Friday, 9 December 2011

It's the little things...

Alumni Perspective--the following post is from a January 2011 student, originally posted on her blog

It has been nearly a year since I began my journey to Uganda and over 7 months since I have returned home. This seems unreal to me.

What do I miss? It’s the little things…

I miss hanging out with the Fantastic Four (Danielle, Mubeezi, Mwesigwa, and myself).
I miss dance parties with my brothers.
I miss sitting on the porch, drinking tea and talking to my Maama for hours.
I miss walking into town.
I miss the smells.
I miss having tea time 4 or 5 times throughout the day.
I miss spending time with my roomie on campus, Angela.
I miss the Honours College students.
I miss the beauty of time spent on the Nile.
I miss the adventures Uganda brought.
I miss laughing with each other and cultural incidents that would occur.
I miss holding sweet Ugandan babies (specifically Nasu and Nassolo).
I miss sleeping in a hut with Jules and our rat…well, maybe not the rat part.
I miss watching Hidden Passions and laughing at how ridiculous it is.
I miss having conversations in Luganda every day.
I miss frequent trips to the canteen for soda and chapati and smoothies...
I miss hearing, “Zalwango! Okola ki??! Njjakukuba!”
I miss greeting the security guards at the school every day.
I miss spending time at Chain Foundation.
I miss trips into Kampala for some American delights.
I miss rice and beans.
I miss Blessed Christian Church and the church family I gained there.
I miss sleeping under my mosquito net.

This list could go on and on. I miss Uganda, and it’s the little things that I miss. The simple things that seem so easy to take for granted.
God spoke to my heart in Uganda early on. What word did He speak to me over and over again? Embrace. So I did. I embraced every moment I had there, and I am so thankful for that. I have the beautiful memories of those little things. These memories will never leave me.
Part of my heart is connected with Uganda, and that connection will never fade. It is part of who I am. It is part of who I’ll be. I’m Zalwango of the Buganda clan. That will never change.
Praise God for my time in Uganda. Praise God for the memories I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life. Praise God for allowing part of my heart to stay in Uganda and for part of Uganda to stay in my heart.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

Webale Yesu.

Touch the World job posting

Job Description:
Uganda Ministry Liaison

Touch the World is a mission organization that equips people to live out the message of Christ by restoring lives and empowering communities around the world.

Mission Statement:  To introduce people to Jesus Christ through project based initiatives, disciple them into the local body of assembled believers and equip them to reach others with the Gospel.

Touch The World Uganda is a field branch of TTW USA.  It is a registered non-denominational Christ-centered NGO operating to see spiritual transformation come through project-based initiatives.

TTW Uganda Vision Statement:  To equip the people of Uganda to live in communities of spiritual transformation, interdependency, and sustainability.

UML Position Overview
The UML serves as an advocate for all things Touch the World Uganda, working mainly from the home office.  The UML connects the home office of TTW USA by communicating with TTW Uganda and serving TTW Uganda missionaries with their various needs.  The range of requirements for this position is very diverse.

Requirements for UML
Committed Christian, demonstrating a healthy & growing spiritual life
Committed to raising a personal support salary
Excellent at communicating information & concepts; data as well as ideas
Creative and self-motivated

Education & experience in overseas/cross cultural missions
Education &/or experience with Uganda, specifically
Administratively skilled (as this job is highly administrative)
    Specific responsibilities listed on pg. 2 or upon request
Please contact Jeremy Matthews, Director of Global Ministries, with any questions or interest: 
201.760.9925 x 35

  1. Pray daily on behalf of the mission, each ministry and missionaries on the field.
  2. Report all TTWU prayer requests to TTW USA, home office.
  3. Communicate daily with Uganda country director (when possible). 
  4. Maintain regular communication with all TTWU staff.
  5. Retain a constant working knowledge of all ministry progress in Uganda. 
  6. Submit weekly accountability reports to the Director of Global Ministries (both personal and on behalf of TTWU).
  7. Create & submit weekly TTW USA ministry reports to Uganda Country Director. 
  8. Be prepared at all times to share literature, support raising information and all available knowledge of the ministry to interested supporters & donors.
  9. Daily update TTWU social media and monitor all missionary’s personal social media, newsletters, blogs, etc…
  10. Print and distribute monthly newsletters or other regular updates or mailings.
  11. Seek avenues in which to publicize the work being done in Uganda.
  12. Work in partnership with TTW’s LifeBridge coordinator, concerning child sponsorships in Uganda.
  13. Create & manage volunteer teams to raise awareness and funds for the ministry.
  14. Recruit well-qualified people who would be suitable to work alongside the ministry in Uganda (staff, interns, short term team members, etc…)
  15. Continuously network potential supporters, sources of income & key contacts that will foster growth in the ministry.   
  16. Work in conjunction with Short Term Mission department when sending teams to Uganda.
  17. Field all questions concerning internship programs, teams, etc…
  18. Coordinate income generating project(s) for which to help raise operating funds of the ministry, namely through the distribution, marketing and sales of Ugandan handicrafts and merchandise.
  19. Coordinate & create fundraisers to generate income for the ministry.
  20. Participate in all TTW USA fundraising events.
  21. Participate in preparing for TTW’s Short Term Missions department’s GUTS training week (July).
  22. Lead day long trainings for Uganda bound short term teams.
  23. Spend 1-3 months in Uganda per year (preferably during the summer months).

Monday, 5 December 2011

Questioning from Kapchorwa

Questioning from Kapchorwa

Student Perspective--the following post is from a fall 2011 student.
I am facing the fact that I have two weeks left in this place that I have come to call home. I am anxious to be back in the states but in the same moment I am begging time to slow down so that I can spend more time in Uganda. I can’t believe that the goodbye is approaching so quickly.

Being here has provided me space to observe things and ask questions that I haven’t allowed myself to before. Much of this blog is my own questioning and critique of the lifestyle that I am accustomed to back home, as a result there is a lot of comparison between life in the West and life in Uganda. My prayer is that as you read this you are invited into my questionings rather than feeling condemned by whatever I am saying. These are not conclusive thoughts but rather my own processing and my own wonderings through observation and participation in a different way of being.

My week in Kapchorwa was full of learning new skills and sharing in beautiful conversations. My Mom, Martha, was such a strong, capable, and loving woman. She graciously invited me to be part of her family and to participate in the details of life. I was allowed to live life alongside others, to dig, to pick coffee, to milk the cow, to cook with my Mom, to bathe the children, and to share multiple cups of tea with the neighbors.

The sweetest welcome into the family was the way in which Martha allowed me to participate in daily living. At night Martha, Wilfred and I would sit in the kitchen-hut as a family and hold the kids on our laps until they fell asleep. Then we would carry them one by one into the house and tuck them into bed. It was those evenings where I would look around at my family and catch myself whispering, "I love this". Life was meaningful because I was living with others and for others. I don’t know how else to describe it, but I was so moved at the simplicity and beauty of the communal living.

People matter everywhere, but in Uganda everyone seems to matter just a little bit more. Community is the number one priority here. Where the West says "I think, therefore I am" Uganda says "I participate, therefore I am". In all aspects of life your fellow man still matters more than your own needs.
You greet everyone, because everyone matters.
In Kapchorwa I received a sincere invitation to live life together as we were. I experience true and full hospitality. I was invited just as I was to meet with people just as they were, and to be with them fully.
It finally made sense that hospitality is not a ‘welcoming’ yet it is a presence of being.

With Others : For Others
Throughout my week in Kapchorwa I was struck by the reality that life has meaning. In the West we are driven and motivated towards success, yet in the process we often neglect to see the meaning within the very process of living. If you asked anyone from the West if they believe life has meaning they would respond with an automatic ‘yes’, yet our actions do not show it, nor do they lead us to live a life which is meaningful.

Living with my family in Kapchorwa I felt that every detail of the day was valued. Whether it was sharing milk tea with a neighbor, walking forty-five minutes to get firewood, or fetching water from the community tap – there was meaning because it was done with others. Everything was done in community and was done for others. In a week’s time with these people I feel that I have learned more about family and more about generosity than I have in a lifetime of attending church. In Uganda community is lived.
I find it really ironic that in the United States we assume and claim that we are living for others. It is true that we have numerous social services that work to provide for others: we help the homeless, we provide foster-care for abandoned children, we counsel the depressed, we provide service for refugees, we offer disaster relief… yet we do not live daily, detailed lives for others. We are individualistic. We are motivated to provide for ourselves and our small sphere of family. In all honesty, we live life separate from others.

This presents an evident dichotomy between what we proclaim as our purpose in life and how we actually live. It was not until my week in Kapchorwa that I realized this fully. Entering into a lifestyle where people, community, and family are truly a priority has allowed me to recognize the blind spot through which we live in the West.

