The trek to the singles retreat has seen standards going higher and higher with each passing event.  For the 2011 singles retreat, the Kampala Church of Christ played the host to this annual event that brings together singles across the entire East African churches of Christ and beyond.

realfunThe magnificent Mbale Resort Club was the venue chosen for the 3rd Singles 2011 retreat held from 10th – 12th December bringing together 85 disciples drawn from South Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda. The previous retreats have been held in Kenya, Naivasha – 2009 and Maasai Mara – 2010.

The venue was a perfect display of nature at its best with fresh and warm air, chirping birds and

high quality service from the hotel crew. It was a great venue to relax, learn, and reflect and fellowship with spacious fully equipped rooms. Besides, there was a swimming pool, gym, Jacuzzi among other facilities that the disciples enjoyed. There was great celebration as the Kenyans joined their counterparts who had arrived earlier and took it upon themselves to cheer the Kenyan team the most ‘swagalicious’ (the newest term for all things cool) with song and dance upon their arrival.

Evangelist Richard and his wife Florence Ahenda took the singles though a short briefing on expectations, through the three day fun packed event themed POSSIBILITIES.

Walking on a rainbow

The disciples checked into their executive rooms each with an assigned roommate before having a sumptuous lunch.  Some disciples struggled as they figured out how to open the electronic room doors which only required inserting the electronic card in a door space and the card was also used to lighten the room. This was classic. The Kenyan team could not be deterred by the long tiresome journey coupled with delays as they jumped into the bandwagon with the rest of the Eastern Africa brothers and sisters ready to learn about turning our impossibilities into possibilities and departed to Sipi falls in one of the most picturesque part of Uganda known as Kapchorwa.rainbow

Kapchorwa is home to falls situated about 2000feet above sea level. The guide amusingly joked that due to this height, the disciples were sure of not finding snakes in the bushes but what he did not realize was that snakes at the time were less of a threat than 2000feet of Steep Mountain.

The disciples trekked in one of the grueling experiences to the bottom of the mountain and right up to the falls. The beckoning scene at the falls was Indescribable! Enormous amounts of water was churning from the 2000foot fall, spraying mist all around, pounding against the rocks in rhythm and song.

The powerful, charging water dropped at breathtaking speed from the mountain. The joys and shouts of disciples could not be hidden. It was amazing that the waterfall flows daily, year in, year out without ceasing. For how many centuries, only the creator could? It was unimaginable that no human hands could recreate this scene or even maintain it.

As if not enough, God sent a rainbow while the disciples were still gawking at the water in a trance. The rainbow was displayed on the ground, in the water and all around the greenery as a sign of a new covenant with the singles for generations to come. Looking at someone standing in its pathway made you feel they were stepping on it. It was a very humbling and sobering moment. Each minute that passed by only brought realization and proved how powerful God was. Unbelievably, the disciples were socked wet by the mist alone and yet none of this stole the joy in the highly uplifted hearts. For the disciples who could not imagine that such a spectacular scene was recreating  itself before them, they shed a tear or two for it was incredible have made it down to the falls in this once in a lifetime experience.

As we started our sobering walk back to the top of the mountain, we grasped for any form of vegetation, person or object in the way to simply get back to the mountain top.  Some cried out to God for mercy and he came through for us. There were a few local children who assisted some of the disciples. They walked up and down the hill like they were walking on a straight flat road. What seemed like a mountain was reduced to dust when we got to the top.dsc00128

The aches and pains left us limping but that like Jacob during his wrestle with God, these aches have stayed to remind us of our need for him, the dependence that only he can fulfill and the vulnerability of who we are without him. Sipi falls and Mount Elgon have proven that there are so many possibilities of growth and a new found respect for who God is through this experience!!!!!

Dance till you drop

Evangelist Richard Ahenda spearheaded the singles in the morning exercises which prepared them spiritually, mentally and physically. The Sunday service was awesome with Richard and Florence Ahenda teaching us about “possibilities”; a follow up to our theme. Some of the lessons learned were how to ‘step into the water’ by allowing God to work on the things that only He can do through faith, reminding us that not everything we see that glitters is gold and therefore God expects us to get rid of all the gibeonites in our lives, Joshua 9:1-27. We also learned about how God gives us a second chance as there is nothing too difficult for him. This was such an encouraging and refreshing sermon to the eager singles!dsc00194

In the afternoon we had games that taught us how to communicate during fellowship, knowing one another from a different aspect and as a result, there was full-fledged fellowship all around.

