Two faculty, two staff, two Biblical study graduates, two Christian ministries graduates, two current Graduate students.
Two by two we came.
We entered as strangers, foreigners, but we were accepted as family.
The humility and love shown by the Ugandan people was just breathtaking. They truly understand the concept of accepting a foreigner as a neighbor.
Personally, I had my heart broken, not only for the people of Uganda, but for the country itself. Now, it may seem confusing that my heart was broken for a place that is so much more spiritually rich than we are and truly joyful, but it is not a matter of my heart being broken spiritually (though not all were strong in that area), but in terms of wealth. Wealth is not important, that seems fair to say to some extent, but in this world, clothes, food, and medicine, all have their costs. Clothes and food may be produced by those who desire them, but most people are unable to make their own medicine.
One of the most painful things I saw was a little girl with malaria. Now, to most of us who don’t really need to worry about malaria, we know it as a disease from mosquitoes that is easily preventable. However, the disease, when not prevented is deadly and fast-acting. The little girl that we had seen with it was unable to even eat and in turn was unable to take the medicine to help. A huge issue with malaria is that in the countries that it is most prevalent, there is not enough food for those that need the medicine, so they are unable to take the preventative medicine and keep it down (this is the case in Zambia). I am not positive that this is the case in Uganda as it is a very fertile land, but here the case may be lacking funding for the medicine itself or preventative objects such as mosquito nets.
My friend Dan and I talked about the realities that we saw. We talked about how we both had been bothered anytime that we saw a commercial showing starving children in terrible conditions and the commercial asking for money. Dan assumed that they either looked for the worst area around or made it look worse than it really was. I’ve believed that they are simply showing things how they are but I’m not a fan of the guilt tactic. The main issue is that the CHURCH needs to be guilted into helping.
As will be seen in my journal entries below, when we visited a village that Trinity supported in building a well we weren’t thanked for it, but instead God was thanked for using us and for providing the funds for us to be able to help. As rich (whether you consider yourself rich or not, chances are, you are compared to most third world countries) Americans, we have been blessed financially and need to help where we are able. Most of the issues in the other countries are simply due to lack of funding, but we care too much about ourselves or having the latest cars, clothes, electronics, whatever to give our money for those that actually need it to live.
To avoid this turning into a guilt-tripping rant, if you would like to hear more, feel free to talk to me (through preferably not through facebook or texting).
I will end with this (my journals will be below this if you are interested): My heart has been broken for the people and country of Uganda and I plan to return, to what capacity, I have no idea. All I know is that God has more for me to do there or to do in me through being there. Someday, I’ll be there again.
These have been an interesting few days so far. Not necessarily in a bad way though, but as we have yet to even unpack or sleep somewhere other than on an airplane. We flew out of O’Hare at 7:30pm on the 15th, arrived in London at 9am (local time), spent the day in the city and then hopped on our plane to Entebbe. The part that also makes it interesting is the lack of bedding and showers. Since the trip has begun (we are about to be in Entebbe at this point), I have slept approximately 4.5 hours and as the two days leading up to the trip had a total of 10 hours of sleep, I’m a little behind.
London was very fun (as the pictures show), but it may have put us in more of a vacation mindset, but I expect that mindset to be broken fairly quickly. Fish and chips make an awesome meal, but I am excited to try the unfamiliar food in Uganda. I’m not completely clear on the plan, but will update as I know. One last thought for now, in terms of long plane rides, British airlines is so much more comfortable and accommodating than American airlines.
Upon arriving in Entebbe, we packed our stuff aboard our drivers’ (Ronald) van and drove to a guest house in Kampala, to shower and get a tiny bit of rest before taking a six hour ride to Ntungamo. It was not the best or most normal shower, but it sure felt great after not having showered since 6:50am on Sunday. We then drove to Ntungamo, and along the way, we stopped at a restaurant for food and did currency exchanging. It is incredibly hot and humid here during the day.
Finally, after a very long van ride, we arrived at Ntungamo. We met Michael, who works for Living Water, for dinner at a Ugandan buffet. The girls stayed in the connected hotel and the guy went to a different nearby hotel. We had an issue at first with them not having as many rooms as we had booked, but it all worked out. I’m currently laying on a mosquito net protected bed in a single “hotel” room with Ugandan news playing in the background. Well, this is my first night in a bed, so I’d like to read and sleep. Goodnight!
Today we visited the village of which Trinity funded the construction of a well for clean water through Hands of Hope in conjunction with Living Waters. This was a great experience. The school, church, and community were all very appreciative. The thing that impacted me the most and I really appreciated, was the way that the pastor spoke of what God did. He was thankful that God provided through our funds and fundraising efforts and gave all of the glory to Him. This is how it should be as we are simply agents.
