Tuesday, August 3, 2010

There and Back Again (...haha)

For those of you who are Lord of the Rings fans, you understand my title. If you don't get it, sorry. I just thought it would be funny :) And it has relevance to this post.

Enough of that, now on to why I am writing.

After leaving Jinja, I returned back to The Farm for my remaining 2 weeks in Uganda (the relevance). Honestly, getting back there, I wasn't sure the plan was going to be for that time. Us 4 interns met and discussed our desires with each other and with Richard and Susan, and with a bit of culmination were able to come up with a rough schedule.
On the plate for the following week already consisted 2 separate Gospel Conferences where other teams of missionaries were coming in to lead. During that week, Vern and I helped the construction sites by supplying the water for mixing mortar and concrete (which is a surprisingly time consuming job). Often when bible teaching is going to happen, Geofrey is commonly asked to play the worship music. During this time I was able to join him. I always enjoy playing with Geofrey, because he has such a passion for music and using that as a way to worship God. Geofrey has written many songs since learning how to play guitar; and since I had my computer, we were able to record 7 songs during our free time throughout those 2 weeks. It was so great to see be apart of Geofrey really hearing himself for the first time. He is truly a gifted musician. (photo taken by Emily Harpe)
One of the groups that came during that week was from Far Reaching Ministries which is actually based out of Southern Sudan, about 5 hours up the road from where we resided. We had some great conversations with them during their 3 days at the farm. The Co-director was actually an Accountant before entering the mission field, which gives me hope considering that is what I am studying in school. One of FRM's sub-ministries is a project called Love Covers Africa. LCA supplies all the students of one school per year in this region with: backpacks, uniforms, mosquito nets, blankets, t-shirt, underwear, notebooks, and pens. They have run this program at 2 (possibly 3?) schools now. This year, LCA has chosen a school just minutes from the farm, and many of the students are residents of the farm. Preparing all of those bags, 1000 to be exact, takes many hands and much time. During my final week there, we were able to prepare 600 of those bags. The day was long, hot, and constantly on the brink of a downpour, but it felt sooo good to help. Seeing all of us, Americans and farm staff, come together and get that done was a great experience. I also loved seeing 2 great ministries, Family Empowerment Uganda (Canaan Farm) and Love Covers Africa (Far Reaching Ministries), culminate their ideas and love for giving to do such a powerful and large scale event. The actual distribution will take place in September at the beginning of term.
Early in our final week, we also worked on a similar project to the LCA project. Two of our main team members, Marlena Dorsey and Laura Pearson, had it on their hearts to raise $5000 before coming to Uganda. The original idea was to use the money to purchase 1000 pairs of shoes for school children. This changed when they saw the mass need for school supplies in 2 of the local primary schools. With that in mind, they decided to purchase backpacks, pens, and notebooks for around 800 students. While I was in Jinja, some of the team members packed all the bags. I was able to help though on the distribution day. I'll admit, it was quite hectic, but all in all it was great to see the joy on the children's faces when we pulled in and unloaded the bags.
Amongst the craziness of packing 600 bags and also distributing others for a different project, we also were able to visit a family in need. Kate is the mother/guardian of 2 disabled children: John and Harriet. While our big team was here, 2 of the members who are practicing Physical Therapists also visited Kate's home and were able to make some good assessments. John is 18 years old and has a swollen skull due to water surrounding his brain. This has caused extreme underdevelopment in the rest of his body. John cannot walk and spends the entirety of his time laying on his side. The team members worked on simple muscle exercises for John's arms and legs. Harriet is about 4 years old and also suffers from mild underdevelopment. There is a higher level of hope for her however. The team also worked with her on upper and lower body exercises, and there is definite hope for Harriet to walk some day. During our couple of visits to their home, we were able to continue working on exercises and stretching with John and Harriet. Seeing their children much more active gave Kate and her family much hope. Vern and I also were able to do some small gardening there and plant some squash and okra for Kate's family. Here is a picture of John, sorry I do not have one of Harriet. Pray for their family. Doctors say that John exceeds the age limit to perform the surgery needed to heal him of his disorder. With that though, I do not want to doubt that there is hope.
As Yobel Interns, we did have a one more job to do: Finalize and purchase the jewelry order. The new designs came out of a mesh of idea from the team and those who actually make the jewelry. It was great to sit and help the workers as they pieced together some pretty awesome looking work. At the end of the week, the jewelry was packaged and purchased. This project does not generate their only form of income, however the money that comes from purchasing the jewelry pays the workers directly and helps invest back into this community in many ways. The teachers home and primary school (a future project) have been completely funded by the purchase of this great bamboo jewelry.
My final 2 weeks at the farm was incredible. In that time, I was really able to see more of the behind-the-scenes work that goes on to run a project like Canaan Farm. Richard and Susan Angoma are such a blessing, and it is great to see how they follow after the Lord's call on their lives. My time with Geofrey was awesome and we are so much closer as brothers in Christ. My entire 7 weeks in Uganda was a huge learning experience, and I feel I have come away many life changing experiences. I am so thankful that God changed my entire summer's plans, and took me back to Uganda last minute (literally). My prayer is that those who feel the call to go and serve, whether in Uganda or right here in America would listen and respond. God is huge and has such a great plan for all our lives, we just have to be available.
Thanks for reading and following me on this trip. I will probably continue to post stories and experiences as I continue processing this trip. I am so thankful for all your prayers and support. Thanks for being a part of this.

In Christ,

Christian (Agenorwot) Outlaw