A husband-and-wife team fights doubts and heartbreaking conditions to provide medical care in the slums of Uganda.
“The opening minutes of the clinic reminded me of going to the symphony,” writes McDonald in his debut memoir. “When the orchestra first shows up and tunes their instruments, everything is chaotic and discordant.” The turmoil came from the hectic traffic of Kampala and the haphazard conditions of the health clinics the author and his wife, Stephanie, were sent to work in. But they both were anticipating something magical from their brief mission trip to Uganda. The pair met while working as nurses. For her, using these skills to help disadvantaged people in a place like Africa was a lifelong dream, and for McDonald, who had recently renewed his Christian faith, any opportunity to better serve was unmissable. So when their friend Bishop Beall proposed a mission trip through the Sports Outreach Institute/Ministry, they jumped at the chance. In the slums of Kampala and in an area north of the Nile, they and their team spent long days dressing wounds, appreciating the country’s majestic beauty, and observing the lasting effects of Joseph Kony’s guerrilla army and the rampant sexual abuse he inflicted on entire populations. McDonald uses the relatively short visit to his advantage, making the most of every detail and conflicting emotion he experienced throughout such exhausting days, especially related to Uganda’s history and his own trepidations about ministering to people. He eventually overcame his fears during a particularly stirring foot-washing session taken straight from the Gospels. The author largely relies on the same elements found throughout contemporary Christian nonfiction: the importance of sacrifice, the difficulty of trusting in God, and the resistance to “spiritual attack.” But he also deftly touches on more profound issues when tackling his own wife’s discomfort with religion and the way Ugandans seem to unquestioningly accept the story of Christ. With more time spent developing and ruminating on these ideas, McDonald could have created a deeper reflection on the many facets of missionary work—but he still offers Christian readers a clear view of a fascinating country.
A moving and informative account of an African mission trip.