Thursday, December 20, 2007

Emily's 5th birthday - 17 Dec 2007

We celebrated Emily's 5th birthday with a number of her friends earlier this week (17 Dec 2007). Here are some of the pictures from the day:

For more pictures taken the same day, look here.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Jonathan reading to Asher

Jonathan reading to Asher
Originally uploaded by aliyense
Danetta captured this "keeper" image of Jonathan reading to Asher on the living room couch, the day we celebrated Jonathan's 11th birthday (Dec 3, the day before his actual birthday to make the party logistics work).

For a dozen or so other pictures we took during the birthday festivities, go to our family photos site:

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sunday night pancakes, Dec 2 2007

Got some cute shots of Asher in Danetta's rocking chair:

Several who came for pancakes played cards on the living room floor for a while (clockwise, Leila, Joy, Emily, Jennifer, Sandra - mostly behind Jennifer, and Vince). You can see Asher cavorting on the rocking chair in the background.

Jennifer with Sandra, one of Emily's best friends (daughter of our Kenyan coworkers James and Noeli)

The pancakes table (clockwise, Danetta, Kimberly, Heidi, Becca). We had variety in toppings tonight: besides traditional maple syrup, there were strawberries and home-made gooseberry syrup. (The maple syrup's home-made too, except for the mapleine flavoring.) This evening we had a bunch of fresh gooseberries, so Danetta used some of them to make a delightfully tart alternative syrup.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Asher and the lids #3

Originally uploaded by aliyense

Asher and the lids #2

Originally uploaded by aliyense

Asher and the lids

Originally uploaded by aliyense
We have pictures of Luke, taken about 8 years ago, surrounded by stacks of baskets or pots and pans. Asher, just like Luke before him, loves to pull things out of cupboards and "re-organize" them!

Asher grins

Originally uploaded by aliyense
Jonathan and Luke spent a while this afternoon taking pictures of their little brother.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Sunday hapnin's

Sunday morning most of the family stayed in town while I went with Vince and Joy Vigil, Jennifer Ashlock and some Ugandan friends to visit Kapuwai church in Pallisa district. It's a fairly young church, and we had a lot of children there, as you can see:

In the evening it was pancakes as usual at our house, with assorted ways and means of hanging out. Vince and most of the boys gave the game cube a work-out:

Joy, Jennifer and Lydia got a card game going:

Kimberly and Emily were another card-playing duet:

And Leila, Becca, Ian and Heidi treated several songs in various ways:

Emily asked Danetta to take a picture of her in her over-sized T-shirt (one she decorated at the All-Africa Missionary Conference in Malindi, Kenya back in July):

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Asher at the door

Asher, 13 months old

Asher's favorite station these days is on the steps just outside our front door. Here he is in typical pose in a picture taken this morning. For some variations on the theme, check out the other four images posted at:


Thursday, September 20, 2007

When it all floats away

It's raining in eastern Uganda. A lot. No prospect of slowing down. Yesterday BBC's website reported, "WFP has launched an $60m appeal for food aid to Uganda alone, where it estimates 1.7 m people will go hungry. North-eastern Uganda has lost most of its crops to flooding, after the heaviest rains in three decades." Sunday I was at the Bukedea district HQ where I saw the WFP lorries preparing to offload sacks of food for displaced people and many others who have lost all their food supply for the next six months--most of it rotted under standing water, just before it would have been ready for harvest. I estimate that there were at least a thousand people waiting for aid on Sunday where I was, and it may have been closer to 2,000. There's no safe drinking water and little or no dry firewood to boil what is contaminated. The malaria-carrying mosquito population is about to increase exponentially. This same scenario is repeated in many sub-counties and parishes in a number of eastern and northeastern parts of Uganda.

I talked on Sunday with a friend who is a district-level chairman in Bukedea and is helping to supervise relief measures in that area. He promised to send me copies of official counts of people affected by loss of houses, crops, animals and other properties.

Meanwhile the rain continues apace, extremely heavy here in Mbale yesterday and today again.

This is already a serious situation, and there's potential for it to get a LOT more so and to have devastating impact for months to come as people deal with fallout like persistent flood-related diseases and stark lack of food until the next chance to harvest some time next year.

Will you pray for these hurting people? Will you consider doing something to help? If so, drop me a note as a comment on this blog or email me at -- (Ian Shelburne, Mbale Mission Team)

Friday, September 07, 2007

Back to Ogur & blessings of the rain

A couple of Sundays ago Leila, along with teachers Becca and Kimberly, joined me on a visit to Ogur Akano, in Lira district. I had been there once before, when we distributed food and other needed supplies to people who were displaced by rebel attacks in the area. That was about four years ago, and since then those people have spent most of the time in a camp for displaced people. It was good to see them back home again! They greeted us when we arrived with cheers and waving branches covered with leaves and flowers. Leila blogged her impressions of the day, complete with an array of images, here:

(Just copy and paste that URL into your browser window and it should take you to Leila's article and pictures)

It's been RAINY in Mbale for many weeks now. This has kept the weather cool and the air clear of the dust and haze that rapidly accumulates when the rain stays away. And, the Great Artist does amazing sky- and mountain-scapes all around us. It can be quite a show:

Rainbow over Wanale mountain

Late afternoon sunlight splashed on clouds over Wanale after the rain

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Birthday 43 - Just to be Different

In the face of an alarming trend among the long-term male members of our mission team to cease having birthdays when they reach 28 or 29 years of age, I made it a point to turn 43 last month -- quite publicly. My children made the occasion festive by presenting me with some of life's finer things, such as Dr. Pepper (recently though expensively and sporadically available from certain Mbale retailers) and Bourneville dark chocolate:

Best of all, of course, was the love of family together -- how do you assign a value to a hug from Emily?

