Saturday 5 October 2013


Tomorrow (Sunday 6th) it will be exactly two months since I arrived in Uganda. So, what have I been up to and what's been happening?

The first big news is that Daniel and Solveig Kinda have arrived back from California and are living here at Water World (in the room next door). It's been good to chat to other bazungu and it's so funny how American Solveig sounds after so many months in the USA - rather than Icelandic, that is!

Two weeks ago this weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Pastor Simeon Semenye and his wife Agnes in the village of Maanyi, about 30 minutes south of Mityana. I first visited Maanyi Parent's School which, although less than three years old on its present site, has over 400 pupils. Semion started the school himself and has had virtually no funding from outside. Despite this the school is getting the best results in the local education area.

Maanyi Parents' School

When a Ugandan School receives a visitor they really do it in style and I was greeted by a special school assembly with the singing of their anthems (the Ugandan National Anthem in English and the Buganda Anthem to the katonda - their king - in Luganda), presentation sketches, songs and dance, a welcome speech from the head girl and the presentation of gifts to me - eggs, tomatoes, mangoes and sugar cane - which I was later able to give to the needy of the village. 
The children dancing
The head girl's speech
Sugar cane gift

I then went with Semion to their home which is in the grounds of the school where I stayed for two nights.

On the Saturday morning I was taken first of all to visit Semion's mother and father at their home about 30 minutes south in the next district of Gomba. They were really emotional as they “never thought they would see the day when a mzungu would visit their home”. 

Then it was on to the church another 15 minutes away in the palm plantations, where I led a conference and spoke twice starting with Philippians 4:4-7, there was ministry and healings and I was greeted by Bishop Matthew, the chairman of the churches in Gomba District. 
Agnes is my interpretor

Unfortunately by then my tummy was doing very strange things and I felt it was wise not to eat the food offered to me at Matthew's home but he was very gracious and accepted that I had a “problem with my abdomen”.

I purposely didn't take any photos inside Semion and Agnes's home but perhaps I need to describe it. It is a plain plastered building of three rooms. You step up to a simple “front porch” level as in most Ugandan homes (they tend to be raised so as to reduce the risk of flooding during the torrents of the rainy season). There you remove your shoes before entering. This is to avoid soil and mud being spread through the house. Through the front door and straight into the living room with a worn three-piece suite, a low table and a basic shelf unit. To the left and right are doors leading to two bedrooms, the right being Semion and Agnes's and the left being allocated to me. I imagine that two or three of the children had been “evacuated” to the school building so I could have a bed there. My room had a bed with mattress, sheet, blanket and mosquito net. I used my fleece as a pillow. Bathing facilities were a bowl of hot water in the washroom which was off their bedroom – an open alcove. There's no paint on the plaster inside or out.

Several times during the weekend I heard Semion state with great pride that, when he had invited me to stay, he thought I would have declined and that his wife had been definite that I would have taken one look at their home and asked to be driven to an hotel in Mityana. However it brought me credibility with the local people. Semion later told me that the people in the village had decided among themselves that as he now had a mzungu friend he must now be very rich.

Early on the Sunday morning we set off back to Kampala where Semion pastors a church of over 40 even though it's only three months old. It was there that I spoke on Sunday morning and tried to briefly précis the two sessions of the conference so that they didn't miss out on the message. I was delighted to meet there an older woman whom I had met on a previous visit to her home in Makindye and when I had prayed for her arthritic legs. She was now able to run, jump and dance with the rest of the congregation.
The lady says thank you with a small gift

I remember Tony's advice about always using "us" and "we" and not "you"

After a chicken and chips lunch in Mengo (yes, they call them “chips” in Uganda – not fries) I returned to the Adonai guesthouse in Lubaga for a couple of days break.

