The Way – part.1

23 01 2009

You’ve probably heard of it or are in pursuit of it.

The Way isn’t new.

It’s thousands of years old.

Yet it’s still as controversial as ever. Jesus’ followers are still being persecuted and oppressed to this day for it. Recognizing we’re sinners and that no one is good except God alone is part 1.

Jesus is God. The Son of Man. The Son of God. The Father is in Him and He in the Father.

“Jesus was not just another great religious teacher, nor was he only another in a long line of individuals seeking after spiritual truth. He was, instead, truth itself. He was God incarnate.” – Billy Graham





I’m Back and Spanksgiving

22 11 2008

It’s been quite overwhelming since I got back to San Diego a couple weeks ago. Trying to catch up with friends after being gone for 2 months is a pretty impossible goal and I’ve pretty much failed my attempt. Thanksfully, some of my friends have an annual Spanksgiving party (it’s a pre-Thanksgiving feast with friends since most everyone spends Thanksgiving with family) and I was able to see a lot of my friends and colleagues all in one night. The theme of the night was “Norman Rockwell” and all fifty people who attended looked straight out of the 50’s. It was a fun night with great company, amazing food and a lot of photographs. Check out the photo below of me and two of my roommates (I live in Ocean Beach now and no the cigarette is a prop, I’ve never smoked a cigarette in my life – not going to start now.)

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Me, David & Russell – The Patrelli Boys





Mercy

23 10 2008

My co-worker in Uganda has such an incredible God given name…Mercy. The other day I stopped by her house to see her beautiful baby girl for the first time. Stephanie has big eyes and the cutest cheeks. Check out some photos of my visit.

Mercy & Stephanie (notice the Invisible Children Schools for Schools t-shirt, oh yeah!)

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Goat Slaughtering

2 10 2008

A couple of weeks ago, my friend David invited me and the two Invisible Children interns to join him and his friends at a place called Fort Patiko. The fort was once a hub for Arab slave traders, but a man named Sir Samuel Baker and his army fought off the slave traders and it’s now a site used for touring, parties and hiking. It truely is a beautiful place. We had a lot of fun hiking, dancing, eating and taking ridiculous photos (see below).

Charles and me grilling goat meat.

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Peace is not the absence of war. We’re fated to pretend.

22 09 2008

Currently, northern Uganda is experiencing relative peace. You wouldn’t even realize that a war has been going on for more than 20 years. In fact, about a week ago I was enjoying my iPod on a drive from Fort Patiko to Gulu when our conductor (co-pilot to the driver we hired) tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp we were passing. He said, “In 2003, Lukodi IDP camp was attacked by the LRA.” The reality of Uganda’s history came back into perspective. Before the conductor had tapped me on the shoulder I was enjoying MGMT sing about how we’re all fated to pretend, and now reality had hit me square in the face. Over 200 human beings were killed in broad day light as a rebel army (the LRA), raped and burned people alive. Relative peace may be a sign of hope, but that doesn’t erase the trauma the people of northern Uganda have experienced. Peace is not the absence of war. Northern Uganda desires peace of heart, mind and soul. Healing from 20 years of war will take more than hope, but hope is the beginning of change.

Yes, I’m in Uganda.

I bet some of you are thinking, “again?” and you’re right. This trip makes 7, which in the opinion of some is a lucky number and an incredible film starring Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman (if you haven’t seen “Seven” I recommend it).

Why am I in Uganda again? Good question.

On September 4th, I departed San Diego with nine Invisible Children “roadies”. The roadies are volunteers that raise over $1,500 each in order to sustain themselves for 3 months while they travel all over North America (the United States & Canada) showing Invisible Children’s newest documentary, GO. There are 13 teams of roadies that travel on 13 different routes making sure to cover as much of the United States and Canada as possible and the purpose of their travels is to spread awareness, advocate and raise tons of money to accomplish Invisible Children’s mission [“Invisible Children is a social, political, and global movement using the transformative power of a story to change lives. By inspiring youth culture to value creativity, idealism, and sacrifice, the movement fuels the most effective, adaptable, and innovative programs in the world.”] The trip consisted of seeing, learning and experiencing all of IC’s operations in Uganda. They visited our Kampala office, Gulu office (some visited our Pader office), spent a day in the life of a mentor, visited the schools we’re helping to rebuild and enjoyed an official IC Uganda party.

The trip was amazing. One of the best aspects of my job is leading trips because I find joy in seeing such dedicated individuals experience Uganda for the first time.





