Friday, August 28

First Post from Uganda


Including time zone changes, we traveled more than an entire day to get to Uganda. On one plane, the flight attendant woke me up and called me Clint Eastwood, which made me pretty happy, because out of all things that have the potential to reverse my sexual orientation, I would have to say Clint Eastwood is number one (relax, I'm trying to be funny).

We drove through the night two hours from the airport to campus. Driving through Kampala was intense, as we saw mattresses laid out along the street, markets alive and well at 11 PM, and bigger vehicles cutting off smaller ones. At one point, young girls were sleeping on the barrier between the roads. When our bus rolled up, they hopped up with begging hands and voices. Without any Ugandan currency, I reached out the window and handed them a bag of dried pineapple. This brought up a pretty intense conversation about giving. Jesus tells us, without reservations, to give to he who asks of you. Moreover, noted Drew, we are to give the correct thing (Jesus says, who of you will give a stone if one asks for a fish). Some of my peers also brought up the point that we do not know what beggars would do with the money we give to them. I argued that Jesus was more concerned with loving rather than the exploitation of his love. There may be no return benefit to us when we give. In fact, Keith Giles argues that even Jesus was not a good steward of his resources according to the standards of some. He healed the blind, knowing they would lust with their eyes. He healed the withered hand, knowing that may enable a thief.

When we arrived, we stayed overnight on campus with small rooms and cold showers. The following day, we met our host families. Dean, another USP student, also resides in the same home as me for the semester. When we rolled up in the van, we were greeted by a joyful man named Bernard, who hugged us with a huge smile. His wife Elizabeth (toto = mother) shook our hands, along with his daughters Sara and Kevine, and sons Sam and Joshua. Toto showed us around the house. The first room is the sitting room where we have hour-long conversations about anything that comes to mind and meals. The back rooms are the room that Dean, Sam, and I sleep in (Sam will be attending UCU for his first semester when we start school with him). There is a room for kitchen materials and utensils, Joshua has a small room, and our sisters have a room with many materials stored in it as well. Papa and Toto live in an attached room. Outside is a stone "kitchen" where smoke constantly envelopes the eyes of our very hard-working mother. There is also a toilet and a bathroom (meaning "shower room") outside. The toilet is a hole in the ground with a toilet without a lid. To shower, we use a water basin. Sometimes we boil water over a fire to not use completely chilly water. You are to squat and manually cup your hands to splash water on yourself. Ugandans are very clean, showering at least once each day, dressing quite nicely, and ironing clothes often (with charcoal irons burning inside of them). Meals have been relatively the same. At every meal we have had cabbage, rice, a corn-based food that looks like mashed potatoes, and a soup that goes over everything after all of the food has been put in a bowl. Ugandans prefer their meat very cooked, so no matter what meat they have, it tastes relatively similar to the last. Our family has a few chickens walking around in the neighborhood which provide for us eggs to make omelets in the mornings. One of my favorite foods thus far is matoke, which is unripe bananas boiled and then mashed up. Tea time comes randomly, and Dean and I sit with Papa. The tea is local, and with sugar, tastes like some of the best tea I've ever had.

I did throw up once already from my malaria pill. The label says to take on an empty stomach, which I was later informed was the worst idea possible. It is to be taken on a full stomach says all of the USP staff.

The cell phone the program gave me is now not turning on. I'm not sad about that because I was looking forward to not having a cell phone this semester. But I guess in some cases it is a safety precaution.

We spent one day in Kampala. Everything is so cheap. We also visited Kasubi which is the palace and tomb-site of Ugandan kings.

At nights, it is unsafe to use the toilet between 12 and 4, so we must wake up Sam (or when he wakes up to go, he wakes us up as well) to relieve ourselves. He checks the yard and takes every precaution of thieves and aggressors.

