About drywit

Prayerful cyclist, focusing on video ministry to share stories and adventures.

A Life-Saving Decision

There is no time like right now to make a great decision. One that will improve your life, lift your spirits, and put you on a pathway to success.

I’ve done that by resigning my job as a morning news producer in the 22nd largest market in the U.S.

For just about anybody else, this would have been a dream job. Great station, great support, lots of fancy tech tools, great team of anchors, reporters, editors, video journalists.

Problem was, it was not for me.

I Was A TV News Producer
When I arrived at the station in June, I had not produced a TV news program for nearly 30 years. To say the industry has changed in the past three decades is like saying civility is dead in D.C. Pretty obvious.

Many layers of jobs have been eliminated in the newsroom. Fewer eyeballs are on the television these days as more are staring into their iPhones and iPads for personalized news and amusing animal videos.

In the old days, a producer would “stack” a show, i.e., identify stories, place them in sequential order, assign times for each. There would be a team of people to help get the show on the air. Someone would create chyrons, or fonts (video identifiers) for stories. Maybe there would be a writer or two to help prepare the program. There would a director, an audio guy and others in the control room to broadcast the news

Today, it’s all on the multi-tasking producer: format the show, assign the live news crews, write the fonts, make video editing instructions, write the stores, teases, all while implementing popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Not that there is anything wrong with that. It’s the new reality. Like having only a director in the control room these days, who’s responsible for switching the show, with audio, graphics and fonts coded into the electronic rundown.

In one of the top, competitive markets in the country, you can expect to have talented, qualified journalists gathering, updating and reporting the information. Feeding the news beast never ends.

It takes experience and knowledge to coordinate so many sources, while keeping an eye on updates to breaking news stories like hurricanes, earthquakes and Donald Trump tweets. For someone living in the African bush and out of the business for as long as I have been, gaining command over all these elements would take many months. In retrospect, I should have gone to a smaller market to update and refresh my game. Walking into the big leagues was a big-time mistake.

Must Know What I Don’t Know
It was an uphill battle from the moment I sat down. So much to learn, including trying to know what all I didn’t know. I’ve learned things in the past 10 days that would have been helpful to me three months ago. At this level, one is expected to have been around the block a time or two with the technology and to feature social media. For me, in Africa, having electricity was a luxury most days.

TV news remains a dynamic, exciting, fast-paced job. I no longer live and breath it. I don’t need or even want constant updates. My focus is elsewhere.

I left the industry in the late 1980s after about a 10-year run, then moved into civil service work. That helped make for a work-family life balance. There were no demands to write 20 stories, three teases, and maybe 10 news summaries in two and a half hours.

After more than 22 years in a state-run cubicle farm, I set out to find my life’s work in the mission fields of Africa. Never have I felt more focused or secure in my calling. It revealed the authentic person I am, one without walls or defenses. I discovered my voice and my passion. When I returned to the US in April, I thought I might want to stay stateside for a time and make a living again.

I could not master producing programs of breaking and trivial news, to engage audiences at an early hour. What I love to do instead is build relationships with strangers, speak their language, listen to their stories, and enjoy fellowship over a meal. What I found out in the past three months is there’s no time for that in the newsroom.

My Life’s Work
I have much to share with the ambitious but desperately poor people in Uganda and East Africa. They have great dreams for careers in many professional fields, from accounting, to IT, to business administration. They have no family capital or resources to help pay for tuition or tools. I’ve done all I can through my charity, teaminfaith.org, to provide opportunities that impact the neediest of students.

As I walk out of the newsroom for the last time again, I will leave an operation that’s in very good hands. Energetic, driven, experienced men and women striving to be leaders in the community.

I’m no longer working to help a corporation’s bottom line. Like much of the audience, I’m distracted…but by real-life issues. My decision was made to focus on lifting lives and raising hopes of real, lovely, wonderful people. Where life is simple, but hard. It’s a great life. Time to get back to that.

Disneyland!

I’m going to Disneyland! Not the fabled amusement park but something much bigger: America!

A pastor friend and global mission worker characterised the USA as such to me. It’s a good line, with a lot of truth.

Compared to East Africa and Uganda, my home for the past two years, flying 20 hours to get to the US is like flying to see the Magic Kingdom. With relatively smooth roads, non-stop fleets of late-model cars, endless assortment of food and snacks, beautiful homes and residents, all under gorgeous Spring skies.

