Fruit that lasts

One of the things that has been difficult for me as I have taken people on short term missions is the lack of long term engagement.  If people haven’t been inspired into long-term missions and/or serving purposefully in their own culture, that feels like a failure on my part.  (Although I do recognize that there is only so much I can do to inspire, encourage, and motivate.)  But I have been praying to be able to work with people who are at least willing to have their lives changed by God as they learn and serve in another culture.

In January, a group of serious and passionate students arrived.  Many of them arrived with some prior missions experience.  It is encouraging and inspiring that half of them are going to continue serving in YWAM Rwanda.  It is also incredible to see that those who aren’t, are planning to make an impact in various areas of society: medicine, education, and church.  Several are beginning or continuing post-secondary education in these areas.  (YAY!) There are three former students that I will be working directly with for the next few months.  I won’t be staffing the Discipleship Training School directly, but I will be working to train, mentor, and encourage 3 wonderful ladies who are launching into longterm missions.  It is a treat to be able to continue the relationship with them after they have finished their DTS.  I have had so much training and (some) experience myself, so it is satisfying and exciting to be able to directly teach people who will be applying it directly.

2 months in Uganda & South Sudan: a summary

I am exhausted.  But in a “I-have-worked-really-hard-and-deserve-this-rest” kind of way.  The last 5 months have been demanding physically & emotionally.  However, the last 2 months was one of the best short-term outreaches I’ve ever been a part of.  I don’t want to romanticize too much: there were moments of frustration, a couple times where I wanted to slap someone (but refrained), and times when I just wanted to go home, BUT, in many ways trip was what I’ve always hoped/imagined short-term outreaches could be like!

My two co-leaders were incredible.  Besides the fact that I genuinely like them, they are capable in many ways that I am not.  They saw some things from a different perspective, but they listened; said what they thought, and we worked together to find solutions.  It was especially amazing to hear Moise say that he now has confidence in his leadership ability.  Unbeknownst to him, Mike and I set this as one of our goals 5 months ago.   I could go on and on, but in short, this was the kind of teamwork I dream about.

Our team was awesome.  They acted with integrity and cultural sensitivity.  They served with heart and creativity.  They cared for people, especially outside of scheduled ministry times.  Something I aspire to is to build up/genuinely serve the ministries we work with and to help them have a better reputation in their community; our team made that easy on this trip.

I’ve had the chance to travel to some pretty amazing places, but I am still somewhat in awe that I was able to go to South Sudan!  The landscape was so beautiful.  In both South Sudan and Uganda, we had some unbelievably amazing ministry opportunities:

  • Hiking up to a remote village and building a rain-water collection tank (=drinking water that doesn’t look like unstrained tea)
  • helping a very elderly widow with her garden so she can eat this year
  • clearing the yard (=digging out stumps) to prepare a building for renovations
  • teaching for 2 weeks in a village school
  • encouraging and sending fabric to a vocational school (The only one of its kind in a very large area.  They were learning to sew with paper because there was no fabric.)
  • visiting patients at a remote village clinic
  • speaking to people with AIDS/HIV – encouraging them that its not shameful; they are valuable
  • preaching in churches
  • building a fence to keep monitor lizards and snakes from eating the fish in the fish pond (so that people can eat them when they are full size. yum.)
  • counselling & praying for families in distress; visiting people at home
  • constructing a “prayer garden” (leveling ground; working with cement and  bricks)
  • painting water towers
  • conducting several youth meetings
  • visiting/helping an elderly disabled man (not sure if he had tetanus or leprosy, but  one leg was entirely dried up and the other one was getting there).  We cleaned house, washed laundry, landscaped, visited, and left some money for medical testing/treatment and some things like a new bed.
  • holding/changing/feeding babies at Amecet.  Amecet is a shelter for children/infants who need a home for up to 6 months because of a crisis (a parent dying, family doesn’t want to feed baby because it has AIDS and they believe it will just die anyway, and many other situations).  This ministry is amazing, they are well integrated into the community and work with the hospital, police, and social services.  It started with the hope of helping children with AIDS who are probably going to die, die with dignity.  Since it began they have helped over 500 children: over 400 of them who probably would not have survived, have because of this ministry.  It was amazing.  This would be an incredible ministry to see replicated in other locations.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, and doesn’t take into account all of the small, meaningful moments.  But I think it gives a pretty good picture.

I’ll be posting a little more regularly again!  I am really thankful for some downtime this week, and looking forward to what is coming up next.

Things I learned “in the bush bush” in Africa

Hello!  I (Amanda) am back in the land of communication & technology!  Before we get into anything too serious, I wanted to share these lessons with you.  (Some of it is a little tongue in cheek, be prepared.)

1.) All snakes are poisonous.

I tried to disagree with this, after all, “I know cause my dad’s a biologist.” (Um, technically he’s retired, so maybe my tense is wrong on that?) However, I have to concede that when you are many hours from medical treatment, its probably best to just assume that the snake is poisonous and kill it.

2.) If the water you are washing with is dirty, just keep adding more soap.(for example, if you are washing dishes, clothes, etc.)

Sometimes its a little hard for me to swallow that putting my plate in there will make it cleaner, no matter how much soap I use.  But in places where water is often short…

3.) If a black person and a white person have a baby together, the baby will be white.

I wasn’t even sure where to start with this conversation, because I quickly realized that she was starting from a VERY different place than me.  It also included “Who will own the baby?”  (The answer there possibly being the woman’s parents, if a proper dowry hasn’t been paid.) This was from a teacher.  Speaking of babies…

4.) Once she has breasts, any woman can breastfeed at any time.

This was from one of our team members.  My favorite part was listening to one of our 19-year-old male team members try to correct this belief.  I did my best to back him up,  but even in the end I am not sure if we were convincing.

5.) Big companies are the antichrist taking over the world – especially soft drink companies because you can often find 3 sixes in the bar code on bottles.

Tough one.  Not a huge fan of big companies, and I don’t think pop is good for you. (Although “evil” might be a bit far, even for me.)  But the logic that led you to this conclusion!!??  It came out of nowhere as we were drinking Cokes… but it did lead to a great conversation about the bible and culture.

6.) At night, mosquito nets also protect you from rats, bats, and frogs.

True story.  Now, I know what you are thinking: “nets aren’t rat proof!”  I can attest that they DO keep the rats from running over you at night (and frogs that come into your room at night seem to only hop through the maze outside the nets.)   We didn’t have issues with bats, but we met a team that told us that their mosquito nets kept the bats out.

And with that, I’ll leave you with a picture of South Sudan.  I only sorted through several hundred pictures, I’m sure there will be better ones once I have gone through the 1000’s.  But just to show you a bit of how beautiful it was there.