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June 3, 2014

Dear Friends

It has been 3 months since our last newsletter from Uganda!    There aren't enough words to describe our experiences of joys, sorrows and challenges in the last 12 weeks.  And God has been with us through all of them.  This time it will be a "bullet" list of the recent happenings. 

Joys:  The "Learning to Read to Read the Bible" program is moving forward in a way we never imagined!

1.  Six more teacher trainer workshops at 5 villages and one Lira town location have been presented over the last 3 months with a total of 128 new Lango teachers graduating. Adding the 52 from the original group trained, that makes a whopping total of 180 people able to teach others to read in the native Lango language.



New teachers at Pii Ngic (Clean Water) village near Lira, N. Uganda.  Instructors Ceasar, Sam and Peter are on front row.

2.  Over 250 new learners have started classes through the Community Churches in the villages outside of Lira.


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Many pastors wives and church leaders are becoming readers for the first time.  Here, they are practicing the first lesson in the dirt outside the church.

Most of the new learners are located in small villages up to 3 hours away from Lira.  These were the people most affected by the 20+ year war with the rebel army. 



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Alibi church had no blackboard so they improvised for their writing part of the lesson with a plank resting on the upper edge of the church wall, and used leaves for their eraser.  


Peter Pule, one of our best trainers, met with the new teachers who had demonstrated their new skills with their learners.  He gave them much encouragement and ways to improve their classes.  All of them were thrilled to have a visit from their original trainer and hear his uplifting words to them.


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3. Keith continues to preach every Sunday in a village church prior to the reading lessons .

Mango trees and grass thatch churches are the usual venues for Keith's preaching.

4. Carolyn has been practicing teaching in Leblango  with Lucy, our housekeeper being her one student. 


Lucy is now on lesson 25 but was able to read her first scripture, John 3:16 after lesson 16!  She surprised Keith with her accomplishment.


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5. Carolyn's sister Nancy was with us for 5 weeks working with children and teachers in 3 village schools and churches culminating in a 2 day Children's Ministry Workshop for 82 youth workers at the Alito church - one which Hands Across Nations donations helped build.


The children at a Nursery and Primary School learned a relay race from Nancy where they put on a new shirt and ran to their next team member line raising their hands and saying "abedo atin Obanga anyen!" meaning I'm a new child of God!


The cooks for Carolyn School in Bala do a great job providing food, cassava and beans, for about 175 children with their open fire kitchen. 


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They have no electricity for cooking let alone a gas stove, oven or a microwave!


Nancy taught youth leaders how to make a Wordless Book using colored fabric to describe the Gospel story.  Everyone made one to take back to their church.


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Youth leaders learned to use whatever they have to act out dramas - Here, Noah and his family are carrying provisions onto the ark.


6. Our First Learning to Read to Read the Bible Primer has all original illustrations drawn by a 20 year old disabled young man, Isaac, who has helped produce an absolutely beautiful product for the learners.  Keith has been the one to take care of all the details in the Primer template on the computer - a tedious but necessary job.  Additionally, he had an inspiration from God to put all the verses that support the statements in the primer lessons about Jesus/God, into a list of scripture references at the back of the book.  From those references from books 1 & 2, we are planning to produce a "Learner's Bible" with all the supporting verses in full context, printed in Biblical order for the graduating readers.   We never imagined the first primer could be so professional using a team of ordinary people.  Only through God has it happened.  It will go to print this week - Halleluiah! 2 Chronicles 16:9 has been a reality for us:  "For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him."


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Isaac, the illustrator on the right has been mentored by friend and professional artist Daniel.  Isaac gave his life to the Lord on May 25th - just over a week ago, as he rode with us to one of the village churches.  He says he no longer has nightly nightmares and is sleeping peacefully.

The "Lion of Judah" is one of many great illustrations Isaac has completed for the primer.

7. Farming God's Way:  Keith has been growing demonstration gardens in our compound comparing the Ugandan traditional method of farming with a program called "Farming God's Way" and the results are spectacular so far.


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The maize (corn) and beans growing God's way, were double the traditional garden size in a matter of weeks and they were planted on the same day using the same amount of manure, but in a different way.

It was last measured at 12 ft tall, and many have 2 ears of corn on them!  All of us are astounded.  If we don't have a plague of locusts or a flood, the resulting harvest could be a great help in lowering our costs for food while being a great example for others.  We should have plenty to share.


