Hey everyone. I just wanted to do a quick update on classes and Jinja while I have the opportunity. So here it goes.
Classes are interesting. It is a lot more difficult than I expected. Our energy is being pulled in so many directions and it is difficult to focus on the academic side of things when relationship building seems to be more important. There is also not a whole lot of access to academic materials. That makes things even more difficult. And add to this the fact that my grades transfer back as pass/fail so I only need to attain a 51%. Basically no motivation.
However, I am actually enjoying most of my classes. Many are conducted in a seminar style, which is not my favorite. I am a huge fan of class discussion; as long as I am not pressured to participate in said discussion. That has been the most difficult part, and I am a long way from mastering the art of talking in class. There are also no tests, which is a bummer. Just lots of papers and presentations. But, alas, I will survive.
What I most enjoy about the classes is the subject matter. So many of the things we read about in class are reinforced by our experiences. We have been discussing African traditional religions in most every class and it has become quite easy to see how these belief systems permeate culture. In Faith and Action we have been discussing Christianity and culture. It has been really challenging to question my faith in the light of the African culture. So many of our Christian beliefs are cultural rather than biblical. This has huge implications for mission work. It is hard because there are no easy answers to the questions that are being posed. It is a tad overwhelming at times.
Maybe I should also give a list of my classes:
Faith and Action-required for everyone in the Uganda Studies Program
IMME Practicum-required for all the students in the Intercultural Ministry and Missions Emphasis (those on homestays)
Reading the New Testament in Africa
African Traditional Religions, Islam, and Christianity in Contemporary Uganda
Ok. I'm tired of talking about classes. So...I'll talk about Jinja.
Last weekend we went on a weekend trip to Jinja. We left Friday evening and returned Sunday afternoon. It was such a relaxing time. We stayed at the Kingfisher Resort. It seemed like a 5-star hotel to us. There were flushing toilets, running water (although only hot showers for about an hour a day), a swimming pool (!!!!), and pretty amazing food, which I have already mentioned.
Friday evening we talked with a couple missionaries who had been working in Uganda doing prison ministry for 11 years. It was really cool to hear from them. However, we were really hard on them because what they are doing doesn't necessarily line up with what we have been learning in class. I felt bad for the couple as they were bombarded with philosophical questions from the group.
We also went swimming on Friday night, which was absolutely amazing. Enough said.
On Saturday we went to The Source Cafe, a business run by a couple local missionaries. The man talked to us about cultural differences as well as what he does in the area. We were then able to eat meals at the restraunt. So delicious. We then went on a devotional tour of Jinja. We saw the source of the Nile, went to the old main street (which was apparently quite a sight before Amin), went to a manual labor site, and saw a local hospital. We were not all particularly pleased with every aspect of the tour (namely the hospital, at which we walked in and basically stared at the people), but it was nice to get to see a bit of the town.
Saturday afternoon we went out in boats to see the source of the Nile. We stopped at one of the islands where the Nile begins and saw the underwater springs. Manny drank the water and immediately realized that was probably not the best idea (parasites). He freaked out a little, but he's still perfectly healthy. Our guide caught a fish with his bare hands. Actually, it was pretty much dead and floating at the top of the water. We had a good time.
That night we ate at Two Sisters restraunt. It was amazing. I had Hawaiian pizza. American food is such a treat. It was so delicious.
Sunday morning we went to church at New Life Baptist. It was pretty interesting. We got there, had a short service, had small group bible studies, then attended the main service. Davis preached at both services. At the main service there was a group of children who sang some Michael W. Smith. One of the boys was dancing like Michael Jackson. It was hilarious. They also recited some scripture. There was a girl who was probably about 5 or 6 who knew every word. It was amazing.
After the last service, we talked with the pastor. He had been to the States and talked in one of Kristin's classes about church planting. It was really interesting to hear about their very Westernized approach to missions.
It was a really great weekend. I am really excited to go back to Jinja this upcoming weekend. We are going rafting down the Nile on Saturday. Some people are bungie jumping too. But I am definitely not. I'm a bit nervous about the rafting because I've heard it's pretty intense. It will be great though.
Ok. I'm tired. Talk to you all later.