Simon had a sad start to his morning flight to Sudan today. On his way along the Entebbe road at 6:30am he witnessed a lady being hit by a car. She thought she could make it across the road in time to reach the centre reservation but was hit by a car which was driving in front of Simon. The lady was propelled over the car and landed on the road side. Of course with Simon driving behind the car he saw it all and realised that there was no way this lady could have survived this fatal accident. The car who hit the lady didn't stop but continued on his way. Simon managed to follow the car and get its registration number. There are usually Police out on the Entebbe Road so it didn't take long for Simon to locate one and give him the information regarding the hit and run. What will happen with this information we we will never know. However, please pray for the lady that was hit and for the family she now leaves behind. Also to pray for the man who hit the lady as I can't imagine how he must be feeling today.
It gives us a sober reminder that we never know the moment of our departure from this life. This past week I have been teaching on the two parables in Matthew 25 concerning the Ten Virgins and the Parable of the Talents. As believers, we need to be like the 5 wise virgins who lived in constant anticipation of the Lord's return. During our wait we need to also be in active service for our Lord in what He has called us to do like the faithful servants in the Talent parable. A good reminder for us all.
Standing next to an terminte hill with the rhinos in the background. One eye was always on the rhinos and we were warned that if they charge we should climb a tree or hide behind one. Fortunately we didn't have that expereince.
Enjoying some family time together :)
Our two "swinging" monkeys
"Two peas in a pod"
Baby Augustu - Only one year old but a formidable character nonetheless.
Bella the female and Augustu
Augustu was very interested in us and the guides said that she wanted to come and play. However, this would cause problems with the mother so they were able to talk her down from coming any closer. There are rangers with these rhinos 24 hours a day to protect them from poachers so the rhinos know their voices very well. Not sure how well off we would be with a playful rhino :)
Simon and Zara strolling through the bush.
Moja the dominant male, Augustu the baby boy and Bella the mother of Augustu
It was amazing to get so close!
Our little Princess!
Safari J with his arrow. We left the bow in the car. Afterall we didn't want him mistaken for a poacher :)
The drive to the rhinos was pretty rough so we were glad we had a robust car. We were able to just park our car in the bush and walk a short distance to see them. Sometimes you need to walk up to two hours to find them. Maybe next time we will get to walk :)
Joshua saying hi to one of the many rehabilitated animals in the sanctuary.
We had a very playful kitten come by our little house to play with Joshua and Zara. They enjoyed it a lot.
In the dining room there was a wall split into three sections whereby you pay $5 to write on the wall. Depending on what part of the wall you draw on depends where the money goes. Joshua wrote on the side that supported the ranger and Zara wrote on the side that supported the local community school. The middle section was for the rhinos themselves which we were supporting anyway by staying in the sanctuary :)
Another wee friend that J and Z enjoyed following and touching.
This past Saturday we headed two and half hours North of Kampala to Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary. This sanctuary was established in 1997 in order to reintroduce rhinos back into Uganda. Due to poaching, hunting and an increase in human population the numbers of rhinos in Uganda have dropped significantly. Due to the civil unrest in the 1970's rhinos were poached to extinction for their horns which fetch a high price on world markets particularly in China, Asia and Yemen. In 2004 the sanctuary was completed and they now have 9 rhinos in total. After a viable population of 3o rhinos the sanctuary will release the rhinos into their original habitat in one of the National Parks in Uganda.
During our time at the sanctuary we were able to see three rhinos. The dominant male called Moja, one female called Bella and a baby called Augustu. The 9 rhinos in the sanctuary are enclosed in a 69 sq km electrified perimeter fence. This is to keep the rhinos in and the poachers out. The total length of this fence is 60km!!!
At the sanctuary they also had some other animals that they were looking after. Some bush buck, African Grey Parrots and other deer like animals. The photos will give you a better idea.
MAF Uganda is in the process of building a new hangar. This has been a project that has been a bit of a challenge from day one. This is due to different factors including weather and contractor issues. However, we are finally seeing builders making progress and the construction is beginning to look like a hangar. We are excited as to the difference this hangar will make to the maintenance of planes within MAF Uganda. I know the maintenance department are very excited at the prospect of moving out of their current hangar due to the problems it has one of them being old age :) I am sure the team overseeing this project would appreciate your prayers for work to go well and a good end to a challenging project.