The Language of Poverty:
Another thing that I have been wrestling with since living in Kapchorwa is the language of ‘poverty’. I lived in a community that a Westerner would look at and ignorantly label as ‘poor’. Children were running around without shoes, (most) houses were made out of mud, and the clothes people wore were dirty and worn out; but does that really define poverty? Does that really call for ‘relief’ work being sent in the form of Christmas-shoe-boxes stuffed with meaningless toys?
What I observed was a happy family who had everything they needed – even though it was radically less than what I was accustomed to. Throughout the week I came to realize that I live in extreme excess. It is not that my family in Kapchorwa was lacking anything; it was that my life of excess material things defined their lifestyle as lacking.

Spending time with these people and entering into a new way of being has re-emphasized to me what is and what is not important in life. Taking joy in your livelihood is important – making a large profit off it not; surviving and supporting your family is important – being so consumed with making money so as to live in luxury is not; being generous and giving your time and money to others is important – holding tightly to your possessions and being concerned with preserving them is not.

This week I was welcomed with open arms not only into a family, but into a community. I was given the gift to enter into the daily rhythm of a simple life.
Uganda has so much more to give me than what I could ever offer them.
I have been so humbled.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Lira Trip

Last weekend the Uganda Studies Program Cross Cultural Ministry Practicum class went to Lira.  Leaving on Friday afternoon we drove 6 hours north in a packed vehicle, passing through sun and rain, and seeing the Nile, monkeys, fields of sunflowers and a different region of the country.  

Our first stop on Friday night was Sankofa Cafe in Lira town.  A cafe started by Americans, it is now a business that employs Ugandans and teaches them skills.  The students got to hear from one of the managers about their business and enjoy pizza!  A successful stop all around.

On Saturday morning we headed to Otina Waa.  This is a ministry started by an American couple that includes children's homes, schools, a cafe, and a shop among other things.  Below Bob is telling the students about the ministry's history and vision- he is a very engaging speaker as you can see.


We then got a tour of the property that included an education on hydro form bricks.  Bob was pretty excited about the construction going on!  The group had a chance to ask lots of questions and then enjoyed lunch at the ministry's cafe.  

After lunch we headed to Hellen's shelter.  This is a home for abused women and children, started by Hellen, a former police officer in Uganda who saw a need for such a place.  Her story and ministry is inspiring, we got to ask questions and share time with those at the shelter.  Below Katy, Erica, Mariah, Christa, Autumn and Kaisha get to know Hellen.

The whole group gathered for a picture during our visit.

Liz getting to know some of the kids!

After a rain storm on Saturday we had a time to debrief and discuss what we had seen.  Sunday morning we went to a local church then hit the road to make it back to Mukono.  The trip was thought provoking, contained many new experiences and sights, and helped us all see ministry practiced in different ways within Uganda.  

Written by Gwyneth Jones, USE/SWE coordinator

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Africa, Anglicanism and Advent

‘Bonding Time: The Nativity in Townsville’ by Jan Hynes, 2007.

Many USP students come to Uganda aware that they will study in Africa.  But many of our students do not come from liturgical backgrounds and therefore discover in various contexts that they are also learning about worshipping in Africa, and also learning about anglican tradition in worship.

Those of us raised in liturgical backgrounds are also re-learning anglicanism in this context.  In East Africa, anglicanism is primarily low-church in its worship style.

But, for the sake of this audience, I thought I'd share one link that includes a good description of the season of advent.

Also for our alumni and current students, I found this cool advent activity to use with children in a variety of settings:

Any alumni and current students who have relevant resources to share about your experience with anglicanism and advent, please do share!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Rural home stays- Kapchorwa

Here are a few photos from a full, fun week had by IMME students in Kapchorwa over rural home stays. 

The USP van climbing up the Mt. Elgon escarpment:

Dropping off Kate at her new home for the week:

A misty morning out visiting students:

Joe picking coffee with his host father:

It is the thick of coffee harvesting in Kapchorwa. A bucket full of harvested coffee cherries (the technical term!):

Katy and our program driver Vincent getting out of the rain in the families sitting room:

Katie and her host mom and niece:

Michael harvesting coffee with his host brother:

Heading home after a morning of picking with a bucket full of beans-I-mean-cherries:

Program associate Jordan taking tea with Wesley at her home stay:

The beautiful Sipi Falls:

Nellie helps her host parents prepare chicken for dinner in the kitchen:

And at the end of the week, we all gathered at The Crows Nest for debrief. Program coordinator Gwyn here, sandwiched between Daniel and Joe:

Lots of fun and games at debrief:

And hiking of course:

A group of us at the base of Sipi Falls:

- posted by Rachel Robinson, IMME Coordinator

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Easing the pain of this world

Alumni Perspective--the following post is from a January 2011 student, originally posted on her blog

Hurt. Pain. Struggle. Poverty. Loneliness. Desperation. Hopelessness. Brokenness.

