Monday, October 3, 2011

Uganda Update 2

Back To School (10/3/11)

School started to day and the students were very excited about the new classes. They had a lot of good questions about the class and their projects and I look forward to working with them.

An Ironic Invitation (10/2/11)

Today went very smoothly. The church services went well and there were several visitors who were here for the revival meetings. After the morning service we had lunch and then went to visit the neighbors across the street. Yes, those are the neighbors who are involved in the court case over the land. They wanted to see the Wright’s visitors and so we all went over and Brother Wright preached to them. He explained that the man who invited us over had not been hostile like his brothers have been. Who knows what our little ministry over there will do in their hearts.

A Trip To Town (10/1/11)

This morning after breakfast Becca and I got the kids ready to go to town with Brother Wright. I think he has run to town every day this week for one thing or another. On the other hand, Becca hasn’t left the property since we arrived so she wanted to get out and see something different. Every Saturday he takes a truck load of the Bible students and/or their wives to town so they can buy their goods in the market. Brother Wright had some errands to run so we tagged along with him. There were a lot of new sights and smells for Elizabeth to see and she was very tired by the time we were on the way home. She fell asleep in my lap holding the water bottle very tightly. One of the items we bought was a large plastic basin. We decided that since the hot water heaters are in high demand with very little time for them to run we would give our kids baths in a tub and heat the water up on the stove. I think the basin reminded Elizabeth of her little tub she splashed in when she is at Grandma’s and Grandpa’s house.As soon as I put it down she climbed in, sat down, and began to play.
After returning from town and having lunch Becca and I set to finishing collating and assembling the books and class notes for my class on Monday. It took quite a long time but we were able to completely finish it before the revival services. Tonight was the last night of the meetings and Pastor Stanley would be leaving on a bus soon after the service. We had a smaller crowd tonight but there were still five people who came back to make decisions.Thank the Lord for His goodness and grace.
Please Pray for Jewell. Last night she felt very sore going to bed and then in the night she got the chills. She recognized the symptoms as malaria and took medicine right away. It should take about three days before she fully recovers. Until then she will be up and down with sickness. Praise the Lord that she recognized what it was right away and had the medicine on hand.

A Rodent And Rejoicing (9/30/11)

Rebecca helped Mrs. Wright cooking in the kitchen in the morning while I did some reading to prepare for the class I will be teaching and Marvin, Sam, and Nicole went to town. After all the cooking was finished Becca and I began collating all the notes and the book for the class. I guess either the print shop doesn’t have the ability to collate or they haven’t figured out how to use their machine to its full potential. Either way, our apartment now has stacks of papers everywhere waiting to be assembled into booklets for the students.
The foul smell in the truck has not gone away and it was about time to get to the bottom of things. So after Brother Wright, Sam, and Nicole came back from town with the truck I began taking things apart looking for the source of the foul smell. It was apparent that the smell was strongest on the passenger side so Brother Wright had me begin by taking the blower out. There was some fir on the blower but it looked to me like it was cat fur from the two kittens we had transported from Kampala. Before long the blower, glove box, vent, and more were all taken out. There was no sign of a lizard, mouse, or rat anywhere. Finally, after searching and searching we found the spot where we thought the smell was coming from. Brother Wright stuck his hand down and sure enough there was a dead rat. At least now with the source of the smell disposed of we assume the smell should go away after a while.
The revival services tonight went very well there were more people here than what the church could hold. The only room left was standing room in the back of the building. I didn’t see exactly how many came back to make decisions but I think it was around twelve or thirteen. Praise the Lord for His working.

Wonderful Grace of Jesus (9/29/11)

This morning at breakfast I asked Pastor Stanleyto share his testimony with us. He explained how he was born into a religious family that was part of the Anglican Church. His father had multiple wives and there was much family strife. He joined the Police force and while in training he went to a friend’s house for a visit. It is customary here to serve tea to your guests and since Pastor Stanley’s friend’s wife was gone he left Stanley alone in a hut while he went to the kitchen to make tea. The kitchen was a completely separate hut and it took him quite a long time to make the tea. While he was gone Pastor Stanley picked up a Gospel tract that was on his friends table. He read the plan of salvation and was convicted. He wanted to pray and ask Christ into his heart but just as he was read to his friend came back with tea. Pastor Stanley was no longer interested in tea because he wanted to get alone with God and deal with his sin. He left as soon as he could and went to his home to pray and accept Christ as his Savior. He asked his friend if he could keep the tract. His friend was glad to give it to him because he was simply going to use it to light his fire.
When he returned to the police barracks he told everyone he met about Christ and they thought he had gone crazy. He did find one friend who stood with him and the two of them began to evangelize the men in their barracks. The formed a small fellowship of believers and continued to win others to Christ. At one point one of the officers told Pastor Stanley that he could not be in the police force and follow Christ. He decided to follow Christ and submitted a request to leave the police force. His superior approved the dismissal but higher officer disapproved it. This became a matter of prayer for Pastor Stanley so he mentioned it in his prayer group. The wife of one of the officers heard the request and convinced her husband to submit the officer to the Inspector General who is over all of Uganda. The Inspector General granted that Pastor Stanley leave the police force and three months later Pastor Stanley received a letter that he was free to go.
Pastor Stanley found a missionary with a Bible school and trained for two years and then went out to pastor a church. He has since come back to the place where he went to Bible school and became the first national pastor there. What a wonderful testimony of how a simple gospel tract could have such a powerful influence.
Tonight’s crowd for the revival services was a little smaller tonight. From those that registered it appeared that there were about forty-five new visitors. Eight of them came back for salvation decisions and two of those eight were from the clan across the street that has been causing so much trouble with the land. Praise the Lord for His working and please pray that the two from the clan across the street will be a shining testimony to their clan.

