Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Moving on - in Africa

Friends and Family,

I have enjoyed visiting with our second team of ladies. They are troopers. They arrived on Monday and still haven't received their luggage! We had hoped it would arrive today on a British Airways airplane, but now they say possibly Friday.

The ladies arrived and worked the same afternoon restocking our first library at Namirembe School. I try not to work volunteers the first day they arrive - after two days of travel, but we wanted the restocking done before the huge ceremony the following day! Monday evening, we were invited to the home of the Bishop (Anglican church) who oversees this area, to meet him and his wife - so still no rest for the ladies. :) We arrived at their beautiful home in our extremely dirty clothes from working all afternoon. We did enjoy the visit very much. Thanks to my friend, Richard Lubanga, in Virginia, who had arranged the visit.

The grand 'giveaway' of maps and globes was Tuesday - and grand it was! It was an impressive ceremony. All of the administrators from the schools that house our libraries were present, along with numerous other headmasters whose schools were receiving maps and globes. I can't even describe how thrilled they were when they saw the large amount of each (maps and globes) they would receive. They were letting out African whoops, some started dancing, others were just shouting and cheering! They were some happy Africans!

Patrick Bakka, Headmaster of Kings College, talked about the knowledge gained through the books, maps and globes. He compared it to popcorn. Students read - and study maps and globes. Perhaps nothing happens the first week, but then one of the 'kernels' pops, and learning takes place ... then another later, and then another. Eventually, all of kernals 'pop' and there you have it - the learning has exploded!

Students sang songs that had been written just for the occasion, others recited poems they had written, and two students gave books summaries that set everyone laughing. The Minister of Education of this District was the main speaker.

My first team was probably glad they weren't present to sit through another one of my speeches - though personally I'm sure the speeches must be quite wonderful. :)

I truly wish a rep from the Herff Jones Company could have been present, as the occasion was in place to express the schools' gratitude for the company's extremely generous donation. Maps and globes are not available for schools here, so for them it is a miracle. As I told the audience, there just aren't words to properly thank the Herff Jones Company for their kindness and generosity. If their company reps could have seen the smiles and enjoyed the 'noise' of those receiving, they would have truly understood the gratitude. We will send them many pictures as quickly as possible.

Today the team created our fourth library this summer in Uplands High School. It is hard not to be in tears when the room goes from empty to a beautiful library in a short amount of time. It is amazing. Tomorrow is the 'Grand Opening/Launch' of the library. The school has only 500 students, so we were able to spend a lot of time in the classrooms, which is interesting, as we build relationships. The students always are in awe at the possibility of actually borrowing a book, returning it, and taking another. Even those in 12th grade have never checked-out a book from a library, so they erupt with clapping when they hear that is possible. When we added that we had also brought maps and globes - there was more cheering and clapping!

While we were at the school, the Christian Fellowship Club met, and we were able to sit in on a meeting. They were singing and praising God. What a treat! Three former students return every Wednesday and Friday to hold the meetings. At the end they talked about a convention on Saturday for Christian young people. They were trying to raise money for it by auctioning a thermos. The kids were bidding from 500 schillings (25 cents) all the way up to 10,000 schillings, which is $5.00. Hey, they were so excited that somebody could bid that much. Actually, three kids joined together to bid that amount. I raised my hand and bid $100,000 schillings ($50) and the place went crazy! I was a thousand times more blessed than they were; I promise you! I was so glad I could do it for a good cause! I then donated the thermos back and they continued the bidding. Our teams also donated more money before they left; we will enjoy getting a report of the convention after it happens!

This evening we walked down the dirt road to Namirembe School in the evening to visit and sing with students who board at the school. It was relaxing; the kids are great company - always so friendly.

I will close for now. Thanks for your prayers. As they say over and over in Uganda - God is good...all the time!


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