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 8. Safari:  Nancy and I were able to spend a day at Murchison Falls National Park, concluding her stay here with a trip up the Nile in a thunder storm, and a land safari during a flash flood.   Next newsletter will contain some amazing photos of that special trip.

9. Sorrow: 

Our Hands Across Nations Board Chairman , Levi Abongo, whom many of you met last summer lost his brother 2 months ago.  He was loved by so many and the sadness has been great for the family and friends. 

10. Chalanges

(a) Sickness:  Nancy and I came down with very strong cases of malaria within 2 days of each other. Both in the hospital and at home we had wonderful care from Dr. Opio, his wife and nurse Semmy and Grace, a nursing assistant.  And God was with us, arms wrapped around us, with dear Christian brothers and sisters coming to pray for us.  We are now fully recovered and beyond joyful at being healthy again.  We now have a deeper compassion for people suffering from malaria and other commonly contracted diseases.  And we now call Keith - Keith/Carolyn/Nancy/Lucy as he did all the work of 4 people taking care of all our daily needs.  (Lucy had taken her 4 year old daughter to Kampala for eye surgery that week.  It was successful and she is no longer in pain.

(b) Car Troubles:  Our Toyota Land Cruiser, has had many maladies of old age, sagging muffler, not wanting to start up in the morning, coughing out the back pipes some black soot, a window gasket that disappeared down inside the door, brakes needing replacing, a dead horn, and the sun roof which was only good for sunny days because it allowed a downpour inside the car during storms.  Most have been fixed already by Keith.  So we may name it Lazarus.

Carolyn locked the key in the car way out in a village so Keith had to come 1 1/2 hours on a motorcycle taxi to help us open it and get to the supplies for the Children's Ministry Workshop.  - but the weather going home was so stormy it was a good thing he was driving.

(c) Sleeping guards are a regular challenge, leaving the property vulnerable to robberies.  But God is our armor and protection and we sleep soundly.


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(d) Varmints are abundant -  various size rats, grasshoppers, poisonous caterpillars, snakes, roaches, flies and ants plague us but have not overtaken us.....we're fighting back!   Our favorite guard, Stephen is great as spotting intruders - human and otherwise....There is currently a 4 foot green viper snake living inside the compound walls -- we have seen it twice and are now using towels under the front door crack to keep it out at night.

(e) Hand drilled wells are on hold:  Because of the intensity of starting up the Lango Literacy Program, and the valuable work Keith is completing on the primer book, means that his work on the hand drilled wells has been on hold.  Keith did find time make a pump for an old bore hole well that has sat unusable for decades since it was damaged by soldiers during the war.

We continue to be so grateful to our Lord Jesus, for allowing us this honor of being a part of His grand plan to provide the way for adults to read in their own native language so they can read His Word.  It is humbling to see the dedication of so many with challenges and disabilities of their own as they give themselves fully to the work they've been given.  They are ALL volunteers, including ourselves, unpaid except by God.  We are hearing their stories of extreme happiness as they see their efforts bear fruit for their brothers and sisters who have not been able to read. 

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The delay in writing a newsletter is regrettable as I love to share how God's work is going.  He is the designer and the One who is moving it all forward in incredible ways through so many people.  My words are completely inadequate to describe it, and our time is packed with people and the Learning to Read to Read the Bible project so I can't take the hours it requires to do it all justice.  Just know that we are in awe of how God is using all of you to change the tide of illiteracy and poverty through your donations to support this work here in Uganda.  Those who come here are never the same as they see the distress and challenges people face here every day of their lives.  You are making a difference!  In a few months we will have hundreds of people who will be thanking God for your help because they can now read the Bible - an impossible dream come true for them. 

If you would like to be part of the blessing to the Langi people, here are ways which you can make a huge difference:

·         Funds to print first 1,000 Book 1 Primers at $1.20 each = $1,200

·         Sponsorship of a 3 day Teacher Training Workshops - $100 for 20 students plus $60 for transportation of trainers for 3 days = $160

·         Sponsorship of materials for a teacher to start a literacy class for 20- 50 learners - $32 for 20, $68 for 50

Donations can be sent to Hands Across Nations, PO Box 711, Chewelah, WA 99109

Please forgive the length of this newsletter.  A lot has happened in 3 months. 

Go with God and please continue sharing the love of Christ in practical ways. 


Carolyn and Keith

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

Carolyn: carolyn.jones@handsacrossnations.com

Keith:  keith.jones@handsacrossnations.com

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