Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Kirimandagi waiting for a drill

October 25, 2011
Instead of heading down to Masaka today, Davis and I headed back to Kirimandagi to supervise the drilling of the bore hole at the Blessed Primary School. I spent a big part of the day visiting with Naphtal and Grace and to see the school in action. We just kind of hung out and waited. It is a very African experience -- waiting for things to happen. Things run on their own schedules . . . 10:00 means when we get there and there may have been more important relationships (the person in front of me is the most important person) to deal with along the way. So we sat and we waited.

Late in the afternoon the drill and compressor arrived with the crew. They immediately went to work setting up. The crew travels with tents and a kitchen -- they intend to live with their drill while the job is being completed. These were some seriously no nonsense men -- well diggers. The next day they would begin drilling and the compressor would break -- necessitating a journey back to Kampala. The drilling would not be completed until well after I returned to the US. But it was completed and the well is not fully functional. Davis and I headed back to Kampala late in the afternoon. We are hoping for many photos and a DVD of the drilling.

The rest of the team spent the day doing a variety of things. Clair was with me today. Barb, Kathy and Linda had day one of the Women's conference.

Tomorrow we finish up. Davis and I will be back to Kirimandagi; Linda, Kathy and Barb will be finishing up the women's conference, Clair is teaching at Kalangaalo (in my place).

I asked the team to summarize their favorite part of the trip:
Clair: helping a young muslim girl become Christian at the youth rally
Kathy: preaching and working at the Gayaza school for girls
Barb: the children
Linda: wide range and varied

I've been very proud of this team. They worked hard, hung together, were "Gumby" incarnate.

We left a significant gift for Soul Fishing ministries and a personal thank you to our friend Davis.

I had one final insight as I worked this week. I realized that John the Baptist was baptizing on the border between life and death. He was baptizing in the Jordan river near where the Jordan empties into the Dead Sea. To the one side is the life giving flow of the Jordan. To the other side is the body of water where nothing lives (hence "Dead Sea"). Isn't that baptism in its purest form? We cross from death to life. Standing on the boundary.

This is my last journal entry for this trip. I arrived home late 10/27/11. And have already begun plans for October 2012.

I need to finish the book and get it printed and published for my Ugandan friends.

Blessings on your journey,

Monday, November 21, 2011

A day off in Kampala

We got up this morning to the sound of a pounding thunderstorm. It was raining "frogs and lizards" (as they say here in Uganda). Generally, in this kind of rain we just hunker down and wait for it to stop. We did so for most of the morning and then boarded the Mutatu and headed to Davis' pastor's home. We had breakfast today with Davis' pastor at her home and met a man there who was a representative of a Bible College out of Kenya. We spoke of providing additional training for our leaders and I suggested that they might consider a "satellite" one week intensive approach to theirs courses to increase their number of students in Uganda.

After breakfast we were off to do some shopping. We always go to a "crafts" center where the proceeds support local persons with disabilities. I bought the nativity for Rachel's mother that she wanted me to get, I purchased 100 drum key chains for my supporters back in Buffalo and some small gifts for my staff and a small wooden statue of a lion my wife.

We had a nice relaxing cup of coffee and then off to the Mzumgu grocery store so I could get the ingredients to make bread. Bread making at Davis and Samalie's home is an adventure. The oven only goes up to 300 to start with, getting ingredients is complicated (at best). And there is TIA (this is Africa). I put the dough up to rise and the power went out (did I mention that Samalie's oven is electric?). I let it rise, punched it down an hour or so later (the temperature and humidity in Uganda is perfect for bread dough to rise). Still no power. 3 hours after putting the bread up the power finally came back on. I had already gone to bed but got up, the bread had fallen but I baked it anyway. The cinnamon bread was quite edible and the rest would be fine for breakfast. Always an adventure. But fun to do.

I was explaining to my audience (Samalie, Millie and Jesse) that making bread is a chemistry lesson. It is about getting the right ingredients in right proportions at the right temperature to create the right chemical reaction between the yeast, the sugar and the other ingredients. It is really fun.

Kathy has been explaining to me that microfinance here in Uganda is a joke. That the microfinance rates here are actually higher than banks (can get a better deal from a loan shark). We explored some "credit union" and other types of ideas as alternatives. Kathy and Barb went off to the School meeting this evening.

