Thursday, 23 June 2011

The Bitter Reality

Nothing quite goes as you would expect it to here in Uganda and for that reason, expectations are more often than not, useless.

There are few things that I encounter here that faze me anymore,
I'm not sure if this is a blessing or a curse,
But there's always at least one thing, every time that I visit, that rattles me to my core,
In a way I'm always glad when it does happen, it helps me to know that God is working with me to work out my faith, but in the
same regard, it's never easy to handle.

Care and Compassion days are always emotionally draining,
On one hand we are given the amazing privilege of spending time with a family, praying with them and finally blessing the family with gifts from the church,
But on the other hand, we hear the stories of their lives, their hardships and their loss, and in the feeblest sense of the word, take up their burdens.
There's often a familiar theme to the stories, echoed throughout this country,
In the lives of the children here on the property and the neighbours down the street,
One that speaks to the devastation of poverty and lack of infrastructure.

It takes a toll in the form of sickness and disease,
Starvation and lack of opportunity,

Yet their faith in God remains unscaved,
I still remember one of the first homes I ever visited,
Sitting on a mud floor of a tiny, crowded thatched roof home,
Hearing the story of a grandmother who had lost all her children to AIDS, her husband in an accident, and was now charged with looking after her 10 grandchildren, not knowing if they'd escaped the disease that claimed their parents,
Struggling to make ends meet she said with a smile, "but God is good."
Without having to ask she continued with her rationale, "I've lost so much in life, things disappear all around me, and nothing is certain. With the exception of God. He is always there for me, and always makes a way. He is the one thing in my life that is sure."

It is mirrored in the lives of so many families we visit,
An unshakable faith in the God who delivers.
A Christ who saved.

However, sometimes we encounter families which the hope is faded,
Where the shame overcomes the desire to converse,
Where there is hope in is something other than Christ.

Such is the story of a single mom and her 6 children,
The husband and father had deserted the family shortly after moving to the community,
And now some 4 years later, her health is fading and they are supported by neighbours alone,
The conversation was brief, the prayers were few and while there was thanksgiving at the gifts of food, mattresses and essentials for her and the children, it was shortlived.
As we parted ways we couldn't help but feeling overcome,
Suddenly as the team left there was a tug on my shirt, the mother knelt and pushed her daughter forward, a pleading look in her eye, begging me to take her daughter and give her the opportunity which seemed unattainable.

What love is this...
So strong,
So sacrificial,
The love of a mother

It always rattles me,
It doesn't get easier,
And I pray it never does,

Grace, Peace and Blessings,

A Warm And Familiar Welcome

The smells of Uganda,
They never seem to change, even from my first trip (5 years ago) to now, it's etched in my memory and it always greets me right off the plane.
Long before the smiles of the children, or the embrace of a friend and pastor, the smell is there, and it's wonderful.

The drive from Entebbe is one that is relatively timeless as well,
The same partially finished building stands as the first marker, and as we wynd our way through Kampala and out to Masaka Road, the familiarities from past trips are striking.

It's always a source of entertainment watching those new to the journey process,
Hearing their comments and watching their eyes light up.
Comments surrounding signs like "Obama's Jet Carwash" are soon eclipsed by the sensory overload as we turn off the red dirt road and up towards the church.
A welcome party of smiling children, clapping and singing, never gets old and is always cause for a sudden "welling" of emotions.

This particular trip I get to see the eyes of a girl I've grown to love sparkle at the reception.

After some songs and dancing, it's time to settle in, begin the reorientation process and greet some old friends.

A couple days with the kids is always a great way to start a trip,
It's shocking to see how much they've grown.
They're excited to show their accomplishments of the past year and speak their ever improving English.
It's a breath of fresh air hearing the calls of "Uncle Brent" again.

It's with that warm reception that I bid you adue for now.
We're here safe and sound (would have been handy to know before the team left).

Grace, Peace and Blessings,

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

And Away We Go!

After blowing the dust of my travel gear, I find myself sitting in YVR International Departures once again, with the rolling green hills of Uganda just 2 short (relatively speaking of course) flights away.
I can never fully express how I feel going back, but it seems I always try.
This time it feels a bit like heading home again.
Once again I find myself in the midst of a team, some of old and some of new, but one in particular who I happen to be a big fan of. It's with a sense of excitement that'll I'll be able to introduce her to my Ugandan family.
A lot happens in a year, and while I know undoubtedly that I'll love it, I count on much growth.
So it's with this final boarding call that I leave you.
Please pray for the team, so we enter into a season of ministry that is always beyond us alone.
And continue to pray for the children and community around Mpigi that I know will welcome us home.

Grace, Peace and Blessings,