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Just Another Day

December 31st, 2017 2 comments

December 29th was just another day at Musana Camps.  I went to work very early that morning to prepare for the closing of the 2017 books.  We needed to get a final cash count and inventory done, with a witness to those proceedings.  We were expecting one of our external auditors from Kampala to help us with that.

While I was at work, Staci was at home with the kids, trying to get the house back into order after Christmas.  There was a lot to clean up and get done.

In the office, Medi and Eva were very busy in their preparations for upcoming camps.  We have a full January schedule, and there sure is a lot to do to get ready.

Among other things, I really needed to get to the neighboring village of Gaba.  There, I could deposit money with the local cell phone carrier, which would be added to my account.  I needed to do this in order to send money to one of our security guards who had gone home for Christmas.  We’ve been working with him to save his resources, as well as lending him a little more.  This was going to allow him to finally put a roof on the house he’s been building in his home village.  He’s been working on this project for a couple of years, now.

It came as no surprise that our accountant friend arrived just in time for lunch at 1:00pm.  We made arrangements to get him some food from the kitchen while I walked home for my lunch.  I grabbed a quick bite with my family, finding some good progress made on the house.  Now I just needed to get up to Gaba before lunch was over so that I could get back to our books.  Since the kids were doing very well, Staci and I decided to go to Gaba together.  We grabbed the keys to the 4-wheeler and headed out the door.

The road to Gaba isn’t so long, just a few kilometers.  The 4-wheeler is our primary means of transport over the van, mostly because of the small roads with huge potholes, speed bumps, and wash outs.  There is one spot on the road to Gaba that always leaves us with just three wheels on the ground in the van.  Besides all of that, it’s just more fun on the 4-wheeler.

 

We left the gate for Musana and proceeded down the winding village road.  The bush grows thick against the edges of the road, in areas being almost like a tunnel.  It’s just barely wide enough for one vehicle in those areas, but frequently we pass by boda bodas (motorcycles).  These guys are often driving fast, and typically are carrying any number of things.  It’s not unusual for the boda man to have three or more passengers, lots of fruit, wood or rebar, or even a coffin or couch.

About half way to Gaba we were enjoying some conversation, and preparing for a gentle left turn.  When we finally came far enough through the curve to see beyond, we were surprised to see a boda directly in our path.  Seeing him wasn’t shock, but seeing his speed, and seeing him leaning into his turn and further into our side of the road… that was a surprise to me.  He was already so close, and there was barely time to think.  I swerved the wrong way, to the right.  I really thought that with his speed and leaning into the turn, this would give him the best shot to pass through.  He, of course, swerved left.  I immediately reacted again, heading back to my left and grabbing all the breaks I had at my finger tips.  While I did, he did the only thing that was left for him to do, he laid down the bike.

A boda laid down on that small road leaves no chance to miss.  I half expected that our 4-wheeler would go over his boda like a speed bump, and I think I may have stood up just a bit in anticipation of it.  Instead, his foot peg raked through the mechanical components behind my tire, and stopped the 4-wheeler instantly.

As we all well know, the immediate stop of the 4-wheeler has little to no impact on the passengers.  The road… does.  I went over the handle bars quicker than I thought possible.  I really thought we had slowed down enough to avoid this circumstance.  Staci, eyes closed and arms around me, came with.  She’s always right behind me, pressing me on to better things, and in this instance, pressing me to the hard dirt road.  Me, being the perfect gentleman that I am, assisted her with a very cushioned landing.  I’m not sure what part of her hit me, but it definitely concussed my head against the ground.  In spite of the speed at which this all occurred, I did hear, “Oh, no!” at least three times between the moment we left the 4-wheeler until my head made impact.  I’m not positive, but I think I may have gone to sleep for just a moment with the lulling idle of the 4-wheeler in the background.

While I took a break with my head in the gravel, Staci began checking on everyone.  The driver of the boda was getting up from his bike.  His passenger had rolled off the road by several meters, and was lying perfectly still in the long grass.  Mangos were everywhere.  The 4-wheeler was still at an idle.  Staci began to tug at my arm and ask if I was okay.  I lifted my head to survey what she had already seen.  Content at what I could see, I asked for a minute and laid my head back down on the gravel.

After getting to my feet, it was clear that everyone was going to be okay.  The boda looked to be in good shape, really.  I helped to get it back upright, and together with the driver we pulled mangos out from between the tire and frame.  The passenger finally rose to his feet, and limped to a more comfortable place to rest.  Our 4-wheeler didn’t look as good.  The tire was blown out and torn.  The rim was bent and cracked.  The handlebars were bent, and still turned to the left.  One front tire matched the left turn, while the one that absorbed the impact was turned to the right.  I reached over the front to turn off the ignition.

People from all over this rural area began to congregate around the scene.  We made a few phone calls, and soon our support from Musana arrived.  The pickup came to take away the 4-wheeler, Nathan arrived to give us a ride, and some of our Ugandan staff came to help translate.  Our clinical officer came, and ordered that the passenger be transported to our clinic for an examination.

