Thursday, May 7, 2009

Last Day of Teaching

After 9 days at a frenetic pace of study, we finished the book of Acts this afternoon. As the we concluded, I read from the first Chapter, verses 4-8 where Jesus is quoted:
"Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."
6So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"
7He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."the commission Jesus give to his Apostles, to be his witnesses to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
We then compared this with the conclusion in chapter 28 where Paul is in Rome boldly teaching the gospel "without hindrance." Throughout the book we saw all that Jesus commanded come true. The Spirit came at Penetcost and the apostles were his witnesses to all these places. As for the 2nd coming? We don't know the times and dates any more than the apostles did. So...we're waiting and serving as witnesses...just like the apostles.
At that, the class applauded. Not for me, I deserve none...but for this great work, penned by Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Reflections to come...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The best I can do at the moment

Warning!!! Late night ramblings...may contain randomness, idiocy, and disconnectedness.

So right now it's 1:55 am Uganda time...meaning it's 6:55 pm at home...but, yea I'm still up. I've been sitting at this table for hours, maintaining a minimal, but steady sweat. As hot as Uganda is...Florida is way worse. I know I live in Florida, and I know I've complained a lot (more than I complain about anything else), but the more places I go the more I'm convinced that Florida in the summer is the worst place on earth.

The heat and humidity wrest your breath from your lungs, turn it to moisture, and return it as sweat on your brow.

But now I'm not in Florida, I'm in Uganda and the past week has been amazing. I have so many thoughts running through my head. They range from of great importance (theology, missions, the church) to significant (simplicity of life, what will the next few years hold) to irrelevant (beans & rice, Turbo-Diesel Mitsubishi Pajeros, the chord progression for "Crash" by Dave Matthews).

All that to say, I am full of reflections but currently without the mental organization to process them. Eventually it'll be sorted out and you'll read about my questioning of the idea of systematic theology as a whole and my heart for the American church. (ooh! I think that was a "teaser")

As for other things....

Tonight I had several great conversations w/ friends via Skype. Is it bad that I'm thankful for the technology we have? I think it's not. I'm blessed with great guys support me, laugh with me, roll your eyes at me when it's needed, and care about my well being. So I'm thankful for what keeps me in touch with you.

All the time I think about Chris...he's battling cancer and I'm praying for him constantly. Please take a moment to pray for him too.
I wasn't kidding.
Thanks...if you know him personally, send him a message.

So just a few minutes ago I finished writing the final exam for the Acts class. All things considered, I'm pretty proud of the exam. Though, I'm finally sympathizing with my former professors who would be aghast by their students lack of knowledge on a relatively rudimentary subject.

I remember being clueless in Old Testament Poetry class and Doc Reese being semi-flustered that his students weren't getting the difference between anthropomorphisms and anthropopothisms. (for the record, I spelled each of those correctly on the first try...I have never been so impressed with myself at 2:22 AM)

Anyway, I'm up too late, have to get up too early, and have been saying things that may or may not make sense...that's my cue to end this

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Weekend pt. 2...The Source of the Nile Marathon

About a month ago Jeff, my gracious host, told me about a 1/2 marathon along the Nile, taking place on May 3. He said if I was up for it, he'd sign us up. Now, Jeff is an avid of these guys who wakes up at 5 am and runs 6 miles at a sub 8 minute pace every day. I'm a much more casual runner. I run every now and then in the evening, for however long I can stand it and whatever pace I feel like. Sometimes this is 8 miles at a good kick, sometimes it's 2 miles almost walking.
I'm not in 1/2 marathon shape at the moment, but fortunately, they also offered a said giddyup! Considering that my previous "running diary" blog was a hit, I decided to go for it again.
5:00 AM: Alarm goes off.
5:01 AM: Realize my alarm is going off...but have no idea why
5:02 AM: Remember that we have a 2 hour drive to get to the race...climb out of bed
5:03 AM: Stand in a stupor and suppress angry thoughts
5:10 AM: Take anti malaria medication while continuing to suppress thoughts...
5:17 AM: Jump in the Land Cruiser w/ Jeff and roll out
5:19 AM: Jeff chooses Coldplay...always a good decision.
6:00 AM: Roll through the Ugandan countryside in the pitch dark
6:01 AM: Mention something about the lack of the stars in the sky...a moment later the Coldplay tells me "Look at the stars, look how they shine for you." Liars...
6:30 AM: Cross the Nile Jeff accidentally skips past a Police checkpoint
6:50 AM: Make it to Jinja, the town hosting the run.
7:00 AM: Scout out the coffee shop for out post-race celebration
7:15 AM: Drive around looking at the's beautiful
7:20 AM: Use a map that is slightly more specific than a globe to try and locate the race starting point.
7:25 AM: Realize that the map is useless...but it does tell me that medical staff will be at the start and finish. Good news. I'll just make sure to not die during the race.
7:30 AM: Have yet to see anyone in running attire.
7:31 AM: Decide that we can't find this place on our own and ask a policeman who may or may not have been able to read the paper we showed him...he sent us off in a general direction.
7:33 AM: The general direction led to some goats and chickens.
7:35 AM: Find a taxi driver, and pay him $1 to take us to the starting point
7:38 AM: He takes us to a "fitness club" that is essentially deserted. He leaves and we are greeted by a sad looking dog and an older man...whose shirt is 1/2 buttoned, and is possibly hungover. We ask him about the race...he looks as confused as I was when I walked in Didi's World. We conclude that this is not the starting point.
8:00 AM: Continue to drive around aimlessly...
8:03 AM: Spot a poster for the race which reads: 31 May, 2009
8:04 AM: Realize that today is not 31 May, 2009. %&#*@#!
8:05 AM: Laugh for about a minute solid
8:06 AM: Jeff declares this one of his best African moments.
8:07 AM: Jeff realizes that they had initially set the date for the 3rd, but after a low sign up, must have decided to move it to the 31st and add a 1 to the posters...without telling anyone! This isn't really a big surprise.
8:08 AM: Decide to go to the coffee shop anyway
8:15 AM: Arrive at the coffee shop to see that it doesn't open til 10
8:16 AM: %#&$*#@&!
8:17 AM: Down, but not out...we decide to head back to Kampala
9:30 AM: Get coffee and breakfast at a great place in Kampala
10:00 AM: Return home 5 hours after leaving and without running, but with a story to tell.
10:01 AM: We decide it was a good day anyway
9:00 PM: Still a little disappointed that we didn't get to run, but know it was an experience I'll never forget. Seeing the Ugandan countryside was great...crops, hill, rainforests, and the Nile!
9:01 PM: Realize I probably woulda passed out by the 6th km anyway...