These were some things I saw and/or experienced during my time in Uganda. But that was not all. I also experienced the following.

Joy. Healing. Hope. Dreams. Vision. Wholeness. Love. Peace. Fulfillment. Reconcilation.

Not only so, but I also experienced and saw all of these things in the few short days I spent in Chicago over this past weekend.

Despite the fact that inner city Chicago may appear very different than Uganda, there are many similarities. There is a lot of hurt to be seen. A lot of poverty. A lot of desperation. A lot of hopelessness. There is also a lot of joy. A lot of love. A love of peace. A lot of hope.

We discussed in Uganda how it can often be easy to feel overwhelmed by the hurt we see and experience. The world is so messed up; how can I even begin to bring relief to such a broken and desperate world… especially when I am so incredibly broken and desperate myself?

This question was addressed in the book Compassion: A Reflection on the Christian Life, which we read and discussed in our Faith and Action class. The authors concluded that this burden can only be eased and addressed effectively through community.

"One of the most tragic events of our time is that we know more than ever about the pains and sufferings of the world and yet are less and less able to respond to them.

…When there is no community that can mediate between world needs and personal responses, the burden of world can only be a crushing burden. When the pains of the world are presented to people who are already overwhelmed by the problems in their small circle of family or friends, how can we hope for a creative response? What we can expect is the opposite of compassion: numbness and anger.

…If we let the full content of newscasts enter into our innermost selves, we would become so overwhelmed by the absurdities of existence that we would become paralyzed.

…The Christian community mediates between the suffering of the world and our individual responses to this suffering.” (pg. 50-53)

It is true that the pain of this world can become a burden. We can feel paralyzed. How can we help? How can we bring hope in the midst of pain and hurt and despair?

The authors of Compassion argue (and I would argue in agreement) that community is key. Whether we find ourselves in rural Uganda, in a brothel in India or in inner-city Chicago, we will not be effective without community.

Why is this? Community grants us support and encouragement. Life is hard. I would argue that not a single person has an easy life. Some have harder lives than others, but we all have struggles. Community offers the support and encouragement we need to keep going when our strength is running dry. Community helps us bring together our gifts and use them as one. Community helps us remember that we are not alone.

No matter where God leads us in life, there are a couple of things that will be true for all of us. 1. We will be somewhere. 2. That somewhere will be full of hut and needs in one form or another.

Don’t let the burden of this world overwhelm you. Participate in the community that surrounds you, and allow this community to keep you from filling up with numbness and anger. Don’t let yourself become paralyzed. This world is full of hurt and pain, but through God there is also love and healing and reconciliation.

Embrace God. Embrace community. Embrace love.

Meg (Spring 2011)
Huntington University

Friday, 11 November 2011

Poverty Critical Insight

Student Perspective--the following post is from a fall 2011 student.

 The past couple of classes we have started addressing the issue of poverty. In the context of being a student in an undeveloped country I get to see the Western idea of poverty everyday. When I say this I am referring to the idea that “poverty is the lack of material resources and possessions”(Corbett Fikkert, 55).  I have had several cross-cultural experiences the past few years through mission trips, work, and now studying abroad. In every instance I have had contact with the materially poor. In 2006 I had my first trip outside of the United States for a missions trip to Mexico. The key phrase that God gave me that week was “Don’t feel pity for the poor, but rather feel compassion for them.” Five years later that phrase is still working on my heart and the way that I view missions.

The past two summers I have lived and worked on the Navajo Reservation for a mission’s organization. Since I was on staff I had the opportunity to see and hear how different groups saw poverty. The constant from week to week was that they had a skewed vision of what poverty was. They thought that if they painted houses and played with kids for a week then their job was finished and the families they “helped” were now better off. Bryant Myers is quoted in “When Helping Hurts” by saying that, “Poverty is the result of relationships that do not work, that are not just, that are not for life, that are not harmonious or enjoyable. Poverty is the absence of Shalom in all its meanings” (Corbett Fikkert 62). In the two chapters that we’ve read so far this books has done a great job of highlighting the fact that poverty presents itself in many different ways; “social poverty, poverty of community, poverty of being, and poverty of stewardship” (Corbett Fikkert 62-63). 

