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Thursday, September 05, 2019

Happy First Days of School: and next year yours could be happier!!

Next year, you could be having the best experience of your life. Don’t take it from me, listen to four voices below. I sent an email out to some former teachers with Serge, asking them to describe their time, and here is a sampling from the first installment of replies. I have grouped their long essays into five areas that most people mentioned as reasons they were glad they spent a couple of years teaching with us in Africa: the wonder of the people and place, the intensity of living in community, the uniqueness of the teaching experience, the relationship they developed with third-culture kids, and the impact on their personal life.  The voices below are from real men and women, serving in multiple countries, over the last decade and a half. If they inspire you, please take a step of praying and contacting us! As the 2020 school year starts, we anticipate needing a minimum of 7 teachers for mission kids and could use others in teaching and coaching cross-culturally too.

 First day of school, circa 1997, Bundibugyo

RMS in 2017ish (Rwenzori Mission School, Bundibugyo)

KHA in 2019 (Kibuye Hope Academy)

Ugandans and Uganda: Welcome and Beauty

I was a little hesitant  at first when I learned it would be rustic living and that we were so far from a major city.  But, everyday as I walked to the little school house and felt the warm sun and enjoyed the lush greenery and looked up at the beautiful Rwenzori Mountains, God would affirm that this was the place for me. (Anna D)

As a Christian it became clear that sharing a common faith with many Ugandans I became friends with, we had more in common than I thought! My Christian Ugandan friends showed me that we truly are brothers and sisters in our faith. (Pamela C)

What I did not realize in accepting the role to teach at RMS, was that I would also be able to serve in many other capacities on the mission team. I helped lead a small group at Christ School, helped to coach a cross country and track team, and work with the nutrition program. (Scott I)
Community Life

I also loved that I wasn't only a teacher, but a part of a team-  a mini picture of the body of Christ.  My teaching these children freed their parents to participate in healing in the local health center, run a large secondary school for Ugandans, provide nutrition and agricultural training, and most importantly together be sharers of the gospel.   I quickly developed a closeness to team that felt like family. (Anna D)

I loved cooking with and for others, enjoying meals together, praying together, seeing friendly faces as I walked down the road, walking and riding a bike everywhere, and just the simplicity of life. (Kim B)

My time with my teammates is one of my favorite memories of living in Bundibugyo. Team dinners, pizza nights, birthdays, traveling, Bible study, serving together, living together and being in close community was one of the best parts about being in Uganda with Serge. I miss my fellow team every day! (Pamela C)

Unique Teaching Experience

We had a sweet one room school house experience. We learned together, went for nature walks in the jungle, traveled to Kampala, Fort Portal and Kenya together as their parents needed to for different reasons. We had a cow and a pet goat living in our school yard, which entailed many mornings chasing an escaped animal or two! It was genuinely one of the best experiences of my life.  (Pamela C)

When I taught in the US I often left home in the dark, had an extremely busy day with, with over 100 students, lots of paperwork, and grading.  It was a gift to have 5 students, many less papers to grade, and a much more flexible schedule.  I loved taking my students on community field trips to see how cocoa was harvested, then fermented and dried.  We did nature journals following the cycle of the mango tree in our school yard.  We took walks to the river and collected local clay for an art project. (Anna D)

Although I was living in an intensely cross-cultural setting, the mission school provided a welcome haven for part of my day; a place where I could speak English without altering my accent and explore the treasures of children’s literature, mathematics, art, physical education, gardening, history and Christian education. With access to the internet, printing, and excellent textbooks, we had ample resources that made teaching in this remote, rural setting feel relatively straightforward.  Plus, the simplicity of an environment that was not ruled by technology allowed for a beautifully simple and sweet learning environment where we could spend time gardening, reading under shade trees, and using real dusty chalk.  (Scott I)

Relationship with TCK’s

I loved the depth of relationship I had with my students, and the freedom to involve faith in every situation. (Anna D)

Now 12 years later as I look back on my time in Uganda, my best memories are about being a part of my students’ life in school and outside of school. Eating meals with them, celebrating birthdays, holidays, etc. (Kim B)
Personal Growth

In some ways life away from the US was a lot harder and certainly different, but it had a richness that I had never experienced before, and I learned to walk more closely with Jesus and care more deeply about things that he cared about.  While I went with the hope that I would shape young lives, my life was shaped too in ways I could not have imagined. (Anna D)

God stretched me in ways that I didn’t picture for myself. I was pushed to be a leader and a friend to people that seemed so different from me. I saw the Gospel in a culture and context different from what I’d always known, and that helped me better understand my faith and who Jesus is. (Pamela C)

I realize the value of my experience when I think about how it’s changed my perspective of the world forever, and still impacts who I am today. I would not be who I am or where I am without my experience in Uganda and Sudan.I believe I am a better wife, mother, friend, stranger... because of my time with Serge in Africa. (Kim B)

Taking a leap of faith to “put life on hold” and take a year-plus to raise support, and move to Uganda felt like I was giving up something important, stepping off a track into a big, wide unknown. Now, 13 years later, I can look back and see God’s hand in re-directing in the paradoxical Kingdom way: in losing our life, we actually gain everything.   Before I moved to Uganda, I imagined fearful circumstances: insect infestations, heat, and an unfamiliar diet. While each of these concerns had some merit, what I gained living in community with mission-focused Jesus followers in a beautiful jungle setting and developing friendships with resilient Ugandan boys and girls – were gifts beyond what I could have ever imagined.  Those gifts were not only food for the journey in the moment, but seeds that grew into helping me to become the person I am today by allowing God to make me into something new.  It is impossible to imagine the story of my life today without the Bundibugyo chapter. (Scott I)

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