I will never make full conclusions about this 4 month experience, but if there is one thing I always end up concluding about every event, phase, and season of life, it is the same conclusion the wise King Solomon made: Everything is meaningless. I try to do good things for myself or someone else or this theoretical thing we call "the world" but it's always just a chase after the wind. Often our good intentions bring more harm than good. We only hope and pray our efforts bring more good, but in many cases it's kind of fleeting and hopeless. Everything is out of our own control, and there's not much we can do to tame it, yet we continue to do to the best of our abilities what has been allotted to us (9:10), and often that means simply valuing a human relationship, because that is all that has been given to us (9:9). So I don't know what's going to happen next, and maybe I shouldn't really care. Maybe I should just let seasons change and see what falls into my lap. The more I use force to bend and shape the future, the more I will be crushed by let-down. Winter is the season of death, and while I had been trying to escape it, my return was inevitable.
Tuesday, December 22
Saturday, December 19
I got up around 6 AM this morning, which is good because I got to run into the various members of Jeremy's family as they are much earlier risers than teenagers who play music. The past few days have been slightly rough on my body. Two nights ago I only wanted to sleep for 3 hours. Jet Lag is still there.
The transition to eating Subway, Neato Burrito, etc etc is difficult. It's freaking great food, but I've probably farted over 100 times in the past few days, and all of them have smelled gross, causing me to distance myself as much as possible from my friends.
In Africa, we laugh because rain stops everything. Functions don't go on because of a light sprinkling. In America, we have something called snow, which is very cold. I'm supposed to record vocals today, but I'm up before the other band members wondering whether that will be possible, as the drive is from Mt. Holly Springs to Lemoyne.
The good news is, Jeremy's mom is a self-proclaimed health nut. I've been able to eat granola with milk, eggs, tea, green stuff, you name it. But that's only in the mornings. After that, I'm out of the house with a band obligation.
We have a performance in Lemoyne/Harrisburg on Tuesday. It's gonna be great, and the music these guys have created is amazing. I wouldn't trade it for another sound. I feel like I need to be a leader and all because Jeremy and I are the old ones with a somewhat larger amount of life-experience.
Our producer Scott Hoon of Gun for Hire is doing an awesome job with our sound. I can't wait to hear the mix he has been working on today. One thing that America has better than every other place on Earth is the music scene, hands down. It's so talented, diverse, etc. I mean, there's also a lot of opportunities for musicians so you often hear crappy stuff, but no one can argue that overall the best music comes from here. It's so innovative and creative.
Everything here is expensive. Mom gave me $20 when I arrived and I only have 1 dollar and some coins left over. It's weird. But at least now I can respond like a true American and use plastic.
Jeremy's mom is off to their church, which do an awesome program Christmas service for the poor children of the community. Providence is having trouble dealing with heating costs, so the service, if it isn't snowed out, will be held at Hanover High School tomorrow morning. That'd be cool if our whole band could go together, but we'll see.
At this point I'm just rambling, but I'll post a link to our music as soon as we have the finals of the recordings. We just have to lay down vocal tracks and some tracks for small instruments like xylophone.
at 4:14 PM
Thursday, December 17
Man, I have a lot of days, events, and thoughts to document. I'll do with what I can remember. Here we go....
Friday - the End
The last full day I spent in Mukono was a wild experience. In the morning, I carried a mesh bag of clothes and some shoes across to the old main gate at campus. There I met Rose Kyazike, leader of a microfinance group that I support. I have mentioned this group in previous posts. They sell used clothing. I was selling mine to her for cheap.
First, Rose suggested we take a boda to her home. I said this was not allowed in my program. Her response was, "Oh, I didn't know you people [whites] could walk." By this she meant "walk a decent distance." I assured her I was experienced enough to do the job. We walked a kilometer or so to her home where I was welcomed inside. There she prepared me tea and samosas, which were so delicious. She had me sit and any time I got up, she insisted for me to remain seated. She showed me dozens of pictures from her family, her children and cousins and other relatives. She gave me some to keep in case I would find US sponsors for her own children or the orphans she supports.
As I was browsing the photos, taking tea, and collecting the small payment I requested for the clothes, she exclaimed out loud, "Wow! Who am I that you would come to visit me?!" Upon escorting me partway home, she thanked me gratefully and commented on my friendliness, etc. I didn't want her to think mzungus were her salvation, but I was grateful for her appreciation.
Suzan and I spent much of the remaining day together. Suzan cooked me delicious cassava fried with tomatoes. What a good cook, among other things!
The evening was difficult, as I had my last supper with my family. Sarah called it "The Last Supper with Mr. Alari and Mr. Wilmot." She pronounced my family name so well.
Saturday - the Departure
Rain struck early, and I was delayed in making breakfast for the family. However, Suzan showed up before 8 and helped me quickly make the eggs. I said my goodbyes, which was thankfully emotionally easier than expected, and moved onward to campus to board the leaving coaster. I remember looking into Suzan's tearing eyes when she said, "Phil, I don't want to see you getting on that bus." I told her to go the her hostel as if she were to see me later in the day. It was so hard for both of us. When you walk away from something, never knowing when, or even if, you can return to it, things are very difficult. Even for the most-positive Suzan, the event was tragic and heartbreaking.
We arrived that night for debrief in Entebbe, a few miles from the airport, where we stayed at a convent. The walls were echoey, which is weird to me, but maybe it helps those quiet nuns communicate with each other.
Sunday - the Beginning
The first night had been hard to be away from Suzan, but I was ready to seize the day of fasting and reflection set out before me. I led worship with Brian in the morning, playing songs and hymns which allowed us to reflect chronologically on the content of the semester. Brian read accompanying scriptures, including the Magnificat in which Mary explains that her Son has come to bring life to the poor and send the rich away empty. There were pieces from Psalm 104, Ecclesiastes, Paul's account of his afflictions in 2 Corinthians, and the emotionally tragic passage of the suffering servant in Isaiah. We ended with O Come O Come Emmanuel, praising the King who became more lowly than all in order to enter into solidarity with us.
After worship, Brian fled to God-knows-where, so I had no key to enter the room. I would leave the grounds for fasting with no footwear. I walked barefoot toward the Lake Victoria. When I saw the Lake, I sat at a curb and began to write. I had only just begun when a bus pulled up to me and let a Ugandan wearing a navy blue United Way shirt step off. He asked what I was writing and proclaimed what the billboard above me read, "Welcome to Uganda!" He advised me to move across the street, because I was on the property of a military base.
Not long thereafter, I saw Chelsey walking toward me from afar. Three army soldier fully equipped with guns walked at her side. As she reached me, the men explained they were a "full escort" and left her and I alone together. We decided to walk to the beach together, where I stepped foot into the great Victoria and we sat on driftwood to watch locals pull a long rope of Tillapia fish onto the sand. We noticed rocky islands way off into the distance and decided that we would try to reach them within the several hours we had remaining in the fast.
First of all, we were already breaking rule one of the fast: isolation. We were supposed to be alone, but Chelsey and I enjoyed each others' company as we walked onward through bushy narrow paths toward the direction of the rock islands. Occasionally, Ugandans would notice us in the bush or walk past us. After several kilometers of this bare-footed endeavor, we came to a cove that bordered the water. There we saw semi-wet clothes draped over tree limbs, hovering bugs, and happy yellow birds dancing in the trees. Then we saw some guys sleeping and several boats pulled ashore. One guy was pulling crabs from a net. Another welcomed us and said, "you go relax while we cook you food." Chelsey and I consulted each other and decided the best way to break a fast was to eat with stranger-fishermen providing hospitality.
We took time to explore the rocks jutting from the coast. We saw a ten-foot snake slithering through water. I read Psalm 104 aloud, some other psalms, and a passage from Romans about creation. Then we saw a monitor lizard, like a crocdilish komodo dragon, plunge into the water. It was amazing.
We returned to lunch to find freshly caught tillapia cooked for us. There was also posho. The man gave Chelsey and I a bowl to share. Another guy dipped a cup into the notoriously dirty and disease-infested lake to get water for us to wash hands. After this, Chelsey secretly dipped her hand into her purse, revealing hand sanitizer. She said to me, "Use this for my sake."
After we finished the meal, another fisherman set out to bring us some fish to take back. A mentally disturbed person came to speak with us. he kept going on in French, and then would say, "Do you know English" - onl;y to talk in English for one sentence before returning to French, repeating the pattern six or eight times. We had to soon get back to the convent, so we had to bid all of our new friends farewell before the fish had been caught for us. I told our cook he should eat my share.
The walk back was so long, over an hour of walking without shoes. As we approached the convent at last, two monkeys crossed right in front of us and then began to bicker with each other in the trees. God had been good to us and allowed me to get my mind off of leaving Suzan for awhile.
But it didn't last long. Though I was thankful for the day, the night was hard.
Monday and Tuesday
Monday went by with yet more debrief sessions about returning to the US. The talent show provided hilarious skits and epicly astounding poetry. Tuesday came around as we packed our things to leave. Suzan had told me she would leave Mukono (over a two-hour drive) to meet me at the airport to send me off. I was nervous and excited. It was so great to see her again before leaving the country. She gave me a beautiful note, and after some time I went inside to board the plane, which I slept on for most of the ride.
Wednesday - Flights, Complications, and Life Anew
We arrived in the Netherlands at 7 AM, and since we had a long lay-over, some of us set foot into the city. I was wearing shorts and flip flops, and it was 28 degrees Celsius, but I couldn't pass up going to Amsterdam for a few hours. We took hot chocolate from a place in the Red Light District and bought Swiss chocolate to bring for friends. Each shop and store was so welcoming, especially with the kind people and warm temperature. The infrastructure in Europe is fascinatingly good. There are roads for bikes, and more bikes than cars by far. One toilet had a separate button for flushing pee and poop. The city was relatively clean.
