!

We are still fundraising to develop our site to be a Children and Community Centre that will be a beacon of hope for Nyendo! Brick by brick we’re moving forward... We have now agreed full Architectural Drawings for the whole development, which is a major step forward. Our number one priority is to raise funds to build a secure perimeter wall in time for the February 2011 elections, so plenty of bricks, sand and cement are needed to keep the children safe! Please consider making this a Christmas to remember...

You can visit out special River of Life Alternative Gifts Justgiving page here

Or you can download the PDF flyer by clicking here

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Down on the Farm - November update

Just a quick update on the farm progress. This is from Emily's monthly report on the White Eagle Project:

The farm is going well. They finished planting elephant grass (for the cow to eat) all around the edge of the farm. The workers now pray together daily. The beans are looking very healthy, and have brought out flowers. The eggplants have flowered also. The surveyors from the government administration came to see if it’s possible to irrigate the farm. It is possible and they are making a budget for us.

To see a birds-eye view of farm, and some pictures of what's going on there, click here to view our map

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November WEP Report: the busiest month of the year - so far!

Emily (White Eagle Project Director) reports on November...

November has been the busiest month of the year for me, so far. It has been a very difficult one, especially with Pastor Duncan being very sick. There have been a lot of challenges but God has been faithful, and has guided us day by day in each and every situation we have faced.
It has also been a very busy month for all the children, especially those in the candidate classes. Most of our kids have finished school now. James and Roderick finished P7 at the beginning of November after taking their Primary Leaving Exam, and Namatovu came home in mid-November after finishing her O-level exams. Dennis, Robinah and Fred are finishing their A-levels in early December, and we are expecting good results.

Emily also met with the Probations Office, the Family Protection Unit and the Community Development Officer.

In the meeting with the Probations Office, they informed us about the Child Community Programme Committees (CCPC’s) that have been formed. Five CCPC’s have been formed in Masaka municipality to look into children’s issues in the locality and there are about 5 people on each committee. Each of the committee members is responsible for a particular category of children e.g. children involved in grasshopper issues, children who go to the film places, girls and boys who are living on the streets, children abused in homes and children in conflict with the law etc
.

This is a major step forward in Masaka, and we're going to be working hard to ensure it helps coordinate interventions among Orphans and Vulnerable Children.

In the meantime, we've had a couple of serious incidents this month. Our night guard at the Girls Home discovered two men trying to get into the compound. He called back-up and very impressively they were dispatched to the police station with the minimum of fuss. We've had a computer keyboard stolen by someone reaching in a broken window, and we've had a small fire in the Boys home which again was impressively dealt with by two of the older boys. These things are sent to trial us - what's encouraging though is that through the Security and Fire training we're able to deal with it. God is good!

We've also welcomed an American visitor from Saudi Arabia this month - Katie - and our auditor has finished preparing the 2009 accounts and produced an interim report on the 2010 accounts.

LIke Emily said, it's been a busy month!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sarah's Story - Grasshoppers, Jackfruit and the year to come...

Sarah keeps us updated on the latest chapter in her Ugandan story, in her own, inimitable stlye:

Helloooooooooooooo! How are you? I'm really well, and continuing to have a fab time here!!!

It's "Grasshopper Season" again here in Uganda (I think there are 2 a year), so I've been eating grasshoppers the last day or two. And it's also been the season for jackfruits, which are one of my favourite fruits ever! We have a jackfruit tree in our garden, so we've been eating plenty of them! If you don't know what a jackfruit is, see the photo. They're gorgeous!!! (The best way I can describe the taste is that it tastes a bit like Tutti Fruiti flavour Chewitts used to taste like!)

It's the wet season at the moment (there are 2 wet and 2 dry seasons a year), so everywhere is very soggy, muddy and slimy all morning, until the sun dries it all up again by mid-afternoon. The power continues to be a problem, but the water supply has improved slightly over the past 2 weeks, so that's VERY good! Kitibwa (see photo, when he decided to come and help us with the washing up!!!!) was scared of all the shadows thrown by the paraffin lamps at night a month ago, but he's getting so used to the dark every evening that he's become a lot braver now, as power cuts every day (and so paraffin lamps each evening) are just a way of life to him now!

He's getting cuter by the day!!! His vocabulary has progressed from "Alleluia!" and "Amen!" (said each time with a punch in the air!) to saying "Auntie Wala" (which I think is Auntie Sarah/Ronnah/Tinah!), "Teddy", "Kisakye", etc. (...all the girls' names). He has learnt to sing a song called "Baby Jesus", and is soooooooooooooo cute when he sings it!!! I'm trying to capture it on video, but he gets stage fright every time I stick a camera in his face!

The girls have all been doing exams over the past 2 weeks, and Robinah has now started her A-levels. Apart from Robinah (who finishes in December), they all break up from school in 2 weeks' time, so we'll be into the holiday programme again soon. It'll be really nice to have them all around again!

My Mum and Dad came to visit a few weeks ago, and I had a FABULOUS time with them! The only bad thing was that I didn't get all the hot baths and showers I was anticipating, because we had several days when the hotel had no power and no water! So my Mum and Dad had a REAL taste of Uganda (including bucket baths!).

Now that my Mum and Dad have been, and we have had a chance to have some long chats, I can officially announce that I'm coming back to Uganda next year! Yeah! I'm SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO incredibly excited about coming home and seeing all my family and all my friends!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (- You would not believe quite how excited I am!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) But I'm also very excited about what God has for me to do here in Uganda next year, and about spending another year with the girls and all the kids here in Uganda! Yeah!

Anyway, that's enough for now! As usual, I've written more than I intended to!!!! I hope that you are all really well, and I hope that when I come back I can see as many people as possible!!!

Loads of love to everyone!

- Sarah

Monday, November 1, 2010

Down on the Farm - October Update

Here's this month's update onthe farm, from Emily's monthly report:

"We thank God that we got some rain this month. About 110kg of beans have been planted, but we need more rain for them to grow well.  We’re praying for more rain.  The young matooke is coming out well now, and they have finished all the weeding, but we need more rain for the beans and the other things that have been planted."

To see a birds-eye view of farm, and some pictures of what's going on there, click here to view our map

Sunday, October 31, 2010

October WEP Report - Mentoring, Meetings and Matoke

Emily, our White Eagle Project Director has sent her monthly report - here are the highlights!

We've spent a lot of time this month in intensive mentoring, as the need has arisen. I believe we need to spend more time in this area - I'm encouraging the staff to focus on mentoring so that we can help our children develop into productive and responsible members of society.

The White Eagles donated some of their old clothes this month. The clothes went to needy children known to the church and to another local charity - Child Restoration Outreach (CRO). The manager was very happy and thanked us for our thoughtfulness. The clothes are particularly appreciated at this time of year, because it is cold and the children helped by CRO often spend the night sleeping rough.

Emily has focussed on developing relationships with other agencies this month. She's met with teachers at various local schools to talk about discipline; the Manager of CRO to arrange meetings with local Government, including the Community Development Officer, the Family Protection Unit and the Probation Office; the National Coordinator of a charity called Kings Sports Ministry Uganda to talk about sports outreach in the community; and the Director of a new project in Nyendo called Helping Children and Youth Counselling.

Lastly, the programmes have continued at the Boys and Girls home, and we've enjoyed having Sarah's parents to stay again.

Do get in touch if you have any questions - email us here - and thank you to all our supporters that help us help our orphans and vulnerable children to Fly High!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sarah's Story - Luganda Learning, Policy Planning, Sponsorship Support and Erratic Electricity!

Hello everyone!!! How is everyone? I hope you're all doing well! I'm doing great!!! But the last month has been busy!!!

I've been REALLY trying to learn some more Lugandan over the last month, as it will make such a difference if I can speak a bit more.... And it's going ok-ish. I'm not really gifted in learning languages(!), but I'm having fun because the girls are teaching me, and it's creating a lot of laughs round the dinner table (I'm trying to speak only Lugandan every evening during dinner, which is a bit of challenge with my limited vocabulary - so I just make most of it up!!!). Also, apparently, I keep on saying rude words by mistake, which always creates a lot of screaming laughter! - My pronunciation leaves a lot to be desired, it would appear!!! Ah well!!! At least I'm trying!!! When I go on the Hospital Ministry every Monday, I try out little bits now and again with the patients, and they seem to appreciate my efforts (as well as laughing at me, of course!). I'm also trying to learn to cook some Ugandan dishes, and the girls are my teachers again... so that's been fun too!

I've been very busy with the staff each week, developing some policies with them for the White Eagle Project, which has been interesting - I never thought I'd do anything managerial like this, and find it weird that I'm now doing this stuff!!! I'm learning a lot...

