A Letter from Teacher Marilyn

I am very excited to be in Mityana, Uganda, again as a volunteer teacher with Maranatha Schools. This is the third year that I have been here as a long-term missionary with True Impact Ministries, and it is a wonderful experience to follow the growth of the children as they progress through their school years, along with the continuous development of Maranatha as the schools change and grow to meet many new challenges each year in providing homes and education for hundreds of orphans and students in Uganda.

This year I have been working in Primary 1 with Teacher Beatrice and Teacher Esther at Maranatha Mizigo as we continue to apply and improve the use of phonetic reading skills using the Dubard Association Method, a multi-sensory approach to learning reading, writing, and speaking in English that we introduced to this group of students in 2012.

I have also been working with the preprimary teachers with new activities and materials in the Preschool Learning Centre, which Maranatha opened in 2012 to provide age- appropriate preschool materials and activities for 3 to 5 year-olds in Baby Class and Top Class.

During the spring break between Term 1 and Term 2, I have been helping the teachers who are working daily with the P7 students preparing for the 2014 Primary Leaving Exam. In a recent activity we used my computer to find pictures and video clips of sea animals and other animals that the students have never seen but must know about for their important national exam in November.

Later this month, I will spend some time at Maranatha Nkonya with their Preschool Learning Centre, which opened in 2013, and with their P7 class.

Many thanks to Patrick and Eva Walusimbi and their family for allowing me to live in their home and teach in their schools. The loving care and opportunities they provide for all the children in their trust are a truly inspiring example of Christianity in action.

And many thanks and much gratitude to True Impact Ministries.

Marilyn Vlahos

Back to School!

Maranatha Integrated Schools Project celebrated it’s first day of the 2014 school year today.  Many children have been eagerly awaiting today, and we have had a great turnout for our first day!  At our Maranatha Mizigo Primary School we have registered 30% of our returning students.  We pray that by the end of next week all students will be back and fully accounted for and ready to learn, play, and grow in the Lord!!!

Along with the joy of seeing returning students coming to school, we have also been able to welcome some new faces to Maranatha Schools.  However, due to financial struggles on both the families side and on Maranatha’s side, we have turned down over 25 aspiring students.  We pray that God will continue to provide and allow these students to fulfill their dream of an education.  It is far from uplifting for these children to hear that their education is not a possibility due to lack of funds.

We are still seeking out sponsors for many, many of our Maranatha students.  If you would please prayerfully consider ways in which God may be calling you to serve this 2014, we would be grateful! Feel free to send any inquiries or questions regarding sponsorships to elbingse@uwalumni.com or p4ewalusimbi@gmail.com

Please continue to pray for our students as they continue to travel back to Mityana from their Holiday locations, as well as our teachers for guidance, wisdom, peace, and LOVE!  Love is of ultimate importance….let us all strive to show love in new and different ways this 2014 school year!

Be Blessed!

Welcome to the 2014 School Year!

Welcome to the 2014 School Year!

As our Holidays come to a close from our break in early December, there are over 1,000 children getting ready to come back to school next week.  We are excited for the opportunities that are laid before us and also look forward to the challenges that God may bring in order that his glory and provision may be made known.

The Holidays are usually known to be a happy time for many people.  Celebrating Christmas and Jesus’ birth gives us something to hope for and cheer about.  It’s good for some of the students who live here at the dormitories to be home with their families, and seeing their parents and siblings.

However, for most of Maranatha’s boarding students, the Holidays come with great dread and grief.  Students go home wondering if they will be eating at all over their time away from school, or if they will even get any clean water to drink.  Abusive parents or family members await them for the next month and a half and they wonder how they will survive without the comfort and security of knowing that someone loves them and will provide for them.  We pray for these children and ask for their continued blessing and that God brings them safely to school on Monday February 3rd.

As we prepare for these students to arrive at our schools for the 2014 school year, we also want to express to you some of our key challenges that await us in order that you may partner in praying for us and helping where the Lord may lead you to.  The following three things await us as we enter this new school year, and pray by the grace of God that he will provide in order for these children to have the best welcome back to school as possible.

