Tag Archives: time

10-A Letter to Posterity

Ugandan children posing when we started to take pictures at Kigunga Catholic Church

“Everything is more complicated than you think. You only see a tenth of what is true. There are a million little strings attached to every choice you make. You can destroy your life every time you choose. But maybe you won’t know for twenty years. And you may never ever trace it to its source. And you only get one chance to play it out. Just try and figure out your own divorce. And they say there is no fate, but there is. It’s what you create. And even though the world goes on for eons and eons, you are only here for a fraction of a fraction of a second. Most of your time is spent being dead or not yet born. But while alive, you wait in vain, wasting years, for a phone call or a letter or a look from someone or something to make it all right. And it never comes or it seems to, but it doesn’t really.

And so you spend your time in vague regret or vaguer hope that something good will come along. Something to make you feel connected, something to make you feel whole, something to make you feel loved. And the truth is, I feel so angry, and the truth is, I feel so f—ing sad, and the truth is, I’ve felt so f—ing hurt for so f—ing long and for just as long I’ve been pretending I’m OK, just to get along, just for, I don’t know why. Maybe because no one wants to hear about my misery, because they have their own.

Well, f— everybody. Amen.”

This heart-wrenching sentiment comes from Synecdoche, New York by Charlie Kaufman. It is as close to a representation of a thought I think a refugee would have. It gives me great hope. When I visited the settlements, most of the refugees didn’t feel this way. Even though they faced the worst possible parts of God’s plan, they didn’t come to despair and bitterness. Hope was still alive.

Of all the principles I’ve seen here, love is the greatest. Even though there is so much differentiating us from them, they welcomed us with open hearts. In every settlement we went to they gave us beautiful performances that showed us their wounded heart is still beating. Most of the people whom we smiled at gave a warmer smile back. The children would follow us as if we had been in the village since they were born. It is this love in the midst of such hardship where I found God dwelling among His people. As Jesus said, love your enemy. In the hearts of these refugees, I could see the word made flesh. They didn’t become like the enemy and turn to hate, but have moved on and are trying to improve their life. In the schools and settlements, we learned that there is a mixture of tribes. This has allowed them to get past tribalism and see the humanity in each other. Such a vision of love goes beyond the explanation of psychology, sociology, and all the other -ologies.

While I have been in Uganda, I have been inspired by the refugee’s faith. After seeing their homes burned, family members killed, and children starved, the refugees still have a faith with a burning intensity that is unquenchable. Instead of turning to nihilism, these people have clung ever stronger to their faith. Their Masses are hours long, there is “God” written on many signs, and the name of Jesus has power here. Their faith is where they find hope. Their whole identity has been destroyed, and their tattered family serves as a reminder. They have become strangers in a strange land. Their faith is their only hope that things will get better. I can see from the way they talk about God that His word is writ on their hearts. Their faith is where they draw the strength to forgive and pursue a future. My experience has shown me that their religion forms the bedrock of their identity. Dumbfounded by such faith, I had to ask Sharon, a radio host and journalist who we interviewed, what do the South Sudanese think about why God allows such suffering. She said that suffering is just a test. We know God loves us and it is just the devil that is trying to tempt us through suffering. We hear God loves us on the radio, TV, and in person everywhere.

If Jesus came here, there wouldn’t be much change. Not because the settlements are so holy but because Jesus focused on eternal life. He didn’t free the Israelites from Rome. Even though he criticized the scribes and the Pharisees, he never overthrew them. Instead, he got crucified by them without protest. The way Jesus focuses on the next world gives me great hope. If the King of the universe lived on earth, he didn’t change the political, social, nor economic structures. He changed hearts. I don’t have to try and fight all these structures that will crumble under their own weight of wickedness. I have to be like Jesus and help my neighbor through small acts with great love. After all, he died on a cross after being abandoned by his followers, and he is still worshiped today. You don’t have to change 7 billion people. If you change one person, you change the world ( Butterfly Effect). The one-person changes another who changes another. Before you know it, you were a small yet integral piece in the big change.

Some may think the refugees are useless and a burden, but they aren’t. When I see these human being insulted, I see it as an insult to the whole of humanity. A refugee is a human being who is searching for a future after they have been forced from their home. Just like any other human being, they want to protect their family and give a future for their children. Just like any other human being, they want their human dignity back through simple acts like listening to their story. Unlike every human being, even though they have nothing, they still give what little they have. The richness of humanity amidst such poverty could make the hardest heart soft.

The situation for the refugees is like the night. It is a dark time for them where they cannot see very well. There are stars to guide them, but these don’t provide enough light such that there is no darkness. Although the night is quite terrible, it is not permanent. There will be change. I can already see the crack of dawn. These refugees are coming to Uganda to build their future. One great sign of the passing night is the settlements themselves. They are far better now than they were five years ago. Now when refugees come, the UNHCR has a very systematic and organized way to assist the refugees. There is change for the better whether we realize it or not. Coming to Uganda for 18 days, I have found the solution to the refugee crisis. The solution is time. It might take one year or 300 years, but it will get there eventually.

Even though we aren’t directly intervening in the lives of the refugees, this documentary is a still doing a lot of good. Herbert, our guide, has said that just our very presence means everything to these people. They are powerless and stereotyped. The fact that a bunch of students from around the globe came to see what their life was like and share their stories with others really means a lot to the refugees. Humanizing their struggles gives them a level of humanity that has been stripped from them by their government. It acknowledges that people care about them. I could feel it in the interview. They would show it throughout our whole time with them. For me, this time that I have spent with them was priceless, it was life changing.

