Sunday, March 27, 2011

Godfrey and Florence Musambo

So here it is, the first of the series on our Ebenezer family! So you can feel like you know the family better, I have decided to do a blog on each of the members. I thought it would be appropriate to start with the family parents, Florence and Godfrey Musambo. They are the heart of Ebenezer family.
Godfrey Musambo came to New Hope about four years ago to be the family father of Ebenezer family. He had been considering a career with the Ugandan police force but was accepted as a family father at New Hope and felt led to come here. He came as a single man, but did not stay that was long! While at New Hope he met Florence who was also working here. She had lost her previous husband in a drowning accident and had two young sons. Three years ago they were married, and then two years ago they had another son, Jonathan! Florence's older son Brian, who is 13, also lives with them while Brian's brother, Ceasar, lives with his paternal grandparents some distance away.
Besides being a father to 19 children in the family group, Godfrey heads up security at New Hope. This means he is in charge of all of the security guards that work at New Hope. He also spends a lot of his time in the family gardens, as the each family has their garden and grow about 70% of their own food. Planning, plowing, planting, weeding, and harvesting around 5 acres all by hand takes a lot of time and effort. The children all help, but Godfrey has to coordinate everything as well as do a lot of the more strenuous labor that the younger children cannot manage. In addition, he leads devotions at least four nights and is has the responsibility for all of the discipline, management, and loving of 19 children! He does an amazing job. And all of this with only one day a week off. Does anyone want to apply?
Florence also works outside the family. She is responsible for all of the cooking for the New Hope Institute of Childcare and Family, New Hope's 5 month training/discipleship for people coming from all over the world. There are usually people living on the Institute grounds throughout the 5 months, which means three meals a day need to be prepared 7 days a week. Fortunately, Florence does have several ladies working with her, but she is in charge which means she is there much of the time. She is known around New Hope as a great cook! Having eaten many meals she has made, we agree! Often she starts her day at 6am preparing breakfast and doesn't get done until 7 or 8pm in the evening. This in addition to being a mother to 19 children! Often in the evening she has the 5 littlest ones of the family group in her home to give them some special attention, which they really enjoy. She loves the children and it shows.
Being the family parents of 19 children is not without its challenges. Florence and Godfrey would appreciate your prayers for wisdom in the situations that arise. Also, that God would give them patience, compassion and love that comes from him for the kids. At this time Florence is expecting another baby, probably in September. She is feeling sick and tired most of the time. She would appreciate prayer for strength and a decrease in her nausea.
I hope you have enjoyed getting to know Godfrey and Florence. We praise God for them and their willingness to be God's hands and heart to children that need them.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Camp+other stuff.

A relaxing week? Maybe. The 14, on Monday, we didn't have any school. Actually, we didn't have school the whole week. That night, Monday 14, we went to our Family Group. When we got back, we packed a little bit, not much though. The next morning, Tuesday the 15, we woke up kinda early, eat breakfast, and finished packing. The whole time it was raining lightly. When we were done packing, we packed the car up, made sure we had everything we needed, and drove off. We went down to our Family Group to pick up someone who was coming with us, then we headed toward Kiwoko, the nearest town to us.
When we got there, Mwine, the guy from our Family Group that was coming with us, directed us to a place that his friend who was also coming with us was, and once he was in the car, we started off toward Kampala. When we finally got to Kampala, which takes about 2 hours, we did a little shopping here and there. When we were in the last store that we were going to that day, we decided to get some lunch. So we did, and ate it on the way to Mukono, where Mwine and the other guy were getting off.
See, Mwine and the other guy were going to a school in Mukono to do there 11 and 12 grades. So when we got to Mukono, they got off at the school and then we continued toward Musana Camps, which is right by ( okay, not right by) Lake Victoria. When we got there, Bambino, one of the dogs there, was the first one to great us. He had just gotten stitches so he had a cone on. Then the Bouffards welcomed us.
The Bouffards and the Jacksons are two western Families that are living at the Camp. The Bouffards are two adults, one older girl, one younger girl, and one younger boy. The Jacksons are two adults, one one and three fourths year old boy and one four month old baby girl. So we were at the Camp with the two Families, two dogs named Bambino and Nala, and one little monkey named Wes. The monkey didn't really like people, and most of the time he would bite them.
When we left the Camp after three days, we headed back to Kampala. When we got there, we went to a Hotel for the night. The next morning, we ate breakfast and headed out. Did some more shopping, and then headed back for Kasana. Last night, the 24, we went to the Brown's house for dinner. The Browns are an English family with one Adopted Ugandan.
We have been getting a few rainstorms but its still not enough. Thank you for your prayers, and please keep praying for rain!