1.  Scholastic Supplies
For the first time since the school’s opening, Maranatha will be unable to provide school supplies for its incoming students.  Maranatha has lost a major donor upon her passing last year, and that has set us back financially.  School supplies that will need to be provided for include: exercise books, math sets, pens, and pencils.  We pray that God may be able to fulfill that need within the first 2 weeks of school beginning, as we know how important these items are in order that the children may strive and succeed academically.

2. Latrine
Our main concern at our Mizigo Secondary/Vocational School deals with the need for a latrine to be built.  The current latrine will not be suitable to accommodate our students for whole upcoming school year.  We are expecting over 360 students this year at our Secondary/Vocational School, and thus the need is quite immediate with the numbers growing in that way.

3.  Mosquito Nets
We pray that around 300 mosquito nets would be able to be provided for our boarding students at Maranatha Mizigo Primary and Secondary Schools.  We have many nets that are not of good quality, and therefore have multiple holes and rips and tears in them, defeating their purpose.  We want to be able to provide the safest environment for all of our boarders, and malaria prevention is something we specifically need to focus on in this area.

We know that God’s hand is working and has great plans for our 2014 school year.  Please continue to remember Maranatha Schools and its students/teachers/leaders in your prayers as we strive to continue bringing these children quality education and the hope of a brighter future each and every day.  If you are able to help in any way financially or by providing for any of the above needs, please feel free to email at any time.

Praying that this 2014 blesses you abundantly!

Kyetume Parent’s Meeting

Recently Maranatha was able to have a parent’s meeting at the newest Maranatha School in Kyetume.  We invited all of the parents of the children to come and express their thanks and concerns from over the past year.  We had a great turnout of parents and supporters of our students, around 40.  Our Head Teacher, Rose, as well as Director Patrick Walusimbi both gave summaries of the year and answered questions for the parents in attendance regarding the years to follow and how Maranatha will continue to improve and grow in this community.  Topics covered in this meeting included:

–student meals

–hygiene related issues

–the hope of permanent structures in the future

–our upcoming Senior 5 class

–attendance

–parent/guardian involvement

Please continue to pray for our Kyetume school as it continues to minister to the children and the community.  We pray that God continues to bless these children and their families in order to strengthen them in knowledge and faith.

Feeding of the 300

Everyone says that Christmas is December 25th, but for the children in the Nkonya village where one of Maranatha’s Primary Schools is located, Christmas came a little bit early.  Last Friday, True Impact Ministries and the Dobson Family were able to help coordinate IMG_4258and donate money to give Christmas gifts and feed lunch to over 300 children in the Nkonya village.

The Nkonya village is a very poor community in Mityana, with their main focus primarily on fishing.  Many people in this community are illiterate and only know two things: fishing and farming.  Building the primary school here in 2000 was aimed at not only helping the children get quality education, but to benefit the community as well.

The Dobson Family along with friend Christiana Williams were able to “host” the party.  I IMG_4318sat and talked to the Dobson family as they explained how before they had left the states, their extended family came to them, telling them that their nieces and nephews had given up their Christmas presents this year in order to donate money to the children in Uganda.  Through those types of donations and also through True Impact Ministries, we were able to put smiles on faces and love in the hearts of those children who are neglected, impoverished, and vulnerable.

There was dancing, there were games, there was probably the longest game of musical chairs ever played.  The children were so happy to be surrounding by loving people who cared for them enough to make this Christmas extra special.

After having a delicious meal of matooke, rice, beef, chicken, and watermelon, the children were able to receive gifts of water bottles, plates, and bowls to take home with them.  I watched as each child got called up by name, to have a sticker put on their hand, given a gift, and finished off with a “Merry Christmas” and kiss on the head.  Each of these children felt so special on that day.IMG_4302

When many hearts who are committed to following Christ are combined, great things are able to happen.  Many thanks to the Dobson Family and True Impact Ministries for partnering with Maranatha to make this day a reality for so many children!

Beautiful Nagawa

Meet Nagawa.Nagawa

Nagawa is 7 or 8 and attends Maranatha Schools. She is just about to graduate from the “top class” they call it, which basically is graduation from the Preschool section of the Primary school. Next year she will be starting on to Primary 1. She has a smile that will just captivate you, and the most comforting and loving presence. She’s a great actress and is ticklish mostly around her tummy. Each morning Sarah and Patrick wake up and see her sprinting down the road to jump into our arms and give Sarah the sign language sign of “I love you” as she says “KWAGALA SARAH” (I love you Sarah)! Each child here deserves this kind of love and this kind of laughter that God has given Nagawa, and our prayer is that her story will speak for many other children who are in similar situations and need sponsors like Nagawa.

