Florence and I also thought a good way to practice language was with other people (go figure), rather than sitting with pencil and paper, one-on-one.
We prayed about what God would have us do, and we BOTH felt God leading us to the same place, even though we had never talked about it before!
I'm in a tough spot because I can't tell you the names of these women, but I love them and I want to tell you their stories (the best I can), and the tougher spot they are in.
They are the ladies at the women's prison.
In orientation, I was told, of course, that I can't take pictures, use these women's names, take my cell phone in, or give them my personal info.
The guard told us there was only one day (Friday) when we could come, but a man higher up, thought there were three free days.
We decided we would take the Friday and continue praying.
Our scheduled time was set from 2-4pm, because they are fed one of their two meals at one o'clock.
But first...we visited on a Monday to see what other kind of ministry was being done, and to see the process.
When it's time to meet, they go into a designated room and either sit or stand waiting for 5 ladies to grab some instruments.
Their instruments are three goat-skin covered drums, a closed tin double tetrahedron (think 2 connected triangular prisms), filled with rocks, and an abacus-type shaker made with bottle caps.
Most of the ladies danced and sang joyfully.
They are all made to come, so you can imagine some aren't too happy.
The lady that was teaching, the day we observed was from another country besides America. She was a little difficult to understand and she had the lead-lady prisoner (the one who keeps the peace) interpreting for her.
Florence, who could understand the interpretation, said the scripture was not being repeated correctly. Scary!! Another great reminder how important it is to learn the language.
So, Florence and I left, prayed, and then I went home to ask God what plans He had for these women.
I know that two different churches visit the prison during the week, so I know they knew some things, but yet, I think God wanted me to start at the beginning.
When we arrived on Friday, the women still had not been fed. 13 of the 58 women usually walk over to the men's side, where over 600 men are, and bring back their portion of food and water.
Today, there was nothing.
I'm wondering if the men got fed...
I think that not feeding 600 men would create a riot situation, don't you?
Anyway, after 20 minutes the guards just told the ladies to go into the room for worship.
Florence and I felt awful.
We didn't want them being made to listen when they were hungry.
Have I mentioned there are 9 babies in the prison, too?
[As I write this, there are now 10, because one was born two weeks ago].
The babies are sucking on mommas who don't have enough milk because they don't get enough food.
They sang songs with joy. Beating the drums, and shaking the shakers. The lead girl who had interpreted the last time, led them in what songs they were singing. And she pretty much told everyone what to do, but not in a harsh way. I liked her immediately.
I greeted them after singing, and then prayed in their language. I then introduced myself in their language and Florence introduced herself. I told them in their language I was going to tell them my story and then part of God’s story.
I gave my testimony in their language and then we started the Creation to Christ story.
The only problem with "their language," is that I later discovered there were about 4 languages represented.
We got all the way to the prophets and 400 years of silence, and then we stopped and told them the story of the four soils and asked them to identify which soil they were.
Them talking about themselves led to prayer requests. Some ladies left, but most stayed to give requests. A lot of them were prayers for their children who were either back with family or whereabouts unknown. Most of them are awaiting their day in court, and some have been waiting 2 years or more! Many admitted to their crimes; some said they don’t love God enough; a few said they didn’t have peace; and many wanted prayer that they wouldn’t wish revenge on the people that had put them in prison.
I wrote down every request and every ladies’ name.
I went home, and over the weekend, I wrote a scripture in English and in Lugbara for every lady who had a prayer request, and I made sure the scripture could speak truth to the situations they mentioned. I decorated each card so that they would want to keep and treasure it, and it was such a pleasure for me.
(It turns out that the ladies who left, went to see if food (from the men’s side) was available for at least one meal , but there was none, so they went without food this day. Be thankful that our taxes insure that prisoners get fed in our country. They are people’s sons, daughters, mothers, sisters, fathers, and brothers.)