On returning to the island I was determined to rectify one misconception that a very good friend had – that the island wasn't beautiful. Of course, most of the photos I'd put on here, Facebook and email were of the local people, homes and businesses which although among amazing scenery are all very basic and often not particularly clean. So on the following Sunday afternoon after church I visited some of the resorts and more scenic locations to take photos and, in doing so, found – ostriches!
 Lake Victoria near Lutoboka
 The view of the lake from Main Road Kalangala
Mirembe Beach
Keeper Robert with the ostriches at Ssese Habitat

The next highlight was last Monday when I was over at the Maranatha Gateway project with Kaben, Florence and little Enock and they invited me to join them at a party to welcome home their pastor, Samson, and his wife, Witness, and their new little baby Gideon. Once more into the middle of African village celebration!
Witness and Samson with baby Gideon

Then on Wednesday I travelled to Kampala where my cousin Angie was overnighting at the Sheraton Hotel. She's senior cabin crew with British Airways. It was so good to be able to catch up with her and chat for about three hours. In addition she brought me some essentials – custard creams, bourbons and Nescafe – as well as some children's clothes and lollies! I stayed over in Entebbe on Wednesday night which gave me chance to look round the town on Thursday morning.

It's now just 10 days before John and Sue arrive here so my next BLOG will doubtless be after that date. I'm really looking forward to meeting them with the truck at Entebbe Airport on the 16th.

Thanks for reading this - looking forward to catching up with you all. Please make comments!

Tuesday 10 September 2013

Ten Days In....

It seems to be a long time since I wrote anything on my BLOG, so.... where was I?

Wow! I was still in South Africa, therefore the first thing I need to do is publicly thank Vaughn and Chiana Hutchinson, Jude and all the family (including the dogs, cats, cockatoo, mother-in-law (or mum or May depending who you are). It was a truly amazing fortnight. Pastor Michael drove me back to Johannesburg Airport on the Tuesday morning - it takes about an hour - and I enjoyed browsing round the terminal building. 

Jo'burg Airport has followed the pattern of several other international airports in that, being Africa's busiest, all incoming flights channel passengers out of Terminal 1 and all outgoing passengers go to Terminal 2. They're next to each other but it's a bit confusing when it appears you're going in and out of two seperate terminals. I reality the Entebbe flight left from Terminal 1 but all check-ins are in Terminal 2. 




So, back to Uganda and, as it was an evening flight in, I splashed out on a £20 private taxi journey to Adonai Guesthouse in Rubaga where I was staying for three nights. That's about 25 miles. I understand that Heathrow to the centre of London is up to £100 - 20 miles! 

It was so good to see my "African daughter" Susan again but it was a shame not to see Sarah Mirembe who is now at Adonai House. Also Cindy and Helen from Swansea, whom we'd met in February, were there and it was good to catch up. On the Wednesday I ventured into Kampala by myself for the first time. Going in was easy as Robinah, the owner of the guesthouses and the founder of the African Children's Choir, gave me a lift into town. I was able to draw some money from an ATM but knew I would have to go back the following day because of the daily withdrawal limit. Nevertheless it was good to have a wander round the city centre. I popped to an electrical shop in Entebbe Road for some bulbs that John had asked me to get for the property then spent a little time wandering round the parliament buildings area. I  then tried to find the African Craft Village - I sort of knew where it was - but couldn't find it. I found out why later!

I've got an amazing DVD called "War Dance" (filmed about 9 years ago when the north still had terrible atrocities happening) about the children of a small school in Northern Uganda who win the district final of a national schools' music competition and go on to compete in the annual national competition in Kampala - and the awards ceremony was hosted by Stephen who we'd seen in february at Ndere Cultural Centre. Well, on the week I was in Kampala this year's competition was taking place at the National Theatre. Thus there were gazebos, marquees and little encampments of schoolchildren all over the place and there was no way from the road anyone could see the entrance to the Craft Village. I walked past it twice and eventually asked a boda-boda driver. He just pointed to a little gap between a tent and a hedge. He was perfectly right! Then even in the Craft Village there were children everywhere, sitting, practicing, sleeping! 

