Mzungu Memoirs

Farewell Uganda

Mzungu Memoirs Disclaimer…if you are considering an extended visit to Uganda, be advised.  Uganda can change you, leaving an indelible mark on your heart.

This picture of Lake Victoria was taken from the top of one of the hills of Kampala.

Uganda, we will miss your smiles and laughter.  We will miss greeting you on the street.  We will miss your children.  We will miss your heart-filled worship with chairs bobbing overhead.  We will miss your pineapples.  We will miss your example of faith.  We will miss your mangos.  We will miss your remembrance of Christian martyrs.  We will miss your avocados.  We will miss your resilience.  We will miss your chapattis.  We will miss your resourcefulness and perseverance.  We will miss your bananas.  We will miss your reckless love for God.

Uganda, you are the “Pearl of Africa.”

Our final two weeks in Uganda were filled with goodbyes, tears, hugs and going-away events.  Our church prayed over us (twice), we were invited for dinner at a Ugandan woman’s home, and we had a going away party with eMi and some of our closest non-eMi friends.  Edward Olara, a worship leader, musician and man who exudes Jesus, blessed us by singing a few songs at our party.  I met Edward on a project trip to Lira (Northern Uganda) and we immediately became friends.  You can read more about Edward and his amazing story on his website at www.heartbeatministries.vpweb.com

We thank all of our prayer, financial and emotional supporters who have believed and had faith that God would work through us in spite of us.  We would not have been able to serve without all of you.  We are thankful for all of the prayers, the comments on our blog, the Facebook notes, the occasional letter (felt like Christmas when we received one), the package from Austin & Beth, the Texas Tech stickers from Lyndell & Sarah, the clothes and other gifts from Yahweh Sisterhood, the amazing package from the Boulder Valley Church.  We saw God’s hand when we wondered how we would pay for Caleb’s school fees, yet a special contribution came in.  Some people here call it a miracle that none of us was ever injured on the boda (we have not shared all of our experiences!)  We saw God work in so many powerful ways.

During our time in Uganda, we have learned more about God, the church, people and ourselves.  We are honored that God called us to come serve in Uganda and give Him all the glory.  We pray our service has helped to advance His Kingdom.

At this point, we do not know where God is leading us next.  I am spending a week in Zambia to explore the possibility of long term service with another ministry.  We would appreciate prayers for clarity and guidance.

I will then meet Heather and Caleb in Italy to visit Heather’s best friend, her husband and their three-year old daughter.  We will then spend several weeks touring Europe (spending some retirement money early) to rest, see some amazing architecture and natural wonders and enjoy time as a family.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1

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You Know You’ve Lived in Africa When…

1.  You feel spending three hours to pay two utility bills is a productive afternoon.

2.  Dodging potholes, pedestrians, cows, goats, motorcycles, and three cars coming toward you on a two lane street seems normal.

3.  You consider restaurant food in less than two hours to be “fast food”.

4.  You cannot greet a total stranger without saying “Hello, how are you?”

5.  The sound of out-of-tune Christmas music on the move means an ice cream vendor is nearby.

6.  Directions often include speed humps and boda stages.

7.  Haggling in markets is a joy.

8.  You have seen more passengers on a boda than most cars will hold.

9.  You think paying the equivalent of a quarter for an enormous avocado is too much but $6 for a small chicken is a deal.

10.  Trees are known by the fruit they bear.

11.  You have stood a mile from an urban downtown on a sunny day and could not see any buildings.

12.  You wonder if that fever is malaria.

13.  The number of lanes available on a street depends on the width of the sidewalks.

14.  You have gone to bed on a flat mattress and awoken in a mattress bowl.

15.  70 degrees F feels a bit chilly.

16.  Four to six water leaks in your neighborhood at any given time seems normal.

17.  Weddings can last for days.

18.  You can have fresh fish delivered and filleted at your door, but it takes a week to find suitable hardware to fix that door.

