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.
I have been trying to come up with words to reflect and summarize our time in Uganda. I have a torrential waterfall, much like Murchison Falls overflowing with feelings that flood through me every time I try to share.
How do you summarize or share something that wasn’t just life changing for you personally, but also for 14 other people?
On one hand, it is simple to say, “It was amazing!”
Another, possibly more accurate description would be, “It was incredibly hard from every possible aspect, but God showed up in equal measure.”
Before we left in July, I had been praying for everyone on our team for months.
When I started praying in December, it was more generic, “Lord, be with ____ today.” And then, as I got to know them better, my prayers became specific and nuanced. But, about six weeks out, I started praying that our Lord would give each of us a greater awakening of who He is, who we are because of Him, and that we would have a greater awareness and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.
In hindsight, I probably should have been a bit more specific, and in the future I will probably be more intentional about the words I choose. I absolutely feel like all of my prayers were answered, but in a way that meant the trip was incredibly difficult, and yet, through it all God was faithful, and he showed up with gentle but incredible force.
For years I have maintained that trouble, persecution, trials, difficulties often act as a greenhouse for God to show up. – Uganda was no different.
Every day we had a new challenge, some interpersonal, others health related, some were directly connected to why we were there, and then others blindsided us and needed some massive amounts of prayer for wisdom. Each unique problem felt like we were presented with the option to take the blue pill or red pill… Choose stress, frustration, and giving into the emotions or instead, press in to God, through prayer and petition, and rely on one another even more. – Spiritual warfare at its finest.
There was not a day that went by that I did not find myself both thanking God for showing up and surrounding us as a team and individuals, extending extra grace and tangibly sending the Holy Spirit to comfort and encourage us.. But, also overwhelmed with the gravity of some of the situations we had to face.
Never in my life have I been so aware of spiritual attacks, and equally as aware of the presence of the Lord surrounding both myself and others.
Some of the things we faced are simply not meant to be shared in a public setting with people we cannot have a conversation with; other challenges are not mine to share.
However, to help give you a glimpse:
Right at the beginning we had busted out a back window of the rented vehicle. – In Uganda the difficulty is actually replacing it with authentic car glass that will shatter correctly.
We had raised extra money and took it as an “emergency fund” and were able to replace the window within 6 hours with little to no stress because of the donations we had received.
After four days of drilling, and an absent local community, one well was caught in the middle of a community dispute about the location. There was beginning to be pressure on the team to abandon the well location and start over. – If we had to do this, the only well that had hit water at that point would not have been able to be completed in the time we had.
A community meeting was called after dark at the well site on the fourth day, and the Holy Spirit showed up. The women of the community rose in defense of the well location, and fought for their needs and ultimately won.
One site’s auger bit got stuck at 16ft, causing the team to have to dig a 6ft in diameter pit by hand with pickaxes that broke on the regular down to unstick the auger bit. (***Update, the pit ended up having to go to a total of 31ft, then they started auguring again, hit water at 40ft, and completed the well depth at 55ft! – The third well is now complete 3 weeks after we left!)
The community rallied and men joined in daily to help with the efforts. It was one of the most beautiful examples of people literally fighting for a need they have, but also creating space for the team to bond with their community. The Holy Spirit also seemed to extend extra grace to that team, giving them confidence, so much fun and laughter, and peace about the ever increasing realization that they would not be able to complete the well, but that it would be completed after we left.
Rocks, clay as hard as rocks, more rock, bending and breaking tools.
Because of the donations that were sent and the abundance of support we received prior to leaving, we were able to replace everything that broke. And, eventually, slowly, little by little we were able to hand drill and chisel beyond each level of soil or rock.
So much discouragement, insecurity, fear, pain, physical illness; more than I can accurately explain in a blog post.
Every single time, before we encountered any issues or problems, someone lead a devotional in the morning that tied directly to what we needed to hear, or someone shared a word or passage of scripture that resonated and sustained us through.
And, these are just the things that we dealt with as a team; this does not include the individual problems, challenges, or struggles we faced and prayed through.
So, reflecting on the trip hasn’t been simple or linear either. As I have begun to work intentionally at creating more space for my own process, I began reading through my journal and prayers. I had already forgotten, or simply have no recollection of praying for some of the things I prayed to our Lord for!
A few nights ago, I was asked how I was feeling, at first I sidestepped with my usual answer of giving a few valid, but not the total picture answers. Soon though as they pressed gently, I began to ramble through my feelings of being overwhelmed, still trying to find space and time to process, and then found myself in tears as I ended my ramble with, “I just miss Uganda”.
I miss the organization we work with, the work we did, and the people there. I also miss the simplicity of focus I needed to have. In Uganda, I only had a handful of things I needed to manage and focus on, in my normal everyday life the focus is in the hundreds daily.
But, if I’m being honest, what I miss most is our team’s daily togetherness and intentionality to love well. It isn’t easy, nor is it glamorous for 15 people to live and do intimate community together (especially in Africa); actually, it’s really hard and it pushes you and requires you to grow in ways you never expect! However, there is also an element of “rightness” to choosing to live and love others intentionally in a true and very real community of believers.
Since getting back three weeks ago, there is a great deal of spiritual warfare still taking place for many on our team and for the organization we work with in Uganda. Please continue to keep all of us in your prayers as the Lord is still on the move.
(click the images and scroll through)
Thank you for your support, for your encouragement, prayers, money, and for loving our team so well for the last 8 months as we have prepared and then gone to Uganda to provide clean water to three communities! We cherish you and your support more than we can communicate to you.
Thank you for sending us to Uganda for 16 days that changed our lives forever.
(Team leader for #WaterWarriors)
On day six (Saturday) of digging our wells, the Water Warriors mixed and set the cement pad, giving shape to what the well will look like after completion. The Water Hitters continued digging further into, and under, the water table, ensuring the longevity of their life giving construct. Last but not least, Team RSF continued their journey to the center of the earth… well, at least as far down as their stuck auger bit. The Water Warriors reached a stopping point after the morning shift, and the other two teams made the decision to work a ‘two-a-day’ and work in the afternoon.
I had a bit of time in the afternoon to reflect on what we were doing here in Uganda, and how we got here. One thought that came to mind is the relativity of our time in Uganda. A few numbers to support this thought are as follows:
The time that it took to give and listen to a sermon at National Community Church last fall, calling those who would step out to serve God in places not called home. After hearing the testimony of nearly all my teammates, I feel that the general consensus amongst us all, and the thread that connects us, who are for the most part a group of strangers, is the unspoken need and desire to serve our fellow humans.
For the sake of a nice round number (I can be precise when I need to be, but prefer neatness for my point), approximately the amount of time that was spent in the mental, physical, and spiritual preparation for this journey. I can personally tell you that this time went by in a heartbeat! I was celebrating Christmas in Omaha and woke up the next morning to get on a plane for Uganda the next day… okay a gross exaggeration, but I get some literary leniency to make my points right?
I use this to show that Uganda was not the only thing on my mind at this time. I would like to say it was my number one priority, but I would be lying. Things like work, social life, church, proposing for, and attempting to help plan, a wedding, are a few of the things that were competing for my time. I’m sure a similar story can be echoed by my fellow teammates and the saying ‘life happens’ could be used an ingloriously high number of times over the course of those six months.
Okay, now we can’t get away from it. The pictures that have been living in our head for the past six months are real, in our face, screaming at the top of their lungs: ‘Here it is! Here is why you came to serve! Now go and do it!’ We are all precision focused, determined to drill and find water, develop a well, create community with the local peoples, and become better people ourselves; and that is what we are doing! Morning devotions lead by various team members, the testimonies of each of our team members, visits to the poor, visits to schools, interaction with the local community, and of course attending church.
This is the amount of time that it will take our team to depart Uganda, have a few layovers, and proceed back to Washington, D.C. This is the amount of time that we will have to go back to I-95 traffic, politics, news, work (for paying earthly bills, because believe me, we have done a bit of work here!), and the 100 mph pace of our lives back home. I try not to look too far forward while here, focusing on each day, task, and interaction as it comes, but it is hard to overlook the fact that I will be back to the ‘1st World’ soon. Do me a favor and pray for all of our transitions back!
Now for the number/time (in a generalized sense) to compare to the ones above:
What we are doing is providing an essential resource for a community for the rest of their lives, and the entire lives of those to come!
I know this is a dramatic comparison, but it is real, I’ve seen the looks of happiness and anticipation for this gift on those receiving it! So the next time I spend five minutes in a Starbucks line, or 45 minutes in 495 traffic, I can always think back to the fact that I decided to wisely spend some of my time in Uganda; that I could help others for a lifetime; that we can all do it; and relatively, it doesn’t cost us much.
I love a good checklist.
A checklist for preparing and packing for Uganda.
A checklist for work activities.
A checklist for wedding planning.
A checklist for the grocery store or weekend tasks.
“Failing to plan is planning to fail” rings true in a culture that demands each of us to be efficient multi-taskers. Plus as an ENTJ, my love of checklists and crossing items off my checklists is inherent to every part of my being. (Did I mention that my “J” score is really high?) The first time I went on a mission trip back in 2010, I prepared the only way I knew how, I took vigorous notes at team meetings and following the packing list completely—even adding some of my own items that I thought I needed. My checklist was my security blanket. When I moved overseas more than 2 years ago, I made checklists months in advance. I visualized and strategically planned out what items I needed in my luggage, what items could be in a shipment, and how much I needed of each item until I could order them on Amazon.
People have asked me how my trip preparation is going. Asked if I feel stressed or overwhelmed. My answer is the same, I’m good. I feel no real stress. While, some stress has snuck in, it’s been more so related to wedding planning and not Uganda preparation, like what does a capital G and Q look like in cursive. Luckily, my workload at work has slowed down to manageable level—otherwise my answer may not be the same. Although it probably would. I have been on multiple mission trips and traveled to a lot of places overseas. I have never been to Africa, so I know that it will bring its own challenges, but responding to unknowns while traveling has almost become a known to me. I feel confident in my ability to prepare, and I have full confidence that God will show up and show off because that is who He is and what He does.
But as I was packing yesterday and finishing addressing my wedding invitations, I still felt no nervousness, no real stress—except for those stupid cursive letters I don’t use regularly. However, something hit me today as I was finishing items on my checklist, God told me to stop and to pause because He had a message for me. I realized that my Uganda trip had become a “checklist item” on my wedding planning checklist. While Uganda preparation had its own checklist, it had somehow found its way on to a different checklist. My wedding list centered on things to do before and after Uganda. Uganda had also somehow made it on to my travel checklist—my first country in Africa and my international travel for 2017. My confidence in my ability to prepare for a trip and my trust in God almost acted as blinders to what God was doing and showing to me right now. I’ve been working for the last few years on relinquishing control to God, and in a lot ways I have made progress. And, that amazing trust in God to do His works is a direct bi-product of that. But, God is always pushing us to learn new things about His nature.
I had lost sight of preparing my heart and my Spirit to serve. I had lost sight of the true goal of a mission—to learn more about the things that break God’s heart and how our heart should be breaking for the same things. The people getting access to clean water were just numbers to me. Just an item on my “to do” list that in my mind read “Dig three wells. Help 100s of people. Check.” Each of those people are worth more than a number on my checklist. They are people loved by God, and I should feel completely honored to get to know them, even if I never physically meet them. I still have a few items to check off my list, but my focus is now on preparing my heart and my Spirit and not on successfully completing that checklist. Focused on each individual who God will bless through these clean water wells.
Yes, God can still move through checklists, but God loves to move in the stillness. We just have to make sure we put our pens down, find stillness, and then listen.
We are a mere three weeks away from leaving for Uganda to dig three clean water wells for 16 days!
Before each person joined our team, we prepared them for how much would be involved in getting ready for our mission in Uganda. Often joking about “owning” their life for the first 7 months of 2017 (haha but really)!..
- We have had meetings all year,
- We have read and given reports on a collected book list,
- We have been intentional in creating space for people to invest in what we are doing.
- We have been creative in our fundraising and storytelling.
- We have been getting shots and visas,
- Attempting to teach our bodies to drink the appropriate amount of water each day,
- And of course, preparing our minds and hearts for what is to come.
As the leaders, our goal is to prepare without over educating, so, we have shared movies, articles, and passed on stories and information via friends from Uganda to help everyone get an accurate picture of what is to come.
We do not want to go to Uganda feeling like the work we put into our three wells has saved the country in our short time there. Instead, our goal is to be three little drops in the bucket of support that works to lift up the people of Uganda a bit more.
We are a unique and diverse group of people, men and women, different ages and ethnicities, spanning feelers and thinkers, extroverts and introverts (and somewhere in between). We are believers, followers, and lovers of Jesus of varying lengths. I am not sure there is a more diverse group of people to have gone on mission together before (ok maybe slight exaggeration!)
Everyone on our team has stepped out and purposefully sought after unique things in the preparation for this year, it has been so fun to watch everyone’s journey and faith change!
As the leaders of this mission team, we have set up expectations to help our team push themselves beyond what is even listed above. Everyone will take a turn leading a team devotional, they will get the chance to share their story with everyone, as well as write a blog post while we are in Uganda so that the myriad of viewpoints will be captured for you to follow along!.. And that isn’t even counting their official team roles! (First Aid, Prayer, Encouragement etc..etc..)
What can you do to support us?
Pray for all 15 of our team members, all 6 Ugandan drillers, and Sue and Sunday:
- We need to hit water three times!
- Health is always something to be taken seriously in prayer while in another country!
- That we each are able to create space to be fully present mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to experience what God has for us.
- Pray for our friends, family, and housemates that remain behind carrying on normal life while we are gone.
- For the communities that these clean water wells are going into, that it would be a blessing, but also a community building and rallying force for them!
- That the clean water would save lives, and create space for girls to go to school.
At this point ALL the money that is donated will be given to Mission4Water to continue to dig clean water wells long after we leave on July 21st!
Every year I am blown away by how quickly time goes. I always think I am prepared, but somewhere between “it’s so far away” and every day life, the trip sneaks up on me and then suddenly is right around the corner!
If you want more information about what we are doing, read this post, but also peruse through our blog or search #ugandaexcited on Facebook and Instagram!
~Krista (and the leadership trio)