I’m completely exhausted after a very long day of teaching but I could not feel more content or peaceful. It’s around 9:00pm and I’ve had my cold shower (always exhilarating!) and I’m in bed under my mosquito net. There is a gentle, steady rain falling on the tin roof. Aahhh…nothing like a full day of ministry followed by the perfect conditions for some seriously good sleep.
I was honored to be asked by Rev. Sandra, the principle of the college, to lead a day of prayer and fasting for the students. As I prayed about what the day would look like, the Lord brought this prayer to mind:
I lay down my life as a morning sacrifice for You. Choosing to die to self,
I ask You to pour Your mighty resurrection power through me,
that Jesus may be revealed,
changing me and redeeming the world.
If you have followed my blog you will recognize this prayer. I wrote about it a few months back. I say this prayer every morning…slowly and deliberately. It keeps me focused on the path I am on and the One to whom I belong. I think it’s a good prayer for anyone…but especially so for those in full time ministry. It’s easy sometimes to lose sight of the goal…being co-laborers with Christ in His redemptive work in the world.
So I felt the Lord wanted us to use the prayer as a guide for our day and it seemed appropriate for students training for ministry. The concept of silence and solitude as a spiritual discipline is almost non-existent here in Uganda. So I had to do a lot more teaching than I normally would do in leading a “contemplative” style retreat. I broke the day into four 30 minute segments where I sent the students out to find a quiet place to meditate on a part of the prayer above and a passage of Scripture to go along with it. In between these short sessions of silence and solitude I taught…primarily on the particular line of the prayer we were about to contemplate. It was a time to challenge the students on their call to ordained ministry, their motives, the conditions of their hearts. So as you can imagine…the Lord was teaching me and reminding me at the same time.
Community is so important in this culture that if you purposely withdraw from others even for a short time, people will think there is something wrong with you. So we talked about the purpose of getting quiet…so it would be possible to hear the quiet whisper of the Lord when He speaks (1 Kings 19:11-12 – Elijah in the cave) and how prayer is a two way conversation. There must be times of intentional listening when we go before the Lord in prayer. And…sometimes we go before the Lord just because of who He is and the fact that we have been invited to commune with Him at all times…not just when we want to ask Him for something. The day was a new and different experience for them but I could sense the Lord moving…bringing conviction where needed and also encouragement as they are prepared and equipped to be shepherds in His church. The worship was so sweet. There is so much joy in the worship of the people here. At one point one of the students who was seated and playing an instrument could not keep still any longer. He put his instrument aside and got up to dance! It made me think of King David as he danced before the ark of the Lord. I always ask for a translation of the song so I know what they are singing about and it’s usually something like, “We lift the Lord high” or “We belong to God” or “Let the Spirit of God fall”. And I usually always fight back tears. I try to hide the tears because they would think I was sad instead of happy. The joy is overflowing! I want to learn the songs in Luo so I can sing along too. That will come in time. I can see that I really need to make more of an effort to learn the language. If I’m here for three or more years it will be of great benefit.
On our last day of Rev. Canon Willy’s class on African Christian Theology, the students thought I should be given an African name. They said they needed to take some time and discuss it amongst themselves before choosing one. I wait with great anticipation to see what my African name will be! I love that I am getting to know the students more and more and feeling at home with them. There is one female student, Lucy, amongst all the men in the college. I want to get to know her better. She needs a lot of support as the only woman in the group. The men accept her and are kind to her but I know it must be tough. Maybe as I get to know her, I will write a little about this brave woman who is following the Lord into ordained ministry. In the video, she is the one playing tambourine.
In other news, the rainy season is here…lots of mud but I would much rather have mud than all that dust. In fact, I’m sort of proud of my muddy feet. I feel like a pioneer woman who will not let a little mud keep her from doing kingdom work! LOL! The rain makes everything so green and the vegetation grows fast. People are planting their gardens for the second harvest of the year around October. Dr. Katie’s garden is producing corn, squash, tomatoes, cucumber, watermelon, zucchini, beans and more. The beans still have a couple of months to go but that harvest will be huge! I am blessed to be one of the recipients of this bountiful garden. It has been wonderful watching it grow. In the US, we are so far removed from the cycles of planting and harvesting. It really does feel like fruit and vegetables grow in grocery stores. But not so here in Uganda. May sound strange but I feel more thankful for the food because when it comes right out of the garden…it feels more like it is coming from the hand of God.
Tomorrow I will begin my third round of the oral chemo. I continue to do well on it. Sometimes it is hard to know if some symptoms are related to chemo or just everyday life in Uganda. You may think it’s too much info…but if you go two or three weeks without a bout with diarrhea… you are doing really well! LOL! Just being real. All in all…I can’t complain. I feel healthy. I’m getting more exercise. I’m sweating a lot. I’m drinking more water. I’m eating more fruits and vegetables. My doctors would be proud.
My three year work visa has been approved and I will travel to Kampala next week to pick up my passport. I’m getting low on some supplies that can only be purchased in Kampala so it will be a shopping trip as well. Sandra has to go to Uganda Christian University to pick up exams for the students. End of the term is in two weeks. I’m still trying to get the Basic Computing class ready for their exam. The lack of resources here is a challenge. We need a table top copier to make handouts for classes. We need a couple of more computers. We need more books for the students. We need a continual source of power to the library where the computers are kept. I’m learning quickly that you have to do the best with what you’ve got. Things that would take me 15 minutes to do back home might now take several hours. If I need copies of study notes for students, I must go into town to make copies. Anyway, I’m seeing firsthand how challenging it can be without the basics.
Time to close this blog post out. Thanks for your continued prayers and support. If you would like to partner with me in this ministry, you can do so through Paypal by clicking on the donate button. Please prayerfully consider becoming a partner.
May God bless you abundantly!