Tuesday, March 06, 2007


December 2006 School Update

Mmpora Mmpora…

I am SLOWLY trying to update you on the things that have been taking place here in Mbarara over the past several months. I think it’s easier to do it with pictures…plus they’re way more fun for YOU to see than to just read my blabbing!

Book projects:

Each student presented a project on a book they had read on their own (outside of class).

Elizabeth Fouts read Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and as part of her project, her grandmother and grandfather (Nick’s parents who were visiting for a few weeks) came in as Mr. and Mrs. Claus explaining why they had chosen Rudolph to lead the sleigh and share some treats with the class! SO fun!

James Baker created a “television” box to summarize the book, The Paint Brush Kid
Luke Fouts created a hugehouse to explain the plot of the book,
One Day in the Tropical Rainforest

Kaho Sato made a creative poster of different people’s feet after reading The Foot Book
All the other students did great projects and I’m so proud of the work and progress they’ve been making this year…it just takes a LOT to upload tons of pictures and I thought you would get a nice picture of things by seeing these couple of photos for this particular school “project.” The projects were as diverse as the books they read:

Hannah: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
David: Stone Fox
Herin: Sounder
Jae: The Chalk Box Kid
Kiho: My Side of the Mountain

After studying simple and complex machines in science, we had fun trying to create the “perfect” wheel and axle. Here we are testing one of the vehicles and releasing it down the ramp. It was a fun activity and I think I learned as much as the kids!

We had a fun Christmas party with a couple of silly games…

These pictures are when we had a relay race where the kids had vasoline on their faces and had to put their faces in a bowl of cotton balls to make a “santa beard”…so fun!

While David Earles and Kiho Sato were in a hurry to get back to their teams, they were also very cautious because they wanted to keep the cotton balls stuck to their faces!

Curt Baker likes to be a crack-up!

Group photo of my little “santas”!

After our fun party, we did a little performance for the parents. My p1, p3 and p5 students acted out Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas while I read it aloud. (Thanks Camp Wamava for the great memory and idea!) Unfortunately, the batteries in my camera died and I didn’t get any pictures…but it IS on my list of stuff to get over to Andrea’s to get some pictures from her of this fantastic event.

The preschool plus class sang some fun songs to us (before my camera battery died), so that is this picture:Davis Baker, Micah Fouts and Avery Fouts. So cute!!

Sunday, March 04, 2007


The Great Unknown

After much prayerful consideration, it has been decided that I will leave Mbarara, Uganda after I finish school in June 2007. It is SO hard to believe that this life that I have come to love here in this small town is coming to an end.

I thought I would stay here forever! The team here is going to be going through so many changes over the next year, though, and we decided it wouldn't be a good time for me to try to "transition" my job also, especially since what I KNOW is school and kids. (Also because I have felt called to do something more with Africans if I'm going to be here in AFRICA!)

Anyhow, even though I'm really sad to be leaving Mbarara, I'm also really excited!!

Strangely, my future is TOTALLY unknown and I'm sort of okay with it. I do need to start making plans and figuring out where to go once I leave Mbarara on/around June 13th, but the world is FULL of possibilities!!

I could go back to Michigan and work for Woodhaven Schools again. (There's a good chance I could get a 2nd grade teaching position there!) It would require some work, on my part, to figure out certification and continuing ed. credits to stay up-to-date.

I could go to Maryland to be closer to the majority of my family. I'd love to work on my masters degree in counseling/social work or something like that. My ultimate goal is to work in a children's home, so I can HELP kids...not just deal with the politics and paperwork that goes takes place in many public schools.

It's even been suggested that I could go to Texas or Searcy to teach and work on a masters degree simultaneously...and I've THOUGHT (although not seriously) about Washington state or the west coast area just because that's where my big brother and his family are currently living. But I don't think I'm a west coast girl any more than I am a southern girl. Unless something VERY obvious and drastic happens, I don't think I'll be ending up in the any of these places... (TX, AR, or WA)


I could go to Kitale, Kenya and help to run a children's home there! I'm not sure about ALL of the details, just yet, but I think the majority of my job would be overseeing the primary school that is currently run by a corrupt headmaster.

SOOOOOOOOOOO.....Pray about it for me! I went there to visit a couple of weeks ago and fell in love with some of the kids--especially baby Ian! (I tried to post a picture of him---soo cute!! But alas, it's not working now!)

