Cross Country: Trip #6

Our goal was to wrap up our teaching by 10 am on Friday. 8 – 9:20 was to finish up lesson nine.  Then a half hour was left for all to gather for lesson ten and close at 10:00. Lesson ten is basically giving the assignment between that day and January 10th, when we will gather again in 90+ degree weather to consider how to understand and communicate prophecy, focusing on Isaiah.

In my last post, I mentioned that Julius had a rough afternoon on his presentation on Thursday. When we walked into the classroom Friday, it was apparent he spent the night working. He had the whiteboard full of information and I could see he was ready to go! It was a solid improvement for him.

At 9:30 all three learning groups met in the Pastoral Training Center for our closing session which went well. We are seeing that Africans are now leading more than not and the goal of a movement lead by Africans seems increasingly likely. So encouraging…

After we dismissed (the trainees will stay five more days for “practical” pastoral training on topical matters-this time, marriage and family).  We met with the six Lead Trainers (who co-teach with us now) at the guest house in which we stay. We debriefed what went well for the week and what needs improvement. We asked for them to assess their performance and I took notes. We also asked for each of the three groups to start considering whom we/they can start grooming as future Lead Trainers-we want to multiply. They each gave three to five names. This is also encouraging. 

After closing in prayer, Peter, Alan Corbin (one of Four Corners’ staff) and I loaded the Land Rover and the six-and-a-half-hour ride to the area near the airport. Before we left, we were given hard copy certificates by Kris Mobbs saying we passed our COVID tests, so we would be allowed on the plane to Amsterdam. Part way there, Kris called and said the testing center said they gave us the wrong certificates and they were sending others electronically. He said an e-copy would not be a problem. When we sat down to eat dinner, I got the certificates (PDF) on my phone, and I opened them to Larry proof our experience at the Entebbe airport. 

We got to the airport, and it was chaotic. I was hoping that they would have straightened things out a bit since Peter and I arrived on day one of their new set up – no dice. We found a line to be allowed into the airport in which we had to show our passport, yellow fever shot certificate and a required hard copy of the certificate saying the COVID test was passed. I got a bit nervous and thought I would pull up my electronic PDF and hope that would suffice. It was comforting to see others were in the same boat.

As I was about fourth in line, I went to open the email and found out it was not Larry proof. I accidently deleted it. After a brief prayer (if you count “OH CRAP!” a prayer), I tried to find the file in my garbage, but to no avail. I turned to Peter and confessed my error and frantically worked my phone and proved there are few things in life that are truly Larry proof! After a few moments of fruitless efforts, Peter suggested we pull out the hard copies Kris said were invalid and take a shot. Now my prayers moved from “oh crap” to a more specific petition. By this time, I texted Kris and Alan to resend the document. I got to the front, handed the paperwork over, and it was stamped and approved and handed back to me. The same for Peter. 

With great relief we made it to the door, which had people with luggage carts going in and out the same door. It was like local traffic…I wanted to take over and bring some order. I wisely chose not to show my American preoccupation with efficiency.

Eventually we got checked in and headed to immigration to check out of Uganda. As Peter and I were third and fourth in line, people started cutting in front of us. They were heading to Qatar and there was a significant group apparently holding the plane up. After the first four or so cut in (with some official help from airport personal), I got involved. I turned and said “Qatar” loudly and raised my hand. A few more behind in line raised their hands and I invited them up front. I was reminded of something during this exercise. I was a bit put out when people cut in front of me, but I really enjoyed being the nice guy who let people in line. It reminds me of the saying I heard, “Everybody wants to be a servant till they are treated like one!”

While in line, I met a guy from Dallas who came to meet his online sweetheart for the first time. He got engaged and was heading back home to begin a year long process to bring her to the states, including a wedding.

We got through and it was time to come home! I slept over half the eight-hour flight to Amsterdam, which is a record for me. I write this from the Amsterdam airport. I hope I sleep more on the next leg to MSP as my son Zack, wife Angie and Son Jadon will be spending the night. I’d like to have some energy to enjoy them (after I shower). The picture is of a market we passed on the way to the airport.

Larry Szyman

Pastor for Missional Life