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Vicky Toomey goes to Opengate Church.   She went out to Uganda for 6 weeks from 30th October 08 under the umbrella of YEA, working with partnership charities Compassion and the Mustard Seed Orphanage in Hoima

Get to know her better through her photos on http://www.flickr.com/photos/29482535@N04/sets/72157622486697302/

17th December

Vicky is now safely back in Bognor Regis, she writes:

I'd forgotten to catch up on the last few days before I left.
On the Sunday 7th I got called up the front at Kampala Baptist Church and they prayed for me to send me back. I also had a chance to thank everyone and give them greetings from the Bishop and diocese in Hoima. I went to Ian's for my farewell lunch, he's prepared some great food and had organised it. Ingrid had made some lovely cakes. So many other good friends had come along; Cisy, Peter, Paul, Richard, Bala, Annette, Lynette, Viola, Collin, Carol, Ray, Cat, Eugene, Prosper, Marion, Brenda, Isaac, Auntie Louise, Alex and two others I hadn't met yet, Senna and Niko. It was fantastic.
On Monday Carol braided my hair, we went gift shopping for people who had sponsored things for my Birthday for me like my Visa, Jabs etc. I also said goodbye to Auntie Louise and Carol, which was tough, they've become very dear friends in such a short space of time. Met up with Cisy in the evening, had good fellowship.
Tuesday, met Ray for breakfast, said Goodbye to him and Marion, again very sad. Went with Ingrid and Ian to the campsite, took over lots of plants paid for by Reg and Joan Harris at Aldwick Free. Spent some lovely time with Bala and Richard there, hard to say Goodbye to them.  Had early night as getting up early for flight.
Wednesday, left for airport 6ish, left Ian at entrance (he couldn't go any further), shame Ray was in Masaka and couldn't see me off too. Met so many lovely missionaries, voluntary teachers, medics and aid workers, whilst waiting to fly back, it was a really good atmosphere on flight. Arrived 20 deg drop in temp, in Bognor car battery flat, jumpstarted it and fried sparks and HT leads, needed all new ones, thankfully last month I'd got my backpay from April 08 annual rise!
So that's it I guess, well on paper, but not in my heart, or in the work that is ongoing within me.
I was very blessed out there, I was only ill for about 2 days with the heat exhaustion, the foot thing was a bit irritating but it didn't stop me doing anything. The friendships I made I know will last me a lifetime.
The biggest friendship, is the deeper one I have with God now, and that is worth everything. I have greater trust in listening to God and being where he want me to be, my time out there kept on coming back to Prov 3v5-6.
Would I go back? Tomorrow? What do you think?!!!

6th December '08

Hello my friends,
I'm writing this from Cat's in Kampala, got back today.
It's been a good few weeks, health-wise not my best, I was just recovering from heat exhaustion when I tipped hot water on my foot, I'd boiled some hot water as there wasn't any, took it through to bathroom, the pans have no handles, so I was holding it with a towel, I wobbled, it slipped and I burnt my foot, a week later it was infected but the nice lady at the clinic in Hoima cleaned it off with peroxide which smarted a bit.
After 5 days on antibiotics (cream and tablets) it is healing finally. The worst bit was my foot was too swollen for my trainers, so to protect from dust, I was wearing socks with my sandals like a 'proper' missionary!!!
My blog does a day by day account on my geocities page, So I won't repeat, I'll use this space to put in some thoughts. I learnt that some things are not a comparison they're a contrast, it's like looking at a picture, if you can't appreciate the way things contrast to add different qualities to the overall picture, you miss the whole glory of it, if you just look at different parts and only compare with what the previous bit was or how you think things should be, its unhealthy. Contrasting allows you to appreciate the differences and allows you to work on bringing the best of both, comparison sometimes can be just judging what you view to be worse.
I found for me, not to make decisions on being repelled from something, it is better to be drawn and guided to something else than repelled into it.
I found eating grasshoppers isn't that tasty after all.
Other points to note
When you ask the safari guide how he knew a giraffe was male and his answer was because he spotted the testicles, you feel very stupid.
Be wary of curious guitar players that have a mouthorgan braced to their face too.
Screaming when you get stampeded by a half blind warthog doesn't mean people come to help, Ray and Ian's heads merely popped up like meerkats before laughing at Marie (who was now crouched on top of the picnic table) and I.
Joyce Meyer writes very sturdy books which are also good at swatting tsetse flies.
Vervet monkeys are cute but also, reliably informed, thieves (not them as thieves - they don't have an intelligence network).
Foraging hippos at night, were more scary for my friends in tents than me in a wooden basic cabin.
After seeing many giraffes you can fall asleep with them in your eyes.
Murchison falls is awesome.
Lastly Philippians 1v6 Be confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus - the work is good and ongoing and will be completed, woo hoo!
God Bless

