Life out here can be tough. Life anywhere can be tough.
The thrills of seeing the world, experiencing new cultures and beauty, living an adventure every day, always having an interesting story to share,.. these are things that we love about living out here. But with all that goodness, is also a lot of really tough stuff too.
We’re sorry we haven’t updated you in so long. Life has been pretty crazy out here and sometimes we just didn’t know what to say, how to put it into words, or have just downright been exhausted. But here it is. A little glimpse into some of the tough moments.
Josh has been working tirelessly to get LifeNet off the ground here in Uganda. We’ve experienced tons of challenges, difficulties importing our motorbike, difficulty registering as nurses, corruption & bribery, it’s been an uphill battle!
The simplest of things become endlessly complicated here. Let’s start with another story about going to the bank! A while back, Josh was being searched by armed security guards outside the bank (a regular occurrence everywhere you go) and one of them got an electrostatic shock from Josh’s khakis! Having no clue what a static shock was, the guards accused him of having a secret “burning” weapon! Josh was detained for what ended up being a couple of hours, which included multiple explanation attempts, mimes, and re-enactments on Josh’s part! Finally the chief of security arrived and Josh convinced him to search his vehicle thoroughly, in a search for the mysterious weapon. They finally let him go, but as he was driving off, the guards were still yelling at him that he “burned” them! Not your average trip to the bank, but we don’t have much luck with that anyways!
I recently spent three months consulting for a clinic upcountry in Mukono, Uganda. It was a challenging and wonderful time of improving and strengthening systems at this clinic, really seeing it grow and improve. It was a privilege to be able to use my skills and experience I’ve developed over the past two years. However, I travelled at least three to four hours a day on a dangerous journey to get to and from work. This was tiring and at times quite eventful. I quickly learned not to take a boda (motorcycle taxi) in the rain as I was in an accident and not only ended up covered in mud, but ended up with neck pain that lasted a couple of months. Since then, I had found a very trustworthy and safe driver who drove me every day and I avoided travelling in the rain.
I have also recently recovered from Typhoid, which I had unknowingly for two months until it was bad enough that I spent a week straight on complete bed rest. Us nurses are the worst! Do as I say, and not as I do!
Of course, I went back to work too early and by the time I finished my day and got on a matatu (a mini bus taxi) in the village to go home, I was feeling pretty rough. The matatu went a different direction than I am used to and when I asked the conductor to stop, he refused to acknowledge me. As I got anxious about the unfamiliar path, the entire overcrowded matatu started laughing uncontrollably at me, talking about me in Luganda, and I ‘lost it’ for the first time in public…screamed at everyone to stop laughing at me because of my differences. Then they laughed even more and I burst into tears which caused even more laughter. Little did they know the kind of day that I had…I ended up getting off, dropped my motorbike helmet, was laughed at further. Almost every Ugandan we’ve met has been nothing but welcoming and wonderful, but in that moment, it felt pretty horrific.
Being a married woman in Burundi shielded me from a lot of unwanted male attention during my time there. Culturally, that doesn’t seem to matter as much here in Uganda. I’ve found it incredibly difficult, being asked and propositioned by men on a regular basis to have affairs. Life can be tough.
Recently, Josh has experienced a significant staffing issue with LifeNet here, and had to make a tough decision. We are experiencing a lot of stress and fallout from that decision and it’s been really challenging these past few days. Josh has done nothing but act with courtesy, professionalism and grace, but the response has been anything but. It’s a huge distraction from the monumental task that is starting up the program here, and it is taking up time that Josh realistically doesn’t have to give.
When we first moved here, I was praying to God to show us our purpose here as I was struggling with leaving Burundi and finding our place here in Uganda. He clearly told me that if I thought our time in Burundi was amazing, I hadn’t seen anything yet. With greater responsibility and blessing, also comes with greater challenge and opposition. But in these times, God has proven to show his love and grace the most.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
– John 16.33
A few days ago, I was able to see a glimpse of the spiritual realm. This has happened to me on the rare occasion. Fully awake, I watched as Josh and an evil being were fighting each other, grappling, tumbling, throwing punches. It continued until I chose to close my eyes.
