Geelong to Uganda

Geelong to Uganda
Google image of trip from Geelong (my home) in Australia to Karamoja, Uganda!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

All the Karamoja holds

Uganda 28th Jan - 9th February 2014 
Our trip to Uganda: Half a week in the South (Lake Mburo, Kampala, Jinja, Mbale to Soroti), three weeks in Karamoja; the first at the Peace villages in Nakayot, the second and third week in Nabilatuk (45 minutes drive from Nakayot) where Summer lives and where Melissa stayed in 2012 to do Vet and Bible storying ministries. Another half week (the last) in the South again meeting up with Summer's team mates, Simon & Carina Grubber who have just returned from Germany where they spent the last 4 weeks to visit church & family. 

Nabilatuk, Karamoja. Weeks 2 and 3. 
For the past two weeks, we've been joining Summer in her ministry work in Nabilatuk and surrounding villages. It was cool to be a part of what she does here, if only for a short time. Summer has been doing adult literacy classes for the last 6 months in the hope of addressing some of the problems that come with a mostly illiterate community not being able to read the Bible for themselves. The result is that they are reliant on what they hear from any random person about God and cannot check its accuracy for themselves like we can.

We can see even in Australia the problems that happen in churches when they stray from the truth of the Bible! Imagine not even being able to read the Bible for yourself. This is also why the mp3 players were given out at the peace villages to help people access the word of God for themselves. So on Monday and Friday we joined in on the adult literacy classes with key members from different villages, combined with a Bible story and memory verse that they learn off by heart (and they are amazing at it!). 
It has been so awesome for Melissa to see everyone again, the joy of seeing old friends again cannot be understated. It's been 2 weeks of so much fun, joining in with life here again as if no time has passed.

We went to a village called Kasiapus (which you may remember from previous posts in 2012) and had church with them there under a tree. Church here in the village consists of singing songs to and about God, praying, listening to a Bible story (as this is done every week they are going through key stories from the Bible in order from creation, the fall, to Jesus and the first church), having discussion about the story we just heard and then more prayer and singing. The people here love to sing. The stories from the Bible are not paraphrased but are memorised by the storyteller from the Bible word for word. This helps the Karamajong people to understand the story better through the details in the story. The discussion at the end is really awesome, to see people really getting what God is saying through the story and teaching them about His character, about us, and how we can and should change to worship and glorify Him. 

On the first week Emmy (a local Karamojong guy who works for KACHEP with the animal health work and evangelism) storied the parable of the sower (Luke 8, Mark 4 & Matt 13) here and at another village on Friday. He had great discussion with them about what kind of 'soil' we should be, the fruit we want to bear and what that looks like for them in Karamoja. What it means to be obedient to Jesus our King. The second week here and at Napongai Summer storied two stories; from Matt 15:10-20 & the second from John 3:1-21 about Nicodemus and being born again, born of the Spirit. 

On every other Wednesday there is a cattle spraying event they run and men from the surrounding villages bring their cattle, sheep and goats to get sprayed for ticks as they are the largest cause of disease in the livestock here. Our first Wednesday here was the spraying event in Nabilatuk and Brenton had the opportunity to story. He told the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man from Luke 16:19-31. Brenton found it really encouraging to see the men being willing to enter into discussion about the story. It was amazing to share God’s word with these men and to look at what it really means when you say you are a Christian. Living as a Christian doesn't mean simply saying that you believe in God and saying things like Hallelujah and thank you Jesus; it's about being willing to let God change your heart and humbling yourself, being willing to serve others and repenting of selfishness. It was really cool when on Friday we ran into 3 young men whilst walking along the road and one of them had come to the spraying and heard the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus. Now he and his friends were going out to another village to share the story and to share what they had learnt! 

