Thursday, 14 June 2012


Just a quick note to say I'm HOME! For one month I'll be in the UK, seeing family and catching up with friends and having a bit of a rest. It does seem a bit mad to be back so soon, but Brendan's sister is getting married, so we're taking the opportunity to have some time at home as well.
Things I'll miss...

  • Boda bodas taking you from wherever you are to wherever you want to go (no walking to and from bus stops!), or bringing dinner when you can't be bothered to leave the house..
  • My awesome GETS girls
  • My kittens (obviously..)

  • Mosquitos stuck in my net (not!)

  • The heat
  • The sun
  • The lovely cool but bright feeling after it rains (nothing is ever grey there)
  • Everything else about the weather
  • My friends - Anthea, will I manage not seeing you almost every single day??
  • Mini bananas
  • The colours of the market (possibly not the smells, though)
  • That being late is socially acceptable, and I'm usually not the last person to arrive..

If you want to meet up with me to talk about Mbarara or have me come and speak at your church, feel free to get in touch. I'm around until the 9th of July.

Care-bye, Mbarara, see you soon!

Friday, 1 June 2012

When charity turns toxic

I just read an article on Relevant Magazine about effective and ineffective charity work, and the dangers of putting a 'do-gooder' attitude above awareness of the real needs when it comes to poverty. Great discussion on that old phrase 'give a man a fish..'
The sentiment of the article is one of the main reasons I moved from being a lab worker to teaching discipleship and life skills. Working in the lab, I was doing a good job but it was a job any Ugandan could  do, and did not have any long term effect. The girls I teach now are learning things that will have a positive affect on the rest of their lives and that of their families. It has the added benefit of being a million times more rewarding, but at least I know now that what I do is sustainable and in the best interests of the girls I serve.
Please read the article for a fantastic discussion of really good charity work, and if you're thinking of serving as a volunteer or missionary, either at home or abroad, have a really good look at your motivations.
It can be very easy to think 'I'm doing good, so what's the problem', but as the article says, an awful lot of money is wasted on expensive short term mission trips to 'paint a school' (that may have been painted 3 times in the last 4 years) that could be used, for example, to pay school fees or hire local workers. You may be doing good, but are you doing the best good you can do? Are you doing it to stamp your 'do-gooder' card, or are you doing it because you know the work you do will have the most effective positive outcome for the people you serve, and will have a sustainable and long-term effect after you've left?

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Forgotten God

Sometimes I feel completely useless. Yesterday was my first day back at teaching, after being off ill for two weeks. I had started to ask God the question, ‘Why did you bring me here but have the girls lose vital weeks of teaching?’ I’ve come all the way over here from the UK and have been constantly delayed and had to miss lessons due to things out of my control. My tooth broke, and I was in Kampala for a week; I was ill for two weeks; I’ve been besieged by migraines and had to take random days off in the middle of the week… I had begun to convince myself the girls were learning nothing because I was never around.

I’ve been reading Francis Chan’s book ‘Forgotten God’, about the Holy Spirit, to prepare for a session on the third member of the Godhead that nobody really feels they know much about. On reading it, I realised I know very little about him either! In the book, when Chan asks the question ‘When was the last time you undeniable saw the Spirit at work in or around you?’ My first response was ‘a long time ago, because I haven’t been able to do His work’. Then I actually had a think about that, and it hit me that I had experienced Him this very afternoon.

Monday, 21 May 2012

I'm a pregnant refugee

I was thinking very philosophically this morning, and I've decided my body must be feeling so bad because my heart is in the wrong place, as well. As much as I have been ill a lot recently, the things that have been really bothering me are more of a heart nature.
I was reading from The Message the other day (seriously my favourite Bible paraphrase - so readable and makes the Bible come alive if you're struggling, as I often do. Don't use it for study though) and I read from Romans 8:19-28. I would usually just link to it, but the words are so powerful I'll put them in full here:

The created world itself can hardly wait for what's coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens. All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it's not only around us; it's within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We're also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don't see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy. Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Tiredness and kittens

It's been a while, I'm usually a lot better at writing here, and I'm sorry I've been out of touch. It's been a hard few weeks, and I think the reality of being here is hitting me again and I've not had the energy to be updating.

I moved house a couple of weeks ago, and I really think God for providing me with somewhere so perfect. It's a little apartment in a complex of 7, with a security guard and lovely gardens. It's exactly the kind of place I'd hoped I'd get, and the rent is really affordable. It took a while to move in and get settled (still missing a fair bit of furniture, and no mirrors in the house!) but it's so lovely. On Monday I'll be getting a couple of kittens from a friend who unexpectedly had them (her cat, not her!) and I can't help feeling that will complete the place. Aren't they cute? I'll put more pics up when they move in. Mine and the white one and the stripy one at the top. Stripy is still nameless! White one is Splash.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012


Over the last year or so I've been trying to find new ways of interacting with scripture and words, as I'm such a visual person that reading non-fictional text doesn't grab me, and I tend to forget what I learn.
I've started creating images with texts that inspire me, so I can look at them and see the meaning and be reminded of things I need to learn. This really helps me take things to heart and live them to be true, rather than just keeping them as words in my head.

I didn't draw any of the artwork or take most of the photos, but I used them to create something new. Have tried to refer back to original owners where possible.

Picture taken by Astrid, a lady I met in Namibia who is an
excellent photographer.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Dear Gran..

I just wrote a big long letter to my gran, and realised it was a nice summary of what life is like here in Mbarara, so you out there in blogland might want to read it, too. Have edited out some of the more boring bits that only a grandmother would be interested in!

Dear Gran,

I’ve been thinking of you so wanted to write a letter. I’m sad that when I’m far away I don’t get to see you, but I do think about you often.

Life here in Uganda is lovely, but always harder than life at home. I live in a small town called Mbarara, which is actually the second biggest town in the country after the capital, Kampala. When coming from the UK it’s hard to call it even a town – our first supermarket opened last month, and it’s only as small as a local co-op! Only about a third of the roads are paved, the rest are compact mud and get destroyed in the rainy season. We have two nice restaurants and a hotel with a (sometimes clean) swimming pool, and are only 4 hours from Kampala, which is a big city with everything you could ever want.

Something I like about here, though (on most days!) is that shopping is a lot like I’ve heard it used to be in England, where you had to go to at least three different shops, and the market, to do a weekly shop. I like meeting so many people and going all over town every week, though it certainly is nice now to have the option to go to the supermarket when you’re tired. It’s a lot more expensive though!