Laughing Learning Loving

So today, this is Gerard, or as the kids say, Baby Ben’s Dad . Ben has no internet as we’ve tried to set up several routers but nothing in Uganda is easy. Ben has been an amazing leader of this mission. His dream of sharing this gospel work is blossoming before our eyes. I’m so proud of him!The day began as Tour Guide Sr. Cissie the “tourist” Mzungus (white people) group through the bush and into the village of Soroti. Though the poverty was crushing, the smiles were beaming. Many in the group are beginning to really hit their strides today. Some came with apprehension, unsure of what to do or how everything would work. Ben reminded everyone to trust in God and as I’ve been saying, to trust the Holy Spirit. So we found the nursery yesterday…64 amazing 3-5 year-olds cramped into a one room schoolhouse with 3 classes separated by 6′ high plywood. Sr. Columba (pictured below) said she did not want to bother us last year as we were so busy. This year, however, she asked us if we could take a look at her nursery. Mike St. Pierre led up the effort, suggesting we work at her school. He jumped right in, literally hopping on a boda boda to go buy paint for the outside of the school and to begin a mural. Mike along with Phil, Jelyn and Janice put in a lot of hard labor, sanding and painting the outside. We authorized work to begin tomorrow on creating 2 real walls and a new door for Sr. Columba’s nursery. She told us yesterday that Mother Kevin, the order’s founder who she met as a child, always said to pray for God’s Providence. Her prayers have been answered with this help to her school. I know a huge highlight of today was seeing all 4 young women of our group address the Secondary Blind School discussing female hygiene to a group of 32 secondary blind students. Catie led the discussion on an issue that she has long been passionate about. The students were very curious and asked many questions of which the girls and our Nurse Jen were able to answer. Some of the myths and inaccuracies of female hygiene were clarified by our Nurse Jen. The female adults of our group were instrumental in planning the meeting and our young women led it magnificently. Our young women are hoping this information will be the foundation to a better understanding of female hygiene. Nathan is leading up an effort at the Secondary Blind School to create a 15 minute play about malaria. In his research, Nathan read that the treatment for the disease costs as little as 41 cents a month. It is ironic, however, that the inexpensively cured disease is one of the leading causes of death in Uganda. He will write the play tonight after having met Teacher Christine and 10 students. Jelyn, Janice, and Donna are assisting. Our very talented Rich Gradone has agreed to play some keyboard background music ensuring success. Mike, Sr. Cecilia and I have been assessing some of the project needs for the deployment of some of the funds. The Primary Blind School had 2 of its 5 dorm room cement floors relaid last year. The remaining 3 had so many cracks and holes that we decided to re-lay the remaining 3 floors. That work started this morning. We also noticed some of the top bunk beds did not have mosquito netting. After an inquiry, we realized it is because they don’t have ceiling hooks or bedding apparatuses. We are installing hooks and having beds soldered to hang the nets. Phil has taken on a week-long class of entrepreneurship and commerce at the Secondary Blind School. After each lesson, he is bombarded with intelligent and curious questions from darkened eyes yet, enlightened minds. We have also been assessing the computer situations at all 3 schools. We thought that last year they would be well on their way to success, but progress is VERY slow here. The Blind Schools need more computers and the JAWS Program which translates what is shown on the monitor screen into audio. Currently, they use a free version of Jaws, but the program limits their use to 30 minutes, causing their system to turn off abruptly. For those back in the States, you know how frustrating it is to get kicked off a computer. Just imagine the toil and frustration of a blind student.This endeavor, of all our projects, is essential, as it is one of the few ways for a the blind to avoid a life on unemployment. After finishing our meal of Ugandan-style pizza tonight, I walked the darkened grounds, looking for those on mission. What I found was God’s hand bridging our worlds — singing, connecting, learning, laughing, and most of all loving.

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