Daily Archives: June 9, 2013

Update 2013 June 9

Update about what’s happening with us, but first just a note to say it’s amazing to see how my experience has led up to this job here in Uganda.  I will be working on developing policies and procedures and a handbook for volunteers and new missionaries who arrive on the field with Equip.  I was told by Jeremy and Chris at our first Equip Uganda leadership meeting that my job had changed from 80% ministry / 20 % admin to 80% admin / 20% ministry.

Although a bit disappointing, this is entirely necessary for the stage of growth that Equip Uganda is in.  I look forward to assisting our team in getting Equip Uganda started.  We’re working on mission statement, vision statement, purpose statement and other admin things that will better develop the direction for the organization in years to come.

One of the biggest challenges we face is coordination with other NGO’s (non-government organizations).  We hope to set up some coordinated efforts to make ministry in Jinja, and specifically Masese slum more efficient, with better communication.

Now on to our week this past week:
Tuesday, June 4th we move into the Sperlings home, about 5 miles or so east of Jinja.  We spent most of the day settling, organizing and cleaning our stuff.

Wednesday, June 5th – 1st day of formal Luganda Language training.  Wow!  We purchased a Learning Luganda CD in late 2012 from Amazon and have been going through

it.  The kids are doing great and the parents…not so bad.  The CD has some mistakes, we’re finding out.  The CD says “please” in Luganda is embwa.  However, embwa means “dog.”  So you can imagine why our restaurant server looked at us funny when we thought we said, “Please” and we really said, “dog.”  Not good.

Also on Wednesday we had a couple items to take care of with the house – the most

 
A snapshot of Main Street, downtown Jinja.

important was to get a quote to install mosquito screens for the windows in the house, in A snapshot of Main Street, downtown Jinja.order to cut down on malaria.  Finally I begin driving in Uganda!  This is insanity – driving on the opposite side of the road and the drivers seat, gear shift, rear view mirror, radio, signal lights, etc. etc. all opposite.  The only thing that remains the same, thankfully is that the gas is on the right foot and clutch on the left foot.  Oh, and backing the vehicle is opposite, too.  Pedestrians have no rights and yet they will walk in the road.  Vehicles stop in the road.  Botas (small motorcycles) drive the wrong way on the road.  Traffic drives in the evening with no lights on or their high beams on.  Stop signs are disregarded by everybody.  No such thing as lanes – if you can squeeze by, then do it no matter where you are on the road!  Speed in reality is somewhat regulated by using potholes to slow traffic.  They will use speed bumps, too.  You really take your life in your hands.  I haven’t prayed like this before when driving – seriously.

Thursday was men’s group and meeting with teammate Jeremy for our monthly Equip team meeting on Friday morning.  More driving!  We also shopped in town for basic necessities around the house – remember we’re somewhat starting over again.

Friday – Equip Uganda monthly meeting discussing past months activities, future plans, better coordination of activities, communication, financial reporting, mission, vision, purpose, etc.  2nd quote on the mosquito screens since the first quote was so high.  Passport photos for new drivers permit.  Repaired some minor things Friday evening around the house.  Paid the water bill.  Got groceries.  All this stuff takes extra time due to things like language, not knowing the area, new money, new culture, etc. etc.  A number of times I feel like I’m being cheated.  I was charged $25,000 shillings (about $10) to repair a zipper on my suitcase from the trip here, when I found out I really should have paid only about $5,000 shillings.  The guy charged me higher because they assume because I’m white I have money – in the US some people consider that racism.  Here, discrimination is part of life.

Saturday – personal time. Michelle meets with a fellow missionary wife.  Mark takes care of some personal business.

Sunday – FB a request from a supporting church to provide information about missionaries (that church has VBS this week).  Attend our church in the morning.  Lunch at our house with one of our Equip teammates.  Bible study at another missionary home at 3 pm – meet new interns from the States;  Michelle and girls attend a missionary appreciation dinner at 6 pm for females (moms and wives), while I write our blogs.  It’s 12 midnight.  I’ve got to get to bed!

Monday morning 8:30 am – ride with Luke and others to Kampala (3 hours away) to get my drivers permit and learn about immigration while there, since I will have to apply for a work permit in July.

This past week has more to do with settling into the house and culture than most anything else.  Thanks for prayers!  They mean more than you know!

Learning the Importance of Engaging Others

On Monday, June 3rd at about 6:00 pm local time, I was approached on Main street in Jinja by Abraham, a twelve-year old local boy who saw our family of mzungus (white people) leaving a restaurant.  I was in a rush to get back to the Guest House to be with my family, yet this young guy caught my attention briefly by mumbling, “I wahnt sahma fuhd.”  Due to his thick Ugandan accent I had to ask him what he said.  He repeated the request which I understood this time, but he would not look me in the eye, “I want some food.”

Abraham did not look like a street kid – he was healthy-looking, dressed well, and knew where the street kid ministries were located that could help him.  He was unfortunately learning how to get what he wanted from the mzungus.

This is not the only time I have been asked for food or money since arriving here in Jinja.  I’m not complaining, it’s just caused some thought.  I was asked by two different parents to help them sponsor their children in school since school fees here are expensive and many families have numerous children.

Being in Jinja for just over a month now, I already see the power of money in a third world country.  The easiest, quickest response is money, and we’ve done that too.  Everyone wants just “a little bit more.”  And don’t we as Americans have relatively a lot of it?

So how are we to handle requests for money and food, especially when so many programs exist to help?

It’s interesting that there is an example in Scripture about money that leads us to what I think part of the answer is to this dilemma.  At first glance, the story may not seem to connect with this blog, but think about it more deeply.

MoneyIn Matthew 22, the story is recorded.  The Pharisees ask Jesus:  17Tell us, therefore, what do You think? Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”

  18But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, “Why do you test Me, you hypocrites?   19Show Me the tax money.”

So they brought Him a denarius.

  20And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?”

  21They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”

And He said to them, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Brilliant answer.

The well-known Christian apologist, Ravi Zacharias in discussing this section of Scripture thinks that the Pharisees missed a great follow up question, which in his opinion they should have asked Jesus.  That question being, “And what belongs to God?”

Ravi thinks Jesus’ answer to this hypothetical question would have been something like, “Whose image is on you?”

On us?  Is there an image and an inscription on us?  According to Genesis 1:27 man is made in the image of God.  God’s image is on us!  So we belong to God – his workmanship and creation.  What about an inscription?  Incredibly Isaiah 49:15-16 tells us this truth, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb?Hand & Cross Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed (Heb root is to hack; implying to enact like laws written on stone) you on the palms of My hands;”

How much we matter to God, if we just stop for a while and consider!  He desires a strong relationship!  So much that He didn’t just throw money at us, but rather He cares for us more than a nursing mother does her child.  He took the inscription of our sins onto His palms through the nails that held Him to the cross.

I am learning this point:  relationships matter and we must make the time to engage people in our busy world and not just hand out money.  Love people – that should include engaging them while feeding them or helping them and tell them the Gospel reason why we are helping them.  Should we feed or give money in all cases?  I believe we should follow the lead of God’s Holy Spirit.  An important question might be:  Does handing generous sums of money out, bring those in need to depend on further begging or depend on Jesus?

Little Abraham had engaged me – whether for legitimate reasons or not, I do not know.  As Abraham and I were talking, I thought about Abraham’s request for food.  He knew the ministries where he could get food.  I did sense the Spirit asking me to engage him and we talked about real bread – the Bread of Life being Jesus.  I trust this was the appropriate response in this situation.  It has also reminded me of the importance of my quiet time in order to be prepared to face who God is leading to me that day.