Thursday, 13 March 2014

Multiply Zambia 2014 Day Thirteen - Monday

Steven has promised a prompt start on this first day of the conference: 9.00am for 9.30am.  A bunch of bishops will visit us at some stage, probably in time for or after lunch.  Everyone seems to think different topics should be priority.  We settle on the customary first session being on the Multiply network, and to follow in the afternoon on fathering.  We'll all have a part in the presentations - there's no point in having Rukundo and Gregory here and ignoring them!

At ten, we're still in the hotel lobby.  We've passed the time taking Gregory to task for turning up in open-toed sandals, when Steven is struggling in suit and tie because there's a convention about what's appropriate for platform appearance.  Steven is making his umpteenth phone call, and I decide there's time to start making some calls to my own to UK.  Steven splutters, "They've got the car at the church but won't collect us until everything perfect for our arrival."  We all groan: we'd much prefer to get stuck in with set up, saying 'hello' to folks and creating a brotherly atmosphere.  The epithet applies with which Rukundo chastened me for my excessive comments about yesterday's 'bessings' palaver: "You have to go with their foundation - you can't build something else unless you've laid a different one."

The church is in the middle of some building work, and a vast area of missing roof gable is letting in bright sunlight.  Nevertheless, it's 11.15am and we must get going.  The Pastor, John Said, welcomes Bishop David.  The picture from the projector is useless.  After 10 minutes, we call a break and swing everything round 90 degrees so we're peering into the comparative gloom under the balcony. 

No sign of the lunch, so we press on.  We really are struggling to keep attention.  Rain hammers down on the corrugated iron roof, and I begin to appreciate where 90 decibels of PA could come in useful.  The food comes at 2.00pm, not 12.30pm.  After we re-start, Len's groups go better than the morning. 

The hotel is just a short drive back.  Len has established that the hotel WiFi is out of action and Steven suggests we make the most of the evening by cracking off to a fast-food eatery he knows.  It's called The Place, and acts as a take away, too.  Ferocious charcoal braziers stand at the entrance, and you can have char-grilled more-or-less anything from goat to bananas.  (So that's what Len chooses.)  It's still hot and sweaty as we climb back into the Previa.  When Jacob stops for petrol, Len dashes out and blows his 'blessing' money on a round of ice creams. 

By now, Rukundo and I have got into some deep conversations, mainly about his community set-up.  We stay awake chatting long after I'd planned to get some sleep.  This whole thing of having three of our apostolic men together has been very valuable.  (Over breakfast on Tuesday, Gregory says, "Thank you for inviting me to this.")  Rukundo's final challenge to me is, "Are you discouraged?"  He relates how he felt a prompting to invite pastors with over forty years of ministry to come on his radio programme and encourage younger leaders that the long haul is blessed with joy and fruitfulness.  Of ten to twelve he invited, only three felt able to speak.  And they each said it was a poor return when they saw how people make a lot of money in successful ministry today.  That's something to digest.

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