Project 365 [Day 155] Time to Get Down to Business in Uganda

Project 365 [Day 155] Business Mission Trip to Uganda

Today we (Cornerstone Church) sent off two staff members (Brian and Jack in the red and green shirt center above) to Uganda for a short business trip. Right now as I write this they are high over the Atlantic on their way to Amsterdam then on to Africa. This has pretty much become an annual planning trip for our church to prepare the way for our mission teams who will travel to Uganda later this year. For the last several years we have sent 3-4 teams a year to Kampala, Uganda to work in and around Kampala, Gaba, and Buloba. Most recently we have partnered with a mission group out of Atlanta called Sixty Feet who are trying to work in a few remand homes in Uganda (see Uganda photos from a previous trip of mine).

This year, once again, we have 3-4 teams including the one above, who will head over to Uganda to partner with our brothers and sisters in sharing the love of Christ with others. Today this photo is my Project 365 image for Day 155 (full gallery here), can’t think of a better photo of the day today than this.

Our Final Full Day in Buloba Uganda Today

Today was our last full day in Uganda. Tomorrow we will head over to a local market and have lunch before we head for the airport and a long long ride home. Today we went across Lake Victoria to the Bethany Village Orphanage in the morning, and back to Buloba to visit some sponsor children, put up some rain catches, and the woman were able to speak with a group of local woman. It was a very refreshing and uplifting day.

Tonight we had a wonderful last dinner at the guest house with our friends from 60 Feet. It was so great to have the two K’s over for dinner (their first names are Kelsey and Kirby), and I think we all enjoyed some casual discussions, along with African Renewal Ministries who came over as well. There were so many things we experienced on this trip that need to be followed up on, things that God pulled together for our team that became a great start. We understand as a team we probably can’t change the world, but we can continue to take some small steps forward that will collectively make a difference.

Tomorrow we head to the airport for our 11pm flight. Our flight leaves about 2pm Central Time on Thursday, and if our flights are on time, we should be back in Auburn late Friday afternoon. This trip has been incredible to say the least, and God put together a team that had so many different individual gifts and talents that only God could have brought us all together like this. As we head home we have so much to reflect upon, so much to process, but we trust in God to take care of the details and to use this trip to fulfill a purpose that will glorify God.

Center Day in Buloba Uganda is all About the Kids

Today was Center Day in Buloba, which means all the schools in the entire sponsorship program from ARM come together in Buloba, for breakfast, and a huge lunch, intermixed with classroom instruction. The teaching today was the Fruit of the Spirit, and I think all of our team learned something about the Fruit of the Spirit from these kids. They can memorize things at such an incredible rate, it was quite humbling.

In an effort to not repeat or duplicate images from my previous trip I have included some photos today that were unique to this center day. There is always so much going on with the kids on this day, and it was so great to get to see all the kids in one place again. We had some one on one time with our sponsor kids today as well, and tomorrow we will be visiting some of their homes if we have time after church. We were given the task tomorrow of talking to the seniors at Buloba High School along with attending church in Gaba and Buloba Community Church.

Everyone on the team is doing well. We are all pretty tired but other than that we are in good spirits and looking forward to the upcoming days with the children’s facilities on Monday and Tuesday. More about that later… for now, here are some shot from the day. War Eagle everyone, since kickoff isn’t until about 2am we will have to catch the highlights in the morning.

An Incredible Day 1 on the Ground in Uganda

Our first full day on the ground in Buloba is just now coming to a close. Everyone is in bed, probably fast asleep at this point (it’s about 10pm here), and hopefully gaining enough energy to last the full day tomorrow down in Buloba. So, I know this post is going to take forever to load on some slow connection but I just couldn’t eliminate any more images than I posted here. In total I think I took about 5,000 images, and for my repeat readers here I tried to make them as unique as possible so I didn’t just show the exact same thing as last time. Keep in mind as I write this post I am barely able to keep my eyes open, so I know it’s going to packed full of typos, but it will just have to be so this time.

A small note about the timing of everything over here. I always get questions about when I will be posting, because the timing seems so odd. I post in the airport and all that and then… nothing, for what feels like days over at home. We arrived last night into the guest house from Entebbe airport at about 1L30am and we were all asleep about 2am. No way I could post last night, and then today, we got up at 6am (yes that was about 3-4 hours after we went to sleep) and headed out for the day. We got back tonight in time for dinner, then I did a quick edit of the images and here we are at about 10pm. From this point forward, I will hopefully get to post around this same time for the next few days. Today’s photos ended up being Amy Frye day just because of the specific interaction I was able to capture, but each had their turn in the camera spotlight.