Anyhow, I'll try to write more later--especially about the trip. It was my first time taking public transport! What an adventure!! But I guess that's life--an adventure is always out there and ready when we are--and sometimes there's an adventure for us even when we're NOT ready!


School Fees

Well, as some of you know, I've been helping coordinate some of the school fees for some children that Amy Naramore was helping before she left in September 2006. Two boys who I am currently helping (out of my own pocket) are:

Dennis, who has started at Bishop Stuart University in August. He is studying business administration, which is a 3 year course. Dennis is active in the our church youth group and helps with worship on Sunday mornings by being the "overhead" guy. Even through the death of his mother (this past December), he has shown such trust and faith in God-- that HE is the great provider. What a great kid, with great potential! Each semester costs approximately $1200.
He has also expressed a need for a laptop computer...

Joseph, attending S6 (senior 6 advanced level) in Kampala, also has great potential. It is likely that he will finish secondary school at the top of his class in November 2007, which will hopefully help him get into university on a merit scholarship. He is 18 and has a goal to study engineering at the university level next year. He is also an orphan, without a father. Joseph's school fees are approximately $300 per semester (3 semesters).

If you would like to help these boys financially (which would help me immensely, since currently the majority of the money that is paying their school fees is coming from me), please send a check to:

First Colony Church of Christ
2140 First colony blvd.
Sugar Land, TX 77479

Be sure to write "Ankole Student Fund" on the memo line.

There is also a family of orphans we would love to be able to help with school fees. If you are interested in more information about this family or how you can help, please email me at : beth@everydaychurch.net




Guess who's able to post a some pictures FINALLY!!! I think these pictures mainly go with my last post (from Feb. 11th) except the first couple of family during hte Christmas holiday. So fun to see them all and I can't believe how fast my neice and nephew are growing up! (I'm sure the neice and nephew that I didn't get to see way out in Washington state are growing up fast too!)
First is "baby Logan"...he turned one year old in December and this was the first time I was able to see him. Awww...how sad! But he sure did love my long earrings! And Taylor sure is a talker! (I wonder where she gets that from!) Had a great time seeing them, playing with and reading to them. Hope to get to know them better soon!

Christmas morning at my Aunt Debbie's house. Her family tradition is to give her daughter new Christmas pjs each year...so she gave Debbie, Sarah and I a pair too....aren't we so cute?!? And we match too!!

Next, my beautiful friend Samantha on her wedding day!
I went all the way to America for this! It was so worth it!

I think I talked about going to London and visiting hte British Museum and the British Library with Shane and Carole Gage...so fun!...in my last post. So, the pictures below are:

The Rosetta Stone at the British Museum...I know I studied it (and even taught about it many years ago in Flat Rock, but I just can't wrap my brain around its significance or historical purpose. Shane just told me it's probably the most significant thing to see in the museum so I went to see it (and take a picture of it)! But I totally thought the mummies were way cooler!!
Actually, the museum itself was just beautiful--regardless of all the cool treasures they had!

Beautiful! Cool saying on the floor. Do you see Shane and Carole?

Carole and I at the British Library...SOOOO tired and jetlagged....but sitting on a book!

They wouldn't let us take pictures in the library...could ruin stuff??? who knows? But I'm a rule follower, so I didn't take pictures....except out in the lobby!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I can’t even remember what I last posted. As most of you know by now, I was in the States for Christmas and for a dear friend’s wedding. See the photo of me and Samantha (Tomassoni) Dewey.

hahaha....it's not allowing me to attach pictures--oh well, TIA (this is Africa)! (you'll just have to imagine how beautiful Samantha was as a bride and how great I looked in my beautiful Ugandan dress, that my friend Betty made.)

The only problem with my trip "home" is that I didn't get to see everyone or spend enough time with everyone--and that it was a little cold! In fact, I feel like the WHOLE time I was home I was freezing. Maybe I’ve just gotten used to the beautiful weather here in Uganda. Anyhow, it was great to see family and friends and if I wasn’t a “hugger” before, I sure am now! Aside from all the hugs, it sort of felt like I had never left. Life continued on, but it was a little surreal that I could just slide back into things as they were. Maybe I’ve just finally come into a peace about my life—that it doesn’t matter where I am or what sort of external things are going on around me. It was just good to be “home”—in Maryland and in Michigan!

Anyhow, my trip back to Uganda was great also. I met up with the Gages in London, and after dealing with luggage issues, we hit the town. It was cold, dreary, drizzly, but SO fun to roam the streets of London. We went to the British Museum and the British Library and saw lots of cool stuff, including, but not limited to the original writings/songs of Jane Austen and the Beatles. I also got to see the Rosetta Stone and lots of real mummies!

