Uganda – Church & Markets

27 12 2013

On our final day I had one more experience of washing my hair over the sink, packed up as much as I could and headed down for breakfast. Just in time for the last day I discovered that they made fresh pancakes, so after a week of beans on toast, I had pancakes with syrup, and a croissant, a continental!

We headed off to a church in Kampala, and only arrived 45min late – not bad for African time! This did mean we missed all the worship time, we arrived during the last verse of the final song, I was gutted to miss that part of the service as I’d been told there was nothing like it, but fortunately we’d been able to experience a few times of worship with the LDP students earlier in the week.

We were there in time for the commissioning of their women’s ministry team, and to hear testimony from one of their current LDP students. It’s amazing, through the week, how many of the testimonies we heard mentioned how they had gained social skills from the project. It’s not something that instantly comes to mind as something they may be lacking in, but it’s definitely something Compassion is there to do!

The sermon was on Genesis 26vv1-33, and was on keeping the promise (v4) alive. In the UK you sometimes get people clapping at the end of songs (which I tend not to do) but here they gave the sermon a good hand clap! My only concern was that it felt ever so slightly prosperity-gospel-y, or at least expressing a need for people to be wealthy so that they can do things, but maybe I misunderstood.

This church also ran a Compassion project, and so after the service we went upstairs to the project office. We met the project director who himself was a formerly sponsored child and an LDP graduate – it’s great to see the circle of sponsorship complete! They gave us mini fresh bananas to snack on and we also had their pastor join us, which was very generous as he was actually on sabbatical!

We headed off for lunch at the Good Africa Coffee Place. This was in a retail park, and because the terror alert was on maximum (and potentially they would have done this anyway) as we entered the car park we had to vacate the bus to have it searched, and also have our person and bags searched and checked too. We were used to lots of metal detectors and bag searches by now, but it was less common for the whole bus to be searched. It did make the place feel a little safer though.

I ordered bolognaise, which was a little odd but fine, and a strawberry ice tea. I took a sip of the drink before someone pointed out it had ice in it. Of course, ice could be made with tap water, and so you can’t consume it. Such a shame, I was so looking forward to that drink! I only took a sip from the bottom with a straw where the liquid was still warm, so wasn’t too worried, but it would have been silly to drink any more.

Several of us bought coffee there to take home as presents for family and friends, but they didn’t have enough in, so they first said they would bring it to our table when it was delivered (we had already paid), and then promised to bring it to us in the market in the afternoon. In the end Lillian had to collect it for us – it all worked out in the end!

I didn’t really enjoy the trip round the markets as much as I expected to. There were so many lovely things, but you weren’t able to stop and think. There were repeatedly ladies asking you to come into their stall, to see what they had, offering good prices. Even when I went in they kept talking and showing me things so I couldn’t just pause to work out what I wanted to get for the people on my list, or how many shillings I had left. In the end I just got a few things and sat down later to work out what to give to who, but for myself I did get some extremely colourful trousers with elasticated waist and trousers!

We went back to the hotel to change into more comfortable travelling clothes, collect our luggage and check out, and then as we realised there may be no time for dinner, a few of us got something to eat at the restaurant. A couple of us just had brownie and ice cream as it was a bit early for a meal, but we needed something to keep us going!

On arrival at the airport not only was our bus searched, but they even sent sniffer dogs aboard! We were all searched too, and then when we entered the building, even before we could get to check in desks our bags were put through security scanners and we all had to walk shoeless through the metal detectors, and then finally there was another security check at the gate.

While we were waiting to get on the plane a few of us had fun trying to do accents – I was taught some American over the week, and some of them did their best English accents for me which I managed to get on camera, lots of fun!

The flight left around 11pm I think, and once we were up and cruising we were served chicken and rice for dinner. I then managed about 3 hours sleep before breakfast. So given a late dinner, very little sleep, it’s unlikely anyway that you’d want breakfast within 4 hours of your previous meal. Not least when breakfast is broccoli, potato and quiche! I left it all and just had a roll.

We got off the plane at Amsterdam, and after a tearful goodbye with my new American friends, I headed back to London.

The End! I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about my trip, please don’t hesitate to ask me more about it, most particularly if you’re interested in finding out more about Compassion, or sponsoring a child! I’m very happy to talk!





Why are you here?

10 12 2013

We had a guest speaker this Sunday, he spoke on 1 Corinthians 12vv14-31 and asked us, “why are you here?”

