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blair and aletha in uganda
November 10, 2010 6:52 am
Published in: Ministry

Hmm. A certain weekend happened about 6 or 7 weeks ago that I said I would write so very eloquently about. I’m not in the mood to write up a long, incredible account but as you may well know, the blog about that weekend is VERY overdue. {my apologies}  So in lieu of beautifully worded, impressively penned details, here is the best I can do:

Get up and eat breakfast, wash the floors, then get going!
I’m headed to church on a nice Friday morning
First time to a Bible Study with some university girls
The culture says “look nice!” …so my hair is in curls!            (hey, it rhymes AND gives you an inside look at the culture!)

Daddy is taking care of Baby, yaay, what a treat.
So I say hello to the many Kenyan and Ugandan girls there are to meet
We start with a version of Dodge Ball, and yikes, WATCH OUT!
But my team fills the bucket with water first, and oh, how we shout!   (ps. we each won a pen)

We sip juice and eat our mendazi – a yummy donut-like thing,
Then as Maama Reba shares from Colossians, the Holy Spirit is at work in me teaching,
So wonderful being with the African community of saints,
“Til next week” we say, and stand up, hold hands, and close with “The Grace”***. 

ps.  Blair attends the male version of this student fellowship, called Real Brothers

On Friday we were invited to a lunch the next day,
Time for “the marrieds” to laugh, talk and pray.
We ate chapatis and rice, pork, pineapples and pancakes.
They said not to bring anything, but yummy cookies I baked.

What we understood was hilarious, and all of it so much fun!
But then the bomb dropped – “tomorrow, we’re ON!”
“It’s our Sunday to do communion, take the offering, sing a song,
Won’t you join us, it’ll be great!, oh, and do you have African garb?… Sweet, put it on!”

So we stayed late and decorated, then got pulled onto the stage,
Where we practiced “the marrieds” special, and tried not to slink away
We didn’t know the song, and Blair sure can’t step in time
But we smiled lots and figured everything would be fine.

Come Sunday we looked sharp and turned ALOT of heads!
Blair in his Kanzu* and me in my Gomez.**
And sweet Soleil matched her Mama in a pretty purple dress
Made by Gramma from extra Gomez fabric…yup, we all looked our best!

So Blair helped pass the plates, then the bread and the cup
And before we knew it, it was time to go up
In front of 800 we lifted the name
of our dear sweet Savior, Jesus the King

We could have been nervous, but what is  to fear?
The message is one we want everyone to hear!
Jesus paid in full the cost of our sin
And by calling on His name we been forgiven!

As you can tell, we had quite the weekend
We met lots of people and made some good friends
Thanks for your prayers, phone calls, emails and texts
They really do strengthen us for whatever happens next!


  *(think long satiny dressing gown from waaay back in the 1800s with a suit jacket overtop and dress pants underneath)
** (uhm…hard to explain…think  tall Romulan sleeves meets Japanese kimono meets 18 feet of fabric all folded nicely and tied up with a fancy belt around the waist. Okay, forget it. I’ll post a picture.)
***May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all, now and for evermore. Amen

Love, Aletha

September 29, 2010 3:15 pm
Published in: Ministry

What’s in a name? 

As mentioned previously, I have been blessed with a new name, which is so very special to me (READ ON), but Blair wins out for receiving the most names.   Blair can be a tough name to pronounce for some Ugandans (hard time distinguishing between the Ls and Rs) so here are a few of my favorite names Blair has received:

Normal but incorrect: Brian

Abnormal, but becoming normal: Boss
 (most often from security guards doing vehicle checks…”Hello Boss,” How are you, Boss,” “Nice day, Boss”)

Funny: Prime Minister (after Tony Blair)

Downright Hilarious: Your Majesty (also after Tony Blair)

The Tony Blair names are from people at church who are doing it in fun…its easier for them to understand Blair’s name once he tells them, “you know, like Tony Blair.”

 Anyways, so here is the Current Prime Minister Blair doing some plumbing and electrical.

Here he is attaching the surge protector/power regulator for our CLOTHES WASHER! He had just finished doing plumbing stuff too. Yes, we have a clothes washer! What a blessing! Hand washing is tough work and sooo time consuming. 

Daddy made Sunny a little house of her own from the fridge box; (YES, we have a FRIDGE/FREEZER! What a blessing! We can make that beloved form of water called ICE!) and it is so fun to play with her in it!

