1 Story from Ugandan HIV Clinic

At our HIV/AIDS clinic yesterday (Monday in Uganda), a little girl came to the clinic late in the afternoon. She was with her jahjah (grandmother). She was obviously unwell. We rushed her to the front of the line with a fever of 104. Her ears, for the brief moment that she would let them be seen looked terribly inflamed. She seemed to have a soar throat.

The head nurse gave her ibuprofen and put her in a basin with water. Her fever came down a couple of degrees and she calmed down. But she was still not out of the danger zone. As we were finishing up with the last 20 patients, the girl went into convulsions from the fever and the missionaries immediately took her with a nurse to a nearby clinic. Her bills were paid and the grandmother eventually agreed to take her. Amazingly the grandmother was resistant even though she had seen the convulsions.

Our missionary explained that the girl was in the care of the clan and treated as a servant because her parents were dead. Since the clan (primarily the jahjah) was caring for her, she was considered indebted to them. These children are often worse off than those in orphanages.

Later that evening we got word from the clinic that the child was on IV antibiotics, sleeping well and would be there for three days. Her diagnosis was complicated Malaria and the physician reported that without the strong antibiotics the girl would not have lived another 24 hours.

If that clinic had not been paid for by so many donors... If 7 comfortable Americans had not left their creature comforts to see the clinic provided... If a group of missionaries did not have the long-term commitment to serve this country, and having on-going relationships with local medical professionals... If not for all that and your prayers... Uganda would be minus 1 very beautiful little girl, who could one day make all the difference for this country.

This is just 1 story. Just 1. When I am home, I will give you some more.


Happy Brithday Rhonda from Kampala Uganda

Hello Love,

Happy Birthday.

My love for you grows with each year we spend as husband and wife. Being connected to you and cherishing all that we share (including the gloden years that are not so far out there anymore) is my favorite part of life on earth.

Thank you again for all the help you gave me in preparation for this trip and supporting my calling in all the ways you do. You are making a huge sacrifice to run our family, home, and lives without me for these 16 days. I'm not amazed that you can do it, becuase I learned long ago that there is nearly nothing that you cannot do when you choose to. But you are amazing.

Hug Merritt for me and rasberry his neck. Hold Mason for me. Sing to Molly for me.

6-24 Finally in Africa

Well, we've been in Uganda for about 5 hours now. And for the most part my body is staging a full revolt against the sleep deprivation it has experienced during the nearly 30 hours devoted to travel. Not to mention that the night before our departure I slept only 1 hour. Because of my 1 hour night, I was able to sleep well on the first flight and reasonably well on the second.

Enough of that.

A very strange and thrilling moment took place as our plane made its final decent into Uganda. I had the weepie (I'm gonna blame that mostly on the jet lag) emotional kind of feeling of thrilling satisfaction that what I first had as a vision 5 years ago is now my reality. 5 years ago I listened to Rick Warren talk about his own journey toward a personal commitment to Africa, poverty, and AIDS. He gave a challenge to all the pastors present to personally visit Africa and see if God would allow us to leave without a commitment to make a difference.

Well, I didn't have to visit to know that God wanted me to make a difference. My heart was a flame within me as he spoke and I rose my hand in commitment to go to Africa. I came home and told Rhonda that it needed to happen. And we both kind of said, "....OK..."

Every time the idea of a missions trip crossed my mind I would research missionaries and missions organizations that I could possibly partner with in order to fulfill the commitment that I felt inspired by God to make that day. And time after time, the objectives of the missionaries or organizations were not aligned with what God had put on my heart.

Then one of my friends, Annie Phipps, shared with me some of the things she had experienced in Uganda with World Outreach Ministry Foundation. And I began to research that. I finally made contact with the founder of the organization, had dinner with Ron DeVore and the trip got in the planning phase. And then I felt relieved. That's all, just relieved. I felt like the obligation of fulfilling my commitment was finally in motion and my sense of failure was being lifted. Relieved.
Well, today it was not relief. It was overwhelming anticipation to be a part of God's mighty movement to love forgotten people who face the biggest challenges on our planet: the challenge to live without clean water, the challenge to defeat HIV when your culture and education do not help you to do so, the challenge to create a positive future for a country filled with orphans, the challenge to see God in any of it.

