As I promised in my last entry today I am going to write about our weekly routine here in Kampala. The people I have met doing ministry have been amazing. And like I have stated previously the believers I have come in contact with blow my mind. To say they have faith is an understatement. Their faith consumes them and radiates from every pore on their body. However, I would be lying if I said that every "Christian" I have met has been this way. Just like America there are those who do not walk the walk of a disciple of Christ. There are ones who are confused on their beliefs, ones who backslide, and ones that become believers to please "mzungus", which are white people. None of this is acceptable and that is why my prayer as always is that I am used to any extent God may have me. That I am able to show the Ugandans faith, hope and love. That I am able to be that brother to them in a time of need and a disciple to the ones who have never heard of Christ. With these thoughts in mind I set out everyday to different communities to share and build relationships.
Mondays are the days we often call our "off" day. This is self-explanatory but I will still explain. Typically on Mondays we go shopping for groceries or just hang around our compound to prepare for the rest of the week. Some of you reading may think that going grocery shopping every Monday is a little excessive, which in America maybe true but not in Uganda. Here there are no preservatives and food tends to spoil very quickly, so you must buy in smaller portions and eat what you buy within a week or so. This tends to be our basic Monday, but in our time here we have done ministry on this day. Ariel and I along with other missionaries go to a house church led by a guy named Deogracious in Naguru. The group is normally low in numbers but the discussion and growth that is produced amazes me. Plus the children of Naguru are great, as all children in Uganda seem to be.
Tuesdays are our days to work with a group of women who make beaded jewelry. Most of them are believers and attend a church called Grace Ministry in the slum of Soweto. The numbers vary each week going from 5 to 30 but no matter who shows we study the Word. Ariel leads this study and one of the deacons Michael translates into Luganda for her. Ariel has done a great job every week and has truly allowed the Holy Spirit to speak through her. We have also been able to help make beads since we have been going. The process is very long to make one piece of jewelry but the results are beautiful. The women take magazine paper and use a paper cutter to cut different size strips. They then take the strips and wrap them around a small needle making different shaped balls. From there they glue the paper together, garnish it, and then bead different types of jewelry. They then sell what they make to anyone who will buy, which helps each woman with her basic needs. Anything from paying school fees, to rent, to buying dinner for the night is how they spend their money, This group of women are truly talented and love the Lord.
Wednesdays Jan, Ariel and I attend a women's bible study group that started off as hygiene/understanding of poverty class. A guy named Prince has been working with these women and children for the past six months on how to stay healthy and how to change their surroundings. Throughout this time he has been able to open up a door to share the gospel and that is where we have come in. Every week Jan leads a study over the women. She also does a question and answer session to make sure they are all understanding what she has taught because there are three translations taking place when she speaks so it is easy to get confused. We have seen 4 people come to Christ in this bible study, which is a blessing. During Jan's teaching you may wonder what Ariel and I do. Well, we work with the 30+ children that are around the area. This way the mother's have a time to focus on what is being taught and are not distracted. We often just play games with the children and teach them funny things to do. They love to mock us so we make ridiculous noises just to hear them do it for our own entertainment. We have not been able to share any bible stories with these children because only one or two speak English and most are very young but I pray as time goes on we are able to share.
Thursdays are one of my favorite days here. This is the day Ariel and I go to Equatorial College, which is a high school in Namuwongo. Every week we meet up with a Ugandan friend of ours named Robert at his shop and then proceed to the high school. Since we have been going the numbers have been very strong ranging in the 30's every time. This is a blessing in itself because the time we meet, which is from 1 to 2, is their lunch time. This means that 30 students are willing to give up eating lunch and having a break to hear what the Lord has put on our hearts. Praise God! The worship and praise is spectacular and the students really focus on this time to give everything they have to God. The past few weeks I have been teaching on being doers of the Word, suffering for Christ, and what it means to His disciple. It is a lot easier here because the students all understand English so I do not have to go through any translators. They are all so eager to learn and grow in Christ, which excites me. Every time I am done teaching we have a time of questions and boy do they ask some questions. They challenge me to know what I am teaching and to be ready at all times for anything they throw at me. Ariel and I have gone on other days to this ministry because we love it so much and we plan on going more, if the Lord gives us time. We are also going to start attending a university forum every week on Thursdays where we have been asked to share and give testimonies. Though this will be new to us, I know God is going to do great things.These ministries are truly a blessing and I am consistently in awe of how God works!
