Monday, September 29, 2014

America: An African Boy's Perspective Part 3.

I have been getting positive feedback from many of you, appreciating or adding a comment to what i have written before. Thank you, it's always nice and encouraging to hear such positive comments from you.

Last week i promised to divulge a bit into my observations regarding christianity here, i will start with that. I have enjoyed worship every time i have gone to church so far and, i have also enjoyed the sermons that i have been privileged to listen to; i feel like the Lord was speaking to me personally in some of them. Talking about sermons, i have heard people say statements such as "i agreed with today's sermon" or "i didn't agree with some things he talked about" or i don't agree completely with today's sermon". Personally, i don't always think the pastors are mandated to preach what we agree with all the time. Nobody has ever preached a sermon that everyone agreed with, not even Christ! And if we begin to influence our pastors to preach what our ears want to hear and agree with, then we will miss out on what God wants to communicate to us. My principal has always been to get what the Lord wants to communicate to me individually and leave the rest out because; there may be another person who is happy with what i wasn't happy about. It's healthy not to agree with something, but i don't like it when it's made a big deal and the other truths get ignored.

After seeing what i have seen in terms of possessions that people have here, i have come to admire those who; in spite of having many possessions, are still standing strong in the faith, when, it would be easy to ignore God. I love that they praise the Lord in their abundance, just like we praise the Lord in our poverty back in Africa. I also love the generosity of Christians here, to share with those who don't have and support missionaries across the universe. I think this is beautiful. I can also understand why some people here have turned their backs on God; they think they have everything that they need and don't see the need for him. This makes America a ripe mission field, i think Christians here ought to reach out to these people more than before and one of the facts i have discovered through my numerous evangelism stints is that, it's very hard to lead " a wealthy or rich man/woman" to Christ. They are proud, think they know more and have it all, especially if you don't measure up to their standards. It's a hard task, but one, that the church here needs to under take seriously.
Staying with the church, i still think the American church, just like the American country, needs to take a lead in the battle with radical islam. Every day, i read painful stories about how ISIL is ruefully killing kids and christians in the middle east and i keep thinking, is prayer all that we can do as believers to support our brothers and sisters? Is there something more we can do? I have painfully read that over 3,000 people from the Western world have gone to join these murderers! What makes them appealing that they are luring people from the comforts of life in the west? I have read how they thick they will make Britain, France and even America to be muslim countries governed by the sharia law! In the Island of Seychelles, a Saudi prince went and put a $1,000 prize for every young person who denounced christianity and joined Islam and there were many lines of young people crossing over, why? Because of the abject poverty. A couple of months later the same prince returned offering this time, $7,000 to every convert. This was to target those who had ignored the $1,000 earlier on. Still the numbers that turned up were huge. Are these some of the things that attract our young people to join this murderers religion? What can the church do to attract their radical young people? I am sure the church can do something more. Imagine what kind of evangelists and preachers these radicals would be if they were to receive the glorious light of the gospel! Some of the most fiery preachers we have in Uganda are former muslim clerics who saw the light and are now dividing the word of truth. I believe we can do much more as a church to counter these guys and offer the risen Christ to them. One of my childhood dreams has always been to be a missionary to Iraq or Iran or any middle eastern country. Who knows,may be someday, we will end up in this battle field.

I know you are getting tired of reading the above rumblings and rantings. Back to my observations, one thing that has stood out for me is how the parents here are always there for their kids; taking them to school, attending their practice and games, etc. This is a big deal here and i keep wishing i was a kid here, i wish i had arrived 20 years a go! Less than 1% of Ugandan parents go to their kids' games. It's less important to them; they have other big things to handle. I remember how i felt broken when none of my siblings or relative turned up for my graduation from the University. I was the best male student in our entire 2500 faculty of students. My name was the first in the list of graduates with special commendation. Most of the students had at least one parent or sibling with them. I sobbed aloud when my name was called out for special recognition and there i was, being accompanied only by a friend who was still at the university. My course mates congratulated me, carried me aloft (yes, even with my frame they did!) and tossed me in the air, but there was no one from my family to share these special moments with me. I was bitter and wished my parents were alive, at least they wouldn't have failed to show up. I look at the kids here and i go: "THIS IS HOW IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE!" And i hope none of my children will have to go through those experiences that i went through.

The other lucky bunch of Americans are the wild birds and animals. I remember that statement of Christ about how the father feeds the birds of the air! It's a scripture that gives most of us hope and trust in the provisions of the Lord. It's nice to see that American people are jointly doing this with the Father; providing food to the birds of the air. It's unheard of among my people that someone is selling, let alone buying such nutritious food for the birds and the animals from the stores! You would be called mad to do this. Even chickens in the village homes are not given food. They have to fend for themselves in the bushes. The only time they get to taste food in their homes is during harvest time when food is being dried in the compound. Even then, young kids are assigned the task of chasing chicken away from the food. Wild birds can only eat food that is still in the garden. But even then, they get trapped and eaten as food and someone is always there to scare them away.
Birds are to be eaten. Growing up as a hunter, we used to kill some of the birds that i see here, in their thousands. I would sell some and use the money for buying school supplies and take some home for food. People would buy them as soon as they saw them because they were a treat! Likewise to animals. We would hunt them down: Rabbits, squirrels, antelopes, etc. Now here, i look at them and keep saying it in my heart that "you are lucky you were born American!" I am looking forward to seeing a reaction on my Uncle's face when i tell him how these wild birds are fed and how they come into people's homes and how the wild animals are found in people's compounds. He might begin asking how he can get a visa to fly over here to hunt...