Yesterday we returned from Kampala to find only the girls at home making supper. They said our brothers were in the fields, and Kevine led us to that location. Halfway up the hill, we saw Toto working among the trees. Her wise face taught us how to germinate these plants and pick out the roots for eating. Sam and Joshua had been working since 6 AM (it was 6 PM at this time) at tilling the land to plant corn. Papa says the school has allowed them to cultivate this land because they have had good relations. Schools in the states would not do this. I feel our society is based more on tearing down others to benefit the self rather than love of neighbor. Papa and I talked about this outside during the night, right before supper (which is usually around 9 PM, after which we go to sleep and wake up any time between 5 and 7:30). We ate guavas on this hill and collecting passion fruit. The view is incomparable, as we can see many distant mountains and even Lake Victoria. The winds cool us down and there are monkeys making noise in the forest.

Weather has been wonderful. Rain is light and occasional, not lasting too long (locals wish there was more during this rain season). I can wear a sweater when the sun is down.

Our neighborhood, like many others, is loud. A cinema plays movies from 1 PM to 10 PM. Most people are self-employed, trying to sell whatever they can for family income. Calling cards are a popular item. Papa and I talked about how it would be beneficial for Ugandans not to copy the methods they see working, but rather bring new products to the market, which in the long run would largely benefit the economy.

I signed up for classes today: Faith and Action, Missions Practicum, African Traditional Religions, Old Testament Survey, and New Testament Survey - the last two will be in classes with many Ugandan students.

Life here is not yet difficult, it is beautiful and pure. Family, neighbor, and community are valued so much. It's overwhelming as someone used to privacy at my expense, but I like that. I'm tired of dressing up though haha. Everything is so raw, and that is exactly what I wanted. The meat comes from town. Fruit, eggs, and plants are harvested and gathered by hand. There are no showerheads wasting water. If something needs to be done, you do it. Sam makes bricks, the girls cook and clean, Papa talks with us, Toto is constantly at work. I want to start helping out more, but I think they are trying to be very hospitable to us these first few days. Papa said he thanks God that he got this plot of land so he can meet people like Dean and me. They have housed USP students before.

This is a snippet of my first days' experience in Mukono.

Tomorrow we leave for a 15 hour trip to Rwanda at 5 AM. We will make a stop at the Equator. I will be taking my first pictures of the trip, but will not have internet access for at least a week. I may be invited to preach in a church service Sunday morning, so I am preparing. It is easier to speak on faith in America, because I understand the culture and see so many things that are out of place. It will be hard to bring something new and encouraging to a country that has done so much great work rebuilding and reconciling. Anyway, we have all been told in many ways that Rwanda will be an intense experience.

I am now going to watch the sunset and breath fresh air. Although internet on campus is very slow and randomly inaccessible, I will attempt to update as frequently as possible.

Monday, August 24



Music video I made for "The Judas in Me" which can be listened to at

Also, here is my new and more legit band:

Leaving now for Dullus. From there we will fly to Amsterdam, and apparently I'm supposed to arrive tomorrow morning at 8 AM in Uganda, but I have a feeling it will take a little longer than that!

Can Somebody Explain to Me Why I Have Never Heard This Scripture in Church Sunday Morning if We're So Concerned with the Afterlife?


"The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we as Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined."

- Søren Kierkegaard

Matthew 25:31-46

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Saturday, August 22

12 Hour Sleeps


Went to Messiah to hang out with Blake, my roommate from last semester. Slept 12 hours in his room. Felt so good....

Until I was on my way to Jeremy's house to drop off some music things. A stoplight was out and (even with my glasses on), I could make out a cop in the intersection up ahead pointing at me waving me through. Well of course, when I got to the intersection he jumped out at me yelling at me to pull over. The first thing that crossed my mind was, "Great, just what I need, a ticket before I leave the country." I was in a mental panic not understanding what I did wrong. He came up to my window and angrily yelled "What do you think you are doing?" Truth be told, I had no idea. I said I thought he waved me through the intersection so I responded as anyone might and proceeded to drive through the intersection. He said that he was in fact motioning for me to stop. As I was apologizing, he just looked at me with a mad expression and barked, "Get goin!" So I drove off.

