Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Looking towards the end.

"... I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer." -Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

There are now three weeks remaining in my East African adventure. In one week most of my classmates will board an airplane bound for the States. Then for two weeks I will remain in Uganda, Eastern Uganda, on the slopes of Mt. Elgon. I will spend Christmas with my rural family in Kapchorwa, all 13+ of them. There is a part of me that is very jealous of my friends. But, then the beauty of the situation hits me with the realization of the amazingness that is spending Christmas in an entirely different culture. The adventurous majority of my soul is excited over this proposition.

The time is coming when I will be back home and the questions will fly. What did you learn? How did you see yourself grow? What are you going to do with your life? Did you figure out how to fix Africa?
Honestly, this scares me more than missing Christmas with my family does. I am scared by the reality of a different life than my life here in Uganda, a life in America, and the numerous questions that will come about.
I am scared because I have collected a bounty of questions myself.
What good has aid done? Do we try to play God rather than submitting to God?
Should we attempt to fix things that only seem broken from an outsiders perspective?
Why do we need missionaries in a country that has a higher percentage of Christians than America?
And of course, what do I do with me life now?
Obviously this is just a sampling of the questions running wild in my mind, it's a task daunting to attempt to wrangle them all up.

I am not sad. I am thankful that I have had such a fascinating experience. Questions are not bad, instead I have realized that not asking questions is potentially bad. What did I learn? I don't know.
How did I see myself change/grow? I don't know , but I did. What am I going to do with my life? I am going to be a disciple, beyond that I do not yet have the faintest idea. Did I figure out how to fix Africa? Nope, but I did realize that the whole world is broken, and that love is the only reality that can change anything.

"There are years that ask questions and years that answer." -Zora Neale Hurston

Anyways, I realize that this is disjointed and may not be sensible to someone on the outside of my life looking in. More than likely this will be the last time that I post before I come home. I love you all, and I cannot wait to see you.

Peace and Love, Brian

Friday, November 27, 2009


Wednesday night Manny and I decided to stay at the dorms on campus, so we did. I awoke to countless mosquito bites (nets are useful) when my alarm went off at 5:30. Why would my alarm go off at 5:30 on Thanksgiving? To run a half marathon of course. It was one part ambition but mostly the idea of being really hungry come the evening feast that led me to running 53 laps around the UCU track under a blood red dawn sky. Running was a good experiential primer to the amazing day ahead.
I went to a couple of classes before heading up to one of our teachers homes to cook dessert with Holly and Dean (Holly goes to Loma, Dean is her boyfriend that goes to Westmont). We made peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. Our teachers name is Gwynn, it was really nice to just lounge around her house reading, cooking, and eating cookie dough.
When the cookies were finished we all headed down to the football field for American football. The game was good fun for sure, but more running was not so much fun, OK maybe it was in a sick way it was. Five o'clock rolled around and we went up to Mark's (he is the program director) house to meet up all USPers, Ex-pats, missionaries, and friends. There were Americans, Canadians, British, Ugandans, and an Ethiopian there. We were about eighty in total. We all sat under giant trees infested with monkeys and ate the staples of our normal Thanksgiving meals. We even had turkey that was grilled on a BBQ oddly enough. Regardless it was tasty. After the main course we ravished the tables full of student made desserts. I had two full plates of various sweets.
As if the night could have gotten any better we still had one more surprise. A projector was set up and we all watched A Charlie Brown Christmas on the side of Mark's house.
After the movie the IMME students jumped into Vincent's van to be taken home. I sat there on my way back to Momma Idah's house and for the first time realized that I will miss a lot of people come December 15 when most of the students leave. Also, that I will miss Uganda come December 29. It was a very good day. Amen.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


These days running through the humid coolness of November has been the epitome of deliciousness, being on the equator of Africa sometimes makes it even better. Bi-daily rains are proving that the rainy season is in full bloom. All of my family is back at Momma Idah's house for a long break off of school. The men of USP are getting burlier by the day. Nothing particularly stunning has happened in the past few weeks of my life.
Monotony occasionally sets in and steals many moments from me.
Sometimes the little things that blew my mind in September pass by unnoticed.
Some days I am sad. Some days ecstatic.
But I have realized one truly important thing. I am surrounded by amazing people. The Body of Christ is beautiful in its diversity and occasional unity. People here in Uganda have helped carry me through times of questions, trials, and fatalism. Often it is a well timed hug that push me on.
What I am getting at is once the stunning romantic Africa fades, and the dichotomy of beauty and ugliness starts to dissolve into grey, I am confronted with the truth. Africa is a difficult place. In America the norm is peace and prosperity, it is what is expected. In Uganda confrontation and poverty are the norm. My occasional fatalism has flowed from Uganda's fatalism. Car crashes are everywhere. People continue to drive crazy. When you live day to day, your life is a form of Russian roulette. Seat belts, no thought of them. This is merely a metaphor for the reality of life here on a larger scale. As an American I am not used to this. My normal relations with hopeless people comes in the form of the homeless in San Diego, but there I can choose to remove myself from them. Here I cannot. It is life. It is reality.
Obviously life is not all a hazy shade of grey here, when I allow it to be then I am sad. But, when I realize where I am and how beautifully amazing the Ugandans, Americans, and Canadians are that surround me I become full of happiness to the brim.
Last night at Momma Idah's our entire family sat around the dreaded TV and watched a DVD that Manny made of her choir, it was the first time all 4089754875 of us had been together...laughter all around. For me life in Africa is becoming life, some times good, some times bad. I am just trying to not let the little moments of brilliance pass me by in an insignificant mascaraed.
Most of all I just want to thank all of the people in the States praying- family and friends. I want to thank the USP students here. You are all pretty cool.

