Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Uganda 2010- Day 12

The girls loved trying on my glasses..."I look smart" (smart meaning fashionable, not intelligent) well, except in my case!

Friday evening we learned that the men and women of Kakiira had intended to have us one last time, all together, the men and the women, for what we would call a wrap up. We had not expected to have any responsibilities on Saturday and would just be resting up and preparing for Sunday, when the men had been asked to go to some of the different churches that had sent leaders to the conference.
Instead we were up early and off to the village one last time for more than we ever expected. They greeted us and then escorted us to the left side of the stage where we sat, facing the large crowd, throughout the meeting. The men sat in the first rows, the women in the back rows. It seems normal even to us at this point. Each of us was asked to get up and summarize our teaching and thoughts of the week, to the more than 500+ crowd, "briefly".Yes I was, Amen and Hallelujah, Africa has taught me something. Don't start celebrating just yet, I believe it will be fleeting. But enjoy the thought of it, even if you don’t get to experience it.
I have to admit, I am thinking with a Ugandan accent. My family is not the least bit surprised, as I have been caught doing that in the past, on the phone with relatives from “don’t ja know” kind of states and acquaintances with Asian accents etc…I have yet to lapse into Spanish here in order to find a way of communicating, except that I did say “Si” to two young boys on the street early in my trip. Duh!
Anyway, after we each summarized, the five men in our group answered questions that had been submitted throughout the week by the men at their conference. Many of the questions had to do with areas in scripture that contradicted their culture. Let me tell you I so admired the way our pastors spoke the truth to these men, straight from God’s word, even when you know it was going to challenge their way of life. Taking to heart and living out God’s direction causes US discomfort, but when the men here are expected to treat their wives a certain way, manage their homes a certain way and what represents their manhood and strength to those around them, must be laid down in order to honor God…that is huge. Like most places, when God changes the men, a woman is changed, a family is changed, a church is changed, a community is changed and an entire country can be changed…all for the Glory of the one who loves us so, and came to create some CHANGE.
A few of the questions were…”What does the bible say about having two wives?” “If I have children with a woman before I am born again, then marry another, what are my responsibilities to the woman and children?” “I have heard that American Christians drink alcohol, how is that ok with the scriptures?”
“How are you saying I should care for my children, when it is the woman’s place?” “Should women be teaching in the church?” “Should I give up my job in order to serve in my church?” …Ya! I know. How would you like to be the person that explains to a man that has been beating his wife, he should actually be loving her and serving her and helping to train and love the children?”
But here’s the deal. These men have been called by God to lead and teach in their home churches or they want to begin a new church and some of what the bible tells them is so opposite of what they know culturally that they need to be fully equipped to be able to support and prove with scripture, every revolutionary idea and practice that will be preached. And it will be preached, no doubt. Every one of them sat with full attention and interest, taking notes like they were going to go out and report to everyone exactly what they need to do.
They don’t want to avoid the hard stuff, they are spirit led to begin teaching the whole truth without reservation or compromise.
The question and answer time went on smoothly and amazingly for 2 hours, and like everything else, it flew by. I couldn’t help but be so grateful for the investment of experience and knowledge that had been poured into these men all week, knowing that the women we had come to love and shared hearts with, may just be heading for something in their homes they haven’t even known to dream of.
A woman, who is loved, loves and gives freely, abundantly, sacrificially and with joy. One that has been taken from, burdened, and oppressed, serves out of fear, feeling everyday like rather than giving, something is being taken from her until she can continue only because, to quit, would be a disgrace to herself, her children and she would be so severely disciplined, she has little choice.

They were so excited to have an American woman to pray for. Cristin and Shannon did a great job of having all 200+ women at the conference submit their own prayer requests and took their picture so that we will have bookmarks of them, their faces and requests for the next year. Their requests of God kind of put us to shame. They have a huge idea of God’s power and problems that require that kind of God to heal. I just have a feeling we will be overwhelmed by what we see God do on both sides of the planet.
I was slipped two sweet gifts yesterday. Wrapped in special paper…they mean so much. If you could only know Janet, you would understand. I doubt I will ever be able to explain how she changed me and the thought of her grace and faith and humility, will continue to do so.
I felt so moved by God when I saw Olivia’s prayer request in her own writing…”please pray for me, I am an orphan. Please pray that God will provide my school fees”. I slipped a note to Janet at the end of the day on Friday, about 6pm, she was one that met with us until about 10pm Friday evening and somehow by Saturday morning she had gone to Olivia’s house, met with her grandmother and told me she was going to follow up with the headmaster of Olivia’s school at the beginning of the term and would somehow through Pastor Scott, get a message to me about it. She did this sometime between 10:30pm and 9am.
I was able to print out on regular paper at the hotel a couple of the pictures of Olivia, fold them up and put them into a black plastic bag with a blouse. Since she wore the same clothes every single day this week, I can only imagine it filled a need and hopefully let her know that she is so very special to me. Janet said she would give them to her at a time when the other children wouldn’t realize. See what I mean…Janet.
Back at the hotel, I remembered John telling us that Moses, one of the men attending the conference takes of 2 young sisters and 6 boys that live next door. I was so excited to be able to give him the baseball shirts and two dresses and he was so appreciative. Thanks AD and Sportime. Our team had dinner together and shared a brief statement about the week; I went back to my room, sorted through both suitcases in preparation to leave the team Sunday morning when my driver from Compassion is supposed to pick me up. I can’t wait. The only thing that helps me get through leaving Jinja, Kakiira and the team is getting to go visit my Ruth. We’ll enjoy that together as best I can describe it. Until then…
We did have a new bathroom experience today. The men’s stall is a hole in the concrete, the women have the deluxe addition of two bricks to sit on and I do think the pink walls was a thoughtful choice. Using the restroom is really more accurately described as yoga in the dark, at least for the female side of humanity. I don’t really want to talk about why there is a small broom in the corner. But Adventure?…I’m all about it!

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