Poverty of material, not of spirit

Poverty is commonplace throughout East Africa. However, I am talking about economic or material poverty, not a poverty of spirit, fellowship or joy. That is what has encouraged me and attracted me to Uganda and the region. Despite crushing poverty the people are beautiful, hospitable, friendly. They will be honored to serve you the fruits of their labor and their land: rice and beans, cooked matooke (bananas) and maybe even a chicken if they have it.

The very best days that I’ve had were when I was deep in the village with little or no power, no wifi or reliable phone service. Slept at a lodge under construction. Nothing fancy…a bed and a wooden patio overlooking the Impenetrable Forest. Just to be outside under the stars, sharing with friends everything I had and what I know about the cosmos. I miss those days.

My friend Moses shares photos from an iPad to a curious crowd near the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.

In the capital city of Kampala and nearby Entebbe there are neighborhoods that are prospering, with well-made houses and gated security. Not far from these nice western-style homes are dozens of mud-walled and dirt-floored shelters that children call home. It is a blight and hard on the eyes. Looking deeper, though, you can see joy and hear songs of laughter despite the absence of any worldly possessions.

To me we have so much to learn about a life of simplicity. What is truly important?

Our Own Africa

After six years of growing relationships and other-worldly experiences in Africa, I am planted back in the USA. Am recreating the simplicity of life that fed me on the other side of the planet. Fortunately, I have a lot of Africa here with me.

Am happy to have my lovely companion and wife, Evelyn Akiiki, with me. Together we are raising Divine Camilla, now one year old.

We live along Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard in Seattle. Our neighborhood is wonderfully diverse and looks a lot like those places we left behind in Uganda. Somalis and Ethiopians are our neighbors, A Vietnamese woman cuts my hair just right. An African-American pastor leads the nearby neighborhood church.

Ours is a bilingual home. Evelyn is frequently on WhatsApp catching up with news from family members and friends in Uganda. Her conversations in Rutooro or Luganda are conducted too quickly for me to keep pace. We’ll trade greetings in her dialect each day, whether we’re standing side by side or conversing via iPhones. The baby babbles in an attempt to mimic both tongues of the her parents. She gets a daily earful in Mom and Dad’s native languages.

Divine is a walking dynamo, driven by curiosity to get into everything. She and Mom slow down and sit on the floor at meal time, sharing potatoes, rice, millet porridge, vegetables and anything else we’re eating. It’s a beautiful thing to see a healthy baby with an adventurous appetite.

For all the joys Evelyn brings to my life, her love of the Lord and her grasp of appropriate scripture lifts my spirits time and again. It is what really attracted me to her. We share fellowship with the Holy Spirit throughout each day and night.

We thank God for the provision made for us here in America and for what has been built for Team in Faith and ourselves in Africa.

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.