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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. I have been really happy with the blog results, it was a good way to keep communications going from Africa. I need to do something else with it now, so will be looking for inspiration. Thanks to all my friends, family and Church – Quinton Park Baptist for amazing support over the last 18 months. God is good all the time! 🙂

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 390 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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October in London

Hi all,

It’s coming up to a year since I left for Africa. I have been discussing some adventure themed fund raising activities with guys I studied engineering with in Shropshire. It may mean the purchase of a mini car, on a temporary basis. Any offers of help greatly appreciated. 🙂

Working full time in Communications and PR in central London, have a parliamentary event to lead on next week…

Life in the UK

Hi all,

I arrived back to London on 29 May and I’m sorry I haven’t kept up the blog. Things have been fairly busy since I came back.

London days

It’s mid-July and the last few days have been quite cool in London. I have had a couple of job interviews this past week and both were unsuccessful, however, I was unsure about one of the roles in any case. I am looking for jobs in PR and communications or food chain, environment and health. It’s good getting positive feedback on all my interviews, but just need to keep at those applications and interviews!

So, since coming back I’ve applied for numerous jobs, attended four job interviews, celebrated my 40th birthday (I know), visited my father in hospital – he has been suffering with several chest infections since I’ve been away and this developed into suspected pneumonia about a month ago. He was in hospital for two weeks, but after getting really good treatment, he went back to the care home and looked better than he’d looked for 18 months or two years. I’ve also gone back to CMS and had a de-brief about the Uganda placement, on my way back from Coventry, to see my Church friends and lodgers. I have also spent some time with pioneer missionaries in the South East and witnessed their work, bringing the Good News of Jesus to those who attend mind, body and spirit fairs. I have been helping my mum cutting hedges too!

I will be giving a presentation of my experience of Uganda towards the end of the month at Quinton Park Baptist Church (QPBC). The Church as a whole and individuals helped me enormously with financial support and prayers before I left in November 2013. I worked out all the support I received from friends, family and QPBC a few days ago and, it was much more than I thought! I have been humbled and bowled over again and again by people’s generosity, it has meant so much to me and I never would have imagined this 18 months ago! But, in what amazing ways can God work in our shared lives. 

Thoughts on leaving the UK

So, just to give you a little bit more of the story, now that I can write with some perspective and with a little more insight.

When I left London in November 2013, I had an incredible amount of things to do before I left. I kind of shut my life down in the UK in two phases, 1) Coventry, 2) London. However, I’m not ashamed to admit that it all got a bit much at times. When you own property and have fairly substantial family responsibilities, the pressures can be immense, when trying to put contingencies in place and also move to different arrangements.

Before I left Coventry I sold my car, moved all my personal things into one space, got a new lodger (who subsequently left 5 weeks later), said goodbye to my Church and work friends, got work men in to see to house things and sort all arrangements for Uganda including vaccinations, flights, insurances, setting up the blog 😉 etc.

During my final week in London, I said goodbye to many friends, made final arrangements for Uganda, formal arrangements for contingencies and darted across the city like a mad woman at the best and worst of times.

The worst of times involved forgetting to swipe my oyster card on a London bus and being found without a valid entry by the bus inspector. I admitted I had totally forgot about it, but I had a lot on my mind. The inspector still wanted to give me a ticket for £40, which would be sent to my home address. I had visions of the ticket turning into court summons and visits from the bailiffs if I wasn’t in Coventry to pick up that ticket! I pleaded with the ticket inspector not to send anything to Coventry as I was leaving the country in a few days. I said I would pay her cash there and then. This incident did involve tears and feeling out of control. Not great, but, I was on my way to seeing my best friend at a local bank and we were laughing about it a couple of hours later! I also noticed that my breathing felt shallower and I would bouts of breathlessness. I suspected bronchitis, (having had it in 2006) but; can see now, it was stress.

I heard a similar story from other missionaries who had left the UK and effectively, were closing up jobs, homes etc. in the UK before leaving. It gave me some peace of mind that this was somewhat normal. My dependence on God at the time was HUGE, I will never forget that. He was faithful to me at every step and gave me all I needed, but I did need to ask! It was an active participation on my part, but God was there. He was there in the midst of stress, loneliness and some anxious moments too, that were ultimately dealt with, by Him who cares, our Loving, Heavenly Father.

On-going links with Uganda

I have also been in contact with some members of staff from the project, my Ugandan friends. It is great hearing from them and thinking about them living and working in the communities I lived in too.

