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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sarah's story - Going on retreat, Snakes, and Celebrating Children

Helloooooooooo!!! I hope everyone is doing really well!!! Thank you to everyone who’s e-mailed me! I’ve had quite a busy month, so I’m slightly behind with my e-mails, but I’ll catch up soon!
Despite being busy, the last month has been wonderful! The highlight of it was when I went on a retreat during my week off. I went with my friend Thirsa, going on public transport all the way, which is always an interesting (if rather uncomfortable) experience, as you get packed in like sardines, and often share the space with chickens, sacks of potatoes, and lots of wierd and wonderful stuff. The retreat was in Jinja, on the banks of Lake Victoria at the source of the Nile. It was soooooooooo incredibly beautiful!!!!!

The retreat was entitled “The Father Heart Encounter” and was AMAZING!!! It was all about knowing God as a Father, and was really really wonderful! Also, the food they gave us was amazing, and I even had a strawberry!!!! – it was the most beautiful strawberry I’ve ever tasted! (- although one of the Ugandans was very suspicious of what he called “a funny English flower”, and was convinced it would make him ill!) There were also lots of interesting people there, including 4 people from Karamoja, a very primitive part of Uganda, who amazed us with stories of life in their village, where they still wear very few clothes (just a few strategically placed animal skins if what they said is true), drink blood mixed with milk, and buy their wives with cows (- it costs 150 cows to get a good wife, apparently!). They invited us to go there and preach (and even offered to give us some animal skins to wear so that we could dress - or rather undress - like them!!!)..... Maybe one day I’ll get the chance to go.... Anyway, as I said, the retreat place was incredibly beautiful, and it was so lovely to sit and enjoy the views, etc. Thirsa and I were slightly worried when they told us that a quite big water snake had recently been seen just by the edge of the lake – we decided to go down there together, just in case we saw one... though in retrospect, we decided that we didn’t know what on earth we would have done if we had seen one, or why going together would help – although I guess it would mean we had only 50% chance of getting bitten if the snake decided it wanted a bite!!! (But they assured us that water snakes are very timid snakes, and very unlikely to attack!).

Speaking of snakes, one of our VERY brave White Eagle boys killed a big (to my eyes, anyway – it was about 1 metre long and just over an inch in diameter!) snake down at the boys’ home last week!!! It was at the edge of their football pitch, and he hit it on the head with a big stick. It became a bit of a local tourist attraction for the local kids for a few hours - they picked up the dead snake with sticks, and tried to scare each other by chasing after their friends with it. Every child is terrified of snakes here, whether they be alive or dead, so there was a lot of screaming for a few hours, until someone disposed of it!

Last week, I had the privilege of going on a course in Kampala, along with Uncle Julius and Aunt Emily (the project manager and project director). It was called “Celebrating Children”, and was the first of 4 separate weeks during the year. It was all about working with children, how God views children, how to listen to children, stand up for their rights, include them in decisions, run children’s projects well, be good children’s workers, etc. It was really good, and everyone left with a renewed passion for working with kids, with new skills, and with fresh ideas about developing their projects. We have to do six assignments before the next training week, so I’m trying to organise myself to get all of them done in time. Some of them are quite hard, and not very fun.... Others are quite fun – one involves observing a child at play and writing up a load of stuff on it, and I’ve chosen to observe Kitibwa – so far I’ve observed him hiding his toys all round my room, hiding my keys (- lucky I was observing him!!!), and trying to “phone” me with the television remote control! I don’t really like tests and assignments (- I had decided to try and avoid ever doing any exams/coursework again after finishing uni.! -), but it’s worth it, because I’m learning so much through the course, and we hope it will help us develop the project, as well as helping us improve individually.

This week, we’ve got 4 visitors from the UK staying at the girls’ home. It’s reeeeeally wonderful to have them, and we’re all enjoying their company!!! I’m continuing to slog away at learning Lugandan, and am not making very fast progress, which is sometimes frustrating because some other people come and seem pick it up very quickly! I’m focussing on particular areas, one of which is phrases to use for the hospital ministry.... so on Monday, I acted as an interpreter for one of our visitors as we went round the hospital – I was sooooooo pleased, as I understood nearly everything that was said to me and had some medium length conversations, and only needed help when some patients asked if they could give their lives to Jesus – I got stuck after 2 sentences! (I’m learning a few new phrases every week, so I’ll try to add that to my repertoire soon!).

We’ve had a HUGE amount of rain here in Uganda over the past month – despite 2 months of dire warnings via TV, radio and texts from the government telling us there’d be a drought and a famine in Uganda!!! Everyone’s very pleased about the rain, although it has meant that there is an abundance of mosquitos, and I’m getting eaten alive everyday by them despite wearing a ridiculous amount of mosquito repellent and eating Marmite like there’s no tomorrow, as someone said that can help! (– I’ve even tried wearing 3 different makes of repellent at once, but had to stop because the girls complained that I smelt so bad! – but it didn’t work anyway – they still bit me!).

I’d better leave off here, as the girls are about to come home, and I need to meet with Teddy to hear her read – she reads to me every day to try and improve her English, although she tends to read with a Mancunian accent, as she’s learnt how to read and pronounce lots of words from me!!! She doesn’t speak like that yet, but it would be funny if she did! Maybe Kitibwa will!

I hope everyone is doing very well, and that you have a WONDERFUL Easter!!! Eat lots of chocolate eggs for me!!!

Lots of love,

- Sarah