While I am exhausted and have nearly fallen out of a chair, dozed off in a public shopping area, and dropped my head in my plate of dinner, I have only excitement about being with God in His mission.

I'll give you updates as I can on twitter, facebook and here when I get a chance. But I will not have much internet access for the next few days.

Uganda is beautiful. Lush and green tropical beauty. Cleaner than nearly any country in the same economic situation. AND since we are nearly AT the equator our days will be 12 hours long as will be our nights. And tomorrow I will get to stand on the equator, experiment with water swirling in opposite directions on either side, and loose about 5 pounds just for standing directly on the equator. But let me say, Ugandans are beautiful people with great features and deeply meaningful smiles.

Thanks for your prayers. Continue to pray. Tomorrow we will begin our work with orphans, then 2 days of medical clinic to follow. Then worship and ministry on Sunday and the clinic and well installation on Monday. That's the plan so far.


Getting Ready for Uganda

I will soon begin packing for my missionary journey to Uganda. If I haven't fully informed you all about my journey, here is the thumbnail. Felt called to Africa 5 years ago or so. Connected to World Outreach Ministry Fellowship through friend Annie Phipps last year. Confirmed with God that now is the time. Presented opportunity to congregation. Team of 7 going to build a clean water source, provide HIV/AIDS clinic, improve orphanage, participate in local gospel outreach.

Well it is exacly 1 week until our departure. I have been trying to keep my prayers forcussed on the trip, the objectives, the team and my connection to God.

As I was praying with the team yesterday afternoon, thoughts about motive for going on the trip invaded my mind and heart. Going to provide water can just be philanthropy. (Not a bad thing!) Going to build an orphanage can just be a church thing (Not necessary terrible!) Going to relieve my guilt over being a materialistic American IS a terrible thing. Going to be one of those cool world-travelling, social action people IS a terrible thing. Going because I don't want my life to get too comfortable just doing my own little thing and staying focused on what serves my agenda here in my comfortable circle of influence is good, but not good enough because I am ultimately the focus of that too.

There seems to me to only be 1 really good reason to go. And I have to admit that while administrating the trip preparations, raising the funds for the projects and helping individuals finish their travelling budgets with additional fund raising, trying to lead the team, making sure I have all my shots, getting my phone and credit card open for use in a foreign country, preparing things for home and church in my absence, continuing with my obligations, and on and on, has created sufficient distractions for me. Sufficient to make this a human task more than a spiritual one.

There is only one reason for me to go to Uganda. Because I love Jesus! I love Him. He rocks!

I'm going to Uganda because I love Him and that would not translate into a trip to Uganda UNLESS He had told me to go.

So whatever I do, however I appear to others, whatever happen in my absence, I'm gonna be with Him, and give my all to honor Him in Uganda. And when I come home, I'm gonna have to do that in Hanford too.


A Couple of Slummy Thoughts

I got a whiff of this story from the News Hour on PBS. As you read at the link below the picture pay attention to the comments. Readers are pretty dialed in.


Hooray for the producers of this film for setting up a trust for these children so that their income will secure a future for them instead of being squandered by families so impoverished that they do not know how to handle such wealth.

If you noticed in the comments that it is rumored that Oprah took the kids to Disney World instead of doing some lasting good, I have to agree that she made an error in judgement. Not that a positive memory would be a bad thing to give these children, just that a positive memory alone holds very little value when given by someone who has the means to change your entire world. I hope that the children will receive royalty checks from the film's income and got a piece of the DVD as well. Any other star would have gotten that as part of the deal and certainly need it less.

It seems the recent philanthropic fad in Hollywood is doing some good in our world. I wonder if that fad will ever reach the point that actors, producers and directors decide that they should receive reasonable salaries and live average American lives and purposely divert additional income from their enterprises to genuine needs. But then, that question has to come home to me. Do I live on an appropriate percentage of my income or is 90% too much for me when I could direct more of it to do God's good in the world and still live a peace-filled, healthy, rich life?

Do you struggle to keep your family focus on meaningful generosity? What have you done to work toward a healthy balance with your wealth? And I'm not looking for answers about using your money to make more money so your own retirement can be prosperous. I'm looking for ideas on how to focus on the genuine needs of others so that God's investment brings back a return for Him - NOT ME.

