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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

What a month at the White Eagle Project...

The 2010 Sponsorship Challenge is well underway as we try to recruit more sponsors to help the children of Nyendo - if you know anyone who would like to sponsor a child, please get in touch!

In the meantime... March has been quite a month! First of all we had a small fire in the Girls Home - faulty electrics meant a light fitting started behaving more like a firework. The girls were petrified, but thanks to the quick thinking of Thirsa the electrics were quickly switched off and no one was hurt. The Girls Home is rented, and although definitely one of the best houses in Nyendo, in Uganda there aren't the strict standards for Landlords to keep to so we're at risk. The good thing is that our Fire Drill has been tested (and improved upon!) and everyone now knows how serious the risks are, and all the electrics have been checked out and fixed. Then poor Ernest, one of the White Eagle Boys, was knocked over by a car on his way home from school - he wasn't badly injured but did stay the night in hospital under observation. Roads and driving in Uganda are an absolute nightmare, but that incident has driven home how careful we need to be. We're thankful that noone has been badly hurt - it's a testament to our staff and to the White Eagles that these kind of things happen so rarely.

However, twice in one week's a bit much, and it's prompted us (along with other recent events) to get cracking with something we've wanted to do or a LONG time - set up the River of Life Prayer NET - a network of people praying regularly with and for River of Life, the White Eagle Project and particularly for Duncan and Mary. You can read more about it here, and if you're interested, please do get in touch by email.

As well as the accidents, there's more positive news. Mercy and Jonah and settling in well at Nursery (don't they look smart in their uniforms!), and we enjoyed a fabulous visit by Sarah's parents for a week. As it's school term time the staff are getting plenty of training in, and we've introduced new practices that help the White Eagles develop. We're also working on a new Team Document that sets out the vision, our goals, our values and all the rules and procedures that make us tick along nicely!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Where is he now - Jjunju Fred!

Jjunju Fred was one of the first to be supported by River of Life Uganda back in the 1990s - his is an exciting tale! We wrote about his fabulous wedding to Liz last year, so what's he been up to since..?

In October 09 Jjunju, after studying for a BSc in Computer Science at Makerere University and working for the British Council's Commonwealth Business Solutions on their ZIPP Program, was one of only six people to be accepted by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) for a fully-funded PhD in Electrical Engineering - rock on Fred! He's found studying there pretty demanding, but has risen to the challenge. I caught him on skype today, and asked him what he thought of KAUST:
KAUST is a house of wisdom where minds from all over the world meet and interact to apply science and technology to solve global problems... Sometimes (to be honest) it's a little boring, because we only are studying and eating (!) But all I can say is I thank God for giving me this golden chance to part of KAUST - it is a global community with a diverse culture.
So in one breath he's solving the world's problems, and in the next he's saying it's a little boring...! Anyway, Jjunju is working on a research project on Visible Light Communication and will become a Visiting Scholar at Oxford University this summer!

He was orphaned at the age of 14, but through the love and care of Duncan and Mary, and all the people who gave so generously to get him through school and university, his is a real rags to riches story. A man of many words, but little punctuation, he has this to say:
First and foremost I would like to thank God for giving me all these opportunities and then helping me through out this journey till this point to be successful in what ever I do and I would like to really thank all who sponsored me through my studies up to this point - thank you very much for giving me so much and for your immense faith and confidence you entrusted me with for this continuous unfathomable support you gave me through out my studies and my research work!
And we'd like to add our thanks to everyone that has supported Fred over the last 15 years! He's now not only standing on his own two feet, he's standing on the shoulders of giants...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Raising up the leaders of tomorrow!

This is terrifically exciting - this month we saw the first one-day training conference for future Cell Group leaders! Developing Cell Groups has been part of our core vision for a long time, and it's so exciting to see it happening thanks to the hard work of Thirsa, Waiswa and the team.

The aim is to raise up Christian leaders who will disciple others, help others grow in their relationship with God and to reach out to the community as a cell group. The Conference combined future leaders from River of Life and students from local schools, who will form Cell Groups in their schools. We had four training sessions throughout the day, and delegates came up with ideas of how to reach out with their cell group to others to show the love of Christ. Ideas from the students included cleaning up other students' rooms, helping the cooks with doing dishes, praying for other students etc...

