Uganda Update #5

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Greetings at the end of day 2 of the Pastor's Conference!

It has been a very, very full day, and we are exhausted—but overflowing with gratitude and joy.  God has met us in such remarkable ways throughout this day, it's almost surreal.

At the end of last night, we distributed their "goodie bags" (thanks in part to Kelly Plosker and Helen Challener, who sent some of the contents with us!)  The delight on the face of each one when receiving their bag was priceless.  They seemed overwhelmed to be gifted in yet another way.  Today we've had several questions regarding the contents . . . and so we've learned that we need to label items and maybe even state each one’s use.  The little bottles of bubbles we included were unidentifiable to them.  We heard that some thought they were perfume, while others thought they were body oil.  After we demonstrated them, they were quite amused.  :)  We were asked what the purpose of "conditioner" was, and one asked about the sweets (gummy hearts) that seemed like gum, but then disappeared.  It was great fun helping them understand these unfamiliar items.  

Julie and I filled the goodie bags for each couple—they were a big hit.  

It was raining when we wakened this morning and I'll admit that my heart sank a bit thinking of the implications of rain on our outdoor retreat.  Thankfully, it subsided by mid-morning, after washing everything off and settling the dust, so we were even able to take tea outdoors!  A blessing.

Today we tackled some difficult subjects, including teaching on the effects of the fall (Genesis 3:16) in tandem with the "solution" to "reversing the curse" from Ephesians 5, as well as on marital sexuality.  If the first talk was challenging, it was nothing compared to the second one, since sexuality is not addressed openly in Uganda—in or out of the church.  We tried to handle the subject very delicately and sensitively, and by God's grace, it was very well received.  Not entirely comfortably, for sure, but there was great reception.  The repercussions of such shame-driven silence has spawned many distortions and exploitations.  They seemed to understand that if they will not push beyond this generational legacy, however uncomfortable, their children will inherit the same unbiblical, ungodly view of sexuality.  This seems to make sense to them.
Our meetings were held indoors in this meeting room, but everything else was held outdoors.

Our last session today was on temperaments.  I must admit, we almost jettisoned it at the last moment, thinking "what relevance can this have here, when the needs in so many other areas are so great?"  But Derek and Julie urged us to teach as planned, and no other subject we presented has generated more discussion.  So many have commented on how helpful it was to understand that many of their areas of conflict are driven by their temperament differences.  :)

There has been more interaction throughout the day and we are amazed again by how similar the struggles are among married couples, whether residing in the USA or in Uganda.  Financial issues—from separate finances to not enough to make ends meet.  Communication issues—from frustrated women who feel left out of their husband's world because of his silence, to poor conflict management.  Sexual issues.  Time management issues.  The similarities are almost eerie against the backdrop of the huge differences culturally, economically, socially.  And yet the "solutions" are driven by Biblical truths and principles, which transcend all of those things.

We took a longer afternoon break so the couples could relax and enjoy the grounds.
This place is spectacular.

We have loved being with these people of God and feel that He has allowed us to experience true unity as the Body of Christ.  We have loved seeing them embrace some new-to-them truths about marriage and family and are so humbled to be a small part of this process.

We send our love and gratitude again tonight—
Virginia (for Paul, too)