Last month, Sota Alberty and I had the privilege of visiting some of our ministry partners in Uganda with Father Malcolm. Neither of us had ever been to Africa so we weren’t entirely sure what to expect, but we LOVED it.
While there, we met with the people at St. Stephen’s Church in Kangole – the church whose building Christ the Redeemer helped construct and with whom we still partner. We visited the city of Lira to meet with The Rt. Rev. Dr. Alfred Olwa, Bishop of the Lango Diocese, to talk about some of the opportunities for me to work with the church there in their efforts to bring agricultural training and improvements to the people of that area. Finally, we spent several days on the campus of Uganda Christian University in Mukono. We met with a variety of people, including The Rev. Canon Dr. John Senyonyi, Vice Chancellor of UCU (who also preached at CTR in February), as well as a lovely young lady named Stella who is studying social work at the university, and whose tuition costs CTR is covering.
Some things that stood out to us from our time in Uganda:
The beauty. From the seaside beauty of the shores of Lake Victoria to the amazing animals; from the mountain grandeur of Sipi falls to the majestic and active Nile River and the vistas of the tea plantations. Uganda is a beautiful country.
Jerome Makumbi, our guide and driver and long-time friend of Father Malcolm’s. Whether helping us plan and follow our itinerary, locating Fr. Malcolm’s luggage and ensuring that it reached us in Mbale, or helping us buy another suitcase, there was seemingly nothing he couldn’t do. I joked that if we asked him to broker a long-term peace deal between Israel and Palestine, he would have found a way to make it happen!
The countless sights, sounds and smells that stood out to us simply because they were so different. In his sermon last Sunday, Fr. Malcolm highlighted the kinds of offerings people bring to church besides money: “four or five eggs, a bag of beans, two or three huge avocados and a live chicken.” (The chicken got free but was soon recovered.) But we also saw caged chickens and tethered goats outside of butcher shops, and even a person loading live chickens into the luggage compartment of a Greyhound-sized bus.
The sheer number of people. Uganda’s population has doubled in the last fifteen years, and it shows. The schools are bursting at the seams and it is astounding how many people you see on the streets and in the markets, even late into the evening.
The poverty. There were houses that appeared to be the same size as garages here, and, especially in the rural areas, thatched roofs and houses made of mud bricks were common.
The joy. Ugandans are a friendly, welcoming and JOYFUL people. This was especially obvious in the churches where people sang, worshiped and preached with incredible gusto.
God is working there! The churches are packed and growing and filled with vision. They are doing great things: founding schools, hosting medical clinics, and seeing people’s lives transformed by the Gospel.
Thank you to all those who not only prayed for us and our trip, but who also prayed and are praying for the nation of Uganda. God is clearly at work in the hearts and the minds of the people there, and we ask you to continue praying for our Anglican brothers and sisters as they joyfully minister to their communities. I ask you to pray for me, as well, as I discern whether and how God is calling me to Uganda in the future!