Day 10: First Mate’s Log – Stardate 2017.07.16

First Mate’s Log – Stardate 2017.07.16 – Sunday (Read this in the voice of Commander Riker from Star Trek!)

We are currently on the 10th day of our 16 day mission to Uganda. The cooperative mission with the local villagers for the provision of three community wells continues with only minor setbacks for two of the three wells. We are on track to finish two of them by the time we leave, while the third will require continued work after we have to return to Starbase NCC. We remain confident that the third well will eventually be completed, and each team remains in high spirits. The community buy-in that our teams are seeing at each site continues to strengthen, and we believe that the wells we are putting in place will be sustained for generations to come. Team Amy (Water Hitters) has a significant, but achievable, amount of work to arrive at well completion, while Team Krista (Water Warriors) has remained on pace throughout the well boring process and may be able to take it easier going forward. Team Sally (RSF) ended the work shift yesterday, after being assigned double shifts, with a substantial, though not nearly deep enough, hole in the ground as they continue to dig out the jammed auger. But for today, the entire group is taking a Sabbath day.

This is our story:

We travelled today to the one of Watoto Church’s Children’s Villages. Watoto Church, where Sue attends here in Uganda, is doing some pretty incredible work taking care of orphans and children that are in desperate need of care. They have three villages that are set up around Uganda, caring for more than 3,500 children. Watoto makes it very clear, both in word and in deed, that these villages are not orphanages; they are not adopting these children out, and are believing for them to be raised up as the future leaders of Uganda. The particular location we visited was called Kasubi Village, and the facilities they had there were simply awesome. They have approximately 200 acres of land on top of a mountain about an hour and a half from Entebbe. They care for nearly 1,300 children there, from newborns and infants all the way through high school and into college or technical school. We will post some pictures, though they won’t do justice to the vision of what Watoto has there. If we are being honest with ourselves, the kids there are being given more opportunities than many Ugandan children. They are allowed not just to survive, but also to truly thrive there! For example, they don’t live in dormitories; rather, they live in houses in groups of eight, with a housemother living in each home and taking care of them. They get schooling all the way through high school, and even have opportunities to travel or do mission work outside of Uganda on occasion! Finally, they have opportunities to be involved with Watoto church, as they have a service there on campus on Sunday mornings.

We got a chance to visit their baby facility, where they take in abandoned infants, restore them back to health (both physical and emotional) and prepare them to be able to either transition back to their families, assuming they can be tracked down, or transition into a house there on campus at the age of two. I think I speak for everyone when I say how impressed I was with the whole operation. They have thought out what they do so well, and they take child psychology and development into account at every step in the work that they do there. Those babies are so well loved! We had the chance to play with them for a bit near the end, and they were so full of joy and life. We kept joking that we should check each other’s backpacks to make sure nobody decided to take one home!

After the baby facility, we split up and were invited into several homes there to have lunch. We were prepared an incredible Ugandan feast [the equivalent of a Thanksgiving day feast] and shared it in their homes. Again, we had opportunities to talk with the children there, who ranged in age from two years old to high school aged. All of the kids were very well spoken for their ages, and those who were old enough talked about their experiences there and the opportunities it afforded them. Some even were interested in hearing our dreams for the future, and what it was like in America. We were impressed that their basic needs were so well taken care of that there was room for self-actualization and future visioning. Side note: we discovered it was difficult to explain the concept of seasons to someone who lived in a tropical environment! All in all, it was a great experience. We all definitely felt humbled by the level of hospitality that the people at Kasubi Village showed us.

I think the thing that stood out to me most today was the chance to see, and come along side for a day, the church being the church here in Uganda. By that, I mean several things:

1) The sermon series that Watoto is in the middle of is “Culture Revolution”, and has been so powerful each time we have attended. They are serious in taking on the aspects of Ugandan culture that don’t align with scripture, and doing so in a bold way. The sermons we heard probably should be preached in the US as well; though the context of the issues is different here than in the states, the root issues don’t seem to differ a whole lot. I wish that American churches be so bold as to acknowledge the places where our culture doesn’t align with scripture and take on the things that go unsaid (more than just the culture wars that have been perpetuated since the middle of the last century…).