The drive back to Mbarara was a great time to catch up with the Gages and it felt like I had never really left, except the fact that I had missed out on some Christmas fun! We arrived back just in time for the power to go out on the 13th of January. School started on the 16th and on the 17th, the Glissons and Alita (new teacher here for a few months) arrived safely.

The first few weeks were horribly busy and crazy. It's like I hit the ground running and haven't stopped yet! Getting back into the swing of things here and catching up with everyone; mourning the death of two wonderful men from Jinja: Adam Langford, a missionary and Moses Kimeze, a church leader; getting over jetlag; planning and teaching school; visiting with town church ladies; having town youth spend the night; trying to figure out what to do after my teaching commitment ends in June; having people over for dinner; worshipping with team; team and ladies' meetings; acclimating Alita to life in Mbarara...

Lots has happened in the month I’ve been back. WOW—it’s so hard to believe it’s only been a month!! I’m trying to write short updates this week about what’s been going on, so be patient with me! More later…

Sunday, December 24, 2006


Merry Christmas!

MERRY CHRISTMAS! It actually feels a little more like the Christmas I'm used to since I'm in the States with all the hectic rushing around. I'm certainly not FOND of the craziness and commericiality (is that a word?) of the holiday season, but for some reason, combined with the colder weather, it just feels more like Christmas.

Currently still in Bowie, Maryland but getting ready to head to Columbia, Maryland for a Christmas Eve service at my sister's church. Then we (Debbie, Sarah, and I) are driving to Pennsylvania for a couple of days to spend Christmas with my parents (who went there yesterday) and my aunts and cousins.

Things are going well. It feels like I sort of went to sleep and just woke up 16 months later...a little eerie how things don't really seem to have changed. cell phones....those seem a little different and more confusing to me. Guess I'm just used to my simple simple Ugandan one...

Speaking of cell phones, I have borrowed my mother's and the number is: 301-213-8767

I'll be in Maryland until the 30th of December. I'll be in Michigan from the 30th of December until 4 January. Then I'm back in Bowie until I depart for Uganda on the 10th of January.

Here's hoping you all have a blessed Christmas with your families, friends and dear ones, wherever you may be!


In America for Christmas

WOW! This is SO crazy! It is FREEZING here in America! For those of you who don't know by now, I'm currently in Bowie, Maryland at my folks' house. I came in and surprised them last Tuesday night. Read below to find out all about the trip home and my first night back in the States.

