Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The King's Children

11 July, 2011

We traveled to King’s Primary School, arriving over two hours after we started –just in time for the morning break. The attendance roster for today looked like this:

The children assembled, and when I came up and began removing Eli (my eagle puppet) from his bag they all cheered! Eli had a flashlight in his heart, and we talked about darkness and light, ending with the verse, “I am the light of the world, he who follows me will never walk in darkness.” (John 8:12)

The kids cheered again when Andrea and Emily started singing “King of the Jungle” with them. They remembered!

I was able to read “The Three Billy Goats Gruff” to classes P1a and P1b, and “Itsy Bitsy Spider” to P2a.

It was a long, slow process, with the teacher translating. Even though English is Uganda’s national language, most of the children and even some of the teachers don’t speak or understand it proficiently. None of the students are able to read the simple words in these books, however they enjoyed having their own books with pictures to look at, and they responded enthusiastically when I asked for picture clues. They also enjoyed the rhyme and repetition. We discussed many aspects of each story. I even gave a bridge illustration of the Gospel to the P1 classes. They are all absolutely convinced that trolls are real, despite my attempt to convince them otherwise!

The rest of the team worked so hard today! They hauled rock in wheelbarrows and lined the walkways with it.

John and Aaron assisted Kermit and Bryan with the electrical work, while Gideon, a Ugandan electrician who will resume the work after we leave, worked alongside them, installing the conduit and underground cable that will carry electricity to all the school buildings.

Andrea and Wendy both taught in the classrooms. Sylvia began teaching some of the older girls to sew so that they can repair uniforms.

The group interacted with the older students from 4:00 to 5:00, playing games and initiating discussions...

...while John and I began teaching 1st Aid to the teachers and board members, who were all enthusiastic about the class.

We returned late and were unable to clean up before we had our dinner at 7:30. Dinner was a buffet of spaghetti, rice, beef stew, tiny pieces of foul that Denise called “hummingbird wings,” and fruit. By the time we got finished it was late and we all still had to take showers and wash our clothes because we were very dirty. Traveling causes the dust to permeate our clothing, hair, ears, noses, etc.
It was such a good and rewarding day, however. I was re-energized for the week ahead.

12 July, 2011

We returned to King’s Primary School. We see such interesting and beautiful sights along the way.

Normally I wouldn't consider this a beautiful sight, but it was thrilling to see newly strung power lines along the road to the school. It may still take several months for power to actually flow through these lines, but the electrical work our team is beginning will eventually come to fruition!

Andrea and Wendy resumed their work in the classrooms. Others organized teacher resources and art supplies in cupboards (a much needed activity), and the electrical work continued as well. Sean and Bobby began installing a shower for the teachers who live at the school. There is now plumbing, although these showers will be crude. The only toilets are squatty-potties. One is reserved for the visitors (us),someone is taking extra care to keep it as clean as a squatty-potty can be.

I spent the day interviewing teachers -12 of them, to be exact. Four have just completed their probationary period, and we chose to retain three of them. The others were applying for two new positions. The school’s four Ugandan board members, along with Jan, Denise, Mary, Allwyn and I interviewed them about the teaching position, but only after Jan and Carole had interviewed them regarding their salvation and spiritual life. Unfortunately, the only photos I took were while we were eating!

It was a long day, and quite emotional, too. I learned so much about the lives of teachers in Uganda. Like most American teachers I know, they are passionate about what they do –they truly love teaching. They work hard for little pay, however, and in many cases some ended up not being paid at all in their former positions. Like most Ugandan primary schools, KPS students attend school from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Many of the teachers at KPS leave their spouse and children behind to live at the school. Some bring their families along, but the living quarters are small and the school so remote that transportation can become difficult and expensive.

The students grow produce that feeds the teachers, and they also draw water for the teachers at the end of the school day.

It was Allwyn's birthday, so in his honor Scott went to the village and hired someone to make about 50 chapatis (fried flatbread). We shared these among the team, all the teachers, and the teacher applicants.

At the end of the day all the interviewers met together and learned that we were in perfect agreement! We had all selected the same two applicants. Isn’t that just how the Holy Spirit works when He’s invited to participate? Amazing! Transportation was arranged for all the applicants, and they were told that they would each be notified the following day whether or not they were hired. Our board chairwoman gave them a very gracious speech about God’s will and direction for their lives, and told them we wish them all well.

We finished with the interviews late, so John and I weren’t able to continue the 1st Aid class tonight.

Once again we were late returning to the hotel. We encounter many cattle herds along the road as we return home in the evening.

It makes the trip longer, but interesting as well. The traveling makes for long days with no margin. Still, there is no place I would rather be than at the school, and nothing I would rather be doing!

Tomorrow will be an exciting day at the school -a day of revelations and celebrations.

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