This past Tuesday we were invited to Derick’s high school to speak to a Bible study group on campus. We were told that in the past year or so the group has been dwindling down until it’s only been about thirty-five students coming each week. By Derick’s word of mouth and his enthusiasm and love for us, he told us he had three hundred students sign up to be there! We weren’t sure if we understood that correctly, but it really didn’t matter if there were thirty or three hundred. Of course everybody needed us just before we were to leave, trying to get away, and taking Bakali (who is Derick’s ‘brother?’) with us to show the way, we understood the school to be about fifteen-twenty minutes down the highway going to Jinja and we had thirty minutes to get there. Let me stop here.
In America, sometimes back roads are more convenient to get somewhere. I always liked to take the interstate if I could in the city rather than be caught in traffic on some two-lane back road. On the Harley we preferred back roads. But here, they insist “this” road is a short cut and every time we have listened and followed their directions it has taken twice as long and seemed a miracle the truck didn’t come apart at the seams. You don’t even know what pot-holes and uneven roads are until you drive the roads of Uganda! Okay, back to the story…fifteen minutes late and stressed out about it!
The classroom was packed like sardines, we could hear the singing before we got out of the truck. There were three hundred plus students packed in there. It was amazing, hot and I’m not sure I’ve ever told you but most here do not wear deodorant. So we will leave it at that. Derick got to introduce us, as his parents. I am Mommy and had to stand up and speak – not one of my strengths in that big a crowd! I did get teary seeing all the faces and hearing them singing about Jesus at this important time in their lives, the time when they are at a crossroad between child and adult, deciding what their future will look like. I thanked them and told them how it fills my heart to see so many present and their faith is such an encouragement. Then I told them that I was going to turn it over to my husband because he is the speaker in our family!
Christian gave a message from Jeremiah and encouraged these young adults to make the right decisions now, decisions to follow Christ and let Him lead their lives. He has a plan for each and every one of them and if they would just seek Him and follow His plan they can change the lives of those around them, and together they can all change the direction of this country. It was very relevant to each and every one of their lives. He didn’t have to have an interpreter so I believe he had more freedom to speak the word. I know when I tell the stories it is so difficult to keep a rhythm when you have to stop every sentence or so.
After the message we got to sit down with the head teacher of the school who informed Christian that in twenty minutes he was going to speak to the entire school – eight to nine hundred of the thousand students who attend the high school with a very large percentage being muslim. Whoa, talk about being put on the spot! That doesn’t usually intimidate my husband but I think it threw him just a little. It’s not that he doesn’t usually have something to say, it is just more difficult here when you have translators, beliefs that are either mixed up or ingrained from many years of teaching the muslim faith. I saw him looking up a few scripture on his phone. When they were ready for him, God had him ready for them.
When we walked up to the front of the students it was a little overwhelming. Raelee and I sat right in front and kids were only about two feet away. It is very awkward to feel hundreds of eyes staring at you, not smiling, no expression. Just staring. I often feel like we are the main attraction at the zoo! He spoke about David and Goliath, and when he mentioned Goliath, the whole place went crazy, yelling and laughing. We still don’t know what that was about! But when he was telling them about how close David had to have been to kill the lion and kill the bear, he grabbed his beard and pulled himself close enough to one student that he could have grabbed it and said “This is how close David had to be to grab that lion. And the crowd went wild again – only this time we knew why. I think he had all of their attention from that moment on.
After that we took Derick back to his apartment, he was eager for us to see the place that we pay for and how he lives. We met his landlady who has been really impressed with what a kind and responsible young man he is, she even lets him have electricity for free so that he doesn’t have to do his studies by candlelight. Then we got to see his apartment, a 5’x7′ room with a curtain in the middle to separate his bed from the other half. But he is very proud to have his own space, not to have to stay at the dorm packed in a bunk bed with hundreds of other students. It would be more expensive and he wouldn’t be able to leave when he wants to, he wouldn’t be able to come to church if he lived on campus. We are proud of him and so happy to be able to support this young man with so much potential.
Finally we were ready to leave, ready to drive to Jinja and eat Mexican food! We gave Bakali transport money to get back home and headed out the other direction – to the highway. On the way home we timed where we had gotten off the road on our trip to the school. The highway took 15 minutes, the shortcut almost an hour! We have learned that when they say shortcut it is anything but!
(Oh yeah, didn’t realize there was a guy picking his nose until I had this post finished. Enjoy! 🙂