I've also spent a lot of time working on getting background information on very needy kids who live locally that we've identified as needing urgent help, so that we can try to get sponsors for them. So I've been doing lots of interviews, lots of typing, etc. to try to get all the important information down about them. (....So, if you'd like to sponsor anyone, let me know!!! There are a whole load of reeeeeeeally needy kids in difficult situations that we're looking for sponsorship for!!!).

The kids on the project are all doing really well at the moment, although some of them are working far too hard (in my opinion!!!) because they've got their exams (O-levels and A-levels) approaching. I can't believe the hours they do at school!!! Some of them leave for school at 6am, and don't return home until 7pm. It's crazy!!! I'm glad I didn't go to school in Uganda!!! But just to prove it's not all hard work, here's Kyesake as a puppet (for some reason...)

We had some visitors from America about a month ago, so we had fun when they came, and they took the kids to the local (and the only!) swimming pool, so some of the kids got a chance to relax and have a break from their studies that day at least.

All the usual stuff has continued, like the evening sessions with the kids, the youth group, church, prayer meetings, hospital ministry, staff meetings, etc, etc. So, life is full and interesting! ......And I'm still loving it here!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm very excited at the moment, because my Mum and Dad are coming to visit me next week!!! Yeahhhhh!!!! They're coming for a week, and I'm taking my week off while they're here so that I can spend all my time with them. I'm particularly looking forward to staying in a hotel for a whole week which has hot running water!!!! I'm going to have about a million hot baths, even if the weather's boiling outside, just to make the most of it!!!

We had over a week with virtually no electricity at all, a week or so ago (it would come on for a few minutes every couple of days, then go off right away again!!!). It was a bit frustrating, but also fun, because we had to make our own entertainment in the girls' home (due to the lack of a TV and adequate lighting), and so we played lots of silly games, and spent some evenings rolling about in hysterics!!! Kitibwa (the little toddler who lives in the girls' home) was terrified, though, every evening, because he found all the dancing shadows caused by the lanterns we used really scary, so he spent every evening clinging to anyone he could!!!

Anyway, I'll go now! Loads of love to everyone! Sarah

Friday, October 1, 2010

Challenge 21 - 21 Days to Transform the World for Someone Else

Can you join Challenge 21?! It’s our end of year campaign to raise much needed funds to cover both this year’s work and budget for next.

Over the last few years we have seen our work expand. Our Community Outreach Teams are seeing people filled with hope for perhaps the first time - in the Hospital, Prison, Nazareth Children's Home and out and about in Nyendo itself. Our Discipling & Training Work - the Student Conferences, the Youth Club, the White Eagle Project (now directly supporting 50 orphans and other vulnerable children!), and Ball Line Football Academy (now with 250 children on the books and winning national competitions!) - is seeing lives TRANSFORMED! And through our Prayer and Reconciliation work we’re seeing the body of Christ come together like never before in Uganda, people set free and healed and, most importantly, lots and lots of prayer!

So we want to launch Challenge 21 - 21 Days to Transform the World!

To help continue the work, become part of it! Challenge 21 is about giving yourself, and maybe your friends, 21 days to do something amazing to Transform the World for Someone Else. It might be a sponsored event, a dinner party, a quiz night, or just a work whip-round, but what ever it is, it can only take 21 days from start to finish! So far we’ve had a Sponsored Bike Ride from Manchester to Milton Keynes (we aimed to get to London but were defeated by a lethal combo of torrential rain and the A5), a Musical Marathon, a Quiz Night (which to be fair has taken longer than 21 days to prep!)

So the question is, what could you do for some of the world’s poorest?! Get in touch for tips and advice!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Aug-Sept WEP Report: Holiday betrayal whilst we welcome the Flixton Team!

Here are the highlights from August and September's monthly reports!

The White Eagle staff met together to develop a new admissions policy for the project, in line with the Government of Uganda’s National Orphan Policy. We hope to be able to support more vulnerable children next year. The staff also worked on a disciplinary policy for the project, and once Emily was back from maternity leave met with a number of teachers from schools attended by the White Eagles to talk to them about appropriate disciplinary techniques – although illegal, caning is still very common in schools.

A local architect began work to draw up plans for developing the whole Nyendo site into a Church and Children’s Centre. We are hoping to extend the buildings so that there is more comfortable accommodation, and so that those girls who we need to give residential care for can also move into their own accommodation on the site. The plans are very exciting, but in the meantime there is also work to be done to maintain the existing boys home as rats have begun to nest in the ceiling of the bedrooms, and the office is nearly fallen down!

The elections scheduled for February 2011 meant that the holiday we anticipated to have in August was shortened to 2 weeks, which meant that whilst our friends from Flixton Fellowship Church were here a lot of the White Eagles had to return to school. Nonetheless it was a great trip - Sarah, the girls' home aunty, and Lizzy who has been staying at the girls' home for a few months on her pre-university gap year are also from Flixton, so there was a great reunion at the airport! The team spent time on the Prayer Mountain, took part in the hospital ministry, visited Nazareth Children's home, led the evening fellowship sessions and even helped to plant some crops on the farm. And of course they joined the White Eagles on a trip to Lake Nabugabo for sunshine and swimming – with the added excitement of rescuing 3 people from another group who had got out of their depth in the Lake!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Our maddest cycle challenge ever to raise £21k!

This is going to be our biggest challenge ever... after the exploits of Manchester to Blackpool in 2008, the Great North 'Try'Athalon in 2009 we've set our sights higher... a non-stop team endurance ride from Manchester to London! 185 miles of batty-punishing, thigh-knackering, madness which will see us riding in pairs from Manchester's Albert Square to London's Big Ben in one go!

The madcap scheme was inspired by Jon Room, who liked the look of the London to Paris 24 hr endurance ride. Jon has already run a Marathon, cycled from Manchester to Liverpool and back and swam 2 miles in aid of River of Life, and was clearly wanting more of a challenge... He nearly bailed when working out the route he thought we'd be going most of the way on the monster-road, the A5, but has regained his enthusiasm with the revised route which will takes us from Manchester, over the Peaks to Derby, down through Nottingham and Milton Keynes to end up under Big Ben. Hopefully.

Jon has been a tower of strength in our challenges over the years - you can check out his motivational talk 60 miles into last year's bike-ride here.

So this year, we really are going one better. We'll be riding 185 miles non-stop in pairs - 3 hours on, 3 hours off the bike - all the way to London. We have some awesome team members - some familiar faces from previous years, and some new ones: Ming the Merciless,  joining us in his jesters outfit; Mark "I'm not waiting for the rest of yous" Cartmell, Dan the Man (who can forget his yellow leotard of the Blackpool Ride?) the legendary Tim 'Rabu' Crow and the unforgettable Andy "I'm ready to throw my bike into a ditch and catch a taxi" Rous. New to this cycle challenge we also have Will, James, Richard and Leigh - all of whom i'm sure will provide unforgettable memories!

And why are we doing this? For the poor and needy, and the Orphans and Street Children of Masaka, Uganda! The 50 orphans and vulnerable children that we're helping 'fly high' and reach heights they never in their wildest dream thought possible all need extra funds. But there's thousands more children that need help, so we've set ourselves the fantastic challenge of raising £21,000 in 21 days to help establish the next phase of the White Eagle Project and rescue more children from a future of despair in Masaka! The money we raise will also go towards running River of Life's other ministries - wherever the need is most.

You can be part of something amazing, and save a child from neglect and poverty. Please give generously on our JustGiving page - click here!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The latest news from Sarah @ the Girl's Home

Helloooooo everyone!!!! I hope that you are all well!!!! I'm sorry that I haven't written a newsletter for AGES!!! I've been quite busy! Anyway, here's my news.....

I've had a really great couple of months! It started with going on safari 2 months ago with Anna and Liz (the 2 gap year girls who've been living at the girls' home), which was soooooooooooooooo much fun!!!! We rode on top of the Project van as we drove around the safari park, and then had a boat trip on the lake, and I got completely over-excited at seeing monkeys, baboons, zebras, hippos, crocodiles, etc. close up!!! We had SUCH a fun day!!!!!!!

Shortly after that, Anna left us (sob!), to go and prepare for starting university.

I had my week's holiday during the first week in August, and I spent it in Entebbe and Kampala with a group of Christian and Messianic Jewish dancers who I used to dance with in England. They were ministering at a church in Kampala, and asked me to join them, which I was very happy to do. I had a FAB week - we really saw God move during the sessions we did at the church, through the teaching, dancing, praying, etc., and I felt completely spoiled the whole week - we were staying in a lovely house on the edge of Lake Victoria (it was really beautiful!), we had amazing food (we even got taken out for a Chinese one day - my favourite!), we got to visit the source of the Nile (which was beautiful), we got treated by everyone we met, we had the privilege of visiting and meeting some amazing places and people, and I had a brilliant and very inspiring time just hanging out with everyone - it was just generally fab!!! (I'm running out of words to describe how amazing it was!)

