Monthly Archives: July 2015

Just You Wait

Great reminder from an awesome lady… who happens to be my wife.

My Mommy Stuff

Photo Courtesy of Masterpeace Creatives

I love that my daughter is so much “easier” than my son. It’s not just because this is my 2nd time around. She really is a calmer, more laid back child and a much better sleeper. (Although Caleb set the bar really low for sleeping through the night.) But no sooner than I finish my sentence, someone, a woman and mother none the less, udders those 3words.

Just. You. Wait. 

Did you hear that? It was the sound of my happy 2nd child bubble being popped. “Just you wait until . . .” (fill in the blank with some negative remark). Thanks lady! That’s what every mom of 2 little kids wants to hear . . . your negative input! I didn’t ask for your opinion, nor did I walk by you and blurt out this information. You commented on how peaceful my child was…

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I Went All The Way To Africa To Help Poor People And Couldn’t Find Any

 Not a single one.

I saw people eating scraps of maize. Torture survivors. Pregnant rape victims. Lepers. Crippled grandmothers. Blind great-grandmothers. The list goes heartbreakingly on.

I witnessed thousands of people living in poverty this week but not one poor person. In fact, the people I encountered were so rich I felt spiritually under-dressed for the trip.

The primal huts and slums of Katwe, Nateete, Gulu and Pugwini all live up to their National Geographic expectations. Smells of charcoal, raw food, diesel and decay. Scavenging varmint. Rusty red air. Naked children. Archaic commerce with little modern mechanization.

The poverty is so unreal it feels like a bad dream. Then you remember it’s someone’s daily reality.

Pugwini, Uganda

Uganda’s collective facial expression is stoic. Her body is beautifully resilient yet her mind is tired. Uganda works just as hard as she prays. Financially, emotionally and spiritually left for dead, Uganda is a rotting cog in the machine that is Africa.

But still I saw no poor people.

Though we share the same sun and 24-hour day, time in Uganda passes very differently than in America. For many of us in the United States our days are disposable. Each one is used for a specific thing and then tossed into the landfill of our busy life as we reach for another thing. Things are important to us.

The Ugandans I observed seem to savor the day, with little rush to get to the end yet an appreciation that they did. They seemed grateful for today but very neutral about tomorrow. I expected hopelessness but found hope. I suspect my American definition of the word blinded me to what it really means. Things are not important to them.

Gulu, Uganda

By all global economic measures I am a rich person. So I went all the way to Africa to help poor people. Instead I discovered how rich they are and that the poorest people were actually back in my country.

I’m not making light of their poverty and suffering. It’s real. It’s happening right now. It’s beyond explanation. It’s wrong. It pisses me off. But most of all it makes me sad.

But God makes beauty from ashes and Uganda is His next top model.

The people I encountered love God with their whole heart. They are unashamed to sing, talk or share about Him. They love one another. Many of them have suffered horrors at the hands of their own countrymen but many more are striving to save their community.

And I humbly stand with them. This week wasn’t a “poverty safari” to observe slum dwellers in their natural habitat. It wasn’t a bucket-list mission trip to check off on my Christian scorecard. It was God’s will working though His people and I confess that I was tardy reporting for duty.

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (‭1 John‬ ‭3‬:‭18‬) 

I thought I would see poor people in pain. I discovered rich people who happen to live in poverty.

I saw barefoot kids run to inspect Daryl’s white skin (they call Caucasians “mzungas”) and love on him.


I saw naked orphans with flies orbiting their bodies giggle with joy for piggyback rides.


I saw national chess champions practicing in one of the worst slums in the world.


I spent the day with a guy who was once too broke to afford rat poison and kill himself – now there’s a Disney movie in production about his work in the slums of Katwe.


I saw former drop outs and opium addicts who were now star players for their soccer club.

I met a teenage rape survivor who forgives her attacker and wants to be a veterinarian.

Most of all, I saw people who are just as normal as I think I am. Not everyone was from a slum or a hut and several were very well educated. In fact, we spent time with 2 gentleman, Jimmy and David, who reminded us of ourselves.

In all fairness, for every story of overcoming poverty there is also a story of unhealed, unresolved pain. I didn’t see any poor people in Uganda but I know they exist. Despite being seemingly broken beyond repair I saw very many smiles and laughs.

And tears.


Most days I rationed my tears until I was safely in my hotel room, for fear I would bring even more rain to their parade. I wasn’t always succesful. As I stood in front of the 30 teenage girls at Christine’s House, who had all been savagely abused, I lost it.

I told them I love them and have been praying for them for quite some time. I told them I have a daughter, a wife, a mother and sisters, and that it makes me sad to think of this happening to them. I told them since God adopted us out of sin into His salvation, we are all family. They are my sisters and daughters.

I told them I don’t just want to pray for them anymore. I want to do something. We all can start somewhere and Sports Outreach, Freedom 4/24 and Christian Relief Fund are just a few of the organizations making it easy to get involved.

The next day we sang and worshipped God together. I read Matthew 5 and taught about being the salt and light of the world, with the help of a very patient translator. They showed me how to make African donuts and proudly showcased their dress making skills. Some are already building houses and huts, planting crops and cities and giving God big-time glory. They want better for tomorrow while making the best of today.

