Sunday, April 29

April Newsletter

Our quarterly newsletter/prayer update.
If you would like to receive these via e-mail, just let me know!

(Click to enlarge)

Friday, April 27

Rhona's Birthday

Last Tuesday we hosted a birthday party for our friend Rhona. It was a great way to celebrate Rhona, welcome friends into our home, build relationships, and cook great food. She requested Mexican because she rightly concluded that we would mess up Ugandan food if we tried. Most everyone liked the food, but we LOVED it and had plenty of leftovers to enjoy. And everyone had a great time.

(Sorry for the not-so-good photos. I couldn't figure out the right camera settings.)

The guest list was somewhere around 17 people, plus the 4 of us. So we made A LOT of food. And stayed with the Mexican theme for our 'Happy Birthday' banner.

Trey playing with Hamlet, Rhona's son. This makes me happy.

Hamlet playing with his friend, Jireh.

Then spontaneous arm wrestling contests broke out. 
And I learned how to be slightly invisible.

The birthday girl was coerced into giving a speech.

Happy Birthday Rhona!

Thursday, April 26

Car Battery Adventures

The other day as we were preparing to run a few errands, we came out to the car to discover that the battery was dead. The Prado is a diesel and therefore requires two batteries (no idea why) which only complicated the matter further. So Kyle and Sarah headed up the road to a local auto place to ask around for jumper cables since our neighbors didn't have any. They didn't find jumper cables but they did meet a guy who said his brother had jumper cables and who led them to his house to get said brother and cables. Then the troupes came back to our place to revive the car. The jumper cables did not work so they tried using some weird electrical cubey thing (that's the technical name) to jolt life into the battery. That didn't work either. Even though the guy was holding the electrical cubey thing and two metal connectors which touched the battery with his bare hands! I was worried we would have a dead battery and a dead Ugandan by the end of it. But thankfully the guy was fine and never got electrocuted. Not sure how he was spared since he was holding an electrical cubey thing and two pieces of metal to the car battery with his bare hands!

So the final attempt was to remove our dead battery, remove the battery from our neighbor's car (also an older Prado), place the neighbor's battery into our car, start our car, remove the neighbor's battery and put ours back in while the car was still running (not sure how that is possible or safe but apparently it is both), and kindly reinstall the neighbor's battery back in her car. And it worked!

The unsuccessful jumper cable attempts:

Switching the batteries:

So once the car was running we drove to the very nice mechanic named Davis who had serviced the Prado when we bought it. Davis said he would install the new batteries for us but his shop didn't have those batteries so he sent Trey to a local gas station to procure two new batteries. But Trey ended up at the wrong gas station where they tried to overcharge him (a common incident due to our light skin) and asked Trey to wait while they sent a guy out to get the batteries because they didn't have any either. So Trey left the wrong gas station and found the right one where they actually had the batteries on hand and they charged the right price. So after about 30 minutes of waiting at Davis' Trey returned with two batteries. David promptly installed them and didn't even charge us (see, I told you he was nice)! And then we were off to run our errands. Only 2 hours behind schedule.   

Wednesday, April 25

The Dining Room: Before, During, & After

The Dining Room is finished! Our dining table arrived a week ago and after some minor construction (below) it is finished and setup in the dining room.


Filled with boxes as we moved in:

The small window on the right wall goes through to the kitchen:


We cleaned it out and bought a small plastic table and chairs:

We also hung curtains and added one bright light bulb:


Then the dining table arrived but it was too tall for the height of the chairs. There was a mix up with the dimensions we provided to the carpenter. So the Fox's tools came out and the boys went to work cutting the table legs down and fixing the wobbly chairs. The Foxes are super handy to have around (see previous post). 

Out came the tools:

Hard at work:


All finished! 

We also exchanged that one bright light bulb for three dimmer bulbs so the light fixture looks much better now too.

Tuesday, April 24

A Mouse in our House

Once upon a time we found a mouse in our house living in our couch eating the almonds on our counter. And we killed it. Sorry if that makes you sad but God gave us dominion over the earth and that means dominion over dirty disease-carrying rodents. It wasn't a talking mouse like Stewart Little so you don't have to be too sad. And I did feel sorry for the little guy but then I remembered how he ran around our kitchen, climbed on the counter where we put our food, and ate from the bowl of almonds that we keep out for humans to snack on.

For the full story and video check out the Fox's blog. Sarah is filming and it's hard to distinguish our screams and squawks. But wait for the treat at the end when I suggest that I am also a hero for standing on a stool, waving a broom around, and screaming the whole time. It's priceless.

Warning: In the video you will see us kill a mouse!

The Best Thing We Brought

Out of everything we brought with us to Uganda, one thing has been completely indispensable. 

And that thing is the them. 

A) They are super awesome and we love them.
B) They are super fun so we enjoy their company.
C) They are supportive, gracious, and understanding so living together is a blessing.
D) They provide wonderful community and fellowship.
E) They are handy and knowledgeable so they know how to fix everything.
F) They brought tools so they can fix everything.

