Thursday, April 30, 2009

Days 3&4 "You're non denominational? Are you sure?"

So I'm almost halfway through this adventure of teaching in's hard to believe! Yesterday, I gave my first quiz, and the class did excellent work. Over half of the class made a 100! So that tells me that the quiz was far too easy...the next one will be much more difficult. Turns out that repeating information is no problem for Ugandans...critical thinking is much more difficult. So for the next exam, we'll have more essays.

Currently the college here has 2 guest professors. As you know, I teach the afternoon Acts class, and in the morning, a gentelman named Evan Turley teaches the Church History class. Evan, happens to be Irish...and he's about as Irish as St. Patrick! There are several students who go have Evan's morning class and my afternoon class. That means the poor students are subjected to a sharp Irish accent in the morning and a deep southern drawl in the afternoon. Again...English is not their first language. I'm amazed at their linguistic skills.

One of the best students came to Jeff, my host and the Academic Dean and said "Brother Jeff, my white professor in the afternoon doesn't speak so fast, but I don't understand him sometimes...and my white professor in the morning...I don't even know where he comes from!"

I love Evan's's great to hear him speak...maybe the students are amused with our respective takes on the English language. The student didn't seem too bothered... he made a 100 on the quiz!

Last note of the I was helping one of the students with a question about Cornelius in Acts 10. This is an older lady of about 65, her name is Mary. After I gave a few answers that she liked, we had the following convo...

Mary: So...are you Baptist?
Me: No, I do not belong to a denomination...non-denominational
Mary: Whaaaat? Are you sure?
Me: Um...yea...non-denominational
Mary: But know so much about the have a view of the whole book.
Me: Well thank you, Mary, I appreciate that.
Mary: And you're sure? Non-denominational?
Me: Yes ma'am...I'm sure.

Funny...I guess she had a bad non denominational teacher before! Maybe I'm helping out the reputation out here. haha

Anyway...tomorrow is Uganda's Labor Day, so I promised to end class a little early. Then it's the weekend, and the 10k run along the Nile on Sunday.

Thanks so much for the prayers...God is doing great things.

More later.

Hope ya'll are well.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Day 2 "Professor Matt, you assign too much homework."

Throughout my career as a student, I always thought that the amount of homework a teacher assigned was directly proportional to the amount of contempt said teacher felt for his or her students. Now that I see from the teacher's side, it isn't the case.

In the hours that preceded class today, I heard several times (and from a variety of sources) that I had assigned too much homework for one night. At one point, I had a student come up to me and say "Professor Matt, this is so are killing us!"
First of all...until recently, I never expected to be teaching in this, or any other context. Secondly, I certainly couldn't have imagined being the teacher that gives too much homework! After some review with Jeff, the academic dean, it turns out that I'm not giving too much...a good amount, but not too much.
When class began, I promised the students that my grading would be fair, that the exam would be objective, and that the homework wasn't so tough. After a few minutes of convincing, we went on with class. Again, today went really well...ended better than it started!

Here are some pictures from the Bible College.
1. The front of the building
2. The view from the classroom (that's Lake Victoria)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Teaching...Day 1

I had no idea what to expect for my first day teaching...

As I had suggested to over the past few weeks, I really felt unqualified to teach at this level. I had visions of disaster running through my mind...students being totally confused, their minds wrecked by my southern accent and lack of seminary training.

Alas, none of that far.

I began, like any class, by calling roll. Now, I do my best to pronounce everyone's name the correct way. If you're reading this, you probably know that my biggest pet peeve is someone mispronouncing Appalachian. For real. Don't get me started. Especially if they're from somewhere else and tell me how to say it (I'm looking at you Justin Hemming)...ok so I guess I got started...back to today...

So yea, I do my best in this department, so looking down at the roster, I saw names like: Tukacungurwa, Twijukye, Muwanguzi, and Ndayirajige. Yep...not exactly Smith and Jones. I made my apologies before opening my mouth, and thankfully, the Ugandans were gracious and understood that this white dude didn't have any idea.

