Tag Archives: retreat

IJM Staff Retreat over the Nile


The day after I arrived, the IJM team loaded a bus to Jinja for an annual staff retreat.  (I know—I arrived just in time, right?)  We stayed two nights in cottages overlooking the Nile River.  There was a constant roar of the rapids below which lulled me to sleep behind the mosquito net.  It was indescribably gorgeous.  Our church and community relations coordinator, Josh, worked his magic and got us an incredible deal.

It was a perfect opportunity for me to meet and learn names and personalities of my coworkers for the next year.  And the staff was able to rest, build community, worship, play soccer, and learn about David, the Warrior Worshipper.  We played a super-competitive game of dominoes Thursday night until midnight.  Was I jet lagging?  Yes.  But I had to make Grandma proud.

Our staff is intelligent, articulate, open and genuine.  They work tirelessly for our clients, commited to seeking justice.  They know, love and worship the Living God with an authenticity and depth that I feel like I rarely see.  And oh do they sing!  Our times of singing were not distracted with instruments but were simple, incredible multi-part harmonies.  It brought tears to my eyes the first night, I was so moved.  I am here. 

Saturday morning communications fellow, Scott, and two Ugandan staff (Diana, lawyer and my cottage-mate, and Ida, veritable movie star and office administrator) went bungee jumping over the Nile.  Ain’t no thang.  We watched from a sweet, rustic open bar above the Nile filled with Brits and Australians watching rugby.

ME! - No, this is Scott. Great form!

Mary and I stayed in Jinja an extra day and ventured to Bujugali Falls where we slipped our feet into the Nile! and accepted a boat ride from a friendly guide.   He tied us into life jackets and we took a river cruise and a hike on a small island.  We met a native of Jinja named Jeremiah whom we befriended.

Me, Mary and Jeremiah on an island on the Nile next to an abandoned witchdoctor's hut

We ate lunch together overlooking the Nile.  While waiting for us to drop any crumbs from our lunch, a monkey in a tree above our table relieved himself on Mary’s arm.  Yep!  A monkey!  On Mary!

Monkeys over our lunch table give Mary a treat

We took a boda (motorcycle for hire) into Jinja and walked along Main Street before hiring another boda to take us to “the Source of the Nile”.

Sweet shades of boda driver

After some comical mishaps including being told by our driver to “Get off” so he could make it up a hill, being followed up the hill by goats, and then running out of gas (Mary and I tried so hard not to laugh at the absurdity of it all, me trying to push off the ground to give it some help), we made it and it was quite underwhelming.

The source of the Nile is just where Lake Victoria begins emptying into the river, winding north to the Mediterranean, a trip which takes 3 months.  I mean, the Nile from any point is gorgeous.  But no need to go searching for “the source.”

The Nile at Sunset

We met up with our friend Jeremiah to watch the Uganda-Kenya football game.  HUGE DEAL.  It ended in a tie which was also underwhelming.

Mary and I grabbed dinner (chicken, greens and matoke (mashed and steamed plantain—a Ugandan specialty)) before getting into a “taxi,” a passenger van squeezed with about 15 other Ugandans, to get back to Kampala.  It takes three hours and costs about $2.  It is a crowded, dusty, bumpy ride… but totally legit.

And that was my first three days.