Joanne Greer Arrives In Uganda with Delegation from UK

Panorama of central minibus station, Kampala, Uganda, © 2013 Fred Inklaar, Flickr.
Panorama of central minibus station, Kampala, Uganda, © 2013 Fred Inklaar, Flickr.

KAMPALA, Uganda — February 6, 2015 — Miss Joanne Greer, a Free Presbyterian Church of Northern Ireland (FPCU) missionary serving in Liberia, West Africa, arrived in Uganda earlier this week with an FPCU delegation to work in a Christian school associated with a mission station that the FPCU is considering taking over.

Greer, who visited Uganda in October, is travelling with two men delegated by the FPCU mission board to document and assess a mission work that an unaffiliated UK missionary asked the FPCU denomination to take over as one of their missions.

Emmanuel Christian School, Uganda
Emmanuel Christian School, Uganda

Rev. David Park, one of the delegates, who is an executive member of the FPCU mission board and minister of Hebron FPCU in Ballymoney, Northern Ireland, was sent to produce a documentary film to show to over 60 churches in the FPCU denomination in Northern Ireland. He, and other members of the board, hope to raise funds for the school for 2015 to fulfill their commitment while they evaluate the prospects of taking over the mission.

Also travelling with the group is Mr. Eric Graham, clerk of session at the Lisburn FPCU and member of the FPCU Missionary Council, an organization that helps communicate missionary needs to individual churches in the denomination. Graham is a builder by trade and was sent to evaluate the structures on the property and submit a report on needed maintenance work.

Greer, who will be teaching for six weeks at the Emmanuel Christian School, brought a large amount of teaching materials, which required careful packing to meet weight requirements for the airline.

“They did weigh the hand luggage and said my hand luggage was too heavy,” Greer said. “But the guy told me to take my laptop out since I’m allowed to carry a laptop as an extra piece. Then he weighed the bag again and let it through.”

The old section of the Entebbe, Uganda Airport where the FPCU team arrived, is infamous for the 1976 Palestinian terrorists hijack of Air France Flight 139 traveling from Tel Aviv to Paris via Athens. The plane carried 248 passengers and 12 crew members. After a refueling stop in Benghazi, Libya, the terrorists ordered the aircraft to fly to Entebbe where the President of Uganda, Idi Amin, was sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.
The old section of the Entebbe, Uganda Airport where the FPCU team arrived. The airport is infamous for the 1976 Palestinian terrorists hijack of Air France Flight 139 traveling from Tel Aviv to Paris via Athens. The plane carried 248 passengers and 12 crew members. After a refueling stop in Benghazi, Libya, the terrorists ordered the aircraft to fly to Entebbe where the President of Uganda, Idi Amin, was sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, ©2009, US Army Africa, Flickr.

Park’s hand luggage was also slightly overweight, but he explained that he had camera equipment needed to produce a video project at a Christian school in Uganda.

“Again, the guy in charge said it was okay,” Greer said. “He said all our suitcases would balance out. We saw God’s providence in this.”

The team arrived late Monday evening and were picked up from the airport by Noel Kelly, the UK missionary in charge of the work, and a Ugandan pastor.

“It was after dark unfortunately, which made it a bit tricky to find our way around, especially for those who hadn’t been here before,” Greer said. “But we got settled in. The kids remembered me. It was lovely to see them all again! I had a bit of trouble getting some of their names, especially in the dark, but there were quite a few I remembered.”

The team spent all day Tuesday in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda, purchasing books for a school library that Greer hopes to set up, and purchasing instruments for music classes.

“The kids were very excited about the instruments,” Greer said. “We got the guitar and keyboard out for the Thursday evening assembly and sang a bit with the kids. I let them try out the instruments (under supervision), and a couple of the older kids have obviously seen a keyboard before and could play a few chords.”

Greer reports that the students who were taking the Primary Leaving Exam for P7 on her last trip, scored very well.

Three children in a wheelbarrow, Kampala, Uganda, © 2011 - Brian Wolfe, Flickr.
Three children in a wheelbarrow, Kampala, Uganda, ©2011, Brian Wolfe, Flickr.

“Two of the students from this school got a Division One, which is the highest grade category possible,” Greer said. “All the students passed, even though some were not expected to pass, and quite a few got a high second Division, only missing First Division by a few points.”

According to Greer the community is talking about the high results.

“One family that attended the local Muslim school have brought their kids here this year because ECS got much better results than the Muslim school,” Greer said.

In a report to the Missionary News, Greer gives readers a taste of African life in the bush.

“Right now, I’m sitting in the almost-dark in the ‘cinema room’. The generator is on but of course the building is not wired so we’re still in the dark. I’m charging my laptop and phone and answering emails while the kids watch The Jungle Book and enjoy lollipops, which Mr. Park and Mr. Graham bought for them today for a treat! Friday night is entertainment night here — torches and phones get charged and the kids watch movies for a few hours. It’s roasting hot and I can feel the mosquitoes nibbling, but the kids are having fun!!”

Greer was evacuated from Liberia on August 5th because of the Ebola virus. The Free Presbyterian Church of North America’s mission board, which runs the work in Liberia, is assessing her return date.