Morning Devotions

Every place I’ve visited has a morning assembly for prayers and songs. At the Bwindi Community Hospital, staff and guests gather each morning for worship and a short homily.

In Kabale, at the Vocational Training College, students and administrators sing praises before a speaker reflects on scripture verses.

Today, the speaker failed to show. So what next? Dismiss the students to their classes? Heavens, no! The worship shall continue.

Africa, as you can image, has great worship. There is singing and dancing, drums, claps, howls and whistles of joy. As we waited for the speaker, more students stepped forward to join the worship leaders.

The result was a fabulous jam of music and praise. It went on and on..with great enthusiasm that touches the heart. My smiles were punctuated by tears. It was loud. It was wonderful.

Everyone had the songs etched in their heart. No music sheets or overhead screens, but unabashed voices, praising harmonically.

Every tribe and culture has its own worship style. You feel it here. It is ecstatic. It is fun.

Tomorrow I step up as speaker as the dancing stops. I shall be on time. Scripture is Matt 13:54-end. A Prophet Without Honor. Kind of hits close to home for me.

Sometimes I allow myself a sentimental moment to look back. Kind of amazing what I’ve given up to get here.

Before I get too carried away though, my vision returns to the spectacular scene the Lord has set before me. I cannot spare any time looking back. It is all ahead of me. Oh, how blessed I am.

Sunday in Kampala

Sundays are the best days in Kampala. The headache-inducing traffic jams the other six days in the capital city are not present this day. It is easy and fast to get around. A relief.

Today was my first Sunday back in Uganda. Worship day. I took a Matatu (taxi) about 10 miles to downtown Kampala to attend Watoto church, an uptempo church of the word that reminds me of Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago and an Assemblies of God meeting. Lots of energy, great worship…and a time clock that keeps the service at about 1:45, because they must clear the house to get the next group of enthused worshippers in their place.

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I visited Watoto last year. A friend took me today. As we were walking through a small village to get to the taxi stand, a mother was outside, washing her crying two-year-old. The child wouldn’t stop and the mother, after glancing at me, told the child (in Luganda), “If you are not quiet, the muzungu will take you!” At that, the child stopped crying immediately!

It has been warm here, in the 80s with humidity. It wants to rain, but hasn’t. The heat hasn’t stopped mosquitoes seeking my sweet, muzungu blood. Fortunately, I packed a couple of bed nets to keep them mostly away. I can hear their whine (and cry) as they probe for weaknesses in the mesh. The deadly anopheles mosquito flies quietly and at night. So far have not met up with them.

It is good to be back. I feel comfortable and supported by many friends. I have been meeting people in town as a “mule” to deliver gifts and items on their behalf. On Tuesday, a Ugandan friend I met three years ago in South Sudan will come pick me and drive me to his home in Kasese. I’ve enjoyed his family’s hospitality the past two years. We will also discuss some projects of his, from supporting scholarships from primary school students to women’s micro-finance projects. Then it will be to Bwindi for a couple of days before settling four hours further south in Kabale.

Had to rely on patience and faith to get me here. My reliable driver was late in collecting me Tuesday morning. As a result I missed the 6 a.m. flight out of Sacramento. An agent put me on a 6:20 a.m. flight to Houston that would connect to Newark where I would pick up my scheduled itinerary.

It was snowing with freezing rain in Newark. That flight was delayed three hours as we joined a lineup of jets for de-icing. When we arrived in Brussels, five of us had 20 minutes to make the next flight to Uganda. Nope. So we were rerouted through Istanbul, Turkey, which looked pretty nice near the Mediterranean and Black seas. Wheels down in Uganda at 3:45 a.m. about five hours behind schedule.

Before I left, I wired $10,000 to my account in Uganda on behalf of Team in Faith to be used for grants and gifts, ranging from church roofs in Congo to materials for primary schools. It will be a powerful experience for me to make these grants on behalf of TIF and the generous gifts of donors.

God is here, the holy spirit is present in all my activities. Am blessed and thankful to be in this position.

Mukama nimarungi. Good is good.
Ebiro byona. All the time.