We thank our forebears in America for building such a magnificent country. We have infrastructure and transportation systems here. We have public education, we have drinking water out of the tap. We have energy and limitless entertainment. It’s a comfortable life. In the fast lane.

Greeting one of my favorite people. A spirited neighbor. She loves us.

It’s a far cry from the quality of life in the villages, small towns or cities of Uganda.

Where I’ve lived in Kisoro District of SW Uganda, there is no power. There are few very cars. There is no industry. There are people walking at all hours of the day. People—mostly women—hard at work as subsistence farmers…ekeing out a living…growing vegetables in their gardens.

It’s a simple life…but it’s not easy.

There’s no glamor here in the village. There are few thrills beyond gatherings of extended families and shared experiences. Night is for sleeping and tomorrow demands more of the same labor-intensive effort.

The pace is slow here in the village, overlooking the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. Well-heeled tourists come and go in Land Rovers bound for four-star accommodations and appointments with the mountain gorilla.

Residents here look up and gaze into the vehicles at the visitors. Lives are not so adventurous, not so exciting.

They live as their ancestors did, cultivating in rhythm with the rains and without. It’s not a destination here but a way of life.

As I return to the many conveniences of modern living, I find that I very much miss the simplicity and the sounds of a village life. People on foot always pass, and we can share a wave and a greeting. Some locals bring us irish potatoes or a chicken for our supper. Drums and voices carry a long way over the regions.

There is community here, worship on Sundays, visits and meals shared.

If Disneyland is “the happiest place on earth” then here in Ryarutagara is one of the simplest.

This day and age, simple is good.

My Personal Success

Beginning year six in East Africa. From an inauspicious start, I’ve managed to take root here, make friends, learn languages, find success.

What is success? Making a long putt for par? Closing a deal with a sought-after client? Raising upstanding children? Before we can answer the contemporary question of “what does success look like?” we must first define it.

Personal or professional

I’ve had a lifelong conflict trying to balance my personal life with my professional goals. My first career as a TV sportscaster-producer took me to more (TV) markets than Joe Carcione (The Green Grocer)! I was chasing the dream I had since pre-teens. The multiple daily deadlines, ever-changing challenges. It was exhilarating and exhausting. I moved a lot in nine years, bouncing from here and there to move up the ladder, in prestige and pay, until I ran out of gas.

After a transition period of about 18 months, I was selected for a state civil service job in San Francisco. I was plucked out of an overnight cable news shift in Los Angeles–300 miles from my home–and never looked back.

That first year I began to achieve a professional-personal balance in my life. I commuted to The City from my mother’s East Bay home. Took public transit every single day, without fail. Made friends, had fun, started my run as a public information officer. After a year I was back in the state capital, sleeping at home, commuting to work on Light Rail, and training for my first of four marathons.

Spiritual success

After my son was born it was time to get him baptized, as generations of forebears did with their young progeny. A Christian community was found with activities, suppers and prayers. I had grown up a generation earlier in the church rectory where we hosted such events. This was a back-to-the-future moment. It felt familiar. And friendly.

More state jobs meant more pay and responsibilities. Soon I was cycling 25 miles to work, achieving fitness while sharpening my sword. We found a new church which was about to undertake a profound step in faith to embrace debt and build a wonderful worship center for the community. I was all-in.

As my career and family grew, so did my spiritual gifts. I became a regular worship leader as a member of the choir, a performing sketch artist on designated Sundays and a participant and contributor in an ecumenical revival movement. I found time–no, made time–to enjoy God’s great outdoors with a cadre of friends on our cool road bikes.

From where I sit now those were the greatest of days. My son completed university and was focused on his next steps. I was climbing some of the great hills and mountains from the coastal range to the Sierra Nevada.

Yet that still, small voice inside me said it was time for more.

Across the pond

From my days in the rectory and hours in the pews, I always had this sense of a higher calling. Summoning me from child’s play, from the cubicle farm, the rat race. An opportunity was born in the fall of 2011, just weeks after I retired from my state career. I could visit a secondary school in South Sudan with my video cameras. That meant making critical connections, getting a passport, and crossing the Atlantic Ocean for the first time. I didn’t have far to go. The school was founded by retired educators and friends at my church in Cameron Park. A new door was opened, a new life beckoned.

