Friday, August 21, 2015

I’m already $2 up for 2016.

I remember having a good time my first time in Uganda in 2014, but I felt like I hadn’t contributed enough. Last year most of what I had to bring to the table was my musicianship, and everyone from last year would probably agree. But this year I didn’t want to be just the musician on the field. I wanted more opportunities to speak to the children (actually, young adults) who are sponsored by ACF. I don’t know if this is considered ambitious or selfish, but I had a desire to be a driving force on the mission field in 2015, glory to God every step of the way.

As you would expect, missions involves a lot of physical work, something I decided to condition for during the school year before the trip. I was stronger this year, as well as more willing to carry boxes, luggage, bags, etc. Consistently. For 2 weeks. What can I say, I thank God for being my strength. I didn’t do as much playing bass/piano as I did last year, but I enjoyed for the times I did. Sometimes I doubled at piano with David for fun.

I could never consider myself a spiritual leader. I’d run away from a role such as a pastor or bishop and all that. But I still wanted the Holy Spirit to work through me this year. God responded to this desire by speaking to me through Jessica, MaBinty, and Okwii Peter Charles, on different occasions, telling me that such would happen during this trip. It’s humbling, really, and almost scary, but I had to remember to be strong and courageous, for God is with me (Joshua 1:9). I was assigned to talk about loving our families while we were in Kumi and Fort Portal. After speaking on this in Kumi, God put in my heart to appeal to the unsaved and stagnant. In Fort Portal, He told me through Uncle Festus to address fake Christianity. Also in Fort Portal, at a church we visited, the locals asked Joy and me questions. I answered some; sometimes I could feel the words welling up within me, pushing out answers I wouldn’t have even thought of. And then someone gave his life to Christ right after the Q&A! I was HYPE. I’m guessing that all this made waves. The team was proud of me. No way I could’ve have done this myself. To God be all the glory. All of it.

I got a way of challenging people jokingly, sometimes aggressively, even to the point of offending (sorry!). I understand that it’s critical that every team member plug in and do work, even if they’re not officially in the program to do any particular thing. So as I did stuff, if I saw someone idle, I’d invite (or provoke) them to help me. For example during the concluding hours of the medical outreach in Kumi, the pharmacy needed free hands fast. And they came s/o to Jessica, Mary, MaBinty, Juliet. Because of them the pharmacy didn’t break down at the dying of the light. I was ecstatic whenever I saw teammates voluntarily plugging in, even with the simplest things. My hope and prayer is that everyone on every mission field will do the same. It costs about $3,000 to go with ACF on missions, and for most of us, a significant amount doesn’t come out of pocket. I want every dollar to count.

Kelechi aka American Commando & Emeka during devotions

Sure, when you’re on the mission field, you teach, but you also learn on the field from the locals and your teammates, too. I walk away from the field being reminded to be thankful to God for everything. The gratitude and humility of these folks will melt your heart. And our team is awesome, no doubt. S/o to the greatest roommate Kelechi aka American Commando. And ACF Uganda: thank you for all that you are doing.

Next year I want to focus more on the lives and stories of the locals and my teammates. I have $2 left over from this 2015 trip. So I’m already $2 up for 2016.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A heart for the glory of God and a heart of mercy for the nations make a Christlike missionary.

I enjoyed the flight. For a 12-13 hour trip it went by pretty quick. Even despite the warning I received the in-flight food was pretty good too! I ate everything except a roll of bread for breakfast. We had movies to watch and some interesting/familiar music. While waiting for the bathroom I chatted with another missionary which was cool. This isn’t exclusive to the few. Missionaries are out there answering the call and I’m praying for them.

