Thursday, October 3, 2013

Some Photos

Dewey Miller and Joseph Kanyike outside the Namboole United Methodist Church, site of our first training event in Kireka.

Wesley Primary School at Namboole UMC.

Students at the first training event.

The church ladies doing the dishes after lunch.

Dorcas and Shalom. By the time we left on Tuesday Shalom was noticeably better. The welts on her legs had gone down and the blisters on her face had nearly disappeared.

Praying with the pastors after the first training session.

This is most of the group from the first training event. Dewey, Chad Yoder and Brad Beatty are on the far right.

This is the entrance to the church in Ngugulo where we had our second training event.

Brad teaching in Ngugulo.

Chad teaching in Jinja, site of our third training event.

Praying with two Muslim girls, Saphina and Shiratt, in Jinja.

Joseph Kanyike, our host and coordinator for all events.

Monday, September 30, 2013

A Day of Firsts

It seems that it is true every day of our trip, but this has certainly been a day of firsts.

  • To begin with, this was the first time that we have done any ministry in the Town of Jinja. Jinja is an historical place that lies on Lake Victoria at the source of the Nile River. We were able to train 20 pastors, mostly United Methodists, in discipleship, ministry, spiritual gifts and worship. Our work was well received by those who attended.
  • The church which was the site of today's meeting, Community Church of Faith, is an interesting place. They also have an orphanage which is home to 25 children, most orphaned by AIDS. They also have chicken coops at two locations. They eat the eggs and sell the chickens. They get most of their funds from contributions, but are trying to become self- sufficient.
  • Simon Ndegwa was our host pastor. He is a man of God from Kenya who serves as an associate pastor at Community Church of Faith. He was a gracious and caring host. I am hoping to get to know more of him in the future.
  • The highlight of my day was after our training was complete. We had a lunch provided by. The host church and as we were finishing up I stepped outside onto the very busy street. One of the pastors joined me to tell me about a ministry he is involved in, MJK- Making Jesus Known. They focus on street evangelism, drama and music to reach teens in the community. As he was telling me this two young girls walked by. This pastor called the girls over and told me that they needed prayer. I thought this was his "pick up line," but it turns out that they a part of a group of teens he has been trying to reach who are Muslims. He asked me if I would pray for them. I said I would love to. The girls knelt down on the ground to pray because that is what Muslims do. I pulled them up, held their hands and prayed that The Lord would reveal himself to them. And I prayed in Jesus' name. Please be praying that God will work in the lives of Saphina and Shiratt.
  • Joseph Kanyike, John Kiviiri, Chad Yoder, Brad Beatty and myself  have been discussing ways. To coordinate and organize our efforts in Uganda. We think that we have finally hit on it. Luanda is a Swahili word that means to prepare. Our mission is to prepare pastors and church leaders for the work of ministry. Be praying for this effort that we might glorify God and his work may be accomplished.
We are officially done with our work now. Tomorrow we are going to do a little sightseeing, visit with some friends so that we can say goodbye and then we are flying home tomorrow night. It will be a long trip (twenty hours of flying time) but we are all exhausted and ready to be home. This may be my last post for a few days, but keep checking back for updates and photos.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Lord's Day

Today began very uneventfully. We left our hotel for worship at 10am. It is just a short ride to Namboole UMC. In about 10 minutes we arrived at church and were getting ready for worship to begin when John Kiviiri, the pastor brought out a guitar for me to work on. While everyone was in the church singing and worshiping God- doing all the good stuff- I sat outside stringing an old Yamaha.

When I got it finished I was able to return to the service. There were songs by the choir- five young adults who sang beautifully, the children- about 10 elementary aged kids, and the congregation. Brad sang a couple of songs and I accompanied him on guitar. Chad preached this morning and did a great job. All in all, both of my teammates are doing good work. And I mean work. We are all working hard. Today we got one hour off to rest between five and six pm. Brad and Chad are both keeping a great and positive attitude as well.

After church- which lasted a little over two hours- we were invited to Pastor John's house for lunch. We were served rice, pineapple, boiled Irish (potatoes), a pan fried bread, chicken and a tomato sauce. It was all delicious. John said to me, "I am so honored you came to my house. You were so gracious to me when I came to America, I could never repay you." What a humble, lovely man.

As church was dismissing it began to rain. It is the rainy season after all. It rained throughout lunch and was still raining when we finished eating. We had to wait awhile because our van was being repaired. So we talked and relaxed and visited. After awhile we were still waiting for our ride. John made a phone call and we realized that the repairs were taking longer than we thought. We would need to walk home. We sat out for the mile trip in the rain. First down hill from the church and then uphill to the hotel. As we got to the last half block before the hotel, our driver pulled up to pick us up. We told him to go home we could make it the rest of the way. As he drove away, the sun came out and it stopped raining. Our timing was terrible.

Two things to especially note today-

  1. I got to see my old friend Racheal Newumbe. I met Racheal on my first trip to Uganda several years ago. We have corresponded occasionally and I brought her a music book for guitar. Many of you will appreciate knowing that it was Racheal who taught me the song Wange Wange.
  2. Also this evening I got to meet Joseph Kanyike's fiancee, Carol. She is a very nice young lady who is committed to Jesus and loves Joseph. As they were leaving this evening she pulled me aside and said, "Thank you for loving Joseph." Of course my reply was, "Thank you for loving Joseph." They seem well suited for one another and I believe they will have a long and happy marriage.
Tomorrow we are going to be teaching some pastors in the morning at Jinja, a larger town about one hour from here. They have confirmed that there will be at least 30 pastors there. Following that we are having some fun time. We are going to visit Lake Victoria, the source of the Nile River and a water fall before we have a nice dinner out in Kampala. I'll update you tomorrow.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Another Day, Another Training

Today was quite an experience for us in Uganda. We were picked up at our hotel for a day of teaching in Joseph Kanyike's village. Joseph is my dear friend and an exceptional young man. He now lives in the city but grew up in the village of Ngugulo. So we left our hotel at 8am, only to stop less than a mile later. The van pulled off the street and we were told to get out for a few minutes because the clutch needed an adjustment. Of course, we Americans rolled our eyes and prepared to return to the hotel. We know that such an extensive repair would take several days and a lot of money. However, within 15 minutes we were back in the van and on the road. This place is a little bit amazing.

Once we got on the road it was quite a trip. First we drove on a road that was a little bit like a road in America. It was paved and relatively smooth, but there was a lot of traffic on it. There were more pedestrians everywhere than you can even imagine. We drove through several roundabouts until we were on a two lane road about 30 minutes later and clearly in the country. Another hour of riding and my seat was getting a little sore. This road was interesting in that periodically it was equipped with speed bumps. That is one way to save money. Fewer traffic enforcement officers are required. That is when we turned off for the last hour of our trip on an almost two lane dirt road. There were lots of ruts, holes and ditches.

Finally, we arrived at the church in the village. It was a tiny building, but was packed with about 50 people. There were mostly pastors and church leaders, but many of the local church members, including children, as well. It's hard for me think that there are very many churches in America that would be full on a Saturday afternoon.

Brad sang Lord, I Lift your name on High accompanied by two boys on the drums. He also sang Give Me Jesus and Amazing Grace. He did a great job. Chad taught on discipleship and Brad taught on worship. I spoke for quite some time on ministry issues including spiritual gifts and the work of equipping the saints.

We have found that fielding questions has been very popular. Between the three of us we can handle most of them. The only difficulty comes when we have issues with translation. Although the official language of Uganda is English, we are working with country, mission pastors who are much less fluent. So, we are all using translators. So a pastor asks a question in Luganda and it gets translated into English. Then we offer an answer and it gets translated into Luganda. If we misunderstood or if our answer needs followed-up on the process starts all over again. This becomes very tedious, but everyone seems to be staying engaged through it all.

After about three and a half hours today the final question was, "When are you coming back to teach us more?" It was definitely a positive ending to the day.

As we were leaving the church and heading back to the city, the pastor, Grace Ndembe (a man, by the way), asked how he could join the United Methodist Church. I didn't know what to tell him exactly, but we are working on a plan. God is moving here and I am glad to be a part of it.

Be praying for us. We have worship in the morning where Chad will be preaching. We are planning on a great day of rejoicing and worship. Then, we have a lunch with Pastor John Kiviiri, Joseph Kanyike and other members of Namboole UMC. After that we get to rest!

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Little Update...

First things first-

Shalom, Dorcas' two year old daughter, was taken to the hospital today. She saw a doctor, had some blood work done and received 30 days medication for the fungal infection she has. The cost was $35. Joseph, one of our main contacts, apologized because it cost us so much. We all smiled because we know in the USA that a visit to the ER with lab work and a prescription would only cost a little more than $35.

One sobering note about the hospital was seeing a family enter a building with a sign posted that said HIV/AIDS Clinic. That is something that we do not think nearly as much about in America as they do in Uganda.

Dorcas is very emotional about our visit. We helped her sick child, of course. But she apparently had a dream last week that some white people would come to her house. This dream occurred before she knew anything about our mission trip. She now knows that God prepared her for us and that he brought us to her. He orchestrated our meeting while we were still 8,000 miles apart. She said that she is already sad about us leaving and we still have four days.

Today's Teaching Time
Today we spoke mostly about the Bible, the importance of it, how it came to be, etc. The pastors were very appreciative of all our teachings. For three days we have been sharing things that seem very basic to me. But these men and women are eating it up. They are encouraged that people from the other side of the world are concerned about them and are taking the time and effort to support their work.

At the close of teaching Chad, Brad and I prayed for each pastor. They came up one by one and we laid hands on them and prayed. It was a powerful and moving experience for us. When we had finished, the Ugandan pastors asked if they could pray for us. Of course we said yes. They surrounded us. Laid hands on us. And prayed for us in English and Luganda. It was one of the highlights of the trip for me so far.