We hope to launch the cell groups on May 1st! There'll be ongoing guidance and training sessions to the future cell group leaders to equip them to lead a cell group effectively. It's all about helping each cell group member to start walking in the First Commandment and the First Commission!

If you would like to know more, to support the ministry, or to receive a copy of the Cell Group Ministry Proposal, please email Rob.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Prayer Mountain - Rekindling the fires of Revival!

Prayer, fasting and intercession are central parts of our life at River of Life Church. We have had a vision to establish Masaka Prayer Mountain for over 20 years, and very excitingly, we believe we are now finally moving forward!

The vision is for the fires of Revival to be rekindled in East Africa and beyond. We know this can only be achieved through a lot of prayer. Uganda and East Africa is in a desperate mess - full of witchcraft, physical poverty and enormous injustice. And yet Uganda is a country where the vast majority claim to be Christian. It is clear that there is a lot of nominalism, and we need to pray, disciple, and teach people to lead righteous lives that glorify God.

If you'd like to know more about this Vision, and to receive a leaflet explaining it all, please email us

Thursday, March 4, 2010

It's time for Operation ARK once again!

Watch the Operation ARK 2010 Promo on our website!

Remember the amazing Operation Acts of Random Kindness (ARK) where we gather together the youth of Nyendo and Masaka for a week long programme of social action in some of the poorest areas of MAsaka? Well, it's coming to town again! In May we hope to bring together 100s of Christian youth from across the churches in an act of unity to help bless the poorest in our community. Faith without action is dead, and we believe we must show the love of God to the poor through deed as well as word.

When we launched in 2008, 20 young people, almost exclusively from River of Life Church took to the streets of Mabera, a notorious local slum. In 2009, 109 young people from six different churches in Nyendo joined in the action for Kakyafu, a local area which when translated into English literally means 'rubbish'.

You can read all about last years efforts here on Tim's, the Operation ARK Coordinator, blog

We also need to help raise £1,200 to make it happen - so if you would like to donate, please visit our JustGiving Fundraising page. Every penny helps!

Sarah's Story - Wii, nappies, and pit latrines!

Hello everybody!!! I hope that everyone is well! I'm doing great! It's been just over a month since I last wrote a newsletter, and I've been keeping very busy!!!......

The kids all went back to school at the beginning of February, and so my role changed a bit. I'm running the evening programme for the girls' home (which consists of a fellowship/Bible teaching on a Monday, Life Skills on Tuesdays, MDD (music, dance and drama... which is actually just dance at the moment, because I'm doing it!) on Wednesdays, a fellowship led by kids on Thursdays, and Games on Fridays). I'm really enjoying teaching the girls different kids of dancing, and they seem to enjoy it too, as they often ask me to go through dances with them on other days too. The "Games" night on Fridays usually consists of playing on the Wii - I brought my Nintendo Wii with me, and we have absolutely hilarious evenings having tennis tournaments, bowling competitions, skiing or snowboarding, etc. Sometimes we're so loud in our laughing and cheering that I worry that we'll get told off by our neighbour above, but it's really good to see the girls having so much fun!!! I'm afraid to say, as well, that they're getting much better at it than me, and I have been beaten on several occasions now!... Oh well!!!

During the days, I have lots to do... We have twice weekly staff meetings, and Thirsa (the Dutch girl) and I do staff training at these. I always feel a bit silly doing staff training, as I'm not sure that I've got much to teach them, but they all seem to be ok with what I'm doing so far, so that's good. I'm also the secretary at the staff meetings and any other meetings we have, so spend a lot of time typing up the minutes (some meetings go on for 4 hours(!), but the good thing is that we have an absolutely amazing meal after each staff meeting, which helps you to endure the long meeting, although my stomach often complains loudly if the meeting goes on past 2.30pm!).

