Subject: Love from Lukaya

Love from Lukaya

"Ugandans walk slowly, talk softly, and smile quickly," remarked a development worker friend, and I thought, what a good description. They are also extremely welcoming, and I'm looking forward to basking in that slower-paced warmth very soon.

Did you know that this small East African country hosts the largest refugee population in Africa?  More than one million refugees have fled their home countries to seek asylum in Uganda.

Refugee camps are crowded and provide minimal services. Still, those who seek asylum are relieved to be away from night raids and mass shootings. (John Grisham's book, Sooley: A Novel, details one such escape story.)

Lukaya is on the main highway coming from Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and we have some students from those countries whose stories are book-worthy.

We have students and staff born and raised in Lukaya whose stories are also deeply moving. I hope to share some of them with you during my stay in Lukaya. There's one below.

Latest from Lukaya

Bearing Fruit

Mustard Seed Pioneer, Daniel Ssewadda, graduated from Lira University in computer engineering on January 14th! We are so proud of Daniel. He comes from a needy, tiny nuclear family with only an uneducated mother and one brother. His mother is a gardener at Mustard Seed – Can you imagine her thrill when she traveled more than seven hours to Lira and saw her son receive a university degree? In the picture above, Mama Dan has on the graduation gown – Dan's way of appreciating his mother.

Four other members of the Pioneer Class will enjoy their graduations over the next few months. Some courses require three years for a bachelor's degree, and some longer.

Celebrations and Back to School

Mustard Seed Primary School students' outstanding results on the Primary Leavers' Exam (PLE) were announced on January 27th. Forty percent of the class received a first grade (like an A), and 45% earned a second grade – 85% of the class received distinctions! You might have heard the ululations from Uganda – I'm sure the typical soft-talking Ugandans let loose. We are so proud of our faculty, students, and staff!

Ugandan schools opened for the new school year on February 6 for nursery, primary, and secondary schools, except for the incoming S-1 and S-6 classes. S-1s just received their PLE results, so more time is given to decide what secondary school they will attend. We hope that all forty-two will continue at Mustard Seed.

The UCE exam results for last year's S-4 students were just released and were also exceptional. Half of the class finished with distinction! Those students will join schools later in February, and we expect about half of the class to be at Mustard Seed's S-5. Others will go to vocational institutions for nursing, lab tech, plumbing, catering, etc.

What's Up?

I (Elaine) plan to be in Lukaya from mid-February to mid-March. Diane Falk will be arriving nine days later. Diane has been eager to get back to Lukaya and check up on the older students – those at Mustard Seeds' advanced levels (S-5 & S-6) and those at other institutions in our COP program (Career Opportunity Pathways). We both hope to follow up on the many Mustard Seed grads. We also plan to accompany the P-5 class on their field trip to Lake Mburo.

I'll be delivering Valentine's greetings and taking lots of art supplies on this trip, but I hope to do more than that.

On my list:
-visiting each class (all 16 of them!) for photography and a project
-gathering stories about Mustard Seed children, families, and staff
-planning with the board of Tree of Life Ministries and Mustard Seed's leadership team, plus our architect
-documenting progress on projects and the health and welfare of the children

-making plans for celebrating the ten-year anniversary of Mustard Seed Secondary School
-sharing with you what is happening at Mustard Seed

Book Review

by Judy Dederick

Women’s lives, especially in third-world countries, are heavily focused on caring for others–children, relatives, partners, neighbors.  Agnes Nyawayarwo’s life in Uganda followed that path but with extreme challenges at every turn.  Her Catholic faith is at the core of her explanation of her survival. In her autobiography, Finding Solace: A Journey of Hope After Tragedy,  Agnes enumerates the love and blessings that gave her strength.

This reader was spellbound by the number and extent of her challenges and great success.

Click to continue reading Judy's review of Journey of Hope After Tragedy by Agnes Nyawayarwo

Thank You!

Mustard Seed children on December 23rd receiving big bags of festive food for Christmas

Your generosity made it possible for Mustard Seed students and their families to have a joyful Christmas with plenty of festive food!

Your support made the great success of Mustard Seed students possible. Without the 'extras' provided by you, their traumatic backgrounds could easily overshadow their school experiences. Key among the 'extras' is the feeling of being loved and secure. Thank you!

Community Presbyterian Church of Brigantine gave me a warm welcome on January 22nd, and I am grateful for the enthusiastic congregation who stayed after the service for my presentation. Several members have already sponsored children.

Special thanks to Carol Berman and Rich Waxman, who donated and delivered art supplies and musical instruments for Mustard Seed. These will get the new school year off to a good start!

Just for fun– did you know?

A 21-year-old man said he'd used his first paycheck to pay the secondary school fees for his son. How could this be (the boy was at least 13)?


Hit reply to this email and submit your answer or a comment. 

Please ask questions or give us suggestions. Let us know what you are thinking, how you are doing, what interests you. We love to hear from you!

I especially love to get emails from 'home' while in Uganda. Your prayers, well-wishing, notes of encouragement, comments, and questions mean more than you can imagine. We are in this together– changing lives!

With all my best,


Our website:

Powered by: