I Hope and pray you all are strong and healthy! Northern Uganda is a fascinating land and the district of Pader, where I am stationed, has a sort of "wild west" atmosphere to it; minus the banditos and gun fights (thankfully). Although it has been a big lifestyle change for me coming here, I thank God that there is no electricity. No electricity = no light interference at night time = a spectacular view of the stars! We have a perfect glimpse of the bright red planet of Mars from where we are. I've learned recently that the redness seen is actually just dust in the planets atmosphere (FYI) After a late dinner of chicken and rice in town, Terry, Tes and I stroll back to our place completely overwhelmed under the beauty of His majesty. It usually spurs on a powerful prayer time before the 3 of us call it a night.
I have a lot of work to do prior to February when the kids return back to school here in Pader. I have a vision for the sport of soccer that has been well received here amongst the leaders here in Pader and surrounding areas. I see a team being formed that is made up of the top players in Northern Uganda. This team will be trained in the disciplines of Athletes in Action's "Total Athlete" (which we implemented in South Africa 08'). With the former LRA members now returning to their communities there is a lot of division among the districts here in the north. It has been difficult for many to forget the past and welcome back the very people who were on the forefront of the killing and pillaging of their own villages. This is forgiveness and reconciliation that only God can bring to these people.
When talking with some of the local leaders I mentioned the story of the "Christmas Truce of 1914" in WW1 that saw soldiers from opposing sides abandoning their trenches to unite not as militant soldiers, but as mere humans of which many did not fully understand the cause of the war to begin with. This meeting of enemies as friends in no-man's land was experienced by hundreds, if not thousands, of men on the Western Front during that Christmas of 1914. There are many testimonies of soccer being the invitation for this jovial event as a couple of men began to kick around improvised balls and caps were casually laid out as goals in the middle of the battlefield. This organic affair left a profound impact on those who took part. Although this event was only momentary and both sides were eventually forced back into their trenches to continue the bloody conflict, there was a glimpse of something beautiful during the absurdity of the war.
As a lot of you know soccer has a way of bringing many together and in Pader, soccer is a very big part of the Acholi culture. A local match could bring about the whole district if advertised well. By forming this elite team of players from all northern districts, soccer can be used as a tool for unification and reconciliation. There is even greater division between the north and south in Uganda as the north is seen as "barbaric" in all ways of life. I discussed the possibility of eventually bringing this Northern All-star team to play against the top teams in the south in hopes to better unify the country as a whole. While we were talking about this idea, the leaders expressed that until now they have had no good coaches in the north and the caliber of soccer has been effected by this. I responded by asking "until now?". "You Curtis, you will train and coach them!" <-- I have a lot of praying and planning to do if this were to happen! yikes...
The leaders here have been praying for years for the resources to further their soccer ministry and God miraculously answered this prayer through all of you who donated. I know that a lot of this does sound far fetched but we truly believe God is on the verge of doing something very big here and we are excited to see it unfold!
All these words that I am repeating in this blog like forgiveness, unification, reconciliation and peace can only take form in a true manner through the power of Jesus Christ. I ask that you continue to pray that Gods will be done here in the north.
This morning Terry lead a devotional about Jesus "The humble King" and one by one he washed the feet of the E.I. staff to symbolize that we are here to serve. What a beautiful time we had together this morning!
Attached in this blog is a little bit of sun for my Canadian friends and family in the heart of winter. It is 34 deg C here and we could afford to donate a couple degrees to you for free!
I love you all,