The Short Term, Long Term Conundrum

May 19, 2006

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
(one of the many beautiful orphans you can come to hold if you visit Uganda)

A lot of exciting things are happening.

First of all, I don’t want you guys to worry about me, I sort of realized after a mini-lecture by a loving person who will remain anonymous :) you know who you are—that I might be freaking people out with all my talk of “unsafe” activities. I really do try to let God guide me and do try to be safe, so as they say in Africa, Hakuna Matata.

It amazes me when we surrender our plans and our will over to God, how he blesses us, sometimes I don’t even really believe it myself. I’m like, am I still going to screw this up?

But after the saga of not going up to Kitgum (for right now) which was fairly emotional and hard for me, I really just was like–“ok God whatever you want me to do” and was just living day by day in Kampala, waiting for when God would do something through the ministries I was connecting with.

I honestly was not trying to fight my way up there, even though that would be the normal me thing to do–and what has happened is that God has connected me with so many amazing people and opportunities up there.

I’ve been able to interview a journalist and gain info on the north, also I met an incredible young woman named Maresha and her partner Peter who are building a model program in Lira–which is another district in the north which is so safe it’ll be like I’m walking around in bubble-wrap and more secure than other regions, so they have begun to let some people filter back from IDP camps.

Their vision is to give the community ownership and let the “orphanage” they want to build be community-based…by that I mean, it will belong to the community and will happen through individual homes and not one big center. She has some other incredible ideas too that I’m going to learn from and try to build on–micro-enterprise, vocational training…really creating an environment of self-sufficiency.

Because too often what happens is that these big NGO’s come in here and establish their little kingdoms and get all this funding and really create a reliance upon themselves, vs. empowering the people. The truth is–the earth begins to be again our source of life and with its resources we can flourish and get everything we need. We need medicine–and there are herbs, we need food, and we can plant. We can use our hands and sometimes that’s what we need to re-connect to God’s creation. If I ever create my own org, I want it to be radically different and not dependent upon me.

Blah blah blah. It’s really an innovative idea they have and I am totally on board with it…yesterday I helped her create a brochure for her NGO. I’m seeing how God can use me to serve others and at the same time learn from them.

I am also seeing how things we didn’t think we were gifted at can totally surprise us. Turns out God might be using me to be a mediator…no not, start the fights, I said, mediate. :)

Really what I’m seeing is that people like me, a short-term (for now) missionary come to the field with all my well-intentioned enthusiasm and want to roll up my sleeves and start changing the world one kid at a time and sometimes don’t know how I can learn from all the mistakes and victories of missionaries before me.

So really I’ve been like a little sponge lately.

On the other hand, there are missionaries here long-term who sometimes don’t know what our expectations are or how to best place us, so we end up feeling disillusioned or we end up causing them problems because of not knowing certain things.

Short-terms come to serve but end up not feeling their talents used. Long-termers work hard at making plans for us, but end up feeling frustrated and like it was more work than it was worth.

If we could come in and not try to change everything, and if they could understand we came to serve but in our skills (bow-staff skills, num-chuck skills) then things would flow much better.

Turns out there is quite a bit of strain between the short-termers and long-termers and if we could just sit down and talk through some of our expectations and what is hard for each of us then we could improve the relationships a lot more.

I can really see both perspectives. What I’m working on for the missionary couple I’m staying with who are through Touch the World Uganda, is a series of questionaires and evaluation forms for both types of missionaries so that we can best meet each other’s needs.

Whew that was long :) Long story short—I will most likely be going up to the north–to Lira, and then possibly to Gulu to work with another amazing program and will get to serve the people I came to fight for, after all. We cannot help what we are driven towards. And sometimes when we let go of a thing, it finds us again.

Continue to pray for ending of the war.

Much of the agricultural component and other dreamy things I want to do cannot really happen until there is peace.

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