Friday, August 17, 2007

On Insomnia

It's five in the morning and I'm sitting alone in front of my laptop, watching the cursor blink. Here's what I've learned today.

We're broken and we're lonely. We can't do this on our own. Not for long. So we look for comfort and peace wherever we can find it. We think we'll find it in a partner, friends, stuff, work, etc. We won't, though. It's unfair to our loved ones to place on them the burden of making us complete. They can't do it.

The truth is that when we are lonely and desperate for comfort and relief, the only place we will ever be satisfied is in the arms of God himself. Everything else only adds to the torment.

I believe that if we trust God with our lives, then everything will fall into place. I hope that's true, because I'm clinging to it.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Where I Live

I made it home, safe and sound. I'd like to thank you again for your interest in East Africa, and for your interest in my own personal experiences.

It's 5:08 AM in the morning here in Texas, and I've already been awake for a couple of hours. My first week home has been exactly what I expected - good but bizarre. My internal clock is still set on Ugandan time, and it's been difficult to readjust to American suburban life.

I came home to a stack of papers, letters, and files that need my attention, so I don't really have the luxury of easing into anything. Maybe that's better. Maybe it's better to jump in without any hesitation.

I've started working on my presentation, so I think the next post will be more information about that. Let me leave you with these words, taken from a piece of art in Ilea's house. I saw the piece as soon as I arrived in Kampala, and it has been tearing me apart ever since:

If you have come to help me
you are wasting your time...

But if you have come
because your
is bound up with mine,

Then let us struggle

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


I have a four hour layover in Brussels so I thought I would type an entry out. Fast internet is confusing for me so I am visiting every site I have ever heard of. Also, this keyboqrd is setup for people from Belgium so the letters are in different places. This is zhqt it zould look like if I just typed nor,qlly qnd didnùt look qt the keys on the keyboqrd: I cqnùt figure out zhy they ,qke you shift just to get q period:

I at least made it safely to Europe. I am about to head out to JFK in NYC, where I have a five hour layover. I might type another message from there for fun.

Also, I hope you can come to my get-together. I brought goodies...

Now I am going to Publier Le Message. I hope that means Publish and not Delete Everything on the Computer.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Fifth

It’s August 5th, and I have a plane ticket that says August 6th. That’s wild.

I’m not ready to leave Kampala yet. I miss everyone back home in Texas, but I’m really not ready to leave. I’ve met so many amazing people here, and I’ve grown up a lot. I even drink coffee now! And I have a briefcase. That sounds like the real world to me.

I apologize for not updating in the past couple of weeks. I think I’ve avoided updating because I’m in denial. I don’t want to think about leaving. I’m really enjoying the work, and I feel like we might be making some progress. I want to keep running with it.

I’m also involved in quite a few new friendships, and I’m not even vaguely interested in putting an ocean between us. I’m confident we’ll all keep in touch (we’re already planning reunions), but it’s not the same as being here. To be honest, I’m getting a lump in my throat just writing this.

There’ve been a lot of ups and downs in the past couple of months. Sometimes, I was ready to buy a house in Kampala. Sometimes, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it. Right now, though, I feel like this was one of the best experiences of my life. I’d put it up with my time in Oxford and my last semester of college.

Let me try and summarize it like this:

The street I live on isn’t paved – it’s dirt. It rains all the time in Kampala, so a lot of times my road is a mix of rock, sludge, and mud. You have to be careful where you step, or else you’ll be up to your shins in orange mud. Unless you make sure you’re walking on rocks, you’ll get stuck.

I think that’s how simple life is. It’s messy and there’s nothing you can do about the messiness. You can only decide how to handle it. You walk with God and you’ll make it. If you don’t walk with God, you’ll sink. There is absolutely no way around it.

Even when you walk on the rocks, though, it’s still messy. You’ll still have mud caked on your shoes. You’ll still get mud on your pants. That really bothered me at first, but I learned to accept it.

I think that if you don’t have any mud on you, you’re doing something wrong. I think you’re missing something.

I’m also trying to figure out how the same rain that showers the dirt off of me creates the mud that I have to walk on. I don’t know what that means yet. Maybe I’m pushing the analogy too far. Or maybe I have a lot more thinking to do.

The night before I flew to Kampala I was sitting at a friend’s apartment in Dallas. I told you my flight plan. I guess I should bookend this trip by doing the same.

Tomorrow night, I fly from Kampala to Belgium to New York to Dallas to Austin. I’ll land around midnight on Tuesday night. I suspect I’ll be numb to depressed until I can process this trip. But I don’t think I’ll want to be by myself for a while. I’m looking forward to running around town with my friends.

There’s a girl here that I trust more than almost anyone, and she told me that it was healthy to go home feeling frustrated asking a lot of questions. I’m relieved she said that, because that’s exactly how I feel and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

Here’s what I do know – I can’t put this summer behind me. I can’t bury this. I can’t go back to who I was in May. I don’t think I’d want to, either.

I think this is the last real entry that I’ll post on here. from Kampala. I hope you’ve gotten something out of these 74 days. I hope that this is a beginning for you, and not an end.