Another of the signal blessings of the day was the presence of some of our favorite people--the Reeves family--in Uganda for their first time ever.

Here's Jerry...

...and Kristine

...and oldest son Jordan, speaking computerese with our Leila

I think we had enough fun to give serious thought to having another birthday around the same time next year, whether or not my beleaguered colleagues are able to escape the temporal anomalies that are inhibiting their progress along the time line.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Milange, Mozambique

From 6 to 9 August I visited and taught in Milange, Mozambique, just a ten-minute bicycle-taxi ride from the Malawi-Mozambique border post at Muloza. For three of those days we met with men and women from churches in Milange and the neighboring districts. The group numbered 137 the first day, and by the end of the time there there were around 300 present.

I enjoyed the hospitality of Amos Jekete Suwande and his wife, who serve as Malawian missionaries in Mozambique. They took excellent care of me, and we had hours of pleasant visiting time with each other and with a number of Mozambican leaders who were attending the seminar sessions. I taught on principles for waging spiritual warfare, looking at Biblical texts from Genesis through Joshua, and from the books of Ephesians and James, primarily.

A view of the outside of the house where Jekete and his wife live, and where I stayed while in Milange

They divided the living room of the house with a sheet - we did our eating and visiting together on the near side and I slept on the other side.

Some of the students outside the church building where the seminar took place - notice all the bicycles under the mango tree beside the building.

Inside the church building during a break in the teaching

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Saturday out and about

Emily asked me several times today about taking a bird walk together. So, about midway through the afternoon we outfitted ourselves with binoculars and made a short round of our immediate neighborhood. There's a naturally swampy valley just down the slope from our house, where at various points little springs feed a tiny stream that runs down the middle of the valley. It's an excellent habitat for a variety of birds, and there's a plethora of flowering vegetation types, both wild and cultivated. We walked a short distance on two sides of this little wetland, and slightly more than half-way round met Jonathan and Luke coming to meet us from the direction of the house.

Here the three kids are half sitting next to a small spring, with cassava plants in the background, as they look across the way at some of the birds we spotted.

Not far from there we came across this black and white butterfly on a lantana bush (no idea what kind of butterfly it is).

A pleasant way to spend part of a Saturday afternoon together in Mbale.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Sunday in Soroti, Monday at Sisiyi

Emily, Luke, Jonathan, Nathanael and I visited the Soroti town church Sunday. Had about 30 people in attendance for the morning service, and afterward took a van-load of people 17 km down the road to a bridge across the western tip of Lake Bisina for some baptisms. Eight people were baptized, while the rest of us witnessed the event and sang songs as each person went into and came back out of the water.

Today, Monday, I took the kids back out to Sisiyi Falls, where we hung out with the Sheros last Monday. Enjoyed a lunch of samosas, chapatis, and mandazis (local fast foods), clambered around on the rocks for a while, then went on what Christopher Robin might have called an "expotition" some distance into the drier and wilder bush-and-savannah country to the east. Saw a lot of nice birds and beautiful countryside.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Monday at Sisiyi

Monday the three younger boys, Emily and I joined the Shero family on an expedition to one of our favorite get-away-and-play spots: Sisiyi Falls on the first terrace of Mount Elgon. It's a wonderland of waterfall, rocky stream (complete with frogs and crabs), trees of all shapes and sizes, and house-sized rocks to climb. Here are some pictures of our day there:

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

22 years

Danetta and I (and Asher) just got back from a delightful weekend at Mto Moyoni, a retreat center on the west bank of the legendary White Nile. Our time there was in celebration of the 22 years that we've been married and in anticipation of the rest of our odyssey together. A few pictures to give you an impression of a place that's worth returning to --

One of the serendipities of the weekend for me was stumbling across what is just about my favorite African flower blooming out on the peninsula that reaches into the Nile from Mto Moyoni's riverside park. Here it is, variously called flame lily or gloriosa lily, the national flower of more than one African nation:

Saturday, February 17, 2007

A riot of bougainvillea

Can you believe it? This picture was taken about 15 feet from our front door, right in our front yard. It's mostly a mix of three different colors of bougainvillea, with just an occasional scarlet hint from the flowers of an anonymous wild vine that intermingles delightfully with the bougainvillea and kei-apple hedge behind.

And here's a view of Wanale mountain with a rain shower partly obscuring the northeastern end. I took this shot standing right outside our front gate.


Our boys do fairly well keeping a positive attitude toward school (thanks in no small part, I'm sure, to the excellence of the teachers we have!)...but what they really live for is playing. Playing before, after, and even (when they can get away with it) during, school. They have typical boyish proclivities in their choice of how and with what to play. Other boys. Sticks. Knives and machetes. Tools. Fire. Rocks. Dirt. You get the picture.

For several weeks our boys are celebrating having an extra friend to hang out with -- Jeremy Varno, whose dad (and family) are here in Mbale to oversee some construction work for MTI and GNPI (Good News Productions International). Nathanael and Jeremy are nearly inseparable, making the most of every opportunity to do stuff together.

Jonathan puffing on a fire the boys tried to get going outside our gate...

....Nathanael in red and Jeremy in blue