One Unforgettable Experience

The Nile!  I was flying over the Nile on my way to Uganda not long ago!  Never did I imagine that I would take such a trip.

Flying between Amsterdam and Uganda, I had two wonderful companions.  On the way down, it was a Lutheran man who told me about the non-profit that he and his business partner had started to provide equipment to bring fresh water to underserved parts of Uganda.  Each year they make a trip to Kampala and specific sites where local people do the work day to day.  Their Michigan office building is headquarters for the non-profit.

On the return trip a Rwandan man sat next to me.  He had been a medical student in Rwanda during the genocide that began in 1994 during which his family was slaughtered, and the medical school destroyed.  A sponsor brought him to Michigan where he earned a ministry degree.  Another connection resulted in his being hired as a ministry-health liaison for a non-profit focused on the elimination of devastating diseases that occur in some parts of Uganda.  He travels between the US and Uganda for this work of service.

I went to Uganda was to participate in a Council of the Congregation, which occurs every two years between Congregation General Chapters.  Both the Council and Chapter gatherings are focused on the life, ministry and business of the Congregation.  That meeting gave me the chance to take the trip of a life-time.  The Council was blessed with a good facilitator, information sharing, dialogue and decision making.

A group of people walking down a street  Description generated with very high confidenceAn additional gift was participation in the 100th Anniversary Celebration of our sisters in Uganda.  The ceremonies took place on our property in Entebbe.  Termites had destroyed the original buildings built of native clay so new buildings, recently completed, were dedicated by three bishops, 40-50 priests, a big number of our sisters from Uganda, Kenya, Congo and two from our other world-wide locations accompanied by a band of uniformed young people and many guests. All these people processed to a place near our church on the same property.  Festivities had begun. 

A group of people that are standing in the grass  Description generated with very high confidenceAt the heart of the day was a very long Eucharistic liturgy filled with dedications, processions, music, song, dance, gifts, and speeches by bishops, dignitaries, students from our former school and several of our sisters.  1600 people, many dressed in native finery, sat under white peaked tents surrounding an open space.  A blanket was provided for little ones whose behavior was exemplary.  We began at 9:30am and did not move until 4:30pm when everyone feasted on a festive meal of native foods!  Our sisters had even created a special wine for the occasion to accompany the feast which could also be purchased by guests, among other mementos, to help defray expenses.  Photographers roamed, and music was A person standing in front of a building  Description generated with high confidencerecorded to capture the memories.

Four different conductors led an orchestra and choir of adults and children; songs were sung in Luganda, Swahili, English and French!  Homemade stringed instruments, and drums of all sorts were used throughout. Middle and high school aged children danced, offertory gifts like a model of the original boats used at the time of our foundation, a huge bunch of bananas, among other things were brought to the altar.  During one moving moment, a little girl was carried in on the shoulders of a very tall man.  Both were clothed in white from head to toe; she held the lectionary with the scripture readings aloft while smiling radiantly as they made a long trip though the crowd up to the presiding bishop.  Surely a moment to be treasured.

When the celebration was over, it was amazing to see how readily and happily the young people completed the basic clean up.  They sang and danced, smiling as they did the deed.  By late the next afternoon, tents were gone, debris was cleaned up.

 Such an experience is one never to be forgotten.  Joy exuded throughout.  As more and more young women join our congregation from this part of the world, we will grow ever more into a singing, dancing congregation as we continue our reparative ministry among all members of the Earth community.

Veronica Blake