Food, Fresh Warm Water, Foul Smells, Full Revival Services, and More (9/28/11)

The Wrights got up extra early this morning to prepare biscuits for breakfast and noodles for lunch. Preparing food takes a lot more effort here. There are no fast food places and even most of the products that we take for granted in America are not here. For example to make biscuits in America most people would simply open a roll of Pillsbury biscuits and put them on a cookie sheet and then pop them into the oven. If they felt a little more ambitious they may use a baking mix to whip up some biscuits but very few meals are prepared from scratch anymore in America. Almost every meal here is prepared completely from scratch and takes significantly longer. Jewell does a wonderful job and the food has been excellent. Nicole and Becca have done their fair share to pitch in and make the work go smoothly as well.  All the hard work preparing meals has produced some of the best dinning we have had in a while.
While Becca and Nicole worked on preparing lunch I spent my time trying to make myself useful. Every night Brother Wright turns on the generator for electricity. There is a small water heater in each bathroom for taking a hot/warm shower. The generator can only run one water heater at a time so every twenty to thirty minutes we turn one water heater off and turn another one on. It was Brother Wright’s idea to put a pipe on the roof so that the water would be able to absorb the heat from the sun and then heat up quicker when he turns on the generator. He had made one out of steel and painted it black but the installation was never finished and piece by piece it was disassembled and the parts were used elsewhere. I had noticed some extra black water pipe and spent the morning figuring out how to use it to heat up the water. At this point everything is on paper, but it looks like the whole project should be simple enough to do. We shall see in the days to come if I will be able to finish the project.
Another task for my morning was trying to find the source of a foul smell in the Wrights truck. On Sunday we had noticed a bad smell but no one could find its source. It has only grown worse from then until now and it was about time to find it. After looking under all the seats, glove box, dash, and even under the truck I found a chicken bone above the strut on the passenger’s side of the truck. The bone didn’t seem to smell too bad but that was the only foreign object that I found that could cause such a stink. I guess time will tell if that was the source of the foul odor or not. Just as I finished disposing of the bone I saw a piano coming out of the Wrights front door. The Bible students have been busy gathering mats and benches for the meetingsand now it was time to move a piano. I jumped in to give them a hand and we carried it over to the church.
The revival service went very well. I think tonight it ended up to be more of an evangelistic service than a revival service. There were one-hundred and fifty-two people who registered including adults and school age children. This count did not include the Bible students and the church people. The church was full and my wife and I took our bench out of our bathroom over so more people could sit down. Including the church people and Bible students there were around two hundred people there. Sam Moss led the singing and sang a solo and then Pastor Stanley preached. He preached a clear Gospel message but during the invitation no one raised their hand to acknowledge that they needed to be saved. When we sangI Have Decided to Follow Jesusthree men came back to make a salvation decisions and a couple others left under deep conviction but would not talk to us. I trust that those men who came back to be saved accepted Christ as their Savior.
Please pray for the meetings! With so many people there it is hard to believe that only three needed to accept Christ as their savior.
Please Pray for…
1.       Wisdom in organizing tomorrow’s meeting
2.       Physical and Spiritual strength
3.       Pastor Stanley’s preaching to be powerful by the power of the Holy Spirit
4.       Eyes to be turned from darkness unto light
5.       Wisdom for Henry as he translates the preaching

Unexpected Opportunities (9/27/11)