Now don't get me wrong. I love kittens, but usually I wouldn't put the word 'kittens' with three exclamation marks after it. This is special, I guess. I'm kinda bummed that on the Chinese calendar it doesn't say 'Year of the kittens' because this year kind of is.
First, Ali cat has kittens (I think I already posted that but if not, they're six weeks old today) then we hear that the Bakimis (U. Jonnes and family) had a litter and there's now two litters in Kampala that we are getting a calico kitten from one of them! Sheesh. Talk about cat fights.....
So anyway. Micah, my dad and mom have kept you updated I suppose. We were at the camp for three days. Overlooking Lake Vic and exploring, huddling under a roof and playing with a monkey while it rained, getting cuts and bruises, cooking s'mores... All that good stuff. And now we're back here. There's not much news, just the fact that this Saturday I might be leading the song "Jesus Paid it All" on worship night. I hope not but I might be 'forced' to do so. :) Peace and Joel can be so convincing sometimes...
It rains almost every day now, hip hip hurrah! Kara

Monday, March 21, 2011

Slicker than...

Growing up camping in the Pacific Northwest of the U.S., this week made me feel right at home. When we left our home at Kasana (New Hope's "hub") it was lightly raining but as we traveled south the rain began to fall more heavily. By the time we got to Kampala, the rain fell steadily. We had a bit of shopping to do before we continued our journey east to the camp (Musana Camps) which lies to the south of Mukono on the shores of Lake Victoria.

Our purpose for this trip was to help and encourage and care for Dave and Andrea Bouffard and Nathan and Kendra Jackson and their families. These two couples are working with a few Ugandans to establish a camp on this beautiful site in order to teach men how to live in biblical manhood and women to live in biblical womanhood, and to give opportunities to groups to get away and retreat. Over 800 acres provides many possibilities for God to use this space. Currently there are 3 "permanent" tents on concrete slabs and a couple houses for full time staff but apart from that there is a healthy walk down to the lake where the nearest village lies. There has been great opposition against the camp's development to the point that some of the guards have received death threats. When you combine that with Andrea being 8 months pregnant & homeschooling while they are trying to get their house built and dealing with the every day running of the camp, development and community conflict...we thought they needed someone to help.

Back to the journey: In our Land Cruiser, we had two extra passengers headed for application and interviews to get into Medical Lab Technology school. One was one of our sons (Mwine, pronounced Mweenay) from the family group of which we are a part. We dropped them off in Mukono (look it up on Google maps-go almost straight south on the road and where the road ends is at a bay. Go to the next bay to the east and that is where Musana Camps is) and continued on to Lugazi to take the "best" road to the camp. As we headed out of Lugazi we began the non-paved part of the journey. You might remember being around clay as a kid. When it gets wet, there isn't much normal life that is much more slick. Thankfully I have a vehicle that enjoys slick and bumpy. Kara was laughing after hitting her head on the ceiling. She had the back seat and was having a great time. Micah, on the other hand, was sitting in the middle of the second set of seats so he could have the best view of the road. When the gully in the middle of the road got more than a foot deep, the incline was greater than 45 degrees and the men by the side of the road called to each other, "Mazungu" and began to stare and laugh, one knows one is in for a challenge. While going almost perpendicular to the road, still traveling up it and hearing my son say, "Dad, maybe you should put it in four-wheel drive," I realized I was having fun.