19.  It is summer year-round.

20.  You feel like you know what the fish at the doctor’s office feel like, i.e. ”the fishbowl effect”.

21.  You feel unusually blessed having power two nights in a row.

22.  You have received a mobile phone text at least a day after it was sent.

23.  You wonder if you live in a testing ground for automotive horns.

24.  You have seen locals don parkas, wool caps and gloves when it dips below 70 degrees F.

25.  Ants, flies and other insects in the house don’t seem so bad if you have not had cockroaches or bats lately.

26.  You have ever spent 30 minutes of indirect communication to be asked the real question.

27.  You think many dirt roads are smoother than the paved ones.

28.  You have ever seen a pothole on a speed hump.

29.  You know to call the water company when you awake to a new water feature in your yard.

30.  The boys next door that come to play are fascinated with your indoor plumbing.

31.  Daily plant growth is measurable.

32.  You consider Christmas the hottest time of the year.

33.  You have seen at least five directions of traffic on a two lane road.

34.  Celebrations often involve the slaughter of a cow, goat, lamb or chicken.

35.  There are at least six varieties of bananas.

36.  You have ever witnessed a boda play “Frogger” to cross six lanes of a major intersection.

37.  You have ever spent a week trying to get an e-mail to go through.

38.  You think a two-hour church service is pretty short.

39.  You have seen/heard traveling radio stations on lorry trucks.

40.  You see tremendous hope for Africa and pray for God’s Kingdom to continue growing.

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Graduation 2012

The Donahue household was buzzing with excitement at the end of last week.  Caleb graduated from Kindergarten.  We are now the parents of a very proud first grader.  Of course, he still has two more weeks of school before he is free for the summer and can truly revel in his “future first grader” excitement.

Last week was full of preparations for the big day.  Caleb and his classmates spent a lot of time practicing for their performance part of the ceremony.  Their graduation ceremony was held during the school’s normal Friday chapel time.  Typically held for an hour, chapel entailed more time than needed for 18 kindergarteners to walk across the stage to receive their “diplomas”.  Apparently, they had a particularly long practice time on Thursday trying to get the last details right.

Finally, the big day came.  Caleb could hardly contain his excitement Friday morning as he got ready for school.  Since the graduation ceremony was at 9:00, I decided to stay at school with Caleb when we dropped him off at 8:00 while Robert ran to the office to drop off his computer.  It was a good that I stayed, since I ended up helping with graduation robes and mortarboards.

It didn’t take very long to get the kids robed and capped, but it did provide time for parents to snap pictures of the various groups of friends gathering together.  It seemed very foretelling of events to come in about 12 years.  And it was so cute to watch the kids.  They were so full of excitement!  They could hardly stand still when their teacher called them to line up for the ceremony.  Of course, we are talking about kindergarteners here.

The ceremony was enjoyable for both parents and students.  Since it was during chapel time, all the elementary school students were in attendance.  It started out with the Ugandan National Anthem.  We only sang the first verse despite three verses being displayed on the overhead projection.  Caleb informed us that the second verse is only sung with the President is attendance and the third verse is only sung when the President dies.  I’m not sure how accurate his information is, but it sounded like a decent explanation to me.  The National Anthem was followed by the kids singing “In my Life, Lord” and a prayer led by one of the graduates.

The kids then did a presentation of the “ABCs of the Bible.”  This was a collection of 26 verses, each starting with a letter of the alphabet from A to Z.  The kids have been learning these all year long, and it was fun to hear them all together.  Rather than doing them together as a whole class, though, the teacher had different children or groups of children perform each verse.  Caleb had a “solo” and a “duet” with another little girl of which he was very proud.  He can also recite all 26 verses for you if you ask.

After the ABCs, the kids performed a couple of songs:  “Skip to my Lou” and “Rejoice in the Lord”.  The second song even had some instrumental accompaniment played by the kids.  It was so cute.   Caleb said he was a “tambourine”, although he wasn’t actually holding one.  I assume they probably didn’t have enough to go around.

