I suppose it is a little odd to start blogging about a trip before your bags are even all packed. But, in case you haven't noticed, I can be a little odd sometimes.
For those of you who don't know, I will be heading to the city of Kampala, in Uganda (west Africa) early next week. There I will be volunteering my time and energy to an orphanage sponsored by international voice of the orphan (IVO). If you want more details about the work I'll be doing, you can read about it here.
As I tell friends, family, and coworkers about my travel plans, I can't help but sense an unspoken question.... WHY??
I have to admit. It's not an easy question to answer. At least, it's not easy to answer in a sound bite. A short two week trip to Africa does not jibe with my normal rubric for decision making. When spending vacation time, I normally think in terms like this:
- Will it be fun?
- Can I afford it?
- Will it be good for my family?
Clearly I am some kind of crazy. This trip fails on all 3 levels but I going anyway. The point of the trip is not to have fun, and I don't expect to have (much) fun. This trip is a financial stretch for me. And I am already missing Kim and the children who will be staying here in the good ol' USA. I am pretty sure they'll miss me too. A lot.
So, WHY? Why go?
Well, for starters, there's this blog post here. You should go read that.
And there are other reasons (or at least similar reasons with different clothes on).
Here are my reasons for going to Uganda in my own words.
I want to serve. A great man once said "all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." Uganda is a country where evil triumphed for a long time ... Either under tribalism, British imperialism, Idi Amin, or the terrorism of the LRA. I really don't care much about all the "isms", but I am aware that there is a legacy of pain here. In such a place as this, can I demonstrate love and hope to some children and their caregivers who are in material need? Can I befriend some people who suffer from a history that they did not write? Yes I can. No one can do it all, but everyone can do something. I can do something.
I need to know. I do wrestle with the expense and time commitment of this trip. I wonder if it would be better to be of service somewhere here in the USA. But somewhere in the back of mind I have this idea that America is the land of opportunity. Other countries cannot make that claim. My opinion is that even the poorest persons in the USA have opportunities and options that many in the world do not. I need to know if my "land of opportunity" idea is really, really true.
I remind myself that this trip is not all about efficiency of time and resources.
If you disagree with me, and you think that charity begins at home and stays at home, you are 100% OK and entitled to your opinion. I would however, challenge you to act on those convictions of yours if you aren't doing so already.
I need perspective. Like most Americans, I think I am pretty much brain washed most of the time. I spend an inordinate amount of time concerning myself with material things and comparing what I have/don't have with everyone else. That's a sin. It's shameful to live that way when many people in the world (40% of the world's population) live on less than two dollars a day. I don't want to waste my life trying to keep up with the Joneses.... and a little Ugandan perspective just might make a lasting impression on my heart and mind.
I want to meet people. I am really looking forward to meeting the Ugandan caregivers and my fellow team mates. It's a rare breed of person that is willing to take a big risk in order to chase a big, intangible, and elusive goal. The more connections I have with people like that, the better.
God told me to. (So there!) I know this doesn't make sense to everybody, but I do believe that God speaks to me in a variety of ways. Going on this trip is something that God has impressed upon my heart. I didn't hear any audible voice from God but his instructions were clear enough to me. So, I should go.
My Christian brothers and sisters will have no problem at all understanding this. Others, alas, not so much. It's like the old saying goes "to those who have faith no explanation is necessary. To those who do not, no explanation is sufficient."
So there you have it -- those are my reasons for going to Uganda; the good and bad; the altruistic and the selfish.
Now, at last (ha Ha!), I have a short answer to the "why Uganda?" question. Now I can say "go read my blog".