January 25, 2012

Ugandan Hospitality

ECF Vital Practices hospitalityIn the four days that I have been in Nakiwogo, Uganda, I have already visited in the homes of 14 members of St. Stephen’s Church. At every home, I am offered wonderful hospitality with snacks and water or soft drinks provided. Last evening, I feasted on a meal that included chicken and “Irish” potato steamed in banana leaves, cassava, sweet potato, corn meal patties, boiled banana and fried banana, ground nut sauce, and cabbage. When I prepare to leave, many times I am presented with a parting gift. At different homes I received fresh pineapple, bananas, woven baskets, milk from the homeowners cow, and a live chicken for my hosts to prepare. Even in the poorest homes (poverty like I have never experienced) I am offered at least bottled water.

I am so impressed with the hospitality and the greeting I have received at every turn. I especially appreciate the excitement of the children when we meet. They are very eager to meet the “muzungu (white person).”

The warmest welcome of all was the greeting I received at church yesterday. In preparation for my visit, the church had been freshly painted and the pews varnished and the grounds all well prepared. Archdeacon Jonathan Kisawuzi, who had visited my parish in Seattle, led the service and it was wonderful to renew our friendship. The church was jam packed with everyone decked out in beautiful festive wear. The majority of women wore formal dresses that Ugandan tailors fashion from beautiful cloth.

I offered the sermon and afterwards we held a feast on the front porch and lawn of the church, serving a delicious traditional meal to the over 250 people in attendance. When the service and meal were over, I had my picture taken with the different families and ministry groups of the church. I was truly overwhelmed with Ugandan hospitality.

My church has helped our Ugandan sister church to build their building and launch several of their ministries. Our donations have contributed to the roof and windows, the pews and electricity, as well as the altar and its furnishings. When I am shown pictures of the church in its earliest construction and then compare it with the beautiful building I am now visiting, I am deeply touched by the fruits of our partnership.

I tried in my sermon to express our gratitude for what we at St. Andrew’s receive in this partnership because it is certainly not a one-way street. What the people of St. Stephen’s, Nakiwogo, give to the people of St. Andrew’s, Seattle, is a hope for the future of our faith. The church is growing here and it has been our privilege to aid in this growth. That is their gift to us. Thanks be to God.