Lastly, i had a great week in America this last week. I got to see lots of new places, the hunting store amazed me with all these thousands of choices of hunting equipment! My Uncle Dave took me to play golf; a sport reserved only for the very rich in Uganda and i did quite well; shot a golf ball over 170 yards and hit a green! Proud of myself. He also took me to the beautiful Lake Michigan, which brought some memories of our very own Lake Victoria. I have been hosted for dinner by many generous families here in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. I would say last week was my favorite so far; i think the Lord wanted me to enjoy it; he even gave us favorable weather just for me, can you imagine!

I'm out of time, next week, i will bring you even more insights about America. Remember, these are my personal observations and views, which of course, may change from time to time. Thank you for reading this. God bless you.
In Christ,

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

America: An African Boy's Perspective Part 2

After the last post, a lot have I seen, much much much more than I thought I would ever see...I thought I had seen enough about America through the hollywood blockbusters; how wrong I was! The only true representation of America that I can vividly remember from those movies is the cemeteries!

On a positive note, the Lord has graciously granted me good health; I haven't had problems with my stomach in regards to foods, I am grateful to Him for this.
I have also been privileged to be taken around many different places here in Michigan by my American family and friends. We've been to huge malls and supermarkets, eaten food from different places, given a tour of downtown Grand Rapids, been to watch "American Football" in schools as well as volleyball and playing soccer - these have been refreshing to me.

People here have been so kind, we have been invited to different houses for dinner, which is cool and someone showed me, through his actions, what it means to see a need and meet it. He looked at what I was wearing when we had stopped by to say thanks for his previous donation of shoes to us, and very fast, he noted that I needed good shoes for the winter. Off he went inside and came back with new Colombia hiking shoes for me! Thank you Jeff!

Back to my intriguing observations; sorry for my wonderings here and there about stuff. The dogs, yes, I mean the dogs. It has struck me how privileged the American dogs are, to live a life that is far better than over 60% of Ugandans, let alone Ugandan dogs! In Uganda, dogs are some of the most suffering creatures; in villages, most of them have to fend for themselves and usually a dog's life is that of suffering. These dogs here happened to be in the right place, I bet the dogs back home would want to immigrate, if I tell them about their counterparts here. There's more I could write about this, but I will leave it for now.

Homes here have no wall fences, which surprised me. Back home, almost every nice home has to have a strong wall fence, it's part of the construction plans and even then, you still have to have a security guard to ensure your safety. The first few nights, I felt a little insecure inside sleeping in a house without a fence and yet it's by the main road!
Even the mail boxes don't have locks, anyone could just pick your mail and disappear; I joked with my mother-in-law that "I hope no one will steal my green card when it gets mailed here". Of course I was assured that it's a criminal federal offense to steal mail and nobody wants to face the wrath of the law. I keep thinking about this from time to time.

Last week we visited my wife's close friend, Nancy's family. I met her son Bryce, and we had something in common...hunters! He showed me around his hunting zone, explaining what animals he has so far managed to kill, etc, etc. He proudly showed me his hunting guns, and bless the Lord, he gave me an opportunity to shoot at the cans with both guns! I think I hit three targets and missed once. Afterwards, I kept thinking how these guns make hunting so easy and if I had one growing up, I would have probably depopulated animals in my country considering that I used to hunt so I could sell the game and use the cash for buying my school supplies. But this is something that you can never hear of in Uganda-guns in the hands of civilians, that can be used for hunting animals, talk about the American Liberties and Right!

Finally for today, let me say something about the houses here. Almost all the houses I have been to so far, are constructed using timber. In Uganda, we use concrete walls and floors and I would choose concrete all day. And I think we probably can't build our houses in Uganda using timber because of many reasons, especially security, reckless fires, and termites. One thing I have observed from all these houses is that, they make a lot of noise as you walk on them. Africans are people who are secretive and private. They would feel very uncomfortable staying in these houses for so many reasons, some of which, I can not elucidate from here. This is something I look forward to sharing with people when I go back to Uganda and hear their diverse opinions. Maybe in a couple of months, I will write some of their thoughts in this blog for your consumption.

Next week, I will write about the church, my observation of christianity here, more of my observations here, and many more. Hope you enjoyed today's blog. Give us your feedback. God bless you.
In Christ,

Monday, September 15, 2014

America: An African Boy's Perspective.

I actually don't know where to start from...but somehow, I have to. I have always read a lot about America and watched a few stories and movies, and I thought I had a pretty good view of this country, but I have discovered nothing I read or watched represents what I have seen so far.

