Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Back from Uganda (at last, a blog post!)

I am back. I have been back from Uganda for over a week now. I have pictures.  I have notes -- stuff that I jotted down in stolen moments. You'd think that, from those things, I would have been able to cobble together a blog post by now.  Maybe a couple. 

I have tried. So far, every draft I have written sounds pretentious and/or dumb. I was in Uganda for ten days. Ten. That's  not long enough to really understand much about a country or a people or .... anything.  I only started to learn some things about Uganda, and there were some surprising things I learned about myself too.

But before I write about any of that maybe I should just sum up the trip. In ten days my team visited four different orphanages. Each one was different and we fulfilled different roles in each. I went with a great team of people put together by International Voice of the Orphan ( IVO). You can learn more about IVO on their web site

My team worked and played at a home called "Praises House". We made multiple visits to a place called Sanyu Babies Home. We spent another day in an orphanage called "Redeemer House", and our last days of service were on the campus of "A Perfect Injustice". 

We also spent a day in one of the slums of Kampala. If I write about anything at all, that is what I need to write about. 

That was, for me, both the best and the worst day. It was the most unsettling, and the most rewarding. It is morning time, now, here in Philadelphia, PA. That means that it is late afternoon / early evening in the slum we visited. There, in that slum, there are boys no older than my Tyler and my Jordan who are on their own. Some are run-aways. Many have been abandoned by their families. 

Tonight they will huddle together in teams.  These teams are formed not for a sport or a game, but for self defense. I cannot imaging what the evening holds in store for them. They are on their own. It makes me want to cry and shout just thinking about it. They are still there, I am here. I am safe.  They are not. 

On the day we visited the slum one of the first things we saw was the ditch that runs around the slum area. It is used for bathing, and washing clothes. 

We met the boys in a ramshackle structure known only to me as "the church". There we played games with the boys. We had a limbo contest!

Elyse and Keith from our team led a lesson about the body and the mind, and how the body needs a healthy mind to control it. 

We had relay races. 

We played soccer.

We had a time of testimony and prayer. Christy was the youngest member of our team. She was able to share how her father lost his life, serving as a missionary in Uganda. she was able to share how God had strengthened her in her time of loss. 

Mike was able to share about how he, at a young age,  lost his mother to cancer.  He too was able to share how God had strengthened him.

Dwight explained Christ's gift of salvation. Many boys raised their hands to accept that gift. 

And, yes, we ate. The boys were fed: beans, posho, and a pot-sticker/dumpling.

I wondered how long it had been since some of them ate. Had it been a day?  Two days? Three?  This place called "the church" only permits feeding teams to come 3 times a week. I'm not sure why. None of us mzungu (foreign traveller) people know why. But three is much better than zero. 

The day in the slums was the best and the worst. It was hard to see boys living without moms and dads. It is harder still to think that most are still there, right where we left them. (Some do get rescued... more about that another time.)

These boys already know too much about pain and loss.  Yet, here is the amazing thing: when their youth leader says "God is good" these boys respond with "All the time".  And when the youth leader says "And all the time" they will say "God is good" ... With smiles!

So I began to learn a few things that day. I saw that God really does offer hope in dark circumstances. I observed spiritual wealth in a place that was materially poor.  And my small problems were put into proper context (like, a context about the size of a matchbox). 

Is there more to say about this? Absolutely. I will have to write more later. 

But for now I will conclude with this. It was worth it. It was worth it to be with those boys for a day. It was worth it to be of service if only for a short while.  All the other places we visited were worth our time and effort too. It was worth it, and I'd go back in heart beat. 

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