Uganda Update #2

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Dear Friends and Family,

As thunder and lightening break the quiet reverie of this Saturday night, we reflect on the "showers of blessings" we've experienced this day.  Thank you for praying for our all-day marriage conference at Pearl Haven Christian Center.  God was with us.

Though the day started out slow for us, we're beginning to adjust to "Ugandan Time" and lower our expectations regarding schedules.  The conference was to start at 9, and actually started just after 10.  We could have started at 9, but we would have been speaking to an empty sanctuary.  :)  So we waited for a critical mass.  By 10, perhaps 30-40 had assembled; by noon we were up to 70-80.  This is Uganda.

The congregation was very receptive to the teaching and very interactive with questions.

At the request of Pastor Wilberforce, we spent the morning speaking on the design of marriage, beginning in Genesis, followed by the fall and the curse, and ending with the "antidote" to the implications of the curse found in Ephesians 5.  The concepts presented in these passages have not been well understood in this area, according to Wilberforce, and without these foundational truths, it's pretty impossible to live out a God-honoring marriage.  Each time we've taught on this subject here and have witnessed the receptivity of those listening, we know the Holy Spirit is doing a work.  It is very exciting.

A homemade lunch of rice, beef stew, chapatis, and bananas was served to all.
Ugandan hospitality is impressive!

After a 1:30 lunch, we spoke on communication and then on marital sexuality.  The subject of communication, though difficult, is acceptable, but teaching on sexuality is not really done here.  We tried to be very respectful of that fact, knowing that this would be uncomfortable and uncommon for the couples in attendance to hear teaching on. Pastor Wilberforce felt it was very important to include in the day . . . and felt we would be better candidates to speak on it than he.  :)  We were so thankful that the Holy Spirit seemed to massage the message in a way that was not offensive, but rather welcomed.  There was a receptivity, almost a longing to hear a Biblical position on sexuality.  The distortions are as great here as they are in the States and truth is always freeing.  We felt very met by God.

The youngest among us: a 2 week old baby in the center.
Impressive that parents of such young babies would join us for the day!

Throughout the day, numerous great questions were voiced, reminding us of the complexities of living in this culture.  One woman described her situation as having been divorced by her husband (with the support of his clan) after becoming a Christian.   He then took several more wives, but "all of them went sour" so he asked her to come back to him, without Jesus.  She asked if it was wrong to not go back with him; if she was dishonoring God by refusing his demands.  

There was a very sweet spirit in the place.  We stressed again that we were not bringing them a word from western culture, but from God's Word, which is bound by no culture.  We challenged them to be in His Word to learn how to become more Christ-like in their marriages. They expressed deep gratitude for the day, which ended at 4:30.

At the end of the day, Pastor Wilberforce and Sarah and Derek and Julie
joined us in thanking the Lord for meeting us. 

Imagine this: our long time friends, Jan and HA Northington, came to the marriage conference! They have been in Uganda for almost 3 weeks serving in different places, and to our delight, they were able to join us for the day.  

So thank you for standing with us.  Thank you for praying for us.  Thank you for believing in what we're doing and helping to make it happen.

Tomorrow Paul will preach at Pearl Haven and then early Monday morning we'll be off on our Pastors Couples Marriage Retreat.  Julie and I made the goodie bags tonight and are having so much delight in trying to make this extra special for them.  Please continue praying for each of the couples as they have this "first ever" type of experience.

Thankfully Lisa returned to USA safely this morning and is spending sweet time with Uncle David and Aunt Laura before returning to her home in Harrisonburg tomorrow.  

It's time to hit the hay.  We are so thankful for health and stamina these days, especially in the very warm weather.  We're having wonderful fellowship with Derek and Julie and are so grateful to be able to partner with them in such practical ways.

Feeling very, very blessed-
Virginia (and Paul)

After all was said and done, we went for a walk with Derek and Julie which was the perfect ending of the day.  Breathing fresh air, moving our legs, and enjoying the beauty of Wanale (mountain in the background) was refreshing and renewing.