[ Hotel View ]
All I remember between naps was a lot of driving and a lot of “potholes”. As I opened my eyes periodically I caught glimpses of Uganda. Roads like burnt sienna, green forests and brown people. Really Beautiful. This really is the Pearl of Africa. It seems so hidden but so beautiful. From the airport we met some of the Ugandan missionary team. When we arrived at the hotel I was relieved. God’s work was about to begin. Honestly as soon as we entered the plane it already did. WE ARE HERE! This hotel is a blessing, with electricity, water and mosquito nets. I’m so glad I’m here. Time to work.
[ Jet Lag ] – July 25, 2015
It was real, we had our training today to prepare for tomorrow. I won’t like, I dozed off frequently. The room was so warm. It was weird because I woke up early and refreshed. If this keeps up it will get annoying, I have to get used to this.
[ Afternoon Stroll ]
Emeka and I walked to one of the many roadside markets in Uganda. a simple stroll down the road from the hotel. These roads are treacherous but the drivers are masterful! boda boda (a hybrid motorcycle thing) were abundant and they squeezed in and out of traffic like nothing. We continued to walk and see what we could see. Shoes, clothes, food, and more. Quite the scene.
[ Sunday ] – July 26, 2015
We head out today. We’ll be leaving our hotel (4 Pals Hotel) then going to a church. After that we’ll head to the next area closer to the village we’ll be serving at (Kumi District). It is 6:45 and we’re just waiting for breakfast and for the day to begin. Filling up on His word to keep us as we wait.
[ Watoto Worship ]
Amazing! Simply amazing. We attended church at Watoto West. The way we worshipped just seemed so easy and pure. The watoto children just got back from one of the tours they had so we got to see AND hear them! God blesses us with so many things like music and the ability to worship. I was inspired. Feel free, you should always feel free to worship. I was able to pick up their CD and support the organization and the children.
[ Kumi Hotel ]
A few hours of driving and one “break down” of our bus and we arrived at Kumi Hotel. It bigger than 4 Pals and we thank God that we got there safe and sound. Dinner is i 5 minutes. We off loaded the many suitcases and missions materials. There was a bag that got left in Kampala (The city where 4 Pal Hotel is), it is unfortunate but I hope it isn’t a hindrance. I get to room with Emeka again, he is a good roommate and we got a good room. I am a bit hungry and tired so I’ll continue later.

[ Responsibility ] – July 27, 2015
African Christian Fellowship sponsored children/adults have a responsibility to give back. That which you have gained should be used for the betterment of other. We met with some of the people who are sponsored through ACF and had a discussion. Some question that came to my mind were how do we foster initiative in them. So that when we leave there is some sort of self sustainability? Start small and work upwards, make meetings more consistent, initiate a directory to keep track of all the members, something. We discussed four aspects for ACF sponsored children to consider: focus, discipline, a listening ear and relationship.

  • Focus
    • Whatever it is that you want, whatever goal you have, keep it in minds always. Let it serve as “true north” to guide you in the rough or murky times. Continue to evaluate and reevaluate those goals. There isn’t anything wrong with changing a goal to adapt to your surroundings or the times.
  • Discipline
    • When the going gets tough, rely and trust God. It is so easy to slip back and get distracted. It can happen so imperceptibly but you must stand strong. The hardships or circumstances that hinder you won’t last forever.
    • James 1:12 – Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him
  • Listening Ear
    • It isn’t enough to hear the god news, or get good help. You must act on it. The efforts being made must be honored. The advice and guidance that are being offered should be taken seriously. Sometimes its necessary to stop outside of your normal routine and try what someone else is offering.
  • Relationship
    • ACF Kumi, ACF Kampala and ACF USA have a stronger relationship now more than ever. That should continue to grow. The success that we have should be cultivated in order to repeat them in the following years to come. Inter-chapter cooperation is a must.
[ Clinic ]
We visited the ACF clinic in Kumi that is still under construction. We were greeted quite warmly by the people in the area and those waiting for us. There has been progress made but I wonder what the time frame for completion is. 

[ Mango Tree ] – July 28, 2015
We sat under a mango tree and discussed the Lord. We spent time on Love and in Love. The discussion on how we love God, how we express love in our communities, in our family and in church went smoothly. Very smoothly. Our brethren in Uganda don’t need this kind of forum. They don’t need teachings about love or the bible quite frankly. The next stage, I believe, should be spiritual. Focus on the Holy Spirit. It was refreshing that we were able to do as the spirit lead on this day. After we finished what we were sharing it was impressed on Jessica’s heart to do more. The next conversation breached the topic of healing, repentance and intentionality and it was much needed. We all departed with hugs, and anticipation of what was to come next.