2) Watoto is walking the walk in taking care of the sick, the vulnerable, and the orphans through the work they do. They are on the forefront of the aid being given to refugees from neighboring countries, being the good Samaritans for those in desperate need. They are taking personal responsibility for raising up the next generation and providing opportunities for them where there were none before. And they are serious about loving others where they are at. That is what the church is supposed to be about. They are not sequestered within their own walls, and they make it a point to love first, rather than judge. They meet the needs of those around them. This is definitely a concept that I will take home with me.

3) I am honored and humbled to get to be a part of what the church is doing here in Uganda. God is clearly already at work here, moving in powerful ways and touching lives. So we don’t come here as saviors or evangelists or experts. Rather, we get to come and jump in along side what is being done, as learners and brothers/sisters in Christ. As important as the wells are to this trip (the primary reason we are here), I would also posit that our interaction and encouragement of the Mission 4 Water team, the driller boys, the communities we interact with, and the churches that invite us in to see what they are doing is just as important. Every one of those groups has been encouraged and blessed by our presence, not because we are somehow awesome or amazing, but because we are part of the same body, and our job is to lift each other up. That is what we, as the body of Christ, should be all about!

My prayer for the remaining time we have here is to soak in God’s presence, and to watch with open eyes for the work He is doing through His church. May we all truly be the church, both here and in the future at home, by loving God and caring for others.

– Thomas Herdon
(Team #RestingSmilingFace or #RSF)

Day 10: First Mate’s Log – Stardate 2017.07.16

Day 9: The Time We Have

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:

1 hour:

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.

6 months:

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.

16 days:

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.

22 hours:

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.

-Miles Schaefer
(Team #WaterWarriors)

Day 9: The Time We Have

Day 7: Just My Thoughts!!

Water in it’s purest form, it’s odorless, nearly colorless, and tasteless. It’s in your body, the food we eat, and the beverages you drink. You use it to clean yourselves, your clothes, your dishes, your car, and everything else around you. You travel on it or jump in it to cool off on hot summer days.


All forms of life need it, and if they don’t get enough of it, they die.

Political disputes center around it. In some places it’s treasured and incredibly difficult to get. In others, it’s incredibly easy to get and then squandered.

That’s why I’m in Uganda, for the second consecutive year. I am helping to dig fresh, clean water wells, so that the people here in Uganda can have some of the same advantages that I do back in the states.

Digging water wells here in Uganda would provide clean water for generations to come. I’m hoping that these next generation of Ugandans won’t know what dirty diseased water tastes like. Hoping to make a difference, one Ugandan at a time.

~ Joe Davis (Team Amy, aka the Water Hitters)

Day 7: Just My Thoughts!!

Day 6: The Rose between the Thorns

Do you ever wake up on the ‘right side of the bed’ and simply know that day is going to be great? You physically wake up feeling strong. You are alive, awake and aware. You move forward in your day with purpose and passion – and even in D.C. traffic, you hold a smile and a dash of patience. Yesterday morning was that day for our team.

As hindsight would have it, yesterday shines even brighter today because it was sandwiched quite divinely between two thorns.

The purpose of the thorn is unique.   Some say it was nature’s evolutionary response to encourage human beings to stop and smell the roses rather than cut them – though, we can all benefit from some pruning every now and again.

My two great-uncles used to joke with me saying, “put the rose between the thorns” when the three of us took a photo together. Meaning, place Joy in the middle.

Science tells us thorns purpose is as specific as it is simple, yet effective: protect the rose.

A thorn does not provide the world a chance to “fight or flight,” the thorn just is.

## Superiorly stuck

After a day of tough impediments for each team, we each were blessed with a morning of amazing progress. Team Krista aka Muddy Buddies, were almost in a position to lay pipe at their well! Team Amy aka Team Giggles, chiseled their way through layers of quartz and made up new jingles to make the job a bit more entertaining. Team Sally aka Team Short Legs (we’re not that tall, but we are using it to our advantage), made it from twelve feet to seventeen and a half feet in about four hours!