The last three weeks have been Chicken "Pops" weeks. Three weekends ago we headed off to Jinja (2 hours East of Kampala) for a weekend away with friends. The day after we arrived Joshua had various spots on his body. At first we thought they were bed bugs (not unheard of in the place where we were staying) but the day after confirmed that it was chicken pox. He did pretty well with it and considering everyone that we were with had had it we decided to stay for the remaining two days. I think the cold water of the swimming pool helped a lot to keep the itch out. Well two weeks on from there we were wondering if Zara would actually get it. If she didn't then we reckoned she had the constitution of an ox. However, last Friday she came out with spots and then Saturday there was a plague of them, she had them in her throat and mouth so she was very uncomfortable as you can imagine. Our little Princess was not her happy go lucky self. She was miserable. Yesterday we took her to a pool while everyone else was at church and dunked her in there to give her some relief from the itch. It seemed to do a lot of good. She was happy to swim around in the pool staying cool than sitting in our bath at home. Last night she slept in her own bed and slept all the way through so we have turned a corner towards good health. It is not fun when kiddies are unwell but glad that J and Z have both had chicken pox now and don't have to suffer it when they are older when it is much more painful. By the way Chicken "Pops" is Zara's version of Chicken Pox :)
It has been a week now since I finished a five day course on Member Care while Managing Crisis. It was an intense course starting at 8:15am and finishing at 6:30pm each day. My head felt fuzzy for a couple of days afterwards :). It was a fantastic course and I learned a lot. The course is designed to teach leaders how to look after their staff and peers during a crisis situation. For those of you reading this who live in a cross-cultural setting you will identify with the following list of crises that people face. Civil unrest, natural disasters, road accidents, plane crashes, bomb threats, violence, robberies, sickness are just but a few of the issues that people face. When we live in our home countries there is usually a support network that we can tap into that helps us through any crisis we might face. This is often not the case for the cross-cultural worker.
This course was an introduction into how to help people who have gone through crisis within our own organisation and others that we know of. We practiced peer crisis de-briefing within the workshop using the techniques we were taught which was very helpful. It was amazing to hear what people have been through in their lives and seeing how God was faithful through it all.
The facilitators leading the course had a wealth of experience in living cross-culturally as well as in dealing with people who have gone through crisis. Not only that but the participants also brought with them their own expertise in various areas. It was a rich learning environment and very beneficial.
The MMCT (Mobile Member Care Team) have a good set up in West Africa and so now they are looking to setting up a team here in East Africa. This will enable more workshops to be done as well as providing support to those that need it.
So you might be wondering what happens now. Well there are more courses that I can do with the MMCT which I would like to pursue. One of them is to become a Peer Responder which would qualify me to actually do de-briefs with peoplel who have gone through a crisis. Also there is a need to help with logistics and facilitate a workshop for the MMCT which I am interested in doing. We will see how things develop in the months ahead.
Simon did a great job with Joshua and Zara whilst I was gone. He flew morning flights only so he was home for Joshua and Zara in the afternoon which was a blessing. By the last day Joshua and Zara had had enough of me not being home in the afternoon and Joshua told me that I should tell the course leaders that I was sick so I could stay home. I guess I was missed :)
Thanks to all of you who prayed for me and for Simon and the children. Everything worked out really well and so I give thanks for that!