But I got exactly what I wanted! A decent map of the city (I'd already tried two half-decent bookshops), a couple of "First Leaner" English/Luganda books and a Ugandan National Flag to send to Vaughn to be hung with the other flags of countries with which Joy Cantre has direct links.

But how do I get it to South Africa? Mmmm? Well logic says, "Put it in a big envelope and take it to the local post office!" So, I took it back to the guesthouse. Did they have an envolope I could have or buy? No! Was there a stationery shop near that might have one? Not sure! And then, where's the local post office? I searched the internet.

OK, there are only three post offices anywhere in the capital city of Kampala, one in one of the northern suburbs and two in the city centre. Even in Wrexham can you imagine the outcry if all sub post offices closed and everyone had to go to the town centre? Well, that's just how it is in Kampala which geographically is about the size of Leeds!

So, after meeting with Pastor Deo early in the morning, to geta suitcase full of stuff for the island that had been left with him, back into town on the Thursday with my flag - straight to the post office - envelope purchased and flag sent. The strange thing was that the difference in price between registered and unregistered for South Africa was only UGX2,000 (50p). Then into the heart of the old shopping area for a mooch round and a public taxi back to Rubaga - UGX 1,000 (25p) for about three miles.

Friday morning I was met bright and early by Pastor Semion, who comes from a small village about 50 miles west of Kampala and who had his wife Agnes with him. We spent some good time together then went to visit his new church in the suburb of Makinye where we went to the house of a lovely Mama who showed us great hospitality. Then on to Nakiwogo for the ship to Kalangala.

I've now been back on the island for ten days and it's been fairly busy - certainly for African standards!

I've been able to open a bank account, although funds can't be transferred directly from a UK bank to a bank on the island. I'll have to use Western Union. There's no ATM here either. I've opened a PO Box for Maranatha Gateway - It's such an easy address - Maranatha Gateway, PO Box 20, Kalangala, Uganda. Now I've sent a letter to Wrexham and Sue's sent one from Ross-on-Wye to me here so that we can find out just how long it actually takes! I wonder if Sue's card will get here before they do in the middle of October!

I've been back to Sozi to check on the land there and have managed to ascertain approximate positioning of the bore well.There is an ants problem as well but I think we've got a solution to that as well. Kaben, Florence and Enoch are well (Kaben's recovered from his bout of malaria).

On a ministry level I preached at GIOP (God Is Our Provider) Church on the first Sunday back because Pastor Fred and others were away at Pastor Vincent's wedding. Then on Thursday I visited the "official opening" of a church in the south of the island, about an hour away, where I spoke and on Saturday I was "guest-of-honour" at a fundraising day for a church in Bugoma about an hour to the west of here. That event started at one in the afternoon and managed to end at nine! Long day. And I only spoke for about twenty minutes! As guest-og-honour I had to open the bidding in their charity auction and ended up buying a nanny goat for £30 which I gave to a needy woman in the church on the understanding that the first female kid to be born is to be given to someone else in need. 

We're having a little trouble with the truck. The clutch pedal (as they often transpose "l" and "r" here it's the "crutch"), a local mechanic looked at it and didn't get anywhere so it's now in Masaka at a funeral! No, not for the truck!

Yesterday morning Pastor Fred heard that his nephew had died so today he's at the burial near Masaka and has taken the truck at the same time to get it fixed which has left me temporarily with his fuel-gulping Mitsubishi V6 Exceed.

Last night Pastor Vincent (the one who got married in Entebbe) was welcomed back to the island by the church and a party was thrown. It seemed strange welcoming the bridegroom without the bride (who has a job in Entebbe so has to stay there).

Other things have been happening which will I'll talk more about in the future. I'm in regular contact with home via text, Facebook and Email but there are still problems here at Water World with the WiFi. It worked last night then it wasn't working again this morning! I went through the system with the young man who runs the Internet Cafe attached to Water World, and who set up the system, and I found that the router (which hangs by a piece of wire under the eaves on the building next to mine) wasn't showing the LAN light. Now, if this was a landline system that would be easy - but it isn't! Not sure what he's going to do but one thing's sure - it's back to no WiFi! Dongle at the ready!