That afternoon we went for a nice long walk to a place called Mt Hyena. We climbed up the top of the mountain with a guitar strapped to our back and spent some time together with Summer singing songs of worship to our awesome God, whilst looking out at God's beautiful creation! We sat together and watched as the sun started to set and it was truly an amazing sight to behold. God was really using that paintbrush of His! The sun went down soooo fast you could literally see it descending! This led to a quick descent from up top and we returned home safe just as it was starting to get dark. Praise to God for bringing us home safely and for providing such an amazing creation for us to behold and reflect upon His majesty and power! 

We have devotions with all the staff members of KACHEP the veterinary NGO we work with. The first Thursday, Melissa lead the devotions on John 13:18-38 and on the second Thursday Brenton lead it on John 14:1-14. 
The devotions are a really cool part of the week because the method has been set for everyone so that all the staff are able to lead at some point. Even those who have never been to school before have been studying their passage for the week, learning it off by heart and God is teaching through them.

Other parts of the week include allocated time to 'greet' people. This is an important part to the ministry here, going to people's houses and sitting with them and chatting to them. Sometimes 4 hours can go by and we've only visited 2 families but it is a great time of loving them and hearing what is going on with them and in their area. Culturally it is seen as very rude to not visit people in the community and as Christ's ambassadors it is an opportunity to love as He has loved us. 

On Wednesday and Thursday Melissa ran animal health training with KACHEP’s two main animal workers, Emmy and Christine. Carina Grubber asked her to teach them about eye diseases and intestinal parasites as these two topics she hadn't covered with them last year. It was really great to see how much they remember and how far they've come in the last year as well. Mukisa, KACHEP’s manager also asked Brenton if he had any time, to teach Emmy & Christine some basics in computer skills which he did on these days as well.

 On the weekends we've done different things. The first weekend we went down to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) mission to visit and have fellowship. They live an hour away and do ministry in yet another way in Karamoja.

It was cool for Brenton to see in week 1 the ministry at the Peace villages, week 2 Bible storying in villages around Nabilatuk and on the weekend see the OPC ministry that has set up a church in Karamoja that is Presbyterian in style and run by an American pastor, with the services translated in Ngakarimojong. That was a really fun time and in a really beautiful spot surrounded by mountains. It was great to spend some time sitting down with the pastor and his wife to discuss some of the things they have learnt about ministry in Karamoja and the culture here. We also got to greet an old Karamojong friend of Melissa & Summer in the town nearby on the Saturday as well. 

On the second weekend we went to the Lolachat market. Lolachat is a little town south of Nabilatuk but which is central to many villages and so has a huge market. People are everywhere as you drive up and they all turn to see the three white people in the sea of Karamojong. It is a bit intimidating at first to be such a huge centre of attention, but you sort of get used to being a circus attraction after a while. We bought a few things there, particularly of interest our dinner - donkey meat and sweet potato to make chips from.

Then we drove on to a village that's about an hour away (deep in the bush) called Okutoot to visit the people there and spend some fellowship time with them. Brenton storied Lazarus and the Rich Man here again with the people in Okutoot. It was really nice to visit them, Summer had not been in this village since her time with Melissa so it was a big reunion. It was great that they were willing to sit down and spend time together with us in worship of God and to learn from His word. We also got to see the agro forestry project that KACHEP is running here in this village, providing them with neem, mango, guava and orange. 

Summer's pet baby ostrich is going really well too. Growing fast and still so cute. Many a morning's entertainment has been had over breakfast watching Tangles run around, spin and fall over when he gets confused, or watching his interactions with the other animals! 

It's been such a privilege to spend this time with Summer and to serve in the ministry here. It is such a blessing to be able to witness the fruits of the hard work being done in these villages and to see how the Holy Spirit has been working in these people! The ministry being done out here is so vital and precious; enabling people to have access to and to learn from God's word.  Working together in partnership with the Holy Spirit to reveal to the people of Karamoja who our awesome God is and the amazing grace He has offered them! What a blessing it is that God allows us to be involved in the spreading of the Gospel of grace!