Thursday, February 3
Sleep has been hard on this trip. I’m not totally sure why, but maybe it has something to do with bunking in the same room with 9 guys – at any point in time, at least one of us is snoring. I can’t complain too much as I’m sure I’ve probably taken my turn.
This morning after breakfast, the two interns, Alex and Phil, and I went into Kampala to return the hand auger to our office.
Something I really miss from Uganda - the pineapple! They are the best I've ever tasted and they cost about 80 cents for a big one. You can just stop on the side of the road and buy fresh cut wedge slices for 10 cents each!
The presentation tomorrow will be for Jeff as well as the local board for the ministry. It’s the first time the board will be seeing this so hopefully things will go well – that’s a little unusual as far as presentations go, since we’re typically presenting to people who’ve seen the project work throughout the week. But the board appointed a ‘development committee’ of three persons, who then appointed Jeff (who was one of the three) to be the point person for contact with us, so he had all the authority to make decisions.
We did the presentation in the current Library, which will eventually be converted to a classroom.
Tonight, the power went off for a couple hours after dinner, so we decided to play an impromptu game that intern Phil taught. It was actually a drinking game called ‘21’, but obviously we played it without the drinking! It was really funny and turned out to a great team-building activity. The team has really bonded in the last couple of days so that’s been really neat to see. We have a good, diverse group – diverse in age, diverse in spiritual background, diverse in personalities, and diverse in just about everything…maybe except gender, since Anna Rose is the only woman! But it’s always fun to see who God picks for these trips, and even more fun to find out about the people and see all these different people come together to work so well. A common comment we get from locals here is astonishment that none of us knew each other before the trip. The fact that it always seems to work out pretty well is a testament to God calling people to come and those people answering that call. Either way, it really is a privilege to get to work with such incredible and talented people!
Friday, February 4
Presentation day is here! It’s been a fast week in some respects, though whenever I’m away from Alisha and the boys time always seems to go by slowly. We really were in good shape by this morning so it was just a matter of fine tuning what we had. The architects had the most to do, so they were working from early morning finalizing the master plan. We had hoped to model the entire site in Google SketchUp, a 3-D modeling program that gives you amazing 3-dimensional views of the site from any point on the site (you can even ‘record’ a fly-through movie). But, because of the steep slope and all of the grading that will have to happen on the site, one week was not enough time to complete it. Architect Gary did model everything, but only in 2-dimensions. It still looks very cool and will be an impressive part of the final project report. If it was a flat site, or even a site with only a little grade change, he would have easily been able to model it in 3-D. Intern Phil put together the powerpoint for the presentation, so people were getting him their slides throughout the day to add in. It was a very smooth day and by 5pm, we were ready to go.
We presented to the board of the school, which is made up of about 8 or 9 Ugandan men and women who are the ministry directors of their own ministries here. Some are pastors and some or directors of other organizations, but they meet about 4 times a year to discuss the business of the university. The presentation went well and was a bit unusual in that they didn’t ask very many questions. Jeff had warned us about this, that they would discuss the plans later after we were gone and that we could expect little feedback.
Volunteer Gary presenting the some of our architectural work
Volunteer Jonathan reviews the proposed water design for the ARU board.
Volunteer Rhett explaining the drainage.
But as far as we could tell, they seemed very pleased and were very complementary of us. They did ask some good questions, which was nice since it allowed us to go a little deeper and show that we had indeed done a thorough job and covered our bases. After it was over, they thanked us with a some very nice words, acknowledging the fact that this was the 4th or 5th project we’ve done for this ministry (2nd full team project, the others were smaller in-house projects the East Africa office did). They then stood up and shook our hands, and we left after just over an hour. Easily the shortest presentation I’ve had. Later this evening, Jeff stopped by and said that the presentation couldn’t have gone better! He said they were so excited they wanted to move forward with everything as fast as possible. So wow, that was very good feedback. We were a little vulnerable since they hadn’t been with us the whole week, but in the end they really loved everything we did, so it couldn’t have worked out any better.
Also, another cool thing that was different this time was that we hired David, the guy who had been our driver for the week (contracted by the ministry), to take pictures during the presentation and then to collect all of the team’s pictures from the week and put them together on a disk. He had told me earlier in the week that photography was his main interest and that he often took pictures for teams. It gave me the idea to ask him to come take pictures during the presentation as it’s always awkward for us to be trying to take pictures of ourselves while we talk to the local ministry. It really worked out well as he did a great job and we didn’t have to worry about it. Plus, we’re supporting his business by giving him work. I think I may hire him for future trips to Uganda so the team will have good quality photos and we won’t have to worry about collecting and copying them before the trip ends.