She LOVES clothespins.


She LOVES the jolly jumper.

And I LOVE her.

I am SO behind in blogging and email updates. We had a full, busy, {wonderful!} weekend at UCF and I want to share that with you. That will come tomorrow [I’ll try for tomorrow, anyways!]. My camera battery had died and between forgetting to plug it in and plugging it in but the power being out, I didn’t get a single photo of the weekend. But I’m eloquent so I’ll paint you a picture with WORDS. 🙂

TODAY, we went BED SHOPPING! And pictures do tell the best stories, I know. We stopped here first:

But we didn’t find what we were looking for so we walked to the AGAPE Workshop just down the road (not pictured, sorry) but also had no luck there. The workmanship was, well, not quite what we were looking for.

So we got back in the car and did some (car) Window Shopping:

And soon arrived at the New Bukoto Furniture Mart on the side of the road:

These were much better made and we choose the mahagony bed with the two solid panels in the headboard, opposite the pine beds that are straddling the gutter. (okay, pine colored beds, I don’t know if they are actually PINE and the wood expert is at a Bible Study right now) 

And then the negotiating started. Our neighbor and church administrator, Godwins, had accompanied us and began doing the bargaining. Oy, Blair and I struggled to keep the awkward smiles off our faces while Godwins talked the men down. I felt like we were in a drama and I was that really awful actor that ruins the play for the audience…and Godwins was the star who carried the show on. But a good playwright will always “raise the stakes”  (ie. up the ante) to keep interest high and the audience on the edge of their seats. So we said we would walk across the street and look at the competition’s beds since we couldn’t agree on a price.

The competition:

That seemed to work, so in the end they DID lower the price, we DID buy the bed and I STILL feel really awful in case we ripped them off. I have no idea. We bought a mahogony bed frame with transport costs included (delivery) for 280,000 Uganda shillings, which is roughly $135. We still have to buy a mattress, but in the States/Canada, I think that would be a good deal for a frame. ??  Regardless, you have to sleep somewhere!  So Blair paid in their very cool office, a Blue Container:


This guy kindly took our bed apart.

And while all that was happening I took a few pictures of my surroundings:

Don’t these look yummy!?

And a very common sight: Fruit Stands!

And next to the fruit stand is another similar sight: a dress shop. What an interesting name this time around! NOTE: the sweet vintage sewing machine and the sign for the “God is Able Salon”.  Such fun names for businesses!

And speaking of names…here I am, “Mama Soleil.”  How I love my new name. It is beautiful. It is endearing. It is sweet balm to my soul – my soul that cried out to God for a little one who would someday call me “Mama.”  My soul that wept many tears thinking I may never hear the word “Mama” spoken. And I can feel God mending my heart with the beauty of my new name, hearing “Mama” constantly, and tied sweetly to the name of my firstborn. “Mama Soleil”. It is ME! And I adore it. I love that I have been included in this small part of Ugandan culture. Remember to treasure unexpected blessings, for God is so good.

Mama Soleil and Soleil


And a final pic of our Soleil Eve. The most common name Soleil gets called here is “Baby”, (“How is Baby today” or “Hello Baby! Baby, Baby, hellooo!”  but we also often hear Sunshine and occasionally Musana, which is Luganda for Sunshine. Anyway you say it, this little lady loves it!

While I was writing this blog two of my neighbors I hadn’t met yet, Jackie and Rachel, came over for a visit! It was a delightful visit, I was SO blessed and encouraged to meet them. They are Ken’s sisters who live with their mom in the upstairs apartment. I’ll put some pictures up of their visit {soon}.

Because He Lives,
Mama Soleil  (for Prime Minister and Baby too)

PS. Oh, and our wee Little Delivery Truck. It was so tiny, the picture doesn’t even begin to show how small this truck was.

September 15, 2010 10:10 am
Published in: Family,Ministry

Thought you might like some photos of our house. They aren’t perfect but will give you an idea of where we live.

This is it! It is a 3 bedroom home, with a garage and enclosed porch, as you can see! The long square things just below the roof are ventilation spots. Essentially holes in the wall with bricks inside them and screens on the inside of the house. The window is our bedroom. The rooster is not ours.

