This will be my last email from Uganda, though I will follow up with some pictures and a note when I get home. I would like to share a few things with you, as I close out this year's mission.
The story of two of our newest librarians:
Betty from Wambwa School is 22 and truly beautiful. Her family lived where they were having war in the North. One of her brothers told the other brother that if he would take Betty to Mbale, where she would be safe, he would pay for her schooling. Betty had just completed 10th grade. The brother and his wife agreed and brought her to Mbale. This brother is a doctor - and a drunk. He kept the money and never allowed Betty to return to school. She has had to keep house, and is still amazed that the brother let her take this job as our librarian. He also didn't/doesn't want her to go to church. He will lock her out at times or beat her very badly if she goes - though she goes anyway. Her faith radiates from her. She shares Christ with anyone that will listen. Yesterday the school didn't provide lunch. Betty went home after school; there was no food, and she didn't have money to buy any. Tonight I sat beside her at church and listened as she sang and worshipped, understanding that she wasn't sure what would happen when she arrived home. Simply put - I sobbed throughout the service wishing I could put my arms around her and make everything better. What kind of deep faith must one have to persevere through punishment - with a smile - and still love Jesus with all your heart. I feel so short of that type of faith - but so desperately want to have it.
Wilber and I had not discussed Betty, but his sermon was truly a message from above. He preached that when you hold onto your faith, despite happenings, God will 'disturb' someone and He will use that person to work a miracle for you. I had talked to Sarah before church about helping Betty find a place of her own where I can pay the rent for at least a year. A single person here can get a room for 50,000 schillings ($25) a month. Sarah is concerned that the brother will come after Betty and beat her even worse if she leaves. I am telling you the story so that you will keep Betty in your prayers. If you met her, you would fall in love with her. I will send a picture later. Please pray.
Hajera, is our 21 year old librarian at Namakwekwe Primary. She is outstanding, already holding reading contests,etc. I took her with me today to Namatala Primary, as she is able to whip out schedules (even for 3,600 students), which would take me all day. She reminds me of Betty, in that she has such a sweet spirit about her. She is living with a younger sibling that she is trying to keep in school. Hajera had to drop our of school after 11th grade because she couldn't pay school fees. Her mother lives in a village, with four other young children; their father died last month. The school management committee said they would pay her a decent salary; her headmistress cut the salary to 30,000 schillings ($15) per month. Her house payment is double that amount, though the home is tiny with two small rooms (actually it is located in a rectangular building - each door being a different home. I will spend tomorrow visiting the management committee or the education office to see what I can get done about the salary. Other librarians are making 60,000 - 70,000 schillings a month, which is not bad here. But, Hajera and her sister cannot live on $15 a month. Please keep this situation in your prayers as well.
One funny note - remember the hats that I was so excited about buying for my grandsons. If you remember, I was babbling on about them to the policeman who stopped our van, because they have the colors of the Ugandan flag. Wilber looked at the hats last night and laughed. Not only do the hats say Rastafarian on them - the leaf prints all over them are marijuana leaves! Marijuana is illegal here, so if my bags were searched at the airport - it would not look good for me. Sorry, Tyler and Justin!
Time to close. Tomorrow I will be busy trying to make it back to all six schools, and then be packing in the evening. Friday, I will spend the night with Livingstone and Ruth Nkoyoyo in Mukono. Their school (which also has blind children) received one of our libraries this summer. Saturday I will be back in Kampala to take care of some things; Sunday I will pack; Monday it is off to Texas!
Am I anxious to see family and friends? Yes. Do I want to leave? No. I don't know how to describe it to you except that these friends and this culture seem to have, over the past six years, seeped deep into my soul. It is my calling; leaving plays havoc with my heart.
Thank you for listening. I know at times the emails were much too long.
May God bless each of you.