Archibald Family

Archibald Family

Friday, November 30, 2007

Unified and Never Forgotten

I've been avoiding writing today for today was a day that moved me more than any other.

My biggest surprise on this trip is how I can work with workers for a matter of four days and form such a connection. Today was the dedication of the houses and it was one of the most beautiful experiences I've been part of. The workers sang a song of celebration, and asked us to sing a song. The foreman on the work site thanked us for coming, for raising money and not only supporting Watoto but giving the workers work, supporting their families and giving their children an opportunity for education.

A house. We came to build a house. And I have found that this is so much more than a house. Christ was with us again and has moved me greatly, I couldn't help but weep. Watoto's pastor came to dedicate the home. As we laid hands upon the walls I volunteered to pray for not only the teacher that will live in this home, not only for the home to reveal the presence of the Lord to the teachers but also for continued protection and blessings upon the men who will continue to work once we leave and their families. I need to remember to continue to pray for these men and their families. After the pastor prayed the moment came when the workers formed a line to send us on our way. We had to finally say good-bye to our new friends, people we have gotten to know, people we have laughed with and people we have shared our lives with. Now it was good-bye. I was so thankful to Jeff on our team who had given me a shirt to give to Simon, for I still had the desire to give Simon something. The first man in the line was Simon, and tears fell. I hugged him, thanked him, he thanked me, and gave him the shirt. Simon was proud to have a new shirt. Part of our hearts went with each other. I passed through the line I hugged some others, shook hands with others. I will never forget Simon.

I saw unity. I saw and experienced how God wants us to be always. How we are black nor white, rich or poor but unified because of Christ.

On our way back from the job site we stopped by KPC. We had a taste of the children's choir that leaves for the US on December 31st. It was a privilege to see this choir at their home country and before they set out to bless so many others in our country.
After a day full of emotions, we headed to do some shopping. However, my heart remained at the job site.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

No, Thank You!

Watoto took us to an appreciation dinner. We were all surprised to see the efforts by Watoto, for when we arrived at the restaurant the tables were not only carefully decorated, but each place had a small gift as well as a thank you note written by one of the Watoto kids. Watoto is constantly thanking us for our efforts, time and resources but I struggle with this because I feel it is I that needs to be doing the thanking.

Together, but not Forever

Our building is finished. Today was a fun day, perhaps because we all feel finished and we are all tired. But we did have more fun today with our group and with the locals. Today was good.

The workers have gotten to know us and we them. So we are all more comfortable with one another - laughing and appreciating one another. Our work consisted with teasing one another and Andrew (one of our hosts) and I having a mud fight.

The one thing I have noticed since day one is a worker named Simon. Simon has been looking after me, making sure I'm not overly tired, nor hurting myself and that I'm completely safe. Today a few of us climbed into the back of a truck and went to get a load of bricks. Simon and I were part of this group. As we were on the road, Simon and I were comparing fruit and vegetables that we have in our countries. I had mentioned how we didn't have jack fruit. So at break time he walked down to his grandfather's home and got a jack fruit to share with me. The workers were so excited (clapping and yelling) the moment they saw him walking with this fruit upon his shoulder. Simon made sure I had the first bite. It tasted like a starburst or a combination of papaya and mango. It was sweet but very sticky - very sticky.

(We haven't had sweets here, except for Italian ice-cream. But dessert isn't part of the meals, or rather fruit (especially pineapple) is dessert. I haven't missed all the sweets either!)

As the day progressed Simon was asking me about if we have passion fruit and cocoa. So at lunch time he brought these things too. He wanted me to learn, and he wanted to share his country with me. I brought the passion fruit back to the house and ate it there...very good! The cocoa he cut open at the job site. It was amazing - again very sweet. It looked like a marshmallow inside. Funny thing, it wasn't until after I took a bite of the cocoa (including the seed without realizing it) and then after I ate it wrong, he told me how to properly eat it (sucking the white stuff off around the seed). I guess I gave him a laugh. Simon has shared so much with me and given me these gifts, I wish I had something to give him. But I think he just appreciates that I appreciate his culture.

I have noticed as we broke into teams, how each individual team has bonded. It is good. But then as I went over to help another team finish up their build I experienced a pride, possession and even some competition. And then I have realized just how much we have bonded with the locals at our individual job sites, and each other on our team. I have never expected to become attached to people the way I have become, or the emotions I could experience at a job site. The job was coming to an end today, and the job we were all anticipating and all looking forward to being part of is ending. I don't think anyone of us is ready for this part of our mission trip to be done. For the first time I realized that tomorrow we're going to have to say good-bye to the workers and how hard that will be.

