Wednesday, September 30

African Bush Harp


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.

Tuesday, September 29

Kevina's Birthday


So I came home early yesterday from campus and blew up some balloons. Dean and I made Smores. Instead of water for dinner we drank juice. Then we had a tiny cake about the size of a moderately large muffin and we split it into six pieces to share. Papa texted to say happy birthday to Kevin. I've never experienced a simpler birthday. Well, then again there was that time last year where I spent my entire birthday doing homework in my dorm room. I still have leftover balloons so maybe sometime this week we can play water-balloon volleyball.

Today I will walk to Mukono after lunch to try to find some spots to play street music. Maybe I'll find that drum-maker also.

Monday, September 28

God Never Intended Two Sabbaths in a Week


The weekend was long. I starts out so good, just really chill. But when you read two weeks ahead on your assignments and finish books that you are reading on your own time, you get so sick of reading that you're just looking for a way to pass the time. So I decided to ask Toto if I could visit James at the Amazing Grace Hostel since he invited me two weeks ago and I still haven't been able to make it. She said it was dangerous to go anywhere without Sam or Joshua, which was kind of frustrating on account that Dean and I had been idle nearly the whole weekend. Plus I'm not really used to adults telling me I can't go somewhere, and even when they suggest against it, I often go anyway. I know she's just looking out for me, but I'm an adult too.

Anyway, today is Kevin's birthday which is great. Josh Weed from a homestay close to ours bought me the ingredients necessary for making Smores while he was in Kampala. Then Joshua's birthday is Friday and Sam's is Sunday. We'll order a cake on the weekend. We will also be gone this Saturday and Sunday morning in Jinja rafting the Nile and bungee jumping. It will be a more exciting weekend than this past one.

Friday, September 25

Today is Projected to be the Greatest Day


So in my only class today (which started at 7:30 this morning), we talked about how Jesus became a Jew as Paul became a Gentile, and in this world, we must follow Christ into culture and allow Him to become a Muslim, an Animist, a Hindu. Good stuff.

Anyway, we are going to celebrate Jill's birthday soon in which we will eat enchiladas and brownies and all those foods which we miss.

After that we are going to the football pitch to play a game of Ultimate Frisbee.

After that we are going to the Vice Chancellor's house for cookies.

After that I am going home to read more Dietrich Bonhoeffer while others go to the prayer/worship service that is going to last all night until 6 AM.

Soon I must order a cake for the birthdays of three of my siblings. Their birthdays fall on Monday, Friday, and next Sunday. All within one week of each other. It's gonna be a fun week and excuse for me to buy food. Speaking of which, the kids in the IMME quarters today have stopped sharing food because it is expensive, especially Nutella, which I have told Joy is illegal to eat in front of people without offering to the general public. So Brian and I pulled the "sharing depends on whether or not you want to be a disciple of Christ or not" card, but it has been unsuccessful. So out of spite Brian and I will go and buy many western foods and just give them away. We're even going to bring in a loud chorus of trumpets to announce that we are doing such things (in the name of Jesus).

Wednesday, September 23

Computer Possessions


Yesterday I was reading Luke and noticing how Jesus speaks quite heavily about attachments/possessions and how disciples cannot be bound to such things. Then I was reading Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger where Ron Sider explains the way that westerners rationalize their affluence and how absurd it is. Anyway, so of course I've always admitted that my Macbook is the one material possession I have that would be near impossible to rid myself of. Well, an IMME student accidently dropped a padlock on my keyboard, chipping one key and destroying the left arrow key. Well, my first reaction was trying not to be upset and just passing it off as a thing of this world, which is really hard to do when even Christians around you are saying, "But Phil, it's YOUR computer." They don't understand that this is a huge struggle for me. The philosophy of non-attachment (part of the reason I enjoy Buddhist teachings) is hand-in-hand with following Christ. So of course, Apple, the greedy capitalists they are, say it's %50-70 to replace a keyboard, and since the damage is not throughout the keyboard, I'm hoping to find a way around this. It really puts me in an awkward position. I don't believe in forcing people to pay for things. It's just really inconvenient that I was heavily convicted of my possessions immediately beforehand. I'm all like, "Hey God, shut up for once."