When Nagawa was just a year old, her mother passed away. Burdened by the idea of raising a child on his own, her father dropped her off at her grandmother’s here in Mityana. He has not been seen or heard from since. Her grandma has 10 children, 4 of which are deceased, and the rest of them she has no idea where they are, as they cut ties with her long long ago. She lives just outside of Mityana in a mud house where her chickens and animals stay in one room of the 3 room house that she has. Just this past week Nagawa has been running to school every morning right on time, but it hasn’t always been that way.

Nagawa was often late for school, if she even would make it there at all. Often times, her grandma would make her get up in the morning to fetch the entires supply of water for the day before she needs to be at school at 7:00am. Sometimes she would make her stay home the entire day because there were too many chores to do…she couldn’t go to school that day. On top of that, her grandmother is a drunk who beats her physically and emotionally. Nagawa has scars on her body from the beating, and I can’t imagine the emotional scars on her heart that will haunt her for who knows how long. She will often times be denied food, and made to sleep in the pen with the chickens and hens.

Surprisingly, Nagawa told someone about this. Many children who go through these types of situations are too afraid to tell anyone. Nagawa went to a neighbor and told him about her situation a couple weeks ago, and since then, has been living there since. Every time she sees her grandmother approaching, she runs in the opposite direction.

Patrick and Sarah had the opportunity to visit the home where she is currently staying as well as her grandmother’s house just this past week. When they went to where Nagawa is staying, Sarah pulled her up in her lap, gave her the biggest hug and kiss that she could and gave her the sign language symbol for “I love you”. That seems to be their own little personal handshake now. She beams with excitement and a huge smile every time they do it. Sarah is still trying to help her with it, she can get her pointer finger and pinky up but is still working on learning how to get her thumb up at the same time. :) Pastor Patrick talked with the family about Nagawa’s situation and circumstances. Our goal for next school year once it begins in February was to get Nagawa sponsored and to get her the funds to not only attend school and get medical coverage and food, but also to live in the dormitory on site of the primary school. That prayer was just recently answered as we have found the funds to cover Nagawa’s first year starting in February. Praise God!

We continued talking to her caretakers, and Sarah showed her pictures on her camera of pictures of her that Sarah had taken. Her smile completely erases and distracts from thedishrag of a dress that she’s wearing, discolored and torn all over. Every time you see that face, it’s so easy to see the joy of Christ shining through. See the love of Christ. See the comfort that we can find in his arms. The fact that she can even express joy after going through what she’s gone through is amazing. That is Christ. That is Jesus shining through her heart and giving her hope. They prayed before they left the house, and Sarah couldn’t help but open her eyes during the prayer only to see Nagawa, kneeling on the floor with her hands folded in front of her face, eyes closed and brow wrinkled so intently on what she was praying. This girl gives so much hope and joy and pray that God is working through this ministry to give it back to her ten fold. They left as Nagawa gave them one last “I love you” sign and a huge hug.

They were driving out on the path that the house was and a local student pointed out where the grandmother lived. Right then, her head peered out from the doorway of the mud hut.Patrick stopped the car, and said “Let’s go.” Without hesitation they hopped out of the car as the grandmother approached. They warmly greeted her as she motioned for them to go inside of the house. She explained her story and told Patrick her frustrations with how Nagawa is no longer in her care. To hear her story and to love her was a great experience, and it’s clear that she has some brokenness to be healed just like all of us do. Because in order to do those things to a young child, you definitely have some hurt of your own to deal with. They didn’t have long to talk, but prayers to continue ministering to her grandma and restoration of relationships would be greatly appreciated.

God can deliver. He can heal. He can restore. He is in this situation. He will use it for good.

“But you, O sovereign Lord,
deal well with me for your name’s sake;
out of the goodness of your love, deliver me.
For I am poor and needy,
and my heart is wounded within me.” Psalm 109:21-22

Nagawa showing Sarah her new uniform

Nagawa showing Sarah her new uniform

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning: great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion, therefore I will wait for Him.” Jeremiah 31:3

“The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

Pray for Nagawa to know how incredibly special she is. How beautiful. How loved. How capable. God is going to use this girl for great things, and pray God is able to work through the people here to give her the slightest glimpse of hope.

