Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Cakes and Scones and Beans

By Sara:

This post is a summary of the many baking trainings I (with the help of Betty - my friend, co-teacher, and translator) have done over the past months, with some of the best pictures.  It is always fun to see the way that God can use something as simple as learning how to make a cake to bring joy into peoples' lives.

With one group, we made biscuits and scones on an upside-down lid from a pot.  It worked really well.

These baking students had already learned from me how to bake cakes.  I heard later that they baked 3 big cakes for their church's 20-year celebration and decorated them beautifully.  The church members all got to taste the cake and wondered if they had come from Soroti or Kampala.  They were amazed to find out that the cakes had been made there in the village by some of their own church members!  That was clever advertising on their part.  Hopefully this will be a way for them to get some business and use their new knowledge to serve the church.

With another group, we made cakes outside over a temporary charcoal stove put together using bricks and a bicycle wheel.  It was really creative, something I had never seen before.

One woman jumped up and did a dance after tasting the first cake the group had baked.  She later shared that she was 50 years old and had never known how to make a cake before that day.  From now on, she said, she was going to be baking wedding cakes for people!

At the same time that we were making cakes, beans were cooking in the fireless cooker.  As usual, it was an amazing moment of taking them out and finding that they had cooked after being boiled for only 10 minutes!

Here is another day in the same village, making scones.  Since these people already had experience making cakes, it was relaxing for me and Betty to teach them to make scones.  We just shared with them the basic idea and then put them to work practicing.

Several months ago, I taught a group of women in the local Reformed Church to bake cakes.  We went back there on a Sunday because Anthony was invited to preach.  And those ladies had baked us a cake using the skills they learned from my training!

I can't tell you how special it was to see how they had put their knowledge into practice and then came back to share it with me.

Yet another group asked to be taught how to make mandazi, as well as scones, so Betty, being much more of an expert mandazi-maker than I am, taught that part of the lesson. 

 They were so excited because they had customers buying the mandazi and scones before they were even finished making them all!  However, Betty and I calculated with them the cost of materials and discussed how much they must sell those mandazi/scones for in order to see make a profit.  It turned out that they were selling that day at a price which caused them a loss.  Hopefully they will work together to see whether or not making mandazi or scones can be a profitable business for them.

Some Animal Pictures

By Sara:

Here are some fun pictures and videos of (mostly) our animals.  First, baby rabbits grow up very quickly:

I think I could make a very long series of pictures of Beorn sleeping in uncomfortable-looking positions or on top of strange items.  But here are just a few:

With all the animals, not much goes to waste.  Goats eat mango and banana peels; ducks eat papaya peels; and rabbits, ducks, and chickens eat any bits of fruit that are bruised or inedible to me:

Here are the baby ducks from a long time ago, before they got all grown up:

Everyone enjoys playing with the dogs:

They also can entertain themselves pretty well.

All the fowl know when it is time to be fed dinner:

Ducks don't really like going up or down stairs.  Mine enjoy this ramp between the front and back yards:

Finally, a very tiny frog I found in the garden:

Friday, September 7, 2018

TLT Testimonies from Katakwi!

By Anthony:

Soon after we moved back to Uganda, we went around with Edward, our colleague from World Renew, to my three Timothy Leadership Training groups in Amuria, Katakwi, and Kaberamaido, in order to collect testimonies about how Timothy Leadership Training has continued to impact them and their churches since the graduation back in January 2016. I am humbled and amazed at what God has done through these leaders and the changes he has brought in their lives. Please continue to pray for them, especially as they start up new TLT groups in the near future. This post includes testimonies from the Katakwi group.

Ogulu Samuel is a branch church pastor (picture below). Offerings at his church used to be about 5000 shillings (around $1), per month. But they have increased to 20,000 per month after he taught the church about giving using lessons from TLT. His marriage has also changed. Now he makes less demands on his wife. For example, he uses less water while bathing and his wife is very happy! (In Uganda it is the women who fetch water from the wells). In church, he is now closer personally to the Christians. He learned from TLT to visit people in the church regularly in order to be close to them. The church members are building him a new house because they appreciate him so much. His preaching has greatly improved, which has also made members want to give more. Sam planted fruit trees at church and then put in a nice fence around the church compound to protect them from animals. 

