I flew with my daughter-in-law Lauren, to Uganda on Friday 16th November. We had a pleasant, peaceful flight to Entebbe and landed on Saturday at 8.30am. The arrivals had drastically changed. A lovely expanse of marble flooring stretched before us. New immigration booths, two new carousels, plenty of new trolleys for luggage and excellent toilet facilities.
All this was due to the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting (CHOGM) and the flags were everywhere!! We emerged from the airport to find a welcome party of Rev. Ruth and six of her committee. They had two large bouquets of flowers and presented one to Lauren and one to me!!
It was a delightful start to 7 fruitful days. Lake Victoria looked beautiful with little boats dotted here and there. The ladies chattered and laughed as we drove to Kampala. All the highways were clean and decked with flags….not for us, but for the Queen and her party due to arrive on 21st. AND there was the street lighting!!
Namirembe Guest House is about an hour’s drive from Entebbe. It is situated on the side of a hill with a wonderful panoramic view of Kampala. A gentle breeze blows up the hill so it is not too hot. The flowers, birds, and butterflies were numerous. So after we had unpacked and Rev. Ruth had gone into Kampala to buy some things for us, we walked up the hill to St Stephens Cathedral at the top. Everyone was very helpful at the guesthouse. The room was good, and the food was excellent.
On Sunday the driver picked us up at 11.30am and took us to Church in Kampala. In one year Kampala has radically changed. Many new hotels, buildings, even shopping malls and supermarkets have appeared. The beggars had been removed from the streets (due to CHOGM) and the dirt along the roads has been replaced with green grass and plants. The rubbish was cleared and women with brushes could be seen sweeping the roads.
The Church seats 10,000. It was like two huge aircraft hangers. Ruth preached at two services that morning. There must have been about three to four thousand people there. She introduced us and I shared some words that God had put on my heart for that Church. It was a good time.
In the evening the engineer came for an evening meal and brought his laptop with site plans and drawings of the buildings proposed for the land. It was a fruitful time and good to see some ideas about what could be built on the 10 acres of land. We discussed the position of a well, and the costs. The cheapest option is to put down a shallow well, but he said the problems with doing that are the costs of maintaining it. Many that have been put down in villages because they are cheap have run dry, or the pumps have broken due to no money for spare parts. I have asked him to prepare a report on the best short term option for the land.
Monday 19th we left Kampala early. Many roads were being closed due to CHOGM so we had to make some detours. It takes about one hour to reach the land which is about 20km from the city. It was so wonderful to see what they had done and how responsible they had been with the money sent.
A whole new road has been cleared about ½ mile long to get into the land. We bought 17 portions of ‘Chicken On A Stick’ for the people in our vehicle and the widows working on the land. So when we arrived there was much celebration. We had also purchased 7 pairs of gum boots for the widows. They had been working that land in bare feet with the danger of rocks, and sharp sticks cutting them. We sent 7 mattresses to them as the widows were sleeping on a cement floor at night.
We also took a bicycle for the young man who is the caretaker. He is about 19 years old and is the son of one of Ruth’s sisters. He became an orphan when he was three and Ruth has cared for him. So it was great to see he works on the land clearing and slashing to keep the road and site free of growth. Uganda is so fertile that in a matter of weeks land that was cleared becomes bush again.
The two roomed house that has been built on the land serves as a place for the caretaker to live in and the 7/8 widows who come regularly for several days at a time to plant and weed. They have planted 100 Banana trees, an acre each of Kasava, Maize, Sweet potatoes, white potatoes, and a huge mound of Pumpkins.
The pig farm is almost complete. They had problems with strong winds and rain tearing of the iron roof. A new roof has been put on and the building made stronger. There is room for ten pigs. It is proposed to buy three female pigs ready for breeding and one male. Pigs give birth three times a year and have 10/12 piglets. So this farm is going to be a good business venture for the widow’s project.
A two roomed building is going to be put near the pig farm. One room is for storing pig food and produce from the farm and the other room is for the security man to live. We hope that this will be done by January so that pigs can be put in the pens. There is a need for a security man as there are wild animals in the bush, and also the danger of pigs being stolen. Also the widows who stay there at night need protection. He will have a uniform and use a crossbow.
Close to the pig farm the land slopes down to an area where water gathers. This is where we propose to put a fish farm. The water is clean and plentiful, but needs to be dug for. For the present the widows have dug some round holes about 2 feet and they fill regularly with water.
