While on a phone call with CCO headquarters in Ottawa, missionary Amber Zolc keeps dissolving in laughter as her roommate struggled with a mosquito net. Between bits of conversation with home, she offered advice to her fellow Canadian missionary on how to properly install the canopy.
Clearly, life in Uganda is different from life in Vancouver, where Amber has lived and worked for the last decade. At the beginning of August, Amber traveled to Uganda and will stay there for four months. Even though there are some reminders — “our first meal here was at KFC!” — most of her days are full of adjustment. She’s relearning to buy groceries and cook using Ugandan ingredients (like a cooking fat called, “Cowboy”), and practicing the local phone style (no greetings or closings.) While moving to Uganda offers a radical change in geography, Amber stresses it has been a natural move in ministry. The Ugandan ministry needs more hands-on feedback to mature. Just as students benefit from personalized discipleship, the Ugandan ministry is now benefiting from Amber’s direct mentorship.
She describes praying with a young Ugandan student leader for the women living in a university residence. When Amber asked the student what sorts of struggles affect the women living there, the student’s response was familiar. Partying, alcohol, and relationships with men were top of the list. Amber recognized these struggles as the same ones expressed by Canadian students. On the other side of the world, Amber can immediately apply her experience in campus ministry. For all the things different about life in Uganda — and there are many — similarities appear more often than most people might guess.
It’s clear Amber has many gifts to offer, but her overwhelming desire to minister in Uganda is mysterious, even to her. Her interest in international evangelization motivated her first trip to Uganda with a CCO mission. While there, she experienced the presence of the Lord in a way that was new to her. Praying with Ugandans, she witnessed their uninhibited worship of God. “Even the sheer volume of their praise is different,” she remarked. As she came to know the Ugandan students better, their characteristic joy blew her away.
Since then, the joy of those involved with CCO in Uganda has continued to inspire Amber. She hopes to convey all her experience and knowledge to the team in Uganda, and she holds another hope: to learn. When she comes home to Canada in December, she knows it will be with a faith renewed by the joy and freedom of her Ugandan colleagues.
This article originally appeared in the October 2015 edition of the Grapevine.