Support education and health care projects in Uganda at teaminfaith.net

Homily: This is Heaven

Homily 31 August 2014
BCH Chapel

Neshemelirwe kubaleba…(Nice to see all of you)

Nimpurirra neshemelirwe Uganda mononga. (I feel very happy in Uganda)

Ndikuza muka orw’akashatu. (I go home on Wednesday)

Mwebare mononga, muribanywani bangye. (Thank you, friends)

When I came to Bwindi for the first time last year, I did not know anyone. But I expected God’s people to be waiting for me.

As a Christian man I knew that I would meet other Christians and have instant fellowship. That is exactly what happened. I met many of you last year. We had a common life in Jesus Christ. We became brothers and sisters—and friends—in Christ.
I was comfortable and at ease.

When I went home and planned for this year, I wondered how God would improve that trip. Well, for more than five months, I have had wonderful fun and adventure. The Holy Spirit has been my constant companion. Mukama asiimwe.

My experience this year has surpassed last year. I’ve met more people, shared more fellowship, been to more villages and homes.
Mukama has richly blessed me. How can I thank him enough? By devoting myself more fully to him and his plan for me.

In today’s lesson, Paul writes to the Romans with instructions and encouragement.
Passages like the one we heard are so wonderful, so valuable, because they are just as relevant today as they were in Paul’s time.

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

The work and fellowship I witness here at BCH is wonderful. Many of you work selflessly to serve others in sometimes difficult situations.

The reputation of this hospital is great. The communities here know it. Important people in Kampala know it. Supporters around the world know it. The hospital is not the buildings, or the surgical theatre. It is you…the caring dedicated staff.

With your help, I have learned many life lessons in Uganda.

Paul writes: Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Throughout my travels this year in Uganda, Congo and Tanzania I see the daily struggles of life. It is a fact of life here..

Through all the difficulty, there is the joy of hope Paul mentions.

I walked alongside a group of women carrying large, heavy packs on their backs, up a steep mountain road outside Butembo in Congo.

The women where chatting, singing..expressing joy…they even had patience enough to exchange greetings with this muzungu. No complaints from any of them. Just grace…and power…and faith.

The African hospitality that I’ve enjoyed is one of the great blessings I’ve received. Here, the door is always open.

I visited a friend and his family in Kasese after returning from Congo. One morning I got up for breakfast, and there was a friend of the family at the table who ate with us. Two neighbours also stepped inside open door to visit and say hello.

It was a pleasant experience to witness this fellowship. It is also quite different from my neighbourhood in California, where we have two locks on the doors to keep everyone OUT.

If I were to write a thank you letter to God, I would thank him for surrounding me with friendly, supportive people. His people.

I want to thank him for the friendship, love and care shown to me by the Communications staff, Aida, Josline and Janefer. Josline, you are right. I really am a delicate muzungu.

I want to thank him for the Bible study fellowship and counsel of Rev. Bugaba and others. It enriched me..and I got to observe and learn from many faithful people here like Peace, my munywani wangye Barnabas, Dr. Cornelius.

I want to thank God for his faithfulness to me, for sticking by me even though I haven’t always been with him.

For it wasn’t my plan to come to Uganda even once, let alone twice. It wasn’t my plan to visit the DRC. It wasn’t my plan to stand at the Anglican cathedral in Butembo and preach to the congregation, with a Swahili translator.

It wasn’t my plan to visit Tanzania two times to support an organisation that reaches children orphaned by HIV.

No it was God’s plan…and his patience with me. Webale, mukama.

I want to thank God for matching my time with his time. My first try to enter the Democratic Republic of Congo ended in failure. I could not get a visa at the border. It wasn’t the time for me to go.

Earlier this month, though, it was my time, and the trip was wonderful and successful.

I want to thank God for the gift of communication. With the help of my friend, Joel, I have improved as a Rukiga speaker. While not fluent, I am willing to engage anyone and it has been such a blessing. People young and old, men and women, respond to me as I try to express greetings. It is the most joyful part of my experience. Mwebale, for your patience as I struggled at times.

Obusingye nine neiwe 

God showed me many things in Africa.

He showed me that life can be difficult. That day-to-day activities we take for granted in America by lifting a finger can consume half a day here: collecting water, gathering wood to build a fire for cooking and heating.

