Friday, December 15, 2017

In the Garden with God

Today we would head out the botanical gardens to hold our men’s and women’s conferences.It’s another day without electricity, and I’m about to lose it. My hair is a mess and no way to fix it. God is humbling me. I woke up at 4:30 and started thinking about the day ahead.I sat in the dark, and got everything ready for the day, including giving Kermit the money he would need as he and Bryan headed to Mbale today. Kermit and Bryan were going ahead to Kings Primary School to start the electrical work. Something you should know about the dark in East Africa, it’s DARK. There is no getting your eyes accustomed to it, you can’t see your hands in front of your face. I used my cellphone to give some light in the dark!We all met for breakfast. Each person, as was typical, gave their number of how they were feeling for the day. One being the low and ten the high. Most of the group was a seven or higher. Christy and Sylvia were fives. Christy had to call her husband for prayer because of the rash on her feet. It wasn’t getting better and she was really beginning to worry. It looked like red spots to begin with and now they were meshing together like a bruise. Sylvia was initially a higher number and then at the thought of missing Jerika & Noah dropped her number. We’re all missing family at this point and it’s hard.As is typical in Africa, our drivers were late. The team dubbed an initial for all the things that happened in Africa. “TIA” this is Africa. It did work out though, as we were able to be there when Mary & Alwyn arrived to pick up Kermit & Bryan. So happy to see them. They brought a couple of ladies from the UK with them. Mary and Alwyn are the founders of Ezra and original owners of Kings Primary School.

The roads to the botanical gardens were crazy! But not as crazy as our ride to the hotel yesterday. When we arrived at the botanical gardens we were met by a large group of monkeys. Everyone was so excited. The drivers stopped, the team got out and took photos.

Monkeys at the botanical gardens
The team can’t resist taking pictures of the monkeys. 

Saphan, our director of the conferences that day came down from the hills near us and told me, “these monkeys have done a very bad thing”, there are people waiting for you at the conference and the monkeys have delayed us.” Whoops! So, we loaded back in the taxi’s and headed to the awaiting visitors.

When we arrived there were 6 men, and 12 women. I could tell Saphan was nervous about the low attendance.

Mid-way though the women’s conference. 

As we began, more men and women trickled in. Most of them were arriving on foot, from near and distance villages. We shared messages, testimonies, scripture and songs. The theme for the women’s conference was 3V, Proverbs 31 women, Virtue, Value and Victory. I shared my personal testimony before the women. My talk was on the proverbs 31 wife and mother, and also victory over strongholds and emotional bondage. AS if it wasn’t difficult enough, I shared my testimony with my daughter Sommer present. She was visibly upset. All I could do was apologize for what she would be hearing. I believe God used that testimony to help her
understand what I had been through, and also gave her knowledge of how powerful and mighty God is to pull me from the pit I was living in!

Many of the women in East Africa are very aware of oppression. They’re still living with the idea that men are rulers over them and their households. Many of the men beat their wives, and also have multiple wives. The message we were sharing with these women hit home for many of them. The men in the men’s conferences would also share a message on these same subjects, just as it applies to them. Most of the questions were on family issues. What the wife/husband are responsible for within the family and how God directs their actions and behaviors.

Some of the questions that the men ask are, “my wife isn’t listening to me, is it ok to beat her”? These are serious questions to be dealt with in a Godly perspective.

For the women, they want to be loved and cherished. It’s not common for the African husband and wife to show public displays of affection, at all. No hugging, no hand holding, nothing. The only time there is intimacy at all is in the bedroom, and that isn’t what women would call intimacy by any means.

The men’s conference at the gardens. 

Another emotional testimony came from  Emily. Her testimony was about receiving Christ on our last trip. She had told me last year that she never cried, nothing ever moved her to tears. I watched her during that trip and she was right. Something had blocked her emotions to all she was experiencing. Today, however, during her testimony the tears fell like rain. Christ had cracked the barrier around her heart and allowed her to feel and show emotions that had been locked up for so long. Praise you Jesus! I don’t think there was a dry eye in the group!

Andrea shares with the women. 

After the lunch both teams of men & women came together and Scott closed the conference. Scott is our Minister of Evangelism for Heart of God International.  He’s a gifted speaker with great passion for God and the people of Africa.

Lunch: Beef, Greens, Rice, pineapple & bananas. 

Total turn out was over 100 men and women by the close of the day.  The men received ties and new testament’s, and women received tote bags, jewelry and new testament’s.

Women receiving a tote and New Testament. 

The team was able to wander the gardens and get to do some bonding. I’m glad this trip had more exciting and fun things for them to experience. They headed down towards the monkeys, to giant ant hills and to a wall of huge spiders…eek! And I am talking HUGE!

Standing in front of an ant hill..and the ants were BIG!
This was probably one of the smaller spiders! 

Watching their faces and hearing them chatter over the beauty of the country,  and the love of the African people really stirs my heart.

Before the conference ended Sean asked if the men & women  would pray in unity over Christy’s feet. It brought her and others to tears. The fervent prayers were lifted up simultaneously, over 100 voices praying to God aloud. They then did the same for the entire team. There is nothing that I’ve ever experienced in America that compares to this kind of worship style. It may be out there, I’ve just never seen it.

Laying of hands on Christy and group prayer for her. 

We left the conference at 5:30pm and headed back to the hotel sticky, hot and full of the Lord! When we arrived, No electricity or hot water. “TIA” this is Africa, and welcome to Uganda! 🙂

We went up for dinner and did our high/low.  Again, most everyone still on a high. And then…. Scott & Sommer decided through dinner to dare each other to eat the fish eyes out of their meal. It was disgusting! Dangling, squishy, dripping eyes with veins hanging on forks. After about 10 mins of contemplating and badgering each other they ate them. Gagging, spitting and choking. Sommer spit hers out. Although it was funny, Jan was not amused and became physically ill. How on earth did we go from a beautiful garden setting and worshiping God to eating fish eyes??

Suddenly, the generator stopped and I was aware that we had electricity! I excused myself to go and take advantage of drying my hair before the opportunity for hair ministry had gone! It was a great day in the garden with God and I was excited at the thought of electricity ending a perfect day.

“The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.”  Isaiah 51:3

 

 

Denise is the Founder and Volunteer Executive Director of Heart of God Uganda, an outreach of Heart of God International Ministries, Inc. She is also the Kinder Developer/Coordinator for Magnolia Avenue Baptist Church. Denise is married and has 5 children. Denise is devoted to God and my family. You can reach Denise @ dmatthews@heartofGodinternational.org

 

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