One of the Church-Planting conferences on Buvuma Island

One of the Church-Planting conferences on Buvuma Island

I’m sure those of you who follow me while I’m out here on the field in Uganda and elsewhere are beginning to wonder if I’m writing at all on this trip since you haven’t heard a peep out me for ten days. The last nine days I have worked in an internet free zone. Half the time I couldn’t even text out to my wife successfully. I have been on Buvuma Island in Lake Victoria (pop. 15-20,000), the largest island just off the coast from Jinja in Uganda.

Our conditions have been such that writing was difficult. We were offered only three hours of electricity per night at our guesthouse, and frequently we did not return until after dark. So this brief time from 7-10 each evening was taken up with finding supper in the nearby village, finishing any chores like washing clothes, showering, organizing for the next day of teaching, etc. There was little time to write and no internet anyway to send it out.

Isolated lakeside fisher-village - our second conference

Isolated lakeside fisher-village – our second conference

In addition, this beautiful little slice of equatorial Ugandan paradise is typically tropical by nature, which means that any light at all attracts about 6 million gnats small enough to pass through both the screen on the windows and the mosquito net on the bed. It took me two days of experimenting with different routines to figure out how to keep from sleeping with half this number of the tiny creatures between my sheets. I found that even with the window closed, at least 2 million of them found their way in through poorly screened ventilation openings near the top of the wall (along with fat 6-7 inch geckos – the largest I have ever seen – feeding on the bugs). I love geckos anyway, so freely invited them to enjoy the feast. I finally settled on a pattern of closing the window, which prevented most of the bugs from coming in, cold showering at about 8pm, and climbing into the sack around 8:30, tucking my mosquito net tightly around the bed-frame, and reading by flashlight.

Sunset over Buvuma Island

Sunset over Buvuma Island

A couple more days of experimentation and I discovered that if I didn’t turn on the light in the room but used the electricity to recharge my phone and computer and used my flashlight to see whatever I needed to see, I could safely open the window and get at least some cooling night breeze which helped quite a lot. The whole week was an interesting balancing act of tropical heat, light, insects, work preparation, daily accomplishment, and interesting village interactions.

The week itself was packed with teaching and preaching. Monday to Saturday, Samuel (my interpreter) and I taught three back-to-back two-day church-planting conferences to over 150 pastors and leaders in three separate locations. This was deeply rewarding work because these isolated pastors rarely see a visiting teacher. Time after time these indigenous pastors who shepherd their flocks with little training would stand to thank me for bringing clear Bible teaching to them. In every meeting, at least one would rise at the end and tell me they need a Bible College on this island to teach the Bible to the pastors from all the islands. Ugandans generally are spiritually hungry, but these folks are starving. I can’t think of a time when I was so impressed that I was doing something so needful that even this tiny little bit might change lives.

Eating lunch next to a termite nest

Eating lunch next to a termite nest

So this morning at 8:30 we boarded the ferry to leave the island. We then drove to Tororo in Eastern Uganda, where we landed early this evening in a guesthouse run by a local bishop of the evangelical churches here (called born-agains). And lo, I have internet again! Tomorrow I will take a much needed day off to rest, regroup, prepare for teaching five conferences over the next three weeks (an easier schedule for sure).

And now, I am beginning to catch up on my writing so you all can know what’s going on during this trip of six weeks. I can’t even express how good the sound of my wife’s voice was tonight over Skype, the first time in ten days. I even got a bonus and chatted briefly with my grand-daughter Eve. This work is vital and a calling, for sure, but the loving support of my family so far away constantly encourages my heart, and keeps in perspective for me the cost of the cross in all our lives.

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