Mzungu Memoirs

Archive for October, 2010

The Adventure Begins…

Actually, I guess you could say that the adventure really began a long time ago, (check out our testimonies), but for the purposes of this blog we’ll start the story a little more recently.

For all intent and purposes, the adventure of “The Donahues Go To Uganda” really started last spring when Robert committed to serve as a Long Term Volunteer Architect in the East Africa eMi office for a year starting in January 2011.  This created a frenzy of questions concerning what needed to happen before we could actually move to Uganda.  First and foremost, we decided to sell off our real estate.  Of our two houses, one sold quite quickly; however, we are still waiting for someone to fall in love with the other one and buy it.

Next, we needed to figure out what to do with all of our stuff.  We decided to move everything into storage in Texas so Heather’s mom can babysit it while we are in Uganda.  We also decided to move in with Heather’s mom until we leave for Uganda to save on living expenses as much as possible.  Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to fully realize this advantage since that second house hasn’t sold yet and we still have a mortgage to pay.

Faced with the task of fitting a 1900 SF townhome into a 10X20 storage unit, we began the monumental process of purging, packing and downsizing.  After two garage sales, several Craig’s List posts, many hours of stuffing boxes, and thanks to the generous help of friends, on Saturday, Sept. 25th, we discovered that we could actually fit our entire household onto a 26’ U-haul truck (with some leftover stuff in Robert’s Toyota truck).

That was the easy part compared to the struggles we would have with the auto-transport we had also rented to pull Robert’s truck behind the U-haul truck.  We knew we were in trouble when we got the transport back to the house and were trying to get it hooked up to the U-haul truck (we had retrieved it from the rental yard with the Toyota).  If Robert could have bent metal, I’m sure he would have.  We finally got the thing hooked up, and our problems seemed to be over, at least for the time being.
Sunday started out wonderfully trouble free.  We spent the morning worshipping with our dear church family one last time before heading south, received a wonderful blessing and sendoff from the elders and plenty of hugs from everyone to last us, at least for a little while.  Sunday afternoon, it was back to the house to finish up the packing and loading.

Somewhere in there Sunday rolled into Monday, and sometime after midnight, Robert decided it was time to quit and head back to where we were staying the night so we could get some chance of a decent night’s sleep.  On the way, we decided to unload some of the trash that had been created with all the packing and loading into the dumpster at the church.  Our small trash can at the house was already overflowing, and there was no way we were going to be able to get anything else in it.  Unfortunately, this may not have been the best decision as a sheriff must have seen the headlights of the truck and came by to check out what we were doing.  Robert said he could just see the headlines: “Local Missionary Couple Sent Off By Church, Arrested Same Night.”  Thankfully, there was no arresting or even a ticket for that matter, but the sheriff did say that he had to “document the contact.”

After our brush with the law and operating on not nearly enough sleep, we were ready to start off on what we hoped would be a smooth trip down to Texas.  We got the last bit loaded onto the U-haul truck and into the back of Robert’s Toyota.  There was just enough room for Robert to sit in the Toyota to drive it around and put it on the auto-transport.  Robert got it up and onto the transport just fine.  Then we discovered that the tie-downs that were supposed to go over the front tires to hold the vehicle on were not long enough.  The only thing holding the truck onto the transport was the chains over the axles.  So, with some trepidation but not having much other choice, we set off.

Heather called U-haul to get some assistance with the too-short tie-down problem and was told that there wasn’t anything U-haul could do, but we could purchase extensions from Home Depot or Lowes.  So, Heather made a call to her mom to find out if there were any Home Depots or Lowes along the way.  Fortunately, there was a Home Depot right off of I25 in Denver.  Unfortunately, it was right in the middle of construction.  Robert, however, navigated the construction beautifully, even after having to make a u-turn.

After some confusion as to what exactly we needed to purchase and two trips into the Home Depot store, we thought we finally had the Toyota properly tethered down and set off again.  Somewhere south of Colorado Springs we decide to stop for lunch and discover that the tethers had slipped off the tires and were dragging along the ground.  After much tugging, pulling and grunting trying to get the winches holding the tethers tight, Heather made a second call to U-haul Roadside Assistance and was told how to release the tethers which is what we had been doing all along.

Finally, Robert was able to get the tethers loose.  We determined they had gotten stuck because the extensions we had bought were too long, so we decided to cut them.  We reattached the now shorter extensions and repositioned them so they hopefully wouldn’t fall off again.  After that, every time we stopped we checked the tethers.  We only had to tighten them once more, and then they were fine for the rest of the trip.

Once, we got the auto-transport situation under control, it was pretty much smooth sailing, other than it was a whole lot later than we would have liked it to be.  We stopped at Robert’s parent’s place to stay the night, getting in some time after midnight, and then got into Cedar Park mid-afternoon.  Caleb was very happy to see his daddy, and his mommy too, but mostly his daddy.  We had some more great help and got the truck unloaded in record time.  And, we discovered that, indeed, everything we own can fit into a 10×20 storage unit, with room to spare.

Now, we are learning to live as a 3-generation family and the adventure continues…

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