Unheralded

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 11

Travel in Uganda is all part of the experience. And our journey from Adjumani back to Entebbe was indeed quite the experience. Our original plan was to take the bus — it would have been far cheaper, albeit less comfortable, and we wanted to be good stewards of our funds. Unfortunately, we went to book it too late in the …


Unheralded

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 10

I awoke in the morning feeling as though a 50,000-pound weight was suspended over my body, held up by a thread and giving me scant room with which to maneuver. I literally crawled out of bed feeling as though I had to avoid this weight that was hanging over me. The reality is, the weight of the emotion with which …


PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 9

I will be honest. When Denise and John suggested that I join them on this trip — OK, it also may have been me inviting myself — I was a bit concerned that the focus would be pastoral. Yes, I am a pastor, but to be honest, I am aware of the heavy burden Africa bears because of colonial missionary work …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 8

Connections and relationships are vital when engaged in meaningful community development. Sudanese  Lutheran Community Development, the organization with which I am volunteering, began when my friend Denise’s bishop approached her about building a relationship with some Sudanese Lost Boys about 15 years ago. When Denise and her husband John go into something, they go big or go home.  Or in this …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 7

Perspective is an interesting thing. On my first day at Olwa 1 Refugee Camp, I went to what I thought was the designated latrine. I had to hold my breath when I went in and found it to be, well, primitive. After using it for a couple of days, one of the women saw me coming out of it and pointed …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 6

I’ve preached on the woman at the well dozens and dozens of times. It is one of my all-time favorite Bible stories, where Jesus encounters a woman getting water at the well in the heat of the day and extends to her love and acceptance when so many had rejected her. But it never held the same power as today. …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Lamentations

I am a Lutheran pastor who is currently in Adjumani Uganda, working with Sudanese Lutheran Community Development in refugee camps. Our organization supports community-based organizers in the camps that help us address specific needs and issues. I am here with two other people for two weeks doing Trauma Healing Training with pastors and lay leaders (pictured above) in the camp and also …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 4

I woke up today after an unsettled sleep. The events of the past week, and especially the past day, played heavily on my heart and soul and the power failure in the middle of the night played on my CPAP machine. The combination left me far from rested. The good news, though, was that it is Sunday, and we had …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 3

Our plans for the day shifted. Denise and I had prepared to focus on the women today and Monday, but the arrival of the food truck changed all that. The truck arrives once a month, providing the food that will sustain the village until the truck returns. When the truck arrives, the refugees unload the 50 kilogram bags and stack them. They …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 2

Today began with a trip to the Office of the Prime Minister, where we planned to get permission to enter the camps. Well, it was supposed to begin that way, but our van ran out of gas before getting three blocks from our hotel. I said a prayer of thanks that our driver’s failure to check for gas was noticed …

PAULA MEHMEL: Shoot the Rapids — Uganda Journal, Day 1

I knew in August 1988, when I left Africa after six months of traveling and being an occasional student (a phrase I took VERY literally) at the University of Zimbabwe, that I would be back. I am a bit surprised that it took almost 30 years but unsurprised that I return with Denise Scheer and John Musick. Denise was my roommate …