Sunday, August 31, 2008

Goodbye August

Jonah's latest "Idea" - Dani and he built a luxurious toad house, complete with a pool and diving board with lily pads and a rock fence around the 'compound'


I'm sure we're not alone in thinking that the Summer months came and went in the blink of an eye. With family visiting, it made the time fly by. But now, life returns to the typical, hectic speed as the Summer 'break' season for eMi comes to an end with the arrival of the Fall interns tonight. Around the office, we're excited to have some new life injected into the office, and the interns never disappoint with their enthusiasm and energy.
The Fall projects are just around the corner too - my team is picked up two weeks from tomorrow (Monday) to travel North two hours to Luwero where we'll be designing a pastoral training center as well as a primary and secondary school. We're really excited to get working on the project and hopefully will be a huge blessing to Sufficiency of Scripture Ministries.


The boys posing in front of the Toad pool, with the Toad hanging out on the pool deck

These last two weeks we've been working on getting the kids settled into school and trying to get Brodie fully adapted to 3rd grade. He's doing really well in there overall, though it hasn't been without the bad day here and there as he gets used to both a new classroom and having skipped a grade, but overall we couldn't be more pleased with how it's going.
I also start coaching soccer this week for the U7 team at school. Jonah just misses the cutoff for age, but he'll be able to play after his birthday in February. Brodie is excited to play though, and I am looking forward to coaching too. Dani plans to be the assistant coach, so that will be fun.


The Toad that took up temporary residency in the luxurious new toad house




Alisha has already subbed two different mornings at the school, and is in charge of running the Chapel for this week for the 2 to 5 year olds as it is 'spiritual emphasis week'. She is also praying about whether or not she should volunteer to


Brodie with his 3rd grade teacher - Mrs. Juliet


be the long-term substitute in Brodie's 3rd grade class as the current teacher Mrs. Juliet (who is excellent!) is 7 or 8 months pregnant! She will be out starting sometime in early November,


Jonah with his Kindergarten teacher - Mrs. Margarette


through January probably. So we would appreciate your prayers about that. We are a little bummed since things are going so well with Brodie so far at school - his teacher really is doing a great job of dealing with Brodie's needs in the classroom.
Jonah is also enjoying Kindergarten, though he's still adjusting to going to school every day even though it's only a half day. Otherwise, he is full of ideas around here. This has always been the case of course, but lately he's been in rare form. Other than the 'Toad house', a sampling from the 'Idea List' he made includes: a cannon, a snow-making machine, a creek and a waterfall (not a little one, but one that meanders throughout our yard), a dirt house we can walk in with a staircase, a gun, a stove out of dirt, and a camelion or butterfly house! I'm trying to be a good dad by not saying 'no' all the time, but he's not giving me a whole lot of room to work with here! It's become a popular saying around here, about Jonah: "That kid's got ideas!"
Graysen is also loving school, though going 2 times a week seems to be enough of a 'school fix' for him! He is such a happy little man - it takes a lot for him to get down on life. He is a walking song and dance show, and he even gets Brodie and Jonah laughing fairly regularly now. He's doing great at swimming now too, and swims without his 'powerpack' (small floating pads on his back) most of the time. He swims across the pool by himself now, but his favorite is being thrown in as high as I can (this has only resulted in a couple of back flops - my bad!).

Graysen and his teacher, Mrs. Ronah

Friday, August 15, 2008

Back to School/Work

This past week marked the beginning of the school year for the boys. Late last week, we registered the boys and walked through their classes to meet the teachers. After reviewing the curriculum in the 2nd grade class for Brodie and praying about what was best, we decided to approach
First day of school (for Brodie & Jonah)...as you can see, the only way to keep all three close enough together for a picture is to get Jonah to put the other two in a headlock!
the principal about moving Brodie forward into the 3rd grade. She was ok with the idea, but wanted Brodie to take the 2nd grade end of the year assessments to be sure he was where we thought he was.
So we went home and got him, and brought him down to the school where he sat through a 2 1/2 hour test usually given over 3 days at the end of 2nd grade. By far, the hardest part of the test was keeping him engaged the whole time, but he was able to fight through it and did well enough to satisfy all parties involved. Alisha said he was fading fast at the end.
But the first week went very well. We started out thinking that Alisha would go with him for the first couple of days to get him settled, and then we'd transition Dani into the role of his aide. (Actually, it was a big confirmation to all of us as to why Dani was here, as we never could have considered doing this if she wasn't around since Alisha couldn't be
Graysen's first day of school - Junior Kindergarten
'on-call' to help him in the room with Graysen at home most days.) But he did much better than we were expecting, and by midday on Monday, Alisha left him there by himself. For the rest of the week, she checked in on him periodically and with the teacher, but he really had no problems. Dani also went in a few times to be in there with him too, so she'll be ready to be the on-call aide if he's having a tough day. She also has a couple of set times where she will be in his class, and she plans to help out in Jonah's class as well.
Brodie's teacher is a Ugandan woman who is a really good teacher and actually has some training with special needs children and autism, so that definitely played into our decision. Also, Brodie has always done better behaviorally with older kids, and so far that is playing out as well.
Brodie's 3rd grade classroom - Brodie the little tike in the front left


Jonah started 'real' school this year too - kindergarten! It was sad for Alisha to have him going everyday, even though it's just half-day. Another kid entering into the school years - man does time fly. Jonah is doing well, though he's still not convinced that he needs to go everyday.
Graysen is going to 'junior kindergarten' two days a week, which he loves - especially since his friend Liana next door goes the same two days.

Graysen on his new bike Grandma and Grandpa bought him - he's been off the training wheels for a couple months now.


