Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Photo Update

Isaiah and Kenny on the backsteps of the "boys quarters"

Jane presents a gift on behalf of the groom-to-be *Alex our friend) at recent introduction ceremony that we attended

Below -- Our family

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Recently we went to jugali Falls and then last Sunday to Mabira Forrest with the boys and Kerri. Augustine came with us to Bujagali. Some nice days out. A good break from the classroom (our house).

Friday, October 19, 2007

House Update
L-> R Our bedroom (first two windows,, next window --the study/classroom, front door, living room windows)

Insde the Living room looking thru the prison bars -- yes we need burglar proofing here in Uganda -- can't take the theives lightly. Almost every house has bars on the windows.

The windows before being installed

The house is just about finished -- thanks for all your prayers and gifts (MOM and DAD -especially) that have made this happen.

The plastering inside is just about done. The plumbing is about half done and the electrical just needs to be hooked up.

Now we gotta start working on the yard if we want to be there in a month.
Kalera's Grad etcThe most beautiful lady -- Jane

L-> R Aunt Sarah, Mama Dan, Kalera, Jane, Chris
Jane and Mama Dan were VERY TRIED - they had been working the lsst couple weeks on preparing Papa's home and organizing the party and then, to avoid a Kampala traffic jam -- which would have not allowed them to get to the grad ceremony on time -- they took a 20km boda boda ride (motorbike) with both on one bike.

The homestead at Papa's -- nicely cleared for the party.

Batamuliza, Kenny and Albert (Cousins)

Isaiah and Kerri

Our new driver -- Isaiah
Hello Friends,

We just wanted to show you a few pics and let you know we love you all!!

I have been busy teaching for the last week at the YWAM base in Jinja. I taught School of Community Development for four days. We made a yoke with the students and gave them a taste of ploughing yesterday as we took them for an outing to Bushfire. They seem to have enjoyed the teaching.

Our digital camera is broken so I will send pics of the training when my studenst send me some pics.

The rest of the pics are of us and recent events such as a trip to the pool and Jane's brother's grad party and ceremony.

Love ya all.
Chris for the gang

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

It's break time at Bushfire and that means maize poridge for everyone.

Some pics of the kids enjoying the morning meal.
Albert at the pool in Entebbe after getting Kerri from the airport

Around the table at the pool at Lake Victoria Hotel (Kerri with glasses)

Hello Friends
hope you're all doing well.

We're happy to hve my cousin Kerri here with us. She came a few weeks ago now ans we are so happy to have her. She is teaching the boys and is doing a really good job.

We are getting ready for Augustine's (jane's bro) grad and grad party this weekend. Gonna be a big event. Jane has spent a lot of time away in Luweero getting ready for it. The party will be at Jane's dad's place with friends and family from all over!

We're doing well... we are not affected here by the floods but you can pray for our friends in Eastern and Northern Uganda. It's pretty bad there where it's hard to get thru on the roads.

God bless love U all...

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Hello to our Friends and Family, September 8, 2007

I think this a time that most of us in the west look forward to a new season in life. With the start of September comes the beginning of a new season of school and a fresh start to the church year. Here in Uganda we also have the start of another growing season as well the children are also starting a new term in school.

We also are looking forward to a few changes in the coming months.

Firstly, we are looking forward to my cousin, Kerri, coming to stay with us for the next 10 months. She will be helping to teach the boys and fit in with our ministry work where she can. The boys are very excited to have her come. Kerri is very good with kids and I think the bays will enjoy her quite a bit. Kerri arrives on the 17th of this month.

The other change we look forward is our planned move to our new house by the beginning of December. The roof will be almost done today. We are left with the finishing work and about 1/3 of the wall-fence around. So in the next few weeks we will be plastering the inside of the house, putting in the ceilings and putting in the doors and windows. We will leave some of the work until after we have moved in.

Above you can see our truck in front of our house.

We will be excited to be in our own place. Thanks to all who have helped to make this possible. We plan to eventually add a garage and laundry/work room to the east side (to the right on the picture). Our long term goal includes building a guest house on the property. The guest house would function as an alternate source of support and a service to those who need a break from their work here.

Above are seeds we packed, ready for distribution.

As far as work, I have been busy doing seed distribution with Orphans Know More. We are not only able to give to our family network but also to other groups that are connected to YWAM projects. These groups include people who are HIV+ as well people who have lost a parent or spouse to AIDS. We also have farmers groups that we are working with. We were able to give out improved seed including beans, maize, and ground nuts as well as some “unimproved” Soya beans.

