Written by Connie and Kayla
We spent today in our first Africa New Life School. We went to the school in Bugesera called Kibenga Primary School. It was built by the government, but soon after it was built it was unsuccessful and deserted. The government asked Africa New Life to run the school since they did so well with the school in Kayonza. Now this school is the number 2 school in the district of 103 schools. Very exciting changes here and a lot of positive classroom practices too.
The students are speaking English very well starting in Primary 1, which is not happening in many of the schools. Many of the classrooms we observed today had already begun implementing the ideas we shared with them this weekend.
We served the students lunch to help the staff of the school. All the students loved receiving lunch from the muzungus. Lauren’s devotional this morning talked about having a servant heart, and it was totally appropriate for serving lunch this afternoon.
The best part of the day came from the home visits. I had my home visit with Eric and Kayla had hers with Valentine.
Eric’s family is in a bit of a crisis right now. His mother has been drinking a lot. She had problems with the neighbors and the family. She is no longer at home and has been in a rehab center for a few weeks. The family misses her so much and wants her to come home. They also have no idea how she is doing or if she is coming home. The Shema family was very concerned and stressed about their mom. The visit today came at a great time for them. They desperately needed encouragement, love, and a reminder to trust in Jesus through this tough time.
The encouraging thing for me though, is Eric is now in the Kibenga school, in Primary 3, and speaking English VERY well. I gave him my favorite book when I was a child, “Go, Dog. Go!” Eric was able to read it to me on the bus, and I was so proud of his improvement.
When we were taking photos of the family, Sandrine hugged me so tightly and then the whole family and I had a group hug. She squeezed me so tightly that all the tears came out. I could feel the pain their family was experiencing. Lots of things to pray for and lots of love to send to them when I get home.
After saying goodbye we hopped back on the bus, prepared to drive for a while to Valentine’s house. We drove past three houses and stopped. Who knew they were neighbors?! (It was almost like the very beginning of My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 when the dad backs out of the driveway and drives next door to pick up Toula and her daughter.)
(Kayla writing now)
I had the chance to spend time with Valentine during Connie’s home visit and on the bus. I showed Valentine pictures of my family and she had remembered many of them from pictures! She is very shy and doesn’t speak much English but somehow I convinced her to read me a book while we road on the bus! I have the privilege of teaching my students how to read. It brings me such great joy when they read their first book to me. Hearing Valentine read was such an incredible gift! It was so special to hear her voice and see how much she has learned this past year.
In the backpack I brought for Valentine, there was a game using a ball and two plastic mitts that were gifted to Valentine through my students from last year. I got to play catch with Valentine and her siblings in the yard outside of Eric’s house. I never would have dreamed we would have been able to play together in that way!
Once we arrived at her home I was so thrilled to meet her mother, Betty. Last summer when I visited, her mother had moved to Uganda. Meeting her mom today brought me to tears. Her grandmother thanked me that all of the prayers that brought her mother back. God is so good!
We talked a little about her school year and how exciting it was for her to pass grade 2 and move to grade 3! I got to share with her about one of my soccer players, Lexi, who wrote to her this year as if she were a student at her school, just passing notes in the hall. Valentine remembered getting her note, and I could tell how much it meant to her!
At the end of our time together I had the chance to pray for her family. As we were praying, Valentine wrapped her arm around my back and held my hand. It was one of the sweetest moments of my time with her. I am beyond thankful that God blessed me with this trip and the opportunity to see her and her family again!
Tomorrow we head to Kageyo (the school far away), and we’ll have a few more home visits. Keep your prayers coming. We are definitely feeling them.