The kids broke up for their school holidays as soon as I got back, so I was then busy running the holiday programme with them for a couple of weeks, which I reeeeally enjoyed, as we had a lot of fun and the kids were very enthusiastic (although, as usual, it was tiring!)!!!

Then, a couple of weeks ago, 9 people from my church in Flixton came to visit Masaka (Yeahhhhh!!!!!!!) - 5 of my really good friends, and 4 of the girls from the teenagers group I used to help with. I almost burst with excitement seeing them all, and I had the most brilliant week with them!!! I just loved spending time with them, laughing, joking, talking, praying, etc, and it was great for them to all come to the church, the White Eagles Project, and some of the other ministries, and get involved with all the stuff that I'm involved with! And they came equipped with chocolate and cheese!!!! (Yeahhhhh!!!!) It was really wonderful (- having them here, that is, not just the chocolate and cheese, although that was really wonderful too!)!!!

We also took the kids to Lake Nabugabu, (- funded by some people from my old dance school, who had raised a whole load of money so we could treat the kids to a day out -- THANK YOU SOOOOOOO MUCH!!!!!), where we spent the day swimming, eating, chilling, playing, chatting, etc. with the kids. In short, it was an amazing week!!!

Then, Liz (the other gap year student who'd been staying in the girls' home) and Kate (a girl who came here for just a month) left (sob!), as did most of the Flixton crew.... But 2 of my really good friends, Sarah and Anna, stayed on for another week, and we had a great week doing some stuff with the kids and staff, going out for meals, etc. It was reeeeeeeeally wonderful to spend quality time with them!!!!

Now they've all left, but we have 3 American visitors who are here for a week! Phew!

- So, life has been busy, but lots and lots of fun, with lots of visitors who have been a HUGE blessing to me, and also to the White Eagles kids and staff!!!!

Life should settle down a bit now, as we don't have any more visitors planned, and the kids are all back at school this week, so we'll all get back into our term-time routines!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

On the new River of Life Farm

Today we visited our brand new farm! We have been wanting to start developing our own farm for a LONG time. Recently we acquired a fantastic site, just 2 miles from Nyendo, and although we haven't managed to pay the fantastically discounted £6,000 for the approximately 7 acres, the owners have allowed us to start developing it.

As we're feeding upwards of 40 people a day, and food prices are going through the roof (up 14% last year in Masaka, according to the Ugandan Bureau of Statistics, and up 57% in the last 4 years) Uncle Kayima has made it his personal ambition to develop the 7 acre site into the most productive area of land in Uganda, if not the world (!)

And what a huge amount of work has been done! Already about 2 acres have been dug, and sweet potatoes, sugar cane and yams planted - a small section was left for the FFC Missions trip to plant on their visit, and even though it was early and the sun wasn't at full strength, we got an idea of just how hard the guys must have been working.

It's now urgent that we get the Matoke (our staple diet of green bananas) in before the next rains, due any day now, so that they can get well established before the dry seasons. If we don't get it in now, we'll have to wait another 12 months, which we REALLY don;t want to do. But we need approximately £3,000 (10 million Ugandan Shillings) to plant it all out... Kayima and the Team are going to continue preparing the land, and as they dig, pray for provision!

If you are able to support River of Life's Food Security Project by investing in the farm, please either donate here, or get in touch with Rob by email

You can see a photo album of our visit to the farm on flick here

Saturday, July 31, 2010

July WEP Report – Josiah & Joan our latest babies and the Crawleys come to stay

Here are highlights form the White Eagle Project July Report!

Juliet gave birth to twins on 21st July – Josiah and Joan – and John took 2 weeks of paternity leave to help Juliet with the new arrivals.

The Crawley family visited from London and got involved in several of the church ministries – including teaching in the evening fellowship sessions at the boys and girls homes, visiting Nazareth Children's Home and Good Foundation School. Their elder daughter Jess also visited Kitovu hospital where she saw twins being delivered, with the help of Dr Gerald – Emily's husband.

Anna, a visitor from France who had been living in the girls home for four months returned to Paris in the middle of July. She had a leaving party where all the children and staff gave a little speech about her, to encourage her as she left.

The office building was broken into overnight on the 27th July 2010 night and a bike was stolen – fortunately the thieves didn't manage to get into the room where the computers are stored, although they did damage the window.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Paul's back from YWAM!

Some of the original White Eagle boys are now young men, who have finished school and are moving on to the next stage in their training. This year, Paul was able to join the Youth With a Mission Discipleship Training School (YWAM DTS) in Jinja for 5 months. Here he describes some of his experiences:
The first few weeks were spent in classes learning more about the scriptures and different topics.  The lessons I found most interesting were those on Intercession and Humility. In these lessons, I became more committed to God, and we learnt to listen to God’s voice. Then we had a mini-outreach trip where we spent three weeks speaking to people about Jesus – some of the people did not know anything about Jesus Christ and Salvation and tried to hurt us with pangas!  Then we went on the main outreach trip - I entered different countries, like Burundi, Rwanda, and the Congo.  We spent a month in each country, and did door to door evangelism, open-air evangelism, preached in churches, and prayed for people.  We also visited schools, prisons, hospitals and markets.
Paul is now back in Masaka, and has just begun his studies towards a Certificate in Secondary education.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June WEP Report: Julius and Sarah take the helm for World Cup Fever

Here are June's highlights from the White Eagle Project...

Emily, our Project Director, gave birth to a bouncing baby boy - Samuel Sharma Efatta – and began her 3 months of maternity leave, leaving the White Eagle Project in the capable hands of Julius and Sarah. Their motto for leading the project is “Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance”!
Uncle Kayima's wife Esther joined the White Eagle Team to help take care of little Kitibwa, who's now 18 months old, while his mum Kellen is back at school. She has two young sons of her own, so they make quite the gang when they’re all crashing around.

Our wonderful visitors, Shelley and Denita from Australia came and spent a lot of time with the White Eagle boys. Their activities ranged from learning to making chapaatis for the evening meal, to teaching the boys new games like Newspaper Hockey, to leading the boys' evening programme with a focus on team-building – taught in a fun and interactive way with tasks and challenges for the boys to complete.

Work began on the farm! (see October 2010 Newsletter for more info about our newly acquired farm) Uncle Kayima has really taken a lead and has worked his socks off and impressed us all. All of the ground was weeded and prepared for planting with beans, maize, matoke, cassava, yams, sugarcane, and a few other crops, all of which will help to feed the White Eagle children when harvested.

A water tank has also been installed at the boys' home which can hold up to 10,000 litres of rain water.

And a real highlight in June was the installation of satellite TV in the boys home which will allow the boys to watch educational programmes, documentaries and sports – Ugandan terrestrial TV is awful! The boys are so excited and happy to be able to watch football in their living room! “Webale, webale nyo Uncle Julio, mukitukolede mwana,” most of the boys exclaimed in Luganda - “thank you, thank you Uncle Julio, you guys have done it for us!” The boys are so happy to have the TV fixed for them. They watched the World Cup using the projector which was really great.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Can you do a sponsored event for River of Life Ministries this summer?!


With 4,000 Orphaned and Vulnerable Children on our doorstep, and the vast majority of the people around us living on less than a dollar a day, there is a MASSIVE need to be met. Can you help?!

Cycle, Swim, Run, Walk, Auction, Quiz Night, World Cup BBQ - whatever it is, be inspired by our new Fundraising Pack with ideas to do something this summer that will make a massive difference to some of the poorest people on the planet. Whether you raise £100 or £10,000, every little bit helps to keep the River of Life Ministries running. The target is that between us we raise £20,000 this year from fundraising events, that will help the River of Life Team on the ground continue to reach out to the neediest children, care for the poor and sick, and help put the destitute back on track. Together we can do it! Download your fundraising pack today!

If you want to chat to someone about your plans, please email us

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lizzy’s Letter from Uganda – Episode 4

Hello from the big UG! Hope everyone's well, and happy!

These few weeks have been great,sorry it's been so long since my last blog! Still getting used to the way people live over here, for example the other day me and Anna got in a taxi, and then the taxi man carried on to pile 6 more people into the car! This was a normal 5 seater car, but with 8 people in it! But over here the more people they cram in, the more money the driver gets! But the most scary part was that the taxi driver had someone virtually sitting on his knee, and this stranger was actually steering the taxi!!!!! We couldn’t believe it!

But this week has been really great, I brought high school musical 1,2 and 3 with me, we must have seen them all at least 6 times per film!! We worked out the other day we have seen high school musical 2, 7 times! As this is their fav out of the 3!! Then the day after we talked about how many times we have seen them, the girls decided to watch them all again, which was great! But by the end of the film they all were up dancing around the living room copying all the dance moves and singing at the top of their voices! It was so so lovely, and it so made my day! The girls only have high school musical and another film, so if anyone has any spare films that they don't watch any more the girls would be very happy to watch them!!! they would like Disney and teen ageie films!