We came back to the village for lunch, and we were all so excited and happy. This meant, although we had slow starts and problems the day prior, we were that much closer to bringing people clean water.

Our team, which has the estimate farthest to drill (approximately 50 feet), is determined to complete this well before we depart. It is a lofty goal; one that may only be achieved by two a days.

After lunch and some deliberation, we decided it was best to put in a second shift. We went from 12 feet to 17.5 feet and we couldn’t be stopped! One chisel session and two turns of manual drilling later, our auger was stuck 18 feet down into the center of the Earth. It was cemented into a layer of rock solid clay and quartz. I presume it looked something like this:

We spent the next two and a half hours trying to remove the drill bit. We got quite creative. Man-made pulleys, man-made chisels, men acting as human cranes, we scaled the tripod, we reverse drilled, we had over 1,000 pounds of strength fighting against the Earth.

We were fighting against the Earth.

We aggressively fought against the Earth.

We did not stop pursuing the bit.

And yet…

Nothing happened.

Remember how amazing it felt as a kid watching the Sword in the Stone movie, the moment Little Arthur successfully removes the sword from the rock? Victory! The chosen one!

Yeah, that was not us.

We were discouraged, but focused. We continued on.

We leveraged the only piece of ‘machinery’ we had – a rental car. Liam had a great idea setting up some reverse energy to counterbalance the force we were applying to get the bit out.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

Needless to say; while creative, we were again unsuccessful. We were happy still that we put in a two-a-day, because honestly if yesterday afternoon happened this morning, yikes. Silver lining? I’ll call it the quartz lining.

Ugandans have this practice of relaxing while working. At first, we didn’t understand it. Chris, the lead engineer on our site explained to us, that –we shall go. We shall rest our minds and come back tomorrow renewed.

And it was so.

We broke down the site and there was a nervous energy about the engineering boys and trainees with us. Then I understood.

The boys stay in a small concrete house directly next to our site for the time being. Their apprehension was rooted in the possibility that they would have to sleep in shifts to stand guard of the well. In particular, to ensure no one cut and stole the rope.

The rope is attached to the stuck auger, and if someone were to cut it and take it, we would literally be stuck between a rock and a hard place.

The team was already exhausted. Our discouragement levels rose thinking about being exhausted and have our materials stolen. But, we were determined. Creativity soared.

We ran a wire through the pole that the auger bit is attached to, removed the rope from the pulley, and then wrapped wire around the rope. We stuck the rope in the hole and stacked rock on top of it.

Exhibit C:

## Rock Shall Fracture

My favorite part of the day is driving too and from our work site. Everyone acknowledges each other here, no matter how little or how well off they may be. I particularly enjoy the short cut Chris takes us on – a little side road, not even wide enough for a vehicle and a bike – that passes the quarry.

Mainly women, a few young boys and girls all take on their piles of stone, their hand made teepees made from a few pieces of scrap tree pieces and mosquito netting to produce any sort of shade.

They chip away manually with a pic and hammer, no shoes, no goggles or eye protection, and a large smile on their face. Every morning we pass, and every morning we wave to each other, their faces light up and they are happy with gratitude and presence. It is amazing.

Such a tedious and dangerous and uncomfortable process – and yet, their smiles are consistent. They have purpose.

Although we learned another few feet of dirt fell on top of our bit over night, the win for this morning was two fold: 1) our rope was not stolen and 2) all eight engineers and trainees from all three well sites were at our site working with every ounce they could muster.

They attempted to work with the stuck auger bit, but to no prevail.

After much deliberation, we have a new plan. We will dig a diameter of six feet (36 inches from center of the hole with a pickaxe and a shovel). The good news is, our bit will eventually be unstuck. We are rotating along all team members and have 17.5 feet to go.

The irony is as we dig with pickaxe and shovel all of our work from the original hole is now covered. Three days worth of work, covered in less than twenty minutes.

We will preserver.