[ Prayer Circle ]
When we arrived at the site for the crusade, and after setting up for the night we committed it to God. Jessica, Juliet and I walked in circles around the area praying over the site. It occurred to me that we shouldn’t take it for granted, the place that we were able to use. So we prayer for the people on the team, the people who traveled to hear us, and the very ground we used. Declaring it for God. I pray that we continue to be beacons that announce and draw people to God.
[ Who Do You Serve ] – July 29, 2015
It is critical to remember that God is Almighty. This morning during devotion we prayed for the mother of one of our team members. We were recently informed that she had been hospitalized and as a family we prayed. No sooner did we finished that we got word that her mother passed away. In that moment we all ran from breakfast to console our team member, our sister. In the moment there was a intense feeling of grief shared by us all. I couldn’t believe it. When Uncle Hyacinth made it to the room he refused to accept it and led us to worship God for all that he is capable of doing. This stance stirred something in my spirit, something to consider: that we should decide who it is that we serve. God is still in the business of doing miracles. He isn’t limited to  cultural or human standards. I don’t want to blindly accept everything that I hear. WHO DO YOU SERVE? A question I will remember in the hard times. Is it a man who is flawed, finite, and fallible? Or THE God who holds time in His hand, who is infinite and matchless?
[ Medical Mission ]
We arrived at the same school that we have been visiting all week to set up and start the first day of our medical missions. I was tasked with helping with registration. Our system worked in a chain. People register or register their family, then they are sent to have thier vitals checked, then they go to the doctors, then they head to our spiritual counselors and finally the pharmacy to fill out and pick up their prescriptions. It was a full day and we registered and saw over 500 people. A lot was revealed about human nature on this first day. We had people claiming to be someone else in order to receive a ticket and visit a doctor. I thank God we had a good interpreter that was able to ask everyone to be patient as we went through the process. The mission was accomplished by the time we left even though there were hundreds that we didn’t get to see. With the sun going down and without light we had to shut everything down. It was a good day.

[ Kids of Kumi ]
So many young faces, they smiled, they played, they got upset when the ball wasn’t passed to them. But I enjoyed our time with the Kumi children. This was the day we were able to bathe over a hundred children, clothe them and give haircuts. It is such a blessing and makes such a difference when we are able to do this. Year after year it instills the need and importance of cleanliness. Accompanied by the medical side we were able to again make a impact.
Juliet and the children
[ Round 2 ] – July 30, 2015
The second day for our medical missions went much smoother. It’s my guess that people got used to our methods and realized that they couldn’t pull one over on us. Each day we were able to prepare and distribute food for everyone there so that was something to look forward to as well. The numbers were in the 400s by the time the day ended. One of the highlights of the day was some of our team members receiving chickens as gifts. I heard about this happening last year but it made me smile to see it happen in person! Another highlight to note was the fact that on both days, we were spared any rain during our missions. We would see rain in the distance or on the other side of where we were but not on our area. Only God.

[ Notes ] – July 31, 2015
A need was expressed for family planning. We can’t avoid that conversion anymore as it would make such a difference if people were informed. For men and women to keep themselves and be educated on family dynamics. Words like condom or sex shouldn’t be “taboo” This is another area we can grow in. Another area we can make a impact in. To neglect it is to neglect the people struggling in that area.
[ Roadside Blues ]
A travel day. We were on the road for a good majority of the day and had some car troubles. It was a minor inconvenience, we were blessed with skilled and prepared drivers. There was an issue with the break pads and fluid. We had to stop and change the pads and let the gears(?) cool down. We then hit heavy traffic on our way back to Kampala and 4 Pals hotel. The majority of the ride there we sang songs and praised our way through! Before we knew it we were back and safe.
[ Goodbye For Now ]
Tonight brought some sadness because some of our Ugandan team members had to depart. Not everyone was able to stay with us for the entire two weeks but the time we had with them was meaningful nonetheless. We exchange information to stay in contact and pray for each other. Many of them had interesting perspectives and I enjoyed learning from them.
[ Market and Morning ] – August 1, 2015
Haggle was the word of the day. We visited a local craft market in Kampala, and it was cool! I should have stepped into all the shops to see what I could see but I wasn’t doing a good job. Hopefully, as with tradition, we are able to go back on the day of our departure. I need to pick up a few more things. WE EVEN GOT TO SEE NDU!! He surprised us at the market and it was god to see him and know he is doing well. God bless him and his life. After we left the market we all met up to see our team member who lost her mother and spend time with her. She left us the day she found out to prepare for the burial. Only God can heal that which she is feeling. It was a emotional time, it was a encouraging time. I love this about followers of Christ. There is just something about how we come together out in Love to support those.