Ministry of Margaret Nelson
Uganda, Africa

July 6, 2005

Catching Up!

Once again, time has escaped me, and it's been too long since my last newsletter. Usually I have one "cooking" on the back burner of my mind, and I've had several that have bubbled up and been discarded for various reasons, plus I've been exceptionally busy. I have been preparing both for the 3 week visit of my daughter and grandson (just completed), and for another 3 week visit (coming July 29th) from a team from New Life Center Foursquare Church, Everett, WA. These things have taken place along with my usual weekly schedule of teaching Bible classes out in the villages and dealing with crises related to our New Life Kids Club orphan/school ministry. So sometimes all my newsletters do is simmer on the burner, not making it into the computer, and on to you, via email…

This morning I put Angie and Joel on the plane, for the first leg of their long journey back to Oregon state, USA. They enjoyed their time here, getting to experience a broad spectrum of activities, including meetings that started (African style) several hours late and then lasted all day, lively and lengthy village church services, Ugandan food of all kinds, tea made of swamp water, seasoned with brown sugar and milk fresh from some nearby cow, making friends with my fierce German shepherd Musege, sleeping on my floor, and a genuine African safari. We slept in tents and had the scary thrill of hearing a hippo grazing right outside those thin nylon walls! In addition to seeing big game in the wild, they got to take a trip up the Nile River on a boat, seeing more game, birds, huge crocodiles, and the beautiful Murchison Falls, and the rather exciting experience of finding a green mamba (poisonous snake) nearly under Angie's and my seat!

Our schools, New Life Academy and Kasana Kids Club Primary School, are growing and going well. It has been a bumpy road, which we expected this first year, but there is the distinct feeling of God's guidance in all the bumps. The Kasana school remains at about 150 kids, about 40 of whom are orphans attending free of charge. New Life, having started a bit later with about 60 kids has grown this term to nearly 200, with about 50 orphans. We now have 7 teachers in each school, with 5 grades and 2 preschool classes (the older one equivalent to kindergarten). The Everett team is coming to do a conference with our teachers in August, as well as for other ministry.

We faced an unexpected crisis last week when the pit latrine the New Life Academy uses was found to be collapsing. It is the only latrine in the village, so, as we found, it was in pretty bad shape. Without a latrine, we cannot have a school, so we had to quickly find funds to build a new one over the weekend to keep our school open. God provided the funds in a unique way, and the school was able to stay open.

Three of our NLA children have encountered a severe family problem. Their mother died, meaning they now must live with a stepmother. An African stepmother is not merely a 2nd wife after a divorce or death as we are more familiar with outside of Africa. It's usually another wife in a polygamous marriage. There is usually much jealousy and hostility between co-wives and the half-siblings relating to one husband/father. This stepmother is not treating the 3 children well at all, so they've been coming to school dirty and hungry. The teachers bought soap for the kids, which they took home, and the stepmother confiscated it. Then one day one of the boys told his teacher that the porridge he'd had at school the day before was the last meal he'd had.

So our teachers have rallied and made these kids their project. They're buying special food for them, to make sure they remain well nourished. They're also buying soap and clothing for them, so they can bathe and change their clothes when they come to school. Then they'll change back into their old clothing before they go home. Meanwhile Pastor David, as school director, is making plans to visit the father of the children and take up the issue with him. So please pray for this family, that God will intervene and cause the father and stepmother to have compassion on these children.

God has enabled us to work with Pastor Ezira in Kabanyi village to take steps in completing a temporary pole and roof structure to expand his church. From there we hope to help him construct a new brick permanent church, and with the 2 buildings, to start a new branch of New Life Kids Club by February 2006. Ezira has long desired to become a part of our orphan project, and he is now part of our New Life schools Executive Committee. We plan to start our 3rd school in Kabanyi in February.

We now have the poles up and about half the roof on the temporary structure, and the pit latrine is being started this week. The rest of the roof will be finished next week. Continue to pray for the water/rain situation in Kabanyi. In addition to the 2 wells we tried to drill 2 years ago, there have been 6 other failed attempts to drill other wells. There is now a local businessman who is having an earth dam built about a mile and a half from Pastor Ezira's area to collect rainwater, but we really need more than one for the ones too far from that reservoir now being put in.

On Monday we went to an inaugural meeting of one of our new SEVO (Samaritan Emergency Volunteer Organization) groups in a remote village called Kyekunyu (che-koon-yu). These 29 students have been trained by one of our trainers who attended Greg Matthews' seminar in November 2004. They have just completed the first phase, called Basic First Aid. Thanks to the local primary school headmaster, the class has been meeting in one of their classrooms, and our meeting Monday was held at the school. As we drove in, the children, screaming wildly, poured out of the doors of the school, so excited to see visitors. It was probably the first time many of them had ever seen white people.

Many local officials attended the meeting, and we were blessed beyond belief when it was announced that a Muslim Hajj was donating 2 acres of his land for SEVO use! We are going to meet with the District Medical Officer to see what he can do to help us establish a medical clinic there, as well as continuing with our SEVO training project in this area which has so little in terms of resources. We are going to be starting another SEVO training center in Kabanyi.

In the coming weeks, please pray for:

Margaret Nelson