Praying, Packing and Planning

Planning

Countdown to departure for Uganda: T-8 days

This thing is getting real. I’m totally funded (praise the Lord!), and both my biological and church families are strongly behind me. I am SO grateful. My church had a blast hosting a fundraiser at Culver’s last week for me and a number of other folks who will be traveling as missionaries this summer. I’m getting to know my team better and I’ve purchased much of what I need to take with me. We’re closing in on being ready to rock. All in all, the run-up to my departure has been pretty exciting and a blessing to me. I started out pretty nervous, but the closer I get, the more excited I am.

At any rate, I thought it was about time to spend a little of my Sunday afternoon giving y’all an update. I’ll focus on three areas…

Prayer

Praying Hands over ScripturePlease pray for me, for my family and for the trip. I wanted to share a few prayer requests God has placed on my heart, and ask you, if you feel led, to support us in prayer.

  1. Please pray that the gospel would go forth in power. While in Uganda, I will be meeting with Christians and non-Christians, as well as secular and believing students and professors. I’ll be preaching in churches and engaging in any number of conversations on campus, in the marketplace, in homes, in cafes, etc. Please pray that the gospel would be proclaimed, that the Lord Jesus would be clearly visible, and that the Spirit would give me (and the others with me) the words to say and the hearts to act when the time comes.
  2. Please pray for my sermon prep. I’m planning two messages, one from Colossians 1 and the other from Revelation 19. I will likely be called upon to preach one or both of them while there. Please pray for the prep, the delivery, and the follow-up. I plan to post the manuscripts when they’re done, btw, in case you’re interested.
  3. Please pray for health. I’ve been exposed to so much discussion about possible illness and all the crazy bugs that live in a place like Uganda that don’t live here. Therefore, sometimes I’m tempted to stress a bit about it. It’s an ongoing journey to keep giving that to the Lord, so please pray for continued health and for that struggle.
  4. Please pray for my family. I’m going to be gone for awhile (16 days). It will definitely create some struggles for Faith and John for me to be gone for that long. Please pray for them, including schedule juggling, meal prep, homework assistance, and all the other practical stuff that tends to get a lot harder when one parent is working on them instead of two.
  5. Pray for a sense of God’s heart. The primary function of this trip is to open ourselves up to learning what God has in mind for my family and our ministry — to discern if God would have me teach or preach in another part of the world. Going to Uganda is, primarily, to investigate that. Please pray with us that God would speak clearly to us so, and that we would be open to whatever He says: anything, anywhere.

Thank you so much for your prayers! I can’t tell you how much it means to us to have so many supporting and praying for us.

Packing

Jimmy Stewart Big SuitcaseSo, it appears packing for this trip might be slightly more involved than the average business trip has been. I know, I know … a phenomenal command of the obvious, right? So in addition to throwing the standard toiletries bag in a carry-on and counting pairs of socks and underwear, I’m evidently going to need heavy-duty, specialized gear for fending off the blazing desert sun and promised swarms of bird-sized mosquitos eager to remove my arm and take it back to feed their young. Supposedly, they laugh at clothing, drawing blood right through anything but chainmail, etc. Plus, there’s the need to plan several, diverse modes of dress for an even more diverse range of activities.

What will we be doing?

Here’s the spectrum of activities:

  • Preaching / teaching in church
  • Engaging students and professors on campus
  • Hiking in the mountains
  • Visiting in homes and cafes
  • Touring in the city
  • Sleeping … in the bug free environment I can possibly establish. <cringe>

What are the conditions?

The (very) good news is that laundry facilities will be available. (Happy dance!)

The not-as-great news is that the equator literally runs through the nation of Uganda, so the direct blazing sunlight doesn’t really get much more direct or blazing anywhere else on earth. And I’m a blonde, fair skinned German. Sigh.

Second bunch of well-heated awesome is the expectation that “proper, respectful attire” is all about covering skin. So preaching in shorts and a Hawaiian pineapple shirt is pretty much out. At least the jeans and slacks will create an impenetrable barrier against the super-bugs. Oh wait.