During Monday afternoon we traveled into the bush to see some of the elderly widows that are being sponsored by our ‘Sponsor A Widow’ project. It was a very heart rending time and we were glad that we could pray with each widow we visited. We saw one widow who is about 100 years old living on her own in a tiny home. She spends her days worshipping God, praying and reading her Bible. At 100 she can still see to read, and she read psalm 133 to us in her quaking voice.
Another 85 year old widow had asked her friends and neighbours to come because she wants everyone to know about Jesus. So we had a time of worship and prayer in her little home. When asked what a difference it had made to her life to be sponsored she shared that she had been very weak before the help came. Now she has put on weight because she has milk and a little meat, and her strength is returning so that she can grow some things on her small plot of land. She cried for joy at all she was receiving, and then cried tears when we left!
We visited a widow who had been given a piglet in 2006. It is now a full grown pig and has produced 2 litters. The old lady kept one pig from the first batch which is now a teenager, and we saw 9 tiny piglets that have just been produced from the second litter. Also we visited a young widow with several children who had a cow given to her. It was good to see that everything that has been donated is well cared for, appreciated, and producing healthy young.
The following day we went to see Rev. Ruth’s home outside Kampala. She has two daughters and two orphans that she cares for as well as numerous others in her home. Kathryn, her aged adopted mother lives in one of the boy’s quarters. We are sponsoring her and she was really appreciative of the help. She has a nice little room and a bed.
Each Thursday widows travel to Ruth’ house and stay for overnight prayer. They sleep on mats on the floor. Her driver, John also lives in one of the boy’s quarters. He is excellent and the best driver she has had. Ruth has prayed for, fed, and helped many people in Uganda and has influenced many people.
It was good to have time to sit and talk with Ruth at some length and we felt the Holy Spirit bonding us together in a deeper way. We invited 18 people to a meal at Namirembe Guest House. Mr. and Mrs. Watson came; they are very committed to the work, WIM committee members, and close friends. It was a lovely evening.
We traveled a lot around Kampala experiencing it‘s traffic jams!. One morning we walked down together into part of the city to visit the Mengi Hospital and then to a local pharmacy to get Lauren some cough mixture. Another morning Ruth took us to a new shopping mall and we had some refreshment in a cafeteria, visited a large supermarket and were amazed at the goods on sale from all over the world. Uganda has developed quickly even in one year. New hotels, road systems, street lights, all these things are appearing and the tourist industry will boom over the coming years.
On Friday 23rd we arose early and set off for Luwero District where a three day W.I.M Conference was being held. It was about a two hour drive along some dusty, bumpy roads and tracks. But it was more than worth it! When we arrived we were greeted by an enthusiastic group of about 100 widows, pastors, youths, plus others.
Sacks of rice, sugar, and salt were taken out of the minibus and into the church. On the roof was a new bicycle that we had bought for the pastor. Pastor Simon was a young man with seven children and a great heart of love for the widows. He walks miles into the bush visiting widows in their homes. He has been with Ruth’s ministry since 1999 and really needed some transport to help him. So he was delighted as we presented his new bicycle to him and a mobile phone so that he can keep in touch with Ruth. His wife gave me two small eggs as a gift. I was very touched as they probably needed them for their children.
We had a wonderful time of praise in that little church. There were about 100 people gathered. Outside were about twenty or so children playing in the dust. Most with filthy torn clothes and some were naked. The water they drink appalled me. It was impure and clouded with mud. They have no source of fresh water. They need a well and clothes for those little children.
I preached about God having chosen the foolish, and weak things of this world to confound the wise 1 Corinth 1:26-31. When I had finished I asked if there was anyone there who was not saved. A young widow put up her hand and came forward. I told her it was her day! Jesus had chosen her! She was so happy and readily gave her life to Christ. Rev. Ruth and I ministered to her. Then 5 youths who had been playing the drums came forward for prayer. We prayed over each one and ministered the love of God. We left early afternoon as we had a long drive back.
Saturday 24th arrived and we rose at 5am, and left Namirembe at 6am in a vehicle we had hired as we did not want Ruth to come through the city to take us to the airport. Dawn was breaking over Kampala and as we reached Entebbe we gave a last look at Lake Victoria and sailed through customs and immigration.
I praise God for every moment of a wonderful trip. Right from beginning to end His peace rested upon our days. We had planned a program, and it was modified according to circumstances. God was in control. We met some lovely and unusual people at Namirembe and enjoyed our stay there. Our walks up to the Cathedral gave us a sense of freedom, with the lovely trees and views. And we had some God appointments up there too!
It was a privilege to pray with so many people and see all that the Lord is doing. Thank you for praying for us .