Monday, September 3, 2007

A lot of exciting things

There are a lot of different things to report on. Today was the first day of the second week of the Uganda Bible Academy. The team members from Indiana are all doing well. We are healthy and getting along famously. We bonded quickly and we are still doing well together. Other than that, let's just offer a summary of recent activities and observations.

  • Yesterday after worship one of the students brought us a jakfruit (sp?). It is a large green fruit that grows on trees. It is watermelon like in size and shape, but the texture of the rind is rough and bumpy like a walnut. It was quite a procedure to get to the meat of the fruit, but when we finally got there it looked a little like pineapple and tasted like a pineapple/ banana combination.

  • There are several clergy couples in the Academy. This is very encouraging to see men and women entering into and working in ministry together. In addition, there are some other women (young and old) who are participating.

  • One of our constant struggles is with the exchange of money. Ugandans trade in the Shilling. This is not a problem except that the current exchange rate is 1775 shillings to one US dollar. Thankfully, Byron made everyone a conversion chart. Otherwise we would be constantly scratching our heads and trying to divide everything by 1775.

  • The singing of the pastor/students in the Academy is phenomenal. We could listen to them for hours on end. They sing with such gusto and passion that we Americans could easily be ashamed of our half-hearted attempts at worship.

  • We finally had our meeting with the Bishop last night. Bishop Daniel Wandabula arrived at our hotel at 7pm with his wife and two visitors from New Jersey. After sharing with us his plans for a children's choir that would travel from Humble School, we were able to share some of our thoughts and concerns about the Academy with the Bishop. The gist of what we shared with him follows:

  1. The Humble School, as it currently stands, is not conducive to the school. The pastors are sleeping on bunk beds (three persons high) in classrooms. The bathrooms are not complete. And there is no running water in the available restrooms.

  2. There are many questions among the students about the increase in the influence of Islam. A future class on that subject would be good.

  3. Many of the students really struggle with English. There needs to be some sort of English training for them. At the very least, someone who attends the Academy could then hold a brief seminar on the content for those who cannot speak English.

  4. The schedule is too long for the student/pastors. They are in three classes each day, each lasting 2.5 hours. By they end of the day they are barely conscious. (Every student makes a great effort to stay awake, however).

There are many other thoughts and concerns that have come up regarding the Academy and the training of these pastors. Among the ideas includes a FAQ or Q&A session dealing with practical ministry issues relating to communion, baptism, practical theology, etc., and some information about United Methodist program resources and other materials from the UM Publishing House and other agencies.

The longer we are here the more it seems that there is to do. Pray that we can accomplish all that God has for us.

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