Sunday, July 25, 2010

Time flies!

Every time I decide I will update this blog something comes up so once again I’m writing this entry in bed otherwise I’ll never get round to it again! So much has happend since the first entry so where do I start? A great experience we had and are still having is teaching in a local primary school, we met Mike street witnessing and started studying with him and his wife, it turned out that he is a teacher and asked us if we could share what we were teaching him with the school. This was a great success and consequently were asked back on a weekly bases to teach bible lessons in the school. Another nice experience we are having is with Titus who met also street witnessing he comes to all meetings walking 9km there and 9km back and also walks to is bible study on Wednesday, he’s only 19 but shows such appreciation for Jehovah, we hope he will be another Ivan. Together Taby and I are now studying with more or less 25 people not including the school but we always keep an hour or so free in the morning to go house to house, this way we can still enjoy working with all the brothers and sisters who are regulary attending the field meetings. The meeting attendance has really improved especially since the need greaters have been here, were are now in 3 couples which has had a very possitive effect with the local brothers who have been encouraged to spend more time in the field. We are now 50 publishes and average about 100 in attendance each Sunday.
Regarding Immigration we will enquire at the office in Mbarara when we go to the assembly this weekend, hopefully we will be able to attain a long term visa either buy applying for another work permit or a 3 year multi entry visa if they have started issuing them. 
Finally this is one of those moments of madness we had and decided to take this picture :).

What's up in Fort?

As all of you know we have decided to return to Fort Portal as we found the environment was easier for us to support than Kampala and I was sure (Chris) that I wouldn’t get Malaria again only to catch my 5th dose of it after only 3 weeks  of returning! Anyway I got over it within 48 hours as my body seems to be more or less used to it now, just pop a couple of pills and back to normal.
Chris and Joshua
It was wonderful to see the old congregation and get back into things here. We also have a new couple from Alaska here which is a great help. We also had good news from Kamillo (our last study in Kampala to be baptized) that he is now a regular pioneer, that makes all three spirtiual son’s pioneers! Also we had another surprise on our return to the Kingdom Hall in Fort Portal, a study of Taby who had only studied the first five chapters of ” What does the bible really teach” is regularly attending all meetings and making fine progress.
Studies are pouring in as to be expected in Uganda, hopefully we will soon have some nice experiences to write about here. As you should all know by now the year book has a part on Uganda so we are expecting and hoping for more need greaters in Uganda soon. Could that be you?
Taby and Sarah
It is now 00.20 am so it’s time for my bed but we promise to update soon..

This is our home!

So after 3 years and a half trying to decide where to settle, we finally decided for Uganda as by now this is our home. 
Let us go back in time and explain how we got to this decision. Please be patient with me (Tabita) as English is not my mother language so I'll probably make mistakes in this blog.

After 2 years of marriage and 1 year of pioneering in Italy, we realized that we wanted to try to do something more, like serving where there is more need. So we started looking at the World wide report inside the Yearbook 2006. We were looking for an English speaking country (as Christopher is British) where the cost of life was reasonable (as we didn't know if we were able to find work and we had little savings). It is a fact that it's easier to find an English speaking country with need in Africa then in all the other continents. So we looked at the countries where English was the official language and Uganda was the one with the more need at the time (1 publisher every 6.000 people or more) so we settled our mind on that and we started planning for it. We decided we would leave after the pioneer school so we gave ourselves 6 months to plan everything. We got in touch with the Branch in Uganda and of course the brothers were more than happy to hear that we wanted to move there. They kindly gave us the number of other need greaters in Uganda at the time so that they could give us information about cost of life, visas, work, etc. At first it seemed that Uganda was expensive for a third world country but it also seemed that we could get work, if not employed as self-employed being both in IT.Of course our parents at first thought that we were mad, but they eventually understood that our motives were the right ones and then they supported us in our decision. So then we asked the Circuit Overseer what he thought of our decision to move where the need is great and his answer was: "Why are you still here? If I was you I would have gone yesterday..." and then helped us to get the right attitude toward this new experience. 
We then attended the Pioneer School with the same C.O. and all our "classmates" were so supportive that we felt that Jehovah had answered our many prayers: It was the right decision to make! 
December 2006 arrives and we prepare to leave. The brothers in the congregation organized a big party for us and made us cry when they gave us a big photo album with a photo and a personal thought of every family in the congregation.
The day we are supposed to leave we have to go around to say goodbye to the family and again seeing them crying brought us to tears and to wondering if we were doing the right thing. We didn't sleep that night at the hotel near the airport and we were silent during the whole flight.
Uganda Branch
When we arrived it was night time in Kampala and between hundreds of unfamiliar faces we finally saw a brother holding a Watchtower magazine up high. Two brothers and a sister came from Bethel to pick us up and although they'd never met us, they hugged us and gave us a lovely welcome. We arrived in Bethel at 1 am and we tried to sleep but the feeling of being 11.000 km from home and in the middle of Africa was overwhelming. 
Muyenga: Our first congregation in Uganda
We got up at 6.30 am to attend morning worship but it was the first time for both of us and we didn't know what to wear or where to sit. So we arrived in the dining room late, tired, I was wearing a denim skirt and Chris didn't shave or wear a tie. But they were understanding and didn't tell us anything. We still laugh about that with the brothers when we go to Bethel. 
We went back to the room and we waited for a couple of need greaters to come to pick us up and take us to the place we rented at first. 
They kindly showed us around during the following days, driving us everywhere trying to find a decent car for a decent price. 
My Father in the field
After 3 weeks my parents came from Italy to make sure we were fine and that their daughter (me) was happy. They also arrived at night and going there to pick them up the car started heating so we had to stop several times to let it cool down. We arrived at the airport 30 minutes later and my father was already preaching to the taxi drivers along the airport car park.
With my parents in Muyenga
Going back to the house of course the car was still heating so we had to stop and looking around me and Chris realized that we had stopped in the middle of nowhere, with no street lights and there was no one around. We looked at each other and exploded in a loud laugh... my parents must have been terrorized. The next day they admitted that they immediately thought of going back and taking me with them. 
They stayed 3 weeks and enjoyed the field and the congregation. They went back and then we started our real experience.
It was difficult for me at first because I didn't speak any English before I came here, so I was trying to pick presentations from other sisters and of course with Chris' help "slowly slowly" I became more acquainted with 
the language. 
During the first 2 weeks we met 14 year old boy named Ivan and a 19 year old boy called Moses. The third week Chris met Kamillo, a 40 year old security guard very enthusiastic about God being raised catholic. 
Moses and Ivan
Ivan was very shy at first so the study was difficult and slow but he was consistent, always prepared and always present on the day scheduled. He started coming to the meeting straight away and we later discovered that he had stopped going to the church he used to go because he realized that they were not teaching the truth. The same church was paying his school fees so by not attending, he also had to stop school. He told us 6 months later because we asked him why he wasn't attending school anymore. In 8 months he was baptized and after 1 year he was a regular pioneer. 
Our Territory
Moses was the opposite of Ivan. Very straight forward and open minded. He was living with a Russian lady, mother of a school mate, who gave him accommodation in exchange for his work around the house. Of course she started opposing him from the start telling him many "stories" about Jehovah's Witnesses in Russia after the II WW. So from time to time he would come to us and ask us to explain and he would always leave the house relieved that what he had been told wasn't true. She threatened of throwing him out of the house many times but he endured and at the end she left him alone. After 1 year he was baptized and then moved in with Ivan. They still share their room, but Ivan is mostly alone because Moses is always busy with the construction of Kingdom and assembly halls.

