Clares in Uganda 16 Oct 20


Hello everyone!

Somehow the weeks have flown by and here we are in October, over 7 months since we arrived here in Arua. See below for our update and for prayer points.

(Note, we've changed the names of some local people throughout this email).
The view from a recent family walk near Kuluva Hospital in Arua

Easing of restrictions continues

As expected in the last update, the coronavirus restrictions have continued to ease as the country tries to get back towards normal.

Places of worship are now open, with churches and mosques following strict operating procedures to include social distancing, temperature checks at the door and regular handwashing. Services are only available to over-6s and under-60s, so we haven’t yet returned to church ourselves, but we are looking forward to a time when that will be possible.

Candidate classes have returned to school this week, for those with exams this year – pupils in P7, S4 and S6 years (at the end of primary and in GCSE and A-level years). Other children remain at home, with the government continuing to attempt to teach by radio for those not in school.

Sport is due to resume – again under strict operating procedures – and Tom is hoping to get involved in playing and coaching some football safely before too long when those activities are officially approved.
The night time curfew remains in theory, but our neighbours are among many who have decided that this no longer applies!

The COVID cases are increasing, but showing no sign at the moment of the exponential growth we had feared, with daily cases now hovering consistently between 50 and 200 and usually 1 or 2 deaths registered each day. There have now been 10,117 confirmed cases in total, with 96 deaths.

The boys working on their poses at the top of the hill on our walk near Kuluva Hospital.

Back to school

The boys have returned to their homeschooling pattern of working in the mornings and playing in the afternoons. Teaching the boys this term has been much more enjoyable than anticipated, so thank you to all those who prayed for Ezra’s challenging behaviour last month. He seems much calmer in the new routine and continues to enjoy history and geography especially.

Children from neighbouring families join the boys most days in the afternoon to play. We have up to around 12 kids coming through at a time but we’ve started getting to know the individual children a little – one Lugbara boy, in particular, called Zebedee, who sometimes comes on his own to play, has a particular gift for making the boys giggle.

We still have minimal interactions with the parents of the children and spending time with the neighbours has taken away some of the need for the boys to get out on our evening walks. But we still feel it is important to be visible in the community and Verity in particular needs time with other adults too!

A typical afternoon on our living room floor, with another group outside playing football.

Making friends

There is a lovely lady called Peace in our local neighbourhood with 5 children aged 1-24, currently separated from her husband. Verity has enjoyed getting to know her a little, hearing about her involvement in running groups to educate local girls on how to stay safe and make good decisions in this culture. She shares from her own experience of having a baby at 16 and suffering from abuse from her husband’s family.

Another friend of ours, Hope, whom we got to know briefly when she was manning the shop in front of our house during her pregnancy, had her baby during lockdown. She has shared with us recently a common problem here where her husband has taken to drinking heavily with friends through the evening – a major shift from his behaviour before they were married. He runs the welding business next door and we get to hear their drunken exchanges through the night as the group of young men spend their wages on alcohol rather than going home. The whole family of the husband, including members of the wider family, have been trying to intervene and to encourage him to change his behaviour, but to no avail. The parents and siblings have been deeply impacted by his actions and Hope (now with a 5 month old baby and with no income of her own) is considering moving back to her family.

It’s hard seeing this recurring pattern of marital breakdown occurring before our eyes. Hope is such a lovely lady – a wonderful mother and faithful in praying for God to redeem the situation. We will keep praying for God to soften the heart of her husband and that he will take his family’s caring advice on board.

As we’ve mentioned before, addiction to alcohol is something we are particularly aware of due to being surrounded on three sides by men drinking through the night and day – the welders, mechanics and carpenters along our fences all join in with the local pub-goers and some nights can be very noisy! We are so thankful that we feel at peace and protected in our compound in spite of this and we really want to be praying for God to break through in the lives of these men, to break the addiction and restore broken relationships.

Sometimes these situations seem overbearing and we wonder if prayer really can make a difference. We were reminded through talking to Hope and in reading Daniel 2 this week that we serve a God who can do the seemingly impossible and make a way where there seems to be no way. We felt challenged to be more faithful in prayer ourselves and also very thankful for the prayers of others for our family and situation here.

Peace's house- unusually empty as she was out harvesting beans from her fields at the time.

Tom enjoying training

Tom has been enjoying his work at the health centres, particularly of late having found a better balance between training staff and seeing patients.

One recent session has covered the area of diagnosing and managing the cause of fever when the malaria test is negative. This is a topic where clinicians in the health centres can struggle and where there are no definitive international or national guidelines. Having developed and trained the clinical staff on a possible pathway for them to follow when encountering this problem, the health centre staff have responded really positively. Increasingly, this type of training feels like a really important part of building God’s kingdom here in the health centres as we join with God in his mission to restore full health.

Tom teaching staff at Yivu Abea Health Centre on non-malarial febrile illness...

New website

We have started a new website at, mainly as a place to centralise links to all our communications – prayer emails, link letters (which are published through CMS three or four times a year) and any other videos or blog entries we may do from time to time.

People can also sign up for these prayer emails directly from the website home page and can also find our address and contact details on there under the “Contact” section.

Feel free to use this if you come across any congregation members who are interested, or to share with your church as appropriate.


Prayer points

  • Pray for Ezra and Eli as they make friends with Zebedee and other children living locally
  • Pray for Simeon and Joel – that they would begin to understand God’s love for them and establish their identity in Him.
  • Pray for Verity – for wisdom in knowing how to support the local women she’s getting to know
  • Pray for Tom – for vision and clarity as he defines his role in building the kingdom locally and considers training needs for the staff
  • Pray for Uganda – for ongoing low transmission of the virus even as the restrictions ease, for blessing and community as churches partially reopen but protection from spreading COVID, for stability and peace coming up towards February’s election.
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