Hello. As I have just added you to my support group list, I am sending you the contents of my first two e-mails. I am using a hotmail account, this way I can log on from the field, and send letters to my Uganda Support Group without having to wade through my usual e-mail. Time on line is pretty limited in Uganda. This is being sent out to around 40 e-mail address belonging to those I consider a part of my prayer support team. I hope you all will keep praying till I am home!
First of all, in Praise to the Lord, I have my $3500 support in or on the way! As of Monday, I had on hand $1,677. But I know of another $1,726 in the mail, making my total at least $3404 - though there is probably a least another $100 coming. Hopefully it will arrive before John leaves on Saturday morning.
About 1/3 of my support came from churches using my VBS materials. The gift that put me over the top was from a Church in Sullivan, Indiana, which used my western themed Bible school materials and had a competition between the boys and the girls. Their goal was $250 but the kids really came through, raising $526.26!
My thanks also to the several individuals and churches who gave significant gifts towards the mission trip. I have an ample supply of soccer balls now!
The second piece of news is a surprise change of schedule. I got word Thursday that the Nebbi conference has been cancelled. This is a shock to both John Pickett and I we have both been rather excited about that conference. Apparently there was a conflict over the use of the facility some other group from the USA was also coming. One of the first things you learn in Uganda is that your plans are always subject to change and you need to be flexable and “roll with the punches.” Instead, a conference has been arranged at Kamuli.
Kamuli (in the district of the same name) is located about 40 miles north of Jinja, east of the Nile and south of Lake Kyoga. We are now asked to do a pastor's conference there on the theme "Put you house in order" 2 Kings 20:1-11. The list of suggested topics is heavy on husband & wife relationships in ministry, but also on stewardship, and preparing for difficult times.
Kamuli district is fourth poorest in Uganda. The people there are of the Basoga tribe. Despite good agricultural soils and rains, Most do not have enough land to produce enough food to feed their families. A related problem is deforestation. A google search finds many sites concerned with agricultural development, There is a pervasive feeling of hopelessness and marginalisation, while alcohol and broken marriages remain a problem.
I found this on the internet about Kamuli:
"The problem is that this paradise is flawed; it is not developing properly. Outside the main centres, Kamuli looks much as it did a century ago. Most of the 600,000 people live in “absolute poverty” that is, 8 out of every 10 people do not have enough food or money to officially exist. What is perhaps more shocking is what a Kamuli mother thinks: “I know that some of my children will die. Everyone loses children around here, this is normal. All of my children are hungry; three of them have malaria now. I don’t know who will survive or what might happen to them. Nobody reads in our family, maybe one of the children might learn. I can only pray…” These forgotten people are trapped in a poverty cycle marked by disease and illiteracy which stops them from developing properly as individuals and communities. In Kamuli only 4 out of every 10 people can read, lower than elsewhere in Uganda, whilst almost 2 out of every 10 children die before celebrating their 5th birthday." http://www.churchreliefinternational.org/helpinghands/Kamuli. For more on Kamuli see: Kamuli
I have tried to keep my web page up to date. Check it for more updates. http://www.eldrbarry.net/ug/ugan2005.htm. The prayer page is http://www.eldrbarry.net/ug/ugpray05.htm.
I found that google doesn’t yet know of Africa Bible College Uganda’s new page: http://www.abcuganda.org/ I have added the link to my pages, so they should find it sooner or later.
John and his team are off to Uganda; Tom and I are getting ready.
A few more team requests:
Dear Prayer Warriors,
I am all packed and ready to go. Tomorrow starts plenty early.
Tom Graham and I will be off to Uganda tomorrow morning. We are flying from Seattle through Chicago to London where we will have a 12 hour daytime layover, then all night to arrive in Entebbe early in the morning on Monday. Pray we will get adequate rest on the flights, and for travel safety, etc. For good fellowship and unity as we travel too.
Continue to pray for John Pickett and his team as they complete their ministry in Hoima. And for safety as they travel the long distance south to Kinkiizi early next week.
For those of you who do not worship at Green Lake Presbyterian church is another request. The church meets at Ballard High School and during the week stores all their "stuff" ... pulpit, sound equipment and sound board, banners, Sunday School and Nursery stuff, etc etc in a Big Yellow Truck that has been parked at the church during the week. Only someone stole the Big Yellow Truck last night which has everyone scrambling to get ready for worship this Sunday. On top of that, tomorrow is "Mercy Day" a day planned for Green Lake people to engage in various mercy projects - only now there is the added burden of dealing with the stolen church stuff and equipment. Please hold them in your prayers as well.
I will try to send updates when I can get access to a computer from Uganda. Please continue to pray for us daily. Thank you all for the support you are giving us in our mission.
Dear Prayer Warriors,
We finished our Kinkiizi ministry and things did not go as we had expected - but The Lord seemed to have His own agenda for us all. Our 4 day conference was cut to two days, with two other groups sharing that time. So most of my expected talks were not given. John did his four part Peacemaker's talks. But I have had some great experiences: Watching the Batwa and Bakiga coming together in Christ - such a demo of the gospel as the Bakiga Christians have brought the Pygmies out of the forest and given them new hope and life. Preaching on a mountain top in a thunderstorm (appropriately using Elijan on Horeb 1 Kings 19) and participating in a African Prayer Service, complete with the casting out of a demon by Titus. I spoke to 200 youth on 10 minutes notice - emphasizing that God knows their future from 2 Kings 6:19ff. Celebrating with 3,000 people on Mt Kirezi for a Confirmation service for a couple hundred youth with much dancing on a hot Saturday.The 5 hour outdoor Sunday service was drenched by an hour long hailstorm in the middle (the band kept playing as the rest of us watched the tarps over our heads fill and then dump on many!) and ended abruptly as another tropical downpour began. It was also wonderful getting to know Titus and Beatrice - two wonderful Ugandan Christians from Mukono and Kampala who were part of our Kinkiizi team!
John and the teams' work in Hoima the previous week went very well. The Presbyterian church is growing there. We were able to give them $10,000 towards a building. And there has been a providential restoration of relationships between ACTI and the Bishop of Hoima - this happened at Kinkiizi and we have been invited to do a conference in the future. More on this in my report when I get back.
I am now back in Kampala. Part of the Team Di, Randy and Brad are on their way home. John Tom and Titus, an african pastor, are in Kigali, Rwanda. Pray for them as they speak to the Presbyterians there. Then on Wednesday night or Thursday we go to Kamuli.
Pray for the conference - that we will be able to teach all our material - I will teach Stewardship, John on Marriage, Don and Tom on Discipleship. The theme is "Put your house in order" 1 Kings 20/ Isa 38. Pray our "poultice of Figs" will be adequate for God's tasks and we can bring a message of heaing and hope to them!! Continue to pray for our traveling safety and health. Thank you for all your support and prayers. Don't stop till we are home!!
In Christ, Barry McWilliams and the Uganda 2005 Team
You last heard from me on Tuesday, May 10th. Here are some highlights of the second half of our mission trip. A more detailed report will be sent later, and posted on my web page, with some pictures.
John, Tom and Titus had a very good trip to Rwanda. They made contact with some young Presbyterians there zealous for the gospel but dealing with a dead church. They also had an interesting experience with a Pentecostal pastor who took them deep into the slums to minister to a large group of converted prostitutes and drug addicts trying to escape that life. They also found it very hard to exchange their money to leave the country.
Meanwhile Don and I went to Kamuli a little earlier than planned to take on our part in the conference there. Basoga Diocese was having a pastor/wife conference, which actually started on Monday. Wednesday morning at 5 AM found me throwing up, a torrential thunderstorm pouring outside, and the power out. A four hour drive to Naminage (of which there are two on the map) got us there just in time for me to do my first talk: a sermon on the Conference theme: “Put your house in order” from 2 Kings 20 and Isa 38, which I had put together the day before. There were about 200 pastors and wives present.
The next two days were busy, teaching; talking with the diocese leaders, including the Bishop’s wife, Florence, and three Arch-deacons who remembered us from the Lwesa conference in 2003 over meals and tea. Don used up his talks, and I did two stewardship talks (Florence and Jonathan Byamugisha actually finished the subject for me) and I was preparing new ones on requested topics in case they would be needed. This trip I have found myself again and again preaching on very short notice and enjoying every minute. And we were coping with no running water, power mostly out, and my fever which fortunately was gone by Thursday Morning. John Pickett, Tom Graham and John Basingwire didn’t show up till midday on Friday.
