We joined Titus and Beatrice for the trip to Kanungu on May 3rd, taking along some wheels for John's team, traveling the usual route through Ntungamo, but going through Rukungiri instead of Kbale, arriving at dark about the same time as John's team. We stayed at the Diocese' Guest House, which had both water and power problems; and we had our meals and teas at the bishop's new house a short walk uphill.
Kinkiizi was pretty frustrating for the team, and for me, having ready several talks related to the conference theme, but not be able to give any of them to the clergy. But in God's providence, instead I preached on Elijah to a group of around sixty gathered on top Mt Kirezi to fast and pray with the Bishop on Thursday afternoon, thunder and lightning off in the distance. Titus preached also and Randy gave a testimony. I experienced an African prayer service complete with Titus casting out a demon - another experience I will never forget. And on Friday, after missing my chance to speak to the clergy due to a miscommunication, I spoke to a couple hundred youth instead on Elisha in 2 Kings 6 on about 20 minutes notice - hopefully opening their eyes to God's future for them. And Tom, Don, Brad and I had a fun question and answer time with them afterwards as well. Still, most of the team got to speak at least once - Titus preached at the opening on the theme, Don spoke on discipleship. Di did her testimony on "The Names of God." Tom and Brad both spoke to the clergy during the morning devotional services and Beatrice spoke on ministry to children. Don, Brad, Randy, and Di spoke to the youth as well. Besides the problems with showers and toilets, and power outages, there were also some health concerns. Di injured her leg at Kinkiizi and had to see a doctor. Others had various concerns. I am glad I had my "pharmacy" bag along - it was put to a lot of use by the team during our travels.
Other significant happenings at Kinkiizi:
John, Tom and Titus had a very good trip to Kigali, Rwanda. They made contact with some young Presbyterians there zealous for the gospel, but are dealing with a dead church. Issues arising from the Geneocide still dominate life there. 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 found it very hard to exchange their U.S. money to leave the country, a reminder to travel with brand new $50 or $100 dollar bills. They returned to Kayumba on Thursday, May 12th.
Meanwhile, Don MacDonald did a day's ministry in Ntinda - speaking twice on the 10th; while I prepared a message for Basoga, then spent the day with Rashid on errands around Kampala, visiting the Africa Bible College and Uganda Christian University campuses, but unable to see anyone at either place. That evening we met with John Basingwire and a Basoga pastor to be briefed about the Basoga Diocese Clergy/ Wives Conference in Kamuli, already underway, with about 200 clergy and their wives in attendance.
I 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.
John Pickett, Tom Graham and John Basingwire didn't show up till midday on Friday. The two John's and Tom arrived in the nick of time. John Pickett 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 Pickett's very practical talk on lessons in leadership he had learned was very well received. 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, then opened 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 million 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. Small stipends require most clergy to support themselves and their families outside their ministries. There is a great need here. 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 repeatedly stressed their desire for help in training clergy. And some on the team are of the opinion that I am a man for that task! That is a matter for prayer in coming months.
Henry's house dubbed "Baribuni Kayumba" ("You are most welcomed to K's house") has a bit a humor in that 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 following up on Five Loaves: Tentmaker operations in Kampala and Luwero (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, and times of devotion and prayer together. I did a breakfast devotional on 2 Kings 2:19-22. Tom worked on ACTI financial matters, and attended at Rotary Club meeting on Wednesday afternoon.
I finally managed to connect with the Robertson's and Africa Bible College (University.) on Monday. They had been on holiday in Entebbe, but 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 little boys at ABC. Tuesday was a day for some rest, connecting with a stream of people coming and going; a shopping trip for a cooker (stove) for Titus and Souvenirs for the rest of us and the traditional team celebration dinner at Fang Fang's in Kampala. The team was invited to lunch on Wednesday at Africa Bible College. We did a tour and I spoke to the workers at their weekly devotional service (on Exo 35:30-36:1); and John Pickett filled Palmer in on Uganda. Kayumba was crowded, we were all pretty tired and ready to head home. Leaving Entebbe at 11 PM, traveling though Brussels and Chicago - it was a 30 hour trip home.
On reflection, God had His own purposes for us on this trip. The unexpected scheduling problems at Kinkiizi gave me some unexpected opportunities, and some great experiences. The last minute change from Nebbi (West Nile) to Kamuli (in the East) was also His work - and He has opened up to us a great need yet unmet there. I felt "comfortable" in the work, with all its obstacles ("This IS Africa") and unexpected opportunities. I enjoyed greatly the fellowship with team members and many Ugandan brothers and sisters in Christ. I learned a lot.I appreciated John's trust in sending me to ahead to Basoga - and feel he has trained me well. After a year of not preaching, this trip I found myself again and again speaking or preaching on very short notice and enjoying every minute of it. Or working in the wee hours preparing talks, just in case. My Phorm Voyager reading light and my brief case thermos were put to a lot of good use. I need to prayerfully consider leading a team into Uganda myself.
And then there is that question of future trips. My equipment is carefully packed away. I hope that my wife can come for at least part of the next trip - in case we are lead to Uganda for future ministry. I am expanding my teaching notebooks with more material on various topics that have arisen from this trip. The need for training of leaders in Basoga has me pondering the development of extension materials. In the past, it has been about two years between trips - will it be in 2006 or 2007 that I return? And for how long?