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Charlotte Clark Challenged By Visit To Uganda

CapChurch in North Vancouver, BC walked in partnership with the community of Bufukhula, Uganda for nine years - all the way until their graduation from Food for the Hungry (FH) programming in 2013. Bufukhula, however, was not done making changes. They saw an opportunity to share their new knowledge and advancements with their neighbouring village, Nashisa. CapChurch caught Bufukhula's vision and chose to start a partnership with Nashisa. From April 29 - May 13, 2015 a group from CapChurch joined Shawn Plummer of FH Canada on a life-changing trip to visit the people of Nashisa, Uganda. Here is one of their stories.

CHARLOTTE WITH NASHISA CHILDREN

What is nothing, is something. 

As I freely gave my empty water bottle away to one of the village children, I learned that quickly. And quickly I saw more kids wanting the bottles from other teammates. We gladly gave them away but when there were not enough for everyone, a fight broke out among the crowd of kids. We learned fast.

Kids playing with plastic found on the ground, slung around their necks; old tires made into a balancing running game; banana leaves wrapped into soccer balls; and straw woven into a skipping rope. Creativity and resourcefulness floods these villages. 

Our culture of getting the next best thing or getting exactly what we want when we want it really became evident to me. As we walked through the African market on our last day of being in Uganda, we saw endless rows of what we would call ‘thrift store’ clothes. They're imported in large bags, bought in bulk and then sold piece by piece to make a living. The art of a seamstress is slowly dying because our "throw-aways" are raging through towns and villages across the country.

These two weeks in Uganda, however, brought a freedom out of me that I badly desire. A beating in my heart became louder and joy was more evident. I was not in a fight to be better than others or desirable to others by my image, or caring if I had ‘my face’ on and my hair done, but living fully in the knowledge that those around me love me because Christ dwells in me, and that’s what unifies us.

As I heard prayers of "Lord, thank you that we woke up today," "Lord, thank you for this food which satisfies our bodies," I was struck by how simple yet profound they were. They weren't about how much variety we get in our food, but rather that we have food that fills us. They weren't about how comfortable our sleep was, but rather that we slept and woke up.

I don’t desire that our Canadian culture to invade this beautiful East African land - I really don’t. I desire, rather, that our sense of gratitude, generosity, and service grow deep, where it invades us. How do we let our generosity invade us to the point of it being a growth strategy? Where it causes us to sacrifice? Where it causes us to lay down our pride and what we think we deserve?

Uganda is a land where green luscious hills capture your vision. Where children run toward you and invade every part of your personal space just to be held or be called by name. A place where smiles are captivating and eye contact is a personal invitation to being noticed and known. Where generosity means giving in full gratitude, and gratitude is knowing you are blessed.

CHARLOTTE SHOWING PHOTOS TO A CAPCHURCH SPONSORED CHILD

One afternoon, Amber and I got pulled into a particularly rambunctious children's game. We didn't know what we were about to encounter, but I assure you it was worth it! I'm not sure of the African name, but I call it 'human tug-a-war!” With a chain of kids behind us and in front, our lines met and we tugged until one line fell down. My line crashed to the muddy, dirt ground and with laughter filling the air, we stood up and I was dusted off by those around me. I honestly didn't care about my clean appearance but rather was filled with joy over learning this game and just being a part of what was happening. I quickly said "dirt is dirt", and that brought an understanding - I'm not higher than those in the village, but rather here to be here and to be present.

Will I forget the people I met along the way? Will my memories fade? Yes, some will become distant, but some will remain close and form me. Food for the Hungry (FH) is truly bringing hope to the hopeless where thoughts of thriving futures were not even present. Now hope reigns, little by little, through dairy cows, Savings and Loans Groups, bio-gas energy, education, water bore holes, Child Sponsorship, and dignity!

We learned it is not about bringing a great presentation or an outstanding program, but speaking truth and encouragement - learning about others, listening, and stepping into their lives. We got to join the the FH Uganda team in their daily involvement in these villages. At this point I have vibrant memories of the people met, kids hugged, eye contact made, stories shared, and staff that have moved my heart to a challenging place of serving deeper and loving my neighbours.
CAPCHURCH WITH FH UGANDA STAFF

David, a Godly man working for the FH Uganda team, endlessly meets new kids. He would look at the children as if it was Christ looking into their eyes. One day, David said, “I want you to meet my friend, do you mind if we wait a second?” We waited and then came a boy named Cyrus, deaf and mute. Sign language is not something they speak in Nashisa, but David and Cyrus have made up their own dialogue. We said hello and off we went. David began to tell us that out of the six siblings, five are deaf and mute. Questions flooded my mind, the top one being, "how can we help?" Honestly though, David makes a difference because he loves this child, with piggy-backs, eye contact, and dignity. He offers them a personal invitation to being noticed and known.

DAVID, FH STAFF

The first thing sang to us as we arrived was a song "We are together again." I am sure there was not a dry eye in the room (or at least all heart strings were pulled). What a beautiful moment! As told to us before-hand, the people may not know us personally, but they know "CapChurch" as a whole. This partnership is bigger than me, bigger than my visit, bigger than our team. As I said to many before coming to Uganda, I was not sure exactly why, but I am walking into this invitation God has given me. Maybe at that moment it became clear as they sang to us "We are together again."

NASHISA WELCOME CEREMONY

There is a profound power in partnership: dedicating to the growth and well-being of a village. It's incredible that in just over a week, you can be pulled into a place, and life can be drawn out of you, laughter come out of the depths of you, and you're able to see the graciousness, goodness, and strength of our Saviour being the true companion to so many.

At church, Scott invited others to share about people in their lives who have encouraged them in their faith. Along with many, one man stood up to speak of his wife’s encouragement to him to walk and know of the hope of Christ. Now he stood vibrant with the aroma of Christ. At the farewell ceremony we planted six trees - one to represent each of us. It was a representation and declaration of the growth and partnership we have with Nashisa. Those trees don’t just represent each of us that could be present in the village, but our dedication on behalf of CapChurch and Food for the Hungry to Nashisa.

I believe God’s heart aches in many spots in this village (as it does in our city), but I believe they have caught something we, or at least I, want more of. How can I sum it all up? Well I can’t right now. But as I continue to think of this beautiful village, the FH staff and community, I am praying for the unity, generosity, service, and gratitude I encountered, but more fully the love which binds it all together.

Charlotte Clark currently works for CapChurch as their Children's Program Director, spending much of her time investing in families and children. She enjoys a deep soul-wrenching laugh, a morning cup of coffee, and strives to invest well in others, speaking encouragement and truth.



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Food for the Hungry: Charlotte Clark Challenged By Visit To Uganda
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