Mzungu Memoirs

Archive for April, 2012

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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