Marian Baker

From board member Marian Baker: News from Uganda

On the 29th of January, Agneta , Roselyne, Eileen, and I travelled to Mbale, Uganda. We took along Winnie Olesia from Vokoli Yearly Meeting. (We had chosen her from the Kenyan Sunday School teachers who took part in the QREC conference in Kaimosi, Kenya). It was a long hot journey, so we picked up fresh pineapples to feast on upon our arrival.

Rogers Nakumose (new pastor at Mbale Friends) and his wife Irene came and guided us into the enormous Mbale Market (3 stories high and a city block long) where we bought most of the food needed for the Teacher Training Workshop. Winnie taught the beginning class, Agneta taught the 2nd year class, and Roselyn taught the 3rd year class. We were supposed to start the teaching on Wednesday afternoon, but it wasnât until Thursday morning that all had arrived. However, the Ugandans were far more eager to learn than the Tanzanians, and were diligently making sure they had all the notes written down (as it becomes the text from which they will later teach other teachers).

On Thursday, I told the story of Mary Fisher, whom most had never heard of. Then on Friday a highlight was when Erick and Loy, the two Ugandans who had been at the QREC conference wanted to share with the others the Godly Play method of teaching. They formed a long chain and danced around the meetinghouse (Uganda style of bunny hop) before entering and being welcomed by Loy, who asked if each person was ready to come hear a story while sitting on a mat on the floor. All the Ugandans were willing to sit on the floor like children (different than the Tanzanians), and they all shared in wonder about the story of the woman at the well that Erick told.

The cooks, guided by Eileen and Irene managed to get meals prepared according to the schedule, (a first for Ugandan Friends). Praise God, they are learning how to manage time better. However, on the first day, about fifty neighborhood kids came by eager to help eat our food. Since we were limited in finances, we refused to feed the extra 50 mouths after the first day, but we did allow them to visit each late afternoon to hear the stories, the drama, and the songs the teachers had prepared.

On Thursday night, burglars came to Wopicho’s, the home where we were staying. It was so hot, I couldnât sleep in the small bedroom, so moved into the sitting room onto the couch and later on the cool concrete floor. A trained burglar used a long stick with a fork at on end to reach in through the window that I had opened a crack to get air. They had a rag on the stick that contained some sleep inducing drug, so I fell asleep and they stole my small phone case that had my phone and 2 flash drives in it. It was on a table ten feet in from the window! We ended up going to the police first thing in the morning and found they had robbed other homes and the police had chased them, but not caught them. Since my smartphone had been locked after a child tried to play with it while it was being charged up, I then had no phones at all and the other Kenyans were depending on it as well. I had to spend much of Friday travelling back to Busia, Kenya to buy a new simple cell phone, get the Safaricom office to let me keep my old number, and get the code needed to unlock the Smartphone. On the very bumpy journey back, I began reentering the many East African phone numbers that got lost since the sim card of the phone had changed. That night, Alfred Wasike arrived and he led a kesha, an all-night time of prayer, song, and dance at the church. We teachers instead prayed and slept in the Wopichoâs family home and also celebrated that their son Moses had just scored a Division One in the national high school examinations.

Saturday, Alfred and I quickly went to town to make certificates for the teachers. The Uganda YM Executive Board arrived by late morning. We then issued out the certificates and headed back to Kenya. The matatu baggage operators had left Agnetaâs luggage back at Malaba bus stage, but were able to retrieve it and bring it to her in Bungoma, a wonderful answer to prayer. Praise God we all reached back in our homes in Kenya by the time darkness fell. I found that Elizabeth had cut Âœ acre of her trees, as the Chinese who are reconstructing all the roads here found the steep slope contains the kind of gravel needed that they will buy and leave her with level land that has a layer of good soil spread on top. False rumors spread quickly that she had gone into debt or had discovered gold! She already has a tree nursery with native trees to plant in their place as soon as the rains come.

I went to Ebwambwa Friends to say goodbye this morning, and am now packing up ready to leave to return to USA after my support committee meeting tomorrow morning. Thanks again for your prayers and support.

Marian