Archive for November, 2019

We made our second attempt to see James on Saturday (today is Monday, and we are at the airport waiting to begin our flight home), and the road was no longer blocked by repair work, so we successfully reached the school. We spent the afternoon with James and the other sponsored children. We took them into the nearby city and updated some of their clothing needs and gave them a good lunch.

It is too easy to forget, when we return home, the needs of deaf children like these. We drove into the school yard and all the children rushed to greet us – how often do they get to see a vehicle up close or, even more unusual to them, get to ride in one. They stand staring at us as we climb out – they know we’re there for James and the other sponsored children. They seem happy and well adjusted to this school environment, and they wave and seem joyful if we give them the slightest attention.  But under the surface of it all, we wonder what life apart from this protective environment means for each of them. Deaf children in Uganda are not regarded well by most people in Uganda since no one has any idea what to do with them.

Most have families that they will go home to for the holidays in two weeks, but there is a small group, James among them, who have no one and who must stay at the school – his vacation last year resulted in four months spent as a runaway, you may remember. This year, we can’t enable any such further misadventures, and there is no one to take him, so there he stays. Another small girl has a clan, but they seem to be in disagreement about her care, so they will not be picking her up for the holidays this year. I’m sure she doesn’t know this as yet and is expecting to go home to see her family.

We were very glad to see James. We were reminded again that these children are at the bottom of the destitute of the world. We feel like our meager efforts are like trying to fill an ocean with an eye-dropper. And yet these four that we have found sponsors for could not be even in this place, happy among their peers and in school, without the help they are receiving.

James was truly happy to see us, holding my hand at times, putting his arm around me at others, reaching out to help Gail climb down from the car (that was a first – it has taken time for him to warm up to her). We hugged good-bye, and he was comfortable enough with his circumstances to ask in signs what I took to mean, “You’re coming back, right?” When I nodded yes and smile, he was satisfied. And he stood happily with his friends waving as we drove off.

Now there is another request. Another deaf girl has been left at the school, her family too chronically ill to care for her. She is in effect an orphan because of this, and she is also on the list of those who will be staying at the school during the holiday. If anyone would like to volunteer to help this eight-year-old child, we would need about $40.00 per month. You can email us or contact us through the comments following this post and we will get back to you.

Walking by Funk or by Faith

Vehicle loaded up to the brim for 10 weeks of travel, passengers included…

We were sorely disappointed yesterday to miss visiting with our deaf boy James at his school by just “this much….”

We were returning from our final church-planting meetings in the Gulu region, four days of intensive teaching. We loaded up the vehicle and left town by 9:15 and by 3 pm were rolling up the dirt road to his school. But as we rounded a turn in the road, we saw large piles of dirt blocking the road to any further progress.

They often do this when they are preparing to grade a dirt road, removing the potholes and water damage of the last year so the road can continue to be used by vehicles. We don’t know how long the road will remain blocked since road work is an on-again-off-again proposition here. It could be finished and open within a few days or it could be more than a week that the road sits there closed to anything but foot traffic.

After 8.5 hours on the road, we rolled into Bugembe last night. One week to go…and then home…

We thought of walking the remaining distance to the school, but there was no way to park and secure the vehicle, and we were exhausted from the week and from the long day’s travel. Also we still had two and a half hours to go to Jinja for the night. We nearly cried as we were forced to turn around just a kilometer or so short of the school, but there seemed little else we could do.

We are now in Bugembe (suburb to Jinja) getting ready for the final week of training our Ugandan teachers for the Institute. We are planning to make another attempt to see him next weekend and perhaps to find access by another road when we have more time to explore possibilities. It seems impossible to think of going home without seeing James.

This has been a hard trip for us and a hard year for James. Alfred keeps up with him, and the reports are that he is settling back into the school routine after missing so much in the Spring. If you are reading this at the time of posting, please pray that God will open a way for us to see him next weekend and that our faith will replace our “funk.”

Chickens and Mango Trees

[From Gail]

Church meeting under a mango tree.

Last Sunday we were invited to a small village congregation that meets under a mango tree. There were about 50 people – many children. We were greeted so warmly that two women were dancing when we opened the car door, then each took me by an arm and escorted me to the meeting area where our chairs were waiting for us.

There was a good worship time, after which some of the children presented a song and dance. The dance steps were very complex and it was obvious they had put in a lot of work together practicing. Then one of the youth ministers came and sang another song with the dancing choir behind him. Finally, there was a special song from a young husband and wife that had our names woven into it as a welcome – “We welcome you, Bob and Gail, We love you, Bob and Gail…” etc.  Very heart-warming!

Sunday School class dancing for the church service.

This was the same group that, last trip when we were here (April), the children would line the side of the road as we departed from the church where we were teaching every day – their school was near there – and they would chant as we drove by, “Bob and Gail, Bob and Gail, Bob and Gail.” Again, ver-r-r-ry heart-warming!

Bob preached a great sermon on the prodigal son and his brother that, just serendipitously, had an exact application for that specific congregation. It seems they had been on a certain piece of land under another mango tree last year, but they were chased away from it to this new location by an “elder brother,” the unsympathetic, non-evangelical variety of church in the area that is attempting to persecute these new “born-again” churches that are popping up all over this area – over 500 baptisms just a few months ago. So Bob processed that unpleasant experience of tribulation with them in light of the two brothers and encouraged them not to be bitter or angry but just to love their persecutors. He pointed out that, of the two brothers – the one that sinned greatly and was repentant, and the one who had never sinned but was now upset about the attention his younger brother was getting from the father – it was the “righteous” elder brother who was now standing outside the house of his father jealous and angry. (Bob says to mention that this was not his own original insight, but a good one anyway!)

Preaching on the Prodigal Son.

We had a time for people to come forward for prayer afterward. One came up to be introduced to Christ, and about ten came for prayer for sickness or other requests. At the end of the service, people wanted to bless us and thank us for coming. They gave us three more chickens to add to our collection, which is, in reality, Alfred’s chicken collection. The pastor of this congregation is teaching them hospitality and gratitude toward visitors.

Unfortunately, we have no way to raise those chickens for ourselves. I can only imagine arriving at the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport with a flock of clucking, complaining chickens in tow. If we were able to keep all the chickens we have been given in this generous place over the last two years, our daughter-in-law would probably have a full-blown chicken ranch in her back yard by now.

A bountiful gratitude for the preaching.

BTW, Bob’s and my Christian birthday is today [written the last Sunday in October when we still didn’t have internet] – it is exactly 48 years since we received Christ in Airway Heights, Texas, near Spokane, Washington, where Bob was stationed in the USAF in 1971. I was almost 8 months pregnant with Kristyn, our first child. What a wild ride it has been! And now we are in Africa!