Exhibit E & F:

Our dining table arrived from the carpenter and was much too tall for the chairs. Apparently there was a mix up in the dimensions. So Kyle busted out his tools and the boys went to work cutting the legs down.

And then Kyle leveled every single wobbly dining chair. 

 And we ended up with this beauty:

Also, the Foxes (mostly Kyle, usually assisted by Trey, and sometimes managed by Sarah) fixed the leaky kitchen sink, installed a towel rack for dish rags, made two outlets for the kitchen, hung the downstairs curtains, greased the front door sliding gate so it moves easily, caulked all the unsealed windows in the house, drilled a hole in the bucket for our water filtration, fixed a broken couch leg, hung mosquito netting over an exposed kitchen vent, built shelves in the pantry, and more. Not to mention all the stuff they have done in their own rooms like install bathroom shelves, fix a loose towel bar, hang curtains, fix a desk, install a bigger bathroom mirror, and a bunch more. The Foxes are basically Do-It-Yourself Home Renovating Professionals.

Trey and Sarah know how to do some of the stuff too so they help a lot. I normally just watch in amazement, cheer everyone on, take pictures, and occasionally offer to bring them water.

And far beyond their handiness, their friendship, support, and general presence has been invaluable. There is absolutely no way we would have transitioned here so easily if not for them.

Sunday, April 22

UCF Under Construction

Things have been changing around UCF during the past few weeks. The building construction project is called Hekima (Huh-KEE-muh), which is Swahili for wisdom. Your financial support has allowed us to contribute to the Hekima project beyond our normal tithing to UCF. And although UCF has been fundraising for Hekima long before we got here, we can now say we are a small part of the project! Which means you are too!

I thought a photo blueprint might help with perspective as you scroll through all the pictures below:

This original tent came down:

And the beams from the original tent were moved up the hill to the current tent site:

Then they started piecing together the tent in the new site:

The view from the lower original tent site looking up at the current tent site:

 The original tent site was cleared of bricks and leveled:

Then the steel came in:

And the steel beams went up:

And here is our Sunday service in the current smaller tent:

Hope that was more informative than confusing. We'll keep you updated as the Hekima project continues!

Friday, April 20

Follow-Up Visits

Like most churches, UCF has procedures for greeting, welcoming, and following-up with first-time visitors. They are welcomed during the service, they fill out a visitors sheet, they are given information about UCF after the service, etc. Unlike most churches, UCF also does follow-up visits. As in a representative from UCF goes to the visitors address to say hi and get to know the visitor. Although very unfamiliar to us it actually makes a lot of sense for such a relational culture and because most visitors are students who live in the hostels (dorms) surrounding UCF. So coming to their hostel and dropping by their room is easy to do.

This is UCF (under construction) and the surrounding hostels.

So that is what Sarah and I did on Thursday afternoon. We each teamed up with another UCF member and headed off to several dorms for follow-up visits. I was a little nervous at first because I don't usually knock on stranger's doors just to hang out and get to know them. However, it went really well. The first two girls that Deena (she's staff at UCF) and I went to see weren't in their rooms so we just left a flyer. The third girl (Gertrude) was home and we talked to her for about 20 minutes or so. We asked her questions, chatted a bit, told her more about the church, and prayed for her. Then when we asked her if she had any questions for us she asked me to interpret a recent dream she had had. Ha! (No, I didn't interpret it for her. I basically told her to pray about it and ask God for the interpretation if it was significant.)

The last girl (Angelica) we visited was in her room with her roommate (Megan) so we got to talk to both of them. It was a similar conversation to the one before (without dream interpretation) and then we prayed for them both and then left.

Sarah had a good time meeting her visitors too.

Deena said that visitors usually come back to church if you do a follow-up visit, so it seems to be pretty useful and successful. I'm looking forward to seeing my two new friends this Sunday! And looking forward to more follow-up visits next week.

Sunday, April 15

Good Friday Reflections

Easter is always a significant time for me.  Well, it generally is for all believers but I have a special connection to the Lenten season.  9 years ago on Good Friday I acknowledged Jesus as Lord and Savior.  In some ways that night seems so long ago and in some ways like it was just the other day. 

It is amazing to think back on what God has done over the last 9 years.  I was a purposeless, hopeless, drug-fueled, teenager who only cared about the next good time and was guided by nothing but my emotions.  Now, those closest to me would describe me as passionate, dedicated to truth, loving, generous, and godly.  It might not sound so impressive to outsiders, 9 years is a long time and quite a bit of change it to be expected  But for me it is marvelous.  It is so worship-inspiring to sit back and think on who I was and who God is forming me to be.  Some of the changes might not be huge but knowing deeply how broken I am and how much it took for these changes to occur, I am moved to boast in the power of the cross.  The power to defeat sin in broken sinners like myself, and the power of the resurrection to bring new life.  I boast not in my work but in Him who works in me.  The One who began a work in me graciously allows me to see His work toward completion.  I have to say that God has used so many people along the way.  I have been blessed with such great pastors who have shepherded me well, friends who have loved, rebuked, and encouraged me along the way, and professors who have taught and modeled biblical truths.  I am so grateful for all of these people but infinitely more grateful for the God who can take what they have done and change this hard heart of mine. 

Praise to you Oh God, for what you did on the cross to accomplish my salvation. For bearing all my sins so that I need not die in them.  For taking all my guilt that I might not drown in them.  For raising to new life that I might not experience only death.  For defeating sin so that I might not live always in defeat of sin.  Father, I praise you for the earth shattering work you have done over the last 9 years, that you took this heart of stone and showed it life.  That you have shown yourself victorious through the defeat of sins in my life, King of kings, you do reign on High.  Forgive me for the many areas of rebellion still in my life.  Continue your victorious crusade, Oh Lion of Judah, defeating sin and bringing righteousness, defeating death and brining a life that is not from this age. That when you return I will join the multitudes proclaiming “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, that he might save us.  This is the Lord; we have waited for Him; let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation.”

Saturday, April 14

Dr. Pepper

You may recall that a certain Allen loves him some Dr. Pepper. And you may also recall that we found a store that sells Dr. Pepper here in Kampala. A week or so ago we ventured into the store to find that they were completely out of stock. Trey walked away a very sad man. But to our delight, just the other day at a different supermarket we found some! We added a few cans to the basket and walked away. However, we never know when things will come back in stock here. Some days there may be a certain kind of item and the next day it is gone and nobody can tell you when the store will get more. So in order to not take any chances, we walked back to the aisle and bought them out of stock.

To be fair to other people who may have wanted some Dr. Pepper we did leave several cans in the refrigerated section. But I can't imagine anyone here in Kampala loves Dr. Pepper more than this guy so we didn't feel too guilty about leaving so few. Plus, the Foxes bought two entire cans (!) so they are basically responsible for the shortage.

Wednesday, April 11

The Retreat

Here's a recap (with photos!) of the church retreat last weekend. We had a great time meeting and hanging out with many of the students, professionals, and families of UCF. We made a lot of friends and furthered some existing relationships as well. Retreats are such a great way to build community and relationships in a short amount of time. It was such a blessing to be able to go and jump start our ministry. Trey and Kyle each taught a session and did a great job. 

Trey spoke on ministry. 
  • What ministry is: Anything that aids the church in fulfilling the Great Commission
  • Who is called to ministry: Every member of the Body of Christ
  • What we are all called to: Evangelism and Discipleship
  • Where we fit specifically: Anywhere the church has need 

The Meeting Room
View from stage

The Meeting Room
View from back

Trey preaching
(sorry for the bad photo, I was trying not be distracting so I turned off the flash)

Hanging out by Lake Victoria during free time on Saturday

This is baby Jireh. Check out her super saggy diaper from playing in the water. Her mom (in the red plaid) was pointing it out and making everyone laugh. 

Some played on the shore, some in the water, and some played soccer. Check out this shot of Kyle's kick! I just happened to snap the photo at the right time without even knowing!

And here's a montage of my hubby playing. Before free time he changed into his best soccer gear (bottom left) in the hopes that a soccer game would happen. He was happy, sweaty, and red-faced during and after the game. (Click to enlarge)

We had a wonderful time.

Tuesday, April 10

New Names

Ever since arriving in Uganda people have struggled to pronounce our names. Trey ends up being called Terry or Allen. And I end up being called Helen, Irene, Anne, or Allen. They also refer to us as 'the Treys' instead of the Allens. There seems to be confusion as to what our first and last names are. That coupled with everyone wanting to give us a Ugandan identity has resulted in new names for us. Pastor Micah's wife, Grace (or Mama Reba) came up with them. Instead of introducing ourselves as Trey and Erin we now offer our Ugandan names. It has helped us belong in our community. And it's kinda fun.

My name is the first and Trey's name is second:

Interestingly enough, my real name (Erin) means peace too! And Trey's new name comes from Nebbi which is by the Bible School in Northern Uganda (the language there is Alur).

Monday, April 9

Saying Goodbye to the Tent

This was the last Sunday for UCF under the big tent. This week the tent comes down and church moves up to the basketball courts while the construction continues on the new building. After service on Sunday everybody gathered for a church photo in front of the tent. And we snapped a photo ourselves.

And just for fun, here's us with the tent in 2010!

(We've matured a lot since then)

We're gonna miss the big teal circus tent.

Friday, April 6

Kasubi Market

We're still at retreat having a grand ole time but to keep you occupied until our return here are some photos from a little adventure Sarah and I had on Wednesday. While the boys went up to church to work on their sermons for the church retreat, Sarah and I went to Kasubi market. We needed some fresh produce to make salsa to go with dinner. The market is fairly near our home (20-25 minute walk) so we thought it would be a perfect little morning adventure.

Here we are heading out the gates of our compound.

Down our street.

Some shops (or dukas) on the way.

Almost there.

It was very crowded at the market and two white women draw a lot of attention in these parts so I didn't bust out my camera until our walk back home. We are past the tourist stage and actually trying to fit in with the culture which meant no photos of the market. 

Heading home.

Construction ahead.

Just a few blocks from home.

Although it was super hot and we were super tired when we got home, Sarah and I had a great time. It felt great to be out and about in our new community.