Thursday, October 27, 2005


I don't think I ever experienced "process" as I have since moving to Uganda. Order and rules are things I don't really mind.
Okay, they are, in fact, things I adore.
But, the processes of Uganda have threatened to catapult my love of such things into non-existence.

"Process" here takes on many forms...and I do mean FORMS. To pay one bill the other day I had to stand in a line for 20 minutes to pick up "the form"...which must be filled in EXACTLY correct...and has some interesting blanks:Surname, First Name, Specification (?)....

After solving the riddle of "specification", I stand in another line for 20 minutes. The teller takes my money, proceeds to fill another form in triplicate, rubber stamps everything in her path and then hands me my receipt.

The next step in the process that the service you have paid for with great struggle, will now be cut off due to non payment. Which requires another form...another line...more triplicate...and FINALLY...on a good receive the service you have paid for--be it water, power, phone etc.

Now, as fun as all that is...there is another process in Uganda I detest more. Business Meetings.

Think, "EXCRUCIATING." Business meetings are long drawn out speech-fests where men (and occasionally women) state, re-state, and-- in case you didn't get it--re-state their opinions. Usually in very hot buildings ,at lunch time, while your stomach growls.

So, when our newly appointed benevolence committee at church asked me to attend and participate in the writing of the policies, I braced myself for the worst.

But I was surprised.

The committee consisted of me, Ronald, David and Dick. Dick was quickly asked to be reporter (scribe) and David was asked to chair. Ronald said a prayer and we began.

We did a lot of policy discussing and document wording...but the true process of the day...well that was something all-together different.

I watched a miracle. We were gathered to discuss two very hot topics in Ugandan culture. Money and problems. Money--hard to come by. Problems--everybody has one.

I heard these three brothers of mine discuss these issues, from a different perspective than most.
* I heard integrity ("we must be honest at all costs. down to the shilling!" "No one in our own families or our own selves can benefit from this committee!")
*I heard brotherhood("go ahead David, I interrupted you." "What do you think Dick." "Ronald makes a good point")
*And I heard submission ("I disagree, but I will stand with you.")

Hmmm....God's Spirit at work? Yep.
Transformation at Jesus hand? Definitely.
Another Standing Stone to amaze me in this journey ? Yes.

I was challenged, blessed, inspired, deeply grateful and well, pretty stinking repentant. In a day filled with processes I almost, cynically, missed the most important. Him. "Processing" any who are willing and even many who are not. Working us, changing us, guiding us, forgiving us...drawing us to Himself.

Transformation. Newness. Freedom from all that holds us back...

Now, that is a process I wholeheartedly embrace!


Aimee Jo said...

That is so great, Cheryl! May this transformation encourage you to keep pressin' on and praying to the Lord for the leading of his holy spirit. I love you!!

Glenn said...

I am thrilled, knowing that these men are the ones you and Jeff targeted years ago - they get it. Christ has changed their lives and now they will knowingly and unknowingly pass it on. Seemed slow didn't it, but as the Spirit worked in them, it will move on to the congregation, then multiply geometrically until a culture is transformed. Oh, by the way, business meetings are the same all over the world.

Jim Coffey said...

I love reading your journal -
It sounds like the Ugandan civil "servants" would fit in very well in the Texas Drivers License office.

I've sometimes been able to view time spent standing in line as time that I could devote to prayer and visiting with the unchurched people who were also stuck in line with me. In the midst of our shared suffering at the slings and arrows of outragous fortune, my fellow line standers and I can forge bonds of kinship - which allows discussion and possibly even friendships to form. Alas, I'm not very good. I pray for patience, but I want it NOW.

p.s. Did you have Mrs. Moore for Senior English? An amazing teacher despite the "slings and arrows" of the ECISD administration [sigh].

Rusty and Laura said...

I don't know about in Uganda, but in Japan, business meetings are one of the most challenging things about this culture, especially when it deals with church stuff. It's like they just don't understand that what takes a group of Americans to discuss and make a decision in less 5 minutes will literally take them over an hour. Everyone has to be so formal and polite and voice their opinion. Still, they are even lucky to make any kind of decision the first time they meet about it. Luckily, the meetings are all in Japanese so I don't have to attend, I've been asked to attend and believe me, I'd rather dig up the plumbing in the yard than attend one of these meetings.