After failing two visitors' visa interviews at the US Embassy in Kampala, we were both disappointed, especially my wife, who really wanted me to go meet her family since we had just gotten married. The long process of applying for an immigrant visa started. A year or so later, we were in Nairobi doing medicals and attending interviews. The process got a little bit more longer and frustrating than we had hoped, as most of you who religiously follow us found out from our past publications.

Finally we got all cleared to go to America, praise the Lord! Boy, we were excited and planning started. 9th of September slowly kept approaching and my mind whirled around many things and thoughts. Finally we would be touching America on the 10th of September; and friends kept telling me many things to look forward to, from the much dreaded bad winter, to the glorious food at McDonalds. My greater fear has always been the cold snow. I read in the national papers in Uganda about a Ugandan who visited Sweden and because it was very cold, he contracted pneumonia and a few days after returning, died! 
I sat on that plane from Entebbe to Qatar (thank God it was only a few hours) thinking about snow, cold weather, bad winter, someone had posted about a bad weather forecast for the day we arrive in Grand Rapids, etc. My ears were beginning to pain from the effect of the plane (remember this was my first time on the plane, blessed be God) and breathing was also pretty difficult.

Qatar airport is beautiful and the sight of it brought some needed relief, since our next flight to Philadelphia would take more than 13 hours. After security checks, I was properly belted in my window seat and ready for America. couldn't sleep that long and finally we landed in "Philly". The sight of many African American brothers in the airport was calming. A good friend picked us and took us out for a huge breakfast (American breakfast). We left for Grand Rapids where our loving cheering family was waiting for us. I was touched because many family and friends had turned up to receive us, some driving for over 17 hours to be at the airport, never felt this sort of family love before.

My observations so far have been totally different than what i ever expected. Everything here is in excess, the malls have thousands of alternatives to choose from, so do supermarkets. The traffic is crazy, driving on the right seemed strange, and the worst feeling so far has been being the minority. There are few blacks in places I have been so far and catching people glancing at you is a very funny feeling. To make things worse, I am tall and hence an easy pick for most people. I have seen more over weight people here than i have ever seen my entire life (with the food here, don't be surprised if i turn up in Uganda very fat, i bet not). The question in my mind is, do these people know how blessed they are to have all these stuff? are they always grateful to God for this? how can one nation have all these things and yet many other nations, and continents have the opposite? This is still perturbing my mind.

Going to Church yesterday was refreshing, the worship at Remembrance (our home church and biggest financial supporter) was good (thank God they sung a few songs that were familiar) and the Pastor's message went home well (at least to me). One thing that stood out was his passionate call to his congregation to embrace new worship changes as the church embarks on something that appeals to the younger generation. He said some people might leave the church because of this. I was thinking, his can someone leave church because of this?..... be continued in the next up date.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Life's journeys.

Growing up in the deep villages many years ago, there were very few big dreams in my head. I guess I had more fantasies than dreams. There was little hope and tunnel seemed to always be very dark without any hope of the light at the end.
However, up somewhere, there was always A BIG God with BIG Plans and Dreams for me. After leaving the village later on and joining high school, my world view completely changed and I started seeing life and things differently than before. I received Christ and slowly started aligning myself and fitting into God's plans for me. I started knowing who I really was in Christ.

I was reminded most of these dreams and plans that I used to have by a close friend for many years and a brother in Christ. We reminisced about the past for over two hours. Discussing many things from disappointments to joys. How we were conned by some con men from Canada many years ago that they would provide us employment at the shipping company. The five of us each parted with over 700$ hard earned money. People sold land, cows, borrowed loans, etc because the offer was too good to let pass. We shared about how we travelled to Nairobi for a supposed visa interview at the Canadian High Commission only to be told by the receptionist that "you have been conned". The journey back to Uganda was heart wrenching. Where would we start again. And being the leader of this group, it was so hard on me and I haven't recovered from this sense of failure up to now. One member of our group died a few years later, another one got so frustrated and ran mad after all these episodes and the three of us are strongly serving The Lord.
For this friend of mine, he was so happy for me because at least, I will be going to the States, about 9 years after all that mess. He told me it was a fulfillment of our failed attempts to get to Canada many years ago and he was hopeful that surely one day, he would fulfill his life long dream as well. We encouraged each other in The Lord about our past failures. It wasn't the will of God but ours. We never sought him and yet wanted him to go by us and not us by him. We had a great time and after we departed from each other lots of thoughts came to mind.

Now, it's less than a week to go, it's real, after all the hitches and disappointments, we will finally be going to  America, but instead of being very excited, I doubt whether that's completely the mood. I feel nervous and anxious even though the word of God says I shouldn't be. What could be in store for me over there? What surprises await? Snow? Stares? Language issues? Am I really ready for this?
One thing keeps ringing in the back of my head, " it's not by might or power,it's by my spirit says The Lord". And what more can I do than to trust him with my next 4 or 5 months in a new land.

I look forward to the next chapter of my life book. I look forward to meeting my American family, meet our beloved supporters and enjoy life and America. Hopefully all my fears will be proved wrong. See most of you soon,