BURMA

19 05 2008

Hey friends and family,

I am writing to ask you to help me on an issue that is important to me.  I am part of an effort to build a 1-million person network of support for human rights in the Southeast Asian country of Burma (aka Myanmar, you’ve probably heard about the recent cyclone).  Just as millions of Americans came together to help free Nelson Mandela and South Africa in the 1980s, we are trying to organize 1 million people to sign up at http://www.uscampaignforburma.org to help the world’s only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient and the struggle for human rights democracy in Burma.

It is free to sign up — all you need is a name and an email.  I can attest that USCB is an incredible group.  After you sign up, they will send you messages that allow you to contact your members of Congress, United Nations officials, and others to press for human rights in Burma.  They won’t waste your time or overload your inbox — they only ask you to do things that are both important and achievable.

They will also help you learn more about Burma — including about the incredible Nobel Peace Prize recipient Aung San Suu Kyi.  She has often been compared to Gandhi or Nelson Mandela because she leads Burma’s nonviolent struggle for an end to the country’s dictatorship.

In case you didn’t know, Burma’s military regime has recruited more child soldiers than any other country in the world, carried out a war on its own civilians, and uses rape as a weapon of war.  Also, after the massive cyclone hit Burma two weeks ago, the military regime has even refused to allow enough humanitarian aid to save the lives of the survivors.  The U.S. Campaign for Burma is leading the charge to make sure that aid reaches those whose lives are on the line.

It is pretty incredible the power that we can have when we work together as human beings.  We can move governments, institutions, and individuals to take action instead of turning a blind eye to horrible atrocities.

Please join me in the struggle for human rights in Burma.  Sign up today: http://www.uscampaignforburma.org

Jared@invisiblechildren.com

Check out:
http://www.invisiblechildren.com





Illumination of Absolution

25 04 2008

Friends and Family,

Mere Christianity. I’m sure you’ve either read it or have a friend who has. Yeah, that C.S. Lewis guy wrote it. You know, the one created The Chronicles of Narnia, but don’t get confused, this book isn’t about fauns or talking beavers. It’s about the raw essentials that illustrate God’s existence and the book is blowing my mind. Literally, my brain cells are dropping like flies.

A plus RV’s equals Responsibilities

The sky shed a few tears as I waited for the hovering darkness to pass. Tonight, I was going to be in community with an old friend and her family. A family made up of twenty-two children, a husband and two wives. Yes, two wives. I can still remember my first reaction to polygamy in Uganda so clearly. “What, you have four wives? No wonder you’re HIV positive.” However, tonight projected a different reaction. My tune was understanding and complimentary to the tune of Acholi culture.

My old friend (I’m now going to refer to her as Betty because that is her name after all), was frying donuts as Vanessa (my girlfriend) and I arrived late in the evening. The stars seemed too close and a cool breeze irritated the bats living in the trees above (Vanessa got pooped on…twice). What would tonight have in store? I sat down next to Vanessa and mentally transitioned into community life. Betty’s husband joined our small group of four and followed his greetings with a forty-five minute monologue. It eventually evolved into an explanation of what a real man is. He ended by saying “Jared, you’re a great man.” My insides got really uncomfortable and then Vanessa got pooped on (so we moved inside). As I grabbed my bag I couldn’t help thinking about what he said, “am I a great man?” No, I thought, I’m no greater than any other convicted men. Men convicted to take care and support those around him.

The Acholi culture is community based and men are seen as the head of the home. It’s the man’s responsibility to take care of and to provide for his wife(s) and children. An HIV infected widow is unable to provide enough for her eight plus children and is “blessed” when she remarries (even if the man is already married to more than one woman) because she and her children will be provided for. She loves her children so much and does anything; even share her love with a man who now has two wives. When I was fresh from America I had a hard time understanding an Acholi man’s “conviction” to love more than one woman. However, his culture is a part of him. His convictions are a part of him. HIV is a part of him. A woman with HIV is looked down upon and is rejected by a single unmarried man. However, a married HIV infected man sees it as his responsibility to take care of his tribe, so he marries another woman adding responsibility (ridiculous amounts), but he loves it. It’s part of who he is. (Note: Not all men with multiple wives in Uganda are HIV positive and not all HIV positive men have more than one wife).

I’m not writing this to say men in America should marry more than one woman because it’s the responsible thing to do. I believe western men should only have one wife (it’s the law). I’m saying an AIDS infected Acholi man who’s convicted and responsible enough to marry an AIDS infected widow with eight plus children is consider by some to be a real man. In fact, more real than me (I’m an unmarried 25 year old, that’s unusual here).

At the end of the night, Betty passed her husband his ARV’s and he gave a big smile before swallowing them.

The world is not as black and white as I once thought.

God offers Absolution and His love is strong.

Jared