I also try to prepare the trainings, the evening sessions, and pray during the days. However, most of my time over the last month has been taken up with looking after the one year old little boy, Kitibwa, who lives in the girls' home... This is no easy feat!!! He eats absolutely anything he finds - whether it be paper, mud, stones, dirt, dead wasps and lizards, etc, etc, and I have to constantly watch him, and scoop things out of his mouth - and he has very sharp teeth, and bites my finger whenever I try to remove things! And he poos more often than any baby I've ever met before!!! I spend the whole day changing his nappy! I've had to learn how to put on the toweling nappies that they use here... There were a few disasters initially - the nappies kept on falling off, because they don't use nappy pins to secure them in place, and I hadn't quite got the knack - but I'm a pro now!!! He's absolutely gorgeous - he has the biggest toothy grin ever, and gorgeous eyes. He's just learning to walk, and managed to walk 5 tottering steps yesterday, to great applause!!! (- It was more of a controlled lunge towards me, actually, but I'm counting it as walking!) Looking after him doesn't leave me much time to do anything else at all, and I am now in awe of all mothers, and I REALLY don't know how anyone manages with more than one child!!!

I've been visiting the local hospital each Monday afternoon, too, as part of the church's Hospital Ministry - we pray for the patients and give them food, etc. I've also had the chance to do little bits of physio as I've been going around praying for the patients - I've taught some breathing exercises to patients with TB, and given a few range of movement exercises to burns victims, as well as the accident and trauma patients. I'm really enjoying it.

I've visited some of the local schools that our girls go to, also. We go to see how our girls are getting on and check that there are no problems, and I'm pleased to say that all the schools have given very positive feedback so far. It's been really nice, actually, because ever since I got here, I've been asking loads of people to pray for the girls' home and in the last 2 weeks we've seen a great improvement.

One of the things that has left a deep and lasting impression on me this month was when there was no water for a few days in the whole of Masaka (where I live). It made me appreciate being able to wash my hands and flush a toilet so much!!! We had to use a pit latrine... This was not fun!!! The pit latrine stank - it was disgusting. And it was so dark as well, especially in the evenings - I thought I would be clever and take my head torch with me so I could at least see a little bit... this was a big mistake, because when I switched it on, I saw that there were loads of giant cockroaches all over the walls and floor! Eurgghh! - Blissful ignorance would have been better, I think!!! We also had to visit the pit latrine in groups of 5 or more when it was dark, as the latrine is on a banana plantation just behind the compound where I live, and apparently "Night Dancers" like to frequent banana plantations at night - "Night Dancers", I found out, are kind of witch doctors who get high on drugs and alcohol, then dance around naked - and they are not very pleasant if you meet them.... luckily for me, we didn't come across any!!! While the water was off, we didn't even have enough water to bathe or drink. The girls and I had to walk with our 2 jerry cans each for 30 minutes to find water - we initially went to the local well, but the water had run out because there had been over a thousand people all getting water from it earlier that day who wouldn't usually get it from there.... so we had to march to a "water hole" instead (which was actually a big dirty muddy puddle as far as I could see). I had a lot of comments from people as I passed by - apparently they'd never seen a Mazungu carrying jerry cans and getting water from a well or water hole before! But we got our water and then boiled it to try to clean it, and then I had a wash, so it was well worth it!!! So that was exciting for a few days (not!) - I was so thankful when the water came back!!! I don't know if I've ever been so happy!!!

I've also learnt to appreciate some things that I've always taken for granted before... someone went to Kampala (the capital city) a few weeks ago, and I asked them to get me some cheese and ham - I only had a bit, but I do not think I have ever eaten anything so wonderful as the cheese and ham omelette I made with it - I thought I was in heaven!!!

I'm very excited at the moment, because my Mum and Dad are going to come to visit next week!!! We're going to stay in a local hotel so that I can get a proper break. I'm just hoping that we don't have a water cut as I'm not sure how they will like using a pit latrine!!! And I'm hoping that we have power every so often as well so that we can have the occasional cup of tea, because, (as anyone will know who knows our family), we Beales are rather partial to a cup of tea! Speaking of tea, my favourite thing to eat/drink at the moment is African tea - it's boiled milk with tea, lots of sugar, and a bit of ginger/other spices in - and I love it!!! If it was easier to get fresh milk, I'd have it several times a week... but I go to a local cafe on my day off and have it every Friday - it's my treat to myself!

Anyway, I've whittered on for ages now!!! I hope that everyone is doing really well. Thank you to everyone who's e-mailed me! It's much appreciated!

God bless!!!