a blog for the summer missions training team from Bethel Baptist Church

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Bridget's Bunia Blog 28

And after the vacation it’s back to work!
It’s been a return to the final research papers of the three students whom I am supervising. We’ve spent many hours on the exhausting correction of ‘jots and tittles’ so that the style conforms to that of the American APA format: commas, full-stops, colons, brackets, underlining, indenting, referencing. Is it worth it?
I’m sure the painters of the Pointillist School asked themselves the same question when faced with a half-finished canvas that needed thousands of coloured dots to complete the image. Seurat’s huge canvas of the Bathers – it fills one whole wall at the National Gallery in London - must have driven him crazy!!
Now that everyone is into digital photography, the importance of points and pixels is well-understood.

Just as a photo is made up of tiny dots that create the overall image,

so my day of 24 hours is made up of 86400 tiny dots of seconds.

And it's how I spend those seconds

- how I act and react -

which creates the overall picture of the day.

So I can choose to paint a day of coloured images...

kindness friendliness concern purity

politeness godliness


Or a day of BLACK and GREY images...


Bridget Howard


Saturday, September 09, 2006

It ain't s'posed ta go that way...

...that was the comment from Kathleen (a Scottish missionary nurse friend of Gregg and Karen) about our little adventure that started earlier this afternoon...

Gregg, Russ, and I were spending the day in Kampala together, taking care of some financial matters and absorbing the culture of the city. We had just had lunch and were walking up a road called Bugunda around 2:00pm towards the bus station to check on schedules. Russ was following behind Gregg pretty closely and didn't see that Gregg had just stepped over an open manhole in the sidewalk. It could've happened to anyone, you know when you're walking sometimes and you look away briefly and assume that the sidewalk is going to stay flat, but you trip over a raised bit of concrete. Well, this was more than a little bump in the sidewalk. I guess city maintenance here can't keep up with all the people stealing manhole covers to make a few shillings on scrapmetal.

So anyway, Russ didn't see the open manhole hazard and fell four feet straight down into it and landed on the tip of his ringfinger breaking it. The blood and the crooked finger and the pain nearly caused him to pass out on the hot sidewalk right then and there. Russ sat up and I stayed with him while Gregg went for help. A sympathetic lady selling souveniers on the street kindly offered us her handkerchief and some water which we politely had to refuse. I didn't have any spring water left in my bottle from lunch and had nothing to wipe the blood with, but we thought it was better to not take risks with street water and a questionable rag.

Gregg waved down a taxi and asked the driver to take us to the International Hospital on such and such road (you don't want to go to the Ugandan hospital, so I'm told), and the driver said that he thought the hospital had moved to another part of town. Gregg used his cell phone to call a fellow missionary to confirm the new location and explain the directions to the driver partly in English and partly in Lugandan. All of that took about twenty minutes as Russ's finger throbbed and the color drained from his face. After obtaining accurate directions, our driver sped us across town to the hospital on streets and dirt roads jammed with trucks and mopeds and cars and bicycles and walkers and big buses all swerving around and jockeying for position in this teeming city with no traffic lights, traffic cops, or traffic laws for all we know.

The hospital was a great relief to see--clean, modern, etc. It took about three hours but they cleaned everything up, x-rayed the finger and put a splint on it. Russ goes back to see an orthopedic surgeon for a checkup on Tuesday. Total medical expense: 54,000 shillings ... price of cokes on the veranda overlooking the city at sunset: 2400 shillings... value of memories and lessons learned: priceless.

After a great dinner of Lake Victoria Tilapia, potatoes, and curry sauce that Karen made, we spent the evening visiting together and are now ready to go to bed. God has been so good to us!

By the way, Kathleen was holding up this x-ray of Russ's finger:

(We regret that this is the only image we've posted since our trip began. However, we don't have the USB cable for our camera and Gregg's printer/scanner doesn't have a memory card slot. Sorry!)

Friday, September 08, 2006

Back in Uganda

We have arrived safely back from Bunia and are relaxing at Gregg and Karen's flat in Kampala. We have SO many things to tell from the past few days that will take some time to get on the blog, but we at least wanted to get word out of our progress. Here are some stories to look forward to:

