|Jill and I were not dressed like this when going to church that day. These are working clothes at the office and around and about Soroti. The church service was wonderful!,|
When Jill opened the door, Anne smiled and said, “Ladies, are you coming to the church?”
Jill said, “Yes, we are! Do we walk with you or go on our own?”
“Well, Allen left a while ago to plan his sermon in the area. And he took a bike so the people will see it as his part of teaching and preaching. When will you be ready?”
Jill looked at Cary and shrugged. Cary said, “Oh, a few minutes. Gotta do hair and brush teeth. Then we’ll truly be ready. And look forward to time with you.”
“I’ll wait for you on the gate. I’ll visit my Uganda boy who is a guard around this property.”
A few minutes later, Cary and Jill walked right to her, carrying their Bibles, and Anne was smiling happily to join them.
When they started walking a different direction than Cary was used to, she said, “In the few days I’ve been here, I have never walked on this main road. I’ve always walked through the IDP place near the YWAM or going downtown on side roads. This is much different.
“Anne, was this where the Brits left years ago? There are a number of special-looking houses and parks and, possibly, their church. Really does looks different than other places I’ve seen.” Cary looked pretty amazed.
“Well, Cary, yes. When the Brits left all those years ago, and the Ugandans thoroughly took over, their leaders kept this special”..and she rolled her eyes towards the edge of the park and said, “but since the people rushed in here, sometimes any kind of normal situation has changed.” She pointed across the street.
Mostly things looked really neat, but then Cary looked across the street and said, “What is going on?”
Anne nodded. “I know and I’ll tell you. The reason I brought us onto this side of the street is because on the other side there’s a huge tree with many tendrils rooted into the ground that is used as a public latrine by men. They pop into the tree to pee. And, as you have noticed, it doesn’t smell very nice and we can’t thoroughly avoid it.”
Jill and Cary smiled. Jill said, “Thanks, Anne, for helping us not be buried in lots of smelly stuff. This IDP situation has really hurt so many people. Breaks my heart.”
A few minutes later they walked into the church yard, Cary was shocked. She said, “So many people may go into the church, but they might stay outside in their IDP camping portion of the church yard. I better go around and about town more often to see these situations.”
Anne rolled her eyes, ”Of course, Cary. As you know, this invasion situation added about one hundred and thirty-six thousand people to the town, and the town was in the fifty-thousand range when this hit. So it is very difficult and unusual of where and how to stay.”
They walked into the church. It was large, although filled with cuts on the walls and the floor and the seats. About a couple hundred Ugandans were there. Cary, Jill, and Anne were the only “Muzungus”. Many starred at them.
A few minutes later the official pastor Johnson entered. He led in prayer and he talked so clearly about the necessity of having joy in the midst of sorrow and suffering. He said it was important to rely on the Lord and worship him no matter what was happening. The people nodded and agreed, even though most of them were IDPs, not local town members.. After that, he poured hymns out. Cary and Jill were a bit shocked to hear and sing the Issac Watts hymns. They rejoiced with that, but when the song “I Will Enter His Courts” began, they held their arms up high for worship and were truly filled with joy. They kept grinning at each other and smiling at the people, few who could sing in English language. The music was the same as usual, but the wording was quite unusual. The Teso language was very hard to follow.
Allen was introduced as the preacher, and he shocked them a bit when he walked up and brought his tandem bicycle. He immediately said, “This tandem bicycle is an illustration of marriage. The man rides in front and controls the steering and brakes, but his wife is behind pedaling and sharing the work. As one or the other needs, they can take a rest and let the other pedal. But, overall, it’s a team effort and they share the work and the results of their labors. And, all of you need to see how it worked in our Bible.” He smiled. “Joseph, Mary, and Jesus were IDPs in Egypt. They needed this ‘bike’ or their donkeys and needed to focus on moving forward. In our present-day world, that’s what husband and wife need to do, also.”
When an interpreter filled these words in to all the people, many of the people clapped and smiled.
As the church was breaking down, Cary and Jill were visiting some of the IDPs. Allen stood right with them and they were so happy to spend time with him. He pointed out one of his favorite Teso ladies. She sat on the porch area. He said, “She was a charismatic Catholic and has been in this town for weeks and weeks, since the LRA had invaded her village. She truly loved to worship, and, because she is Catholic, a non-Catholic pastoral man in another town had told me that she really didn’t know the Lord. Oh, she truly does. And she does much for many, helping many even though she has lost all of her home pieces through the invasion.” He smiled a her. “Oh, and, in spite of her own tribe, she calls herself ‘Mary’. I don’t even know the actual name. She relies on this and shares with great smiles.”
Cary smiled and tapped Mary’s shoulder. When she looked up, Cary said, “Thank you so much for sharing and worshiping our Father.” Mary smiled and nodded.
When Cary and Jill were looking for Anne and getting ready to walk to the complex, Allen said, “Ladies, we’re taking you to lunch. You’ve blessed us to be here, so we’ll try to bless you.” Allen winked. Cary and Jill laughed and hollered, “Thank you!”