The whole scenario really made me mad. I was trying to do the whole turn the other cheek thing, but it was all forced and not working out too well. I was even too mad to cuss out loud. Through the rest of my drive home, I noticed how mad people on the road were as well. You switch lanes and you get a death glare, you go less than ten miles an hour over the speed limit and you get high-beamed or tailgated. If you don't rush through the yellow light, you here a horn honking. Basically, you're no good if you follow the rules and therefor make another person one minute late to where they are going. Everybody's got tense shoulders behind the wheel because the thirty seconds they could save by cutting you off is more important than their courtesy to another driver.

There's a temptation to say, "I can't wait to get away from this place." That's not what leaving the country is about though. In reality, traffic is way more threatening where I am going. People, even in laid back cultures, are more aggressive on the roads. Maybe that's because there is not enough incentive to be careful. Here, we may not care about the lives of happiness of others, but we care about not being ticketed and not getting our personal license revoked.

I spent some of the afternoon packing, some of it working on lyrics for the new band, some of it talking to Lux and watching the sun set, some of it watching the lightning storm. I'm trying to get all I can out of the home-cooked meals here before leaving on Monday. I have sleep, a full stomach, and the only thing I have left to pack are the last minute things and my clothes. Tomorrow Abigail and I are getting together at Sonic and then going to see some live music (another thing I don't know what I'll do without for four months - As cynical as I often am about the western world, I cannot deny the beauty of it music and the accessibility we have to it). I'm hoping to also have time to shoot some footage of my littlest two sisters for a music video to an ambient song I wrote awhile ago called "The Judas in Me" found at this website. It's been awhile since I've been able to experiment more in the artistic field of cinematography.

I'm hoping that when I wake up I don't forget to start taking my malaria medication before eating breakfast.

Wednesday, August 19

Self-Publishing is Awesome


I have had all of this old poetry and I finally have found a way to get it compiled and published. My book of poetry is now available through online for $11. I kept the price as low as possible considering manufacturing costs. If you decide to purchase it, I do hope you enjoy it and are blessed in some way by it. A 5-page preview is available.

Click Here.

Tuesday, August 18

The "Christian" Thing to do and "Christian" Things Assumed


So a lot of people - family, friends, acquaintances, the whole nine yards - seem to know that I am going away to Uganda for the semester. That's a very humbling thing. The truth is that at times I have no idea what is new in their lives or how I can be praying for them. I'm sure you understand how this is when people seem to invest time, energy, and prayer into you and you can just not amount to such a thing in return.

Well I noticed that with a little bit of information, a lot can be assumed (as the old expression goes, points out grandpa, "assume" can make an 'ass' out of 'u' and 'me'). When people hear that I am going to Uganda, or more broadly, Africa, they immediately assume that I am doing mission work. I commonly get the question, "Are you going to be doing missions?" I try to explain to them that I am kinda doing missions, but we must remember that a missionary is "one with a mission." If I am a hitman told by a client to kill his or her family, I am a missionary. Yet somewhere along the line, "missionary" became a "Christian" thing to say, and it carries a lot of loaded meaning.

Another assumption that is made is that I will be going out to "share the Gospel." I feel as if this carries loaded meaning as well. We are familiar, in the western culture, with the Gospel being something that is shared by a professional clergyman one morning out of the week. We are taught that if we pray a mystical prayer, then we are "saved" because we have "invited Jesus into our hearts." I think what many of us fail to realize is that this is the beginning, not the end. James tells us that faith without deeds is dead. Even Jesus Himself says that not all who call Him "lord" will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only those who do the Father's will. I don't suggest that the Gospel is one singular thing to be embraced at one point in life. I'm not too big into the turn or burn thing. Biblically, it holds quite a small amount of merit.

I am very much, however, into viewing the Gospel as a holistic experience that fills in the gaps of all social, personal, and spiritual problems. When the rich young ruler asked Jesus how to get to heaven, Jesus gave him a completely different answer than what he told Nicodemus. I think that's because Jesus saw what each individual was lacking and suggested the Gospel in a manner that would reform each of them.