John Basingwire (an old friend of ours from Kinkiizi/ Kbale who recently left retirement and took a position as the Provincial Education Secretary in Kampala) had arranged our part in the conference and contributed to the conference opening the eyes of the Diocese to an impending crisis Basoga the largest diocese of the Church of Uganda has 140 parishes of 15-25 churches each; 1.5 Anglicans; but only 123 Pastors 20 of whom are in administration, and many of whom are nearing retirement. The bulk of the ministry is in the hands of largely untrained lay leaders. There is a great need here.
I also enjoyed getting acquainted with Jonathan Byamugisha, a Bakiga from Kbale who is working with Five Talents, an Anglican Christian Microfinance operation in three locations in Uganda who gave a fine explanation of basic money management principles to the conferees. I gladly let him continue his presentation in my following talk slot. I know I learned a lot. He had originally been scheduled for Monday, but hadn’t received the invitation until Tuesday, and was dependent on public transportation to get him from Kbale to Kamuli.
The two John’s and Tom arrived in the nick of time John P preaching a fine sermon on Peter in Jn 21; Tom the next morning quite by accident nailed his point on his knees talking about a worshipful personal devotional life. John P’s very practical talk on lessons in leadership he had learned was very well received.
The lengthy concluding speeches as the conference ended on Saturday, a part of African Anglican conferences, made it very clear we were both well received and greatly desired back. We were able to leave books with all the pastors! They repeatly stessed their desire for help in training. And some on the team are of the opinion that I am a man for that task!
Sunday I both taught Sunday School (2 Kings 6) and preached (2 Kings 20) at Kajjansi where I ministered in 2001 and preached also in 2003. Pastor Francis unfortunately was in Georgia, meeting with Lookout Pres but I got caught up with Josephine, his wife and a couple of the elders.
Henry’s house dubbed “Baribuni Kayumba” (“You are most welcomed to K’s house”) has a bit a humor in the name Kayumba means “little house” and Henry’s structure is anything but small! We had four teams operating from that base as we returned besides us there was Wyatt George and a team from Carbonadale, Ill were following up on Five Loaves: Tentmaker operations in Kampala and Luerow (Microfinance); Don and Merrill Mountain, and Carol Arnold were doing Equipping Pastors' Marriage Conferences; and Henry arrived with 14 of his "students" another 28 would arrive on the Wednesday we left. There was a lot of interaction between the teams, sharing of experiences, times of devotion and prayer together. I did one on 2 Kings 2:19-22.
I finally manage to connect with the Robertsons and Africa Bible College (University actually a College in Uganda is a high school). They had been on holiday in Entebbe and found their way to Henry’s just as I was praying that I would get to connect with them. After we got their vehicle unstuck (This IS Africa), I had tea with them and their three boys at ABC; and the team had lunch on Wednesday with them as well I spoke to the workers at their weekly devotional service (Exo 35:30-36:1) and John Pickett filled Palmer in on Uganda.
Tuesday was a day for some rest, connecting with a stream of people coming and going; a shopping trip for Souvenirs and the traditional team celebration dinner at Fang Fang’s in Kampala. We were all pretty tired and ready to head home.
After some brief fellowship with the mass of arriving students including a couple from Wa Ben Bruhn, Mindy Wildeman, and and one, Dan Henry, who calls Green Lake his home church, and Tom’s visit to a Rotary Club meeting, we were eager to catch that 11 PM plane.
I arrived home a number of pounds lighter, tanned and intact apart from a mysterious blister on my toe, dealing with reverse culture shock and jet lag --imagine waking in your own home and wondering where the bathroom was -- but the warm shower after a week and a half of cold ones (if any at all) was wonderful.
Thank you all for your faithful prayer support and help in this mission trip. With some reflection and input from the rest of the team, I will be putting together a more detailed report on the whole mission, what we have accomplished and learned, and the tasks still before us.
In His mercy and grace,
Barry McWilliams (aka "Wako" my Basoga clan name)