Thursday, October 27, 2011

Smiles from the local playground

I've said it before but let me repeat myself with some pictures. Yes, the kids can annoy us when they stand at our gate and yell at us to give them things...but they are also a highlight of my time in Uganda. I will never forget how much fun it is jump rope with them. I will always remember which kids like to get hugs because their parents don't hug them much. And I will carry their little smiles with me the rest of my life. Recently, Terrill & I have started going to the local village school and teaching one-hour sessions to the kids. Terrill has been going over the Ik alphabet and I've started some health education. Only God knows what the kids will do with this education. My most heartfelt prayer for these kids is that they would come to know the Lord. Pray for the children of Lokinene, Timu with us, won't you?Pray for Kusam (above) who is reserved and sensitive. He is an orphan with little instruction in his life.
Pray that these boys would grow into men who claim the name of Jesus and who lead their people with integrity.
Pray that these girls would raise healthy & happy families.
Pray that these children can sleep in peace, not fearing evil men or the enemy of our souls.
Pray that these children will be added to the number who worship the Lord in spirit and truth.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Last Sunday we drove out to western Uganda, to a town called Bundibugyo, tucked in behind the Rwenzori Mountains and near the border with Congo. It was 280 miles and took us about 10 hours. The landscape in that part of Uganda is breathtakingly beautiful as you drive off the Ugandan plateau down into the Semliki Valley, which is part of the western Rift Valley.

The area of Bundibugyo is home to the Bwisi and Amba peoples, as well as a smattering of other tribes like the Konjo, Basua Pygmies, Tooro, and other groups coming over from Congo. Back in the 1990s, SIL members Waller & Mary Tabb started the Bwisi translation project. A couple of nights ago we had the privilege of driving even further into the jungle, so to speak, to see where the Tabbs used to live and where the translation project continues to this day.

But in fact the main reason we drove so far was to spend time with Connie Kutsch-Lojenga, a Dutch member of SIL who is a linguist specializing in developing good writing systems. Connie is going to supervise Terrill as he writes a grammatical description of Ik, so we wanted to get to know her a bit better. We also wanted to give Kate a chance to see another facet of the kind of work SIL does in Africa.

Connie was asked to help, not the Bwisi, but the new Kwamba (Amba) translation project to figure out some phonological problems with their writing system. Connie has a unique and increasingly popular way of getting groups of people to participate in the linguistic research process. It's called, appropriately enough, the 'participatory method'.

From Congo, Connie had come with a man named Papa Avuta to help her run the workshop. Papa Avuta is from the Ngiti tribe whose language, Ndruna, Connie has worked on for many years. We really enjoyed getting to know Avuta over the three days. He and his people have suffered greatly during the Congolese civil wars, and yet he is so full of life and love.

All this week and all next week, over twenty Kwamba speakers are voluntarily participating in this workshop. They are working to make some improvements in their alphabet, increase the words in their dictionary, and practice writing Kwamba as much as possible. Amber and Kate sat in for a few of the sessions, doing a little knitting to help cope with all the French, Swahili, and Kwamba flying around the room.

The Kwamba in attendance were quite enthusiastic about their language! Here is one of the women practicing her spelling. It's really great to see when speakers of a language take the development of their language into their own hands.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

MIA at the OPUM

[Hi! Sorry we have been absent from this blog for so long. I see our last post was over a month ago. :( For most of August and half of September, we were still in the Ik area. Our internet speed has gotten worse and worse this year, to the point where we were discouraged from even trying to blog. The last two weeks of September, we were in southern Karamoja (what this post is about), where we had internet but were caught up in a variety of fun activities. I know, excuses, excuses...]

So, if you were wondering why we were MIA on the blog recently, it's because we were definitely IA at the Orthodox Presbyterian Uganda Mission (OPUM) base in the village of Nakaale in southern Karamoja. Our good friends Bob & Martha Wright had invited us a while back to come visit them, their family, and the other families and volunteers that make up their team.

Our agenda for the ten days we were with them---besides having a great time with friends---was for Amber to spend time in their clinic, observing the work of a lab technician, for Kate to spend time with Martha, learning what an 'educational linguist' does (as opposed to a 'descriptive linguist' like Terrill) and helping her, and for Terrill to spend time with Bob and the boys, getting some good 'guy time' in, as well as getting some distraction-free computer work done.

We did have a good time with the OPC folks, and we so appreciate their hospitality. As a team they are serving the Pian sub-tribe of the Karimojong through evangelism, leadership training, literacy, healthcare, health education, farming (job creation), borehole drilling, and a host of other activities. Needless to say, they stay busy, but not too busy to incorporate the three of us into their community life, which was really something we needed.

This is a view of the mission station from a nearby hill:

This is Kate on the same hill:

And us: