Sunday in Kampala

Sundays are the best days in Kampala. The headache-inducing traffic jams the other six days in the capital city are not present this day. It is easy and fast to get around. A relief.

Today was my first Sunday back in Uganda. Worship day. I took a Matatu (taxi) about 10 miles to downtown Kampala to attend Watoto church, an uptempo church of the word that reminds me of Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago and an Assemblies of God meeting. Lots of energy, great worship…and a time clock that keeps the service at about 1:45, because they must clear the house to get the next group of enthused worshippers in their place.

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I visited Watoto last year. A friend took me today. As we were walking through a small village to get to the taxi stand, a mother was outside, washing her crying two-year-old. The child wouldn’t stop and the mother, after glancing at me, told the child (in Luganda), “If you are not quiet, the muzungu will take you!” At that, the child stopped crying immediately!

It has been warm here, in the 80s with humidity. It wants to rain, but hasn’t. The heat hasn’t stopped mosquitoes seeking my sweet, muzungu blood. Fortunately, I packed a couple of bed nets to keep them mostly away. I can hear their whine (and cry) as they probe for weaknesses in the mesh. The deadly anopheles mosquito flies quietly and at night. So far have not met up with them.

It is good to be back. I feel comfortable and supported by many friends. I have been meeting people in town as a “mule” to deliver gifts and items on their behalf. On Tuesday, a Ugandan friend I met three years ago in South Sudan will come pick me and drive me to his home in Kasese. I’ve enjoyed his family’s hospitality the past two years. We will also discuss some projects of his, from supporting scholarships from primary school students to women’s micro-finance projects. Then it will be to Bwindi for a couple of days before settling four hours further south in Kabale.

Had to rely on patience and faith to get me here. My reliable driver was late in collecting me Tuesday morning. As a result I missed the 6 a.m. flight out of Sacramento. An agent put me on a 6:20 a.m. flight to Houston that would connect to Newark where I would pick up my scheduled itinerary.

It was snowing with freezing rain in Newark. That flight was delayed three hours as we joined a lineup of jets for de-icing. When we arrived in Brussels, five of us had 20 minutes to make the next flight to Uganda. Nope. So we were rerouted through Istanbul, Turkey, which looked pretty nice near the Mediterranean and Black seas. Wheels down in Uganda at 3:45 a.m. about five hours behind schedule.

Before I left, I wired $10,000 to my account in Uganda on behalf of Team in Faith to be used for grants and gifts, ranging from church roofs in Congo to materials for primary schools. It will be a powerful experience for me to make these grants on behalf of TIF and the generous gifts of donors.

God is here, the holy spirit is present in all my activities. Am blessed and thankful to be in this position.

Mukama nimarungi. Good is good.
Ebiro byona. All the time.

Support education and health care projects in Uganda at teaminfaith.net

It’s God’s Time

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
 Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV

It is our human condition to seek instant gratification. Whether we want a job, a car, or a relationship, we usually want it NOW. We may pray to God to ask for his favor in blessing our wish, but his answer usually comes in his time, not ours, as the prophet tells us.

I recently returned from 10 days in Kampala where I completed some unfinished business. In June, I traveled to the DRC border outside Kasese with my friend, Bishop Kayeeye, his wife, my assistant Barnabas and our driver. At the border, the Congolese officials denied my entry, saying visas are no longer issued there and that I should obtain one in Kampala.

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It was a shock and disappointment. None of us knew about the change in policy. I felt the trip was a waste of time and money. The bishop went on to meet the appointments he had made while I returned home.

However, events conspired against him. There were several prominent deaths requiring his presence at funerals, which led to postponement of his scheduled meetings. So my absence turned out to be something of a blessing as we would not have completed our mission as planned. The bishop said it was God showing us that this wasn’t the time to be in DRC.

In Kampala, we systematically obtained permission and introductory letters from the Diocese of North Kivu in DRC. With all the paperwork in order, I applied for and received my visa.

This appears to be the time.

When I was a young man, I cooked up plans for myself and my career. Then I asked the Lord to bless them. While some progress was made they were never fulfilled. It was not God’s plan for me.

Does this sound familiar to you? Do you struggle with your need for instant gratification and God’s timing and plan? For some things we want we may have to wait. It could be a day, a week, a year, or decades.

I’m now in my sixth decade. I have learned a lot and now strive to put myself in alignment with God’s long-held plan for me. Finally, I am doing work that brings me great satisfaction and I am more fulfilled than anytime in my life.

It’s not my time. It’s God’s time.

Morning Commute

The pre-dawn in Kampala is alive. Hours before the sun peaks over the horizon, government workers, other commuters and students are on the move.

The headlamps on cars, matatus and boda-bodas shine weakly on the already-crowded streets. Young girls, with orange blouses and white socks, set out for class along the side of the road, rehashing homework facts before the day’s lessons begin.

The only concession to urgency is the fact that they have left home early. The pace is relaxed. Like their peers in the West, they have appointments on their schedules. What they don’t have are private cars to school, public school buses, or the angst of trying to get somewhere on time.

This is a weekday morning in Africa. I am on my way to the airport to collect my baggage which is two days late from London. I’m thinking about how I can collect the luggage, then get through security in time to make my already-delayed flight to Bwindi.

As we speed past traffic toward our destination, the shadowy figures and vehicles move with a purpose but with patience. They will get there when they get there.

Flight of Faith

“I’m sorry, Mr. Hill, the flight has now closed.”

What? Did I hear that correctly? I missed my flight to Entebbe?

My heart sank. My anger combusted in a second. I turned to face a representative, who asked what I needed.

“I just missed my fucking flight,” I muttered, bewildered by my immediate options.

“Sir, stop swearing or you won’t get any help,” she said. Fair enough. I just lost my cool. Actually, for an interminable moment, I lost my faith.

Obstacles and inconveniences are a part of life. They slow us down but don’t necessarily stop us. Most can be surmounted. Our desire and ability to get past them shows God our fitness to serve him. Will we get sidetracked, lost or demonstrate resourcefulness to continue?

For months I have been living in the spirit and dealing with obstacles related to my video ministry trip. Stay calm, stay focused, and stay the course. it will all work out. To whom much has been given, much is expected.

I slumped at the customer service desk where an angel took my boarding pass, worked the computer and the phone.

God, I can’t miss this flight. What will I do? I just showed just how weak I am. Faced with a looming dilemma, my faith failed me. Yet God showed his steadfast faithfulness to me.

The angel was conversing with important people and got me back on the flight to Entebbe.

I had to go through security again, and did so pretty quickly. Then had to run around to find the gate while the message board still indicated the flight was “closing.”

Rushed to the gate and heard, “Mr. Hill?” One more check of ticket and passport and it was off to the jetway.

Now we’ve been sitting here for nearly 40 minutes as crews try to remove six bags from an individual who will not be on the flight.

Looks like I made this flight in plenty of time.

But my bags didn’t.

Once on the ground in Uganda, I discovered that my bags didn’t make the plane. Really? Despite the 45-minute delay they didn’t get on?

Another obstacle in my path.