Amy keeps laughing and marveling at the fact that, “This is really happening!”
The Maternity Ward/Urgent Care Facility is underway!
Long before we ever get to Uganda, and for a decent while afterwards work is happening! Stateside we are fundraising, and still need funds (please donate here), in Uganda is the real hard work of clearing land, laying stone, mixing and pouring concrete, and laying bricks!… And that’s just so far!
We are amazed at all that the Lord is doing, it is actually quite overwhelming to stop and look at the timing of everything. Every single time we needed to send money ahead so that work could start, continue or materials could be ordered we miraculously, by the blessing of the Lord had the money donated that week. He is going before us literally to start this project before we get there, and by prompting literally (on last count) 462 individual people to donate money to support our project and team!
SO! With that as the backdrop… Three weeks out from today, we will be LANDING in Entebbe Uganda, aiming to get a few hours of sleep, and then make the long drive up to Arua in the far North West area of Uganda.
The preparation for this type of project and trip takes a full year of planning, preparation, work and of course fundraising. – At the beginning of the planning process, it always feels a bit like getting ready to hike the largest mountain, navigate crazy terrain, traverse waterfalls, and often doing it all blindly in prayer and faith while leading a team of people behind us!
This year’s team is full of incredible people.
I (Krista) always say that getting to know, love, and then sharing the full year of learning and experiences of a project like this is my favorite part. We are a unique group and so full of varying personalities and perspectives, but, it has been so fun to see the constant within the team to be encourage and support first, followed by lots of laughter, prayer, and so much love.
At this point, it looks as though when we get there in three weeks, we will be joining the construction team in laying brick on the interior walls, mixing and pouring concrete/cement for the outside sidewalk area around the building, and likely plastering walls. It is always a unique experience to learn the Ugandan way to do these things (especially if we have never done anything like this stateside!). One of our big goals as a team though is not to push our American timelines or methods, but instead learn… learn, support, and work hard!.. But, also we want to build relationships with those we are working with.
We believe it would be a waste of time to go, build a beautiful Ugandan Hospital for the Imvepi Refugee Settlement in zone 2, and not to walk away with friends and stories to share from these incredible people.
This is really happening! We have no idea all that the Lord is going to do in and through us on this trip in just a few short weeks, but, we are full of holy anticipation and excitement.
So, at this point, we are getting a lot of questions somewhere along the lines of:
How can you support us?
Here is our short answer:
1. Prayers – For travel, health, safety, the Ugandan workers, our team, finances, the refugees, Pastor Bob and Sue (our on the ground contacts/partners/planners and friends), the team leaders (Amy and Krista), our team’s spiritual formation, and against spiritual attacks.
2. Finances. We still need about $26,000 to cover the last couple of phases of construction. (Our team’s expenses are fully covered, and the first two phases are mostly covered).
3. Send us encouragement. – Seriously, commenting on our social media posts, asking questions, write us notes.. whatever it is, the physical presence and engagement of those we love is HUGE.
4. Follow along with our journey! – We love all that the Lord is doing in each one of us, in Uganda long before we ever get there, and there is a building excitement and anticipation of what will happen while we’re there (and after we get home)! Follow along and be a part of what is happening!
Thank you to every single person who has donated,
shown up, encouraged, and prayed for us on this journey!
We aren’t even at the mountaintop high and God’s faithfulness is beginning to overwhelm us!
So much love and gratitude,
This year our team has taken on the incredible task of working with local Ugandans to build a Maternity Ward/Urgent Care Facility for a Refugee Settlement in Northern Uganda!
Previously, our team has gone to Uganda to provide clean water (which is a huge issue throughout Uganda) and Mission4Water continues to do amazing work! They have taken some time to go back and re-visit wells to service them, and in some cases needing to entirely fix them! So, due to the nature and time it takes to plan these trips, we have decided for this year to shift the focus to a new project!
To help us identify needs and navigate logistics far ahead of our mid-summer arrival, we are working with Bob N. an amazing local Ugandan (who is also connected to Mission4Water)! Bob invests all of his time in helping shift the culture of Uganda, focusing on leadership development and community care trainings. He wrote a book you can get here and learn more about what he’s doing here and also watch this video.
Maternity Ward/Urgent Care Facility for a Refugee Settlement in Northern Uganda!
This is the floor plan for the building that we’ve decided to go with. It is much smaller than our original goal, but since it is already pre-approved by the government it means significantly less red-tape to jump through (which is worth it)!
Imvepi Refugee Settlement
(On the far West side of the image)
The current plan is to build in zone 2 of the Imvepi Refugee Settlement.