Past that first bit of awkwardness, we jumped right in. Acts is about as straight forward as any book of the Bible can be, but that didn't stop the students from going into predestination, spiritual gifts, and the end times. How we got from Peter healing a crippled man in chapter 3 to the second coming of Christ is a mystery to me...

All in all, 2 hrs and 50 minutes later we finished for the day after covering 3 chapters and discussing plenty of tangents. I feel so blessed to be able to do this, and look forward to another busy day of study and teaching. More to come later!


Friday, April 24, 2009

Headed to Uganda

Last spring, while I was going through the COAT program at NMSI I met the Atherstone family who were going through the program with me. Jeff and Christine Atherstone have been missionaries in Uganda for the past few years and are leading an exciting ministry there. Jeff is the academic dean at Gaba Bible Institute, an organization that teaches and trains pastors.

During our time in COAT, Jeff asked if I would be interested in coming to Uganda to teach a course at GBI. I had turned down the opportunity a few times, thinking that I'm unqualified.

I was right, I haven't been qualified...but in February, I felt called to go anyway...that God would equip me if I went. So...that's what I'm doing!

For the next two weeks, I'll be in Kampala, Uganda, teaching the a two week course on the book of Acts. I ask for your prayers, as I still feel totally unqualified...but at the same time I'm confident that God will provide all the needed knowledge and wisdom .

So, I ask for your prayers for this opportunity. I'm honored to be able to do this, and ask for your continued prayers.

By the way, I'll have good internet access in Uganda, so watch out for updates!


Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Saab meets its end...and so does an era

On the side of Alligator Alley, at mile marker 43, I sat in the dry, prickly grass calling Geico roadside assistance. Thirty feet in front of me, she sat, silent and forlorn....perhaps the best looking broken down car I've ever seen, with her clean 3 spoke alloys, armor-alled bumpers, and glistening 12 year old paint testifying to its previous life apart from the Florida sun.

Moments earlier I was driving in serene comfort...sunroof open, sipping on a Cherry Coke Zero, listening to March Madness on Sirius radio, with the cruise set at 82 mph. Suddenly, the car jerked and popped out of 5th gear...the tach needle lay limp, telling me all I needed to know. Turning on my hazard lights, I steered across the rumble strips and into the grass, away from harm. I gave the key one more turn-just to quench my remaining shred of hope. She gave her last half hearted groan and that was it. The Saab met its bitter end in South Florida, due to a seized engine.

After making the necessary calls (Geico for practicality, McClure because he was waiting on my arrival, and Dad because he's the only person who really understood...not to mention, he's Dad, that's who ya call) I moved to a lone patch of shade to escape Florida's wrath. Earlier that day, I had invested a $500 in the car to replace some leaking axle seals, so I was pretty mad about that, knowing that it was essentially $500 wasted. For me, $500 is a considerable amount of money, but oddly, I wasn't all that concerned about it. With nothing on my hands but time (and a fair amount of grease) my mind drifted to the journeys that took place in my Saab: the blissful post-purchase drive from Atlanta, the countless ventures through Tennessee's windy back roads, the long hauls to the beach culminating with the intoxicating aroma of ocean air, the kamikaze journey to Kansas and back in a weekend, dates-good ones and bad ones, the drive to South Florida with my life packed in the trunk, and its final journey to Miami that ended 50 miles too short.

Considering that this was the 5th time the car had been towed (which is 5 times more than either of my previous Saabs), my relationship with this car could be defined as love-hate. But despite the frustration, its untimely end was sad.

I know...a car is just a car...not of any real importance...but for 5 years, my Saab provided the scenery, background, and soundtrack to a variety of meaningful memories. The significance in this isn't that my car physically transported my friends and me on those late night food runs in college, but in the fact that it was simply there for all of those, for the beach trips, for the moves, the dates, and on the long and lonely drives when the illuminated dashboard was my only companion. So for me, my Saab represented an era in my life...2004-2009...a rare constant an era when I moved 6 times, had 7 different jobs, and changed life plans countless others.

Maybe now, this era of transition is over.

Now, I have to sell her to someone else...most likely to be parted out. When that time comes, a constant, insignificant as it may be, will be gone. And many of my memories, some of the fondest and some of the hardest, will be just a little more opaque.