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Newsletter: 26 December 2008
A Christmas you made possible
Dear Friend of Bunyoro-Kitara,
I thought that it might be of interest to some of you if I were to update you on some of what has gone on here in Bunyoro-Kitara since I sent out the children's Christmas party e-mail last week.
I do not believe that the Lord asks very many of us to do great and wonderful things and I believe that there are very few that he calls to be a Peter, a Paul or a Mother Teresa. However, I do believe that the Lord calls each one of us to do that which he has given the power, knowledge, wisdom and means to do; and that when each one of us come to him with what he has called us to do, whether it be physical, financial or prayerful he does combine each of our small and often insignificant gifts into one huge and miraculous sign of his power, majesty and love.
Following please find a listing of blessings that you have made possible through your prayers and gifts.
A) Rusoroa parish - 13 December
On Friday 13 December Simon Muhinda, his job superintendent and I made the long dusty trip to Rusoroa Parish in Simon's new/used Land Rover. The purpose of this trip was to evaluate the work that needs to be done to complete the construction of this church building that the Christians of Rusoroa have worked on for so many years. Rusoroa is located about 130 km south of Hoima, but the roads were so abysmally bad from our past rainy season that this 81 mile trip took us over 3 hours and 15 minutes, both ways (that's an average speed of about 24 miles an hour). In an effort to give you an idea of how dusty everything is I have attached a photo (see below) that I took out of the front window of the dusty conditions.
The blessing of Rusoroa is that a good friend of ours in the States has said that he and his family are going to fund the completion of construction of this church in 2009.
B) Children's Christmas party - 14 December
I have already written to you about this wonderfully fantastic blessing, to nearly 800 children here in Hoima, that was made possible by your prayers and gifts.
C) Commissioning and ordination - 21 December
On Sunday 21 December Bishop Nathan presided over the largest commissioning, ordination and priesting ceremony in the history of Bunyoro-Kitara diocese. On this Sunday Bishop Nathan commissioned 42 new lay readers, and he ordained 6 new deacons and 4 new priests in a ceremony that began at 10.00 am and ended at 2.30 pm. This was a truly glorious day for the Church of Bunyoro-Kitara.
While Bishop Nathan presided over the huge ceremony in St Peter's Cathedral, which was obviously filled to overflowing, we hosted several hundred children to over five hours of Christian movies and a couple of really fun children's movies at Faith House.
I can't even begin to tell you how fantastic a blessing Faith House has turned out to be for the children of Hoima; and when you look at its history you can't help but see Jesus' hand in the everything that has come into being. The idea of Faith House began when a friend in the UK wanted to send us a gift to help us establish a children's library at Grace House. One thing led to another and today we have a fantastic children's ministry that, to my knowledge, is not available anywhere else in all of Uganda.
The blessings of Faith House that would not have ever been made possible
without your love:
D) A small christmas gift to the diocesan staff - 22 December
On the 21st I had the honour of being able to deliver Christmas gift envelopes to our diocesan secretary for all of our diocesan staff members who are not a part of the Adopt-a-Pastor program that is sponsored by our wonderful friends at Christ Church at Grove Farm. Each envelope contained a Christmas wish from our donor and a 20,000/= bank note (a little more than US$11). This might not sound like a big deal, but it really is a huge deal. As many of you may know one of the many serious difficulties our diocese has is paying the salaries of our clergy, lay readers and diocesan staff members. Actually, most of their salaries come in arrears after we have collected our Easter and Christmas offerings. Currently, our diocesan staff salaries are four months in arrears.
Thanks to your prayers and gifts each member of our diocesan staff had a small amount of money before Christmas, which they could use to buy Christmas gifts or to purchase their families Christmas dinner.
E) Children's food care packages to the elderly of Duhaga - 23 December
Tuesday afternoon 20 of our St Peter's Sunday school children gathered at Grace House to assemble the food packages for the elderly and disabled who live here in Duhaga. Each food package included rice, beans, corn flour, cooking oil, sugar, tea, biscuits and soap.
Once again this might not sound like very much, but just consider how important it was to all of those house-bound old and disabled neighbours of St Peter's Cathedral to have a bunch of children come to their small poor homes bringing food, prayers and songs to homes with nothing; and, just try and imagine how wonderful it was for the children to have something of real value to give.
F) Christmas Day - 25 December
During our children's Sunday School at Faith House we showed the wonderful Christian film The Nativity Story to a nearly full house of children and visiting adults.
Then at 1.00 pm a large group of our children, accompanied by Mary, Dorcus, Sanny, the Revd John Patterson and a friend met together at the Hoima Regional Referral Hospital for our seventh annual hospital Christmas day feast. Our children and the accompanying adults served all of the hospital patients a huge Christmas day feast of beef, chicken, matooke, irish potatoes, rice, beans, greens, chapatti and a soda.
After we had completed serving all of the hospital patients the children came back to Grace House for a celebratory snack of ice cream, pop corn and a soda before each of them returned to their own home to celebrate Christ's birthday with their own families.
G) Boxing Day - 26 December
Today Grace House is very quiet. Eva (age 5), Jackie (age 6), Florinda (age 15) have all gone home to the village to spend the rest of the Christmas school break with their families in the village until the end of January. Mary has gone to her home village to stand up as godmother for the baptism of her sister's new baby.
H) Children's annual day - 3 January
Our final event of this year's Christmas season will occur on 3 January when Bishop Nathan hosts his children's annual day to kick off 2009. The day will begin with prayers at St Peter's Cathedral. The prayers will be followed by a huge children's march from St Peter's to the bishop's home. There all of the children will have the opportunity to sing and dance for the huge crowd, the various children's Sunday schools will all have an opportunity to perform for the crowd, there will be games for the children, there will be a few speeches and there will be a huge feast for all of the children.
What a great day we will all have and can you think of a better way of welcoming in the new year than by honouring the smallest and weakest of God's children. We often talk a lot about how important our children are, but how often do our churches actually do something tangible to let the children know how much we really do love and need them?
As you can see we have all had a wonderfully blessed Christmas season, a Christmas season that certainly would have never been possible if each one of you had not responded to the Lord's gentle whisper.
Isn't it absolutely amazing what can happen when God's children come together to work to do his work. Thank you and I love you.
In Jesus' name
a typical dusty road
children at the movies
care packages for the elderly
care packages for the lame
children watching the Nativity
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