Martin's Newsletter from Uganda - December 2012
Christmas Greetings to you all from Uganda! I hope that all is well with you and I would like to wish you all a happy and peaceful Christmas and a blessed New Year.
As usual, the last three months have raced by here with so much going on. It is hard to know what to tell you and what to leave out.
You will recall that one of the churches that I have been working very closely with over the last five years is Mooni Church of Uganda. During this time, I have been working hand in hand with the Lay Reader, Pastor Jackson. He has personally had quite a tough year, after his wife badly broke her arm when the truck that she was travelling in the back of overturned and with him being diagnosed with a serious illness. However, we had a wonderful time earlier this month when he was ordained at St. Andrews Cathedral in Mbale.
There were a number of other pastors also being ordained and it was a major event lasting around five hours. The service was very vibrant and colourful and the Cathedral itself was absolutely bursting at the seams. After the service, all of the Christians from Mooni Church had prepared a small party just for our new Reverend and it was good to give thanks to God and to celebrate his achievement, whilst tucking into large quantities of chicken and rice together. It was a good day.
Until this month, we have been in the rainy season here, which always creates its own challenges. At the end of October, I had been invited to be the main speaker at a small evangelistic event being held in the village of Kinyoli, which is only about a mile away from the largest Islamic university in Uganda, so I knew that it was going to be a little bit of a challenge. I spoke on three evenings, which were all quite different and interesting occasions, but by far the strangest was the final evening.
As the afternoon progressed, it gradually got darker and darker. Just as I was invited up on to the platform to speak, it started to rain. As I began to speak, the rain suddenly became much heavier and everyone turned and ran for shelter. I turned to the pastor who was hosting the event and asked him whether we should pause for a bit but he urged me to continue, upon which he also took off rapidly to take cover in the nearby church building. The poor interpreter and I were left alone on the platform, with not a single other person even in sight. The two of us were soon absolutely drenched.
Still, we continued and I spoke for about forty minutes, at which point, the rain started to ease off a little bit. Although there was still nobody in sight, having gone so far, I decided that I might as well make an altar call. Much to my amazement, a number of people then emerged from the various places where they had been sheltering and came forward to give their lives to Jesus Christ. I have no idea how much they heard of what I had been saying, but still the Holy Spirit was at work. Altogether, forty-eight people made a commitment to Christ over the three days of the mission.
Unfortunately, that experience wasn’t the last of my rain problems as I was recently sitting in my bedroom when I realised that I was getting wet feet. Rain water was coming through the ceiling and running down the walls. It was very good that I was there when the problem arose as I was able to get everything off the floor before too much damage was done. I then had to move out of the house for a few days to allow everything to dry out and whilst I constructed a ladder to enable me to get up onto the roof to clear the blocked drainage, which seemed to be the main cause of the problem.
Happily, there have been no such problems at the school and the first floor of the building is now finished, with the exception of adding some more handrails on the stairs and painting the classrooms. However, I have now been asked to do something to enlarge the kitchen as the cooks are finding it increasingly difficult to prepare and cook food for all the children at the school with the current facilities. It seems that January is not going to be such a quiet month for building works after all.
The children (and their parents) are all very much looking forward to the imminent Christmas Party. After badly ripping the seat in the trousers of the Father Christmas suit on a previous occasion, I seem to have been overlooked from taking on that role again this year. Still, there will be plenty to do as there will be well over 600 parents and children at the party.
You may remember from my last newsletter that I had accompanied Pastor Philip and the youth from his church on a mission trip to Karamoja where we had seen God do some wonderful things. The two of us have been desperate to go back and see what was going on and to follow up on those who had become Christians. However, during the rainy season, the road was completely impassable. Finally, we got a message that the roads were now good, which I correctly interpreted to mean that they were terrible but passable. The two of us therefore went straight back to Namalu for a long weekend.
It was wonderful to be able to meet up again with Pastor Paul, who had previously hosted us and to hear about what had been going on since the mission. We were also able to spend some good time with some of the church leaders and to share and pray with them. On the Sunday morning we went to one of the new churches that had been planted. The church was about ten miles from Namalu and when we arrived we found about thirty-five people all sitting in the shade under a
Once the service started, Pastor Philip and I both shared a message and then took some time to pray for people. A further eight people from the local village also then decided to become Christians. We had taken a few Bibles with us to distribute and the excitement when we presented a Bible to the church was overwhelming, particularly when they realised that it was written in their own language. The translation of the Bible into Karamojong was only completed last year. We also left a couple of large tarpaulins with them so that they had something to sit on and to fix up as a shelter from the sun. It was such a blessing to have been able to worship with them and a really very special time.
The journey back to Mbale was a little bit eventful. At one stage, we were riding down a road on the back of a motorcycle when we approached what looked like a bank of low lying cloud. However, upon entering it, we immediately realised that it was actually thick smoke that rapidly got even thicker. The temperature also started to rise quickly until it became quite painful to breathe. It was at this point that we suddenly became aware that flames were leaping up on both sides of the road and we realised that we were riding through the middle of a bushfire. There was nothing to do but keep on going and soon we were through it. It was all rather unpleasant but we passed completely unharmed to testify to the truthfulness of God’s promise in chapter 43 of Isaiah. There really is nowhere safer than in the centre of God’s will for your life. After that, the challenges of avoiding a herd of cows, finding the road blocked by six camels and passing through a heavy rain shower were all quite minor.
Finally, I would like to thank you all so much for all your interest, your support and your prayers this year. I am so very grateful to you all.
God bless you,
Martin Hayter, 23/12/2012