Above you can see Fred who helps me with some of the OKM give-outs, with two of the families we gave out seeds to.

We will continue the seed give out in the village surrounding the YWAM base. We will also be returning to visit the gardens of the people of whom we have given out to. This will allow us to monitor the use of the seeds and continue training the people in improved agriculture. Improved seed is a wonderful gift as it involves the efforts of the receiver to realize it’s full potential. It also opens the door for sharing the gospel and further agriculture training.

At Bushfire, our demo garden is growing well and we now have now planted all of it with various crops. The main purpose of the plot is to show people the benefits of planting in rows and the use of the various planting/weeding yokes.

Above is our demo plot with some rare (sort-of) straight rows made with the oxen and plough.

I was also able to go to Eastern Uganda (Soroti) to collect improved ground nut seed to give out and to purchase some Ox equipment for Bushfire. We purchased a ridger, a plough and a ground nut harvester. We trust that these will help to make our farming more efficient and less labor intensive.

We ask that you continue to keep us in your prayers for health and safety. Isaiah, Kenny and Jane have all been on malaria treatment lately. Jane’s stomach continues to bother her; she is scheduled to see a specialist in Kampala on the 15th. We also believe that thieves have been trying to scout our current house out so we have hired an armed guard for the current month.

We value all of your prayers and support. Thanks to each of you for the role that you have played in our work here.


From the Sperlings- Chris and Jane, Andrew, Kenny, Albert and Isaiah

Financial contributions can be sent to:

Equip Canada PO Box 683

Duncan B.C.

V9L 3Y1

In the US, donations can be sent to:

Equip, Inc.

PO Box 1126, Marion, N.C.

USA , 28752-1126

Saturday, September 1, 2007

On Thursday I travelled to Soroti Town and Serere Research Station to purchase some improved seed and Ox equipment. I travelled over 600km with my co-worker and friend Appollo from Bushfire. We were able to find the seed and Equipment that we wanted.
We were assisted by my friend Pastor James Elimu (above he watches as our peanuts are shelled)who lives in Serere. I met James when we ministered there in 2003 during the Knoy insurgency into Teso (that region). James helped us find all the right people and places. We thanks God for a safe and beautiful trip. We passed the foothills of Mt Elgon ans we drove through Mbale and then the flat land of Teso that has very interesting outcroppings of rock (above and below).

Above is a typical scene of the dwarf cattle travelling along the road.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Bushfire Demonstration Garden Aug 17, 07
I’m so happy that we have finally started to train the Bushfire staff in using the oxen to plant in rows. This is a major step towards organizing all farm activities from weeding and spraying up to harvesting. We made the various planting yokes over the past few months and were now waiting for the second growing season to start using the yokes for planting this season’s crops. The rains have come and we are now using the yokes for planting this season’s crops. We started planting a couple weeks ago on a plot which is just across from the Children’s home. This field will be used for a demonstration garden. We have shown in the garden that the yokes can be used for intercropping (planting two crops together- such as maize and beans as in the picture shown above) as well as for mono- cropping (just planting one crop, such as only maize, as in the picture below). The locals like to intercrop so this will work well for them.We are hoping and praying that our demonstration garden will be not only a learning tool for the children and staff but also a stepping stone to reach out to the community. We have already had many curious onlookers – especially with the maize yoke which is seven feet wide (twice as long as the regular yoke used for plowing).

OKM Seed Give Away
With OKM we have also been doing an improved seed distribution recently along with a distribution of Water Guard which is a water purification tablet. Jane and I distributed these to most of the families about a week ago. This will help the families to have more food from their gardens and clean drinking water. The tablets will help the families to reduce on the amount of fuel (charcoal or firewood in most cases) they use in boiling drinking water.