A few hours were spent waiting for the plane. On the ride I talked with Deanna and watched some movies. I arrived in Dulles (DC airport) around 4:30. Of course, the custom agent didn't like my braided hair, and combined with my "exposure to foreign livestock," "visit to Amsterdam," etc - he was a little, okay a lot, stand-offish. "Did anybody give you anything to bring into the country?" the officer interrogated. "In terms of what?" I asked. He simply repeated the question, more angry this time. I told him that I had only bought a few things from the Ugandan markets like instruments and art. He signed me up to go to "line C."
After passing through another checkpoint at which they brought out a dog to sniff my bags (and only the two others in front of me as if to make the search seem random), "Line C" found me among all minorities. In front of me was a Persian lady whom I spoke to. "Every time I come here they send me to this line," she said. "I'm just trying to visit my daughter for two days and then fly out of the country with her." The "Welcome to the United States" quote on the wall behind the security guards presented her no welcoming message. The police checked her bags, asking her about every piece of jewelry, searching thoroughly. The family behind me was from South Africa, and they were sent to a section of the room where all minorities except maybe a few mzungus were seated. There were several dozen people of all ages and ethnicities seated there. Names were called, but slowly, maybe every 20 minutes or so. At one point, the officer read several names at a time, of which about half were named either Abdul or Mohammad. It was a sad sight as I saw the white-skinned residents of "the land of the free" pass quickly to the terminal as these oppressed persons waited behind.
After about 45 minutes of waiting in line (I was only third in line), the officer finally called me to the desk. I placed my passport and customs card at his desk, a little nervous, but knowing that I had been in prayer about asking God to give me the words to love and not to compromise. Yes, I was pissed, but it was surely a righteous anger if there ever was one.
"Yes, my family did not own any, but there were cattle and goats in town, though I didn't touch them."
"You were doing missionary work?" (I couldn't help but laugh inside at this question as we had so often talked in class about how so many people assumed because we were in Africa we were doing missions. I wanted to ask him, "What is missions anyway?" but I figured it wouldn't have helped me catch up with my friends.)
"No, we were studying abroad this semester."
"Oh, what school do you go to here?"
"Messiah College in PA"
"What did you do in Amsterdam."
"We got some hot chocolate and souveniers."
"About six or seven of us students."
"Did you smoke anything particular?"
"No, you can check me if you want."
"Oh, I know I can check you. it's just a matter of whether or not I will. We have to make sure all incoming persons abide by the same laws and policies."
"Did the dogs pass you earlier."
"Put your bags on the counter. Unpack them."
I began to unpack my three bags and even removed my sweater to place it on the counter as an act of kindness and submission.
"Take apart everything."
He too began to dig through each of my things, searching thoroughly for marijuana. He shook my drum. He skimmed through the pages of my books and shook bottles.
"How do you like your job?" I asked.
"It's okay. Every job has its ups and downs. When I'm having a bad day I get to harass people a little bit."
I appreciated his honesty.
He finally came across my New Testament and Old Testament texts I had saved from the semester. He browsed the pages and started reading some excerpts.
"Hmmm. You going to be a priest or a preacher."
"We'll see, maybe not in such a traditional sense."
"I've been trying to get closer to God. My friend has been giving me some verses about Samson. What do you think about him."
"Samson was a nazirite which means his life so supposed to be devoted to serving God, but he wasted it by fooling around with girls and playing pranks. I don't have much of an opinion about him though, sorry."
The officer laughed.
"Here, you can keep this."
I handed him a copy of The Great Divorce by CS Lewis. He took it from me to look at it.
"What's it about?"
"A group of people in hell go to heaven and some decided not to stay and return back to hell."
By this time other security guards had been overhearing.
"I'll write it down and check it out from the library. I like a good recommendation."
I took it back and began to zip my bags back up.
"You're from Hanover? Is that Mennonite country?"
"It's about an hour from it. My family isn't Mennonite but I claim to be."
He looked at me inquisitively and walked closer.
"You see, well I don't know if I should be telling you this, given your job position."
"Well, Anabaptists believe in the separation of Church and State."
"Even I believe in that. But it's still good to sing the star-spangled banner in schools. My kids learn about all religions in schools and that's great."
"Well a hardcore Anabaptist would say exposure to all religious systems are good. But they also consider patriotism to be a religious system."
From there I could see he was either beginning to lose interest or not wanting his coworkers to harass him for such a vulnerable conversation.
"Well, thanks" I told him.
"Welcome back [to the US], have a good day."
I exited into the terminal wondering what in hell's name just happened. I had been grouped with minorities and potentially accused of drug possession and ended up having a refreshing chat. Weird.
I met up with the USPers who had been worried about me. They told me Jeremy was waiting for me, so I took him to dinner at the airport with us.
On the ride back, Jeremy and I talked about so many things, mainly the band and the future. We stopped at the Giovanni's youth group in Frederick where I met up with old friends who had many questions. I was instantly served chicken with cheesy rice and a biscuit. There was also cold tea, for a change. And ice, which was new for me. It was a good transition back into the upper class world. Both continents can be hospitable. Likewise, when I arrived at Jeremy's house, his mom left a note which said "Welcome back" which is awesome cuz that's also what Ugandans say so often when a visitor comes. Hospitality can be found in both places, and that's awesome. Mom left me some clothes and a new phone which I have not yet set up and some other edible things. It's good to be here, but I am cold and have jet lag (it's so late and I'm wide awake).
So far, I'm still in the "honeymoon phase" - no cynicism or culture shock yet. My extensions in my hair are falling out so fast.
at 8:36 AM
Friday, December 11
Took the adungu to town for fixing.
Bought a bag from a shop to take things home in.
Had extremely itchy hair.
Put music on Suzan's computer.
Had extremely itchy hair.
Had a farewell dinner with all of our sponsors, host families, staff, friends, etc.
Went home to sleep.
Woke up at 2-something AM and haven't been able to go back to sleep since (that's been happening quite often recently. I think you don't need as much sleep in Africa or something).
at 7:33 AM
Thursday, December 10
Yeah, I finished my braids and my classes - all academic and hair obligations yesterday. Today I will go into town to get one adungu repaired, look for a bag to buy so that I can sufficiently take everything on the plane that I want to take back, and then put music on Suzan's computer. Tonight is the Farewell dinner at Mark's where all of our families come together with us.
Tomorrow I will meet with Rose whose microfinance group I support to sell her some dirt-cheap clothes (since the program doesn't let us give stuff away). I also have a ton of medicine I didn't open this whole semester so maybe I can bum it off to some local clinics. I'm having trouble packing the things I have haha. Suzan asked for chocolate for Christmas (Africans are easy to please!), so I'll also pick some chocolate up for her.
Saturday morning we get picked up to leave for debrief in Entebbe, which means that after tomorrow the only way of contacting me until a week from now will be by calling my phone.
at 9:47 AM
Wednesday, December 9
Yesterday they started to braid my hair. I sat on a mat from 8 AM to 3 PM and three people worked on it. They are about halfway done. Dreadlocks are much more painful, though these still aren't the most comfortable to sleep on.
I also stopped by Pearl Microfinancing in Mukono town. I wanted to get in touch with a group I support online through Kiva. Within an hour, the group's leader had come to campus to find me. The group sells used clothing and uses loans from international supporters to stock up in between seasons. I wanted to sell my clothes at a very cheap price (since USP doesnt let us give things away) to Rose. I met with her, and she asked me to bring the clothes I won't be taking home to her place on Friday. It has been cool to personally interact with a microfinance group I support.
When I went home with Suzan I started packing clothes. She slaughtered a chicken which Papa had been given by a relative when he went to get Sarah's school papers signed in Soroti. When you eat chicken in Africa, you are eating an honorable meal. Yes, you pick around bones and organs which you can't identify to get the meat, but it is still delicious.
This morning was the last time we will see Papa, unless Dean or I return to the country. God willing we will return sometime.
Today I am going back to the salon for them to (hopefully) finish my hair.
It's weird not being able to wash hair when showering.
at 7:24 AM
Monday, December 7
So I just had exams straight from 9 AM to 3 PM. Not fun on the wrist. Lots of objective, short answer, matching, and then of course four essays total with many points and sub-points to be made.
First was Old Testament from 9-12. Easier than I thought. I studied a decent amount. Wrote essays about the Decalogue's purpose today and modern lessons from Hosea.
At 12:10 was New Testament. Wrote essays on how Luke depicts Jesus' ministry to the marginalized and how Paul's statement 'Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial' is relevant to idolization today. The examples of modern day idols I used were Wealth, Television, Safety, and Education. It was really fun to write and think about but my wrist is sore.
I don't know when I'll know my final grades. Those exams are 50% of each class and it's hard to know how to get good marks in Uganda classes.
Oh I forgot to tell you about the weekend because I was so excited for finishing all schoolwork. Saturday USP played Honors College in olympics. I only played frisbee because I love playing that game. Well, I went to church with Suzan Sunday and then she cooked me some delicious food. I gotta take this cabbage preparation recipe back to the states. I don't even like cabbage in the states. Then I went home to study for these exams which I just demolished.
So here's the outline for the coming week:
Tuesday (tomorrow) - get hair braided. I had to buy the hair and pay three workers to braid it in for me, so for the total cost of them working 8 AM to 3 PM and for the hair, I paid $15. I also want to stop by Pearl Microfinancing to try to locate a microfinance group I support so I can sell them some of my used clothes at a really cheap price. The group of 20 sells used clothing and uses microfinancing funds to stock up in between seasons, so I think it'd be cool to meet someone from the group personally and be able to help tangibly.
Wednesday - Semester wrap-up for classes. WE're having a small group discussion on Politics and Peace which for me is a very exciting topic.
Thursday - get adungu repaired. Farewell dinner at Mark's where all host families meet us there.
Friday - no plan. Probably hang out with Suzan for the last day.
