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January 31,2014

Uganda Mission 2014

Greetings from Lira, Uganda!  The team of writers and translators who God chose to work together have been absolutely astounding in their dedication.  It has been 11 days of long hours creating the books which will become the vehicle to teach the illiterate Lango adults to read and write, and be introduced to Jesus and the Bible. 

L to R on the left:  Levi, Sila, Oduch, Siver, Victor.  L to R on the right:  Keith, Richard, Kezia, and Carolyn behind the camera

Our team is headed by Sila from the Democratic Republic of Congo.  He is a former professor of linguistics and a pastor.  Since 1986 he has been training people to read the Bible and has graduated 8,728 trainers and teachers all over the world. He's also trained 500 pastors, and led 1,240 Muslims to Christ through this literacy program. He and those he trained have introduced over 300,000 people to Jesus through learning to read the Bible.


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Sila from Democadic Republic of Congo

More than 80 percent of the people who were not believers in Jesus before they attended reading lessons have given their lives to Christ. 

Sila from DR Congo Conducting our first teacher training workshop.

L to R:  Kezia, Richard, Oduch, Victor


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80 year old Victor (we call "the Emperor) is a retired teacher who has written a Lango dictionary (unpublished), and translated the Bible into Lango for the Catholic Church.  He's a power house of energy and information.  His long time friend and retired teacher Oduch, is an excellent translator and has written and published 6 books (not available in print now) in Lango with many more in manuscript form.  Richard, our long time friend, teacher and pastor is tireless in developing primer sentences which correctly depict Jesus and Bible stories.  Levi, our Hands Across Nations Board Chairman and high school English literature teacher attended the literacy training through Literacy and Evangelism International with Carolyn.  He is a whiz at making up sentences for lessons as well as translating.  Many of you met him in Chewelah last summer.  Kezia is a retired government agriculture teacher, who has helped translate the teacher's manual, written out Lango worship songs and will be writing agriculture lessons.  Silver is in information technology (IT) and is an all around help in lessons and translation.



Keith is the producer of all the lessons into book form using the computer, keeps a running list of all the words used and fixes everything that breaks down, including  the car, the fans, electrical switches, and water pipes.   All the tables and desks were constructed by him for the team use. 


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Carolyn types up all the lessons, searches for words using specific letters for lessons, keeps lists of all the words used in lessons, coordinates meals and housekeeping with helpers Lucy and Francis, and all the details of keeping the team healthy and happy. 

She also found beautiful fabric and worked with a young seamstress, Sarah, who made all the curtains for the house in 5 days on a treadle machine!

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Interruptions and challenges are a daily expectation in this work.  We've had 3 team members develop malaria but recovered within 24-48 hours.    The power is out nearly every day so Keith has hooked up a backup system for the computers and a few lights.  Our security guards have a problem with sleeping on the job.  One was so asleep that Keith was able to take his gun and bring it into the house.  The sheepish guard had to come knocking on the door to retrieve it.  He's now gone, replaced by one whose wife had a baby 2 days ago - a girl they named Carolyn!  She received one of the baby quilts donated by women from Stevens County.  There has been a rise in thefts and violence in Lira with the police chief being sacked 2 weeks ago and police/army out on the streets giving some  protection to people. 

Primer construction is a very precise and sometimes tedious process.  Every letter and letter cluster (a combination of two or three vowels or consonants) had to be counted from the first 4 books of the Gospel of John in the Bible.  The most frequent to least frequent used letters were introduced in groups or singly in the first 32 lessons.  We had over 70 letters and combinations to introduce!  Try pronouncing lwangngi (a fly), or ojwijwiny (a wag-tail bird)!  Then every lesson uses only the words introduced in previous lessons plus 2 new illustrated picture words and 4 others.  The first lessons took hours to write though they look simple.  We say "we do the hard work in developing the lessons correctly so the teaching and learning is easy".  Every lesson is a new creation of the team so it is a very intensive process.  Sila writes each lesson into a template which goes to Keith to be put into a computer template.  What a joy to see it being birthed day by day and know that we have had the unbelievable honor of taking part in something that will be used for years if not decades to come. 


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(above) The short sentences about Jesus in each lesson are powerful.  Then the stories following  them are interesting and relevant to the Lango culture.

Keith's 65th birthday was celebrated this week with the singing of a birthday song for a newborn baby, led by Victor and the team, dancing into the house with branches of leaves and flowers broken off the front bushes, followed by Lucy and Francis carrying gifts of peanut and sesame seeds with rice to plant in Keith's garden.

There has not been a single sharp word among our team though we have worked long hours 6 days a week, completing the first 32 of 72 lessons.  Once the 2 primer books are completed, a teacher and trainer workshop is scheduled.  God has given us a team we could never have imagined and has bonded us together as one in His spirit.

You are all a part of this project, through prayer, funding, encouragement or provision of help in some way.  We are grateful for the loving care we feel from our church, community, and more distant supporters.  You will soon hear stories of changed lives which will give you hard evidence of the importance of this work.  Thank you all for being in it with us.

Go with God

Sharing the love of Christ in practical ways,

Keith and Carolyn 

We love hearing from you.  You can write us at:


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Carolyn: carolyn.jones@handsacrossnations.com

Keith:   keith.jones@handsacrossnations.com

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