28th November 08

Hope all is well over there, I suspect slightly colder...
I may not get a chance to mail for some time, so I'll also update in advance with what I hope to do also ....!
Tuesday night, I was carrying some boiling water in a handless pan, holding with a towel and wobbled, lost grip of the towel and spilt hot water on my toes, thankfully, I was in the bathroom, quickly pulled off my sock and held it under a tap for 2 hours, which was very boring, added to the fact I encountered a rat also.. being blessed with a speedy recovery so that's good
Wednesday we gave out the games equipment to the schools with the funds raised from my sending, thanks for that, took many photo's with each presentation, went to the Mustard Seed with Ray, then went to Solomon and Sharon's for dinner, it was Justice's 12th birthday and we'd bought sausages for the occasion!
Thursday, Ray left with Evace, who runs Mustard Seed, she was going to Kampala, to pick up some of the kids at school there for the holidays and Ray returned for an exam. i went to a second children's home, which was very different. I'll explain more on my return.
Friday, today, I am having lunch with Reverend John from Liverpool, then going to Mustard Seed.
Going to a wedding with Evace tomorrow, her niece Monica is getting married and I'm going as Evace's guest.
Sunday, will be church things and Ray, Ian and Collin arrive here Monday, we're off to Murchison Wednesday and Thursday with maybe Friday night in Massindi if too tired to drive back to Kampala. Back in Kampala by Saturday night, Sunday last services at Kampala Baptist Church, Monday last goodbyes, Tuesday going to campsite on way to Entebbe as early flight Wednesday morning.
So amongst all this busy-ness, I have learnt a great deal more, I know that each day I lose a little bit more of me and get a little bit more of Christ, in my heart, thoughts etc and as this happens more I have less worries, anxieties. It's illogical but equally wonderfully how we have more freedom though Christ the more we give over to him.
Got to go, God bless you all my chilliy frinds, it's about 27c here today xxx


Thursday 20th November 08


The networkís down as I write this, so Iíll probably paste this from Word in before I leave for Hoima tomorrow.

I canít remember when I last wrote a big update, Iíve had time to do my geocities blog. I think it might have been going to Bungo, last Tuesday. That was really great to see how YEA uses their links and skills to help other projects. This school had about 10 kids sponsored by a friend of YEA team. Wednesday we got the sports equipment for the villages raised by my sending lunch, thanks to everyone for that. Worked on the manual quite a bit Thursday, Friday and Monday, talked with the Compassion teachers Saturday and explored the new syllabus with them. Been spending time with some very lovely people, you never know what youíre going to do, today I was planning a drama skit  with my friend Viola on the fruits of the spirit relevant to Ugandan ladies for a Womenís Bible conference on this Saturday. Spent some time with Ingrid today, which was lovely. Went to the Youth Fellowship again tonight, itís really a good idea, they explore life skills through discussion and scripture. Some of them were saying what a difference having something like that has made in their lives.


Uganda has been great and painful all at the same time. This last week I spent some fantastic days, with some really beautiful people. I have learnt so much, itís difficult to work out how to type this when I doubt itís the right forum and when I have previously been as honest as I can be, so Iíll try my best without sounding weird or cheesy.

I think we a lot of us have things that hold us back, some are very painful so much so that when we think of it, we feel vice gripping pain on our hearts and our eyes water. I had something like that and I distracted myself with a lot of well thought arguments.

I learnt; that forgiveness comes before healing not the other way around;

that a 4 hour lunch with wonderful and prayerful lady accompanied with a sincere heart and an honest desire to hand everything over to God, because there is nothing I can ever do in my own strength to reduce/cover/lose it, made this over a decade old pain finally cease in existence;

that through it all Jesus was there in the middle of it, choosing to take my pain and suffering on top of all of his;

and that the foundation prayers laid can only be built on when you accept the right cornerstone to build something good in this former wasteland in my life.


I am prepared for Hoima. Iíll miss Cat and Ian, who have been the best, helping me through this quite painful process. Often just listening to me, to God, praying and letting it happen in my time and his time. I find it unbelievable that the painful stuff is just not there anymore. Even colours seem brighter which is a bit freaky! Iím not worried anymore, itís very odd. I know in my knower that God really does delight in me, I have a freedom in Christ and my personal relationship with him, is that he is my best friend. (I warned you it may sound cheesy!)


God Bless



Friday 14th November 08
Quick update as I need to shoot off this morning to work with Compassion sponsored kids at the the day centre day.
Tuesday - Bunga, no wombles, some beautiful kids and met the two volunteers that work with the project, Alice and Luna. Had a chance to pray with Alice, but if you could remember them both in your prayers, I know they'll appreciate it, like most people, their lives are hectic and far from easy.
Met up with Cissy, thank you for your prayers that I asked for, God is really working in her life in a wonderful way.
Got bitten by somethings, 8 times on my calf in an area the size of a chocolate digestive, probably reinacting the Dambusters or something, is it bad to smugly grin in the knowledge that they're so not going to heaven?!!!
Wednesday went sports shopping with Ray, bought sports equipment for Hoima villages, raised from my sending lunch. Ingrid came too, she's back from Burundi. It was good to spend time with her.
I will take photos as we give out the equipment but you may need to read my blog back as I suspect I won't upload them until the UK. Had a cup of tea with Ian and a chance to feed back on the last two weeks
I once managed to upload 3 pix to my gallery page but the net doesn't play nicely...
Thursday and Friday morning worked on the manual with Eugene, we've completed 11 topics now, went to the Mall Friday afternoon with Carol, then youth night in the evening.
So ... I've been here two weeks now ... I suspect you're wondering what I've learnt.
To quote someone wise, 'The Christians here don't have a spiritual life, life is spiritual'
The freedom in my faith has been awesome, around the time my father died, I went away from my home church for some years and lived a life fairly much like a non-Christian, occasionally when I've wanted to pray with friends or drop to my knees in Church I haven't because I've thought people would think 'Who does she think she is to do that? I remember her past', No church is perfect, I suspect in Ugandan churches there are gossips, people who are difficult to get along with like in any church made up of humans. The YEA team that I've spent my time with and a few others in the church, haven't judge me on anything I've said about my past, they're not that concerned as they judge me by my heart. If I have mentioned anything about my wandering years, they've just said what a powerful testimony. (you know every new day I am a new creation in Christ)
The only judge that matters is the heavenly one and I am prayerful that I can sustain and continue this freedom I feel, whether it just listening to God and offering prayer to people I meet if God prompts me to or other things, on my return.
It's been a bit of a rollercoaster, the trickiest bits have been when I've tried to do things in my on strength, I think I touched on this before, but when I've worked that out it's easy to acknowledge it and fall back into step with God (Prov 3v5-6)
I'm away in Hoima for 17 days, 20th Nov to 7 Dec, I don't think there is internet and I added an extra digit in my phone number which is +256 779 396 190
Spoke to my neice and nephew on the phone yesterday, the bigness/muchness that they're missing me is 'Up to the stars and back again' ... I'm sure you all feel like that about me too!!!!!
God Bless and love to all