My trip home was great. LONDON was great. My trip there was just fine. After landing, I got a coffee from STARBUCKS! YEAH for yummy warm coffees! And they sure do have some new flavors, for all those flavor-lovers out there! I rode the tube to Picadilly circus and got tickets to go see Les Mis for 20 pounds! In line, there was this nice couple behind me talking to me about shows and which to see, etc., etc....they were wanting to see Lion King, and I told them I was too, but that I knew that it wasn't showing Mondays. They didn't really believe me, so I just said, well, its' just what I found online, but maybe my "online" stuff is wrong from Africa, blah blah blah. Anyhow, long(er) story shorter than it could have been....they are going to to Bwindi in August and were asking about stuff to do nearby! Crazy, small world! They took my email address...who knows if I ever hear from them again! So, after the show (which was pretty good, from what I can remember...I did doze off a little!), I decided to grab a slice of pizza for dinner. (You know, those 2 lunch/dinners that they served on the airplane just seemed SO LONG ago!) So I ate a DELICIOUS slice of pineapple/ham pizza as I walked briskly to the tube. Did you know that people can carry open beers and stuff like that around London and even on the train?!?!? Crazy, I tell you! I think I was on SERIOUS sensory overload with all those beer-smoke-stinky smelling things! I actually was missing the simple scent of plain old body odor! There were a couple of guys who were talking rudely about stupid Americans. One eventually called the other a "boinker" or something stupid like that and said that's what they say in America. Well, I could not be quiet any longer and set those guys straight. "They don't say 'boinker' in America," I said quite plainly. The look on their faces was priceless--kind of like the look people might give you when they're talking about you in front of your face in Runyankore and then you say something to them in Runyankore back! (Not that I would exactly know what this feels like, but thought Jay and Nick might understand!) Anyhow, they were all apologizing and wishing me a Merry Christmas as I got off at the next stop to go to Seiko's house. I finally found the apartment and was so glad I pretty much just crashed. Both Seiko and her brother (name, please Andrea??) were heading to be anyhow since they had to be up to work early the next day. Let's see...I was so tired, I didn't even MIND the fact that they're re-doing their bathroom and therefore didn't have a bathroom door. They were so sweet...had a lovely bed made up for me, complete with a towel and pair of pajamas laid out (Is that a Japanese thing Andrea?). Of course, Seiko probably forgot who I was/what I look like, or else just didn't have any pajamas larger than a size XS. I thought it was a little funny, but oh, so sweet, to even have a place to stay!! They had a shelf with some cool looking bottles on top-- and ONE RWENZORI water bottle which made me smile!I left the next morning to head to the airport and even left myself extra time (Thank you LORD!). The tube train I was on just kept STOPPING! It was kind of funny....others on the train heading to heathrow did NOT think it nearly as funny as I did...I guess that's one reason I was thrilled to have left Seiko's at 9:00 am to catch a 12:45 flight! The other was that AIRPORT! WOW!~ What a MADHOUSE!!!! I do NOT recommend flying this close to Christmas if you can avoid it. And those poor aiport workers--having to deal with rude people always in hurries!! The simplest "thank you for your work" sure did light up their faces with gratitude (sometimes confusion)!I know this is getting longer and longer, but I have a couple more things to share with you, then I need to head to the eye doctor! You know those really cool moving walkways they have at the airport? Well, I was walking on one towards my final gate and there is this sweet middle-aged, middle-eastern looking lady with two small children walking TOWARDS ME...and they were WALKING! I couldn't help but laught out loud, because I don't think they were doing it for fun....think they just didn't understand! Had TWO SCREAMING babies on the flight from London to Baltimore, but it wasn't a big deal since I just kept my headphones on most of the time watching movies--nothing really worth mentioning except the Pirates of the Caribbean 2. I got out through customs (was I supposed to say I was bringing "souvenirs" or "merchandise" with me?) Even made it through the "random" x-ray testing and all before Debbie was there to get me....had to trade someone a dollar for change so I could call her and tell her NOT to park, but just swing through to get me since I had my luggage and was ready to go. Spent a LOT of time LAUGHING wiht her last night. Ate a wonderful meal of stuffed pork loin with apricot chutney (sweet meat Jay--you would have LOVED it!) and couscous and fresh green beans and carrots. Totally YUMMY! Plus cappucino chip icecream for dessert! My parents reaction was...well, they're not really emotive people. They just sort of stared-- Mom, with her mouth open for about 30 seconds. Then she finally said, 'what are you doing here?' They spent the next 10 minutes asking where Chris (debbie's friend who she was SUPPOSED to be brining home) was and talking about him, until we finally said, "you can meet him later." So confusing! The next question from my mom was, "where are you going to sleep??" She didn't think my bed (or any of the other 4 spare beds) was cleaned off....or the rooms were clean. They were all just fine---just typical Christmas junk in the rooms...but clean sheets and warm blankets! My sister-in-law didn't think it was a problem (she told me on the phone) because after all, I had been in AFRICA for the past 15 months, right? What do people think that means? That I sleep on a mud hut floor?!?!?!?! Anyhow, great night of sleep--other than waking up at 3 am, 5 am and then again at 6 with a HORRIBLE headache and urge to throw up/diarhea (don't even know how to SPELL that word!) Felt much better at noon when I finally got out of bed. Been drinking coffee---not as good as Ugandan, but it's hot and there's yummy creamer. Found some yummy spinach dip with carrots--I mean, store bought spinach dip--and it's pretty good!!

The winner of the "most surprised" contest goes to my baby sister Sarah, who I'm not 100% convinced believes I'm even here. We called her on speaker phone down in NC last night...Debbie and I. It was hilarious! She wanted to know who was with Debbie. Finally we convinced her it was me---and then we said, haha...we're on 3-way! We got disconneceted from her cell phone (even in America!!?) and then Debbie called her back about 20 minutes later and apologized for lying to her and pretending I was home. She passed the phone off to "mom" and I had her thinking I was my mom for about a minute---until I totally lost it and couldn't stop laughing. She kept shrieking and squealing, "what the crap?!" man, her language! hahaha... anyhow, THINK she believes it now and will hopefully bring me some stylish clothes when she arrives on Friday. My older sister Rachel, didn't seem as shocked or surprised. Glad I'm home safely, how did I pay for it? The common question seems to be "how did you get here?" And, not that my family members are stupid, but, are there THAT many options of getting to America from Uganda that I just don't know about??