Saturday - depart for debrief in the morning.
We'll be staying in Entebbe for a few days of debrief. I don't think I'll have contact then, unless you call me. We'll fly out on Dec 15 and reach DC Dec 16 around 4 or 5 PM, at which point I believe Jeremy will pick me up and take me to learn/write songs for a show before Christmas. Never a dull moment.
Christmas party tonight! There's no snow here. Really, there's no snow.
I have about 5 dollars left to spend. Crap.
at 2:35 PM
Saturday, December 5
I woke Friday morning to take Suzan to Kampala so that she could get her final injection in her leg. We showed up before 1, but nonetheless the employees were on their way out for lunch hour. So we bought some western sweets and ice cream. We also got two maps for my family from a street vendor (sorry mom, we looked all over the place for the biggest kind but they weren't selling them anywhere in the city at the time). After we returned to get a few signatures necessary for the final injection, we walked to a higher elevation of town. While I waited in the waiting room for Suzan, I was reading a book on Watoto, which is an organization committed to helping orphans out of poverty and whatnot. It was funny reading after being here, because they had pictures of homes in which the captions read things like "Conditions Unimaginable" - I'm reading these things and looking at the pictures and thinking, "What are you talking about? That's not a bad house. I would live there willingly." Just because a picture features mud walls and matoke trees doesn't mean it's unimaginable conditions. Also, the book noted that Uganda has been home to the highest per capita percent of orphans in the world. This may have been true at some point, but I guess I just find it hard to believe. Maybe that's because local organizations have done an incredible job taking in these kids. Africans are good at solving their own problems, believe it or not.
Then we took transport to Suzan's family's home in Muyenga, Kampala. I like going there. Her little brothers can play all day, and my time there is spent in fending off Emma (short for Emmanuel in Uganda) from biting me. Suzan's step-mom Sarah makes delicious food. She even turned down the opportunity to return home to their village through free transport on Friday because she wanted to stay to wait for me. That was such a nice gesture. Anyway, I think the family likes me. We took a lot of pictures together and that was cool.
The ride out of Muyenga was bumpy and my headache that had been minor throughout the day was increasing. When we reached the giant taxi park, I was hot and uncomfortable because the legs of my boxers kept getting twisted and creeping up my leg. How annoying.
We walked out of the taxi park up the crowded streets to get a matatu to Mukono, but the line was easily over 100 people long, double file. So we went back to the taxi park and I was getting overwhelmed by all of the stress factors and the fact that it was not the first time I would reach home late. On top of that, everyone was trying to sell me things (gotta love white skin) and the taxi was now charging 2000 Shs instead of 1500 because everyone was trying to leave at once. So yeah, we finally got through the traffic jams and made it to Mukono. Turns out I wasn't significantly late in reaching home.
Sarah went to Jinja to get more college papers and then Dad had to go to Soroti, which is very far away, to get signatures for her to submit papers to Uganda's universities. I think Sarah will go for either Fine Arts or Geography at a public school on the way to Kampala.
at 7:51 AM
Thursday, December 3
Last night I was playing the adungu like always and I asked Suzan if she knew the English word for it, which is "African Bush Harp." Then Suzan asked why the term "bush" was included. I told her because it is a primitive instrument created by the mindless people of backward cultures. She laughed.
at 9:38 AM
Wednesday, December 2
So yesterday I finished the last of my coursework, except I have two exams Monday.
Megan came to visit in the afternoon. She got to meet my family here after walking around town. They prepared us an early dinner which was tasty. Therefore, I also got to go to bed very early. So I in turn am at school very early. Nothing much else to say, except that I will be home in two weeks.
at 7:31 AM
Monday, November 30
Today was kind of low-key. First I woke up and finished my Pluralism paper for ATR class, knocking out all duties for two of my five classes. Next, I washed clothes outside. Then I played adungu for a little.
When 1 PM or so came around, I told Toto I was going to pick Suzan. When I reached Suzan's friends' hostel, they were all watching Ghanian films, which are just as bad as Nigerian films. In each Ghanian movie, the same actor gets involved with too many women and things gets complicated within the family. Africans watch these movies as if there is nothing more intense. When the power goes out and shuts off their laptops they get fairly upset. Anyway, we left there with some supplies Suzan bought for making French Toast. She came over to our home and cooked with me. She also made some really good chapati. Dinner was really good as a result. The day was slow and Sabbath-like.
Today I woke up before 6:30 and prepared for the day. USP kids put together an Ultimate Frisbee team and I was a part of it. I met Suzan outside her hostel and we all grabbed a matatu to the rugby pitch in Lugogo, Kampala. There were about six teams and we were all given different color T-shirts based on what team you were on. USP was green. Before the tournament (a charity event for the red team which was from an orphanage) started, Silver met us there as well. We played the orphanage team first and came from behind to win by one point. Then we played another team immediately thereafter and lost. After that loss the red team approached us saying the game ended in a draw. This is impossible in frisbee, but since our captain Redman could not convince them otherwise, we flipped a frisbee to decide the game. Luckily, we won the flip. But this (and events to be noted later) will explain how corruption is just a part of the Ugandan culture and people.
We played the peace core next, who were very tall and last years champions. We slaughtered them 10-5 or something like that. Then we were tired and barely lost our next game.
The other games ended in a win and a loss, putting us at a 3-3 record. Megan Clapp showed up to hango ut halfway through the tourney. After our six games, I told Redman I was leaving to take Suzan for some American food. Apparently after I left there was a three or four way tie for third place and we played a ten minute game and lost with a close score. Oh well, we all had fun and I am a much better ultimate player as a result.
We went to New York Kitchen and Suzan and I shared a teriyaki burger with all fixins, coleslaw, fries with Heinz Ketchup (Megan said it's not made in Pittsburgh so it's not quite as legit), and a brownie sunday. Silver ate fries. Meg got free bagel crisps with salsa which we all consumed together. It was a good meal according to all of us (Suzan mentioned the next morning she could still taste the burger). Megan and I came up with an idea to start a chapati stand on our campus - a "send meg and phil back to africa" business.
On the way home, our matatu pulled into an illegal space to pick up customers. A police officer came over to ticket the conductor but the conductor just slipped him a few coins. Like I said, corruption here is natural. Additionally, we ran out of gas while on the way home. Horrible service in Uganda sometimes!
That night I was very sore. Suzan, Dean, and I were all exhausted.
So I woke up very sore to a text from Suzan saying her leg was paining her like it did twice in the past.
I met Suzan as she was coming to campus and I escorted her to the Dining Hall because she needed her ID card to go to the hospital in Kampala to get an operation. She had previously forgotten her meal card and had to leave her ID with the head cook as collateral. The head cook wasn't in so she tried to get a referral from the clinic. The clinic denied it. Meanwhile, a UCU prof I have grabbed me and made me take a quiz on the spot because he could not locate the questions to my last quiz (only the answers I had given were in his hands). He was impressed with my essay, but it was kind of frustrating at such an inconvenient time to take a quiz on the spot. Then Suzan and I went to ask our director Mark if it was okay if I skipped class to escort her to the city. He said it was ok if I was marked absent and we took a matatu after a long while of trying to wait for a coaster which would give room for Suzan to stretch her leg. We were picked up from Suzan's father's work at the Bank of Uganda. He took us to a resort where their doctor friend was. He instructed us what to do about Suzan's bad left knee, which was now swollen over twice the size of her good knee. We went to their temporary residence and they fed me (even after Suzan's dad spent several thousand on food for us). I helped figure out how to get working younger sister Rachel's laptop computer which was donated by a sponsor. Then Suzan's dad drove me to town to catch a matatu back while they would go to the clinic to get records of the previous operation so that the problem could be diagnosed without cost. Suzan is probably in Kampala getting fluid extracted from her knee or getting prescribed with tablets as we speak. She may come back to Mukono tomorrow.
So now (after 5 PM), I'm going to start my paper which I wanted to start at 7:30 AM haha. It's the last paper I need to do so I just want to knock it out.
I forgot to mention that Suzan's dad gave me three maize to roast, two mangos, and a handful of "transport money." What a nice dude. Maybe I'll reciprocate with getting him yogurt if I meet him Friday.
at 4:32 PM
Friday, November 27
Okay, this won't actually be a cynical post for a change. I just wanted to use a cynical title to describe our Thanksgiving experience in Uganda.
So in the morning I went to town with Josh to buy sweet bread, eggs, and milk to make Cinnamon French Toast because the USP students were responsible for the deserts at our Thanksgiving party (which Mark hosted and invited all UCU alums who happened to be in the country). We took Suzan with us so she could learn how to make this recipe. Josh, Suzan, and I made over 50 pieces.
Then the frustrations began. I went to a tutorial and found out that my tutor had not received my essay a few weeks ago (I gave to a coemployee who said he would forward it to him), and he had not had my quiz from over a month ago (which he later found, thankfully). I told him I'd print out my essay for him again (which costs money by the way), but when I looked for it on my computer, it wasn't there. Thankfully after a frustrating half hour I recovered it. Then Suzan, who had already been dealing with my frustrated self, offered to help me go off campus to find a folder for a portfolio to hand in for the end of a class. She helped me go print some things and put the papers together and was really patient and wanted me to stop thanking her, but I told her it was Thanksgiving, the time of year where we celebrate how those of backwards cultures submitted to the rule of civilized European authorities, saving the history of America as we know it. Just kidding, I didn't tell her that, but I did tell her it was Thanksgiving so she would have to accept my thanks.
USP played a game of American football, of which I wasn't able to make it on time because of all of the stressful running back and forth and printing and organizing and recovering lost things. But afterward we had Thanksgiving at Mark and Abby's house. It was pretty cool. I met a guy from Ethiopia named Moses who studied in England with New Tribe Mission for a year and now was doing something with widows and orphans in Mukono and he was a nice guy. We ate turkey, which I did not know existed in Uganda. We had tons of delicious food. It was a very legitimate meal. I didn't feel 100% afterward, naturally, but it was all worth it. We watched Charlie Brown Christmas when the electricity came back on. There were also lots of monkeys outside hopping from tree to tree.