EDIT: Okay, so I guess I should also mention something good about my day. I came home early from campus, maybe like 5:30, and nobody was home. I decided since I couldn't find the laundry detergent that I'd take 5000 shillings and see if I could get something new at the supermarket. When I went out of the store, I saw Chelsey from our USP program walking with a Ugandan. My natural instinct when UCU males are talking one-on-one with USP girls is to walk over and make sure things aren't shady. Well this UCU student, Laban, invited both of us to his hostel. He fed us bananas and cleaned his room and gave us hot chocolate to offer hospitality. The earliest we were able to leave was about 6:55 and we're supposed to be back at our homestays at 7. I hadn't taken my phone with me because I was only expecting to be a few minutes at the supermarket and still get back home before everyone. However, since I got sidetracked by a stranger (speaking of strangers, "stranger" "guest" and "visitor" are all the same word in Luganda, which is awesome), Toto, Kevina, and Dean were on the front porch waiting for me when I got back a few minutes after 7. I worried them a little bit but I think Toto understood when I told her I had forgotten to "move with the phone."

Tuesday, September 22

Yes, I Know This is My Third Post Today


I just found it necessary to document an event that just occurred, along with the two previous posts:

I just signed out the USP guitar for the first time to go to Zion Hill - the pretty part of campus - and refresh myself with playing music. It looked like another random hour long rainstorm was approaching, so I headed for cover to play guitar under the porch of an old stone building. As the rain picked up and drenched the palm trees, lyrics of old songs gained new meanings. A young girl sat down fifteen yards from me. As the rain grew heavier, she would curl up more. Eventually, the storm moved both of us into the semi-outdoor/semi-indoor lobby between offices. I continued to play for about an hour, her watching me, at times too embarrassed to make eye contact. The rain complimented my guitar, and at the end of some songs, there would be a burst of thunder. I finally fully experienced this African concept of presence. What it means to simply be with people.

The Problems of the Church Cross National Borders


New Testament Lecturer: "Uganda claims to be over 80% Christian. But tell me this - is there division in the church?"

Hundreds of Ugandan Students: "YES!"

"Is there tribalism in the church?"
"Is there hatred in the church?"
"Then why do we suppose we can challenge the government?!"

Hand Drums


Sam said that he would walk me to the local drum-maker on Saturday and hopefully the guy is nice enough to teach me how to make drums for my community engagement this semester.

This morning I woke up at 4:40 and couldn't get back to sleep. Oh well. Only two classes today I guess.

I can't wait to get back to the states for the sake of playing music again. Looks like the January tour is coming together pretty nicely so far. Jeremy sent me all the practice recordings for new songs and I like them very much. I'm pumped for that.

Monday, September 21

Jinja, cont.


I forgot to mention one thing in the last post.

The Calvary Chapel missionaries explained that the Prosperity Gospel is the biggest thing they must battle in Uganda. Apparently in many places if you don't believe that Jesus existed to make you rich, then you aren't "born again." I never would've guessed it, but Ugandans must like their televangelists. Now I see that lies from the pulpit are crossing national boundaries.

Also, some Ugandans believe that if you read the Bible the whole way through, you die. I think that's just funny.

Sunday, September 20



This weekend, the IMME students left Friday night on the coaster to Jinja, a town northeast of here, a little over an hour away. We got to drive through a forest which looked a lot like the east coast, and some rolling plains that reminded me of PA. We stayed at a resort at the source of the Nile River, right near the only railroad tracks in Uganda. I was the only guy who got my own room and bed, which means that this is the first time that being at the end of alphabetical order has paid off.

the first night we had delicious food (and Heinz Ketchup!) while three Uganda missionaries from the west coast Calvary Chapel church spoke to us. They are involved with prison ministry which was great to hear about. They said some great things, but if you know anything about Calvary Chapel, you know that they are always taking up the infallibility of the Bible battle - and if you know anything about today's postmodern college students (what these missionaries even call "post-Christian"), you know that we use a healthy does of skepticism when approaching the scriptures. Anyway, it's always good to hear different views, but the missionaries definitely said not to eat meat sacrificed to other gods, that Africans "worship" their ancestors (which are apparently actually demons), etc. I found it kind of offensive after reading the Primal Vision by John V. Taylor, who views African Traditional Religions as a friend to mission work. It wasn't all bad, though. They were very nice also.