He showed me that grace trumps any hardship. He showed me women who work as hard as any in the world have a spirit of joy and happiness despite their labors.

He showed me that people who look different from me on the outside are THE SAME as me on the inside.

Here in Africa, God showed me a vision of heaven. I saw worship. It was awesome. The music, the dancing, the singing. I am sure it is what heaven will be like.

It will not be in English only. But beautiful voices and worship from God’s people everywhere…in languages I cannot understand. What I saw here was wonderful and fantastic. It was love. It was God.

Webale, mukama. Webale munonga.

My friends, it breaks my heart to leave at this time. But my visa expires in a few days and the Ugandan government says I must leave.
Sharing my life with you has been some of the best days of my life.

But I have been reminded that people at home miss me, too. They want to see me and hear my stories.

And I will tell them..of God’s presence here among his beautiful people.

Ndaze kubasisira…(I will miss you all)

Ndaze kugaruka…(I will return)

Ndabakunda mononga. (I love you all)

Tuta onana tena Mungu aki penda. (We will see each other when the Lord is willing)

Amina….

Homily from 6 July 2014

Rom 12:4-8

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously, if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

All of us, as God’s children, have been blessed with memory, reason and skill. We have talents.

Here at BCH we can see aba kazi and aba shija with gifts and talents at work. From the nurses, to the clinical officers, doctors, administrators, and the rest of the team, you have gifts that compliment each other…and serve the community…

Mukama asiimwe

Paul mentions encouragement as a gift….if your gift is to encourage, then give encouragement.

The world we live in can be a wonderful place. It is also a difficult place. As I am here with you in Kanungu District, I see the struggles, and the hardships. But believe me that even in America there are those who are very unhappy…despite many blessings and wealth. Material things are present….but a spiritual life, a life of faith that is in alignment with our Lord Jesus Christ is absent.

Helping each other, encouraging each other through prayer and conversation, turns a dark day bright. We need that. And we, as God’s people, are blessed in ways that others are not.

The other day, as I was preparing this message, I got a call from a friend in Kabale. She asked what I was doing..then suggested a few things that really opened my eyes. It was a great encouragement. And I felt that mukama directed her to speak to me and lift my spirit.

Isn’t that how he works? We may sometimes expect wonders to fall from the sky. But God uses people are his messengers that surround and support us. God himself, and the Holy Spirit also work within us to direct us and correct us. We are blessed because of that.

The apostle Paul, wrote an encouraging letter to Ephesians while in prison. Imagine being in prison. A lonely difficult place to be. But Paul was not discouraged. He writes: “As a prisoner for the Lord… I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”

You know, we sometimes find that we can hardly forgive ourselves..let alone forgive others. but we are called to do so.

We have one Lord, one faith, one baptism. God the father dwells in all of us, as in his holy temple.

I am beginning my fourth month in Bwindi.

Nimpurrira nshemerirwe mononga.

I give thanks to God throughout every day. For the people I meet…for the thrill of communicating in Rukiga. For the friends I have here who support me, encourage me and keep me from trouble. For the spiritual pleasures I enjoy each day. I feel alive in Christ…and I thank each of you.

Mukama asiimwe! Mukama nakukoZESA. Praise God. God uses you!

In one of the great stories of the OT which I believe illustrates forgiveness and encouragement, Joseph is sold by his brothers and winds up with Potiphar, an Egyptian who was one of Pharaoh’s officials. The Lord was with Joseph, so he prospered.

But he angered his master’s wife and wound up in prison. Still, the Lord was with him and gave him success in whatever he did.

Joseph lay in prison for more than two years. One day, Pharaoh was disturbed by a dream, and Joseph was summoned. “I cannot interpret the dream,” Joseph said, but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.

Joseph interpreted the dream to mean seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine. He was put in charge of the storages. And the famine came.

During that time Joseph’s brothers, who sold him, went to Egypt to buy grain, where they met Joseph but didn’t recognize him.

At the end Joseph reveals himself to his brothers. Don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me, he tells them, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.

God’s faithfulness to Joseph, and his plan, is described in this story. Joseph surely could have been bitter, but he is loving to his brothers and his father. The story is an encouragement to us. When we don’t understand the difficulties in our lives, sometimes God is using them for greater things.