Today we go to Mildmay Hospital somewhere not far from here. Then the dudes from IMME are having man night together.
at 7:26 AM
Thursday, November 26
Our sister Sarah has finished her last semester of college in Jinja and will start university around September. We went to pick her up yesterday (Vincent drove me, Dean, Suzan, Toto, Kevina, and Sam). We stopped in between Mukono and Jinja where salesmen and saleswomen flood each vehicle to try to sell their products. I got a dozen or so mangos for 1000 shillings and Toto bought some bananas at a dirt cheap price.
When we reached to pick up Sarah, she showed us around her campus. She's also suffering Malaria headaches and has seemed to be pretty tired.
Then we went to Toto's sister's place in a sweet neighborhood of mud/bamboo homes. We were fed a delicious lunch with lots of laughter.
Then Vincent drove us back to campus where Dean and I joined the Ultimate Frisbee practice because we are playing a tournament Sunday in Lugogo, Kampala.
at 7:32 AM
Tuesday, November 24
Grasshoppers are everywhere.
Sometimes people catch them and fry them and eat them.
They are very tasty.
They fly on people in class too.
at 8:27 AM
Monday, November 23
Friday we left after lunch for Rakai, SE of Mukono not far from Lake Victoria and the border with Tanzania. The drive was 7 hours and consisted of me being tired and uncomfortable and seeing trucks overturned just off the highway. One big truck was recently flipped over cuz we could see people gathered around and cattle that were previously inside of it laying on the ground bleeding. Not to mention, all of those cattle-carrying vehicles also have teenage boys stationed on the top, so at 60 MPH I'm sure those boys had to bail when they felt the truck flipping.
We arrived in the extremely-rural Kibaale Community Centre in the Rakai District. It is primarily a private school that is directed by a Canadian group of missionaries, but most staff and teachers by far are Ugandans. I think there's about 150 staff. The Canadians are trying to train Ugandans so it is eventually all run by them. There's also a small hospital and guesthouses and farm and other facilities. The weekend was really chill. The only obligation we really had was a Saturday morning tour of the place and church Sunday morning at El Shaddai Voice of Healing, a church about 3 years old.
The weekend was good food and relaxing, but I had nothing to read and no homework to get ahead on and nothing to do really, which is a good formula for my body shutting down and wanting to be sad and do nothing. The area is beautiful though and I'm ready to get back to work on my remaining courseworks before the semester is over.
This is the last week of my classes through UCU, and on the weekend I may have an interview for a job back at Messiah's Campus and Sunday I'm playing an ultimate frisbee tournament in the capital city Kampala. I think this Friday is when some of us are going to a local hospital that has well addressed the AIDS epidemic. Also, just an interesting fact: AIDS here is not primarily transferred by homosexuals at all, and the use of condoms, unlike in the states, provides absolutely no statistical evidence that AIDS is best prevented through such means.
at 9:43 AM
Thursday, November 19
So I've already failed to accept my renewed call. The next morning when I woke up, I forgot to pray for peace, good health, and strength like the man in Geheni, Rwanda told me to do every morning (I added wisdom to this list). I forgot to sing: "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies are new every day. They are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness." So I'm already a hypocrit because my praxis has failed to align with my telos.
The other day I came home early with Suzan. We were going to go to the garden on the hill but it had been wet due to rain hours before (it's out of place when the wetness sits and it's not immediately dusty 30 minutes after raining), so we just went to our house. Toto had just come back from a burial, looking sadder than I've ever seen her. She told me, "it's just a part of life" and talked a little bit about God. I love when people who aren't committed to a faith of Sunday mornings tell me about God. It's raw and refreshing. Anyway, I asked Toto what she wanted from the market, and she smiled and laughed and thankfully said "anything." I walked a minute to the shop and bought g-nuts and chocolate (Suzan's favorite). There's this one chocolate bar that tastes like a Twix kind of, and another that is a combination of chocolate and orange. Too bad nowadays the only fair trade chocolate you can buy is at least $5 for a small bar. Too bad I buy into the oppressive system anyway. So we took these foodstuffs back home, giving some to Toto. I'm not sure if she ate any.
Suzan and I were in the sitting room and relaxing when I heard the voice of some girls out back. I was hearing Ateso being spoken with my name randomly interspersed. So a few minutes later these 3 girls run into the sitting room greeting me loudly. They are the ones I sometimes go get water with. They are fun and always walking together and wanting to talk to me when I'm around. I had been playing my drum and mbira and one thing led to another and a dance party broke out. They broke a string or two on my adungu, but I can probably get it fixed for free. They left home after about an hour at which point I showered as Suzan and Mom and Kevina prepared dinner.
Last night Sam informed me that this romantic relationship he's been having with "Abigail" on campus has been all a lie so he could write a novel or a movie script. Instead, he's actually interested in one of the USP girls but afraid to intrude in case she has a girlfriend. Funny guy.
Tonight we are hearing Douglas Fountain, a mzungu staff member at UCU present to us on the topic of AIDS. After that I'll be driven home. I'm going to send Suzan some money to go to town and pick up mozzarella cheese and noodles so I can make some pasta tonight since it is Papa's last night with us before he returns to Gulu for work.
Tomorrow we are leaving at 2 PM for a supposedly 6-hour drive to Rakai to learn about AIDS and a Community Operation involved with AIDS victims for the weekend. We come back Sunday around 9 PM. There is apparently no cell phone reception there so you will not be able to get ahold of me until I return on Monday.
at 7:40 AM
Tuesday, November 17
Over a year ago I hit a peak it my life and pursued discipleship no matter what the cost. Every hour I'd be asking God to give me the eyes of Christ. When that happened, I began to see everyone in a new light. It killed me. I only saw brokenness. All around campus I watched fake smiles and people convincing themselves they were fulfilled with fleeting things. Day by day, I'd realize that everyone needed something and that I was incapable of giving it. I decided that seeing people like Christ was the worst gift I've ever been given from God. I renounced my abilities after a few nights of wishing I was dead. I openly accepted again the blinders that had previously covered my eyes. I wanted nothing to do with compassion because I wanted nothing to do with suffering.
Last night as we worshiped as study abroad students for the last service together of the semester, I realized that everything I've learned here point to one thing: discipleship means inevitable suffering. And with someone who has chemical imbalances like me, someone who when he wakes up has to try to convince himself that there is still hope somewhere on earth, hidden from principalities and powers and empire and government and self-righteousness and religious systems and nationalism, this is no easy task. Sometimes I see God everywhere, in everyone and everything, but most of the time He's just hiding Himself and He's nowhere to be seen. But for whatever reason, whether spiritual or intellectual or wishful thinking, I think He's still out there amidst all of this suffering. So last night I decided I'd ask God again to give me those eyes of Christ, and this time whenever I am experience this intense global suffering where all creation groans, I'm going to address the issue through living in solidarity with these broken people. When depression is the heaviest weight, I will try to bare my cross. Maybe I'll give up again, but hopefully I won't.
When I read about how Museveni, Uganda's president/dictator, is considered a "beacon of light in Africa" according to how he is portrayed in the west, I want to vomit. He's broken like us - skewing statistics about unemployment, peace, and education for the sake of satisfying the international community. These stats are what keep the US and Britain, the two major donors to his government, grounds to aid "Uganda." Everyone knows that Ugandans are not receiving these funds. Through corruption, the money given to the government is hoarded by government leaders to supply full dinner plates. Museveni's (I use his name not only to represent him but also his coleaders) greed can be found in his stomach. The money kept for the government is to build the Ugandan military to defend from the LRA (who hasn't attacked once in over a year). But you can't fight the LRA with force - you are then fighting children who have been abducted and enslaved to kill so that they may live. You want to fight with negotiation, not with physical power. But now my attitude in not cynicism. If I can, I will embrace solidarity with the Ugandan people by suffering this atrocity alongside of them. And they will teach me that Christ is NOT working through any kingdom of this world. He has no country with borders. His kingdom transcends all nations and political systems. The one who has been slaughtered through humility has conquered through his suffering.
Why the hell are we at war? Why the hell are we further corrupting developing nations when we have the means to being good health? The only way I can describe how the United States government prioritizes and operates is that it is fucked up. Any other words are not sufficient to describe the brokenness within this worldly system. If our country is at all associated with the right God, we will realize this. The True Kingdom is in this world, but operates completely opposite and in a revolutionary way from what we know. The Kingdom has come but is not fully here, and we are responsible to keep it coming. I am responsible, and so are you. I am willing to suffer at the expense of my life, unlike before. I am pledging allegiance under the correct God, not an artificial establishment.
Last night at the end of our worship service we sang about a God with a Mighty Hand and Outstretched Arm. We sang about how forever this God is strong. But what we also sang about how forever God is with us. Is anyone else hearing this irony when they sing? The God that has a mighty hand and can create an entire universe or wipe out entire nations at the blink of an eye chose to reveal his true self by becoming God-with-us. Emmanuel is a God who took on suffering, refusing to come down from the cross. He became a man tempted in all the same ways as me. That means that over a year ago he saw in the same way, perhaps in a deeper manner, the same brokenness I saw. He rides on the donkey and overcomes his enemies through suffering and love. I hope this post does not find you, as the reader, with closed ears and heart. I hope it speaks a love to you that is worth dying for, and I hope that you feel empowered not to admire or worship Jesus but to follow him. I hope you do not separate your right belief from your right action, your telos from your praxix. But I do hope you separate your nation, your earthly system of how things are to operate, from the Kingdom to which you should truly adhere.
at 7:45 AM
Monday, November 16
Only a few weekends left!
