Marian Baker

From Board Member Marian Baker: Ministry with Rose and Alfred in Uganda

On Tuesday, 13th March We met with the support committee for our ministry. Zelikah brought some bananas from her shamba for us to enjoy. News was shared of the ministry of each of us in Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya. The meeting provides an opportunity to support each other and to clear any minor misunderstandings between pastors and USFWK leaders. Everyone was glad to meet Rose.

On Wednesday Elizabeth discovered two half-grown young chickens had gotten locked inside the garage where maize was stored. They were so weak they couldn’t stand, but after some water and food, by morning they were resurrected and standing up normally. Rose discovered that one of the dogs had given birth to four puppies, and she enjoyed exploring Elizabeth’s farm while I worked on getting the financial records entered into my computer.

Thursday, Rose and I met Alfred Wasike, the general secretary of Uganda YM who studies at FTC, and travelled together to Mbale, Uganda. Just as we arrived at the church, rain poured heavily. We thought we were just going to meet with a few leaders to prepare for the pastor’s conference and to visit Stella, the student from Busoga studying to be a nurse. Instead we found all the women leaders had gathered and showed us their office that included posters that show who their officers are, their aims and objectives, and a list of all the many projects each women’s group is doing to build themselves up. Some were rearing goats, chickens, growing various vegetable crops, or running hair salons, as well as pooling their money like a savings account to help each other.

They also showed us their nursery school next to the church, who sang to us. Rose loved them. We were glad to see the women organizing themselves and getting busy finding different ways to lift themselves up. Then in the evening, the leaders of the Young Friends (high school through young adult age) requested us to meet with them to get advice about a number of things. They didn’t want to miss out on the kinds of teachings we have given to the women.

On Friday, we finally met with the leaders of the YM to plan out the pastor’s conference. We decided to invite just the active pastors of each meeting, not others who used to be pastors or who are not active. At the last pastors conference, we had discovered that many of the pastors had never legally married their wives and they said they would plan a mass wedding to do this. Nothing had been done so we had suggested that we bring their wives for the last night, give a class on how to be an effective pastor’s wife, and then teach them how to make cakes and then celebrate a mass wedding. They decided against it at this time, as they had to make sure the traditional dowries had been paid, they wanted to hold it during harvest time when they could have a bigger feast, and they needed pastoral counselling before getting married.

On Saturday, we visited Stella in the nursing school and Alfred made a video tape as we asked her questions. We discovered that she is like an orphan. Her mother died of cancer when she was very young and she was brought up by an aunt, not her absentee father, whom she has only seen a few times in her life. We will be bringing this tape back to USA to share with donors. She is doing well in her studies and will be starting the practical part of nursing in the local hospital this week.

We then travelled across Uganda to Seeta, a suburb outside of Kampala. We travelled across the area where turkeys are raised and sold and where the local people make the layered thatch roofs on their traditional huts. Rose enjoyed crossing the Nile and realizing it flows northwards. Then we got stuck in a traffic jam and took two hours through Mukono that normally takes 10 minutes. We visited Christine Kirya’s home overnight. Christine was a refugee teacher during Idi Amin’s time and taught at Namirama Friends Girls HS with me and Agneta years ago.

On Sunday, we travelled on to Kimidi, stopping in Bugembe, the town just east of Jinja. We walked to the local Methodist Church, where the senior pastor was a man from Zimbabwe. (He spoke in English, so everything is always translated. Rebecca is a young woman pastor there who led the music and prayer – a very inspiring singer. They welcomed us warmly and showed interest in doing some ecumenical work with the Friends in Busoga region. (All the Methodist churches in Uganda are in this one region of southern Uganda). Rose brought greetings from

Hillsboro United Methodist Church to them.

We arrived in Kimidi and all the children, the younger people and the women welcomed us very warmly. The Sunday school has grown and the area is improving since we had been there training Sunday school teachers. Several women and men plus a couple dozen children had been patiently waiting for us since their Sunday service. The children were eager to sing and dance a few songs that they wanted to share with us in thanks for getting the Sunday school active there. Alfred took all the men outside so he could speak straight talk with them about ways they need to improve and work, while Rose and I met with the women, getting to know each other better. That night there were very heavy rains, creating much mud and flooding.

Monday was a very challenging day. We went on pikis all the way to Lutoro, a church that had been very active down near Lake Victoria, but whose meetinghouse had been blown down a year ago. They had promised to rebuild themselves to the wall plate and then ask for help from other Friends for ironsheets needed for the roof. We rode on pikis for around an hour, and due to rains, it was slippery mud. Solomon the older leader who drove Alfred was an inexperienced driver and he first caused Alfred to fall off in the mud. Then later he flipped the bike, landing the heavy bike on Alfred’s ankle, damaging his leg. They had to wash off in a flood ditch and then one of the trained experienced drivers carried both Rose and Alfred slowly the rest of the journey. We reached Luturo and found they had built a mud and wattle meetinghouse with a metal roof. Instead of a roof, they needed training for the pastor how to regather the group. We will be making sure that the pastor will come to the training we will be offering the week before Easter. The pastor then gave us a meal (honoring us with a chicken, the most expensive meat in Uganda) and we drove back. Solomon drove much too fast, so we plus the two other drivers scolded him severely. My knuckles got blistered I had to hold on so tight so as to not falloff. Solomon also wanted to take us on a “short cut” through the forest but we all refused, as the forest is known as a place where Amin’s renegades are known to attack people. We were extremely grateful to have survived the journey and will not allow Solomon to ever drive any of us again.

On the way walking back to Kimidi, we stopped to visit the oldest man of the village. He gave me the name of Nakumicha (the planter and Rose was named Nekesa (harvest). On Tuesday as we were preparing to leave, a group of four women came to us asking for advice on how to get a women’s cooperative started. We then spent the morning giving basic training on how to organize a group, choose leaders, how to each contribute something to get the project off the ground, how to keep minutes and daily records as well as proper financial records. The teacher among them was chosen as secretary. Two were chosen to be treasurer and assistant, and I taught them how to keep financial records as well as how to write receipts. They decided to start planting maize, beans, and ground nuts. Later they will plant carrots, onions and pumpkins as these are not as common. Because they are located on the main highway between Kenya and Kampala, they could sell them easily. They were surprised to learnthat the pumpkin seeds could be roasted and sold as more healthy snacks! We also shared about organic ways they could make fertilizer and pesticide using materials they already have. The leader of the women had had a dream the night before that she should quit saying she was poor and to get up and start a project with other women. We gave them a small microloan to start the project and Alfred will be checking on them regularly to see what they are doing. One of the women said she was going to go start digging that afternoon, as she didn’t want to delay as the rainy season had already started. As we left, we found out the youth had already started digging their own plot and the men sat down to make their own plans. What a joy to witness Kimidi waking up. They had already learned from our last visit how to treat their visitors, providing water and good food for us. Meanwhile Rose fell in love with the children and is already planning to come back to help at the school.

We were late getting back to Kakamega and with both rain and darkness, we ended up hiring a tuktuk (a vehicle with three wheels made from a motorcycle with a small jeep like body, with canvas sides) to take us to Elizabeth’s. Alfred arrived back at FTC very late in pouring rain.

Today we rested and washed clothes by hand. We will travel to Eileen’s to spend the night with her and share more about Uganda. Thanks so much for all your prayers and support.