Please let me know what's happening where you are. I have updates from my special someone who keeps apologising that I must find them boring. Not so! I want to know what you're all up to - because of the internet situation I can't spend a lot of time trawling Facebook. My email address is - please write. However, please understand that I can't guarantee answering - but I will try!

I'm typing this onto a word doc before pasting it on to the BLOG to save internet usage so I hope to add a couple of photos.

Here they are.... NO THEY'RE NOT!! I'll try again - just one more time....

Matooke being brought for sale at the auction

Pastor Fred

Me and a goat!

Now as there's been no electricity for most of the day I better sign off quick before my laptop dies!

Stay safe all!


Friday 23 August 2013

A Week of Amazing Emotions

My last post was last weekend. Since then I've had one of the most amazing weeks.

Monday is "Crash Out" day in the Hutchinson household which is exactly what I did.

Early Tuesday morning (like 7 a.m.) and we were off to one of the fifteen primary schools in Kagiso Township (pronounced ka-chee-so - the ch as the Welsh or Scottish "ch" in bach or loch). The township is still growing and currently has a population of around half a million with properties ranging from "matchsticks" (what we would call little boxes) to shanty homes built from anything people can lay their hands on. In fact later in the week, when we went to Soweto, I asked why there were virtually no road signs - even major town direction signs - then I was shown one of the shanty areas, Yes, they use anything! 

In this photo taken at the school you can see that it is definitely winter here. The children were well wrapped up but shivering during their outdoor assembly - and they weren't the only ones!

 Here's Pastor Obed evangelising to the kids....

We then went to another township school which predominantly caters for immigrant children (Zambia/Zimbabwe/Botswana/etc.).

From here we did a very sensible thing for winter - we went home for PORRIDGE (British, not African!). Then straight out to "Discipleship" at Joy Centre.

Wednesday saw Joy Centre filming a series of 30-minute chat show episodes for their TV channel which was fascinating. The leadership team at the church will take on absolutely anything. 

Here are Pastor Michael Nkome and Prophet Vaughn Hutchinson being interviewed by Paballo Matabane

Then the following day Paballo had the honour of interviewing economist Joe Dillamore from Chester

As usual Wednesday evening was "Leadership Team" at Joy Centre

Thursday was a day I'll never forget. Don't get me wrong, every day so far has been memorable but for anyone old enough to be able to remember 16th June 1976 to be able to stand in the middle of Soweto, visit the Hector Pieterson Memorial Museum (he was the first child shot on that terrible day) with all its imagery and atmosphere and then go on to the former home of Madiba, Nelson Mandela, to stand in his kitchen, living room and bedroom was almost indescribable. Add to this the fact that Vilakazi Street is the only street in the world to have had two residents who have received the Nobel Peace Prize - Nelson Mandela and archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu.

Here's 8115 Vilakazi Street (now Mandela House)

....and here's a painting of Madiba

It's now Friday and this morning Joe Dillamore and I headed north to what we would call a Young Offenders' Institute with eight of Joy Centre's leadership team. We ministered at Mogale Leseding Child and Youth Care Centre in Randfontein. We split into two groups (one mzungu or "pinkie" in each). I preached for a very short time in the middle of the recreation area, then we took a short service in one of the rooms. We then joined the rest of the team and witnessed about two dozen young men give their lives to Jesus. Of course, for security reasons, there was no photography allowed in the secured area but this is the front of what is a surprisingly modern and clean facility.

What next? 10 p.m. tonight we'll be at Joy Centre for their all-night prayer meeting with communion at midnight.

Stay safe everyone and please keep in touch. 

Tlhôla sentle 


Sunday 18 August 2013

The First Few Days in Krugersdorp

Well, a very different slice of scenery now! This is northern South Africa heading towards the end of winter but with temperatures as low as three degrees celsius at night. However the sun has shone continually, although I haven't been able to see it at night, of course, since I got here last Wednesday.

