Anyway, Matt, Amy, and I (along with our leadership team) determined that it would be extremely beneficial for us to spend more time with the team here in Mbale and just soak up every bit of information that we possibly could about missions, about their projects, about the culture. And boy have we ever been doing that…
Today was yet another day PACKED full of information! My brain is completely fried. I mean, I would have it no other way, but wow…I’m tired.
The day started out with the women’s prayer breakfast at 6:30 at a nearby hotel. All of the women on the Mbale Mission Team meet once a week to spend an hour in prayer. One of the things I have learned beyond a shadow of the doubt is that if I were to decide to do long-term missions, I would absolutely have to do it with a team. There’s just no way that I could do it alone. You have to have some people around you who are coming from the same framework you’re coming from who can support you, encourage you, pray for you, and just have fun with you. The Mbale Mission team spends a lot of time together and are an amazing support system for each other. You just have to have it…and they would all agree with that statement.
After the prayer meeting, the women have breakfast together and then we headed up to MTI for more training! This morning we were given a timeline of the Mbale Mission Team’s history and how all of the programs came to be. Very interesting stuff. It’s amazing how LONG-term their vision is for this place. They have committed that they will go as far and as long as God calls them. They say that they don’t want to limit God with their dreams.
After lunch, we learned about the structure of the Mbale Mission Team and how they function as a group. It’s interesting how they are such a huge ministry and are functioning so well in many areas, but they are still in DESPERATE need – need of money but also a real need for people! Because of the ever-expanding ministry, they are in constant need of more people and more support. As we were discussing all of the various ministries, I asked if they have much going on as far as youth or children’s ministry goes. I know that a HUGE part of the population in this country is under the age of 20, so the need to reach the youth of this country is huge. Interestingly, they don’t have much going on for the youth in all of their programs, and they said that it is definitely toward the top of their priority list. They are in need of someone to come over and begin some sort of youth program within their ministry…hmmmm…
We also had a very condensed version of their “African Friends and Money Matters” training. It is crazy, crazy how polar opposite our ideas of money are from Africans. It’s been good to actually live and interact with people for a few weeks before this training, because it’s helping us to really see and experience the truths of what we are learning.
When I got back to the Tylers, I had an amazing treat awaiting me – a sandwich. I can’t remember the last time I had a sandwich. It’s one of the food items that I didn’t realize I’d miss until I didn’t have it. So I piled that thing crazy high with lettuce (which we never have), tomato, cheese (which we also never have), avocado…and savored every single bite.
I spent most of the rest of the night working on our presentation for tomorrow night. I kinda feel like I’m back in college and working on some big group project, but it really was cool to obtain a lot of information on our own as opposed to being “lectured” on it.
My brain is literally worn out.
I forgot to mention that I had prepared to take a shower last night, but as I was reaching in to the shower trying to adjust the water (because we have HOT WATER HERE!!!), I saw out of the corner of my eye, about 4 inches from my face on the shower curtain, a roach that was probably about 2/3 the size of my palm. That thing crawled over the top of the shower curtain and into the shower…I didn’t end up taking a shower last night. J So that was first thing this morning.
Today we got to be part of the 9th Annual MTI (Messiah Theological Institute) Graduation. MTI was birthed out of a need for leadership training. As the team here continues to plant churches all over Uganda (as well as Kenya and Sudan), they must continually be training up leaders to preach and teach. Many courses are designed to equip leaders of church communities (not limited by denomination or tradition) to facilitate the spiritual development of the people around them. It is an ever-growing institution. Last year, the school offered 52 different courses, and the number continues to grow each year.
It really is amazing what all is happening with MTI and even more amazing realizing that my home church in Texas has invested so much into that school. To have the opportunity to see the fruits of that investment has been so awesome.
This morning there were 26 Ugandans and Kenyans who graduated from MTI. These are people who will go back to their homes and their districts to be pastors, teachers, church leaders, and even church planters. The ceremony was really fun to be a part of, and then they served lunch afterward.
Amy and Matt came over to the Tyler’s (where I’m staying) after lunch and we put the final touches on our MTI Presentation. Tonight many members of the team came over for dinner and we grilled out. People brought over all kinds of amazing dishes, but I have to say that my favorite was the Snickerdoodle and Oatmeal No-bake cookies. J
After dinner, we pulled out the guitar and songbooks and sat around the living and sang worship songs. I can’t remember the last time I did that…it was so great. I just love seeing the cohesiveness and the relationships that the team members have with one another…it really feels like family.
After singing, Matt, Amy and I did our presentation on MTI. I will not bore you with what the presentation was about, but thankfully it didn’t appear to bore everyone else too much, so that was a relief! We enjoyed some more hanging out afterward, and by the time everyone was out the door, we were ready to CRASH!
Today we had the opportunity to go with the Tylers for a visit to one of the village churches – one of the hundreds that they have been part of planting.
We were surprised to arrive and see how nice the church was – brick building, cement floors, ELECTRICITY…it was a very nice set-up. Of course, we soon found out that it’s probably theionly church plant that has electricity and one of only four or five of their churches that actually has the money to have a keyboard. Apparently, the church was built by one of the most wealthy men in that area. This man owns a few businesses and is responsible for the building and all of the nice things that the church has. This, of course, means that he has all of the power in that church. He calls all the shots and stood in the back during the whole service and basically regulated everything. You could tell very easily that he was the big man in charge.
Sean later told us that they do not allow him to teach or preach at the church because he has two wives. I guess I haven’t mentioned this yet, but polygamy is a huge issue in Uganda. This goes back to their roots as a country, but it is a huge problem and one of the major issues that the church deals with. But one of the rules that the Mbale church planting team has is that anyone in the church who currently practices polygamy is not allowed to hold any sort of leadership role in that church at all.
We were once again given the seats of honor at the front of the church and treated with all sorts of honor and respect. They asked us to each say a few words to the church. Afterward, they all surrounded us (particuarlly all the little kids) and greeted us and thanked us for coming. The little kids had written notes to give each of us. Here’s what one of mine said:
if that doesn't just make you melt...
After lunch, we were escorted to the “head honchos” home where we were served lunch. Today I had something new…bamboo cooked with banana leaves. It was actually pretty tasty. After lunch, we drove back to Mbale and had a little time to debrief and get some more of the history behind the church we had visited. Really interesting stuff.
Tonight we went to the Community Bible Study school that the Mbale team attends each Sunday night. It is a Bible Study made up of missionaries from all over the area. It was really cool to meet people who had come from literally all over the world to serve God in Uganda. In that room we had Australia, England, Palestine and the United States all represented. It made for a really interesting Bible Study discussion. I am just so thankful that the Mbale team is intentionally doing things to feed themselves while they're on the field. It’s so vital to their own spiritual health and the health of their ministries.
We had an amazing meal after the study and then headed home to pack. It’s back to Nyamarwa tomorrow…