Here’s a little update letter that I just sent out to friends and family with some Ensigo news. Feel free to read it, and if you know me give me a call or send a message…but if you don’t know me you can still call and share about what’s been going on with you, but I’ll have to warn you it may or may not be a little awkward.
Dear friends and family,
Wow, it has been one whirlwind of a past year (and some weeks) spent working on Ensigo projects and traveling through Northern Somalia, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, and U.A.E.! I am now back in good ol’ Nashville Tennessee where I’ll be coopin’ up until around the middle of March before I head back to Uganda. As I’m in the U.S. I’ll be working on finishing up the art and music from the U.S. contributors for the Ensigo Seeds album, recruiting U.S. artist volunteers for a new Ensigo program I’m trying to launch called “Volunteers For Creative Collaboration”, working with Compassion International again, working construction jobs, working with World Vision, and fundraising.
I’m sure so much has happened in your lives over this past year and I would LOVE if you could send me an update email or else let me know a time when you can talk over the phone and catch up (my U.S. number is: 727.753.8663)! As usual, fun and crazy situations always seem to find me, and this trip was definitely not a let down. I’d much rather share these stories over the phone or in person but as a teaser to this last year, here are some of my favorite stories to tell (hopefully this will pique your interest to the point where you can’t resist but to call.
• Fell in love with a wonderful woman named Maggie…I’m in love, I’m in love, and I don’t care who knows it!
• Was a part of a panel of Ugandan musicians and producers for a weekly radio show to discuss ways that music can positively transform societies, on 94.8 FM in Kampala.
• Filmed a MusicArt video with an American filmmaker, Ugandan painter, and American photographer in Mpanga forest for an Ensigo song.
• Had a death threat in Somaliland
• Worked with the Somaliland government (ministry of culture) to begin developing copyright law to protect musicians from exploitation and generate income for them.
• Recorded 15 songs with 8 Ugandan musicians for the Ensigo Seeds Album project
• Worked with 7 Ugandan visual artists who created “MusicArt” pieces to selected Ensigo songs
• Hosted and organized an Ensigo art exhibition/concert/film viewing party in Kampala as a fundraiser to send up and coming Ugandan filmmaker Peter Tukei to Berlin to present his film at the Berlinale film festival (pictures: http://ow.ly/7R3cX and http://ow.ly/7R3iB)
• My girlfriend and I were robbed at machete point in Kampala Uganda
• Helped record audio for a film being made by the organization H.A.L.O., and then donated an Ensigo song for the video (check it out here: http://vimeo.com/23398914)
• Led songwriting workshops for children that are part of the organization Empower African Children (video: http://youtu.be/S_oquaGj4IY)
• Bizarreness of being escorted in a motorcade by the president’s personal guard to a recording studio in Somaliland
• Ensigo album release party in Piswa Uganda in which, unexpectedly, several government officials attended and gave speeches…and a goat was killed then roasted (pictures: http://ow.ly/7R4f4)
• Along with a great friend named Eric Kreutter, we wrote, recorded, advised and performed songs with Uganda’s top rock musician (and great role model), Rachel K.
• First day in Somaliland myself and two other friends visited the “zoo” and then our friend got robbed by the “zookeepers”.
• A Brandon Heath music video of the song I recorded with him and the Restore Children in Gulu was released! (video: http://youtu.be/Gy67Ugf-2Ig)
• Organized (and performed at) a benefit concert for a great non-profit organization in Uganda called Educate!
• Recorded some songs of a wonderful children’s choir that are part of the organization In Movement.
• Had a baseball sized rock thrown at my head while walking down the road in Somaliland
• One that I can’t mention over email, but it’s CRAZY
• Had a giant loogie hocked on my leg in Somaliland
• Advised/mentored several great Ugandan musicians: including Tamba and Davis Ntare.
• And a few others that are pretty neat, but not quite as neat as those listed above.
So that briefly sums up my time away. Now the thing that I’m desiring the most is…if at all possible, to sit down over some coffee or a meal and swap stories. One thing that is so hard for me while I’m away from my U.S. community of friends and family for extended periods of time are these feelings of disconnection, and not feeling as involved in your lives, and you in mine. I love Facebook and using it to keep up to date with latest happenings in your lives…but good ol’ fashioned personal emails are great too. So if you have some spare time, it would be great to get an update with how things have been going for you.
Thank you soooooooooooooooooooooo much to everyone that donated financially and through prayers to make this trip possible! Your generosity has had a huge impact on me and the lives of many people throughout East Africa….and it challenges me so often to live a more giving life!
P.S. In lieu of sending out massively long email updates every several months (as was my habit), I’ve been posting more regular updates on www.facebook.com/ensigo and www.twitter.com/ensigo. So if your heart so desires you can check out what’s been going on with things there.