Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Double blessing

In Africa, having visitors is everything.  Since I received my first visitor to Uganda in July, I've had a steady stream of visitors, which has been wonderful.  First, Dr Alison stayed with me for most of the All Clergy Conference, then my classmate Beatrice stayed with me the last night of the conference because she was locked out of her room (and we still don't know why). 

Then, about a week ago, SAMS president Stewart Wicker, the Chairman of the Board, Rev. Jeff Rawn, and his wife Cinde came for a short visit after the "Pathway to Global Vision" Mt. Kilimanjaro trek.  Though they were on campus just about 24 hours, it was such a joy to visit with them, share a bit of what my life is like here, and pray with them.  I know I don't talk about SAMS much, but this organization is staffed with people who are so fabulously supportive.  It is a tremendous comfort to know that my people are just a phone call or email away, and that they will do everything in their power to help me.  I have worked in organizations in which this is not the case, so working for SAMS is like a breath of fresh air.

These visitors have been the first blessing.  The second blessing is my current visitor, a missionary named Leah.  She serves in South Sudan, and needed literal peace and quiet to work on papers for her masters program.  Fighting has been increasing in her area, and she felt it wise to leave for a little bit so she could work, but also for safety.  She will be with me until the end of October.

Leah said that she's not slept this well in two weeks, and I imagine that it's difficult to sleep while there's gunfire, or even the threat of gunfire.  Many people have left the town where she lives, and she said that being here in Uganda, where it's safe and quiet, is a blessing.

However, I've realized that she is the one blessing me.  This is my first "long holiday" without the Dennisons, who were my default go-to people whenever I wanted to be around people, or go get coffee off-campus.  I am still adjusting to being "alone," and not having my students here has certainly exacerbated things.  Then Leah came, and now I have built-in community right up to the time that I go to the US for leave. 

I'm rejoicing in how faithful our God is in providing what we need, even when we really don't know it.

Monday, September 21, 2015


I know I've been light on blogging of late - as soon as I think not much is happening, things happen.

First, some good news... my proposal is done!  It will be presented 4 Oct, and I'm thrilled/nervous/relieved/thankful.  My supervisor thinks there will be changes, and that is fine with me.  It's just great to be at an end-point, even if it felt anticlimactic to read her email.  I get to keep reading (what else?), but I can work on the questions I will ask in the interviews, and I can watch YouTube videos on how to conduct a focus group.  That made me smile; my supervisor has no idea that I've conducted quite a few focus groups in my day, though I probably need to brush up on my skills.  It'll be interesting to see how those work in the African cultural setting!

I have some friends who are in Uganda for a mission trip, so I wanted to visit them.  If they can fly several thousand miles, I can drive a couple hundred kilometers!  Michael and Jen were "deep in the bush" as we say.  Getting to that village was a typical Ugandan adventure... drive down the road, branch off where you're supposed to, go down the murram (it's dirt, but it's not called dirt) road, praying that you're going down the right road, then calling to get the remaining directions and paying a boda driver to follow him because he's the only one who knows what those remaining directions mean.  Pray as you go down that path that you're using as a road that you can climb the hill that feels precipitously steep as you go down, then offer many thanks to God that you arrive at your destination well.  Amen.

I will be having a visitor for the next month.  She's a missionary serving in South Sudan, who needs to get away for some literal peace and quiet so she can work on her masters dissertation.  I understand that concept, though I'm completely humbled - she is serving Jesus under tremendously difficult circumstances.  I am in awe, and am looking forward to having her.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Hope deferred

Tomorrow is the day that my proposal is supposed to be presented to The Powers That Be.  Unfortunately, that's is not going to happen.  I'm more than disappointed; I was really ready for this phase of my life to draw to an end.

This morning I received an email from my supervisor that she sent at 10:30pm my time (South Africa is an hour behind us), and she says that I'm closer to begin done, but I have missed the presentation deadline.  I have to get this draft to her by Friday.  I can't even begin to think that this might be the final product, though it could be the end.  That would be utterly delightful.

I am clinging to Romans 5:3-5:  "Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (ESV).  I feel like I'm stuck in suffering, though I may be in endurance.  I'm not quite sure whether I've developed any character through this yet, but I am trying to rejoice in my sufferings.  I'm grateful that God is patient with me!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Rushing for the Eucharist

This week, UCU is hosting the All Clergy Conference, an event that is supposed to happen every ten years, though was last held in 1980.  Since such a great amount of time has passed, there is a great deal of excitement among the participants, many of whom seem to still be "on the way coming."

Last night we began the conference with Holy Communion, and Amos had asked me to assist with the distribution, which I am always happy to do.  [As an aside, it also ensured that I could have a seat in Nkoyoyo Hall because many came who had not previously registered, and many "on the way coming" arrived during the service, and not all of them were able to sit, but I digress.]