Tomorrow I am back to Kirimandagi to check on the progress of the well. The Women's leadership conference that Linda, Barb and Kathy are leading begins tomorrow as well and Clair will be heading up to teach the Kalaangalo/Caini groups in my stead. We decided to cancel the trip to Masaka in order to supervise the well project.

Back to Kirimandagi and Kikyusa in the morning.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

To the farthest reaches: Nakakono

10/23/2011 Sunday in Nakakono

I preached in a place called Nakakono today. Nakakono is WAY out in the country side. The road there was a foot path for at least two miles. I think Davis enjoys sending me to these remoter outposts. It is also a good way to encourage more Nexus students (if the visitors are willing to go to the remote places it shows a depth and willingness in the program). We signed up seven or eight more potential students by the end of the day. We drove through the center of Satanic worship in this region. Pastors and other Christian men in this area (including my friend Naphtal) have been holding prayer and fasting vigils in this area -- praying down the strongholds. They are reporting some success in this effort.

Pastor Lamech and his family were most gracious in welcoming me. There were 3 other Nexus graduates here and a large crowd with many children. I was planning to preach on Acts -- the aftermath of Paul's conversion and the anonymous people who helped him get started. But as I looked around and was praying I felt that the story of the women who cries on Jesus feet and dries them with her hair from Luke 8 would fit the congregation better. So I preached that. One man became a Christian today, it turned out that he was Lamach's younger brother.

I prayed for many people for a wide and various reasons. I found myself trusting the Holy Spirit more and more to lead how I should pray and to bring help for many diseases and needs and issues.

Nakakono is way out there and I was the first white to preach in this church. The children came and sang their welcome song and some other songs as well and I was given a purple and gold prayer mat as a welcome gift. Then I had lunch with the family and we headed back to Kikyusa.

The congregation felt the need to give me a "love offering" for coming and preaching. I felt very awkward in taking their gift but knew there was no gracious or nonoffensive way of refusing it. It is good for them to be generous and it is good for me to be gracious and generous as well. Fortunately, I had been told by Pastor Lamech that they were trying to build a school there and that the children were deeply in need of supplies and school materials. I made the love offering a gift to the children of the school for supplies and other materials.

We returned to Kirimandagi where Davis and Linda were waiting for us. Linda preached at Grace's church. They were hiding from us and Grace was encouraging them by telling us that Davis and Linda had gone to sleep and had gone home. Quite fun.

On the way back to Davis' home we stopped at the church plant at Seeta. It has come a long way. The Latrines were working, the first floor and columns were in place for the new assembly hall and the second floor was scheduled to go up in the near future. Davis is planning to have the opening worship service here on Christmas Day.

When we returned Barb and Kathy were at Davis' home and they had preached at Samalie's church in the morning and then had spent the day with her. They were talking about the great day they had at Ronald's school (Gayaza Girls School) and the entrepreneurial exercises the students had been undergoing.

Clair returned later and was all fire up about the youth rally and the good meeting he had Sunday afternoon with youth workers from around the area. He reported that many youth came to Christ and the the youth workers were also greatly encouraged and challenged to do better work. He is starting a foundation to help youth in this areas through Pastor Richard's church.

tomorrow is an open day starting with breakfast with Davis' pastor (Bonyme). We are going to do some shopping, have lunch in town.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Graduation at Kikyusa

Graduation Today at Kikyusa was a great success. This is the highlight of the trip for me. Linda and I participated in the graduation of 40 Nexus students (40 and a 1/2 -- one student is 9 months pregnant). Linda got to place the mortar boards on the graduates heads and got to wear one of the special graduation hats. She wore it in a "Rebecca of Sunnybrook farms" style and it fit her hust fine.

This was the largest graduation class ever from Nexus. We had several special guests. The chair of the local gospel preachers council (a council of 560 churches) and a song artist friend of Davis'. The preacher was excellent and spoke encouraging words about believing in themselves and to be people of prayer. The singer was fun and playful and had a great story of being from a small village in the East (near Mbale), building his own guitar and dreaming of being an international recording artist. He is a pastor and, from what I heard and saw well on his way.

