Friday, June 27, 2014

Our last days in Bukigai

Greetings all --- as we approach our last day in Bukigai, we are happy to report we have had a blessed 10 days, even through a couple difficult situations.  The church/community center walls are nearly completed, the primary and secondary schools have two really cool murals which the students designed, our positive parenting training was well received and positioned to expand, and we are being expanded by participating in evening crusades.  You have not experienced the depth of corporate workshop until you have worshiped with African Pentecostals!!

So we are grateful for all of God's provisions and blessings.  Tomorrow we are off to Muganja, Alex's home village, then Mbale on Sunday and then back to Kampala.

We hope we are all doing well, and we look forward to giving you a complete report upon our return.

God bless from Bukigai,

The UCC Uganda Team

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Programs are under way!


We still have internet, praise God!

On Monday we started our programs here in the Village of Bukigai. Most of the team are working on the art projects at the local primary and secondary schools. Our main goal is to create a mural at each school, as well as lead the kids in different art projects throughout the week.

The first day we had introductions. At the primary school we went to each class room and were greeted by a warm welcome. They treat us with a lot of respect and honor. As soon as we start walking up the hill to the school, the kids stop what they are doing to look at us. Yesterday, they recognized us and ran up to greet us with handshakes. In Uganda, it is normal for girls and woman to greet others by kneeling, so a lot of the little girls will do that. We have all learned the word "Mulembe," which is pronounced Ma-lem-baye. It means "peace to you." Everyone stares at us but as soon as we smile and wave at them, they break into their beautiful white smiles.

At the secondary school, the principle or head teacher gather the first three levels of students into one room for us. It was at least 70 students in a relatively small room. It was a bit overwhelming at first, but it was easier to transition because they all speak enough English to understand us. We just have to remember to talk slow! With them, we are mostly going to focus on the mural, as well as hopefully teach them some problem solving and creativity! Overall, it is going well and we are excited to continue to build relationships with all the kids!

Greg is flying solo running a "positive parenting" seminar for some of the local church members and leaders. He has reported that he has had some great discussion and questions. He is hopeful that the week will continue to bless the seminar members and himself!

Tonight we start the crusades, which are evangelist events that are aimed at the community at large. Our team will be playing a big part in it by sharing testimonies, leading songs and maybe even a skit. We are all being pushing beyond our comfort zone and have confidence that God will lead us in those unknown areas!

Prayer requests:
- the church building: it is going so fast! Prayer for safety and continued success.
- communication across all situations! Most adults speak basic English, but prayer for clear communication and understanding.
- the art program! We are experiencing success and building relationships. Prayer for engaging conversations, boldly sharing Jesus' love with them, and two finished murals!
- the crusades! Hopefully people will come to know Jesus these next three days. Prayer for our courage to share fearlessly and for the hearts of those who come.

Thank you all for everything!

The Team :)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Learning about Time

Dear Friends and Family

We are well and we are learning so much, moment to moment.  We have been humbled by the immediate love and hospitality that is standard in any interaction with the people of Uganda.  There have been unbelievable accommodations made to make us comfortable.  God has sprinkled in many opportunities to remind us that He is in control and has plans for us that we cannot understand.  Learning to operate on African time (which a friend from Rwanda affectionately termed AST African Standard Time) has been a challenge for many of us.  We are learning to release expectations and add 2 to 5 hours to any planned timeline.    God uses everyday distractions and mishaps to His Glory.

Prayer Mountain
The Plan:  Village members will leave at 8:00 am in the van or walking and the van will return for our group at 8:30 am.  We will have a worship service at the top from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm.  We will be home by 2:00 or 3:00 pm.
Actual:    We left as the first group in the van at 9:15 am, became stuck in the mud only a short way from Bukigai and thanks to generous farmers and passing community members we were out of the mud and all cheering together after one hour.  We made it about 2/3 of the way up in the van and hiked for 2-3 hours the rest of the way up.  We arrived around 12:15 to begin the service and finished around 5:00 pm.  The last of us returned to Bukigai around 7:30pm in the dark.
What would we have missed if not for the delays.  As we hiked through the foothills of Mount Elgon we encountered breathtaking scenery and unbelievable people.  One group of us was invited into a church service and the church members joined us on top of Prayer Mountain.  Even the relationships within our group were strengthened as we related and learned from each other along the way.  It was a beautiful adventure.

In addition we have been experiencing new foods (cassava) and re-experiencing old ones like bananas, beans, ground nuts (peanuts), pineapple.  The community members are very curious about agriculture in American and our relationship to it.  We have had many conversations learning about each other's cultures and appreciating the differences and celebrating our unity in Christ.  We are all indeed one family.

The Team

P.S.  Be looking for new additions hopefully everyday, thanks to Pastor Richard's creativity in connecting to the internet!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

We leave this week!

Dear Friends and Family –

We are humbled and honored at the generosity and support from each of you for the trip to Uganda.  THANK YOU!  Knowing you are all supportive and praying for us makes us feel as if you all are traveling with us.  We have learned so much through this process and it has reinforced the reality that we are all in this together.  This truth is at the core of our purpose for going.  Thanks to the generosity of friends and family of each of the 13 members of our team, almost $8,000 of the $10,000 needed to complete the next phase of the church/community center has been raised. These contributions are currently being used to purchase supplies to support the work already under way.

We will be leaving for Kampala Tuesday June 17th and will travel to Bukigai on Thursday June 19th.  So far, we anticipate our days will be spent assisting with construction of the church/community center, conducting art and parenting classes with families, and taking a couple day trips to other churches in the region.  We are also expecting the unexpected.  Electricity and internet connection will be spotty, so our updates may be infrequent while we are there.  Please be assured that we will be taking a lot of photos and videos, and writing about our experience.  It just might take a while to get them to you.  We hope all of your summer beginnings are wonderful and look forward to telling you all about the trip upon our return.

With much love and appreciation,

The Team