Today our church sent off the next team that heads over to Uganda. This is our second group to go over to Uganda this year, and we have 2-3 more teams headed over to Kampala Uganda in the coming months. This team is a great group of seniors who have saved, found donors, and been preparing for months to get to the point of this photo above. In just about 24 hours they will put their feet on that red Uganda dirt, and somewhere in the back of their mind I know they will be thinking, whoa, we are in Africa.
I’m really looking forward to hearing all about how they are able to partner with our brothers and sisters in Christ in Uganda. If you would like to follow along as they post, you can head over to Rusty Hutson’s blog. If all things go as planned, Rusty will be sending blog posts over to the church as often as possible once they get on the ground and get to the house. Their first day is going to be a five hour drive out into rural Uganda, so once they get back from that first day on the ground we should start to see some new posts. To see more about past trips just click here or Uganda in the drop down menu at the top.
This is Part 3 of 3 in the “Written on the Walls Behind Bars” posts (see Part 1 and Part 2 to see the progression). The transition to the bars and then with “Love” written on the face of the father is pretty incredible to me. These shots were part of a larger shoot that day from these facilities in Uganda. To see more images from those days click here to see They are Hidden but Not Forgotten and The Challenge of Being Salt and Light in the Darkness.
Today we (Cornerstone Church) sent off two staff members (Brian and Jack in the red and green shirt center above) to Uganda for a short business trip. Right now as I write this they are high over the Atlantic on their way to Amsterdam then on to Africa. This has pretty much become an annual planning trip for our church to prepare the way for our mission teams who will travel to Uganda later this year. For the last several years we have sent 3-4 teams a year to Kampala, Uganda to work in and around Kampala, Gaba, and Buloba. Most recently we have partnered with a mission group out of Atlanta called Sixty Feet who are trying to work in a few remand homes in Uganda (see Uganda photos from a previous trip of mine).
This year, once again, we have 3-4 teams including the one above, who will head over to Uganda to partner with our brothers and sisters in sharing the love of Christ with others. Today this photo is my Project 365 image for Day 155 (full gallery here), can’t think of a better photo of the day today than this.
This is just about the first time I have felt like or had the energy to get back on my blog since I got home from Uganda. This particular trip has been the most difficult trip to readjust from and just back into just the normal routine of things. I got sick just about the day I walked into my house (and am still recovering), then Deborah got sick yesterday (and she is still recovering) so I never could distinguish between jet lag and sick lag. I could probably have seen this coming as I spent every ounce of energy I had in Africa over that 10 day period.
It’s more than that though, it’s a deeper connection made with some people literally half way around the world, and our life in my cultural context doesn’t give you any time to “adjust”, it just keeps moving forward at breakneck speed. There is nothing wrong with life over here any more than life anywhere else, ever single place has it’s own struggles, and often they are almost identical in nature, we just always think they are different because of the lens we look through every day.
Today’s Friday Feet comes to you from Kampala as we waited with the gals from Sixty Feet to go inside the second children’s facility in Kampala. I took those shots above that day with this post in mind, even if the two K’s (Kelsey and Kirby) didn’t know what I was doing, and honestly, I can’t remember which K’s toes are shown below, I think they are Kirby’s. What was really amazing to me about life over there is that almost everything we did was either preceded or followed by some kind of worship to our King, and it was often 60-90 minutes at a time, and it didn’t matter what day of the week it was. They just hauled the drums over, dropped them down and we were good to go.
I know Sixty Feet’s ministry name has to do with number of feet deep not actual toes and shoes, but it works for my Friday Feet today, thanks for being such great sports and for the work you two are doing over there Kelsey and Kirby.
Tonight was our kickoff meal, so to speak, with the Uganda team and our families at the famous Little Italy Pizzeria in Auburn. This was the first time we have all been together with our friends and family in one place, and it was great to all just be in the same room together. Up until now, for months in fact, we have met as a team in preparation for our trip to Uganda, and what a team we have going this trip. Collectively we have such an incredible range of personalities, skills, experience, gifts, and expertise, especially when you include our friends and family that were there tonight. To me, it’s such a great look at how the church body can be so diverse, yet united in Christ together with the desire to follow God halfway across the world.
This will be the first of many upcoming posts from our trip. We leave on Wednesday and I know everyone on the team will greatly appreciate your prayers as we go through the final stages of trying to let go of our busy schedules here and start to focus on the task at hand. For now, here are a few shots from tonight, more to come over the next week to ten days. Thanks so much to the guys at Little Italy for putting up with our large group and all the noise, you guys were awesome (see photo below).
This is part two of a post I did last week (part 1) on the faces of Uganda. This set of images was a quick project related to the kids at African Renewal Ministries (ARM), which is the ministry group in charge of the sponsor child program we work with at Cornerstone Church. This is a pretty amazing program for the kids in Uganda and ARM coordinates the sponsorship of over 7,000 children in Uganda right now, along with being a bridge for churches and other non-profit organizations among other things. They are an amazing group, but you can really see the difference they make when you actually go over to Uganda and meet the children in the program in person and see that it really does make a difference to them.
