Sunday February 14, 2010:
Today was a busy day! We were on the WOL bus at 7:45am to head back into Kampala for church. First, we went to the church at Kampala International University where Thomas was speaking. It was a larger church with around 400 people in the service. Thomas did a nice job – he’s a very engaging speaker and had the congregation laughing at many points along the way. After this first service, we drove across town to a very small church with maybe 25 people in attendance. This was Thomas’ family’s home church, and Thomas is one of the elders. The other elder, Peter, gave the message on Hebrews about how we are to live our Christian lives as if we were running a race, persevering to the end. It was a good message and a very different ‘Africa Church’ experience from our larger ‘Africa Church’ experience earlier that morning.
After the services were over, we drove to the downtown mall and ate at the food court. It was a fun time and very generous of Thomas, who paid for lunch. We then packed back into the bus and headed back to the site for the final presentation.
Hong Kong architect Pearly discussing the new Bible Institute campus (her real name is Pui Lai, but she goes by 'Pearly' since it's pronounced similarly).
Surprisingly, about 25-30 people showed up for the presentation, most of them staff at the school. The presentation went very well as the ministry was excited about our master plan and the guests in attendance were very complimentary and thankful for our work. One funny thing that was a reminder of where we were was that a number of the people in attendance were hesitant to accept flush toilets as the only restroom facility on the site, preferring that some pit latrines be retained in case of emergencies. Thomas was adamant that there be no pit latrines on the site though as he is trying to modernize their students and guests and provide a more sanitary environment. Our team thought it a bit funny that our design of a complete wastewater system was partially shunned for smelly, unsanitary pit latrines! One of the guests mentioned the fact that the water could go out if there was an emergency situation such as a military coup! We later joked that perhaps future coup attempts would have to be addressed as a part of future projects’ master planning!
But overall, the night went well and we were excited to have completed our work and pleased the ministry as well. Since WOL is in over 60 countries, perhaps this will be the start of a long-standing relationship between eMi and WOL. I hope this is the case as the youth camp focus of WOL hits a soft spot for me since I was involved with Young Life when I was a kid.
Monday February 15, 2010:
Well today started out as a great day as I am excited to be that much closer to going home. The project trip work was complete (for now) and we headed back to the office to regroup before heading to Jinja for a 1-day ‘closing time’. When I got home, I quick packed a small bag so I could head down to pickup Brodie from school since he will be joining us on this trip. But just as I was leaving the house, our guard informed me that the power company had come by earlier and disconnected our power! Apparently, we hadn’t paid our bill, which we hadn’t even received yet and which wasn’t due for another two weeks!
Instantly, I was really frustrated. I knew I had to leave town since the team was waiting for me, but I also knew that without dogged persistence it could be a week before the power was turned back on. I was also frustrated that our guard had even let them in the compound, or that he hadn’t insisted that we be notified so we could come resolve the issue. This had happened once before about a year ago, and that guard had notified me and I quickly came home and spoke to the power company and resolved the issue without them turning our power off.
So I quickly got out my phone to start making phone calls – first to the power company. But unfortunately, the cell phone system was off and on and I couldn’t connect. So I tried the number for one of their technicians, Joseph, and after 4 times I finally got through (the only reason I had his number was that one of our power lines was out for 2 weeks recently before I could get the power company to show up, so once they showed up I gave the guy a little ‘thank you’ gift when he left and got his cell phone number. I knew having his number might come in handy again but I didn’t expect to need it so soon!) Joseph told me that if I went down and paid the bill that he would come right over and reconnect us. Since, I was leaving town, I asked Semei our office manager to go down and pay it for me and to call me when he was done so I could call Joseph. Well, to make a long story short, after Alisha called 6 more times and I called 4 more times, Joseph finally came and reconnected us around 5pm.
In the meantime, I had to ‘let go’ and allow others to help me since my team was leaving for Jinja. We left town about an hour and a half late, stopping for lunch along the way at the ‘Chicken-on-a-stick’ place I’ve mentioned in past blogs (also referred to as the ‘In-your-face-chicken-place’). When we arrived in Jinja, I went to check into the little resort we’d be staying at for our closing time. That’s when volunteer Kelly came to me at the check-in desk to notify me that her computer was missing. I had packed the matatu (mini-van taxi we had hired) so I told her where I’d put it. After finishing checking in, I went back to find that the laptop was indeed gone. We figured out that at the road-side chicken place, the back windows of the van had been left open, and since all our luggage was piled in the backseat, we must not have noticed someone reaching in and swiping it.
I was so upset. At the time, the electricity ordeal was not yet resolved so I was still stressed by that. To have this happen once again on a project trip I was leading was very disheartening. Kelly had a great attitude about it, saying that she was just going to start praying for the person who stole it that he or she would come to give their life over to God. It really was amazing to see her perspective on it, especially as I stewed on the inside that it had yet again happened on one of my trips.
We concluded the day at a nice restaurant in Jinja and had our closing time meeting. We each took turns sharing about our trip experience and then we all went around encouraging each other with things we’d seen from the trip. It was a nice end of the day, and Brodie was on his best behavior at the restaurant which was a God-send. But overall, I fell like it was one of my worst days since we’ve moved here. It seemed that every system that I encountered that day had essentially fallen apart – the power, the cell phones, and even the chicken place. I was really struggling with a bad attitude, even though on the outside I didn’t look so mad.
But in the end, I had to remember what was important - none of us were injured and not very much project work had been lost (Kelly had handed out copies of most of her work the day before). Poor Kelly had lost a lot of personal treasures such as pictures and other files, but her positive attitude about the situation was a big help to the team to make sure that the closing meeting wasn’t ruined by the disheartening theft earlier in the day.
I should also mentioned that I really enjoyed having that alone time with Brodie. He did great on the trip – his first real trip away from home without mom there to coordinate all his special dietary issues. Of course, mom packed his bag so anyone with half a brain could have cared for him, but I still felt good about giving her a break for at least one night! And, I loved my time with just me and Brodie, just as I had loved the day I had with just Jonah earlier in the week. I look forward to doing that more and more with each of the boys now that they are a little older.