Exhibit D:

## Solace in Circumstance

Current mission: step 1) manually dig an 18 foot deep by six foot wide hole, unstick auger bit; step 2) fix materials, continue to drill with auger bit to drill to about 30 feet, pray we hit water; step 3) hit water, bail water, dig another 10-15 feet; step 4) pipe the well, put all the dirt we dug out back in, engineering check; step 5) lay concrete, secure pump infrastructure and seal the well; step 6) commission well.

We have three days to complete this process.

Five minutes into step one noted above, our pickaxe breaks and we are down to one shovel with a short handle – maybe two feet tall.

End Scene.

Ryan, one of our team members on Muddy Buddies, pointed out a great lesson: regardless if we ‘finish’ the wells in the timeframe we are in country, the wells will be built. They will be finished. People will receive clean water – some for the first time in their life.

Broken pickaxe or not, we found solace in knowing that one chip at a time, one turn at a time, one shovel at a time, water will eventually come.

## An ax, a shovel, a miracle

We proceeded forward with one pic at about 40% of its ability to be effective, but we pursued on. I look around and see community members gathering, thanking the team for being here. I see gentlemen working up the street come to our site for fifteen minutes on their lunch break (also a labor job) to contribute anything they could. We are happy. Together, we are grateful and humbled.

I see everyone’s faces light up, could it be so? I turn over my shoulder to see Sue, the fearless leader who brought Mission 4 Water to life, walking up to our site with new digging and picking equipment for us!

This is not as simple as it would be in the states. It’s not a run to home depot and call it a day. This was a miracle and a victory!

## How do you fight?

All our effort to release our auger bit the day prior, was executed fighting against the Earth. Every turn, every innovation was rooted against a creative struggle. No matter what the elements were showing us and attempting to tell us, we believed we ourselves could overcome the barrier by fighting back.

Sometimes, with the right armor and the right fight, a prevailing nature – overcomer of any obstacle – is appropriate.

In this instance, it was preventing us from achieving our end goal.

We believe that everything happens in God’s time and not ours – and yet, here we were, determined, relentless, fighters. And we were proud.

It wasn’t until we let go of our plan and worked with the elements that progress would continue.

And so it is with our relationship with God.

There are many times, just like our original creation of counter balance, that we find ourselves stuck in the figurative rock and a hard place. We go at it alone. We fight against all odds and we are proud.

No matter how broken our spirits become, how broken our bodies, our mental state become, we bury it. Literally. We try and prevail. At some point, we don’t understand what is “off,” everything seems to be functioning relatively well – and yet.

Do you have an auger bit stuck in the bottom pits of your body, mind or spirit?

Are you fighting against it?

I challenge you to recognize these seemingly tiny things we bury, and acknowledge that burying our experiences actually inhibits us from achieving our highest purpose.

The buried auger bit, when leveraged effectively will help us build.

As human beings, acknowledgement of our deep stuck bits we would prefer to stay buried only inhibits us from building our purpose.

Leverage them. They will propel you forward with focused, deliberate effort.

It is in this place, that we use ourselves as an example to serve others and achieve the best versions of our self, as we move forward. We evolve, we learn, we are challenged, humbled and grow.

I have come up with a new definition for counter balance while in Uganda.

Counter is to Perseverance as Balance is to Gratitude

It came to me after our well troubles as well as engaging with members of the community. Some that are decently well and some that are suffering immense poverty.

Through it all, two qualities pour out of the people here.

Perseverance through all cards dealt, all rocks thrown in their path.

Gratitude, for every experience big and small, pours out of every smile, Acknowledgment and wave.

We have experienced first hand and hearing stories first hand that intentional movement with your circumstance (perseverance) will provide a peaceful strength to remind us that appreciation for the process sustains us as a people (balance).

Now knowing gratitude fuels perseverance, can we approach any burrier in our paths with an attitude of counter balance? How might me work with the elements, with the people in our lives, with God, rather than act alone and against?

Obugumisiliza fuels okwebaza. This is the Ugandan way.

Just as the thorn protects the rose, gratitude protects and fuels our perseverance. This moves us forward with noble righteousness, love and truth.

Day 6: The Rose between the Thorns

Day 5: Joy in Simplicity

Part of the preparation of coming to Uganda included learning about some of the culture and of course the water situation for a typical Ugandan. When I first heard that the average Ugandan that collects water for the house was usually a seven or eight year old girl, my immediate thought was to liken it to my daughter who was seven at the time.

