Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Raising the Roof


Nathan and the crew have been working last week and this week to put the roof on the new guesthouse.  It took them over a week of cutting, welding, and painting at the workshop to build the fifteen trusses.  Then they had to figure out how to put them up without the use of "normal" construction equipment like an all-terrain forklift or crane.  Thanks to scaffolding, ladders, poles, and muscles (although they are now sore ones!) they were able to get all of the trusses and purlins in place and are about to install the metal sheets.  We have been so thankful for no injuries during the process, despite a couple close-calls!  


Friday, May 12, 2017

Rain, Rain, Rain

We are in the midst of rainy season here in our part of Uganda.  One of our friends asked us this week if this weather was like spring back in the States.  There are definitely similarities, but when I compared the average annual rainfalls I found that you have to combine the average annual rainfall received by each of our parents in order to equal how much rain we receive here each year!  All of this rain is wonderful for growing plants but it does make our day to day lives a bit interesting.  We have been hanging our clothes on the trusses inside our house to dry, and Nathan often has to put earplugs in at night just to be able to sleep since a hard rain on a metal roof gets very loud!

All the rain also makes traveling a bit interesting.  On a recent trip to town to get fuel for construction, Nathan had to pull many other vehicles out of the mud just so that he could pass and continue on his way home.  He also had to pull the truck carrying the fuel out of several holes of mud and up several slippery hills.  At one point, he even had our truck stuck for the first time!  Thanks to some shovels and helping hands, he was able to dig out and find some help from a 4-wheel drive tractor to pull the truck the rest of the way here.  What a crazy trip!

With so much rain, it is hard to remember the drought that was here only a few months ago.  Thank you to everyone who prayed for us during that time.  Despite the challenges, we are enjoying the rain that brings life to God's creation around us!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Cultural moments

On Friday, Nathan and I had the privilege of attending a graduation ceremony for our friend, Evelyn, who was graduating from her vocational course in hotel management and catering.  We are so proud of her for persevering through her studies and training.  There were many difficulties for her including fickle supervisors, constant demands for more school fees, higher living costs in town, and of course the hard work of studying and learning new things.  But she stuck it out, passed very well, and has several job opportunities before her.  

Not only did we enjoy celebrating this time with our friend, but we also enjoyed the cultural experience of the day.  The invitation had said that the graduation would begin at 8:00, but we found out when we arrived that 8:00 was the time for people to BEGIN arriving and being seated.  Later the official guests would arrive and finally the real ceremony would begin around 10 or 10:30.  We were welcomed to the "equation" (I think they meant "occasion") and told that the "procession would proceed" as planned.  Between each part of the program, we listened to painfully loud music, sometimes with two songs being played at the same time.  

While we smiled (and sometimes cringed) at these different cultural elements, our favorite observations involved the relational nature of the Ugandan culture.  Each important guest who got up to give a speech made sure to greet everyone present including the graduates, the parents, the faculty, the board of directors, important people from other schools, etc.  During the "music interludes," it was so refreshing to look out and see everyone conversing with their neighbors instead of checking their phones.  One father who's daughter had received a special award was so overjoyed that he danced with her all the way back to her seat.  And those moments reminded us of one of the things we love about living here, the importance of relationships. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Stories

Over the past few weeks, we have had the privilege of hearing from a few different people some of the stories from their lives and specifically the ways they have seen God working in various circumstances throughout their lives.  Oftentimes, as events happen we see them only for what they are, but occasionally God gives us a small glimpse at the bigger picture of what He is doing in our lives.

One young man shared with us about his childhood living in the northern part of Uganda during the time of Kony, about the fear his family experienced and the constant traveling as they tried to find a safe place to stay.  He shared about the abuse he experienced from his step-mother and step-brother and his father's neglect of his family.  So much of his story could have led him to despair and anger, but as a young man looking back on his childhood, he could clearly see God's hand and His grace throughout it all.  He told about certain strangers or even family members who brought food to them or cared for them even when they did not have any obligation to do so.  He told about God's voice speaking to him through his mother to turn away from sin and back to the Lord, and God's gentle prodding in his heart to forgive the ones who hurt him.

A young woman we are close to shared with us her story of how God began calling her into a personal relationship with Him through some difficult circumstances in her life.  She found herself in an abusive relationship, pregnant and unable to continue her schooling, and without hope for her future.  But there just so happened to be a Bible in the place she was staying, and she continually felt drawn to reading it.  That began a hunger within her for God and His Word that continues to this day, and she can look back on that difficult time and see God's hand working and shaping her life even when she thought all was lost.

This week in our women's Bible study we were reading and discussing about the fall and sin's effects on us as men and women.  We talked about the brokenness in our relationships with God and with people around us because of sin, and we looked at how our world is broken and filled with pain and suffering because of the consequences of sin.  After looking at all of this brokenness, I almost wanted to throw up my hands and say, "I give up!  Is there any hope at all?!"  

But praise the Lord that even in the midst of curses and consequences, He gave grace in allowing life to continue and He gave hope of the eventual defeat of Satan, sin, and death through our Savior, Jesus Christ.  No matter how bleak the day or how overwhelming the circumstances I may find myself in, I can take comfort in the saving work of Christ on the cross and have hope in His promised return.  We may not see the good of the suffering just now, but we can have hope that these sufferings will be nothing compared to the glory of the future.  Besides, "what can separate us from the love of Christ?" (Rom. 8:35-39)

I hope and pray that as you celebrate Easter that you will be able to have joy in the gift of life that God gives us through Jesus and the hope that He brings even in the midst of suffering.  May we all be like this young man and young woman who can praise God even for the hard times in their lives because they have put their faith in Jesus and have experienced the gift of eternal life.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Finishing and Starting

Groundbreaking at the new guesthouse
This week we held a groundbreaking celebration for our new guesthouse.  Even as we all arrived to celebrate, the building crew was busy breaking the ground for the foundation of the house.  This new guesthouse will take the place of the one we had been using as a guesthouse, which is now a home for our newest staff family, Jarid and Staci Sinkler.  The site for the house overlooks the lake and is a very peaceful spot.  We hope and pray that God will use it to bring refreshment and peace to all who use it!
The single guys' duplex


Along with starting the new guesthouse project, Nathan and the construction crew have been busy finishing up various projects around camp, including the clinic, the newest set of cabins, and the duplex for the single guys.  They have appreciated the help of Moses, an Investment Year (IY) student that is doing an internship with them for the next few months.  He has a teachable spirit and a willingness to jump into whatever work is going on, which are both very valuable skills to have in any job!  We are so grateful to God for the work He is doing to grow this place for His glory!

IY students - Moses and Robert


Baggie, working on his house