One of the things that we were able to help with as Team 10, was the annual youth conference at Pastor George’s church. This is the third year they have hosted it and there were people there from many countries, including Sudan, Rwanada, and Congo (as well, of course, as from Uganda.) The conference was for youth leaders ages 18-35 or so and there were tons of people there! This took place during the time I was working on my grad project, so Mel and I were able to be there for the afternoons.
One thing that was really cool about this conference is that one of the higher-ups in the Elim denomination came to the conference. This was really meaningful because it was one way to recognize that this event is happening and taking place. It is common for white folks to come and do conferences, preach, do good things, and then never return. So for the first year, that’s what the conference was. The second year was a demonstration that the UWP will keep coming back, and now this third year the higher-up leader came and recognized it.
The conference’s theme was from James 1:22 “Be doers of the word and not hearers only.” In other words, get off your duff and do something, more or less. 🙂 My favorite part of the conference was the work project. All of the attendees were split into 6 or 7 work teams and did work around the community. Two different teams dug ditches to put in drainage pipes alongside of the road; a couple teams helped pick up trash and clean up the streets (sound familiar? It’s like Kawanda Clean Sweep!); another team painted the side of the church to keep it looking nice in the community.
1st and 2nd pics: Faith and Mel working on cleaning up the street. We picked up the trash and now they were sweeping up the debris (yes dirt debris from a dirt road. 🙂 3rd pic: Some people painting the church.
We also gave some prizes to the best workers on the work project teams. The team leaders got to pick who received the prizes for best attitude and work ethic. (We aren’t so differently motivated, US and Ugandans 🙂 James is handing them out in this photo.
When I went to Uganda in Feb and we built the chicken coops for the families, we were told by our Ugandan friends that it was a big deal to have the muzungus (white people) build the coops. Often, people who want to help just send money and hire workers to do the work. It sent a very powerful message that we did the physical labor. This is the same thing with the work projects at the conference. The people helped the community and made it look better, muzungus and others who traveled in from around Uganda and other countries alike. We all worked together to do something. How cool!
In Uganda, the cultural beliefs are different than in the States. For example, someone might be decide to become Muslim because they see the Muslim leader riding a bicycle, while their pastor has to walk. the conclusion that is commonly drawn is that the Muslim God must be more powerful than the Christian God because that leader has a bicycle. This leads to really interesting things. So to be able to do something in the community that is helpful to the community (because that is what the Bible says to do) is powerful. Definitely my most favorite part of the conference. 🙂