…just got interrupted while I was writing from a huge amount of screaming and cheering from the living room! It turns out we finally caught the mouse we have had round the house!! Its so midgey, I don’t want them to kill it but they think im crazy! Its just like my pet hamster back home though!!

Back to this week sorry...

…Our ministry to Nazareth is going well. As the weeks go on we get to know these lovely children more and more. They enjoy playing the games, and doing activities with us which is lovely. There all so sweet in their own little ways!

I went to hospital ministry again this week, we were in the childrens ward, so it wasn’t as shocking as last time. But it was still very sad, all the children were suffering from malaria, and some of them were in quite serious situations. Some of the children were from the villages, and so they had never seen muzungus before, and one gorgeous little girl, Anna bent down to pray for her, and touched her foot, and the little girl just started screaming her head off, so we prayed for peace as well as healing!

On Friday we all us muzungu went to Kampala to go and get Annas and Sarahs visa sorted out! Everything went well! We got to have a little shop around as well, and it so made me happy to not be living in the city, because there were so many muzungu around, that it almost didn't feel like we were in Africa! So it really made me appreciate living where we do, and living with the girls! Also when we got home all the local kids were all happy to see us, and then we went to church and loads of people were there, chatting, and listening to music, and then we went back to the girls home and the girls were all so happy an chatty, and it just made me so happy, I'm really having such a great time, I feel so at home here, I love them all!

If you would like to help fund the new Nazareth Programme run by River of Life, or the Hospital Ministry, please email Rob

Lizzy normally lives in Manchester, and is currently with us for her Gap Year. She has very kindly agreed to post some of her thoughts about life at River of Life on our blog - cheers Lizzy!

Anyone up for a Cycle Challenge?

In 2008 we cycled Manchester to Blackpool. In 2009 we cycled Manchester to Liverpool and back, climbed a couple of mountains and swam the combined total of about a million miles. But we've not managed to do anything quite as impressive as the guys that helped kick this all off back in 2000, when they cycled Lands End to John O'Groats to raise money to build the first section of the Boys Home. Until now...

This is an idea, only an idea at the moment, but it's gathering momentum. We're thinking of organising a Bike Ride - Edinburgh to London. That's 400 miles, which is pretty impressive in itself - but we want to do it non-stop. Yes! That's right non-stop Edinburgh to London. It's madness! The way it would work is that we would cycle in teams of two for four hours at a time, one on the bike the other resting in the support car, on, off, on, off all the way down the East Coast, through Newcastle, York, Scunthorpe, Lincoln and on to London!

And to make it that more exciting, we've got one of the guys, Richard, that did the original bike ride back in 2000 interested. It could be immense - if you're interested in joining us - for all of it or perhaps for some it - drop me a line! It's likely to be sometime in September...

Anna's Adventure - a busy busy week

Let me start off with a funny story! Little Mercy, who is 5, asked to see photographs of – I quote – 'my family and my sponsor!' It was very cute, we all laughed!

This week has been quite a successful one actually! So many lovely things happened. Auntie Juliet invited us to her house, which is pink inside actually of which I approve whole heartedly! Her son was very excited to have bazungu in his house! We saw photos of her wedding to Uncle John. She looked beautiful!

Friday was a very busy day! We drove all the way to Kampala where I am pleased to report that my visa application was accepted first time round! Thirsa had to go back seven times or something ridiculous like that! Kampala was as a matter a fact a scary place! The shops were too, and there were too many bazungu; it no longer felt like I was in Africa! The supermarket was bigger than my local supermarket. Those of you who live in France, picture Auchan or Carrefour and then picture it bigger! Pretty much your worst nightmare, right? When we arrived back in Nyendo, I was so happy. I was home. We arrived at church and everyone was setting things up for the student conference the next day. Everyone was laughing, everyone was happy and everyone was happy to welcome us back! I felt at home again! That evening, I had a practice for the conference the next day so by the end of the day, I was exhausted! We are due to go back on Friday!

However, Saturday went really well. Young people gave their lives to Christ, which is always a success! I felt like an integral part of the church, like I have a place there, a role. By the end of the day, I felt like I could collapse!

Sunday was an awesome. I spent the whole afternoon cooking with the girls. We laughed and laughed and laughed. To be honest, I hadnt laughed like that in a while!

We went to Nazareth yesterday where we cuddled children! They were too tired to do anything else! One of the little lads asked me to teach him though and in lugandan too which I understood without anyone translating for me! I was impressed with myself and encouraged by what he said too.

I have been fasting from lunch time to tea time and have been praying for breakthrough in various areas and am expectant that God will indeed answer those prayers. Testimonies to come. (hopefully...!)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Our Schools Ministry Conference - What is your Destination?

Under the leadership of Richard and Thirsa, River of Life held a Schools Conference on the 19th June entitled "What is your destination?". We hosted a massive 230 students from 8 local schools which was BRILLIANT! The church was absolutely packed for the day. Each school gave a 'creative contribution' as a way of encouraging participation on the conference theme, Pastor Duncan and Richard Waiswa our Schools Ministry Coordinator taught a session each, and our new House Comedian Mr Nicholas 'Nico' Kikomeko - one of the White Eagle Boys - kept the crowds entertained handsomely.

A major part of the one-day conference was to break out into small groups and discuss practical examples of service in communities. This also served to show the students how the planned Schools Cell Groups Ministry can work. On this, Thirsa reports that:

Three of our White eagles have been attending the Cell Group training program faithfully and have done an amazing job in leading a small group at the student conference! For some it was the first time of leading a small group and it was a great opportunity for them to experience and evaluate leading a small group. One of the White Eagles said "some of the students were a bit shy in the beginning, which led me in the trap to started preaching instead of teaching. I really became aware that I did this and in the future I want to be teaching more instead of talking to them and telling them all the answers. Thank you for the opportunity to experience what it is like to lead a small group session, because now I am more aware of what it is like and how I can improve".
The aim of the conference was to raise awareness of successful and unsuccessful destinations in life, to help students discover in which stage in life they are and to encourage and challenge the students to stay on the right track. With many children and young people having very limited horizon because of poverty, it's so important that we help them reach out and try their best to 'fly high'!

A massive thank you to Thirsa and to Waiswa, and to all the team for a fantastic conference!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Miracles in Malawi - Duncan goes on Mission!

Duncan has come back from a Mission to Malawi totally fired up! He spent two weeks there with a team from the Maranatha Community. He's got some amazing tales to tell! Here's one or two of them:
My two weeks trip to Malawi was very successful. I preached to a congregation of 4,000 which pumped me up into overdrive gear and I enjoyed every minute of it! It is the biggest congregation I have ever preached to. At the end a hundred people came forward and gave their lives to our Lord.

We also went to a number of very poor villages. It was strange for me to see poverty in Africa outside my own country, and it gave me a new impetus for continuing to work for the reduction of poverty in the world especially in Africa. In the villages we went about sharing the gospel in word and praying for the sick.

For me the whole thing was very exciting because evangelism is one thing I particularly enjoy, especially in Africa. So, I was buzzing even though it was very hot. On one of the days I prayed for an 83 year old gentleman called Austin (going by his name you would have thought that he was born in Oxford!!). The doctors had told him that they cannot help him anymore and he was one step away from becoming totally blind. I prayed for him and after a number of attempts God divinely completely healed him! Allellujah and glory to God!

In addition to that the Lord restored total strength in Austin’s left leg which was semi-paralysed. Before praying for his leg Austin’s mobility was confined to crawling and sometimes dragging his left leg with a help of walking stick for short distances. After God healed Austin’s leg he walked around the compound even at some speed without the help of stick. Most of the village people were there and witnessed the miracle power working in the life of Austin.

God is able and willing! On the last day all the 13 villages in that area came together with their chiefs. We had a ceremony of thanksgiving to God, and lots of vigorous singing and dancing! At the end we gave material gifts to each one of the villages. The gifts included items such as iron sheets for roofing, footballs and many others. For me the gift I will never forget was a bicycle Ambulance!!!, which was a stretcher attacked to a bicycle. I reckon would have to be a good cyclist like Rob and Timo to get that thing moving especially if the patient is an African mammal which is carrying twin and needs to urgently be taken to hospital for delivery.

There's more, but those are some of the highlights! A massive thank you to Maranatha for inviting Duncan to join them on this trip. Duncan has made good friends with some senior church leaders in Malawi, and we hope to welcome them to Uganda soon, so watch this space.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Praying for a Miracle - Anna's African Adventure

I feel I should start with some good news! Bridget in fact is pretty much fine! The TB is not active but because due to late treatment, she has a lump on her back. Mum had a vision of God pushng her back back into place so I would appreciate prayer for a miracle. Lizzy, Thirsa and I have committed to pray for her. Emotionally, it is getting harder and harder to go to Nazareth. I find myself doing a lot of crying. Many will be saying 'Duh! Your surname is Thorley! That is what you do!' God has really been speaking to me about them and letting me know that He has NOT failed them because he NEVER fails. Yetalemwa! That is He never fails in Lugandan. I believe I actually heard God tell me that. I am learning the value of praising God in all circomtances.