This is the view to the right. You see: Our yard! A big banana tree, some lovely bushes. Our water tank, a small roped off garden area in front of it. The wall, (not really pictured) which has a small ledge along it halfway up. Overall it is all overgrown but boy do I have great plans for it! We enter our house through the back door so we go through our yard to get there. We have city water which apparently won’t run out, woohoo! We boil the water for cooking but purchase our drinking water. We might buy a filtration system or just stick with purchasing the huge 18L jugs. I don’t think you can see my clothes line but it runs from the water tank towards where I am standing. It is used quite freely by the other people in our compound, however, so we will need to find a workable solution to that issue. As soon as I get a clothes washer I will be cloth diapering again and the line will be a hot commodity! (I am taking a short break from handwashing the cloth diapers because we are handwashing all our clothing and I am not the perfect Proverbs 31 woman yet! I have, however, only cried once when washing poopy diapers. I soon bought gloves and found that that helped tremendously). The chicken is not ours.

This is the driveway that becomes a pond when it rains…because it is the lowest ground around. We live at the bottom of a steep road…need I say more!? We are only about halfway down the hill overall, though, so I can only imagine what happens to the slum areas at the bottom of the hill… The pink house behind is a hostel (essentially an off campus privately owned student dormitory) from which we hear loud music occassionally. It is called “Off Shore Hostel”.  The bushes/trees you see are avacado, papaya and a hibiscus. Those are the ones I know, anyway.

This is Ken’s house. He is the landlord’s son and has been a huge help to us. He’s accompanied us to the market, walked with Blair to pay the water bill, and so much more!  You can see half the gate, and I think you can make out the people door within it. 🙂 Note the steep incline! When it rains the water rushes down like a waterfall! Well, nearly.

This is the apartment to the left of our driveway. Note the stairs to the 2 homes on the upper level. A wee bit scary. And I saw the tall curved wooden ladder  in use yesterday! Thankfully not for a fire escape! Ken had moved it against the papaya tree and had scaled it to get some fresh fruit! A friend of his used a long stick with a forked end to steady the ladder. I hope the papayas were worth it!

Here is the living room part of this room. There is a dining room area right next to me. None of the furniture is ours. We have until December to purchase our own so that is good. AIM had short-termers staying here before us, so we are using all the short-term furniture and stuff, with gratitude! I think tomorrow we will go bed shopping, which will be an adventure…pictures to follow! And when you visit me, I’ll bring you breakfast in our enclosed porch. 🙂 Doesn’t that sound lovely!?

 Let me introduce you to our kitchen! Blair is standing where I stood to take the living room picture, only facing the opposite way of course. The back door entry (via mud room) is to the left of the door frame. The sink with a window is behind me. The outlets are high up in the wall, so we are using a small stool so the cords to our appliances  (toaster and kettle) can reeach the outlets! The cupboards are EXTREMELY high up so I have to stand on my tiptoes to reach the handle. I have my glasses in them, and I’m glad it’s just Blair and me, because I can only reach the first two glasses. I need a stool.  You can see I am using my pressure cooker on a propane hot plate. It works fine, but uses up most of my counter space so I think we will get a stove (what!? have the use of an OVEN! What joys!) And then put the fridge either in the dining room or squeeeeze it into the wall space to the right (not pictured). Overall it is great, I would like to paint the cupboards some day.

 We have been encouraged to hire househelp, as it is considered selfish to not do your part in sharing what you have. IE. because we have more financially than others, it is important for us to give work to others if we can. On that note, we also need to hire a language helper.  We would appreciate your prayers that the Lord would provide the right people to be our house helper and language nurturer. Thanks so much for praying for us!

We are headed off this weekend for a retreat. It is a once a year retreat for the AIM missionaries who are in the Kampala Unit. We feel a little silly going so soon after arriving, but are looking forward to meeting all the other AIM missionaries in our area. Next year we’ll be probably be needing the “retreat” aspect more than this year. Blair has been asked to lead worship.

And for the pictures you have all been waiting for…

On a house note: you can see the dining room table behind Soleil. I have a sink in my dining room! The chair is right in front of the sink, but you can see the tiled area where the sink is…anyways, it is a very classic Ugandan thing to have a sink the dining room, at least in the city! Makes handwashing, well, handy! And the hallway leading to the 3 bedrooms is to the left of Soleil.

