Sunday, December 30, 2012

Christmas Break Ugandan Style

Over the Christmas break, we headed off to the two nearest game parks – Lake Mburo and Queen Elizabeth.  It was another wonderful chance to enjoy the beauty of Uganda and experience the wildlife very ‘close up’.  Queen Elizabeth National Park is known for its abundance of elephants and this time we were literally surrounded by groups of them as we travelled through the park.  They seemed very hungry and were too engrossed in eating trees and grass to really bother about us so we did not have any dangerous encounters.







We saw many baby animals on this trip, including this little elephant that walked in his mother’s shadow.

We also thoroughly enjoyed the boat cruise on the Kazinga Channel at Queen Elizabeth…

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We particularly got a kick out of this egret ‘surfing’ on the back of a hippo!



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The cape buffalos and forest buffalos were out in full force, and the small ones were staying close to the herd along the water, as they are often prey for the crocodiles.




We see monitor lizards quite frequently now in the parks, and as we were listening to the introductory instructions before the boat left shore, Karl spotted a large monitor lizard in the reeds and  we watched it catch a huge fish for its lunch.  Then at another point on the ride our keen eyed guide spotted another lizard sunning itself on a tree limb overhanding the water.



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With all the rains we have had in the past few weeks, we had a challenge trying to get to our accommodations in Lake Mburo.  We were advised at the gate to drive on the grass rather than along the tracks which had been chewed up badly by other vehicles that were stuck in the mud.  At one point, Karl and Ken and one of the staff members from the lodge (who came out looking for vehicles trying to reach the place) took 45 minutes of tromping through the muddy grass before deciding on the best way to navigate around a huge muddy area.  The zebras just ignored them and kept on feeding.

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Thankfully, we made it through with some expert driving by Karl and Ken!  A great time all in all!

Christmas Celebrations

Another Christmas season has come and gone and we are thankful for the rich meaning of Christ’s coming to earth to live and die for us.  As we celebrated advent each week as Christmas approached, we were reminded of the great grace of God to us as we live our lives here.  We miss family and friends at home in Canada, of course, but we have great fellowship with those friends we work with in Uganda … and we find the pressure of commercialism here far less (for which we are thankful!).  Here is a glimpse of Christmas at the Timothy Centre…


Our tree with special Ugandan decorations we have collected each year



Celebrating advent with our friends and co-workers



Karl and his friends performing at a Christmas gathering at a local restaurant in Masaka town



Enjoying friends on Christmas Eve



Christmas carolling with the kids!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Miracles Do Happen!

About 6 years ago I was introduced to a 19 year old boy from Kibaale, Rakai who had broken his leg in a football (soccer) match with some school friends.  At first Godfrey thought his leg would heal quickly.  Soon complications set in and a serious infection was found in one of the bones in his leg.  Shortly thereafter doctors removed the fibula.

It was several months after the operation that Godfrey hobbled into my office to see me, yet he was full of joy and optimism for the future believing that God still wanted him to become a doctor.   He informed me that doctors now believed that they might need to remove the entire leg due to the spread of the infection.


In God’s providence, about a week later we happened to have dinner with Brian Dorman the director of Africare, a Northern Ireland mission,  who informed us that they specialized in treating disabled children from all over Uganda at a place called Cherub, near Mukono town.


Within a few weeks Godfrey was admitted and had an operation to save his leg by grafting bone from his hip.  Although there were a few complications, the operation proved very successful. 

Today, after about  6 years I met this young man in Kibaale, with the same contagious smile, walking without crutches and so thankful that God had saved his leg.

Oh by the way, he is in his second year at a university in Kampala, studying to become a doctor.  Miracles do happen!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Signs of Christmas

In spite of the  hot weather and lush greenery everywhere, there are reminders to us Canadians that the Christmas season is approaching.  On a trip up to the city this week for meetings and errands we were able to enjoy the music of a youth band playing Christmas carols in front of one of the shopping areas.  We have seen them performing in previous years as well, and have always enjoyed themP1210086…especially as their conductor is a young man with a physical handicap that he obviously does not allow to hamper him.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Investing in Lives



Today we were reminded how important it is to invest time and resources in the lives of those around us.  A young man named Joash was a student from Kibaale who loved the Lord and felt a call to serve others as a pastor.  As our Kibaale students are all needy, they have sponsors from oversees who make it possible for them to receive a quality Christian education.  We have a special program for students who finish their ordinary level of secondary school in Kibaale and want to continue with higher education.  This ‘Post S4’ program is so essential to help students reach their career/ministry goals.  Joash was the first Post S4 student who really felt called to train at a Bible school in Kampala in order to become a pastor.  Because his original sponsor was unable to continue helping him with this dream, we helped to support him through this training.  We were really surprised and pleased to find him on our doorstep this afternoon with the news that he has just been appointed as the pastor of one of the larger local churches in Kibaale town.  This church ministers to many of our Kibaale Community Centre staff members and families of the children in our schools.  How wonderful that one of our own ‘boys’ has been entrusted with this level of leadership because of his integrity and love for God.


Praying a blessing on ‘Pastor Joash’

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Back in Uganda

On November 6 we arrived back in Uganda after spending nearly 2 months in Canada, both in Langley and in Edmonton.  There sure is a difference in weather between Uganda and Canada this time of year!  While friends and family are dealing with heavy rains and grey skies at the coast and a huge snowfall in Edmonton, we are certainly not complaining about the tropical weather and lush greenery we see here at the Timothy Centre!
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After landing in Entebbe and getting a good night’s sleep, we awoke to the symphony of bird songs that always reminds us that we are back in Uganda.  We drove the two hours home to the Timothy Centre and arrived just in time to say good-bye to the Senior 6 class of Timothy Girls’ High School before they left on the bus to travel to the examination centre at St. John’s Secondary School.  This Monday they will start writing their S6 government exams, the culmination of their secondary schooling.  We pray they do well!
On Friday we made a quick trip down to Kibaale to touch base with some of our teachers and other workers there.  It happened that our Primary 7 class was celebrating the completion of their Primary Leaving Exams, the government exams they write each November. 
The teachers told us that the 61 students in our two P7 classes in Kibaale felt quite confident about their performance on these exams, so we really hope for good results when they are released in January.  Those who pass well and are interested in further academic studies will be able to continue their education in our secondary school in Kibaale.  We also have a quality two-year vocational training program in Kibaale and some students will continue their education through one of these programs (carpentry, building & construction, tailoring, catering/baking).  Anyone interested in sponsoring a needy student for one of these very practical vocational training courses can find more information on the Kibaale website: 
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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Another World

On September 9 we flew from Uganda to Canada for family time… and when we reflect on our life experiences we realise how different our two ‘homes’ are.  We have close friends in both places, but Canada is where family is.  And now that parents are aging, we want to spend time helping with the transitions that need to take place and enjoying the relationships. 
    (With Karl’s parents at the coast)
Because we have family both at the coast and in Edmonton, we always travel the 1100 kilometres between these places and give our car a good work out!
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(Karl helping Arleen’s mom with her garden fall clean up in Edmonton)

It has been several years since we have enjoyed the beautiful fall colours in Canada, something we miss in Uganda.  The seasons in Uganda are defined by the rains more than by temperature.  It is either rainy season or dry season and the sun appears for at least part of every day.  Here in Canada, there is much more variety in the seasons, particularly in Edmonton where warm and sunny fall days can give way to snow in a matter of a day or two as temperatures plummet. 
It is a privilege to live in both worlds and enjoy the rich variety that God has displayed in the beauty of creation.  Here we see moose and bears as we drive through the mountains, rather than the elephants and hippos we have come to be so familiar with in Uganda when we visit the game parks.  All are amazing to see.
We have also been able to use the past few weeks to collect resources (books, seeds, gadgets and goodies) to bring back for our work in Uganda.  Some very helpful meetings at Pacific Academy, Trinity Western University and our home church that generously supports our work have taken place as well.   Now that much of Arleen’s work is more ‘portable’ (teacher training course preparation work that can be done on computer and via email, marking of teachers’ assignments that can be carried anywhere) she has been able to keep on top of some of this work while in Canada.  As all teachers know, marking never goes away…no matter which world you find yourself in!
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Sunday, September 2, 2012

More Teacher Training

Immediately after returning from the Africa Roundtable 2 in Johannesburg, we welcomed the 32 teachers who arrived to  continue with module 3 of our teacher training course at Timothy Centre.  So it has been a busy last few weeks!

