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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Half way point

It's 1/2 way day!

Today marks the middle of our trip. If the second half is anything like the first, we're in for a treat!
Although we have been here for over three weeks, this was a week of firsts! We helped out on the church's farm, went to an amazing BBQ and were involved in worship at church.

After 1 1/2 hrs working with Stephen and Gerald on the farm we now consider ourselves dab hands at farming. We raked the ground; cleaned up the matoke trees and pulled funny faces at the cows! To our delight one of the pigs recently had piglets - cute doesn't even begin to describe them!

Having mentioned in a previous blog that meat doesn't appear much on the menu, Rob and Katharine took us out for a night to get our 'meat sweats' on. The local cafe, every Friday, hosts an incredible meat filled BBQ buffet. After we had eaten our fill ... And everyone else's, we just about rolled out of the cafe... Like two giant meatballs ... With legs!

This week we also had the opportunity to help with the worship in church. Although at first we were a bit reluctant, we soon embraced it and definitely were glad we stepped out of our comfort zones! We told ourselves to say yes to the things that terrify us... However, we've now got ourselves into leading some songs in the local prison tomorrow - PRAY FOR US!

Until next time - keep it fresh.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Great news from River of Life!

Our Summer Newsletter is out! And it's packed full of news of the great impact that your support is having here in Uganda.

The Battle for Prayer Mountain has entered a new stage, the White Eagles Home has got a brand new perimeter fence, the Leadership Academy is about to admit a new cohort of young people ready to transform their communities and there's even news of a miracle baby from the Baby Unit!

There's also news of a brand new initiative - The Gideons! We face a golden opportunity to make real and lasting transformation in the lives of hundreds of people here in Uganda - but the challenges are great. So we want to recruit a 'Gideon' Army of people willing to pray and give a small amount regularly so that together we can snatch HOPE from the jaws of despair for more people!

If you are interested in joining the Gideons, just email us and we'll tell you more. In the meantime, please download the newsletter, and spread the good news by sharing it with all your friends and family!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Goats galore and more by Katie and Esther

We have spent over two weeks in Uganda now and feel very settled! The idea of taking a taxi or popping to town was once daunting but now we take it in our stride!
Masaka town and Nyendo are the complete opposite of the neat roads and pavements of Bristol. One thing we've loved in particular is the fact that there are a loads of goats everywhere- we have a new found appreciation for them!

On Sunday Cheryl, a law graduate from Singapore joined us. Her and her boyfriend Joel are here for the next two weeks. It has been great fun showing them round, feeling like proper locals.

On Mondays we have the opportunity to go to Masaka hospital with elder Betty and her team! We have gone twice so far and both times have left thankful for the opportunity to minister to the sick, but also grateful for what we have readily available to us back in the UK. The team go around the different wards, handing out bread and bananas to the patients and then offering to pray with them. Their dedication and love for the ministry is inspiring and we have learnt a lot from both praying with patients but also from watching the team sit with and chat with them, not being able to speak Ugandan means we're not very good at just chatting!

A significant moment of this past week, has to be going to a prayer and intercession meeting at church. Ugandans have serious prayer stamina! It has been amazing to pray and worship alongside the people here because their passion and faith is so fierce that it has encouraged us to fix our eyes on the Lord at all times until earthly things fade away and our affections are given to the one who is worthy. There is also such a beauty in Ugandan time keeping because sometimes it's non existent that time itself does not stop them from worshipping which is not a bad problem to have, as God is outside of time! We have also learnt a lot about interceding and praying for things that don't seemingly affect us, as if it's our own responsibility and how we are to seek first the Kingdom of God.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Latest White Eagles Report out now

With all the latest updates from the White Eagles, the May/June report is a must-read for your next tea-break!

There's news about our Holiday Programme, the hard work on the farm, going back to school, but we leave the best bit till the end...

Buckle up for the good news - we've managed to trace the relatives of one of our girls, and she is SO excited! She was the last child in the Resettlement Home without known relatives, and it was tough for her. But now we can get started on the resettlement and reconciliation work so that she might be reunited with a loving family and continue to thrive and fly high!

Enjoy the report - you can download it here.

The White Eagles on the Farm, enjoying some sugarcane!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The White Eagle Fence is almost Complete!

It's been a long time coming… But yes, your eyes are not deceiving you! The White Eagle Home finally has a permanent wall and fence!!!

