Humility looks like avocados

Humility looks like avocados

Students preach in chapel twice a week, and to help them refine their sermon preparation skills, we read their sermons and give feedback prior to delivery. Last week, a student brought me her sermon, and it was in rough shape. I confess I was a little less than gracious with her; she had waffled on whether she would be the one to deliver the sermon, so my patience was already a bit thin by the time she brought the text. So we talked, and she went to make corrections. 

She brought her revised sermon, and it seemed as though she neglected to do a proper exegesis on the text. Since I taught her that course unit, I have to confess that I was more than a little annoyed. So we talked about the passage, what was happening, and how it applies to us today. 

When she came into the vestry Sunday evening, she greeted me with a warm smile and said, “Reverend, today someone gave me some avocados. Would you like some?” What a gift. I had been hard on her, and she responded by offering me some of what was given to her. Then in her sermon, she said that I had helped to open her eyes and broaden her thinking about what the passage means.

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Goin’ to the chapel

Each Thursday and Sunday evening we have a Holy Communion service. Students know that I’m very serious about keeping time, and they have much improved upon not entering during prayers or Scripture readings. I’m very proud of them. 

I don’t know whether this is an African thing, or a low church thing, but our students rarely enter the chapel many minutes before the service, if at all. It’s become something of a joke that the Archdeacon (me) comes to invite them to enter the chapel when really, I fail to understand why I have to urge clergy and ordinands to come to church. 

In their defense, at 5:00pm the heat is decreasing, and since they are all required to attend, the time before the service is a good time to fellowship. 

So Thursday, the students were scattered on the lawn outside the chapel as the team was beginning to process. I took this photo just for fun, not to shame them, yet they got the point and entered the chapel. A picture truly is worth more than a thousand words (of correction)!

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Group decision making

Yesterday, a woman came in my office asking me to keep a kitenge (printed cloth) for another lecturer, and of course I agreed. Then she asked me if I wanted to look at the other bitenge (plural of kitenge). I knew I needed to say no, but I said yes.

So this happened.

I wish I could offer a good reason for my lack of restraint because I SO do not need another kitenge, but look at it! It’s gorgeous.
I love my bitenge dresses: they’re custom designed and tailored, and clearly, bitenge is a weakness of mine.

So now that I had this gorgeous kitenge, I couldn’t decide whether to have it made into a dress, or a blouse and skirt that I could wear with my clericals, so I went to find Vicky, one of UCU’s recent graduates who is temporarily working in the chaplaincy, and who is always very smart (looks very nice).

When I entered the office, Simon and Tony were in the office with Vicky. I showed the kitenge to Vicky, and since this is Uganda and conversations always include whoever is in earshot, Simon and Tony joined Vicky in expressing their admiration.

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And now for some fun

And now for some fun

I follow several groups on Facebook about life in Africa; some are informational, some are fun. In the fun category is “Africa, This is why I live here,” which features the beauty and idiosyncrasies of my beloved continent.

Photos like this are gold. This was taken in South Africa, though I’m sure it could apply to Uganda as well.

P.S.
130 km/h = 80.78 mph. That would be one exciting roundabout (traffic circle)!

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Someone paid attention!

One of my greatest joys as a lecturer is supervising my students in the field. For three months of this long holiday, our finalists (seniors) have been serving in parishes, and we visit them to see how things are going. It’s so much fun to see them out of the classroom, see them minister to their congregations, and hear about their joys and struggles in ministry, and be able to encourage them in their calling.

 

Recently I visited with David, who is serving in a large and vibrant parish. He shared that when he took a reading in staff devotions, he remembered what I said in chapel about how to end a reading, and he concluded with “The Word of the Lord.” The staff was surprised at this, so explained why he did it. And then on Sunday, the reader ended the reading with “The Word of the Lord.” What we do can have a powerful rippling effect.

 

I was absolutely overjoyed. Yes, it’s a small thing, but it means that my students are listening! Here, readers often end with “Here ends the reading,” to which the congregation replies, “Thanks be to God.”

 

No, we aren’t happy that the reading is over.

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Appreciating UCU

Being on home assignment, and talking about Uganda, makes me reflect further about what I both love and appreciate about Uganda and UCU. Articles like this one exemplify it. 

The flagship university in Uganda, Makerere, has been besieged by strikes, from students and staff alike. To say that things are not easy is an understatement. 

As the article points out, in 19 years as a university, we have never had a strike. Now, things are not easy for us either. Let me walk in the light and point out that the First Lady is a recent alumnus, sonit behooves her to paint us favorably. But we strive to have a good working relationship between staff and students, and I think it shows. 

This is but one of the reasons I am proud to be associated with UCU. We strive to work through our differences in light of Matthew 18. It is not easy. And yet, the fruit of such striving is a university that has never experienced a strike in 19 years, and they are sadly common at Makerere. 

I am grateful that in the press, our graduates are routinely praised for their integrity and positive contributions to the workforce, and the culture in general.

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