Workshop ‘Channels of Hope’

Dear prayer friends,

If you remember it well, we did organize a first workshop for the church leaders in the church district of Adi in March 2015. End of April we could organize the first renewed workshop. This time for the church district leaders of Aba. This church district is in the northwest of Adi and the village where we had to go to was at a distance of about 235 km.

The organization
Fortunately I didn’t have to do everything on my own but could work together with one of the nurses of the hospital, Claude Waginita. He works at the maternity, and together we read through the syllabus and made corrections here and there. Because he learned to know the contents (and also was one of the participants in 2015) I did ask him to help me teach the workshop. It met with some resistence of the hospital staff because one of the other staff of the maternity was on annual leave, but she was willing to come to work and take more days off after our return (thank you Esther). Claude also took it upon himself to buy all the necessities needed during the workshop. The district president had asked us to prepare for the meals, and we accepted this if we didn’t have to contribute to the transport of the participants. To us it was one or the other. And our proposal was accepted. We did buy a lot of food items in Ingbokolo and took it with us in the car. This car we could hire from the CECA chuch in Ingbokolo, with driver! (But it would be a lot easier if we could have our own car, because then we could go wherever we would want). Ezra, the driver, took part in the workshop. In the church of Ingbokolo he is a person of confidence for the young people.

Travel
We left Adi Tuesday morning 24 April and spent one hour in Ariwara, at 45 km from Adi, to buy the last items. Around 5pm we arrived in Abinva, and we had to search for the church. The main road crosses the village and one side is one church district and the other side another. Both sides have a CECA church and we went first to the wrong one.

Arrival
We were welcomed with music, dance and song. It was quite an event to receive visitors from Adi and then one white person as well. The executive council was still in full swing and that until after dark. Supper was late, but that didn’t make the welcome less warm, many came to see and greet us in the baraza, the visitor’s hut.

A very warm welcome

Wednesday
Wednesday we reserved for gettting to know the area and for the last preparations. In the morning we attended the morning devotions and could present ourselves. Later in the afternoon we went to a clinic, where people with HIV are being treated with ARV’s. However it is not clear how many people live with HIV in the area.

Claude is preparing his teaching

The workshop
Thursday morning we started the workshop at 8am. Because the regional representative had another Bible devotion prepared, he had asked if he could present it? It was about leadership, so we accepted it with joy. Because of this I had to see how to organize my devotions, but that was possible (Friday about Esther, as ambassador of her people, and Saturday about being salt and light of the world). After a getting to know one another, and an ice-breaker, we dived deep into the topics. There was only one problem (a luxury problem really). The members of the church where we were visiting, wanted to listen in. And while most of the pastors had a reasonable knowledge of French, many of the local population had problems with following French. So, Claude and I had to translate the lessons into Lingala while teaching. Not always easy considering all the medical terminology. Thursday afternoon we had to stop teaching for a while, because of a tropical rain storm, and people no longer could understand us above the sound of the rain on the roof. However, the rain didn’t take very long. We could make good progress such that on Friday afternoon we were finished with the lessons, although it might have been better to spend a bit more time for the planning in the small groups per church section.

Pastors with on the ground several local Christians

Films
We could organize film shows on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evening. Wednesday evening we showed our first production of Along’hase, about stigma, one of the big topics the next day. The pastors were touched to see that in the movie it was a pastor who discriminated Along’hase, a man living with HIV. Thursday evening we showed two documentaries. The first was about sexual transmitted infections with some shocking pictures; the second was a testimony of an Anglican Canon in Uganda, Gideon Byamugisha, who lives with HIV. Again the pastors were touched: a pastor who is HIV positive and speaking about it openly.
Friday evening we showed our two other productions: part two of Along’hase, focusing on HIV testing; and our film about Marriage according to the will of God.

Screenshot of Along’hase, Mpasi to Esengo; our second film

Ending the workshop
Saturday morning after devotions, we gave a summary about the whole workshop stressing the importance to share what they learned with family and in their local churches. We finished with the lighting of candles and a testimony of a woman of the local church who lives with HIV. We knew the section pastor was in contact with someone, but she came forward only Friday evening. After her testimony I prayed for her and the workshop was ended with the prayer of the regional representative of CECA. Saturday afternoon around 4.30 pm we were back in Adi.

Lighting candles, a sign of commitment

Looking back and evaluation
I am grateful to God that we could organize our first workshop. Certainly there are points for improvements, they never lack. It is always possible to improve. It also was quite a challenge to prepare the workshop well. It took place earlier than planned (in April in stead of in May), but the collaboration with Claude was really good. It meant a big difference to me that he took it upon himself to take care of all the logistics. And also that he taught several of the topics. It made that I could take some rest.
It was difficult to teach on the level of the local Christians and to translate everything into Lingala on the spot while the lessons are prepared for church leaders. While their level differs also, it is higher than that of the local Christians wo might not even have followed primary school. The question is how we want to organize the following workshops, and if we will translate the syllabus into Lingala?
The next workshops are planned for October. Then the next executive councils will take place in the church districts. We would like to go to Dungu, Watsa and Aru then. And if I look at the financial aspects, it will definitely need more than $7,000. Dungu and Watsa are at a bigger distance than last month, so transport costs will be higher, and we might even have to go by plane to Dungu. How we will get to Watsa then, I don’t know. Aru is closer, only at 90 km from Adi.

Please pray that financial support will come in and for the organization of these workshops. Claude has his annual leave in October, and will be available again to help. And that’s already a huge thank you.

Thank you for praying with me. May God richly bless you.

Annemarie

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