Our Most Active Day: Trip #6

Thursday was a busy, yet life giving day. The teaching was shared by three teachers for our learning group. Sunday finished up lesson seven by the end of the first session (8-10 am). You can tell when it is almost ten o’clock as the trainees’ get a little bit antsy, looking to their first meal of the day. All five days their breakfast was the same; a large bowl of something Cream of Wheat like. I guess it’s not unusual for our trainees to miss meals and they have come to appreciate the well timed meals and their sizeable portions. 

I picked up teaching lesson eight at 10:45. My main tasks for the week was to help these pastors understand how to analyze the layout of a passage, a bit like our good old school days of diagraming sentences, only the sentences are longer. My other focus is helping them examine the details of a passage. This is probably the best time slot, as they are eager and at ease with something in their stomachs. I broke our fourteen students into three groups, and they were to make observations and report to the larger group. Most of them seem to be getting it, but Sunday and Julius encourage me to break the groups down to 2-3 in size, so our meeker students can’t hide. I do so in the next phase and see the fruit of this approach. More mistakes were made AND more growth occurred. I am quick to point out my mistakes as well as Sunday and Julius’, so they see it’s ok to struggle.

At 1 pm we took the one-hour lunch break. During this time the Americans meet and have leftovers from dinner the night before at the guest house and discuss what’s working and what’s not, and any adjustments that might be helpful. We are regularly monitoring one another so that we might synchronize the timing of our lessons, if possible. We also share blunders and victories as we seek to make this experience truly helpful. Things seem to be going quite well for all three groups. 

I go from the best time and continue my lesson in the most dreaded time slot-after lunch. My last hour of teaching is tough sledding as heads bobbed whenever I lectured for more than five minutes. It provided plenty of incentive to ask questions and keep as much group work going as possible. I finished the lesson at three and handed things over to Julius to finish the day at four.  This hour was his most challenging one that he taught to date. He knew it, the trainees knew it and when we closed, we spent a good amount of time debriefing and discussing how things got away from him. I offered suggestions and to how to move forward and he seemed to appreciate the input. We would see how this tutoring of this leader helped on Friday morning.

As I approached our guest house, I looked across the yard and saw Cooper Mobbs (Kris’s 6ft 3in son) putting his tennies on, as we arranged a basketball game at four. Kris loves basketball and few people both play and understand the game. He likes it when we come and tries to get in a few games. Today was the day. His other son, Chase, is 6 ft 1 in and is more of an artist than athlete. They are both really great kids. Cooper and I played Kris and Chase, games up to 21. They won the first and two more showed up. One a very short American teen, the other a decent sized Ugandan with a big smile who was not one of our trainees. We played on a cement pad and after a while the barefoot (that’s right, barefoot) Ugandan traded in playing in bare feet to sandals. We took the second game and we decided to play one more game to 11 for the world championship. Kris was feeling pretty good about this as his Atlanta Braves won the world series earlier in the week. But, alas, he fell short as my team won 11-6.

I showered and ate and after an hour of planning/studying we were in a Land Rover for the forty-minute drive in to Gulu. I was asked to be a guest on a weekly radio show that Kris and Four Corners hosts every week. He told me that he would ask about the training and what is taking place and a little bit about me. We would dialogue back and forth and end with call in questions from the audience. 

We pulled into Favour FM 104.1 with Kris, me, translator Benson and Eric, a Favour radio host who happens to be in my learning group. After about fifteen minutes of waiting, we were ushered into the quiet studio and lined up in front of five mikes: Kris, myself, the two translators and Eric. We started talking and the questions came in. They usually go an hour but we went 1:10. Everyone felt things went well and we made our way back to Four Corners, driving down asphalt and twenty minutes of dirt roads through the bush. I made it home and crashed. The picture is of me and translators, Sunday and Benson in the studio. Friday would be the last day of training and time to make our way back across the country to the airport.

Larry Szyman

Pastor for Missional Life