Ecuman Nelson is an assembly pastor overseeing several branch churches (picture below). In TLT he learned how to make a vertical sermon that directs people to Christ, rather than just telling people what to do. Now he also knows how to read and discover the meaning of a Bible text. He teaches people in his assembly how to prepare sermons using what he learned, and people have appreciated this teaching very much. Because of TLT, now the churches in his assembly are giving reports and accountability of their finances. After the congregation received financial reports, the church members realized how little the pastors were getting paid. Then people started tithing more, and the giving really increased. The pastors in the branch churches are actually getting some small support now. The pastors before would get around 3000 shillings a month (less than $1), but now are getting 10,000-15,000 a month from pastoring. (Remember that pastors are also farmers to support themselves). Nelson is now on the Katakwi coordination team I recently helped to start. He is ready to volunteer his time to start new TLT groups in Katakwi.

Ikabat John is a pastor. He had made a TLT action plan to re-roof the church because the roof had blown off. He and his congregation are still in the process of completing this plan, but they have made good progress. John started church agricultural projects as well. Also in TLT, he learned to be open and honest with his wife. Now they make plans together for their home and children, and it has really strengthened the marriage. He also learned to plant trees from TLT and planted fruit trees in his compound.

Opus Moses is a pastor (picture below). Through what he learned in TLT, he trained committee leaders, treasurers, and pastors on financial stewardship, faithfulness, and accountability. People now are giving generously to church construction because of the new trust and honesty. The record keeping is now very strict. He also taught people to plant trees. He himself planted 100 timber trees, and in the last couple months, he planted 200 more trees. His trees are not only going to benefit the environment, but they are also part of his plan for retirement. I'm very proud of his long range planning in a culture where many people only think of the needs of today without planning for the future. Moses is now on the Katakwi coordination team to volunteer his time to start new TLT groups in Katakwi.

Obwalinga Mesach is a pastor and TLT was the first training of any kind he received to help him be a pastor. He taught the whole church some of the lessons from TLT manuals. The church membership increased. He began to get visits from people in the community who are not his church members and he was able to counsel them. Back at his church, he taught people that they have resources around which they can use, and so they made their own bricks to build the church using their own strength. Through learning planning in TLT, he was able to build a three room house for his family and planted trees in his compound. He also learned to collect plastic rubbish and now the community is following his example to clean their area. Mesach is now on the Katakwi coordination team to volunteer his time to start new TLT groups in Katakwi.

Odukatum Robert is the ministry coordinator for the pastorate (picture below). Right now he is cultivating a possible opportunity to start a new TLT group in another area of Uganda. TLT has helped him to become a good teacher. Because of TLT, he has been teaching people about managing time as God’s resource and been appreciated by many people. He learned that God can use challenges for our own benefit. He learned to be a good steward of his livestock by vaccinating them and treating them. Now he has family meetings and he shares plans together with his wife. The two of them also share plans with the children. They made a family mission statement and vision statement. Robert ordered 500 teak trees he will plant also because of TLT. Robert is the team leader for the new Katakwi coordination team. He has a passion to volunteer his time to start new TLT groups in Katakwi.

A Thanksgiving Exercise

By Anthony:

I'm often overwhelmed by how easy my life is and how much I have, especially compared to most Ugandans. I need to make sure I don't stop there with that feeling but that I take time to thank God each day for his gifts, and that I try to be generous to others. I wanted to share with you a way I've been helping myself to give thanksgiving to God in my prayers.

In my mind I will imagine myself sitting in my home, but then I make everything disappear in my mind, including the house itself, so it's just me sitting in an empty place. Then I thank God for things one at a time. As I mention each item, I have them appear in the scene in my mind, as if they rush down from above instantly to fill that space. In my mind this is like the special effects in many movies.

So down comes each part of the house, down comes power, down comes water, water filters, my computer, our vehicle, our books, my Bible, fans, plentiful food to eat, comfortable furniture to sit on, our dogs, and then of course more importantly, Sara also appears, and my friends, my church, my family, and the opportunities God has given me. And so on it goes.

I'm not sure why this is such a powerful exercise for me. Perhaps it's just realizing how empty my life would be without God's provision. Perhaps it's a way to just better notice and appreciate what I have been given. For example, even if our water goes off once every day, having water to drink every day is far better than having no water at all! And we are also grateful to have a water tank so we still can get water when the water is off.

Doing this exercise helps me to think about all the things I am thankful for and what I should be thankful for. It reminds me of the asset inventory exercises that I have people do in my trainings. The participants take an inventory of the skills and resources that God has given them. Doing the asset inventory exercise makes the participants (and me) feel rich and fills them with contentment and joy rather than complaint and anger.