Tuesday, June 19, 2012

So, here we are, in Kamwenge, Uganda! It took an 8 hour flight across the Atlantic, a 9 hour flight across the Mediterranean and Africa, and then a 7.5 hour bus ride deep into the heart of western Uganda to get us here :) We're settled into the Kamwenge Guest House, the name of the hostel / motel type place we're staying at. Kiburara is the name of the town we will be working in. It is 18 km south of Kamwenge. That drive will take approx 30 min on the condition of roads we're using. I'm very excited to begin working here. Uganda is a beautiful country! Rolling hills, lush vegetation everywhere, cattle roaming around. It look like anything could grow here! And there doesn't appear to be any truly flat land :P In fact, the Kamwenge Guest House in built in tiers because it is on a hill. Most towns here are built at the top of a watershed, so that the house can be built on semi-flat land (and for water drainage purposes I assume).

We still don't know for sure what we are going to be doing tomorrow yet. Pastor Moses is the name of the pastor connected with Covenant Mercies. He pastors Kiburara Gospel Center Church, and he is the director of Alpha and Omega Vocational Secondary School (the equivalent of a high-school in America). We have four professional teachers on the team, and I believe they will have the opportunity to teach a little bit in the classroom tomorrow. All the kids are taught in English from a young age, so their English is pretty good depending on how old they are. With the adults, it's a hit or miss. Some know decent English and some know barely any. Pastor Moses is fluent, of course. The one language everyone does speak around here is called Rukiga Ryankore. It is the Ryankore dialect of Rukiga, similar to saying American English vs. British English. We were given a small list of words we could learn to help us with basic phrases. For example, "webale" (pronounced "way-bah-ray" with a rolled "r") means "thank you" and the basic greeting is "agandi" which means "Hi" or "How are you." The response to "agandi" could be "nimurunji" which means "I'm fine. How about you?" or "Ndyao" (SP?) which simply means "I'm fine."

Anyways, I do not have internet here, so I will have to put up these blog posts once I get back to the states. I've been taking a lot of pictures because it is easier for me to take a picture and explain it / tell the story behind it rather than just ramble on :P After all, a picture is worth a thousand words :)

Monday, June 18, 2012

So...We're off to Entebbe, Uganda! We're flying out of Heathrow Airport in London around 9:15. Very excited to get to Uganda!! Unfortunately, we're only finished about one third of the journey. The flight from Philadelphia to London was about 6 hours plus a 6 hour time advance. Now, we have another 6 hour flight to Entebbe plus a 2 hour time advance. Once we get in Uganda, we'll be 8 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time back in the states, but we won't be done yet :p We'll then have a 7 hour bus ride to Kamwenge (about 30 miles north of Kiburara), the last hour or so of which will be unpaved. Fun fun! Seriously though, I am looking forward to it. I love to travel! And although I'm tired, I'm still excited for the rest of the journey. I'll be able to sleep on the plane tonight.

London is beautiful! No doubt about it, this city has a very rich and deep history. All the buildings are incredibly ornate. I promise I will upload pictures next time I'm on the internet! I'm sorry their not up yet, but the internet is slow here and it takes forever to upload pictures....and I've gotta run, literally right now! Peace!

Just arrived in London after a splendid flight with British Airways! This has gotta be quick because we're about to go out and tour London for a few hours before getting on our flight to Entebbe, Uganda tonight. British Airways is by FAR, the best airline I've ever flown on. Headphones, socks, sleeping masks, dinner, breakfast, the whole shibang!. Check in later for pictures of London :)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

So. This is the first post (obviously). I've never blogged before, so please excuse anything I may do to annoy you as I figure this whole thing out. Thanks :)

Many of you probably received my emails telling you all about this trip. It turns out, that in the past several weeks, something developed on the ground in Nagongera, Uganda (where I was originally going) which prevents my team from going there now. I don't know any further details. Instead of Nagongera, we are going to Kiburara, the western side of Uganda! There are only about 150 Covenant Mercies sponsored orphans in Kiburara as opposed to the 300 or so in Nagongera. We will still be doing some construction, albeit not as intensive as what was planned for Nagongera. We certainly aren't raising an entirely new building.

Oh, but excuse me. Let me explain what exactly is going on here for all of you who may not have heard anything from me prior to this blog and for those of you who have, this should be a refresher...

For a long time now (by my standard...since my freshman year of college), I've experienced within me a growing urge to explore other cultures and opportunities to use my education and experience as a civil engineer to advance God's kingdom through serving people. As of this past February, I felt a very distinct leading to apply for and pursue going on a trip to Uganda that my church had put together. The trip would be to Nagongera, Uganda where we would partner with Covenant Mercies (an organization dedicated to the care of the poor and orphaned in Africa by supplying education, medical care, shelter, and physical provision) in building a new science lab building for the New Life School complex. The building would help serve the education of some 300 orphans that Covenant Mercies sponsors in and around that area. Recently, issues have developed in Nagongera that prevent our team of 20 people from going there to fulfill our original intent. I don't know any details as to why we cannot go to Nagongera other than it is serious and confidential. Instead, our team will be traveling to Kiburara, Uganda (in the western half) to help with construction and ministry on and around Kiburara Gospel Center. There are some 150 sponsored orphans in and around Kiburara, and Covenant Mercies was the organization that originally sent a team to construct the Kiburara Gospel Center a couple of years ago. Although we will not be constructing a brand new building, we will be doing miscellaneous construction projects in the area.

Since February, God has provided abundantly through the generosity of many people. I am deeply grateful to everyone who has given financially to help me participate in this endeavor and to everyone who has been praying for me (because we all know that it's really God who is providing for my every physical and spiritual need since He is sovereign over all things).

I want to thank the Honors Program at the University of Delaware in particular for generously granting me an Honors Enrichment Award in excess of $2800 (nearly the entire amount necessary ) to go on this trip. They have granted me this award so that I can have the opportunity to expand my knowledge of and experience in the field of civil engineering, which brings me to the exciting part...

As a civil engineer, this will be my first real field experience with a construction project, so I'm hoping to learn as much as I can just from observing and asking lots of questions. More significantly, this trip will help me begin to explore how I feel about using my career to serve God in the future. I'm very interested in the idea of vocational service, using my engineering knowledge to serve in areas that need it. Thus, I will do my best to be diligent in observing and learning everything I can that relates to civil engineering on this trip. People do things differently in Uganda...very differently. Structures will be different; transportation will be different; design will be different. I look forward to the chance to understand the way people do construction in poorer countries. An aside: Kiburara is in a seismic zone, so that adds an interesting dimension to any building designs :) Who knows, maybe I'll have the opportunity to consult the local pastor on any expansions they may be thinking about ?? :)

Alright. That's enough for the first post. Check in later for more...and pictures!!