The Rebirth of My Blog

Hey readers,
Welcome to Bruce's Blog 2.0. Yes, after all my talk about Christian blogging and some good advice from my friend Peter, I have given my blog a new structure and a face lift.

My purpose: to continue to share my Christian journey as I grow more Christ-like daily and to encourage others to do the same, and to develop an additional community on the web to share life with along the way.

If you follow my blog via an RSS feed, and you would like to keep track of my additional pages, you may wish to add these links to your subscriptions.
This feed will remain the same.

Be sure to take a trip to my actual blog on occasion to leave a comment so I know that you are sharing the journey with me. I hope you enjoy the new venture.


Things I Wish I Had Never Said

I was talking with a friend yesterday afternoon and said flipidly, "that goes on the list of things I wish I had never said..." Well I got to thinking and sure enough, there is a list. My secretary at San Bernardino Community Church used to refer to the "Idle Words Room" in Hell, where we would have to listen to ourselves saying all of the worthless things we talked about during our life on earth in a constantly repeating loop. That would be Hell for me.

Anyhow, here's my list. (This list is not intended to be complete - in order to protect the innocent and guilty alike.)

"I'll be there at 5AM."
"I'll be glad to help you dig that ditch"
"Any idiot can do that!" (I don't know what that makes me then. What's lower than an idiot?)
"That'll never work."
"Super size that."
"I'll have that ready by morning."
"I think we should fire the gardener."
"I can tile all 1200 sq. ft. by myself."

Well, there's my starter list. Add one or two in a comment.



"What does epic stand for?"
We stand for relationships. We stand for serving the world God loves. We stand for striving to find God and becoming more like Him in the way we live.

"No, I mean is 'epic' some kind of acronym or something?"
I've thought of many over the years. And I've found some in books too. There's - elephant peanuts in cans - that one is Merritt's original idea, pretty creative I think!. There's - every person imitating Christ. Or how about - exciting people in church. Author Leonard sweet uses the letters to describe imortant characteristics of a church gathering - experiencial, participative, image-full, creative.

"So, is that the one that you use for your church?"
No, we don't use any. Maybe the peanut one from time to time. But that's not it.

"Where did you get your church name then?"
Well, rather than continuing to be cryptic (which can be fun for me, but will likely frustrate you to no end) let me just tell you how I was inspired to choose that name. epic - "adjective / 1.) pertaining to a long poetic composition usually centered upon a hero, in which a series of great achievements or events is narrated. 2.) heroic, majestic, impressively great." That's from Webster's dictionary.

We are followers of Christ, the epic hero of the only truly epic story in which we have the opportunity to play an epic role. We are here to reveal that, to live that, to share that!
I've had this conversation a few times and never posted it here or on the epic website. So, now I can't say never anymore.


The Future of Christian Blogging

I've had a very interesting day of thinking about blogging. I recently spoke to a friend who is in the pursuit of increasing his blogging community. He is blogging more, evangelizing his blog through twitter and facebook, and making a number strategic moves to increase traffic through his blog. I got somehow caught up in the excitement of what he shared with me and begin researching last night about how I might increase the effectiveness of my blog and evangelize it more.

Then I read this post from one of my favorite Christian bloggers. He has come to the decision to turn off all of his social networking sites. No more facebook, twitter, or blogging (Ohhhh the humanity!). All of this for deeply spiritual reasons. It seems he has been convicted that he has a limited resource of time. It seems he has struggled with the overall spirituality of his life and the time spent on electronic forms of networking have become, to him, a interference.

I think there is a challenge here for each of us to consider. Are our electronic connections distracting us from our more personal connections? Are they disengaging us from our realistic obligations? Are we misfocused on perpetual electronic communication?

The real question is, what is the cost of all of these electronic connections? What are we taking out of our schedules for the sake of these media? Are we substituting reading about someone else's quiet time for having one of our own? Are we living vicariously through someone else's evangelism instead of sharing our faith with our own neighbors? Are we missing our own chance to feed the poor, serve the sick, visit the prisoner, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, encourage our fellow believers... and on and on so we can read about what others are doing?

Has the conversation about faith actually replaced the living out of faith?
What is the cost:
to our families,
to our churches,
to our neighbors,
to our God?

I don't want to propose the answer here. I'm just struck by the idea.

Read YSMarko's post here.

Let me know what you think.

  © Blogger template Brooklyn by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP