Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Afternoon Stroll

The Timothy Centre is a busy place with so many programs happening and visitors coming and going.  This week has been especially full with the second module of our teacher training course in full swing…more about that in another blog soon. 
To get refreshed today, I took a stroll around our site and out into the surrounding community.  We really do live in a beautiful location!  Here are some of the sights on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
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  Timothy Centre compound
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 Up the road from Timothy Centre…
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 Local gardens with sweet potatoes, cassava, beans, bananas…
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A typical home….always with children!

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   Children removing maize from cobs

                                                                                                          Local brick kiln
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Friday, April 27, 2012

Kampala is on Fire!

This past Friday and Saturday we saw an amazing response from various Christian schools in Kampala, as we hosted our national conference for the Association of Christian Schools International (Uganda).   Our teachers from Kibaale Community Schools and Timothy Girls’ High School participated and were very happy to be involved in leading the worship/devotional times.
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Up to now, the centre of interest has been in the Masaka and Rakai districts where our schools are located.  It seemed that for the past few years Kampala city schools were difficult to mobilize and did not realise how much more effective their schools could be with input from ACSI.  There are many "Christian" schools but  most are Christian in name only, with very little biblical integration in the curriculum, policies or practices.  We prayed for a breakthrough and our Kampala region committee worked very hard recently to contact schools.  They explained our vision for a network of effective Christian schools that could share ideas and cooperate to train teachers in Christian philosophy and methods of education.   We were planning for about 100 participants and were thrilled to have over 160 come….and then 80 teachers also came for another two days to be trained as teacher trainers!  We also had the Dean of Education from Uganda Christian University join us, one of the directors from the government Directorate for Ethics and Integrity, a Christian professor from Makerere University, as well as a faculty member from the Baptist seminary. There are many leaders who are recognising the potential for Christian education to transform Ugandan society and it is exciting to be a part of what God is orchestrating at this time.
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One of our main presenters was Dr. Samson Makhado, African Director for ASCI.  He has visited Uganda and our schools in Kibaale, Rakai several times and is always very well received by teachers because of his godly wisdom and his knowledge of educational issues in Africa.
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The director of our Kibaale Community Centre, Peter Ochulu, also gave an excellent presentation on the holistic approach to Christian education. God has given him such a passion for helping others become effective Christian teachers and he speaks from the rich experiential background of working for several years in our Kibaale schools.
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We were happy to have two of our Canadian board members for Timothy Centre/Kibaale Community Schools with us for a few days last week, and it was very good to have them join conference for a short time to catch a glimpse of what God is doing in Christian education in Uganda.
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It is very rewarding to see how some of the seeds planted in Kibaale many years ago have grown and multiplied.  The vision for Christian education that God gave to us (and others working in the field of education) in the early 1990s is coming to pass.  We are seeing the fire burn brightly now!  Christian education and teacher training is one of the effective tools God is using to raise up the next generation in Uganda, a generation with genuine hope, love for God and humanity, integrity and justice.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Feast of Insects

Just when you think you have seen it all in terms of insect infestations here, you find there is something more to experience!  It has been a rather strange rainy season this time around with the odd rain interspersed with long periods of dry weather.  Last night we finally had lots of good soaking rain … and all the flying ants decided it was time to come out from underground!! The previous day we had cleaned and prepared one of our guest house units for expected visitors.  I decided to go down and do one more check, and this is what I found at the front door…
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It looked like a wriggling porcupine stuck under the door, but it was a pile of thousands of live flying ants that had congregated and seemed to be trying to get under the door.  It took a lot of spraying with Doom (the common local insecticide) to subdue them enough be able to sweep them away without getting bitten.  (They are not usually very vicious, but they can give a sharp bite if they want to, and they were all over our feet as we worked to clear them away.)
All over the compound the birds were having a feast on millions of other insects that appeared in the rains.  Flocks of egret and weaver birds gorged themselves on the insect buffet!
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The large toads that like to hang out on our sidewalk also had a party hopping around gobbling all they could catch.
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It is rather like living in National Geographic documentary sometimes around here!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Teacher Transformation (Part 2)

 As we anticipate the beginning of the second module of the Certificate in Christian Education course next week, I thought I would post a few more extracts from some of our teachers' assignments completed in the last couple of months.
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The testimonies from the teachers that we have worked with give us great encouragement to continue moving forward to expand the teacher training work here.

"Ever since my worldview changed, my lifestyle and behaviour also changes as a mature christian in my walk with God...In the past it was very hard for me to forgive.  I could keep offences in my heart and I was not able to tell the other person that she wronged me.  Instead, I would keep quiet and whenever I would meet that person something burned within me.  But these days it is easier for me to forgive because I learned that if you forgive you can also be forgiven, as it is written in Matthew 6: 14.  I also love to sit and settle disputes with that person instead of telling others.  I want everything to be finished between us."

"My life as changed very much in the way I find my life's fulfillment...I used to serve people with respect, love and eagerness just to win their favour towards me.  This influenced very much my decision making, in that I wanted to do what pleased people. I could also not differentiate between the truth and a lie in doing that.  Today I am very conscious that when I am serving people, I must stick to God's truth whether it pleases them or not.  I must not serve people to seek their favour but to reveal God's glory to all...I also serve people as an ambassador of Christ, not to portray myself as one who ca do it, but as one used by Christ to serve His people.  I always have great joy in my Christian service because I am content to serve God through serving His people.  I don't choose who to serve but serve all equally."

"Before I became a Christian, my mind and spirit was caught up in animism and ancestor veneration.  I used to fear so much places believed to be for ancestral spirits.  There were some trees that were dedicated to evil spirits.  When I matured as a Christian, I stopped fearing such things...I boldly go to such places  without any fear anymore...One time I broke through a thicket of bush to reach a mango tree with ripe mango fruits that had been dedicated to Satan.  When I picked  the mango fruits and ate  them and nothing happened to me, everybody stopped fearing the mango tree and fearlessly started eating the mango fruits.  Today I am very bold."

"I used to think teaching was a source of income like any other job as long as I had imparted the knowledge to the learners.  However, I realised later that it was a very big ministry because all the pupils that sat before me everyday had to be trained in the ways of God and helped to practice their Christian faith in their whole lives.  Each day now I ask God to guide me on how to plan for my devotions and lessons effectively to the glory of God."

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Marvellous Mini Mushrooms


On Friday as I was walking to my office, I saw several of our workers on their knees huddled around the base of one of the palm trees.  My curiosity got the best of me so I left my laptop and briefcase on the side of the road and climbed down the embankment to see what was going on.

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I realised they were eagerly harvesting thousands of small, white, feathery mushrooms that had sprung up overnight.  Apparently they appear only once each season and are quite a delicacy—and they are free!!  So… I joined them in collecting a few to take home to taste.  (I assumed they were edible or they wouldn’t be picking them!)

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Sure enough, cooked up with some onions, tomatoes, garlic and cilantro they were delicious!  I guess now we have to wait for the special day next season. 

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‘Hopeful’ Teacher Training Outreach

This has been a busy past couple of months with teacher training workshops in other schools in the local area.  One of the founding schools of the Christian Schools Association (U), Hope Nursery and Primary School in Masaka, asked us to conduct a 2-day workshop at their school to train their staff in biblical integration.  While I was working in Kibaale Community Centre several years ago, their director and some of their teachers would join our staff development workshops, but over the years they have had many staff changes so they asked us to do more training for them (as well as for the new Hope High School that is affiliated with them).  Still another school found out about the training and sent a couple of teachers to join us.  It was a great time of learning together and the teachers were eager to learn how to integrate their Christian faith in their classroom teaching. 
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Hope Primary School has educated hundreds of children over the years, including many who have been relocated from the northern part of Uganda after suffering trauma during the LRA rebel crisis.  It has been an oasis of hope for these children.

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This was probably the most successful workshop I have done in terms of teachers being able to apply what they were learning as they wrote sample lesson plans and presented them as model lessons for others to observe.
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Vincent Zaake, the founding director of Hope Primary School and Hope High School, is an inspiring man of vision.  He has served for several years as the chairman of the Christian Schools Association (U).  We have so appreciated his zeal for promoting Christian  education in Uganda and are happy to work with him to  equip his teachers.  The seed that was planted in Kibaale is spreading quickly now.  God be praised!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

We wish you all a very happy Easter!  May you be freshly aware of the great hope we have in God.  We can trust the heart of the One who gave himself for the forgiveness of our sins…and we have great hope because of the triumph of life over death on Easter morning!  This is what our ministry here in Uganda is all about…bringing this hope to others in a holistic way. Sometimes this hope is blurred and hard to see in the world we live in…but it is real.

Can you see our ‘Easter eggs’ here?  These eggs are camouflaged quite well, and we could have easily missed them as we walked through the grass here. 

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This reminds me of how sometimes we can easily miss or ignore the reality of what God is doing in this world when we are busy focusing on the troubles instead of acknowledging the many miracles that happen every day. We see hope revived in many children’s lives as they come to realise the love of God for them. We see teachers becoming excited to realise that they can be society changers  as they teach students from a biblical perspective. We see site workers coming to know Christ as saviour and leaving behind their lives of misery and alcoholism. These are Easter miracles!

…And we see the beauty of God’s creation all around us.  Stay posted to see some more photos of the magnificent bird life we enjoy at the Timothy Centre every day.  Below is just a taste…these are the Senegal plovers who laid our “Easter eggs'’.

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There is one pair watching over their next of eggs and another pair caring for their news hatched young ones.

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Happy Easter!