I suppose it was the first time I've heard Peter verbally crying out to Jesus while driving the NGM van. It was an early morning and we were on a road that was under construction. The construction had left deep and slippery ditches on either side of a single lane of pavement. The pavement had massive potholes, as should be expected here in the Pearl of Africa. Dirt had collected on the pavement before the rain. The rain converted the dirt to a greasy mud that had already dumped several vehicles into the ditches on both sides. Meeting oncoming traffic left no options for passing each other. So ... yeah, Peter was well aware of his need for Jesus!
In retrospect, I have concluded that the journey to deep in the village on this raining morning was simply a snapshot of the adventure that was about to happen in my life that day, December 12, 2013.
|Poster for the village conference|
A phone call had asked if we could stop in Kamuli, the last town of any size, before driving 45 minutes north to the conference. It was requested that we give a lift to a pastor and his wife who wanted to attend the conference that day. We had plenty of room and we were more than happy to provide transportation.
The mental image in my mind of this pastor and his wife prior to picking them up could not have been more wrong. I imagined a middle aged women in a gomesi ... the long traditional dress of women, especially in the village ... married to a pastor wearing an ill fitting suit and tie with a coat with sleeves that nearly covered his hands and dropped to his knees!
So, when a young and western dressed couple came out of the gate, I was looking past them for the pastor and his wife! When I was told that THEY were the ones, I jumped out of the van, opened the sliding door and greeted them. They seemed quiet and were attempting to move to the back of the van. But, I told them, "No. You sit here, just behind Peter and me!"
|Doris & Ronnie Bukenya - December 12, 2013|
Once we reached the village for the conference I asked Doris, "What do you two do when you need to have some time alone to nurture your marriage and refresh yourselves in the Lord." On discovering that this was not a part of their program, I invited them to come to Jinja and stay with Pam and me for a couple of days away from their ministry in Kamuli (caa-moo-lee) and the demands it made on them. Curiously, during one of the breaks, Ronnie asked me, "Do you come from California?" I told him, "No. But, I come from the state that borders California, just north of there. That state is called Oregon."
|Emma & Paul - February 9, 2014|
After ordering some food and drinks, Ronnie and Doris began to unfold a very fascinating story of their own. They told me that just two days prior to our meeting that day, a man of God from Kampala had come to Kamuli and they spent some time praying together in the morning. After prayer, this man named Emma got down on his knees and took hold of Ronnie's feet. He told them, "God Himself is sending a man to father you. He is fat. He is a white man. And, he is from America. He is from California or one of the states that borders California. He has a heart after God's own heart and he is going to father you."
|Doris cries while Ronnie shares what the Lord has done|
All three of us wondered together, "Are you that man?" "Am I that man."
Several weeks later, around Christmas time, Ronnie and Doris make the trip to Jinja to spend a couple of days and nights with us. Of course we were busy, and so we simply invited them to join us in our lives, doing what we do and going where we go. During one quiet interval, I grabbed a children's storybook. The theme of this book revolved around the Christmas story. I invited Doris and her nursing baby to sit with me so I could read this book to them. I've been reading books to my children and grandchildren for more than 40 years. It was nothing new to me. But, it was a very significant experience for Doris.
Somewhere in the middle of the book, a grown man appeared on the veranda and at the open door to our sitting room. He looked at me with expectation ... the expectation that I should stop whatever I was doing, hustle out to the veranda, and attend to him. I stopped reading, looked at him, and said, "Sorry, but I'm reading to my family right now. If I stop to attend to you I will be saying NO to my family so that I can say yes to you. Don't be offended, but I'm going to say NO to you so that I can say yes to my family. You will have to wait."
|Doris loves her mother Pam at her Thanks Giving|
|Loving her celebration of gratitude|
|Doris, her parents, and sister Rebecca|