I (Danlyn) can’t believe we’ve already been in Uganda serving with Amazima for 5 months. Most days I couldn’t tell you what day of the week it is, never the date, and hardly the month. I usually rely on my handy calendar app for such information. I’ve given up trying to keep a schedule like I would in the states, seeing as most days never turn out as planned. After many frustrating days of my “to-do list” only getting a few items crossed off despite how much effort I put forward, I’ve come to appreciate the interruptions. I’ve learned to breathe (most of the time) during the extra time and effort it takes to accomplish a task. I now relish in the new friends I meet, the stories I hear, and the experiences along the way which would never have occurred without a task taking two or three times as long as I would normally expect. When it’s our evening meal, howver, taking way over an hour to be served, I may not be breathing so greatly 🙂
THE AMAZIMA SCHOOL
The first day of school was full of welcoming the students and their parents/ guardians/ families, collecting all of the items they were required to bring, showing them to their dorms and around the campus, introducing them to their teachers, House Parents and Family Mentor Partners (Ugandan who works in equal standing to mentor and disciple). The families stayed for lunch and were oriented to the rules, expectations and general functioning of the school. That evening we had a celebratory meal that included sodas and a dance party. The next day…classes began.
The Amazima School is now in full swing. The students are in full uniform Monday through Friday during school hours looking very “smart” (word used for pretty and handsome here). A typical day for a student looks like the following:
- Wake Up, Shower & Chores
- Morning Devotions with Their House Parents and/or Family Mentor Partner
- After School Chores/ Free Time/ Clubs/ Sports
- Preps (Study Hall)
- Hang Out Time at Each House & Evening Devotions
- Students in Rooms & Lights Out
As you can see they stay pretty busy as do the staff keeping all of this going. The House Parents, Family Mentor Partners and Teachers are incredible! They have been so flexible as we change schedules, rules, programs, etc. We call them our “guinea pigs” even though our Ugandan friends do not understand the term. New staff next year are already so grateful for us working out the kinks. On Monday mornings, there are devotions for the entire Amazima staff and then we join the students for their weekly assembly, all of which is led by our Country Director and Headmaster, Mark Guthrie. On Thursday evenings, we alternate between chapel and KAMP (Kids at Amazima Moving with Passion). KAMP is our Student Ministry. More about that a little later. Every 3rd Saturday we have movie night for all of the students. This is surely a favorite for all. So far we’ve shown Queen of Katwe, The Good Lie, Woodlawn, and The Jungle Book (newer version). Afternoons for students are spent doing chores, homework and they would say most importantly sports and clubs 🙂 Official sports teams right now include boys football (soccer) and girls basketball. We also have a hip-hop dance team lead by own Mac. She is fierce!! Clubs include debate, drama, chapel/worship, singing/entertainment/dance, service, and stewardship. Sunday mornings we have a Worship Gathering for all the students, staff and the community is welcome. Our campus pastors Daniel and Dustin do a great job in leading us as well as do Jason and Grace with worship. It is a wonderful time of worshipping, learning, reflection, and good ‘ole fellowship.
The football team had their very first match last Saturday. Students and staff cheered from the sidelines (it was a home game) as the guys represented us well on the pitch (field) in their “smart” navy and white uniforms with the Amazima School emblazoned across their backs. Neon green boots (cleats) were donated from the states and arrived just in time a few days prior to the match. They played hard, incurred 3 injuries, lost 1-0, but represented The Amazima School so well! The school we played thought we were going to be an easy team to beat and they were going to walk away with at least a 10-0 victory. Saying all of this, we are very proud of our guys first official football match!
KAMP (Student Ministry)
I knew this was happening but didn’t really think much of it. I’m not sure why. Myself (and some awesome co-leaders) had three amazing small groups of high school girls back in the states. I attended student ministry almost every Sunday afternoon for 12 years, but we’re in Uganda and it’s not InsideOut so I didn’t let my heart go there. One day Kelly said “I assume you want to be a small group leader”. I was like “yea, it’s what I do”. I was intimidated after thinking about it seeing as I haven’t done it in a few years and these girls may not understand the way I communicate in small group. But I was excited when Kelly told me the ladies with whom I would be leading. The first night of actual KAMP was surreal. I just looked around and cried. Thought about my girls back home and wished I could hug them at that moment. They are a big reason why I am here. God placed them in my life to teach me about students, relationships and it all takes a lot of hard work. I love you girls!
