The Full Story
My first trip to Uganda was in 2017. It was a wonderful experience and I made many good friends. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was to be able to travel there again this past June (2019). The people, the country, the Rural Pastors Project … all contributed to another amazing experience.
As we arrived at the Entebbe Airport, Pastor Martin and others of the Finepearls organization were there to greet us and to attend to our every need. We traveled to Kampala where we stayed in a very nice apartment. Two or more of the Finepearls guys stayed with us, cooked and cleaned. Several times during the day and evenings, others of the group joined us. In every case, they were continuously serving us and seeking to meet our needs … even to the point where one of the ladies spent much time bathing my swollen feet with hot water compresses and rubbing them down with liniment. I cried as I told her that I came to Uganda to serve, not to be served. But, I realize that in serving, the person who is doing the serving receives as much or more blessing than the person who is being served.
After a couple of days, we traveled to the Kamuli village. I was so excited to see my friend Agnes again and she was excited to see me. Most of the village people remembered me from my first trip there and they all treated me like family. They are such dear people, kind and giving, thinking of others before themselves. Our week went quickly as we spoke to and trained 125 pastors, elders, and church leaders. This included women.
Each day, we would start with devotions. Around 9:00 AM, people would start gathering at the church for praise and worship. This typically lasted about an hour. Oh, how the Ugandan people praise and worship God! There is much singing and dancing. I think that it somehow puts us to shame as we are so reserved in our worship. Watching them, you can absolutely see their love for the Lord.
Around 10:00, the training began. Men and women joined together as the speakers shared with them foundational truths and principles straight from God’s Word. The talks were well-received and prompted many questions and discussions. Often, this morning session extended until early afternoon. After a leisurely lunch, the women met separately in the church building and the men met under the shade of a huge tree. (Note: it was much hotter inside the church!) This meeting typically lasted three or more hours. After that, there was a crusade at the “downtown street corner” in the village. Upwards of 500 local people came around to view and listen to the singing, dancing, and preaching.
When the ladies met separately, I was privileged to be one of their speakers. I spoke with them about the Proverbs 31 woman and how God wants us to be with our husbands, in our homes, and with our resources. The ladies were very appreciative of the training and shared experiences with one another. I personally was also convicted about how I could be a better wife in my personal life.
My pastor’s wife, Karina, was the other speaker for the women. She spoke to them about Motherhood. That certainly resonated with them as most of them had very large families. One lady there had 13 children! Again, they shared testimonies, experiences, and stories. We encouraged them to continue to network together to support one another after we had gone back home to America.
On Saturday of that week, we had a graduation celebration. Fifty-one people who had participated every day in the training received certificates. They were so excited! We also had gifts of nail polish for each of the women. I spoke to them about how the nail polish wasn’t about beauty, as God looks on the heart, but that it was just for fun. They loved it! Also, it was announced that through our combined efforts, at least 82 people came to know Jesus as Savior throughout the course of the week.
That afternoon, our team spent some time doing as Jesus did and we washed the feet of every person who participated in the conference. It was a very moving event. And then, as a team, we washed each other’s feet. I shared with the Ugandan people that Peter had not wanted Jesus to wash his feet, but that Jesus had told him that if he didn’t wash Peter’s feet, then Peter had no part with him. Our washing the Ugandan people’s feet helped to demonstrate that we were part of them and that they were a part of us. It was a very moving and emotional experience.
After that, we traveled with the Ugandan people about two miles to the Nile River, where 60 people were baptized! What an honor to witness such an event. On Sunday, we attended church with our Ugandan friends, had a light lunch, and then began the journey back to Kampala. I was saddened to have to leave. It is awesome knowing that I have such a wonderful group of brothers and sisters in Uganda, people that I truly love and that I know truly love me. And, doing God’s work to make a difference for eternity is most certainly an honor and a privilege. I can’t wait to go again!
Blessed to serve,
– Leslie Anne Wood