Greetings! Sometimes I sit down to write updates and try to collect my thoughts and find it difficult to summarize everything the Lord is doing in and around me. Then other times words simply pour out of me onto paper as I type. It’s often difficult to put into words the thoughts I think, the feelings I feel, and the experiences I face and go through on a daily basis. Even as much as I love writing, it’s still a struggle at times to find all the right words to express so much of what I desire to say. I desire to capture everything and write it in such a way you can experience it as closely as I have. I also write this with the knowledge of knowing that I could never truly cause you to see it through my eyes perfectly. However, I want to remind you all that I carry you with me in my heart. Like I always tell my home church, “I take you all with me wherever I go.” Words cannot express how truly grateful and humble I am for your continued prayers, encouragement, messages, and financial support! I testify to so many individuals here about the amazing family and church family I have in the U.S. and they too are literally amazed. It’s so comforting and humbling to know the Lord has set individuals in place to fully sustain me during my mission here. Thank you again for being obedience to the Lord. You may never know this side of heaven whose lives you are touching and impacting and what work and ministry is being accomplished through the prayers and finances you are continually offering up to our Father. So truly, from the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you for everything! I love each and every one of you so much.
So even though at times it gets really difficult living here, it’s still not nearly as difficult as what the majority of the Ugandan population has witnessed, seen, and experience on a daily basis. Even though at times I get homesick and miss home, it really pairs in comparison to the rewards I receive and will receive. It’s totally worth the sacrifices! I would even go as far as recommending at least every person if they had the opportunity to live in a 3rd world country for at least a month. It will change your life forever. Truly you will never be the same.
Back to my house, the Lord has provided the perfect individuals to assist me. My boyfriend, Moses has been a huge source of support through this time. Shopping in Africa is very different from shopping in the U.S. If anyone of you have been to a 3rd World country you will understand firsthand what I mean. While there are set prices on all items in the U.S., here one has to pretty much bargain for everything you buy and unfortunately the system is often corrupt, even more so when you are “White.” The assumption on behalf of a good percentage of Africans in the community is that a white person=dollars ($). Sometimes I will find myself burdened and discouraged by this assumption because I have such a high respect, love, and deep appreciation for the Ugandan people and it’s hard not desiring that same love and respect from them. I desire them to see me for who I am, not for what they may think I have ($). So, Ugandans in the community markets needless to say typically attempt to charge white people more money than a typical Ugandan. So one night as Moses and I were shopping I decided to test this theory of the Ugandans charging “White people” what they call Muzungo price. Muzungo=white person in the local language. It’s not a derogatory term, simply a label like we would call black people black. So Moses and I agreed on pricing a certain TV in a local appliance store. Moses walks in first by himself as if he was shopping for a TV. He casually asks a lady who works in the store how much this TV is. She tells him 1,000,000 Ugandan shillings, lowest price, which is around $500. He says, “ok” and walks out of the store. Meanwhile, I was hiding outside the store as he walked in so no one would know we were together and charge him a higher price because he was with me. So about five minutes later I walk in the same store, price the same TV, and ask the very same lady. She tells me 1,300,000, Ugandan shillings, which was 300 more expensive than the price she just gave Moses. I could only laugh at how corrupt the system was and how individuals intentionally charge white people more money because they assume we all have it. So I say all that to say, Moses goes before me and bargains and gets good deals on items I need for my home. Then we travel together to those places and purchase the items together after they’ve given a good, reasonable price.
I actually found out about the house through Barbara, a Ugandan friend of mine. She actually is my next door neighbor. It’s in an area I’m familiar with, it’s secure, and there is also support from Watoto nearby. It has a storeroom, a sitting room, a bedroom, and a bathroom. It’s plenty big enough for just me. So far I’ve purchased a refrigerator, a stove/oven, cooking utensils, pots & pans, curtains, a fan, rugs for the floor, a bed, mosquito net, and other odds and ends. Your funds are being used very practically and items are being purchased in an attitude that desires to be the best steward of the money that is given to me. Please pray with me in regard to finances. I’ve been hit with a lot of expenses all at once and it’s been a bit stressful. I’m a saver not a spender so sometimes it creates stress within me to feel as if I’m spending so much all at once when I worked hard to save and build that savings up. However, they are all necessary items. I’ve had to pay for the car I now drive around the crazy roads of Kampala J. Also, for my stay at the Watoto guesthouse, 4 months rent in my new house, plus all the furnishings. I’ve had to also pay for car repairs, added expense for fuel and food. Although, now that I’m driving, I’m saving more on transport, which is a blessing.
My immediate boss, Brent Smith, who I came over with has been in the U.S. since the beginning of June so I have basically been free to make my own schedule and have been staying very busy actually. I’ve enjoyed the freedom that has created. Although he’s really been good to me, on somethings I’ve been left to learn the ropes alone, which has honestly been good for me. It’s been stressful at times, but the Lord has sent the right ones to help me at the right times and I’ve learned a lot in the process. Throughout the time he has been away, I’ve almost completed all of the education training with the mothers and teachers in Bbira and Suubi Village. I have copied below the outline of what I’ve been teaching and speaking to the mother’s and teachers in the villages about. It’s my prayer the following information gives you a better idea of what my work has consisted of.