I want to say thank you to everyone reading this. To my friends and family back home – thank you for your kind words and for your photos and for your never-ending Facebook messages. I’m really looking forward to having everyone over, and I’ll post more details on that later. To my Kampala friends – jebele. You’ve done more for me than I can tell you, but I think you knew that anyway. To strangers – I have no idea what you googled to get here, but I’m glad you showed up. To Bianca in CA – email me because I want to talk. To Ugandans – you’ve got a great place. It really is the Pearl of Africa.

Final bits of random trivia:
I may or may not have worms living in my feet.
I may or may not be featured in a Ugandan television commercial.
I have one painted toenail.
I can take a complete shower in under 75 seconds.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


I'm sorry I've been silent for so long - things have been a bit hectic lately. We've been conducting a lot of interviews and doing a lot of fact finding. It's been both encouraging and sobering. We feel like there are a lot of brilliant people looking for solutions to the problems the judiciary faces, but that it will take a couple of years to actually see the benefits of everyone's work. The truth is that 74 days is nowhere near long enough to do anything but come home with some questions. 74 days is just the beginning.

I'm not sure how much I will be able to update until I come home, but I plan on putting up some end of the trip thoughts. I'll just need a little bit of time to get everything together.

Don't worry about my silence, though. I'm alive and healthy. I've even gained back a lot of the 20 pounds that I lost on the trip.

I'm really excited about having everyone over for a get together and presentation, and I hope you can make it. I'll be posting more information about that later.

I'll also be at ACU Lectureship in September. I'll be glad to talk with anyone who is interested in what's going on here.

My internet time is up.

See you soon..

Monday, July 16, 2007


I spent the weekend on Lake Bunyonyi in an area called Kabale. "Bunyonyi" means, "place of many small birds." They should just call it Lake Perfect because that's what it is. Even a pessimist would probably have to call it Lake Perfect except I Wish it was a Couple of Degrees Warmer at Night.

Anyway, it was a wonderful weekend. Highlights included piloting a dugout canoe, climbing to the top of our island with local hosts, swimming at dusk, and watching teenage girls make fun of my roommate. A good time was had by all. I'm going to try and post a few picturs sometime this week. No promises, though. If you live in Austin then I'm going to host a party when I come home so that you can see my pictures and hear about my trip. (Mom and Dad, I thought of that just now; we should do that.)

Beauty has always been tricky for me. I guess it goes back to the idea of Joy and Sorrow walking hand in hand. They live together. They give one another importance and meaning.

I was walking by the Lake around 2 AM on Saturday morning, and it was perfect. The wind was chilly, a campfire across the lake mirrored itself in the lake, bullfrogs were croaking, and it was so dark that I could see the Milky Way in the sky. Perfect.

As I was overwhelmed with the beauty before me, I was overwhelmed with loneliness and expectation. Everyone understands loneliness, so I don't need to say much on that.

Expectation is about the Kingdom of God. It's about realizing that we are his Kingdom, that Creation is His Kingdom. That we are brothers and sisters. I was overwhelmed by tbe beauty of what God had made, of the possibilities that he cultivates in us. By our ability to love and hope and forgive and do good. I exhaled and I suddenly felt very tired. I wished we didn't have to struggle and hate and die - I wished we could all just go home. I looked forward to that day.

I sat on the pier and I wondered if anything we were trying to do this summer would matter. I racked my brain trying to figure out how to get kids in school, how to make sure the schools were adequate. What I could do to strengthen the infrastructure of the judiciary. What I could do to help ensure that profits from the oil recently found in Uganda would help Ugandans instead of a few guys in the UK and Australia. I wondered if we were actually hurting Uganda by being here.

If I could describe my experience this summer, I would probably say overwhelming. Poverty, death, cruelty, hope, love, compassion, forgiveness. It's all here in abundance.

I heard once that the greatest of all of these things is love. I heard that it can bear all things. I heard that it's patient. I heard that it never fails. I guess you can never know if that's true or not, but I'm inclined to believe it. I have a hunch.

I decided that being here meant something, even if I couldn't understand it. I dedided that's true anywhere you are in the world. No matter who you are or what you are doing. I took one last look at the lake, the stars, and I shivered a little bit from the breeze. I walked to my cabin and I fell asleep.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Shadow Proves the Sunshine

Today has been a good day. We are currently starting Phase Two of our internship. Phase One was all about helping the Justices with their casework. Phase Two is brainstorming about the judicial infrastructure of the country.

This morning, we had the chance to tour the International Justice Mission office. We have met everyone anyway, but today we got to see them in their element. It's good to see your friends doing what they do, and doing it well. I was proud.

After that, we had brunch and headed to a meeting with some higher-ups in the judiciary. It was AMAZINGLY productive and encouraging. The next couple of weeks are going to be hectic (in a good way) as we scramble to research, network, and make appropriate recommendations.

According to my calculations, I will be in Texas in 26 days. As you can tell from the title of this site, that means I am in the final few weeks. Oh my ride is here I have to go.