Imvepi is largely comprised of South Sudanese refugees; and this particular zone has a greater chance of being around for quite some time over the original hope of building in a different zone with greater need (but less chance of being around for as long). – So after lots of discussion about where to place the Maternity Ward, the long-term impact of zone 2 just couldn’t be dismissed in part due to the larger native community that would be also impacted, and better served currently as well as once the South Sudanese are able to return home safely.
Watch the video above to see the (likely) location for our building! The two semi-permanent structures (tents) currently serve as the health facility and double as offices for food distribution to another zone.
The current plan is to be in country for 14 days in the middle of summer. – The exact dates are still to be determined, and largely depend on trying to get the least expensive flight prices for our team in order to save travel costs that can then be applied to the project!
However, we will send funds ahead of our arrival so that they can lay the foundation, begin preparing with brick making on site, ship all materials, and of course tackle the very real need for water here as well. – You can’t make bricks without water, nor can you pour concrete!
Team leaders Amy and Krista have a passion for building a community. – Specifically in rallying people together with common goals, and creating a way for people to learn, grow, and be a part of something that can change the world for the better.
Why this project?
After lots of discussions, Amy and Krista felt it was important to both highlight the work, and give a voice to the refugee crisis that is happening in Uganda. There is incredible work that is already happening, but the South Sudanese refugees (along with lots of other people from places like DRC, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Burundi, Rawanda and others) that are fleeing to Uganda, and largely being overlooked due to other refugee crises around the world.
So, the big question that we asked ourselves was, “What practical way can two people, leading a small team, backed by supporters impact and improve the lives of refugees?”
Lots of back and forth discussions with Bob N. and it was finally settled on the very tangible need for the refugee women to have a place to safely deliver their babies. Currently women are delivering children on the floors of their tents, which is dirty, dusty or muddy depending on the time of year… OR they are walking crazy distances to get medical care.
We decided that at the very least, we could rally people and companies to support us in literally saving the lives of innocent children, and providing medical care for those who have already experienced extreme trauma.
How can you help?
There are four main ways to help and support our team!
- Support us financially* or join one of our events!
- Follow along with our blog and on social media via the hashtag #ugandaexcited
- Learn and Share about the refugee crisis in Uganda
- Pray and send our team encouragement to uganda[at]aoneeight.org
Thank you to our family, friends, and the companies for the amazing support and encouragement already!
~Amy, Krista, and the Uganda team!
*Any donations received above our fundraising goal will be donated to the local NGO’s we are working with to ensure proper care and support for the community.
As we prepared our hearts and minds for our trip to Uganda, each member of our team was challenged to fast for nearly 24 hours. This would be my first attempt at intentionally refraining from eating food for an extended period of time. I was skeptical. How would it feel? How might I grow from this experience, if at all? Nonetheless, I tried it. And I’m glad I did.
Here’s what I learned:
- I need to be even more grateful for access to food and abundance. My hunger was voluntary. But in many places of the world, hunger and limited access to food are involuntary experiences. To get a sense of what this means, consider the Global Food Security Index. Uganda, for example, ranks 81 out of the 113 countries in the study (http://bit.ly/2tZw5P5). That means that in terms of affordability, availability, and quality and safety, Uganda experiences daunting – but not insurmountable – challenges when it comes to food security. The United States in comparison – yes, you guessed it – ranks at the top of the index. My fast, albeit temporary, enabled me to empathize with others who experience the real challenge of food insecurity.
- I deepened my capacity for patience and self-control. This was the most important lesson for me. Consciously denying yourself something you depend on – something as fundamental as food – builds these important character traits. This fast shook me out of the slumber of my daily routine and focused my attention on the physical experience of hunger, while resisting the urge to eat.
If you haven’t tried to fast, I encourage you to try it out. Your experience may be different from mine. But I’m certain you’ll learn lessons that can improve your character and your experience with those around you.
By Ryan De Souza
Uganda, Day 9
Notes from the field: Morale is high. Food stores are holding out well (the harvest on Sunday was exceptionally abundant). Power and water are intermittent… Progress continues on the wells. Completion is in sight…
In all seriousness our time in Uganda has been enjoyable. While many people may not see digging wells half way across the globe as a vacation, or as something that would be refreshing, I think that many of us are finding this to be true while we are here. – I think that this is due to 4 distinct factors, all of which are working together to make our time here like no other.