After some debate, the boda driver finally admitted fault.  However, the common belief of this region is that we are so substantially gifted, we should be responsible to pay.  In some ways, it’s true.  Still, it doesn’t ever seem fair or right.  We agreed to take care of the physical examination for the passenger of the boda.  We also finally agreed to take the boda to a repair shop in Gaba to see what damages needed repair.  The boda actually fired right up, and all that was done was to bend the foot pegs back to their original position.  While we could have continued to argue for hours, we instead agreed to these things that cost us about 40,000 Uganda Shillings, or just over $10.  I’m still mixed on how I feel about it, but I am very thankful for our Ugandan friends who helped to speak wisdom during all of this commotion.

Now, with 48 hours to recover, it already seems like it was long ago.  I struggled with dizziness and nausea in the first 24, but I think that has passed.  Staci and I are both nursing some bumps and bruises, but we have so much to be thankful for.  The 4-wheeler will be down for a while, but I think we will happily take delivery of replacement parts by close friends at the end of January.  This time just makes us appreciate our 4-wheeler all the more, but as we look at our neighbors we also are quick to realize what a luxury it is.  The $300 in parts wasn’t exactly in the budget, but this message is not at all meant to be a plea for money.  

This message is a letter of praise to our Heavenly Father, who holds all things in His hands.  It is a quick reminder to me that my time on this earth is not over.  The moment He decides it’s over, I will be taken from this life.  I have no right to think that tomorrow is anything other than a gift, and no right thinking that I should do anything with the time he has given me to work any purpose other than His.  As you finish this letter, is there breath still in you?  Do you really think that breath is yours?  Do you really think that you are here to accomplish your worldly goals?  What is the purpose, and why are you still here?

Ephesians 4:20-24

20 But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Categories: Rejoicing, Uncategorized Tags:

New Traditions

December 29th, 2017 6 comments

Our first Christmas in Uganda is now in the books, and a year from now we will be receiving our Facebook reminders of the memories we created.  It’s no surprise to us that this season was bittersweet, missing our families and the changes of season that we have been so accustomed to.

One of the great blessings was finding a fake Christmas tree in Kampala, and getting to use the decorations we had sent on a container a year and a half ago.  Trying to preserve some semblance of Christmas for our kids may have been more difficult if not for this.  We appreciated getting to drink hot chocolate while decorating our tree in our traditional way.  We even ran a single strand of LED lights around the outside of the home, another blessing of that container from the summer of 2016!

The week before Christmas we made the trek into Kampala to pick up a few, last minute things.  We were able to find a Christmas ham, which was another great find for us.  We ran a few other errands, and then received a call from our friends in the fishing village.  They had called to announce the arrival of their baby!  We rushed out of the city to make our way to the hospital at Nkokonjeru, about an hour from Musana Camps.  There we were introduced to this amazing little treasure.  Geofrey and Harriet usually refer to Staci as momma, so I guess this makes her a grandmother??  We are so thankful for our relationship with them, and we have been placed in a unique position to be able to speak into their lives.  Marriage and relationships look very different in this culture, and this has been an interesting learning opportunity for us.  These two have really been through a lot, and we appreciate the amazing effort they have made to prepare to care for this little girl.

On Saturday before Christmas, the staff at Musana Camps took the time to package gifts for the identified needy in the surrounding villages.  The packages were very simple, consisting of some very basic food items.  We provided things like flour, sugar, rice, bread, and even a kilogram of beef.  This was all measured out and divided by staff members.  To get the beef, the staff purchased a cow from a neighbor and butchered it early in the morning.  Our family drove out to the villages just to the east of camp, on roads that we should not have been driving with our van.  We kept at least three wheels on the ground at all times, and thoroughly enjoyed serving the community in this way.

On Christmas Eve we enjoyed a usual Sunday morning church service, but followed it up by providing snacks and juice to all who came.  The line was long, but so were the smiles.  After church we hurried home to establish a new Christmas tradition; Christmas Eve on the beach!  Our family of five had the beach to ourselves for the most part.  We enjoyed floating and swimming in the warm water, making sand angels in lieu of snow, and playing some volleyball.  Sugar cookies taste just as good on a beach as they do in front of the fire place.  As I looked out at the islands to the south of us, I thought of how strange it must be for the people on those islands to be celebrating Christmas in the middle of their summer.  I’m thankful that we are still in the northern hemisphere so that we can still celebrate Christmas in winter.

We woke early on Christmas to open presents, and counted on a good data connection to download some songs that the kids had wanted for their gifts.  It is the cultural norm to attend church on Christmas day, so we ended up with church on back to back days.  We dedicated the service to worship, and enjoyed the Luganda Christmas and worship music.  As they usually do, things came up during the service, and Staci found herself taking a woman from the village to our medical clinic for treatment.  The one thing we are still trying to get used to is the constant interruptions, and a culture that is very interdependent.  In many ways I believe the interdependency is a better way of life, but it doesn’t make it any easier to adapt to.