This past weekend was good. Friday we went to a Shrine depicting the early Christian Martyr's. Ugandans tells us these martyrs are the seed of the Church. Catholics and Anglicans alike died together.
Friday night I went to a dinner at the home of the couple who runs Mennonite Central Committee of Uganda. MCC is the most legit Christian organization on the face of the planet. Seriously, they are so creative in the ways they provide relief, development, and peacemaking/keeping. They have so many diverse projects and empower organizations and churches already in existence rather than starting their own denominational establishments for the sake of competition. I would consider working with them later, maybe in advancing peace or in interfaith relations.
Saturday I met with Megan Clapp in Kampala. It was an awesome day. We just chilled. She took me through the market and to a local restaurant she likes. We talked about our experiences. She says she'd consider working in East Africa. I guess I would also, but I feel more called to the states at this point. After chilling, Meg and I met Suzan who was on her way back from IDP Camps or something in Kitgum. Then we walked to take a taxi home. Suzan and I reached our home after long traffic jams and cramped legs.
Sunday I was a Pagan and skipped church (like my family decides to do every week haha). Instead, I did my wash and read and relaxed. Then I took Suzan for lunch (after emailing a job application). We went to a place that was not too satisfying on the ends of quality food and service. They didn't have change for 20000, so Suzan had to walk to find change. No local businesses had change so after 30 minutes she came back to pay our balance. Then we went home to play cards. Papa had employed a truck to come pick up the bricks Sam and Joshua fired way back when. The truck delivered them to our family's other property where they are building a hostel for local students. I hope the hostel is soon finished so the family has income. It's looking like they can struggle by with two of their kids' education. Kevina and Joshua will have to be funded from elsewhere if they hope to get an education through college. School fees. What every African family desires. It's simple to live on less than a dollar a day, but now that the western world has introduced another necessity, Africans across the continent (and those of other continents also) are now begging for this "need" which they have no capital to afford.
This weekend we are going to Rakai in the south to learn about the AIDS epidemic and organizations working with that and stuff.
Next Thursday is Thanksgiving and I'm making Cinnamon French Toast for our dinner together.
I can feel the schoolwork both picking up and winding down.
at 7:40 AM
Friday, November 13
So yesterday in the Dining Hall a student was standing up between the two sides holding a Bible just preaching to anyone who was listening. Nobody was watching him. He was telling students to repent of their sins and turn to Jesus Christ. Another attribute of the ever-growing Pentecostalism movement in Uganda.
Anyway, I wanted to comment about Silver, my friend who is in his first semester as a Law student. He's one determined kid with great time management. He sleeps early and wakes around 5 AM to read his Bible, the English dictionary, and law reading additional to his studies. He's very hardworking and determined to succeed in law so he can help slow financial corruption in the courts. He is very friendly and social with his fellow students, roommates, professors, etc. His time management is incredible. Yesterday he wanted to spend time reading my poetry and listening to my DIY recordings on my Macbook. When a girl came asking for money for a fundraiser walk, he gave money explaining that the Lord provides. he wants to become a lawyer and provide free services to those victims of rape, injustice, etc that cannot afford good services. He's trying to get a visa or green card or whatnot to the states. Normally I tell Ugandan students that they probably don't want to go there as much as they think, but if anyone would utilize our good education system it would be Silver. So that's my friend Silver.
Suzan is in Kitgum learning from an organization that works with victims of Kony Rebels (Lord's Resistance Army victims). However, she text me yesterday saying that due to poor budgeting they might be coming back today. That's kind of ridiculous on a University level (especially for a reputable university like UCU) that budgeting would be that poor.
Today I'll be going to a local shrine after my one class. In the evening I'm going to a missionary's house for dinner. The missionary works with Mennonite Central Committee, and I want to learn about peacemaking missions in Uganda (if there have ever been any) and what they have to say about the role of nonviolence in missions.
at 7:54 AM
Thursday, November 12
I'm part of a demographic that seems to always know what the next stage in life is going to be. Granted, I can't predict everything, but the past several years have been full of not-so-ambiguous events of a few months (college semesters, traveling, music, camp counseling, etc etc). Well, now I still know what to expect (guess I haven't fully embraced this African "presence" yet). So for January I am not doing J-term, I am traveling with my band down the east coast for a few weeks of performances. In February I start spring semester at Messiah Grantham campus with these classes:
United States History Survey to 1865
Historical Study of Peace
Ethnic and Racial Politics in America
Christianity in Africa
I'm not too pumped about US History or Stats as gen ed classes, but I figured since there was nothing else I needed to take I'd knock them out by taking the full 18 credits. Might have to pick up another minor later on down the road if I stick with this whole collegiate education thing, but what I would really like to do is make my minor of Peace and Conflict Studies my major. At this point, it is not being offered as a major though, so I'm just rolling with it.
As far as life here is concerned, I'm doing well. Last night we had a huge dinner: posho, meat, spaghetti, g-nut sauce, fried matoke, beans, pineapple, soup. I ate so much. Suzan left early this morning for Kitgum (she'll be there until Sunday). Apparently because of instability USP does not allow us to travel to northern Uganda. I want to go there someday, however. Besides, there has been no Lord's Resistance Army induced violence for over a year anywhere within the border.
Also, when we talked about Environmental Issues in class yesterday, I came up with a holistic approach to address the issues of pollution, AIDS, and poverty: hire those working as prostitutes to support their families to pick up trash and litter. I think it'd be a good plan to offer to the people of Uganda.
I also started working with USP director Mark on the presentation topic of homemaking vs. homelessness. Basically, the argument is whether Christian college students are taught to be upwardly mobile, traveling anywhere and vandalizing the earth and foreign communities or if they are being taught a sense of place and rootedness in a geographic location.
just some ramblings and updates for today....tomorrow I'm going on an ATR field trip to a shrine and then meeting with a Mennonite Central Committee missionary for dinner (which will be cool on account of my theological convictions and steadily increasing interest in peacemaking). Saturday I'm going to meet Megan Clapp in Kampala.
at 8:03 AM
Wednesday, November 11
So apparently I broke a USP rule by not bringing my "ambiguous relationship" to the staff here, though I appreciate the intentions behind that rule I guess. This week we're presenting in ATR on Christianity in Uganda, particularly how it was spread. Interestingly enough, primary evangelism was done for monetary or political gain, or for the sake of reaching out to a heathen world. Now Timy in Taiwan is telling me about how his friends there are deeming Catholics unchristian and Muslims as following a straight up satanic religion. This goofy mission field of the globe may never be set free from narrow-mindedness. Hopefully Timy will call them out (in love) haha. Anyway I gotta go to the printing stands to print some papers for class now.
at 8:06 AM
Monday, November 9
Friday one of our classes went to a Mosque in Kampala. That's cool and all besides the fact that we didn't actually go inside and we just listened to a speaker. Eh I guess it was cool, though I was expecting more.
Saturday was the Cultural Gala at UCU where students from all different tribes did their traditional dances and wore traditional outfits and stuff. Suzan and I also watched to Sigur Ros documentary which never fails to be amazing.
Sunday I met Suzan for prayers but we left early to reach the place where her father stays in Kampala when he is working. So basically he lives on his boss's property while he is driving. Otherwise he doesn't get paid much which means that Suzan has been lucky to go to school because every Ugandan family can basically live without money until it comes to school fees. So if kids want educated, it's all basically based on luck whether they get it or not. Suzan's younger siblings (who are born to another mother) probably won't get to go as far in their education. Anyway Suzan's dad likes me and all but because of African culture my age might be a problem for his approval. I guess it will take awhile for him to see that I am serious and not just a kid. In other news, Papa is back home from Gulu for two weeks.
at 7:49 AM
Tuesday, November 3
Brian tells me that Mt. Elgon, the widest mountain on the face of the globe, is where man comes from. The oldest human fossils were discovered there. It looks similar to the Rocky Mountains - an abrupt transition from flat plains to towering hills. The volcanic soil is so rich and fertile. Rural dwellers cultivate crops (mainly coffee, maize, and matoke) all over the slopes of Mt. Elgon. There is no peak of the mountain; it just gradually slopes upward as you move toward the Kenya border.
Day 1 - Friday
Our coaster was an hour and a half late coming from Kampala, so we arrived in Kapchurwa at night (thus I was later given by my family the name "Chelangat" which means "at night"). I was brought up the hills through the darkness and seemingly endless matoke forests where we reached the home of my father Patrick. His brother John also escorted me. I was welcomed into the kitchen where their nieces Karen (early teens) and Rachel (in Senior 3) were cooking for my arrival. They then brought the food into the house where I ate only with John and talked to him about the political history of Uganda. He also explained that the loud (but distant) major key, upbeat music was coming from the home of a girl who just died in a boda boda accident. "Someone dies from a motorcycle accident nearly every week," he told me. "Tomorrow we will go to the burial - in our culture we attend the funeral services of our neighbors."
The first night of sleep was strange, as my room was pitch black at night. There is no light pollution even remotely close, and even those who have electricity in the tiny town of Kapchurwa are few. I wouldn't have a watch or phone or clock for the week, so I just got out of bed when I felt like it. Patrick immediately took me up the hill to a cave (created by volcanic activity) which is on his property. He said he was going to make it a resort someday haha. He then walked me around the hills. Every home seemed to house a relative, whether it be a cousin-brother, one of many mothers, etc. We visited some injured people. One lady had a cast on her leg, and another man had an arm in a sling. I think both were due to boda boda accidents. Back at the house, Rachel told me to photograph the slaughtering of a chicken. I was given the gizzard to eat since I was the guest. Then I went to the burial of the young girl. Patrick told me to bring the camera, so I did. There were so many speeches. I think some kids have never seen a mzungu before. There were times throughout the whole week that I was stared at literally for 45 minutes. Anyway, one guy spoke at the burial condemning boda drivers and another went off about the Catholic Church, which seemed completely unrelated. It started to rain hard, and the hundreds of people at this home tried to gather under the small tents. When rain hit again as we were walking back, we simply went under the roof of a stranger's home. It's common policy with the rain there. I was given a seat, the only one in the house, even though there were two ladies holding babies. I wanted to offer them the seat.
