For our Sunday in Uganda we had a slightly later and more leisurely start to the day with breakfast and prayers and a rehearsal (we didn't want to over practise) for a song at Tumaini. Emma and Ken collected us for the short trip to Tumaini through the Mhadvani compound.
We were told to be there at 1000 but the service at the Kakira Christian Centre starts with a rolling worship session so was already well under way when we arrived. Pastor Nicholas (PN) greeted us individually with real warmth and appreciation and took us to our seats at the front of the church. Judi and Frank had a brief "planning session" with PN for the St James contributions to the service. The surprises were restricted only to the need for translation of every word and that we were expected to lead 90 minutes of the service. So, we got down to the serious business of uninhibited (the group understood now the need for the zip lock bags to leave their inhibitions behind) Ugandan worship led by the Praise Group, dancing, singing, ululating and praying. After about an hour PN drew the session to a close with prayer which we thought signalled the hand over to the St James group, but as "Pastor Phil" may remember from last year, we had a couple of false starts as PN welcomed the "dear visitors", but as we got ready to introduce ourselves he slipped in another item. One of these was the Tumaini children singing which included "all around the world" which they had learned from Christoph's CD in 4 days!
By about 1200 they were ready for us. Our groups responded brilliantly to the atmosphere and had the congregation responding to "Praise the Lords" and "Hallelujahs" as they introduced themselves. We offered our greetings from St James to the people of Kakira, from Pastor Martin (huge cheer) and Pastor Phil (huge cheer). The biggest cheer was for "Goliath" (Chris) who was returning to Tumaini 6 years after his last visit. Bravely, after the extravagant worship, our group led the congregation in (a version of) Jesus be my centre with Judi leading the actions. The congregation responded magnificently to the mood of the piece and followed the actions with a grace and engagement with the words and music that was moving.
Frank had been elected to offer the "message" He hadn't expected to have to speak through an interpreter, so there was some last minute pruning of the talk on the theme of "daring to be different" as Christians in Gerrards Cross and Kakira. We can’t be certain what PN actually translated but the congregation seemed engaged. (only 1 person from our group dropped off apparently...) though they may have been disappointed that the message was only 30 minutes. PN told me that the church had decided to explore the themes raised at the Bible study on Tuesday night and the next 2 Sundays, obviously to round things off, and Richard (the 20 year old secondary student who is going to Bible school) told me his debut sermon lasted just under 3 hours!
|Preach it Pastor Frank!|
PN had the group serve communion to the congregation which was a moving experience that was appreciated. Judi danced to the Lord's Prayer to finish the service which was a very moving experience. PN was delighted with the contributions from the group and it was a very special experience for us.
We had arranged a special lunch for the children, so while they were served we were taken to the Mhadvani guest house for the Sunday lunchtime curry buffet, wonderful. The clouds gathered over lunch time so when we arrived back at Tumaini it was rather gloomy. We divided the team up when we arrived, one group unpacked the huge amount of clothes, (the developed world's supply of jeans), scholastic materials and toiletries, while the other group led by Judi and Andrew started rehearsing the children for videoing "all around the world" and the Christmas messages. Then the rain started, a true African down pour that drowned out all singing as it beat on the corrugated iron roof and turned the red earth to claggy red mud. We persuaded the kids to model some of the uniforms provided by St Marys and Caldicott Schools and took some photos and videos when the rain lessened to show the schools how their donations were being used.
The children took a break for Beccy to lead the group in a dramatised version of the story of Esther which enthralled them. Eventually the sun came out; Judi and Andrew were ready for a final rehearsal and the final shoot. Satisfied with the filming the group were able to have some down time with the children in small groups, playing on the parachute, loom bands, jig saws and of course iPad pictures of families and home.
Frank had a discussion with Mercy and PN to update on the state of Tumaini. There are currently 54 children in the home. 12 have left since March to their own homes or college or work. PN plans to take in 30 (yes thirty) new children aged 4-6 years from the waiting list in December. He says this is a step of faith as he has no consistent funding strategy or staffing, but he believes under God he should do this. PN is very grateful for the St James Christmas gift for food security and the first crops of cabbages have reached the school. He aims to have 25% of the food needs by April 2015 and 33% of the food needs by the end of 2015, which would be a wonderful achievement. Another donor has provided a family of goats, who unfortunately have eaten the banana trees which the children had planted in the Tumaini compound. PN has decided that the school will educate children to O level in future and then move the children into training to be able to earn money and then potentially support themselves for further education A levels and University.
PN was absolutely delighted with the visit, he said the jeans were a "miracle" and the loom bands were a "celebration"
As always it was difficult to leave but we prized ourselves away with regrets and singing from the children. We wanted to see the building work at PN's house which people from St James have supported. The fire damage is extensive. PN and Maria have moved into a small restored out building. An outline structure has been built and the yard was full of building materials paid for by PN's supporters. The main building work is scheduled to start next week (?) We left PN and drove in the dark through Jinja centre to the hotel, tired, grubby and worn out.
The day wasn't done though. Sunday night was the final evening when the whole team was together. The hotel had laid on a buffet dinner for us in a private room for our de-brief. We had a very constructive time discussing the visit, the ups and downs and how we could improve the experience which we will feedback to the steering group.
Tomorrow the group splits. Beccy, Judi, Mandy and Nigel who are flying to the UK go with Frank and Jill to Rahab and Chris, Andrew, Heather and Brian to Apac
I have been reminded to tell you about another incident at Mawagala. When we introduced ourselves with Nehemiah Jill said she was related to these 2 people pointing at Chris and me, Nehemiah who was sitting next to me leaned over and whispered, "she is your daughter, yes?"
Please remember in your prayers:
The heart Pastor Nicholas has for the children of Kakira, his willingness to be faithful and trust in God
The continued development of the children, spiritually, educationally and that they remain healthy
The warm links between St James and Kakira that has blessed both church communities
The partners the individual group members have left behind in the UK and who have coped with families and the extended families (of parents etc) who have been recruited to help while particularly Mums serve here.
Andrew has sent a brief update from Apac:
A brief update from the group in Apac (Brian, Heather, Chris, Andrew). Sent by text, will send more when I have Internet.
We separated in Jinja-drove to Kampala. Transferred to PAG vehicle for travel to Apac via Nile ferry and dirt road. Long day, but lovely welcome from Bishop Richard, Pastor Geoffrey and Jane (PEP Coordinator). Apac is remote. Hotel clean but basic. Visiting projects tomorrow. Please continue to pray for safety & health and that we will be a real encouragement.