We made it. No four-wheel drive. The rain began again a couple days later. It was good timing. I helped Nathan build a water tower in the sun and talked with Dave all morning in his house while it rained. God is good. Very few interruptions also. A miracle. The kids had fun. We enjoyed camping and God was there in the conversations. Praise God.

By the way, I did have to put the car in four-wheel drive three days later when I took my wife out to dinner in downtown Kampala. Even with all wheels going I had to rock it out of a hole in the street in the middle of a traffic jam on a Friday night. Humility is tough to learn.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The usual.

Things have again been the same. We wake up, have breakfast, do school, have lunch, on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday we have Luganda lessons, the rest of the afternoon we spend doing different things, come back to the house, have supper/dinner, and go to bed. On Friday we planted sweet corn. We would dig a hole, put fertilizer in, push a little dirt on top of it, put three sweet corn seeds about an inch from each other and the back of the hole on top of it, push a little dirt on top of it, pour about a table spoon of ash on top of it, then put the rest of the dirt on top. Usually, at four thirty on the weekdays, I go over to one of my friend's house.

I just got back from a basketball game with my Dad, and no, I was not playing in the game, I was only watching it. But before and after the game, I was playing with some other big boys. We played for a while, but then it was getting late so we all had to go back to our homes.

This coming Tuesday we are going to go to Musana Camps, which is a camp that is close to the coastline of Lake Victoria. We will be there until Friday morning, when we leave to go back to Kampala. We will stay in a Hotel there for Friday night and leave in the morning to go shop a bit and then head back to New Hope. We will get back on Saturday evening.

We are getting more rain than before, but still just a little bit. Before it had rained hard about two weeks ago, we had heard that a weather forecaster said that there wasn't going to be rain until the end of May. This would've meant a famine for Uganda! Yes, even for us westerners! So thank you for your prayers, but we need more! Thank you, and please keep praying!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Awkward Moments1-Burial

Yes, this was one of the most awkward moments of my life. Not embarrassing, just awkward. I had just come off a week of teaching about counseling in the Institute of Childcare and Family. On a quiet morning, we prepared for church on a Sunday morning where I would be preaching on Ephesians 2:8-10 about grace and God's workmanship. Up rode our compound worker, Kintu (pronounced Chintoo). Surprised, I went to the door to greet him and patiently went through the appropriate words of welcome and care and waited the appropriate pause for him to reveal why he came on a Sunday morning since he normally only came 4 days during the work week.

"Uncle, my father died and the burial will be today. I was wondering...well...I wanted to ask...could you come?" Now if I was culturally adept and relationally sensitive, I would have said, "I will do that" and then asked when it would be. My next cultural move would have been to go get him some money to help in the burial process (necessary custom for anyone connected to the bereaved).

Being neither culturally adept nor, at that point, relationally sensitive, I just said, "I would love to, (partial lie) but I will be preaching this morning."

"Oh that's okay, the burial isn't until 4 this afternoon. Let me tell you how to get there."

So I am going to be preaching about grace and being God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, and I am only thinking about the rest that would be best. I took down the directions and said I would be there. No money changed hands. BIG but ignorant NO, NO.

3:30 rolled around and I figured I better get advice on what was expected. "Well first, you should have given him money, which is why he came over to your house besides to invite you. Second, you should be there about 10 minutes early but it is very casual and is over quickly." Uh, oh. If I left right when I got off the phone I would be there right on time (or 10 minutes late based on advice). Faux pas #2.

I started driving there quickly trying to avoid potholes that were a foot deep and 4 ft. in diameter or trying to balance my wheels on either side of a 2 foot trench eroded out of the middle of the road by heavy rainfall the day before. Now his directions concerned me a bit when he said "veer right at the round-about" but as I got to the intersection, instead of finding a round-about I found a "V" shaped intersection with a small road going off 90 degrees. I veered right and went about a mile down a very rough road to find the wrong village. I was already 5 minutes late.

