We live in a society that focuses on deficit rather than what we have. Deficit drains our hope and fuels our fear. In a country with the economic, social and political struggles that Uganda has it’s easy to see it a country of deficit yet it is anything but that. Uganda is one of the most ethnically diverse countries with beautiful landscapes and culture to be seen and experienced.
While Uganda faces many challenges it’s people are some of the most hardworking, faith-filled and hopeful I have ever met. They focus on what they have rather than what they don’t. It’s a beautiful thing to see and learn from.
Today we did a little double duty at the site. We started this morning with our usual schedule but due to time constraints we needed to spend a few more hours working today. We had a lunch break then went back in the afternoon to finish up some cementing.
This morning we needed to build a base for the water pipes. – This is made by using a large spastic trash bin and cement. (SEE PICTURE BELOW)
As we began cutting the bottom off of the large blue trash bin I thought of Anna, one of the wonderful women who helps with the cooking where we are staying. She has two young children whom I love seeing run around our hotel during suppertime. The other evening I found them rolling an old tire back and forth as a game. Ugandans use everything. I mean everything. Nothing goes to waste. The innovation in this country is unbelievable. Where we might see deficit they see possibility.
So back to the cutting, as we cut the bin, Sunday, our fearless leader told us we only needed the top of the bucket. That left the Frisbee like bottom up for grabs. Luckily #teamkrista is full of highly competent individuals such as Thomas who said, “lets use this as a Frisbee and play with the kids.” #wearelearning #useeverything. If we were back in the states the likelihood of us saving the bottom of a plastic trash bin would be slim to none but being in a place where everything can be used you start to see the potential in things rather than disregarding them.
A plastic trash bin Frisbee is not going to change anyone’s life but it can produce joy, build relationships and foster laughter among Americans and Ugandans alike. I heard more giggles and saw more relationships developing today than the last two days. Learning to see the beauty and potential in things takes discipline and time. It is not always easy but it is worth it. The question I am chewing on is “what areas of my life do I default to deficit that I need to change to hope?”
Today at our work site, I discovered the watering hole that our well would hopefully replace once complete. Although a mere 50 meters away, I hadn’t realized just how close the hole was because it was obscured by trees and dense vegetation. What I did notice, however, was the occasional young man walking down the footpath with a yellow jerry can in each of his hands. Each man would pass our work site on the way down, glance over at us curiously and then continue down the path until they disappeared into the overgrowth. Earlier that morning Amy had pointed out the general direction of the watering hole. Now I tried to pin point its exact location by tracing the path of the men with my eyes until I lost sight of them. Each man would eventually reemerge, only this time they were heavily laden with jerry cans full of water.
I knew that Amy intended our group to visit the watering hole after our work that day. But I decided to investigate for myself during one of my breaks from auguring our well. So I waited for an opportunity to follow one of the men down the path to the watering hole. After a short time I spotted a young man who looked to be in his twenties making his way down the footpath. I quickly grabbed one of the cameras our team had brought to the site, crossed the small sweet potato field to the footpath and followed him. It didn’t take the man long to realize that he was being followed. But he only gave me cursory glance, not really appearing to mind. I could only assumed that this was because he had already grown accustomed to seeing me at the work site over the past few days. I didn’t note any change in his stride. But as a courtesy, I made sure to put a little bit of distance between us as I trailed after him.
When we reached the watering hole the man was already stooped over the pool of water with one of his jerry cans partially submerged. The pool was small, only five feet in diameter by my estimation. I took a couple of pictures of him with the camera and then approached the water’s edge to get a closer look. The grass-lined pool was murky with dirt, but clear enough that you could make out the fuzzy, green patches of moss that lined its bottom. I noticed a couple of water strider bugs hopping on the surface of the water. Nothing struck me as odd about this pool, except the fact that I knew that this man was likely gathering it for him and his family to drink. At that moment I began to recount all the various ways that this water could be unclean and even contaminated. I couldn’t help but glance at the brown cow grazing only a few meters away from where I stood, knowing that it likely drinks from the same pool. In an instant my mind flashed back to the watering hole I had seen in the center of town and the bota bota taxi drivers who used it to clean parts on their motorcycles. Before I arrived at the well – even before I landed in Uganda – I was already well aware of the poor water conditions in Uganda. After all, that was why my team and I were here in the first place. But none of that really sunk in until I had followed the man to the watering hole.