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Maria and co

I do miss them very much, but the great thing is, that I can pray for them in their challenges, which are many, just as they have done for me. We continue to lift each other up to God, sharing our lives, remaining faithful to each other in the challenge of letting the Kingdom come, His will be done in our lives, on earth as it is in Heaven.

God please bless Uganda. This blog is dedicated to them and it will be on-going.

End of term…

Hello,

I must say I feel tired today.

There has been much activity on-site as the pupils and students leave for the end of our first term of the year. Students were given reports to go home with. I was particularly interested in how the Ag students did, it was great to be able to talk to them about their results. I will still be here when they return on 19 May and I am pleased about that.

Today I have been seeing how things are going on the farm. Some things are getting a little over-grown and other things need to be looked at. I helped one of the farm-hands vaccinate the rabbits this afternoon. It’s quite a full-on job and took three of us to get through more than a dozen animals. I forgot just how much rabbits can wriggle! Unfortunately, I also heard them scream a little, like saying ‘that’s really enough now!’ – I hadn’t heard rabbits make any significant noise before! Lets hope the vaccinations help them fight off mange. We are also getting some drinker bottles for them in the next day or so as Bob Arnold is coming back with supplies. Otherwise, they are healthy, some aren’t so affected as others.

The time seems to be picking up now as my departure date is on the horizon. It will be strange going home, but looking forward to it very much. I am going to speak to my Ag friends about seeing this place. It is wondrous in terms of produce and the fertility of the soil. I planted some cuttings 2-3 weeks ago, that were fairly weak specimens, probably infected with some fungus (I’d left them in water for too long) and low and behold about 90% of them are doing just fine. I hope to get them over to the tree nursery to help supply some green manure for the trees.

We watched a film last night with the female students and it was a good time together, I think it offered them a little relax time after their exams. I then got in and watched two episodes of ‘Cold Feet’ – how old is that?! It’s so naughties, or was it even the 90s? The episodes had Sean Pertwee in them (Worzel Gummage’s son). He really is a FINE actor! 😉

Well, there is much to do, like hand washing and getting the place ship-shape for visitors, I may even make some banana cake. Will write more very soon. I will be keeping an eye on those rabbits…

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Just to report on the rabbits, we had two new babies on Monday!

Easter…

Hi all.

Easter came and went very quickly, I travelled West to Mukono to see some friends from the UK, I managed to get a lift with my boss there and a lift back with the Chair of the Board of BRDC. I drove part of the way between Jinja and Mukono.

After arriving in Mukono on Good Friday, we visited the USPCA in Kampala on the Saturday, leaving a bitch for spaying and two puppies. My friend Mary, has a ministry caring for the welfare of dogs, where she has been placed. She helped fund an event nr Mukono for local people to bring cats and dogs for neutering and spaying. Over 100 animals were seen to, probably dramatically reducing the number of unwanted cats and dogs in the area.

The story of one particular USPCA dog is quite touching, she was run over by a taxi (deliberately) in Kampala and her back was broken. She now has a walking frame, or trolley that allows her back legs to be transported, so, she can pull herself around, she is called ‘Hope’. Her story is amazing and we were able to give her lots of love when we saw her! You can see more of her story, as soon as I find the link!

I was also fortunate to go to a Graduate celebration – a thanksgiving event for the achievement of a degree! I had been kindly invited by a friend of Mary’s at New Year and said I would come back for it, God willing. The event was happy and joyous, with lots of dancing and speeches followed by some good hearty African fare, which I LOVE. It consisted of motoke, rice, roast potatoes, beef, chicken, ground-nut sauce and vegetables, my mouth is watering now!

We attended the Uganda Christian University service at Mukono, with cheeky monkeys taking a look at the congregation. They looked like they were going to be mischievous, but we didn’t get anything thrown or dropped on us! The new Vice-Chancellor spoke about our decision to believe in Christ or not, he spoke about the disciples and Peter in particular, how he denied his Saviour, but yet Christ knew Peter still had things to learn about his faith journey. Christ didn’t write him off and he didn’t expect perfection. Women were the first to see the risen Christ and Peter, later on with another disciple. 

