Friday, August 31, 2007

Blessed Grace and Moses

One of the first things that we noticed in Uganda is that everyone (it seems) has a biblical name. There are Isaac's and Noah's and Martha's and Rachel's. The funniest thing is that there are so many men named Moses. Our driver, who works for the school, is named Moses. We have gotten to know him pretty well. There are at least two or three Moses's that work at our hotel. I have had a whole life of never meeting a Moses, and know I know several.

Grace may be the most popular female name. There is one girl at the Humble School who is named Blessed Grace. She loves Jesus and can sing like an angel. This Grace truly is blessed. There are two different Grace's who wait on us at the hotel. Both have the prettiest smiles and personalities. Last night as we were eating supper, one of the Grace's came to our table and asked us to pray for her and her family. She said that they had taken in 20 AIDS orphans and they were having a hard time financially. We think that Grace- she is about 20 years old- might earn about $100 a month. She lives with her family, and do not know their income. In any case, 20 children in any family would be a struggle. Pray for Grace and her ministry. (By the way, Grace always greets us with 'Praise God.')

Humble United Methodist School

The Humble United Methodist School in Mukono, Uganda is where our Bible Academy is being held. It is the only official UM institution in Uganda other than the churches. It is a residential primary school (K-7) which is focused mainly on orphans. There are currently 204 students at the school. Of those, about 30% are AIDS orphans. Many of the children are also HIV positive.

The school has been funded and built primarily with support from United Methodists in Virginia, Kentucky and Georgia. Currently they are working on a clinic (for the children and the surrounding area) and bathrooms (with running water).

The main problem for the school is in the area of funding. The staff are committed to the students, to education and to ministry. There just isn't enough money. One of the East Africa Annual Conference leaders told us earlier this week that it costs $1095 per student to run the school for a year. That is just a little over $90 a month to feed, clothe, house and educate children who have nowhere else to go. It doesn't seem like a lot.

Weekend Plans

We are almost to the weekend. On Saturday we are traveling to Jinja to see a wild animal park, the place where the Nile begins and place where we might coordinate a work project in the future. It sounds like a fun and full day.

On Sunday each of our team members will be preaching in different churches. For most of us it will be the first time preaching with an interpreter. It ought to be exciting. In the afternoon the Bishop (Daniel Wandabula) is coming to our hotel to meet with us.

Keep us in your prayers. The Academy is going very well, and you share in the success we are experiencing.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Lots of Things

Yesterday was a very busy day, and there was no time to blog. That is not completely true. When there was time, the power was off so that we could not blog. Here are a couple of stories and concert review from yesterday.

Joseph is a young man who wants to make a difference in Uganda. He was born in Rwanda in the late 1980's. In 1994, at six years of age, Joseph witnessed the genocide that ravaged that country which borders Uganda. Joseph remembers his father lifting him into the rafters of their home and telling him to be silent. Guards barged into the house and Joseph watched as his father was hacked to death with machetes. His mother and all his siblings also died.

Miraculously, Joseph survived and was able to get to a refugee camp where he witnessed the deaths of several more extended family members and friends. Eventually, he made his way to Kampala, the capital of Uganda. In Kampala, with a friend, he was able to scrounge the materials to build a shelter to live in. They took pieces of lumber and metal from local dump sites and garbage bins to make what continues to be their home. Now, while supporting three young cousins, he sells newspapers to make a living and attends the local university. Joseph wants to be a counselor and work with teens. He is especially interested in the lives and faith of teens in USA. Keep Joseph in your prayers.

Fred is the pastor of a small church in rural Uganda. The ladies of the church make beads and turn them into bracelets and necklaces. This jewelry is sold to support the church. Fred said that a while back his church built a 'church' (probably what we in the USA would call a lean-to). The problem is that the congregation has a hard time paying rent to the property owner. When asked what the rent was, Fred told us that they pay about 50,000 shillings a month. That is less than $30 US.

And now for the review, four members of our team attended a concert last night. Percussion Discussion Africa was playing at Club Obligato. The venue was neat. It is an outdoor bar in Kampala. The band was great. They played traditional African instruments and songs. We don't know what all the instruments were, but they sounded good together. One of the highlights for us was when we realized that the words to one of the songs was hakuna matata.

There were also girls who danced as part of the show. The weather was great. The music was good. The dancing was fun.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Day 2

Day 2 of the Academy is almost finished. Actually, the Academy is closed for the day. I am sitting now in an internet cafe that Moses, our driver, brought us to. The rates for using the internet are a lot lower here than at our hotel, but it is farther to go.

Today was a much better day as far as the Academy itself is concerned. Yesterday's morning opening celebration threw the whole schedule off. Today we were able to stick to it better. Each class lasts for two hours followed by a 30 minute review and test. The students have three classes each day. That is seven and half hours of class each day for students have not been in school for years. By the end of the last class they are all pretty tired.

Our classes are:
  • Prayer and worship, taught by Byron Fritz
  • Paul's Epistles, taught by Carol Fritz
  • Church history, taught by Bob Land
  • The Prophets, taught by Jim Hertel
  • The Pentateuch, taught by Dewey Miller
  • The Synoptic Gospels, taught by Bob Coleman

It is clear to all of us that these students are extremely motivated. They are called by God to pastor and are doing their best to prepare themselves to learn and minister more effectively. They are filled with questions and interesting comments on each subject.

This afternoon the power and water were off for a while at the hotel. Although it was inconvenient everything has returned to normal now.

Lunch today included talapia, goat, matooke, posha, rice and irish potatoes. Irish potatoes don't seem to fit on that menu. We are about to go to dinner. We'll see what's next.