As I quietly watched the bubbles rise from the opening in the jerry can and break on the surface of the watering hole, I felt a pang of pain in my chest. I knew that this man and the rest of the people in this community deserved better than this; they deserved clean water. I’m not sure how long I had been standing there watching this man, but it must have been long enough for him to pause to look in my direction. I’m certain that I had made him uncomfortable by this point. I smiled reassuringly at him. He smiled in return and then proceeded to fill the second jerry can.
With renewed vigor I turned back toward the path and our work site. I was eager now more than ever to see our water well through to completion. Our team may not be able to change the lives of every Ugandan living without clean water, but I knew that we would change the lives of this man and the rest of the people in this community. It’s a mere drop in the bucket, but it’s something.
It’s a question we’ve already asked several times this afternoon. Emma (short for Emmanuel) and John, the two employees of Mission4Water who are helping us dig our well, just roll their eyes at us. We’ve told them that we’re going to have a dance party when we finally find water. The problem is, we’re nowhere near water.
At this point we’ve been digging for two and a half days. #teamamy hit water almost immediately on the first day, but #teamkrista is struggling. We’ve been keeping our morale high by reminding our teammates that we have two whole weeks to dig. We’re excited! It’s why we came to Uganda in the first place! Who cares if we’re sore… who cares if we’re not making much progress… every little bit helps, right?
If you don’t know how this digging thing works, let me explain it to you. You start with a drill, which is a tin can shaped object with a couple of sharp fishtail things on the bottom. You connect it to a long pole and slowly lower the whole thing into the ground. Then take two wrench-type handles and connect them to the pole, which is sticking up about 10 feet above your head. Two people hold the pole steady while you and a partner twist the contraption and simultaneously push down as hard as you can. After a while, you pull it up to see how much dirt you managed to scoop up.
To our credit, we got several feet down before we hit sandstone. Emma told us that we would only have to dig through about 6 inches. It’s not the first time he’s lied to us. (“Emma, how are we doing?” “Really good!”) We fought for those 6 inches. We used four different types of drills, affectionately named Big Bertha, Middle Man Mike, Tiny Tim, and Baby Barty. The only thing we found under the sandstone was more sandstone. We fought for more inches
This afternoon was particularly rough because we weren’t pulling up any dirt. Like, at all. We were drilling our little hearts out. Krista kept encouraging us by telling us that we would have a dance party as soon as we found water. After all, we would have earned it, right? So we kept digging.
About 45 minutes from the end of our workday today, we were visited by Sunday, the co-founder and co-director of Mission4Water. He looked at our hole, examined our dirt pile, and then told us to stop working. In one of the most surreal moments of the trip so far he told us to abandon our hole and start somewhere new. We picked up Big Bertha, Middle Man Mike, Tiny Tim, and Baby Barty and trekked down the hill.
We started digging another hole.
We started digging like crazy people. We had only a short amount of time to work before we had to leave for the day. If we didn’t hit water before we left there was a very strong chance that Emma and John would keep digging without us, which meant they would find water without us. We were determined not to let that happen.
“It’s time to go!” we heard our coordinator, Sue, call to us from the top of the hill. (“Did you hear that?” “Nope. You?” “Nope.”) We dug some more. By now we were pulling up buckets of mud. We knew we were close. We were not leaving without water.
“Are you ready to dance?!”
We gave one last twist on the pole and pulled the drill up. We peered over the edge of our hole to check our progress. Finally! Water! (“We did it!” “Look, you can see it rippling!” “Someone take a picture!”)
After all of our hard work, after all of our discouragement, after all of that sandstone, we had finally hit water!
Of course we danced. Emma and John rolled their eyes, but they danced with us too. J
Before I get into my thoughts, just as a bit of an update:
We have and have not hit water!
#TeamAmy hit water on the first day, literally only a few feet into digging!…(what?!) Which inevitably made #TeamKrista full of joy and jealousy! 😉 Haha #TeamKrista spent ALL of day two digging through sandstone and have yet to hit water… but we are prepared and preparing our Mission4Water men for the dance party that WILL happen once we do! #TeamAmy spent all of day two slinging mud and slipping in it!.. We aren’t sure who’s winning the soreness and difficulty factor at the moment.