Now what's so exciting about that you may ask? Well, first of all we've needed one for AGES - 14 years to be precise - to keep the White Eagles safe. Second, they're not cheap. And third, it's one of the requirements for being a Registered Children's Home.

The local mechanics had practically taken over our playground, were prone to shouting suggestive comments at our girls and any play equipment we had was trashed. And so it was high time to do something about it.

With new double gates, a wall on one side for privacy and chain-link fence on the other two sides, we are finally secure. It's not quite finished - there is still a course of concrete to lay at the base of the fence to prevent animals (or people!) pushing it up and getting underneath. We also want to plant out the perimeter with bushes to add to the security, and make the place prettier!

It's a huge step forward. Praise God! And it wouldn't have been possible without your generosity. You know who you are. And you ROCK!

First week complete - by Katie and Esther

So, our first week on the continent is complete, we've tasted the food, we've met loads of people and only got in a random person's car once- success!

The thing we have craved the most since leaving the UK is (unfortunately) the readily accessible variety of junk food... that said however, being big meat eaters, we have survived well and gone DAYS without the luxury of a slice of ham! Nevertheless, on a more serious note it has opened our eyes to 'basic' things that we so often take for granted in the West.

Over the last week, we've had the opportunity to go on school ministry visits with the River of Life Church. We visited two very different schools so far, the Nile Vocational school, where we met students between the age of sixteen and twenty. Besides, getting lost on the world's bumpiest track, in the car on the way, we loved every minute of it and were completely blown away by the warm welcome we received. Walking in to the room where the session was held, had to be one of our biggest highlights as we entered a room full of the students singing and worshipping the Lord.

The second school we visited was Aunt Louise's School for the disabled. We met Edward and Louise who run the school and look after over twenty children with all different kinds of disabilities. We came away full of admiration for this couple who have dedicated their lives to provide for these children with an education but also rehabilitation. Before we left we lead the kids in a rendition of 'If you're happy and you know it' - we bossed it!

Everywhere we go we are expected to introduce ourselves and share about what we are doing! We have got quite good at condensing it all down to a couple of minutes each!

Each week we are invited to have dinner with an Elder of the church. Last Wednesday we had a Ugandan feast at John Lutaaya's. There was pork, there was chicken, there was matoke (steamed green banana) and our favourite - chapatis! Tonight we are off to have dinner with Elder Betty and her son Julius who is a good friend of ours and a big part of us coming to Uganda!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Our Summer Visitors give their First Impressions!

Katie and Esther are from Bristol, UK, and are volunteering with us for the next 6 weeks. Here are their first impressions of coming to River of Life...

Having never been to Africa we had no idea what to expect. All we knew was what we had pictured in our heads.... Not the most reliable source of information. Besides, it being our first time in Africa, it was also our first time traveling for a lengthly period of time without our families. All that said, we managed to get through Entebbe airport surprisingly well, leaving with both a valid visa and all our luggage!

Stepping out of the airport it was apparent to our senses that we were definitely in a different country. The fact that it was 11pm and it was still pretty warm was not what we were used to, being from the UK. We spent our first night in Kampala, in a backpackers hostel where it didn't take long for us to doze off. In the morning with the sun shining in all it's glory, it really hit us that we were in Uganda. We took our malaria tablets and set off to breakfast, fried egg on some sweet bread. Unfortunately we didn't read the malaria instructions, which if we had, would have informed us not to have taken them on empty stomachs. It resulted in, as Rob most carefully put it, in doxypukes!

Once recovered, we set off to Masaka. As not all of the road had been resurfaced, at times it was a tad bumpy but all the more, fun. The tourists that we are however, meant an inevitable stop at the equator for a quick photo shoot and we were greeted with great smiles of the Ugandan people as they noted we were foreigners!

Having arrived at the River of Life Church, we were introduced to the staff and were welcomed with open arms. We shared a little bit about ourselves and now have a lot of names to learn... We think we're doing quite well! After the meeting, our friend Julius took us around town. This involved a very amusing taxi ride in which eight people squeezed into a five-seater car. Julius had the driver sitting on his knee, while we shared our seats with some friendly Ugandan people who were asking us about England. Definitely a Ugandan experience!

By this point we were starting to lag, but just before heading home a bunch of children who live next door to the church ran over to us affectionately shouting, "Mzungu", which means "white person." They gave us both massive hugs, fighting for our attention - never have we felt so loved by people we didn't know!

This is just the start of our unique six weeks in Masaka and we're definitely excited for what more is to come.