Friday, May 6, 2011

camp, riots, and the beginning of the end

Mekwano! (Friends)

So sorry I have not updated in a while. I have been out of town at an AIM short-term retreat and then youth camp. I know many of you heard that last Friday there were riots all over Kampala. There were shootings, tear gassings, and spontaneous fires all around the city in response to the arrest of the opposition leader. My friends and I were grabbing breakfast at a shopping center and ended up hanging out there for about 6 hours until we got the all-clear to head back to my flat. I am so grateful for God's protection for all of us, but I still grieve that those kinds of things happen to the people here that I care about. Eventually we made it to Entebbe for the AIM retreat to a beach resort on Lake Victoria. It was beautiful and secluded and stood in such sharp contrast to the chaos we left about 30km behind in Kampala.

It was a wonderful weekend of encouragement and fellowship-but it was also bittersweet because it was the last time I got to see many of the other missionaries who came from other areas of Uganda and the Central Region.

Monday was the start of youth camp and I got home about 8pm last night and crashed by 9. I slept for a good 10 hours and it was glorious. Overall I think the camp went really well. I know the kids really enjoyed themselves and they wanted to spend all of thier free time swimming. I asked a few of them if they had ever been to the beach before since it is only about 40 minutes from Kampala but many of them had never seen Lake Victoria so I was glad that we were able to give them a new experience. After a health talk many of our kids requested to get tested for HIV which was encouraging. We had about 85 kids total-most of whom I had never met until Monday. There were some challenging moments for sure; some of the kids had trouble with English so some sessions were held entirely in Luganda so I just sat there and tried to pretend like I knew what was happening. Whenever I spoke I usually had an interpreter just in case. I also didn't realize what a challenge it would be to come into this context as a leader from a different culture. There were many times when I had to ask myself "ok, am I upset because this is a cultural difference and I just need to be a gracious learner" or "am i upset because teenagers will be teenagers and they just need to do what I ask them".  Beyond the cultural differences and frustrations sometimes I felt like the kids learned a lot and that I was able to learn a lot from them as well.  I had to remind them a few times just about being respectful and responsible (but I have had to do that with american teens before too, teenagers will be teenagers everywhere:)) But I was also so encouraged when Bethany and Carolyn came to visit camp for the night and forgot pillows two of my girls gave up their pillows without being asked. I also had girls volunteering to sweep out the restaurant where we had been eating-it always makes me happy to see God at work in creating servant hearts in our teens.

This is my last weekend here. I leave for home next Thursday night. There is a lot to think about, a lot to process, to many good-byes for my liking, and still a lot to do. I hope to be able to write again soon when I have had time to work out this whole experience in my head but its all jumbled and overwhelming right now. I can tell you this for sure: God is moving in Uganda, I have recieved far far more then I have given here, I have made friendships that I will carry with me forever, and this has been the greatest experience in my life thus far. I am so humbled by all the prayers and support, encouragement and love that I have been given by you all.

A few last prayer requests and praises:
1) Thank God for protection during the rioting. Please just pray that peace would come to Uganda, and to Africa in general. There is so much unrest, so many people who feel like they have no voice and no hope. Even when I return home please keep Uganda in your prayers.

2) I got a new roommate! She arrived from the States on Friday and joined me at youth camp for a day. She'll be taking over my job in the exit program at DP. I am really grateful God provided someone to continue the work I was doing. Please pray for her (Carolyn) adjustment and her time here.

3) Please just pray as I prepare to leave, for all the emotions, all the good-byes, for the entire jumbled mess that is my brain right now.

4) Please pray for safety as I travel home.

5) Praise God for a great week of camp, for the 85 kids we were blessed to get to spend time with, and for Gods provision and protection during the week (we left Kampala with 85 and we made it back with 85!).

6) please pray for direction as I come home and for the re-adjustment back into our culture and my life back home.

Love you all, be seeing you soon!


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