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Reisverslag Going to the unreached
27 december 2016
Going to the unreached
It began on Sunday as we went to the first local church to perform our drama for “200 people” but realistically it was more like 100. (There wasn’t even 120 chairs in the classroom we were in.) The singing and dancing the church did in the beginning was super cool and they were so enthusiastic about it and we got to sing some songs in the local language as well. After 3 10-minute songs, 4 or 5 introductions and a 25-minute baby dedication, we were finally able to perform the drama and it went very well. The people really enjoyed it and connected with it and there was no mishaps. Following that we went immediately after our performance to a second church where Josh and Steven gave their testimony to a crowd of “50 people” (more like 15) but it went well and they enjoyed having us as guests even if we were about an hour late because of the first service. It was also at this service where Jonathan had his first introduction to fatherhood. He picked up a child, having the warm heart he does, but soon felt a strange sensation. The spot where the child was sitting began to get very warm and cozy… and when he lifted the child up there was a nice little wet patch and a strong smell of urine. As a team we couldn’t help but laugh at him even though it was in the middle of Josh’s preaching and we’ll never let him live it down. And Ava, (Jonathan’s fiancée), know that he is ready to tackle any mess that your children may create, so no excuses. We were happy to get back to the base just in time for lunch (we left at 8:30 and arrived back at 1) where we were planning on doing our own little team time. As always, another surprise was thrown in and we were headed back to the prison to perform our drama for 500+ people during the Christmas service which was held there. It was so crazy to see how energetic the people were about praising Jesus and how much these prisoners wanted God in their lives. In fact, 32 of them accepted Christ during an altar call! 32 new members for the kingdom of God! It was so encouraging and such a privilege to be a part of that and towards the end of the service we got to perform our drama after we had sat outside sweating Olympic sized-swimming pools for an hour. But it was a great experience and it was our first experience seeing people accept Christ on outreach, and in a prison of all places!
Monday was our last day before heading to the unreached tribe and it was a more relaxed day. We had a great bonding team time together in the morning and we were SCHEDULED to have a base meeting at 2:00. Well that didn’t exactly happen seeing that lunch wasn’t over until 2:15 and we didn’t arrive at the location until 2:45. We figured it must be close to starting soon but never get too hasty in Africa as we ended up playing cards for another hour and 15 minutes before starting the service 2 hours late at 4:00. It was actually a good service and we sang some songs together and had an amazing meal with people from various different ministries in YWAM Uganda. Our contact person, our good friend Uncle Julius, along with his wife took over as leaders of the base here in Soroti and the leadership team was transferred from 7 people to 4 people. It was at this service that I had the revelation why everything is done so slowly here, the Ugandan people speak SO slowly! Jonathan and Geerte were involved in praying for the incoming leadership team and they prayed for 2x as much information in half the time when compared to the locals. And also, don’t get too excited when someone says they have some last closing remarks, as 5 other people will end up having closing remarks and even if they have “nothing to say”, they’ve still got more to say than a regular Sunday sermon in western culture. Nonetheless we love it here and have really adapted to the culture and we are enjoying the African lifestyle where time is just a suggestion. Honestly an hour can go by like it’s nothing if you just let go that everything has to be scheduled and just enjoy the moment.
On Tuesday we packed our bags in the morning and headed out in our off-roading jeep kind of vehicle ready to bring the gospel to the remote tribes of Africa. We had a pretty uneventful journey on the way there. It was mostly about enjoying the beautiful African savannah landscape, losing feeling in our butts as we bounced our way across the bumpy, cow trodden, African roads and marveling at the number of cattle and sheep we almost ended up hitting because of their stupidity. When we arrived at our destination we were happily welcomed by double-laned, PAVED roads and after 4 hours of butt-numbing, it was wonderful. It was crazy that such a small location had paved roads and two lanes each way at that, but it was because the First Lady of Uganda came from this region and was trying to invest in it and build it up even though we saw maybe 20 cars the whole duration of our stay. We were also welcomed by our accommodation which was a well-built church building with windows, doors, a gate, and proper walls, much better than all of our expectations. In the evening we relaxed from our travels, ate a nice, supposedly 7:00 dinner, at 9:00 and spent a few minutes each trying to figure out a contraption to keep our mosquito nets up. Some of us also got our first experiences with “squatting” (John) so that was exciting. We didn’t have the luxury of a proper toilet so a hole was the best we were going to get, and if any of you guys need tips on how to squat, we’re pretty much the experts now so just let us know and maybe we’ll share some of our secrets. We went to bed ready to conquer the next day and meet our first African tribe.
