Three weeks ago I went with the Abide boys for missions in the towns of Kanungu and Kihiihi. We left at 2am and it took us 7 hours to get there through the Bwindi national forest. This was gorilla territory although we did not see any. We were taking an equivalent to a 1980s VW van full with 15 boys, their luggage, and major sound equipment strapped to the roof, through the jungle roads that were more like ski slopes when they dry up in the summer. Eventually we did lose some undercarriage but made it there and home in one piece.
I left my camera at home. Oh wretched man that I am.
This map shows uganda. We first picked up the other team at Kabale (Rwanda border), then headed up into the Bwindi national park to find Kanungu. Once we were in the jungle, for vista after vista, I kept saying “where are we, a magical land?” The boys loved this, but truly, the rolling hills with village after mountain-top-village were nothing I had experienced before.
It was a church mission weekend with crusades, and since we use different terms in the states, here is what that means in daily schedule form:
Breakfast of slice of bread, egg, and banana in hotel
Morning meeting to delegate
Ministry teams visit hospitals, prison, door to door, local gathering places, and even bars
Lunch back at the top of the mountain. Matoke (plantains), beans and soup, posho (corn flour mash), and goat
Set up sound speakers for “crusade”, or revival party
Crusade means party over here
Play loud cheesy music and dance
Hear a testimony
Hear a sermon and alter call
Have people from the street come up and dance again
Supper is late / sleep
To be honest, it was an enlightening experience to see Christianity on the offense all weekend. I have to say that I don’t see it like this in the states and it took a lot of thinking to process what I had signed up for. Did I feel like a mormon? Almost, so I certainly had my thinking cap on at all times. My part in the weekend was visiting the hospital and the prison on the first day, where I saw lots of sickness and debilitation. Many people wanted prayers. The second day was to walk through the valley with a local guide and team of four to pray for people who wanted to talk. Part of tribe or community culture here is that it is never awkward to knock on someone’s door or to stop to talk to someone you visit. Despite the dirty conditions of many people’s homes, they were always eager for us to come in. Some were old houses with just one sitting room. Some were mud huts. It’s what life was like before cities were developed, and so it was also not unusual for you to bring up faith or for the people you meet to ask you about it. It seemed to me that the people we met saw us as spiritual healers – a good and a bad thing. So many were very eager for our prayers and easily shared the grimy details of their situations. The people we met:
- a lady whose husband had left long ago
- a lady who had a miscarriage
- three farmers who wanted to become christians on the spot
- a lady who couldn’t sleep and knew she was being accosted by demons
- a family of teenagers and children whose father had run after another woman and whose mother was in the hospital and whose grandmother was delinquent in caring for the kids. 4 teenagers in school, taking care of four toddlers sitting in the dirt. We made a donation to this family’s school fees.
- Two pastors, one of who was honest enough to admit he was afraid to die
- A family of muslims, who I found my team trying to convert. It was my first experience talking with a muslim about the authenticity and reliability of our religious texts. While americans would have taken offense to this, these muslims simply disagreed with us without a defense argument, but did invite us back.
I tried to keep it a priority to mention the gospel and not venture past that, although since none of the locals knew English, I did little of the talking. All eye opening for sure. Some more thinking will be necessary.