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We had eight days of classes with these dedicated teachers, focusing on our ‘Biblically Based Curriculum’ module, in which teachers learned how to teach the various school subjects from a distinctly Christian perspective. 

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Teacher were challenged to think beyond the traditional secular approaches they have been used to using in their classroom teaching and began to consider the topics they teach in the context of the biblical worldview which has been the foundation of our course.  Many of them said that this has been a real eye-opener for them, and they are beginning to see how their teaching can really be transformative in the lives of their students.

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At this stage in the course, the assignments are very practical, and teachers worked on unit planning for the upcoming school term.   Tomorrow is the beginning of Term 3, the last term for this school year, so we pray they all have a great term and can apply what they have been learning effectively.  Each time they return to Timothy Centre, they bring encouraging reports about the way their teaching is changing.  Several of them have said that they are going back this term with plans to ask their directors and head teachers to send more of their staff members to join the course next year.  We are praying for more volunteers to make themselves available to help with the instruction of these modules in 2013.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Africa, the Stage is Yours!

Just over a week ago, I arrived back in Uganda from Johannesburg, South Africa, where I was attending the second Africa Roundtable on Christian Education hosted by the Association of Christian Schools International.  It was an amazing week of meeting with 150 other educators who are involved in Christian education in over 30 different countries all over the continent.

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Some of the East African delegation (from Rwanda, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania)

The theme for this conference was “Africa, the Stage is Yours!”  There is definitely a strong move of God in raising up educators who have a passion for transforming African societies through Christian education.  For many years, different individuals, churches and organisations have worked often in isolation because of poor communication and lack of networking (many of us ‘out in the bush’ wondering if anyone else was doing anything similar to what we were trying to do in our small corner of the world).  The roundtable in 2007 brought many of us together for the first time and encouraged us that God was indeed at work in many different places, helping schools raise a generation with a heart for God and serving others.  This roundtable five years later was so much more encouraging, as we see how much progress has been made in just 5 years of cooperative effort, unified prayer, and sharing of ideas.

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The chairman of our Christian Schools Assoc. (Uganda), Vincent Zaake, and our director of Kibaale Community Centre, Peter Ochulu, sharing with the delegates about the work of Christian schools in Uganda

There were many very inspiring speakers, one of them being the Vice-chancellor of the Uganda Christian University.  The Dean of Education, Medard Rugyendo, who has visited our work in Kibaale and at Timothy Centre and is working to help us move ahead with accreditation of our teacher training program was also in attendance.

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At the conclusion of the conference, we all signed the strategic plan that we drafted together as a group, committing to work together towards forwarding Christian education in Africa, by God’s help, in the next 5 years. 

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It was especially encouraging to me to meet 4 others (from Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Tanzania and Rwanda) who are all doing teacher training and who were keen to share resource materials so that we can all improve our programs!  

It was a week well spent.  Thank you, Lord!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Leopard Number 5


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With all the busy activities of the last month, we failed to post a photo of one of the highlights on our trip to Lake Mburo to celebrate our anniversary.  We joke about the ‘rent-a-leopard’ service they provide, as we seem to see leopards there quite often and this time just before dusk on one of our drives we were fortunate enough to spot one actually sitting in the middle of the road right in front of us.  This is the fifth leopard we have spotted (no pun intended!) in Lake Mburo National Park.  They are really amazing creatures—fearless, stealthy, beautifully marked and very agile.  Moments after this one stared us down, it sprang like lightning into the bush and disappeared.