Each year, the New Hope Uganda staff gather together for Envisioning, the conference aiming to set the tone and theme for the new year. This year marked the 25th Envisioning, which occurred from January 13th to 15th and 18th to 19th.
The theme for 2016 draws upon Hebrews 12:1-2: “Running the Race Set Before Us.” Over the five days of the conference, the organizers led a variety of sessions and times of sharing with the staff.
The January Institute of Childcare and Family and the new Investment Year students also join the event each year, as do some older sons and daughters who are still on holiday before heading back to school.
Uncle Jay began the week by reminding the attendees that our lives are part of a bigger story based on love and relationship, from Genesis 1-2. He also talked about what a privilege it is for the New Hope family to be part of God’s work of adoption!
Keith McFarland, Principal of NHICF, shared a teaching on the theme verses of the year. He emphasized that the author of Hebrews called his readers to RUN with endurance, even though his original audience felt exhausted from a variety of pressures.
Uncle Keith also focused on detailing some of the weights (both good and bad) which can hinder our ability to endure. He wrapped up by reminding his listeners that Jesus is the one who builds our faith, just as He also set our race course!
Most of the other sessions served to remind the staff about the ministry’s foundations, goals, and policies. A few highlights of the week included:
- Paul Kusuubira speaking about how to love and reach fatherless children
- Adam Keath’s story of how God brought him to be the new president of New Hope Uganda Ministries (the American resource organization)
- Updates from Charles Ikwarit and Godfrey Kyazze about Kobwin Children’s Centre and the relatively new Masters in Education program
- Uncle Keith’s teaching on Biblical parenting and discipline
- Sessions by Josiah Dangers, a member of the NHUM board, about Leadership/Followership and Conflict/Reconciliation
- Brief messages from Happy James Tumwebaze and Derrick Kiboneka, chairman and member of the board here in Uganda
- Testimonies from several older sons about what God had done in their lives through the work of the New Hope staff
On Saturday evening, the staff present enjoyed participating in a progressive dinner. Organized by Steve Agosto, Guest House Manager, the event featured 13 groups making a circuit to either seven homes on primary side or six locations on secondary side.
Senior leaders hosted the groups for about 30 minutes at each place. The guest house cooks prepared all the food; at each place the visitors ate one part of a traditional Ugandan meal: potatoes or cabbage or meat/rice, etc.
The mixed groups gave a great chance for staff to get to know their colleagues more, and also to visit homes they had not previously been to. All in all, it was a good evening thanks to the organizers, hosts, and cooks!
Another special moment was the return of Sempala Moses, an older son who had left the New Hope family in 2007. Moses said that for a time he enjoyed celebrating with his new friends outside of New Hope, but “those friends became my greatest enemies.” For several years, Moses avoided Uncle Jonnes, hearing rumors from others that this father did not wish well for his departed children. Moses said he felt anger and even hatred towards New Hope.
Moses lived in Kiwoko, the small town just a few kilometers from Kasana Children’s Centre. He started talking to Waswa Michael, another older son of New Hope who returned to the family at Envisioning last year and is now working at Kasana. Waswa encouraged Moses to meet with Uncle Jonnes and talk to him, going so far as to get the two men together last month.
Moses related that when he saw Uncle Jonnes again, “the first thing he did was hug me. That was a turning point in my life.” Uncle Jonnes called that reunion with Moses his early Christmas present!
The two men stood and talked for almost an hour, and Moses said “Now I am thirsty, and I want to know more from Uncle Jonnes.” Several of the fathers and mothers of New Hope gathered around Moses, praying a welcome back blessing over him.
Envisioning wrapped up for the year with a farewell prayer for Nancy Kirsch, the National Manager, as she prepared to leave for a year of furlough; and concluded with the family sharing communion together.
Please pray for the New Hope staff, that we would carry the encouragements and admonitions of Envisioning with us throughout the year; that we would continue to run with endurance by the grace of God; and that we would grow in our unity as a family and a team.
Photos by Esther Carey and Virginia and Steve Agosto
Written by Esther Carey, Communications Coordinator