Mukama nimarungi!

I am a video volunteer in Bwindi, I try to pitch in where I can. I take photos for the hospital and nursing school; shoot and edit video. I’ve also worked on projects from Kabale to Ft. Portal. It’s enjoyable work.

But where I find the most satisfaction is simply being present with people. I don’t have to DO anything. After all, I am a human being, not a human doing.

When I walk the one and a half kilometers from my house to the hospital, I greet everyone I can with my Primary 3-level Rukiga. The responses are many, from the doctorate-level language speakers. They are patient with this muzungu…and appreciate my efforts.

They encourage me. (9:00)

I came to Africa to meet the Batwa and live in Uganda. Yet along the way I have discovered my own spiritual gifts that have otherwise gone unnoticed or untapped.

In addition to the spiritual gifts that Paul writes about in Romans, there is the “fruit of the spirit” he describes in his letter to the Galatians. He says, ch. 5 v 22….The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

In encouraging one another, putting others above ourselves, we are demonstrating those fruits. For how can you encourage another without kindness, gentleness, love and peace?

Volunteers, when they roll up their sleeves, and take part in the life of the community, can be a blessing to others. The amazing thing is that in being a blessing, you are blessed in return by God. And then our response is to serve God in thanksgiving…not to serve him in hopes of being rewarded.

As a pastor friend once told me, “we are blessed to be a blessing…”

God is willing to grant us his great promises…to be partakers of the divine nature.

In 2 Peter 1, we are encouraged to “make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

“For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ…”

My brothers and sisters, be a blessing to others, your family, friends and colleagues. Show your love in the fruit of the Spirit. In return, you too will be blessed.

Authentic African Adventure

It is the rainy season in Southwestern Uganda. Rain was falling gently, but steadily, on Monday. We had a plan to drive 50k to a settlement at Kitariro to inspect furniture made by the Batwa.

Even in the best of conditions, the roads in and around Bwindi are terrible. Rocky, pot-holes, loose footings. There are no gutters along the sides which sends water pouring across our path.

With the rain steadily increasing, I was watching Enos, our administrator, for signs that he might cancel the trip. No such luck.

mudhill

We set out, three of us on a bench seat in a Toyota pickup. The first minutes were slightly downhill so there were no incidents.

Rounding a bend, the rain intensifying, we saw a large delivery truck, stalled in mud, trying to reach the summit of a small hill. There was room alongside, so Enos decided to press on and see if we could clear this mess.

Once we started the incline, the tires grabbed at the mud-soaked pavement, spinning uselessly at times. We neared the incapacitated truck but the mud suddenly became too much and we were stopped.

Voices clamored about us. Men appeared from nowhere, offering to push our truck for 10000 Uganda shillings, about $5. We declined. Wow. Talk about an epic fail!

Nowhere to go now but back down the hill and try again. Not easy in this quagmire of a road. Chaos. Shouting. Down we went. To the bottom. To try again. In an hour.

In the end, we motored up again, got some manual help when the engine whined and the tires spun to put us over the summit.

We finally got to the Batwa settlement, met some friendly people, saw their woodworking center, then turned for home to retrace our steps.

at kitariro

“In the rainy season, this is to be expected,” Enos told me. I never would have made this trip, thus missing an authentic African adventure.

Life in the Familiar

The drive to Bwindi was the final segment of my 28-hour journey from California to Uganda. Jumbo jets gave way to a prop plane and finally to a four-door sedan. The 40k road to my home was long but not as rough as I remembered.

The green hills and countryside were beautiful. Women, men and children walked along the road, stepping to the side to avoid two or four-wheeled vehicles.

kihihi trip

A year ago, my head was spinning. Everything was new: the people, the language, my routine.

So much is familiar now. It is as if I’ve been away for three weeks…rather than 10 months. My comfort level is high. I am delighted to be back among friends.

As my time here unfolds, I seek new experiences among the familiar. I will visit new communities and revisit others. I will greet friends, and try to remember the names of new faces. I will eat everything put in front of me.

I am in a safe place, aware of my surroundings. I am expectant of a great stay in Uganda and Africa in 2014.