This journey has not been difficult. Traveling 10,000 miles to Africa has unfolded naturally, easily. Almost as if it was preordained. I first arrived on this continent without knowing a single person. In Christian communities where I landed in South Sudan, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, I was welcomed by brothers and sisters who knew the Lord as I did. They grew up in strong communities where hospitality is a cultural norm.

I have stepped toward them, learning their languages, sharing my faith and humor and wealth. I have been rewarded with their friendships, smiles and love.

Answer the question!

So what is success? I’ve missed more par putts than I’ve made, but I’ve cycled and traveled a road few peers have followed. While I worked. While I worshipped. While I helped raise an outstanding young man.

Success is a balanced life: Love and laughter, pain and forgiveness, selfishness and selflessness. It is making money and making amends. Structure and spontaneity. Climbing the challenging peaks and coasting home. Remembering friends and loved ones, and making new ones on the other side of the world.

The Anti-Social Media

Many years ago a great mentor of mine, now deceased, told me why he never owned a television.

He said “why would I invite unsavory characters into my home?” The motion picture industry, maybe in cahoots with NRA, has fed us never ending spectacle of sex and violence…for decades and decades. Is it any wonder why our culture is so violent!

Today’s popular social media platform Facebook, to me, is becoming a day-care center for ignorant and uneducated voices to shout any unsubstantiated fact as fact. Trump is a genius. He’s figured this out, while other respectable men and women can only watch. He’s a media creation, now with a legion of anti-social followers.

So I think back to what my old headmaster, the Rev Peter Farmer, told me in Gualala some years back. The chatter on Facebook disturbs me. Do I want to continue to be a member of this community? I choose to be discreet or silent in my political rants on FB while others fuel the flames of hyper-partisanship. I don’t want to tarnish my Team in Faith brand or alienate any viewers or potential donors who may or may not share my views.

Like with the TV, maybe I turn off the computer and quiet the vacuous voices and violent images and focus on relationships that edify me and which I treasure. I’ve posted my share of lunch item shots and silly cats playing.

It’s been child’s play. Now is the time for me to leave the kids table and join the adults.

The Simplest Pleasure

Just returned from a 40-minute walk around Ft. Portal in western Uganda. I greeted everyone I encountered in the local language. I was met with smiles, surprise, conversation. It was a thrill. The simplest of pleasures. And it never gets old.

One word triggers it all. Hello. Orrirota. Agandi. Wabukire. Habari. Bonjour. With a simple, friendly greeting, we can open doors to new relationships and possibilities. We can engage a neighbour in conversation, share a bit of ourselves, learn something. It costs nothing but a few moments of time but the rewards are gratifying.

pat batwa seated classic

I’ve found my life’s work in Africa. What is it exactly? If it’s nothing but greeting people and lifting spirits, that’s more than enough for me. I support entrepreneurs and students through my charity, Team in Faith. There are plenty of bonuses in helping others.

Throughout each day, I get many opportunities to greet people who, on the outside, are not at all like me. Can there be a bigger difference between a middle-class white guy and my black brothers and sisters here?

Racial and socio-economic differences aside, we have so much to share. Good humour, stories about work and projects, events of the day. I know I missed daily opportunities to acknowledge people over the years in California. So I do my best to greet others here in their language every chance I get.

Two of my most important relationships on this continent were launched with that one word.

My first visit to Uganda was in 2013. I flew from Los Angeles to London, and had but an hour to make a connection to Entebbe. I made it somehow, but my bags did not make the transfer. I would have to spend two extra days in town awaiting them.

bp enoch

During my stay over at the Namirembe Guest House in Kampala, I was sitting outside after breakfast when I recognised a man in bishop’s purple shirt and collar approaching. I stood to greet him (photo above). From my one-word introduction to Bishop Enoch Kayeeye, we shared phone numbers and would later meet at the other end of the country to begin our ministry work together that continues to this day.

In 2014, I was in Kampala preparing to fly home the following day. I was directed to the African Craft Village where I could get some souvenirs to bring home to friends. I stopped in several shops, but when I went to another to ask for the time, my greeting of “hello” led to much more.

