Ethiopia: WOW, God loves me dispite of my future

One of my teammates, Anne, shared a profound truth with our team one morning over breakfast in Ethiopia. She opened with the idea that God is not stuck in the present like we are; he knows our past, but even our future. Of course, he is God, no big deal. But, then she put that together with another truth of God, He loves us. These two separate are easy to digest, but put them together and the purity of God’s love for me begins to reveal itself.

How amazing is this – God loves me despite of my future. He loves me right now even though he knows I will reject him, I will backstab, I will lie to his face, I will live an adulterous lifestyle worshiping the things of this world (His creation and not the Creator), I will abandon Him, I will…

This idea isn’t too hard for me to grasp until I begin to personalize it. For, this is intensely personal to God and I need to empathize a little to grasp God’s profound love. So, would I love anybody with such fervor, devotion, and unrestrained selflessness if I know that the object of supreme affection and dedication would betray me in a few short days, months, or years? How can I love somebody when I know (s)he is going to betray that love? How can I love when I know that love will be taken for granted, forgotten, rejected, and even scorned? Would I marry somebody if I absolutely knew all of her flaws, when she would reject me, that she would live adulterously, that she would abandon me, divorce me and marry another, that she would backstab, that she wasn’t completely committed, that she would not love in return? How could I? I do not know; but, I know it’s not possible for me to do that (without the divine intervention of my God).

Here we are, each of us, with the truth that God loves us despite of our future. He remains completely committed, continuously pouring out himself selflessly. His love is so deep; it’s incomprehensible (like really, give it a try). He chooses to love when he already knows the future pain, rejection, and heartache he must endure. What am amazing God we have. May we glorify His name throughout the world and at all times.

Impacting the World: Let’s talk Ethiopia

Right now, the world grieves; cries for help are heard from near and far. Right now, we see large-scale devastation from natural disasters; killing from terrorists and wars; dehumanizing injustices of human trafficking, the sex-trade, and slavery; loved ones suffering from cancer; hopes and dreams destroyed through the economic downturn; and loneliness within the masses. We all respond to the needs around us in our own way – none better than another.

Much of the world’s population cannot afford any form of health care or medicine. More than half of Ethiopia’s population has no access to health care at all; of those that do, most must walk more than two (2) hours to a facility. Preventable and treatable diseases such as cholera, river blindness, yellow fever, dengue, hepatitis and typhoid fever kill thousands annually. It is with this understanding that I am compelled to take action and impact this world.

In August, I will go into Africa to serve the needs of the forgotten. Rather than focusing specifically on orphans this year, as I did last year in Uganda, our team of sixteen (16) will set-up a health clinic in a rural area of Ethiopia to provide free basic health care to a community. We will see and treat many children and adults as well as share the love and message of Jesus with all.

I share this with you because I strive to live in the tension between the American lifestyle and the adventurer yearning to impact the world in the name of Jesus. I ask that you forgive me for messing up, offending, being self-centered, manipulative, and apathetic and for not expressing my appreciation and thankfulness for your involvement in my life.

I invite you to share in this adventure with me in the following ways:

  • Prayer: I’d love to have you pray with me for this world to transform into what God intended it to be.
  • Encouragement: Let’s hang out, go for a walk/run, talk about how to change our world, or otherwise create an atmosphere of excitement and adventure in our own lives.
  • Financial Support: The complete trip will cost $3,500. If you would like to help fund the trip, please provide your tax-deductible donations (payable to McLean Bible Church) at http://www.frontlinedc.com/pages/page.asp?page_id=9190.

I will continue to share my Africa experiences at http://africa.jason1365.com updating the website as the journey unfolds. Thank you for your friendship and considering to partner with me to sustain life in Ethiopia.

Give me a call, let’s talk soon.

~Jason

Further Detail on Ethiopia 08

So, I wanted to give a little bit more information about what will be happening when in Ethiopia this summer. One of my team members provided this wealth of wonderful information and I just want to pass best writing paper it on to those who may be interested.

  • The estimated number of people to be served: > 1000
  • We will visit clinics in different villages; However, these ‘clinics’ are very, um, ‘rustic’ and primitive.
  • The mission of this year’s trip to Ethiopia is a continuation of last year’s efforts to bring both basic medical care and supplies to many under-served areas of Ethiopia where medical care is not readily available or affordable.
    • Through our efforts we hope to offer the Ethiopian community not only medical treatment but also education on basic health practices that may help improve their health in our absence.
  • The trip will be comprised of 3 to 4 full days of operating the medical clinic
  • Some of the major health problems of the community: malnutrition, infectious/parasitic diseases (malaria, HIV/AIDS, worms), respiratory infections, perinatal conditions,
  • Some of the major barriers to health care: isolation (> 85% of the population is rural and < 50% of the rural population have access to health care), illiteracy, shortage of trained personnel and funds (~3 physicians for every 100,000 people), skepticism
  • The local government and a local well-known church were consulted in the development of this project
  • Unused medications and supplies will be donated to the Ethiopian government

Impacting the World: Let’s talk Ethiopia

Right now, the world grieves; cries for help are heard from near and far. Right now, we see large-scale devastation from natural disasters; killing from terrorists and wars; dehumanizing injustices of human trafficking, the sex-trade, and slavery; loved ones suffering from cancer; hopes and dreams destroyed through the economic downturn; and loneliness within the masses. We all respond to the needs around us in our own way – none better than another.