Saturday we went into town to meet with Ben, a guy who taught us about our cultural differences. It was a good talk. His church also operates a nonprofit internet cafe. I got to eat a brownie sundae and it was the most delicious thing I've ever had. Seriously. He then took us on a "devotional tour" of Jinja, during which we looked over Lake Victoria/the source of the Nile River, saw a Hindu Temple area of town, went through "ting-ting", and visited the biggest local medical facility.

During the Nile section, Ben quoted Bonhoeffer, whom I am currently reading, saying, "When Christ calls us, He bids us to come and die." This is awesome because, yes, with belief there must be obedience, and with obedience, one must welcome suffering. This is the true mark of the church. And guess what? The American church knows no suffering in the eyes of this world, and dare I say, even in the eyes of God.

In the Hindu neighborhood, Ben explained that Christianity has close ties to economics. The Indians which lived in this section of town decades ago had great wealth, until the president at the time kicked them out of the country in poverty. The houses are so big and elaborate. It was the "Beverly Hills" of Uganda. The Indians had all possessions confiscated. Another cool thing is that there was a statue of Ghandi at this place. I'm a fan. But anyway, ben also said that his church has only ever taught two things about money - don't be greedy (which is completely relative), and give ten percent. I wonder why, if these are the only things Christians should relate to about money, Jesus would ask the rich man to sell everything and give to the poor? I wonder why the early church actually did this also? I wonder why the impoverished of this earth know what joy is, and why Americans are statistically extremely discontent?

Ben and his coworkers call one neighborhood "Ting-Ting" or "the Detroit of Jinja." A gate opened and our group walked through a metalworking slum. For a dollar a day (and that is a great job), young men slave away over fires in the heat of the Equator, pounding metal and screwing screws all day. It was a cool atmosphere though. Nobody seemed to hate it. There was a lot of hope in making something out of nothing (which is why I think there is still hope for today's musician). What they were working with was once garbage.

Finally, we went to the hospital. I walked with Brian, because he's going to be a Physician's Assistant and I wanted to experience his reactions. We went to the wards containing the people who had TB. Especially if these people had HIV/AIDS, they were probably days away from death. They are given free beds, and the family member(s) bring a mat to lay beside them and care for them. It typically takes three weeks to see a legitimate doctor, but the family members can purchase medicine for the patient, who indeed must be "patient." I remember walking down one hall of death beds, looking but trying not to look, smiling, then taking back the smile because I didn't know how I should come off as a mzungu visitor. I got to the end of the hall, felt awkward, and just went back. No one spoke to me. Talk about not knowing what to do. Thank God in the next hall one man greeted Brian, thanking him for our visit. His son was laying quietly and lifelessly with TB and Malaria. Later I heard that one patient used her strength to get out of bed to shake one of the girls' hands in our group. She even knelt before her. That would be pretty humbling. It all just goes to show that people appreciate the outside visitors. The mzungus. But still, even in the world of the post-Enlightenment science-filled west, we have not found the cure for death. Death is just as common in our hospitals. The missionary, says Ben, comes into the mission field happy and ready to change earth, but after one year, they either leave or get super cynical. Rightfully so. Like Babel, we have no cure for our brokenness, yet we seek exactly this on our own strength.

When we got back to the resort, we took a boat ride on the Nile and even caught a fish. We swam and chilled. We ate pizza and cake and chicken burgers and fries at a restaurant that night. Such a relief!

