Wednesday, July 4, 2007

07.04.07 - CC Uganda Blog #5

Well today was Day 2 of getting up extremely early to prepare for our days events. No matter how we spin it, getting up at 5am Uganda time could be tough on all of us. But then it happens. The youth and leaders arrive around 5:30 or so (mind you it is still pitch black outside) and their excitement for the days events are overwhelming.
Admittedly on my way to Africa I had set in my mind, that I would be lucky to get 1 good meal a day. However our hostess (Sarah) has made sure that all of our teammates are getting an incredible hot breakfast, and dinner each day. So besides just needing more food than normal to sustain our active days, no one has lost the 10-15 pounds we thought we might in Uganda.
We started our day at the 2nd nicest High School in Uganda. 1300 students greeted us as we began our time with them. To my surprise, 1299 were Native Ugandans however they did have one student who appeared to be from India. As we shared our testimonies, Skits, songs, dances, and gospel with these youth, we had a euphoric moment, we came to the realization of what a significant moment this was in time. In front of us, by statistics sake alone, were standing a very large percentage of Uganda’s future diplomats, lawyers, doctors, administrators, government officials, etc. And God provided a moment of incredible significance by allowing us to share the gospel of Jesus and his love of their lives. Wow, so many responded, so many lives were touched, again all we can say is wow God!
As our team split into Alpha and Bravo (12 Americans, 3-5 Kenyans, and Ugandans on each team) for the day to begin ministering in different high schools all over the city. I want to give you some perspective on what we see as we travel through this huge city of Uganda. First of all a few disclaimers,
1 – no words that I put on this computer could begin to adequately describe what we truly walk and drive through each day, you must experience it to truly understand it
2 – Though the description I am about to give you of this city is going to have many things that seem as negatives to us Americans. I want to be sure to communicate to all that Kampala is a beautiful city, and the Uganda’s are a beautiful and deep people that love their city and country.
Ok, so we leave on the bus, and as we pull out, I look to the left of the 3 lane dirt streets we are traveling on. Africa’s incredible red clay is piled everywhere, as are the people of Uganda. I am yet to be out at a time where the streets were not packed with people. Take a moment if you will to see wood, metal, concrete shacks all the way down the road we are traveling. On the street is trash in every direction, there is about 20 feet of red clay that serves as a front yard area. Self proprietor businesses of every kind are mixed with small wooden shacks, that serve as homes for any number of human beings. As we drive down the wrong side of the road, I am stunned by the way the vehicle system works here. There are almost no street signs and even less street lights.
People pretty much use the road as they please. Cab style mini vans are all over the road, and our bus glides past these vans, coming on and off the road without a hitch. The drivers in Uganda are extremely skilled, and patient. When asked about traffic accidents the Ugandans say there all most none. Instead they are so used to dealing with the gigantic pot holes on each road, the speed bumps that are as big as a Volkswagen, and drivers coming through from every direction. Again, words cannot explain the number of times that our bus is almost hit, or we have almost run over 2 or 3 motorcycles cabs at once, or that we move into the middle lane to allow a taxi out, only to have a car coming at us from the other direction. Now here is the amazing part, everyone just slows down. Instead of like America where we say “this is my lane, get out of my way” and we speed up. They simply slow down, gently honk their horn to acknowledge each other and then like a well oiled machine, work their way back into what my brain considers the wrong lanes.
Now for the deepest part of what we see. People everywhere. Entrepreneurs that are selling goods of every kind. Men discussing the rate of a taxi that they are jumping into with 5-7 other Ugandans already inside. The women carrying items of every kind to their homes and business, some on their head others on bikes or with both arms packed. Everywhere I look little children playing, elementary and highschool children walking to their schools as the sun begins to rise. There is truly activity everywhere, people are working on beds, selling prepaid airtime cards, cutting up sides of beef, laying out the fresh produce, and selling the days newspaper and so much more. I am struck by the interesting feel of unity that is active in peoples actions as I watch them, and their conversations with one another. If there is a single word to describe Ugandans it is “gentle”. And it is carried out in so many ways as they live together all day long, truly amazing!
Back to this days events, we eat our sack lunch on the way to our next round of schools. Team Alpha has our new friend Bishop Ben Bahati from Kenya with them as they head into their two schools for the afternoon. Team Bravo has the Ugandan dance team, and Jimmy Earle joining them. Each school is its own monster for lack of a better term. As we enter into the school we come with a basic plan of what we will present. However within about 10 minutes we need to be in the room that we are going to use, and have the AV set up, and depending on the number of students, and actual time we get 20min-2 hours, we then adjust our schedule to meet the needs of that school as best as we can. Then we set our teams loose, and the response of love given back to us for our efforts is overwhelming. And then it happens, in a room of 200 students, 35-50 respond to the gospel message, and we rejoice with the angels of heaven as that many more young people are ushered into a relationship with Jesus, and their assurance of life eternally with Jesus. Truly awe inspiring moment for all, each time our response is “Glory to our God in the highest”. So far we have presented the Gospel and its message to groups as small as 60, and as large as 1400 at a time. More than 5000 students thus far.
It is about 5:30pm by this time and we are making our way to tonight’s crusade. As we arrive there are 400 folks standing everywhere around a tall stage area. This meeting is in full motion as we arrive. Once again the Ugandan team, Kenyan team, American Team, and Keith Cook are doing their thing in a local neighborhood. Our folks are swarmed by all the Ugandan Children and that is exactly where we want to be.
As an adoptive father, obviously I have gone through the natural reaction of wanting to take all of them home with me. Our team loves these little ones for that short couple hours like they were their own. Many leave each night with tears feeling those same emotions.
We finally make it back to our home in Africa at about 10pm, sit down together as we enjoy a hot meal once again. Then we begin to share. Our victories, our defeats, the hopes and dreams we are facing, all the areas that God is growing us. These are good team moments. Moms, dads, family, cc community, words are not adequate to express what kind of folks that you have shared with us for this trip. Their integrity, drive, compassion, appropriateness to culture, has been so amazing. If you could be a fly on the wall here with us, each of you probably cry at the incredible growth your young person or adult counterpart has gone through in this short period of time.
We finally head to rest about 11:30pm, and most are asleep by midnight ready for our next 5am wake up call. As you can see by the amount of time we have at our home, and the reality that most nights electricity is cut between the hours of midnight at 4am to conserve in Kampala, blogging has been tough, but I hope that you have enjoyed this extra long update to keep you in the loop.
We love you all, and thank you for your prayers. All are well, and besides our issue with the luggage, there has not been a hitch in the trip yet.
Family and friends on a personal note i wanted to thank you all for praying so hard, giving so much, and trusting us so deeply with your most valuable asset. And i want to warn you, this group of 24 radicals all have in their mind that we are coming back and soon. There is so much to do, to be, and to become here, and we plan to bring you with us next time, so be prepared for such hopes, dreams, and actions as we return.
Peace – Pastor Steve
Cassie Johnson said,
July 6, 2007 at 9:40 am
Loved getting this exciting update. Thanks so much. It helps to know how to pray for your needs.
Love and blessings to all,
Ms. Cassie

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