Leaving on a jet plane...

Well…actually three jet planes and a bus!

Later today, I leave for Kamonkoil, Uganda and a great week with Orphans Heart and its ministry partner, Hines Uganda Ministries. It takes about 24 hours to travel the 7,843 miles from Tallahassee to Uganda. But it’s worth it. Click on the video above, made by Kristen Peterson at The Pod Advertising, and you’ll see why!

I’ll miss Amy, Hugh Michael and Haley terribly. But the opportunity to serve is incredible.

I am often asked, “Why do you go on foreign mission trips?  There are so many needs right here at home.”

Good question. I go for one simple reason. I’m selfish. You see, I love to be greeted by the incredibly kind and generous people of Uganda.

They are quick to give to and serve me long before they would ever expect anything in return. Last year, as we arrived in Soroti to visit a church there, 50 men, women and children came running out, shouting and celebrating. They had been inside the church ALL NIGHT, waiting for us to arrive. And when we went inside that small church, they gave us gifts of live chickens, sugar cane, hand woven baskets and more. These gifts were, in some cases, worth more than a month’s wage. Their sacrifice was overwhelming and, like the widow and her mite, they did not give out of their excess. They gave out of their sacrifice.

I also love to walk where God walks. This notion is borrowed from my buddy, Eric Helgemo, who runs Three Angels Children’s Relief in Petionville, Haiti. He told me he loves “walking where God walks.” Before visiting Haiti, I would have thought God only walked on pristine streets of gold, not the trash and sewage strewn streets in parts of Haiti. But He does. And He walks in Uganda too. Among the mud huts, the dirt roads and the remote villages that millions call home. They live there peacefully and happily. And the many Christians in Uganda have a reverence and love for our Lord that is not often seen in America. They sing praises with unashamed passion and pray without ceasing.

Finally, my faith grows by leaps and bounds on these trips. Yes, I teach a weekly Bible study in our home and I am now traveling on an overseas mission trip. But that does not make me a spiritual saint, nor a model for others to follow. On many, many days, I fail to read my Bible or pray in any meaningful way. I am consumed by the ways of this world and leave little time for God. That won’t be true in Uganda. I will be surrounded by wonderful worshipers of Jesus, whose faith is inspiring. I’ll have breakfast, lunch and dinner with those who have dedicated their lives to serving others and the Kingdom. I’ll hear daily devotions and stories during WOW! time that will stretch and challenge me spiritually. These trips are the catalytic for my faith life that I truly need.

For most people, mission trips are about giving. For me, this trip, and all my mission trips, are about taking. And I am truly grateful for the privilege.

While I am gone, I would covet three specific prayers from you:

First, please pray for Amy, Hugh Michael and Haley. I travel a lot. And ten more days on the road, especially during the lead up to Christmas, will be hard on them...and me. I’ll miss Haley’s first piano recital, school Christmas programs and the kids’ first week of Christmas vacation. I also won’t be around to help Amy with all the last-minute details that Christmas demands. Pray for them and for a peace and joy to overwhelm them while I am gone.

Second, pray for the people of Uganda with whom we will eat, play, work and worship. I made many great friends there last year. I look forward to seeing them again and making new friends too.  Pray for our time together. And pray for those we meet who do not yet know Jesus. Pray for our courage to share the Gospel and that God opens their hearts to receive Him.

Finally, pray for travel mercies for our team. That flights depart and arrive on time. That we get through customs without incident. That luggage is not lost and their contents remain intact. And that we remain healthy and well throughout our trip.

I look forward to sharing stories and photos from our journey each day. Until then, I hope you will watch the video below that captures memories from last year’s trip to Uganda. You’ll get a great sense of the people and the place.

Swimming in His grace,