Sunday, February 27, 2011

Streams of living water

"Is there a balm… in Gilead or anywhere? 
Is there medicine for what ails us? 
Is there healthcare with you, so absent everywhere else? 
Is there a drug to deal with our infection? 
Is there a heavy dose for our pathology?"
~Walter Brueggemann on reading Jeremiah 8

Katie had the week off from school because of the presidential and mayoral elections. I have continued teaching the refugees at the center - its a wonderful opportunity and I really enjoy teaching first aid and CPR! Museveni won the elections - of course. I even received a text on my phone that said, "The old man in the yellow hat thanks you for making him president of Uganda." I thought that was funny. On the way back from Good Shephard Home we were stopped by a huge crowd of people that had gathered to watch the Presidential motorcade enter Kampala. We waved at President Museveni! The elections were mostly peaceful, a few riots broke out on thursday and friday when it was revealed that the mayoral elections were being rigged. figures. :-)

On Friday we went to Good Shepherd Home, a Catholic Mission that serves people with disabilities ranging from birth deformities to a children with cerebral malaria whose heads had swelled to the size of a basketball. The kids were dying for attention and love. Katie helped to feed some of the children and then did physical therapy with several of them. She told me about one child who didn't have arms past the elbow. By balancing the spoon on his elbow and manipulating it with his chin, he was able to feed himself. I watched a child draw pictures with a pencil between his toes because he was born without arms. He was such a good artist! Good Shepherd has a clinic there that helps the residents and community, I was able to help them during the afternoon treat children with head fungus. The things one experiences here are crushing, wearying. 

Yesterday, as Katie and I were boarding a matatu to leave the city center, we encountered several children on the street. They just sat there, dirty, in rags, holding out a hand. You can't give them money because it doesn't go to them but rather to the men who "control" the begging industry in Kampala. Katie and I went child by child handing out small pieces of candy, but each time it seemed they didn't even know what to do with it. they would silently look at it and then back at us.  They didn't open it, didn't smile, they just stared. it seemed their innocence had been taken from them. i have seen many street kids, but something about this altercation drained us, we felt weary, fatigued. i prayed for those kids a long time last night - its not the way its supposed to be.

In the last chapter of Amos, God tells Israel that He is going to send a famine on the land - not a famine of hunger or thirst, but of His word. People will "stagger from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; They will go to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, but they will not find it." His words are life - did not Christ say that streams of living water would flow from us? I wonder how much i believe that. When i am squeezed, is it Christ that comes out? What is the quality of my faith? What is the righteous response to encountering injustice or suffering? "Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has not the health of the daughter of my people been restored?" Jeremiah 8:22

Your words are life O Lord.

                                                                      Boda-Boda Driver with 7 kids!!!! CRAZY!!!!

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Gap

I have loved teaching English and First Aid to the refugees throughout the week. My classes yesterday were packed! I really like that Katie and I are both teaching because I am able to learn a lot about teaching styles and creative activities. Please pray that relationships and more opportunities to share the gospel with the refugees would come about as a result of class time. 

Katie and I are really enjoying our time at the orphanage. She spent the whole day holding and loving the babies while I worked on some projects they needed completed. To hear the stories of the babies at the home is overwhelming. One baby was left on the railroad tracks to die, another was found on top of her dead mother, many are left on doorsteps or out in the middle of the street. Some are not reached in time. Agnes recounted to us a story of one baby in her neighborhood who was eaten by a dog. It is these kind of stories, matched with the faces of the babies at the orphanage, which will continue to haunt you. These things keep you up at night. Who would throw away a child? Who would leave a child to be killed?The darkness of our souls, the depravity of our natures runs so deep. Do we realize what evil we are capable of - or from what depths of sin we have been saved?

Whether it is processing things at the orphanage, hearing the Muslim call to prayer or hearing the stories of refugees, I cannot get over the deep sadness that i feel over what is, and what could be, between what is, and what should be. That gap, breaks your heart. What do you do? How do you handle that? You worship. You go back to Jesus until He fills you up. We are purposed to live for Him, to embody the humility and sacrifice of Christ, to be broken bread and poured out wine.

"Because we believe that One died for all because all had died, and those that live now longer live for themselves but for Him, who was crucified and was raised again." 
~ 2 Cor 5

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Biggest bug ever...

This week I started coaching the 9-11 year olds at Heritage International School. They won there first game on Tuesday! Katie is enjoying her internship at the school and we both are being stretched in different ways by the ministries we are involved in. Work at the Center is going well though the needs often seem overwhelming. Though the refugees that come to the center appear normal many of there stories are filed with violence, trauma, suffering and loss. There is an enormous need for redemption. 

Mix that with the poverty and constant pressing on my heart for the unreached Muslims of Kampala and you will understand why i found Matthew so encouraging this week. Near the end of Jesus' ministry it says he looked at the crowds and felt compassion for them for they were like sheep without a shepherd. Turning to his disciples he didn't tell them to organize or strategize a way to reach them, instead he told them to pray for more workers because the fields were white with harvest and the workers were so few.

So prayer has sustained me this week. Where else can we go?

C.S. Lewis says in A Grief Observed, "My idea of God is not a divine idea, it must be shattered again and again." I have been struck again and again by how unconventional and boundless God is. Brueggemann writes, "We know You to be no easy mark." How many times do I substitute the hard reality of God for an easier loyalty, a "lesser god"? When was the last time i remembered that Jesus is all we have?

One more thing - we found the biggest bug i've ever seen next to our bed yesterday morning - how would you like to wake up to this? :-) i'm told its a kind of cockroach.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Taking it all in

I sat down to write my first blog here in Kampala several days ago - but simply could not find words. How can i convey the madness of this city? The crowds, the organized chaos, the ex-pat community, the urban slums, the incessant call to prayer, the red dirt and the dark eyes together make up the mystery of this city. 

Katie and I live in an upper middle class area of Kampala - just a 15 minute walk from her school. 20 minutes in the opposite direction is Refuge and Hope - one of the organizations that I will be helping while here. Jammed between the high-walled housing compounds are shacks and vegetable stands. The weather is hot but not unbearable, at night it cools off with the rain storms. We hear the muslim call the prayer all the time - a warning cry of their growth and influence. I know that thousands in this city die without Christ daily - a grief-filled reality.

Katie loves the teacher and children she is with in the third grade class. I am working with refugees from Eritrea, Sudan and Congo. I start teaching skill classes and English on Monday. We are still trying to settle in and find a routine. Today we went to an orphanage we will be going to each week. 900 children. It is unbelievable and overwhelming. I'll tell you more about that in weeks to come.

Stephen Lewis once said "All I know is that every time I go to Africa I am shaken to my core." I LOVE it here, the people, the smiles, the jokes - but there is definitely something which is unsettling, a grief which must be prayed through. I think only in the times that I stop and wait on God is the fullness of this realized. God is so faithful, and so very present. We count on His presence more than we realize.