Fridays have been a day of mixed ministry. We have done many random types of ministry on this day but my favorite has been the food distribution. Early Friday mornings we meet with a group of Ugandan pastors who are apart of a group called International Missionaries for Christ. This ministry has many facets from food distribution, to working in high schools, to preaching in prisons. However, the food distribution is the only one we have been apart of thus far. These pastors go throughout different slums and interview families who are in bad living situations. Some are sick from HIV/AIDS, some have no jobs, and others are just old and can't take care of themselves. Once they find 50 families who are in extreme need, they interview them and give them a photo ID. At the beginning of every month the pastors come to the slum and bring food and supplies to these families that will last them a month. The families line up and once their names are called they show their photo ID and proceed to get their supply of food. This is where my part comes in. I, along with a group of other friends, follow the people back to their homes to check up on them. It is in these visits that my heart breaks. We ask them questions like how has the food helped them and how has God worked in their life over the past month. Some of the questions are hard to ask and even harder to hear the answers to. Not all are believers but some have accepted Christ since I have been here. The testimonies that come from these people would touch anyone. To hear how they have HIV/AIDS, have no job, and how because lack of money they have had to send their children to the villages to live breaks your heart. But as always they PRAISE God! What a witness! Some even break down their portion of food they receive so that they can help their neighbors. "Love your neighbor as yourself," Mark 12:31. God is truly seen in the lives of His people in Uganda and I am continually blessed every day I leave my compound. One more really cool experience during a food distribution was the honor of giving the Christian name to a 3 day old baby girl whose name was Achomi. After much deliberation Ariel, Lynn, and I chose the name Rebecca. The mother loved it and I was honored to even be asked. So as you can see Fridays are also a day of great joy for me.
Saturdays are when Ariel and I go to Soweto and work the children in the area. We gather at 3 pm every week to have praise and worship, do a lesson, and then play some games. The children love it and so do we! So far we have taught Daniel in the Lion's Den, the story of Noah, David and Goliath, the Creation story, and soon we are doing Jonah and the whale. God is really blessing this ministry because every week it is growing and we are able to build more and more relationships. The children are also learning and every week we come back we ask them to tell us the story from the current week and the previous week and they always are able to do so. I am so blessed to work with these children and see how God is working in their lives. This generation is going to do great things for God not only in Uganda but across the world and I pray I am able to see it.
Sundays are like any Sunday back in the States for a believer. Each week we go to a new church to experience all facets of worship. We have gone to everything from slum churches to Calvary Chapel Kololo. Calvary Chapel is the church I attend in Florida for those of you who do not know. Though each service has been very different each one has opened my eyes to something new. By going to such contrasting services each week I am able to see how different people of the world praise God. This really has made me think how one day for all eternity we ALL as the body of Christ will be praising Him together. No more will it be Ugandan worship and American worship but instead just plain worship. This took a little bit to grasp because at first I felt like I got nothing out of some of the churches I attended because I didn't understand what was going on. It wasn't what I was used to and I felt awkward leaving and not knowing what just happened. However, since the first two weeks God has shown me that whether I get everything that takes place or I don't I am there to glorify Him. I am not there to examine and judge anything. I am there to join my brothers and sisters in Christ in a time of complete reverence to God. So for these experiences I am truly grateful. I now have a better understanding of what "church" means to people of a different culture.
One other ministry, which has become an every day thing is the time I spend with my two night guards and groundskeeper Edson, Bosco, and Julius. Every night we all gather in my room along with Ariel to watch the World Cup futbol matches. By doing this I have been able to find out so much about these guys. Their stories are spectacular and so are their personalities. They have become my closest friends here and I truly love them. Though at times there are language and cultural barriers it is great spending time with them. They have taught me so much about Uganda and the people here. I pray that God keeps allowing these relationships to blossom and that He is at the core of everyone of them. For I know we were all brought together for a reason and I am so ecstatic to see God's plan unfold.
So there you have it folks, those are my days here in Kampala. Though I have left a TON of stories out and have so much more to tell, you all now have a basic understanding of what I am doing here. Each day my American bubble is being popped and I pray that when I leave that bubble is gone. I pray I see the world as a place to explore and proclaim the gospel. A place where people are dying and going to hell but also a place where I have brothers and sisters in every corner fighting the same fight as I. I pray that when I return all anyone sees is Christ in me. For whether my ministry here is big or small I know that each one glorifies my Creator. I want nothing to come from me, but only from the One I serve. I pray God is praised and magnified in all that I am. I also pray that when people see me or read my blog they give thanks to God for who He is and all He is doing. I want not one ounce of me to be seen in the work being done here, for I am nothing but a sinner saved by the grace of my Savior. I want only to show faith, hope and love to those around me. The greatest of these is love. For "If my heart has one ambition. If my soul one goal to seek. This my solitary vision 'til I only dwell in Thee. That I only dwell in Thee."