Wholly Discontented

I made an appointment to meet a pastor friend today to discuss my spiritual aches and pains in the wake of my mind-blowing, three-month mission trip to Africa. I shared with him how things seem different since my return, from relationships to corporate worship. There seems to be a gulf, or distance, between me and the people and things that were formerly so close to my heart.

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I shared with him how I think and pray constantly of my next trip abroad, to renew beautiful relationships with selfless servants in Uganda. I’ve kept up the email chatter back and forth across the continents and the ocean. They await me there. They ask me when I will return. Sounds good. Amazingly, there are even more opportunities for good video ministry work there. I recently met a friend of my mother’s at her church in Montclair, California. She helps support a mission in Uganda which battles poverty and the scourge of HIV/AIDS. There is mutual interest in how I can help her organization.

Once again, a video ministry opportunity opens up before me from my own sphere of influence.

Today I wanted to sort out with Pastor John the sense of conflict that it is inherent in my soul. Do I go, as I’m called to do, and as I want to do, to far off lands for mission and service? Or do I stay in my secure, ungated community, on the proverbial treadmill, living a life of quiet desperation? Obviously, there is no question for the answer is obvious.

Pastor John clapped his hands and praised the Lord for what he called my “holy discontent.”

We agreed that it marks a healthy process wherein my faith is tested and courage is summoned. It’s not unusual for us to be in conflict with the Lord. It’s in our DNA.

The Invisible Man

My first day back in the West didn’t turn out too well.

The day started out fine. I awoke in Entebbe about 4 a.m. anticipating my long flight to London, preceded by an unpredictable trip to the business office at the airport.

But it ended in loneliness, as if I didn’t exist.

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Joseph, my Ugandan driver, arrived about 25 minutes before our agreed upon departure time of 6 a.m. He told me he had trouble sleeping…he was concerned about getting me to the airport on time.

Joseph impressed me. He would have gone to any length, short of giving up his life, for me to complete my business and check in successfully and on time this morning. Then again, he may very well have given it all for me.

The flight out of Africa was smooth, uncrowded, a piece of cake.

Once I got in the ground at Heathrow, the obstacles came fast and furious. I called my friend, Rob, with whom I’d be staying, at work. He was incredulous over the fact that I arrived. “We weren’t expecting you until Friday.”

Really? A half dozen or more email were sent back and forth. They weren’t ready for the American invasion so I told him I’d get lodging for the night.

Got my bags, but they were both bulky and heavy, and difficult to transport along with my two handhelds through the Heathrow labyrinth. Why would that surprise me?

Trying to walk London streets at rush hour with about 100 lbs. of luggage became an ordeal. My mission was more difficult as I had no reservation for a room. I hailed a taxi, who recommended a hotel near London’s Paddington Station.

At 5 p.m. commuters are out in force, so travel was slow. The hotel was booked. A Hilton Hotel was suggested, a two-block walk…not a simple task with the anvil-like baggage I was pulling. It was hard work for this mzungu, just in from the jungles. I stopped frequently before I was told, again, “we’re booked.”

A second taxi ride dropped me in an area close to Rob’s house, a fact that should win me some points.

The small hotel had a double room…upstairs. I lugged my weighty western excess up the stairs then set out for a supper.

There was a classic British pub nearby. Football was on the tele. Beer was flowing, food served. I had a beer, sat down, reviewed the menu…and waited. A second beer (hey, a long day!). Watched the game. Forty minutes passed without a waitress stopping by. I left.

A pizza oven nearby was full of young urban professionals. It was busy and I sat near the kitchen and waited. Gave it fifteen minutes without a look. Time to go.

After receiving care and feeding from those who struggle to provide for themselves, my inability to get a room, as expected, or consummate a dinner deal confused me.

Hardship suddenly showed up alongside, a stunning contrast to the glorious months just past. How do people see me now? Do I appear different? Am I here before you or am I invisible?

Bwindi Postscript

Left Bwindi, aka Kellermann-ville, yesterday for Entebbe. Await flight today to Tanzania for more video work and a new chapter of experiences.
Before I left, Bwindi Guest House manager Denis told me I was “best guest” he ever had, due undoubtedly to my patience and humor during endless rodent infestation. Hahaha…

Here and Now

As the hour of my departure from Bwindi grows near, I am already aware of what I will miss when I am gone. The loss will impact all my senses.

