Sunday, 14 September 2014

THIS IS AFRICA!

We have just returned from five weeks in East Africa, that is Uganda and Tanzania. One expression we kept hearing was "This is Africa!"  It is used in all manner of situations and serves to bring a sense of calm and patience in every potential crisis or drama. It works well. It makes you smile when the bus ticket you have been sold turns out to be for the wrong bus. Or the waiter at a restaurant thanks you for finding the piece of metal in the samosa that you have been eating.  Or the police officer, like a child with a new toy, delightedly shows you your picture in the new speed camera they have got and he tells you the fine will be 200,000 shillings.  When the power goes off for the third time in the day or papaya salad appears with no papaya just lettuce, after having been told that everything on the menu is available. This is Africa.

We have been working with our friends Ingrid and Winette who run the retreat centre called Mto-Moyoni which we have visited a number of times. We spent three weeks with them at the centre on the banks of the Nile in Jinja, Uganda.


The first event there was a Fatherheart Ministries B School. This is the second of the week long Schools that we lead and teach.  The B School is about living in our true identity and destiny as sons of God rather than as orphan-like slaves or servants who are not secure in their identity and relationship with God.  As this was a first for me to lead and be the main speaker it raised a number of orphan-like patterns of behaviour not least performance anxiety!!  It's all very well teaching this stuff but living it is what really counts. So it was good and painful at the same time. It gave me time to think about my own issues and provided an opportunity to lean on God my Father more like a son than a servant.


Being in Africa is a great place to be as I get time to think and write. No T.V. and limited internet access is very good for me.  I am aware that the idyllic gardens at Mto are a bubble in the middle of a challenging and troubled land. We visited a town about two hours away called Mbale where we had the privilege of leading a leaders and pastor's conference for three days.  We met a couple there who lead a group of about 30 churches for the deaf in Uganda. This is a very marginalised group of people in Africa. At best the care of the disabled is poor and often very institution based in this part of the world. These people are often viewed as ignorant because of their inability to communicate through speech. Sam and his wife were greatly impacted by the teaching of God being their Father and they then came on to Tanzania and joined us for the full week A School. They were both deeply impacted and received revelation of God as their Father. 

 One of the outcomes is that we have been invited to lead an A School next year for leaders of these deaf churches in East Africa. This is an exciting development and one we
feel very honoured to be involved with this. The plan is that Pastors and leaders will come to Mto-Moyoni from Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Congo and Burundi for the School. We will be looking to raise the funds to enable these pastors to attend as most of them are very poor.

After Mbale we travelled to Zanzibar where we enjoyed a few days on the beach before going to Morogoro in Tanzania for an A School. 

Getting from Zanzibar to Dar Es Salaam was 'interesting'.  A delayed flight by the ineptly named Precision Air, meant we were able to go by ferry.  This involved a 2 hours sea crossing in the waters of the Indian Ocean. We managed to secure seats on the ferry which was a great blessing and enabled us to pick up transport in Dar in daylight and got us to Morogoro before it got dark. Travelling at night by bus in Africa is an experience to be avoided if at all possible.  It was fascinating to sit on the ferry and watch a movie. It was very thoughtful of the operators to help us pass the time.  The movie was 'Captain Philips,'staring Tom Hanks. This was a recent Hollywood version of the capture of a ship in the Indian Ocean by Somali pirates. Perfect viewing as we passed through the waters surrounded by local boats and skiffs remarkably similar to the ones used by the pirates in the film.  That's Africa for you.

Again it was a significant time at the A School. A number of events conspired to try to derail the school but it went ahead with people being deeply impacted by the Father's love. More connections were made as Father continues to open up doors in East Africa. What was very encouraging was the way Patrick who does most of the translation into Swahili for us taught one of the sessions on the Orphan heart in English and was translated into Swahili by his wife Neckson.  There is a real anointing on this couple and we are thrilled that they and Winette from Uganda will be leading a youth A School for street kids in Dar Es Salaam in December.  Just another step in bringing this revelation of the Father into an African cultural context.

Finally I had time to do some birdwatching and saw 109 different species of birds and also had a day in a game park. So all in all it was a great time, hard work and challenging at times but also a chance to enjoy the wonders of wildlife and birds in Africa.  This is Africa and I love it!

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