Monday, October 29, 2007

Thoughts on Africa

Chris & I have an interesting decision before us. We have been dreaming of going to Uganda for over a year now. Our hope & plan was to lead a group of college students to Uganda this coming summer to work with a ministry that rehabilitates child soldiers.

Last year, it seemed like God was opening all kinds of opportunities for Uganda, and it seemed like everywhere we went, we met someone who was from Uganda, had lived there or was going there. It was amazing. We even met a student, named Wadri, at one of Chris' campuses who himself had been a child soldier in Uganda. As we got to know him, we talked about his dreams to restore his country, and had big hopes of joining with him. I truly believe he could have been the president someday-- his energy & charisma were so compelling.

It's difficult to even write this down like a story, but shortly after meeting Wadri, he died mysteriously in his car of heat exhaustion. Chris & I found ourselves one Friday evening last Spring at a funeral home filled with Ugandan immigrants, listening to them memorialize Wadri. After that, things started to slow down with the whole process.

Fast forward to 2 weeks ago...
We have been talking with The Powers That Be in our company about leading a summer project to Uganda, and things were looking good. But then, 2 weeks ago, everything changed. They said our region would not be going to Uganda this summer. We were offered to lead a trip to Johannesburg, South Africa, where we would be working with college students & leading AIDS awareness classes. Very cool, and interesting-- but not what we were dreaming of. It looked like the doors to Uganda were closing, and I have been mourning that loss for the last 2 weeks. Although it seems strange or even silly to mourn something I never had, it was a dream over a year in the making, and something I felt so deeply connected to.

But the story took another turn on Friday when we found out there there is still a chance we
might be able to go. It's a small chance, and it hasn't been given approval by any means, but it has gotten my heart beating fast again.

There is a ministry called Child Voice International that rehabilitates child soldiers, and they are working on a special project to
"construct a center in northern Uganda where children affected by war can live in a supportive community until they are emotionally, spiritually, and physically restored; educated; trained in a profession; and prepared to earn a living." Just reading about it makes my heart ache and my eyes tear up.

Unfortunately, when I think about the South Africa trip, I feel nothing. Maybe it's because my first introduction to the idea left a bad taste in my mouth. There were some miscommunications, some hurt feelings, and some big frustrations at the time, which have all been cleared up. I wonder, though, if I just have attitude about it now, or if this simply isn't the right project for us.

We have a few weeks to get things worked out. It seems like if we can organize some contacts in Uganda fast enough, we might be given the Green Light from the Higher-Up's. It's a long shot, but my feelings run so deep that I've at least got to try.

I guess if it doesn't work out, we'll go from there...

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