Charles and David here to update you of the progress of the ACT-Michigan Mission visit. First paragraphs by Charles. We had an incredible day today. We set of to Muko this morning with two main objectives - to meet the Sub-county Chief about our request for land and to distribute clothes and gifts to locals. This time around, we found the sub-county chief, Mr. Nelson Bikangiso. He ushered us into his office and after introductions went on to the subject of our visit. Our previous dealings with this gentleman gave an impression that he would refuse to recommend ACT for the land offer. He himself admitted he had given that impression in the manner he met us previously. But he noe confessed that his demeanour was because many people had wrongfully acquired public land in Muko and his job is to protect the public interest. He then dropped the knews - that since ACT was following the right procedures, he would would support our bid. He said when we have filled the requisite forms, he would sign them. We shortly departed his office with a sigh of relief, having got his endorsement.
We next headed for the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) centre nearby, to learn about their agricultural programs. We had a great reception from the staff there and they showed us around the ochard where they apples, pears and ather temperate fruits are grown. I learn that these crops have a very good chance to succeed in the area but was not satisfied with the care given by the staff.
Next we headed to the ACT-Office for the distribution of clothes and other gifts. A large crowd of foster parents and children had gathered. Sue and Generous took to the distribution as David, Charles, Tim and Ced proceeded to meet Rev. Joshua of All Saints Church to discuss possibility of ACT partnering with the two Churches (All Saints and Uganda Martyrs to use the land they occupy at Muko market for a redevelopment plan including the ACT Centre. Rev. Joshua and his assistant were supportive of the idea. A downpour ended our discussion and we headed to the Muko Campsite for lunch. As lunch closed, Rev. Joshua said he knew another piece of government land near Muko which might better suit oue plans. We thanked him for this info and off we went to see the land. To our mazement, this is a dream plot of land for our proposed ACT Centre. The 2 acre land is adjacent to the newly paved highway in the Muko prime area where we badly wanted to find land for the centre. Its just a golden opportunity if this land could be given to ACT. Although the Habuhinga opportunity is now on course, it has the challenge of 8km of difficult murram road off the highway. Habuhinga would also towards the boundary of the sub-country (hence less accessible) than the plot we had just seen located right in the centre of the sub-county.
The whole team believes this is the best location for the ACT-Centre. The challenge is now to include it in our request for land and hope to convince all the officials at the sub-county and the District that it should be part of land offered to ACT (along with Habuhinga). This calls for prayer. We hope you are standing with is in prayer on this matter. Thank you. This is indeed another incredible day. God is leading us to know and discover things in Muko we could never had come across without him moving ahead of us.
Thanks to Chairman Charles Tuhaise for his blog report above; I would only add a personal reflection on relationships and team member well-being. To say the least, there have been no illnesses or injuries--although we did not expect any. On a personal note, I can state that the culture shock is beginning to abate somewhat, although my learnnig curve is still quite high as related to Ugandan Culture in regards to family and marital customs, view of how to use one's authority, how to approach one another for a conflict resolution or negotiations in business, etc. I am learning much. As to the culture shock, perhaps a brief illustration may help. When we first arrived, many of us (not Sue, of course) approached our initial meals with the private thought, "Will I survive this?" The next day our thoughts evolved upwards to, "Can I tolerate this?" Now we come to our meals thinking, "Wow, this is great; I am looking forward to it!"
My personal relationships with the clergy here is at an all time high. I believe this has made a tremendous difference in how things are going--the trust fact is quite high now. For example, Father Fred (Roman Catholic) and The Rev. Joshua (Anglican, Church of Uganda) have churches right next to each other (about 150 yards apart and are the only two churches in Muko Marketplace). Until I became their friend, the two of them had not yet personally gone to talk to the other one--although they "knew of each other from a distance." Now they are eating together, discussing joint ventures, collaborating (possibly) on land use and with their two separate schools (also next to one another). I deeply appreciate how ecumenism can change the immediate world around us.
God bless and keep praying for the much needed ministry here.