Then there’s the air conditioning… Yeah, that doesn’t exist.

All joking aside, I think the one thing about this trip that scares me is the heat. So, we should add that to the prayer requests.

Given all that, how should I pack?

Well, TIU shared an extremely helpful, valuable list to get me started. And I’ve built on that. Here’s the packing list I’m currently working with:

  • Passport, immunization records, cash and medications
  • Toiletries (in carry-on, along with one day of clothing and the stuff to make layovers less horrendous, just in case)
  • Bible — With some key passages marked
  • International power converter kit — Uganda uses 240V UK adapter
  • Separate Apple World Travel Adapter Kit — As tempting as it may be to believe that it’s just propaganda that allows them to charge you for something else, I have taken it to heart that Apple equipment needs a specialized adapter. So, I have this in addition to my general kit. I’ll use it for my iPhone and MacBook. I’ll be leaving my other devices at home.
  • Antibacterial hand and face wipes
  • Sunscreen
  • Aloe vera — You know, for after I’ve been cooked into charcoal.
  • Insect repellant – Both for me (Sawyer lotion) and for my cloths (Permethrin spray, also from Sawyer), which we’ll spray on everything before we leave — I’ll definitely let you know how this stuff and the sunscreen work
  • Water bottle — Though expensive, it’s seriously all about Hydro Flask
  • Sunglasses — Two pairs, since, well, I seem to have a gift for losing or breaking stuff
  • Kleenex and an extra roll of TP
  • Pictures of family/friends to show
  • Journal/pen
  • Snacks that won’t melt
  • Backpack
  • High-speed phone-charger battery
  • Hat — A somewhat controversial item. I wanted to buy an ultra sexy safari hat, but Faith insists that I wait to buy said hat until I arrive in Uganda, so that it can be an authentic sexy safari hat
  • Rain coat and travel umbrella
  • Jeans (x3), dress slacks (x4), shorts (x3), casual shirts (x7), dress shirts (x7), jacket (x1), ties (x3), T-shirts (x3), and undershirts (x-however much space is left, since this is going to be a whole new experience in learning what the term “sweating profusely” means)
  • Sports / workout gear (x3) — they want us to play sports with the college kids there; of course, I asked if there was a library on campus.
  • Bathing suit
  • Shoes — Athletic shoes, hiking shoes, dress shoes and sandals — Seriously, do I even have that many pairs of shoes?
  • Flip flops to wear in the shower — barefoot = bad
  • And a partridge in a pair tree
packing

Some things I had to buy. Well, except for the dog. He stays here.

Okay, world travelers. What am I missing?

Planning

Lastly, for the past several weeks, my team has been meeting every Thursday night to discuss theological implications, practical logistics, and other helpful topics for the trip. That’s been super helpful, and a lot of fun. Here’s a partial picture of the team. I’m told we’ll be taking a more official picture soon, which I’ll post as well, but until then … meet most of us!

Uganda Team

I had originally thought that I would post some of the things we’ve been talking about in our planning meetings — especially the theological reflections. However, I think that would be best left to my journaling through my experience, which I will do. In the meantime, I’ll just say thank you for your prayers and support. I’m so looking forward to this, although it’s for sure new and a little intimidating. But like I said, the closer it gets the more excitement has been mounting.

Okay, that’s the update. Please pray, and stay tuned. More to come.


Image credit:
1) Planning – Stamats
2) Prayer – Desiring God
2) Jimmy Stewart – Gentlemint
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About Jeff Block

Lover and follower of Christ. Husband and father. Writer and seminary student. On a long journey, learning to swim with the current of God's love and walk with Him in the garden in the cool of the day.
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2 Responses to Praying, Packing and Planning

  1. knenn11 says:

    I am SO excited (and curious) to hear the amazing God stories you’ll have to share when you return! Will keep praying!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Counting Down to Departure for Uganda | Breaking Away: Jeff Block's Blog

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