Today was great in so many different ways, and as we met after dinner to discuss the days events we discovered how tired we all actually are. Today was to be our orientation day to understand, yes, we are in Uganda, and it ended up being a day crammed packed full of God’s love. The day started off with a walk over to Gaba church where we were given a detailed tour of the Africa Renewal Ministries (ARM) buildings facilities and classrooms. The guest house is located on Lake Victoria, in Gaba, basically right next to Gaba Church and ARM. The shot of Amy below with arms wide open is shot on the balcony of their office.

Next up was a trip into Kampala for some administrative duties, and lunch, and then we headed out to Buloba. I’m grateful that since this is my second trip the ride and culture shock going into Kampala was basically minimal for me but those who hadn’t been were trying to comprehend what they were seeing, hearing, and smelling. When we arrived in Buloba we had the customary (i.e. extended) greeting and prayer at Buloba church and then we proceeded to visit the well and haul water up from the old well. For those who hadn’t been yet, doing this routine of going to the old well was and will continue to be a very important part of our welcome to Buloba. There just isn’t anything other than the experience of carrying 50 pounds of water 2-ish miles, which can explain why the other well was so important. It was pretty impressive to see Amy carry 50 pounds of water up these hills, but if she can do it I’m not sure who couldn’t.

After that we watched Emile do her water experiments with the local ladies. Through a simple process of making water into a chlorine based water with a solar panel and some salt, she showed the ladies how they could use this water to disinfect various pots and pans, bathrooms (per-sa), and do so in a very simple and inexpensive way. We did spend some time visiting with the children and meeting some of the sponsor kids before heading back to Kampala for dinner, and then here we are.

A quick explanation of some of the photos below. The first shot was for Bart, who seems to have a facination with the roosters here between wanted to eat them and keep them as a pet. That photo is standing at the gate of our guest house looking out to the main road in Gaba. Amy is not actually calling rain to fall in the next shot, she is directing the boys singing hymns about 50 feet below here. The shot of John Dow with the Water Buffalo, steer, cow, thing (it was big and had horns and looked like you could probably eat it) was John saying as we are watching the explanation of the bore well, check this cow out, and the shot of the shot of Emile is her performing the experiment for the ladies.

All in all a fantastic day, and an overwhelmingly exhausting one to boot. If all goes well I will post again this time tomorrow, but power is very limited here it seems, and I may or may not have a battery, time, or the energy, so if not tomorrow, the next day. Thanks for all your prayers. It is greatly appreciated by all the team members.

Trying to Remember the Why in the Go in the Middle of Life

The last few days has really kicked me in the back side, and I know it’s just because I’m just trying to get too much done before I leave. That time is gone now since there is no time left, but packing all this stuff reminded me of the why in the go. I get frustrating with packing all this stuff, because it’s stuff, and stuff just seems to get in the way, it takes up time, money, and in the larger scheme of things, probably isn’t necessary. But, on this side of eternity, we all need a certain amount of stuff I guess. A good friend of mine put it to me like this today when I said that I hate cars, “you do until you need to go somewhere”, which pretty much makes the point.

At some point tonight I did manage to get all that stuff, stuffed into a suit case, and then I looked at the photo above and remembered why all the effort to actually go is worth everything is takes to get there. I can’t wait to get under way tomorrow and I’m really looking forward to seeing Joanita again (the girl in the photo above), there’s just only so much packing and preparation one can do before it about drives you in sane.

Walking Water from the Seepage Well in Buloba Uganda

Water is life. In Uganda, just as it is all over the world, water is something so precious that amazing attempts are made to not waste (or spill a drop, see also pics in this post). I was quite amazed at the attempts made to not discard water, any water, even if it was full of mud and rust. It was almost something akin to Bear Grylls looking for water in Man vs Wild, but without water, we can’t live, and in Uganda there are some of the most resourceful people in finding water that even Bear would be proud.