We finished out Christmas day with our traditional meal of Kumla, altered a bit to fit our local food options.  We watered our banana plants, picked jalapeños and tomatoes from the garden, and harvested our first jackfruit from the tree in our back yard.  I think one of our new traditions will be harvesting and feasting on a Christmas jackfruit!  With “It’s a Wonderful Life” on the iPad, we got to enjoy a classic movie to close out Christmas night.  We played games with the kids, Staci enjoyed some time in the hammock, and I can’t say that we have anything to complain about this Christmas.  Still, it is somehow difficult to watch our traditional Christmas pass by the screens of Facebook as we see what our family and friends are doing.

We miss you all very much, and yet; God has placed us here in this season of our lives, and we are sure of that.  We are so thankful for His constant provision, His faithfulness, and for the gift of His Son on Christmas.  Whether we are in Uganda or the USA, we are sojourners in this land, on our way home to heaven.

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The two shall become one…

December 15th, 2017 5 comments

This foundational principle of marriage found in the very beginning of recorded history, between the first man and first woman, remains a mystery to me.  The idea that the two shall become one means something different than it did over 16 years ago, when I was joined to my wife.  In the beginning, and in my naivety, it only meant what I wanted it to mean.  As long is it was convenient and beneficial for us, then it applied.  There were so many things we didn’t understand.  As I write this, I continue to be amazed because there is still so much I am learning.

One thing that has been taught to me over our years together is that my wife is a discerner of hearts.  On countless occasions, she has advised me about the heart of of someone I work with, or for.  I can’t tell you how many times I have told her that she’s wrong… I know this guy!  There’s no way he’s like that!  Then (it never takes long) something happens that proves her gift.

Can I tell you how frustrating it is?  She’s always right, sometimes!!  Eventually, I have to examine myself and wonder why it is that her gift annoys me.  Why would I be offended by this?  If we were really joined together as one, doesn’t that mean that *I* have the gift of discernment through my wife?  So, logically, if we have this gift, why is it causing so much frustration in us both?

It’s also true that this gift is frustrating for my wife.  Why?  Surely she doesn’t hate being right all the time, right?  The problem for her, is that I don’t ever do anything with her discernment.  I laugh off her revelation, or ignore it completely.  Honestly, at times, I don’t even know what I’m supposed to do with the information.  I remember saying at times, “What, babe?  Should I just go fire this guy from our company because my wife got a bad vibe?”.  She’s left with the stress of knowing that something bad will happen, and I choose to run forward as fast as I can in the bliss of ignorance until we hit the proverbial wall.

After learning time and again to appreciate the fact that my wife likely is right.  I, in my own lack of discernment, decided the best thing for me to do was to follow my wife’s lead when she had one of these revelations.  While I may have my faults and lack of gifts in discernment, my wife isn’t exactly the perfection of all of God’s creation, either.  Somehow I became confused, and thought that if she had this discernment, she probably had the best solution, as well.  It only took a time or two of following her lead to see that the emotional response to her discernment were no more right than my lack of discernment.  It’s possible that things might have even been made worse!

It’s the moments of clarity that make me realize how very unmarried we are.  As we read together, pray together, and grow in our marriage; God also reveals these truths to us.  The fact is that God has made my wife to be my perfect help, and a giver of life for our family.  He has made me a leader, and a steward of her.  How miraculous would it be if God actually created her gift of discernment for my benefit?  What if He intentionally gave me this gift through my wife, intending that I would steward it?  What if I could lead her, and lead others through this gift?

Jarid & Staci                     Established 2001

So, we’ve learned something by the word of God.  If I choose to swallow my pride and listen, really listen to my wife, she brings me perspective that I could not have on my own.  She also gives me a very emotionally charged response of how to deal with the potential issue.  If I communicate to her an attitude of thankfulness, and gladly accept her discernment, she can feel loved and appreciated.  She has provided help to me, she has given life to my role as a leader.  It’s who God created her to be!

My job, then, is to lead in light of the information provided.  I may need some time to think about things, but this is now my area of gifting.  As I come back to my wife with my plan to steward her discernment, and to lead through it, I am a messenger of peace.  She no longer has to feel the emotional burden of what was revealed to her.  She can rest knowing that she has performed her role, and that it was accepted.  She trusts in me, and respects the wisdom I can bring through God’s gifting in me.

This seems so simple when I write it out, but this is an honest BREAK-THROUGH in our marriage.  My wife has made me such a better man.  She honors and respects me more than before.  On the other hand, I have brought peace.  I have protected her and provided a safe place for her to exercise her gift.

I wonder how we could have gone 16 years without some of these things being figured out by now.  I know that God has His timing.  I’m just feeling so encouraged, so amazed by His grace, and continually amazed at the depth of truth that I hold in my hands when I spend time with my God in His word.

I can’t wait until the next trial is brought to us, because I know how far we have to go.  Oh, how we will grow by the love of the Father.

Categories: Ministry, Staci Tags: