Archive by Author

Turkeys making a difference

5 Apr

 

A report came into my inbox this morning from a student that graduated from our School of Ministry program and is now serving with me at the church as our missions intern.  Ken wrote to me about the story of faith in someone’s life that began with a turkey loan we gave out in June 2017.  In his own words, Ken writes:

“The Lord led us to a home where we met Mzee (elderly Man) Olaboro Clement and his wife Akayo Helen Grace, The former is 67yrs and the latter in her 50th. Both were very sad or looked sad at first glance, but thanks be to God they welcomed us to share with them the message of hope. In our first encounter, Mzee Olaboro and wife were inactive members of different churches; Mzee Olaboro belonged to the Anglican church of Uganda while the wife was a member of the Catholic Church; Mzee was not willing to surrender his life to Jesus Christ.

I praise the Lord for the Turkey revolving loan project which was an act of love and hope. It opened a door for us to continue ministering to the lives of the poor in our community. I being one of the students’ school of ministry, we were given opportunity to choose a Turkey loan family to benefit from the project and be able to continue discipling; God guided me to pick Mzee Olaboro Clement.

At the time I met Mzee Olaboro Clement, he was a hopeless drunkard and could not take responsibility of anything, so I had to consider his wife as the beneficiary of the Turkeys. Therefore, I continued following up with him and invited him to attend our Sunday fellowships and by the grace of God, one Sunday in September 2017, I led Mzee Olaboro through a confession prayer and he declared Jesus Christ His Lord and personal savior. Through the revolving loans’ project, I have seen and had many testimonies of how God has opened doors for sharing the gospel and through discipleship many lives have been changed and developed spiritually.

After a year’s training in school of ministry, I have learnt to develop action plans, therefore part of my action plan this year is to continue visiting our church community and disciple new believers particularly the illiterates who are less privileged to learn on their own through reading the bible. Therefore, in February I started the local language (Ateso) Bible study fellowships that meets once weekly together in the homes of the turkey families rotating regularly and after a while, Mrs. Akayo Hellen invited the fellowship to be permanently conducted in her home which is a central place for all members.

Recently as we were studying biblical foundations and were discussing repentance and baptism, all members of the discipleship who weren’t baptized, requested to be baptized and all together we baptized twelve believers including Mr. Olaboro, His wife and Daughter on 25th march 2018. We Praise God for the provision of the Turkey Project because it’s an act of Love to the communities that improves nutrition, livelihood of the People and above all, it’s opening doors for the gospel to reach the unreached. May God bless the donors and increase you greatly because we have achieved this together for the Kingdom of God.”

I love being a part of this work.  I love how God has used veterinary projects to open doors for the gospel.  I love to see my students putting into practice what they have learned in the classroom.  I love to see people being baptized and living a new life in Christ.

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Christmas Update from the Grahams

29 Nov

Hello Friends!  We wanted to send a special Christmas greeting to you!  So, here’s an update from sunny Soroti.

When (tiny) Dinosaurs Roamed the Earth

26 Aug

Day 10…

You probably did not know that we have dinosaurs in Soroti.  They are small, boot-wearing, candy-eaters who can leave a surprising amount of destruction in their tiny paths.  But aren’t they cute?
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This is Nathan with his friend Walter.  Walter and his Belgian parents were staying in out guesthouse for a couple weeks while they were waiting for their court date so that they could get guardianship of Walter and his brother, baby Thomas.  This is the second couple who have stayed with us while waiting to adopt.  It is a highly emotional time for people (as we know!), as they are meeting their children in-person for the first time, hoping for a positive ruling from the judge, communicating with eager friends and family in their home country and all this while navigating a new culture.  Hospitality has always been very important to us and we love that this has become a small part of our ministry here as we offer a comfortable place to call home and insight into the culture…some calm in the chaos.

We also eagerly anticipate our upcoming court date for guardianship of Nathan, September 14th, 2015.  Keep us in your prayers!

Sometimes Missionaries Wear Puffy Sleeves

24 Aug

Day 8…

Lest you think that Daniel gets to have all the fun with his goat distributions, trainings and beach trips to Kenya…I have also been keeping myself busy.  This picture is at the Introduction (traditional marriage) of my friend, Rose.  Rose and I have been meeting together for the past year for prayer and discipleship.  Seriously, of all the things that I get to do here, I feel like the time I spend with her each week is some of my favorite.IMG_8474

For this special occasion, I had a Gomesi made, it’s a traditional dress that is worn for weddings and funerals.  It always fun to wear the traditional clothing because then it feels like you can “blend in” just a tiny bit and it’s honoring to your friends when you want to dress like them.  It does take some getting used to as most of the dress is just wrapped and draped and then tied AND they are designed so that you can still nurse your child without disrobing so I always felt like I was preparing for someone to point out a wardrobe malfunction.  Also, just in case you missed them, those sleeves really take puffy sleeves to a whole ‘notha level.

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Lomoruchubae from Above

8 Mar
The view from above

The view from above

Just wanted to share this picture with you.  A friend took a picture of the village where we live from the hill behind us.  It’s like village “Where’s Waldo?”

David and the (giant) Latrine

7 Mar

WARNING.  This post is super gross,  it does have the word “latrine” in the title so I bet you can tell where I am going.

Have you ever wondered how to retrieve a cell phone from a pit latrine?  Well, wonder no longer my friends.

It is VERY common to bring your phone into the latrine with you because most Ugandan cell phones come equipped with a torch light (flashlight).  I have perfected a latrine-using-phone-holding technique myself but I’ll spare you the details.

We just spent a week in the village and we had a couple translators along with us and one of the guys dropped his phone down into the terrifying abyss of the latrine (seriously, don’t look down those things).  We laughed about him retrieving it before lunch only to realize after lunch that he FULLY intended on retrieving the phone…he needed his sim cards.

So, we rallied and thus began operation “pooper scooper”.  We gathered a long stick, a water bottle, a bandanna and gloves.  The stick and water bottle were crafted into a capture device and the bandanna and gloves became the (sort of) hazmat suit.  I think the pictures tell the rest of the story.  As you can tell, the operation “pooper scooper” was successful, but I guess that also depends on how you define “success” in this scenario.

All I can say is GROSS.  Seriously.

I also thought this was a good opportunity to show you the inside of a local latrine.  This isn’t your construction site “Honey Bucket”, people.  The local latrines are made without cement so they end up being more of a small hill that you stand on.  The pictures also reveal that what appears to be a “moon roof” has developed in this latrine.  So helpful.

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We shared at a church in the US this weekend!

29 Oct

We shared at a church in the US this weekend!

This past weekend we were able to share (in the form of a quick video update) during the services at one of our supporting churches (and my (Rachel’s) home church for 20 years!).  It was a great sermon from the series “Not a Fan”.  Click the link, enjoy the sermon and watch for our little update at the end.

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The Lolly Pups Are Here!

25 Oct

The Lolly Pups Are Here!

About a year ago we brought home the cutest little fluff-ball of a dog. Daniel had picked her out while doing a rotation at a veterinary clinic in Kampala with students from the vet school. He’d managed to save her little leg (she’d had some kind of run-in with another pup at the house), but he did lose two toes so the breeder didn’t want to keep her.

Enter Lolly Two-Toes.

She’s a great little pup but she’s very confusing to the people here in Soroti, most of whom have not seen a dog quite like Lolly, except on TV. She lives outside with Chumlee but sometimes while Daniel is gone I let her sneak onto the couch with me. She’s just too cute.

We’ve had requests for Lolly Pups since we brought her home so I was excited when we decided to breed her (although that process what a bit traumatic…have you guys SEEN that?!). Dogs’ gestation is only 60 days so about 12 days ago little Lolly had her pups.

We did start with 4 (there was another brown one) but that one didn’t make it. RIP little pupper (which, here, unfortunately means Rest in Pit-Latrine).

They are cute little things but I can’t wait till their eyes open and they start running around. If they are even half as cute at Lolly was we have OVERWHELMING levels of cuteness headed our way.

We won’t be keeping any of these pups because I need a puppy around here like I need a hole in my head BUT we’ll keep one from the next litter.

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Chummy Boy

25 Oct

Chummy Boy

This is our dog, Chumlee. I LOVE this dog.

He was the runt of his litter (14 puppies!) and he was a sickly little thing when we brought him home but he’s grown into the best dog EVER. He loves a good tennis ball and a scratch on the head and most of the time he’s just flopped out in the yard somewhere (or chasing the cat, Little Bill). He is a bit of a scaredy-dog so he barks more when the power is out (and the outside lights don’t work) and he HATES cows but those things just make him more endearing to me.

I don’t think I’ve posted any pictures of him on here since he was a little guy so I thought I would post an update. (Also, he might get jealous after my next post…pictures of our new little puppies!!).

Training Day…er, Week

11 Oct

Last week Daniel and I participated in a Training of Trainers workshop.  A dear friend, Dr. Mary McDonald, came from the States and a team of Church of Uganda development workers came from Gulu to join the CLIDE staff for the training.  The purpose of the workshop was to train development workers, who spend a large portion of their time training others, how to include participatory techniques into their lessons because adult learners retain:

20% of what they hear

40% of what they hear and see

 80% of what they hear, see, and do

As an instructor, knowing that you can increase knowledge retention and application just by adding participatory techniques to your lesson plans is very motivating.   This training is a bit different from our usual trainings because we were training people how to train while training them.  Confused yet?  In addition, we had the secondary goal of teaching people how to integrate spiritual truths into their teaching (instead of just reading a verse or two at the beginning of the training).

Participatory methods are very useful in our work here as we have found that teaching in Uganda is, at times, a whole new world.  We end up with many unique situations—things that never impacted our teaching in the US, for example:

  • The literacy rate is low (about 65%) so handouts and meeting agendas aren’t really useful in many communities.  Imagine training for evangelists where only 2 of those participating can even read the Bible.  How do you teach people the Word of God so that they can share it with others?
  • The seasons really impact our training schedule.  Daniel has been doing livestock trainings in a nearby village and the 9am meetings begin at noon during the digging season—then the weeding season and so on.  When your students rely on their gardens for food to feed their families, those things take precedence.
  • Transport and food are always issues.  In some areas it is nearly impossible to have a meeting unless a meal is provided.  Hungry stomachs and tired feet (from miles of walking to reach a training) make it very diffcult for information to reach receptive minds.

We each facilitated sessions during the workshop: I taught Knowledge, Attitudes and Skills (or Head, Heart and Hands).  The idea behind this session is that our lesson plans need to have objectives that challenge each of these areas.  In many instances it is easier to use the banking style of teaching: you are the expert and you have many words to deposit into your students’ brains.  BUT, people will always retain more information if they participate in the training.  We practiced this is in the training by asking questions instead of always giving answers (very similar to the way that Jesus interacted with groups) and we incorporated attitude change objectives into our lesson plans.  True, lasting change will not happen in a community (or anywhere) unless the heart (or attitudes) of the people change.  This is just as true when we are talking about proper sanitation as when we are talking about living for Christ.

Daniel taught a session on codes.  Codes are things that represent another thing and stimulate discussion.  For example, look at this code (actually, this would be a much better code without the words but I figured you could get the idea from the picture):

This is an excellent code because it stimulates discussion about the topic.  When looking at this picture you can ask the SHOWD questions:

  1. What do you see?
  2. What is happening?
  3. Do we have this in our place?
  4. Why does it happen?
  5. What are we doing to do about it?

Or you can use the SPADE questions:

  1.  What did you see?
  2. What problems do you perceive?
  3. How does this apply to our situation?
  4. What can we do to improve our situation?
  5. Are there any environmental, ethnic or ethical issues that must be addressed?

As you can see, if you were looking at this picture (without the words) you could start a discussion about these things in which the group could DISCOVER the answer (and the connection between bad water and sickness) without being TOLD the answer.  Skits, testimonies and proverbs are also excellent examples of codes.  This method works very well in pre-literate cultures because people don’t need to be able to read in order to watch a skit or look at a picture.

Trainings always make for a long week of TIRING days.  I think we were in the office from 8am-8pm almost every day…with breakfast, lunch, and dinner ALSO in the office.  It was a great week and I think the staff learned a lot about including participants in the training and incorporating spiritual elements into each of our trainings (and just how important that is) BUT even this extrovert needed a little recharge time to recover 🙂