The groups I met every week were leaving out the core issues that were causing material poverty on the reservation. They didn’t see that over eighty percent of Navajo’s have been affected by alcohol and that eighty percent have also been abused physically, emotionally, and even mentally. Some parents didn’t necessarily want their kids to hear about Jesus at our programs, but dropped them off every day because in their eyes our program was a form of free childcare four days a week. Others in the community know that they can get their houses painted for free so every couple of years they play the system and get a new color for their house. The groups only ever saw what they were doing while they were there, but failed to realize that they may be aiding to the endless cycle of poverty and poor stewardship on the reservation.

How does this relate to my stay in Uganda? I finally get to live with a family that, by my standards back home would have been considered poor. They have no running water, seldom have electricity, and don’t own a car. However, they aren’t poor. In fact, many other Ugandans would even consider them wealthy. Just having milk available to me everyday is a privilege many Ugandans don’t have. In just two months my idea of poverty has already started shifting. In all honesty, I don’t know where my mind will settle on this matter if it ever does settle.

There are so many similarities to what I saw on the Navajo reservation to what I see in Uganda. I see beautiful people who I need to have compassion and love for as brothers and sisters in Christ. It was so encouraging to read a chapter Shane Claiborne’s “Irresistible Revolution” and read this,“I talked to my neighbors and homeless friends about “vow of poverty,” they either laughed or gave me a puzzled stare. “Have you ever been poor?” some asked. I began to see how myopic my vision was, and how narrow my language. It reeked of privilege. So I would suggest we need a third way, neither the prosperity gospel nor the poverty gospel but the gospel of abundance rooted in a theology of enough.” (Claiborne 171-172)

He later goes on to quote Proverbs 30:8-9 where it says, “Remove me far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” This quote by Shane and this passage in Proverbs fits very well with what I’ve seen, felt, and even read in “When Helping Hurts.” In poverty stricken areas like Uganda and Native American Reservations we can easily promote the prosperity gospel or poverty gospel. This is too easy and does not preach the true gospel. I love the title “When Helping Hurts” because that is precisely what I see so often. Too many times I have been asked for money just for being white, both on the reservation and in Africa. It is as if I am a walking prosperity gospel. If I try and change that idea of me and try to live a life of poverty then I will be doing so on my own terms and looked at the same why Shane experienced. We must preach a gospel of contentment through a Lord that provides.
This semester has already changed the way I view those in poverty. In being able to live in a home many westerners would call poor I now have a better perspective on what goes on in the lives of people here. Yes, many struggle to place food on the table, but the images seen on tv back home don’t show how happy these people are with the little they have. They don’t need to live in a house with three bathrooms and own two cars. That is not poverty. Poverty changes from country to country, household to household, and person to person. When listening to the Anglican Bishop of Luweero this weekend I took away a quote that I will remember for years to come, “Westerners have watches, but don’t have the time. Well, we Ugandans don’t have watches but we do have the time.” In a world of appointments and schedules I need to remember this quote and live it out. The end of poverty, of any type, starts with building relationships and allowing the people you are trying to help to become more than just a face. I may not know how to end all poverty, but reaching in my wallet won’t do anything. Instead I need to reach out my hand and say, “Hi, my name is Daniel.”

Daniel Ensign (Fall 2011)

Works Cited

Claiborne, Shane. “An Irresistible Revolution.” Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006.

Corbett, Steve &Brian Fikkert. “When Helping Hurts.” Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2009. 

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Cry, the Beloved Country

The last couple times I've been teaching Henry Nouwen's Compassion, I've felt the urge to have a story and/or imagery to link to the profound claims he's making in his book.

Although Cry, the Beloved Country also stands on its own, I feel there is a relationship between the life of compassion that Nouwen describes and the life and vision of Alan Paton.  He lived out a life of solidarity in South Africa--in his relationships and in his pursuit of justice for all people in his country.

I'm attaching a link to the end of the movie, perhaps to inspire alumni or prospective students to track down the book (as a literature major, books always trump movies), or the movie which is also well done and faithful to the tone and intent of the book.

Cry, the Beloved Country. (The end) - YouTube Aug 2008 - 3 min - Uploaded by I2Bdude
This is the end to Cry, the Beloved Country. Amazing movie and brilliant book written.