The sermon was about the passage from 1 Corinthians 15, verses 35 – 56, talking about our new bodies in the life after this one. He quoted a man who was looking forward to eternal rest and peace after his earthly death, by the words left on his gravestone. The speaker said that he will not be given rest as, all will be raised in power (v 43). There was analogy with that of a caterpillar changing into a pupae and becoming something different, so it is from an earthly, ‘natural’ body to that of a raised spiritual body. ‘If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body’ (v 44). Adam’s life ended in death as he fell into sin, but Jesus’ death brings us life as it was the only sacrifice worthy of satisfying God. God had only one answer for us, as he constantly tried to win his people back through the ages, but they always turned away. Belief or faith must begin from the heart and we must know that what Jesus did was enough. It challenged all of us to think about our faith and putting our trust in the Lord for a new resurrection life to come, a life where believers will become co-heirs of the Kingdom of God.

Dairy farming in Uganda…

I should have also mentioned about a visit we organised for the Agricultural students last week in the blog below. We went to see Jeroen Bluijs at the ‘Dutch Farm’ just to the north side of Mbale. He has about 16 dairy cows and the students were completely engaged in his farming practice. He has a mix of breeds and all resources including waste are fully utilised on the premises, with use of bio-gas from the dung and urine, the energy used for pasteurising dairy produce.

The students were so pleased to see the whole set-up and Jeroen shared everything about the business, from a humble beginning of two cows. He strongly encouraged the students to start small and grow the business from there. I managed to buy some of Jeroen’s gouda cheese, the students tried some when we reached home. For the majority, it was the first time they had tried cheese and they liked it. I explained how many types of cheese you can get and it opened a whole new world! It was great to taste great cheese again! 😉

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Looking forward…

Hello,

It’s been a while since I last wrote, I know. I have about 6 weeks left until I return home to England. People here have suddenly said they realise how soon my departure is coming and it is hitting home for everyone. I have made some very close friends here at the centre and in town. It’s not going to be easy to leave. I am however, looking forward to seeing dear ones back home. I hope to God I can return to Mbale in some way and that is my prayer. I have been working on the website for BRDC and will shortly take over running it, then will train centre staff in how to write and update it. We have a term break coming up for Easter, so, hoping that time can provide the opportunity for training staff.

I hope to see my friends; Mary and Moses in Mokono for Easter shortly. Towards the end of my stay, I have booked to explore Murchison falls for several days, ‘a must see’ in Uganda. I am working through various things at the moment and hope to finish all I set out to do. One of the things I have been working on is a site map. Students have helped me ‘pace-out’ the site and slowly, I have been able to piece together different sections of the 16-17 acre site. Thing is, the road has come out curved and it is straight! The road heads dead north by my iPhone compass! 😦 I will get to the bottom of it…it is a best estimate plan.

As I left the UK, I left behind my family and many old and newer friends. The relationship with the newer ones was cut short in terms of development and I missed all of them while being here.  I know the same will happen when leaving here, there is always a gap of where friends have been. I thank God for friends and family. I have learnt to plan more for sharing time with friends and family and hope I can do this more in the future. I am glad for all the time spent with loved ones before I left the UK as it made for great memories. Before I leave I want to create some great memories and record them for returning and sharing with family and home friends. I have made a commitment to help BRDC in whatever way I can while away, its fantastic that we have modern technology to keep communications fairly ‘local’ by internet. Sorry I haven’t written for some time. We are now in rainy season and we have rain most days since the 1 April. I have been amazed how quickly seeds grow here, it may take a week or so to see the emergence of new shoots in the UK, here it is only a matter of days. I planted some cuttings several weeks ago that didn’t get off to a great start, but now with the rains they are thriving. The pineapples that we planted with the students are pushing through new shoots too. The students and instructors said they could courier a pineapple to me, wouldn’t that be sweet? The fruit is unbelievably good and sweet here, because it comes direct from the tree and hasn’t been stored. The sugars reach their full potential.

Last week, I went out with the community-based staff to see some self help groups. Again, it was a delightful experience to see how people are unlocking their natural resources to improve things. BRDC show people how to run savings groups and these alone can immediately transform lives. People are planning for the future and not just thinking about the immediate of today. Tomorrow, for Ugandans, holds payment of school and medical fees, something we take for granted in the UK.

Today I went to an event in town that received 34 mobile ambulances, donated through Wales.
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Taken in Bududa a few months ago, a better view!

Taken in Bududa a few months ago, a better view!

These little motorbike vehicles have the potential to save thousands of lives over the course of their lifetime. Many women in the villages die in child birth (I need to look up my stats) and these vehicles, linked to local health centres can help reduce that number for Mbale and the surrounding districts. I will load up some more pics and narrative from the community and the event of today in due course. I fly back to Heathrow at the end of next month.