I spoke of new beginnings not based on wishful thinking but based on the experience of having talent and mastering the Nexus training and seeing it through to completion. Davis speech was moving. The class witness was given by the young woman Julie Valeski has been sponsoring. She was terrific and talked of the first time she had encountered Nexus training as a possibility.

Davis requires each student to open a savings account and to put away so much per week during the training. He does this to encourage them to become savers and to participate in the economic life of the villages and regions in which they live. This "savings" culture could change, profoundly change, the life of the villages. This class of 40 saved 4.7 million shillings (90K each?) which is pretty good for a rural pastor. The bank manager was there to make a report and to encourage the students.

I attended a Graduation in Kiteme, with pastor Robert. Kiteme means to cut or the cutting. It was an interesting gathering there were two other graduates present. He is a fine young pastor and is building a good congregation at Kiteme. His father was there and is grandmother and his young wife. It was fun. Davis likes to send me off on these farther outposts to preach and to extend our reach deeper into the villages. They gave me a rooster and a stalk of Matoke as a thank you for coming gift. The founding pastor of this church was present, she was a graduate of the last Kikyusa Nexus group.

The party included statements from his former Pastor much singing and a brief sermon from me. I was sitting minding my own business when the MC asked me to get up and share the word of God. So I gave a brief message from Acts 16 about how Paul and his entourage were making plans and intentions to do ministry but at the same time were listening to the movement of the Holy Spirit. Then I celebrated our graduates and sat down.

The team has been having a great time. Barb and Kathy are Ronald's school today, Clair had the youth rally today and it was bigger and better than ever. Linda got to go to the big graduation party in Kikyusa.

the MC at the part last night looked familiar. Maybe it was the Nigerian costume or that he looked a little like Martin Lawrence (could have been his brother) or that he was marvelously energetic.

At Kiteme, after dinner, several people came to me for prayer. I laid hands on a small baby, a 7th grader and an older women. This is a culture that believes in prayer.

I am preaching near Kikyusa in a place called Nakakono tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Nakasangola day 2

We returned to Nakasangola for day "2" today. I taught the 10 Commandments from a Hermaneutical perspective: how does the context help us understand that the commandments are rules for living as free people. The teaching and the congregation seemed to connect. I have some new friends in this place. Linda taught about suffering from Questions by Adam Hamilton -- she did a great job and her voice and health are getting stronger each day.

In the Afternoon I taught on Jeremiah 29 -- Jeremiah's letter to the exiles. 597 the nobility and creative were carried off to Babylon and were being told by the other Judeah prophets that their stay in Babylon would not be long and that they should not unpack and be ready to return at a moment's notice. Jeremiah tells them that they will return to Jerusalem -- but not for 70 years. He advises them to build houses and live in them, gardens, marry and give sons and daughters in marriage. Seek the welfare of the city in which you find yourself -- I talked about how being citizens of heaven we are also in exile and have a responsibility to seek the welfare of wherever we live. The goal of this life is not to wait for death so we can go to heaven. The goal is to bring heaven to earth. We are to storm the gates of hell and the gates of hell will not overcome or prevail against us.

I really enjoy teaching and preaching and this opened up a response from Davis that challenged the leaders in Nakasangola to build heaven where they were -- buy cloths for your children and buy for the orphan next door as well. Serve where you live, build your church.

When we returned to the Luweero guest house our friend Robert, his new wife, Agnes and Davis wife, Samalie had arrived in anticipation of tomorrow's graduation. I am blessed to have these friends and to see them doing exceptionally well. We had dinner together and then (BLESSING) I actually had hot water in my room and was able to take a hot shower -- no much water pressure but hot made up for it! (Amazing how quick we are to be thankful for small things when we are required to forgo them for a while!

Curious view of the day -- saw a man on a motorcycle (boda boda) carrying a man who was carrying a bicycle. We also saw some odd swamp bird as we were driving through the swamp. It had a long neck and beak and was greyish black in color. We asked Davis what they were and he said: "it is a Ugandan Swamp bird" and we all laughed.

Kathy and Barb passed out the "Dress My People" dresses at the Blessed Primary School in Kirimandagi today and took many photos of the children. Kathy took a 30 second video of the children. It was great to hear them talk about it and rejoice in the giving. The light in their eyes and the joy in their voices reminds me again that "it is more blessed to give than receive!

