Sunday, 31 August 2008

Drewett trip - day 11

A day dominated by our long and bumpy journey back to Kampala along the red soil roads. We came back via the top of the Murchison Falls - where the Albert Nile is forced through a narrow 6m gorge and crashes down to the wide river below. The roadside landscape was very rural with settlements of mud and brick buildings with grass rooves.

Eventually back at the guesthouse by late afternoon, one of the highlights of the day was a visit to an Italian ice-cream cafe after dinner with the team.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Drewett trip - day 10

This was our second and final day of safari in the National Park. We had a drive in the morning, followed by a boat ride to Murchison Falls in the afternoon. The highlights of our morning drive were a beautiful lioness (spotted by our amazing tracker ranger!) followed by a brief glimpse of a leopard!!!! as it climbed down from the tree. This was such a treat as there are only 11 leopards in the whole park, and our ranger said that she only gets to see one about every three months! The boat trip was also fun, with lots of close-ups of hippos and crocs.
We returned to the hotel for a brief swim with the rest of the team before dinner and bed. We have a long ride back to Kampala tomorrow .... and knowing the road ahead it is not an attractive prospect!

Drewett trip - day 9

We got up at 3.30 am!!! to travel to a safari lodge in the Murchison Falls National Park. It's a really beautiful place - we're on a hill overlooking the Nile. There are hippos, baboons and lots of geckos and that's just in the hotel grounds!! On our game drive we saw lion, giraffe, warthogs, vultures, antelope, baboons, elephants and buffalo. Africa is a beautiful country in God's creation.

Drewett trip - day 8

After a 2 hour drive the night before, we set off from the Mount Elgon Hotel in Mbale to meet with Edith Wakumire at the Ugandan Women's Concern Ministry just outside the town. Edith was a familiar name to us as we had heard much about her (and her famous smile!) from Martin Williams.
We spent some time with Edith and her team during their morning devotions, and the team members talked us through each of the three main areas of the UCWM's work - namely, women, children and their fight malaria campaign. It is a huge ministry, covering a wide geographic area and meeting significant need, exacerbated by extreme poverty in the local region. The ministry teams appeared very structured in their work, establishing clear criteria for those who UWCM chooses to support with its relatively limited resources.\
After some time with the team, and an opportunity to walk around the site of the offices, we headed out to the "field". We took the van through narrow paths off road and arrived at the house of two teenage mothers - both with children already, and one pregnant again. This "child-headed" household crossed over two areas supported by the women's ministry section of UWCM - single teenage mothers, and child-headed households. The conditions of the children's home was the poorest we had witnessed close at hand. We spent some time with the girls and their siblings before making our way back to UWCM.
Our afternoon was spent travelling back to Kampala, where we met up with our build team once again!

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Drewett trip - days 6 and 7

These were the two holiday club days at Tumaine.

The children's home, which is situated in the middle of what could best be described as a "township" of small brick/mud dwellings, is a brick building with a central room (for eating/meeting), and five dormitories (2 boys, 3 girls) with sets of 3-bunk beds. The conditions of the building are very basic, with no power, running water or even ceilings. The cooking is all carried out over an open fire in a small bamboo hut outside the building. There are currently 71 children in the home (from ages c. 4 to 15), with slightly more girls than boys.

The holiday club was attended by all the children from Tumaine, together with children from the local Sunday school at Pastor Nicholas' church that meets in Kakira School, just along from the ophanage. We structured the holiday club using the PromiseLand model of activity stations, followed by large group time and then breaking into small groups. We taught from the story of David and Goliath with the memory verse Deut 31.6 on the first day, and then The Parable of the Lost Sheep with the memory verse John 3.16 on day 2. At the end of the first session we put up mosquito nets for every child, and they all received a teddy with memory verse attached and every child made a canvas painting with memory verse which we put up by their beds. This was to support the message of the session that God is with the children and that they can feel safe and secure within his care - taking their strength from God as David had done.
There were over 140 children attending each day, and at times we were overwhelmed by the children's enthusiasm and joy. We probably learned as much as they did.
Piers loved making friends with the boy (Trevor) he prays for with his small group at PromiseLand. Barbara also did some training with the leaders from the Kakira Sunday School.
The two days were exhausting but we all came away feeling encouraged - especially when one little girl told Olivia she had felt safe under her mosquito net.
The visit ended with the children singing two "goodbye" songs to us as we left and waving frantically at us as we drew away in the car. A very emotional end to an amazing two days.

