Back to top

Appleseed Travel Journal

What Would Happen?

What would happen if we didn’t have partners who are so loving, giving, and frankly, pretty amazing people? This is what I was asking myself when I went out to Liberty School yesterday. The teacher overseeing the washable sanitary pads program for the girls at the school came up to me intently asking, “Did you bring pads? We need them so, so badly.” Stupidly, I thought I had already lugged enough 50-pound suitcases filled with 50 kits to last that school a lifetime. Silly me. Younger girls grow up and new students come in…all with no means to purchase disposable sanitary pads.

“We have 16 new boarding students in secondary school and none of them have any pads,” she went on. “I am really hoping you have brought some with you.” So while the menfolk, Roger, Director of the School John, the Head Teacher (male) and others were discussing matters of great import, like infrastructure and budgets, mostly clueless of the magnitude of the needs of each female student of age at their school, the women were trying to get a handle on the administration of a very necessary item to make it possible for girls to attend class every day.

Not only was this particular teacher aware, but the new students were nervously aware and thank God, those two precious gals in Arroyo Grande are acutely aware that without these pads, the new girls would not be attending class one week out of this and the following months of the school year. So, what would happen if I had to say, “No, I didn’t bring any this time?” Thank God we don’t have to find out, because once again I was to be able to say, “Yes! I have pads!” So, a huge thank you to ALL of you who work on, contribute towards and make it happen over and over again! Here are 14 of the new gals and what your efforts mean to them!

new female students with kits

You Put a Smile Back on a Child’s Face

Whenever I step onto the campus at Liberty School, like yesterday, I feel two overwhelming and seemingly opposite feelings.

First, I feel the reality of the school’s ever present needs:

  • Never enough school supplies
  • Teachers underpaid as they struggle to serve voluntarily these vulnerable children
  • Some children facing difficult home situations
  • And more

As one missionary-friend likes to say, “This is Africa.”

On the other hand, I simultaneously experience enormous gratitude at seeing these 300+ amazingly happy children learning, growing, and playing (note pics and video).

Why?

  • They ARE getting the real essentials of nourishment and care
  • They ARE receiving one of the best educations in the country. Amazingly this school of underpaid teachers continually ranks among the highest in test scores
  • They ARE experiencing an environment that is safe and that allows them to be what they are…children.

And, for most of these children, though they lack ALL of the childhood toys and accoutrements that we think of as ‘normal’ back home, what they are receiving is ENOUGH for them to learn, grow, and enjoy their childhood.

You are definitely helping us put a smile on each of these faces!

Eleven-Year-Old Touches ONE HUNDRED Girls in Africa

When I received an email recently from a young single mom of three girls, I was stunned on several counts. One reason was this mom had just received her income tax refund and had given each of her girls $100 to give away in whatever way she chose. Shocking, right? I’ve been a single mom and there are TONS of ways $300 could have been spent other than giving it away!! Then, secondly, the reason for the email was that one of her daughters wanted to give her money to the kids at Liberty School.

Whohooo!!!! How fun to have $100 not already earmarked for much needed supplies at the school. With so many areas of need not able to be met, it was hard to choose how to use these precious dollars. Then I thought about what life might be like for this little American girl if all of a sudden she were dropped into the same circumstances as an 11 year old girl in Bikeke Village. Her classmates would be girls who didn’t own or much less had ever seen an iPad. They didn’t have a tv or a book or crayons, their own bed, or a rug on their dirt covered floor. They might own a worn out uniform and for weekends a threadbare t-shirt and skirt. The relative they live with can’t buy shoes or pay fees for her to go to school. And, undoubtedly, without Liberty School, she would typically be staying at home caring for her younger siblings while her guardian or single parent goes out seeking day work in the fields to be able to buy enough for at least one meal for themselves and their children that day. These girls have seen and experienced more abuse, loss, hunger and sickness than most of us will in our lifetimes.

However, in spite of such hardship, these little girls are excited to go to school every day and be in a place where they are cared for, taught, and fed. Even though whoever they are living with—a relative, a single parent, a guardian—barely has enough money for food or rent, they are being given a chance for a better life. They smile, they laugh and they are full of gratitude. Nevertheless, MANY times, when I ask about the circumstances about a child at the school, the answer usually includes, “The child’s basic needs are not being met.” What does this mean? Basic needs! Clothing, shelter, and food!!!