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That’s where I met Evelyn, a shop owner (above). She gave me the time of day, and asked about what I was doing in Uganda. Among other things, I mentioned I had an empako, or nickname which is used in her Batooro culture. When I told her my empako, Apuuli, she told me hers, Akiiki. Twenty minutes later I left with a bag of shirts to pack, and a spirit lifted by the exchange.

Today’s contentious world needs a lot fewer words and more interpersonal relationships. Hiding behind a computer firewall typing insults at strangers online is inflammatory and destructive.

Take a walk outside. Look a stranger in the eye and say “hello.” Believe me, It could change your life and make your day.

Shared Sorrow

The women come. They walk. They sit. For hours. Honoring the dead.

Last week I witnessed a beautiful cultural spectacle in Uganda. A community leader, and a friend, was killed in a bus accident. The sudden tragic loss of the Rev. Canon Enos Komunda shocked and mobilized the community,

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Above, Bishop Dan Zoreka looks out over mourners gathered outside home of late Enos Komunda

I arrived at the family home with my wife hours after receiving news of his death. By then there were several hundred women and men sitting quietly inside and outside the home, in a vigil of support.

Hundreds more were preparing for the funeral service and burial the next day. They would come on foot from their villages and homes, a trip that would take hours, to participate in this community send off. Committees were formed to provide chairs, tents and food for the huge crowd.

Life in Uganda is simple and hard. There are few distractions to daily subsistence living. The people value family, community, fellowship, sharing sorrows. It is something to behold.

Make Straight My Path

Our village church is up the hill from where we sit. A vertical hike to get there, actually. A piece of cake for the locals. More of a struggle for this muzungu. Maybe my high center of gravity (my head!) is what makes these walks a challenge.

There are several paths to get to the small, mud-walled, dirt floor church. Due to wrangling over the land, the landowners have cut off access to the more foot-friendly route.

Last week, with Evelyn effortlessly leading up front, we climbed a steep narrow path to church. Rains this week made it impassable today so we tried the last remaining, but technically difficult trail.

Most church-goers I know have easy access to Sunday services. Driving in air-conditioned comfort on smooth roads, walking nice sidewalks. There are very few physical obstacles to attending church in my old hometown area in Northern California. Countless spiritual ones, I’m sure.

In SW Uganda and throughout East Africa, women, children and some men will walk many kilometers, up and down steep paths to praise the Lord. Of course there are the man-made obstacles to attending but the physical barriers are simply surmounted.

Today, after climbing and descending steep, narrow pitches to attend worship services with my African wife and friends, we learned that the route we took today may soon be blocked, as part of this land dispute.

Once again, obstacles of our own creation could keep me from worshipping with my neighbors. A shame. Hopefully the power of the spirit will prevail.

As the popular Christian song says, “God will make a way where there seems to be no way…”

God’s Green Acres

Awakened overnight with messages buzzing on my ubiquitous iPhone. Evelyn is anxious about her interview with US Embassy for her tourist visa in the morning. She’s checking her list and preparing supporting documents. She’s ready. I’m anxious too.

But there are other messages demanding my attention. Seems the Giants won their Opening Day game, and tied a record in the process with back-to-back-to-back home runs. Wow. Great news. And a sign from God.

Several years ago I attended a weekend retreat. It was billed as a spiritual revival. I was ready for it but a bit apprehensive.

After arriving at the center in Jackson, the candidates, as we were called, went to bed in silence.

The next morning, as I woke up, I prayed that God show me a sign that I was in the right place, that I was where he wanted me to be. I stepped outside my room into the cool, clear March morning.

As I took a short, slow walk around the building, I suddenly stopped, having experienced the sign that I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

I looked across a grassy field to a pristine baseball diamond, laid out neatly in what appeared to be the middle of nowhere. It was immaculate, grass neatly trimmed, bright green under the rising sun, awaiting determined young players. It was like a scene out of “Field of Dreams.”

My heart soared. As a lifelong fan who spent hours and hours each year watching and reading about baseball, I got the unmistakeable feeling that I was home, in a familiar, comforting place. I could relax through the weekend and absorb everything that God intended to show me.

As I watched the clip this morning (it’s 0315) I smiled and felt that same feeling. God’s got this, and his hand is on me. I have been reflecting for 40 minutes.

It’s real for me. God knows me deeply. He built me to enjoy sports, to relax and find comfort in them in the fury of domestic disorder.