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Among of the things I like most about being in another country are the sounds, particularly the languages. In Uganda I’ve been exposed to no fewer than four different tongues. Locally, the local Rukiga (ru CHEE ga) language is prevalent, even though English is the official state language. I have learned a few simple phrases, using my ubiquitous iPhone to store responses to typical encounters. At morning devotions, some speakers will default to Rukiga. I may not understand a thing, but I admire their passion for the Lord.

From my room in the guest house, I hear conversations and laughter among the staff. It’s reassuring to me. Fellowship is good. When I traveled to Kasese, the local language was Lukonzo. I made a few entries on my electronic notepad so I could hold my own when greeted. Swahili is spoken throughout East Africa, particularly Kenya, and is used by soldiers here. Other Ugandan dialects help identify from which district the speaker hails.

No matter if I visited north or south of Bwindi, the menu was the same. Rice, beans, matoke (cooked plantain), posho (maize meal), irish potatoes. I’ve eaten everything put in front of me for the past three months. We’ve been served local, fresh fruit each day. The pineapples have been great. I want them regularly on my plate when I return.

Before I arrived I imagined the sounds I would hear from the winged and walking beasts. Bird calls, morning and night dominate. The red-tailed monkey makes a clicking sound when near, and a racket when bounding along the roof. Haven’t heard any gorilla grunts…was unwilling to pay for that privilege. I failed to anticipate the rodents.

The daily thunderstorm portends intense rain pounding on the metal roof. Conversations are muted through the rainy season. I’m fascinated by the downpours and stop what I’m doing to watch as they are so atypical of my California experience.

children

The women of Africa have to be among the most hard-working in the world. With babies wrapped to their backs, they cultivate the fields. They fetch the water. They collect wood for the fire. They transport almost everything atop their heads, with perfect balance and grace and, frequently, no shoes. It’s an iconic image of Africa…and one that never gets old.

I close my eyes and imagine I am anywhere. My ears and heart betray that indifference. This is the here and now of Uganda.

I Am Patrick’s iPhone

I am Patrick’s iPhone, though I must admit I am not much of a phone these days.

Patrick packed me off to a place called Bwindi in southwestern Uganda in the middle of Africa. So while I’m not being used as the phone I claim to be, I have been plenty busy.

It’s not my fault Patrick and others in North America pay onerous contract fees to use my phone features. I understand there are added costs when you use me outside the USA. In Africa and elsewhere it’s a pay-as-you-go scheme which doesn’t seem as expensive.

Me and Patrick, in Munich, during our six-week international trip in 2012...

Me and Patrick, in Munich, during our six-week international trip in 2012…

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Nevertheless, Patrick is getting a bang for all my smart-phone features available on wifi. The first is the HD camera. In nearly three months on the road, he’s take more than 750 photos on just me alone. I heard him say he had seven other HD cameras at his disposal for this project. None are as versatile as I am. For instance, can a Canon G12 or GoPro camera instantly upload images to share with a waiting world? What’s the point of storing GBs of photos if no one can see them? That’s what social media helps us to do.

I do video pretty well, too. My HD resolution can stand the test and works well in his Final Cut Pro productions. Even I enjoy his YouTube uploads of his video shorts.

My creators helped build a whole new industry when my older cousins were manufactured. Applications, or Apps, redirected users from visiting websites. Now there are millions of apps…though only 100 under my watch. Among Patrick’s favorites are the social media kings Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

He also uses banking apps–even from this jungle setting–to pay his bills electronically, transfer funds, make stock trades. I don’t ask any questions about those transactions. Pat’s always on the go and needs to fund these activities. It’s all well and good. He keeps my battery charged.

We’ve encountered some difficulty with the wifi network at Bwindi Community Hospital. Understandably, managers here want to limit access to the Internet during business hours. But my guy is a communications fiend and needs unfettered access to help sing praises of the good work being done here. He and I think the communications group should get an exemption from the restrictions.