The next morning on Wednesday, we made a grave mistake that we thankfully have learned from… we planned. Now you may laugh but we had this whole thing worked out for visiting the tribe later that morning but we quickly realized when we got there, that that’s not how things work here in Africa. So as a team we did the only natural thing we could do and just rolled with it. Not only are we now experts in ‘”squatting” but also in spontaneity so feel free to ask for some tips. We abandoned our ideas of the kid’s ministries we had planned and split the elders up from the kids and mothers. Josh, John and Jonathan gave a talk to the elders about praying and God’s love and other core principles of Christianity. Now these people weren’t exactly “unreached”, they had heard the gospel before and knew about Jesus and praying but they weren’t living Godly lives. It was quite the experience giving the talk, as they listened attentively, but one would go every now and again, walk 10-15 metres away from the group in the grass, pop a squat, do their business and casually return to carry on listening to the message. Thank goodness we already had the breastfeeding experience so it didn’t throw us off as much. So we just encouraged them, prayed for them, and did the best we could in the situation. Meanwhile, Steven, Geerte and Sarah were having a riot of a time trying to connect with the kids and mothers. The tribe was terrified of us Muzungus and were running away from us whenever we tried to play a game with them or sing songs and that’s when we made another mistake…. We brought out the balloon animals. At first they were scared of those too but once they figured out they were harmless and fun to play with, a flood of people like the one during Noah’s time came and tried to overtake Sarah, Geerte and Steven. They even became a little bit aggressive and started grabbing at them, and asking and begging for balloons. Even the moms were overwhelming with how aggressive and deceitful they were in trying to get more than one balloon. Fortunately, it didn’t last forever and we got a tour of the town and the tribe, complete with poo-ridden pathways, mud huts, and thatched roofs. It was so crazy to see, it was like travelling back in time 4000 years. It really is hard to put into words the poverty and conditions they live in down there. We travelled back to civilization and were greeted with another surprise at lunch, we hadn’t done any football ministry yet but the local pastor there wanted us to play in the FINALS for his team in the local tournament, that same afternoon. It was insane, so we finished up our lunch and headed over to the field where 3 of the boys played in the game. It was a tournament about health and sanitation, so as a warm-up before the game, the boys went and cleaned the local bathrooms with a local paparazzi taking photos of them for publicity. Then the game started on the dirt field, with the ball basically defying gravity and bouncing 5 metres in the air every time it hit the ground, dust storms swirling everywhere in the boys’ eyes and teeth, and ended with them feeling mostly dead. Unfortunately the team didn’t win and missed out on getting a stubborn goat as the prize for the tournament, but still got a lovely performance by a local rapper on sanitation. After that it was time for another late dinner and some much needed rest and processing time.
The next day we were headed up the mountain to another small local tribe. We didn’t make the same mistake twice and decided not to plan anything and just go with the flow. We went on a crazy safari ride through the African wilderness and on some landscape I dare not even call a path. We trekked our way up the mountain for 60 minutes, taking in all of the beautiful views and greenery Uganda has to offer, zo mooi, so beautiful. We stopped in this little mud hut with a tin roof and all of a sudden people started pouring in and that’s when we realized we were at the church and we were expected to do a preaching. So John and Sarah shared some of their testimony and a word of encouragement and Jonathan also gave a small word of encouragement. Again, they had their own church so they weren’t super unreached but the conditions they lived in were crazy to see and the clothes they were wearing, most of the boys just wore a blanket over their bodies and if a breeze came by you got a front row seat to their manhood, not to mention all the naked little kids running around. But it was good to encourage them and share a few words and a much better experience from the previous morning. We headed back down the mountain and got to do a house visit. Now this was not a normal house visit, this family lived isolated on a GIANT rock, in the middle of the mountain. They had a little hut, smaller then a shed set up, a chicken pen, some things for cooking and that’s it, all perched 20m in the air on a rock maybe 15m across. If they rolled out of bed wrong or took a wrong step it was going to be their last morning on this earth, crazy! After that we enjoyed another African safari and planned a football ministry for the evening. We brought a couple footballs to the football field, started up a couple games with some street kids and some locals and were able to just enjoy their company and some time with them. Then we performed an amazing rendition of David and Goliath, (sheep included, see photos of Geerte) and we were able to share a Biblical message with all of them. That was enough excitement for one day so we headed back to our church home and had a good nights sleep.
Friday was our last day in the unreached and we were much more prepared for what was to come. In the morning we did another football ministry at the field and reached out to the street kids again. It was incredible to see how poverished they were and you could tell they weren’t used to being invited to participate in the games, they would just usually watch from the sidelines. Despite this, they had quite a bit of talent even though they were still young. Following the football ministry, we left for our last tribal visit. This one ended up being the best yet and was similar to the day before but this time we were more ready for what to expect. We were waiting for the church to be unlocked so we did some songs and games with the kids and this time they were much more open to it, they loved it! They all got involved and you could see even the parents were enjoying it! That was super encouraging and a great way to start off the visit. Once again we met in a small church and Steven and John gave another short message with a part of their testimony. There were probably 100+ people stuffed into a room the size of a big living room! We sang some songs with them in their local language and enjoyed listening to a different form of worship, but eventually our time in ancient Africa had to come to an end. As we were leaving, the cutest thing ever happened, the kids came chasing after the jeep as we left wanting to say goodbye, with bits and pieces flopping about everywhere as they ran. It was the cutest experience ever! But after that it was time to go back home so we packed our bags, and welcomed the butt-numbing journey back to (what we now consider as homely comfort) the Soroti YWAM base. We had a great time celebrating Joni Macarnoi’s birthday with a surprise birthday cake when we got back and a nice night of playing some poker as well as blessing him with some small little gifts. That’s all for now but we’ll have a Christmas update coming out very soon. We love you all and miss you. Keep praying for us and Merry Christmas to everyone!
Foto's bij verslag (19)
27 december 2016 18:13 | Door: jack ooms
Zo'n rock-woning lijkt me ook wel wat hier. Lekker rustig en een mooi uitzicht.
27 december 2016 20:38 | Door: Francis bruining
Wow you guys are having a amazing time. Keep up the good work.
29 december 2016 18:03 | Door: Peter van der Ende
Hey team Uganda,
Thank you so much for the story's en foto's. We really liked it very much!
Blessings en health in 2017!
Peter van der Ende