Monday, April 20, 2015

Ugandan Baby Shower

Yesterday at church it was announced that we would be going to visit Betty who gave birth on Wednesday.  I was instructed to bring firewood to give as a gift to the new again mother.  I had to run to town between church and the visit, so I just stopped a man on the road who was taking firewood into town to sell and bought all that he had.  When I got back to the village I found Rose and Deborah collecting their share of wood.  When I stopped they were very surprised to see the truck bed loaded with wood already!  I told them we could load all the wood up in the truck and take it to Betty's, that way we didn't have to carry it on our heads. (There is no way I would have made it to her house if I had to carry one of the bundles of wood I bought!)
So we loaded up the wood and three jerry cans full of water and set out for Betty's.   We even added a few ladies and their wood along the way.
Betty gave birth to a healthy baby boy (which I never thought to get a picture of!) on Wednesday.  She went to a hospital near by when she knew the baby was close.  We asked her if she walked, took a bike, a motorcycle, or a car.  She told us that she took a motorcycle...while in labor!  I mean, really, I am a whimp compared to these ladies.  She came home either the next day or two days after the same way, bouncing on the back of a motorcycle.
But this is the way a "baby shower" goes here.  You wait until after the baby is born, then you bring gifts.  Gifts like firewood, salt, sugar, soap, tea, jerry cans full of water, and some baby clothes if you have any.  Betty knew we were coming so she had prepared food for all of us.  So we all sat on mats in a nice cool hut that had just been smeared (That is where they use fresh cow dung and smear it on the floor and let it dry.  It keeps the dust down but can smell very strong the first day or so.) and held the little baby boy and ate posho, atapa, and pork.  We then sang a few songs and then they asked me to pray for Betty and the baby.  It is always such a fun time when all these ladies get together.  I am so thankful that I get to be a part of their lives out here.  It is a wonderful blessing.

Betty is in the pink flower dress.  This was after we ate our meal.
You can kind of see the pile of wood that we brought.  And all the jerry cans are full of water that some of the other ladies brought.

Just some of the ladies that were there.  More where coming as we left, carrying water on their heads, or firewood.

It won't be long until we are going to two more "baby showers"!  Penna (in the blue) is pregnant with twins and has two months left to go.  These will be her 8th and 9th babies.  You can be praying for her.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Our Easter Weekend

I realize that it has been a VERY LONG time since I (Ronnie) posted a blog.  I am afraid that Facebook has become my way of communicating with the rest of the world.  And that means that our blog has suffered.
But that doesn't mean that there aren't three or four blog posts that are not quite finished and are waiting to be posted.  For now though I thought I would write about our Easter weekend here in Obulle.
I have gathered from social media that Easter is the time to take beautiful family photos, but that is just one more thing we didn't do here - that and hunt for easter eggs, or give baskets of candy.  Instead it was truly centered about the celebration of our resurrected Savior which I appreciate.
On Friday Colin was asked to preach in a sister church about an hour away.  He wanted to do a very basic story of Easter.  He used my children's church material (picture cards) and storied through the creation story, then jumped to Jesus' birth, ministry and finally the Easter story.  He went with Dan and when they arrived at the church, only 5 adults were there.  About three times as many kids were there as well.  Colin had everyone sit in a circle and using the pictures he told the stories.  I later talked to Dan about how it went and his face just lit up!  He said it was one of the best teachings he had ever been a part of.  He loved it!  And he said that the rest of the people there also loved it.  Sometimes it seems like we need to "go deep" with folks here, but I am reminded time and time again that the more simple you make learning about the Bible, the better it is received.  The "deep" stuff will come, but for most, the simpler the better.
I stayed at our church here in Obulle.  There was a small group and it was nice.  I didn't do anything with the kids only because there were not that many.  Maybe around 20 kids, which is a very small group for me.  My friend Jennifer acted (or did a "drama") like she was Mary on Good Friday and told the story of Jesus coming into the city on Palm Sunday all they way up to him being crucified on Good Friday.
On Saturday we were all supposed to go door to door and talk to the community.  My ladies Bible study group had talked about going out to a few homes and practice their stories.  They picked four homes to visit.  I went and bought some soap, sugar and tea to give as gifts to the homes we went to.  Colin, Emma and a pastor that was visiting our village, went to homes where there were families that we not coming to church or that were unbelievers.  You can read about Colin's visiting in the blog just before this one.  The ladies and I had a great time and I feel like it was refreshing for these women to go and talk about Christ to their neighbors.  This was a "foot in the door" opportunity for us and I think we will go back as a group.  We even saw one of the ladies in church the next day!
On Sunday the church was full!  We ran out of benches for everyone to sit on.  After Jennifer did her "drama" I thought that I would pick up where she left off.  So I sort of interrupted the beginning of the service by running in to tell everyone that the tomb that they put Jesus in was empty.  I pretended to be Salome.  It was fun because I could see everyone's faces and lots of the congregation was really getting into it.  Then I took all the kids out for children's church.  About 70 children showed up.  We used the picture cards to tell the story of Passion week.  It was really great.  Then I gave an invitation and had 6 children give their lives to Christ!  While we were talking and praying one little boy (about 9 or 10 years old) who gave his life to Christ had tears steaming down his little face.  It was truly wonderful!  They then all got to color and I brought cookies for everyone to have.
After church was over I ran home and started cooking lunch.  We invited Dan and his family to join us and Rose requested that we have pizza for lunch.  I'd cooked pizza a few weeks back and had made too much for our family to eat so I took it to Rose and Dan's and they loved it!  So that is why Rose wanted pizza for Easter lunch.  How could I say no?!
So we had an Italian style lunch with pizza and spaghetti.  Then I made two huge bowls of popcorn to finish the day off.  It was fun and well worth all the work.  We hope you all had a wonderful Easter weekend as well!

