Saturday, July 5, 2008

Uganda Unscripted

The first Amahoro Institute took place in Kampala, Uganda this past week.  I flew in on Sunday afternoon and was met by Muhindo and Kennedy at the Entebbe Intl Airport.  While we drove toward Kampala I could see familiar landscape, architecture, local crafts and service providers.  I was still in East Africa.  But there was a noticeable difference - most every sign was in English!  I was so gad to be able to interact with Ugandan friends and culture in a more direct, unmediated way - no translation needed!  For a communicator, this is no small matter.  It was pure joy!

We experienced some challenges right from the start, as our team from Arizona had flight delays.  Well, not all of them.  Scott arrived to Entebbe when I did - but we did not know it!  So he waited patiently at the airport (7 hours) till we came looking for him.  When we found him he was in good spirits, eager for communication (an extrovert, no doubt!).  The other three team members were stuck in transit.  So we had to rework the schedule to suit the people who were already present, and work around the delays.  But wait - there's more!  We then discovered that only two would arrive on Tuesday afternoon, one was still lingering in Brussels yet another night.  So late Tuesday evening we got news (via Burundi) that our final friend was about to land in Uganda.  So Kennedy rushed through the maze of traffic for a 4th time to get Jimmy! 

By now, the first Amahoro Institute had begun.  As I mentioned, we reworked the schedule so that Scott, who was with us, would share first.  The original plan had Jimmy sharing first and Scott sharing last.  Obviously, we began with biblical echoes, the last teaching first!  

My initial reaction to such unexpected changes in the schedule is to seize up and react, honestly.  I don't like to alter the speaking order, to juggle the parts, to shoot from the hip.  But after initial fears about disorganization and up-side down speaking order... I just had to sit back and let it be.  Taking the counsel of Richard Rohr, I decided to say yes to what was happening before I rushed to say no... to let the situation presented serve its purpose and learn from it. 
So with a different spirit, I took a few deep breaths and tried to see what God was shaping.

None of this came as a surprise to God, of coarse!  A great group of 36 Ugandan (and Kenyan) leaders were gathered for four days of conversation and connection.  Muhindo worked to secure all logistical details, Kennedy worked to fill the room with the best young leaders in town, Moses came ready to lead worship and Scott was eager to begin the interactive seminar. 
And so we began...

While we entered the event with content and a script, I think we all learned to hold such things lightly.  We came willing to be flexible, able to discern what God was doing among us and even found boldness that surprised us.  Well, I should just speak for myself!  I may not have come ready, but I left knowing I was ready to respond to what God was doing once I let go.  I think we so often strive for the perfect - but that is not the goal that God sets for us.  Our energy is to be in maturing, progressing in faith, excelling in love.  These things we did.  So while it was not perfect, our time together was exactly what it was meant to be!  We enjoyed deep theological reflection, robust relational connections, much singing, dancing, laughing and good food together.  The Amahoro family has grown... in many ways!

(I will share more about the content of our conversation soon...)

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