“Do you feel normal yet?”
I’ve been asked that question on several instances since returning from Uganda last month and it provokes a great question in response: What is normal?
This trip has truly redefined what “normal” means and I hope I don’t qualify for enrollment any more. The video below captures a few of the people, places and moments that captured my heart while abroad. I created it more for myself than anyone else. To remember and remind. To celebrate and challenge.
My original plan was to go to Africa as mosquito bait and to help poor people. I couldn’t find either (only 1 mosquito bite the entire trip!) and instead I discovered rich people who praise God every day. They just happen to live in poverty.
Seeds are being planted all over Uganda. From orphanages and safe houses to farms and start-ups, I look forward to sharing the amazing stories that are being written right now.
Over the next 12 months I’d like to raise $28,000 for one particular story – the girls of Christine’s House. I previously wrote about my time with these brave sisters. They are bold and innocent. Strong yet shy. And they love to sing!
The $28,000 is what it takes to keep the safe house running for 1 year, including support for their babies, food, education and medical. My wife, Alisha, and our 2 kids have been praying for Christine’s House and I can’t wait to take them back to Uganda at some point to see it firsthand.
Join us in that prayer and, if you feel the urge, join us in financially supporting this wonderful work.
Welcome to the new normal.
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
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
I’m not going alone. I’m actually a wingman on this mission, accompanying 2 guys whom I admire more than I let on.
, the ringleader, is a never-dimming strobe light of ideas, information, and enthusiasm wrapped in this country-bumpkin-turned-renaissance-man exterior.
, 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.
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.
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