House Update: We are also so happy to tell you about the progress on our house. We are about to put the iron sheets on the roof. We will also start on the plumbing, electrical and installing doors and windows within the next few weeks.
Family Update. We have had two malaria patients lately. Both Jane and Isaiah have been on treatment for malaria and are recovering now. The boys are on Holidays now for three weeks. We are eagerly awaiting my cousin Kerri to come and help us with the boys schooling in September. Please continue praying for our health and safety. Road accidents are SO common and there is so much disease as well. We thank God for all of his protection so far. Please also pray success in our work – we trust God to add his blessing to our efforts. As always, thanks to you all for your prayers, letters and support.
God Bless you all, Chris and Jane, Andrew, Kenny, Albert, and Isaiah

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Hot Day in Wangobo

This week I made the long journey to Bushfire's new site in Wangobo village. It is a log trip - not only because of the distance but mostly because of the condition of the roads. It takes a long time from the Bushfire Home to Wangobo. Although the land is near as the bee flies it takes almost an hour to circumnavigate a swamp via a very bumpy road.
We are planting low maintenance food crops such as cassava and sweet potatoes. My brother in-law Masiu Fine also came with me for a day of sweating it out in the hot sun. He is used to manual labour, being a Tongan where they also grow a lot of the similar crops a Uganda. We were also with our farm workers Wilson, Peter and Mutale. The Local government leader also helped us (as he usually does) to plant. We get lots of good time in the gardens chatting with the locals who come out to watch or to help. They get surprised to see Masiu and I digging -- thinking that most whites are the "softy" type. We often discuss many issues -- anything from witchcraft to politics. Our Ugandan guys are good at helping interpret and are good witnesses too. I speak Luganda to the locals which they understand, as the local language, Lusoga, is similar. They have lots of questions about what Canada is like and what we eat and what we do. It always amazes them to hear about polar regions that get periods of no light and continuous light.
We are now entering the next growing season so I will probably start teaching them to use the planting yokes in a week or so.
With OKM, Jane and I recently visited some of the families in Kangalumira but unfortunately some were not home. We also had a check on the poultry operation. It was good to see the birds are starting to lay but it seems we will have to find a new manager as the current one does not seem to be faithful and thus the operation is suffering. We will be again giving out improved seed to the families this season. We are in the process of also purchasing land (through OKM) for a community garden for a few of the families in the Kangalumira area. Pray that all of this goes well.
Thanks again to all of you for your faithful love and support.

Friday, July 13, 2007

July Newsletter

July Newsletter

Dear Friends and Family, July 2 2007

Greetings from Uganda and from Buganda! We have moved just a few miles to a place called Njeru (Google it – you’ll find it!) but this means we are now west of the Nile so we are in Central Uganda, Mukono District. We have also changed from living within the Busoga Kingdom to the Buganda Kingdom. We are enjoying our new home and the rare blessing of having power that hasn’t gone off in a month! This is probably due to the fact that we are on one of the main lines coming directly from the Dam. The move was necessary as there was no more room at the YWAM base.

Before we go into what we have been doing the last few months, we would like to thank all of you for your faithful prayers, letters, e-mails and support. We have been able to make a good start on the house and also purchase a family vehicle thanks to your generosity. We bought a 1993 Isuzu Big Horn in May and have been so blesses with the vehicle. The house will probably be up to the ring beam (top of the wall) by the time you get this letter. Thanks for your generous giving!
Since settling into our new place here in Njeru we have settled into more of a regular routine. Monday and Friday we have set aside for Orphans Know More work and Tuesday and Thursday we have set aside to go to Bushfire.

Recently we had the founder of OKM, John Peachy (along with his lovely family) at our home and we were able to get a really good idea of what the ideals and goals are of the project. The project actually originates from their daughter (she’s about 10) who felt God speaking to her about ministering and caring for orphans. We have a number of micro-finance projects lined up, including a community garden. We are now starting to work on a HELP (Home Economy Life Plan) plan for each family. This is an individualized plan for each family in the network which is holistic in nature. It’s goal is to help enable each family to reduce their living costs and increase their income.

With Bushfire I have been working with some of the Farm staff on making planting yokes for planting crops in rows. So far the people in the community (and Bushfire) are only using the plow for breaking land which still leaves a lot of work when it comes to planting, weeding and harvesting. We have also been working on developing a large piece of land in a nearby village called Wangobo. We will mainly growing basic food crops such as cassava (manioc) and sweet potatoes until we build some structures and are able to have staff to care for crops that need more intensive care. We have secured enough planting stock to have a 10 acre garden of improved cassava. This garden will serve as food for the children and a multiplication garden so that farmers in the district can benefit from the improved varieties.

This next week I will spend most of my time touring the Agriculture Show with various groups from Bushfire. I hope there will be some good ideas to stimulate some good thoughts and ideas about farming with the children.