This morning was shared with a local church. The music was awesome. The kids and congregation were so pumped for God. There is no halfhearted worship here. Even communal prayer is powerful. Corporate communication with God is intense fellowship. We stopped at a restaurant in town, and now we are back in Mukono. I'm about to walk home to spend the rest of this Sabbath with the family!

Thursday, September 17



This morning I had Sam teach me how to make the omelets he makes for me each morning. After Dean had left for school, Sam asked me to come slash weeds and grass up the hill. I put on my gum boots and walked up with him to cut the grass. The problem is that we did not have a John Deere tractor, so we had to do it by hand. As a result, my hands are torn up with blisters, but hey, at least I get another two hours of "community engagement" for my IMME class since the labor was performed on the property of an Anglican church. I get the weirdest looks when I'm doing work. Passersby frequently comment to Sam not to overwork the mzungu. I don't know if they've ever seen a mzungu working!

This weekend we will be going to Jinja. I think we'll be speaking with various missionaries. I also signed up to go with my other Mennonite friends in IMME (there are three of us) to a missionary's home in Kampala for dinner in Nov. This missionary works with Mennonite Central Committee, which is worldwide a fantastic organization. I am excited to speak with them.

Wednesday, September 16

The Dining Hall


Makes me think that everyone in the world is a negro except me.

Especially when the cultural implication of presence overrides the western tendency of necessary facilitation of conversation.

Tuesday, September 15

Last Night


I peed in a bucket at 3 AM because it's "dangerous" to go outside. I came pretty close to overflowing the bucket.

And today I shall learn to hand wash my clothes. Hopefully I will be done in time to come back to campus for Community Worship which is always an intense time.

My dreams are vivid as anything. Last night I had a dream about having a dream. I remember all of it. In my dream, Mom told me I was dreaming so I began hitting myself to wake up. I felt the pain but did not wake up and hence actually thought I wasn't dreaming. Then I tried to open my eyes but it didn't work. So I thought even more that I was in reality. Then I woke up and began to tell my brother Sam that I was dreaming. Then after some insignificant events I woke up again. Then it was reality, but I went back to sleep and dreamt a few dreams pertaining to martyrdom. I never actually feel asleep here. I get rest and all, but these meds make dreams a reality, which is funny because Taylor writes in the Primal Vision on the African view of dreams and how they are considered to be ultra real and it all seems so fitting and I'm really good at creating run on sentences but not quite as good as Don Miller who wrote Blue Like Jazz which we get to read some excerpts from for class tomorrow although I am already done reading them because I'm ahead of my reading schedule due to so much of what Americans would consider to be "downtime," although Africans, according to Taylor, consider this time to be time to be in simple presence with people.

Monday, September 14

First Weekend at Home


Speaking of 'home,' Friday Toto told me I was to get a good diploma so that I could get her to visit the United States. I asked her where she would like to go in the United States and she said, "I want to go where your family is because then I would be at home."

Anyway, Saturday Dean and I woke up and went with Sam to the field. We ended up making four or five very long trips carrying heavy firewood back. I was very tired afterward. Joshua and Sam had stacked bricks about 13 feet high, and these bricks were to be fired. In the afternoon, the boys started the burning inside the bricks. It is now Monday morning and the fire is still going.

Sunday we went to church at Nkoyoyo Hall on campus. Kevina escorted us there and stayed with us. I like the on-campus theme this semester: Walk the Talk - all of the preachers yell things about how if we're calling ourselves Christians we need to act accordingly. They back it up with all kinds of New Testament scripture.

We were back home after church before 10:30 and got some breakfast. Both lunch and dinner contained the sweetest pineapple on the face of the globe, and it was so good. The weekend had tons of downtime. I read The Great Divorce by CS Lewis in one day, read other assignments ahead of time, and finished the Primal Vision (which is supposed to be done being read by October haha).