Monday, April 6, 2015

sharing the Gospel house to house in Obule

Over the Easter weekend we had the opportunity to visit many of our neighbors and invite them to join us at church on Sunday and to share the meaning of Easter. It was the first time since moving to Obule that we have gone around to meet with our neighbors with the sole intention of sharing the good news of Jesus. The ladies from our church have been practicing telling the stories of the Bible in chronological order during their weekly women's Bible study. So they decided to go and share those stories with some families nearby. The men hoped on the motorcycles and went around to some other homes and shared The Gospel. After going around for several hours we met back at a friends home.

Some takeaways from our visits:
Most of the folks were welcoming and receptive to hearing us share with them the story of Jesus' coming to Earth as a man, living a sinless life, and dying a substitutionary death for us on the cross, and rising again after three days to make a way for us to receive salvation and eternal life.

Most people were resistant to accepting the free gift of salvation because of baptism they received as a child. Most people that we visited had been baptized as an infant and felt that was sufficient and they didn't need to make a personal decision to follow Christ.

Others who were resistant to accepting Jesus' salvation were living lives that they knew were not pleasing to God, but said "someday down the road I'll make a decision to follow Jesus." Essentially they were not willing to change their lives, but knew that they needed to. Even in a place where the average life span could be considered short, they felt they had plenty of time to make that decision at a later date.

A few folks felt they needed to clean themselves up first before coming to Jesus, or that their sins were too great. I think this is a universal issue.

Also, many thought we were trying to get them to convert to our church (or give up on their current church - even if they do not actually attend a church). We made it clear that we were here to share the good news of what Jesus had done in our lives and what He wanted to do in theirs. We were not trying to get people to switch churches. Still some were skeptical.

Religion is strong and idea of work-based salvation is still the norm in this area. The concept of free and unmerited grace is almost too simple for people to accept it. People feel salvation has to be earned and that God wouldn't just offer salvation freely - this is a big hurdle that folks are still stumbling over. A couple people felt that if they did more "good" things than "bad" then God would allow them into His kingdom when they died.

All in all it was a really encouraging time even though most folks decided not to make a decision to follow Jesus. The fact that everyone was so willing to sit and talk and share openly was encouraging. It was also great to be able to go into people's homes and show them that we do care, not only for their physical needs but also about their souls. A few of the people we met with did come to church on Sunday and hopefully some of the ladies will begin coming to the ladies weekly Bible study. We plan to continue meeting with our neighbors and answering their questions, loving and serving them, and continue planting seeds.