As I walked from one job site to another, by myself I enjoyed the quiet. It was the sound of peace. I did hear different birds chattering and heard some movement in the "bush", but it was still full of peace. And then as I walked into the village I heard children singing - the sound of joy. It brought me pleasure, but oh how much more to God.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Compliments in Africa

"Moo-chung-wua!"(meaning morter) is all I hear running through my head. Today is day three of our build. Again I was skeptical today because 15 people left this morning to see Gulu. But I also was anxious and excited because each day as we build I am reminded "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me", and I was ready to see what He was going to do. I believe God has purposely taken people out more and more just to show me how strong He is, and HE IS!

We are about done after today's work and we all feel we are accomplishing much. Of course, we wouldn't be as far if it weren't for the "locals" (the Ugandan workers). Today I focused on a room where three groups were building their walls up on the scaffolding and it was my job to make sure everyone had plenty of mortar and bricks. It was quite tiring but I found joy in helping. My efforts were recognized by the workers and the locals commented because I was a good servant I was I must be a very good wife and mom. I came all the way across the world, without my husband, without my girls and the job I do and home is recognized! Today I'm more tired, still sore but it all feels good.

I have learned that when an African man approaches and says "You're fat!" it is a compliment. African men believe the bigger a woman, the better. Thankfully, I haven't received this compliment!

Again, the smell is getting to me today - so much pollution and so much burning today.

I forgot to mention yesterday about the thunderstorm we had at the end of the day, which stops all work. As we drove through the city the water just flowed down the paths and roads - the earth is dry so it doesn't absorb. It isn't dry because of lack of rain, but more (I think)because of the walking and driving and working on the streets. But when it rains it almost looks like a flash flood.

I'm still amazed of the traffic. Drivers drive with their horns and there doesn't seem to be any traffic laws. On many roads there are square, deep ditches at least two feel deep. There are only a couple of signals I've seen. You have to be aggressive and go, but usually the bigger vehicle wins. We haven't seen one accident, which is amazing in itself. I have admired the way our driver, Abus drives and how he can turn our bus around with traffic on all four sides of him tightly against us. And he turns it around. Only in Africa! I have learned that Abus has driven for three of Uganda's presidents.

The one thing I have enjoyed today was a new sound I hadn't noticed the past couple of days, or perhaps I thought I was hearing birds. But instead I'm hearing monkeys! They are all over but I haven't seen one yet - just their fun sound.


People came back from Gulu. I have found I need to study more about this place and the history of it when I get back home. Joseph Koney is the leader of the rebels who have tortured kids. He is now in hiding somewhere they believe in Sudan. Some of our teammates have seen the torture area and have been impacted greatly. However in the midst of their sorrow and grief they saw hope.

The girls in Gulu were fearful of the men in our group, for they have been taught to be afraid for men will rape you.

One thing I have forgotten to mention is how I have noticed and have heard stories from other teammates of the high reputation Watoto has - and especially with government officials. The other day when we were trying to see the Source of the Nile it was closed to all, however when they found out we were with Watoto they passed us right through security. The same went for those who traveled to Gulu. That gives me more of an insight of Watoto and the character they have. Ugandans, and the Ugandan government associate Watoto with Jesus, that "they" are good and very trustworthy. I recognize how God has paved His way using Watoto to transform this country and is claiming it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Arts & Crafts and Homesickness

I headed to the job site doubtful. It was announced we had another house to build and with that we lost seven from our team to go to a third team, and yesterday we had one injured (broke two fingers)making our team less eight people. God showed me it is through Him all things are possible and with that we accomplished our day's goal. Once again I am humbled by our God!

I learned a new trade today - bending wired around rebar which makes the reinforcement used at the top of the building. Anyone who loves arts and crafts would love the job I did today just as much as me.

I had to go to the "store" and get more wire. I found myself needing to wait while it was made. I had a hard time waiting because I was worried others on my team would think I wasn't pulling my weight on the team and afraid of their judgement. God questioned why am I concerned with everyone else's voices instead of His. I stood still and waited for what seemed to be over a hour. God wants me to stop focusing on the work or the opinions of others and treasure the people He places in my life and live the moments how He chooses. I still am learning.

Today started with many tears, for I am really homesick. I questioned as to how I'm to get through it and relied even more on God. I was woken by a bad dream about Duane and how he was ignoring me and hurting me, so I prayed. I prayed for Duane and the girls and asked God to be over them as they sleep. But I still missed them. During lunch I saw the Watoto kids playing soccer, so I went to play. It felt food to play and I realized how I have even taken advantage of the playing time I have with my girls. Today was good, because I saw how God could even turn my homesickness into something good. I was able to make connections with some kids, but wouldn't have if I hadn't been going through the emotions that day.

I still am concerned I'm missing God's lessons and continue to pray I will grasp what He's trying to teach me.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Step out of Your Comfort Zone - Be Adventurous

As I have mentioned Gulu is a place where KPC/Watoto is trying to rehabilitate the soldiers who have lived a life of killing (which is a life all that they know). The land that was used when their leader, Joseph Koney would helicopter in and get out and shoot whoever he saw first is the same land Watoto is trying to get from the government. It would bring glory to God for Him to redeem this land.

I am noticing I'm ready for home cooking. We have eaten quite well, much better than I expected, but I'm looking forward eating at home and not having to try new things. Being that food hasn't been as adventurous as I had expected I decided to get out of my comfort zone and be adventurous and make Duane proud - I ate fried grasshopper! They tasted like a barbecue chip with a crunchy-hard shell (like a shrimp). It actually tasted quite good but I didn't care for the shell.

An Inside Look of a hard-working Ugandan -

I heard Ugandans have a 50% tax rate, thus the poverty. A foreman shared with one of our teammates that he pays 50,000 shillings for rent (about $30.00 American) and still has a hard time surviving.

And the Building begins...

Today we started out eager to start building and by the end of the day we were eager for a shower and our beds.

We broke into two teams. The other team was building a kindergarten room (picture on right is the foundation for the kindergarten room) and our team was building a teacher's home - on the second floor! (picture on left is the teacher's home site)

I have so much appreciation for the African laborers - all that they do is such hard work. Our location was in the hot sun which made the 85 degree weather fell over 100 degrees. It was my job to help move the bricks. I met a worker named Simon, he looked after me and was quite friendly.

As we worked I was reminded of where our strength was coming from - that being Jesus. He hand picked each one of us and brought us together. We are His body and we are all needed. We all need encouragement now and then by each other, and I see our building project is bringing us closer. all day I couldn't help but hear the words of the song "we are one in the spirit, we are one, we are one.".

I'm also humbled to be part of this building. As each brick passed my hand I prayed God's blessings upon the teacher that would live inside the walls we were building. Watoto wants to build exceptional homes to attract exceptional teachers, and we ave the privilege to be part of it all.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

One God

We went to church today. We arrived at KPC (Kampala Pentecostal Church). We waited outside the church building with everyone else - gobs and gobs of people who were lined up at the doors waiting for them to be opened. It was like what we would see at an entertainment park or a concert - they were lined up and they were ready. Oh if we could be just half as ready and eager as they back in the States! We entered the sanctuary which from the very first sound as the doors opened you could sense the Spirit of the Lord. The worshippers were energetic and we were welcomed. After we climbed into our pews I stood amazed, humbled and finally free! The church recognized our group, we were welcomed and then again free to worship our one true and living God.

About KPC -

KPC sits approximately 1200 people in each service, and they have four services on Sunday and one on Saturday evening. KPC also has five locations, named - KPC Central, KPC North, KPC East, KPC South and the latest; KPC Gulu (for those who have been effected by the war). Each location and each service makes KPC a congregation of 17,000. KPC has over 1400 cell groups to unite the church and bring a sense of connection.

KPC started by their pastor; Gary Skinner and his wife Marilyn. They both had a conviction from the Lord to have an English speaking church. Having an English speaking church has transformed the community, it's way of thinking and unified the country. Being that Uganda has over 66 tribes, each having their own language or dialect it has brought people together.

In 1986 God had led Pastor Gary to the facility KPC Central is at, however the old government had owned the building at the time. In 1980 fighting was taking place between the old and the new government which had caused many, many, many people's deaths (as well as the AIDS epidemic was taking many lives during this time too). It took until 1986 until the old government was overthrown. With the new government in reign, Pastor Gary approached officials and had asked for the building. Much evil had been taken place in the building but it was in the central of town and reachable for many. The government granted the request. The church came in claimed the building for God, God redeemed the facility and the land made it new and what started with 75 people is now over 17,000. Praise be to God!

It is KPC's purpose to reach out to the community, and because of that purpose Watoto was created because of so many orphans due to the war and AIDS epidemics. KPC is not just asking people in other countries to get involved but are constantly challenging members of their own congregation to be involved in some capacity.

KPC rocked the house! Everyone was singing, dancing and lifting hands with NO shame, NO embarrassment - the way I need to become.

I appreciate Watoto's heart and how they share their vision by getting the word out. As I ponder Gulu, a place boys were kidnapped by soldiers, tortured and threatened to kill others - even those in their families, how they were brain-washed by the authorities in charge that God told them it had to be done. How I think of the challenge to reach these people because such evil was done because of God (from what they were told), and now the name of God is evil to them. And as I think of how even the girls were kidnapped to be sexual awards to the soldiers. And now the church and Watoto is reaching out to these "messed up" kids, pouring God's love and truth into these "messed up kids", counseling them and rebuilding this nation one person at a time. Praise be to God!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

T I A - This Is Africa!

Our Day

I received my first night of great sleep. Some of our team mates awoke early to go rafting down the Nile, and then greeted with a barbecue at the end. Some other team members also left and went four wheeling, and the rest of us had planned to go to the Source of the Nile, see the rapids and do some shopping - at least that was the plan. We have a new phrase -
"T I A" (This Is Africa!), so when we leave later or even earlier (like this morning) as planned or plans have to change we just say "T I A".

We headed to Jinja this morning. You must know that the roads aren't necessarily smooth - we bump up and down in our rattly buss wherever we go, and Jinja was just over a hour away, and we bumped up and down the whole way. At times we had to live with the stuffiness and the heat of the bus for we had to have the windows up due to so much dust on the roads. Uganda has red dirt which is used for brick making but it looks like they are able to use it for plastering as well and is part of their road making. Some of the roads appear paved, but I'm not sure if it is like at home.

We drove through Kampala to Jinja. There is over one million people in Kampala alone which has caused the city to run out of room. Just outside of Kampala on the east side is an area the government is planning to build up and moved people out to. On the road I continue to see all the stores, all the people and see what America would call poverty. And I continue to watch. As I watch I see the culture, the people's livelihood and their homes. I see also that families are always available, no stress of commutes and see that this is the life they know. I see a lifestyle that they live and I don't necessarily see poverty anymore - but rather, the lifestyle of Africa. Yes, I've seen some that are more poverty stricken then others but for the most part this is Africa.

I constantly see people, bikes and motorcycles - there is constant movement. The men and women here are hard laborers. I see many carrying jugs upon their heads, for they don't have running water so they collect it from a well that is shared by all or they go to a nearby creek. Electricity is available if one could afford to have it hooked up, as well as the cost to use it. The average Ugandan makes approximately $1.50 a day, so many do without electricity. I see so many kids - all with smiles, and many busy playing.

We have passed some private schools in our travels. Because the public school is going down hill and teaching isn't acceptable as it used to be many are having to do all they can to send their kids to these schools. Many of the private schools are boarding schools as well. I couldn't help but wonder about those who couldn't afford a good education or even the many orphans who have to do without education, and then I grasped Watoto's goal and purpose even more than before.

We finally reached the Source of the Nile - over a hour drive away. Apparently there is a spring where the water comes in and bubbles up into the Nile. Apparently the Nile is the source of Uganda's electricity and apparently Uganda is having a shortage on electricity because of a recent drought and not enough dams to create enough power. Apparently...and I could have learned more, but Queen Elizabeth, Price Charles and Duchess Camiel are in town for CHOGM (a meeting for all the common wealth countries) and have decided to see the Source of the Nile themselves. So once we arrived and passed through security we had to turn around to leave. So we never got to go on the boat, never got to see the Source.

We then headed to Bucginali Falls and saw the Nile and the beauty within, and apparently also where some of our team mates headed down on their rafting excursion. As I looked at the river I imagined Moses in the basket, and thought it wasn't exactly what I had envisioned. (Yes, this wasn't the area he was in...but it makes me wonder about the river in different parts of the continent.)
I see that when God closes the door for one thing He opens the door for something else. So because the door was closed for us to see the Source of the Nile the door was opened for us to go to another babies orphanage (one that is separate from Watoto but if they have babies that aren't adopted out they go to Watoto's care). We were able to have our lunch their as the babies were napping, but once they awoke we were able to play. The caregivers were getting out a swimming pool since it was such a hot day...oh how the kids were so excited. Kids are kids whatever country you are in...they love to play, love the water and love attention. After our tour, after our playtime with the kids we headed home.
I was thinking many things on our way home. First, I have learned so many things, have heard so many stories - so many that there is just no way to write it all, and of course not in the beauty and fascination of their native tongue that I hear it in. Secondly, I was listening to my praise songs because I needed that time with God and the song that sings "shout to the east and the west, sing to the north and the south" has a whole new meaning to me. Not only because of me being in Uganda, but because of all the countries that are represented in this global team. Thirdly, I see how God loves and cares for the people in Uganda, Africa - so much to bring teams and other missionaries to the country to orchestrate work and change to be done. And fourthly, how I see so many people and forget they are black or I am white until I am reminded by their stares.

We passed through the Mariba forest. A forest the government announced it to be sold to an Asian man who owns much more in Africa. This man wants to tear down the forest to have a tea and/or sugar cane plantation. The Ugandans have fought for the forest, killing three Asians in the process and scaring the other Asians away. Ugandans are still fighting to protect the forest.
I'm noticing it is harder to breathe each day. They burn all their trash and there is so much pollution.

I've also noticed that our team is truly bonding. Some are having some difficulties with personalities or just adjusting to one another's personal habits - but I believe that through our building time we are going to be that much bonded and stronger.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Changing Uganda - One Child At A Time

What I have learned...

Africa could be one of the richest nations. It has so many resources...down to the soil that is used for making bricks. But it has coffee, tea and much produce. It also has many people with many traits. I think it is the government and the division of unity because of tribes that has created the poverty in the least in Uganda.

Watoto has three named Bbira (meaning "forest"), another named Suubi (meaning "hope"), and the third is named Buloba. We will visit Suubi and see what is happening there, and we will be working at Bbira. Bbira has a primary and secondary school, and this is where our team will be building a kindergarten room and a teacher's home. Suubi has a primary school and is in the process of establishing a secondary school. Suubi also has a vocational school. This village (approximately 150 acres) homes 816 kids.

It is Watoto's goal to have 10,000 kids in their care.

Watoto is like our foster care system here in the states. So it is the government who approves each child in their care, they also have the ability to take the children away.

A Testimony to what Watoto is doing and how they are impacting Uganda...

At one point the Ugandan government was having political disagreements with one of the tribes, thus causing the tribe to voice their concern that the children in the hands of the Watoto were going to be brainwashed with their beliefs. At the request of the tribe the government removed sixteen kids who are associated with this tribe and put into the tribal care and housed in a teacher's home. The kids were disappointed. The teacher went out with her class and left the kids that just came from Watoto. It was the oldest child that stated to the other kids "OK guys, Watoto has taught us to be leaders. So leaders we will be." And with that they cleaned the teacher's home, straitened up the home, and organized her books. When the teacher returned and saw what the kids had done she went to the tribe leader and told him that the kids don't belong here. And the kids returned back to Watoto into open arms.

Our Day -
After breakfast we all piled into the buses and drove to the villages. It took an hour to get to the first village (Bbira). We went through Kampala and the outskirts of it. I saw so much poverty, more than before. Again so many stores. People's homes are stores and they live in the back.

We entered the first village - it it such a beautiful and peaceful setting. There weren't many kids seen. We toured the facility and visited with some kids and adults we had seen. We piled back into the buses and drove up the road (about 1/2 hour away) to the next village, which sits at the top of the mountain. Not only is this village peaceful and beautiful but also has a breathtaking view. We toured and a student-worker (part of the vocational school) gave me a personal tour. They teach welding, wood working, and brick making and building. Sewing is also taught in another building. All the things built in the school and built for the school (for example: the cribs).

We were able to walk around in the village where all the homes were. One of my highlights was an eleven year old girl who came up to me, grabbed my hand and took me on a tour of the homes. She made me feel welcomed, and she was so proud and thankful for where she lives. She had only been with Watoto for a couple of years, so she's old enough to know what life was like without the hope Watoto has given her. Watoto has given so many a second chance - just like Jesus. I was sad to have to say good-bye, but I rejoiced knowing that she was in such a healthy and beautiful place.

After the tour and lunch we headed back home.

Dinner was spaghetti! The food has been really good here...nothing like I had expected. And again, Coke or Fanta is always served. Our team gathered for a time to get to know each other - where we shared our names, where we are from and our testimony of why we are involved with Watoto and now in Uganda. So many trials and so many stories were shared. God revealed that He does have a purpose and a plan. He has gathered these people from all over the world and put us together. I also think that many of the people back home think I'm here to bring light to Uganda, but I think it is us - me that is coming here and receiving light to bring back home.

People here are very friendly and welcoming. Is there bad here? Yes, but isn't there bad at home too? Where ever we may be, whatever country we are in we are people who choose our selfish and sinful lives. But it is God that changes the life of His people.
One thing I realized today is I haven't seen any "elderly" since I have arrived. But then I remember the lifespan of the Ugandans, and the medium age being 15 years old. How sad to not have the older generation to share in the life of the young.
Kids here can be greedy just like at home. Kids are kids where ever you go. Here the kids call out for "sweeties" (referring to candy) because so many Mazungus (white person) have brought and given the treats to the kids.

My God Moment -

I remembered how God gave me a heart for orphans back in my teenage years. God is reclaiming my heart and igniting a fire within!