The Mizira is a distinctive trilling yodel that Soga women do when they’re happy. You can hear me laughing at the end, and it still makes me laugh every time I hear it.
In Uganda, hitchhiking is right as rain. But don’t picture a hippie with a joint in the 60s. Think of an old lady with creaky joints in her 60s. A lady of this description flags me down one Sunday on a rural dirt road. We greet each other through a cloud of rolling dust. “How did you sleep?” I ask.
“Fine. Take me to the church!”
“The church up there.”
“There! UP THERE!” she points with her lips and hits every syllable hard.
“Huh? Wha? Wher–? Ok, just get in and show me.”
She’s not sure how to open the door to get in. One time a Ugandan tried crawling in my driver’s side to get in. Seeing that she wouldn’t fit between me and the steering wheel I suggested she use an alternate route.
We drive a quarter mile ahead. “Here’s the turn to my church,” the hitchhiker exclaims, pointing to a road which leads to the Catholic Church.
“Why don’t you go where I’m preaching today?” I ask her.
“You mean you’re not the Catholic priest!?? I thought you were my priest!”
“No.” I nonchalantly pass the turn to her church.
“I thought you were taking me to my–” she protests.
We drive another half mile to a mango tree, where I have been meeting weekly with a group to teach them about Christ.
Faced with sitting through my sermon or walking back, the hitchhiker sits on a woven mat under the mango tree while I begin the sermon on the Passion of Jesus.
The meeting ends and the lady asks, “What do you call yourselves anyway?”
“Call us by whatever we preach most,” I tell her. “If we preach politics, call us ‘Politickers’. If we harp on church buildings, call us ‘People of the Building’. But if you hear us preach Jesus Christ, call us ‘Followers of Jesus’.”
“Yeah, yeah, I get your point,” the hitchhiker sniffs, as if to say, ‘I’ve got your number, smart aleck.’
The host serves beans and rice to the old lady and me.
“Want me to give you a ride home?” I ask the lady. She nods approval.
The hitchhiker didn’t know what she was in for when she thumbed a ride with me. She likely returned home telling stories about the crazy white preacher who hijacked her church plans.
I hope she also tells her friends about the followers of Jesus.
1998 in Jinja, Uganda
On the occasion of Garnett Church of Christ burning the four-decades old mortgage on the building, I asked Marvin Phillips to come and talk with me. The reason I wanted him to come is to promote this idea: our decision to sell our building was just as much a pathway of discipleship as the decision in the 1980s to build the building. The church then made a good decision, however imperfectly, and the church now is making a good decision not to be in this building, however imperfectly we’re living it out. Just as the church did then, so also we believe now that God is leading us as we prayerfully try to wisely discern next steps.
Where are we going to re-locate? We only know where we’re not going: in debt. As far as specific location, we don’t have that yet, but we are looking at a wide range of possibilities. For example, we might lease a place or find an existing place that we could purchase. Just as we have said we will not go into debt, so also the elders have stated clearly that we are not planning to build a new facility right now.
Enjoy the interview, and as you do, please say a prayer for us and join us in continuing to center our lives on Christ. That’s our goal, to live Christ centered lives and invite all people into Christ centered lives as well. May God bless you and keep you, the Lord lift his face toward you. The Lord be gracious to you and shine upon you, and give you peace.
This audio is a long double session in the Perspectives Course where I told a story about my journey with the Great Commission, how I’ve come to understand it and follow to the best of my ability. I hope you enjoy listening and learning as I did that the Great Commission goes back to Abraham’s calling. This is a major teaching in the Perspectives Course.
Often through the years I worked in Uganda, I would walk with villagers to see their gardens, to a lake to fish or to baptize people, and so I saw and heard many amazing things. One day I was walking in a remote village and heard a man playing a piece of pipe like a flute while he watched over his herd of cows. He had bored holes in the pipe and made a crude mouth piece, and what he played was melodic, and the cows seemed to like it. It’s a 30 second clip. Listen.
Whispersync allows you to read on your Kindle, then pick up where you left off automatically on audio version in your car or listening device. Probably less than 10 percent of books have an audio version, and even fewer have this great feature that allows you to experience the book in two ways and on the go. Great for travel reading, exercising, or house work motivation!
I’m counting down the Top 100 Books of My Time.
I’ll eventually put a blog version here for the first 25.
You can also find them now on Pintrest here.
Go see my brother’s thoughts on travels in Germany with his son, Brandon, who was tour guide for their family of five.
Originally posted on Bespoke:
“See dad, this is why I love Europe.” Lauren chirped as I awaited the definitive progressive announcement of civilization, a word picture that sums it all up. “Hmm, what is it?” I intoned with jet lag weariness. “They have armoires!” “What’s an armoire?” said Jenna. God bless my cultured children. This morning we awoke to the sound of church bells pealing from the cathedral across Lake Alster. Hotel Alster provides breakfast, richly grained breads with unsalted butter or liverwust, multivitamin light orange juice, bottled water without gas and with gas, scrambled eggs and pork sausage, fruit, cheese danish and croissants with apricot marmalade. And the star of breakfast, the kaffee machine. Holy caffeinated jitters. Place your china cup below and push a button, kaffee, cappuccino, espresso, all thickly infused with steamed 4 per cent milk from the pastures of Bavarian dairies. Give me one each! I did actually and I’m…
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This is my wife, Jill Smiley Taylor. We have been married since 1989.
Jill teaches math in high school and college. She tutors students.
She teaches children at our church and has always taught our children. She even bought a “flannelgraph” to teach our children.
I’ve never seen someone with as much courage, tenacity, talent, smarts, logic, sensitivity, beauty, sense of humor, world view, teaching ability, motherhood, discipline, joy, grace, goodness, spunk, sarcasm, faithfulness.
She and I have made decisions side by side about moving to Uganda in 1994. We have parented side by side. We lead our family together, side by side. I do not consider myself as the leader of the family. We are co-leaders.
She has made me a better man. Jill is my best friend.
I love you, JT. Happy 25th Anniversary.
Check out this excerpt from the new book, Slow Church.