Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Fabulous Fourth Without Fireworks

4 July, 2011

It is hard to imagine all the celebration that must be going on at home in observance of the 4th, for here it is an ordinary Monday. The electricity was still off this morning. We met for breakfast at 8:00, got things sorted out to send to Mbale with Kermit and Bryan, and prepared for the Women’s conference.

Although we were supposed to be at the conference at 9 we didn’t even leave until around 10. This is Africa, after all. Before we left Mary and Allwyn arrived from Wales, along with two friends traveling with them. It was so good to see them! Kermit and Bryan are traveling with them to the school while the rest of us remain here in Entebbe.

Despite last night’s experience, the roads were passable today, in part because we took a different route. The men’s and women’s conferences were to be held at the Botanical Gardens. What a beautiful setting! As we drove in we saw and heard monkeys swinging from the trees, and the drivers stopped to let us get out and take pictures –no worries that we were already two hours late for the conference!
When we finally got to the conference site it was in a breathtaking setting with natural beauty all around, exotic birds and butterflies flying about, monkeys swinging from the trees, and Lake Victoria visible below us.

The men and women were separated by a road and a grassy expanse. Many chairs were set up, but only 12 women and a handful of men were there -apparently our being late didn't matter a whole lot. Nevertheless, we got set up and began introducing ourselves.

We soon began the program, but women kept arriving from every direction and many modes of transportation -mostly on foot. Jan spoke first, then Denise, Wendy, and myself. I had prepared well, but had a hard time concentrating because many were still arriving and so much shuffling was going on as I spoke. Our theme was "The Virtuous Woman" of Proverbs 31. I spoke on “The Virtuous Businesswomen” and I must admit that I didn’t feel real good about how my talk went, although several told me that they took notes and learned a lot from it. If so, it was all God! Denise shared her very emotional testimony, Jan shared some of her earlier personal struggles, and Emily shared how she had accepted Christ in Uganda last year and couldn’t wait to return to share her testimony here. The women, now about 50 of them, began warming up to us. We sang together and they shared testimonies and some of them addressed us, too. Wendy, Andrea, Christy, and Cassandra from our team each spoke as well, and others read Scripture passages.

This lovely young woman was our interpreter the entire day, and she did an amazing job!

Soon after noon the numbers had swelled to nearly 100 in each group.

Lunch brought the men’s and women’s groups together, but it was delayed by nearly two hours, and some had to leave soon afterward in order to make it home before dusk began to fall. The men remained with us, and Scott finished up our time by preaching. We also sang together and had a meaningful prayer time. We handed out gifts at the end of the day and each attendee received a New Testament.

After the conference we had a little time to walk around the gardens. We saw a huge “wall” of spider webs with very large spiders in them. We also sat and talked for a while, admiring the beauty surrounding us until someone came to pick up the chairs.

The day was cool and beautiful. What a blessing to enjoy God’s creation and share time with His people in such an amazing setting!

My ankles have been swollen from the long flight, and another young woman on the trip has very swollen ankles with broken blood vessels beneath the skin. We asked the kitchen for a head of cabbage and I fashioned wraps out of Ziploc bags. I went to sleep with my spa treatment in place and slept well.

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