Above the Clouds

Disclaimer: this post is a little late and outdated. Due to spotty WiFi and the fact that I wrote most of this on a Delta napkin, I am publishing now. 

(06/01/18)

A picture above the clouds from Omaha to Detroit.

After about a 26 hour travel journey, we have finally arrived in Entebbe, Uganda. There were definitely a wide range of stages of emotion during this 26 hours: exhaustion, delusion, fear, nervousness, excitement, optimism, and relief. While flying somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, I started thinking about my own conception of time.

These 26 hours felt like the longest amount of time that I’ve engaged in one “activity”. I watched movie after movie, read page after page in my book and the time still passed painfully slow. Then I thought about how differently a 26 hour time period feels during the school year when I’m a student at Creighton. A 26 hour time period goes abnormally fast and usually I can’t fit in as much as I would like in a time frame that small. Life feels like it moves fast in some ways and then slow in others. Then once I whip out my handy phone calculator, I can average that my 20 years of life have accumulated to be around 175,200 hours. That’s a lot of hours but so many of them hold the greatest moments of myself, my experiences and my connections to others.

As this trip to Uganda adds about 432 hours to my life, the fraction seems small in comparison to the 175,200 I have already lived. However, I hope that these 432 hours prove to be eye-opening. I hope that they are challenging. I hope that I am ready for them. Time is something that we all have, but not something that we all use to the best of our ability. I have tried to use a chunk of the time I’ve had on this earth to challenge myself. 

The week before we left for Uganda, we engaged in “video boot camp” at Creighton where we were given a crash course to gain a base knowledge for what we need to know about being videographers. At first I felt overwhelmed and, at times, like I was too far out of my comfort zone. But during our travel time, I realized that does not exist. Making this movie is something that I will be able to accomplish, and I will be able to do it with the best team around (26 hours of travel can really help with group bonding!). For the first time in my life that I will take on the role as a journalist, I hope that the narrative we are telling does justice to the truth. 

Game time is now. I’m ready to have, what I hope will be, a rich 432 hours.

Peace n’ blessings!

So It Begins

This is only the second day of the trip and there have been many firsts for me already. I was on he shortest flight I’ve ever been on and the longest. I slept in an airport, and landed in the smallest airport I’ve ever been in. Just the process of flying here has been an adventure. It has sparked mindset that I want to try everything and anything. I’ve never been a real adventurist and just seeing the mountains from the plane above and out the window of the Anchorage airport made me think “I wonder what it would be like to climb a mountain.” I have never thought about going mountain climbing in my life. It always seemed too dangerous for me. But just being here and experiencing things I have never experienced before has in a way brought me out of my comfort zone and makes me want to continue to push the limits of that zone. Hopefully as the trip goes on I will have experienced more new things that get me out of my comfort zone and keep me wanting more.

Time feels so different here. Maybe it is the constant daylight that confuses me. It will be 9:00 at night and it looks like it is 3:00 in the afternoon. Surprisingly I do not have trouble sleeping. I am so tired from all the activity during the day that I can sleep through the bright light. The room I am staying has no curtains on the windows, so there is light just streaming in. I use the cycle of light and dark at home to plan out my day. When the sun is rising, it is time to get up. When the sun is starts to set it is dinner time. Here it is hard to tell what time it is based on the light. Maybe I just cannot tell the time here because I am not constantly checking my phone.

The first two days without phone service has been a little bit weird. I keep wanting to check my phone. I do not think I even realized how much time I spend on my phone at home. I constantly check it for messages, phone calls, emails, and just to see what time it is. Here I have no phone service so I am not getting my usual messages from friends and family. It is kind of nice to not have that constant distraction. Without it I am really bonding with the people around me. I think this world needs to be less in the digital world and more in the real world.

I fee like when I go home the three things I will have to readjust to are the time, light cycle, and my phone. I feel like after two weeks of 24 hour sun, time will go by so fast with the darkness. I am going to get used to no night. I will also have to get used to being back in central time, which is three hours later. The last thing I may have to readjust to is my phone. I may not be as addicted to it as before, but I feel like I may start not paying attention to it. Since it is always on silent, I may miss phone calls and messages because I will be used to not having a phone. I hope I won’t miss too much living in the real world. I really do enjoy spending time with people and not having everyone text 20 different people at the same time. Ok. 20 is a bit of an exaggeration, but how can you have a real conversation in person with someone when you are having so many other conversations going on at the same time?

Take the Time

Do we take time in our lives to realize the extent of events around us and the entirety of what is actually occurring in others lives?

In the United States we are so busy. We have every minute of every second planned out. If we aren’t doing something we are racing to accomplish something else. Very rarely do we have time for meditation or reflection. Besides that, very rarely do we actually have time to fully experience the world around us.

We live in a fast food, fast pace nation. Everything we have must be fast, our internet to making our meals. But, what do we loose in the process? We loose the ability to take note. We don’t have time to smell the flowers. Relationships with those immediately around us suffer, even in our own immediate family’s.

John O’Keefe spoke in reflection about the lack of time we as a whole are willing to give.  He said, “The one thing the poor have that we don’t is time.”

In, Africa this is becoming increasingly apparent to me. There is a difference between Ugandan time and regular time. The sense of length is just completely different. The people are more then willing to give their time to us. When we visited Ave Maria school yesterday they had taken the time to  welcome us with open arms and song. They performed for us songs and dances. In my days, while we do have activities planned out, we have the time to notice the small things about the world around us. We are able to be present with those around us. We notice the world, the kindness of the people. We notice more in depth the reality of what is happening in their lives.

I wonder how our perspectives would change if we took the time to live a little more slow paced and notice what is actually going on around us.