It is about time for another update on what we are up to. Time seems to speed up when you get older :)
Two or so weeks ago our guest room was busy again. One 0f Simon's flight instructors from his Moody Aviation days was coming to Uganda to do some flight training with some students from a flight school in Soroti, Uganda. It was fun to have him with us and catch up on what former classmates were doing as well as other mutual friends/acquaintances. He had never been in Africa before so this training week was going to be an eye opener for him not only on the work side but just the whole "African experience". He witnessed the crazy driving, the not so time orientated culture, pot holes, and the general exciting smells and sounds of Africa. It was good for Simon and I to see some of these things through fresh eyes as a lot of these sights we now take for granted and see as "normal". He was also able to go on a flight with Simon and see different parts of Uganda as well as observe Simon fly and see how good a job Moody did in preparing him for the field. :)
Now that I have completely handed over the guesthouse job I have moved into a new sphere of work. Over the summer I was given the opportunity to take over the teaching of the MAF International ladies and National Ladies Bible studies as some of you may know. This was a huge step but it has been a blessing. We are currently going through the book of 2 Timothy and learning a lot as we study together. We are moving into Chapter 2 this week and have learned from Chapter 1 to be bold in our proclamation of the Gospel and to stand firm and not be timid. This is never easy but we know that we don't do it in our own strength but through the Holy Spirit who strengthens us. I have really enjoyed the time with the ladies and to see them really engaging in the Bible study and bringing their own experiences has been a blessing!
As many of you know I am currently enroled in a Cognitive Behaviour Therapy course and hope to complete it by the end of November It has been a great course to study and ties in so well Biblically. Our battles begin in our mind and as Paul says in God's word we need to take every thought captive. (2 Cor 10:5). Along with this correspondence course I will be attending a day course this week starting on Wednesday which goes through until the following Tuesday. It is a Crisis Reponse training workshop from the Mobile Member Care Team. It is an intense course so I know I will probably sleep for a week afterwards :) A colleague and I will be attending this course together and our goal is that, in time, we will be equipped to give better member care to people whether it be in MAF or outside in the midst of a crisis situation. I will keep you updated as to how it all went. I would value your prayers as I go through this course and for Simon as he helps out with school runs and caring for Joshua and Zara whilst I am gone as the sessions run late. He is scheduled to fly mornings only so hopefully all that works out :)
We would also value your prayers for Simon's mum as she is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer again. Please pray for strength for her as she goes through this difficult treatment with all its side effects. Pray also for Simon's dad and the rest of the family. We give thanks for her strong faith in the Lord and the trust that she displays so readily.
Thank you for your continued love and support for us whilst we minister here in Uganda. It is truly a blessing.
Above are some photos that were taken of a road in Sudan. The Rumbeck Yirol road to be exact. As you can see it is impassable and many vehicles are imbedded in the mud and it will take time to clear. This is an ongoing problem in rainy season and often times there is only one road in and out. Villages and towns can be cut off.
Pray for our pilots during this rainy season as some airstrips are difficult to land on and take off especially in Sudan where some of the airstrips have cotton soil. It is almost impossible to walk in it never mind trying to get a plane out of.
Also for wisdom for our pilots as they navigate heavy rain fall and storms in flying. Pray that they will be able to get passengers and supplies safely where they need to go.
This is just another clear reminder of why MAF does what it does.
Yesterday Simon was called upon to do a medical evacuation in Bunia, Congo. The person concerned had suffered a broken neck due to a motorbike accident. Amazingly enough the patient had a proper brace on to prevent his neck from being further damaged and was able to walk to the plane. Simon was medevacing him to Kampala for treatment but if the injuries were too great then he was to be sent onto Nairobi. Please pray for this young man that he would get the proper treatment and that there would be no further damage done to his neck.
This is when we realise that MAF is vital in this country and in Congo and Sudan. To do a trip from Bunia to Kampala would be a very long ardous task even when you are well. To have a broken neck and travel the rough roads would be disasterous.
It is difficult to believe that almost 3 years ago Jacqueline (Friend and MAF co-worker) and I took over the running of the MAF guesthouse and completely revamped the ministry. This also meant moving it to a different location. Well change has happened and we are now stepping out of this ministry and into another (the next one isn't so clear yet :)) Jacqueline will be moving back to the UK with her husband, Adrian (Operations Manager) after three years with MAF Uganda. They still hope to be involved in MAF but in what capacity we are not sure yet. God has provided two other very capable ladies within MAF to take over the running of the guesthouse and we are looking forward to what God has planned. It has been a fun job and I couldn't have asked for a better co-worker. We have laughed a lot through these three years whilst working together and this, I think, has kept us sane as we have faced some very challenging problems and situations we couldn't have even dreamed of. On the other side we have lost a lot of sleep over it and brain cells I think. (No comments please) We both know it is right to stand down and pass on the baton but we will look back on our time with the guesthouse as a great opportunity and a positive experience. What does God have in store for me now....well there are other opportunities on the horizon and once He has made it clear I will let you know. I will have a hand over time with the new Guesthouse Managers during the next couple of months just so the transition is a bit easier. I am looking forward to the next challenge that God brings my way and see what happens. Thanks to those who have supported the Guesthouse ministry since I have been involved in it by giving up precious kilos to bring things out from the UK or giving financial donations. They were greatly appreciated.
