Project trip to Iganga - Part 2 (of 2)

Wednesday – Today, finally the project had developed enough to the point where intern Heather and I could begin on the structural design. So, for the first time all week, I stayed at the house and worked! Since Heather hasn’t had much structural experience, we talked a little about how to approach designing a building and then I had her start laying out the drawings. She is pretty fast at Autocad so we made good progress on the drawings. It was the first day that I didn’t go to the site, and I was kind of glad since we had a couple of pretty good thunderstorms roll through. Our ‘final’ presentation is tomorrow afternoon since the Howie’s are leaving to head back to Ireland, so time is a little short. The Howie’s offered to drive us all to Jinja (an hour away) to take us to dinner, but because our time is short 7 out of the 9 of us decided to stay here to work. Janet and I stayed up until 1am mostly for moral support for the architects Gary and intern Jill, who powered through until 4am!
Thursday – Presentation day for our work on the newly named ‘Lion of Judah School’! The group got right to work in the morning trying to prepare our documents to present to the Howie’s before they caught their plane back to Ireland. Fortunately, the structural work Heather and I were able to complete yesterday left us ready to present this morning. Yay! Heather drew up all the plans very quickly, which allowed me to coordinate design issues with the architects very efficiently. Once Heather printed out our preliminary Foundation and Roof Framing Plans first thing this morning, we were set. I spent the morning designing the trusses so we would have even less to do in the coming weeks back at the office. It’s been a really fun experience being a part of a team of 9 people with a wide variety of skills coming together to design this school property. It is quite impressive what all we were able to accomplish, and how much we were able to fit on a small lot (full academic and boarding facilities for 480 students on a 7 acre site). The high water table and areas of exposed rock made the Master Plan a tricky undertaking. But the biggest constraint of all was the main power line for the area, which dissects the site in half. We found out on day 2 that there is a required 15 meter easement (non-buildable area) on each side of the line, which basically took a 30 meter path out of the middle of the site! It really is interesting how these things just always seem to come up on eMi projects, and what a blessing it is for us at eMi to be able to solve these problems for the ministry.
The people on our design team were also a blessing. Joe, a volunteer from Missouri, was a huge asset as he had a wide range of knowledge including electrical, which no one else was trained in. Kelly, our graphic designer volunteer from Illinois, was also a fun addition to the team who provided some personality as the only non-technical member of the team. She deserves a lot of credit for enduring a full week with a room full of engineers and architects, and for her awesome work on the fundraising documents. Gary, the volunteer architect from Minnesota, was also a critical member as he combined with intern Jill to produce the Master Plan, and really, the bulk of the work on the project (the architects usually have the largest job on eMi trips). The rest of the group included Janet, the experienced trip leader who was mentoring me on trip leading, and interns Greg and Jared, who both hail from Texas and wore multiple hats as needed throughout the week. I probably spent the most time with intern Jared, who has just arrived in Uganda for the summer term. We had a lot of good talks and laughs out on the site together the first 3 days of the project. Intern Greg provided many memorable moments and quotes – my favorite of which was when he, halfway through sharing a story, remembered that the main character of the story he was telling was actually his wife and not sister! The personalities in the group have been very compatible, and that is perhaps the biggest blessing of all since that can make or break a team. We have all worked really well together and had a lot of fun in the non-technical moments.
The presentation went really well. The Howie’s and Pastor Dan were really excited with what we’d come up with. We each took a turn presenting our particular disciplines and what we’d worked on the last few days. The Howie’s asked some questions and gave a little feedback, but the overall Master Plan seemed to be a hit. There should be no trouble in finishing the design in the coming weeks back at the office.
Friday – Since our project work was largely complete (at least for this phase, until we get back to the office) we split into two teams this morning to head out to do some ministry. Five of our team members went to a local hospital to pray for the patients through an interpreter (most people in the areas outside of Kampala only speak limited English, and even then it’s only those who’ve attended school). I joined the remaining three team members on a visit to a local prison. Arriving at the prison, we sat in a covered outdoor pavilion in front of a group of around 100 prisoners, 8 of whom were women (one of the women actually had a small baby with her). We first sang a couple of songs with intern Greg playing the guitar. Then, I shared the gospel message with them and asked them to join me in a prayer to invite Jesus into their heart if they were interested. Our interpreter (Pastor Daniel) asked afterwards who all had prayed the prayer, and 62 of them raised their hand and later wrote their name on a list saying they had accepted Christ! We were all very excited! We also bought a couple of boxes of soap on our way there and presented that to them as a gift – they were very appreciative of that. Conditions in the prisons are poor here, and the government supplies very few of the common “necessities” of life like soap, toilet paper, etc. It was a great experience to spend some time with these prisoners, and it was clear from the looks on their faces that they were very glad we had taken the time to come visit them.