Today I made myself useful by attempting to fix a light fixture in the Wrights bathroom. I took the whole thing apart and couldn’t find anything wrong with it. Then in the evening when we started the generator we checked it and to my surprise it worked. I guess it had a loose wire, but who knows.
Becca spent a considerable amount of time laminating flash cards for the children and cutting off the excess lamination. I helped her a little but she did a good job working on them. In the afternoon I went out again to pass out flyers for the Revival services starting tomorrow. I chose to go with a different group this time so I could learn some more names. This time I went with Morris and Thomas (not to be confused with Tom who I was with yesterday). As usual I did a lot of smiling and nodding because I had no idea what was being said. Morris tried to keep me informed as much as possible but it was even hard to understand his English. I’m not exactly sure what took place but after talking to two to three ladies at one cluster of huts Morris informed me that they would be following us to the next cluster of huts. He tried to explain the reason they were coming but I couldn’t understand him. When we reached the next cluster of huts we greeted the people there and they offered us some chairs and stools to sit on. It was common for us to be invited to sit down but what happened next was completely different. I sat down expecting to listen as Morris invited everyone to the meetings but instead he told me that they wanted me to preach to them. Thomas, thinking I didn’t have a Bible, offered me his even though it was not English. I preached the Gospel from the phrase “Christ died for our sins” in 1 Corinthians 15. I don’t know where everyone came from but there were between twenty and thirty adults and children gathered around to listen. After I finished Morris prayed and many people promised to come to the meetings. No one made a profession of faith but the seed was surely planted.  2 Timothy 4:2 says, “Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” That verse was truly the case today. I was not expecting to be called upon to preach but God’s expectations were different than mine. Praise the Lord He is in control and knows what He is doing.

A Day In Court (9/26/11)

This morning Brother Wright took Sam and I to town where he would be meeting with the Judge and representative from the plaintiff to discuss a settlement.  The Wrights lawyer was not able to be there so he instructed Brother Wright what needed to be done. A settlement was offered for the Wrights to pay the tribe 60,000,000 shillings (2400 US Dollars) for the land that he already purchased. Brother Wright would not accept that offer and then there was much more discussion about some of the legalities of the case. At one point the Judge told the accusing party that they had not thought out their case very well. In the end there is a new court date set for January 28, 2012. Please pray for this situation. The Ugandan court system is very corrupt and everyone is out to make a profit.
While we were in town Becca sorted through some of the supplies that the Wrights received. She spent most of the morning organizing picture cards that accompany Bible stories.  When we returned from town it was time to have lunch so Jewell put another wonderful meal together. She does a wonderful job of keeping us all fed!
In the afternoon we went out to pass out flyers and invite people to the Revival Meetings that will be coming up soon. Becca went with Jewel to the neighbors and I was privileged to go with David, Tom, and Patrick. They are three of the students from the Bible Institute. We went house to house inviting people to the meetings. Walking along dirt paths that in Iowa we would call deer trails and coming upon mud hut after mud hut reminded me of the pictures in missionary stories that I had heard when I was young. It almost seemed like a fairy tale and yet there was nothing glamorous about it. Most of the people were dressed in cloths that had come over from America. Their cloths for the most part were nothing more than rags hanging off of their bodies. Some had more than that, but others had far less. A few of the children had a shirt with no pants or skirt to accompany it. These people live very hard lives as they farm little plots of land around their mud huts.
I was unable to do any talking because of the language barrier but as we went along a small group of children began to follow us from house to house. They mostly giggled and laughed when I winked at them and the further we went along the more children followed. I decided to break the ice by drawing a stick figure in the ground. They giggled and laughed and before long we were playing with sticks and rocks while the others invited people to the meetings.
When we returned home I joined in a soccer game that the students were playing. Elizabeth couldn’t stand to miss the action and before long she was out on the soccer field wanting me to hold her. I found it a bit challenging to play soccer while holding Elizabeth but she didn’t mind at all. Eventually she decided she wanted to go back to the house so off she went.
After supper I was able to install a small water filter system for the Wrights. The water they have is spring water so it is safe to drink when it is filtered properly. The filter should allow them to avoid buying bottled water.
The generator for the town is still down and now they think it will be down for almost a month. This is a small problem because there are materials that need to be printed before we begin class. Either we can take a seven hour bus ride to Kampala to get them printed or we can wait for the generator. I am praying for direction from the Lord which method would be more profitable. I don’t want Brother Wright to be pulled away from the ministry here for a full day.
Praise the Lord that He is in control of all of these details. He knows what is best even if it doesn’t seem to fit our plan. Please pray that God would continue to give us strength both spiritually and physically.

Lord’s Day Services (9/25/11)

What a joyful thing it is to gather with God’s people from around the world for the Lord’s Day. Brother Wright taught the Sunday School Class and then Sam Moss preached for the morning service. One man came forward in the invitation and Brother Wright had the privilege of leading him to the Lord. In the afternoon I went with Jewell, Nicole, and several children to a small village where some of the Bible Institute students go every week to preach. They have hopes of forming a church there. I was able to experience firsthand what the Wrights talked about a while back when they described the children singing in the truck all the way there and back. When we got to the village children and adults gathered around and Jewell had the children who rode with us sing and recite verses.After they were finished she gave a Bible story about Creation and the fall of man. Then she turned it over to me to share something from God’s Word.  I continued from where she left off and preached the Gospel from Genesis 3:15 through an interpreter.  The evening service tonight had a lot of songs and testimonies. It sounded so wonderful to hear all the voices echoing back off the concrete walls and filling the church with music. After the singing I gave a short challenge from Psalm 1 about being a successful Christian in God’s eyes. It is now time for bed and I plan on going with Brother Wright to court in the morning.

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