I think Evelyn will pass her interview because that’s God’s plan, just like every step I’ve taken in my life to put me here, in Africa, with this incredible, gorgeous wife!!

God is good. Let’s play ball. Get on that plane, Evelyn. We’re going places!

African Wedding Memories

This week has been a whirlwind.

My introduction and wedding seem like a long time ago. Last week’s initiation to the Tooro culture and Evelyn’s family was festive and fun. The wedding went without a hitch.

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The events were followed by a road trip-honeymoon accompanied by my brother and his wife from Napa.

Our stops included a
* two-day safari at Queen Elizabeth National Park,
* a visit to see two new beneficiary groups of Team in Faith and our partner ACER,
* a long jaunt and overnight at Bwindi Gorilla Haven as the inaugural guests,
* an epic drive and traffic jam on the way to Entebbe to drop Tom and Stephanie at the airport.

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As we rest and relax, God is here, with us, blessing us, loving us. Evelyn and I are very happy and excited about our next steps. The journey together continues….

Year-End Opportunities

You’re about to turn the page to 2016. Before you do so, you can make some last-minute charitable contributions that will lower your tax bill and win praise from your accountant, life mate or significant other.

To read no further, donate now at Team in Faith.

Otherwise consider the following…

With our partner organization in Kasese, Uganda, Action for Community Empowerment and Rehabilitation (ACER), Team in Faith supports women farmers through micro-finance loans. They build their small farms and businesses and support their families.

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We can do a lot more to build sustainable communities with your help. Make a donation at Teaminfaith.Org

Abraham is a bright young man in medical school in Ishacka, Uganda. He is doing very well but the tuition costs are a huge burden for his peasant parents.

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Abraham will make an excellent doctor. Help him complete his medical school studies. Make a tax-deductible gift today at Teaminfaith.Org

AICM College of Science & Technology in Kabale, Uganda, needs new monitors for its ICT lab. We can add nine monitors, keyboard and mice for $2300.

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Students in modern Africa must be competitive. They need up-to-date computers and software. Help them with a tax-deductible donation at Teaminfaith.Org

My friends, your donation can lift lives and raise hopes quickly. Take advantage of tax deductions at the 11th hour. Donate today…and please tell a friend.

Wishing you a happy, healthy and safe New Year 2016.

Your man on the ground in Africa,

Patrick Hill

Joy to the World

Joy to the World the Lord has come. Let earth receive her king!

One of the things that has transformed me in recent years is the feeling of joy. In the past I felt inadequate or not worthy of such an expression. As I have grown, walking forward faithfully, I have experienced authentic joy.

For a season in my life, I was a very good mountain cyclist. There was a lot of joy descending Sierra passes that my buddies and I just climbed. I would shout to the Lord my joy and happiness. How great that feeling. And that was mine. I worked hard. I earned every bit of that.

As I found my work in Africa, a joy resonated from within me that has been impossible to contain. Being in the presence of God and beautiful people has given me a glimpse of heaven. There is joy and happiness, punctuated by poverty and pain, almost every day.

Today, with Evelyn in my life, there is a feeling of an everlasting joy with the most unlikely but perfect life mate.

I am happy. I feel joy. The Lord lives here.

May you experience the joy that comes from fellowship with the Lord and others.

African Christmas

Christmas in Africa. A heckuva lot different from any other I’ve spent. So much day-to-day existence it’s hard for me to see trappings of the season. A few decorated trees. Strains of “Joy To the World” heard now and again.

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Am here in Kabale, Uganda, with my adopted family. Sons, daughters and grandchildren expected here over next few days. It’ll be noisy, perhaps chaotic…just like home in USA.

Been invited to a Christmas Day service at a small village church near Bwindi Gorilla Haven, our hotel project. Dirt floors, mud walls, loads of spirit and energy make up the worship space. I expect this to be a highlight event!

Got a card yesterday from my son, Dan, that made my day. Takes a bit of planning to get a card or gift here or there. Plan on two weeks.

My faith keeps me company this Christmas. So many memories and traditions that I’ve followed for decades.

This year am surrounded by friends and the unfamiliar, pleased with a playlist of Christmas carols.

Nohiri nungi. Merry Christmas.
Obusingye bube naiwe omu mwaka. Peace be with you in the new yea (Rukiga)

Krismasi. Amani na iwe nanyi katika mwaka mpya. Merry Christmas. Peace be with you in the new year. (Swahili)

Merry Christmas everyone!

