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Stony Point Church from Richmond VA sent over a team of 14 for a two week short term mission trip on June 26. The purpose of the trip was to support Canaan’s Children’s Home, orphanage for 150 children, in Buziika, Jinja, Uganda, and to host ministry events in the surrounding area villages.
- School visits aka wall of awesomeness
My team was responsible for the primary and secondary school visits. This consisted of trucking out 30 minutes up to an hour and a half to a remote village, meeting their head master or head teacher, then assembling the students in their classroom or under a tree for our presentation. We had groups of 200 to 800 students at the six schools we visited. Often they would have a song to perform for us, and then we would begin our speaking and photos.Jack Wheeler spoke about communication in America: mobiles, computers, facebook, texting, mass media. These are all useful tools but can be used for harm also. Example: rumors, indirect conflict, global terror. He challenged us to see what the bible has to say about how to communicate and have effective relationships with the world.
Judy Joyce spoke about marriage in the states. She shared personal testimony of her two marriages and suggested that money and cars do not buy happy marriages. A marriage makes a strong family and a strong family makes a strong country. She gave some biblical tips on how to put God first in your marriage, not just “us and then also God.”
Peggy Graeser spoke about hospitality in America and took the kids on an imaginary trip across the ocean to America so they could pretend to be there. She took them through a typical week and also some conflicts with Americans who would laugh at them for their cultural differences. She made a good point of setting aside differences and caring for brothers and sisters around the world.
Hank Graeser spoke about freedom and government and the American constitution. Freedom in democracy allows for many liberties for society but it can obviously be abused. He asked students to consider what kinds of freedoms lead to death instead of life as well as considering what kind of freedom God has for us.
Julie Watson spoke about American families, the busyness of school and sports and everyday life, how families have fun and work on conflicts, and why they are so important for God’s plan.
Katie Watson spoke about teenage life in America and about how many high school students have joined a movement to do community service and other selfless deeds for their society. However, she points out a problem of motive in that many of her friends do these good things to have them on their college applications and resumes and are not always motivated by the deeds themselves.
Kathi Picton told a story about being caught stealing as a small child and also coveting her friends things when she was a secondary student. She knew her sinfulness but was never willing to admit it to her friends or to God, and therefore, even though she attended church, she had not done business with God to become a true christian. She challenged the students to become Christians.
I spoke about music and movies in culture – mostly diagnosing the different parts of songs you will hear on the radio, in tones, sounds, rhythms, and lyrics. Music can not be christian – it doesn’t have a soul. But it can be a vessel for the lyrics, which can lead you steps closer to heaven or farther away when you absorb them. It’s not what enters a man that makes him unclean, it’s what comes out. So I challenged students to listen to the radio with discernment and talk to themselves about the songs and movies they digest.
Then we would end the assembly by giving the school a jump rope and asking the teachers and headmasters to demonstrate in front of all the kids. The place would go bananas.
- Bible club
This is your old fashioned VBS, but not to say it’s old fashioned. It was more of a play than anything else, in that we would act out different scenes from the life of Jesus, all dressed up in our nazareth costumes and props. I was challenged to consider how drama and acting can be a good resource to bring the bible to life for kids, and also for adults. It’s hard sometimes to see the bible come to life when you’re just reading. This would happen in the late afternoons for the same school children and also for the village children in the area.
- Food and Hopsitality
I had a good time watching all the mzungus disect and investigate the unusual food they received over the two weeks. The options are limited but they are good options. Rice, posho, beans, matoke and casava are the staple starches. Then you will have either beef or goat for meat and often some fresh watermelon and pineapple for desert. Lunch is always a big ordeal and it’s a very proper, formal time. There were occasions where one or two of the pastors in the area had slaughtered their prize cow just for us, just for this one meal. They also built new latrines in a couple of the villages just for our arrival. To return the thanks, I bought two live pigs in Mayuge and it fed the villagers for two lunches and two dinners. They let me slaughter one also, which was a nice gesture.
- Christian Conferences The rest of the team that came out to the villages with us would host one of two things: an adult christian education conference or a youth (18-25) conference. They’d have two sessions with the lunch as the break in the middle. The adult class would focus on the old testament fathers, their mistakes and successes, and would explain how the gospel can help you lead a life on integrity. They would have a q & a for the adults also on tough issues like finances, tithing, conflict, faith in drought etc. The youth team would focus on the peacemakers curriculum, and would give the young adults and open forum to discuss big conflicts they’d had at work, with family or with neighbors. Usually it always comes down to a lack of confessing or apologies with strings attached. Good food for discussion in many of these villages.
- Runs with the boys (and one girl) Every morning except two, I took between 1 and 8 of the orphans at Canaan for a run and small workout around the Buziika area. It was nice to run in a different environment than here in the SW. Too dusty here. There it was much more lush, moist soil, red dirt, green foliage, forest like conditions. The boys enjoyed being pushed on runs, lunge challenges, pull ups on soccer goals, sprints, pushups, flutter kicks, and wall-holds (iron chairs).
- Canaan consulting On other days, part of our team would stay back at the orphanage instead of running out to the village with the big group to do Canaan consulting work. This included everything. Jack and Clay worked with the secretaries and admins, training them in software, updating computers, fine tuning internet issues etc. Cindy and Michael Bryant helped organize and improve the orphanage libary. Cindy and Michael also helped consult with the aunties, the orphan mothers who sleep in the rooms with the children and look after them – giving them an open forum to discuss their difficulties. Katie, Julie and the Bryants also worked with the teachers at Canaan’s primary school to improve their lesson plans, admin, and other professional development.
- Funny quotes
It was a big two weeks of awesome projects, good time in fellowship, worship, scripture, and funny quotes. Mission trips really have all of what you’re looking for in a fulfilling vacation – you get to see an exotic culture but also do something very meaningful in walking out your faith. Here are some of the quotes from the week, and you can match them up with the characters who said them.Jack Wheeler, Clay Asbury, Michael Bryant, Harrison Jones, Hank Graeser”You had me at Matoke”
“It’s like a puppet show with no puppets”
“In retrospect the speedos were a bad idea”
“So there I was … two beautiful secretaries”
“Today I saw Uganda in motion”
“It’s hard to make a latrine worse than it already is, but I did”
Check out the website (above) and read Isaac’s story. He’s a man who has been shot and left for dead by a dictator for his faith yet has never renounced.The youtube videos here:www.youtube.com/watch?v=qs1jYNjn81A