Dad can look at the sun and tell me it's almost 5:25. It's amazing. That must be why he said I had slept in late, despite the fact that it was only 7 AM. He says he sees no point in sleeping much. He'll sleep 4 hours an ight and be completely rested each day. Ugandans are nuts like that. I was fed tea, 2 chapati, a banana, g-nuts, and an egg for breakfast. I then came outside to sit in the shade to wait for church. Karen did not wait long before she came up to me saying, "I want to serve you breakfast." I laughed because I thought I already had breakfast but she gave me a bowl of cabbage, a bowl of beans, juice, 3 sweet potatoes, and 3 bananas. I was so stuffed from before that I could barely make a dent in it. Church wasn't far away/ The service was 4 hours long, but my stomach bothered me the whole time. It would bother me for the rest of the week because I would always be given milk that came straight from a cow's utter. My body is only used to processed and fake foods. This real stuff destroys me. I can't wait to have more preservatives when I get to the states. By this point in the week, I had already learned more Kupsabiny (their language) than any other language I've heard here.
I picked coffee in the morning with Patrick and some visitors from the border of Kenya. Then Patrick and I set off for a long walk. We first went to a trade school where he works as an accountant (as if farming was not enough). I was welcomed, as always, with tea. Then I was brought to the staff room where people asked me questions. I ended up talking to one guy about my studies in peace and conflict. He asked me a lot about Mormonism, Satanism, the Qur'an, Christianity in the west, and Wicca. I was not able to answer some questions. I was cut off from our conversation to go meet Patrick's boss. He was very smart, having been all over the world. He delivered to me a convincing case that AIDS is artificial and was utilized by the American government to control the population of Africa. He was actually praising the guy who he said cultivated AIDS. He thought him to be brilliant. Patrick and I walked around that place and then set off for town. We arrived at the hospital where we visited some patients. Then Patrick took me out to eat to a place where he is able to watch Nigerian films. Search them on youtube to learn that they are the cheesiest and worst films ever created by humans. Patrick, as always, wanted me to take pictures everywhere. We then went to a shop of an Indian man, who told me he moved from India in search of work. He has been in Kapchurwa since 1995 I believe. An IT student named Justine was typing a fine write-up for a police officer, and because few here can type fast, I took over the job for her. Then I taught Patrick how to play Free Cell. On the way back, we stopped at a center to get a stalk of sugarcane (6 feet tall for 600 shillings/30 cents). A bunch of drunks were wanting to talk to me. Some kids were following me and cheering so I told Patrick to ask them if they would do the same if they saw Jesus. They replied, "Yes, we would cheer for him." However, I then asked, "what if Jesus wasn't a mzungu?" - and Patrick said, "but Jesus IS a mzungu." That was kind of disappointing to hear from such a smart man. I think we walked over 25 kilometers today.
This morning I woke up before the sun woke up and I really wanted to call Suzan while the minutes were cheap but I couldn't even find strength to reach for the phone. I fell back asleep and then woke up to find Patrick had left to visit a patient, who now had a 10% chance of living. Last time I saw her she looked ready to die. I vomited outside that morning. I was not feeling well. I later called Suzan which was a breath of fresh air. Seth and Vincent showed up in the early afternoon to give me Pepto pills. I took them to the cave. When Seth and I reached the top, we turned around to see Vincent breathing heavy and sitting down, looking at the amazing view. "If you were in a relationship with a girl who was delaying the relationship," he said, "you would take her here to convince her of the relationship." "Would you take Betty here?" asked Seth, referring to Vincent's wife. "No," replied Vincent, "I've already convinced her to the maximum!" Later, Patrick took me and my 3 year old brother Jeremy to the summit of the area.
The best stars I've ever seen are here when it is not cloudy. Seriously, I don't think there is a place in the states, except maybe somewhere in Alaska, that has a better view. Everyone was gone in the morning so I decided to pick coffee. After a few hours, I didn't even fill a basin. If workers fill a basin, they are rewarded with 1000 shillings or $.50 - in America we call that employee abuse. Patrick came back and asked me how I was feeling. I told him, "better, but not 100%" - so then Seth and Adelaine show up. I had no idea why. Apparently Patrick called thinking I was in a horrible condition and that they should come fix my body. He said he knows that Americans will often lie to be polite, as in, "Oh, I'm fine" when they really aren't. Later Patrick came home again from the hospital and I asked how the patient Annette was doing. "It's amazing!" he exclaimed. "I don't think the recovery is normal but she's already sitting up, talking, and I even saw her take a soda." To think that I only threw out aimless minute prayers for her about her condition, expecting her to die, made me feel really small. I could've physically seen her approaching the grave beforehand.
We spent hours harvesting coffee on another plot of land Patrick owned about 3 kilometers away. It took several hours to finish that area. That night I explained to dad over our last dinner together how he had fulfilled 4 of the 5 criteria in the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats for entering heaven instead of hell in just one week's time. He laughed, telling me he never heard of the parable. The conversation ended when he simply said, "If someone is suffering, you can't just watch." This is coming from a guy who has the same plea as the Christians of my generation: "Away with systematic church." Patrick doesn't understand why 4 congregations members each Sunday stand up to ramble about nothing or deliver a lengthy sermon. Patrick says that in my place you get consumed with yourself and forget about your brother. In Kapchurwa, the family lives together until the death, multiple generations under the same roofs. I think there are some things about Kapchurwan culture that are just inherently Christian. Is that possible?
My departure the next morning was hard. They asked me to stay for at least another month. They would've given me land to stay there forever if I wanted it. The place is basically paradise, so I won't say that I didn't consider it. I was also excited to get back to my family in Mukono though. I was given the gift of a photo album upon leaving so that I could share my experience from Kapchurwa with others. I hope to send them mail or photos sometime. Anyway, Sipi Falls was where we all got back together for debrief. We met with the USE students who stayed in Soroti. We went on a hike, which lead me to a headache, then to chills, then to coughing, etc etc etc. Now I am back in Mukono, still trying to recover from this miserable sickness which was at first thought to be malaria, but it's probably dehydration. It's good to be with family and friends again. Now I'm just trying to get my work done and still be healthy. My cough has gotten worse but I think my fever is somewhat going away. The headaches are also lessening.
at 2:09 PM
Thursday, October 22
....I wake up after two very vivid dreams and hear Kevin singing Barbie Girl in Luganda.
at 7:44 AM
Wednesday, October 21
Last night I went with four IMME girls to Mary Jane and Brian Dennison's home. Hands down the best meal I've had here so far. Lasagna, warm bread, apple pie (for all my gluten needs), chicken/pepper kebabs, real ice cream, crystal light lemonade. I haven't had any of these things for quite some time. The conversation was good too.
Mark Bartels, our program's director, invited me to help with a presentation he's working on concerning North American study abroad students and they can work toward a global identity versus a mere sense of adventure. It'll be an extra commitment but it's a very interesting topic.
Friday we leave for Kaptchurwa (sp?) for rural homestays in the mountain regions of the east which border Kenya. Apparently it's incredibly beautiful. I will be out of contact for ten days starting Friday.
at 7:49 AM
Monday, October 19
Friday, October 16
I forgot to mention that two nights ago thunder struck and literally shook my bed. It was sweet. Whenever I wake up at 5 or 6 I can't get back to sleep cuz I'm too busy listening to beautiful rain on our roof.
Last night I made the best two omelets that I have made thus far.
I have no idea what's going to happen this weekend. It might be slow. it might be hectic. Who knows?
at 8:19 AM
Thursday, October 15
Micro-financing in recent years has proven to be one of the most effective methods ever in pulling people out of poverty, especially those who lack capital to set up their income earning operations. Brian told me to check out www.kiva.org and I randomly came across a group from Mukono. They were on the first list I saw. I encourage you to check this out. For as little as $25, which can be reused over and over again, you can support those just about anywhere on earth who are working in their communities to move out of poverty. Average money that eventually comes back to you is over 98%.
at 3:55 PM
I'm not even going to comment on last night's dinner. I'll keep this one to myself. It was too good to be true.
at 8:04 AM
Tuesday, October 13
Yesterday was Canada's thanksgiving, so we celebrated it on monkey hill with Silver and Suzan also. Suzan gathered firewood and we made smores, which neither she nor Silver had eaten before. It was great cuz we just chilled. Then afterward, we went all the way back to campus, then Suzan carried a jerri can of water from there to my house, at which point I sent Kevina to get all of us sodas from the supermarket. Then we talked for a long time. Suzan went out back to help Toto cook. I read the Qur'an and then sat on the porch to play my Adungu and sing When I Survey the Wonderous Cross. Some students stopped in the dark to listen from the path, and I was glad I could entice them. Suzan was told to stop helping cook (because Toto is so free and hospitable haha) and came to sit with me. She said she was going to go back to her hostel but Toto said "You can't prepare fish without eating it" - so yeah, then Suzan stayed for dinner. Then me and my siblings gave her a "push" past campus and we got back around 11. So yeah, it was an awesome day, and I am hoping today will be equally as good seeing as I might have an exam in Old Testament this morning. It's kind of random though because no professors know anything about it but all of the UCU students have some kind of sixth sense or something about when tests are going to occur. Some days I feel out of the loop, but it's all good. Today I also have to take one of my adungus back to the maker and see if he can fix one of the string's vibrations. So that's my random incohesive summary of the past day and today and stuff.
at 7:31 AM
Sunday, October 11
This weekend we ventured to Luweero, a town north of Kampala. We stayed at yet another diocese (I love how churches here have sites for visitors to stay).