The songs were followed by admonitions by three first graders and the presentation of the diplomas.  It was very official.  When each child’s name was called, they walked across the stage to receive their diploma and have their mortarboard tassel moved to the opposite side. One little boy, the son of the teacher, had a serious case of stage fright and required a good bit of coaxing to finally cross the stage to receive his diploma.

The ceremony was concluded with closing remarks from the teacher who was obviously very proud of her students and a beautiful prayer lead by the school registrar.  Apparently, it is a high honor bestowed on a teacher or faculty member to be asked to conduct the closing prayer of chapel time, and it was a beautiful blessing for the children.

Once the rest of the students were dismissed, the graduates and their parents gathered for a little reception.  The cake and cookies only held the kids attention for a little while though, and it wasn’t long before they all ventured off to play on the “big kids” playground, one of the “admonitions” of the first graders.  By 10:30, the festivities were complete and it was time to head home.  Because the graduation ceremony was in the morning, the kids were given the choice of taking a half day or staying for the entire school day.  It sounded like many of the kids were staying, presumably because their parents work, and I wish I could have convinced Caleb to as well but he wouldn’t have any of it.

Caleb’s graduation day was concluded with a dinner at a restaurant of his choice.  He chose to go to his favorite “chicken” place, which is actually a steak place where he orders chicken.  Robert and I easily agreed, as it is one of our favorite places as well.  We were a little surprised that he didn’t choose a pizza place or a place with a trampoline.  We were joined by Caleb’s adopted aunts and uncle here in Uganda.  It was a good surrogate family for a momentous occasion to honor a very special little boy.  All in all, it was a very good graduation and I hope the prelude to a few more.

Happy Graduation, Caleb!

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Oli Otya?

Having lived in Uganda for over a year, one would think that we have learned some of the native tongue.  That is a lot more difficult than you might think with over 33 local languages spoken throughout Uganda.  Most belong to the Bantu language group, while others are Nilotic and Cushitic.  Although not their choice language, many Ugandans also speak some KiSwahili brought from Kenya’s coast by Arab slave traders.  They would prefer to speak their tribal language or even English over KiSwahili.  We have heard the saying,

Swahili was born in Tanzania, grew up in Kenya, died in Uganda and was buried in the Congo.

Another challenge in terms of learning the native language here is that most Ugandans speak English.  English is the official national language and is taught in the schools starting at entry level grades.   Students are encouraged to speak English rather than their “vernacular” or native language.  It is a shame, really, as I feel it is an effective way of killing the local languages.  Even now there are some languages that are spoken by only a few thousand people.  It also creates the mentality that English is the “intellectual” language.  Ugandans prefer speaking English to mzungus to show how “smart” they are.  It makes it very difficult to learn or practice the local language if a mzungu does want to learn.

Luganda is the tribal language spoken here in Kampala.  It is the “first language” of Buganda, the native African tribe that has called the Kampala area their home for centuries.  I’m not really sure if there are other languages of the Buganda tribe, but the tribe’s influence is so extensive that Luganda is spoken throughout Uganda.  Many people in outer areas of Uganda speak Luganda as well as their native language.

Because Luganda is so widely spoken around here (you hear it more than English), I have managed to pick up a few phrases.  I will do my best to provide pronunciation, but I’m not even going to try to indicate stress as I’m not even sure I always get it right.  I often get laughed at using my Luganda, but at least I try sometimes.  Being linguistically challenged, I don’t always feel comfortable using a language I don’t fully comprehend.

Common greeting and response (greetings are reciprical, you almost always use this entire conversation when greeting someone):

Person 1: “Oli otya?” (oh-lee oh-tee-ah): “Hello, how are you?”

Person 2: “Bulungi.  Ate ggwe?” (boo-loon-gee, ah-teh gweh): “Good.  How about you?”

Person 1: “Bulungi” or “Gyendi” (gyen-dee): “fine” or “I am OK”

Other phrases I have learned:

Webale nyo” (weh-bah-leh nyoh): “Thank you very much”

(usually gets shortened to just webale)

Kale” (kah-leh): “You are welcome.”

Ssebo” (seh-boh): “Sir” or “man”

Nyabo” (nyah-boh): “Madam” or “women”

(I often get referred to “madam” which took me a while to get used to as it sounds so formal to me.)

Wangi?”(wahn-gee): “Pardon?”, as in excuse me? or what? or simply a reply when someone is calling for you

Tugende” (tuh-gehn-deh): “Let’s go”

Bunange” (buh-nahn-geh): “oh dear” or “oh my”

And that is about all I’ve learned.  I can’t even count in Lugandan, which in my defense, gets pretty complicated.  I don’t know how to say “good-bye” either, which would be a really cool way to end this blog.  I think my lack of knowledge may be subconscious as I never want to have to say good-bye to this amazing country, but I know I will have to soon.  I guess I’ll just end by saying…

Webale nyo.”

“That is why the city was called Babel, because that is where the LORD confused the people with different languages. In this way he scattered them all over the world.”

– Genesis 11:9

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Buses, Bodas & Goats

We have learned a lot living in Uganda for nearly a year and a half.  I think one of our biggest lessons learned is that size really does matter here, at least in terms of road hierarchy.  Driving our boda-boda around the busy streets of Kampala has definitely hastened our learning curve on this lesson.  Essentially, the largest vehicle on the road gets the right of way, from big semi-trucks and coach buses down to pedestrians.  And let us not forget the goat grazing on the side of the road.  Poor goat.  He is low man on the totem pole.

Similar to most places in the world, the biggest vehicles here are semi-trucks and coach buses.  The trucks here don’t have the nice sleeper cabs like seen in the States.  Even with mostly snub-nosed single cab tractors, you still see big tanker trailers and container trucks driving down the road.  And, there are big coach buses flying down the road carrying passengers everywhere.  We rode a coach bus to Mbale between Christmas and New Years (Holiday Adventure).   And I do mean they fly.  You really want to stay out of their way if you see one coming down the road.  They don’t exactly stop on a dime.  Robert saw one on its’ side coming back from one of his trips to Lira.

Next in the roadway pecking order are the lorry trucks.  Without a fifth wheel, these smaller transport trucks don’t seem to have as much road status.  Lorry trucks come in all shapes and sizes.  Some have enclosed container type beds, while others have an open bed with short sides.  Some of the open bed trucks have a framework which I assume was meant for a canvas top, but any sign of the canvas has long since disappeared.  You often seen these driving down the road stuffed with people as a mode of mass transit.  We haven’t dared to try this mode of transportation.

The matatus, or bus taxis, tend to rank next.  These Toyota vans can carry about 16 passengers when fully loaded.  I don’t think Toyota has actually rated these vehicles for 16 passengers, but that is what gets stuffed in them here.  More if you’re in Kenya.  Matutus rank slightly higher than larger passenger vehicles simply because they are typically operated by annoyingly aggressive drivers that think they own the road.  They are a very affordable way to get into town which we have used on occasion.

Next in line are the passenger vehicles.  But, there even seems to be a sub hierarchy within the passenger vehicles.  The bigger, cleaner, newer, nicer your vehicle looks, the more right of way you have.  Of course, if you have tinted windows, official flags and a police escort, you have the ultimate right of way.  Police with flashing lights are generally given more right of way, but not always.  Sometimes, you can’t tell who are the police and who just have fun lights on their car.

Finally, we find our rung on the road hierarchy ladder.  Boda-Bodas rank just a little higher than bicycles, mostly because we are heavier and actually have a motor.  If arriving at an intersection at the same time as other vehicles, we usually let the others go first.  However, we do have one advantage over all the other modes of transportation.  When traffic is at a standstill, we can always just zip along the shoulder or down the center line past all the parked cars.  Robert has even been known to hop on the sidewalk (it is done here, although I don’t know how legal it is).  We rate the difficulty of downtown traffic by how many sidewalks Robert had to hop to get around.