In the evening, everyone geared up to the much awaited dinner and the disciples leaped up in groups and pairs dressed for the occasion which was to be followed by a dinner dance. The single ladies were coupled with the brothers in the beautifully decorated ballroom and the dinner was scrumptious. Each brother identified a sister to be his date through random selection. It was good to see the bouquet of flowers but hard to imagine how brothers had to grapple in the dark to get the flowers within a short notice. Some brothers were lucky to have two dates to balance the gender.

The dance started immediately after dinner and everyone gave their best performance! All forms of dancing styles could be seen and people were clearly out of themselves.  Half way through the dancing, awards were given to the best dancers, best dressed, those who took the initiative to fellowship more, those who had mastered the art of having as many fellowships as possible in a short space of time and so much more.

The dance then resumed till about midnight when everyone crawled back to their rooms. It was an absolutely awesome day!!!!! It was unimaginable to see what disciples could do in a dance hall.

The following morning was rather slow as the leaders’ exercised wisdom. Most activities started after 10am while everyone was still nursing their aches from the previous night.  It was a leisurely day coupled with a class from Evangelist Mike and his wife,Liz Odwallo on how to stand a head taller with the reading from 1 Samuel 10:10-24. The main points being how important it is to be diligent in our affairs and work at them with all our hearts, how to take responsibility and be reliable in all we do and last but not least fight for our purity and use our bodies as an instrument of righteousness. The singles enjoyed the classes and the meals albeit with mixed feelings as the retreat was coming to an end. They got an opportunity to have separate brothers and sisters classes.

The event was also graced by the newest Kid on the block the Luweero Triangle church in Uganda which had 3 brothers David, Dennis and Lawrence. They were all young disciples with David being about a week old at the retreat. Burundi church had 1 brother, Rwanda 2 brothers and 2 sisters, Sudan 3 sisters; Kenya 35 disciples and the remaining were from the host Uganda. There were also steady couples among the singles from Kenya and Uganda with majority coming from Kenya. Gerard and his wife from Uganda were also present to help the singles

Pictures were taken, numbers exchanged and prayers made in the hope that many would go steady before the next retreat. The reaction from almost everyone was that this was the best retreat they had been to in such a long time because there were less classes and more time to bond and get to know one another, it was leisurely so everyone had an opportunity to relax and the service at the hotel was pretty awesome.

It was unimaginable that at least 80% of the people at the venue were meeting for the first time ever! ‘What a joy to be a disciple, to belong to such an amazing brotherhood of believers. We became one in the blink of an eye,’ said one of the hosts to her amazement.

The sharing of rooms by the hosts with the visitors was a brilliant idea which worked like magic as brothers and sisters had fellowship late into the night and the heavy eyelids told it all in the morning?

Eng Arthur Odhiambo points out those impossibilities can be handled once we put prayer across brothers and sisters.

The hospitality by the Ugandan brothers and sisters humbled the disciples across the region. The singles had a great time of learning, food, fun and fellowship.  Francis Masinde from Kenya went ahead to create a group page of Facebook where singles are able to post what is happening in their lives to encourage, be encouraged, prayed for or just for the other singles to know how you are doing and it has drawn a considerable number of disciples. He was impacted by the classes and it inspired him to come with the group page as he realized many people did not share their addresses so it will be easy to keep in touch this way.dsc00185

Mbale is a fairly large town in Uganda and a transit town for people traveling to Kenya, northern and eastern Uganda. It boasts about the famous great northern road that could take you anywhere between Cape Town and Egypt. Mbale is also famous for hosting the great Mount Elgon! The area is gifted with such natural beauty hence its ideal choice as the venue for the very first International Churches of Christ East Africa (ICOCEA) retreat in Uganda the pearl of Africa.

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