Beyond the Kitchen

Things I Learned In Uganda Big and Small

singing songs

So I made some beautiful baked doughnuts a few weeks ago.

I took pictures of the process.  Step-by-step.  You know how it works around here.

I dipped them in chocolate, I drizzled them with extra colored sprinkles, then I packed up my bags and headed to Uganda.

I had every intention of blogging about those doughnuts somewhere in between telling you stories about the people I met in Uganda and sleep.

There were a lot of stories to tell.  More stories that I had words to describe.  There was that afternoon fetching water with Kevin and her family.  There was the afternoon in the Katwe slum with Hajarah, her mother, and hundreds of other little children clamouring for attention.  Stories of poverty and need, sure… but mostly stories of compassion and hope.

But doughnuts?  How do I talk about doughnuts?  How dare I talk about doughnuts?  Who cares about doughnuts ever again ever?!

I’ve been wrestling.  There’s the jet lag, the memories of the beautiful people I met, the mosquito bites, the malaria pills, the suitcase filled with coffee, dirty clothes, and red dirt.  There’s a sincere hope I’m holding on to…. and then these doughnuts.

Let me break it down.  Consider this a public processing.

violence is wrong

Things I Learned In Uganda Big and Small

–  Bananas taste REALLY good.  Like the bananas we have here in the states, but WAY MORE LIKE BANANAS.

– Traveling with writers may have you convinced you are a writer yourself.  I went to Uganda with some of the best people to know.

Emily Freeman from Chatting in the Sky is a thoughtful editor and wonderful storyteller.  Jeff Goins seems intimidating until you realize that he’s actually super hilarious aside from being a mega talent. Myquilyn Smith from The Nester will give you the pants off her legs and shoes off her feet if you need them.  Her laugh will touch you, and her writing is tenderly heartfelt.  Shaun Groves is really good at wanting to know people.  Seeing him move through the world for a week is really inspiring.  Bri McKoy is the cheerleader that everyone should have.  Her heart is a good one.

– The people we encountered in Uganda say phrases like “You are most welcome, visitors!” which is so comforting and tender.  No one at my local Whole Foods has ever come close to such a greeting.

– In my experience this week, it’s often the people who have the least that are the most willing to give the most.

– Compassion works through local churches to support and serve children and families in that area.  I didn’t realize this about Compassion.  By working with local established churches in Uganda, Compassion helps Ugandans help Ugandans.  It’s really important work, and the impact these local churches make in their community is really life-changing for a lot of families.

– I was always a little skeptical about the letters I write my sponsor child.  Do they rrreeaaaalllyyy get there?  YES! They really do.  I met the people who hand process each letter and picture between sponsor and child.  Compassion takes these relationships seriously.    Imagine living in a mud hut in Uganda and  getting a letter from someone halfway across the world who loves you and is invested in your life.  I mean…. it’s a really big deal.

– God works.

how to ride a bike

Mike Varel is an extremely talented and soulful photographer…. and this is how you ride a bike.

– Guilt is not an action word.  Compassion is action.

– It’s less about how much you give, and more about what you choose to do with the little you have to give. Someone much wiser than me spoke those words this week.  You get to choose the good you put out into the world.  That’s a beautiful choice as long as you simply make it.

Shaun left us with a question as we waited at the airport in Entebbe for our long flight home.

“Now that you know what happens in the world, what are you going to do about it?”  

The answer?  Gosh the answer.  Geeeeez the answer.  Please tell me this is a rhetorical question.  It’s not.

The answer is as small as smiling as at stranger that you pass on the street.  The answer is as big as advocating for children in poverty all day everyday, without fail or hesitation.  The answer is a daily choice and sometimes a daily struggle.

For me the answer might have something to do with making doughnuts and sharing them with you.  It’s those recipes that I share with you that allows me to support children in need through Compassion.  They’re just doughnuts, but they’re also so much more.

Thank you for joining me on this journey.  It’s been more than I could have expected, and your support has touched my heart.  If you thoughtfully considered sponsoring a child through Compassion, then I feel good about my time in Uganda.  If you took action and sponsored a child through Compassion last week, if just one of you did that… then my time in Uganda was a roaring success.  If you already sponsor a child and you decide today to write them another letter, my heart is just over the moon. Thank you most sincerely for all the ways that you put good into the world.