From my non-scientific observations I identified basically three sources where people could get water in Bulboa. They get water from what I would call a seepage well or natural runoff, collection from a rain barrel or cistern type system, or a deep water bore well like Living Water International (LWI) drills. The easiest and most convenient method is to use water collected in a rain barrel since you don’t have to go anywhere to get the water. This is great, when and if it rains, but think about putting a medal barrel (that can and does rust) on the end of your house and letting it sit in the heat, uncovered, and you get the idea. Obviously the deep water bore well is the best and safest method for collecting water, and from what I could tell, Buloba has two such wells. One on the other side of the main road opposite the Buloba Police station and one about 500 yards or so past Buloba church (the well Cornerstone helped drill). If anyone wants a clean source of water they have to go to one of these two wells and haul it back to wherever they want.

Prior to the particular well being drilled by the church everyone in the immediate area of Buloba Church had to walk down to a runoff water source, which is still being used. This runoff water would be something like if you took a small (I emphasize small) flowing stream at it’s lowest point, and made a small dam with a pipe coming out for the water to flow through. This water source by my estimate is a little less than a mile away from the church, so when you needed to get some water, you walked the two mile round trip with a 40 pound plastic water can. This is, in a nut shell, what we did one the first day we arrived at Buloba Church.

Everyone from our church has heard this story many times before but there is just something about it that gets lost when you put it into words. We walked down to the runoff well with our cans and met several people and kids along the way that were doing the same thing. For some, this water source is still closer than going up to the deep water well by the church so they walk down here. Unlike what I was expecting, this water wasn’t visibly dirty, and on this day, didn’t have any particular smell or oder, but we were told that it is for the most part an unsafe water source (think about drinking water out of the Cahaba or Chattahoochee River if you live down here… some days that might be ok, but I probably wouldn’t take that chance myself).

So this was our walk down to the seepage well about a mile away. Sounds easy now, but several of the guys had the skin on their hands torn from the weight of water jug by the time we got back to the church making their yellow bottle handles mixed with a little American blood while the kids ran past us with their appropriate size water can. I’m glad we took the time to see and experience what people do just to get “clean” water when what we do is turn on the facet. The road to the seepage well goes by the new deep bore well, so these shots below stop there first and then end up at the runoff water. I will do a separate post with photos about the deep water well at some point down the road so to speak.

I was continually amazed by these kids. Doing incredibly hard work with a great smile on their face, always glad to see a Mzungu walk down their road.

Cultural Priorities and the Breakneck Speed of the West

I love this shot of Jason, Eddie (our driver in Uganda), and myself. If you are holding a machete in the middle of the woods-jungle I think it’s a rule, you have to stop to have a photo taken. Jason and I were attempting to clear a few branches away for a lady who lived on the property and to say thanks she gave Eddie these awesome avocados (you can just see her in the photo in the upper right background). Actually, we both thought it would be really cool to get to use a machete to do some actual real work, and I ended up with the machete and Jason the axe pipe thing (sorry Jason).

I know I have said it before but it still amazes me. The speed and priorities of life in Bulboa where this lady lives is so extremely different from the west, even different from just up the road in Kampala. Life down in Buloba isn’t really run by a clock on a wall like we know it, and no one seems to be in a hurry to do anything, it’s just TIA (this is Africa). I didn’t really hear that said too much while I was over there, but I did hear it a few times, which generally refers to “whenever”. I personally loved that and enjoyed the down time, especially since that pretty much doesn’t exist at all on this side of the world. I fight for it every week but it’s certainly not the norm no matter how hard you try to slow things down. The little wood we chopped up was supposed to last her about a month, although I’m not sure how, the same bit of wood wouldn’t have been enough to start a fire to me. We did spend about an hour or two walking around this neighborhood while others in our group worked on some painting. It was very low key, very laid back, very TIA.

Over here this week life moved along at our normal breakneck speed. Nothing inherently wrong with that but every minute of every day is packed full and it didn’t take me any time at all to fall back into life at hyper-speed where you have to fight for margin. Margin is where life happens, where we meet with God and remember why we do what we do.

Learning to Processing 16684 Miles and 15418 Photos :: Friday Feet

Apparently I didn’t exactly take 1 photo per mile traveled on this trip to Africa but I came pretty close. I’m still trying to recover from sitting in a metal tube at 35,000 feet for some 20 hours but I’m also trying to figure out how to process what we saw and did on this trip. Last week I was sitting in mud watching some amazing people play soccer. This Friday I am back sitting in my air conditioned office looking out at a green pasture of grass. It’s 100*F outside, (it was much cooler in Africa) so there really is no going outside to “enjoy” the weather, but I am happy to be back home. I keep trying to figure out how to compare life in Buloba to life over here in Auburn but realized, probably yesterday, that there just isn’t any way to compare life in two different cultures that is so drastically different. It is like trying to compare the similar properties of a commercial jet and a bullfrog.

