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Promising Progress - Trip #4!

It’s Saturday evening and Mike, Stu and I are sitting in the Entebbe Airport, about 24 hours from arrival at MSP. I may have one or two more posts (a lot of time in the air and airports). I want to back up to Friday and out last two sessions at the training center in Gulu. 

If you remember, our goal is to equip and entrust leaders to strengthen and start churches. Key to our shared vision is to see the ability for this work to continue when we have made our last trip in May of 2022. I am excited to report that we believe we are on track! The six local pastors all show capacity to continue the work. We saw them present ½ of the lessons after we spent time training them last week. 

I’ve included a picture of Julius, from Adjumani, a refugee camp near the South Sudan border. He shared on one Thursday afternoon and one on Friday morning. I was concerned for Julius as he spent Wednesday in bed because he was sick. In fact, there were about six of our trainees who were fighting something throughout the week. During this COVID season there is extra concern, as getting sick here would have meant that we would have been rewarded with 14 extra days in this country (which is looking very familiar as this is at least my tenth trip here). 

Thursday morning, I checked in with Julius to see if he was up to teaching in the afternoon. I had prepared just in case. He said he was good to go. Frankly, he struggled. Throughout the session I wondered if he had the capacity to help move the ball down the field once we left. I met with him and our other Lead Trainer (Sunday) afterward and gave him feedback on what he did well and what he could improve upon for Friday morning. I wondered how much of this was illness related and how much of it was a capacity issue. 

The good news is that Friday morning was a different story! He had command of the group, the material, and I was greatly relieved. He was so determined to contribute on Thursday that he pushed through the lesson when it might have been better to continue resting. When we debriefed afterward, he said he was feeling much better and that he knew things went better. 

The final lesson of the week included all three of our groups gathering together for a review and their assignments for the next session: September 6-12. This was led by Sunday, who did a really solid job. I’m increasingly feeling like this is all going to happen; that the vision is going to become reality.

We gathered with all six Lead Trainers after Friday’s lessons to review the week, discuss ways to improve, and ensure we keep moving forward. They are really grateful. They shared that many Westerners have come through and taught in the past, but we are the first ones that allowed them to share the load and trusted them. 

I’ve got a few more things to share, so another post or two will come. I won’t share about Matt from Peoria who works at the US embassy in Iraq (top secret!), but I will have a few more stories. Not as good as my COVID test.

Uganda is such a holy place even the insects pray!
(in my Thursday morning class)

Larry Szyman

Pastor for Missional Life


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