The Primal Vision is a great book written from the point of view of a 1960's missionary. It is way ahead of its time because this missionary recognizes the need for American and European missionaries to understand the African culture, languages, religions, and worldviews before engaging in "spreading the Gospel." I made a connection while reading this book. Papa (he left Sunday for the semester as he is a teacher in northern Uganda) told me that his daughter's name (Kevina) was the name of his only sister, who was shot in the Atesso region on the streets. In the Primal Vision, Taylor talks about African family systems. Children are often given names of ancestors who have passed away, and that ancestor is commonly thought to actually live in that child. Some parents actually consider their children also their parents or grandparents. I wonder if this type of thing is something Papa believes.

I am definitely beginning to feel as if I am part of the family. Things are less awkward, but I still don't know exactly what I should be doing at the house, especially now that Papa is away and I have no one to sit around with and chat for hours on end. I think Dean and I feel more obligated to engage the family in other ways. At least I do. I'm not entirely sure now though.

Oh, and it rained pretty hard yesterday. The tin roof was very loud, and apparently there are some holes in the roof.

The class schedule has changed so many times, but hopefully this week will be the first full week on the correct schedule.

Friday, September 11

"Violent Demonstrations"


Okay, so here's something that I'll comment on at the risk of terrifying friends, relatives, etc:

Last night one of the kings in Uganda was trying to make a visit and minority rebel groups decided this shouldn't happen, resulting in stand-offs, riots, etc throughout Kampala. Apparently the king tried to reroute or something, so these demonstrations stretched to Mukono, a kilometer from our home. This in turn redirected taxi traffic to and from Kampala to our neck of the woods. All USP students are safe, all US citizens got emails from the embassy, of course, but some locals have died. Tear gas has been shot in Mukono. The police seem to have generally restored peace, but I probably won't be able to go into town today like I was hoping to. Papa Bernard was on the phone last night asking his colleagues to pray for his travels on Sunday. Talk about feeling more important than everyone else, kind of like when the UN evacuated all US citizens out of Rwanda. For some reason, I guess we have more value as human beings. I don't like that idea. If you are worrying, please don't. Though the Peace Corp has left parts of Kampala, stand-offs are disbanding. The president has called for support, and things should be back to normal this weekend, at least in Mukono. I don't hear any ruckus from here, so it actually might be fine right now. I wish USP would allow me to take my camera downtown.

My prayers to those who lost loved ones on this date 8 years ago, and my prayers to those who continue to lose loved ones as a result of our nation's irresponsible retaliation. I think this day should be retitled "Get to know a Muslim near you Day." If Rwanda can do it, reconciliation is possible with us.

EDIT: So the story I heard about the riots is different from other rumors. Apparently the President actually doesn't want the King to visit a group of children that he speaks to near Kampala each year, and it is actually governmental forces making the stand-offs. Some IMME students had to stay with our professors on campus and stuff, and I'm pretty jealous cuz they got pampered with brownies and pizza and stuff. Anyway, news stations are all covering the events, and we will be meeting as USP in less than an hour to see how the situation is and decide where to go next as a program. Again, I encourage you not to worry as this is not an incredible revolution - it is simply part of the culture.

Thursday, September 10

First Major Frustration


So I'm in a class called African Traditional Religion, Islam, and Christianity in Africa. Yesterday we signed up for a topic to lead with a group later on in the semester. I signed up for week 10 which pertained to Interreligious studies of ATR, Islam, and Christianity. I was super pumped about doing the topic of Jesus through the lens of Islam because I have been highly interested in that subject, reading the Qur'an, reading other authors on the topic, etc. I think I have something fascinating and insightful to offer the class.

Well it turns out that because of another paper that is due, everything got bumped off one week, so people are stuck with topics they didn't want, or at least those that were unaware about the bumping of the weeks. I have to settle for freaking "Christianity in Uganda." Of course, I can talk all about how white missionaries oppressed the continent with their theology of possessions and systematic western progress, but that would just make me turn more cynical. Additionally, I have to stand in front of my professor, a local African Reverend who probably knows everything there is to know about Christianity in Uganda and pretend that I have something new to offer. Man, this really pisses me off. I asked some people if they wanted to switch, but they wouldn't, and I don't blame them. Who wants to present Christianity in Uganda? It is the topic least likely to engage the class and present new knowledge. I was really wanting to push some thinking of students and maybe even my professor through reading verses from the Qur'an about Jesus' second-coming, title of Messiah, etc. Well, I guess that opportunity is out the window. Talk about a day being ruined. I would just get over it if I didn't have anything new to offer the class, but the thing is that I do. Seriously. This sucks.