We head out tomorrow morning at 9am for Kampala and will hang around the Emmaus Guesthouse most of the day. I made us reservations at my friend John’s Japanese restaurant for dinner, so I am looking forward to that. It was one of our favorite places when we lived here.
Saturday, February 5
We drove in to Kampala early to try to miss the traffic and heat. We stopped by the Italian Supermarket for a bit to pick up some things, then continued on to the guesthouse. We spent a lot of time at that supermarket back in the day. After we had pizza delivered for lunch, we had our closing meeting under the outdoor gazebo at the guesthouse. The closing meeting is a time for the team to share with each other what their high and low points of the trip were, what God has shown them or taught them on the trip, and then how the team can be praying for them as they head out. After that, the rest of the team takes turns encouraging the person with some of what they saw during the week.
At our closing time dinner - my friend John Prado's Japanese restaurant in Kampala. It was great food!The closing time is often people’s favorite time of the week, as it really cements the relationships between the team members and serves to bond everyone together very close as we all share a deeper side of ourselves with the team. This time was no exception – it went very well and we realized how much our team had bonded together. It really was a great group – very diverse and balanced in everything from age, talents, personalities, spiritual backgrounds and experience. We had a very difficult site to work with, but in the end we’re heading back to the office as far along on the project work as I’ve ever been after a trip.
We went out to my friend John’s Japanese restaurant here in town and it was amazing. He is a very talented chef and his food was an amazing gift after a week of eating all Ugandan food (which was good, but there is not much variety in the Ugandan diet). Unfortunately, I ate way too much and especially ate too much meat. On the way back to the guesthouse, I got a terrible stomach ache and had to run to make it to the restroom when we arrived. I am certain it wasn’t the food as after many years of many stomach aches, I’ve learned to distinguish them. Also, once I was done, my stomach felt weak but not sick, so I’m certain I just ate too much protein after not eating it for over a week.
Sunday -Tuesday, February 6-8
My time in Kampala has been really good. I’ve been able to connect with so many of our dear friends both muzungu and Ugandan, visited so many places we used to frequent, and just experienced life as we used to know it. Not very much has changed really, with the exception of the paving of our road and a few other small things. I’ve been telling everyone my reaction being back has been split: half of me thinks we were crazy to ever move away from our wonderful life here, and the other half wonders how we ever lived here at all! It’s very strange. But I have really enjoyed seeing everyone and just living life again as it once was. I feel bad for Alisha and the boys who would’ve loved to have come back with me. I think everyone here would’ve much rather had them come back for a visit than me! I’ve been apologizing to people for the fact that the least fun person in our family was the only who got to come. :)
Our old next-door neighbors the Kelly's (Brian and Lynne - Brian is BBQ'ing in this shot) threw a BBQ for me with many of our old friends. It was so fun to see everyone - it was strange to be there as we had many of these BBQ's at the Kelly's house while we were living there. (Our old house can be see in the background - Jonah & Graysen's old room is the far right window).
Old next-door neighbors Brian & Lynne Kelly - we miss these guys a lot, but are excited they are moving back to San Diego in May!
Some of Alisha's old friends - I'm sure they were wishing Alisha had come instead of me!
Matt, Angela and Alexis ("sugar bear") Catinella - Matt, Joe (now back home in the UK) and I used to hang out most every weekend, playing soccer for the Irish team on Saturday mornings and then watching Premier League soccer at the ARA club on Saturday evenings. He's a great friend, even though he unfortunately supports Arsenal. ;)
Many of the boys' friends - they were sad the boys weren't back visiting too. We've recently realized how much the boys miss their friends as they're now at an age where it takes a little more time to make friends (especially Brodie).
Head of Security Stephen and our househelp Monica - it was so fun to see our local staff members. Many of them had become like family to us since they were at our house so much. I brought over a small bonus/care-package from our family for each of them to let them know how much we appreciated them and how much we miss them. (Stephen never smiles in pictures - it's a cultural thing. It's ironic because he is probably one of the smiling-est people I have ever met!)
The Tuesday night basketball crew - now with a brand newly paved court! I planned the dates of our trip, in part, around being able to make it to a Tuesday night basketball! Again, so weird to be back there playing - it felt like I had never left (except for the fact that I hadn't played basketball in 8 months, so instead of being mediocre I was terrible!). It was a lot of fun playing with the guys again though - mostly the same group is still there playing. I really miss it.