The Lord desires us to be good stewards of what we have, so how can we do that?
1. Getting to know me:
a. Who I Am:
b. My role in Watoto:
1. Discovery stage (I walked through every building: home, school, clinic that Watoto owns and took notes of everything that needed repair.)
2. Report stage (I compiled the above information into written reports for each village.)
3. Financial stage (Then I put a cost to items that need repair in order to present the pressing need to the ministry so action may be taken. I’m acting as a voice of hope (liason between the mothers and the ministry, advocating for them.)
4. Education stage (The stage I’m just finishing now. It consists of training mothers and teachers to report, organizing a new system of reporting repairs.)
5. Fundraising stage: In the meantime, the money has to be raised to fund repairs.
6. Inventory stage: We also discuss long-term goals: One of those is for Watoto to build a storehouse with 50% of all items in the home on reserve at all times. That way when one items goes out and is installed into the home, another comes in. Then we can control all the inventory. Will build this up gradually.
7. Easily maintained from there
c. My purpose for being in their homes is:
1. To show them where we’ve been, where we currently are, where we’re headed as a maintenance staff.
2. Assets Management Training:
a. What is assets management? How can we do it?
b. The purpose of the training:
Who (is doing training): Richard & I
What: Assets management and/or maintenance training
Where: in each senior mother’s home
1. To build trust with the mothers. We want you to know that we care about you and that someone is hearing your requests. That your requests aren’t simply falling on deaf ears. We want you to know the big picture of what goes on behind the scene and understand the process. I’ve found that when we seek to understand, we find compassion.
2. We desire to empower you and give you a voice in the process. It begins with you.
3. Instill in them a sense of ownership. It’s your home and it’s important for you to take care of it.
3. Goals: What is the purpose of goals? To help us achieve things in life right?
a. To bring all the maintenance work, repairs and cost on a level playing ground. Once this is accomplished, then we will need to have at least 50% in parts on reserve at all times. The goal is then to maintain and control inventory. (When one part goes out and is put in a home, another item is ordered)
b. To get the mothers to buy in and learn that as they report=results happen (items get fixed). Mom’s have to know there’s a point of beginning (with them reporting). They have to report in order to raise awareness to Management that something’s broken.
c. We want to empower you by giving you resources that will give you a voice, to include you in the process, show you that your concerns are being heard and aren’t falling on deaf ears.
d. Local Facilities Manager to oversea all processes
Then we go into teaching them the new system of reporting repairs. I’ve implemented a few forms and I’m teaching them how to use it, ect…
I’m still praying about other opportunities to open up for me within Watoto, while focusing on being busy and meeting a need now in the maintenance department. The Lord is good about reminding me and showing me different small ways I’m making a difference. For example: I called a meeting about a month ago and I invited both Richard (maintenance supervisor in Bbira village) and Moses (not my boyfriend Moses, but a different one who is the maintenance supervisor in Suubi village). After the meeting Moses said, “this is the first time I’ve set foot in the office for a meeting since he got hired awhile back. “ The Lord is using me to bring people together and to build unity within the team.
In addition to holding trainings and meetings, I spent the week with the South Haven Baptist Church team from Springfield and assisted them in building a medical clinic from mud brick. I also got to spend some quality time treating Lisa to a relaxing few days before she headed back to the U.S. She trusted my mad driving skills enough to allow me to drive her around to all my local hangouts around Kampala J. Although it was difficult saying goodbye and part of me was envious that they were returning to my home, the Lord pulled me through. I’m to a point now where today it is 4 months until I return in December. I will arrive back in the U.S. 12/9/11. Although I’m enjoying my stay here, my heart still longs for home.
As far as prayer requests are concerned…
1. Please pray I get my work permit. I really need this to move ahead with other legal documents.
2. Please pray the Lord protects me as I’m now driving myself around all the time by myself in the major city of Kampala.
3. Pray for continued strength, wisdom, and encouragement. At times I can get a bit lonely, discouraged, and homesick now that I’m in a house by myself.
4. Please pray for the people here and the ministry I’m doing here.
5. That I will continue to walk in the Lord’s love, light, and strength.
6. Please pray for Moses and I and our relationship. We are making serious plans for the future and want the Lord to direct our steps in everything we do!
Finally, as I conclude I’m almost finished taking the discipleship class on Thurs. evenings. It’s been a great course. I will be attending an overnight evening of prayer this Friday from 9pm-6am.
I believe overall the most important lesson I’ve learned thus far is how to put self on the back burner and how to live a selfless life. I pray you received a blessing from reading this lengthy journal entry, but I had a lot of catching up to do! I love you all!