"Tomorrow we are off to graduation in Kikyusa -- 40 students who have completed the training.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A place called Nakasangola


Interesting day yesterday. It started at Pastor Elisha's place and a nice bible conversation with my friend Eddie and our ESL teacher, Alice. Most of the conversation was bout the culture/historical/religious conditions in Corinth. The focus of the conversation was "what is fornication". Apparently some individuals have been teaching that anyone who has non marital relations with another is committing fornication -- in the context of the Corinthians letter (where this conversation is in the context of ritual temple prostitution) this would not be an accurate reading. These individuals had put the "offenders" out of their church. It is amazing how quickly legalism and judgement can take over the spirit of a congregation. I find that I am having a lot of these "side bar" conversations about matters of biblical interpretation and the application of hermaneutical principles.

The well is not yet completed

We drove to Nakasangola today -- 40 miles out form Kikyusa. The road ends 100 yards from the church which is 200 yards from the beginning of the swamp that is this end of lake Kyoga.

A woman named Magdalene is the Senior Pastor in this place. She is a formidable woman, an excellent leader and a deeply spiritual person. It is clear that her connection to God is the driving force in her life and in the rather large circle of human beings who have gravitated to her work. The church looks like an old school mission compound. There is the church, there are homes, there are little huts for the sick who have come in need of prayer. There are herds of goats and cows and pigs and a multiple acre garden. It is quite large and very active. The Nakasangola district is mostly dairy and cattle ranching with a few small farms -- and the usual subsistence farming.

People come her for prayer. Those in need of prayer wander the compound and stop in front of you and you are expected to lay hands and pray over them. Imagine the faith of the prayer seekers and the faith of the prayer givers in a God who responds to every request and petition.

Linda taught this morning on the Prodigal God material and I taught Leadership 101 material that I have brought with me. We were well received and I thought the day went well. We didn't get home until nearly 8 p.m. and the power was out (again) and my water heater doesn't work so another dark cold night at the Luweero guest house. Clair is off with Richard and we won't see him until Sunday night. Barb was a little under the weather last night (another long day) and Kathy is doing great. We are sending Barb and Kathy off early Saturday morning to attend an event at the Gayaza School for Girls (where Davis' brother Ronald works) and they will be attending church with Samalie on Sunday.

We met some Rotarians from Alabama this morning at the guest house. They are working with a school reading program in the Nakasangola area.

John, our driver, has been teaching us Lugandan and is having a blast doing it. He is more engaged with us this trip (probably more comfortable with us) and is more comfortable with our bad Lugandan and his marginal English. Davis has been working to keep all the plates spinning and the team moving. We've had some good conversations.

Tomorrow we are back to Nakasangola and graduation is Friday

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Kikyusa Day Two

October 19, 2011

Spent all day today teaching "Palestine of Jesus Time" there are five lectures: 1. Malachi to Matthew (the political back drop and lead up to the New Testament); 2. The fullness of Time (the realities of the 1st century world that enhanced the spread of the Gospel; 3. Judaism of the first century (groups, factions, customs and traditions); 4. Judaism of the first century (2) (culture, day to day living, etc).; 5. Religions of the Empire (Christianity's first century competition). We recorded these five lectures live and my friend and president of Nexus Seminary, Davis Matovu, is planning to use these for future groups as they are about to graduate.

It was a really fun day for me. I love to teach. It was also interesting for me to use these older lectures and to see what else I might be tracking on as I taught -- what new research, reading, etc. that may have come up into my mind as I taught. The students were very responsive and asked some great questions.  found myself, at one point, giving a very detailed description of first century crucifixion and in another place I was giving an extended description of the role of the Sanhedrin council in the 1st century. I do not remember ever teaching for seven (7) straight hours (with a break for lunch).

We kept Linda out one last day but will be traveling with me to Nakasangola tomorrow to do her first bit of teaching in Kikyusa. We are sending Clair off, tomorrow, to Kampala -- he will be collected by Pastor Richard (another friend of ours) to do the Mosher youth rally and to spend some time with other youth workers.  The rest of the team is processing their experiences and doing well in this environment. I am deeply blessed to be traveling with Barb (a first time missionary); Kathy, Clair and Linda.