But we are only taught one way of spreading Jesus' message of love: speaking. It is true that speaking is an effective action if executed correctly. Dialogue helps us grow, but there are plenty of misconceptions about "preaching the Gospel," in my opinion, that can be laid to rest right now. If we are radically in love with Jesus and attempting with our entire effort to live as He did, people will see something in us, as a community, that will be irresistible. That's how the early church of Acts did things. Even communism was a ministry and outreach tool (read the end of Acts 2 and the end of Acts 4). People were being added to the Kingdom of God daily, merely because Christians were actually following Christ. Imagine that!

Anyway, I know I kind of went off on a little rabbit trail, but I want everyone that has asked me about this trip not to be misled. What I am going to do there is learn. I hope to have the Gospel preached to me more than I preach it. In my opinion, I live in a lost and distracted culture. I want to learn about the raw and pure thing of Christianity. Although I am oft upset with the direction of the western church, I think the status of mission work has improved. It is no longer about be preaching advancement or westernization or being cultural insensitive. It is about helping to foster an organic Christian community that is holistic to each person's life in the community (individually and as a group).

Specifically, I will be taking a full load of classes at Uganda Christian University. The first ten days of my study abroad I will experience Rwanda. From what I understand, this will be done during the time of mourning over the recent genocide. I will then move in with a Ugandan family, hand-washing clothes, eating basic foods, and developing a plan of how I can engage my community. Trips will occur on weekends to places like the Equator and the Nile River.

I leave you with this: try not to assume things based on what is "Christian." Like I said, the "Christian" thing about going to Africa seems to be "mission work." Be careful about your speech. Be reminded that "Christian" is not an adjective. I have not played in any "Christian" bands, but I have collaboratively played with other musicians that attempt to live like Jesus. To be Christian means to be a follower of Christ. If you don't understand what that is - I encourage you to read Matthew or Luke. Those are probably my two favorite books. Develop your own understanding of who Jesus is (don't base it off of what you've heard in church. And he's certainly not just a ticket into an afterlife location that is the most luxurious). Recognize both Jesus' teachings and actions. The Sermon on the Mount, as I say time and again, is a great place to start (Matthew 5-7). Don't skip over the fact that Jesus lived in poverty and suggested to those with affluence to give away all of their possessions to help the poor. Don't overlook how Jesus lovingly restored sight to the blind who would probably end up lusting with their new eyes anyway. Again, develop your own understanding of this guy. Try to follow Him without compromise. Even though you might be in deep trouble by doing this, you'll be intensely fulfilled. If you are going to claim to be a Christian, compromise is no longer part of your lifestyle.

Now I must go finish my summer assignments for the upcoming semester.
Thank you for all of your help, prayer, and encouragement.
Love and be loved.

Monday, August 17

Packing List


Power Cable
Microsoft Word
Flash Disk
External Hard-Drive
External Hard-Drive Adapter

Messenger Bag
Rain Poncho

Neck strap
Memory Card
Lens Cover
Camera Bag

Hanover Snack Foods

Water Bottle

Shaving Cream

Glasses Case


Poisonwood Bible
Primal Vision
Mere Discipleship

Insect Repellent
Duct Tape
Masking Tape
Clothes Pins

3 Button Up Shirts
3 Dress Pants
1 Casual Jeans
3 T-Shirts
3 Shorts
Tennis Shoes
Dress Shoes
Flip Flops
Closed-Toed Sandals
7 Pairs Socks
7 Pairs Underwear
Bathing Suit
Mexican Poncho
Rain Poncho
Amish Hat

This list will only get smaller.
I'm trying to fit it all in one backpack and a small carry-on bag.
In preparation for my trip, I had to read the Poisonwood Bible, a 550 page fiction novel about a Georgian missionary family and how the efforts of the father/preacher to westernize African religiosity and culture destroyed the lives of his own family and his community.