One month under our belt

Well, we’ve completed our first month here! It really feels more like 6 months because of all we have done and accomplished – first having Alisha’s dad here, getting all the stuff bought and set up in our house, getting a car and motorcycle, learning how to drive a motorcycle, getting the boys settled into school, and I even managed to work a full week’s worth of time during the month of February, which had been scheduled to be off.
So my first tasks at work are to start assembling standards for the Structural department, which has been vacant now for over 4 years. It is quite a task and will be an ongoing work in progress for the duration of my time here, I’m sure. I will be contacting whomever I can think of around town to try to get any information I can about what materials are available and which construction practices can be employed. One complicating factor is there really is no useful phone book, so I’ll be looking in the classified ads in the paper, and maybe stopping by construction sites in town to ask some questions. I also will be putting together standard structural drawings that can be used on every structural project eMi-East Africa does in the future.
If I can put together some standard design information and drawing guidelines, it will be a tremendous tool for future volunteers and/or staff members on projects here. Right now, the biggest need in our office is more staff – we are unable to take on all the ministries that request our services because we don’t have the manpower. So developing standards and streamlining whatever design methodology I can will hopefully increase our capacity to help the ministries we serve.
At home, things are going pretty good. Life is pretty similar to back home as far as our schedule goes. The boys play, go to school, watch videos, play games, and we finally got a little keyboard so Brodie has started practicing piano again. Alisha and I are finding our routines too. It’s been nice not working full-time yet as I’ve been able to do things like take the boys to school on the motorcycle, go to Brodie’s school to see him give a report on his home country in front of his class, and go to Brodie’s first school soccer game (he’s on a team with kids up to 3rd grade, so he didn’t get to play very much. He and the other 1st graders only got in the game at the end – but I was proud of him for sticking with the game and paying attention the whole time even though he was dying to play. Finally, they put him in at goalie for the last 10 minutes! He was frustrated that he didn’t get to touch the ball, but I told him he was paying his dues now as a little kid, and that he needs to really work hard and pay attention in practice so he can improve and maybe earn more playing time – but those 3rd graders are 'ginormous' (Graysen's new favorite word after watching the movie 'Elf') and could run circles around the 1st graders!)
Alisha and I were talking recently about how coming here, we thought it would be easier to stay connected to God and how quiet times would be almost automatic since we’d be relying on him for strength. Well, like many things, our expectations were a little off! It’s every bit as much of a struggle here as it was at home to make time for God each day. There’s nothing supernatural about being on a missions trip, unless you make the effort to involve God in your life…just the same as if you’re at home in Oregon or California or whereever. It sounds simple enough, but being a missionary is no different from being an engineer or a teacher or a fitness guru or a stay at home mom or yes, even a pastor - it’s just the job God has called you to and how successful you are in it from God’s standpoint depends only on your commitment to spending time with Him to get to know Him better and how willing you are to humble yourself and submit to His will over your own. Bummer, we were hoping for a special missionary’s shortcut or something. :)
The boys are doing really well here though and for the most part seem to be content. Most of the time they talk about really liking it here. But every now and then they talk longingly about 'back home'. Graysen this afternoon was crying at the swimming pool for some reason and blurted out, "I just want to go back to our home in Medford." Frankly, Alisha and I have both made the same comment...but only a couple of dozen times or so! :)
This week in particular was up and down for me, as I was pulled over a second time by the police and ended up having to pay 200,000 ugandan shillings (about $115) in "fines" - I later learned that I'd essentially paid the officers to let me go, and that the ticket would've only cost around $35.
And then I was really frustrated the next day when I brought the keyboard home from the store, plugged it in, and the middle 'B' wouldn't work. Once again, it was not a cheap item (I paid 3 times what you would pay for the same keyboard in the U.S. - I checked online). I was so burned out on buying expensive things that were broken, I was really struggling with frustration building up and it was starting to affect me. Alisha said for me to try playing every key, up and down the piano, 7 times. She said she prayed and that's the thought that came to mind. So, I skeptically tried it, and lo and behold...it still didn't work. So I prayed, and then took the keyboard completely apart (not recommended). So I 'looked at the motherboard', made sure everything was tight in place, and then put it all back together - about 20 little screws in all. Well, I think God heard both of our prayers, because I did nothing more in taking it apart and putting it back together than I'd done in playing the full keyboard 7 times, but somehow, the thing started working and has worked ever since - Thank you Lord! It was a big pick-me-up for me at a time that I was struggling. So I know it's a silly little thing, but God really turned around my outlook by 'healing the keyboard'.
Pictures: at top, the interns at the eMi East Africa office, hard at work; the next one is Kiwafu (said "Chi-wah-fu") Road just around the corner from our house. We live on 'Lugwana Close', a dead-end offshoot of Kiwafu Road just out of frame from this shot. The little huts at the far end of the picture are actually small stores that we sometimes buy little fruits and things from; next is Brodie and his teacher Miss Heather (Peeler) up in front of the class giving his report on the U.S.A.; next is Brodie and the other 1st grade substitutes on the sideline of his first soccer game. Brodie stood the whole game, and was dying to get in. As you can see, the uniforms are made for 3rd graders!; and the last one is Alisha and Graysen with our househelper Stella. She is such a sweet girl (27 years old, mother of 4) and a hard worker. She is a huge blessing to have around the house.

Comments

lazrus2 said…
I'm hoping this will work this time since I think I've got my 'google password' back =).

I've really been enjoying your posts and been sharing them with Nick also. They bring back many memories of our 11 mo. in Niger 16 years ago (though it doesn't seem near that long!).

When we first arrived we had trouble taking our 'quiet times' (usually in mid-day) since there was so much to do (extra efforts for meal preparations, etc.).
But it didn't take long before we realized we could not SURVIVE
without that alone time with God.
(He's the best 'homesick' reliever there is =)!

Worship played a big part in that, and the real reason I believe God planted us there (to 'facilitate' that spiritual strength in others there also).

The missionaries who had been there long term were great examples to teach us that if we didn't take the time to let God 'fill us up', we'd have nothing left to give out. I hope that lesson has 'stuck' with us ever since.

We were privileged to help them find new ways (through worship) of 'getting filled up' too =), so were grateful for that, and our lives will definitely never be the same as a result.

God bless you as you serve and 'rest' in Him!!

Love,
Dana (& Nick)
Brandy said…
Been checking every day for a report. I love reading up on you guys. I think it's so exciting and I am just amazed at what you guys are doing. :D Blessings!
Stevie said…
Glad that you all are doing o.k. Can you actually believe that an entire month has passed? It won't be too long before you'll wonder where your time in Africa went!
Hugs, prayers, and love to all!
Stevie and fam
Kristi said…
Hi there. I too keep checking your blog. I am a friend of Tams. You guys rock. My husband and I are in South Africa and it is so fabulous to read of your journey. Thank you for sharing. Lots of love from below!! Kristi(applesauce)
Tam said…
a month already! wow!

The boys look so cute and happy!

Kristiapplesauce has been trying to leave comments here but she can't. It's probably just her =o =))

So I'll let her know that it worked for me and she can try it again...silly girl.

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