Blessed and Broken

A life on the road in ministry for others is a life of adventure. There are people to meet, places to go and, in Uganda at least, beautiful animals to see.

My mission with Team in Faith has taken me to Africa four times since 2012, with another trip just a few weeks off. My relational ministry style has been a blessing to many as I have brought gifts from the Holy Spirit in addition to practical items, like computers, smart phones and money for school fees.

The wonderful thing about it is that by being a blessing to others, we receive abundant blessings. As a pastor friend put it, “we are blessed to be a blessing (to others)…”

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, please and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2 NIV

Leaving home, friends and colleagues, for months at a time, doesn’t come without a cost. Relationships are broken, communication is distant. The reality is by losing myself in my work and mission, I lose others, too.

kasese group

Great satisfaction comes when you see lives transformed. In Kasese, Uganda, this year, Team in Faith awarded a grant of $1,000 to four women’s micro-finance groups. The money was to be shared among members for small business loans, family expenses, school fees. Two months later, more than 100 people showed up (photo above) to thank Team in Faith for its support of their livelihoods, with songs, dances, testimonies.

My return to California has been met with a much cooler response. Busy, distracted lives separate me from friends and family. It’s a price I pay for my work on the other side.

When Jesus called his first disciples, he saw two brothers, Peter and Andrew. They were fishermen, casting a net into the lake. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

Whoa! How do you think that went at home? “You quit your job for what??”

Their faith in the Lord turned their lives upside down. The world has never been the same.

Home Away From Home

Have been back in the USA for about five weeks after half a year in Africa. Working most days each week but finding time for recreation. Have introduced my Team in Faith organization.

It feels different. This is no longer my home.

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My heart and mind are with the people of Uganda. Beautiful people. Grace-filled people. Loving brothers and sisters.

My life in Northern California is quite comfortable. Paved roads. Easy wifi access. Big screen TVs. Unusually dry weather. But something is missing.

Relationships here are usually appointment-driven. Let’s meet! Where, what time? It is unusual, for me at least, to engage many people while on the go. We are belted-in in our motorized steel vehicles. We might see a friend as we pass at 10 miles above the speed limit. Encountering people on the streets here just doesn’t happen. Ten thousand miles away, though, it is a way of life.

Everyone in Sub-Saharan Africa is outside waiting to greet you. The village homes in Uganda are small and it is typical to sit outside and watch the world pass by. As I walk the 500 metres to the vocational college each day, I meet and greet a dozen people or more, surprising many with my local language skills. Even in the small town of Kabale, I will pass many people who may look at me with curiosity. An exchange can form a friendship. This most basic human interaction is really what sets apart my life there from what I experience here.

I met one of my Ugandan friends in an LA suburb last weekend. Far from from his homeland, he and his wife live in an apartment complex. He studies for hours each day, waiting for his chance at a medical residency. His social life is very quiet behind closed doors, a far cry from the life he loved and left.

In recent years I have been fortunate to travel a lot and visit many countries in Europe and Africa. The different cultures are beautiful and fun to explore. America, for many in Africa and elsewhere, is a dream destination…a veritable Disneyland of opportunities and entertainment.

BGH village church

We enjoy a standard of living unmatched by any culture in the history of the world. Most of the world can only dream of this.

I prayed for the chance to experience life like most of my brothers and sisters. God honored that. I’ve been fortunate to live Uganda for most of the past three years.

I am at home now.

Whose Life is This?

I thought I was managing well early on. Focused on sports as a youngster. Got myself educated, practiced journalism. Read sports on TV for a time. Thought I was on my way.

That was before I learned it’s one thing to ask God to bless your plans. It is another to have him show you his. They’re already blessed.

Decades after my TV sports career ended, I’m happier and more focused than ever. Not without trials or doubt but through faith I am being taught some valuable lessons.

One of God’s greatest disciplines is that of patience. Our quest for instant gratification is humbled when we get a glimpse of the eternal timepiece.

God’s time meets our expectations.

bp enoch preach

In Ecclesiastes 3, the writer says “everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses.” He has set the right time for everything.

Why wait until my sixth decade to find this peace that passes understanding? Couldn’t he help me out 20-30 years ago?

