Friday, September 25, 2009

Back To Church Sunday

This Sunday is National Back To Church Sunday, and this year St Hugh's is taking part. The stats say that there are 3 million people in the UK who would go back to church if they were invited.

So I have taken on the task of preaching this weekend. Not really a scary thought for me, I've got used to the idea that I preach probably twice a term. The subject is Adam and Eve in the Garden, we're focussed on 2v18 "it is not good for the man to be alone". I'm still aving lots of thoughts on this one and to fit them into 15 mins might be a bit of a struggle, but so far so good. I'm enjoying the challenge.

I have other homework too, we have an amazing mix of people at church and one of the vicars is a really great preacher. So she's teaching us how to be better at preaching. She set us home work last week; take a passage, read it, work out it's context, work out who it's for and do a 30 word mini-preach on what it means for us today. I haven't even started thinking on in, as per usual leaving homework right til the last moment.

I hope that B2CS goes really well for everyone who is doing it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Uganda Part 2 - The Importance of Church

This is the middle of a thought process connecting my 2001 trip to the 2009 trip, it's not finished yet because I expect it to go on for some time, and it'll develop more and more as I change roles within the church.

In 2001 I went to Uganda as a teenager, not really knowing what to expect and as my usual self, not entirely worried and not expecting to change really. I was dragged to church on one of the Sunday's we were there. All that was in me didn't want to go, I thought (like Jonah) that I could hide from God, on the side of a mountain seemed the perfect hiding place!! How wrong could I be? God found me, sitting on a step in a crowded church. *Skewed theology moment* I'm pretty sure He followed me there! But He was really sneaky about it. No headlights or anything, very annoying *moment over*

Being side swiped by God changed me massively. Over the last 8 years I've been working out how, whislt still being changed by God through it all. I consider the trip in 2001 to be the turing point in my life but not a Saul/Paul 180, more like a Peter-still-getting-things-wrong-3-years-down-the-line change. The last 8 years I seemed to have landed on my feet with pretty much everything I've done, it's been tough at times, but God has been there, whether I've acknowledged him or not. I've also had a massive amount of fun, made so many friends from across the world and am generally very happy with where I am and who I am.

And mostly those things are due to the secure environment church offers for me. I am happiest in a church. My church is my family. They are the people I cry and laugh with. They see me at my best (doing youth work, preaching etc) and my worst (before dwan after a sleepover usually). I don't know what I'd do without church. I hope that there are many people who feel the same as me.

I'm hoping and praying that I'll catch on to the changes quicker this time round! I'll still be thinking through the links for a very long time. I know how this all happened, it's down to God. So now it's next steps for me... where next? What next? And how does it involve going to Uganda again?!?

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Uganda Prt 1

Hello, I'm back! I'm writing after having a few days of reflection, the external processor that I am I have reflected with friends, in writing and going through some of the pictures I have taken. Out of the hundred or so photos I think are good enough for printing, you'll get a 5 minute whistlestop tour of our trip.

Last time I went to Uganda I could talk for hours upon hours about all I had seen, heard, smelt and tasted. This time round I had 8 years life experience and a leaders head on my shoulders. I think this made all the difference.

I'm definitely not that excitable any more, nor was I as homesick as last time. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it most of the time. Uganda is not a familiar country to me really. If you've been to a place once you can't say it's home, but you can feel comfortable very quickly.

As a consequence I wasn't too fussed by a lot of the things we saw, I could quite happily live in Uganda, though I have this feeling that wherever I go, as long as I've got some lovely people around me I will settle and be happy. This was very true of this trip. I was looked after well, as were the young people. We had an amazing staff team, who got on so well sometimes it was hard to break them up! The rest of the team was handpicked by God, that's for sure.

We always had enough people to do enough things. The Holiday Club was well attended, as was the building site. The builders in Rukungiri have lots of English friends now. I have a special builder friend too!! He's called Benjamin and had remembered my name (kinda) enough to ask for me on the day we came to say goodbye. I'm always struck by how friendly the Ugandan people are. I wouldn't generalise it to every African person, cos that's like saying all Essex people are chavs! The Ugandans give more than thay have at church, in their homes and of themselves. It's really something we can learn from.

My surprise really worked! the Vicar of St Hugh's rolled up one afternoon just in time to see the dusk. everyone wondered why he was in Uganda, that took a bit of explaining. And after he'd brought us all ice cream, Josh (aged 8) said "Can I go to Karen's church, I really like their Vicar?" I made it clear that everyone is welcome at our church!

We went to St John's Nyakaina on th middle Sunday. Very interesting, didn't feel long or drawn out (it was 2.5 hours long) and it included an auction to raise money for the church. Anything can be put in for auction including goats, chickens, sugar cane, and honey. I didn't take part in the auction, but most people had a go. We raised some money for the church.

The children of Rukungiri came to Rondavels (where we were staying) for some good old English Holiday Club Action! 150 children for 4 sessions. It was an experience, so now we have no excuses for running HC at Luton.

Also no excuses to turn down speaking engagements. I gave testimoy to 500 people, through a translator in the dark!! Scary stuff, but I think I was more scared of what my team would think.

Overall, it was a really good positive trip. I know my young people so so well now. We have shared this expereince. I'm hoping that I know myself enough to see how this trip has affected me, and I'll know it quicker than the 8 years it took me to dissect the last trip.

Part 2 will include photos and a more formal reflection.