Miscellaneous Notes

  • Our bags arrived today. Yippee! We were able to give the pastors some of the materials we brought for them just before they left for home. More importantly to Chad and Brad, I was able to put on deodorant and a clean shirt.
  • We met the cutest little girl today. Promise is about two years old, but unfortunately for me she is scared of me. She cried and cried. Maybe these children are a good judge of character. One lady said, "I don't know what's wrong. They have been wanting to see Muzungos (white people)."
  • That led to an interesting conversation with some others. Muzungo is the name for white people, but it doesn't seem to be an indication of prejudice. I was told that when I am greeted with "Hello, Muzungo," I should respond with, "Hello,..." But unfortunately I can't remember the name for black person.
  • Money is the biggest issue for these people. They don't have any. There is no industry to speak of and the wealthiest people are employed by the government. One person we met makes a living by buying things in the market and selling them at a profit. That is problematic because no one else has money to buy either.
  • We are considering what is next for our little project. Look for details on what we are calling Mission of Hope (for now anyway). Joseph wants us to support pastors and church plants. That has been in my heart for a long time and it truly seems to be where God is leading.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Day 4

God at Work
A few weeks ago I learned about a man called Allen Howe. Allen is a pastor who does pastoral training work in Uganda. I initiated a contact with him so that perhaps we could meet and share ideas and plans. I didn't hear from him for quite some time, but last week I received an email in which he indicated that he would be glad to meet with me, but was getting ready to go to Uganda. He schedule would not allow for the meeting before his trip. He suggested that perhaps we could meet in Uganda, but that didn't seem likely. He sent me his schedule and it turns out that Allen was on the same flight as we were. We got to meet momentarily in the airport in Brussels and then were able to visit for quite some time during the flight. God is at work in everything we do.

Our Favorite Thing... so far
By far, we have all enjoyed the music the most. Namboole Church, where our training is held, is providing their praise team for our seminar sessions. John Kiviiri's son, Daniel, plays the keyboard and drums (at the same time) and there are 3-6 young ladies who lead the singing. Most of the time we do not understand the words, but we certainly experience the worship. There is clapping, waving, hand raising, dancing, shouting and lots of energetic and loud singing. As Brad began his teaching on worship today he wondered what he was going to teach these people who have such a glorious relationship with God.

The different pastors at the training session have also been given opportunities to sing solos. They are not necessarily beautiful songs, but they are definitely heartfelt and true. Yesterday, two young men put on a cd and then danced to the Lord. It was different than what I would expect at home, but it was definitely good.

This morning we got to spend some time at the Wesley Preschool. There are 40 students there from 2 1/2 to 7 years old. The school is humble. Visual aids are all homemade. School uniforms are stained, tattered and nearly worn out, but these children are loved and cared for. They sang us a song to the tune of Frere Jacques called "Baby Jesus." It was beautiful.

We know that the world is a difficult place. Today we came face to face with that reality. It really began yesterday. Dorcas is one of the singers in the praise team. She also serves meals, washes dishes, listens to our teaching and has sweet and gentle spirit. At the close of our session yesterday, Dorcas invited us to her home. At first we thought she was being polite. We teased each other that she was flirting. But she seemed very serious about it and today she persisted.

Our plan is that tomorrow we will end the training after lunch. I suggested we come to her home after we finished then. But she insisted that she had been preparing for us to come today. So we relented and went.

She was so excited to have us come. We traveled in our van down one dirt road after another. It rained this afternoon so everything had turned to mud. Nothing looked nice today. Finally we were driving down a street that was filled with pedestrian and auto traffic, but was the size of an American alley. Children stopped to look at the van with the Mzungos (white people). Everyone was friendly, but we were very conspicuous.

Finally the van was parked and we set out on foot. The small homes were packed together in what seemed like a mishmash pattern. We followed Dorcas for about a block between homes, past latrines and through the mud. For a moment she took my hand and thanked me for coming to her house. When we finally arrived, her two youngest children greeted us. Maria is four years old and Shalom is two. When Shalom saw me she screamed and burst into tears. I think I was the first white man she had ever seen.

When we got into Dorcas' home she invited us to sit down. The total of her home was one room of approximately 10 by 15 feet. In it is a bed, a small couch, two chairs and a large cabinet. Chad, Brad and I sat, along with John Kiviiri and Joseph Kanyike our hosts. Then Dorcas told us the story of Shalom. For the last 10 days Shalom has had welts on her legs. She now has a large blister that covers the entire area between her nose and her upper lip. She is in constant pain and has a fever. Dorcas thinks that Shalom has small pox or measles or something. She really has no idea. Dorcas doesn't know what to do and can't afford a doctor. When we asked how much it would cost to see a doctor for Shalom we learned that it would cost between $10-$20. Dorcas does not have any money. We decided that we will be taking Shalom to the hospital tomorrow afternoon. Please pray for Shalom and Dorcas.

As long as you are praying for them:

  • Pray for Maria as well.
  • There is another daughter who is 11 years old. She lives in a village with her grandfather because her mother cannot afford all the children.
  • Dorcas lives alone with her two daughters, but her husband is her landlord. She does not pay rent, but lives next door to him. He provides no help or support to her. I am not sure of all the details, but Dorcas definitely has a hard life and complicated relationships.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Check this Out

If you are interested in seeing what our work is looking like find Chad Yoder and Joseph Kanyike on facebook. They have both posted pictures from our trip so far.