It's been three months. I really can't believe it, I can't quite grasp the reality that three months ago I was sitting in my living room wondering if my canceled flights would be ressurected so I could fly the following morning. It feels like yesterday, it really does. I think the older you get the faster time flies.
I came here with much different expectations than what happened or what I was doing. I came here expecting to be in a tight community of believers with a unified focus on what they were doing and good personal accountability. What I found was a bit different. I didn't feel like the community was tight, and sometimes it was hard to tell what the focus was, and because the community didn't feel really tight there was not any real personal accountabilty for me. Now I know things were different, more than half the mission was on furlough and there were spouses in other parts of the country so I can base my experience on what the mission is doing, and I'm not trying to. I'm not here to tell you how bad my experience was in Uganda, but how different it was. There is great work happening in Karamoja, but it took a while for me to see it and realize it, along with the difference of work I would be doing.
The mission is doing great work with teaching teachers and starting schools in Karamoja. There is good diaconal work being done and there are a lot of exciting oppurtunities that the mission has. I worked mostly on a construction project the entire time, learning skills that pertain to construction in a third world country. Eight years ago I helped finish our log house and learned a lot of skills from cutting wood to wood construction, but that is far different than construction in a third world country. Termites are inevitable here and so the use of wood in construction is minimal to non-existent. For sure the basic skills I learned of construction were very handy, but the specifics didn't cross over. I learned welding (I'm no expert, but I can do a strong weld with stick rods), metal cutting (had a near accident with a grinder when it flew out of my hands and cut through my pants, almost giving me a serious injury), stone masonry and brick masonry, mixing concrete (I did a LOT of that), making forms and pouring concrete, plastering, basic engine repair and trouble shooting, and I even got to help start the hanging of the metal roof before I left. All this was under the oversight of Bob Wright, though most of the time I worked with three Ugandan brothers who work for him on the mission.
I also went deeper in my personal devotions. I didn't bring my laptop, and internet was limited for those who did have internet, thus my intereaction on line was limited to once a week or so (and the last four weeks in Karamoja I didn't get on at all), I did have a phone for in country and made good use of that. I probably spent more money on airtime than I should've, but when your only communication is a phone, you start to use it. :) I did a lot of reading. I brought four or five books with me and got two or three more from Londa, I read all of them in the first 6 weeks of being here. I also had a goal to get through my entire Bible during my time here (I ended up being able to do it in 75 days) which I did. During the end of my time when I'd read anything that looked interesting I decided to read Harry Potter, a series of books I was interested in reading, but never had the time at home. I knew my only time to read them would be here. I read through it all in a week, which meant more than a couple nights of staying up till 2am and getting up at 7am. But because of my limited amount of distractions I had a lot of time to myself. I used the time to further my devotions in reading God's Word and praying a lot, as well as other reading and guitar playing. I greatly improved my guitar playing here, thanks to many hours of playing and a few hints and tips from people here who are really good.
I thought I would have a lot more interaction with people, but in Karamoja because it's so remote and the work I was doing, I really didn't get out much. God's schedule for me here was to focus on practical skills I can use to bless others where ever I am, but especially on the mission field, and personal devotion time. It's not what I was expecting, but I'm so grateful for what God has done.
I like Uganda I really do. It was hard not being able to speak the native tongue, but most people are decent with English (if I knew as much of their native language as they knew English I'd be more than impressed with myself!). I enjoyed getting to know the people at the mission I worked with and was blessed by the sermons and worship on Sundays and the Bible Studies during the week. I rode down with Bob to Jinja where I was staying a week before leaving the country and thought it was a great way to end my time here, since I came here to work with Bob. He said he was impressed with my relational skills, my ability to work well with my hands, and that anything I put my mind to do I would do well at. He said anytime I want to come back I'm welcome to come work for him. It was a very encouraging time and I really like Bob and his family.
I spent the last week here in Jinja very much enjoying myself. I stayed at Street Child Project where my sister Londa is working with her friend Elena. In the mornings I spent with Londa, shopping for a few gifts for family and friends, walking around downtown Jinja, and using the internet and getting coffee at cafes. In the afternoons and evenings it's been with the boys at Street Child. They range from 8-18, and have been a blast to get to know and hang out with. We played guitar and sang songs, painted, drove around in the van, and just enjoyed being around them. We took them to Amani Baby Cottage and I got to see the children there again. It's been a good way to end my time in Uganda.