Wow!!!!! What a weekend. We got up early Thursday (8/8/13) and headed to Kampala where we spent the night with my friends Caleb and Peace. It was nice to see them again. They are the ones I stayed with for a month while I was getting my banking, phone and Internet straighten out. We, once again, got up early on Friday and left Kampala at 6:30 am headed to Kanungu, which is a long hard 8 to 9 hour drive. We crossed and stopped at the equator for a photo. I had been told that water draining out of the bottom of a sink goes clockwise on one side of the equator and on the other side it goes counter clockwise. They have it set up to show you and it’s true! Just 20 to 30 feet apart they have one on the north and one on the south and one right on the equator. The one on the equator goes straight down not swirling at all. I videoed it so I’ll show it to you guys in November.
We drove thru some beautiful forest with trees 200 to 250 ft tall. The area that we were in is in the south west part of Uganda and is called “the area of a thousand hills”. The hills are almost mountains, twice to three times as high as our red mountain in Birmingham. The area that I was in is one of the few place left where you can see gorillas in the wild. Due to time and money issues, (going gorilla trekking is very expensive and is a one or two day affair) I didn’t get to hang out with the gorillas. But since the water lines where cut and water was hard to get, I think that at one point I smelled like a gorilla.
After having a flat tire on the paved road, we started on the dirt road part of our trip and I’m using the word road very generally. It’s more like a rock-littered, plowed track that has been washed out for at least a year. We are in a Toyota car, not SUV, and it’s a car without a spare. It’s getting late in the day as we start out on this dirt path with a lot of loose rocks from a quarter size to soccer ball size. Our driver is trying to set a Ugandan speed record. There are no flat areas; you are winding up, winding down. Nearing the the top of these hills as you look down the sides it’s very steep to the valley floor which is sometimes over 1000 – 1500ft below. Oh yea, we are having fun now! You spend more time in the air than you do in your seat and that’s wearing a seat belt!!!! Six Flags has nothing on Uganda!!!!
Well, we made it to the town of Kanungu, finally. I was dropped off at a couple’s house where I was going to be staying. I had 20 minutes to freshen up, get as much red dirt off as possible, not much by the way, and throw on a gray shirt with the collar. Oh, I was loving this; hot, dirty and now a collar. This is the kind of stuff that deacons live for. Now, off we go again, more dirt paths for about 45 minutes to an hour while it’s getting dark, to the town of Kihihi where Bishop Yustos is waiting for us to have a church service in a church with only a couple of lights being run from a generator. We had to have a sound system. Church was great. Bishop Hannington preached a great word. Now, we have four Bishop here, Bishop Yustos, Bishop Gogo, Bishop Hannington and Bishop Tom from South Sudan, and of course each Bishop has a little 🙂 something to say. Did I mention that we haven’t eaten yet? After church we head back to Kanungu where I’m staying for dinner. The couple that I’m staying with is hosting a dinner for clergy and some visitors from Rwanda, about 15. That includes a Bishop in the Free Methodist church in Rwanda who was there for a meeting on Saturday to learn about the ICCEC, which I was one of the speakers at. We had about 30 for dinner. It was a long day.
On Saturday, we all had breakfast together at a small lodge and then started our meetings. Bishop Hannington started it off by speaking on convergence worship and the ICCEC. We had a time for questions and answers. We took a short break and then it was my time to talk about the CEC in America and about signs and symbols followed by questions and answers. Then it was time for a late lunch, which by the way here lunch is around 2 or 3:00 with dinner happening anywhere from 8:30 to 10:00. We get back for an afternoon session on things that the churches could maybe do together and encourage each other to help their different areas in. Most Africans have something to say if given a chance and they all had a chance. It was really good to see the churches trying to find common ground with each other.