Those children are rejected and hurting and just need God's love so desperately. I didn't know I could love them THIS much! We would appreciate prayer about how we are teaching them. We are still figuring out the right way of doing it. I feel we need to pray the beginning of Ephesians over them and have commited to do that- chapter 1 and the beginning of chapter 2. Carol, a wonderful worker at Nazareth, said 'thank you for making the children happy', maybe that is our victory.

On Sunday, the worship was so powerful. I loved it. God was there. Before starting the worship we the leadership team sang some prophetic singing which was amazing. I loved that too! God's presence just descended! We sang a song that actually I preffered in Lugandan! The bridge just lifted the worship to a higher level! God is good. Speaking of worship, there is School Conference happening in River of Life church and the River of Life worship team have been asked to lead worship. I would appreciate prayer for the Lugandan. Being on the worship team has enabled me to get to know a girl called Lydia, who is also 19. We get on really well and it so lovely just to be able to chat to her.

Friday, you know is our day off and we enjoyed a lovely day at the pool where the weather could have been better to be honest. I must admit that that was slightly disappointing! Tommorrow we are due to go to Bwala for chicken and chips in triple portions! We are looking forward to it!

I will finish with a funny anecdote. Yesterday, I was in a taxi. They are regularly overcrowded! There were four of in the back and four in the front, which, you guessed, meant that two people were sitting on the driver's seat. However, the driver was sitting sideways on the seat and there was no way his feet could touch the peddles! His hands were not on the stearing wheel either. The passenger was driving. Lizzy and I could not see ahead of us because of all the people in the front!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sarah's Story - Highlights from May

Hello everybody!!! How has everyone been over the last month? - The last month has been good here in Uganda.....

We had the last week and a half of the holiday programme at the beginning of May - Highlights include:
  • Watching High School Musical 1, 2 and 3 (the kids were up on their feet clapping, singing and dancing throughout the movie each time - the atmosphere was electric! - And at the end of the first movie they didn't want to stop, so they just put on some music and carried on singing and dancing for ages - it turned into a full scale party, and was sooooooo much fun!!! I also found it funny watching the films with the kids, because every time anyone kissed during the movie (even a quick peck on the cheek), they would rewind the DVD, then pause it at the point of the kiss/peck on the cheek, and all start clapping, jumping up and down, and whooping at the tops of their voices - it was absolutely hilarious to watch them!!!);
  • Going to the swimming pool with the kids and spending the whole day there in gorgeous sunshine (I love Ugandan weather!);
  • A visit to the farm (the White Eagles dig there in the hope that we'll be able to grow some of our own food to reduce food costs - I went with them one morning and it was absolutely brilliant - the kids had so much fun despite the hard work so the atmosphere was wonderful, and the view was absolutely BEAUTIFUL (Uganda is seriously a beautiful country!!!), and when they'd finished, we all sat down and ate sugar cane, guavas and paw paws freshly picked from the farm - it was a near on perfect morning!!! (- The only thing that stopped it being completely perfect was the amount of very big, very disgusting, and VERY scary looking creepy crawlies and flying things - Yuk!!! - One of the few not so nice things about Uganda!!!) I had a go at digging, but I wasn't at all good at it compared to the kids (who've all grown up doing loads of digging on their families' farms since they were tiny children), so the kids told me (with some pity in their voices, it has to be said) to stop and let them do it, as they would be much quicker and much more effective than me!
  • Aerobics sessions, which were a lot of fun, and which the VERY pregnant Aunt Emily (the Project Director) took a full part in, jumping up and down with as much vigour and energy as anyone else, much to everyone's consternation!!!

The school term is now in full swing, as are all the White Eagle evening activities and staff sessions that I'm involved with. There are loads of visitors here, who are helping out with different activities, which is really wonderful - Anna and Lizzy (the 2 Mazungus on their gap year who are here for 4 months each) have been getting stuck in and are both taking more and more responsibility for leading different things, and doing amazing, and really growing into their roles here! And we've got some Australian girls here for a month too helping out, which is great ...and Thirsa is still here.... So there are 6 of us Mazungus altogether, and we've had some good times swimming, making pancakes, visiting the bakery (my favourite shop in Masaka!!!), and watching DVD's together!!!

We had a staff team-building day a few weeks ago, which involved a meal out (- Roast pork - it made me very happy! ), and playing/having tournaments on the Nintendo Wii and WiiFit - it was SOOOOOOOOO funny seeing the staff get really into it, and we still laugh about it now whenever we talk about it (- especially as one really quiet member of staff got soooooo into it when anyone else played - he was practically off his seat shouting out instructions and advice to them at the top of his voice - everyone ended up watching him instead of the screen because it was so out of character for him, and so funny!).

I've REALLY enjoyed going on the visits to the hospital over the past few weeks - it's SUCH a privilege to pray for people, and I just love it!!!! I'm also really enjoying the time I have (now that the school holidays are over) to pray, study the Bible, and prepare for the evening sessions, etc. - God's teaching me loads, including how to trust in Him when there are tricky situations with the girls (which there are every so often - what with them being teenagers, and teenagers from difficult and abusive backgrounds at that) that are really difficult to handle, and where I don't know what to do - He's teaching me to just follow Him step by step, as He works things out. - So that's cool!

Kitibwa gets cuter by the day!!! He now runs everywhere (-walking is just too slow!), and he has the most gorgeous smile ever! He also understands a lot of what we say, including "No" and "Come here", so is much easier to control!!!! They've just sorted out some day-care arrangements for him in the last day or two, and we all miss him LOADS since he's been out of the house all day (although it's much easier to get on and do our work and prepare for things, admittedly).

...Anyway, that's a round-up of my news over the last month. I hope that everyone is well!!!

Sarah is originally from Manchester, UK, and is currently our Girls Home Aunty in the White Eagle Project. She's very kindly agreed to us publishing her newsletters on our blog to give a taste of life as a missionary at River of Life

Monday, May 31, 2010

Who do you call for a blocked open-sewer?

Operation ARK! Operation ARK (Acts of Random Kindness) has been a great success this year. For four days from the 2nd - 6th May 2010, scores of young people from the local churches in Nyendo took to the streets and defying the expectations of the locals, undertook a massive clear-up operation... I'll let Julius, Operation ARK Coordinator, make his report:
The theme for Operation ARK was “Faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead!” (James 2:17). 13 churches from Masaka were represented, which was really a privilege to have them join us bless the community. 80- 100 youth turned up everyday during that week to bless the community and impact it with the love of God.

This year we were privileged to be joined by people from England’ France, and Holland. We divided into 3 groups, one was to paint, the other to clean and the third group preached and prayed for the people in the areas that we worked every day. We had different pastors from different churches teaching on different topics in line with the theme, and then we moved out painting homes, clearing rubbish off streets, and giving out 50 'Boxes of Blessings' to people - food and other basic necessities - this was amazing to see them happy and exited. Amazingly, 19 people gave their lives to Jesus within those 4 days of Operation A.R.K.

The most exiting thing in that week for me was this blocked open-sewer that we found in Kitaka Zone Nyendo. Before Operation A.R.K had come in to help, people couldn’t do anything about it; it was blocked up to the level of 6 feet deep. All the men around made all these funny comments on how we were going to fail and not make it because it was so deep and stinking a lot. But thank God that we were able to join our efforts together and managed to unblock it and all the people were astonished and surprised on how we managed to unblock it at last. News started spreading out in the area on how the Christians managed to unblocked the filthy trench!

We can’t wait to see what 2011 holds for Operation A.R.K.
Thank you! Julius
There'll be plenty of pictures and video clips making their way onto this site over the next few weeks so you can see for yourself what Operation ARK has achieved!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lizzy’s Letter from Uganda – Episode 3

Hello from uganda! Hope everyones just as lovely as ever :) This week has been quite a hard one - the girls have all gone back to school, and its odd how much I miss them being around! But it has meant I have had the chance to take part in some different ministries...

On Monday I had my first day on the Hospital Ministry. We go around a local hospital, praying for the patients and helping out with food and medicine where we can. The hospital is government run but people still have to pay for their care, treatment. Also they dont get given any food, so patients have to rely on friends or relatives to bring them food.

The first thing that stood out was that there were people just asleep on mats in the hallways. The wards were also so packed, there were about 10 patients in a room, that in England would hold around 4! The first ward we went on was supposedly a recovering womens ward, but when we walked in the shock really hit me, a lady had just died, and had been covered up with a white sheet, but you could hardly tell there was a body underneath it, the lady must have been so thin.