After playing with the kids, seeing the well, and hearing several prominent men in the village speak, we were greeted with song and dance by a group of older women and then a group of younger women from the village. Following this, we were blessed with a meal that, for this kind of community, was a feast that had very much time put into it. We then said goodbyes and made our way back to the hotel that the girls were staying in.
We were going to wash up, as it was very hot out, but our driver left while we debriefed what we had seen and experienced. However, in this, an opportunity arose to play music and dance for a bunch of neighborhood kids playing near the restaurant. Although we didn’t get to shower, this was a great experience.
Michael then arrived and we followed him to his house. He has a very nice house and an awesome family. We then had a great night of food and fellowship with one another.
After this, we went back to our respective hotels and were to get to sleep soon after. However, Dan and I went for a short walk. Near the end, we started an important discussion on what our purpose is on this trip. We decided to get sodas and sit outside of the bar and chat. Upon sitting down, a man (who seemed to have had a little too much to drink) asked if he could play Dan’s guitar. Dan approved and got it. It was hard to tell whether it was due to a lack of skill or due to inebriation, but did not seem to know what he was doing, and then asked us to play songs. Dan started playing “Guardian Angel” by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and a crowd gathered, so I went to fetch the cajon (hand drum).
We played for them many songs, secular and worship, switching off whenever our hands hurt too much from the cajon. Eventually our hands were worn out and our voices gone from the several songs that we sang that were far out of our voice ranges and we finished our “show.”
Dan noticed that they had seemed to somehow sense when we did worship songs, such as “How He Loves,” which doesn’t even contain the name of the Lord or any references to God. When we played them, people left, when we played secular songs, people gathered, despite not knowing any of the songs, worship or secular. This was odd, as we did better on the worship songs.
We decided to talk about this more on the following day as it is late.
This morning, we went for a walk (others ran, and yet others slept). It was very beautiful to walk up the Ugandan mountain and see wildlife and the terrain. It was a great workout too.
After this, we got back to the girls hotel for breakfast. Dan and I continued our conversation and Dan suggested that we step things up and incorporate telling the Gospel into any time that we play music for people because otherwise we were wasting an opportunity to truly show those watching, love. I agreed and was glad that he said something, as I had felt prompting of the Holy Spirit in respect to this directly following our decision to head to bed.
Following this conversation, kids wanted us to play again. My finger was bruised from the night before and swollen, so I did not participate besides playing “Lord, You Are Good,” though the kids were more interested in singing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.”
We then began our drive back to Kampala. About an hour in, we stopped at Juna Amagara’s ABIDE ministry to visit Matt Kehn. This was an awesome experience as Graham, Dr. Washington and Dr. Moulder had not seen him in several years and I had not seen him in approximately 6 years. His ministry is awesome and is well worth checking out, as they definitely need support. We got to have lunch with him and some of his students that he and another few staff members are discipling, which was an awesome experience to see such men of God and to know that the future of the Church of Uganda IS being equipped.
We then made the long journey back to the guest house in Kampala. During this ride we saw Zebras, Antelope, and were able to stop at the equator as we crossed it. When we got back, we had dinner immediately with Onesimus, the archbishop’s chaplain (personal assistant). it was great to hear about his story and his intense past with life in general, and with the Anglican Church as a current member and a former division of the Church due to mainly misunderstandings. Adam Riddel also joined us for dinner, which was great (both the food and his company). Dan, Jon, and I are rooming together tonight, so I need to go have some pillow talk!
Dan, Jon, and I stayed up till around 2am local time last night, but it was well worth the conversation and we we able to be awake for the very important events of today. Today has been the most monumental of our dates so far, at least in my eyes. Don’t get me wrong, I loved getting to see what Trinity did with the well project, but I wasn’t really a part of it; I loved getting to see Matt’s ministry, but I’m not a part of it; but this, this is where we begin our vision casting and truly start our mission as spies in another land.
This morning, we traveled with Onesimus to the headquarters of the Church of Uganda. Here, we joined leaders of the faith in this country in worship and devotion (the archbishop was not in attendance, but we were to meet his grace at his place of residence afterwards). I don’t know that I have ever been more attentive in participating in a devotional time. We missed the opening hymn(s), but were there for the unpacking of Isaiah 48:12-22, which was wonderful; and we were also there for the first verse and chorus of “It is Well,” a hymn that is both powerful and beautiful, as most are. After this time, we were introduced and then prayed for.
Directly following, we walked out of his grace’s office door and followed a short path to the archbishop’s palace. We sat at the edges of our seats waiting to meet a man that has done so much in his country and also for the Anglican Church, all for the better. He then entered the room laughing, smiling, and greeting us all. This of course removed the tension, although the respect was still very obviously displayed by our team. He then spoke with us for a bit telling us the history of the Church of Uganda as well as telling us a little bit about his experience as archbishop. Following this, Dr. Washington explained our purpose and Dr. Moulder asked several questions.
We then took pictures and boarded our new transportation, a small bus (more spacious than the van, but as we would find out fairly soon, less comfortable for long rides). After about an hour-long ride, we arrived at Uganda Christian University. We met with the Vice Chancellor, who told us of the history while providing a great meal (though I wish I had recognized that one of the entrees was liver and not goat meat, I would have not had that). He then gave us a tour of the campus. I joked with Dan about after finishing my masters at Trinity, that him and I should pursue doctorates at their graduate school and teach seminary and/or undergraduate level classes at the school. Despite the joking nature of that conversation, that my actually be something that I would like to come to perdition.
After this, we boarded the bus for a four-hour long ride to Mbale with no stops. This was not fun as we had finally gotten hit with a wave of tired but it was warm on the bus (and far too windy with the speed we were going to open the windows) and not very comfortable. I can only hope that someone managed to get pictures of all of the odd positions that I tried to sleep in after being woken from my first nap but the sun, sweating. However, there were positives to this ride…okay, singular, positive. We crossed the Nile River, which is pretty cool.
We arrived at the Bishop of Mbale’s home for dinner after this perilous journey for a great meal not lacking in quantity or quality, including mangoes for dessert. We then were briefed on our plans for e week, but besides reading over it quickly, I missed the explanation due to making tea and coffee for people with Dan and also due to how tired and unfocused I was.
Finally, we arrived at our hotel. I have a very nice large room equipped with a bidet (a nonfunctioning one, sadly). It is nice to have somewhere that we will be staying for more than two nights. I have unpacked all of my luggage, and it feels great.
Dan and I played worship for a bit earlier and I started falling asleep while playing guitar, I should probably go to sleep since I have since unpacked and written this long post.
This update will be lacking in town names as I do not have the itinerary in my possession, but will do my best to not have anything be lost because of it. (Graham later said this was Jawa)
We first went to a little town that we may partner with to hear about their needs. It was a great community and seems like one that would be great for us to help with as they have so little. World Vision is in this town and I was able to see and make friends with a little boy, whose name escapes me after this long day, who has had his cleft palate restored. This was very impacting for me because I know people very close to me that have supported such efforts and this child looked just like the one from the picture that they have. I also made friends with a little boy, whose name also escapes me, who decided to hold my hand the entire time we were the, rub my arm and hand as well as carry my water bottle for me. I wouldn’t mind being either of these kids’ father because if any children have shown me love, it’s been these two.
Sadly, there was a very devastating thing that I witnessed while in this village. A mother was at the healthcare center in town with her baby who has malaria. Just thinking about it and being able to see how used to things like that that they appear to be, makes my heart hurt. After we left, Dan said that Uganda is growing on him and he may be less joking now, I replied saying that I agreed.
After this, we went to visit another campus of UCU and spent the rest of the day with them including lunch, conversation, visiting another campus, and dinner. The way back from the third campus was the most intense as we got stuck in the mud and it was getting dark. All of the men helped out though and all is well.
Like the last, this update will be lacking in town names. It’s now Sunday, which means preaching time. I was not one of the four that was going to preach, but still got to!
Becky, Dr. Moulder, and I went to the same village for the first service. We were pretty late as we came to a road that we were supposed to tke, but it was very muddy and we didn’t think we’d makeit, so we took a large detour. The first service was short and sweet because we were there so late, but then we drove to a second town (not knowing we were doing two services). This service was very long, so we must have come in right after it started.
After the service, we went to a room in a nearby building to talk and have tea. After a while, we were just sitting there and watching a movie about Jesus’ life, and then some odd worship music videos. I started falling asleep and had no idea why we were still there. It turned out that they were having food made for us and simply did not communicate that. It was great food. However, we were out there from 9pm (we left at 7:30) and we got back at 5pm. I guess we had a workday on the Sabbath?
We had a bit of time to rest and then at 7pm went to the Vicar of St. Peter’s church in Mbale for dinner, which was great. We ended up having an hourlong conversation about circumcision…which was pretty odd, but fit the topic prior.
Today was great, all in all. Things didn’t all go my way, but things went well and I found myself actively choosing God in quite a few situations, and that helped a lot. We visited a couple of schools today, which was great, as was visiting a waterfall. However, the big part of today was my realization that I will probably be in Uganda again for some form of missions for some amount of time. However, that’s the amount of clarity that I have on that subject.
I need to get up in 6ish hours and think I lost my camera and am really frustrated with myself about that, so I’m going to go to sleep. Sorry this isn’t more in depth.
God is good all the time. All the time God is good.
Visited two high schools (one super poor and one doing alright)
Meeting with the bishop of mbales office
(This was a debriefing meeting, I did not take any real notes about this day or the days after, but if you would like to hear more, feel free to contact me)