Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"It feels like chaos, somehow there's peace" -Sanctus Real

This past weekend a group of teachers from Heritage loaded a van to the brim to venture into the bush. Literally, I walked through the bush- they even called it that! The reason? We were asked by a local pastor to go to his village. While there, we encouraged a local women's group (mostly widows or HIV+), preached in church, visited homes, fetched water and carried it back on our heads, played with the children, and trained some nursery school teachers. At the school there are 78 students and 2 teachers! And these are not teenagers. We're talking about 2 year olds who still have not been potty trained nor do they have the ability to talk. Grant it, there are many who can talk and are well on their way to knowing how to add. We helped them teach on Monday and figured out how we could best help them. Afterwards the HIS teachers met and discussed ideas, then two of us went and sat down with Florence and Tollo. It was tough trying to explain to them things that they had never heard of before, such as lesson plans and timetables. We were right down to the basics for these teachers who never even finished High School. By the end of our 2 1/2 hour meeting we had successfully gone through most of the subjects that needed to be covered. The next day was a test: would they be able to make it? Somehow...that's a common phrase here that's hard to translate the exact meaning. Honestly, I can't imagine a time without using that word now. One of the teachers did fantastically while the other one continued to struggle greatly. It's hard to really break ground in two days. There isn't much more that we could have expected. Only that we did what we could and brought them school supplies. Some of the other teachers painted wood with chalkboard paint, some played football with the new one we bought, others watched in awe as the kids jumped through the ropes we brought with us. There's a lot more that still needs to be done, but it was a good start.
One night while we slept on the hard cement floor, the soft rain pitter-pattered on the tin roof above our heads. Though the floor below was causing some discomfort, the sound of the rain brought peace to my heart. It was so quiet! Quite the opposite of what I'm hearing right now with a church service bellowing outside of my window. I'm used to the hustle of the city, my heart aches for peace. It may not seem like the most restful trip, and it was very overwhelming at times, but peace was restored.

At the same time that I was in the village enjoying the peace and quiet, my dear friends at KIU were being caned. The school has decided to hike up the fees for people who pay late. Every two weeks late, there's an additional $30. Now that might not seem like much to you, but to someone who is barely able to pay their school fees, $90 for being 6 weeks late is A LOT! So, the students took action and rioted. The highest level of military showed up to break up the rioters and push back the people who had stopped traffic on the main road by hurling rocks at cars. As the rioters retreated, some went and hid inside of the hostels (like dorms) where my friends live. The military followed them in with tear gas bombs and big sticks. Anyone who was found in the hostel was caned and told to get out. Luckily my friends were able to escape quickly and only got caned a few times. They ran out into the street and fled to their friends homes to stay. Since then, no one has spent the night in the hostel. They are all still scared that something will happen. I only learned of this today when I showed up and waited outside of my friends room in that hostel for bible study, only to learn that no one was there. Eventually another friend came by and took me to her room. She had come to get a change of clothes. She explained to me that this was her first time in this type of situation and as we walked the stairs going out of the hostel she explained how she still envisioned the men in black suits of armor were running and hitting them. There is 'peace' now, but people are still seriously fearing remaining in the hostel for the night. There is no resolution to the problem and people are still keeping it a secret whether or not people died. Rumors come up so quickly in these instances. Alas, Bible Study was canceled today, and tomorrow we are venturing off to Camp for a few days, so there will be a time for peace in their hearts. Please pray for these students. Pray that their school fees would come through so that they wouldn't need to fret about overdue fees. Pray for peace...I guess I could say that about so much of the world. I know that in Ecclesiastes we are told that there's a time for everything under heaven..."a time for war and a time for peace." In the states people don't experience war in their homeland, and they are so blessed for that. It's unavoidable here. My friends had nothing to do with those riots, but they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Our world is full of differences, and so many of them are good, but I fear the extremes.

I feel like that so much here, like I am caught between two extremes. There's the obvious differences: color, food, class, etc. But there's so much more at a deeper level. It makes me wonder what God is doing inside of my heart. The song that goes with this title of this entry says: "Time to make right what has been wronged, it's time to find my way to where I belong. There's a wave that's crashing over me and all I can do is surrender. Whatever you're doing inside of me, it feels like chaos, somehow there's peace. It's hard to surrender what I can't see, but I'm giving into something Heavenly. Time for a milestone, time to begin again, reevaluate who I really am. Am I doing everything to follow your will or just climbing aimlessly over these hills? So show me what it is you want from me. I give're up to something bigger than me...something heavenly."
God is our peace. Even when we feel like we are surrounded by chaos, we can find peace. All we have to do is surrender to him. It's a great reminder, even on a daily basis when we come to small battles. We MUST just give it over to God, and he will bring peace. I pray that He brings peace not only to my friends at KIU or the teachers who struggle with 70+ students, but to you as well. He knows what best, and he will bring us peace. Praise HIM!

Monday, October 4, 2010

I can't see living without you-Sanctus real

I sit here trying to rack my brain as to what I should blog about from the past 2 1/2 months. Do I talk about the tiny cockroaches crawling on my leg on a bus up to Northern Uganda? How about climbing a volcano with my brother? Or what about that time I took a night bus all the way to Kenya for one day to attend a wedding? Then there's the soccer match in which Uganda beat Angola 3-0! The most recent weekend adventure with a bunch of my KIU friends to an orphanage to wash clothes and dishes with Mama Mary as she cares for 38 orphans by herself? I'm starting to sound like I don't do any work...there's also the delightfully diverse snacks that my kids bring to class from sushi to sausages. Obviously I could go on, my life here is one adventure after adventure. That's not to say that these adventures don't come without challenges...they sure do! This school year has brought new challenges that I could not have even imagined possible. But with those hard times comes blessing as well. My walk to and from school is hilly, but perfectly beautiful, you see so much more when walking! The mosquitoes in this house are horrid creatures, but I am so thankful for the abundant trees in this yard! My class size has increased to 22, but thankfully I don't have any students who speak no English what-so-ever. I miss having Miss Agnes around to talk to and the wonderful teacher that she was (she's coming back in December after a maternity leave) but I'm learning so much about a completely different culture from my current teaching assistant from Armenia!
Through it all there's been a renewed sense of dependence on God. There's no way that I could have made it all of this way without him, and every morning comes the re-focusing of my mind on HIM. And every night as I bring a bag full of work home to do, I am reminded of how much there is to be done, not only for my classroom, but in the entire world around me!
Hopefully I'll be inspired very soon to write a much more detailed blog post on my life here, but in the meantime, if you care for more detail on any of the above stories, don't hesitate to ask ;)