Then we went over to a lady who was having breathing difficulty, she had liquid in her lungs, in England they would usually be able to drain the lungs, but here they dont have the equipment, so this lady will simply die. Then the first lady we went over to pray for, was so thin, she was virtually a bag of bones. I couldn’t believe my eyes, I just couldn't handle it, and I had to stay out side, it was to hard seeing all the suffering. I felt so helpless, and bad. But then I realised how the only way we can help and give hope to these people is through prayer, and I realised then why River of Life has the Hospital Ministry. What if someone was on their death bed, like quite a few of these people are, and they die without knowing God? At least we give them the opportunity to know Jesus.

On Wednesday, we went to Nazareth Children’s Home. One of the older girls there unfortunately hasn't been able to go back to school as she could no longer live with a family that had been supporting her. Last year she used to live with a family in another village. She used to help out around the house and was able to go to school in return. Now she is back at Nazareth Children’s Home and is helping out there - she can't go back to school until school fees can be found. It’s so sad, but such a common story.

Also one of the other children at Nazareth called Bridget, who's about 3, has bad scoliosis, and so her spine is twisted around her organs, which gives her a hunch back, and stops her being able to learn to walk. In England she would have been able to have a back brace from a very young age, or maybe an operation. She went to the doctors last week, because she hasn't been well, and the doctor said she has T.B, but he can’t give her any medication until August - if she still has it. But I don't think that TB can just go on its own, as many people die from it over here! So we are going to try and keep a close eye on her, and take her to hospital if she gets any worse! But also because they can’t do anything for her spine, as she grows, it could grow more around her spine, and end up suffocating her. It’s so heartbreaking holding a child knowing how ill she could really get.

On a positive note we’ve developed a new programme at Nazareth with the staff there, teaching the younger children who aren’t at school. It’s starting off well, although it’s very new for the children and they are finding it hard taking so much in! But we have time, and we are positive its going to help them :)

If you would like to help fund the new Nazareth Programme run by River of Life, or the Hospital Ministry, please email Rob

Lizzy normally lives in Manchester, and is currently with us for her Gap Year. She has very kindly agreed to post some of her thoughts about life at River of Life on our blog - cheers Lizzy!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Working together to help more of Masaka's Orphans

Thirsa, one of our volunteers, has been battling against all the odds to put together a proposal on how we can help our friends at Nazareth Children's Home. What with power cuts, a stolen laptop and limited internet access, she's done wonders to draw up a plan, with help from Anna and Lizzy.

Nazareth is a children's home in Nyendo, providing residential care to 25 vulnerable children. They are primarily supported by the guys at Uganda Rural Fund, and we've made some great connections there over the years, supporting the feeding of some of the more malnourished children and practically helping out with chores. Over the last few months we've been looking closely at how we can help develop the fantastic work that goes on there.

With Anna and Lizzy, Thirsa has written up a proposal that focuses on regularly assisting Nazareth with practical help and a program to stimulate Early Learning Skills through structured play and interacion - so crucially important for children! Due to staff shortages, the children are not receiving the developmental input which is crucial in their early years, so by developing a team of local volunteers, including the White Eagles, we hope to help set-up a sustainable program that will have a long-lasting impact on the life-chances of some of Masaka's most vulnerable children.

If you would like to have a copy of the proposal, or would like to support this initiative, please send us an email

Monday, May 17, 2010

Nazareth and High School Musical - Anna's African Adventure

Hello everyone!

As you know I have been going to Nazareth Children's Home two days a week. On Wednesday, Lizzy, Thirsa and I went and the children acted differently to usual. In fact, instead of crying for attention they were playing and laughing. We just watched and couldn't stop laughing ourselves.We are now going to implement a program to offer the children a chance at being able to develop skills they would usually use at nursery. We had to go slowly in order for our input to be accepted. We are very excited about teaching the children, at least, I know I am.

With the girls we have been enjoying evenings of High School Musical. I actually really enjoy it! I think I have been caught singing a few of the songs. We have High School Musical Three on now. I must say, it is hard typing in the dark!

The talk went really well. I did indeed talk about Surrender. Everyone there listened and participated.

Sadly, Saturday, when were due to go to the pool, it rained, very hard to say the least. However, it did give me the chance to perfect my Matatu skills, a card game that everyone plays here. There is no point trying to introduce any new ones, noone takes any notice! It rained again today so we played cards very often. I think I lost just about every game I played though!

I am not so patiently now waiting for three packages. The girls keep asking for chocolate too. I am growing impatient too!!!

The holiday program is ending soon. Sunday will be the last day of the holiday. I am impressed at how much some of the White Eagles want to go back to school. They really deserved a good break. On Monday, the usual program will start again and things, will become a little more relaxed I feel with more time to pray which I am really looking forward to.

Anna normally lives in France and is currently staying with us for 4 months on a Gap Year. She's giving us her special flavour on all things River of Life in a series of posts

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lizzy's Letter from Uganda - Episode 2

Can’t believe how time has flown since I’ve been here! Hope everyone back home is doing well,

I’m still having a great time, I’m getting use to the swing of life out here, and the holiday club is still going well! Last week was so great!

Operation ARK took place, we painted peoples shop fronts, and houses. We moved rubbish tips from people’s doorstep, which wasn’t the most glamorous job, but it was great when people walked past saying thank you! And asking why we are doing it, so we could tell them about Operation ARK, and River of Life Church. We had a lot of people asking us for prayers, and people giving their lives to Christ! This was amazing to see. On the final day we went out into the community to give out boxes, which were filled with daily essentials, such as beans, bread, matches, oil, everything! Before we gave them out we went out in group of 4s, to find people who we thought needed the boxes the most, which was so hard, because, I felt everyone needed them! It was hard seeing how people live, we went into compounds where families of 4 lived in 2 rooms, which were so small, and simple, and so dark! It just hit me how different our cultures really are! But it was such a great week, Tim and Sarah have visited this week for Operation Ark, it was so great having them, as they really inspired and got the kids up ready for going out into the community with God's will on the hearts.

Nazareth is going really well! On our last visit, the children were all so happy, but instead of crying, and pushing each other around to get attention, they were all running around with huge grins on the faces, they all seemed so happy, I really think they are getting to know us more, which is so great! We are starting to plan some sessions with the children, like teaching them simple things like colours and counting, which we are all really looking forward to doing! Please pray that God will give us guidance as we prepare the sessions for the children, that we are teaching what god wants to be taught.

The other night, 2 of the lady upstairs' chickens were stolen in the middle of the night, even though we had our night guard on, (which me and Anna didn’t mind as they always woke us up at 5 am!) but I think this may have worried the girls a bit, as they feel more protected because of the night guard, but this has worried a few of them, so please pray that the girls trust in God for protection, and also that God does protect the girls home.

Lizzy normally lives in Manchester, and is currently with us for her Gap Year. She has very kindly agreed to post some of her thoughts about life at River of Life on our blog - cheers Lizzy!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Operation ARK, Lake Nab and a Party - Anna's African Adventure

I have been having an awesome week! We have just finished Operation ARK. I remember telling you about the painting last newsletter, which was by far the funnest day! However, I also cleared rubbish and mud and such which was fun too; anything is fun with Uncle Julius singing and dancing! Many people got saved which lead to Auntie Thirsa and other people on the team going into a school! Recently, I was walking through Nyendo and people pointed at me shouting out Operation Ark!I know that I stick out like a sore thumb. What with being a muzungo, but still!

Everyone enjoyed a rewarding day out at the lake. The weather was beautiful by the end and swimming in the lake was gorgeous. I really wish we could go back. It was a good day! TO get there, we were in a truck that usually transports cattle and goats, it was one of the funniest things ever, even if I did need looking after! In the evening we watched Avatar which was awesome. I did intend to rest that evening because I was exhausted but I ended up cuddling various scared children at some bits of thefilm but that was ok. They loved it by the end and enjoyed all the explosions.

On Sunday, I was on worship for the first time!!!!!! It was a tad scary to begin which but guess what? I sang in Lugandan. St Mark's get ready for some very internatational worship! I couldnt have done without Lydia, another girl in the team she helped me with the Lugandan.

I found a party outfit in the end! The party was lovely and Julius obviously enjoyed himself! Gerrard's party was equally funny and we have decided that we need to invent another excuse for a party, just to dance all together in the church, it was so much fun!

The boys saw photographs of my family yesterday which they really enjoyed.

The holiday program had started again so we are very busy again! Yesterday we had a debate, or what was meant to be one, it just degenerated into who can shout the loudest. The kinds claimed that they wanted to develop their speaking skils but they really just enjoy being raucous!