Kamillo Baptism
Kamillo instead was slower because of his work. Is not easy to find a decent job in Uganda and jobs as Security Guards are always available, but they imply carrying arms. So we studied with him for more than 1 year, he finished the Teach Book and started the 2nd book. He would attend all the meetings and assemblies but it was difficult for him to leave his job as he had a wife and a child to care for. We had nearly lost hope when coming back from our yearly holiday back home, we found that he resigned and was looking for another job because he wanted to be baptized. The wife left him because he wanted to legalize the marriage and she didn't want to. She took the child with her after confessing that it wasn't his. So after realizing that he was "free" he took a stand for the truth and got baptized after a couple of months. 
Moses, Kamillo, Chris and Ivan
They're all baptized and regular pioneers and 2 of them are ministerial servant. They give us great joy and satisfaction and although we're far from them they often come and visit us in Fort Portal.
Nsambya Congregation
So we spent 2 years and half in the capital Kampala. I won't describe them all but although the preaching work was amazing and we had the privilege to see a small group meeting in a small school becoming 3 congregations meeting in their own Kingdom Hall, we must admit that it wasn't easy. 
The school were we used to have meetings
We got sick with malaria more than once and with other bugs often. I ended up in hospital, Chris had problems with his liver because of the frequency malaria would affect him and we had many problems with landlords, work and immigration. Jehovah always gave us the strength to endure of course but in September 2008 we honestly thought we couldn't handle it anymore and as our ticket back home was already booked, we decided we wouldn't come back. As it was our last month in Uganda and we had never done a Safari, we decided to do a week driving around the western part of Uganda. So we left Kampala early in the morning and as soon as we were outside the city we realized what a beautiful country Uganda is. We drove through Fort Portal but didn't stop. We went straight to the lodge were we'd booked and discovered that it was on the edge of the Queen Elizabeth safari park. The view was breath taking. 

There was a sunset on the Savannah and we could see the sun reflecting on Kazinga channel. The next morning we went for safari and then had lunch at the lodge on the channel waiting to have a boat trip. Each passing day we were feeling more and more sad just thinking of going home. Coming back from the Safari Park, we stopped 2 nights in Fort Portal and realized that it's a lovely place, quiet, green, clean and the weather is much cooler than Kampala. But we didn't know anything about a congregation o if there was any brother. 
So we drove back to Kampala, stayed with friends a couple of nights and then went to bethel the day before our flight. Funny enough many missionaries were at Bethel that day so it was even more heart breaking to say goodbye. We then went to say goodbye to brother Matts who always supported us. What comes up in the conversation is that we've just been in Fort Portal and we like it very much, so Matts says "Why don't you try there? There is a small congregation with only one elder and a lot of need.". We again saw how Jehovah answers our prayer at the right time. It was our answer. So we went home, and left again after 2 months to start again in Fort Portal. 
When we arrived here we loved it straight away. The brothers welcomed us with such love and warmth that we felt at home. They helped us in everything they could. We also realized that pioneering here is much easier than Kampala as it's cheaper, the weather is cooler, and there is plenty of territory that has never been worked. 

So, this is how we came to be in Fort Portal and how we decided that this is our home now! 
We're still here, we love it more each passing day and from now on we'll post monthly or weekly new experiences or anything new that happens. 
I hope that wasn't boring...