Archive for February, 2014

I’m sure some of you may be wondering why I have not been posting regularly since I’ve been here in Uganda this time. So I’d like to briefly address that. This trip so far has been radically different from my other trips. I seem to know what I’m doing this trip (80% anyway), so I am able to plan much more thoroughly without relying so much on my Ugandan Team to make such decisions for me and tell me where I am going. I know the area, and I have a plan in mind – I am surprised how much a little confidence changes the quality of my experience on the field.

Here are some of the differences:

I know that God has told me to directly involve myself in helping the pastors and their families generate income. Very few are paid anything for what they do other than occasional gifts from members. So most of the pastors live from day to day doing  handyman jobs around their community or temporary work in agriculture, etc. Very few seem to have generated any business that can sustain their ministry and their family, and most commonly, the fees to send their many children and adopted children to school every month.

So it is one of the burdens that the Lord has laid on my heart to help them generate some income for their families and ministries. I have been encouraged into this project by watching one of my close friends back in Fort Worth mentor new business people over the years. It seems in my life now that God is using everything I have ever experienced or learned to fulfill His mission here in Uganda. So I am trying to crack the “business” formula for how to do this in Uganda – teaching them to fish rather than just handing out fish to them, so to speak.

So in the nine days I have been here, I have spent a lot of my time working with my team on one of these economic projects. I have invested a small amount in some dried mushrooms, which is a fairly new crop in Uganda, and have sent my team to the market to see if they can sell them – this is the research stage for us. Are our prices right? Is our packaging right? Will people buy this product? We spent a whole day repackaging the mushrooms into smaller packages because we found out the first day in the market that the larger packages won’t sell, at least in the market setting. This process required buying smaller packages from a dealer in Jinja, camping out in the dining room of the guesthouse I am staying at, weighing our smaller portions, stuffing them into the smaller bags, and sealing them with a candle, all this done by hand by a team of four while I sat nearby studying and preparing for my teaching ministry. This has been for me the true definition of multi-tasking. So now armed with smaller packets of mushrooms, the team will go back to the market to continue the research while I move on to my next teaching assignment.

A second theme of this trip which is quite different is my approach to the costs of the conference ministry I am involved in. There are some unique costs in African ministry, at least in my experience, costs relating to the poor economic conditions. I won’t bother you with the details, but the costs can be quite high. So I embarked this trip on an experiment to cut these costs. What this involved was a lot of wholesale shopping and purchasing, which is a different approach from the past when I have simply paid the costs out of pocket. We spent hours during this last week shopping prices and then purchasing things among the least expensive vendors. This has given me a whole new look into the inner workings of Ugandan economy and culture. It has also been another major multi-tasking adventure.

So bottom line, I have spent almost an entire week planning, researching, investigating, interviewing, meeting, conferencing, training my team, etc. Every night I have returned to my room exhausted (but in a good way). So I have not had the energy to post any articles until last night. Now that this administrative phase is over, and I am embarking on fulfilling the teaching plans that my team has put together over the last week, I have more energy left over to write comments in a blog post. So I taught all day today, and though I have to pack up and move tomorrow morning, I am feeling much less tired than these many all-administrative days have left me. So that’s my “excuse” for not posting.

Now if you don’t hear from me for the next week, it will only be because I am out on the island in Lake Victoria, out of range of any internet connections. If you aren’t hearing from me in this forum, no one in the family is hearing from me either. If such a thing occurs, it will be a long and painful silence, but part of the cost of reaching this isolated population. Just pray with me that one of my internet methodologies will work from the island.

I am in Uganda for my first of three planned trips in 2014 (depending on available funds). I have been here since Thursday Feb. 20. So far I have spent my time planning the rest of the trip with my team. It promises to be an exciting and spiritually profitable mission.

I actually begin real work tomorrow. Up until now has been all administration, except for preaching last Sunday. Believe it or not, I have been too busy to write any blog entries, so this is the first one this trip. Here’s my schedule so you can pray for me:

  • I will be in a village out in the country tomorrow – Kiranga – teaching a one-day conference on spiritual warfare. I approached this with real caution because of the environment and the subject matter. My mission here in Uganda is building up the churches to plant new churches. I worked in this community last fall and this church has planted at least one church since then, maybe more – I will find out specifically tomorrow. But I also told them I was here to build them up (Eph. 4:12) and so, once having taught them church-planting, I promised I would have an ongoing relationship with them to build them up spiritually. So they requested that I teach on this subject. I go to this task with great expectation and anticipation of what God is going to do, but with a careful vigilance as to what may resist us.  I have experienced consistent resistance since I have been here in the way of petty annoyances meant to distract me and wear me down, so I know he knows I’m coming. But I also know He knows He’s sending me, so I can go with confidence. The pastor tells me there will be at least 200 people there, and I am sensing the Lord’s anointing.
  • I will return to my hotel, pack up, and Saturday morning leave for the ferry to Buvuma Island, which is one of the largest islands in Lake Victoria. Being an island, it rarely gets visited by teaching missionaries, so these pastors are hungry. I am working with the Bishop of the islands (all 52 of them – this is the only one with a ferry). I will preach in a church on Sunday, teach back-to-back two-day conferences for six days, then preach on the remaining Sunday. Normally, I take a break amid my teaching, but I have limited time on the island (only 9 days), and so I need to reach as many as possible. We’re expecting 60 island pastors in each two day conference, so I will have reached 180 pastors with my church planting methods by a week from this Saturday. No electricity, so we will rent a generator.
  • We will leave the island on February 10, and immediately drive to eastern Uganda to a city called Tororo – I’m thinking it’s about 170 miles, but not sure exactly. Once there we will settle into the guesthouse of a missionary compound and then take a much needed day off.
  • During the next 19 days I will teach five two day conferences, try to visit as many of the proposed village church-plant sites with the pastors as possible, and preach in a different church each Sunday. They are planning for about 60-80 pastors at each conference. Should be exciting!
  • On Saturday, March 29 (our 45th wedding anniversary, btw), I will return to Jinja and meet with our first church plant – the church at Naminya that started under the mango tree to follow up with them and their leaders. I will then preach at the church that planted them in the nearby community of Bujowali on Sunday – these are old and dear friends by now.
  • I will tell my family that I am leaving for home and that I have a great surprise for them, so that they all need to meet me out at DFW airport for my return on April 1.
  • Then I will fly out to return home for real on April 2. I owe them this much for pranks pulled on me in the past. (Psst! Don’t mention this to any of them, so they’ll all make the trip out to the airport on April 1).

If you’re praying for me, that list should keep you plenty busy. Breaking into two completely new regions for me in the church-planting ministry will certainly keep me busy!