Oh, the Weather outside is Frightful: It seems I open every blog post with something about the weather and this one will be no different. I feel as though I’ve had a lot of grace these last 10 months in adjusting to my new home but these last few weeks have tested my resolve. It’s HOT and DRY and very uncomfortable. I actually broke down and cried two nights ago from sheer frustration over the heat and the lack of electricity to power the fan. In the US we have become so accustomed to air conditioning that the heat of summer is just little more than a nuisance…because we know we can escape it at any time. Oh, how I dream of a cool air-conditioned room with a ceiling fan humming while I’m tucked into cold, crisp sheets. Here…I can’t go anywhere (except Sandra’s car because the AC in the truck is not working) to escape it and I find that it’s effecting my attitude in ways I do not like. Snippy would be the nice way to describe it. Night before last there was no power and thus no fan to keep the hot air moving. I got little sleep because it was so oppressive and I was drenched in sweat all night. The local radio report says rain will come this Wednesday. :>) There are clouds gathering outside even as I write this…but just when you think the bottom will fall out…the clouds move away. Doh! It’s torture. I’m not the only one suffering but I am almost the only one complaining. My Ugandan co-workers tell me they are suffering too, but they have a much better attitude about it than me. The best part of the day is the cold shower at night just before I go to bed. It cools me down for about half an hour. I thought about sleeping in the shower one night. I don’t see how women cook over a hot fire everyday in this heat. They amaze me.
Jesus Film Goes to Apaa – Last weekend we took the Jesus film out to Apaa village. Rev. Collins and Rev. Norah along with myself and two students from the theological college loaded the truck and headed out. This remote area has no electricity and no cell phone service. We drove for two hours down nearly deserted dirt roads until we finally reached the village market. As we approached the church (a rectangular shaped thatched grass hut, our truck was surrounded by welcoming parishioners singing and dancing. The Archdeacon led us to a building where lunch had been prepared for us. (By this time is was already 4:00pm) While we were eating, the dancing and singing outside never stopped. I joined the dancing briefly and they got a big kick out of seeing a mazungu dance. It was fun. I don’t know how they have the energy in this heat. The kids were especially interested in my white skin and I invited them to touch my arm and had a translator tell them that we are we are the same. They must not get many white people visiting there. Since we did not have our new sound equipment and video projector yet, we used the antiquated reel to reel projector to show the film. I’m told that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. This night it worked just fine. We set up the equipment (including a generator for power) and at dusk Rev. Collins preached before the film began. The people had been anticipating this all day and they all sat so still, listening intently, eyes fixed on the makeshift screen. After each scene where Jesus would perform a miracle there was clapping and cheering. There were four reels and each time there was an intermission to change the reel, no one moved. Everyone sat quietly and patiently. I didn’t realize how pitch black the night was until the movie stopped at the end of a reel. For a few seconds before a light was switched on it was so dark you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face. I found myself gazing up at the stars…and thinking of how big our God is and imagining how pleased He must be for the good news to unfold in the pitch black night in a remote village somewhere in northwestern Uganda. At these intermissions I realized that the crowd was growing larger and larger. It was hard to see but Collins and Norah both commented on how many people were being drawn by the sound and sight of the movie in the dark night. The film was dubbed in Acholi so the people understood perfectly. When we came to the part where Jesus is beaten and finally hung on the cross, there were sounds of horror and dismay coming from the people. Of course when Jesus rose from the dead there was cheering and clapping again. At the end, no one wanted it to be over. Rev. Collins said a few more words, as did Rev. Norah. We estimated that about 350 people had gathered to watch the film. I think about 7 people committed their lives to Christ. Not as big a number as we hoped but we thank God for those lives. It was the feedback from those who were already following Christ that was so encouraging. They said their faith had been strengthened by seeing the film. It was good to see the story unfold on film. I promised the Archdeacon I would return with Acholi Bibles after my trip to the Bible Society in Kampala. Most people there don’t own a Bible. The people began dancing and singing again and I was told this would go on all night until the morning worship service where several people would be baptized. We loaded the truck and started the two hour drive in the pitch black night back home to Gulu. We ended up bring a goat back with us…a thank-you gift for bringing the film. We arrived back home just before 1:00am. It was a good day. We are in the process of planning our next showing of the film, which will probably be in May before the next term begins at the college. We are thinking perhaps of going to Ajulu. I will do some preaching along with Rev. Collins at future trips. We hope to get a sort of set program to do at each site we visit. Thanks to all of you who prayed for safety as we traveled that day.
Getting the sound equipment has been more a challenge than I thought it would be but Dr. Katie gave us a contact in Kampala who is helping. I should have thought of this before…but I have to buy the video projector in the US when I’m home in June. It has to be a special outdoor projector which can project a large image and that can’t be found in Kampala. Although we had planned two different trips to Kampala in the last two months, both were cancelled for different reasons. The next trip to Kampala will be on April 20th so that Rev. Collins can go to the US Embassy to get a travel visa and at that time we will buy the sound equipment, purchase Bibles from the Bible Society and also have the AC in the truck repaired. I will also buy feta cheese and hope I can find some Ritz crackers…very important indeed. I’m also going to buy Rev. Willy a new printer/scanner out of my savings. It’s hard to do your job without basic resources and he needs one.
Women’s Development Center: Last week I posted something on FB about being broken hearted that some girls of the Women’s Develop Center were being sent home because they could not pay their school fees. Many of you expressed an interest in helping. I am grateful to those who did. Since that time I have been thinking about how to help the WDC become self-sustaining and at the same time reduce fees for the girls to a level that is more affordable for them. I will share more on this in an upcoming post. For those of you who want to see more women empowered in developing nations like Uganda, I will need your help. I need at least 15 churches to be involved in this to be successful. The WDC is a program that offers a one year skills training program for girls who have not had access to much formal education. It enables them to be able to start small businesses and provide for themselves and their children. Watch this blog for a proposal soon.
Exam Week Approaches – We are almost to the end of the term at the college. Exams are in two weeks. The weather affects the students a lot. No one wants to do anything in this heat so I think we are all looking forward to next term and milder temps. Work continues on the new site for the college. We do a little at a time as we have money. We hope to move there in May before the next term starts. We haven’t had any takers interested in helping to build the security wall around the compound yet. I trust the Lord will provide. The buildings are being re-wired for electricity and the kitchen building is being renovated to make it usable. I’ve included some photos of the site.
I would love prayer for stamina to get through this hottest part of the year. Pray for our students as they begin to prepare for final exams. Pray for all the funding we need to prepare the new site of the school for classes. A friend of mine, Dr. Nick Laing who is the head of the Health Dept for the Diocese, has a particularly challenging job so please say a prayer for him. As we finish up the Diocesan Strategic Plan, please pray that it will be a useful tool which moves the church forward.
Enjoy spring time! Blessings everyone!