Wednesday, September 9

Widows and Orphans....


Are real here.



So the night of September 7, one day after my birthday, Dean and I are sitting out on the porch with Papa Bernard after the sun went down having tea time, chatting about nothing. Out of the blue, Papa asked when our birthdays were and I was kind of embarrassed to tell him it had been the day before (I didn't want to make them feel as if they should make special preparations). However, Kevina, Joshua, and Sam all have birthdays within the same week coming up here in the next few weeks, and I'll probably purchase a homemade cake to celebrate.

Classes are great, but the grading system is so different. A C+ is like 65% or something, and that's considered to be pretty good. 80-100% is an A, but it is rare for one to score over 90. I'll have to get used to it I guess.

Monday, September 7

Drew Says Forget Uploading Pictures


Our internet is far to slow, so you can see them when I return to the states.



We are back, and it is the first day of school. I will attempt to recapture this past week on the Rwanda trip, but it will be a very long post.

Day 1

15 Hour Trip. We're talking a trip that on US highways would probably take 4 or 5 hours. But we were squeezed in a van going down incredibly bumpy dirt roads. Southern Uganda and Rwanda is a gorgeous drive though. It reminded me of the road trip I took out west. Absolutely gorgeous. Majestic mountains. New flora. You know the deal. Nearly everyone we passed was doing simple tasks necessary to their survival - walking to fetch water in Jerri cans, hanging laundry, collecting firewood, harvesting plantains, etc. I wondered what makes some cultures so fast paced that these tasks are neglected. While driving, I saw a dependency on community. You need others to live, ya know? That night, we arrived in Gehini to stay at an Anglican guesthouse.

Day 2

Sunday morning. I'm prepared to deliver a sermon at a local church. Or so I thought. When we walked in the Anglican Cathedral, our group was led to a small side room. The 80 year old ordained preacher asked if we were prepared to deliver a sermon and testimony. Brian (my new good friend who very much has the same worldviews and opinions as myself) said his testimony was prepared. I said I would give a sermon. The minister asked if I was a preacher. I didn't know how to respond and I don't really remember what I said. Following that statement, it was translated to me by our translator Godfrey that I was to "watch my time - around 30 or 40 minutes). Now I had been told to plan for 20 minutes, and with the translator, that's a ten or fifteen minute sermon. I smiled, but in my head I was panicking, thinking, "I might as well just read the sermon on the mount instead of giving my sermon." This whole time, we could here the congregation chanting, as if it were a lively crowd waiting for the home football team to break through the end zone banner. My blood was boiling. The church has Brian and I sit on the side of the front stage as church leaders do. Godfrey translated the first choir's song to me, which went something like "What is this information I hear? A voice is speaking. There is one not hearing this information. Wake up! Our vision is in Christ." It settled my panicking heart and made me smile. The service would continue.

I finally got up to preach, feeling incredible inadequate in front of some peers and a congregation that did not understand English. I spoke on loving of the other, figuring that there wouldn't be too many cross cultural implications to be distorted in such a message. I read from John 15:9-12, as well as 1 John and Daniel. I explained that we are called to love those who don't love us, and even be dangerous in extending our hospitality. I feel that the message got across, but too often I would listen to the interesting timbre of the Kinyarwanda translation and lose my place. Also, I didn't realize how liturgical the church was until I referenced a verse, and a lady behind me stood up and started reading it. That definitely interrupted my flow. I felt I had this great message, but it was so hard to communicate because it was a setting I was not used to. There were times where I looked over a congregation of 200 people and simply did not know where I should go next with my message. However, I had a lot of fun and it was a great chance to learn. I was just glad to take off my white robe at the end. I really think my preaching abilities are best used in the American hardcore scene.

