Our first ministry week is over. It's been an exciting, challenging, adventurous, God-filled time of new experiences and gut-wrenching paradigm shifts.
In my journeys to Africa I have wrestled with the inconsistencies of a world where health, wealth and comfort are largely governed by where a person is born. I can see the same struggles playing out on the faces of the team: sitting in a mud hut, present but expressionless, attempting without success to process the conflicting realities sitting in front of them - realities signified in faces belonging to people, imprisoned under a mostly hopeless pall of toil and physical hardship... and the next moment seeing boundless joy in children who own nothing, have little to eat, and have no-one to care for them.
The paradoxes run through stories from the week: a 23-year old girl who had her first child at 12 and is now bearing her 7th. Hospitality suited for a king brought by tenants of a mud hut. A family, stricken by AIDS, the father and five children cared for by the grandmother. Friendship freely offered. Days of labour for the simplest of material things. Smiles, waves, friendliness, and trust. A society contaminated with AIDS and corruption breeding massive, systemic, socio-economic problems. An infinitely powerful & loving God. Pitiless suffering.
These are realities that we must wrestle with and come to terms with. And as we do, learning to trust God for his grace, that he is strong and will accomplish his will... that he cares for the widow and the orphan - these new friends of ours - and that he hears their plea.
We are only halfway through. Already it would already take a book to catalogue the experiences and the change that has taken place in people's lives. And the change in us is only the beginning. Many have received the good news of Jesus. It's been in the form of 50kg bags of maize, new mattresses, blankets, clothes, beans, salt, sugar, friendly faces, helping hands, prayer for the sick & needy, and words of truth... And to look at the 10-acre site of Peace Portal Community Church and see how much has changed in only 18 months since I was last here. This place is a beacon of grace in real and practical ways. Fresh clean water, a medical clinic, a children's home and a gathering place for the church that can meet people spiritually.
It's a lot to take in... fortunately the team has bonded extremely well, and there are a lot of lighter moments to balance out the days. Jon paid me 500 USh to write that he caught a snake today. He's even got pictures to prove it:
In other news, the team is generally healthy. A couple people were frequenters of the 'flashing' toilets through week, but everyone is now on the mend. Today we are enjoying a day in Kampala as a team. Almost everyone is crammed into this internet cafe right now, waiting for a chance to send a word home. We are still missing two bags - Jessica's; and mine, which contains a lot of expensive equipment :(
Through this weekend and next week, I'll be posting some specifics about some of the activities & experiences. For today's post, I've got a few images of life & environs for the team, then a series of photos from the Children's Home on the 10 acres. Enjoy!