Weekend pt. 1...Didi's World

Over the years, I've done some ridiculous things in some ridiculous places (playing paintball in Bulgaria and singing "Summer of 69" in a Nairobi food court come to mind immediately), but Saturday's experience may have been the most bizarre...
Nestled in the middle of Kampala, about a 5 minute drive from the Atherstones' house, sits Didi's World amusement park. Yep, that's right, an amusement park in Uganda.
The legend of Didi's World begins over ten years ago, when these same rides and structures resided in Italy. Evidently, someone was killed on one ride, so the generous Italians donated all the equipment to Africa. So, it all sits in the middle of Kampala, and for a mere $2.50 USD you can enjoy the fun all day!
Saturday, we took Noah and Kadin (Jeff and Christine's two boys) to spend the whole day running around and riding rides. I spent most of the day simply in awe of the mere existence of this place. Didi's world boasts a mini rollercoster (not operational on Sat.), a Ferris wheel (turned off), a swinging pirate ship (pretty awesome), go-karts (there was one), bumper cars (4 of em), and about 50 of the best video games the mid 90s had to offer (including "Out Run" and a John Deere game).
Though this might sound rough, Didi's world certainly has an appeal all its own. Let me take a moment to compare Didi's World with Disney World:
Admission: Disney $70, Didi's $2.50
Lines: Disney 1 hour, Didi's 0 minutes
Sodas: Disney $6, Didi's $.50
Lunch: Disney $14, Didi's $3
Rules: Disney, if the ride is locked, it's closed. Didi's, if the ride is locked, climb in through the window and turn it on yourself.
Ride Operators: Disney, way too many, often surly. Didi's, 1 per 3 rides, usually friendly, sometimes asleep.
Mascots: Disney, Disney characters only. Didi's, Disney characters, Looney Tunes, and even some random new ones (see below picture)
All in all, Didi's World was a great time. Now if only all the rides worked...
This is me with my favorite mural...a Computer man super hero...complete with mouse hands, a CRT head, and the best attached chainsaw and cougar. I spent an hour trying to figure out the chainsaw + cougar combo...

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Day 5...I'm blessed

I've been an affiliate with NMSI for around 15 months that time, my understanding of missions, culture, and cross-cultural communication has grown exponentially. So, one would think that by now I'd know to leave my expectations in the airport. However, as I came to Uganda, I didn't remember that foundation of short term mission projects. My expectations were that teaching would probably be a disaster...that I didn't have enough information and that I wouldn't be able to adequately communicate with the students.

God took care of all of that...I actually have too much information, and it's turning into a struggle to fit it all in during our two weeks! Communication hasn't been an issue...the Ugandans have done an excellent job understanding my Tennessee drawl. Getting to know the students has been a true blessing.

Friday afternoon as class began, I asked the class to pray for Chris Morgan. If you're reading this, odds are you know about him and his battle with brain cancer. Thanks to frequent emails with Chris' wife Emily, I've learned that this has been a really hard week for him. There are so many side effects of chemo that I never could have imagined.

Stepping before the class at 2 PM, my heart was heavy...burdened for Chris and Emily. I told the class what was going on, and every eye that met mine was filled with compassion, concern, and care. After asking them to pray, every student prayed aloud fervently and ears and heart heard a concert...asking God to heal Chris. Roughly two minutes later, voices quiet and my eyes no longer dry, I said thank you and amen. 8000 miles away, Emily found some peace and Chris some strength.

People who have never met Chris, and will never meet Chris care about him and prayed. Perhaps we should all be so moved to care for another...