I met with Grace and Naphtal yesterday evening to give them the balance (the overage) on the money raised for the well. It amounted to $1500 US. I asked for some of their dreams and hopes. There were some personal things they were to take care of and the balance was to be used to buy the potato field next to the new well. This will expand the use of the well but also give the Blessed Junior School the control over all traffic routs to the well.

The water and electricity is working again at the guest house in Luweero. Africa, at least this part of Africa, is a jumble of working/not working. There is usually electricity there is running water in some places (when it works. There is cell service nearly everywhere but basic necessities are not always availalbe. The people have an attitude that essentially says we will use what is working and not worry or miss it when it is not working.

I am sitting in the dining room of the guest house. The security guard, who walks the perimeter of the property all night stops and greets me from a distance. I greet him and thank him for his work.

Tomorrow: we are off to a new place for me: Nakasangola.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Kikyusa Day One

After yesterday's celebration and commissioning of the well, I begin four days of teaching in the Luweero district. Today I pinch hit for Linda (still out but getting better) at the Jesus at Work Seminar. I preached about the three near anonymous persons who helped St. Paul get launched in his Apostolic career. There is a disciple in Damascus named Ananias who came and prayed for Paul even though Ananias was afraid to do so. There were the unnamed "disciples of Paul" who lowered him down from the Damascus wall in a basket. And, finally, there is Barnabas (son of encouragement) who defends and introduces Saul/Paul to the Apostles in Jerusalem (read Acts 9). God will use us if we stay connected, if we are willing, if we follow and, finally if we actually GO!

Preached the above at the Pastor Elisha's church in Kikyusa. The event was the "Jesus at Work" seminar and Pastor Clair was going to be doing most of the "heavy lifting". I thought the congregation was energetic and very responsive. Clair took over afterwards and I headed over to Pastor Moses church (about 10 miles out of town) to teach the graduating Nexus class.

I brought with me a five lecture series generally titled "Palestine of Jesus Time" and began with "From Malachi to Matthew" -- this lecture looks at the political build up to the New Testament beginning with the Assyrians 600 BC, through the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks and finally the Romans. It was well received. Davis especially liked it. I follow lunch with "In the Fullness of Time" which looks at the conditions of the first century Roman empire and how those conditions encouraged the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We decided to video tape the entire series for Davis and his team to use as a teaching tool in the future. In the hermeneutic approach to studying the Bible understanding the history, culture, etc. of the first century world is vital. So, tomorrow we will be working on taping all five (which means I get to repeat the two I did today) and we will go from there.

It was a great day. I have spent a lot of time with this graduating class. I first met with them at a "come and check it out" event 3 years ago. I taught on SHAPE for ministry and a few other things. I spent two days with them two years ago and again last year and finally this year as they come up for graduation. It is a good class with many excellent leaders and good pastors. Pastor Moses is a fine example of this. He has some sponsors in the UK and has built an orphanage, a school a church and a farm about 10 miles out of Kikyusa. It is quite impressive.

Next -- the long day of teaching all five lectures (and another visit with Grace and Naphtal).

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Comissioning a Well in Kirimandagi

10/17/11 I am in a guest house in Luwero and trying to write in my journal under a mosquito net -- there is no desk or table in the room and this is the only place to try to write.

We commissioned the Bore Hole Well at the Blessed Junior School in Kirimandagi today. This is "Grace's Well" as we have been calling it. We were greeted by the Children's Scouting Honor Guard who escorted us to the event. We were present with the village elders and leaders and many of the parents from the school. Grace and Naphtal present and leading. I SAW GREAT THINGS TODAY!

I learned today that this village of 560 families (3-5K people) has only one working well. I learned that there are often long lines for the water and the children at the school were missing classes because they had to wait for water. Now that there is a bore hole well for the school and for the village life can get a little better and, perhaps the children won't have to walk down a busy street and wait in long lines for water. It was a great day and I was honored to be a part of it. It is nice to know that I was part of doing something that had a positive effect on thousands of people I may never meet nor know. Sometimes God tells you to do something (like having this well dug) and you don't realize what the wider impact will be, you just know that you have to find some way to get it done. This was that kind of project. Often when we follow the leading of the Holy Spirit we don't know and never get to see the final impact of our work. This was one day where I was able to catch a brief glimpse of the immediate impact of an act of generosity. What the long term impact will be is yet to be known.