  • Meeting with the pastors and school administrators who will be instrumental in getting the English Bible Camp going for next summer.
  • Discussing the English Bible Camp plans on the local radio station in a half-hour interview with Jonas Kiningani, a key partner in next summer's ministry effort.
  • Every day realizing how blessed we are to be working with Gregg and Karen Lewis.
  • Wondering while speeding on a piki-piki through the countryside surrounding Bunia, "does my insurance cover this?"
  • Having amazing chicken, beef, fish, potatoes and, yes, doughnuts for dinner in the home of the president of the denomination of 800 evangelical Congolese churches, talking about the health of the church in Congo, hearing him express the great need for indepth, expository Bible teaching (yes!), and also hearing a very interesting answer to the question posed to the president's wife: "So, what's it like to be a pastor's wife in Congo?"
  • Joining in a home Bible study with missionaries and aid workers from about a half-dozen different countries and hearing Prof. Ted Witmer (Institut Supérieur de Théologie de Bunia) give a great study on Exodus 19 with explanation for why the date of the Exodus is 1446 BC and Mt. Sinai is probably located in Saudi Arabia. Hmmmm.
  • Learning a German card game called "Cafe International" from our hostess at the AIM guest house.
  • Visiting the "Tujenge Choir" rehearsal -- they are a multi-tribe choir making truly amazing authentic Congolese music, some of which we captured on video! Afterwards Alex read from Galatians in Swahili and encouraged the choir to continue displaying their unity with one another in Christ -- a great testimony amid the destructive tribalism that has brought about such hostility and devastation in Central Africa.
  • Being chased by lots of incredibly friendly Congolese children through a village calling out to us "Muzungu, muzungu, muzungu!" and hearing Alex wonder, "Do you think maybe this is what it felt like to be The Beatles?"

Thursday, September 07, 2006

You are the concrete

We have been visiting several of the schools that we hope will participate in next summer's English Bible Camps and talking with their headmasters about our plans. Yesterday, we visited a school in one of the areas that was hit hard by militia, and is now stable but is receiving more people fleeing from some other outlying areas. Their classes are already full, but many parents refuse to believe it and still want to register their children for school.

Today we went on a nice little walk to the other side of Bunia (through an area with many burned-out buildings and showing signs of great distress) up the hill to another school that had been displaced by all the heavy fighting in the area. They were just trying to get started back up, and were having an assembly when we arrived, causing much commotion due to the throngs of little children yelling "muzungu, muzungu, muzungu" as we walked.

After that, we caught some piki-pikis in the marketplace to take us to one of the more remote schools, where we once again were received with great gratitude. During the meeting, the headmaster there expressed a common theme:
Until now, everything about these plans were abstract but now seeing you visit they have become concrete, and you are the concrete."
- Pastor Donga

We went away from the meeting realizing in an even greater way that God always knows best. With all the Congo issues in summer 2006 (new president elections, school testing delays, an abstract understanding of our plans, etc.) and our own issues (travel costs, health concerns, uncertainty, etc.), God's sovereign leading in having us first make a scouting and planning trip to pave the way for a team trip will help us achieve the right goals next summer. We are praising God for delaying our team trip this year and allowing all the leaders to first plan this ministry together. We believe that the valuable input from the godly and gifted leaders here in Bunia who have our utmost respect will make the English Bible Camp ministry one that will be well worth repeating!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Open my eyes, that I may behold...

... wonderful things from your law.
- Psalm 119:18

Alex read this verse from a Swahili Bible before presenting the glasses to some of the "mamas" and elders of one of the churches in Bunia. We then had the joy of watching them try on the different strengths to determine which reading glasses were the best for them so that they could once again read their Bibles, which had become quite difficult for them. They were quite appreciative:

"Thank you, thank you thank you. The fact that you young people thought of us and would collect glasses so that these people could read God's Word is a blessing and shows the love of Christ and the unity of the church to us. God will certainly certainly bless you... everyone... a lot."
- Pastor Gideon Busha

Then pastor Gideon put on his brand new spectacles and read Ephesians 1:18 and following as an expression of our hearts to theirs.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Bonjour from Bunia Blvd

Greetings from Bunia (Dem Rep of Congo)

We arrived safely in Entebbe early Monday (~6 am) and didn't have to wait long for Gregg Karen and the MAF pilot. However, we are one bag short and it was the one that contained Gregg's laptop that he intended to give to someone here in Bunia. We then hopped the short flight out on a five seater (Russell was the "co-pilot"... literally took the wheel for several minutes) and landed on the airstrip in bright sunny weather. The UN troops were abundant and the greeting was friendly.

We had the chance already this afternoon to meet with the President of the denomination - the administrative overseer for some 800 churches, their training institutes and all the many local congregations (some of which meet in homes, etc). He was joined by his secretary, and later another local pastor working with street children joined as well. They seemed very pleased to have us partner with them and very grateful for our visit. We look forward to meeting with many others in Bunia over the next few days to see what God might bring to pass for a team to travel here next summer and in the future.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

London Calling

We had a rather uneventful flight to London and now get to spend the day at Heathrow before flying out to Entebbe this evening. We will be worshipping at ("commandeering") the universal faith prayer room later this morning.