With Mug in Hand

I think I’ve sat down to write this blog probably 100 times (ok that might be a slight exaggeration), and each time I just can’t quite get my thoughts to combine into words and cohesive sentences. There’s plenty to say, and even more on my mind – the problem is I’m not sure how to share it all with you. I think sometimes I imagine a blog should have something decisive to say, something the Lord has shown, some sort of insight. But right now all I have are mostly wrestlings and questions and ponderings a plenty… I guess the beauty of a blog is that it doesn’t always have to be insightful or profound; sometimes it’s just the cup of coffee I wish I could share with a friend. So, with mug in hand, I guess I’ll just dive right in and hope you can track with my seemingly cluttered train of thought.



To be white in Kotido means that you’re wealthy, educated, wealthy, affluent, wealthy, probably here to ‘help,’ and, oh, did I mention wealthy? It means we get asked for stuff a lot. “You give me a banana,” in the market as I walk down the road. “You give to me money for my baby,” from the woman who just borrowed someone else’s malnourished child to come solicit. “You give me your dog.” ”You buy for me this land and build me a hut.” “You… … ….” It never ends. In fact, it tends to get more and more extravagant. Sometimes the asking is out of genuine need, sometimes it’s out of a desire to continue drinking the local brew, and sometimes it’s just opportunistic in hopes of seeing what you can get from the mzungu. It’s all a bit discouraging, and the fact is that giving what they ask may actually be the least loving and the least responsible thing I could do. This is something our team has been wrestling through in regards to our Moses project, which was begun some time ago out of a need for milk supplementation for babies whose mothers can’t provide for them, for one of any number of reasons (like being struck and killed by lightning, or having twins but not enough breastmilk). It has been a beautiful thing to see severely malnourished babies, who would likely have otherwise died, continue to not just survive but thrive in their own homes. But like any program, it has its downfalls and it can be hard to know exactly how to handle each situation, even the program as a whole.

What do you do when you find that the alcoholic grandmother of one of your babies is no longer giving the formula to the child but instead is selling it for money to further her drinking addiction? How do you handle the mother of twins who already lost one baby to the ruthless practices of witch doctoring and is neglecting care of the remaining child? There is no such thing as Child Protective Services here, and I can’t very well march in and remove a kid from his home (no matter how much I might want to at times). So what happens to each precious child as he bears the weight of his caretaker’s poor choices? It’s an awful lot to wrestle with as life and death hang literally in the balance, but that’s still just dealing with the practical; what about the core of the issue – the heart? We do a Bible study with the women in the program each week, but it doesn’t seem to be affecting their lives. Is the gospel actually taking root, or are we instilling a ‘once-a-week’ type Christianity that leaves compartmentalized lives and luke-warm hearts?


As a team we’ve been talking a lot about our core DNA and how it fleshes out in our lives here in Karamoja. We finally have our entire team in the country (woohoo!) and so we took a few days to have an orientation of sorts and here was the result:



Our heart is to see the individual people as well as the region of Karamoja transformed by the redemption only Christ can bring. That transformation changes everything – from the way health care is done to the way communities take care of each other; from family dynamics to politics, to work ethic, and everything else. The problem is that we come from a culture and a mentality that perhaps prioritizes too much the results instead of the process, and we find ourselves in good company with ministries seeking to see the Kingdom come without the foresight and sometimes the patience to see it start in the heart and move from the inside out. We end up with well-intentioned projects desiring to see the poor fed and communities rid of corruption; but to bring the Kingdom without the King to reign as Lord breeds chaos and more corruption. So with a vision to see transformation start first in the heart and then spread throughout every aspect of a community, we make relationships themselves our ministry. To start from the heart takes a lot of time and it means our lives are our ministry; making disciples that make disciples and planting churches that plant churches.


There are plenty more thoughts roaming around my brain, untamed and unkempt, but perhaps I’ll continue to work those out with you over still more cups of coffee in coming weeks and months. To make disciples is a beautiful calling, but by no means is it easy, and still less is it timely. I covet your prayers and love hearing your wisdom as I learn more and more each day what it is to be a follower of Christ in Karamoja.





Elise and I, about to eat dinner (along with the whole team) on the banks of the Nile



~ by eileendekker on November 13, 2014.

2 Responses to “With Mug in Hand”

  1. I love reading your stories. My husband, 5 year old daughter and I are getting ready to move to Uganda, near Iganga. My husband is a preacher, and we are being sent by an organization that has dug wells, and funds an orphanage. We know there is so much we don’t know, and the last part of your post is something we have been talking about the last couple days. Not wanting to go plant a church, like we have here, but to walk and work alongside people, developing relationships and just trying to show/share Christ with our lives. Your posts, even with your pain, has been encouraging to me and given me some of the insight I have been praying for. Your most recent post with the pics and quotes and scriptures says so much. Keep updating, even if scripture is all you have for the moment, because that’s everything we need.

    • Rhonda, what a blessing to hear that my ramblings have encouraged you, thank you. It sounds like your family has a wonderful and exciting, if not at times difficult, journey in Uganda ahead of you; praise God! The time spent with the Lord wrestling through tough issues has been more precious to me than words can say, regardless of whether or not I come out with a definitive answer. I’ll definitely be praying for you guys as you step out in faith, and would love to get to talk more with you as you prepare to go.

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