Jon Ozmint and Mark Fisher had a great Sunday sharing with the folks in the refugee camp at Kiryandongo. David Taylor shared a little about the trip in the worship services at Shandon Baptist Church in Columbia before heading out for Africa.
Above, Jon is preaching at Emmanuel Baptist Church, which is Pastor Sosthen’s church that he started 2 years ago. Pastor Sosthen is interpreting for Jon.
Here, Mark is preaching at one of the church plants that Emmanuel Baptist has started at the Kiryandongo camp. A little less than a year ago, these folks were meeting under a mango tree. With Open Eyes and other donors helped them build this church building. Pastor Sosthen helps shepherd over 1000 members in 3 churches in the camp.
Isn’t it encouraging to see all these young people hungry to learn about God? Take a look at the concrete benches that are the pews. The guys had a great day sharing and fellowshipping with these believers.
The following is from Jon:
We had a full day of refresher training and demonstration at Emmanuel Church in Kiryandongo on Monday. We started with a tour of the new school, where over 300 happy children pack three classrooms in a school staffed with three teachers and a principal. There are no complaints about class size or ratios, as the tiny refuges seem to realize the significance of having the opportunity to go to school and to learn to speak English. Their smiling faces are beautiful, beyond description.
We moved to the Church, where we started our refresher with an overview of Jim’s PowerPoint presentation on conservation farming, including the advantages of minimum till/ strip-till practices. We then reviewed how to build raised planting beds before breaking for tea. After the morning break we reviewed good composting and mulching practices.
Bucket kit in operation.
Our final classroom session focused on getting started with these new practices slowly, not becoming discouraged and overwhelmed by attempting to transition to these new practices all at once. Adding one irrigated raised planting bed before the start of the dry season in January was the goal for most of the group. We all agreed that working on the project a little each morning between now and then would ensure that they were ready to put these new practices to the test, against their current practices. Pastor Sosthen offered a first-hand testimony as to the benefits and increased yield of ‘Uncle Jimmy’s’ methods.
Here is the professor, hard at work!
After another lunch prepared by Ms. Veronica, (never knew goat could be so delicious) we walked to James’ farm. There we prepared a raised planting bed and installed a drip irrigation kit. We were able to test the kit successfully, but the rains came before we could get the okra and collard greens into the ground and properly mulched. We distributed seeds and bucket drip kits to 40 church families. We are also supplying a half-acre drip system for the church, but it has not arrived yet.
Prepping the bucket.
The two highlights of the day came when we realized that we had neglected to bring an old t-shirt to cover the bucket and filter the mineral-rich water. Our group erupted into laughter as the big, hairy white guy removed his shirt and undershirt, so that the latter could be used as a cover and filter for the test of the system. We then experienced what the rainy season means in East Africa: as the irrigation system began to work, rain and lighting blew in – almost instantly. Some local villagers laughed and cheered us on from the dry confines of their huts, but I imagine that U.N. and Ugandan officials are still receiving reports of two large white guys (kawajas) running cross-country in the general direction of Emmanuel Church.
For those of you who don’t know, Mark and I once ran marathons together. The little rain-inspired run today was a painful reminder that those days are many years and many pounds in our past. The largest African in the group beat us handily.
Tomorrow, we will return to Emmanuel Church for training on crop storage, and a few measurements for a potential rainwater harvesting and cistern system, before meeting David Taylor for our trip to Arua and the Rhino Refugee Camp.
And a few last words from ‘Uncle Jimmy’:
EDEN is in the process of supplying a corn shelling machine for the church. This will allow the members to shell their corn, or maize. At present, they are having to hire someone to do it for them. They will also be able to shell for other people and have an income stream. Unfortunately army worms attacked the first maize crop and they did not have a good harvest. They will do some more spraying on the second crop and hopefully keep the worms at bay.
This is a grist mill that is in operation at the camp. This machine grinds the shelled corn and makes meal and flour. You can see the white corn kernels in front of the gentleman running the mill. This machine is different from the machine that EDEN will be supplying.
As Jon talked about, it is still the rainy season in Uganda, so the roads are a little wet as evidenced in the picture above. Four wheel drive and a great driver are both blessings for sure!
I was beginning to worry about Mark as I had not seen a picture of him since Saturday! But here he is with Jon at the entrance to the camp!
Shandon on Mission! #GoServe. #LiveSent.
David has now left London and is on his way to Africa. He will catch up with the team tomorrow at Kiryandongo and they will begin the journey to Arua. Prayers are appreciated for travel mercies as well as the remaining logistics.