Uganda Update #4

Monday, March 11, 2013

Greetings from M'to Moyoni!

Today begins the Pastor's Conference!!  Early in the morning, the couples—some almost giddy with excitement—gathered at CURE Hospital to journey together about 2 hours west of here to Jinja, where the head waters of the Nile are found.  Our scheduled 8 am departure was right on African time . . . and the first taxi left soon after 9:00 am. :)  By 11:30 am, we were all transported to M'to Moyoni, a Christian retreat center on the Nile, where tea was awaiting our arrival.  Some of these customs we'd love to incorporate: morning and afternoon tea, for instance.  :)

Gathering at CURE Hospital early Monday morning, the expectations were high. 

Tea time at M'to Moyoni provided needed breaks morning and afternoon
for processing, connecting, and relaxing.

Invited to this "first ever" all-expenses-paid pastors conference were 18 couples who have been faithful to teaching the Word and being used by God very strategically in the Mbale area.  They were selected and invited by the head of the MEF (Mbale Elders Fellowship) as well as the head of JENGA, an NGO committed to serving the underserved in this area.  All were humbled by the invitation and cleared their schedules in order to attend.

The conference attendees—mostly from Mbale, but two couples from
Kampala and two from Jinja also joined us.

During our first session, we began to understand how deeply grateful these pastors and their wives were for this incredible opportunity.  Most of them said they had never been on a retreat that served them.  Many of them receive little to no pay for their work in ministry.  They maintain another job to feed their families.  They are passionate about serving the Lord and the Body of Christ, but most do it with little reward.  They were truly humbled by the generosity of the Home Improvement Ministries community which had made this possible financially.  Thank you all again!

During the afternoon sessions, we spoke on the importance of balancing marriage, family, and ministry and about God's design for marriage.  Although the challenge is great to achieve balance for many in ministry, it seems more of a challenge here.  Because so many are bi-vocational and have spouses who also work, their marriages and families suffer for lack of attention and time.  They were so open to hearing how important it was to protect and invest in their marriages and families.  We felt right from the start that God's presence was with us and that His Holy Spirit was working among us.  We assured them that we were not here to teach them about western ideas regarding marriage and family, but our commitment was to be true to His Word, which is above culture.

The retreat center is beautiful.  It is an oasis.  A sanctuary.  A sacred place.  We all felt the tensions and pressures of the world melt away as we immersed ourselves in the therapeutic beauty of M'to Moyoni.  It was the perfect place for this event.

M'to Moyoni sits on a beautiful  piece of land, perched above the Nile.
It was the perfect place to hold this conference.

After a satisfying Ugandan evening meal of rice, matoke, g-nut sauce, and meat, we transferred from M'to Moyoni to Kingfishers Safari Resort for sleeping.  M'to Moyoni doesn't have enough "bandas" to accommodate all of us, so we slept at Kingfishers, which is also on the Nile.  We actually didn't see any of it since we arrived after dark, so we'll discover its beauty tomorrow. 

We are beyond excited to be here, doing this, in spite of being very aware of our own human inadequacies.  We feel very connected to this wonderful group of co-laborers for the Gospel and feel strong in the Lord, knowing how many of you are praying for us and for this event.  Thank you again for making this possible.

There is no Internet here so we'll be sending these once we’re back in Mbale.