Well, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything but it’s not because there is nothing going on! I’ve been on a roller coaster ride lately. I’ve been a part of a wedding, to the African House of Bishops and visited with friends in Kampala.
The wedding was for one of the young men who is going to be ordained as a deacon. His family and church have very little materially but, through God’s grace and the love of the church, they had a nice wedding, nice but long, really, really long. I have yet to be in a service that’s less than three hours!!! Most are four to six hours long with three and a half being the average for a simple Sunday service. I’m not sure that I’ll know how to act in an hour and a half or two hour service, but I’m sure looking forward to trying!!!! One thing that I’ve learned is that when they say that it’s going to be a short service you are in trouble! That means four hours plus!!!!!!
This is what my “normal” Sunday is like here. I get up and get ready to leave, having been told that I need to leave at say 9:00. Well, I’m ready but on African time 9:00 means someday, maybe, it all depends. On what it depends I’m not sure. So I finally about 10:30 or 11:00 off we go. There are no good roads so we begin bouncing our way to whatever church we are going to be at that day. An hour or two later we arrive and now it’s time to vest. I unpack my vestments, trying to keep them out of the red Africa dirt. (I had my alb shorten to help. No, it’s not like a mini alb!) Somehow I get all my stuff on and I’m only half way soaking wet from the heat. But not to worry, I’ll be totally soaked in a few minutes. You know, dripping wet. I learned quickly to always carry a bandanna for the drips.
During the service, I sing songs in a language that I don’t know and listen to prayers and testimonies without any idea of what’s being said. Now I’m dripping wet, my bandanna is wet, I know it’s just a matter of time before I die of a heat stroke and it’s time for me to preach!!!! By now I have a buzzing in my head, I’m seeing double through the sweat, and it’s time to “perform”. Since my hands are wet, my pages start to stick together so I’m freaking out trying to find my text, all the while realizing that I’m on the edge of a complete mental and physical shut down. Somehow I find the text just in time before I completely shut down. I get someone to read it for me in a language that they understand but I have no idea what they are saying. (Oh God, I hope that’s the right text!) Now I begin to preach. I have to use very short sentences because someone has to translate for me. I have to somehow think of three or four things at once. (Right! Nooooo problem!) I stumble through hoping that it makes senses but knowing that there is no way that’s happening. As I’m stumbling to the end, I’m hoping I still have some water left and wishing I had brought extra. Now it’s time to pray for people and sing some more. Finally it’s over. It’s just been four hours, what’s the problem? By then I realize that the person that was translating for me is a pretty good preacher!!!! Of course I have no idea what he preached on since he was interpreting what I was saying and I’m pretty sure that what I said made no sense at all!!!! So the sermon that everybody seemed to be blessed by was more his preaching than it was mine!!! Now I go to try and get out of a wet alb while keeping it out of the red dirt.
From there we go to somebody’s home to have a meal, which I’m pretty sure is going to make me sick because I’m still so hot. I sit in a small, closed room sweating and trying to force down a little food when really all I want is to get some cool, fresh air and to dry out a little. Lunch takes about an hour to an hour and a half. Now it’s time to go face the road from hell again! Finally we make it back home just before dark, maybe.
That’s a typical Sunday for me in Africa. The amazing thing is that somehow in all of that God finds a way to touch and change lives, to heal and set free!!!!!! I slowly come out of my dazed state and realize that I’ve been blessed by God to be with some of the greatest Christians on the face of the earth and blessed to see God a work in the hearts of His people!!!!!!
It didn’t take me long to realize that me being in Africa is as much about God teaching me as it is about me being here to help. The most amazing thing is the way God takes all my weaknesses and turns them into something to bless His people. The more stretched and clueless that I am the more He shows up to bless.
Well, it won’t be long until I’m back in America where I’m sure I’ll have to relearn everything again. I think that the thing that I’ve missed the most is being able to worship and understand the words of the songs.
See you guys soon!