Well, we have now completed our last home visits…five days and three homes.
Two of our students, Joy and Alice, are from the same area In the capital city of Kampala. Since they are from the same church and community, it only made sense for them to have a joint mission.
We enjoyed incredible hospitality from their reverend and his family. We were able to spend Thursday morning doing some physical labor, cleaning the church’s compound. The community is kind of slum-like, and there was garbage everywhere. We did our best to clean it up and get it burning. At the same time, some team members had gumboots on and were digging out the trench for sewage because it wasn’t too efficient. It was a long morning with difficult work, but I was so happy to have it on the program. I believe it is important for our message of God’s love to be evident not just in our words, but in our actions as well.
We also split up and visited peoples homes, praying with them, and sharing the Gospel as opportunities allowed. In the evening, we led a church service and showed a film on Martin Luther. Friday morning we had an extended time with the primary school that is affiliated with the girls’ church. Keeping the attention of nearly four hundred children was a task, but we hope and pray it had an impact that glorifies God!
This community obviously struggles in the ways of basic needs and sustainability. But it also seems there is some spiritual confusion. One example of this was found when we encountered some Muslims who seem to be taking on that identity for the sake of the label, like a new trend, but not really understanding it or even really believing it.
We left Kampala after lunch on Friday, and began the journey of over four hours, further east to a Scovia’s village, just outside Mbale.
Again we had opportunities to split up into 2-4 people, and share the Gospel with the neighbors around her home. I am always encouraged by peoples’ warm welcome to our presence, desire to share from Scripture, invitation to an evening crusade, and request to pray with the family. (Throughout the weekend I observed many people who really seemed to be joyful, in a way I haven’t seen in some other villages. I even noticed older people, grandparents, sincerely enjoying the interaction with little children, which seemed different from what I typically observe.)
That night we again had a crusade with the girls leading songs, testimony, and preaching. We watched Passion of the Christ in an open field. A couple other staff members and I managed to get a screen up with two very tall sticks, zip ties, and a few ropes in order for hundreds of people to see the film. Just before the rain started, we were able to challenge people in the crowd to respond to the gift of salvation Jesus suffered to offer us, which they had just seen before their eyes. Praise God for the convictions he placed in many hearts!
Sunday morning we found our way to a small village church and had the privilege of leading the service. With a language unfamiliar to the rest of the students, Scovia was busy translating most of the time. We left the house at 8:30 to set up for the 9:00 service. By the time we headed back to the house for lunch, it was after 1:30! Like a typical village offering, most people did not bring money, but items from their gardens instead: corn, avocados, peanuts, banana tree shoots, bananas, eggs, beans, etc. This Sunday happened to be a special fundraising day for construction. So, what typically happens with these offerings, is they are auctioned off to the congregation, and the money is put in its place. But this time, they attempted to double their money for the fundraiser. So, as people bid against each other for various items, other members of the congregation were contributing to the basket in order to match the bid. For instance, I had my coworker (who knows the language) bid on a big ol’ sack of peanuts for me. It ended up going to us for 8,000 Ugandan Shillings (about $3.25). But before it was handed over, other people put in coins until they also reached 8,000, making that offering actually worth 16,000 with the help of many people. So now I have the job of shelling and roasting…but they will last me a long time!
After sweet watermelon, pineapple and mangoes, we enjoyed a generous lunch, had a time of fellowship with Scovia’s family and church leaders, were given what seemed like endless gifts (bananas, cassava, peanuts, etc.), and stopped in town for a few things, we eventually began the journey home at 6:00pm. We stopped in Kampala to see an ABIDE alumnus who met us on the roadside. He gave a testimony of the impact ABIDE has had on him and how God has been using him in the last several months since graduating. It is always encouraging to see the lasting impact of the program! We piled back in the van, and eventually reached home at 3:30am. Wow! What a long journey, but we are praising God for protecting us along the way!
Enjoy the pictures below to get a glimpse of our last mission together as ABIDE Girls 2013.