Written by Ted & Jennifer Stacey
For almost 8 years now, I've been hearing from our friends how awesome church is in Africa! Today, our whole team of 12 people got to compare what we know of church in Canada to this new experience.
So, forget the big bricked/wooden buildings, church here is outside under a tent/makeshift roof. Ours was in what appeared to be someone's front yard. There is a tarp and tin roof above many posts, with hundreds of plastic lawn chairs set up in rows. As we approached the church, we could hear the music and singing from down the street.
They had a keyboard player and a sound system for the microphones. They sang for an hour straight, various songs, and prayerful music. The leader spoke and sang while someone else translated.
They then invited 3 testimonies from the crowd. I was tempted, but kept my feet planted. I was still in awe of this church. Two people came from the crowd and spoke about how they came to God. There were several "Amen's" from the crowd, and a few "Hallelujah's" too. We were then invited to sit! Yay! I was tired!
The minister, Pastor Robert, then got up and delivered his sermon, which was another hour. He invited the readings to be read from the previously designated reader. The readings today were from Samuel, Isaiah and John. The stories told of Jesus speaking to the woman at the well from Samaria, David leaping and dancing before the ark, and worshiping in spirit and truth, and there was also the story of the 3 boys who were captured in Greece (I think) and because they wouldn't worship the idol, they were put into the furnace, but didn't burn.
Pastor Robert was enigmatic and demonstrated the leaping and dancing that David did, and he pulled 4 boys from the audience to demonstrate that they were walking around in the furnace without being burned. There were 4, because the story says that the Son of God was with the 3 boys in the furnace.
He also talked about not letting our pride get in the way of our worshiping. We should lift our arms and hands to the sky when we worship, and not keep them close to our chests because we are CEO's or Bankers and are embarrassed by our desire to worship.
After the next hour had gone by, he invited about half the congregation by name to the front of the church to identify them as the new leaders of the various programs at the church. Lots of these volunteers were shown so much love and appreciation from the rest of the congregation.
After these people were prayed for and held up to the church, they invited the guests of the church, (with a pointed look at us - the only Mzungus in the church) to stand up and tell us our name and where we were from. We each took our turn, and when it came to me, I described how we have friends who have traveled to Africa several times over, to Ghana, Liberia and the Gambia, and how we had always wanted to travel to Africa, but due to money and small children, had not had the chance. Then I explained how God had arranged for the money and people to watch our children, so that all would be well while we traveled to Uganda to be with them. I think they were happy to hear that God had sent us!
We finished with a final prayer, and then the Mzungus were invited to the back of the church to buy various items from the women who attended church there, and who made jewellery and other things to sell to support their families.
We traveled back to our rooms, and then took the bus to a boat ride which took us across Lake Victoria (which is the 2nd largest fresh water lake in the world. Anyone know which one is the 1st? Lake Superior in Canada of course! Lake Huron is the 3rd). The boat then took us along the shoreline to the source of the Nile river, which runs North from Uganda. We visited a shop that was built on a man-made island that was only about 100 yards long, specifically there to mark the "Source of the Nile" and of course, to sell things to the tourists... LOL
The Source of the Nile is also one of the 5 places that Ghandi's ashes were spread, and so we also visited the monument that was erected in his honour.
Many people were sitting out front of their homes scaling fish, or cooking on an open fire. The children ran to us almost as soon as we got off the bus. Having long been taught that the Muzungas will bring food or clothing. They immediately latch to your hand and walk with you. Poor Ted had 3 boys pulling on his arms the whole time, trying to get him to lift them up into the air. We finally had to ask the translator to tell them to stop hanging on him because he was getting rope burn on his arms... LOL
I politely asked a couple if I could take their picture while they were descaling fish, and they said no. I moved away and smiled anyway. Later I found out that the size of the fish they were eating were too small to be legal, so they probably were afraid of the evidence.
After touring the site and meeting the children, we proceeded to the park area outside the school where we would be providing breakfast to over 300 of these children. Two "Aunties" had cooked the huge pots of porridge, and we set up to serve a cup full and provide a packet of cookies to each child. We started by the translators telling them to get their cups, and the kids instantly dashed away scattering everywhere to grab their cup.
We lined them up in two lines, served the porridge, gave them a packet of cookies, and we personally walked the little ones to go and sit with an adult (preventing any chance of the older kids from stealing their cookies). We were able to serve seconds because we had so much, and the kids looked thrilled to be there.
Ted & Jennifer's Ugandan journey continues... Part 4