Day 3

Today, we heard from a woman who experienced firsthand the East African Revival, which originated in Gehini, Rwanda. She was 82 years old and currently lives with other widows. She is full of Jesus and life. One night, many girls all across the town collapsed. They were being taken to hospitals, and the doctors were simply saying that these girls were being convicted of their sins. Repentance stuck all across the town. From the hills, the Gospel was literally being proclaimed, and it spread all across the African countries in this manner. This ended around 1958. Interestingly enough, the Bible had not been translated, which goes to show that God can work without such scripture. I am not opposed to scripture, I think it is great - but it is not God and at times it is not necessary.

Later that day, we drove an hour to a genocide site. It was an old Catholic church. Charles, a quiet victim, gave the tour and his personal testimony. The whole church was filled with uncleaned clothes of the dead, because hundreds of children were trapped in the church. Charles was one of 14 to escape the church and one of 7 to survive. This is only because he played dead. One Hutu killer told him to shut up or the other hutus might come and kill him. His brothers covered him in blood. There was still blood on the walls, and thousands upon thousands of skulls and bones in the nearby tombs. His whole family is dead, and he has lived as an orphan. He is 23 and just finished high school. Meanwhile, I'm a carefree 19 year old college sophomore. Some Hutus would leave the church with locked doors, then go to church, then come back and kill more children. Kids could pay to be shot - otherwise, one limb might be cut off daily to ensure a painful agony of death. Bear in mind, this was one of many small genocides before the mass genocide in 1994.

Day 4

We visited the Genocide Memorial in Kigali, the capital, minutes from the Catholic guesthouse where we were staying. It was emotionally draining, but the documentary we watched at the end was fascinating. I encourage you to watch "Ghosts of Rwanda." It was very much a western perspective of the mass genocide, in which over 1 million lives were taken in a matter of 100 days. The UN neglected their promises, and the church did not step up either. President Clinton refused to apologize or really to at all confront the genocide, claiming it was not in America's interest, yet the UN had an obligation. This film challenged and strengthened my views on non-violence and anarchy:


UN forces that were told to return home refused to do so. They stayed, unarmed, outside the Catholic church (the same one where we stayed this week). When Hutu forces approached to kill the thousands inside the church, the UN forces outside simply told them, without weapons, that killing was not allowed in the church and that they must leave. It worked, amazingly enough! It can also be argued that white skin was to their advantage. It still is today, as locals yell "Mzungu" (white person) wherever we pass, waving their hands. To me, it is demoralizing, because I do not feel more important because of ethnicity.

Another instance of non-violence was demonstrated by the one American who refused to go to safety. He stayed in Kigali to help the Tutsis, and probably die with them. Nearby, 300 orphans were being tormented by the Interhamwe troops. This white man, the only American remaining in the country, marched straight up to the leader of the whole genocide, unarmed, demanding that these orphans be protected. The leader assured him this would happen, and it did. Another reason that guns do not teach people not to kill people. Another reason that pacifism does not work, but active non-violence certainly does.


This American's courage and effective act also demonstrated anarchy - the DIY ethic where the middle man is omitted. He did not ask the US government if his actions were ok - that process would simply take too long, leading the orphans to perish. Additionally, without government involvement in his courageous act, there was no compromise. ALL of the orphans were to be saved. The UN forces also maintained anarchy mentality by staying in Rwanda against orders, helping thousands to survive. One UN member even sacrificed his own life.

On the bus, we talked about how the international church could've helped. We could've went to live among this chaos, loving everyone. We still can, as genocide is still relevant in our world, though hidden from media.

Today we also met with Christy from Food for the Hungry. She was very influential to me in leading a talk about living a deliberate life of singleness and devotion to the Kingdom. I was encouraged by this.

