Hallelujah Chorus

I couldn’t let last Saturday go by without a note on the blog. Being a foreigner at a celebration always heightens the senses ,as the subtle understood-by-the -locals conventions trip you up . I was called upon to represent all the UK supporters and tripped arrogantly forgetting the interpreter.But the level of education in English is high and forgiveness and gentleness flow in abundance here.

image

It really was an extraordinary day
Extra Ordinary in the sense that ordinary things and ordinary people achieved extra things and became extra special.Faith grasped the hand of extra ordinary love and extraordinary hope.
Seven hundred or was it eight hundred were fed and the school children had extra and the left over drinks are now lazing in the cool fridge.
The event was superb,celebratory,happy,relaxed,joyful,peaceful and so colourful.Polished shoes and shiny hair ,pressed suits and the long celebratory dresses of a Sunday Best mingled with dust free school uniforms .And a retired clergyman looked immaculate after a twenty mile journey on the back of a BodaBoda (motorbike)  on dust roads.Living with dust is an art.

It was called a consecration of a Bishop….he also had a big seat but it wasn’t called a throne.And the mitre and the crook were all in place as symbols of shepherding the people of God. And after that a new team of pastors were ordained ,twenty in total.Men and women who share the gospel with the poor in the villages and in the towns.People who know their livelihood will be lacking numerous high value shilling notes .They know their Christian calling  and they learn from their Bishop that financial wealth is dwarfed by spiritual satisfaction and fulfilment.The poor will always be with us .
And that was part of the extraordinary.That from a congregation of  the not so well off ,the generosity flowed to provide food,music, hospitality,air fare, renovations and laughter so that the poor could enjoy it,the government ministers could worship,the old and the babies embrace and the military and the civilian dance together in a loud hallelujah ..Ugandan style .

Dressing up

Busy,busy busy. Everyone is busy.Painting plastering polishing, and still planning. Tomorrow is a very important day as the new Bishop is consecrated. This will be my fourth celebration of a new Bishop in under a year. Not York Minster this time, but under canvas and the open skies of Uganda. And this time, I am very much in on the celebration preparation as my Anglican trained host is to be consecrated. With so many new and vibrant churches,this great teacher has been asked to shepherd the pastors.

Instead of the cathedral, the campus here will be the site of worship. As it is each Sunday. Any  tidying and  improvements will be lasting for the school church community here. But  I  have to stand back a little bit and admire the paced coolness of last minutedness ,as the preparation has had to match the budget and the income comes in at the very last minute.
It’s definitely an African new outfit day with smartness paying respect to dignity.Smartness an act of joyful worship to God.
I’ve seen the Bishop’s robes, but the mitre will be ready 16 hours before its needed. Priorities lay elsewhere. Uh? Bishop’s crook?
Meanwhile  I’ve just been out for a lastminute smart new bag.

image

We expect an amazing day of celebration and worship. Pray with us  please.Psalm 23. The Lord is my Shepherd.

http://www.revivalcentrematugga.Co.UK

Giving

Sunday February  15 th  2015

I’m about to sleep in a quiet place tonight up on the hill where the water goes anticlockwise down the plug.It’s a beautiful African  night with the frogs croaking, and no cockrel. I might sleep too well but I hope I see the sunrise over the lake.

image

I’m giving thanks to God for meeting some very special people this evening and this weekend. For  their generosity in giving their time, money, resources and lives to helping others.It is good to hear their stories, listen and learn.

Beatrice and her husband are well educated Ugandans with good jobs.They largely finance their missions to areas of North East Uganda where the hens roost high in the trees and the trauma of the Lord’s Resistance Army still affects man and beast.(Is he that is on trial in the Hague not victim and perpetrator?) They educate and give health care,support churches to serve and rebuild their communities. We laughed a lot and shared news of common acquaintances. We tried to found a FB page for their organisation whilst they relished fish and chips with Internet.Faith inspiration.

I’ve  never heard of a doctor celebrating 50years of work, but this evening I have met a very rare lady.Tales of tooting her horn at a tank  and miraculously seeing it move out of her way in a war zone in Angola .Pioneering work in Uganda for those with consequences of obstructed labour and a lasting legacy of a teaching healing facility. I’m going to learn a lot  here from this long serving nun.
http://renouncereverb.com/2012/05/29/a-new-beginning/

And today we remember a martyr of Uganda. Archbishop Janini Luwum.
Killed by Idi Amin.It was the price of his Christian discipleship that made him say ‘ I live as though there shall be no tomorrow. While the opportunity is there I shall preach the Gospel with all my might and my conscience is clear before God.”    see link
The preacher at the memorial service will be the UKs best known Ugandan, and sufferer under Amin, Rt Rev John Sentamu, Archbishop of York.

Www.archbishopofyork.org/articles.php/2365/janini-luwum

And we hear of Coptic Christians martyred today.Sudanese, Iraqis, Pakistanis, Nigerians,Syrians,Indonesians, all have recent Christian martyrs in their number.And silent news on others. Giving their lives as they live out their discipleship of Christ.

Is  there a response? 

