First off, the pictures I’ve included today don’t have anything to do with my post, I just wanted to share a few photos from a trip that Nadine and I got to go on last weekend here in Uganda.
Let’s recap. Nadine and I just spent two years in Burundi, one of the poorest and hungriest countries on the planet, living up-country with no electricity, inconsistent water, PLENTY of diarrhea, and tons of hardship.
Then, we packed everything we could call “ours” into a pickup truck, and drove two days across two countries to come here to Uganda, to start over from scratch in a new city, with new friends, new challenges, but thankfully, less diarrhea.
I said it in the title, let’s get real.
I feel as though we’ve had a lot of explaining to do over the past few months. We have had to talk about our decision, and explain God’s calling to come to Uganda. We’ve been talking a lot about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, but I wanted to take some time to share how the adjustment is going.
The incredible news is that Shammah continues to move forward. The medical container, fundraised for with funds from both of my last Tour du Burundi trips, along with generous contributions of folks such as yourselves, was finally cleared and released from customs in Burundi. This gives Shammah access to state-of-the-art solar equipment, allowing for 24-hour operation, as well as a great deal of medical equipment and supplies.
Also, I just continue to feel so blessed to be a part of LifeNet International. I know for many of you, this is still something that’s so new, and you may have your questions, which we welcome. By partnering with church-based and NGO-based health centres, providing ongoing medical and management training, LN has been improving health outcomes in Burundi and saving lives in fantastic ways. If it sounds like I’m drinking the cool-aid, that’s fine, because I am. I fell in love with LifeNet ages ago when Shammah first became partners with them.
Let’s get to where I’m at now though. In January 2013, Nadine and I said goodbye to all of our friends, families, said potentially final farewells to grandparents, all that stuff. In January 2015 we did it again with our Burundian family. Locals and expats, we had to go through it all again, and it was tough. It was like the old wound had just healed up, and then we had to go and rip it apart again.
We are almost exactly two months into this whole Uganda thing, and we’re still feeling that loss. Here in Kampala, everything’s bigger. The city is bigger, the churches are bigger, so it’s a challenge trying to fit in. We’re doing our best and trying to be patient, but it’s tough. In contrast to the warm, welcoming and embracing community that exists in Burundi, we’ve found entrenchment. People have either been here so long that they don’t need new friends, or people are so transient that they aren’t looking for any.
That’s not to say that friends aren’t waiting out there for us, I’m sure they are, it just means they’ll be more difficult to find.
Nadine and I have also experienced a great deal of financial stress over these past weeks. Unexpected expenditures have added up, I lost a massive amount of both personal and work money, ATMs have eaten cash, bank accounts won’t open, and in the midst of that all came a powerful temptation to submit to corruption and bribery.
Long story short, the result of a paperwork error was going to result in thousands of dollars in fines, and we were given the opportunity to pay just a few hundred dollars and it would all go away. God is good to me, and I married up (significantly), and my incredible wife Nadine would not waver. I confess I was tempted deeply, looking to give into the pressure that had been mounting… but God gave us both the strength to refuse. In what I can only describe as a miracle, each official that we met afterwards to get the paperwork processed correctly noticed the error, told us of the fine, then carried on as if nothing was wrong. According to the law here in Uganda, we deserved punishment. In acting according the the new law we were held blameless and righteous. (Romans 10:4) Crazy stuff, right?
We’re under stress. We’re on edge. We feel “weird.”
In the midst of all that, we feel contentment. We have hope. We have faith that we are doing what God has called us to do. It’s just really hard!
Is that okay to admit? Do I have to pretend to keep it together? I don’t think so. When I admit I am faulty, I am weak, I am small, I recognize that God is strong, he is able, and he is mighty.
Nadine and I are committing to updating the blog with more regularity as time moves forward, particularly so we can cut down on these essays, but just to try and keep you all involved with what we are doing.
Coming up, here’s what we’re working on, and how you can pray for us:
– We are working on registering LifeNet as an NGO here in Uganda
– We are looking for a vehicle, and also hoping to permanently import our motorcycle from Burundi.
– We are returning to Burundi for a 10 day visit this Easter to work with the LifeNet Burundi team. We will be visiting Shammah and BYFC on the weekends.
– We are developing new partnerships here in Uganda, and identifying the first group of health centres we will be partnering with to begin our program.
– We will be looking to hire our first team members, as we start up LifeNet here.
Finally I’ve recognized there’s need for clarity in terms of finances for those of you who are supporting us that way.
For those of you who are continuing to donate to YFC Edmonton on our behalf, your money is still being collected and designated for Shammah Health Center. This money is being designated by Youth for Christ for SHC, and it is their responsibility to ensure that funds are used as directed.
Nadine and I are no longer receiving any financial support from YFC, so if that was your primary focus for your giving, please be aware of that.
We are now fully supported by LifeNet International, out of the US. They are a registered not-for-profit (501-c3) in both the state of Florida and Washington, DC.
LifeNet will fully receive any donations you wish to provide, and you can click HERE to do it now. Please be aware that as a US-based organization, LifeNet cannot provide tax-receipts for the Canada Revenue Agency. In addition, while you can add notes to your giving referencing us, your gifts are not designated. Meaning, you are contributing to the whole of LifeNet’s budget, which includes our monthly support.
In order to provide a tax receipt-able option for you, we are working to partner with Serving In Mission (SIM) Canada, to become missionaries under their banner. Please pray that this comes to fruition and that the details are ironed out.
As always, we welcome your questions, comments and concerns. We may be changing the name of the website one of these days, but we’ll keep it all connected so that nobody gets lost!
Thank you for reading, and please do share the blog! We are continuing in this crazy adventure and we want everyone to know about the incredible things God is doing here in Central Africa.