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.

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