Much of the world’s population cannot afford any form of health care or medicine. More than half of Ethiopia’s population has no access to health care at all; of those that do, most must walk more than two (2) hours to a facility. Preventable and treatable diseases such as cholera, river blindness, yellow fever, dengue, hepatitis and typhoid fever kill thousands annually. It is with this understanding that I am compelled to take action and impact this world.

In August, I will go into Africa to serve the needs of the forgotten. Rather than focusing specifically on orphans this year, as I did last year in Uganda, our team of sixteen (16) will set-up a health clinic in a rural area of Ethiopia to provide free basic health care to a community. We will see and treat many children and adults as well as share the love and message of Jesus with all.

I share this with you because I strive to live in the tension between the American lifestyle and the adventurer yearning to impact the world in the name of Jesus. I ask that you forgive me for messing up, offending, being self-centered, manipulative, and apathetic and for not expressing my appreciation and thankfulness for your involvement in my life.

I invite you to share in this adventure with me in the following ways:

  • Prayer: I’d love to have you pray with me for this world to transform into what God intended it to be.
  • Encouragement: Let’s hang out, go for a walk/run, talk about how to change our world, or otherwise create an atmosphere of excitement and adventure in our own lives.
  • Financial Support: The complete trip will cost $3,500. If you would like to help fund the trip, please provide your tax-deductible donations (payable to McLean Bible Church) at http://www.frontlinedc.com/pages/page.asp?page_id=9190.

I will continue to share my Africa experiences at http://www.jason1365.com/category/mission-trip/ updating the website as the journey unfolds. Thank you for your friendship and considering to partner with me to sustain life in Ethiopia.

Give me a call, let’s talk soon.

~Jason

Ugandan Endeavor – Thanks for Partnering

Thank you for your support in my Ugandan Endeavor. I wanted to share with you my story – the overall mission, my experience in Uganda, the current status of the project, and where the project is going.

Uganda is home to 2.3 million orphans (nearly 8% of the country’s population). The country is unable to provide for these children – leaving them with a bleak future. I went to Uganda to start a project that strives to enrich local communities, rescue child soldiers from bondage, provide orphans with an education and basic healthcare, and give the orphans hope for a future free from poverty.

Aid to Africa has a history of only serving as short-term bandaids and has not brought about the sustainable development vital to truly move most of Africa from the third-world. Because of the failure of aid to be effectively used in Africa, my mission was to go educate and motivate local Ugandans to run an internet cafe to generate a sustainable revenue stream, allowing the profits to be used to support the orphanages. My role on the project was to establish an internet café, train the employees, and provide business and technical consultation to stabilize the business.

While in Uganda, I spent much time at an orphanage near Mbale. I was totally floored to hear the many kids singing and praising God each day. The kids have nothing other than the clothes they are wearing, most without shoes. They do not know if they will have food or a place to stay the next day. The kids live in hopelessness, but smiles and joy still pours from them.

I was incredibly blessed to connect with a successful Ugandan entrepreneur, Patrick Kaija, who currently owns and operates four internet cafés around the capital, Kampala. With Patrick’s help, I was able to develop a plan for the new internet café while he trained the future employees in his own cafés.

Many obstacles still are in the path to the success of the café – securing a location at a reasonable price and finding and developing employees and leaders with integrity while avoiding the many obstacles of a corrupt government. Additionally, focus from the café was recently diverted to the troubled orphans when many were cast out of the orphanage due to tribal animosity. These hurdles can be overcome with time and God’s provision; we will faithfully pursue God’s plan in bringing hope to these orphans.

Your support through this process has been humbling; your gifts exactly covered my expenses. Thank you for taking a part in a first step to change our world by rescuing children from abandonment. Pictures are available at: http://jason1365.dyndns.org/picviewer/view.php?Cat=2007%2FUganda.

With heartfelt gratitude,
Jason Lund
Download the pretty version: Ugandan Endeavor – Thanks for Partnering

Ugandan Endeavor: Day 9 (Monday) – Configuring Computers

I woke up in the bed provided by Ann because she was so hospitable to allow us to stay there for the night, very nice. As I was waiting on my ride (that should have arrived an hour earlier), I talked with Ann about what she has going on. As it turns out, she and her husband run an orphanage a ways away and she also runs a microfinance operation that has actually been successful. I was totally fascinated by the fact that she is able to successfully execute a microfinance operation because I had heard that when the government tried it a while ago all of the people took they money because they said, “It’s our money anyways.” And never paid it back. However, Ann’s operation is small, only a couple dozen people, but they spend a whole week teaching them how to handle the money and provide advice on the type of business that makes sense and then they check up once a week or so to see how things are going.