Tonight there will be an equatorial full moon. We don't know what it will be like, but we'll see it anyway.

Most of us are surprised by the weather. Here we are on the equator, in Africa and the weather is beautiful. Sunny and 70's all day. We think that is probably lots cooler than it is at home.

Byron and Carol led some of the children (about 25-30) from the school in an assembly this afternoon. They did magic tricks, sang songs, gave gifts and had a Bible lesson. They had a great time and the children had a lot of fun too. David, our coordinator, still does not know where Byron put the scarf in his magic trick. (Byron made a scarf disappear to illustrate how Christ takes away our sin.)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Academy Day 1

Well, today was Academy day 1. The Indiana team left our hotel at 730am for the Humble United Methodist School. Humble School is a great place. It is a boarding school supported by United Methodist K-7th Grade orphans. Most of these orphans are residents because they lost their parents to HIV/AIDS. There are 204 students at the school 10 months of the year. We learned that $1095 supports a child for the entire year including food, room, teacher and staff salaries, a health center and more. It's a bargain! We were told that there will eventually be 1000 children at Humble School, but there could be more.

At 8am the opening celebration of the school began. There was a time of worship and then greetings from EVERYONE! The headmistress of the school, the chaplain of the school, the host district superintendent, the team leader, the Academy coordinator and the Bishop's representative all thanked everyone. By the time we were done it was 1130. We had to abbreviate our class sessions, but they went generally well.

There are a few students who are having a language problem. They understand very little English. (Maybe we have the language problem.) We are trying to get someone lined up to provide interpretation for the rest of our time here.

Here are some prayer concerns:

  • Bob Coleman missed half of the day because of illness. He is better now, but we are still concerned about his stomach.

  • Some of the other members have had some stomach discomfort as well. Be praying for all of us.

  • There are great needs all around us. Pray that we will be able to discern what to do, and how to do it.

  • All of the classes were very rushed (but good) today. Pray that beginning tomorrow we will have a more regulated schedule.

  • The Bishop may be coming to visit tomorrow. Pray that if he does he will not be a distraction to the students (pastors), teachers or the schedule.

There are some exciting things coming up. Be sure to check back regularly.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

We're here!!

We did not sleep for two nights while we sat in airplanes and airports, but we did arrive in Uganda at 4am today. School starts tomorrow, but here are some of our highlights so far.
  • We waited in an Egypt Air 777 on the runway at JFK for two hours.
  • That meant that we were two hours late for our tour of Cairo. We made the most of it though.
  • We saw highlights of the Cairo museum including some of the treasure from King Tut's Tomb.
  • We went to the Coptic (Christian) area of Cairo where we tried to see a church where it is believed that Mary and Joseph hid with the baby Jesus.
  • We stopped on a bridge over the River Nile to take some photos of the river and the Cairo skyline.
  • Next we got to see the pyramids and the sphinx. Because of our flight delay the site was already closed, but we were able to enjoy the view.
  • We next went to a papyrus museum. One of the guides demonstrated how papyrus is made. Jim bought a papyrus with an Egyptian painting on it.
  • We had dinner at a Greek restaurant with a great view of the pyramids. One interesting thing is that the bar was outfitted with water pipes.
  • On the way back to the airport, our guide took us past the site of the assassination of Anwar Sadat. He is buried right across the street.
  • We boarded our flight to Uganda at about 1045 and took off a little past 11pm. We arrived at Entebbe airport at about 4am where our ride was waiting to take us to our hotel.
  • After a little sleep (an hour or two) and a quick shower we went to church at Namboli United Methodist Church in Kampala. It was a great experience except that several of us had a hard time staying awake.

Now we are relaxing for this evening, trying to get rested up. Tomorrow we start teaching at 8am.

If you would like to send a message to someone in the group, please feel free to post a comment here.

Also, we are staying at Hotel Colline,

Monday, August 13, 2007

Team Members- Prayer Needs

Please be praying for the members of the Uganda Bible Academy Teaching Team. All members of the team are United Methodist pastors. They would appreciate your prayers.

Rev. Bob Coleman
Franklin, Indiana

Rev. J Wesley Hertel
Greenwood, Indiana

Rev. Byron Fritz
Edinburg, Indiana

Rev. Carol Fritz
Sheridan, Indiana

Rev. Bob Land
Centerville, Indiana

Rev. Dewey Miller
Howe, Indiana

The coordinator of our trip should also be included in your prayers, although he will not be traveling with us. John will be taking care of arrangements at home.

Rev. John Elliot
Franklin, Indiana

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Prayer Schedule

On each of the following days please pray for the work of the Uganda Bible Academy Team.
August 19 Team unity and effectiveness
August 20 Class preparations and study
August 21 Packing and planning details
August 22 Good health during travel & teaching
August 23 That Ugandans would be prepared
August 24 Travel to Indianapolis/ Flight to New York
August 25 Safety and rest in Cairo, Egypt/ Flight to Entebbe, Uganda
August 26 Rest and acclimation to Uganda
August 27 The beginning of the Academy
August 28 Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit
August 29 Students would be open to Holy Spirit
August 30 Health and strength for all
August 31 Anointing in teaching
September 1 Safety during sightseeing
September 2 Preaching in Ugandan churches
September 3 Making connections for ministry
September 4 Leaders to be raised up
September 5 Not getting too homesick
September 6 Perseverance and stamina/ Strength for family at home
September 7 Conclusion of school/ Farewells
September 8 Travel safety
September 9 Rest in travel
Sept 10 Arrival at home