If you have a picture in your head of a stereotype late night commercial where they show photo after photo of people crying and dramatically upset with every unimaginable horror in great detail that just isn’t what I saw in person. Yes, there are humanitarian needs everywhere, but the people I saw and met, and photographed, were people like Joy in the photo above. They were happy, many full of love for their brothers and sisters in Christ, and overjoyed to spend some time with us.

It’s Friday and this week’s feet post comes from Africa of course. This week the feet are mine and Joy. She is an amazing woman from Buloba Community Church who helped with everything from translation to installing rain catches (although I did see her kick a chicken, which, sorry, was hilarious).

Almost Time to Say Goodbye to Uganda at Least for Now

This has been a trip that really is hard to describe in words, really. It took 66 books of scripture to go over God’s plan for His people, so trying to describe how God moved in and around our team over the last week feels almost impossible. I’m glad I had the ability to take photos on this trip since to me words are often not enough, but a photo sometimes says so much more.

We leave to go home tomorrow and I leave you with one of my favorite shots of the trip (from the ones I have been able to look at so far). I took approximately 12,000 images over the last week and if I had to look back at one image that means a lot to me it’s the one above.

On Saturday I was able to meet our sponsor child, Joanita, and she was very shy. She didn’t seem to want to play too much with the kids and didn’t have a whole lot to say to me either, but I really wanted to spend some time with her. So, that particular day the kids held elections for their school offices and every single child had to vote (it took quite a while and if you look at the photo closely you will see the little boy resting on my shoes has a purple thumb, colors from the voting process).

I asked her to sit down with me and pulled out one of my notebooks and the three colored pencils and three colored pens and just handed them to her. She said there for about an hour and colored while I read my bible. We said nothing the whole time, she wasn’t interested in my camera like the other kids were but she sat there as content as one could be with something as simple as a piece of paper and a pencil.

Of course it never takes long to have a large crowd of kids nearby so I was soon gathered by 40 or 50 of her closest friends and we all sat there and watched her draw. I loved the shot I got while they just sat there, resting on my shoes, as calm as could be, perfectly happy to be caught up in the moment. It was a great memory from this week I will cherish.

Can’t wait to get on the plane tomorrow and see Deborah and everyone else on Wednesday but I also will miss those we are leaving behind.

Cornerstone-Buloba Church vs Buloba High School Soccer Match

It’s about 7am on Monday morning over here and since I couldn’t get the internet to work last night this post is actually from yesterday afternoon. As time has gone by on our trip over here the news of a soccer team from America has grown to where Buloba High School (17-21 year olds) challenged the team we could put together between our guys and Buloba Community Church, and they were serious. This was a full 90 minute match, with refs, on a regulation field at the high school with about 1,300 to 1,500 people who came just to watch our team play the local high school.

We had church in the morning, sorta. We went to Gaba Church (Buloba’s parent church) for their service, then headed to Buloba for their service which lasted from about 9am until about 1pm. Brian gave the sermon (via translation) at Buloba Church and Mark Fuller led the men in a leadership talk after the service was over. In between all that I was able to meet my sponsor child’s mother who came to church yesterday because I was there, that was so cool. I can’t wait to come back again in October and see both of them again.

Around 2pm we went over to the High School where we thought we were going to go immediately to the soccer field but first… into the high school for a testimonial time, worship, and then Pastor Isaac gave a sermon (I’m thinking it was his 5th of the day at that point). This was not a Christian High School but the schools are all basically private paid for schools and there is no separation of church and state over here so they basically had an hour long church service before we left for the soccer field.

The photos below are just a few from the soccer game, I think it was probably the highlight of the trip for the guys who actually play soccer. One of the hardest groups to connect with on a Christian level over here, and really anywhere, is the male ages 17-20 and up, and because of the game of soccer these guys were able to make an incredible connection with these young men over here. I didn’t play because I blew out my knee in a soccer match 2 days ago (still hobbling around but not writhing in pain anymore), but it was probably best I didn’t play since I was able to get a ton of great pics from the match. Unfortunately Bo pulled his hamstring towards the end of the game so he is out of commission now too. He says he will be fine in a few weeks but he is hobbling around now too.

Today we are doing more rain catches in Buloba so please continue to pray for our team as we have two more days before we get on that long plane ride back home.