Tuesday 11th November 08 - The Equator

I'm off today to a suburb called Bunga today with Ray, I asked Ian if this was where they got the name of the fourth womble from, he didn't answer, I suspect he thought I was joking, good thing as I know think it was actually Bungo Womble.
The last few days have been a bit of a roller-coaster after the 'mare that was Thursday, it was my sister's birthday on Friday, so I guess I was allowing myself to feel misplaced. It's very easy to lean on your own understanding and take back whatever trust you had in God for his plans for you when things fall outside your comfort zone, but thankfully He's very easy to fall back into step with when you realise that and apologise!
Went to the YEA retreat Friday and Saturday, the volunteers are so incredibly awesome; their passion, the work they do. Most study or work or both and do YEA work and also work within the Church either with VOW and Choir or Friday youth night. Also some of the circumstances just bring further heartfelt admiration for them. They are very prayerful, each with their own unique giftings, it was really an honour to spend time with them.
Then YEA team, or should I say Team Mischievous, conspired to do a 2 hour detour to the equator so I could see it, I had no idea and they were keeping me distracted even more so when we approached signs for the equator. At one point I overheard Ian say: "We'd better come up with more topics of conversation otherwise she'll become suspicious" which I completely forgot about when Baala started talking to me about the artificial insemination of Fresian stock into the local cow herds... yeah .. that was so obvious..
It was so amazing, most had only known me a couple of days, and they're so incredibly busy, whether its working full-time and studying, or being solely responsible for their younger siblings etc, and they did that for me.
Helped at Sunday school; Kampala Baptist Church has just embraced me with open arms, I have two very lovely ladies giving me separate invites to take me out for lunch this week.
Went to a secondary school in Ggaba fishing village yesterday, where my friend Paul works, the classrooms are just concrete rooms with wooden desks, nothing on the walls except a blackboard painted on one. I got welcomed by most of the school (who weren't in exams) when they were on parade, spent some time teaching some as well. Had some great fellowship with the head of school, we prayed together and he's open to YOUTHWORX coming in and doing some life skills teaching there.
Bought some fish from the market which stank the bus out on the way home!
After the project, today meeting my friend Cissy for prayer and fellowship.
Got to go, love to all

Friday 7th November 08 - Day  8- 'OK, sometimes its pants!'

Wednesday, met up with Carol, who's a YEA volunteer to go skirt shopping, we bought one after Carol spent 20 mins telling me not to double the price because I was white, then tried to get another 2, from four other stalls that she said we couldn't expect a fair price when she was with a white person as it would be double. Most of you know how hard I'd worked to save up and get here. Carol is going to go on a different day without me, before Hoima. Carol and I had a good time together, prayed together, talked lots, she painted my nails for me and was very lovely, even though she's got malaria .. amazing lady. Ray's exam has been moved to the 27/28/29 Oct when he'll be leaving me in Hoima for those days. Went back to Church, one of the students I met at the hostel came for some counselling. She had a friend with her whose father had died of HIV and her large family had been farmed out to different relatives. I spent some time with her and prayed with her. No students again, we are in rainy season, the rain clouds form around 4ish in the Victoria Basin then just fall in torrents for 1-2 hours, what the roads lack in pavements they make up for in potholes, and some become quite impassable in the rain. Went to the Youth Fellowship which was good. Collin was going to see a friend in the next suburb to where Catherine lives so he got the bus with me.
Thursday, what an awful day, had me longing for some Branston Pickle Mini Cheddars - I can give you Ian's postal address if you like .... !
Met Eugene at the church, we walked up two of the 7 hills Kampala is built on  to see the Catholic and Church of Uganda cathedrals. Stopped at a cafe for deep fried sweet banana and a soda. Eugene loves history so he was really engaging giving his tour. Walked 45 min's back into town at midday, I kept sweating off my sun cream, there were no buses and Ian won't let me use the motorcycle taxis, (which there were a few of) except in dire emergencies - sheesh I haven't been accountable to a man since my late Father, and that was 11 years ago! I have sun-burnt shoulders and neck.
Went into the city centre to see the statue of Independence and the Mural of Uganda's history. I've noticed a change in the atmosphere over the last 2 days, everyone is really excited about Obama, and the idea of his children playing in the gardens of the white house is really inspiring people.  Sometimes instead of the standard Muzonge sp? (white person) I'm getting 'Muzonge American, I love Obama', even yesterday one man patted my arm and said thank you for Obama. We then had lunch at a local place, rice, chapati, matoke, yams, luwambo (beef/chicken/goat stews).  We took the bus to the tombs of the Bugandan kings which was great w had a very knowledge tour guide and Eugene was in his element. Walking up the hill to the tombs a lady on the other side was copying the way I stomped up it and laughing. I ignored it. It was 4 o'clock when we finished so it rained for an hour, leaving us stuck at the tombs as the road down to the bus was too slippery to traverse in the rain. We then took the bus to Ian's and walked from the stop to his house, it seemed like every child was pointing at me and calling me Muzonge, they don't stop until you smile at them then they laugh. The men call you it in a falsetto voice like if they said it normally you as a woman wouldn't understand! Then we got Ian's and found there was no power to do any work, walked back through the kids calling out at me, interrupting any conversation with Eugene and I just started to cry, I'm not homesick, just sick at knowing I can never feel that it's a second home. I though I'd left part of me in Africa but it's not here; being from Zim doesn't help, it just means your expectations about being able to cope crash more steeply. Went back to the church by bus, found Brenda and cried, she told me about other missionaries who'd cut their time short because off constantly feeling like an outcast, being overcharged often being named and pointed at. I really admire Ian and Catherine for their fortitude. So cried again when I saw Ian but ended up laughing as I said they shouldn't call me 'white person' because my sunburn made me more red. Oh I look like a chav from Benidorm.
Listened to the choir which was good for my soul, Ray then walked me to bus stop, where I slipped, tripped and hurt my ankle, felt like a tit, but with my sunburnt neck probably looked more like a robin. Got off bus straight into puddle, sandals caked, bottom of skirt covered in red mud, turned up at Cat's, who was a complete star, shoved me towards the shower with a cup of tea, fed me chocolate from her stash, waited until I talked then waited until I stopped, she's fab, no matter how tired she is or busy she makes time to check I'm okay and doesn't think I'm odd for any random thoughts I have. She didn't hug me but that was because of the sunburn. It's not easy; cocooned at hers or the church is fine but outside, you often have to pay more when you're on your own because of your skin colour and, interrupted by name calling every few minutes, it's tiring. Going on the YEA retreat for the next two days, Carol wants to braid my hair, it will make it easier to manage in Hoima. Going to have a cuppa and spend some time with my Bible before I go to meet Eugene again, Cat just sent me a text as I'm typing this asking after me, she's awesome.

