For those of you who like to keep tabs on our whereabouts:
We will be in Kampala until June 15th, staying at the Grand Hostel near Makarere University and working from FOCUS Uganda Center in Mulago.
June 15th we'll travel to Murchinson Falls and stay at the Red Chili one night.
June 16th we'll arrive at Child Voice International where we'll be staying outside of Gulu at the Lukome Center.
June 28th we will come back to Kampala and stay at the FOCUS Gerenge Camp in Entebbe for one night.
June 29th the InterVarsity team will stay at Banana Village in Entebbe to prepare for our return to New England.
Our flight is Emirates EK201 scheduled to land at JFK by 2:15pm on Sunday July 3rd.
Greetings from Dubai! We arrived last night (Dubai-time) to a balmy 38 degrees Celsius and enjoyed a few hours of sleep in beds. This morning we are waiting to board our plane to Entebbe, Uganda from the comfort of the air-conditioned airport. Here's a recap from the last few days:
Tuesday - we focused on soul care, and power and privilege dynamics. We were encouraged to know "where we begin, and where we end," so that we can make sure to bring all of ourselves to this team and our time together, but not stretch ourselves beyond what is healthy. We were led through an exercise by Helen Luis Mills where we were asked to take steps based on our background: did our parents read to us when we were growing up, have we often been the only person of our ethnicity in a group, were we encouraged by our family to attend college? After the exercise we spent time in our team going deep with our frustrations about injustice, how we define privilege, and how we will be influenced by our own background as we enter into Ugandan culture. It was a beautiful time of honest sharing and displayed the trust we've already built with each other.
Wednesday - we got to hear from D'Andrea about the history of Child Voice, things we can expect to be a part of when we stay in Lukodi, and her own story. The reality of spending a month showering out of a plastic bin and also meeting some incredibly resilient and joyful people hit us! In the afternoon Monica, a researcher at Yale on the sociology of food, spoke with us about the globalization of food systems and helped us inspect our own choices. She sent us with questions to consider as we spend the month in Uganda and encouraged us that our own personal choices do make an impact on others throughout the global food web.
Greetings from New Haven! It is the end of the second day of the Global Issues Institute. So far our team has spent time drinking lots of water to stay hydrated, learning about each other and establishing common values, and listening to speakers from across the US.
Saturday afternoon we kicked off our time with Jim Ehrman speaking to us from New Haven about his work through both YWAM and the World Christianity Initiative at Yale. He encouraged us to recognize that God is at work in us using our culture as a gift to others, and that as we go to Uganda we are also able to receive gifts from their culture. Rather than mentally (or outwardly) devaluing any culture we can seek to grow in parallel with others as members of the Christian church.
Saturday evening we heard from Tom Lin, InterVarsity's Missions and Urbana Director, about the changing face of Christianity, the rapid growth of Christian communities in Asia and Africa and how they are challenging Western Christians to view their own faith and their work in missions. One thing that really connected with a lot of us is the need expressed by believers in the Majority World church to keep the gospel message intimately connected with "gospel practice," or the living out of one's faith. This will be a big emphasis of our time in Uganda. A particularly challenging question Tom raised was, "how will you love people without spending money?"
Today we heard from John Rowell, a pastor from Atlanta, GA who recently returned from Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the topic of being a mission partner with our resources of time, money and physical presence. At the end of his talk a comment that he made really resonated with me. "God's grace is sometimes in what he doesn't reveal." I have found this to be true in my preparation for spending time in Uganda - being able to finalize so few of the details in advance makes me that much more grateful for the amazing relationships, meaningful service, and deep learning and growth that God facilitates.
We've also spent time this weekend getting to know the other members of our team and working through some of the details of life together for the next month. Today as we worked together to untangle a "human knot" during a team exercise it was inspiring to see how each member balanced leadership with a willingness to take direction from others while having a good time. I am very hopeful that our month together will continue with the mutual respect, atmosphere of extending grace, and general sense of openness that everyone has for each other!
In less than two weeks Camille, Canace, Chioma, Chris, Daniel, Hope, Jacob, Jen, Jerry, Jessica, Leah, Marie, Miria, Shelby, Wai and I (Kate) will be joining the Hispanola Internship team in New Haven for the Global Issues Institute organized by Tom Sharp. We will spend five days learning about current trends in missions, the history of the West in missions, the role of money in missions, the role of culture in Christianity, the power and privilege dynamics involved in cross-cultural work, and specifics to our work in Uganda with young mothers affected by war. We will also spend time building trust and getting to know each other on the team.