So, while, I might LOVE to suggest using this $100 to give the girls a doll or a pretty dress, I think, “What on a very basic level is something they need and will at the same time put a smile on their faces?” Underwear! Why? Because under those dirty, worn out uniforms there is nothing. A teacher told me, “Sometimes when we are discussing some things (hygiene), a child is so ashamed because she is not wearing any underwear.” So, underwear it is! Thank you, sweet American girl, for giving to meet not only a need, but to also bring some dignity and sense of well being to 100 little girls!

So, one hundred girls, one hundred pairs of underwear!! When I told the students about the American girl and how she wanted to give them something, they couldn’t believe it. I showed them her photo and they knew she was real. When I placed a brand new, not even from a second hand store, pair of panties in their hands, they were in awe. Undoubtedly the very first pair of brand new underwear they had ever owned!!! Each one curtsied and stuck out both hands to receive her pair. In unison, they shouted out, “Asante sana!” Just check out their delight!

Brooks holding a photo of a girl

underwear

kids in school uniform

kids in school uniform

kids in school uniform holding up underwear

Disciple-makers from Northern Uganda and S. Sudan

Here are the folks we got to be with from Northern Uganda last week:
and those from S. Sudan:

These are some that church planters in Eastern Uganda have reached. Half of the group are already practicing disciple makers. They each brought along one of their disciples.

Interestingly, the Sudanese talk about how cold it is here (while I'm whining about the heat)! They say where they come from it is so hot that they get up in the night to take a shower so the body can cool down enough to sleep. As you can imagine, that's only one of many challenges they face, like little water, little food, obviously the basics of living are a problem. The city they live in is huge where there are many NGO's from all over the world working to bring relief, but the challenges are still great.

Once again, we feel very privileged to get to be with such inspiring Believers.

Check out the traffic in Kampala where we were staying and working the past few weeks!
…and an interesting, very loud bird overseeing our teachings

Storytelling in Kampala

Five nations, five+ languages, all meeting in Kampala, Uganda. Why? To learn to use storytelling to share the gospel in oral people groups in their nations and beyond. A huge thank you to Scriptures in Use (SIU) and in particular, Jacob and Mike, for coming to spend a week with us. It was crazy at times, but God did something powerful and those guys deposited so much into each of us.

What did we learn?

Drama!

Practicing drama by acting out the story of Lazarus.

Singing songs!

Singing a song to tell Matthew 28:18-20

And, telling stories!

Practicing storytelling by going into an oral community sharing Jesus with stories from Scripture:

And, here are just a few of the comments after our week together:

Uganda

“In Uganda we are very much blessed for having hosted you. We thank you very much especially Roger and Brooks for such a good plan for us and we also thank Brother Mike and Jacob. You have labored and helped us to make disciples using storytelling, drama and using songs. So here in Uganda you have given us a tool so that we reach many, many disciples.”

Rwanda

“We thank you so much; it was a blessing to be at this training. What we have got from here is such a blessing. We have been working on disciple-making using Discovery Bible Study. Storytelling has added something to those things, especially for those places we are working outside of Kigali. But we also have use of storytelling in town because even though I live in Kigali town and we are literate, we like to discuss and talk about so many things. This is our daily life. It is not always in writing. We are with people and wherever we are, we are always talking. It will be much easier with this tool to use it all the time. When we learn those Bible stories like that (storytelling method), we can remember them always. Otherwise it is very difficult for us. We again want to thank you so much for this tool.”

Burundi

“We thank you. This training came at the right time. We have had a challenge to reach people who are unlearned and didn’t understand how to do it. We are very much going to be practicing this way. Thank you again so much.”

DR Congo

“I was so happy and I have no words to express. We are so thrilled and we don’t even know what to say. We are so much happy with everyone who trained us and made us to be here everyone who came in to do something so we could be here and get this.. May God bless you a lot. We know what we have learned we are going to pass on so it will continue. So when we get back we will tell you many testimonies.”

Kenya

“I want to thank you so much for the training. We have needed to have more knowledge about how to reach oral cultures. Especially in Kenya we want more tools to reach people. Through stories and through drama it will help us to start other new churches. It will be such a good way to bring those who are unlearned. For us this training was a real blessing. I will be continuing to think about it day and night. May God continue to show us how to use stories and drama.”

Americans

We weren’t four hours into our next scheduled training with ten folks from Northern Uganda and South Sudan when someone asked this question: “What about how do we communicate to those people who don’t speak English or read any Bible and they are not very learned at all. How about those people? There are so many where we live.” Can you imagine how thrilled we were to be able to tell them about storytelling!!!

Pages

Subscribe to Appleseed Travel Journal