The journey that this young Ugandan girl would walk every day (if not several times a day) to collect water for her family is often long, dangerous, tedious, and more often than not, is taking them away from being able to go to school just to bring home unclean water. This immediately broke my heart. I couldn’t even fathom the thought of my own daughter having to do this.

My initial reaction included thoughts of sadness for the young Ugandan girls and gratitude for my own children’s fortunes. I became so thankful for the options that my family and I are afforded. Options to take medicine when sick, options to eat when hungry, options to drink when thirsty, options to worship whatever god you choose, options to get an education for free… the list goes on and on.

Now that I’m in Uganda and have spent several days around the local children I feel a part of me changing heart.

On Tuesday after our second day of digging wells, we had the opportunity to visit a local primary school and do crafts with the children. It was an afternoon I’ll remember forever. The children were so happy to see us, so surprised that we brought them markers and stickers, and just incredibly thankful. I spent much of the time taking photos and showing them to the children who have most likely not seen themselves on camera before. They LOVED it and I did too. I’ll never forget my time with them, even as short as it was.

Additionally, while driving around the local villages, I noticed that there are so many children out and about. You see them and may first feel sad because they don’t have nice clothes or a nice house or toys or (fill in the blank with what you think kids need to be happy).

But there has been something else I’ve noticed.

They seem content. They play with rocks (or sticks, leaves, trash, etc.). They have shelter (mostly). They have family. And as they say here in Uganda, they are “fine.”

The children in America would be so bored.

I now find myself thinking that if my children could experience this life, they would have such a different view about things. And maybe it’s my job to teach them that. It can be so hard in a world of “stuff” making us happy, and a “bigger is better” mentality to really get down to realizing what you need to feel like you have “enough.”

Simplicity. It’s a beautiful and under-rated thing.

So now I wonder… who am I sad for? Who really has a better life? Is one life better than another because of options? I know most would say yes to that answer and I certainly am still grateful for the options I have because that is what I know.

It’s a process. I know God broke my heart for Ugandans and I am still in the process of learning the why and how. I also feel God tugging at my heart strings more than ever to give to the needy. I think being able to provide clean water to so many is an amazing opportunity. I wish I could provide even more necessities to those without. But I don’t look at those less fortunate with pity. Only love.

~Carla Adkins
(Team #waterwarriors)


Day 5: Joy in Simplicity

Day 4: Personal and Spiritual Growth Go Hand in Hand

Day Two on our drilling sites and a little slower go than Day One. Reality is setting in that we won’t drill 12 feet every day, and that’s OK! It brings to mind Romans 5:3-5:

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

All this to say, we have a mission here and part of it is to hit clean water and provide 3 wells to the communities we are serving here. We won’t finish our wells in a day but we have hope and faith and are confident that we will fulfill this promise of bringing clean water to the people.

As we are digging today, we all noticed how sore our muscles were. That’s a good thing though, it reminds me of a verse from Philippians 2:12:

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”

My Pastor at National Community Church in Washington DC talked on this verse and pointed out that this is sort of a paradox, we don’t really need to work out our salvation. Our salvation was a gift freely given to us by our God who loved us so much he sent his only Son to be with us and die on the Cross, and absolving us of our sins! How awesome is that! So back to the verse, Paul is telling us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. I like to work out so I started thinking about this quote and how I feel when I work out. I then began to think about how I “work out my salvation” as well. I think there are 4 things that come to mind at the moment that help us grow personally and spiritually and how closely they go hand in hand. We need struggles/setbacks/challenges, we need accountability/community, we need replenishment/nourishment, and we need to continue to seek opportunities to grow.