There’s many reasons we could be a church

  • We’re on a rota
  • Force of habit
  • Routine
  • Social time
  • Free childcare

These may be factors, but they aren’t the main reason, these only form a secular shell.

The reason is a relationship with, or an interest in, God.

That can be done at home, but that ignores large chunks of the bible. Church was God’s idea. Lot’s of the letters in the New Testament were written to churches. Church isn’t the building, it’s the people. We’ve recently been looking at the One Another commands, these commands need other people to one-another with.

Some people have been hurt and scarred by churches, but don’t let your past dictate your future.

  • A bad parent doesn’t make every parent bad.
  • A bad marriage doesn’t make every marriage bad.
  • A bad church doesn’t make every church bad.

Why did God give us unique fingerprints? To remind us that we have been made unique.
Each church is unique as it is made up of unique people. Each person has unique gifts and abilities. Each person has a part to play.

If you’re an eye trying to be an ear, then you’re not going to be good at it. Plus you’re stopping an ear from being an ear.
If you’re a hand, and you’ve been a hand a long time, maybe consider: is it time to be a wrist, to support a hand?

God has called us, chosen us, appointed us, to His church. We are hear today because God has chosen us. He knew us before we were formed, He was the first to hear our heart beat, the first to love us.

The reason we’re here is a whole lot less about us, and a whole lot more about God. We can’t do anything in our own strength. The Holy Spirit has the power. God used and uses the most unlikely characters to create the biggest ripples.





Friday five favourite: Traditional hymns

9 08 2013

There’s a reason these hymns have lasted a long time, we live in a time when there’s new worship music out all the time, but move on even 5 years, let alone decades, and which ones are you still singing? There’s a whole tonne of modern hymns coming out which are also great, but these below truly have stood the test of time.

I’ve tried wherever possible to find congregational versions rather than performances, because worship is not about a performance, it’s every person individually, coming together to make the most beautiful and powerful sound! (And that doesn’t even have to be tuneful!)

How great Thou art

Favourite bit:

And when I think that God his son not sparing,
Sent him to die – I scarce can take it in,
That on the cross my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin:

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home- what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration
And there proclaim, my God, how great thou art!

Thine be the glory

Favourite bit:

For our Lord now liveth
Death has lost it’s sting!

Thine is the glory, risen conqu’ring Son,
Endless is the vict’ry, Thou o’er death hast won.

And can it be

Favourite bit:

My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Amazing Grace

I couldn’t find a traditional version of this on YouTube that I liked, and I know my Dad really hates it when people take old hymns and “think they can do better by adding a bit in”, but I do like this, so excuse the modernisation for this post!
Favourite bit:

When we’ve been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.

To God be the glory

Same with this one, although actually I’ve always prefered the modernised version here. The words are still there, the same meaning and depth to them, but a slightly less “twee” tune!
Favourite bit:

The vilest offender who truly believes,
that moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

A couple of others that just missed the cut:

What are your favourite traditional hymns?





Wisdom from Angie on Worship

13 07 2013

I was chatting with a wonderful friend of mine this week when I realised what wise things I’ve been told over the years. Time to share them wider! There’ll be at least one more of these anecdotes coming soon…

I grew up in a lovely Baptist church which while not a traditional or formal church, is not overly charismatic. On a Sunday you’d see a handful of hands up in the air, always the same few. It wasn’t un-normal, but not something I ever did.

When I was 17 I went to Spring Harvest, and in the youth venue, arms were up everywhere, I wasn’t quite used to it! I found myself wanting to too, but I was worried. As a 17 year old I was still really quite concerned about what the people around me, my friends, people I’d known my whole life, thought of me.

I freaked out a bit.

The wonderful thing about going to Spring Harvest with a big church group though, is there’s all sorts of people you can sit down and talk with, and fortunately, Angie, my Sunday School teacher from when I was 10, who was also my Saturday job boss at Oasis Christian Centre was hanging around the Skyline watching a stall during the session, and I went to find her.

She was fantastic. Here’s what she shared with me: Worship isn’t about other people, it’s about you and God. Who care’s what’s going on around you. When she sings, she shuts her eyes, because then she doesn’t see what others are doing, doesn’t worry about what others are seeing her doing, and it’s just about her and God, whether her arms are up, down, other, or whatever she does!

And so that’s what I do so often now. I’m so easily distracted, not just by other people’s worship styles (we all worship differently, that’s a great thing!), but by toddlers running around, all sorts! If I shut my eyes, then it’s just me worshipping my Creator, Saviour and Sustainer, it’s personal 🙂