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March 5, 2014

Dear Friends

It hardly seems possible that almost a month has passed since we last sent news back home!  It occurred to us that it might be good to review some background with our supporters about the reasons behind our literacy work here with the Lango tribe, even though many of you have heard it before.  The purpose is to develop a program in their native language so those who become readers can independently read not only the Bible, but other information to bring them closer to God and to improve their abilities in many areas.  It will also be an effective way to introduce non believers to our loving Lord Jesus. 

These were the only women in Otwal Ojwi village who could read in 2012.  Their pastor, Leo, in the white shirt on the right, has now been trained as a teacher/trainer in the Biblical Literacy method of Literacy and Evangelism International this past month.  He and three other trained pastors will head up the Lango Literacy program for the Community Churches of Christ - a large network of village churches.  This village is where the coming "Learning to read to read the Bible" program was first announced 2 years ago.

There are approximately 1.8 million Lango people of whom the majority consist of peasant farmers whose income is less than a dollar a day. 


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Over the past 2 decades the region suffered from a war perpetrated by a rebel leader, Joseph Kony.  It resulted in the displacement of nearly 1.2 million people into refugee camps and the shutdown of schools leading to poor education for nearly 2 generations of the Lango tribe.  In 2007 they began returning to their villages to rebuild their homes and village infrastructures.  The majority of these people are locked into a cycle of illiteracy, ignorance, and poverty as they are unable to read, write and do basic mathematics. 

According to Uganda Bureau of Statistics 2006, 26% of Lango adults have no formal schooling at all, and 72% have less than a few years of primary school education.  Our Hands Across Nations Biblical Literacy Project has some lofty goals to address this challenge:  By December 31, 2015 we plan to

   1.Establish 100 church literacy centers

   2.Train 200 volunteer teachers recruited through churches

   3.Construct and print 2,000 sets of Lango Language primers

   4.Produce 1,500 new readers

   5.Lead many to faith in Jesus Christ

   6.Expose new readers to easy reader books and booklets to improve skills and knowledge after finishing primers 1 & 2

Sila from DR Congo Conducting our first teacher training workshop.


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The primer construction team has gone home but the work to perfect and complete the two primer books is continuing.  Book 1, 110 pages, is already printed in its 4th draft and a 6th draft will be printed soon.  Book 2 will be ready for print soon as well.

During the last week of our leader Sila's stay with us, a Lango Language Teacher/Trainer Workshop (TTW) took place at Victory Outreach Church in Lira, for 5 days.  With 62 people signed up, it was a significant task to coordinate lessons with practical application for each of the students, and feed everyone 2 meals a day.

Sila was able to educate and inspire them with his vast knowledge of the method behind the primers as well as his experience in adult literacy training for almost 3 decades.  Using a demonstration group of illiterate women, students were able to see how quickly the women were able to learn how to read.  

In lesson one, the most commonly used letters of the Lango language were introduced - o, e, n, & k with 4 words using only those letters and 2 sentences using only those 4 words.  The non-readers were thrilled to be able to read those sentences by the end of the lesson.


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The students were from 11 Christian denominations, 21 different churches and were from many walks of life:  pastors, teachers, medical workers, businessmen, farmers, stay at home moms, and University students.  The men and women came from the town of Lira and from distant villages, some as far away as 2 hours. 

Students broke into small groups to practice their teaching skills using the newly printed draft of primer book 1.  

When the dust settled at the end of the week, 51 had completed the training and were able to graduate, singing and dancing down the church aisle before receiving certificates and an updated draft copy of Book 1 before a packed church.  


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Sila, Keith and I had almost no sleep the night before the graduation as we hunkered down printing, signing, and writing names on all the certificates and printing the 51 books for the graduates.  The power had been out for the 2 days prior to the graduation, and was only on at night making it a real challenge to complete all the preparations.  It was a momentous day for all of us, and God gave us His power to complete the celebration.  

These are the dear faces of the people who God has called to unlock the Bible to thousands and tens of thousands of the Lango people.  


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After seeing such dedication from the first group of teacher/trainers, we have a sense that the goals we've set for this project will be met and surpassed.

The graduates took part in a "refresher" day this past weekend to hone their skills for teaching the effective method developed by Literacy and Evangelism International (LEI).  The careful progression of  the teaching is critical in having the best outcome for the new learners.  One surprising bit of information which came out at the workshop was that many Lango people, fluent speakers of the language, many even University graduates, read and write poorly in their native language.  A number of the students admitted to struggling with writing Leb Lango themselves.  

Twelve of the students were chosen as the outstanding graduates and have formed a core training group who will help the rest of the initial group to improve their skills.  They will also be the first group of people who will both teach and train other teachers in their home areas.  To our amazement and overwhelming joy, they have volunteered for all the positions needed to keep in touch with all 51 graduates, set up training workshops for new teachers, supervise and empower teachers and also teach new learners.   Already, these core people have found over 135 people which has now increased to 550,  who want to learn to read, and 52 people who want to be trained as teachers.  The need is great and we are praying for many people who will take up the challenge to be teachers to bring Good News to the poor. 

Thank you to so many of you who have continued to be with us in this project.  We continue to need your prayers and support to remain strong in completing the primers and overseeing the new teachers, their classes, and then the training of more teachers.

We feel blessed to be from a country who still cares for the poor and suffering people of the world.  May God bless you for your compassionate hearts.

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

Carolyn: carolyn.jones@handsacrossnations.com

Keith:  keith.jones@handsacrossnations.com

Sharing the love of Christ in practical ways

Keith and Carolyn Jones

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