Retreat, retreat

At the end of February, SAMS hosted a regional retreat for the missionaries serving in Africa at a conference center in Cape Town. Not only was the setting gorgeous, it was a wonderful time of rest, relaxation, and fellowship with members of my tribe, and it was deeply restorative.

My soul breathes easier just looking at these pictures and remembering the tranquility that we found. Such a gift!

It was a joy to meet missionaries I’d only heard about, and to spend time worshipping, praying, sharing, and just having fun.

Our sessions were the perfect balance of teaching and contemplation, and the Lord showed me several things that continue to ponder and process with Him.

Some of the book recommendations for you to add to your To Be Read pile are Sealed Orders, Healing the Purpose of Your Life, One Minute Wisdom, and The Cloud of Unknowing (Amazon affiliate links for SAMS).

Since I was in South Africa, I decided to pop over to Pietermaritzburg to meet my online Bible study leader, Kelly, and her mum, Karren. When I first joined that study, I feared that I would be the outlier member in Africa, and lo and behold, the Lord gave me an African for a study leader! Over the years that I’ve participated in the studies, Kelly has become a dear and precious friend and sister in the Lord, so there was no way I was going to miss an opportunity to meet her in person.

Kelly and Karren were fabulous hosts, and in my too-short visit, we found time to enjoy a great deal of fabulous coffee and time with Kelly’s very cuddly horses.

Kelly and Karren live near Indlovu, which is were Nelson Manela was captured and arrested. There is a small museum and a sculpture at the site, as well as a Long Walk to Freedom, which notes the highlights of Mandela’s life as you walk towards the sculpture.

The sculpture is best seen from one certain vantage point; otherwise, it is difficult to see what it is portraying. It was unveiled in 2012, exactly 50 years after Mandela’s arrest.

I am so grateful for this time to retreat and relax. It came halfway through the semester, and became the perfect spring break. In college, I never took a spring break, as I always had work to do, so this trip helped to right that imbalance. This semester is rather hectic, so this retreat gave me much needed breathing space so that I can try to finish the semester well. Thanks be to God.

Sermon fun

I’m Jessica Hughes, an Anglican priest serving at Uganda Christian University through the Society of Anglican Missionaries and Senders (SAMS). “Here I am” is both an answer to the geographical question “WHERE are you?” and a nod to my favorite Bible verse, Isaiah 6:8.

read more about me

Supervision surprises

This morning I went to supervise Geoffrey, a student who saw that a large school in Mukono lacked a formal chaplain, and asked the school if he could come on Sunday mornings. There are two services: one for the Catholics, and one for the Protestants. I haven’t been to this school in a while, and as I climbed the hill, I wondered which building it was in. I asked one of the elementary students where the Anglican service was, and she wrinkled her nose at me and reframed, “Do you mean the Protestant service? I’m a Protestant.” I estimated that there were around 600 students in the Protestant service; there were at least as many in the Catholic mass in the next building.

We do not tell students that we are coming to check on them, so Geoffrey was pleasantly surprised to see me. I was pleasantly surprised to see Rev. James, his parish supervisor, with him; as it turned out, this was a Holy Communion service.

Geoffrey asked me to read the Gospel, which was Matthew 5:43-48, about loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you. With at least 600 students from the entire education spectrum with very few adults, you can imagine that the service was a bit hectic. I was certain that no one was paying attention.

However, I was very wrong. As we were preparing for the Eucharist, the warden [usher] handed me a note from a student. She asked me how to love and forgive someone who had hurt her. She included her phone number, but the students are not allowed to have phones, so I wouldn’t be able to call her until she gets home in early May.

I asked the warden if it was possible that the student could meet me after the service, and she said she would try. Happily, she succeeded, and the student was waiting for me after many of the students dispersed.

This precious and delightful child of God shared her story with me, and it broke my heart. I wanted to bring her home and protect her. I wanted to pray so many healing prayers with her. I wanted to right all the wrongs that have been perpetrated against her. But I only had a few minutes after church to talk with her.

So I did pray with her, and talk with her. She now has my contact, and has said she will check in with me when she gets her phone back. She’s also going to send me the first 25 (!) chapters of a book she’s written. I’m hoping this is a productive way of her to process all that’s happened to her.

Please pray for this precious gem: that the Lord continue to heal her heart. I’m so grateful that she chose to seek help, and humbled that she chose me.

An update on the political situation

Though a little long, this article gives a good overview of what led to the unrest this week, as well as an update on where we stand.

While things are diffused at the moment, unfortunately, this is is far from over, particularly since court cases can drag on for months and months because of many becauses.

Please continue to pray for peace and justice in Uganda.

Pray for Kampala

In Jeremiah 29:7, Jeremiah instructs the exiles to “… seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” While I’m not an exile, I think it is still a good practice to pray for the peace and prosperity of wherever you are.

Last week there was a by-election (off-cycle election) in Arua, in northwest Uganda. The president and other leading political leaders were there to stump for their respective party candidates, and in the fracas, several people were injured, some badly, including an extremely popular, recently elected young Member of Parliament. 

Unfortunately, there’s a bit more drama involved in this, and the public is justifiably upset at both what has happened and how it has happened. There was a demonstration in Mityana yesterday, and the US Embassy’s warning of potential riots in Kampala today was sadly prophetic, with reports of riots, tear gas, people plows, and bullets flying.

Please pray for peace, order, and justice to prevail.