Category: Uganda 2018


Certificates…..

Gail and I have returned from Buvuma Island out in Lake Victoria where we spent a week preparing the students who are ready to graduate from the studies I have given them. I was preparing them for the exams I will administer in June. We have 26 candidates for graduation who have faithfully been attending my week-long intensive Bible training classes since early 2014. I am very proud of them for what they have accomplished.

Preparing the graduates.

The potential graduates will answer questions in seven areas of study out of thirteen in which they have spent more than 200 hours of class time over the last four years. Why exams, you might ask. Well, here’s the deal for me. Certificates mean a lot to these people who have so little – it seems to be the same all over Uganda. Missionaries come here frequently, give a week’s worth of training with no evaluation and hand out certificates at the end of the week to all who have attended. They bear different titles – “Certificate of merit,” “Certificate of Accomplishment,” even “Diploma,” for typically one week’s un-evaluated attendance in some kind of evangelism studies (A student showed me one of these very  certificates just this last week). Now this is not to say that all programs are this way. I have run across three or four serious study programs from missionaries in Uganda that require serious dedication from their students over long periods of focused academic work. But the above pattern is all too frequent.

Getting ready for class.

So when I was asked for certificates, I decided I didn’t want to play that game. I committed myself to a hard course of preparation, and I committed my students to the earning of a certificate that would really mean something. So over time, this is what has emerged: A student may receive a certificate of graduation from Meade International and Lake Victoria Bible Institutes after completing 150 core hours of class attendance, and 50 hours of Christian Life class attendance for a total of 200 hours (for the Buvuma students, but probably more for those who follow from other areas – I am still working all this out).

Students completing these 200 hours may receive a Certificate of Achievement if they do not wish to take exams, or if they cannot pass the exams. If they take the exams and pass them, they will receive a Certificate of Graduation which lists the hours they completed (my current 26 students range from 240 hours all the way up to 270 hours of class work)and the specific classes each student has individually completed.

I have committed to coming to the island to prepare them for the test with a week of reviewing the material and answering questions. Then they have from now to June 11 to study and prepare themselves. Then I will come for a second week to administer the exams, and at the end of that week we will have a graduation ceremony where the certificates that have been earned will be handed out. I have just finished the first of those two weeks, the preparation week. I believe the anticipation and perhaps the anxiety is running high now as a result of the training. It is my hope that when they are handed their certificates, they willow they have accomplished something difficult, and it will increase the value of what they have done.

 

 

Of the 13 classes they have studied with me, I have selected seven to test them on:

Introduction to Church Planting
Soteriology (the study of the doctrine of Salvation)
Hermeneutics (the science of biblical interpretation)
Christian Leadership
Christian History – Apostles through the Middle Ages
Christian History – Reformation through the Present
Christian Stewardship

Bob reviewing the materials with the students. Bob has a torn rotator cuff.

From our training experience this week, I am certain this will be a taxing enough load to demonstrate their academic grasp of all the teachings.

The test will be carried out in two formats. The first will be a written exam, with which I am hoping to quickly pass those who easily grasp the material. The other students will be tested orally. This arduous process is necessary because some of them do not read and write (but they have the right to try for the exams anyway), and some cannot read English, and trying to get everything translated accurately is a huge and expensive undertaking. So after the written exams on Monday, the oral exams will take up the rest of the week, student by student, until we have them sorted out for certificates.

That is what we’re looking at the beginning and the end of this trip. In between we have the normal  trainings scheduled across Uganda, starting with a Marriage Conference the end of this week in Tororo.

 

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Going Back To Buvuma Island

Off the Grid till April 22

We are leaving the grid now foe a week on the island of Buvuma in Lake Victoria for pastor training. There is no access to internet on the island, so I will check back in one week from today. We have had a very busy two days of preparation since we lost an entire day in travel (see previous post). So we are breathing hard and now standing at the ferry station waiting for the ferry to Buvuma.

I am taking this brief moment to inform our readers of our situation for prayer and to explain the next week’s silence. We passed a boy lying in the road after being hit by a car yesterday on the way back from errands in Jinja. We could not stop for reasons I will try to share in a future post, but there was a large crowd gathering there anyway. This incident has disturbed us, and once again made us deeply aware that we are in a foreign culture, far from home, and this restricts us in ways we might not be at home. We haven’t heard whether the boy died. He was a teen who was evidently crossing the very busy road. I did not see a vehicle stopped, so it was a hit and run, which is normal in Uganda.

Out of time. Pray for us. We’ll talk next week.

