Thursday, November 5, 2015

Guest Post from Kathleen

We had a great visit from our friend Kathleen during the month of August!  Below, you get to hear her reflections on her time with us.  Enjoy!

By Kathleen:

I have found that spending real time with friends always brings joy, conflict, and learning which leads to deeper relationships between ourselves and God. I was able to experience all of these things during my visit with Sara and Anthony as they allowed me to visit their home for over two weeks. Our paths crossed in Waco, TX during January 2013 at the World Hunger Relief Farm. Eventually, Sara and I bonded over searching for owls, reading books, and a mutual love of goats, while Anthony and I became friends through interesting conversations during Monday morning milkings and while sorting through pig slop. While they have been serving in Soroti, I have been working with urban gardening in Waco, TX.

During my time in Soroti with the Sytsmas I was happy to make new friends, learn more about their work, deepen my understanding of Ugandan culture, have challenging conversations, and spend time with snuggly animals.  Here are a few highlights of our time together. 

First, Sara and I butchered our first rabbit. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Anthony for being our excellent photographer and sidekick. Without him none of these pictures would be possible. While Sara and I both love animals, we also both realize their usefulness (and tastiness) as a source of food. Neither of us had ever butchered or eviscerated a rabbit, so we thought it was time for us to learn. Here is the rabbit, known as Little Chinchilla, who became our tasty dinner.

[***Just so you are aware, there are some dead rabbit pictures coming after this one, in case you want to skip them***]

During her life she was a lovely and curious rabbit who was served her favorite meal, sweet potato leaves, before her death. We thanked God for her life and sacrifice.

Here are a couple more pictures of the process.

One interesting thing I learned a couple years ago was that if you have two female rabbits (does) and one male rabbit (buck) you can produce as much meat in one year as you would if you had a cow. This was quite interesting to me, especially when you consider the differences between the resources needed to sustain a cow vs. three rabbits.

Here are a few more animal pictures --

Another highlight of our journey together was working with the excellent team in Kaberamaido, KMDP, and their conservation agriculture program. I am still fairly new to agriculture, this past July I celebrated my third “agri-versary.” (Short for “Agricultural anniversary” – Only three years ago I realized for the first time that I loved agriculture and farming.)  Getting to work with the farmers in Apapai, along with other villages, was one of my favorite experiences during my time in Uganda. I felt I was able to watch and learn from the farmers as we mapped out and planted their demonstration farms. Seeing farmers who had already done it experience success with the process was encouraging. It was exciting to see the similarities and differences between things you can and cannot grow when looking at agriculture in Uganda and Texas. I wish we could grow bananas and mangoes. Perhaps I should move but then I would probably never eat vegetables because I would only want to eat bananas, oranges, and mangoes all day.

I also learned about crops like mucuna and jackbean for the first time. I think I prefer agriculture in Uganda over Texas. No offense, Texas.

Jackbeans and cabbage

My last highlight is when Sara and I shared about the DivaCup with a few women in Kaberamaido. In the U.S. menstruation is a subject that often makes people feel uncomfortable. I was curious to see what the lovely women at KMDP would think about the DivaCup. For those who do not know the DivaCup is a menstrual cup that women use during their periods. I have been a faithful DivaCup user for many years. The benefits of the cup include that it is safe, easily cleaned, and you can use it for years. Through using the Diva Cup you are not only able to save money because you no longer need to use tampons and sanitary pads, you also are able to support the environment because you are not burying or burning those items each month.

Living with the Sytsmas allowed me to have a brief picture of the important work they are engaged in. I was unable to spend much time observing Anthony during his work with TLT and When Helping Hurts, however, it has been exciting hearing about the initiatives and strategic plans that pastors and church leaders have developed through these trainings.

Here is one last picture from a beautiful hike we took.

Thanks again Sara and Anthony for your friendship – for both challenging and loving me well. I will close this post with a favorite of mine --

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you,
Wherever He may send you
May He guide you through the wilderness,
Protect you through the storm
May He bring you home rejoicing,
At the wonders He has shown you
May He bring you home rejoicing,
Once again into our doors


  1. Thank you for taking time to share, Kathleen!

  2. Loved the pictures and seeing what you were able to experience. Awesome!