The girls of Christine’s House are beautiful dreamers. And it’s contagious.


To be honest, I did more “ministry” in 1 week in Uganda than 1 year back home. They are rich and invested generously into me. They taught me that living in abject poverty doesn’t mean you live in absolute despair. Joy isn’t the absence of problems it’s the presence of God.

I went to Africa to find and help poor people. Instead I found impoverished people who helped me.


What’s Next?

My present prosperity isn’t meant solely for my pleasure. We’re so fortunate in this country to possess more than we need and I believe it’s in order to meet someone else’s need. Now.

Not once the 401(k) is maxed out and the hard wood floors are installed. Now.

The Body of Christ was pre-wired with a generosity reflex. A desire to help. A burden to bless. Mine is Africa. I’ve known it for a while and regret my delay in really responding.

I think this trip was an invitation to join Him. Is it too large a task for God to restore orphans, victims and widows into thriving citizens? No. Is it impossible to imagine that God would use us to participate in this task? Nope.

What a gift! The opportunity to plant seeds, literal and eternal, that yield a guaranteed harvest of hope, grace, peace and unity.

You know, the stuff all those rich people have.

Chris and Daryl – Humbled to call them brothers

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Why Africans Close Their Eyes To Sing

    
Do you lose points on your Christian scorecard by keeping your eyes open during prayer?

I’m an “eyes open” kinda guy during church and worship services. Even during prayer I prefer to keep the peepers unleashed since closed eyelids usually signal to my brain that it’s time to sleep. Or daydream. Neither of which is very conducive to a conversation with my Maker. 

Perhaps I earned some points back today in Uganda as we participated in the local team’s morning devotion and I closed my eyes. I struggled to suppress the voyeuristic urge to simply watch them sing, pray, read and worship as it was truly something special. Lest I become a mere spectator, I quickly shut my eyes so I could get in on this good ol’ African worship. 

It was a timely reminder that God’s love is truly universal and His people share a connection spanning countries, continents and census data. 

The Ugandan group speaks about God with gritty assurance, a strain of battle-tested faith born from adversity and answered prayers. Their prayers are direct and familiar. Their songs were not rehearsed nor their voices refined, but they were real. Raw.

Lydia, a former slum-dweller turned worship leader, played a “vintage” keyboard while a young guitarist attempted to find the chord. Instead of eloquence of speech or elegance of song, we all harmonized with our hearts. God smiled on this moment and it was a truly amazing way to start the day. I wonder why I don’t do this everyday.

So I kept my eyes closed a bit more today but only during the devotion. Afterwards we started our trek around Kampala to see the city, the slums and the people. They were wide open then.

More to come!

Post-devotion small talk with Daryl and Robert

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Why I’m Going to Uganda as Mosquito Bait


I’m traveling to Uganda today because God told me to.

It was more of an invitation than a command. I didn’t literally hear His voice but in my thoughts, dreams, prayers and desires, this beautiful continent has been a magnetically constant force. I’ve followed the breadcrumbs from Texas to Washington Dulles Airport where I’m waiting for the next step forward. Only 7,000 miles to go.
I’m not going alone. I’m actually a wingman on this mission, accompanying 2 guys whom I admire more than I let on. 

Daryl, the ringleader, is a never-dimming strobe light of ideas, information, and enthusiasm wrapped in this country-bumpkin-turned-renaissance-man exterior. 
Chris, our stoic co-pilot is a pillar of civic steel who possesses an uncanny mixture of politically correct wisdom and non-politically correct wit.   
As for me, I’m the roadie. I think they are bringing me along to carry their bags and as bait to attract African mosquitoes away from their precious plasma. Seriously. 
Sports Outreach Institute (the organization we’re working with) does a pre-trip audit of trade skills, sports experience and other universally useful human abilities to assess how volunteers may contribute during their stay in Uganda. I believe I may be the least qualified to add value since my prowess designing PowerPoint slides and sending cliche-riddled business emails is of little use in the slums of Gulu beyond the reach of wifi. 
But then I remembered God’s track record of using the unqualified. 
I’m hopeful what little I have learned about business can possibly be used to create value for my brothers and sisters in Uganda, a country ripe for restoration after years of unimaginable decimation.
I’m also humbled to think what they will teach me. Transforming me, the unskilled but willing giver, into a recipient of the very love I hope to reflect. 

Whatever the case I know God brought us together for a specific reason and I look forward to a journey that takes us beyond the safe shores of convenience.  

I’m eager to venture into wider seas where the waves and wind create the perfect window to witness His true mastery. And the power of insect repellent.

If you’ve been on a mission/vision trip before I’d love to hear your feedback, advice and suggestions. Leave me a comment or hit me up Twitter or Instagram.
CURRENT STATUS
What I’m Reading

Queen of Katwe by Tim Crothers


Who I’m Missing 

Love ’em big as the sky!


Where We’re Going

DFW –>IAD –>BRU –> KGL –>EBB

How I’m Feeling

Caffeinated, eager, anxious… forgot to eat lunch

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