Anna normally lives in France and is currently staying with us for 4 months on a Gap Year. She's giving us her special flavour on all things River of Life in a series of posts

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sarah's Story - burglars, chocolate and sewers!

Hellooooooooooooooooo everyone!!! I hope that you are all well!!! So, the last month has been interesting...

First of all, we had two burglaries about a month ago (both were done by the burglar reaching through the window in my room - one while we were at church, and one during the night). We now have a night guard, and a guard while we're at church, and lots of extra security measures!

On a good note, though, since my last newsletter, Lizzy (a gap year student from my church in Manchester) arrived to stay in the girls' home and help out with the White Eagle Project and Nazareth Orphanage for four months. She came equipped with chocolate, "Friends" DVD's, a new DVD player, and presents from my church in Manchester! Yeah!!! It's really great to have her and Anna (the other gap year student who's here for 4 months) here, and we're having a great time!

The kids have been on holiday for the last 3 weeks, so life is REALLY hectic, but fun!!! We've got the holiday programme up and running, so my time is being taken up with doing dance sessions, aerobics classes, debates (which don't involve much debating at all, but do involve lots of ridiculous and hilarious objections!), group discussions, life skills sessions, games sessions, volleyball (watching and keeping score, you understand, not doing!!!), Fellowships, prayer meetings, etc., etc., etc. There have also been a few parties, swimming trips, worship events, and other things thrown in to the mix.

Last week, we had "Operation ARK" (Acts of Random Kindness), which involved the young people (including all the White Eagles) from the churches in and around Nyendo going to the poorer areas of Nyendo and doing things to bless the residents, including: painting houses (in rather garish shades of green and blue, mostly!!!), sweeping streets, cleaning and sweeping up the market area (very smelly!), clearing a rubbish heap (even more smelly!), clearing a drain (the most smelly of all!), and giving out "Boxes of Blessing" (boxes with basic supplies in, like rice, sugar, tea, etc.). It was soooooooooooooooooo much fun!!!!!!!!! There was much hilarity, alongside the hard work, and the atmosphere was great! I REALLY enjoyed it, and it was good getting to know the youth from the other churches, and great to do a hard day's work and see a difference at the end, and see the residents really happy with what we'd done (- at least, that's how I interpreted their faces, but they could have been grimacing at the smells created by unblocking the drain, etc!).

We also went to Lake Nabugabu last Friday with all the kids, as Tim and Sarah (an English couple who came for Operation ARK) took us. Tim volunteered here at the White Eagles Project for several years, and Sarah is his new wife, so they took us to the Lake to celebrate their wedding and the end of Operation ARK (which was Tim's idea in the first place and has been run by him for the last 2 years). It was wonderful, and everyone had a fab day!!! We all swam loads, ate loads, and, in my case, drank loads, because the Lake was really choppy that day, and I swallowed rather a lot of rather brown-looking water whilst swimming... but I haven't had any ill effects, so far! We finished the day by watching "Avatar", cinema style, in the boys' home - it was amazing, and a brilliant end to a brilliant week!!!!

Unfortunately, Jack the dog died yesterday. Jack (who was actually a lady-dog) had been the White Eagles' dog for 7 years - she was a stray who sort of attached herself to the project - and despite them spending months trying to get rid of her initially, she was much loved in the end. She will be remembered for her affection (she always walked the kids to the nearby schools, or to and from the girls' home/church), as well as for her promiscuity (- she had puppies every year she was here practically!). The kids held their own funeral today, which was half tongue-in-cheek, and half serious - it was both funny and solemn at the same time!!!

We've got a week and a half left of the holiday, then the kids go back to school. At the moment, it is well and truly grasshopper season, and they are all over the place (there were about 30 flying and hopping about the toilet at the office today - it was a scary experience using it, as they are huge compared to English grasshoppers, and they kept flying or hopping onto me whilst I was in there!!!) The kids catch loads everyday, and then fry and eat them. Today, I had a lesson from some of the younger kids in de-legging, de-winging, de-tailing and de-antennaeing(!) a grasshopper!!! I never realised how soft and squishy grasshopper bodies were until I kept squashing them by mistake today when I wasn't gentle enough de-winging them!!!

Sarah is originally from Manchester, UK, and is currently our Girls Home Aunty in the White Eagle Project. She's very kindly agreed to us publishing her newsletters on our blog to give a taste of life as a missionary at River of Life

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Operation ARK & Kids Club - Anna's African Adventure

Hello there!

We had the first day of Operation Ark today. We painted the outsides of shops and buildings! I feel I got more paint on me than the house but we had so much fun, even if I was picked on a little! Today I think I shall be sweeping streets which will hopefully be less messy!

I had a lovely day off on Friday. We went to the bakery and bought various different treats. For lunch we enjoyed a mixture of various different cakes and samosas! Yummy!

Uncle John, gave me some disappointing news, that my package has not arrived yet! Hopefully it will be here by next weekend. I can't wait!

We had our first Kid's Club session on Saturday. It went well. We are learning from our first session on how to improve and already have ideas. If you have any good craft ideas, which are easy then please do send them.

I am thinking about talking about Surrender on Monday to the White Eagles. However, I am in no way sure that it is from God but I think I should step out in faith. Any words of encouragement, feel free to send those too!

Anna normally lives in France and is currently staying with us for 4 months on a Gap Year. She's giving us her special flavour on all things River of Life in a series of posts

Monday, May 3, 2010

With the World Cup round the corner...

... what better time to update you on Ball-line Soccer Academy? Thanks in most part to the efforts of manager Walusimbi, Ball-line has been going from strength to strength. With the World Cup just around the corner we dream of a day when we might see some of our talented youngsters playing in such a prestigious tournament at the highest level.

The truth is, the ability is clear for all to see and with the right investment, there is no reason why some of our players couldn’t end up playing at the top level.

Just recently Tim managed to acquire over £1000 of football training equipment for the sum of just £130! Under the watchful eye of the Ugandan Under 17s national coach, we put this new equipment to good use to showcase the awesome potential of many of our young players. He was extremely impressed with our set up, the resources we had and level of talent on show!

Over 15 of our players have now acquired football scholarships to local schools, enabling them to receive a proper education, as well as working on their football! A handful have even been scouted for possible futures on the international stage, representing their country in their age group.

With 3 titles under our belt already in 2010, Ball Line Academy is struggling to find competitive opponents these days, and are looking further a field to places like Kampala to find teams that can match us and help challenge our abilities.
We are all excited about what the future holds for Ball Line Academy, especially as manager Walu progresses in his training qualifications and rubs shoulders with some of the most influential people on the Ugandan football scene. In a recent conversation Walu smiles and says, “The future is bright, some of these boys are seriously impressing important people at a young age, even at 8 or 9 years old! Every where we go Ball-Line Academy is on people’s lips! If we can do that with the few resources we have now, imagine what we could do when we get serious investment into our academy!”

To find out more about Ball Line Academy, please send us an email.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Lizzy's Letter from Uganda - Episode 1

Welcome to my first ever blog post!!!

And so far I've had 4 mosquito bites, seen 4 cockroaches round the house, got sunburnt, and had most of one day with no electricity!

Hope everyone back home is happy and well.

I’ve nearly finished my first week, and it has gone so fast! It’s been great though, these last few days I feel like I’m settling in, all the girls are so lovely, and have made me feel so welcome!

Because the girls have been on school holidays, we have spent most of our days down at the boys home, doing activities like discussions, games, aerobics, worship, which have all been fun.

On Sunday we all went to church, which was lovely, Pastor Duncan asked me to come up to the front and say a few words, I didn’t really know what to say! But then they prayed for me which was great. But everyone at church was really friendly also!

Yesterday I had my first day at Nazareth, which is a local orphanage that River of Life supports. Me, Anna, and Thirsa are going to start making more connections with Nazareth, so we can help there a few days a week, help to communicate and play with the children. As soon as we got there the kids were all longing for our attention, and trying to grab our hands. We helped bathe some of them them and put nappies on them, and played with them, they were all so sweet, I’m looking forward to getting to know these lovely children! One of the little girls fell asleep on me when I was giving her a cuddle, and I just can’t stop imagining how much her mum must have suffered to have abandoned her. It's heart-breaking.

Lizzy normally lives in Manchester, and is currently with us for her Gap Year. She has very kindly agreed to post some of her thoughts about life at River of Life on our blog - cheers Lizzy!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

School Holidays and Grasshoppers - Anna's African Adventure

Hi everybody!

Right now we are in the middle of the holiday program, spending lots of time at the boys home. I love being able to get to know the boys, getting on well with them, they are lots of fun and I have already heard a few stories. I was suprised at how open they are and love the fact that they feel they can tell me!

I have had many an interesting experience, including a gheko in my room, more than one in fact! I have also tried grasshoppers, bet you you didn't think I'd do that! On Friday, I went to Kisakye and Teddy's school to go and collect their report. They did really well and praying payed off. Kisakye told us that 'praying with Auntie Anna made a miracle.' On arrival at the school, the children were amazed that a white person was there! I had a crowd of amazed children follow me around the school. The girls are now famous I am sure. I also went to Kellen's school to meet her best friend which was equally lovely!

The girls (and staff at that), love galaxy chocolate and are looking forward to another package due to arrive with some more in. Mum has said she will post some more for the girls- thank you so much. Neeedless to say that I have no galaxy left what so ever!

Recently, I made Chapatis with Robinah and Nakawuki which was lots of fun. I always look forward to them and spending time with those two girls was lovely. We chatted and laughed together and I am due to make more with them next time. I can't wait.

Lizzy has arrived and has settled in well. I am enjoying spending time with her and setting up various different programs together. We went to the market with the girls today to buy clothes. It puts things in persepective for me was they rarely get new clothes. I found it hard to deal with the haggling and the overcrowdedness of the place but the girls are all very excited about their new clothes and I am sure I will see many of them in the days to come.

I am a little stuck! The Girls from the girls home, so all of us, have been invited to two parties and I have no party clothes! I have no idea what to wear, at all! Uncle Julius has requested me to sing at his graduation party. Speaking of singing, I sang at church on Sunday. It was very impromptu and have not had to sing and Lugandan songs yet. I can only sing 3 and understand at the moment so I am a tad worried about that.

Anna normally lives in France and is currently staying with us for 4 months on a Gap Year. She's giving us her special flavour on all things River of Life in a series of posts

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Highs and Lows of Anna's African Adventure

Hello everybody!

Things have been eventful to say the least! Loads of amazing and awesome and lovely things have been going on and other things have been less lovely!

Having Ben and Sarah (some visitors from Leeds) here has been SUCH a blessing. We prayed around the girls which was a very powerful moment leading up to quite drastic ending!

People have ben SO encouraging affirming that I am here for a reason. The project director, Aunt Emily said that she was so excited about me being here because God showed her how annointed I was in so many different areas. I shared my testimony with the girls about my experience of God's love and healing and I was told how anointed I was with speaking and teaching. I will actually be running a kid's club whilst the older kids have Youth Group. I am very excited about that! We will be watching clips of the Prince of Eygpt, which I love, but is so rich in things to talk about!

All week we have been praying for protection and sending curses to dry and dusty places! The result was that we have been burgled twice since Sunday. A witch dr has been seen near the girl's home. The two cannot be separate! Aunt Thirsa's laptop was stolen with material for the Kid's Club and the Cell Groups! We ARE however persevearing because we are MORE than conquerors in Christ! However, we are in the middle of a spiritual battle! My main concern is that the girls' will no longer feel secure in the home, which is something they desperately need. Needless to say none of us have slept very much.

I am however still loving being here. The Muzungu's have introduced a new rule that you have to hug us as soon as you enter the door. A rule which has caught on well. The house is now a Manchester United supporting house, which both Sarah and I being, as you can imagine, ardent supporters are very pleased with. Liverpool football shirts and looked down upon and are, I am sad to say, often worn amongst a few of the girls!!!!!!

Anna normally lives in France and is currently staying with us for 4 months on a Gap Year. She's giving us her special flavour on all things River of Life in a series of posts

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sarah's Story - hot running water and grasshoppers!

Hello everybody, I hope that this post finds everyone well! I'm going to try to keep it shorter than my previous posts... So here goes....

I think I told you in my last newsletter that I was looking forward to seeing my Mum and Dad at the beginning of March... Well, they arrived safely, and I had a WONDERFUL time!!!!!!! It was so lovely to show them the places I'm going to, the things I'm doing, to introduce them to all the kids and staff, and to show them why I'm so passionate about this place!!!!! They had a great time, and we even had power nearly the whole time they were here, so we got our quota of 10 or so cups of tea a day every single day!!! We lived in luxury for a week, and stayed in a hotel in Masaka (- we even had hot running water!!! - I felt the most clean I've been since I came to Uganda! - it was fantastic!), and I had a nice rest and felt very refreshed and invigorated after my short break. (- And they brought me lots of chocolate, which did my soul good - hee hee!!!). So it was just great!!!

Other than that, life here has continued in much the same routine - looking after Kitibwa, staff training and staff meetings, activities with the kids in the evenings, youth group, hospital ministry, prayer meetings, and church. I'm really loving everything I'm doing, and have had some fantastic times with the girls over the last month - the girls' home has resounded with laughter on a regular basis, so much so, that the lady who lives above us has come to check if we're ok a few times because of the noise we were making! The hospital ministry (where we go and pray for patients and give out food, etc.) is a particular highlight of my week, as is eating chapati and beans and freshly made passion fruit juice on a Sunday evening!!!!!!

We've had a few visitors over the last couple of weeks, which has been great fun - first off an English guy came to film bits and bobs for a promotional DVD; then an English couple called Ben and Sarah came and helped with the White Eagles Project (they're youth workers in England, and they were absolutely brilliant as they did some staff training and all the evening events with the kids for a week); and last of all a girl called Anna, who is English (but lives in France), has come for 4 months... She's on her year out before Uni, and is helping with the younger kids here and at Nazareth orphanage. We have another girl called Lizzy (from my church in Manchester) coming out in a couple of weeks, also for 4 months, and also on her gap year before Uni - she'll be working with Anna, and they'll both be living here in the girls' home. So the girls' home is getting busy!!! I'm now sharing a room with Thirsa (the Dutch girl I've mentioned before).... And we're all getting excited as we're hoping to have even more visitors coming over the next few months (but not staying in the girls' home, thank goodness!) for various reasons, including "Operation ARK" (Act of Random Kindness) which begins in a few weeks. I'll write about it more in my next e-mail, but Operation ARK involves a week where the youth from the local churches do things to bless the local community, like painting houses, cleaning up rubbish, giving food parcels to the poorest families, etc. It should be AMAZING.... I'll let you know all about it in my next e-mail.

I've also had the privilege(!) of eating grasshoppers this month!!! They are considered a great delicacy over here, and it is currently grasshopper season (so there are loads of huge grasshoppers about), so I had to have a go! (They actually don't taste too bad if you can get the thought out of your head that you're eating a grasshopper!!!!!)

Anyway, I'll end my post here, in the hope of keeping it shorter than my last two!

Sarah is originally from Manchester, UK, and is currently our Girls Home Aunty in the White Eagle Project. She's very kindly agreed to us publishing her newsletters on our blog to give a taste of life as a missionary at River of Life

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Day One of Anna's African Adventure

Anna normally lives in France and is currently staying with us for 4 months on a Gap Year. She's giving us her special flavour on all things River of Life in a series of posts

Hello everybody, or should I say wasuze otya which is good morning in Lugandan.

I said my first Lugandan word yesterday: Sula Bulungi: good night. Everyone was very proud of me and pleased to see I was picking their language up, which incidently is beautiful!

It is very exciting that I am able to email you. I cannot ensure that I will be able to reply to you all presonally, but I will do my very best. For the minute, I am loving being here. I have never felt welcomed anywhere like I feel it here. Sunday, when I arrived, I walked into my room to find cards all over the floor which were made for me. They are proudly displayed in my room, on a very fetching handmade Ugandan set of shelves.

My first evening here, I was at the boys home along with all the girls and everyone knew who I was which was just lovely! I was told that everyone has been praying about my time here and I feel part of a family, a loving one at that, which I love! My name now is Aunt Anna. I really do enjoy being her!

So much has happened that I do not really know where to start! Julius, the youth worker-y person is also the assisstant worship pastor at River of Life church and he was hoping that I'd be a singer on a worship team and I am! He has asked me to join the worship team which is very exciting. I cannot wait to learn some Lugandan songs!

Yesterday, I really started to get stuck into River of Life and way of life. I went to the prayer mountain which consists of three prayer huts on a hill/mountain. It is the perfect place to wander, sing, pray. The view is absolutely beautiful. The huts are very strategically places: next to a which doctor's shrine. I remember when I was praying urged to ask God to keep is presence on those huts because of what they represent. They are love and hope next to death and we know that the victory has already been won! We commited my time to God there as well and I am so exciting to see what God will do in me and through me. I know God has changes to make in me too!

Just before going to bed last night, I saw two of the girls polishing their shoes ready for the next morning. So, I popped into their room and chatted with them. I went to bed feeling so happy. Just that little chat with those girls was enough to make me sleep well. We just laughed together, they showed me their things. After being here a whole day and seeing what River of Life does, after that little chat, I just want to be able to provide something of what they need, that something of Anna Thorley that does something- as long as it's what God wants, then I don't mind what it is. I just pray that I will enable God to do that, because He knows best!

Thank you and lots of love xxxxxxxx