Day 5

We listened to reconciliation speaker Rev. Antwoine. He was so great, teaching us that confession and forgiveness is not the end-all. Reconciliation is necessary in Rwanda between killers and killed because the country is poor. 40% in Kigali live on less than $.35 a day. Another 40% are also below poverty in Kigali. The rural communities are often worse. People need each other. There is an interdependency. He also condemned an American preacher who came over teaching that Rwandans were not getting rich because they didn't have enough faith. He said although he can't blame the international community for the incident, he can blame the wealthy world for not acting to clean up the mess. We have the resources to do so. Yet we depend on our fallible government, rather than the bride of Christ. In fact, our gov't gives less than 1% of it's money to Third World areas. Rev. also mentioned that the gospel of giving is not for Africa, but the gospel of hard work such as mentioned in Titus definitely is. Rev. believes in small commitments that make a big difference, and that change begins when a heart is shattered by something around oneself.

In the evening, we listened to two Gacaca lawyers. Gacaca courts (meaning "on the grass") were used since the genocide criminals were freed from jail. They were sent to their communities to confess their crimes and be reconciled again to their neighbors that they may have struck, despite living and loving them so often before the genocide. There are thousands of these courts set up in Rwanda, which is about the size of Vermont. They have been incredibly effective, and it is amazing that with 15 years, the country has been as developed as it is today! Communities were murders have occured are embracing their killers out of selfless love, and killers are removing genocide from their hearts and confessing crimes, whether they be throwing babies against stone walls, macheteing their own families, or sexual tormenting mothers, striking spears through their vaginas and out their skulls.

I wrote this poem at the end of the day:

All creation groans, asking "where is hope"
But the Kingdom is a seed i've sown
To become a garden overgrown
Where not one orphan roams
Nor does a widow moan alone
And this Kingdom will be shown
As the road we chose

Day 6

Debbie Thomas of Mission Moving Mountains taught us a lot about development and using business as ministry. Pertaining to development, she gave the illustrations to describe how Rwandans want to piggyback on the western world, but as missionaries, we must teach them so that when we leave, they can help themselves. Her ideas were very sustainable and involved time commitment, humility, patience, and persistence. Look into the organization if you want to learn more. She also explained that mission work was not "church planting." Since the Gospel is holistic and applicable to all facets of life, outreach and speaking Christ in word is only peripheral to real mission work. There is resistance from the western church that doesn't understand this, and I encourage you, if you have the mindset of only preaching to get people "saved", to visit an area such as Rwanda and see what is successful advancement of the Kingdom.

In the evening, two missionaries from World Relief came to speak to us. Phil Smith, whose grandfather founded Messiah College, said that a nonnegotiable part of following of Christ is service to the poor. I agree, but I was dissatisfied with his response to my question "can we directly contribute to the poor internationally." He basically in a roundabout way said that only western organizations knew how to effectively use donated money. Otherwise, the method wouldn't be sustainable. I was bitter because I think that the actual people know how to best use the money, not outsiders. They are in the Third World, but that doesn't mean they are stupid! Look how far Rwanda has come. This still frustrates me, especially from someone who has lived on Messiah campus growing up, a campus stressing cultural anthropology and humility in work abroad.

Day 7

We have left Rwanda for southwestern Uganda, where we got on a boat and went to a wonderful island, meeting up with the USE kids to debrief the week. It was relaxing. I saw so many birds I had never seen, and the island was beautiful. Pictures soon, hopefully.

Days 8 and 9

One my birthday, yesterday, we drove 15 hours back home. It was a good birthday because Jenn found ice cream and bought it for me, and I really wanted ice cream. I love it so much. It is great to be back with our family! I can't express it. My first class is in 45 minutes. I am very excited to learn. And I'm more excited that I am learning from the poor, as I believe we are scripturally taught to do. Plus, I feel it is more practical and effective. There should be a university that is nonprofit in which westerners are taught by single mothers, homeless, etc.

I will probably return to this post to comment again on Rwanda. There is so much I have learned. I don't know if I've learned so much in a week of my life. I gave you a slight glimpse of my insights, and I hope that for now that will suffice. Continue to embrace the economically and spiritually poor of your communities back home!

Amahoro ("peace"),