We are in a war. One we can’t always see, but we are all in it. Sometimes, it’s just so hard to be right in the middle. Please join us in fervent prayer against any forces out to destroy us and the good work being done here. We need you to join in and fight this battle with us, more now than ever.
Thank you for your support! Please forgive us for being out of touch, we’ll be back writing again soon!
6 thoughts on “The tough road.”
We had been preparing for weeks. I was completely ready to impress the new Senior Manager of Programs and Operations. Then I came down with malaria for the first time. I was in Kakamega, Kenya for the meeting and was supposed to be leading a full-day workshop outlining our M&E plan. I caught it early, but it was a bad case. When it was clear I wouldn’t be up to the task of the full presentation, we decided to make my it an hour instead of a day. Still, in the middle, gagged and almost vomited. Someone said, “Are you okay? Do you need to stop?” I said, “No. I’m gonna rock this.”
Two days later my visa was expiring and I had to travel to Uganda. I crossed the boarder at Busia. I didn’t know the geography at the time and, still not feeling well, I got on the wrong Matatu. It was still parked when some one asked where I was going. I said Jinja and they replied in a manner I didn’t understand. The conductor called someone over who went to the boot a pulled out my (fairly large) suitcase. He started walking with it to the only other matatu in the lot. I ran after him yelling, still not knowing what was happening and ripped it out of his hands. I started cursing at him. I was exhausted and furious and just totally done being a foreigner––an object of ridicule. In the meantime the matatu I had been on pulled away. I was stuck. I had no choice but to go with the man I had just cursed out.
When I arrived in Jinja I knew that I was supposed to go to Eden Rock hotel. There is no Eden Rock hotel in Jinja. For the record, it is in Bujagali falls, which I did not know at the time. Nor, it seems, did anyone else. No one I spoke with had any clue what I was talking about. In retrospect, I think one or two boda drivers might have said, “Eden Rock? Bujagali?” to which I would have replied, “No, damnit! Jinja!” having no idea what a “Bujagali” was and assuming it would cost extra. I was out of credit and nearly out of battery and money. It was getting late. The banks were closed. I had just enough for 200 shillings of airtime and a 5000/= boda. I beeped our Uganda country director, Charles, and asked him where I could stay for the night, happy to accept anything. Now, here let me take a brief aside to explain that at this point in life I made $8000 US per year as a “Fellow.” Charles sent me to Two Friends Hotel, which may well be the most expensive hotel in Jinja … I did like that hotel though… except for the trash fire that burned directly outside my window all night long.
There’s a lot more to that story, but this is already a pretty ridiculous “comment.” It is also just one story of many. I could tell you about the time the maid stole my shoes. Or the time my neighbor fashioned a key to my house and robbed me incrementally for months (including chicken from my fridge… weird, right?). Or when I lost my favorite hat in a manner related to but not necessarily caused by a warthog. The point is this: in every instance, that story is worth more to me the what I lost. I don’t mean that I wish it wasn’t different. I do. It sucked. All of it. It’s not a fun adventure of the kind we tell our friends, or even the sort of complaints we like to swap around the dinner table. I mean that it’s worth more to me personally. Those experiences are for me, not for my aggrandizement. Because of them I am different. Bigger. My pallet of emotions is incrementally expanded by the extent to which I accept each moment, bring it in and incorporate it into the whole. To rebel––to push such things away––only hardens my attachment to loss and thereby increase my pain. With every year that passes, I accept more. I become more. It is heavy and it is hard at times, but Uganda is now my home and I love being here. Four and a half years in, I love it more than I ever have before. I think you’ll find the same it true for you, with time.
Plus, you do occasionally get a pretty good story.
Praying for you guys! Keep your heads high. He goes before you. Abi
God has not brought you this far, to abandon but rather He setting a testimony that is going to inspire, encourage and motivate some one.
Keep strong and Be of good courage.
We keep praying for You.
Hi Josh and Nadine It is great to hear from you. When we are doing great things for God the devil trys to stop us all the time. We shall continue to pray for you both. God bless Simon
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I can relate to your bus advanture in a foreign country. I had few melt downs while traveling. I laugh now years after. Girl power!!!