Today, in Kabale, Uganda, I accompanied Bishop Enoch to a funeral. I was not looking forward to the event. Funerals here are usually very long, four- hour affairs in which one is seated throughout.

We drove a short distance to where the funeral service would be held. Shade tents and chairs were set, but few people were about. The deceased’s brother, known as “The Professor,” was nowhere to be found. We waited about 45 minutes before returning home for lunch. We’ll try again later.

After lunch, I was anxious about going back. It will be too long, I fretted.

Off we went.

My worldly view of things is not God’s view of things. I may have been anxious but God had other plans. I entered a small house and sat with nearly a dozen women, mourners and supporters for about 15 minutes. I greeted them with my Rukiga, to which they responded.

A bit later we went to meet “The Professor,” to negotiate the order of the service. He spoke very good English, greeted me with interest and asked where I was from. Turns out he has been to Sacramento on several occasions.

We all headed to the tents where several hundred people awaited us. I took a seat in the second row; the only muzungu in the crowd, a distinction I appreciate and to which I am accustomed.

Fellowship and understanding were the order of my day from God’s view. Whereas I was apprehensive at first, it turned out to be a blessed time for me, joining those in attendance.

I never expected to have such a rich life of experiences in Africa but this is not my life. God’s plan for me is to see and experience, share and grow with his people halfway around the world from home.

I’ll never settle for anything less.

An Appeal and a Promise

My friends, I am completing my fifth month in Kabale, Uganda, where I volunteer at AICM’s Vocational Training College. In a country where more than 80 percent of college-age kids are unemployed, learning marketable skills to create a job or find work is necessary.

The college has an ICT program to train computer science students. However, the machines are more than 10 years old. They are slow. They cannot run modern programs. Students here risk falling further behind their counterparts around the globe.

Team in Faith, a public charity helping education projects in Uganda, is asking for your support to purchase a network computer to accommodate nine terminals. This system will run the latest software and help train people who can hit the ground running with practical experience. We have received a good quote, which is listed below.

AICM

Would you please consider a gift to help us purchase these items and make the Vocational Training College the ICT leader in SW Uganda.

Donate at teaminfaith.net. Your gift is tax-deductible in the US and I promise it will make an immediate impact. Thank you.

A Conversation with God

“Hi, God. You around?”

“Hello, Patrick. Top of the morning to you. I’m here. How things are going for you? Are you with me or trying to do things by yourself?”

“Yeah, well, I think my faith in you is being tested again.”

“Why is that? Have I not fulfilled my promises to you?”

“No. No. I know you are here with me in Uganda. You sent me here. You’ve made provision for me here. It’s just, well…I don’t know…”

“Come on. Tell me what’s on your heart.”

“You know, I’ve done the best I can. You’ve put me in challenging situations from the start. I haven’t complained about any of that.”

“So what’s the problem again?”

“I’m lonely.”

“Lonely? But I am right here. Every minute. Every day. 24/7.”

“It’s not you. It’s me. Somehow, in someway, I get distracted. I lose sight of you. Then I find myself all by myself. I get anxious, I look for you…but I don’t find you right away.”

“Haha. Where do you look for me?”

“I try to focus on my work. I try to pray harder. I retreat to a quiet place.”

“That’s where you find me? Are you sure?”

“No, that’s not where I find you. There’s an emptiness in my stomach. I am lost. ‘Kobuzire,’ as the people say here. ‘You are lost!’ I don’t feel as confident, or as powerful as before.”

“Patrick..I agree with you that your faith is unsettled at the moment. Don’t worry about ‘why’ or what you’ve done to create your discomfort. Look for me. I am near. A friend who calls or visits and lifts your spirit, that’s me. With friends and strangers, I am with you. You are with me.”

“But sometimes I feel I’d rather just be alone. I’m an introvert, you know.”

“You’re a ‘people person,’ Patrick. That’s why you are well-liked and successful here. Stay with that. Trust in me. I am with you always. I don’t want to see you struggle. I have given you life and skills. I have made a way for you.”

“You make it sound so easy, God.”

“It’s not ‘easy,’ Patrick. Simple, yes; easy, no.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re most welcome. I’m always here.”

Help Wanted

Thanks to you, Team in Faith is establishing its presence in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Team in Faith is based in Kabale, Uganda, where it supports education, health care and evangelism projects in the region.

evangelism

In five months, TIF has been privileged to support students, schools, churches and others through grants in aid. A big hug to our friends and donors for your support. Your tax-deductible contributions are helping to affect lives in Uganda.