This photo is taken at the top of Burj Khalifa, the highest building in the world......so far :) We were so hot by this time as we had walked from the metro station to the building in searing heat. Unbeknownst to us there was a bus that took us straight there. We learned the next time when we wanted to go to the Dubai Mall which is in the same area.
Outside the Wafi shopping mall
Dolphins following our boat in the Persian Gulf
Zara and I enjoying the cool wind through our hair as we ride the dhow boat through the fjords in Oman.
A stop for a bit of diving, swimming, snorkelling and floating
A fishing village in Oman that can only be accessed by boat.
Simon going native!
Enjoying a trip to the desert
What a view!
Zara and I riding on a "ship of the desert"
Zara enjoying the zip line at splashland...a good place to cool off in temperatures above 50 centigrade or 100+F
Cooling off in Ibn Battuta mall where each area is distinctly designed into countries/regions such as Egypt, China , Persia, India, Tunisia and Andalusia. It was fascinating to walk through.
This year Simon and I celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary. We decided to mark this milestone by going to Dubai and visiting some friends that we knew from our Moody days. It was a wonderful holiday and these photos are only a fraction of the ones that we took. Over 700 if I remember rightly. We can bore you anytime if you come visit us. :)
It has been a while since I have updated our blog. We have been on three weeks leave and travelled to Dubai to visit some friends. It was a fantastic holiday and I will upload some photos sometime this week. We just arrived back in Uganda yesterday so still trying to get readjusted to "normal" life again. We really appreciated the break we had and also catching up with old friends and making new ones.
Many of you will have probably heard on the bombings in Kampala which happened on the final of the world cup. Thankfully none of our staff were hurt in the blasts although one relative of a staff member was killed along with at least one friend of a staff member. Since arriving back in Uganda we have noticed a tightning up of security with cars being checked at the entrance to shops aswell as our bags being checked. This is also due to the African Union conference which is taking place this week in Kampala.
We have been asked to avoid busy places or any public gatherings until further notice. MAF Uganda continues to monitor the situation on a regular basis and keeps us up to date with what is happening. We are just being careful as to where we go shopping etc. Churches are also considered targets depending on their location and up till now it has been requested that people find an alternative church to attend during this time or stay at home. We will see what is advised this week.
On arrival in Mvolo, Sudan it is good to find out where you will be sleeping
The next important thing is water....start filtering guys!
Just so you know that you are not alone....the distances to the neighbouring towns/villages.
Building a new school
The local parish church
A health and hygience course being taught under the big tree.....who needs classrooms!
Some local children...how can you resist those smiles.
Then we have the older generation...a chat and a smoke what could be better :)
A 1939 English outpost
The Mvolo River...well so the locals call it.
The very posh dining room with the sleeping quarters behind
Showering facilites - top notch compared to some I have showered in :)
Home Sweet Home....well for a night or two.
The walk to the Radio Station. When the cotton soil gets wet its almost impossible to walk in.
Aid Sudan's radio station mast
A view from the top of the mast - Yes Simon climbed it!
Anybody for lunch? - doesn't come much fresher...
A settlement...you can see how parched the ground is.
Just when things seemed to be going so well......a flat tyre.
Carrying water for making cement for the building projects.
The three team members from Aid Sudan and, of course, our lovely pilot...Simon :)
Simon was able to go on a week long trip with three guys from Aid Sudan. They flew up in MAF's 206 and Simon shuttled them around to their various projects in different parts of Sudan. Simon loves these trips as they are always an adventure and he gets to spend time with the missionaries and some of the locals.