If we are training for a race or just in a normal workout routine, we do not want a setback or to struggle with something. The truth is, we need these, whether it’s a break from working out that our body is finally telling us, ENOUGH! Or it’s us hitting a wall in trying to increase our weight on a specific lift. If we always got a PR(personal record) every time we ran a race or continued to increase weight in a workout, it would become boring, monotonous and we would most likely quit doing what we are doing. I thought about this today when we had a great first day of drilling. We went over 12 feet and I thought we were poised for another great day, sure my body was sore and I was going to struggle with putting in the same effort as I did the day before but I was ready… or was I? The Lord answered that pretty quickly, we left the day before when we hit a rock and it plagued us all day. End of Day 2 and we’ve drilled out the center of our hole with a smaller bit and maybe dug out another foot from where we finished yesterday… ugh!!! The bright side of this was that we had to use different tools and different muscles, so the sore muscles from yesterday got a little bit of a break. Silver lining found! The same thing is true in our Spiritual life, we want God to answer every prayer we pray and answer it exactly the way we want it to be answered. We don’t want to run into personal struggles in life, the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, an end to a relationship, and the list goes on and on. Life would be great if that was the case, but as we all know, we live in a fallen world and we were never promised a perfect life without struggles. 1 Corinthians 10:13 reminds me of this:

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

We are told we will have temptation and struggle, but He reminds us that he won’t give us anything we can’t handle. Even when it seems like the odds are against us or we have no one to turn to, He is right there by our side. If we can learn from our past and our hurdles in life, we will be better for it and grow as a person from it because He wants us to call upon Him in our most vulnerable times. When times are tough or we are looking to PR or tackle a new challenge, I think it is much easier with a group of people around us.

After going through some hard times in the past few years and struggling with feeling depressed and lonely, I realized I didn’t really have a strong community surrounding me. I went to one small group and realized I needed more of that and moved closer to engage with my Church community. One small group turned into 3 and I could feel my Spirit craving more and more of this. We are not meant to live life in solitude and the Enemy seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. Having community holds you accountable, you care for one another in times of need, and encourage growth out of each other. The same is true in working out or drilling a well by hand. You can work out alone and that might be fine in some sports but try playing Baseball or Football by yourself, that’s not going to be very fun. And another great thing about working out with others is that they can hold you accountable, if you’re on track to hit a weight loss goal or a PR in a race, if you aren’t sharing this goal with someone else and having them hold you accountable, you have a higher probability of not reaching your goal if you do not have someone holding you accountable. The same goes for these wells we are drilling, we have a community of family and friends who have helped us get here and we won’t stop until we have 3 clean water wells for these communities here that are counting on us. And just like playing sports by yourself, drilling a well by hand alone would be basically an impossible task! There’s a team of 7 of us working together and that’s still a tough go, so when some of the locals wanted to give us a hand, who’s to tell them no! Get in there friend and give it a go!

How awesome is that, the locals are so happy and excited to be a part of this and can’t wait for us to hit water! After a long day of work and playing with some school children, a good meal is definitely what the body needs.

Experts say that you can survive 3 days without water and up to 3 weeks without food, though 30 hours of fasting for my trip leading up to Uganda was more than enough for me! The body needs replenishment after a hard workout if you want to be able to work out again the next day. The same goes for drilling wells, we are all ravenous dogs when it comes to meal time, whatever we can get, we eat and make sure we will have enough energy to make it through another day of drilling. We typically have no problem telling ourselves when its time to drink or eat, we have a strong sense of when to satisfy that need, but I wish I could say the same thing about my Spiritual nourishment. That sense needs a little more attention and care, and I might dare say most of us fall into that boat. The great thing about this mission trip is that we start each morning with 30 minutes of journaling and prayer, followed by a devotional that each of us are responsible for one day while we are here. Sure enough, yesterday’s devotional was about Spiritual Warfare and what we are given to prepare ourselves for battle each and every day. It was a great message and a great reminder that the Enemy is looking for every opportunity to disrupt our lives in whatever way he can. We can defend against this by being filled with the Spirit and that is very much what we’ve been doing on a daily basis here and I can say that I feel like we have been and are preparing ourselves everyday for whatever the Enemy will try to throw our way. I don’t know if I’m doing this on a daily basis back home but this trip is teaching me more about myself than I thought and we are only on day 5, so I’m pretty excited for what the next week and a half have in store for me. I know that I have a community of friends with me on this trip that is ready for anything!

Lastly I think we need to make sure we don’t become complacent in our lives. If you want to get in shape or reach a new level in your athletic or physical fitness life, you do best when you set a goal or challenge yourself to do something you haven’t done before or failed at in the past. This trip to Uganda was not something in my plan a year or two ago, but when the conversation came up about possibly joining the team, I didn’t even really think about it, Yes I’m in! Did I know what I was in for, not really, but that’s what is making this trip so rewarding so far. I’ve never really left the US besides some of the typical North American destinations. So instead of dipping my toe in the water by doing a personal European vacation or something, let’s pick a third world country and do a missions trip for 16 days! Along the way I’ve been let go at my job and had a home purchase fall through leaving me to stay on friends couches or spare beds for 7 weeks. Not exactly how I planned my 2017 to really play out, but if I have to be honest, I think it’s shaping up to be one of the best years of my life. I’m embracing the challenges and praising the Lord for each and every hurdle along the way. I know that these hurdles are only creating a stronger and better person in me for whatever the future holds. I’m so thankful for making that commitment and in return being blessed by so many people in donations, prayers, and words of encouragement. You find out through the challenges the new strengths the Lord is growing within you, and you find out who is your community and support system, and you recognize your need for Him in your daily life.

What a trip so far and I can’t wait to share the next 11 days with these 14 others that I can truly call my brothers and sisters in Christ!

-Eric Keen

(Team Amy, aka #waterhitters)

Day 4: Personal and Spiritual Growth Go Hand in Hand

Day 3: Exploration

As our first day of well digging came to a close, the team set out to find the previous source of water utilized by the community. After driving about 4 kilometers from our well site, asking directions along the way, we were led into this clearing (photo above) where we were told the spring resided. Almost certain there wasn’t any water nearby (because face it, you don’t see water in this photo either), we continued to follow the foot-made trail into the lush vegetation. Hidden within these bushes a shallow “stream” appeared.

I like to think that a good picture is able to stand on its own without explanation, but at first glance I don’t think anyone would be able to see how shallow this water truly is. Although the water was clear, the stream was filled by a slow trickle of water and could not have held more than 10 gallons of water (it rained just 3 days prior). Earlier that day, we were informed this has been the only source of water for over 200 families for as long as anyone had known.

In an area that looked “more affluent” at first glance, it was shocking to see this many people relying on such little water. In Uganda, the children usually set out on foot at least once daily to fetch water for their families. In this case, it means that this child would be walking a minimal distance of 8 kilometers round trip at least once daily. If the stream runs dry (which I’m sure it has) the family will just have to go without.

After seeing this I became more passionate than ever to provide this well to the community, to not only share a more abundant source of clean water but also to have a platform to connect with the people that make up this community.

~ Rashida Jones
(Team #RestingSmilingFace)

Day 3: Exploration

Day 2: What I Learned from Skipping Meals

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 ( 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
(Team #WaterWarriors)

Day 2: What I Learned from Skipping Meals



Thomas, one of our team members, gave a devotional this morning, where we spent some time diving into scripture, and pondering over the questions of why. Why are we here, why short term missions, why Uganda? Which led me to thinking more, about all of the why’s, why this mission, why water, etc?

There’s no easy, or one size fits all answer. There are some similarities in why we are here, and why we chose this mission, for sure. As Thomas pointed out this morning, I think the greatest and most common reason is because we were called to, and we are called to love people. And, in this mission we get to help love on people, not merely through helping them obtain access to clean water for the first time, but also by interacting with them at our site everyday, through the field day that we will have, the craft project at the primary school, through coming beside our partners, Mission 4 Water, and supporting them and building them up.

Mark 12:28-31

28 One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?”29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord;30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

But I also LOVE the fact, that for each of us, it is also personal, and unique. I love when we have group events, and I get to hear the people on our team explain their why, and I feel like the more times they have to answer that…the more buy in they have, personally! It also fills me with excitement, knowing that for the next 14 days, they will be blogging about their experiences here! I can’t wait to read them all, and to be able to see this trip through their eyes and their experience! (make sure you click the button to follow our blog, so you can get updates as they post)

For the team leaders, Krista, Sally and I, the rest of our team, the other twelve people who signed on to go on this adventure with us – are a big part of our why. THEY are our mission in large part! But, even for the three of us, the why is unique. Maybe it’s a passion for the Ugandan people, the cause of clean water, the ability to leave something tangible behind, or a combination of these things!

No matter the reason, God has called 15 people to this team, for very unique reasons, and in very different ways. And because of that, it also fills me with excitement knowing that He is also going to do something unique in each of us. This trip, though we are all doing the same things, will be so different for each of us! I have grown to love and admire them all so much, and feel incredibly blessed to be a part of this journey for all of them. And I can’t wait to see the way God shows up for each of them.

Which leads me to another part of the why – community! Through the preparation leading up to this trip, I have become friends with everyone on this team. And I love that this trip, is only going to strengthen the friendships that have already begun to form. Nothing bonds you more than 24/7 together for 16 straight days: giving everything you have to give physically, doing devotions together every morning, sharing our testimonies and stories every evening, praying for and with each other, laughing and playing, all the conversations, etc. As different as we all are, we have one thing that is a common thread throughout: our love for God, and our desire to do what He has called us to do.

Sue, our dear friend and the Director for Mission 4 Water, told us a story this morning that really resonated with me:

Some starfish had washed up on the shore. A little boy picked one up and threw it back in, then another, and another. His mom, looked up and down the shore and saw thousands washed up. She looked at her son and said “there are thousands, what is the point? You can’t save them all.” The boy replied, “no mom, but I know I can make a difference for this one, and this one” as he tossed two more back in.

It was such a great reminder of the why. Not because we can help Mission 4 Water bring clean water to every person, or even every person in Uganda. But we can come along beside them and help them make a difference in the life of a few hundred Ugandans, one well at a time!

A few years ago, I was at Catalyst in Atlanta, and heard Andy Stanley talk, and he said something very similar that has always stuck with me, and it became something I have tried to live out. He said, “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone. Because if we all did for one what we wish we could do for everyone, it might change the world. But certainly, it would change one person’s world. It may even change your world.” I think that perspective helps us keep from feeling paralyzed by the fact that we can’t give to everyone, we can’t change everyone’s reality. But one by one, we can help make a difference.

“Do for ONE what you wish you could do for EVERYONE.” — Andy Stanley

In many ways our why, in this mission, is simple. We want to help provide clean water for some Ugandans, we want to support Mission 4 Water in the work they are doing everyday, and we want this trip to be a marker in the lives of the people doing it with us!

So, let me take you on a bit of a pictorial journey, so you have a better understanding!

In these pictures you see a water source where a neighboring village was fetching water. The water is not safe or clean. The second picture is of the most recent well dug by mission for water, providing clean, safe water!

clean, safe water!

Today, we got to go and visit the sites of ALL THREE of the wells that we are going to be digging, as well as the current water source for two of those wells. Definitely helps to solidify why you are here!

This is the current water source for the people who will be using both Team Krista, and Team Amy’s wells.

current water source

This is Team Krista (The Water Warriors), standing at the future site of their well:

Left to Right: Sunday, Miles, Ryan, Krista, Carla, Diana

And Team Amy (The Water Hitters), at the future site of their well:

Left to Right: Joe, Sue, Debbie, Amy, Ami, Eric

And team Sally, (RSF (Resting Smiling Face)), at the future site of their well:

Left to Right: Chris, Sally, Joy, Rashida, Thomas, Liam

We start digging our wells on Monday! Everyone is so excited to get started, especially after seeing all of our sites today. The competition is on, as we all strive to hit water first! But, at the end of the day…we all want everyone to succeed. We can’t wait to update you on our progress, and to update the pictures above with three complete wells on those sites!

Thank you all for your support of what we are doing, for your encouragement, and for ultimately becoming part of our why!

#ugandaexcited #onmissioneveryday #waterislife #threeforthethird #waterwarriors #teamkrista #waterhitters #teamamy #rsf #teamsally


Final Checklist Preparations

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.


Final Checklist Preparations