Among its activities since March, Team in Faith has issued grants
* supporting 30 HIV-AIDS orphans in Kasese with school supplies for their primary school studies
* funding radio broadcasts of the good news of Jesus Christ across five countries
* supporting Kitojo Integrated Development Association’s (KIDA) hospital activities in Kabarole District in Western Uganda
* supporting university-level students in Kenya
* for uniforms for St. John’s Karusandara Orphans Primary School near Kasese

Extreme poverty affects many families in this region. Money for basic necessities, like food and water, is very tight, so affording school fees for young students is a challenge.

Team in Faith joins existing organisations that serve these marginalised populations. One of our main partners is African International Christian Ministry, or AICM. It conducts community outreach, and operates a vocational training college. More than 10,000 alumni have built careers over the past 30 years. Today, young men and women learn skills with which they can become ready to join the work force, or create new jobs as entrepreneurs.

Among the programs at the college is an ICT class that teaches students computer skills. Technology is a leading industry throughout the world. Africans deserve and want the chance to learn alongside their western colleagues with equipment that meets today’s demands.

computers

Students and schools here can no longer use aging equipment. With advances in technology in this competitive world, new computers are needed as a platform for training eager young minds.

To meet this demand, Team in Faith embarks on this campaign:

* Upgrade the 10-year-old computers at the ICT lab. We aim to raise $5,000 for two powerful servers, with which to network the classroom with the latest softwares. These would help build a web hosting business, teaching students the latest in network management.
* In order to keep the computers running, TIF will raise an additional $7000 for solar panels, batteries and inverters with which to supplement the municipal power.

From this platform, the campus can become wireless enabling students, faculty and community guests to enjoy first-rate Internet services, like the ones we take for granted.

You know the value of education and practical experience. You know that up-to-date computers are needed in today’s world. Would you please make a tax-deductible donation to help see this project to completion.

Make a monthly donation of $100 for one year at teaminfaith.net. As a team, we can build brighter futures for the talented young men and women from Uganda, South Sudan and DRCongo who study at AICM.

This Just In…

Headline: Episcopal Church approves gay marriages in churches.

Old news.

The Episcopal Church has been moving that direction for decades. I won’t leave it. Too much wonderful tradition, rich liturgy and experience that set me on my way. We’re a large family. I don’t agree with everything in my family, but I won’t leave it.

I’m ambivalent about the gay issue. It is not a way of life I would choose or how God created me. Instead I must deal with my own sin, selfishness, and lust.

I am not aware of any pecking order of sins but I would place murder and the hate that is racism at the top of the list. To take someone’s life or to hate a brother or sister created in the image of God because of the color of their skin is abhorrent to me. Historically, men of faith in the South, members of the KKK, Christians, killed and terrorized our brothers and sisters while corrupting God’s word and world. Appalling to me. Thank God for William Wilberforce.

In response I give away a lifestyle that millions here can only dream of, to live in community with my brothers and sisters of different mothers in Uganda. Love lives here.

There is no place I’d rather be.

Finding Fellowship

In the wake of the horrible shooting at the Charleston, SC, church, I reflected on a church visit in the home office of the Confederacy, South Carolina.

Several years ago my family and I vacationed with my wife’s sister and bro-in-law not too far from Hilton Head, in their home state of SC.

I remember getting up to go to an Episcopal Church one Sunday morning, alone. After a short drive, I entered a small, attractive church.

As I remember, not one member of the congregation spoke to me. Was it because I was dressed like I was on holiday? Even afterward when I greeted the vicar, I barely got a “harrumph.” It was a stifling experience. I am remembering now just how chilling that felt.

Today, halfway around the world from home, I’ve attended church services where, as the only white person in the congregation, I was moved through the packed congregation to a seat in the second row. The worship was vibrant and fun. After the Easter Sunday service I took tea with the visiting bishop.

My point to this anecdote is that in the South, the culture appears set. Outsiders or visitors, like this Californian, who try to break through into a closed-knit community, are looked at with suspicion. There was not much warmth.

I get looked at a lot when I visit an Anglican Church in Uganda. There is curiosity, but there is love and fellowship. I feel the Lord’s presence. I feel at home.