Ok, now onto some of my thoughts…
When we arrived to Rukungiri on Monday, there was no power, which means the lights were running on a generator, and the water was ushered in via Jerry Cans. – What an interesting welcoming to see and experience first hand how water dictates your life.
Also, as a side learning moment, when the generators are running the power, it is hit or miss if you will have a working outlet… Which then caused us to huddle on Amy’s bed to send updates because between all ten rooms, there was exactly one outlet that worked. Just one.
So, for the first day or so, we had limited power and no running water; which means learning to bucket bathe and shave… Then saving that water to use to flush our toilets… And, because I love sharing all things that keep it real, mostly if it leads to a funny story (Africa style): After two days of traveling, your body is ready for some good toilet time!
When you begin a mission such as this, your goal is centered around water. You prepare for months to understand and provide water; but, let’s be honest here, in America it is actually entirely unfathomable to accurately comprehend how much water dictates everything. EVERYTHING. It is simply something that cannot be understood because water is a subconscious element of life, just like air; we just don’t have to think about it… at all. So, to start out our mission with water problems, and then realizing we are the beneficiaries of someone else filling 20+lb Jerry cans full of water, then heating up the water, and putting ONE for each of us outside our room (ten rooms)… You cannot help but instantly see the missional need play out before you.
After a full day, we had power AND water!
Glorious water running through our pipes!
It was time for a real shower (after you flip the switch and wait 20 minutes to allow the water to heat up somewhat). However, when you shower, you still stand in a plastic basin to catch as much of the water as you can, in order to use it to flush the toilet later should the power go out again. (which it has)
However, they do not have shower curtains, which means there’s a very real danger of slipping and hurting yourself, because of all the water splatter in the bathroom (or in Krista speak: killing yourself for others to find you in your full glory!!!!).
Yet, we seem to be experiencing feast or famine in regards to water (both in life and at our drilling sites!)… Once the power came back on, and we got water, my toilet still would not work.
The hotel staff came to work on it, for hours, literally hours. At one point, I stopped into my room to grab something, and water was everywhere in the bathroom and they were BAILING IT OUT INTO BUCKETS! I couldn’t help but start laughing, which I’m not sure the hotel staff understood although I assured them it was ok… But I mean really, ALL the water everywhere.
They finished up well after dark and just before bed. Yet, when I returned to my room I realized they did not fix it, they had simply turned the water off, to wait to return later. With one liiiittttllleee problem, they had turned off toilet water, which proceeded to leak, one drop at a time… everywhere.
(Thankfully there’s a slope from my room into the bathroom, which prevents it from actually flooding into my room.)
Our team has spent quite a bit of time joking about me canoeing down the hallway in my suitcase wishing them all a good morning!
When I woke up this morning, the towel I had rolled up and closed in the doorway was sopping wet, and there was almost an inch of water collected in the bathroom over night.
One drop at a time.
It is now the following day, and they have been working since basically yesterday trying to fix the problem. My toilet has been disassembled, reassembled, parts replaced, etc… But, guess what? – The power is out again.
Guess what you cannot do while the power is out?: Check to see if the toilet is working properly. Haha So, unexpected water adventures… in my bathroom.
However, in Amy’s room, her shower drips… Each drip is collected into a basin in order to flush the toilet later if the power remains out.
A drop in the bucket actually matters.
But, it only matters if you are patient enough to wait.
Can you wait for the water to collect to be useful? – Or are you too impatient to wait for the full bucket?
What if you are one drop in the bucket, but you are too impatient to wait?… There’s very likely someone else collecting your drop, and patiently waiting for the rest of the drops to be collected.
People say, “what good are you doing? It is just a drop in the bucket.”
Let me assure you, now, unlike any other time in my life, I understand how much a drop in the bucket actually matters.
A drop in the bucket can provide life.
A drop of life giving water changes the course of everything… if you are patient enough.
Are you patient enough to wait for drops in the bucket?
We started digging today! After 7 months of preparation, we are finally here doing this work that God has called us too.
