Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Hunt

So I was going to title this post "insanity at its finest" but I decided to air on the side of being informative instead of witty. As you read on I think you may agree with my original idea. You know the saying, "the more the merrier"? Well, that was my feeling as we geared up for our usual youth conference that takes place every three months during the school holidays. I did my usual promo getting the word out to the missionary community and what not, really thinking that it would be like usual where we would have at the most 120 students...hahaha... WRONG! Little by little more and more people informed me that their students would come, I couldn't believe the response, it seriously blew my mind. My friends would just laugh as the final days brought in bigger and bigger numbers of people registering, and when it was all said in done we had around 250... that's right 250 students between the ages of 10-20 on our compound this past Friday and Saturday.
What adds to the fun and excitement of that number is the fact that I was out of town doing village outreaches for the week and a half before the conference. Now, I'm known for my OCD organizational skills when it comes to events. I have color coded schedules, countless to-do lists, a binder (usually with tabs), and the list goes on. This time, I couldn't do that and not being able to be my neurotic self before the largest youth event we've ever had almost killed me. But on Friday morning (after 2 hours of sleep) ready or not, it was go time. The conference had the theme of "The Hunt" which was a study through Proverbs and our search for wisdom and all that entails. We looked at the people (sluggard, righteous, hard worker, etc...), our plans vs. God's plans, our anger, temptation, and our words. We had to have the teachers stand at the back of the church so that the kids sitting under the tent could see the teacher as well as the kids in the church. It was an interesting dynamic but it worked.
We also had several wild and crazy games that each had a point to them to teach about what we were learning in Proverbs. We had capture the flag and a treasure hunt (dealing with searching for wisdom). We had a crazy huge slip n' slide to show that we need to focus on God and go straight for His path if we want to go the furthest in living the life He made us to live.
The next day afte the teaching on temptation, the kids had to eat cupcakes where some of them had some interesting items inside (cat food, jalepeno vienna sausages, olives) to show that things may look good on the outside but the inside only brings bad news.
We also had a killer water ballon fight to teach how our words can hurt us, get us "wet", and also affect others.
And another crazy game involving a crab walk to a basin full of corn starch to then take suckers out with their toes then go to a plate of honey, soda, and the stuff from the cupcakes and get a mouth full of that and then run and spit it into a coke bottle (all teaching about our words).
By now I'm guessing you're understanding the "insanity" comment from the beginning. And honestly, it was pretty crazy, and I learned a whole, whole lot about what I need to do come August when we host our next conference. But I just have to take this time to give a shout out to all the people who helped out with this event: the small group leaders, Jess, Bev, the School of Ministry guys, Ricky, and Davis (whose service was more of a blessing than he'll ever probably know). Overall, I'm getting feedback that it was a "success" and I'm just blown away that God allowed me to play a small part in getting these students to know Him more. TO HIM BE ALL THE HONOR, ALL THE GLORY, AND ALL THE PRAISE.

Village Outreaches #1 and #2

For those of you who don't know, God has laid a burden on my heart to make disciples of the 17 million kids in Uganda under the age of 15. Part of seeing that come into fruition is how God has been opening doors for a small team of us to go and do outreaches/conferences in villages around Uganda. This school holiday we were able to crank out three two-day long conferences. The first I've already posted about, but the last two were a bit different. Outreach #2 Bugiri Bugiri is a small town about an hour and a half away on the way to Kenya. A former school of ministry student has a small church there and he was chomping at the bit for us to come and do an event there. (We found out later that he even sold two of his own goats in order to make it happen.) We headed out with a packed car of worship equipment, game supplies, water, matreses and four students, Ricky, Davis, Bev and I. The church was one of the coolest ones I've seen, it is also used as a school, and is so simple yet speaks volumes in the midst a culture where true religion is defined by ostentatious places of worship. It was refreshing to say the least.
We went through our same program as the first outreach of teachings, games, activities, etc... But there was one distinct difference, there were just as many adults as there were youth at this YOUTH conference. But it worked out great as Bev lead the adult small groups and so it ended up being an unexpected surprise audience. At lunch I decided it would be as good of time as any to see how the whole bowl of meat soup would look poured all over the front of me, and it was so nice of a friend of mine to be sure to capture it on camera. We then had another glich of rain decided to come and pour during the second teaching causing a nice little rain delay (you can't do a whole lot of teaching in a tin-roofed building and no speakers for fear of lightening), but soon the rain stopped and we were able to continue on with our program. Another glich however was that I lost my voice for that conference. It was fairly miserable and rather humorous at times but we made it through. Nighttime in the village is honestly my favorite because you are able to just sit outside talk and enjoy the evening. We were all so tired though that almost right after dinner, it was time to sleep. Bev, Achiro, and I stayed in the house of the brother to the pastor, and it was amazing! It poured rain most of the night but we barely even knew as the house was so sturdy. The boys stayed in a little less luxury, as they shared a room with several rats. The morning began with more rain and the fear that the conference would possibly be cancelled for the day. But the sun came out and we went forward with the day. It really was a great event and the local pastor there did an amazing job and definitely set the bar very high for future hosts.
Outreach #3 Naykoi The first outreach was on a Monday and Tuesday, Bugiri was on a Thursday and Friday. On Monday, we headed out to the village of Naykoi which was about 3 hours away. This time Jess came along and we were down one student. We reached the village by 9. Got situated, and got into the swing of things. The language barrier was killer in this village but two of my students and Ricky are Ateso so they were our key communicators. The team was awesome and one of my highlights is one of my guys, Isaac, doing a stellar job at teaching the kids. You never would have expected such enthusiasm from such a chill guy but he did great so well. Achiro did great leading small groups. And Otim... well he's just amazing. That night was basically perfection. After the conference closed for the day, we went off to pick some mangoes as the sun was setting. Seeing my friend Davis get up in that mango tree was hilarious and we all tried to make sure mangoes didn't drop on our heads. Then as the sunset turned into dusk, the fireflies came out, we ate some of our mangoes and began to take part in an awesome little dance party to local music played on some of the traditional instruments. There was this one little girl, Maureen, she's 8 decided that she would get me to dance with her. No words were used she just started dancing in my general direction and before I knew it, it was just she and I. She could move in ways I didn't know were possible but it was really the highlight of the whole trip for me and super special. a
Achiro and I then went to a hut where two of the daughters of the village pastors slept and we put our matreses on the floor and got the mosquito nets all set up. It was rather interesting, and my first night of sleeping in a hut like that but it wasn't too bad and it was better than where the boys had to sleep so I'm not complaining. One of the most precious things was when the pastor's daughters came in and before they went to bed they both prayed (they didn't realize I was awake). It was so cool! The next day we got our hands on hot water so we could make coffee and got the day going. It again, was just an awesome day of getting to be used by God in this very cool capacity. We finally headed out by 3:30 and were back in Jinja in time for dinner. It was an awesome trip!


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