I returned to the intersection and took the 90 degree road. About a 1/2 mile down I saw many people standing around and others walking in that direction. Good sign. I pulled my car over and was already getting plenty of looks. As I walked up to village central which was no more than three buildings in the near vicinity of each other, all eyes and bodies turned my direction. Conversation changed pitch with many interjections of "Muzungu (white person)" Looking around, I couldn't find anyone who seemed willing to help me but then saw some people walking in a different direction down an adjacent road. Hmmm, many people down that way. Must be the place.

"HELLO! How are you, today? You are welcome. How is home?" said a man with slurred speech. Offering his hand to me, he looked as if he were going to fall over if I didn't catch him. My mind asked, "Town drunk?" I answered, but he quickly moved on amidst laughter from the gathered community. Was that a confirmation for my mind?

I walked down to the house about 100 yds. away and many people were just standing around talking. Ahh, this is what I was looking for. A red cross on a white cloth draped over a small box with a bible on top. Only a few seated around the box. Maybe I was early. Everything in Uganda starts late. I stood there for a few moments with all eyes on me (or so it appeared) and more comments about the "Muzungu". I didn't know what to do next and no one offered to help. Finally after moving around and looking for Kintu for a short time, a woman dressed in rags with a scarf stuck in her mouth, mumbled something that resembled "come" and pointed to the bench right in front of the box with the cross.

My knowledge of the culture let me know that maybe I was receiving a place of honor for the burial service so I sat down front and center, eyes still looking at me as I looked around trying to find a glimpse of Kintu. For over twenty minutes I smiled and in Luganda politely greeted people who were near me. They were excited that I could greet in Luganda but that is as far as the conversation with me went. Immediately, they turned to their neighbor and spoke Luganda very fast with obvious references to me. I noticed many people coming and going from a place behind the house and I realized I might have missed the service but wondered why the woman had directed me here.

About ten minutes into the time, I noticed a man from our church who had been there all the time but never said a word to me. I greeted him in English and he said, "We are here for the burial of our old friend." Then proceeded to turn to his neighbor and speak Luganda with repeated references to me and New Hope. He never addressed me again. Meanwhile, I was offered a bowl of cassava cooked in a sauce of beans by a young girl on her knees (the sign of respect by any child or woman in Buganda culture). Can't turn this down even though I'm full after just eating. Ouch but it is hot to eat with my fingers.

As I was eating, people began streaming from the place behind the house and I looked earnestly for Kintu. Suddenly, as it started to rain an old man said, in Luganda, "Come into the house." and signaled to the 4 meter square house 10 ft. away which was already filled with people. As he took my bowl, I apologized and said, in English, that I was waiting for someone. That was repeated quickly in both English and Luganda and someone got my bowl back from the old man. He said sorry in Luganda and sat down to eat his own bowlful.

Just then I heard, "Uncle, you came. But you were late. Faux pas #3. I waited for you but you didn't come. Ah...but now you have come. Thank you for coming. Where did you park? Is it far?"

I asked him if he wanted to leave and apologized all over the place and told him I took a wrong road. I asked him if he wanted to leave and he said, "yes, let's go. I will show you my house." In pouring rain we ran to the car and drove the couple hundred yds. down the road picking up his wife and newborn along the way. As we pulled up to his mud hut, he asked "Are you going home?" Yes was my answer but then realized I maybe should have asked to see his house. I still don't know if I did right there. He was surprised that I was going to go in the rain, but then he didn't have a car.

As I was driving upstream through the river running down the middle of the road, I wondered how I could have done that whole thing differently. I was almost back to the town nearest us when I came across some women walking in the pouring rain. The first one waved at me like she was greeting me but the last one obviously flagged me down. They were soaked even under their umbrellas. I gave them a ride.

Thank you for humility, Lord. Thank you for the humbling circumstances but thank you that you also have good works prepared in advance for me to do all in your grace and for your glory. Oh, and thanks for the second rain in two days.