I happened to be one of the first to go to my station for the distribution, and I am accustomed to the fact that people just come up to receive the Eucharist - there is no row-by-row progression.  However, I was utterly and completely mobbed by these clergy, all with outstretched hands to receive the body and blood of Christ.

At first, I was a bit taken aback; the American in me wanted these people to form some semblance of a line.  They're all clergy, every one of them... don't they know how things should go?  Don't they know that I'll get to them eventually?  

Then it occurred to me - this urgency, this almost desperation to take part of the Eucharist, is entirely appropriate.  I'd say it's how we really should be, actually.  I've never rushed up to a priest to receive the Eucharist, but shouldn't I?  Isn't Jesus' sacrifice something that I should rush to celebrate?  

Anglican decorum and procedure aside, I am deeply humbled by my brothers and sisters, and their eagerness to partake.  I grew up celebrating the Eucharist every week, and when we are in session, we celebrate it twice a week in chapel.  Not everyone has this privilege.  I imagine that when one cannot celebrate Jesus' death and resurrection every week, each service becomes rather special.

I think I need to renew my sense of joy, wonder, and reverence for the Eucharist.

Friday, July 31, 2015

My first visitor!

I had a missionary milestone last week - my first visitor!  While several people have come to Uganda and UCU whom I have either known or come to know, this is the first time that someone has come expressly to visit me!!  

Several friends were in East Africa for a mission, and since they were nearby (geographically speaking; being on the same continent is "close,") one decided to pop over and say hello.  It was a ridiculously quick trip, but it was such a tremendous joy to have someone come, stay with me, and get a glimpse of my life here on campus.

I picked her from the airport Saturday evening, and after supper on the shore of Lake Victoria, which I had chosen in hopes of viewing a gorgeous sunset, but was denied, we then experienced the joy of a Kampala Saturday evening traffic jam on the way to Mukono.  All in all, the journey wasn't bad, but the jam will always be there.

After church on Sunday, we took a walking tour of campus, and ran into several theology students along the way.  I assured her that she would be the talk of evening tea.  In Africa, visitors and hospitality are everything.  Normal life stops when one has a visitor, and hosts make a wonderful fuss over them.

We attended our Sunday evening Eucharist, and during the notices [announcements], the student leader forgot to introduce me to introduce the visitor.  As she was returning to her seat, one student protested, "but we have a visitor!" which I found endearing.  Proper introductions were made at the end of the service, so all was well on that front.

Monday we went to Jinja to visit the Source of the Nile, though one can no longer stand for a photo op at the marker for the actual source, the separation of the River Nile from Lake Victoria, because construction from a new bridge has raised the water level by about a foot.  However, our boat guide maneuvered the boat that we got the photo while she was safely seated in the boat.  After a quick lunch in Jinja town, we then headed back to Mukono to get her bags and return to Entebbe for dinner and then her flight home.

As we say here in Uganda, "you come!"  Though the "my first visitor" title has been awarded, the titles for sequential visitors await you.  :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Blogging silence to continue

Hello there!

I know I've been lost (Ugandan for "I haven't seen you") lately; I blame this proposal, along with beginning to wrap up the semester.  It's been a little crazy, though good.  We're making plans for the coming semester, year, and five years, which is both exciting and exhausting.

The good news is that I'm in the home stretch on my proposal - it is due for real on 14 August.  It will be presented to The Powers That Be on 9 September.  Please pray for strength, wisdom, and good sleep as I enter this last leg of this part of the ThD marathon; I'm finding that I need more sleep that I did when I was in my twenties.  Go figure!

This is my mantra for the next few weeks:

Also, I highly recommend this recipe for chocolate banana bread.  For me, it finished baking sooner than the indicated time, but then again, I'm not really sure what temperature my oven is.

I'm trying to keep a list of things to write about when I have a moment that is simultaneously free and lucid.  Until then, love from Uganda.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Jungle kitty improvement

Thank you so much for your prayers for Meri!  She slept well last night; I didn't, since she was in the exact middle of the bed, but at least one of us slept.  This morning she was back to her slight limp and favoring the right back leg, which is a HUGE improvement over how she was when she came in last night.  Praise the Lord!  She's eating and drinking like normal, and demanding to be petted, so I'd say she's 90% back to normal.

I didn't want to leave her outside while I was at church, so I stayed close while she did her business outside (which I think answers the question of why nothing's grown in my garden since she's arrived!), and she fairly well mauled my hand when I picked her up to bring her inside.  Having said that, I think she's seen the wisdom in staying close to home the other times I've let her out.