After 48 hours of traveling (with a little sleep in there), we arrived in Rukungiri yesterday evening. It was so different coming to Southern Uganda. The landscape and terrain are so different than the Uganda I know and love. It is so mountainous, and so green. On hillside after hillside, there were pine trees planted right next to pineapples, all just above banana plantations. It was so amazing to see such diversity, side by side on the mountains. I was struck by the beauty of this region, and have fallen even more in love with this country. We even saw some Zebras!
I woke up today filled with so much emotion. (I know, what’s new, right?!) ☺ I woke up thinking about today, the last seven months that led to today, the last six years that led today. Overwhelmed with gratitude for 9 other individuals who said yes, to come on a mission that God called me to so many years ago; that God has called them as well!
I love this team. With each day that I spend with them, I become so much more grateful for each one of them, and the gifting’s and personalities that they bring to this team. Krista and I prayed that God would bring the right people, and He did, in every way!
Today is the day we have been preparing for, we got to dig today! The team was filled with excitement and anticipation as we got a presentation from Mission 4 Water after breakfast. Then we headed off to well site 1 (#TeamKrista’s site) where we all got a brief presentation of the tools we would be using, and how to use them, then half of us headed to well site 2 (#TeamAmy’s site). We began the difficult work of hand-auguring these wells!! Folks, let me tell you…THIS. IS. HARD. WORK!!! It was the shortest workday we will have because of the presentations and demonstrations prior to getting started, but already today my obliques, quads, shoulders, forearms, etc…were already burning! I love this!!!
We get to do this! God called us to this; each one of us was called to this! We get to come to Uganda! We get to dig TWO wells! We get to help in providing approximately 700 Ugandans with clean water. Our hearts are full! Our bodies are tired! We are excited for tomorrow!
We have all of our shots, our money is in, our bags are (somewhat) packed, our excitement is mounting!!
What are we doing again?
We are partnering with Mission4Water and HAND AUGERING two clean water wells in the Rukungiri area of Uganda, Africa!
How can you pray for us?
Health – But really!… We have 10 people going to do really hard work, with lots of opportunities for things to happen.
Water – We need to hit water TWICE!
Safety -We have 10 people going to do hard work, with lots of opportunities for things to happen. (haha.. This is also a big deal)
Awareness – For many this is their first Mission, please pray that we are aware of God’s presence, and know when to speak, and when to listen.
Fun – Pray that in the midst of it all we have fun!
Teammate Rachel asks:
“That God will ordain a divine appointment, and I will recognize it when He presents it and have the courage to step into it.”
Teammate Jessie asks:
A new season with God. Praying that we each experience God in a new way and God reveals more of himself to each one of us. Praying for God to open our eyes to things we have not seen before. Praying for vulnerability with the team and that we would be able to have an unbreakable bond with one another.
Focus and presence. I pray we would each allow ourselves to rest in him and be present in Uganda and all that he has to show me and the team. That I would not be worried about what will happen when I return or finding a job.
Prayers for how we carry ourselves and interact with the people of Uganda. Praying we lead with love and that we are sensitive to their culture and learn more about their lives. That we would not come with our agenda but Gods agenda and that we would know God has been and will continue to be present in this wonderful country.
Below is a prayer written by our teammate Tia:
Its tomorrow! We’re leaving tomorrow! It has been months of researching, preparing, praying and asking (really begging) for money and now its tomorrow. I am beyond #Ugandaexcited. I am in Uganda disbelief. When I met Krista and Amy months ago in a coffee shop, I could not have pictured this place I am in now or the feelings and emotions stirring within me. Isaiah 6:8 reads: ‘Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”‘ Here we are Lord, send us! God be with us. Walk where we walk. Use us, work through us. Let us be vessels of Your holy presence. Change the atmosphere in Uganda and Lord change us. May we never be the same. Do what only You can do Lord. Let hope flow through us, as fresh water flows through pumps. Thank You for calling us and allowing us to be on Your team Lord, in this mission and in life. It is in the might and matchless name of Jesus I pray.
We are #UgandaExcited and #OnMissionEveryDay
Amy, Krista, Thomas, Joe, Debbie, Nicholle, Sally, Rachel, Jessie, Tia