So as you may know, names mean a great deal to me and I am happy to announce that I have acquired another one. I will keep you all in suspense as to what it is so you will come back and read my next post.

Aletha Kwagala (for Blair Magezzi and little Sunshine too)

September 10, 2010 9:34 am
Published in: Ministry

This was an email I just sent out but it’s the best I can do for an update for now! 🙂 Hopefully we’ll get internet at our house soon…

Hello everybody!

We’re alive! So sorry we haven’t been in touch for awhile – we have been without internet access for a few weeks…but at long last…we moved into our own home last Saturday and went to our own church at UCF (University Community Fellowship) on Sunday!!!!!
I (Aletha) thought I would share our prayer requests first, so you are sure to read them! We would REALLY appreciate your prayers for us. Then if you have time and want to read the update below, feel free!
Here are some ways to pray:
– for encouragement as we adjust to so many new changes all at once. We have felt a bit overwhelmed at times this past week. (If you want a list of all the changes we are experiencing I can write you one. It would be a long list. )
– that we would begin to build relationships (ie make friends!) on our compound, in our neighbourhood and at church
– I (Aletha) got an ear infection towards the end of our time in Entebbe with the Fowlers (see below!), and Soleil got a chest cold…we are still recovering and would appreciate your prayers for a return to full health!
– NOTE: thanks for praying for the Kenyan constitutional referendum last month. There was no post-referendum violence, for which we praise the Lord!
Now for the update:
Since we last wrote, we returned to Uganda from Kenya, rested up for a couple days at the AIM guesthouse, and then attended almost 2 weeks of a how-to-learn-language course and Uganda-specific orientation. We stayed with the Fowlers, another new AIM missionary family. We had all the orientation and classes at their house, since they have 8 kids and it was easier that way! They live right near Lake Victoria in Entebbe(an hour away) so it was so nice to take walks along the beach and practice our Luganda with the people we met. Soleil loved every minute with the 8 Fowler kids and their 3 dogs and was (I’m sure) sad to leave, as were Blair and I, but we were also very ready to start getting settled! We`ve been traveling essentially from the beginning of June when we went to Alberta and Washington! Since June the longest time Soleil was in any one place was actually in Kenya (3 weeks). She’s doing well though, for which we are very grateful! She turned 10 months old last week and is crawling and climbing on everything. Still no teeth and still as happy as always. Her new favourite love is keys and books (we got to unpack the books!).
Our house was entirely empty except for some essential furniture pieces that we are borrowing temporarily. This past week we have spent time getting to know our neighbourhood a bit and learning how to drive in the city to find the shops and markets so we can begin to set up house. Blair has been a first class driver and I have been happy to stick to navigating…for now! 
Our house is down a very steep, very bumpy dirt road (and we are praising the Lord for our vehicle – a 4×4 Suzuki Escudo! We used the 4×4 just this morning coming back from the fruit and veggie market!) Anyways, most houses in Uganda are “compound style” – meaning there is a tall wall around the property with a gate that is opened every time a vehicle comes or goes. And within the vehicle gate there is a small people sized gate. Our house is no different, but unlike some homes, we share our compound with several other families who live in an apartment style building adjacent to our house. So we are quite excited about having neighbours close by to get to know and people who can teach us the culture and help us thrive here! We are NOT excited about their noisy rooster, however, that wakes us up very very early. We have met a few of our neighbours so far and really appreciate the landlord’s son, Ken, who lives on the compound in a small house attached to the wall. He went with us to the market this morning. VERY helpful! We are also right next to “The Amen Commission Church” from which we hear worship services quite often throughout the week and weekend! But it’s not too loud and we are enjoying hearing some familiar Luganda worship songs.
As I mentioned above, we attended UCF last Sunday for the first time. What can we say!? It was so nice to be at UCF, finally! It felt like coming home even though the songs, faces, and service was new to us. It is a big church (around 1,000 people attend) and we will have to work at getting to know people but the overall first impression and experience was very positive. And they have been looking forward to us coming so much, which several people told us, and which was very encouraging. Tonight we are attending Passion Nite …a popular evening of worship and praise that UCF holds twice a semester.
Anyways, this was long but we will try to update again soon, here and on our blog as well. We are using the church internet for now.
For HIM,
Blair, Aletha and Soleil Breckenridge