- The pace of life here is so different from what we experience in DC. Pretty much the entire time here, we haven’t really felt rushed. While there have been times that it was time to get back so that lunch wouldn’t grow cold, it just doesn’t feel like the end of the world if we get there when we get there. Things here just seem to happen when they happen. For example, there have been nights when dinner wasn’t ready until after 8pm, while other times it was ready at 7pm on the dot. In the States, if we had dinner reservations for a particular time, we would be pretty upset if we had to wait another hour for our food (been there, done that, got the t-shirt), but here in Uganda, it really was not a big deal that it took a bit longer for dinner to be ready. While we have a start to the morning each day (7:30 for group prayer), it is late enough in the morning that we can all get up pretty much when we want to. For myself, it has been an amazing to experience to watch the sunrise on the rooftop each morning. There is something particularly powerful about seeing a sunrise from a high place. It is like seeing God speak in a fresh way for the first time that day.
Regardless of how we spend each morning, the point is that our mornings generally are not hurried. While I’m certain that this is not the case for some Ugandans, I think that for many, the pace of life is a bit slower. I guess that because even basic things can take longer to do here (household chores, purchasing goods, etc.), it is just a part of life that things go more slowly here.
- Along the same lines, life here in Uganda is more flexible. Schedules are subject to change, and they do regularly in ways that normally make Westerners like us uncomfortable. For example, our daily schedule has been pretty dramatically altered on the fly each day for the past 3 days. Church yesterday took significantly longer than anticipated (wrapping up the food auction took a long time!). We ran over so late that we had to reschedule our visit to see a group of Ugandan dancers, and even then, we arrived after they had started. While this may have stressed out our leadership, it hasn’t bothered me in the least. It just seems natural here to go with the flow. I’ve noticed that most Ugandans that we have met are much more comfortable with ambiguity than we are in the West. We often hear phrases like, “On my way, coming” when someone asks them on the phone where they are at. This phrase can mean 3 completely different things, and there are no context clues that give an indication as to which one it is: It can mean that the person has not yet left their home, or it can mean that they are actually on their way to their destination, or it can mean they are somewhere else completely different. The answer is ambiguous, but many of the Ugandans are comfortable with that. Our Engineer, Sunday, often says goodbye by saying “See you when you see me.” Rather than a more explicit good-bye like “See you later”, this phrase exemplifies a comfort with not knowing what the future holds. All these examples point to a flexibility in time, purpose, and planning that is refreshingly alien to my western mindset.
- This trip would not be the same if it were not for the amazing group of people that compose this team, composed of Americans and Ugandans. A trip to dig wells in Uganda could honestly be miserable with the wrong mix of people, personalities, or attitudes. But that is definitely not the case here. The people on this team exhibit a multitude of diversities (ethnic, education, family background, Christian walks, outlooks, and spirits) that all somehow compliment one another. I chalk that coincidence up to a) God’s provenance, and b) our unity of spirit. Still, I’m amazed that for each weakness that one member has, another has strength in that same place. Where there is a gap in knowledge for one, another has wisdom and insight into the matter. And where someone needs guidance or an answer to a prayer, someone else has a word that provides the encouragement that they needed. We really are blessed with an amazing team that, 99% of the time, is truly operating as a unit. Ephesians 4:3 says, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” I can say with all sincerity that we have been living that out during out time here.
We talked about it early in the week, but our time on this short term mission trip really is the closest thing we can get to living like the early church did in Acts. (Specifically Acts 2: 42-47). Our modern lives don’t often give us these kinds of opportunities, because how we live day to day is so different now. But in the mission field, we have that chance to live fully in community, living close to one another, gathering together daily to share meals, to share with one another as is needed, to give back to the community, and to bring glory to God. All these would not be possible if we were not on the same page. So just to reiterate, our team here is amazing, and that makes all the difference.
- Finally, all of these other factors lead to a greater ability to spend time with God each day. While we all make an effort to do so at home, even the best of us can be hit or miss with our personal time with Jesus. Out here, because the pace of life is different, because life is a bit more flexible, and because we are spurring one another on, we are all likely getting more time with God than we normally would. And it is amazing! I think one thing that is surprising is how much God has to say when you are on a short-term mission trip. But in reality, God is trying to get our attention all the time. Jesus said specifically that He would send the Holy Spirit, and be with us until the end of the age. So we know that He never left us. What is different out here is that we are doing a better job of listening. Through our daily devotionals, through our own personal quiet times, and through the sharing of testimonies with one another, we have all heard God speak to us in ways that are uplifting, life affirming, and encouraging. Getting time with God each day hasn’t meant that each day was perfect. But it has meant that we learned more, were more open to new experiences, and grew more than we otherwise would have. Being in God’s presence each day not only opens your eyes to the problems that others experience here each day, but also (and perhaps more importantly) to the joy that they have despite their circumstances!
