PART III (of III) – Church in the village
Day 6 – Sunday, March 15, 2009:
After a big, windy storm in the middle of the night, we had a late breakfast and headed down to church in the beach village. We arrived 15 minutes late but were greeted very warmly. When we arrived, they informed us that they wanted one of us to preach. I had warned the team of this possibility and asked one last time if anyone wanted to do it. After a long pause and a bunch of blank stares back at me, I could tell I would be given the honor.
The church was a small, one room building about 12 feet wide and 25 feet long. There were only about 12-15 people inside to begin with, so our group of 14 doubled the attendance (though as time passed another 10 people or so trickled in). I quickly identified Syd to the pastors as our leader, since up to that point they were treating me as the leader. It was important to New Hope that this introduction to the village go well since they will be neighbors with these people, and I wanted to make sure that they knew Syd was the guy. After entering, Syd and I (as the preacher) were asked to sit up front. The worship was already under way, led by the two women pastors and a couple of young men playing drums. We clapped and sang for a bit, and then went around the room one by one making introductions. After this came the collection of tithes and offerings. We had decided to not give anything ahead of time at Syd’s request to make sure they didn’t see New Hope as a cash cow; there would be plenty of opportunity in the future for New Hope to help these people. It was a bit uncomfortable as I’m sure they were hoping if not expecting a larger amount in the pot that week, but I agreed that with Syd that it was best to not give anything on the first day. After this, I was up and it was about to get interesting (not because of anything I would say).
I got up and went through some verses that walked through the gospel message. It was the same verses I had used when I spoke in the prison in Iganga nearly a year ago. They had allotted 45 minutes for me to speak, but I only took about 20. After I finished with a prayer that gave people the option to (privately) accept Christ, I sat down to mild applause and a thanks from the pastor. At that point, one of the gentlemen leading worship on the drums spoke up that he had been touched by the message. He pointed to the verse in Revelation (Chapter 3, verse 20) that struck him, where it talks of Jesus knocking on our heart’s door, not barging in but waiting for us to invite him in. He then said that it was just what had happened a few days ago when I had stopped to talk to them and they had invited us to come. Next came a very awkward moment.
Worship timeParaphrasing here, he went on to basically explain that this example was showing that I was Jesus!! My heart sank and I immediately felt a sickening fear rise up. Our translator, Alex, one of the boys from New Hope, laughed and asked, 'Are you sure?!" As he translated that to the rest of us, he began talking feverishly in lugandan to the man, asking him ‘if he was sure he wanted to say that’ a couple of times and then in the end convincing him that what he was saying was not right and that he really shouldn’t be saying it. I asked Alex aloud what he was saying, but Alex kept talking to the man, and eventually explained to the crowd that the man was just saying that I was like Jesus in that situation, because until they asked me to come our group had not felt welcome to come there. I was pretty relieved that Alex was there and had done such a great job of handling the situation.
Up front, giving my sermon as Alex (on my left) translated sentence by sentence (that, by the way, makes preaching much easier than it otherwise would be - you get to stop and think after each sentence!)Afterwards, on the walk back, I asked Alex if that had just been a translation issue, but he told me that no, the man was actually trying to say that I was Jesus before he (Alex) convinced him that that wasn’t right. Wow, amazing how rumors get started!
The head pastor Florence is on the far left, followed by some older gentleman whose position I never could figure out, then me, then the misguided drum player, and finally Lois, the assistant pastor whom I had originally met a few days prior.We had certainly expected some surprises, but that one was a little much. I don’t know when the last time was that I felt so uncomfortable. After the service, fortunately no one treated me any different, other than coming up to thank me - “Pastor Brian” - for the message (most Ugandans call me Brian unless they know me long enough to figure out my name is Brad. This might work to my advantage in this case – if they go around saying they’ve seen Jesus they’ll say it was ‘Brian’ and I can claim immunity! It's all sounding like a Monty Python movie to me!)