At the nearby Batwa Development Program there is also a wifi network which is not so closely regulated. So from there we can upload videos to YouTube and catch up with with outstanding Words With Friends games to, hopefully he says, deliver “punishing setbacks” to his opponents. Whatever…

Well, even though I haven’t made one call on this trip I’m happy to be contributing in a big way. And I know this: He likes me! He really likes me!

I am Patrick’s iPhone…and I approved this message!

It’s About Relationships

It’s all about relationships.

At home that means connections which can help build careers, business and romance. Be my Facebook friend. Follow me on Twitter. Leverage me and my posse on LinkedIn.

Here in Africa, relationships mean something else. It means, “time out.” Who are you? Tell me your story.

I have had a wonderful day with my brother in Christ, Barnabas. This morning I took my camera and tripod to morning devotions to record his homily, which was presented to staff and others in the Rukiga language. I’m working with the hospital chaplain on a video series of sermons/homilies to show to patients in their wards.

pat barna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, we also knocked out a video on Easter Carols I recorded several weeks ago. All I need is a DVD to which to output. (Um, why didn’t I bring a dozen?) He is helping me today with a transcript of some Batwa interviews. I’m showing him all my gear (excessive!) and planning how, together, we can do cool things.

His job is not to be my assistant. He has enough to do. He works as an education coordinator with the Batwa Development Program.

Before I left CA, I prayed that the Lord would put his persons in my path to help, protect and encourage me. Barnabas was among those who fetched me at the airport, thus one of the first I met, and has been a companion friend since. He is an outlier of sorts….he is always punctual, a rarity in this land of “African time,” when even doctors stroll in late to meetings, rehearsals, morning prayers.

He is prayerful, one of the gifted speakers during morning devotions. He is very smart, funny, charming. I pray that I can help encourage him to pursue his destiny. For instance, we have talked about how he could go to UK for education. Visas for the US are too hard to get these days.

He’s a quick study with video. He wants to learn. He can compose pictures, which isn’t for everyone. In short, he’s delightful. My brother of a different mother. If I return to Africa, I’d recruit him as a grip for future shoots.

I thank God for Barnabas.

Safe in the Jungle

A robust wifi in the middle of Africa helps make the world a smaller place but not a safer place.

It was disturbing to read about the explosions and carnage at the Boston Marathon from here. One of America’s premier sporting events was forever stained by the evil visited on the unsuspecting near the finish line.

Knee-jerk reaction will certainly point to foreign nationals bent on our destruction. Given the numbing polarization of the country, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to find that this is a home-grown act. Either way, there is precedent.

It is yet another reminder that no matter how safe we may think we are, in gated communities, with security systems, evil and danger are around us. In February, I left California to serve as a video missionary in Uganda. Among my concerns were my own safety. In two months in Bwindi and urban areas, I have not felt insecure. Back at home, though, another example of the violence around us, no matter the probability.

I am confident that law enforcement will identify the assailant(s). We must also do our part to be vigilant in this dangerous time.

For now, six and a half weeks from returning to the US, the thunder rumbles, the rain falls, the birds chirp, and, yes, the rats run through my room, but I am safe in the jungle.

It’s All There…If You Know Where to Look

Truth is revealed in many ways and sometimes from the unlikeliest sources.

One of my former bosses, a TV news director in Monterey, Calif., once bellowed a comment across the newsroom I’ve always remembered: “It’s all there, if you know where to look.” What he was referring to was the obvious. It’s right in front of you. Sometimes it blinds us. Open your eyes or your mind and you will find what you’re looking for. It’s right where it’s always been.

As I count down the days to my second African sojourn in 10 months, many incredible stories and and video opportunities await me near the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, and among the lives of the Batwa Pygmies.

Education and health care are of primary focus. The Batwa Development Program (BDP) provides education for Batwa children. Batwa women are trained to knit and tailor clothing.

The Batwa and their neighbors receive health care visits to their communities by the Bwindi Community Hospital (BCH) and BDP. They learn about the importance of pre-natal care, hygiene, clean water, sanitation and nutrition.

From our experience it will be like going back in time. Supporting the Kellermann Foundation through the BDP and BCH can improve the lives of the Batwa.

I will document and report the work that’s being done. I hope and pray that I know where to look because everything awaits me there.