Saturday we played with children at a Compassion International site. Suzan used to work with Compassion and told me how NGOs can be pretty corrupt about hoarding money and stuff, including this one, so I came in being fairly skeptical. I think all of the sponsors were local though and the workers seemed very legitimate, so the skepticism went away. The kids were eager to be with us and we led them in songs and games and planted a tree with them. I didn't want to get any pictures with the kids because every college kid that goes to Africa has thousands of pictures of them with kids and I never really get it. Yeah, the expected age of death is much lower in this continent, but that doesn't mean kids are the only reason westerners go to Africa. So my desire not to conform has spoken.
After the rain passed, we went back to the Diocese where a Catholic Priest spoke to us. He was awesome and brutally honest. He talked about his struggles with God's goodness and injustice and we asked him tons of questions.
After that, we were invited to the local Anglican bishop's home. I feel like he and I shared so much of the same theology (faith without works is dead, jesus can overcome religion, we must work together in love, etc). Then again, he did live in Pennsylvania for some time. He was very vocal about inter-religious matters and the idea of possessions, two things I will never grow bored of thinking about. He said any of us were welcome into his giant home at any time (but really, it's the church's property).
We woke up for a 6 AM breakfast today and then went to a three hour Catholic church service. It was all in Luganda, and the preacher spoke on the rich ruler. I thought it was awesome that he spoke on that topic in front of dozens of mzungus. Many churches here do this cool thing where they auction off fruit and vegetables. I liked that part.
I forgot to mention that Friday night I had horrible stomach problems that came out of nowhere. I was out in the toilet for half an hour, then I got in bed for five minutes and said to Sam, "Okay time for round two." So he took me out and waited another 45 minutes outside while I used the toilet. He said in exchange for taking me to the toilet I would have to help him look for Samantha, who is his future wife that he has yet to find.
We were in Kampala for a few hours for lunch today and now we are back on campus.
at 2:43 PM
Friday, October 9
Last night Suzan and I went to the poetry club thing. It was awesome because many people presented poetry, stories, etc. We were enticed. Here is the poem that I presented under the introduction that I think Ezekiel (chapters 16-18) would have this to say if he were alive in my home country:
Therefore, O whore, hear the word of the LORD:
Because your lust was poured
And your nakedness uncovered in your whoring with your lovers
(Like daughter, like mother)
My fury shall be discovered
Whether Hittite or Amorite or Americanite
You have prosperous ease, submission to greed.
So if God's hand withstands from bringing wrath on this land
Then I'll try to comprehend and understand what happened to Sodom.
Oh, I know your ears are closed, I know that you know that I know a prophet is never embraced in his native sands
So land of the "free" - awaken to see God's merciful hand
Come and witness the Great
But don't overdose on His grace
God's word came to me:
Speak an allegory -
This vine which bears fruit will be pulled from its roots
Unlike the seed from the shoot made fertile by abundant waters
And the Father simply speaks:
To the peaks I take my seed.
I will treat it so you may see
That I make dry the green
And flourish the deadest of weeds
God says 'All lives are mine:
The person who sins shall die,
But he or she who is lawful and right -
Not lifting idolatrous eyes,
Nor defiling a neighbor's wife,
But giving bread to the hungry
And sight to the blind -
Shall find eternal life.
I gave them my name, but my name they have profaned.'
The lame may be crippled, but I'm the one who is maimed.
I AM THE LEPER
And I have shed blood on the beautiful
Casting blame upon victim!
God, save us from the clenching fists of our abyss!
To the narrow way; rebuke the broad-road lie.
Repent, for Yahweh pleasures none to die.
The MC commented that my poem reminded me of Ecclesiastes and earthly things heaped up being done in vain.
It also rained a lot yesterday. It rained hard. The sky was pure gray, something I had yet to experience this semester.
Today we are watching a movie for Independence Day. We have postponed the smores party until this coming week. In the evening Jenn and Suzan and I are going to the craft show where artists from countries all over bring their goods to Kampala. I hope to find some good instruments. Tomorrow we leave in the morning for a weekend in Luweero. It is our main opportunity to interact with the Catholic Church in Uganda and be involved with their community dealings.
I am grateful to experience an Independence Day that I believe so strongly in! So happy independence day (many east african countries were also british colonies like my own country)!
at 8:29 AM
Thursday, October 8
So yesterday I had four classes. In one I presented the history of Christian-Muslim relations in East Africa. After my classes, I got phoned by my Old Testament group and met up with the Ugandan students to continue to draft our answer to one homework assignment question. Ugandans find it necessary to define every word in the question even before brainstorming the answer, at which point all opinions are considered and heavily argued over. So what is 5 minutes of work for an American is an hour and a half for Ugandans. Not to mention, I ended up typing for a Ugandan girl that I didn't know. She couldn't type well, like many of them, and asked me to type her paper. Did I mention she is taking the IT course? I'm not making sport of her though, she's a very nice gal.
Sam came home in the evening with Malaria. He asked me while I was brushing my teeth what it meant to kiss a girl's hand. I asked him why. He said he saw it on a movie and because he was feeling like crap today, he tried it out as he met a new cute girl. He said he needed something to laugh about after feeling like crap all day. I told him next time he even had a remote interest in a girl he should just try to kiss her even before talking, that way he will know if she likes him back. Oh yeah....Kevina seems to have recovered from malaria after one day. Well actually, once you have it you always have it, but it only shows up at certain times and stuff.
Tonight Suzan and I are going to the poetry night. I might share something. I remember the spoken word nights at Messiah at the Southside Cafe and how many Africans recited their works about identity. So I'm hoping for something equally as good, but it's a lot to ask for.
EDIT: I forgot to mention that yesterday in our African Religions class, a guest speaker came three and a half hours from the Bagisu tribe to describe the Gisu process of circumcision. The teenagers are to stand completely still, unblinking, as their foreskins are sliced away. He was fully equipped with visual aids.
at 7:52 AM
Tuesday, October 6
The past 24 hours has provided me with some of the best conversations I've had with Ugandans yet. Yesterday I was reading/napping at Zion Hill in the shade and a random guy (still don't know his name) sat and talked with me about God, friendship, economics, etc for over 2 hours. We did a lot of laughing and I felt less tired when we got done.
Then Silver walked me home, at which point Toto welcomed him for tea. He stayed for over an hour asking about my homeland and telling me about his. We also had ground nuts which makes the experience all the better. Silver is a good friend that will walk miles with you just for the conversation. Then he'll turn around and walk back alone in great spirits. He's one of the youngest guys on campus - a first year law student admitted early to University.
Suzan and I went to community worship and then lunch together and had long discussions about cultural marriage policies and community development and the like. We stayed long past the time everyone left from lunch. She imitated how she would act if she had to tell her father she was pregnant. I have just been loving the presence of Ugandans these past few days. It's refreshing.
I'm coordinating a smores party on Monkey Hill Friday (independence day), followed by a journey to the craft show where artisans come from surrounding nations to sell their products. Trying to get some more sweet instruments! Which reminds me: I gotta take my Adungu (African Bush Harp) back to be fixed.
at 3:26 PM
Monday, October 5
So this was our weekend to act like we're not really pilgrims and that we are tourists. You know, those selfish weekends that all expats must indulge in themselves.
Well, Friday was graduation and there was tons of traffic jamming in Mukono. Regardless, a field trip got canceled, so some of us went to Kampala by taxi. I had the most delicious ice cream I've had maybe in a year. We also went to the market. It was busy in town. We were there for a few hours only.
Friday was Sam's birthday so when we came back home, I bought sodas and biscuits/nutella for the family. That was fun. It was our last day to see Papa for several weeks. He's now back in Gulu teaching.
Saturday morning we had to get to the Colline Hotel by 7:20. So Drew's mom drove me, Dean, Jill, and Drew into Mukono town. A coaster picked us up and we rode to Jinja. The rafting resort was kind of a culture shock for some of us. It was the only place that we saw all caucasians in awhile. They were smoking and drinking and whatnot. So anyway, we boarded our rafts (Drew and I pulling the weight from the front) and prepared for takeoff. The Nile River rafting is intense - many class 5 rapids, a waterfall, etc. We flipped on the first rapid (deliberate move by our guide), and the water was so warm. It felt good to be in it. The trip was over 30 km and very intense. We dominated the waterfall, but some rapids dominated us. By the end of the trip, though, we got pretty good.
On the bus ride back I met a guy from England that was on vacation with some others. He was manager of a supermarket, gone for a few weeks. He was very nice, but I was totally playing pilgrim vs. tourist in my head the whole time and feeling superior. He told me it was interesting to see all of the open-window butcheries. Then he went on a rant about how in the western nations we are so concerned with health safety that when our bodies encounter even the slightest wrong thing we will get deathly sick. His insights were very good.
The next day was bungee jumping. It was the hugest adrenaline rush. The drop was about 15 stories, and I got my head to my knees dipped in the Nile. Locals gathered at every hillside to watch from the cliffs and shores. I wished they could have the same fun as us.
After that, I didn't want to buy food from the rafting resort because it was expensive, unhealthy, not many options, etc. I walked several miles in hope to find food. I came across many of the roadside stands which provided the basic vegetables and fruits. I bought airtime from one stall, mostly out of will to support the people, and kept walking. Eventually a boda boda driver stopped me and asked me to come in and praise the Lord who made and created me at the church. It was loud in their, and I knew that if I came in I'd probably be expected to deliver a sermon or at least give a testimony, so I told him to send his greetings from me to the church. He pointed me to the direction of the marketplace, about another 2 kilometers away. I passed open fields and children yelling "Mzungu" (I never know whether to wave, because I don't want to be God to them like they think I am with my white skin, but I also don't want to be impolite - I've created a method of the smile-and-show-the-palm-of-my-hand-but-quickly-turn-around combo move).