To me, they are in the business of producing fruit… something we all should have on our to-do list as Christians, if I can say that and not make it sound like a checklist. They, and the people who work with them are producing the fruit, described in John 15, for future generations in Uganda. Something not just talked about in John but all over scripture, and to me that’s exciting. Our October mission team leaves in about a week and I can’t wait to get back to see those kids again. Just saying that feels a little weird since I’m not really one for searching out kid-friendly whatever but there is just something about the joy those kids have about life that is contagious, except perhaps when they get caught in the rain, but who likes that.
Today I finally had a chance to process some more photos from the shoot in Uganda. These were specifically pulled out for the kids, and there were way too many to put into one single post so I broke this up into two pieces. I’m not sure what preconceived stereotypes you have in your head when you think about the phrase “Uganda kid photos”, but what I had in mind was the late night 2am TV commercials guilting you into sending money. That just wasn’t what I saw when I was there, and below is a very small sampling of what I encountered while I was there in August. There is no sugar coating their hardships, and they do exist, but as you are surrounded by people who have basically nothing, according to our western standards, you find they are happy, smiling, laughing, and overall excited to see you.
It was quite inspiring to be around people who seemed to genuinely happy in spite of the adversity they face. There are so many things we (I include me in this) complain about every day that I think some days we just flat out lose our joy for life. Perspective helps, but that too fades with time. Ultimately I pray God will at least change my heart for the things He cares about, like the people in these photos. Only about 10 more days before I head back to Uganda with a completely different group of people, a completely different mission and schedule, but I’m pretty sure all of us have a soft spot in our heart for these smiling faces. In some respects this upcoming trip will be emotionally harder as we are scheduled to be in two different children’s prisons in the middle of the week. I know God will be moving with us and the kids while we are there, but I know the entire team would appreciate your prayers as we get closer to leaving.
Keep an eye out for part two of this post with the remaining five or so photos from this particular batch. Have a great weekend.
I have been back for almost two weeks now and it has taken me this long just to get through an initial run-through of all the images I shot in Uganda. What’s amazing to me about the images we captured is how many individual stories there are, waiting to be told, at some point down the road. I tried to go to Uganda with as few preconceived notions about I was going to be able to shoot as I could, and I’m glad I did. Not really having any idea what I would be able to capture gave me the freedom to shoot journalistically per se.
Looking back at the entire shoot in it’s complete unedited form showed me a greater story that is impossible to tell in one blog post, or even several. That’s the great thing about being part of something bigger than just an individual process, and I love that about the mission work our church is involved with in Buloba. It’s not about an individual effort but a collective group of teams over many years building countless relationships with people. Now that I have gone through the whole set of photos over the next few weeks, a little at a time, I’m going to post some short individual stories that came through to me.
I love this shot of Jason, Eddie (our driver in Uganda), and myself. If you are holding a machete in the middle of the woods-jungle I think it’s a rule, you have to stop to have a photo taken. Jason and I were attempting to clear a few branches away for a lady who lived on the property and to say thanks she gave Eddie these awesome avocados (you can just see her in the photo in the upper right background). Actually, we both thought it would be really cool to get to use a machete to do some actual real work, and I ended up with the machete and Jason the axe pipe thing (sorry Jason).
I know I have said it before but it still amazes me. The speed and priorities of life in Bulboa where this lady lives is so extremely different from the west, even different from just up the road in Kampala. Life down in Buloba isn’t really run by a clock on a wall like we know it, and no one seems to be in a hurry to do anything, it’s just TIA (this is Africa). I didn’t really hear that said too much while I was over there, but I did hear it a few times, which generally refers to “whenever”. I personally loved that and enjoyed the down time, especially since that pretty much doesn’t exist at all on this side of the world. I fight for it every week but it’s certainly not the norm no matter how hard you try to slow things down. The little wood we chopped up was supposed to last her about a month, although I’m not sure how, the same bit of wood wouldn’t have been enough to start a fire to me. We did spend about an hour or two walking around this neighborhood while others in our group worked on some painting. It was very low key, very laid back, very TIA.
Over here this week life moved along at our normal breakneck speed. Nothing inherently wrong with that but every minute of every day is packed full and it didn’t take me any time at all to fall back into life at hyper-speed where you have to fight for margin. Margin is where life happens, where we meet with God and remember why we do what we do.
Cornerstone has two teams headed to Uganda in July (I’m on the second trip that leaves in two weeks), and the first team left today for Atlanta and then almost 8,000 miles and two 9 hour flights to Kampala, Uganda. I love being around people who are following their faith not just with words but with actions. Our salvation is not ever tied to our works, but we are called to action not just words, and I love that about these people leaving today. Imperfect people following a perfect Savior as best they can. They were all very excited about the days ahead, and if you want to follow their trip, two of them will be blogging as they can from here and here. Please be praying for our team members as they begin to arrive and get settled into their routine. Here is who is on the mission trip in that photo above: