Tom, Verity Clare and family have arrived in Uganda

Hello everyone - praise God...

We made it to Arua!

 
 

We arrived in Uganda on March 5th after an exhausting but mostly trouble-free journey - for those of us who haven't given birth it was the most tired we've ever been! Having stayed in a guest house for a few days in Kampala, we then attended the CMS Uganda People in Mission conference at Lake Nabugabo near Masaka before braving the 9-hour car journey up to Arua.

Thank you for all your support and prayers. It was a very long journey but we are thankful to God for getting us here safely (and even without the need to self-quarantine, such was the perfection of God's timing).

We are now settling in to our new home and Tom is starting work - although as coronavirus begins to grip Uganda, he'll now mostly be working from home.

For those who like more detail, we've written about the journey and our first few weeks below - we'll also be looking to send a link over the next few weeks to a video with footage of the journey for those who are interested. If not, feel free to skim through for photos or to prayer requests at the end of the email.

 

Anyone for 11:45pm breakfast?


The overnight flight to Nairobi was as exhausting as we'd anticipated it would be. Combinations of an upset baby, excitement from the older two at being able to turn the screen on in front of you whenever you liked, two year old tantrums from Simeon mid-flight and being woken up (when they were all finally asleep!) at 11:45pm for breakfast, meant that we got no sleep at all. We fumbled our way through Nairobi airport and onto the connecting flight to Entebbe and somehow arrived in Uganda with all of our pieces of hold and hand luggage and all four children, so we felt pleased enough with the final outcome!

Our first few days were spent in a guesthouse in Kampala and we had the chance to catch up on rest and relax in the beautiful guesthouse grounds, easing the boys gently into the new culture.
A lovely pre-flight, farewell meal with the grandparents



They were all smiles at the start...




"Nobody move, they're asleep..."

Beautiful Papaya Guest House in Kampala

 

Lake Nabugabo PIM conference


Our arrival just happened to time perfectly with a planned People in Mission Conference for those working with CMS in Uganda. It was great to join in with the conference over a couple of days in the tranquil setting of Lake Nabugabo. We were able to gain useful insights into the joys and challenges of the work of our CMS co-workers here in Uganda and the boys had a great time chasing chickens, playing at the lakeside and going for a swim with Steve, the CMS Africa Regional Director, in the warm, bilharzia-free waters!

Lake Nabugabo was a beautiful setting for the conference

 

The long road north


Having spent over a week in Uganda, we were eager to head up to Arua and start to settle in to our new home. The nine hour journey was thankfully less stressful than anticipated. Prayers for journey mercies are always offered with great sincerity here - the drivers have been quite baffled by our use of car seats and with no seatbelts in the back of the car, two of the seats were tied on with rope and the older boys were left to bounce around at will. We seemed very mean keeping a crying baby strapped into his car seat when the co-driver was offering to have him stand up in the front with him, to cheer him up, while we were driving along....

We passed vast stretches of remote countryside and were surprised to see so many thatched huts along the roadside. The boys were also very excited to see elephants and hippos at one of the Nile crossing points, as well as vervet monkeys and baboons.

It was such a joy and relief to arrive at our home, welcomed by the wonderful David and Heather Sharland, who've been working in this region with CMS for a good number of years and whose generosity with their time and effort to sort our house out before our arrival has blown us away. The house has great potential and the outside space has already been such a blessing.
 

Settling in and locking down


Our attention over the last week or so has been somewhat divided as we've begun to settle in to life here whilst also keeping up with all the Coronavirus news back in the UK and now here, as the first few cases have been reported. We are getting to know people and begin to figure out where to buy things locally etc but at the same time are very conscious of the uncertainty facing so many people we care about in the UK right now. We're very thankful that we flew when we did - arriving in the country just a few days before they started quarantining travellers - but knowing that we now have no way of leaving the country makes us feel just that bit further away from loved ones back in the UK.

It's been almost three years since Arua was first mentioned as a possible place for us to call home and it feels so good to finally be here. We're looking forward to putting roots down here and are so thankful for the people we've met already - David and Heather, Noble (our lovely night watchman whom Ezra said was 'possibly the kindest person he's ever met') and Milly (who is coming to help us out in the house for a few hours each day). We're attempting to learn Lugbara, the local language, renowned for it's complexity. With Tom's community health work opportunities limited due to Coronavirus social restrictions, we now have more of an opportunity to focus on language learning over the next few weeks.

The boys have all shown amazing resilience in this transitional period but have equally taken it in turns to have meltdowns at different times. Ezra is struggling the most, having left such a great group of friends at home and being most aware of having left close family behind. He cheered up over the last few days, playing football in the garden with a group of local boys but due to rapidly changing social restrictions we've now had to cancel this activity. Eli has engaged most positively with the culture and Simeon still insists it's called 'New-ganda' but loves coming to the market and riding in a tuk-tuk. Joel just continues to love being with people and has been charming everyone here with his cheeky smile and ever-growing appetite.

Plenty of smiles with Noble as we begin lock down

 

Prayer points


Uprooting a young family to a new country is not the easiest of tasks, even in peaceful times, without a global pandemic evolving daily. We are thankful that we serve a God who goes before us and behind us and we know that we are where he wants us to be right now. We are so thankful for his perfect timing in getting us here, for the wonderful people he's already placed in our lives and the beauty of his creation all around us. We feel so privileged to be living here, looking forward to the adventure that comes from getting to experience life in a different culture.

We are so thankful that we know God and have the light of Christ living in us and we pray that we'd be able to share this light with those around us here in Arua. We'll be praying for all of you back in the UK - please do be in touch with specific prayer requests. If you'd like to pray for us, here's a few specifics:
  • For friends! We know it'll take time but we would love for all of us to make good friends here who we can journey with, especially in these more unsettling times.
  • For peace and grace - to be reminded daily of God's love and enabling for both the big and the small tasks each day. To be a witness of God's love, firstly to the boys as they go through all the emotions of moving here, pointing them to Jesus as our source of protection, hope and confidence. And to share the reason for this hope and peace with those close to us, both here and in the UK, at a time when so many are struggling with fear.
  • For patience as we look to learn the local language and learn it well.
  • For wisdom as we try to keep up-to-date with daily updates of coronavirus restrictions- we've just heard that we're pretty much in lock down as of tomorrow and need to make decisions about food supplies, people coming to the house etc.

Thank you so much for your prayers and support and do feel free to reply to this email to update us on your situation so we can pray in what must be an incredibly challenging time for the UK church.

Remember, if other people would like to join this list, they can do so on the link below - feel free to share this with your churches:

https://mailchi.mp/7edda23d83b7/claresinuganda

With love in Christ,

Tom, Verity, Ezra, Eli, Simeon and Joel