Thanksgiving & Graduation | Uganda, November 2016

Life is always eventful here in Uganda! It has been a blessing to live life with Innocent, Dorothy, Parwot Hinson and the students. I continue to learn many things both about cultural norms and their family backgrounds. The month of October has quickly passed. As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday we are excited about trying out our solar oven to cook the turkey that our neighbor generously gave us as a welcoming gift. It should be an interesting process and experience.

Though I have learned many lessons in Uganda already, I have come to realize how much I have taken for granted. I must say that a true concern for lack of water has not entered my mind while living my life in the U.S. I have quickly learned that water does not always flow from faucets and spigots so easily. We are supposedly in the midst of a rainy season, but this season has brought much drought throughout Uganda. This has not only affected the nation's economy but also the food supply. As we prepared in previous years for emergencies like this we had installed two 10,000 liter cisterns that collect the rainwater from the gutters. For about a month the government supply has been shut off to our house, so we have continued to rely on our cisterns, but due to lack of rain the cisterns became dry. We are very fortunate to be in the position where we can afford to buy a truck supply of water to fill our cisterns. I am much more conscious about the importance of being thrifty with our supply of water. Please pray for countless Ugandans that are not in the position to buy water supplies. Please pray for rain!

Last month I introduced Ben Jukira who is attending Uganda Christian University. This month I am privileged to introduce Patrick Emesu. Along with others, Innocent and I were praying that God would send us specific people to help construct our facility. We were praying that we would be able to extend help to some of the workers. Patrick became an answer to our prayers when he worked on mixing cement and building bricks for our present home. Patrick is from Northeastern Uganda from a village called Oyomai. Patrick is the son of Etenu and Margaret. His father was a farmer who cultivated a small plot of land. He grew cassava, millet, and beans. Margaret, his mother, helped keep the home and also worked along side her husband cultivating the land. Patrick is the first born child and he is followed by two brothers and two sisters.

Patrick's village was plagued by the rebel group known as The Lord's Resistance Army. The group's leader, Joseph Kony began his brutal tactics on Ugandans in the early 1990s. Numerous countries have tried to capture him, but he is currently in hiding in the Congo. He would often invade villages capturing young children and forcing them to become child soldiers. Often these children would have to re-enter their villages and Kony would force the children to kill their own family members. These soldiers would carry out these acts by using guns or they would murder using machetes. The rebel group would burn the village, so it would be inhabitable. If anyone escaped undetected then they were often refugees for years. Patrick was around 12 years old when the Lord's Resistance Army entered his village. His family had escaped to the refugee camp, but life in the camp was very difficult. Very little food was provided, so many parents would return to their farmland to gather food so that family members could eat. Patrick's father went very early in the morning because the family was without food. Every trip back to the village was a risk. Most of the times that the rebel group would strike would be late in the evening. On this particular day while his father was gathering food in the garden the rebel group came earlier. They tried to recruit his father to join their forces, but when he refused he was shot. Patrick and his family learned about his death from others that had escaped back from the village to the camp. Patrick's family was devastated from the news and remained in the refugee camp for 2 to 3 years. Life continued to be a struggle for food and water.
Through their deep faith in Christ they continued to persevere. Over time, some of the people from the village joined with the Ugandan army to drive out the rebel group. These untrained people from the village were known as Arrow Boys. These forces were able to drive out the rebel group so that the people could return to their home.

Patrick and his family moved back to their homesite and continued to cultivate the land. Patrick attended government schools because they were free. During holidays Patrick would move to Kampala for job opportunities, so that he could help provide food for his brothers and sisters. The Lord brought Patrick to our building site where he helped in making bricks and hand mixing cement. Innocent and I had prayed numerous times that the Lord would provide us workers that HE wanted us to serve and help. Innocent began to build a relationship with Patrick through prayer and Bible studies. Through the years, Patrick has taught many lessons. His quiet, humble spirit brings light to our home. It was our pleasure for him to join Grace for Education. He is currently a student at the Ugandan Institute of Information and Communication Technology. He is scheduled to receive his certificate on Friday, November 25 in Library and Information Science. We are excited and plan to celebrate with his mother and his late father's brother. Patrick will continue for 2 more years to receive his diploma in Records and Archives Management. We pray that the Lord continues to go before his path, and that Patrick will continue to be diligent in seeking the will of HIS father. Please continue to pray for Patrick, for the first born child has many responsibilities to his family.