It was also amazing to share the gospel and have so many respond. When I had woken up earlier that morning, for some reason I felt like God wanted me to share at the prison, so I went through the bible and selected 5 verses that I thought would be good to share that would explain God’s heart for His people: Romans 3:23-25, John 14:6, Revelation 3:20, John 3:16 & 18, and 2 Corinthians 5:17-18. Who knew that later that day those verses would lead to 62 people accepting Christ! To see so many respond was just God completing the work He’d started in me earlier that day. Before we left, Pastor Daniel took each of their names down and plans to follow up with them in the coming weeks, hoping to establish a relationship that extends beyond their time in prison.
Finally, a very strange thing happened. For the rest of the day, the team was finalizing all the details. Janet and I walked into town to talk with the water company to find out information about installing an above ground tank. While we were at the water company, a Ugandan lady got my attention and said, “Aren’t you Brodie’s dad?” I instantly felt disoriented, but replied, “Yes. How do you know Brodie?” She said she helped out in his Sunday school room back home in Kampala. She said she worked for the water company and had come to Iganga for a couple of days for work. It was so weird. I’ve gone months at a time going around town in Medford without seeing someone I know, so to see someone in Kampala that I knew would be extraordinary. But seeing someone in IGANGA who knew me was beyond surreal.
Friday night we had closing time, where each of us went around and shared our perspective on the week. We also took time to compliment each person about something from the week, which was very encouraging. It really was a special team, with no personality conflicts. Amazing that a team from: New York (Janet), Oregon (me), Texas (Greg & Jared), California (Heather), Nebraska (Jill), Minnesota (Gary), Illinios (Kelly), and Missouri (Joe) could all come together for a week to live and work in Pastor Dan’s house in Iganga, Uganda and get along so well.
Saturday - We left in the morning for Jinja, where I was reunited with Alisha and the boys. We spent the day swimming and relaxing at a little resort there. It was great to see the family again after 7 days away! Alisha wanted to thank everyone back home for their prayers -it was a smooth week, with no trips to the hospital, no throwing up, no car trouble, and only 1 cockroach in the Kitchen cupboard (NOT in her bedroom)! Long-term volunteer Liz from the eMi office stayed the night here each night, so that was a big help and made the time pass quickly. Oh, and as of Friday, the boys are now on Summer break!
Pictures: (top) The paradox of the technology of 6 laptops in a small brick out-building in a village in Iganga, Uganda, is something you get used to – but sometimes you step back and think about what we’re doing and where we’re doing it and it is just weird; (next) Team photo, with the Howie's and Pastor Dan & his wife Florence, in front of the building where we stayed and worked; (next) This hut built on top of an ant hill in the middle of the rice field on the site is used by the locals to ward off birds trying to steal the rice. The children ‘stand watch’ under the hut, and if the birds come near, they race out towards them, yelling and shooting rocks at them with slingshots to keep them away. As is typical, they were quite proud to have their picture taken; (next) Downtown Iganga - look at that beautiful sky! (next) Me with some of the kids who hung out in our compound the entire week we were there; (next) Interns Heather and Jared going through the handwashing 'ritual'. There was no running water where we were staying so all water had to be brought in by buckets. They bought bottled water for us to drink! (next) The site, with the problematic power lines cutting through the middle of the site; (next) A mother hen with her hot pink chicks! The owners often paint the new born chicks hot pink to protect them from birds of prey above; (next) While we were swimming at the pool on Saturday after the trip, a group from a local orphanage showed up to play, so Alisha and the boys joined them in a big game of 'splash' in the kiddie pool area; (next) Volunteer Kelly with the boys at the Kingfisher resort. Too bad Kelly was only here for a short time as the boys loved her and she was so nice to them. (Oh, sorry there are no pictures of the prison, but no cameras were allowed inside).

Comments

Traci Morrow said…
How funny - when I first read "a mother hen with her hot pink chicks" Id forgotten about the hen picture and thought you were making a funny comment about Alisha and the boys in the water! lol It pays to re - read. :)

I am LOVING this story!!! What a blessing to be there!! Just off the hook amazing what you are there to do!

Seriously - what you're doing is eternal, and what you're experiencing must feel so....DEEP..for lack of a better word, in deed and purpose. You're at that line where what is temporary meets what is eternal and God is using you mightily. I'm just overwhelmed with a feeling of being so small, and yet God uses us. He USES US...mere clay pots, to hold such precious treasure - and to share it.

This blog is like a bible study for me. Thanks for taking the time to type it.

This is my favorite "book". :)

Love you guys!
xoxox
TRACI

PS Hey, I hate to ask, but next Thursday we're moving - can you come lend a hand? We really need some helpers. :)

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