This has been such a full month of activity, expansion and blessings. Can you believe Love Alive has now placed 40 children in school?!?!? 40! That’s 40 little lives given an opportunity to read and write. These kids are so excited about going to school they beg to go even during breaks. One child was upset that when I put him into “summer school” (The schools are on a 3 week break here.) the teacher only held classes 3 days per week. If you have followed the FB posts or blogs you have seen that buying shoes for 2 children outside my house, led to their asking me to send them to school. By the time we walked to their houses to talk to their mothers a crowd of more than 30 adults and children was clamoring around me begging me to send their children to school. I took 20 names that night. I prayed about the best options as school has been in session for 3 months. After talking to the headmaster of the local school, he was willing to take all children under the condition that I arrange for tutoring for all of them during this 3 week break to help them be more ready when their classmates return. Other than one child in nursery school (which I am realizing is so very necessary here due to parental illiteracy and inability to teach their children even the basics of how to say their ABC’s let alone read, write or write their own name) all children are 7 or above. None of the children starting in first grade even knows the letters let alone has the ability to recognize them. I hired 2 excellent teachers I know well, and have full confidence the children will at least have learned a great deal in this next 3 weeks. They are eager to learn, attentive, and excited to tell me what they have learned.
In addition to keeping up with these 20 new kids, whom I see on a daily basis, visit their homes, coordinate with their teachers and families for needs and create opportunities to play with them and share the gospel, I am also keeping weekly visits with the first 20 children in 2 other villages whom we sponsor to school. Investing in these lives and establishing relationships with them entails more than I ever imagined, but it is so rewarding. Often when these families have a need they call me. Several of the moms who have no mother of their own have told me “Now you are my mother.” That’s an honor, but I’m also younger than some of them. In Africa, these people accept me as family. Of course, being family means that in addition to hospital runs, school meetings, and advice on family problems, I also get called for things I never imagined, such as last night being called to come to the jail and bail out 4 of our kids who were caught begging in the streets!
Interestingly enough, I had just been speaking with the mothers 2 days prior about the dangers of the children in the streets and what could be done as an alternative plan. Yes, children begging in the streets is dangerous, but when your children have no food to eat, what is the alternative? I am currently in the process of getting them started in a business of selling charcoal. This would take a small investment on Love Alive’s part, but enable them to work to provide for themselves and their family. Charcoal is a primary source of heat for cooking here. The profits could at least provide them enough to buy their children something to eat each day.
Another highlight this month was being able to donate 2 sewing machines, some fabric and all necessary sewing materials for a women’s group in a local church. One woman, a seamstress, has volunteered to use the machines to teach the other women the skill of sewing. Once the women can sew, they will have the ability to share the machines to make an income for their families, give to the church and also help their community. The women are so very excited about this and praying God will bless and multiply.
I have finished 3 months (one school term, as schools are in 3 terms here) of volunteer teaching at Star School in Masaka. Within the next 2 weeks I will be relocating to the southern province on the border of the Congo, where the need is just as great (I am told the need is greater), to establish working there alongside a local congregation. I will primarily be working to reach a particular area where there is great need and very little help. More details once I am there!
When I look back on what God has done in the past month, I am excited by the humanitarian aid we have been able to accomplish together, as I believe we are taught and even commanded in the Bible to look after the poor, the orphaned and abandoned, and love them as we love ourselves. Something I’ve been pondering lately is just what does it mean to “love my neighbor as myself”? To what extent does that verse go? Furthermore, I am thrilled that each individual we help is also presented with the gospel through my simple telling them, through the Jesus film, and most recently through sharing the Wordless book. I wish you could see 50 children and adults crammed into an 8×8 living room to watch the Jesus film on my laptop. I even get invited to please come share this in homes. An open invitation to share Jesus?? I’ll take it!
A last highlight of the month before I close was attending my first Rwandan baptism. I was honored to be invited by one of the mothers of a child we sponsor to school as she chooses to follow Christ.
Thank you for all you do to make this ministry possible. God is blessing because of YOU!