We are determined to change the lives of children in these types of situations. If God has laid it on your heart to be sponsoring a child, to help with food, medical care, housing, and education, please prayerfully consider sponsoring. As far as costs go, it would be around $500 per year to sponsor and cover everything. More detail surrounding payments can be discussed if anyone responds and wants to move in the direction of sponsorship, but above all the story needed to be share. If you are unable to sponsor please know that prayers have no numerical value. We would be thrilled to have so many praying for these children. If you are interested in investing or providing sponsorship for any child, please let us know.These children are so important and loved. Thank you so much for your prayers and for taking the time to read. God is so good!

Nagawa's current caretakers

Nagawa’s current caretakers

Beautiful Nagawa

Beautiful Nagawa

15 Years of Ministry….Affirming the Value in Maranatha’s Children!

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Since Maranatha-Mizigo Primary School launched in 1998, there have been many changes throughout those years.  We have built more water latrines, made more classrooms, built new dormitories for both boys and girls, and have welcomed and said goodbye to many children as they’ve started and graduated from our primary program.  And besides God’s amazing presence and grace poured upon this place, there is one other thing that has stayed the same.

Imagine walking 3 to 4 tireless miles to school. Sometimes with bare feet.  Sometimes after waking up at 4am to fetch water for your family for the entire day’s supply or take care of your younger siblings.  Imagine walking those miles, those steps, after waking up without a mother or father, or walking all of that distance on a completely empty stomach.  Imagine walking those miles and steps, feeling completely unloved, unsupported, and hopeless.

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Not every student has to walk 3 to 4 miles to our Maranatha Mizigo school in the morning, and not every student has these feelings.  However, many of these stories and situations are prevalent for Mizigo’s over 500 pupils.  That’s why, once they see the gate to Maranatha approaching, they see a man who’s dedicated to changing the lives of these students for the better, waving his hand and immediately expressing excitement to see them.  Pastor Patrick has been doing this since the school started.  The child runs up to him and jumps into his arms and is flooded with words like “Good Boy! Good Girl!! I love you!!!” which is also accompanied by a tickle or kiss on the head.  As the child giggles and runs away he taps them on the shoulder, saying “Kauna!!”, a way of saying “Gotcha!!” as if playing a game of tag.  The child taps him back and laughs then runs down the path to the school building.

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How big of a blessing it is for me to witness this for the past couple weeks since being here. This excitement, this encouragement, this love….this is GOD doing this.  God is working through him and pouring out love on 500+ students as they walk to school everyday.  And not only that, but it is on of the most rewarding things to stand along side of him and tell these children how much they are loved.  “I love you” are not words that are spoken nearly enough in this culture, and God has really developed this ministry into something that is literally changing the thoughts, attitudes, and self images of these beautiful children.  To see a child walking up with the most downcast face, and then bursting into and galloping towards the hug that awaits them….it changes them.  It has changed me.  The smallest glimpse of encouragement and love makes the biggest difference.

Ephesians 3:17-19

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Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. (NLT)

Comon!!

Comon!!

"Oly Mulungi"  (You are beautiful)

“Oly Mulungi” (You are beautiful)

 

 

Welcome Sarah to Maranatha!!

Sarah introducing herself to the children at our Kyetume SchoolMaranatha is very excited to be announcing the arrival of Sarah Elbing from the United States!!! Through the ministries of an organization called True Impact Ministries, one who has done much construction and served with Maranatha, Sarah found out about Maranatha Schools and felt God calling her to serve his children here in Uganda.  Sarah will be serving here for two and a half months.  God placed Uganda on her heart at a very young age, and loves using her gifts to share, encourage and love upon others.  Sarah has a heart for helping and loving those in need and we are very pleased to have her teaching, playing, and practicing music with our students.  Please remember her and her ministry in your prayers.  For updates from Sarah and a link to her blog click here:

www.fuzzytravel.com/elbingse

For a link to True Impact and the work they continue to do click here:  www.trueimpactministries.com

Sarah will also be taking pictures of our five schools and be updating our website.  Stay tuned for more exciting pictures and stories!!!