Life in Uganda

‘For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.’ – Romans 12: 4-5

Having now spent exactly two weeks in Uganda, I am starting to get the hang of daily life here. Our schedules haven’t yet been totally normal for two days in a row, but as our intern group finishes up our last few orientation sessions/activities and continues getting deeper into the projects we’ve started working on, I’m thinking we will get into more of a routine. The excitement has definitely been fun though! I’ve never had a more eventful beginning to a work term.

Before I get any further, I want to introduce you all to my fellow interns at the Engineering Ministries International Uganda office. There are three muzungus (the Luganda word for white person or foreigner), including myself. The other two North Americans are Tyler and David. Tyler is a structural engineer from Portland, Oregon who seems to love adventure and the outdoors, and is pretty much up for trying anything. David is an ecological engineer from New Hampshire/Ohio who is intelligent and inquisitive, and my fellow bookworm (yay!). Then, to round off our team of six, there are three Ugandan women, Shivan (emphasis on the “Shi”), Siima, and Patience (or as we call her, Pesh). Shivan is a civil engineer from Mbarara in the western region of Uganda, and is probably the most energetic and outgoing member of our group, who also happens to be our resident expert on all things eMi, having been an intern for the previous term as well. She is lots of fun! Siima is also a civil engineer and happens to be from the same town as Shivan. She is my roommate, feisty and intelligent, with great ambition. Pesh is a construction manager (females represent!) from Entebbe, just a half hour drive from where we’re staying. She is kind, caring and gentle with a great sense of humour.

It’s been great getting to spend time as a family unit out here on in our compound with Maggie (our eMi grandma) and at work over the last couple of weeks. I am looking forward to the adventures we’ll be able to add to our memories during the next several months. Last night was our second bible study meeting, which we used to figure out our plans for study for the rest of our Monday night sessions. I’m very excited about the topics of study we’ve chosen and the discussions and debates to come, especially because it gives us a chance to grow our faith together, and draw us closer to Christ.

One of the things I’m coming to love best about living here is the strength of community, not just in our office at eMi, but among the community at large, in the villages and churches. This is really a collective society, much more so than in North America, and everyone has a place they belong. I know being a collective society comes with it’s challenges (like a lack of privacy and expectations that each member will help to provide for the whole group when they earn an income of some sort), but there is also great blessing in it.

Among the many things I’ve been learning since moving here, gratitude in all things is probably at the top of the list. Today being the third straight day with no running water at our house, and sporadic internet and electricity over the last few nights, it’s been a little frustrating. But it’s spurred much thought about resources and water and how often those things are taken for granted back home. I definitely won’t be taking water for granted for the next little while. We finally got a water truck to fill up our tanks tonight, and seeing the water running from the tap again was such a joyful experience. Praise God for clean water! I’m sure once I get home I’ll end up taking it for granted again. Living in Canada, the country with the most fresh water in the world, it’s hard not to take it for granted, but I won’t forget this experience anytime soon. I’ve said several prayers over the last few days for all those around the world without access to water, and those who have to walk several kilometers every day for only a jug or two for their entire family. It’s helped create some much needed perspective for me and encouraged me to look for the blessings in challenges. I’m reminded how truly luck we still are. The lack of water was really only an inconvenience, given we still had water at work, and both the guys’ house and Maggie’s house had mostly full tanks. It was just a matter of heading over there to shower or use the washroom. One bonus, we were off the hook for dishes after bible study. 😉

This idea of thanking God for everything, including the challenges and struggles that come our way, is not a new concept for me. I first attempted to practice this when I had the privilege of reading Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts (fantastic book to pick up and read whether you’re religious or not), which is all about gratitude, in all things. As I continue practicing, it’s getting easier to be thankful during the most difficult seasons of my life, but not yet easy. Just as Christ has used my hardest seasons to draw me closer to Him in the past, I look forward to growing closer to His heart during my time in Africa, as He helps me find joy in times of deep loneliness and struggle and allows me to bask in His glory in the times I am showered with abundant gifts.

‘Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.‘ –
1 Thessalonians 5:18

There are so many other things I could talk about… mass and my church here, public transport, village life, and daily office activities, to name a few, but I will save them for another post. I want to thank you all for your support and prayers. I so appreciate all of you!

Photos for this post to come later, and please don’t forget to check out the “Support My Mission” tab at the top of the home screen to make a financial contribution to my internship. (If my funds were in USD, I would have already reached my goal, thanks to the generous support of so many, but with the exchange rate currently being what it is, I still have a little ways to go.) I’m currently about 75% of the way there. Thank you in advance!

 

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