Wednesday 5th November 08

Monday I managed to make it to the local supermarket and buy a battery for the alarm key fob for the YEA Landover, as it would go off when he unlocked it. Went to the revision session and the rain tipped down, in a fantastic monsoon type fashion. The smell after the rain really reminded me of Zim. No one came because of the rains. I'm teaching with a local maths teacher called Paul, he's a teacher at a school in an area called Gambo sp?, which was were Ian was living when he was first in Kampala. I'm visiting his school next week. I'm handling the local buses quite well, but occasionally end up behaving like a confused white person as the streets look very similar to me still and I'm not to sure of the stopping places, but I don't think anyone else is to be honest, even the drivers!
Went to Owino market with Ray, he warned me before we went in, they try to grab your arm as you walk past to make you stop and by, it was this maze of narrow twittens between very high stalls, with a smell of groundnuts being cooked. They did try and grab me but I wasn't bothered. Had a local lucnh at the church, this lovely lady called Rita is going to be a counsellor at the Christian University and is leaving her work at he church. Then met this little Congolese refugee whose Mum is in labour. They sleep on someone's veranda, I drew pictures with her and play clapping games, like 'A sailor went to sea..' etc. We then went to the student hostel to start to encourage a Christian fellowship, some have serious issues which we prayed for and I'm going back next Tuesday. If you could pray for a girl called Cissy that would be great.
Had no students again, but I'm not bothered about it, they will turn up Paul said, it just takes time for word to get around. he said at the end of the 3 weeks we won't have room for everyone! I'm having great relationships with people and good fellowship with those I encounter.
Going skirt shopping today. In Hoima, if you show the shape of your rear that's such a taboo, so trousers are a no-no.

Monday 3rd November 08

Yesterday was really fab. I got invited up the front to introduce myself, then when the whole church was praying they prayed for me and my time here, then the head Pastor met me for a Soda at the end to greet me.
My schedule loosely was Friday 31st Oct - at a local cafe, TGIF - Uni kids eve
Saturday 1 Nov - spent day with Cat, checked out the Mall, did some food shopping for my stay. Went to a Mexican place for dinner with Cat and 2 others teachers, all called Catherine.
Sunday, service and Sunday school, had a toasted sandwich, went to a baby shower with lots of blonde Canadian teachers with perfectly shaped eyebrows, then dinner later with Ian, Cat Silver, Patra, Lynette, Collin, Ray and Eugene.
Today, going to walk around neighbourhood then revision club 4-7 every week day until Thursday 20th except for 7 November YEA retreat going on to 8th November and 11 November - Bunga project - going with Ray to do a preliminary assessment for some NZ Christian charity. 12th Nov - day time buying sports equipment for villages near Hoima,
20th going to Hoima, until the 5th Dec when I'm away to Murchison and Masindi. * Back to Kampala and 10th fly back. Collin and Ian come to Hoima on the 3rd. Ray is accompanying me to Hoima but staying in different accommodation.
In the days whilst I'm here I'm going to Owino market, a city tour, tour of the neighbourhood KBC works with. Paul whom I'm doing the revision sessions with, is a teacher and I'm going to his school for 2 days next week.
In Hoima I'll be at the Mustard Seed Children's Home, village visits with sports stuff, visiting Scripture Union groups in Schools and follow-up for Ian on Youth Fellowship work.
I didn't get email from Ian saying it was A Level revision not GCSE which I'd done some prep for. Got a bit thrown as I thought, I'd appear a fraud as not prepared, but Ian reminded me I'm here under YEA to build relationships and support through friendships, so it doesn't matter if can't remember partial differentiation straight off the top of my head.
Sunday school group are lovely, same ages as mine back at BRBC, hoping to maybe do some correspondence with my kids and the ones here.
Ray has to go back for an exam between 25th and 27th Nov, so I'll be on my own in Hoima then, please pray for me then, as I will be away from Internet access
God Bless

Saturday 1st November 08


Arrived yesterday. Sorry about the blanket email connection is slow. Had to buy phone charger at airport as had left behind. Journey was okay, sat next to an obstetrics surgeon from Guernsey going to do a months stint in Masaka. BA gave me a cheese and tomato muffin for breakfast. Arrived about 8.30 am, 5.30 am our UK time. Met alot of people I'm going to be working with at a University Youth Evening at the Baptist Church, had some black tea with fresh ginger in it. I had to go up the front with a mike and tell them a bit about me. They gave me a lovely welcome message written on a bible verse bookmark. Am going to have to buy some skirts for my two weeks in Hoima. Women esp those church related, don't wear trousers. I leave for there on the 20th Nov. Going to take games to the orphanage and surrounding villages with donations given to me. Went for dinner at a local cafe last night, had sweet potato, pumpkin, rice, matoke (savoury banana) and a maize pate thing called pacho or something. In Zim we called it mealie-meal.
Took a while to unpack and separate all the 22kg of 'stuff' for YEA out of my luggage.
Very dusty. Went on a bus/taxi/minibus thing. Walked through some alleys and backstreets to get to it. Lots of red dust, cows, goats, chickens everywhere. Real mixture of houses, those with guards and barbed wire compounds and across the road a one room tin hut. It doesn't feel that alien, it's very hectic, always something happening ... a bit like the inside of my mind I guess!
Ian was very patient with me, like people are sometimes, when I'm overtired, random questions like .. as you're on the equator at midday, do you have a shadow? etc Please pray for him and Catherine as they might need it! It's got suddenly dark, as I write this, expecting a thunderstorm. Out for dinner tonight with some other mzonge's (white people), the small kids point at you calling you this like a small child points out a dog, cow etc, I digress again, these people are teaching colleagues of Catherine's whom I'm staying with. Catherine has a great apartment, the bed is a bit like a four poster bed so that you can have a mosquito net over it. The cooker has two electric hobs and two bottled gas, means I can get a cup of tea regardless of electricity!
I'm helping at Sunday school tomorrow, then I'm doing the revision session 4-7pm with Paul, who's a local teacher, and Brenda from Kampala Baptist, mon to fri for the next 3 weeks, except this Friday I'm off on a YEA retreat.
Going to send this and hope the connection still holds, oh my mobile here is +25677930961909
God Bless