Jo Purle's sept/oct newsletter
Big greetings to you all from Mbale, Uganda.
I don’t usually start my newsletters with an apology but I must say sorry for the long silence from this end! We have had an extremely hectic 4 months with non stop individuals and teams joining JENGA. We’ve had a wonderful time hosting many friends, family, visitors and church groups, although it has been busy and only now can I sit and write this update to you all! I trust this finds you well hopefully having had some rest over the Summer and now expectant of what the new season of Autumn may hold.
Since May, we have welcomed over 50 people to JENGA to participate in what God is doing here in Uganda within the communities we work. Our friends have come from all sorts of places and for a variety of purposes but all to stand with us to contribute in some way to make a difference in the lives of the poor and disadvantaged. It is so wonderful to see the network of people connected to JENGA grow and become stronger, and for these people to return home inspired, challenged and willing to speak out for justice, and make radical changes in their own lives as a result.
God is not desiring people to simply ‘see the state of the world or feel its pain’ but to encounter the harsh reality of life for many people firsthand, to engage with His heart of love and compassion for a lost and needy world, and primarily to ‘do something about it’. It is a joy and a privledge that God is calling JENGA to facilitate such an opportunity by hosting short term volunteers, to expose them to a glimpse of real life in Africa and to witness God transform lives when offered open and willing hearts.
In July JENGA ministered alongside ‘One Life’, an exciting new youth initiative based in the UK. Two teams arrived in Uganda and together we co-ordinated 2 Young Leader’s Conferences. The first was in Kasese, a small rural community in the West of Uganda and the second was here in Mbale. In total, there were 400 delegates; young leader’s in the church hungry for sound and inspiring Biblical teaching and a life changing encounter with God. I led a couple of afternoon seminars on ‘Character and Calling’ – the importance of a Godly character in leadership, and ‘Basic principles of the Prophetic’ – how to hear God’s voice and discern His guidance. Both conferences were fantastic and it is a real honour that One Life have selected JENGA as one of their key mission organisations and we look forward to welcoming many more One Life teams in the future. (See www.onelifeonline.org.uk
In August, we hosted a team from Chorleywood who got stuck into serving the communities in practical ways and gave Mustard Seed church a facelift by painting it inside and out. They did an excellent job and were so committed to see their work finished well. JENGA also hosted a small team from St. Helen’s church, Hastings. This was particularly encouraging for me as this is my parents’ church and it’s great to strengthen relationships between us. Sarah, Andrea and Barbara had a wonderful time here running a Craft Workshop, imparting practical skills to women, many widowed or living with HIV, so that they can make useful items to generate income. They also visited Musoto Baptist Primary School where Bodium School sponsor 100 children. It was great to see the good work, and the children prayed for us as we left!
As well as church teams, we have also seen many personal friends and family members visit Uganda. I was thrilled to welcome my good friend Janet, from Canterbury in June. We had a wonderful time together catching up with news and it was such a joy to introduce her to the JENGA team and see what I’ve been doing here for the past 4 years. Also, we were delighted to host 3 of our JENGA UK Trustees. Martin Williams is our UK Chairman who came with his wife, Rachel, back to Uganda for the 3rd time. Also Pete Wynter who now heads One Life, and Nigel Kiernander who assists us in particular with our accounting systems. Nigel came with Mamitiana, his good friend from Madagascar, to show him the work of JENGA as he will be starting a similar development organisation there. It was great to have such sound
men and women stay with us and stand with us in our vision and calling.
Work in JENGA
As you can imagine, my last few months have been pretty much taken up with hosting our Summer visitors. I still oversee JENGA’s finances and this has been a particularly busy time in this department too as our new financial year commenced on 1st September. Although I have no training or previous experience in accounts, I really enjoy my involvement in this area and I’m very proud of our team committed to ensure all our processes work well and that we account for all our donor funds with integrity. I continue to co-ordinate our community health training activities, oversee JENGA’s growing Women’s ministry and Child Sponsorship programme, as well as engage in a whole variety of leadership roles and responsibilities.
As well as our Ugandan staff who are so committed to the vision of JENGA, it is wonderful that 3 of our recent volunteers have decided to return for an extended period. Dave & Anna Bishop, and Tiff Vale have made a significant impact in the life and work of JENGA and it is such a thrill that they will remain serving with us. They have so much to offer and they are much loved. Sadly, we had to say goodbye to Emily and Amy who completed their 6 month placements with us before starting University. They were incredible assets to the JENGA team and we miss them greatly.
Bethel, established 2 years ago in a Muslim community is the church that Pastor Vincent & Grace Munyosi lead. There is a strong relationship between Bethel & JENGA and it has grown phenominally as many are finding real hope and life through Jesus Christ. Already the new building is too small to fit in the 200 adults and children that attend each week! Bethel has baptisms for new believers almost every month as there are so many people wanting to speak out about their new found faith.
JENGA’s literacy course began in June 2009 as a 6 month pilot study. We have approximately 50 women from deprived communities meeting 4 times each week learning the basics of reading and writing, led by a Primary School teacher. It is going so well that the students and the teachers certainly wish for it to continue into 2010.
On 19th October, Robby Keen (JENGA Executive Director) and I will be flying to Perth and onto Melbourne to consolidate our partnerships in Australia. We are both very excited about this opportunity and feel strongly that it will be a key time as we promote the work of JENGA, gather support and discuss an official JENGA Australia. We already have a number of links with churches and organisations and we’re expecting to strengthen these relationships and create many new connections aswell.
Many Thanks from JENGA
Thank you for supporting JENGA in countless ways, whether you subscribe to a Christian faith or not, as you are truly impacting many lives for good. Thank you too for demonstrating your love and support of me personally as I work here with JENGA. It means a lot to me to have friends and family back home who believe in what I am giving myself to in Uganda. I thank God so much for bringing me here as I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else for now, it is so rewarding to see lives changed!
Despite the current global economic climate, JENGA continue to operate all our programmes and activities, and remain with our 12 paid Ugandan staff. However with such a financial crisis, the exchange rate has significantly dropped over the last year and local prices, particularly food, have significantly increased. This has really taken its toll and JENGA have seen donations reduced, whilst the needs of the poorest of the poor calls for our urgent attention.
As always, the plight of the poor is pushed under the carpet, and whilst we in the West may miss a holiday this year, the people here in Mbale miss a meal and children can’t go to school for lack of school fees. This is a classic illustration of the injustice we see in the world, but we can ‘do something about it’ and my heartfelt prayer is that each one of us carefully take some time in our busy lives to think about what is our response. What can I do? Please consider supporting JENGA financially, every penny will make a profound difference in someone’s life.
For those of you that pray, I really value your personal prayers so much. Please rejoice in God’s goodness with me, as I entrust my life into His Hands. Please pray that God continues to equip me in my role that I would grow in wisdom and discernment. Also that He protects me and provides for me here and guides me into all He has for me in the future. Thank you all so much, you’re great!
With much love and gratitude, Jo