Of course, there are all sorts of people walking along the sides of the road as well.  Walking is probably the primary mode of transportation here as it doesn’t cost anything.  Most Ugandans do not own a car and many cannot afford the fare to hire a boda-boda (not quite $3 from our neighborhood to downtown) or ride a matutu (not quite 50 cents).  And you see people walking everywhere, not just in the neighborhoods.  I am always amazed at the number of people I see walking along the road even out in the countryside on major road trips.  And I find that I walk a lot more here to do my errands.

Remember the goat I mentioned in the first paragraph?  He does have one saving grace.  People try to avoid hitting a goat because they have to pay the owner for their loss.  I can’t remember the going rate for a goat these days, but it is quite a bit of money and more than people want to spend on something they wouldn’t even be able to eat.  So drivers tend to be pretty careful about avoiding goats.

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The Beat of the Drum

Africans seem to be born with a natural ability, or at least desire, to drum.

Conrad, our little neighbor and Caleb’s friend, is a great example.  When play with Caleb grows dull, he loves to beat on a little drum displayed in our living room.  What I see as a display piece, Conrad sees as the blend of a toy and a musical instrument.  While he lacks the skill of his elders, he does seem to have potential.

Our guard Ali, on the other hand, has skill.  I tried to ask where he learned to drum; it is apparently just something every boy learns to do, especially if they live in a village rather than a big city.  We were blessed to hear Ali’s prowess last week when he was testing out the drums our neighbor, Florence, had bought for her school.  He even gave Caleb an impromptu drumming lesson, although I’m not sure Caleb was really all that interested.  He would rather learn to play the guitar, but I’ll leave that story for another blog.  I think Caleb was drumming with Ali simply to appease me and my desire to capture some cute pictures.

As I mentioned, Florence bought the drums for her school and plans for Ali to teach the kids how to use them.  Mostly, I think it will be a matter of learning by example, but it is an easy way for Florence to introduce a “music program” into her school.  She said that drums are the cheapest way to start out and they are fairly easy to maintain.  She explained that many schools at least have drums until they can afford to buy more instruments like a xylophone and other traditional instruments.  Her comment reminded me of a time I was walking past a school in our neighborhood and heard a drum beating and kids chanting.  At the time, I didn’t realize how common an occurrence it was.

Drums seem to permeate every part of life here.  We have one at the eMi office that we use for our Friday morning worship times.  We take turns leading worship, and anyone can use the drum but I particularly like when our Uganda staff lead worship using only their voices and the drum.  Semei, our office administrator, seems to know how to get a beat going to help us lift our praises that much higher.

I have really come to love the drums here and the way the Africans beat on them.  I think one of the things I’m going to miss when we leave this wonderful land is the random drum beats you hear ringing through the air.  Well, maybe not all of them.  I don’t think I’ll miss the ones at 3 o’clock in the morning.

Praise the Lord!

Praise God in his sanctuary!
Praise God in his fortress, the sky!
Praise God in his mighty acts!
Praise God as suits his incredible greatness!
Praise God with the blast of the ram’s horn!
Praise God with lute and lyre!
Praise God with drum and dance!
Praise God with strings and pipe!
Praise God with loud cymbals!
Praise God with clashing cymbals!
Let every living thing praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!

Psalm 150

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Mommy’s Little Helper

In a previous blog, I mentioned that I tend to cook a lot more from scratch here in Uganda (see Chez Donahue” 07 Nov 2011“).  I have discovered an unexpected advantage to having to cook this way: Caleb likes to join me in the kitchen more.  While he is willing to help me with some of the mundane chores like stirring the pasta to keep it from sticking together, he really prefers helping me with more of the hands-on real cooking that I do.

I guess he has always been this way.  He loved helping his grandmother decorate Valentine’s cookies to take to his class when he was in preschool.  He wasn’t terribly meticulous about getting the sprinkles spread very evenly, but hey, he was only four.  And he loves when I make gnocchi.  I’m not sure if he likes eating it more or helping me roll out the dough and then cutting it with the pizza cutter.

