Transforming lives on four continents

Playing it by ear

Posted by Bethan and Gareth Shrubsole at 08:46 on 28th March 2012

Yesterday I drove to the Congo border to a town called Nyabagando where I had been asked to speak at a Scripture Union day for 100 young people at the secondary school about spiritual gifts.


It was typically Ugandan in that I was told verbally to go at 10 then an email said 11, then a letter said 12! When I phoned up I was told to go at 11.40! Random!


When I turned up at 11.30 the children were just sitting down to breakfast (!) so I had to sit and eat with them - luckily only bananas and bread as I had already been snacking on the way.


Then the man who should have been before me wasn't there - his was 'on his way coming' so I persuaded them to just let me speak and be done wtih it. Then they showed me the program and it explained a lot. It said "Madam Bethan 11.30 session 1. Madam Bethan 12.15 session 2. Madam Bethan 12.45 questions and answers."


Oh my goodness! I only prepared about 45 minutes of talking and I thought that was a lot!


So I told them I would do what I had prepared and we could fill the gaps as we found them. But no one passed this message on to the MC so when I finished at 12.15 I said to the youth that I had finished and that I hoped it had been a good session etc.


The MC got up, the kids sang some songs then he said "now Madam Bethan is coming back for session 2." I looked at him horrified and beckoned him over, whispering in his ear that I had, indeed, finished and that he shouldn't expect more of me as I had nothing more to offer!


He was so good and immediately got his thinking cap on and made an activity that I had done in my talk seem as though it had not been finished so he said we would continue for that activity for longer until lunchtime!


Meanwhile, however, people should write their questions down on paper and give them to me so I could answer them afterwards.


Luckily the questions were not too daunting and with the help of the concordance at the back of my Bible I was able to pick out some answers that seemed to help the ones who had asked them.


Phew! I was so relieved to have got through it, but I did have an enjoyable morning and it seemed as though the young people had both enjoyed it and got something out of it too.


I certainly enjoyed singing 'Amazing Grace' with a lot of energy and vigour, despite the words being nothing like I was used to!



Then in the afternoon I went to teach some people from church how to play the keyboard by ear. It is hard because I have never taught the keyboard by ear – I am after all a typical classical player – and I have to keep slowing the pace down as I rush off expecting them to know things like triads, keys and major/minor.


It's hard for a musician to believe that someone doesn't know the difference between major and minor but I suppose that's the same as a history teacher not believing that I don't know exactly when Henry VIII was King!


But I enjoy meeting wtih the learners (I know most of them, and the women have a wicked sense of humour, usually involving winding me up and then saying "Oh Mama Samwell!" when I fall for their jokes!)


All in all a good and busy day and then of course back to my Sam who had a huge grin on his face when he saw me.


It's nice to be missed!


Bethan Shrubsole, BMS worker in Uganda. Taken from their blog.   


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