Photo credit to Holly Wheeler. Thank you!
Drumroll please….the library is open! We were postponed a day by rain (it’s not smart to walk in the cold rain), but we sure did open today! With 26 kids!! That’s right, folks, 26 kids came. Two of those were toddlers, one was one of our missionary children, half of them have never been to school and can’t read, and all of them read at a first grade level and below. Still, they were SO happy to be looking at these books and at least attempting to read them. I wish you could have seen their little faces. You can hop on over to the “take a look” page to see some pictures! The kids would spend minutes looking at each page, show each other their favorite parts, and smile the whole time. The toddlers were enthralled with the decor hanging from the ceiling and enjoyed the board books. I gave the children an introduction to the library and how to properly use the books. I also read them three books which they thoroughly enjoyed as well! It was interesting to figure out how to translate the book into an easy enough English to be translated into Lubwisi. It’ll be fun reading more books to these kiddos! Rachel, my translator, decided we need to start teaching English. I think she’s just as excited about this thing as I am! We’re keeping the program simple for now, however. The motto is “slowly slowly.” The next steps are organizing the children into coming on certain days of the week and starting the Bible storying. In conclusion, the grand opening went amazingly well. God is so good!
Yesterday afternoon, members of my team gathered to pray over the library. It was a sweet time. Prayers were lifted up for the books, the Bible storying material, my translator, myself. The children were prayed for as well as requests for the Spirit to fill the place. We prayed that God would reveal himself to the children through the Bible stories, the books, His creativity.
I am thankful for a team who wants to see the Gospel go forth in so many different ways. It’s a rare thing. This is a brand new project for my team, but it is now a permanent one. The library is set up in such a way as to allow easy transition from coordinator to coordinator, prayerfully, into Ugandan hands.
Please pray with us!
With unforeseen illness, God, in His sovereignty, took the Johnson’s from Uganda. This left the B4B project without a librarian, without a coordinator. Once again, in His sovereignty, God rearranged some things and left a school teacher without a lot of students. This provided ample time for me, Alanna Jones, to step in and pick up the torch of B4B.
I came in late January 2014 to a large room, four book cases, and about 1,000 books scattered and in trunks. It was quite dirty due to disuse. I wasn’t even quite sure how to begin! There was no guidebook for setting up a library in rural Uganda. First thing was to get the room clean and in order. Thankfully, I could hire a local friend to help me out. (She still helps me keep the room clean each week). Next, I set about organizing the books. After talking with a genius, book loving friend I decided to separate the books based on reading level and catalog in an online system.
Since the library doesn’t have electricity, let alone internet, it’s taken a couple months to get the 1,500 books entered into the catalog. (I gained another trunk of books in February!) After the books were in the system, I had to find the reading level of each based on the Lexile Framework for Reading. Unfortunately, not even half my books were already leveled, so I had to decide on the levels of the rest. Next, I placed two round, color stickers on each book showing the bookcase and shelf it belonged to. Each bookcase is a certain color and shelves within each case is a different color showing reading levels. It might sound complicated, but it’s not.
Now that every book is documented and in it’s place, it’s time to open! I laid out a basic program to start and hope to get more involved as time goes on. God has provided a translator for me, and I’m so excited to start working with Rachel. She loves the Lord and loves children. I pray she is the perfect fit she appears to be!
The idea wasn’t new, even to Amy Johnson. Many missionary mothers, over the years, had noticed the lack of literacy in Bundibugyo. Local children loved to play games with the missionary children, but most of all they loved to look at books. You see, there really are no children’s books in the entire Bundibugyo district. The closest “library” is a small room a two hour drive or 8 hour hike over the Rwenzori Mountains. If you had never seen the bright, colorful pictures of a children’s book, or heard the fun tales, you would be fascinated too. Most missionaries kept a stash of books in their homes for neighbor kids to look at. It was, and still is, a common sight to see a group of kids sitting on the front porch, books in hand.
This is the situation Amy found herself in, and God gave her the time, resources, and desire to do something about it. Amy wrote a proposal, got it approved, found a local partner, and began setting up a room with shelves. She even got over 1,000 books donated! Here is her take on the beginning of B4B:
“Some of the best ideas begin on the front porch. When the neighbor children come over to our house to play, they want to do one thing: Read Books. The closest library is a rough three-hour journey over the mountains. And even then, it is one small room with a handful of books. We want to change that. The idea is simple. Provide a safe and quiet environment where children can interact with books. Provide quality children’s books and volunteers who will read with and tell stories to children. Bundibugyo is in western Uganda. Marked by disease, high infant and child mortality rates, poverty, and war, it is an area in need of hope. Books comfort, inspire, and open new worlds to children. In partnership with World Harvest Mission, “Books for Bundi” seeks to create a Children’s Reading Room. But we need your help.”