The market was sweet. Everyone was in good spirits. I bought two samosas at 100 shillings a piece (10 cents total). They had rice and beans in them and the lady at her stall wrapped them in an old newspaper so I could carry them as I walked. I went to a gas station mart and then got a candy bar and cookies so I could finish the nutella when I got back. A biker picked me up because I was tired of walking in the hot sun. He drove me a few kilometers closer to the rafting place. On the ride, as he was pedaling, he asked if I was an explorer and I took great pride in having that question asked to me. It made me feel like a tough guy. He showed me a small fruit and asked if they had it where I was from. I asked what it was and he said it was an orange, which to me was weird because it was green-yellow and the size of a kiwi. He put it back in his pocket. I asked about his family. He is 28 and married with two kids. I asked how old his kids were and he replied, "They are doing fine." I gave him a small coin payment for the lift and continued my walk back to the resort. I met many people who asked for money from me, so you know that tourists are used to giving their money away to get kids off of their backs or something of the sort. One 16 year old even came by boda boda to the resort a few hours later to try to convince me to give him money. I said when he traveled to Mukono on his trip back home I would get him a meal on his way through.
That evening we returned home with a cake for Joshua's birthday. He is 16 now. The cake was so delicious, handmade, one of the best I've ever had (beside ice cream cakes). Kevin has malaria. I have been sleeping through the nights on a consistent basis now. My body has adapted to drinking large glasses of water right before bed.
Another week of school. Friday is Independence Day.
at 8:57 AM
Friday, October 2
Okay, so we just finished reading an entirely controversial anthropological/theological/first-person account of the African worldview and its compatibility with the Gospel.
I could talk for hours about the book, but that would be boring and stupid. I will mention something that has challenged me theologically and something that challenged me practically.
The author John Taylor mentions how God became a human and a Jew. Dare we, he asks, follow Christ into cultures as He becomes a Hindu, Animist, Muslim, etc? I say we should dare to do so. Like St. Paul, we must become those people in order to win them. We must lovingly and intimately experience their presence and know them. Otherwise, we are simply defending Christianity in the way that Pharisees have defended Judaism.
The practical dimension is that Taylor suggests discipline rooted in science is based on possession of the world. Why then, do I value my intellect? What is my motive for gaining knowledge? Is it loving other people or provision of luxury for myself? Is my progress in the eyes of God based on what I know and learn or how I love others in word and deed?
at 9:43 AM
Thursday, October 1
The other day in our missions practicum class, we discussed missionaries and money and eventually got on the topic of the question, "Should missionaries live exactly like locals?" Popular opinion stated that it was okay to live in better conditions from the native people. You have white skin, so they expect you to have more wealth. (To this I ask, does that expectation permit your wealth?) Many of my fellow USPers even suggested that it was okay to lock one's personal possessions in case of thieves (which are common - some of our Bibles have already been stolen in church).
I was talking to Drew about why that class discussion was so difficult and stressful for me to have. He agreed with me, suggesting, "Sometimes it seems like people are saying, 'I know the Bible says this, but considering the circumstances we can act otherwise'."
I renounce wealth. I renounce possessions. Are we going to get back to the early church, where the believers shared all things in common? From now on, every time I use the word "my," I am going to do ten, no, twenty push-ups. The scenario of true discipleship is what? Nakedness. We are to walk in the greatest and lowliest humility. We are to follow Christ with our lives, and that means death. There is nothing we are to do apart from Him, for we do all things for His sake. He will look back at me in my ascetic poverty and ask, "Phil, what do you lack." I cannot say that I will tell Him, "I lack nothing," but I know I can tell Him I lack the strength to follow Him. But I will know that my renunciation enhances my ability to cling to His strength.
So what? We are no longer living in harsh desert cultures where sackcloth is our costliest treasure. As this may be true, the cost of discipleship stands firm. We can live in bigger homes, we can eat more creative foods; but we cannot HAVE bigger homes or HAVE more fancy products in which we indulge. If our partaking in something is lacking the fellowship of the Church (or of a part of the human race), we shall journey long and hard until we discover that fellowship.
So why? How is this even applicable to me? I have amassed thousands of dollars in college debts (thankfully less than others). This frustrates me. God uses the foolish to shame the wise, and yet I pursue a formal education in a society where science has blinded the minds of millions (I am not saying science is inherently bad). I feel as if I went into college being led by the notion that I would get a degree which would earn me a job which would in turn pay my debts. How many have fallen into this trap (and along the way developed the "I'll pay for it later" attitude of purchasing (multiple) vehicles and buying large suburban homes)? What things of these are necessary? I am all too often told by adults that I love that it is possible to follow Christ while owning a home, a vehicle, even having a career....you know....American Dream stuff. My response is that yes, it is possible, but why bother? Statistically and just as I look around: the American Dream has only made us lonely and unhappy. ($50000/yr is not the poverty line. Walking 4 miles twice a day for water is the poverty line.) With less attachments, I seek greater joy in Christ. Label me what you want for that. I don't know about you, but in this life I am looking for the real thing. And the only way I can do that is by losing my life for His sake.
I am not unthankful for education. I wish to continue with it in a formal manner, as it has in many ways benefited myself and ultimately, others as well. But from the looks of it, staying at Messiah will not be possible. If I can "drop out," go to class and not receive the "credits," and not receive the "diploma," I will be quite happy. But I'm sick of relying on my reason to establish how much I am valued. I hate letting down my parents, relatives, friends (I have to a great extent appreciated all of their direction) - but in the end I know that they will be grateful for my decisions, however seemingly incorrect and revolutionary and from an outside perspective - unnecessary. Some say, "Phil you have the potential for great things - so go get your degree." It is true that all human beings have a great capacity for both good and evil. I want to use my capacity for good. Good is not spending the rest of my life in debt. Good is not hoarding wealth from the homeless man or single mother on my block. Good is not neglect of the rural poor of Southeast Asia by blowing off world issues that are "beyond my control." Soren Kierkegaard tells us that we know how to read the Bible, but we pretend we can't understand it so we don't have to follow it.
For you, it might be good and fine to possess some material things, but stop telling me that's what I must do (for these things will pass away with moth and rust). I understand you want the best for me, and the best for me is the ability to cling to Christ. The way of gaining this ability is by renunciation of my self. Renunciation of my will. Renunciation of my things. Renunciation of "my." Let me live simple so that others may live. If you truly care for my wellbeing, you will supply for my immediate need (bodily, emotionally, spiritually, etc), but more importantly, you will keep me in check, you will keep me accountable for making my things not my things. You will make sure I am loving my neighbor as myself, always knowing that there is someone somewhere who needs what I currently have more than I need what I have in that moment. I am no longer looking for the easy love from my neighbor that says "all is well with you, keep going as you are." I am looking for the hard love from a neighbor who boldly directs me to drop my worldly ties, education, money, and selfish ambitions in pursuit of the only real God, the one who walked in search of a place to lay His head, preaching good news to the poor, and causing political and societal and religious uproar everywhere he stepped (bare)foot. I am looking for that brother and that sister that will read these words I write and not just appreciate, but believe that this is truly me speaking, that it is truly possible and inevitable for me to become this seemingly-deprived disciple of which I speak. These words are not a mere challenge to the reader, but also a call to you!
The Jesus Africa has been asking for has in many ways not come. But it is only the communal organism of the African people that can invite Him. The African must be a self theologizing person and be able to see that cultural condemnation from Europe and the west does not override the similarities between Biblical circumstances and his modern society. Elaborate on the good. Not everything I have gained has been bad, but everything I have renounced has been good. So let me not give the devil a foothold. Help me give. It's going to be impossible to do so with the debts I have. So I must stop compiling these debts. I must work my way back up to the world I knew before which was apart from indebtedness. A world in which I could be free, unbound to the prison of owing to the wealthy so that I could give to those who are in need. And don't give me the whole "well you can still provide for them now," the whole "well it's not just financial needs they have," the whole "it's okay to keep some for yourself and ten percent to others as long as you aren't greedy." No! The Bible speaks of economics. I am rich, and world statistics indicate this. Jesus tells the rich man that he only lacks the selling of everything for the sake of the poor. He is telling me the same, and if I have to be one of the first of my culture to step forward and say "okay," then I will simply acknowledge that suffering is part of the Spirit's fruit (read Galations 5 if you must). Suffering characterizes the Christ-follower, and it is his joy. If I perish, I perish. So what? That shall be my joy. It's no longer okay to compromise. Give all: everything you have. Please friends, boldly help me say to others to follow such a path. I am weak, completely unable to do this, but nevertheless I tell you that I have the faith to cling to Jesus so that it will all happen. His Kingdom is not be advanced through justification of our subtly selfish lifestyles. His Kingdom is moving forward through those who are not lukewarm, those noticing their endless flaws and passing them off as crumbs which God walks upon with joy, those taking the step of complete and holistic self giving.
Danielle just gave me a pixie stick and I ate it.
at 3:59 PM
Wednesday, September 30
I bought an African Bush Harp. Josh Weed says that's what it is called because he searched it on google images. I think mine fluctuates around the key of G. It can put out a beautiful major 7 chord, and if you know what I like, you know I like that. Silver, my friend from UCU, took me to the shops and talked the guy down to 15000 shillings which is roughly US $7.50 - I still want to go back so I can buy a drum from the very nice lady who has a small child.
So Kevina says if I whistle at night, I am calling the ancestors to come visit me. This is a bad visit. The rest of the family members also confirmed this tradition. However, none of my ancestors visited me last night, so I know that this aspect of ATR is not entirely accurate.
I've been reading more of the Qur'an again, so I am excited to give a presentation next week on East African missionary relations with Muslims. I don't know what kind of info I will find.
Time for Wednesday - four classes. Six hours of class gets quite old.
at 7:55 AM