St.Valentine’s Day

Not much hype here about St Valentine, obscure Christian martyr  of 269 AD.
Not that there isn’t an ethos of  romance and love and ‘Go forth and multiply ‘.  I’m surrounded by little children. Persuavive skills to encourage contraception, even for child spacing, trip on the edge of a cultural springboard signed ‘Multiply’.
No society escapes misplaced sexual behaviour but an effort to challenge it for the good of relationships, families and children.. is that not positive? 

image

I love the word dignity, in this photo.It’s not a word I use much in my sexual health practice. But it’s a healthy word and worth repeating and pondering on.Created in a virgin state, the choice of when to first have sex needs to be dignified and under the control of the virgin.
So it’s sad to hear rumours of hype about a film of domineering, manipulative sexual abuse taking the limelight in the UK. When porn or sexual abuse are sought out as entertainment and marketed as mainstream in a society, the  society is in decline. If  we can stand up about  this we may give a glimpse of a film’s attempt at  degrading an undegradable people. A report this week gives shocking figures for UK teenagers in sexually abusive relationships.

http:// http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/four-in-10-teenage-girls-coerced-into-sex-acts-10037846.html

Children thrive in safe families built on a parent relationship of trust. Trust thrives in a supportive nonabusive, non threatening exclusive sexual relationship. Society thrives on building blocks of secure families. Of course, there will be childless households and unpartnered individuals for many reasons, but the multiplication of a society of dignity requires security of its children and young people who can be confident to enjoy a responsible freedom in their own generation.

image

Here is an anti HIV poster…. Change the word AIDS to PORN….use both. In the year of removal of topless women in the Sun newspaper, there can be hope for a responsible society putting sexual behaviour in its rightful place.

image

image

As the children of Uganda cry out
‘How are you, European ? ‘

Thankfully,God is Love is timeless and meets us at our point of need.Know love this Valentine’s day.

Degrading Undegradable

Plastic,plastic,plastic..
everywhere,everywhere, everywhere .
It’s  a mess. It’s cheap and it’s careless. It’s bags,it’s bottles it’s water cans and broken chairs.Rubbish with a price…    and with a value.

image

Plastic bags

The road has been remade recently and the plastic bags are now half  embedded in the road.
On the path home, the pigs and chickens scratch amongst the debris.,the plastic. We have the knowledge on food chain contamination but no will to care.We know that water sitting on a plastic bag is a great place for breeding mosquitoes.We know there is a lot of malaria here.No will to clear up, no will to educate. No will to afford large scale recycling.The fall in oil prices is bad for recycling.
A worldwide problem and A We Don’t Care problem.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-31432515

But a ray of hope.Fazzi  with his broken plastic jerry cans

image

Eeking a living out of collection and nurturing the infant recycle.
I like this guy, he wants to collect metal but for now he wants the plastic monopoly. On the back of research into the process of collection and recycle,  a trip around the main plant for plastic recycling looms.Should be interesting even if not on my original Uganda agenda. Might stop my scream of frustration at this degrading undegradable mess.

#InspirationalUgandans

Hear the stories and be humbled.

Uganda is a goldmine of talent,strong spirit,courage and endeavour. It’s all around me and that talent’s
seismic activity just needs to break out of the crust and be free.

image

Lois employee

image

Christine

Meet Christine, a dress designer of much style and talent.She’s made a great dress for me. A smiling happy lady who learnt to sew 8 years ago, then trained 6 machinists and now employs them. She works from 0700 til 2200 each day except Sunday. She is a Christian and her faith is her strength. She has two sons and has lost her husband.Look and see that she has no use of her legs since polio targeted her as a small child.

And yesterday,a blind Leeds university masters scholaship graduate came to talk about the orphaned siblings she cares for.A lady whose computer has a voice and so does she. Already she has lobbied the UK  House of Lords on disability rights.Now back in Uganda to contribute with her talent to the buzz and excitement of the young generation. Discriminated against because of her lack of sight yet resilient, courageous and inspirational.

Or one of the top students in his specialist subject at Gulu university. Bright and articulate he’s peaceful and yet striving to better himself and his family. He spent the holidays rebuilding the roof of the family thatched cottage.Formerly a Kampala street boy and before that running for his life from the massacres and atrocities of the Lord’s Resistance Army.

image

There is a lot more to tell of his story and he is slowly writing it down. Pain and agony  just allowed enough space to appall and his reaction, to humble and inspire the listener.

There are many many more. Let there be a bright dawn for Uganda.

Funnels and Pyramids

February 3rd 2015

Grey grey highlights bald blond grey grey coloured highlights coloured grey grey.Or black black black bald bald greying black bald black black extensions bald.
The first applying to the typical hairstyles down a typical local street.The second sentence; hairstyles typically, here, children often shaved bald for hygienic reasons.
At home, at the Christmas period you can see the return of an 18-30 generation. In between we are pensioner lopsided and Clark Foley, the over 50s centre, open to a fair few of our town. For rest and refreshment and University of the third age.
Come south to the Equator,zero degrees north and south, and zero is a very common age. Us European northerners match our latitude too where over 50 is the boom.
Lots of little children everywhere, here

image

Exploring languages as they call to me, ” Bye…see you ” “how are you Muzungu?” It’s a pyramidal demographic that is vibrant, engaging, energising and  hungry for a great future.
Our funnel demographic may be pensioner rich and pension payer poor but wisdom of experience is a treasure.Our elders have stories to tell.Wisdom to share and experience we know nothing about. Generational fracture is common place in Europe allowing us to dismiss and forget the value of our greyheads.

The pyramidal society need to know wise stories and our funnel society would do well to listen to them and give them voice before they are lost. A cylindrical demographic would help.
Respect for elders here is engrained so that children and young people kneel to elders in their family. Can I feel my western audience cringe?  Why?