Peace and Love

PS- Check out thisisthething.blogspot.com to see a sweet video of my brother Manny and I.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

An update to the last post.

Something disturbing happened to me yesterday. As I sat in our little America in Uganda a Ugandan student walked in to use a friends laptop. He asked me about our time in Kapchorwa. I said that I had an incredible time. He said that he does not like the village, then he added to those agitating words that he does not like the people in the village. This was basically the equivalent to a random low blow in a moment of elation gallivanting through a flowery field at dawn. In my surprise I asked, "WHY?" He answered, "They do not have luxuries." Oh my. I had to say that I am pretty sure I saw more happiness there than in Mukono. He said, "yes, they have less robberies." I did not have much to say about that.

I guess I wrote this to show the craziness of the world. Assuredly this is life.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The place where beauty dwells.

Lost in time. Some moments seemed to be a lifetime long, others seemed to be but a breath.
Hour upon hour of picking coffee in some of the most beautiful land to be found. Land where time is situated around conversations, meals, and rain showers- never a clock. Mornings were spent running towards a sunset situated over endless plains stretching into the Sudan and Kenya in a place where running is a way of life.
I felt loved and at home on the slopes of Mt. Elgon where I spent the past week and a half of my life. I cannot write a long detailed post about what I did, that would take far too long. Instead I will briefly tell you about John, my father in the village surrounding Kapchorwa Town. He is a 57 year old father of 9 biological and several other children that he raised with his wife Gladys. He has a lot of coffee, but has sold most of it, among other possessions to put his many children through school. His children are now doctors, nurses, teachers, and such. He spits water on the floor to cleanse his palate after dinner, he has the best gaped tooth smile that I know of, he loves people deeply, and he works very hard for the benefit of others. Sometimes Papa John and I would be picking coffee and it would begin to rain, we would soon be invited into a hut for tea, bread, and conversation. In this place people and relationships are not a hassle but a way of life. Of course there are problems in the area, but relationships are alive and true. I know I am sounding extremely romantic, but I do not know any other way to explain this place. Sorry about the lack of detail. Peace.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Stuff as of late.

Right now I am sitting at an Internet cafe in Mukono town trying to slow things down. Life is moving really fast, the semester is already over half way through. One attempted remedy for this was to get on a ferry with five friends for a three hour tour to Ssese Island in the middle of Lake Victoria. The lake was more like an ocean, and the island was more like paradise. The pace of life out there was just slower. We stayed for two nights, 6 people crammed into a little room supplied with something resembling electricity and running water. We played a pirated game of Monopoly with chance cards reading go to Christ Redeemer, of course there were no streets with this name. We hiked for hours up to a hill and were overtaken by the beauty of islands dotting the enormous lake to the horizon. We played soccer with a gaggle of kids at a school with dorms adorned with signs informing us that menstruation is a normal body activity. We jumped rope and ate at some cool little restaurants for less than a dollar. All in all the weekend was insanely fun, but it didn't quite slow life down (Although watching the sunrise over Lake Victoria on Sunday from a ridge with just my Mzungu loving dog Belville was soothing).
It is now Wednesday and papers and reading have consumed my week. All is well though, this weekend we head to Capachurwa, a village on the northern slope of Mount Elgon, for a week to individually stay with families. Although nothing can stop time, I hope this time I can enjoy being present in such an amazing location. 'Till Next time, Peace.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Food lacking size.

When meat ends up on my plate here in Uganda I hardly know what it is or what part of the mystery animal it is. With that being said on many occasions I have somehow knowingly swallowed intestine with the fat still attached. Chicken is the outcast, when chicken is on the plate it is obvious that it is chicken, but it is tiny. I guess that the use of hormones in meat production is lacking here. Shame.

In other news IMME (my program with all of the cool kids that chose to stay in homes in Mukono Town) went to Luweero this weekend. Luweero was the home of the bush war that led up to the 1986 take over of power by President Musevini. Hey, that means he's been in power for as long as I have been alive! Today Luweero has the highest prevalence of AIDs and AIDs orphans in the country. Beautiful countryside though, seriously.
We got the opportunity to meet with two amazing people who are doing amazing work there. One is the Anglican Bishop, Evans Kisekka (who is actually the Bishop over 5 churches in Southern California, including one in San Diego oddly enough). The other was a Catholic Priest named Father Gerrie. This man arrived a few minutes late because he witnessed a child being killed by a car on that rainy evening. After that introduction he shook us even more with stories of the children that he works with, the HIV infected, and AIDs orphans. There was not much resolve that evening as the rain continued to pour down.

The next morning we drove deep into the village and found Father Gerrie's church. The people welcomed us warmly with a rhythmic clap that resembled the entrance of a sports team into an arena. That morning we sang. We mostly lip synched the Luganda, but we did at least clap on cue to the giant animal skin drums. It was joy exemplified, truly everyone smiled and sang with all of their might. Then Father Gerrie preached. This man is special and people respect him greatly, yet he got down on his knees to show his respect for us. This is something that I still have not gotten used to in this hierarchical society.

Anyways I just wanted to write about this weekend because it made me happy. I learned a lot, and we got to play with a bunch of kids on Saturday. Then yesterday on Monday during my run I got the chance to run with a bunch of nine year olds. Honestly, God's creation is beautiful.