The flight from Entebbe to Johannesburg with SAA was really smooth apart from a little turbulence somewhere over Zimbabwe. Dr Vaughn Hutchinson, whom I met at the Iron Sharpens Iron conference in Chester earlier this year was at the airport to meet me with the church combi.

The journey to Vaughn and Chiana's home was about 50 minutes. They live in Krugersdorp, one of the western cities of Gauteng which is the province in which both Jo'burg and Pretoria are situated. On arrival at their home the greeting was not "welcome to our home" but "be home". The family became enlarged by another one on Thursday when Joe Dillamore arrived from Chester to spend three weeks here.

The Hutchinsons are a wonderfully ordinary/extraordinary family and one becomes part of the family from the moment you enter. It's a family that includes three sons all beginning with D, a daughter-in-law, Chiana's mum, four cats, a parrot, a cockatoo and what seems more dogs than 101 Dalmatians! Here's Chiana with a selection of the dogs (by no means all of them!).

Joy Centre Church is situated on Jacobs Street in Chamdor, a southern suburb of Krugersdorp. I was there on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings for (in order) a Leaders' Meeting, a University Lecture and a Worship Meeting. Then back there this morning for their Sunday Meeting that starts around 10-30 and goes through to 2-30. However these four hours weren't filled out with the formalities of Ugandan meetings - this was a time devoted to worshipping in Spirit and Truth. Here's Joe outside Joy Centre:
....and here's a couple of photos taken this morning.... 

Yesterday (Saturday) we went to Spirit Word Ministries in Stilfontein, about two hours away. This was for the last of a series of meetings with Prophet Undi Williams from Zimbabwe and hosted by Kobus van Rensberg. An amazing evening. This is a photo of the Spirit Word building.

Tomorrow is another day and I have no idea what it will bring but you can be assured of one thing. You'll probably find out about it through this BLOG.



Tuesday 13 August 2013

Greetings from Sunset Entebbe

Thought I might just let you see a bit of today...

On the ship coming over from the island to Nakiwogo I met this couple. Oma is a lecturer in tourism and leisure in Kampala and Sarah is a teacher from near Cambridge. They met and fell in love in the UK, she's been here several times and they're planning to get married. Visas are causing a problem but I really hope it will all come together for them.

Downloading's just slowed on the internet here so I'll just put a couple more photos up. One of the lounge area and one of the front.

Next update will be from South Africa - where it's WINTER!


The First Week Back in Uganda

Hi all

I'm now at the Sunset Entebbe guesthouse having come back over from Kalangala on this morning's sailing of MV Kalangala. Tomorrow morning (actually the middle of the night as I have a 4-30 a.m. call) I'm off to spend two weeks as a guest of Vaughn and Chiana Hutchinson at Joy Centre Church in Krugersdorp near Johannesburg, South Africa.

The last week has been a great time of renewing acquaintances (and finding new ones), visiting the Maranatha Gateway Project, Bridge of Hope School, GIOP Church and the Pigs for Prosperity Project at St Dunstan's Secondary School.

Here are a few photos to help you imagine life here:

This is the Landing Site at Lutoboka with Eeyore the Donkey here to greet us!

My "bedside table" at Water World, Kalangala

Not always sunshine - A tropical storm over the Water World compound

 Kaben and Florence with little Enock at Maranatha Gateway

Pigs and ducks at Maranatha Gateway

The first classroom/dormitory with builder Lawrence

The front of our accommodation block

Lakeside at Beri's Place, Mweena

Bridge of Hope School director Lawrence Lweera by the nursery block being built

My "bedside table" at Water World

The 8 new piglets at St Dunstan's Secondary School Pigs for Prosperity Project

8 piglets piggin' out!

Teacher Grace with the new pig pen at St Dunstan's

The view across Main Road Kalangala to Lake Victoria

Sunset Entebbe Motel - a little comfort before flying to South Africa

So, that's the end of week one. Let's see what surprises are in store in South Africa.

Please stay in touch