A Journey of Faith

An Update on St. John's from Lawrence Ssemakula

Dear friends,

Greetings from Uganda and more specifically from St. John's Primary School children and teachers. We have continued to take time to remember you all in our prayers and never forgetting the bond of love that exists between us. The Lord is so merciful and kind that even though we are millions of miles apart, he has given us his spirit to keep us together, it’s wonderful, our Father’s love is so great. I'm always so thankful with a grateful heart.

EA Institute student, Miriam, is being trained by our cooperative and teacher, Annette to teach in the classroom. Above, she facilitates a game with sight words for the students, inspired from a teacher training seminar offered to them last summer by Rachel Hartnell. 

EA Institute student, Miriam, is being trained by our cooperative and teacher, Annette to teach in the classroom. Above, she facilitates a game with sight words for the students, inspired from a teacher training seminar offered to them last summer by Rachel Hartnell. 

I wanted to bring you some updates from last week and this week. The term is running so fast and so teachers are doing all they can to see that the objectives they set are achieved. It becomes quite a challenge, especially when you have your own and even parents and students have their objectives as well. It takes all three parties to have a common mind to figure out things.

When the rainy season comes, it’s a blessing to us here because we know that we shall have plants growing. But in rural areas like ours, parents depend so much on children to give a hand. Many students will miss classes because they have to help their parents. Others fall sick quite often due to malaria prevalence that increases because breeding places for mosquitoes also tend to increase. 

Amidst such challenges, teachers have done their best to help students in every way possible and tried to be sensitive to their needs. Games have been incorporated in the teaching and group discussions have also been utilized too. Some of our Institute student teachers have continued to fill some gaps and continue to develop their skill in teaching with a biblically focused mind. I want to thank you so much for supporting them in meeting their needs in various aspects.

It was such a blessing to host over 170 teachers at St. John's school for a teacher seminar. 

It was such a blessing to host over 170 teachers at St. John's school for a teacher seminar. 

Last week we also had a seminar organized by the Municipal Education Department to equip teachers with more skills in teaching reading and writing in P1-P4. Over 170 teachers from government and private schools came to attend the seminar that took place at our school for the entire day. We were able to host such an event because we have the facility. When our roof was in disrepair, no one could organize such seminars here but today it’s possible. Our teachers would have had to travel many miles to attend this seminar if it were held elsewhere, but they didn't have to because we were able to host. This has never happened before.

This week we had the education department of the municipality visiting again to check on the progress and how things are going at St. John’s. They were impressed with the life in the school and our growing numbers. Many government schools have lost many children to private schools. Even though we are surrounded by private schools, we aren’t swallowed by them. They made some promises and I hope they will walk the talk.

Gregg Garner, John Nyago, and the headmaster of St. John's in the summer of 2014 when our partnership with St. John's formally began. 

Gregg Garner, John Nyago, and the headmaster of St. John's in the summer of 2014 when our partnership with St. John's formally began. 

Almost four years ago when we first went to visit St. John’s with Gregg [Garner], I recall we had a meeting under a small mango tree and we talked to the headmaster. At that moment my ability to see the vision that Gregg was projecting was really blurry, but he spoke with great faith. He said we shall help uplift the situation and we’ll pray to the Lord. When he checked the registers for the children, the numbers were so low about 200 or less. Today when I see our enrollment is 441, I look back to those days. It’s been a journey of faith. Even with the building where I saw 100+ teachers from all over sites and learning, Gregg didn’t say we shall build it but he said, we will pray and he asked the headmaster “pray with us” and the headmaster smiled.

This kind of faith is so illuminating and motivating. Today even when I get in moments when I feel so hopeless, I don’t lose heart because our God is a living God.

Children have been fed, last week and this week. When I see poor parents coming to say thank you, I praise the Lord for that. I pray that they will be able to see with faith that we can work together to feed the children and they will not be hungry anymore at home or at school. In the same way that the need for teachers was met, the need for food is being met. Hunger will no longer threaten their lives, but they will thrive and drive out all sorts of fear.

I love you all so much.
Ssemakula
On behalf of the St. John's team.

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