We are in Tororo teaching a five day Institute on Christian History.

Report from Gail:

I recently spent several days with my friend, Irene, who lives in Mukono, Uganda, near Kampala. She is the Director of Prison Fellowship Ministry in Uganda. She and I met on an airplane the very first time I went to Uganda. I was taking a ten day vacation from work to join Bob in ministry. It is a long trip from the US to Uganda and I was a bit overwhelmed at the all the travel involved.

Irene and I sat next to each other and we talked and slept and talked some more. It was a ten hour plane ride. When we got off the plane we had to go through customs; she was in the line for Ugandans and I was in the line for Others.

We had exchanged mail addresses and began to correspond and get to know each other. On some of my vacation trips, we would stop by to see Irene and her son, Dickson, who also works for the ministry. We have built a friendship over time.

On recent trips, I have gone and stayed with Irene for a few days. I have a big need to understand the Ugandan culture, especially Ugandan women since that is who I minister to most of the time. Irene and I have had some great conversations. It is nice to have a mentor.

Irene has many facets to her ministry. She visits the prisons to minister to the prisoners; she brings medical teams to help with those needs and a very large part of her life is spent providing a safe haven for 18 children whose mothers are incarcerated and don’t have a place to grow and be fed and loved and sent to school to get an education. The feeding and school fees are quite large and Irene depends on the Lord to provide these necessities, mostly through donations. It is a walk of faith.

I was able to visit Irene one time when the children were home on holiday and about to go back to school. I helped them get things ready to take to school-bags of sugar, soap for washing clothes and washing bodies, pens and pencils and many other things. Irene and Dickson and I shopped for these supplies that every Ugandan child who boards at school must have. I was able to do some devotions with the kids at night, and after their chores we played card games. I had a couple of games that my grandkids had taught me, and I passed them on to the children. We had great fun.

My next trip, the kids were in school so I didn’t see them. But, I was able to go to the prison where their mothers are incarcerated.  I was able to talk some with the mother and tell them how much I enjoyed knowing their children and how much the mothers were missed. The same visit we went back a second time to the prison for a celebration time. It was quite interesting.

This trip the children were also in school, so I missed them again.  But we did go back to the prison. The reason for this trip was that Irene was bringing a lawyer to meet one of the mothers so that she could make an appeal to the court. While the inmate talked to her lawyer, I was able to talk to two of the other mothers. They both spoke English, so we could actually talk. They spoke of their plans for when they get out and their dreams for the future. One of the women had become a Christian in the prison and began to minister to the other women. Now she is the pastor of the women in the prison. Both these women only have two years left on their sentence. I asked the pastor if she would come back to continue ministering after she got out – she enthusiastically said she certainly would!

On our way back to Kampala, the lawyer was very hopeful that he could help the mother that he counseled with that day. It was encouraging news because her term was fifty years, and for a crime she only observed. But the police scooped her up in the arrests, and she was given the same term as the actual criminals, even though she was only a by-stander. Sadly, this is not an unusual tale.