Since we’ve been in Uganda, he has taken to helping me make some of the things that I have to make from scratch because we can’t get in the stores.  Lately, he has helped me kneed and roll out tortillas and brown ground beef for tacos.  We also spent a fun afternoon making snickerdoodles when Caleb helped me roll the cookies in cinnamon sugar before sticking him in the oven.  I had to keep a pretty watchful eye him though so he wouldn’t snitch too much raw dough.  And I’m happy to say, his cookie decorating skills have greatly improved.  You should have seen his meticulously decorated Christmas Trees, Snowmen and Sugar Cookie Men this past Christmas.

It is exciting to watch Caleb’s interest in cooking grow.  Robert and I both love to cook, so I guess he comes by it naturally.  Who knows?  Maybe he’ll be a great chef someday.  I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

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Here a Boda, There a Boda

Everywhere a boda boda.

And, I do mean everywhere.  If you have ever been to Kampala, you see bodas everywhere carrying just about everything.

Apparently, boda bodas started in Busia, a town on the Uganda-Kenya border between here and Nairobi.  Many African border crossings feature immigration offices adjacent to a gate, separated from the other country’s gate and immigration office by a few hundred feet to a mile of ‘no man’s land’.  Men pedaling bikes in Busia offer their services to carry people and goods from border to border, or boda-boda.

The pedal bikes for hire, with their catchy boda-boda name, spread into other towns and cities.  Later, Indian and Chinese companies began importing motorcycles to Uganda.  The term carried over to the motorized bikes as well.

Young men driving these boda bodas here in Kampala provide an amazing service to everyone.  Most of them park at ‘boda stages’ all over the city waiting for customers to whisk around the city or deliver goods.  While I am at work, Heather uses them for transportation to grocery stores.  With mobile phones, Heather can call a boda driver to come pick her wherever she is, the store , the doctor, etc.  We have used them to take our propane gas cylinders to be refilled, to go get potatoes or go pick Caleb from school when I was out of the country.  We have even had pizza delivered by boda.  A guy named Moses brings tilapia on his boda and fillets them at your doorstep.  In a land of many inconveniences, bodas provide a lot of convenience.

All of us at eMi know most of the boda drivers at our neighborhood stage.  We see them every morning as I take Caleb to school on our boda.  They all know Caleb, most by his nickname, ‘Rocket’.  These guys do more than just garner fares for their driving.  They also stay aware of security concerns in the neighborhood.  They inform us of downtown riots, what the police are currently enforcing and other security concerns.  One of the boda guys knocked on our gate one evening to inform us they had chased some men away who were following some of our visiting family.

These guys drive for hours through dark clouds of diesel smoke, vehicle dust, rain and mud using the most dangerous mode of transportation in a country with the 3rd highest accident rate on the continent.

I wanted to share some photos of the varied cargo on bodas.  We have seen so many more awesome things being carried on bodas, but did not have a camera at the time.  If you look closely, one of the photos shows a boda carrying eight passengers – we have only been able to carry five on our boda.  The last photo shows the strangest thing seen on a boda around Kampala.  Enjoy!

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Caleb’s Master Plans

Many children want to emulate their parents’ work.  Although Heather and I can think of more promising career choices, Caleb is no different in that aspect.  He has said that we have three architects in our family.  While Heather and I both are licensed in the State of Colorado, I am not sure what jurisdiction would license a six-year old.

Caleb has watched me develop master plans as I serve with eMi, both sketching by hand and rendering on the computer.  As much of his interest goes in phases, he has recently taken an interest in developing his own master plans.  He has shown them to other people and received some great advice.  Grandma Maggie, who lives next door and serves eMi as housing director and counselor, asked Caleb about site drainage of one of his master plans.  Then Caleb came to me, saying, “Daddy, we need to talk about the drainage on this master plan.”  His comment caught me off guard until I later learned of his previous discussion with Grandma Maggie.

