Today was our first real work day. I think everyone was a little anxious to get to it, so after morning devotions and breakfast, the team split up into their various disciplines and went to work. The civil engineers split up – two of them took the hand auger out to dig bore holes for the percolation tests (these are the tests we use to figure out how well the soil will disperse the wastewater), and the other two went down the road to test the closest water sources, which happened to be the well at the church we visited yesterday and a nearby neighbor’s well. The architects got back to work on the master plan and drainage plans. We got a great look at how things are currently draining later in the day when we had our first major thunderstorm blow through.
Things went pretty well for most of the day with a lot of progress in all areas, but around 4pm it clouded over (after a morning without a cloud in the sky) and an authentic Ugandan thunder and wind storm blew in, effectively shutting us down. It was the first wind/rain storm the ministry has experienced since moving onto the site in December, so they found out where blowing and flowing water is going to cause problems on the sloped site…which is basically everywhere! The windows have glass louvers that don’t close, so most every building got soaked on the inside – including the computer lab and the room where we’re staying. Fortunately, the workers moved the computers and we moved our beds to the middle of the room before they were too drenched.
I suppose I should introduce the team before I get too far into this trip report:
Jonathan – volunteer civil engineer from Indianapolis
Ryan – volunteer landscape architect from Denver
Gary – volunteer architect from Georgia
Anna Rose – volunteer structural engineer from North Carolina
Rhett – volunteer civil engineer from Ohio
Tom – volunteer mechanical/electrical engineer from Ohio
Ben – volunteer civil engineer from Denver
Alex – EMI engineering intern from Wisconsin
Phil – EMI engineering intern from Northern Ireland
Jeff – the American ministry contact and also a friend of mine from our time in Uganda
The team is getting along great and it was great to have our first full work-day.
The team: Top row (l to r) Rhett, me, Jonathan, and Tom. Bottom row (l to r) Alex, Ryan, Anna Rose, Ben, Phil and GaryTuesday, February 1
Well, last night was interesting – came close to one of the worst-case scenarios (in my book) for a trip! No danger or anything like that, but as far as my anxieties go on trips, it’s one of the worst-case scenarios. I went to bed at 11:15pm, but couldn’t fall asleep until around midnight. At 1:15am, I woke up to go to the bathroom (short-call), but started realizing quickly that I wasn’t feeling good. This feeling of nausea and general stomach unsettledness continued progressing for about an hour. In the meantime, a thunderstorm began to brew pretty quickly outside and before long it was raining hard and windy with lightning strikes were all around.
I started thinking about what my plan was if I continued on this path of getting sick. The toilet we’re using is a pit latrine that is about 150 yards away, down a little dirt path that has a couple of steep parts that are a little tricky to navigate even when the ground is dry. Add a heavy downpour and it becomes quite a slippery mess, not to mention the fact that I’d be drenched inside of 10 steps out in this kind of rain storm. There really was no solution – if I suddenly had to throw up or go to the bathroom, there is no way I’d have made it 150 yards in the pouring rain to the pit latrine (which is not exactly an ideal place to be throwing up or sick, I should mention!).
So, the only thing I knew to do was to pray. I prayed that God would somehow make this sickness go away as I had no good option for how to deal with it. So for the next hour or so, as the heavy rain turned to a more steady rain, I layed there praying (after moving my bed away from the window to avoid getting wet). And by no small miracle, I slowly started feeling better.
I never did throw up or have to leave the room to make it to the pit latrine. In the end, I only got about 4 hours of sleep (including that first hour before all the fun). But given what it could have been, I was just fine to be feeling alright come morning and not having to battle sickness on a trip. I figured out afterwards that I think I had done it to myself – right before bed I realized I hadn’t taken my malaria prevention medicine, so I took it even though I knew doing so right before bed and on an empty stomach was not advisable.
The rain hung around but gradually decreased to a stop around 10am. It was nice that it cooled things off and cleaned the air, though everything on the ground turned to mud.
The main problem for the day was power though. It had gone off during the storms in the night, and stayed off all day. Jeff (the ministry leader) tried calling the power company, but as we experienced so many times while living here, they were largely unaware of what was going on (or at least claimed to be largely unaware!). Jeff even commented, “Don’t you miss this Brad?” We had a good laugh…and the answer is ‘no’, I don’t miss that aspect of life in Uganda!
Finally, around 4pm, the power came back on and we were able to get going again. We lost more than a half day’s worth of time though, so that will be a setback. The ministry has a generator, but since they’ve moved onto the site they have never lost power for more than an hour at a time. Consequently, they hadn’t yet bothered to hook it up, and today was the only day the electrician on staff was not on site! Gotta love how things always seem to go here – when one system breaks down, the three backups to that system will be typically be down as well!
Wednesday, February 2
I finally slept through the night…mostly. I woke up once around 4am but was able to go back to sleep within 15 minutes. That’s the first time in a week I’ve got as much as 6 hours sleep, and it felt good. We had a good discussion during our devotion time about how we are called to give up our liberties sometimes in order to minister to other people (based on 1 Corinthians 9:19-23). It’s a great passage that I think we Christians should think about more often. There’s kind of a dual application for the verse: 1) we need to be willing to lay aside the common things in life that we call ‘rights’, such as our right to justice or our right to hold people who aren’t Christians to the same standard we as Christians try to live by (key word is “try” to live by, as all too often we hold others to standards we ourselves aren’t even able to keep); and 2) we need to be willing to lay aside our liberties we gain from our faith in Christ in order to not offend other Christians who have different convictions. It was a good conversation that brought up a lot of good thoughts.
After the devotion time and breakfast, I spent a lot of time trying to make sure everyone knew where they were heading in their disciplines and to be aware of what we needed to present on Friday. I think we’re on a good track, but there is still a lot of work to get done before then. The architects have been doing a lot of background work to make sure the master plan is accurate given all the various grades and slopes around the site. Consequently, while we are now pretty ahead on what we have done as it relates to the final project report, we are behind as it relates to our presentation on Friday. I’m not too concerned yet though, as both architects seem to know what they’re doing and what they need to get done.
The afternoon and evening was all spent working in the work room. All the field work is done so the whole team was in the room.