Recently, when I was driving the VERY bumpy road (it takes 1 hour to drive the 20km) from Bushfire to Wangobo I was talking with Apollo (Bushfire Farm Manager) about why the locals seemed to be decent farmers yet their homesteads are so unkempt and do not reflect the apparent prosperity that should be a result of their good farming. He explained that witchcraft is extremely high. When someone develops a bit (maybe builds a permanent structure) they are put under witchcraft by jealous neighbors, so people fear to develop their homesteads. This has lead to a very backward way of living. In addition to this, it seems that when a farmer starts to do well, instead of putting the money into his home or family, he goes and marries another wife, largely neglecting the state of his original wife and children. Please pray for these people, that we will not just merely communicate better methods of farming but that the Holy Spirit will convict them as we preach the Gospel in various ways.

Also pray for Jane as she gets time with some of the girls in OKM and Bushfire. Many of them have big struggles with their past, difficulties handling the present and needing wisdom for the future. This is a very important aspect of our work, we want these girls who are “on the edge” to make wise and wholehearted decisions for God.

By the time we write our nest (3rd Quarter) Newsletter we will have my cousin Kerri living with us. Kerri has just finished grade 12 and will be helping to school and care for the boys a bit as well as helping out with the ministry we are doing as well. We are so excited to have her coming.

Other exciting news is that my sister April and her husband Masiu and children Sione and Ane have joined us in the work with Bushfire. They have been here a week and settling back into life in Uganda (April and Masiu have worked in Uganda several years before they were married)

Before we say goodbye we would like to let you know that we still need more monthly supporters. We have had very generous donations to help us with the vehicle and the house but we still need more money coming in monthly to keep up our salary and keep a reserve for any emergencies. We also need more fianc├ęs for the house so that we can complete it by he time our rental agreement expires in December.

Again, we love you all and thank God for all of you.
Love, Chris and Jane, Andrew, Kenny, Albert and Isaiah as well as Adrienne and Deborah

*Financial contributions can be sent to:
Equip Canada PO Box 683
Duncan, B.C.
V9L 3Y1
*In the US donations can be sent to:
Equip, Inc.
PO Box 1126, Marion, N.C.
USA, 28752-1126

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Making Yokes

Yesterday I went to Bushfire as part of my weekly routine of visiting the children's centre on Tuesday and Thursdays. I co-ordinate this with dropping Kenny and Albert off at preshcool and then continue heading east and then north to Busembatia.

The road to Bushfire is very bad. The tarmac section just east of Jinja has been under repair for several years under different construction companies. The current company looks like they have a handle on what they are doing so hopefully we will be driving on a good road before we head back to Canada in 2009. The village road is also very bumpy and can be a bit slick in the rain too. Last week when we went with the whole family, the normal 2 hr journy took us 5 hrs because of a large traffic jam caused by one way traffic due to road construction. It was also raining so the dirt road part of the journey was also very adventuresome as it was more like driving in a river bed than on a road. The water was splashing so heavily onto the windscreen that I was having a hard time seeing the road. When the road is completed it should take just over an hour from Jinja to get to the children's home. The journey is about 80km from Jinja (90km from where we live now and will be 70km from our new place when it is built).

Bad roads aside, I had a good day at Bushfire. We were able to work more on the various yokes for planting different crops such as maize, peanuts and beans (our widest yoke is about 7 feet long). I worked with Mutale on the yokes and he will finish them within this week hopefully. We also were able to plan for moving the oxen and Peter and Mutale for a week or so to our nearby farm at Wangobo. There they will plough and get ready for planting a large garden (about 10acres) of cassava and sweet potatoes. We are getting free improved seed from NAADS (gov't extension agent) so we hope to have lots of food around Christmas.

We were also able to find parts for our plough that fit! We found them in a village shop near Bushfire -- the ones in the major trading centers did not fit properly.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Going to the Village

"Going to the Village" is a phrase often used in Uganda when someone is going to go to the rural areas of the country. From a western perspective we may not understand what is meant by a "village" although we may think we know. A village, in the African context, means a rural area of people living in relative proximity to each other but each family having their own piece of land. The homes on this piece of land are located along a village path which may be only big enough to accompany foot traffic but sometimes a rural access road that may be well maintained but is usually a muddied pot-hole filled road only negotiable by skilled drivers and/or 4WD vehicles. Each home is about 50 - 200 metres to the next. The villager's land may extend far behind the mud hut to their gardens of maize, beans and bananas and other crops. The land may be from about 1 -20 acres in size. The compounds (yards) are well swept, level dirt areas where the locals can dry their crops during harvest season. If you want to buy goods such as soap or paraffin you will have to go to the local trading centre (town) where there are a few shops, perhaps a school and a church or mosque.

