I can’t believe it’s almost Thanksgiving again. I haven’t had a chance to post here nearly as much as I would like over the last few weeks, but that’s been the story of my days lately. Every time I get so busy running from meeting to meeting something bumps into me with a little perspective, like this letter above from our girl in Uganda.
I love reading these letters from Joanita, our sponsor child in Uganda. They mean a lot to both of us, even more so since I have had a chance to meet her a few times and know where she lives and where she goes to school. Every time we get a letter from her she makes sure to let me know that she is praying for us, and that blows my mind. I can’t really think too deeply about this because after a while I’m just dumbfounded about what we complain about, and even more what things take up our time here in this land of plenty.
When I read her letters it makes me stop and think about who is praying for me, and who am I praying for? Is it a trivial passing glance or have I made time today for things that are eternally important, not just the mundane task driven daily routine that is so hard to break out of at times. Even though she will probably never know how much I appreciate her prayers just knowing that a little girl 10,000 miles away who sleeps on a dirt floor is praying for me humbles my day.
Today instead of going on the trip to Uganda with the team from last year, I got to see them off to the Atlanta airport. It was a sad goodbye for me personally since I’m staying behind, but I know God is going to work among these eight people pictured above over the next week in Uganda. This team is going to build on so many other teams that have already gone and come back, intent on sharing the love of Christ with others in a culture and context far different from the comfortable life we live in the western world.
You can see a little more about what the trips are like from my previous posts in the Uganda tag, and if you want to follow along with this particular team you can follow April Olive’s blog as she updates throughout the trip. I can’t wait to hear about their trip, it is quite an experienced group of travelers with a heart for the people of Uganda.
As soon as I read the topic for this week’s photo challenge I immediately thought about several images I took at these so-called remand homes in Uganda (to read more details and see more photos go to these two posts They are Hidden but Not Forgotten and The Challenge of Being Salt and Light in the Darkness). These two images presented here for this week’s post were taken 24 hours apart from each other at two completely different areas in Uganda hours away from each other, at a place defined by solitary from the rest of the world. The desperation for children who sometimes get stuck in here for years ranges from joy in just being alive to actually dying from malnutrition.
There is a missional group called Sixty Feet who have a team on the ground there 24/7, and they do some fantastic work over there with these kids. Since these images were taken, Cornerstone Church has sent several teams to visit these facilities to try to provide a little hope to those who find themselves in this situation. We have another team leaving this coming Tuesday (see updates on this blog) with plans for several more teams over the next six months.
As a part of the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge on Solitary I would challenge everyone to take a look at Sixty Feet and just see what they are doing in Uganda. Even if you have no intention of partnering with this group at all, just check out what they are doing in Uganda and make yourself aware of what life is like for some of these children. They are in a desperate situation, but many had more joy than I’ve seen anywhere else in the world within the most unimaginable situations.
It may not look like it at first glance, but this is part of the hard work that goes into following Christ wholeheartedly, what we call, Leading People to Know and Serve Jesus. I have learned an amazing amount about how the church body functions since I went on staff in late 2008. One of the incredible things about being on staff is the behind the scenes look you get at the visioning and planning process the church body goes through, continually. To see God actively working, guiding his people through the process of being the church, is a great privilege. Today was one of those rare monthly staff meetings where almost everyone on staff was in the room. There are almost as many people behind me in the photo above as there are in front of me, and still we had a few people who couldn’t be there today.
One thing that never stops amazing me is how hard everyone works, not just at my church, but at most all the churches I have come into contact with over the years. There are so many people who make the church body what it is. Countless volunteers who have sacrificed time, and money, to be the hands and feet of Christ. Of the many topics discussed today, one was how to tell the stories of these volunteers and other people who’s lives have been changed by Christ’s work through his church, like some of our seniors going to Uganda last week instead of going somewhere like Panama City Beach for a party.
I’m not really sure why this particular post came to be tonight, this just happened to be what was on my mind as I recalled events from my day. I do know this type of planning and these type of stories, go on endlessly, because God is at work in His people endlessly. If you haven’t been in church for a while, there is no better time than now. Sunday is less than 7 days away, and you aren’t reading this by accident any more than I wrote this by accident. Don’t just keep looking around for that perfect church, there isn’t one. Christ, who built the church out of imperfect people, can change your life forever, and he can use us imperfect people of the church to do it.
This second photo above with the writing on the wall might not seem like much at first, especially without bringing out the contrast in the image, the writing on the wall is almost unseen. The boy in the first image at the top is sitting right in front of the window where I took this second shot (farthest window to the left). Etched and scratched into a concrete wall, in an almost morbid sense of humanity for a child, are written these words:
Never forget Masaba Derick from Mbale Town good boy from Kampiringisa
This boy’s home town, Mbale, is a tiny little village hours and hours away from where I photographed this image in the Kampiringisa Rehabilitation Centre, so there is no telling how he ended up in this Children’s facility, or if or when he left. These facilities exist all over Uganda, and some, like this one, were not staffed with adults, but yet it housed hundreds of kids who had to just fend for themselves. No electricity, no water, and in many ways, no hope. This image, taken in October 2011, just stuck with me over the last several months.
By the point I took this image above, this particular building was no longer being used to actively house anyone, but obviously it did at some point. One thing I do know, God has not forgotten these children, whether they know it yet or not. To see more images from this particular day, see They are Hidden but Not Forgotten or go to my Stories section to see others.
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.
A continuation shot of Part 1, this shot is Part 2 of 3 and was taken just on the other side of the window bars and shows the extent of the mural on the wall. The wall depicts a family, possibly their witch-doctor, and the love they have for their missing child.
An abandon building that holds children in prison for various delinquencies, many of whom are spending and have spent years there. While this building wasn’t being used, the overall facility was still quite active with over 150 children housed on the property. The photo of the father has L-O-V-E written across his face, which will be shown in subsequent photos.
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.