We had hosts, games, a message geared towards the students who led us well in worship (dance moves and all). It was student ministry. All of those years in the states and this was happening HERE! And the most important part of the night…SMALL GROUPS. We broke into groups of 12 girls or 12 guys each with at least one Ugandan leader and one Mzungu leader (that’s us). The bonus with being at a boarding school, you always have full attendance 🙂 The first night of small groups (which they’ve really never done before), exceeded everyone’s expectations. We actually talked about their lives and God for close to an hour until Kelly had to ring the bell to have small groups come to an end. We HAVE to HAVE an END TIME. They don’t want it to end. They are truly engaged while asking deep questions and actually answering questions we ask. Can’t wait to witness their life growth!
As soon as I think we’ve had most of our “firsts”, usually the next day something else “new” happens. I guess we will continue to have them. If we didn’t we wouldn’t be learning and experiencing our new home and new culture to the fullest.
At the end of February, I got to attend my first women’s conference here, IF Gathering: Uganda. A dear friend of mine put on the conference with an amazing group of ladies. They provided 2 days for the ladies of Jinja to gather, worship, learn, discuss and just be quiet. Most of the women from Amazima attended and look forward to the next time we can do something like this.
Recently, I tried to color my hair (with foils I might add). That was a day I was extremely missing Karen, my friend and hairdresser, for sure!! People say I did a good job but man I’m not looking forward to that again anytime soon. It took me most of the day and I gave up on the foils after about 5 of them 🙂 I got my first haircut, in a missionaries back yard. So no wash (my favorite part), only a dry cut but that’s ok. Grateful for what I can get. Got a lot of it chopped off so I don’t have to have one for a while. It’s hard to get an appointment when only there’s only one lady in town that cuts most of the Mzungu’s hair and her schedule is limited to one day a week with only 2 time slots. Kelly goes to an Indian guy who ignores everything he requests and usually does the opposite. HA!
This week, Kelly and I were driving home from the village, with a new staff couple for next year. As the school came into view, we saw smoke coming from our house. We thought for sure that it couldn’t be from our house, being as it’s made of brick and concrete, but as we got closer, it WAS coming from our house or rather our back yard (I use that term loosely). When we walked up, we saw about 15 workers, our house-help and the dog gathered around the fire. Kelly asked one of the workers “Why is there a fire?”. He said “Snake”. We were like “WHAT?!?!?” Apparently, the workers had found a snake but in order to capture it, they had to burn it out, thus the controlled fire in our back yard. The snake was a 10 foot Cobra. We are grateful they cut all of the tall grass and burned the area so we can be confident of no other snakes (for now). And what a great way to welcome future staff to our home 🙂
Muggle, the dog, did not come with the concept of how to go on a walk, at least on a leash. She will walk beside you all day long, if not connected to you. But if she is on a lead or leash she will just stand still when we go to move. We weren’t really sure why? Some sweet friends from the states had a little extra room in their bag so we requested a retractable dog leash for Muggle. It just arrived this past week, we immediately out her on it and it was like she has been doing it all her life. I guess it just took her having more control with the retractable part.
Both of us now have all of our Work Visa’s. No more temporary visa’s for us when we travel in and out of Uganda. YAY! Kelly has his local driver’s license and I will soon get mine. Now how often I will actually drive, who knows? But at least I can run an errand, if needed.
We had a sweet taste of home with one our dear girls, Andrea, here for two months and then Andrew, her now fiancé, coming for her last week here. What made it even more special was getting to be a part of their engagement night. Andrew pulled off an incredible surprise proposal right beside the Nile River at sunset. One of our house parents, who happens to a professional photographer, captured the whole thing perfectly. It was a special time for us to be a part of the planning and the celebration. We love you two!! Thanks for including us!!
The best thing about our life here is having a front row seat to watch God work in the lives of our students. We are truly overwhelmed and grateful to play a small part in this grand story being written every day all around us.
Sorry for the delay and the lengthy post but honestly, today was the first chance I had some time to sit down and do it!
Til’ next time…