30 July 2008

Trip to East Africa

On Saturday Tim and Evelien leave for 2 weeks to Uganda and Rwanda. They'll be flying into Entebbe and taking a bus on Sunday to Arua in the north of Uganda. There is a YWAM base there where Tim will teach on the Discipleship Training School for the week. His subject is Worldview, which he loves teaching and he invariably ends up having great discussions about things like gender, leadership and even attitudes towards work. Evelein is going with him and she will teach a couple of evening sessions to give an overview of the Bible. Accepting invitations to teach on DTS has always been a great way for us to make contact with bases around the continent.

It'll also be fun for Tim and Evelein to be at the base for YWAM's international prayer day, which takes place once a month. All the information about the prayer day - the theme for the month, teaching notes and so on - are available on a website, which can put them off-limits to staff around Africa with limited Internet access. Our team emails a short, easily downloadable version of the notes and sends out sms messages to as many staff as we have cell phone numbers for. So if they need a reminder to visit the Internet cafe, or to ask their leader for a print-out of the information, they can do so ahead of time. This is one of the ways we are trying to be part of bridging gaps within YWAM.

From there they will take a bus to Jinja where we have a large training and ministry centre (shown above) and where YWAM's national director for Uganda is based. There are a couple of reasons for spending the weekend in Jinja - no, not because the source of the Nile is there, nor because you can do great white-water rafting on the river! Firstly, the YWAM staff in Jinja have for some years been running great HIV/AIDS-related projects. We are in the process of producing a video for YWAM staff around Africa, promoting healthy practices and attempting to reduce the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS. Needless to say, we do have HIV+ staff members; how we live together in community in a way that honours and respects one another is a critical issue. Tim and Evelein will be recording a couple of interviews with staff and leaders at the base for use in this video.

Secondly, next year we are hosting YWAM's annual communication consultation at the Jinja base. Visiting will give Tim and Evelein (especially her as she'll be doing much of the logistical administration) a chance to get together with the staff members there who will be helping us to host the event by organising housing, catering and so on. Hopefully by meeting face-to-face now we can avert some misunderstandings later ;-)

On Sunday they leave Jinja for Kigali in Rwanda. Again, Tim will be teaching on a DTS, this time on the subject of Missions. He's a great mobiliser and passionate about the subject, so it should be a good week. Kigali is where the regional director is based, so this visit will also be a chance for Tim to discuss with him our plans for next year. We are running a School of Field Journalism in South Africa and after 3 months of lectures we'll go to East Africa for a 2 month field assignment. Our students will join us for the communication consultation in Jinja and then go to different locations around the region in twos and threes. It's good that Tim and Evelien can meet with Method (the regional director) to discuss which locations they can go to; currently we're thinking of Sudan, Burundi and DRC.

Their final assignment will be to interview Method and his wife, Mary, who is the base leader in Kigali. For the last few years our team has been producing a news bulletin/magazine for YWAM in Africa. We've had a bit of a lapse for the last year due to lack of staff time and in this time the producers of the global YWAM magazine, the International YWAMer, have decided to convert to an e-zine. Given that we know it will be difficult for many of our staff around Africa to receive an e-zine and check out all the incorporated web links, we are going to amalgamate our Africa bulletin with the global magazine and continue to print and mail copies to bases around Africa. The first edition is due out at the end of August and obviously there'll be a time-delay between the e-zine going out and our print version being ready. Anyway, the theme of the first edition is Communication (there'll be an article about AfriCom!) and this trip is the ideal opportunity to interview Method and Mary for an Africa-focused article.

Then Friday it's back to Entebbe to sleep over and catch an early flight back to Cape Town via Johannesburg. Our two intrepid team members will no doubt be bushed, but they'll have accomplished a lot ... which makes the 2 weeks away from home very worthwhile!

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