Finally I get back home, tired, hot and dirty (and there is still no water) for 1 hour of rest then we are off again. I’m with Bishop Yusto now, headed back to Kihihi. We stop on the way waiting for the other Bishops to catch up. They have decided they want to go, too. We are going to look at the ruins of the cathedral that Bishop Yustos built but the Anglian Bishop had torn down. Bishop Yustos has won three cases in court and has one more to go. Please pray that justice is done and that they can recover the cost of the building in order to build another cathedral. Bishop Yustos says that he looks for his bricks and when he sees a brick he starts another church. I think he has started 4 or 5 church since the cathedral was destroyed. God is good all the time. After taking some pictures, we are off to another church service in Kambuga. Did I mention that I was tired and starting to see double by now?!!!! Yes, THIS IS AFRICA (TIA).
We arrive in Kambuga to get the service started as it’s getting dark. Thank God that we are not vesting for this. I’m sure that I would have died. I’ve been in a collar all day. I didn’t think you could really live thru that in Africa. My shirt has gone from light gray to a kind of a wet looking dark gray. Church is great. The worship is loud and full of fun. There was an old man, maybe 80-90 something, sitting in front wavering his hands and fingers all around in worship. He was having a great time. The lady who’s house I was staying at, who’s English is better than mine, leaned over to tell me that a week or two ago his hand had been all knotted up and he couldn’t use or even move his fingers until they prayed for him on Sunday and he was healed!!!!!! He is a happy guy with the use of his hands and fingers back!!!!! Yea. church was great! Sometimes seeing double is good when everything is so cool!!!!! 🙂 The church had a big dinner for us so after church we stayed to eat with them. The food was good and a lot of it. The whole church ate, around150-200 people. Did I mention that the worship was loud?
Finally, we are on our way home hoping the water is back on. Go head take a guess. Yep, you’re right. No water. The water line that feeds that part of Kanungu has been cut. I’m telling you this is the kind of stuff that clergy live for!!!!! I think that this was where I started to smell like a gorilla. I did receive a small bucket of water then somehow I made it to bed.
Finally, it’s Sunday and we are consecrating a new church building!!!! The Church of Christ the Messiah in Kanungu had been without a building and had been meeting wherever they could. They were using a school but the local Anglican Bishop went to the school and asked the school to kick them out. The couple that I stayed with gave them the land and helped them to build a really pretty church. Be sure to look at the pictures.
If you are ever in Africa and you get the chance to go to something like this with 4 CEC Bishops, where everybody in the town shows up, mayor thru dog catcher (OK, they don’t have dog catchers but you get the idea.) DON’T DO IT !!!! IF YOU DON’T HAVE TO!! GET SICK, STAY HOME, SIT UNDER A TREE, ANYTHING !!!!
No, really, it was a great service. It was just 6 1/2 hours long. Bishops, mayors and dog catchers will not miss the chance to talk if given a chance and they are given that chance – some of them 4 or 5 chances!!!!! It was another long day but a good day. The Africans love this stuff. When we left people were still hanging out.
There was a group of volunteers from England there, young women teaching at one of the schools. After about 2 hours their eyes began to get bigger and bigger as the service went on. I got to talk them at lunch. It was kind of funny to hear their take on the 6 1/2 hour service.
Finally, I get back home at about 5:30. I think, splash some water on my face and arms, get a 15 minute nap in and then off to do a radio program on the CEC in America and what we believe in. It seems that the Anglican Bishop tend to tell people a lot of wrong things about the CEC. Everybody said that it was a good show and thanked me for helping straighten out some of the rumors and lies that had been spread. Me? I was so tired that I have no idea what I said. Finally, I get back home, eat a bit and fall into bed.
Monday morning it’s off to try to set some new speed records on the way back to Kampala. This time we are in a Toyota land cruiser so now we can go even faster on the dirt roads. Oh yea, just what I’m looking forward to. We made it back to Kampala in one piece, a few bruises but nothing broken, and spent two nights with my friends before coming back to Mbale on Wednesday. We left Kampala early and got back around 12:30. It’s good to be back for a few days.
Please remember that a lot of this is tongue in cheek. I’m having a great time! I just wish that I was younger. This pace is hard on us old guys. But God is faithful and full of grace. When I’m ready to quit He gives me the strength and grace to go forward so that I get the chance to see the great things that He is doing.
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