The past few days have been wonderful ones to say the least. I write this to you in reckless joy. We jumped right into things after getting here. First was a very warm "younglife welcome." This entailed skits, music, worship and prayer. We were honored to be apart of the youth here in Jinja for the first time. After an extreme and first experience at the local market- we went to choir practice. We are teaming up with a church here called "Oasis Center." Joining instruments and voices has been a unique experience, especially listening to them sing, "So I'll join with the earth and I'll give my praise to YOU!" Every night so far has involved this somewhere in the schedule, rehearsing for a big Christmas service this upcoming weekend. Except this past night was a bit different- ending with such... pandimonium, hoopla, furor, chaos, laughter.
Boda Boda is comfortable (somewhat) with one person being the passenger and one driver. It pushes the limits when the driver is used to you (knows you by name) and drives as if you are not on the bike. But having two passengers as well causes for a little more joyful tension. Where the bike bounces up and down and rubs on the tire. Similar to me or Andrews' trucks back in the states. Well that is always interesting, much less when there are three passengers and a driver- four people on a motorcycle. An ordinary motorbike. I cannot explain- pictures wont even do it justice. But on one bike was Ibrihim (the driver), Anifa (our African friend), Betty (our African hostess), her baby and Andrew. And a guitar. On the other bike was our driver, Philip, a guitar, drum, Christian and me (evan). Philip was like an "uh-oh" oreo smashed between Christian, me and the guitar case. Keep in mind that Philip is about up to my chest when we sit on the motorcycle, so he looks like a true, double-stuffed oreo- squished between my torso and Christians back. It got to the point where i couldn't explain why (partly because i didn't know why) i was laughing so hard. I just lost it. It was the wrong time, because when someone gets a case of the laughs- we all know its contagious. So Philip- if only you knew him in this kind of situation- began to laugh with me. Luckily we were home soon before one of us fell off. "You know you're in Africa when..."
So we spent that day ministering to the small villages around the outside of Jinja. Driving about, gathering children over the loud-speaker on top of the mini-van, 16 of us piled out (yes, 16 human beings) and released the soccer ball to witness what Rob Bell calls "Amoeba Ball." This is where a cluster of kids violently chase after the soccer ball until seconds later it is torn apart. After gathering hundreds of children around, we split up into groups and shared the Gospel with them. Philip walked around the field with the wireless microphone inviting everyone to come hear. "Young and old, rich and poor, healthy and unhealthy, angry and happy, broken and together..." A dance off took place after the sharing and praying. This dance off was more of all the little African kids who actually can dance coming out of the womb and three white guys that look like the tin man trying to scratch his back. And suddenly when a "mizungoo" (white person) throws a dance move it really is a great method for breaking the ice because it A) makes them feel more confident and comfortable for obvious reasons and B) laughter breaks the ice for relationship and conversation.
We were invited after the long day to go speak at an over-night prayer gathering. As we approached this half-built brick building we could see the hearts pumping Gods love. We stepped into something great. Getting to share about Job and Gods glory was an incredible opportunity, as was to worship with them. We prayed together and headed home. Unfortunately (fortunately) our boda boda guys didnt come on time so we caught a ride with... yes i am going to go ahead and say it... a complete stranger in the back of a truck. Sounds intense. So we rode off in this pick-up after laughing and talking about "If it wasn't for you God...." moments with our new friend Emmanuel. After all of this we ended with devotion and spending time with God together at somewhere between 12 and 2 a.m. Philip described ministry in Africa like, "If you dont have the logistics or you do... you go and minister anyway." This vision is taking place daily, giving God our tiny, feeble offering. As we find individually who God has made us, we are learning to serve Him better with our strengths, weaknesses, identities, etc. As we continue, we are finding that God is too big to fit inside a box. We are finding that no matter where you are or what the circumstance is- God is holding up walls of water beside you. God is good, and He doesn't change. And we are each walking closer and closer personally with God, building our relationships with God from the ground up. We are so thankful for you praying because we want to affirm that Gods grace and peace is with us, and we are persevering, remaining in His love as you've been praying. God is here and He is truly a shepherd for His sheep. God has given us tight-knit friendship being built, constantly praying, challenging, affirming and encouraging each other- with us and others close by.
Please pray for the following things:
1) Pray that we would be bright lights for all the people close around us and people we are ministering to.
2) Good health and energy so we can go full speed, safe boda rides
3) for God to prepare our Boda's for Gods message of love, and we would have wisdom in those times.
4) The children that accepted Christ on 12/19/08 during the sports/dance outreach would remain firm and not fall away from God, but chase after Him with their hearts and grow to understanding and wisdom of Him in a relationship.