I wish I could upload more pictures on here for you all to match my words with images, but the internet is far to slow. The pictures that do make it take far too many “upload failed, try again” clicks than I would like.
Tomorrow holds an exciting adventure and a wonderful surprise.
If you’ve heard my full story of Meraki Creative then you know I can trace it back to a little boy named Magala Shakalulu. I sponsor Magala through World Vision and he lives in the Masaka region of Uganda. The first time I went to Uganda it was too difficult and short of notice for me to plan a visit so I just sent him and his friend a box of clothes and coloring books and whatnot. Before this trip I called World Vision to see if it was possible to schedule a visit although it was short of notice (they ask you plan visits 6 months in advance).
After filling out information for a background check, I waited for an answer or follow-up and hadn’t heard back. Perhaps I missed their email since it wasn’t clearly marked World Vision, but nonetheless I gave up. I decided that I would meet him on my third trip to Uganda. My mom and I agreed that maybe it was a blessing because this trip would a way for me to focus on putting together a trip without dealing with the added planning of an “excursion.” My mindset was, it is too difficult and I do not want to force this meeting so I will be patient and meet him when I’m more familiar with traveling to Uganda.
Well…friday morning Sarah asked God to surprise me in some way.
I was painting the world map up on the makeshift scaffolding we have when Janet, a woman who works in the office, came and shouted from below that I had a phone call. I was confused. Worry did not hit me at all, her voice was very casual. I asked Janet who could be calling me and her answer was World Vision.
I hadn’t heard from them since I called a few months ago and emailed in my information. I supposed they had forgotten about me as well because they realized the dates I had given for my trip were now and they called in an urgent visit to the Kampala office.
The woman on the line, Teddy, said that it was a “blessed” morning because she had found out where I was, found Cherish’s phone number, and service was good enough to call. She had worked that morning to find me and she did. Long story short, after several phone calls of updates and talking with Teddy and the drivers as the informed me as to what my trip will be like, I am going to Masaka tomorrow morning. Since it was an urgent visit World Vision waived the usual fees (whattttt a blessing?). Tomorrow is a national holiday in Uganda, yet they had two men willing to work to take me. They didn’t know if I had transportation so they are picking me up at Cherish. What a convenient gift. Jesus doesn’t give gifts in half, he gives them in full.
They found my number, they waived fees, they are picking me up rather than me going to them, and they are working on a day they should be off.
Friday I got to speak to Magala over the phone (a Uganda three-way call where I think she just held two phones close together haha) and they said he was very excited to meet me!
Sarah informed me later that day that she had prayed for a surprise for me that morning. Jesus gave me quite the surprise. He made it happen when I didn’t want to force it.
Tomorrow Chad and I are going to Masaka so that I can meet Magala and Chad can film/photograph it. We would appreciate prayers for safe travels, Masaka is about three hours away. I’d also love prayers for good conversation and time with the Shakalulu family. Thank you.
Sulla Bulungi (goodnight)
One of my favorite pieces of art is Michelangelo’s Pieta.
I’ve seen it on the computer, in books, pictures up close, pictures from afar. Twice now I’ve felt the mood that is built when looking at it in person. When sharing the experience of seeing it with your own eyes you can tell the air floating between the strangers in the audience is moving around notions of reverence, awe, analysis, and peace. I love the mathematical aspects of the Pieta, the details of the veins in the feet of Jesus, and the way Mary holds her limp son.
When I stepped into Hope Academy’s P6 and P7 class (where ages range from 11 to 20 years old) we asked the kids to choose if they wanted to learn photography or painting. The class divided pretty evenly. While Auntie Sarah (Sarah Dunlap) taught photography, I began with a slideshow I made earlier that morning of famous artists and styles of paintings.
We looked over Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Andy Warhol, Gustav Klimt and many more. They saw abstraction versus realism, still-lifes, and landscapes. The last slide I had made before Jenny’s improvisation of the “I can do it!” declaration, coincidentally said “YOU CAN DO IT TOO!”
Some of the kids began painting immediately, painting over their pencil drawing self-portraits from the previous day. I went around explaining how to mix colors and the purpose of doing so. While these students were focused on their palette, brush, and paper, I noticed three or four students had yet to start. I had taught them how to use my computer to scroll through the power point if they wanted to view the art more in depth and up-close.
They were entranced with the art. One boy, around the age of 17, pointed to Starry Night by Van Gogh and said he liked it. My first response was, “yes that is Van Gogh’s famous painting Starry Night, everyone knows that piece.” As my words were leaving my mouth I realized one thing—everyone does not know this famous painting. He had never seen Van Gogh’s Starry Night, a painting I apparently took for granted.
We were on a slide I had filled with the work of Michelangelo when they pointed at the infamous Sistine Chapel where Adam’s finger reaches out to God’s. As I told them fun facts and history behind each artist they began asking who the figures in each piece were. Then they pointed to the image of the Pieta. I told them Michelangelo sculpted Mary and Jesus, and what Michelangelo had imagined the scene was like when Mary held Jesus dead, limp body after being brought down from the cross.
The Pieta screams emotion, it screams pain, it screams love, it screams for your attention. The boy in class looked at the piece, bent his head, and sat in silence with his eyes closed. He was deeply moved by the Pieta, perhaps it was his favorite too but it’s my favorite so I guess I am biased.
A beautiful and incredibly delicious coffee shop cafe in Kampala called Prunes. I had a pineapple, ginger, yogurt, banana smoothie while Rachel (the regular) ordered her usual latte and an apple pie and ice cream for the table to share.
Interestingly, a fire started in the kitchen four months ago burning down the inside of Prunes, but they completely bounced back in just around 2 months! Amazing, and how well designed!
Day 2 at Cherish. This trip is already so fruitful, so peace giving, and so humbling-and we haven’t even been here for 24 hours!
The house we are staying in exceeded all of our expectations and the food served to us is delicious!
The Spirit’s presence is undeniable and Cherish Uganda radiates peace. The people, the land, the homes, the exotic animals-all emit this energy that shouts the name of our creator. The diversity of plants and animals on the premises are a reflection of His attention to detail and a glimpse as to what heaven will look like-a diverse, beautiful, peaceful kingdom.
We toured the land today and heard Rachel’s amazing experience of developing Cherish that the Lord has allowed her to partake.
This blog is my personal one for friends, family, and supporters of my trip but public updates from all of us members can be found on Meraki Creative’s Trips blog merakicreativetrips.tumblr.com
So glad to be here,
One week. One week is in between me and Uganda. 5 of us total will leave DFW, stop through Dubai, and step on the grounds of Entebbe, Uganda. Our backpacks will be full of art materials and a few outfits to last the two weeks. We will carry film supplies and paintbrushes. We have activities planned, t-shirts ready to give out, and forms ready to be signed for allowing us to film on Cherish grounds.
It hit me today as I ran errands, gathering things for the trip. I found a suitcase that I can leave there, and began packing. I’m heading back to Uganda.