Drewett trip - day 5

Today we visited Pastor Nicholas and his wife Maria at their church - Kakira Christian Centre. We arrived late (after struggling to fit all our luggage in and on top of the mini bus) and so only mananged to catch the last two and half hours of the service including a 90 minute sermon by an American missionary!!!!! It was very hot in the school building and there was a bat flying around in the eaves. Piers did really well and only started asking 5 minutes before the end when the service was going to finish - but at thirty second intervals! - at which point Barbara took him out. They were greeted outside by hundreds of children all eager to have their pictures taken. When they came out Olivia and Elliot vowed never to complain about the length of a service at St James again!
In the afternoon we set up for the holiday club at Tumaine. We were initially shocked by the general disrepair of the building but the children and staff were welcoming fron the very beginning. We set up the football goals and they were immediately very popular.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Drewett trip - day 4

For those wondering how Martin is posting this blog - he's not, we're just using his sign-in. It really is the Drewetts on their trip. Anyway, that confusion over with, on to our trip.
Today we had the privilege of visiting Watoto's baby care centre "Bulrushes" in Kampala - established just under two years ago. 90 babies in the care of a number of dedicated full time staff and volunteers. We spent three hours playing with the children, reading them stories, singing a few songs, splashing in the paddling pool (their pre-sleep bath!) and feeding them their lunch. It is an amazing place! Babies and toddlers everywhere. A small number were inside and out of contact with us as they try to rid themselves of a sickness bug that has hit the centre, but those unaffected were free to play and roam outside. They are very affectionate and all the family enjoyed holding the children and nursing them. They were lucky we didn't leave with one or two stowed away in Barbara's bag! Both she and Olivia have vowed to return one day to help for a longer spell.
After the Bulrushes we spent a lazy day with lunch out and a short spell of gift shopping, before returning to the guest house for an "African" supper and preparations to leave for Tumaine tomorrow.
As we sign out now it may be a few days before we update you - by which time we will have run the holiday club and visted Edith. We are really looking forward to it, although not quite sure what it will be like. Whatever is it like, I am sure that we both we and the children of Tumaine will have some fun and learn much over the next few days. God bless to you all, and we will be back on the blog soon.

Drewett trip - day 3

This was to be our last day on the build programme, as although the build team will return next week, we will be in Tumaine running the holiday club. In fact, it was to be our last half day, as we had to return to Kampala for a "Praise/Prayer Rally" at KPC Central (the mother of the Kampala Pentecostal Church family).
So after another early rise, it was off to build. More brick moving to start and then on to the building itself. Heath took a shift mixing the mortar, and was rather put to shame in terms of fitness and stamina by the local team - much to their amusement! Good progress was made though, and we left the site at lunchtime ready for the team to return next week to finish it off.
We were able to meet up again with two of the girls from the choir tours who we had met the previous days - Jane and Sharon - just wandering the village. We also met with Sharon's mother, whose immaculate and beautiful garden was quite a sight. And what an amazing view from the front door of her house across the valley! Stunning. The girls were keen to walk through the village with us, chatting with friends as we went, and we seemed to pick up a few stragglers to join our family as we wandered. It is really a special place for the children to grow up. We said our goodbyes to them all before heading off back to our guesthouse to get ready for the evening service. Our route home took us through a highly congested Kampala - "rush hour" on Friday night in the city it seems.
At 6.00pm we arrived at KPC Central for the Praise/Prayer Rally, for a 7.00pm start. Quite an experience. A very lively service of worship and prayers, interspersed with a couple of brief messages from two of the pastors. Quite political, and certainly "to the point" in terms of the message. They spoke of the journey of KPC from its modest beginnings of just 85 worshippers, to its 18,000 strong congregation some 20 years on. A journey full of prayer and faithfulness, and not without its set backs. The pastor set out the vision for the next phase of the church's growth - some serious vision casting is going on in that church let me tell you! They really live the truth that nothing is impossible for our God.
The worship was supported by a full band and large gospel choir, and from the front rows where we were seated was very loud! And in terms of sound and light equipment, KPC seemed very well resourced with the latest technology.
The service finished after 9.30pm, so then it was back to the guesthouse for the night. Day 3 was over - quite a day by all accounts.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Drewett trip - day 2

An early 6.00 rise for a full day at the build site today. A very dusty first few hours moving the bricks closer to the site to build. Long lines of volunteers passing, and occasionally throwing!, bricks to one another.
Our lunch break from the build brought the most excitement though. We wandered into the village and met three of the girls who had stayed with us in GX over the years. Jane (18) who had visited the UK on the tour in 2000, Sharon (15) from the 2003 choir tour and Ruth (13) from the latest choir which visited St James in November 2007! It was quite amazing to see them all again. We actually visited Ruth's house and met with her mother and some of her sisters. Her mother had not been well and all the girls had been doing chores (cleaning etc.) for her during the morning. She was clearly proud of her house and her girls, and asked Ruth to show us her school report. 100% in English was just one of the highlights of her end of term results. Ruth's mother makes the girls speak English in the house, as well as at school. Despite this, the children speak to each other in Bugandan. It is fun to see the children who we met alongside their sisters in the village - and they were pleased to show us into their (very clean!) houses.
We had our first exposure to Ugandan wildlife today, seeing 2 monkeys in the trees on the driveway up to Watoto, together with a huge rhinocerous beetle crawling out of the cement. We left it on the wall to dry out and recover - which it duly did.
It is great to work together with a team of christians from all over the world and the days, and work, is very much covered in prayer. We are also looking forward to going to KPC (Kampala Pentecostal Church) to a praise rally in the evening. We have been told that it is going to be lively.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Drewett trip - day 1

End of day 1 of our trip. Despite a rainy start (and that was just GX), our transit through Heathrow and out to Entebbe was a complete success. All 29 bags arrived safely, along with all 5 Drewetts.
Watoto picked us up and, with suitcases and bags tied up on the roof, made our way to our guesthouse in Kampala. A quick change of clothes and some money, and we headed out of town to join the build team on site.
There are 22 of us in total and we are building housing for volunteer medical staff who Watoto hope to have living next to a new medical centre on site (partly constructed at the moment). With 23 volunteers and a team of locals to help, we have built the exterior and interior brick walls up to waist height today. We will be on scaffolding tomorrow - watch out for those falling bricks kids!!
Back at the guesthouse now and all cleaned up. Barbara is organising the room (what a surprise!) while we send this note. Will update later in the week. Love to everyone back home. Keep praying for us.

Monday, 4 August 2008

The Drewetts are off soon

The Drewett family, Heath, Barbara, Olivia, Elliot & Piers are making an epic family visit to Uganda this month.

As a family they are giving over their family holiday to work with and visit projects and people close to St James's heart. They will be helping to build a Teacher's house at the WATOTO village just outside Kampala.

They will then go on to visit Kakira and the Tumaine children's home. Here they will do a two day holiday club for the children in the home and those who live locally with foster parents. Pastor Nicholas will bring his own Sunday school team from The Kakira Christian Centre to participate and learn some of the Promiseland approaches! They hope to leave some very special gifts for each child that have been generously donated by many of the Church Family at St James.

On their last leg they will travel to Mbale to meet Uganda Womens Concern Ministry led by Edith Wakumire and the Kiswa School that is supported by the Gerrards Cross CE school. It will be an epic adventure and great opportunity to keep building relationships with the projects we support. Please pray for the Drewetts as they travel.