Africa arrests you.
It stops you in whatever track of life you're in, spins you around a bit, and resets your perspective. From the ubiquitous red dirt, to the abyssal, high-contrast, searching eyes of the African people, to the delicious meat on a stick from a roadside grill, everthing about it for the first time traveler takes you out of what you know.
I was blessed to be a part of a mission team from Preston Trail Community Church in mid June to journey to Uganda in Africa to serve in several ministries. For the first part of the 11 days, we served in Children's ministries one titled Homecoming Foodstep serving the children of Kampiringisa (a children's remand center) and another visiting Serving His Children, a ministry founded by an American Renee Bach, which helps malnourished children back to health and educates their families about proper nutrition. This was my first time visiting, and I was graciously blessed by my church, the Bingham family, Mark & Sharon Fowler, Michelle Kiehn, My God-mother and Grand Uncle, Pat & Deb Crane, Phil Crane, Jeff & Jody Crane, Eileen Ebert-Aguilar, my teaching friends: Lannis Nelson, The McFarland family, and my beloved friends Meredith Douglas, Brittney Caswell, Mary Duran, Lauren Liles, Gwen Guess, and many others in prayer and support with the ability to follow God's lead on this.
This is my favorite image from the trip:
The simple joy as a little one plays with a paper airplane on a sunny day at HomeComing in Uganda June 2013.
This is my second favorite image:
Pastor John, attendee at the Hessed pastor's conference.
Coming back from Africa is difficult to do without questioning the mass of posessions one returns to and feeling the weight of the superfluity. Nevertheless, it was a huge blessing to see the fruits of the church's continued ministry there, to see smiles on the faces of the children at the homecoming, shoes on their feet, and toys in their hands.
At homecoming, I met a young man who sat with me and recounted from memory the stories of Genesis through Exodus. I spent close to 2 hours sitting with him and listening to him; it was a really special moment and I won't forget him as long as I live.
I also met a young pastor named John who works with the children at Homecoming.
He contacted me via email after I returned and told me that he and his wife have been praying for me; for my life and for my new business adventure. He told me that he saw in me the spirit of Gideon which meant that he saw me as a mighty man of valor who, despite small beginnings, has a path to greatness ahead of me. I hope that my images of Africa can serve as a small stepping stone on that path and bring glory to Him who both made it possible for me to go and created all the blessings I encountered.