For these reasons, I think we can all say that our time in Uganda so far has been refreshing. It doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been challenging, or at times hard work. Rather, what it means is that it has been fulfilling, it has been affirming, and that it has been worth it. Even when one of us is having a sub-par day, I don’t believe anyone regrets their decision to spend their vacation days coming to Uganda to dig a well. Our time here has been an enjoyable adventure, and we wouldn’t trade it for the world.
We leave 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
If you would still like to donate, you can here!
General elections take place today in Uganda. As we in the United States are currently in the midst of primaries, and undergoing all the steps to lead to our own general elections, my heart cannot help but break for Uganda. As frustrated as I get with our own process, and sometimes the outcomes, I am equally grateful for that process and a faith that the outcomes are fair and honest.
Today, I ask that you stand with us, and pray for Uganda.
As someone who loves Uganda and the people there, I ask that you join me (and our team) in praying for them. Pray for fairness, for a peaceful process, for honest outcomes, for whomever is elected to have wisdom in leading Uganda to new and better places.
The key election issues:
~ Corruption and quality of public services,
~ Infrastructure development,
~ and health care.
A brief history:
Uganda was under the British until independence in 1962. There followed military rule. Most people over a certain age (myself included) can never forget the rule of the brutal dictator Idi Amin. An Army General, he ruled with terror and murdered anyone who stood in his way. He destroyed railways, slaughtered wild animal for his pleasure and kicked most foreigners out of the country so vital businesses disappeared overnight. The country collapsed.
The country held its first multi‐party democratic elections in 2005.
Yoweri Museveni, also a military man, has been in office since winning a five year guerrilla war in 1986. As I stated, he is now seeking to further extend his 30 year rule. Like many other African rulers, some say he is reluctant to hand over his power, since once he goes, many truths will be uncovered. He is quoted as saying “I entered by the gun and I shall only leave by the gun”. Many Ugandans therefore fear a bloody conflict, and so view a vote for him as a vote for stability and continued peace, rather than face the possible alternatives. He has reportedly said that he will occupy the office, regardless of the outcome of this election.
Over 15 million Ugandans are expected to vote today, out of a 37 million possible voters. In view of possible violent protests, the police have received new equipment for riot and crowd control. The news today says that 149,000 Police have been deployed into Kampala (the capital). There are teargas armoured vehicles positioned at strategic roundabouts and junctions. The people there have been warned to stock up on food and water and keep their phones charged and fuel in their cars. They have been advised to keep well away from town and busy public areas, just in case.
President Yoweri Museveni is given as favorite in front of the other seven candidates. The incumbent, President Yoweri Museveni, now 71, who has governed Uganda for 30 years, is seeking another five-year term on the ruling party, the National Resistance Movement (NRM). In 2005, President Museveni won a campaign to lift the constitutional term limits, thus extending his rule.
There are a number of candidates who have put themselves up for election, but two are notably in the running against Museveni. The National Resistance Movement (NRM) candidate is Amama Mbabazi, a former Prime Minister in the present government until he fell out with Museveni and was sacked in 2014. The other, Col. Dr Kizza Besigye, a candidate for the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) is from the town we will be working in when we return to Uganda in August, Rukungiri. He is well supported amongst his own tribe in western Uganda. He stood for election 5 years ago and was defeated amongst crys of vote rigging and corruption.The first ever TV debate was hosted recently but Museveni was notably absent. Museveni faces criticism from the West over the country’s worsening human rights record and he has accused Western Donors, concerned about misappropriation of donations, as interfering.
The candidates standing against Museveni have been arrested and held by Police on numerous occasions for “inciting unrest” and their rallies broken up with allegations that they are unsanctioned. The Police even raided the print room where the FDC manifesto was being printed. Uganda Broadcasting Corporation is state owned and has given Museveni an unfair portion of airtime compared to the other candidates.
Two election voting stations have already been closed, and voting there canceled because they received fake ballots. Teargas has been fired on crowds in Kampala because the crowds were angry over waiting hours for election materials to finally arrive.
One person died on Monday, when he was caught in a clash between Besigye supporters and security forces in Kampala. Several people were wounded as police fired bullets and tear gas, and the opposition threw rocks. The people of Uganda have become accustomed to this being “the norm” anytime someone is rallying for support in opposition to Museveni.
Please pray for peace this week with the election and people of Uganda. Pray for those voting that they may vote with their conscience and not simply follow the general consensus. Pray for fair voting on polling day. Pray against corruption. Pray for peace once the results are declared, that Uganda may be God fearing Country and those who rule do so with servant‐hearts, for the good of their country.
(The pictures in this post are from Ugandans our team met in 2015)