Linda is still ill but we brought her to Luweero so she could be part of the team. She seems to be improving.

The plaque on the well read: "A project of Soul Fishing Ministries. Presented by the generous gifts of the Christ Community United Methodist Church of Syracuse, New York and dedicated by Rev. Dr. Norrix on this October 17, 2011. It was named the JIRA Well (Jira, Hebrew for Provider). We met the driller today as well, a large Australian named Ben. He was working hard to explain why the drilling team had yet to arrive.

Tomorrow I will begin teaching the Kikyusa class and the end of the week I will be teaching at Nakasangola.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sunday in Mbale with Bishop Sam

Preached at Bishop Sam's church this morning. Actually we did an all morning seminar on leadership. I taught the essentials of leadership:
Leader's first responsibility is to grow him/herself: cannot teach what we do not know, cannot lead where we have never been and we cannot give away what we do not have.
Leader's are people of vision: vision is a picture of the preferred future: leader doesn't have to originate the vision but the leader has to be its champion.
Leader's are humble: humility is using your power in the service of others.
Leader's create culture where the vision can be lived out
Leaders lead with integrity - do what you say, say what you do
Authority is shared responsibility is borne
Leadership is influence: influence is formed in relationships
And so on:
I was working with Bishop Sam this morning and our new friend Oscar. One interesting feature of Bishop Sam's church is that there are several languages spoken in the congregation. I was teaching in English, Sam was translating in Lugandan and another man in the congregation was translating into the local tribal language of Busogi. I felt like it was a Pentecost kind of day -- we were all teaching the same thing in multiple tongues.
Linda is still ill and we are trying to decide whether to put her on a plane home, to leave her at Davis home to recover or to take her with us up to Luweero . . .
Kathy went up the mountain (to the Jesus Warrior's church where I was yesterday). She forgot her notes and had to depend on the leading of the Holy Spirit (good idea!)
Clair preached twice this morning and Barb also had a good day.
One consequence of Linda being out is that Barb and Kathy had to go to separate places to preach instead of working together as we had originally planned.
One our way back to Davis' home we stopped to say hi to our friend Moses Wasige in Jinja, Moses is building a congregation on the west bank of the Nile. On my first journey to Uganda in 2007 I was Privileged to stay with Moses and his wife Edith in Luzinga for a weekend -- Saturday seminar and Sunday worship.
We are trying to look for ways to give that would keep on giving. The brick making machine idea from Mbale is an excellent example of this -- it would provide some jobs and would enhance the church's ability to do what it feels called to do. The well project in Kirimandagi is another example of this. It is something that helps the church the school is tangible but would have been out of their reach.
We are back near Kampala tonight and tomorrow we head up to Luweero and the Well Commissioning.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Teaching on the Mountain

East of Mbale is the road to Mt. Elgon and Sippi falls. We headed east of Mbale and up the western slope of these mountains. On the side of one of these mountains near the base of another spectacular waterfall is a tiny village and Pastor Margret's church. The village is predominantly Muslim and this one tiny church is the sum total of any obvious Christian presence. The church is called "Jesus Warriors". This is where Margret grew up and though she lives in Mbale she climbs this mountain to preach, to teach and to lead this congregation. It is one of the most beautiful places I have been. Waterfall to the east and the wide plain stretched out to the west. We can see Mbale below us and the long road West.

When we arrived the church was in full worship and, since I was going to be here for the whole day, we settled in and joined the song and dance. Since I was told that the Christians here were fairly new believers I decided to teach on Discipleship. How we begin as Christ followers, the journey inward, SHAPE for ministry and choosing to serve. I was impressed with the leadership in this place (a reflection of Margret's gifts). Margret spoke of her passion to plant a church in her home village and the people in her church community were clearly drawn into that passion and vision.

I got to wear my near Wellies going down the mountain (it rained while we were teaching). The hill side was the Uganda form of a slip and slide and me and my new boots managed to stay upright.

We went to Bishop Sam's for dinner tonight and were received by his family and spent a pleasant evening with them.

At breakfast today I spent time helping Barb put her talk together. Pastor Margret and Pastor Phillip joined us for breakfast. Barb and Kathy were talking about forgiveness and moving forward. Forgiveness is surrendering my right to revenge . . .