She was telling me that if somebody had an issue with their business, all of the people in that class would get together to pray over the situations. And then also, if one of the businesses failed, the other people in the class would use their profits to pay the loan of the failed business. What great generosity these Africans exhibit. What is wrong with us Americans?

Not only this, but I have met many people that care for some number of orphans, whether 4 or 20 or 150 or 400. These people see the need and respond. They see the kids that have nothing other than a pair of pants and care. They see the kids that were forced to commit atrocious crimes (such as kill their own parents) at ages of 6-12 who are now orphans with no way to recover from their trauma, no place to live, nobody that cares, and no way eat.

I was talking with one woman who’s parents died when she was very young along with all of her parents’ siblings except one. One man in her family was still alive, a priest living in Chicago. She told how she requested help from him, but none ever came. How can a man of the church, a man ordained to live out God on this earth, neglect his own family? I asked her to help me run some numbers on what it would take to support a child. A child can attend school, have a place to live, and eat every day for around $30 USD/month. An opportunity to go to school is immensely valued here; kids (ages 5) will consciously make choices to go without food for days to save up some money to attend school. They all know that school is the only way they can get out of the position they are in.

I’m just taking all of this Africa stuff in. It’s a whole different world.

On a productive note for the day, I worked with two guys most of the day to successfully create and transfer images of one computer to all of the rest. We could deploy these out for use today (although not exactly perfect). I am happy to say that we have a process that works and can be used going forward. They learned a lot today; I hope the retain some of it. Too bad that the stuff I’m having them help me with is stuff that they will likely never use because they will never develop enough technical abilities to understand what all they did and why.

Many of the kids want to “learn computers.” And, since I’m here as the “computer guy” they come to me asking if they can help while I’m here. It’s quite frustrating because I know that I can manage the 12 computers we have significantly (at least 10x) faster than having these 4 guys help me. Patience huh?

It doesn’t help that the education system here is quite bad. None of the education focuses on critical thinking or analytical skills. These students simply regurgitate. They can only solve problems that they have seen before and been given the answer. It is rare that this is thinking about the problem presented, why it’s a problem, why it needs to be solved, and if there is more than one way to solve it.

Tomorrow I will meet with a guy to see if he has enough technical ability to be able to get the café mostly up and running so that I can remotely log in and manage the machines. I certainly hope so, otherwise there may be no hope for this thing…

Ugandan Endeavor: Day 8 (Sun) – Starting Work on the Computers

Jane is to speak at a church in Mbale today. The car was supposed to arrive at 8am to get Jane there around 9am and I was going to ride into town as well with some of the guys from the orphanage to help me get some computer setup complete. Of course, we dropped Jane off at the church around 11am. We went to a location to work on the computers and sat in front of the door because the person that brought us there didn’t have a key. After a couple hours of this, we decided to go to another location because it was uncertain when the person with the key would show. (Of course, nobody thought that not having a key was an issue.)

After getting setup in the second location to work on computers, I began to try to teach these other three guys how to modify the computer to meet our needs. These are people that only have used computers to send emails because it costs too much money to use them at the internet cafes for anything else. For those of you who are curious, I was having these guys boot into a linux bootable CD (Knoppix), start a graphical partition editor, delete a partition, and create two partitions meeting my requirements. We had 10 computers to get through.

I attempted to explain what a hard drive was, what partitions are, and what file systems are. Those of you whom I have tried to teach before, you may remember that I am not somebody most people want for a teacher. I think it has to do with my lack of patience and creativity in presenting material. So, after many hours little was accomplished (relative to what I could have done on my own) and we were told that we would have to leave around 9pm because the president was in town and that there was a 11pm curfew.

So, the three of us working on the computers at that point headed over this woman’s house that we had went to earlier for dinner. She offered a place for us to sleep for the night so that we could get back to work in the morning. This woman, Ann, was an amazing hostess and incredibly hospitable. She had a few younger girls helping her cook, etc. However, I was quite disturbed because soon after we arrived each of the girls came out to use in the main room and got on her knees, extended her hand, and then said, “You’re welcome.” She would then waddle on her knees to the next person and do the same thing all around the room this happened and she went back into the kitchen to never show up again. Then not long after, one of the girls came out with a pitcher of water and a basin with soap and came to each of us so we could wash our hands. She said nothing, just served.

This type of behavior is very disturbing to me. There is a clear distinction between men and women in the more traditional style homes. Then on top of that, there is very much a mentality that white people are inherently better than Africans. Many people here simply believe that white people are superior; they see themselves as inferior mentally, physically, etc. It’s so very sad to see people live in this type of environment where women believe they are inferior to men and Africans believe they are inferior to white people.