2019 is moving speedily along; we are almost 1/3 of the way through already. We have been so very busy here in Uganda.
During January, most of my time was spent working on our house, trying to finish up the paint and doing all the small things needed to make a house a home. Joanne spent her time taking care of Ethan and maintaining the missions house we lived in, along with directing our church choir. She did such a wonderful job working with our kids in December for the Christmas pageant.
January is also our preparation month for the new school years. At the end of the month I had the privilege of joining 300+ Pastors from East Africa for our annual Calvary Chapel Pastor’s Conference. I always enjoy the conference, getting to meet with so many spiritual leaders around East Africa as well as being blessed with a week of worship and guest teachers. Being away for a week from my wife and son was not easy for any of us especially since there was no cell service but God saw us through.
February came far too quickly and our elementary school and School of Ministry both started new school years. February is always our most crazy month here in Uganda as everything is new, new year, new school year, new students, new methods, etc. We now have approx 275 kids enrolled in our primary school which is now up to 6th grade. Schools hear are divided into k-7 for primary/elementary and another 6 years for secondary/high school. Each year as students progress we add the next level.
I decided to change up our school of ministry this year. I wanted to develop new curriculum, new courses, and a complete new structure. This couldn’t happen so quickly and I knew we wouldn’t be taking in any new students for 2019, so I decided to offer specific students from all previous years to be a part of a year of advanced discipleship where I would be introducing new courses and material to these men as it’s developed. I offered 2 students from our very first year to attend and one agreed (Joseph), the other had many responsibilities that wouldn’t let him, 2 students from our second year (Benjamin & Gibson), and 3 students from last year (Ezra, Ivan & Joshua). These were the best of the best, ones who I saw had a great desire to grow in their faith. Lastly I added a new student (Alex), a man who has been serving alongside Pastor Bill, our director and senior pastor who showed great promise. All of these men were offered intern positions at our project where they would work a job or multiple jobs in our ministry until lunch each day, and classes and outreach/serving opportunities from lunch until evening. The students are doing amazing and I’m seeing tremendous growth with the new classes. Another big change is that I’m teaching all of the classes where as last year there were 2 other teachers. My teaching schedule is very busy this year, but I’m loving it. I begin each morning with 1 hour devotions at 6:30am with the students before they go off for work and then main classes following lunch.
In addition to leading our school of ministry, I’ve been studying a program called Farming God’s Way (www.farming-gods-way.com). Central Eastern Africa has some of the worlds best growing conditions between climate, 2 rainfall seasons, fertile soil, etc. Sadly, Africa ranks worst in the world for harvest production. Farming God’s Way takes things back to the Bible, and introduces organized simple gardening techniques with little to no cost to the farmer. Sadly the world is introducing these expensive GMO seeds that promise high yield and Africa is eating them up. In our comparison gardens and even my own 2/3 acre garden, we see how Farming God’s Way hugely increases harvest yields and doesn’t come with a high cost. The program is a ministry that has zero cost to those who want to learn it, all printed material is free. The trainings cost, only to cover dorms and food, but otherwise are completely free. We’ve been sending workers as well to learn the program and this year I started a class with our 6th graders teaching them. These very intelligent young adults are eager to learn, open to new ideas, and have a hunger for God’s Word. I’m hoping to begin teaching them more things in the future such as Computers, Money Management, and even classes on family and marriage as they get older. We see how we can really change a village’s future by working with its kids and youth. Our elementary school is scoring highest in the district right now and we are beyond exited. In 2 years, when these kids graduate from elementary school we’ll be opening a high school, one grade at a time, and I plan to be a part in teaching elective classes to help better their lives. Joanne is also ready to get back involved in the school and the students are begging for her return so we are excited for that to happen very soon.
Lastly, we finally moved into our house earlier this month. It’s been nearly 3 years in completing construction, and we were so blessed to make the move. I organized a girls day out in the town while we men moved our things. My wife hadn’t been down to visit our new home in nearly 6 months, and wasn’t being kept up-to-date on anything that was happening so it was a complete surprise when instead of being taken back to the main project, the girls dropped her off at our new home where I was standing at the gate to welcome her. It’s been a rough couple of weeks adjusting, cleaning, organizing, etc., but Ethan loves the new place, his own room, a big yard to run around in, and his new freedom to go in and out the front door without worry. Joanne and I also love having a bigger home, twice the size of the missions house we were staying in (600 sq ft.), and being on our own land with a garden and a large private grass compound. We are still short on some things we need. One example is that our solar system is about 1/4 of what it should be; we bought a starter system just so we could move in. It won’t even power our lights through the night. But we are making due and enjoying the new place. We are hoping to begin a young couples Bible study in our home soon.
Our new place is 1km from our project, so it’s a bit of a journey for us, especially with Ethan, and I make the journey on average of 3 times a day, which is 6km in total, just under 4 miles. It’s a lot of walking but God has given me the strength to do it. Hosanna City Church recently bought us a car which has been a blessing but fuel costs add up so we only use it for going to town, we can’t drive it back and forth in the village. I’m looking into buying a small motorcycle that will seat us both for moving around the village.
We’re so thankful for all the Lord has been doing in and through us this first quarter of 2019 and beyond blessed to see what’s going to happen from here on through the year. Love and miss everyone!
Robb, Joanne, and Ethan
Ps, if you would like to help in supporting us monthly, you can easily give online through our website and click on the donate button: http://beardinguganda.com/help-me-out. After small processing fees from the bank, we receive 100% of what you give. Thank you for supporting us.
We also have some specific needs that would be a blessing:
1 Increasing our solar system: $2500
2 Purchasing a motorcycle for moving around the village: $1500
3 Buying couches for our living room to host a couples Bible study: $1000
4 Monthly sponsorship: we are needing about $250 a month more to help us better meet the needs and do projects in our community. Any monthly amount to help us get closer to our goal is greatly appreciated.
Or you can mail a check to:
1717 Vista Chino #A7-235
Palm Springs CA 92262
Thank you in advance for your financial support. It’s people like you who make it possible for Joanne & I to serve the people of Uganda.
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