Adventures in travel: Clair blew a fuse in his C-Pap machine (that helps him breathe at night) we cobbed something together but our best hope is Kampala. The machine works fine but when the power is out (and it goes up at least once a day here in Mbale) he needs the battery back up. Linda came back from her teaching without a voice . . . we would later assume some kind of Strep Throat but she is pretty sick and we have put her on the sidelines for Sunday morning. This means Kathy and Barb will be going out individually instead of as a team. Should be good for both of them. . .

 Saturday in Uganda . . . tomorrow is Sunday!


Monday, November 7, 2011

Beginning Ministry in Mbale

After yesterday's grinding climb around Sippi Falls, we started work in earnest today. The plan was to visit Bishop Sam's church with Sam's associate, Oscar. We were warned that this area was a "slum" with little sanitation and a lot of desperate people. I put together a teaching on how following Jesus is like being on a journey . . .

We visited Bishop Sam's school and I got to see Barb and Kathy in action. I had made a joke with them about Barb would be telling stories and Kathy would be giving a geography lesson. When I walked in on them in their respective class rooms, Barb was telling a story and Kathy was in the middle of a geography lesson. Great fun.

We had a nice long chat with Oscar with the rain pounding down (rained for nearly 3 hours this morning). Oscar told us about his dream of getting a "Brick Making Machine." Nearly all bricks in Uganda are made by hand using wooden forms -- the bricks are dried in the sun then built into an oven like kiln that is then packed with mud and a fire is lit on the inside to "cook the bricks". This machine would make interlocking bricks would not use local top soil and the bricks would be stronger and last longer than the hand made bricks we had seen. The machine cost bout $1500 US plus some additional expenses for training etc. Clair and I are exploring how we might help make this happen for our friends in Mbale (anyone interested?). One key project for the bricks is to build a "public latrine". In this particular part of the slum there are no public latrines and most people simply dump their waste in the gully or other convenient places -- no wonder there is so much illness in this densely populated area. The church considers it a ministry to allow the people near the church to use the church's latrine.

I went and bought my first pair of "Wellies" (aka Wellington boots -- aka gum boots) -- apparently the road to where I am teaching on Saturday (tomorrow) is a muddy dirt track up and back. This is apparently a new church with mostly new Christians. Tomorrow I plan to teach about the basics of discipleship.

I was taken to a church near here where I taught the piece I put together about how the Christian life is like taking a long journey -- using my journey from the US to Uganda as a template. It was a great time. The rains kept some people home (travel in Uganda is difficult in optimum circumstances -- nearly impossible in the rain and mud). Following the teaching time, I met a man that I had met 3 years ago in  a place called Caini when I was teaching with Wayne, Alan and Ray. He heard I was in Mbale and just stopped by to say "hello". That is life in Uganda -- the relationship is the critical thing.

As I write this I am sitting in the Hotel restaurant waiting for the team to come down for breakfast. As I look across the room there is another solo white man sitting and having breakfast. We nod across the room and go about our business. I wonder what brings him here . . . is he on mission does he work for an NGO is he here on business  . . . questions I will never have answers for.
Tomorrow I am up on the mountain side to teach discipleship.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sippi Falls, climbing and seeing

October 13, 2011
Today we took a trip to a place called Sippi Falls -- not actually one waterfall but a series of at least 3 200 foot drops of beautiful water. We walked in to the first water fall and then were invited to "climb" up to the second one. This seemed reasonable to us since the walk in was not too difficult. We did not realize that the climb was actually up the face of the ridge (a broken volcanic crater). I work out and am in decent physical shape for my age but I was winded (as were the rest of us) pretty quickly on this climb. I couldn't figure it out until I was told by our guide (Alex) that we were at the equivalent of about 6000 feet - now the gasping for air made more sense. We had two guides -- Alex who was about 20 and did this every day and Malishi (a Swahili name meaning to "finish").
The Americans and older Africans were huffing and puffing up this ridge -- young Alex was trotting up and down without much effort.

As we walked to the first waterfall, my friend Davis Matovu was showing me the uses of various herbs and plants -- things his grandmother taught him. He said his grandmother could tell the time of day and season without clock or calendar and he never had  watch or calendar until after she died.

Back among the falls were many families living -- no roads but they had their animals, their gardens and many of them were growing and harvesting the excellent coffee that grows in this area.

This area is spectacularly beautiful. It is a beautiful as any place I have ever visited on earth. High narrow water falls, deep green vegetation and, generally, bright blue skies.

From the top of the ridge we could see for a couple of hundred kilometers to the north. A wide vast plain and in the far distance part of lake Kyoga. Hard climbing but very much worth the view at the top.

The hard climb fit with what I was reading in Erwin McManus' book Uprising. He was talking about passion less lives. We discovered passion on the climb when we chose to put our fatigue and lack of wind behind us and chose to push forward (at some point there really is just no going back). I spoke to the team about passion and discovering and rediscovering our passion for life, for ministry for the work we are called to be about. Kathy spoke of her passion for climbing and how much fun it was to do so in community. Better to live with passion than to just go through the motions and live in apathy.

We discussed our change in schedule (this is normal for Uganda) and the team is practicing its "Gumbyism".

Tomorrow we start to work. I am touring a church and teaching in the late afternoon.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Egrets at the Headwaters of DeNile

On the long ride to Mbale we made two stops. We stopped at a place called the Kingfisher Resort which is on the west bank of the Nile near where it drains lake Victoria. I have stopped here before and for 50,000 shillings ($22) you can rent a boat (and driver) who will take you to the headwaters (or the Source) of the Nile River. The Nile is the longest river in the world. Water from where we stood takes 3 months to reach the Mediterranean Sea a journey of over 4000 miles.

Traveling with who I travel with we were making jokes about standing at the "Source of De Nile" (Denial is NOT a river in Egypt -- apparently it is a river in Uganda and the Sudan and .  . .). This led us to note that there were these lovely little white birds that we discovered were "Egrets" -- so now we are examining our "Egrets at the Source of De Nile" and on it went. It is fun to travel with clever people and a little word play time was great.

The Source of the Nile is one of the four places Gandhi's ashes were scattered. On the east bank of the Nile there is a monument announcing this fact. We also saw a huge Monitor lizard (or is it Molitor?) on the banks of the Nile must have been 5 feet long.

After our Boat ride we went to visit Jose' and Sol - two American ex patriots who, when I saw them last were working for the Alpha Omega Seminary near Jinja but are now running a training program for rural pastors in the region. Since this is very similar work to what we are doing we spent a good lunch comparing notes and getting caught up. They are doing excellent work and we hope to reconnect with them along the way.

The long road to Mbale took us to the main city in that region. It was interesting to see the mountains suddenly rise up in front of us. Our plan tomorrow is to visit Sippi Falls and to do some light hiking. This will be our last "tourist" day as we begin work teaching and preaching, etc. the day after. I think it was a good idea for those of us who have been in Uganda before, to see something different and to meet some new folks who are doing the Lord's work in different vineyards.

We ended the day with a good team meeting.

Tomorrow -- Sippi Falls, the long climb

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Uganda Mission 2011 -- Part 2

October 11: after sleeping in a bit (we didn't arrive at Davis home until nearly 4:00 a.m. Uganda time) we had a day of running around. There are always last minute details that have to be taken care of before we can begin our travels and teaching in earnest. There is the trip to the foreign exchange office -- time to change money. There are a dozen or more of these offices all located on the same busy Kampala street with the exchange rates posted on sandwich boards out front. One US dollar was going for 2840 Uganda Shillings. I took money for the team and myself and exchanged it all.

There was the annual visit to the Uganda Bible Society. They actually had Luganda translation Bibles -- last year when we stopped to get some we ended up in the down town books stores because the Bible Society did not have any Bibles (define irony). The promised new translation printed in parallel with English is still not finished -- I've been asking for it for 5 years now and they keep promising, keep promising . . .

The rest of the team did some preliminary work: Clair met with the folks who are putting on the annual "Mosher Youth Rally"; Linda met with Davis' wife, Samalie, regarding the Women's conference at the end of our journey. Kathy and Barb met with Davis' brother, Ronald, regarding his work with the Gayaza School for Girls, mathematics, and a Christian teacher's meeting they are setting up.

Tomorrow we begin the long drive to Mbale via Jinja.