We’re in Uganda again, finally. These kinds of trip woes we have blissfully avoided up until now, so finally encountering them is not soooo bad in retrospect, I guess. Good travel regimen suggests the wise traveler take certain measures so as to be prepared for such unexpected happenings, but, while we used to take these precautions religiously, I’m afraid we’ve become lulled into poor discipline from our many painless trips – didn’t even have pictures of every bag for identification purposes.

Also, I’m a bit of a procrastinator and historically pack toward the last minute. This trip we packed early using the two weeks before to gradually pull everything together, having our bags packed, sealed and weighed by the weekend before the Tuesday morning we were scheduled to leave. I’m sure my wife, who is quite the opposite from my style of packing, will never agree with this, but this I have to confess, the slow and relaxed pace of the packing lacked the hard-edged “screaming last-minute” alertness that comes from knowing you’re leaving for the airport in 5 hours and can’t find items 53 and 72 on your packing list, which by the way, is my own personal definition of mindfulness – but I may have that wrong. So without that last minute burst of horrified adrenaline to sharpen my “packing sense,” I’m, not really confident we have everything.

So be warned, wary travelers, pack one night’s change of underwear in your carry-ons. Mix your personals between several bags so that you will still get something if one or several of the bags decide to take a side-trip on the way to your destination. I well remember many years ago on some cross-country trip the bag that was finally returned to us days late that bore tags clearly stamped “Maui.” Our errant suitcase apparently had a much better vacation than we did, because it was many years before we ever made it personally to Maui.

This trip started off great. We were at the airport early, found the airport Dunkin’ Donuts and sugared up for the coming adventure – everything was perfect. I am wearing a sling for my right arm, mostly to remind me not to lift anything heavy like suitcases because of a hole in my rotator cuff that will see surgery in July after we get back. It’s more difficult to navigate one-armed, of course, but on the flip-side, we are boarded early on every flight, stewardesses are unusually helpful and sympathetic, as are other passengers. Am I above milking this a little? Probably not….

So everyone was seated in their seats, anticipating a short flight to our first stop in Atlanta. We would connect there with our Amsterdam flight and were both excited about the adventure ahead of us; the doors were closed, the staff was battening down for the flight, and all seemed in order in the world. Then the pilot came on the speaker and announced that we needed to deplane because the mechanics had found a faulty part and needed to replace it. Well, a bit inconvenient, but we preferred they found this problem while the plane was still on the ground, so we deplaned without grumbling.

We waited a bit and then the overhead sign posted that the flight would continue at 1pm. It was now 11:30 so we went and got some lunch – personally, I don’t think I’ll try the airport BBQ again. We returned to our gate, and the sign posted that the flight would continue at 3:30. We could still make our connection to Amsterdam, so we sat down to wait. The information machine was going through the crowd by then, and someone informed us that they ironically had to send the part for our aircraft sitting from Atlanta – go figure.

Anyway, by the time they had delayed our flight one more time, we realized we could not make our connections, and were not going to get out of Dallas that day, so we rebooked the flight for the next day, Wednesday, at the same time, connections through Detroit this time, and headed out to collect our bags and go home to spend the night in our own bed. Then they informed us that our bags, which were supposed to be on that very plane we could still see sitting at the gate, were already on their way to Atlanta by some time warping/interdimensional method that I still don’t understand. Say what? No no, your bags travel with you – what are they doing on another plane that’s already in the air, one noticeably that we are not seated on? See? I told you earlier that suitcases sometimes take on an itinerary of their own and go off without you to see the world.

Even the guy in the baggage office was a little perplexed by this, and he informed us that if our bags were sitting and waiting for us in Atlanta (like good little bags), they would never continue on in a timely fashion if we were routed through Detroit. Who knew? So now we had to cancel those tickets and get tickets back through Atlanta, so we could reconnect (psychically) with our bags.

Long story short: We restarted on Wednesday, got numerous assurances from the personnel at the computers in both Atlanta and Amsterdam that our bags were on board and would arrive with us in Uganda. Of course, when we collected our bags in Entebbe, we were one bag short. We filed paperwork for an hour, and finally limped into our hotel room around midnight. KLM assures us, by email even, that our bag, which apparently wanted to visit Atlanta for an extra day or so, would finally meet us in Jinja on Saturday (smile, wink, wink).

So be warned, my friends, I can give you this wisdom from the school of medium knocks (we did arrive with most of our luggage, after all): when you take long journeys while turning over your personals to total strangers, plan ahead for the change of underwear thing!