Sunday, November 22, 2009

soooo much to learn....

I guess I should maybe backtrack a little here and explain why we have chosen to spend a few days back with the Mbale team. During our first whirlwind visit here, we learned a GREAT deal about how much we don’t know and about how much we need to be under/alongside some people who have experience on the field and can help us in decision making, etc. The Mbale Mission Team is truly an answer to prayer. I am not 100% sure what our long-term relationship looks like with them, but I know that there is much that we are excited about (as is our church’s leadership team) as far as their church planting “system” goes. What’s crazy is that they have been praying for other churches to come alongside them as they seek to plant churches across this country and seek to claim this country for God. Their goal is to have at least one church planted in every district of Uganda (I think there are 81 districts). The disctrict in which we are looking to possibly get involved is right in the middle of an area of Uganda where they have no churches. It’s like we were meant to be together! J

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 planting churches, about their projects, about the culture. And boy have we ever been doing that…

NOV 20

Today was yet another day PACKED full of information! My brain is completely fried. 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. A few examples:

  1. Money is to be spent before friends or relatives ask to borrow it.
  2. If something is not actively being used, it is considered available.
  3. Budgeting, in a formal sense, is not an accepted way of handling personal finances.
  4. A network of friend is a network of resources.
  5. A loan is eligible to be repaid when the creditor's need becomes greater than the debtor's need.
And the list goes on from there...the handout received listed 62 different observations about African cultural values and provides a counter Western value. Very interesting stuff...and stuff we have already been experiencing as truth here. 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 these statements.

After training, Matt, Amy, and I spent some time working on our presentation for our MTI Research. 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.

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