Well, time to brave the cold and the roads (the washington beltway) to get to an eye doctor appointment...

Lots of love from this cold, but familiarly warm place

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Mudding with the Youth

One Saturday a long time ago (in September??), the town youth went to Jadress's home (one of the members at MCC) that is currently being built by many volunteers from our church. Jadress is a widow with LOTS of kids (9?). We helped to build the walls of her new home with MUD. Be sure to check out the pictures on my new picture site:

Here's one of me building part of a wall:


Paper Mache Africa

As a culmination of our Social Studies unit on Africa, the 1st, 3rd, and 5th graders made a huge papier mache Africa map. Not only was it messy and tons of fun, but I think we all learned a lot too! Be sure to check out the pictures from our construction (sketching it to scale, layering papeier mache, coloring, and labeling) on my picture site:

Here's a picture of the completed map:


"new" Picture Website

I have been posting pictures on the website listed below because it's easier than all the resizing and stuff that I had to do before for the other one I was using. The only problem is, unless I pay a user fee, it only lets 200 photos be available to see. Also, I've been having trouble being able to put them into groups and label them. Sorry about the hassle, but hopefully you can figure some of it out yourself! Good luck and enjoy! Much love!



Boys' Slumber Party

Well, to be fair to the boys in school, we had a slumber party for boys only last week. In attendance was Curt and James Baker, Luke Fouts, David Earles and Jae Kim. We started the night out with a "puzzle" that they had to solve. (They were tied together with string and had to figure out how to separate themselves without breaking the string or untying it!) It was a lot of fun for them and very helpful for me to be able to be in the kitchen making supper without worrying about who was wrestling with whom or doing other typical "boy" things and hurting themselves or destroying Terri's house.

After a yummy pizza supper, the boys worked in teams to build structures by rolling newspapers. Their goal was to make the biggest, sturdiest structure possible. They seemed to really enjoy this too. AND, they were very creative once they saw I was taking pictures. We spent nearly an hour (after the building contest), posing for pictures that would "tell a story"! Be sure to check out the pictures I've posted online at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bethellen/

(*I'm intentionally NOT including any pictures in the email because I know that it is difficult for some people to receive such large emails!)

After cleaning up all the newspaper (and I apologize to parents because I think several of their newspaper "swords" went home), we went outside and played flashlight hide and go seek. (Yes, we did put on bug spray!) A couple of the kids ran up and scared the Fouts and Grandma and Big Daddy in the midst of our game. Livingstone, my worker, thought we were crazy, running around in the dark with flashlights! But it was loads of fun.

The boys were very diligent in brushing teeth and getting ready for bed. Then we watched "The Rookie,"during which I sort of fell asleep on the couch until I got a phone call from America. My sister convinced me to let them watch ANOTHER movie...so then they watched "Spy Kids." The boys were much more talkative during the movie than the girls and they were thrilled that they were up later than the girls! They finally crashed out around 2 a.m I think.

I was sort of surprised that I was the first one up at 8:30, but the boys got up soon thereafter. We had a delicious breakfast of eggs, hashbrowns, fruit smoothies, banana bread, hot chocolate (they had to be like the girls!)...

Overall, a great time was had by all! Remember to check out the pictures!!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


For Samantha

Here's my email address...


Talk to you soon!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006



Yesterday in Kampala, I went for a haircut and chopped off a little more than 10 inches of my hair to send to "locks of love." For those of you who didn't know, I've been growing my hair out since about December 2004 when I really got in my brain that I was going to come to Uganda. Well...maybe it was more official in Feb. 2005. Anyhow, I've only had trims here and there and was actually wanting to grow my hair out until I left to come here back in August 2005. BUT my slow-growing hair had other plans...

It's actually a LOT shorter than I wanted it to be--esp. in the back. But Mira (the Croatian hairdresser) can be a little opinionated and really thought it was important to keep the front longer than the back! Oh well, it's just hair, right? And it will grow back!

The pictures below: 1. Before cutting it all off; 2. Mira cuts it all off (with Andrea watching);

3. After...better view of the hair (with a little length in back along my neck) but my eyes were doing something funny; 4. After....

Just in case you were wondering, my hair will NEVER look like that again. I don't plan on blow-drying it for 40 minutes every day!!! I'll try to get you some pics of my hair after I style (or, rather, DON'T style) it soon!

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