Subject: Gratitude

Overflowing gratitude from Mustard Seed


My four weeks in Uganda filled me to overflowing with gratitude.

Some of the specifics:

-The most prevalent sentiment expressed by teachers was gratitude.

-The Mustard Seed staff told me: "Others are suffering, but we are okay!"

-Ugandan partners pitched in to make things as good as possible during school closures.

-Students are happy to be at school with friends and teachers, even if only one or two days a week.

-My good health, safe travels, and small joys of being in the Pearl of Africa.

-A 'new' school van, which I had the pleasure of driving –- without mishap.

-A new 'cafe' in town that serves delicious chicken and chips.

-Lovely weather – neither too much rain nor too much sun.

-A chance to reconnect with four of our Pioneer Class who are now proud university students.

-Attending two introductions and a wedding, wearing the same style dress that real Ugandans wore. (See photo below.)

-The heartwarming smiles when giving out more than 100 envelopes to children from sponsors.

-Students 'on task' writing postcards to American friends and sponsors and coloring pages with encouraging scripture verses.

Teacher Sylvia and me (above), attending an introduction, dressed in gomesis, the traditional attire of central Ugandan women.

Secondary school students in an outdoor art lesson using erasable white boards.

The Latest from Lukaya

The Mustard Seed Academy administrators obtained permission from the government to have small groups come to school for informal lessons on a rotating basis. These lessons were mostly held outdoors. I observed teachers being innovative and students enjoying the opportunity to be with friends and breaking the boredom. (See photo above of an art class at the secondary school.) 

Traffic was noticeably lighter than on my last trip in March when schools were temporarily open. Despite closed schools and a 7 p.m. curfew, the gatherings for weddings, funerals, and meetings seemed almost normal.

Mustard Seed teachers have been vaccinated, and no cases of Covid have occurred in the Mustard Seed community. Students and teachers looked well-fed and healthy – thanks to you.

Mustard Seed campuses look green and well-maintained. Preparations for re-opening are in full swing.

The hardships in town are many, but the thing that brought the most heartache to me was seeing a little girl of about 5 coming up my long driveway. I was on my front porch enjoying a cup of tea with a friend who could translate for me. Dressed in a ragged dress with bare feet, the girl carried a bucket on her head. The bucket contained fried rice balls, and she was selling them for 100 Ugandan shillings each. I bought five (14 cents worth), and she went off to try another house. I'm sure her situation was not the worst – our cottages are in a safer part of town, and she wasn't doing hard labor. Still, such a small child should be in school and having three good meals a day.

I wish we could take all of the children of Lukaya and give them the loving, nurturing care of Mustard Seed Academy.

Rehema Namyalo, above, giving the Mustard Seed hens a treat of fresh greens.


An old friend, Rehema Namyalo, is now working part-time for Tree of Life Ministries. She has already done several training workshops in unique farming techniques. She has begun to renovate Diane's Garden with herbs and other medicinal plants (in memory of master gardener, Diane Bennett). She will be coordinating what is produced on campus with the food served to students and staff, thus saving money and improving nutrition.

For more than 10 years, our team in Uganda has called on Rehema for help and advice (once she gave me a marvelous, healing massage, curing an episode of sciatica). Now, she has moved very close to Lukaya and can easily be involved on a regular basis at Mustard Seed. Her expertise in all things natural and sustainable is stunning, while her enthusiasm and energy make her an outstanding trainer who can convince others to try new things.

What's Up?

Are Schools Opening? Yes! On my last day in Lukaya, the President announced that schools will be reopening the week of January third. All students will be promoted automatically to the next grade. The youngest students had very little time in class over the last two years, and teachers will be challenged to help them catch up. On top of that, the school terms will be reduced from 13 weeks to 10 weeks and vacations will be pared down to 2 weeks.

Other changes involve making adjustments to the calendars for colleges and higher-level training institutions.

In general, the educational system is getting a big overhaul. Secondary schools will be using a new curriculum with a more hands-on approach (long overdue). Teachers are attending workshops, and Mustard Seed classrooms are being modified to facilitate the new methods. We are hopeful the experience of small-group learning during Covid closures will help to make the transition smoother.

First-graders getting started on an informal lesson in an outdoor classroom.

Thank You!

Six hundred Christmas food packages will be delivered again this year! Six churches and 21 individuals gave over $11,000! This exceeded our goal, but the excess will be helpful because of inflation and the effects of Covid. The leftover funds will be used to help the neediest families with extra food for a while longer.

Sam, English teacher extraordinaire, handed out maize flour to secondary students ats they left for home.

Hadijah from the Pioneer Class (now a med tech) is giving me a push.

Just for fun–

In September, the challenge was to recall an American saying with the same meaning as, "You are lost."

I remembered my dad saying: "Long time, no see." Others submitted more genteel greetings expressing delight at seeing someone after a long absence – lots of winners.

For this month:

More than once, I gave someone visiting me 'a push.' What did I do?

I apologize for being so out of touch. My good intentions to keep up communication during my trip were foiled by difficult internet connections and happy exhaustion at the end of each day.

I am very grateful for your support, which I experienced in many ways. Emails, scans of checks being deposited, notes of encouragement, WhatsApp messages, FaceBook reactions, prayers, and kind thoughts all made me feel not alone. Accomplishing the work of bringing hope and a future to a small, far away place is the work of many partners, and you are among them. I am so very grateful.


Happy Thanksgiving and all my best,


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