Most of his master plans are schools, although one is a campground.  When explaining his plans, he talks about the location of classrooms, lunch room, offices, library, art room, sports fields, playground, and water features.  He even drew a library elevation with an open book above the entry door with a ‘no smoking’ sign.

The preceding and following are a small collection of some of his master plans.  He has indicated their locations, whether in Kenya or Uganda.  We won’t tell his licensing board.

“All this,” David said, “I have in writing as a result of the LORD’s hand on me, and he enabled me to understand all the details of the plan.” – 1 Chronicles 28:19

 

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The Road Has Many Forks

Can you remember a time when you thought you had your future figured out, or at least part of it…then God throws something at you sending your plans into a tailspin?  I have…just this last week.  It wasn’t the first time and it probably won’t be the last.  What can I say?  I’m a slow learner.

We thought we had our summer plans and return to the States all figured out, even looking at plane tickets, when God threw us a curve ball.  We feel that God wants us to explore the possibility of serving with a ministry in Zambia.  We knew of this possibility but had allowed it to fade into the background after not hearing from the ministry for some time.  God pushed it back to the foreground when Robert received an e-mail last week expressing the ministry’s willingness to pay for his travel expenses to join a construction team to learn more about the ministry, the project and to consider full-time service.

So Robert will be going to Zambia before we return to the States.  Not exactly what we had planned, but we know it has to be a “God thing” since the plans we had made were having difficulty coming to fruition.  We had communicated with several travel agents about helping us with our travel plans but weren’t having much success.  We thought our difficulty was because we wanted to use Robert’s airline miles for one of the tickets, and no one really wanted to help us with that.  But in retrospect, I think God muddled things up to allow the Zambian ministry to respond.

We have now altered our summer plans and are eagerly looking to our future plans beyond the summer.  We know better than to leave God out of this process.  It is often easy to remember to include Him in the big plans but not in the smaller ones.  Unfortunately, we do not feel He has been as vocal about the bigger picture.

One of the possibilities for the future is working with the ministry in Zambia.  It would be a construction management position for Living Hope International, overseeing the transformation of their 40 acre site in Ndola, Zambia into a Christian orphanage community complete with orphan housing, K-12 school, church, and a medical clinic.  We have some concerns about this position which Robert will be researching on his trip this summer.  Most notably, we are concerned whether Robert will be fulfilled in the role as construction manager.  He is a designer at heart, and we aren’t sure that there would be a whole lot of designing going on with this position.  We are also concerned about how much support we would have from the ministry.  It is our understanding that we might be the only mzungu representatives of the ministry in the country, with the rest being nationals.

Another possibility for our future is to work with the eMi office in Calgary, Alberta.  We would love to stay in Kampala and continue our service with the office here.   Unfortunately, we cannot continue much longer as Long Term Volunteers as there is a two year limit and we will be approaching that by the time we leave.  We would love to stay as fulltime staff, but there is no need for our services in that role as they already have architects and are looking for more project leaders from other disciplines.  But the Canada office seems interested in us coming to work with them.  They actually started pursuing Robert when we were deciding to come to Uganda two years ago.  Who knows?  Maybe Uganda was training ground for future work with eMi in Canada.

And our final perceived option (possibilities are infinite with God, of course) is for us to return to the States and find a job in the traditional work force.  This is the option that most of our friends and family favor.  And I would venture to say that this is the option that Robert and I favor, although it depends on the day and God tugging on our hearts.  Robert would love to move us back to the mountains of Colorado, while I would at least like to live in the same country as my family.  We aren’t really sure what God has in store for us.

As I mentioned before, our future isn’t really clear to us at the moment.  God hasn’t blessed us with any burning bushes or neon signs lately.  I know God knows His plans for us, but unfortunately He hasn’t told us.  While He has made his intentions of Robert visiting Zambia clear, we aren’t sure that He wants us to move there for an extended period of time.  We ask for prayers as we consider God’s intentions for our future.  God often speaks to us through others.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11

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