Arrived 7.30pm at Entebbe airport and immediately impressed by the heat and noise of this African country. We will be based at a Catholic guest house in Kampala, the capital.
Speaking at a 2 day conference for church leaders – our first experience of the real Uganda! I am thankful that Pastor Stephen is driving me around throughout our stay as negotiating the pot holes and deep gulleys in the roads takes considerable skill. We arrived at a small church in a ‘shanty town’ type community, with barefoot children, long-horned cows and goats sharing the bare red earth outside which looked like a rubbish tip. Inside, the corrugated iron roof and earth floor made it feel like walking into an oven! There was no door and once, while I was speaking, a cow wandered in! I decided to teach on what the kingdom of God means in practice and managed to persevere in spite of sweat pouring down my face. Chris found it just too hot and had to stand outside. With the obligatory PA turned to full volume, both she and all the neighbours didn’t miss a word!
For the rest of the week Chris joined a team from the UK running a holiday camp for the younger children who attend the school at the Kampala Children Centre (KCC).
Stephen collected me at 5.0 am to travel east to Tororo, a village near the Kenyan border, for a leaders’ conference. We arrived at 10.30 to find 80 people waiting in another little tin-roofed church. However, this one had a floor of hardened cow dung with a pattern imprinted and the surrounding area was clean and tidy – impressive! It was baking hot with a bit of a breeze. I explained to the smartly suited leaders that they had a choice between me teaching in a short sleeved shirt or passed out on the floor! Even then, I took a break every hour or so to cool down under the mango tree outside.
Over the three days I was told 166 leaders came, many walking as far as 25km; about 50 came by bike. I was particularly impressed by a pastor in his mid-70s who had cycled the 25km – and not on smooth cycle tracks like in Holland!
The local church and the leaders who had stayed over packed into the church. Many mothers had brought mats and sat outside with their children. Before I left, I was given a love gift – a live chicken! I was able to graciously accept it and ask them to look after it for me and let it produce chicks.
On the long drive back we stopped to take a photo of 3 baboons sitting by the roadside. They immediately started begging at the car door! We later stopped at the source of the river Nile, which starts at the northern edge of Lake Victoria and travels 4,000 miles (6,000 km), taking 4 months to reach the Mediterranean at Cairo.
A welcome free day relaxing at the guest house with Chris, who’s been working with the children at KCC. Fascinating to sit and watch eagles soaring – we counted up to 17 – as they seem to fly in formation like a squadron!
Tues 13th/Wed 14th
Speaking at 3 different venues both days: mornings at a leaders’ conference, afternoons to young professionals in the city centre and evenings at a church meeting.
Uganda is an amazing country in so many ways. There seem to be at least several thousand churches in Kampala, from the small poor neighbourhood church to the megachurch. It is said that over 80% of the population are Christian, 10% Moslem.
The majority of churches seem to have very noisy overnight Friday prayer meetings as well as many midweek meetings – we can hear gospel singing virtually all day!
We were taken to visit ‘Africa’s prayer mountain’ by Stephen and Robert, both of whom were involved in setting it up in the mid 90s. People come to fast and pray as individuals, groups or churches, for instance the head of the Inland Revenue brought her department up to pray! Basic accommodation is available and an auditorium where there is regular teaching on Prayer and Fasting for those new to it. We met two young men who had arrived from Rwanda to pray for several days. We felt privileged to pray there with Stephen and Roabert, a very interesting author of many books, a self educated intellectual, who has also been preaching in the surrounding countries for many years.
Chris and I joined Arnold Mwonge and Stephen on a trip to South Western Uganda, to the city of Mbarara. The journey gave a fascinating insight into rural Uganda, especially the state of the roads, which often are full of deep potholes that have to be avoided. Having set of at 2.30, apart from a brief photo stop at the equator, we arrived at the Hotel the church had booked to find it had no electricity! Another was eventually found and we sat down to eat at 11.30 pm.