The church - almost all of the buildings in the village are wooden, which is very unusual for Uganda. New Hope has had to really battle to get them to stop cutting down the trees on the site - some of them are very old.On the walk back, some of the kids tried to follow us, but the team kept telling them to return to the beach. I too raised my hand and waved them back to the beach, at which time the (coincidentally) turned and ran back to the beach. Someone in the group remarked, "Oh sure, they'll listen to 'jesus' when he says go back!" Uh, yeah, I'm not at all comfortable with that nickname so we put that to rest quickly...especially since there is no resemblance in appearance, in word or in deed! I don't really know what to think, but I'm just hoping some of the verses I read got through.
After the service we hung out with the kids for a bit. Grace and Kara brought bubbles, which were a big hit.After we returned back to camp we got right to work. With the presentation a day away and having taken time off for two events – the boat trip and the church service – we were antsy to get working on finishing up our stuff.
This little guy named Steven came right up to me as I walked out of church and help my hand for the next 15 minutes. Never said a word. He sure was cute.
Day 7 – Monday, March 16, 2009:
Presentation day! We got up, ate breakfast and went straight to work. It was amazing to see how everyone knew what they had to do and just did it. We worked right up until lunch at 1pm, and all within a very short time everyone was just done. Since I hadn’t seen anything final up to that point, I was very impressed by what was produced.
A couple of the perspective sketches the architects produced. I don't have any of the drawings they did so this is just a sampling of their hand-drawn sketches. They sketched them in pencil, scanned them in, and then added some faded color using photoshop and illustrator. We had some talented people on this team - I'll try to get some of our drawings posted sometime too.
A section of the Bunkhouse that will be used for the camps. They'll roll down canvas at the front concrete columns to protect from the driving rain. The steel cable out front is to keep the roof from blowing off in 100mph winds.
After lunch and hearing the testimonies of camp director Syd and his wife Andrea, we got the projector ready and started the presentation at just after 3pm. It went very well and the ministry was excited and thankful. After the nearly 2 hours our slideshow lasted, the ministry had a bunch of questions to work through, so we kept going until about 7:30pm. They were very appreciative and were happy with our work. Syd remarked that having a master plan for their vision was very exciting and made it all seem real finally.
I know this is out of order, but I loved this picture of Chris, out doing "perc-tests" all over the site in the sun. The perfect picture of an eMi volunteer on a trip, jerry-can and make-shift walking stick and all.That night, as is customary, the eMi team sat around a bon fire and had our closing meeting – a time where each person shares what they took away from their week in Africa and what God has done in them through the week, and also a prayer request for them going home. After that, the rest of the team takes turns encouraging that person about how they were impacted by them during the week. It is routinely a favorite part of the week for many team members, and I think this trip was no exception. For 3 hours, we took turns sharing how God had used the week to draw us closer to Him, and how that had affected us. The dirty little secret about eMi trips is that it’s every bit as much about what God wants to do in the lives of the eMi team members as it is how He wants to use their skills and talent for the ministry we serve. But then again, the same could be said for any job – it’s not about what you do but about 'who you know'...and getting to know Him better!
This is one of the grossest things I've seen - a termite queen! This thing sits under 10 to 12 feet of soil (some above ground in the big hill) and just cranks out more termites. It can't move - that sac is it's abdomen, and with the head and legs sticking off to the right. Hideous!Day 8 – Tuesday, March 17, 2009: Time to head home! We packed up early and left the site at 9:30am…after a 'short' 3-hour trip back to Kampala we went to a nice buffet lunch and went swimming at the very nice, Speke Resort in Kampala. Later that night I took volunteers Chris and Ryan to the airport – the rest of the team will leave Friday night. It will be sad to say goodbye to them all as it was a great team and a great trip. Now, it's on to finishing the project report over the coming weeks. We've committed to publishing our report by the middle of May. Lots to do between now and then!
I'm not a photographer by any means, but I like this picture. This tree is beautiful - the trunk at the bottom is split up into stilts and it looks like it's sitting up off the ground (see below)
Here's the bottom of the tree