I also returned to work this week after a few weeks off visiting with Alisha's parents and brother and family. It was good to be back, even though the eMi office is very quiet these days. No interns, and a couple of people are on vacation now, so what was an office of 14 just a month ago is now an office of 3 or 4. But I've been able to get a lot done, mainly as it relates to my upcoming project trip in September. I've been working on recruiting volunteers from the States to come on the trip,

A shot of the 'Heart of a Child' project site. The ministry plans to build a medical clinic, primary and secondary schools, and a children's village for orphans on this plot of land (about 20 acres).

but it's been challenging to find people. It seems the Fall season is always the hardest to recruit for since everyone has just taken vacation time during the Summer and aren't really in the mood to take 2 weeks off for a missions trip.
I also visited a site for a future project and helped the ministry do some preliminary planning for some work they'll be doing before the eMi team arrives. I'll include a couple of pictures from the site so you can see

eMi staff member Janet walking the site with the ministry representative Kenneth

what some projects look like here before we help them build their vision.
In other news, I got my boda (i.e. motorcycle) license finalized, so in a couple of weeks I should have my official license. For now, I have a 3 month permit so I am finally legitimate on the streets of Kampala in both car and boda.

Before he left, Grandpa and Jonah built a birdhouse from scratch. It was Jonah's idea and he planned it all out and picked out the paint. Grandpa provided the know-how.

Graysen turned 4 on August 9th.
Also, we are tentatively planning a furlough to return to the states towards the latter part of January for 4 or 5 weeks. We still have to work out the logistics of getting plane tickets and all that, but we're hoping to work that out in the coming few weeks! We are so excited to actually have a tentative date in mind for when we will get to come home and see our friends and family! I think it will also be a good opportunity for us to go home and get our minds regrounded, then come back here and see if we feel any different about our future here.

Jonah and the finished project

Monday, August 4, 2008

Vacation

The 2nd (of 3) falls at Sipi Falls, 50 miles Northeast of Mbale, Uganda


We've been on vacation for the better part of the past 2 weeks, so I haven't been updating anything here. But I have been taking pictures, so I'll include some. But for a good rundown of the last week, once again, I'll refer you to my brother-in-law Brian's blog. His last few posts are a good account of what we've been doing on this vacation, so I thought why rehash what he's already written.
We left on Thursday July 24th for Mbale and Sipi falls for 1 night, then back to Jinja for 3 nights. While in Jinja we took a boat ride on the Nile, and also out to a village on the Lake where a Pastor who Brian had met ministers. They welcomed us in a little service in the church, which was attended primarily by people of all ages suffering with AIDS. It was touching and heartbreaking at the same time.
On Sunday, Brian and I went whitewater rafting on the Nile all day, while the rest of the crew took a family float trip that included only class 1 and 2 rapids. But all the boys (and parents) got to swim in the Nile. Meanwhile, Brian and I were risking our lives all day on class 3, 4 and 5 rapids. It was completely exhilarating, a mental and physical challenge that I definitely hope to do again before we leave.
Early Monday morning, we were picked up by the safari company and our lovable driver Farrouq ("Fa-Ruke") and headed for Northern Uganda. He was a very nice, Christian man who made our trip a lot of fun. From here, Brian's blog does a great job of telling the story so head over there.
But this was definitely the most amazing vacation our family has taken, though it was a ton of driving on bad roads. Uganda is a beautiful country and we've seen a sizeable chunk of it now. Before we joined up with Brian's family we took a 2-day trip to Sipi falls in Eastern Uganda, which was amazing. Since Brian wasn't there, these pictures don't appear on his blog so I'll include some here, as well as a few others from the Safari:


The Main falls at Sipi Falls





Viewing the 2nd Sipi Falls from a cave behind the falls


My favorite picture - a view from the cave of us viewing the falls

Dani and the boys inside the cave, exploring.



Alisha and the boys having lunch at the Crow's Nest lodge near Sipi Falls (in the background)

Walking through the village - we were like superstars. I swear I've seen pictures of Brad Pitt walking down this same road (with no more of a fantastic reaction than we received!).

Alisha and Jonah in one of our Safari vehicles

The boys in their safari hats, midway through the trek to see the Rhino.
Murchison Falls (on the Nile River) about 3 miles from the lodge where we stayed. The entire White Nile River is forced through a 20 ft chasm in the rocks as it careens 120 ft down.

Looking down from the top of Murchison Falls

From where I took this shot, the spray from the falls was like a steady rain.

One more shot of the gorge at Murchison Falls, this time from below - can you guess what my favorite part of the Safari was?

Alisha and Graysen on the Safari boat trip - we saw tons of Hippos and a few dozen Crocs.

A few of the Crocodiles, basking in the sun, even though it was cloudy.

Baboons are peculiar animals, and we saw hundreds of them all over the place inside the National Park. The ones near the lodge were used to people so we could get very close. If you look closely there are 4 in this picture - two little ones with their mom and dad. The mom is grooming the dad, something I've been trying unsuccessfully to get Alisha to do for me for years.

It took us two game drives to find them, but when we finally did, the lions were incredible. This is one of the cubs. It was amazing how unfazed they were by our presence, even though we were only 30 feet away. Not everyone sees the lions at Murchison Falls, so we were pretty excited that we did on day two.

Me comforting Dani on the Chimp trek through the rainforest. As you can see, she was clearly scared (haha). It poured rain on the trek but is was a lot of fun. We hiked 3 kilometers in to see the chimps, who were way up in the trees when we "saw" them. (It wasn't nighttime, just dark in the rainforest).