"Going to the Village" means leaving most of the modern benefits of civilization and entering a much more primitive way of living. Light is provided by hurricane lanterns but more often home-made open-flame lanterns that are a piece of cloth twisted into a wick and inserted into an old metal tin that has been modified to hold the wick. Cooking is done on open fires using the three-stone cooking stove or perhaps on a charcoal stove (called a sigiri) if you are a bit better off. Housewives and children suffer from chronic eye problems due to their continual contact with the smoke from cooking. There is no running water in most rural areas so people get their water from a hand-pump bore-hole. Many carry their water for over 1km, so it is used sparingly at home. Homes are built of mud walls and a straw roof but may be built with local fired bricks and iron sheets if someone has a bit more money.

"Going to the Village" also involves a change in mentalities as much as it involves a change in living standard. Villagers are infamous for their inability to keep time. A wedding scheduled to take place at 1pm may not start until after dark. Also, the concepts of direction and distance are also very difficult to get used to. Some one may say that the home you are looking for is "just ahead" which may mean 100meters or several kilometres in front of you. It is also difficult to hear someone use the terms left or right. They may say "the other side" or "there,there" or "near the other mango tree" (of which there may be more than one in the area). There is also a prevalent attitude of dependence on those who are white or who may be a rich local working in the city. I recently heard of a wealthy Ugandan who distributes over $1000 during his trip to the village during Christmas to acquiesce the locals demand for beer and other giveaways which may help the rich man gain a reputation as a someone great.

Leaving alone some of the more negative or interesting aspects of going to the village there are many positives. Villagers tend to be very kind and welcoming to most visitors. The visitor is King in the village setting. People greet each other as they pass in the local trading centres and along the village pathways. All village functions are accompanied by ample amounts of food and sodas and/or beer. Whether a burial or a wedding great hospitality is extended to all guests.

The population of Uganda villages is deceivingly high. You may not see many people around although they are always scattered along roadways and gathered in the evenings to enjoy life of the life of their small towns. Each home may have 5-10 children and other relatives as well as the parents. The population density of Uganda is well over 100 people per square km. A lot lower than our Canadian rate of about 3 per square km.

I've only scratched the surface of what it means to "Go to the Village" but, maybe one time you will have the chance to "go to the Village " with us...

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Africa Update 4

Hello to our Dear Friends and Family,

We're sorry it has been long since we last sent an update. This has been mainly due to the fact that we have moved. This involved quited a bit of time looking for a house, then packing and cleaning the place at the YWAM base and then moving in and settling at our new place.

We have moved a bit to the west. We are closer to Jinja but further from Bushfire by about 12km. We are living just on the west side of the Nile in a place called Njeru which means "white". It has been an adjustment moving out of a community like YWAM into a regular town setting. We will still try to bring the boys to YWAM for there pre-school two days a week. They love their teachers Susan and Janet (Ugandans) who have been so loving and nice to our overly sensitive boys.

We recently had our nephew, Tugume David, with us who is more like a son to Jane and I and a brother to the boys. He lives at New Hope in Luweero in the family group I used to care for. He had so much fun with our boys -- five boys was quite a bit for us but we love them so much. He cried quite a bit when Jane's brother Augustine took him back to Nerw Hope.

We have not been so busy with work as the housing has been quite consuming but we will be getting back into things quickly now. I have been in charge of getting a bunch of t-shirts made for the OKM network as they wanted to have some nice shirts for the HIV/AIDS conference that YWAM is now hosting. This meant a number of trips to the city but the t-shirts look good and hopefully we can sell some to pay for their cost.

I am continuing with ox-work in Bushfire and we should have some planting yokes finished soon and will start planing in lines this coming season. We will also be training a few young guys in the ox-ploughing techniques so that we can conduct seminars in the village starting in the new year.

We have successfully introduced water purification tablets to the OKM group which seems to be going very well. This is saving them a lot of money as they do not have to boil all their drinking water now. It is amazing how simple things can change life so much!!

We are also happy to announce that we have a new vehicle thanks to you, our faithfull supporters. We have a Isuzu Big Horn which a 7-pasenger SUV. We are so happy with it as it has A/C which will help so much with all of the dust that plagues most of our travels here.

The boys have recently had very bad colds again and Isaiah developed pneumonia again. They are recovering now and are enjoying their new home.

I should go now and get the boys from pre-school.

We love you and appreciate all you do for us.

Chris and Jane and boyssss