It's official: we are headed to back to Africa! This time we will be serving Africa Bible University in Kampala, Uganda. This time we get to be on the same project team! This time we get to take Joel! We are very excited about this trip and I've been wanting to get a blog post up for days now, but the time to do so keeps getting away from me. I finally decided this morning to just hack the information eMi had posted on the project listing and edit it a bit for clarity.
African Bible University is an accredited university in Uganda, offering degrees in Biblical Studies and Christian Community Leadership, and minors in Communications, Education and Business. The university was founded by Dr. and Mrs. John W. Chinchen. After spending seven years training pastors in the interior of Liberia, the Chinchens realized the great need for colleges that would respond to the need of the increasing number of secondary school graduates in Africa. In 1975 the vision became reality when the first of the African Bible Colleges began in Liberia, West Africa. A second college opened in 1991 in the Central African country of Malawi.
In due time, the third of these Christ-committed colleges was founded to serve East Africa from Uganda. From this vantage point, ABU Uganda offers quality education from a Christian perspective to the surrounding countries of Sudan, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia. ABU students and graduates are uniquely equipped with the Bible-handling skills necessary for Christian leadership in today’s East African church.
ABU is looking to EMI to help them develop an updated master plan to facilitate future growth on this campus. This project fulfills a crucial first step by developing as-built drawings of ABU’s existing buildings and assessing the current infrastructure to support their vision to develop an increasing number of Christian leaders to serve their communities.
During our time in country we also anticipate getting to know a few of the students and their families a bit more and attending church with them. Our team includes a Ugandan national intern, which is exciting for me personally as I really enjoy working with interns. At this point I am not certain exactly what our video project will entail, but so far the beauty of these trips for me has been in just showing up and being open to whatever gets placed in my path.
For now there are preparations to be made in the form of arranging school work to accommodate the travel, getting familiar with some new sound equipment, and preparing our hearts to serve. Kevin's daily work (while still wrapping up the Touched By Love project from June) includes communicating with our project volunteers and the team members in the East Africa office to continue gathering details on the scope of our work. Your prayers are appreciated during this time.
We will update you as we have more news.
The wildflowers here are nuts. It has been a very wet few months, and all that precipitation makes for a serious show of blossoms. Last weekend when we headed to Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP, we took a side trip on a long mountain road up near Crested Butte. The flowers there were mighty impressive, although the weather made for difficult photography.
We made up for it with a hike this weekend closer to home. Kevin's mom was visiting and we wanted to go on an outing with good flowers but without the four-hour drive so we tackled the Spruce Mountain trail. There were not as many flowers in a huge mass, but plenty of variety and color and much better lighting conditions.
Last weekend we went camping at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. One of our eMi interns suggested it, and we were all like, "Yup. We're in!" Because S'mores. But also because interns.
We have really been having fun hanging around this group. Kevin and I both had the pleasure of getting to know Sam, Shannon, and Marisa while we were on our project trip in Kenya, but since returning home we've been able to get to know the rest of them. On the brief info sheet we got before they all arrived, all of them listed their interests as including hiking and outdoor activities. So naturally we hit it off. And any time they've been willing to hang around a couple of people their parents' ages (plus our kids) we take them up on it and go do stuff. Sometimes some other eMi staff and/or families jump in, which makes for a bonus. This time we had Molly, Anna, and Jordan, Maverick (the dog).
Black Canyon is pretty gnarly. Try to imagine the Grand Canyon but not quite as deep and with walls going straight down and also mostly very dark (okay, so not that much like it). By dark, I mean the rock. There is plenty of sunlight and no brooding literary themes. Also, the walls of the canyon go almost straight down, so hiking to the bottom is a serious workout. Or at least, that is what I am told. That excursion took place on our second day while Kristin and I slept in. So I would not really know. And I don't have any photos. But I do have photos of the stuff I was there for and I give you the rest of our weekend in photo essay format.
Our crew, headed off on a shorter hike along the rim.
It can all look a bit like a scene from some fantasy trilogy. . .
...until someone starts with the selfies.
Saturday, June 6 - We drove this morning to Kabondo and presented the design of the orphanage to the children, their caregivers, community members and church leaders. The presentation was given in the same structure they use for school, which has no electricity. Our team took a unique approach which turned to out be highly effective. Each of our nine members had the powerpoint presentation loaded on our laptops and we dispersed ourselves throughout the 100 attendees. Each member of our team had a speaking role and would then stand up and give their part of the presentation while the rest of the team showed the slide to the people seated around them. This was a wonderful way to engage the community and it was fun to hear them whoop and holler when the REVIT perspective drawing lit up the screen with images of what the orphanage would look like when complete!
When we were nearly finished a huge rain storm blew in and we all hunkered down for about an hour as it passed. It was a wonderful time of getting close to the kids and sharing laughs as we took their pictures and avoided the blowing rain. I shot the video at the bottom of the page with the front camera on the iPhone so the kids could see their faces on the screen in live play. I’m so grateful for moments like this when God reminds me that across a physical divide of 9,000 miles and cultural and economic differences that are just as great, these kids are every bit as beautiful to Him as my own children. He is our Father, rich in love, desiring that all His children be cared for, never wanting any of them to experience the pain that so many orphans endure. The church in Kabondo is caring for these kids and they are not without hope. The homes that we were able to design will one day be a tangible reflection of God’s love for them, brought through His people.
When the rain was over, we had a special worship service and Gary delivered a message with Pastor Julius's sons serving as interpreters. The presentation was a great success and though we got a flat tire on our drive home, we were well cared for and grateful for the day.
Sunday, June 7 - We enjoyed a relaxing breakfast at the hotel in Kisumu then we went to Pastor Julius’ church there. We arrived at 11 a.m. and had an extended time of worship as we sang together. Gary gave a message and there was a time of prayer for the community. We then went to Pastor’s house for a meal and fellowship. By this time Pastor and his sweet children and grandchildren had become friends and family to all of us. His 27 month old granddaughter, Rhoda, spend time on all of our laps playing with our phones and getting loved on. We learned of the Pastor’s son’s plans to be leaders in their communities in many different ways and were so impressed with the legacy that he will one day leave behind. We eventually headed back to the hotel and had devotion and some architectural and structural coordination time.
Monday, June 8 - Since we were basically done with the design effort goals for our work in Kenya, we had time to visit some children under Pastor’s care in Kisumu and to see a clinic and education facility called Ringroad Ministries. They are doing amazing work and their children sang a song for us before we left. We also were able to witness some of the local Kenyan construction techniques, which prepared us for the types of details that we need to include with our design. Many times these buildings are constructed based upon common practice of what works. This can get tricky and unpredictable when compared with more detailed analysis and design. It was a huge benefit to our team to see this construction project and it gave us a chance to talk with the ministry about how eMi could help them in the future. After walking the site, we returned to Pastor Julius’ place and walked through the town to Lake Victoria Dunga Beach where we all boarded a boat and went out on the lake searching for hippos. Amazingly, we saw about 6 of them but it was hard to capture an image because they would come up from underwater for about 10 seconds then go under again for about a minute. It was a fun time though!
Monday, June 9 - Sadly, this night we had to say goodbye (at least for now) to Pastor Julius and his family. We boarded the vans and headed to Lake Nakuru National Park - a 4-hour drive across beautiful, lush, rolling hillsides. Our team was reunited with the other eMi Kenya project team (of which Jenni was a member) for lunch at the lodge, two game drives, and our journey back to Nairobi. It is pretty common to arrange one day at the end of the trip for the team to pause and reflect and to enjoy the unique surroundings of the places we go.
This last day also includes a closing meeting that is typically one of the most precious times of the whole trip as we share experiences and encourage one another. The closing time was a huge blessing to me and really gave us a chance to discuss what God had accomplished in and through us in our time in Kenya and to begin to prepare to re-enter American culture. Our own closing time came after an amazing afternoon game drive where we got to see a group of 16 lions - one of which almost caught a zebra for the pride's dinner. (If you missed that blog post, click here).
Tuesday, June 11 - We took another 3-hour game drive in the park, had breakfast, and packed into the vans for some last-minute souvenir shopping and the drive to Nairobi. We boarded a flight for London at 11:15 pm and flew through the night, arriving on UK soil at 6 a.m. After processing customs, we spent a few hours exploring downtown before coming back to the airport for our 3:45 p.m. flight to Denver. After two 9-hour flights, we were pretty worn out when we arrived in Colorado. And I incorrectly recorded the location of our car in the remote economy lot. And it was raining. So I was pretty soaked and awake as we started our hour plus drive home to Colorado Springs. As blessed as our time in Kenya was, it is always so good to be home.
We are missionaries with Engineering Ministries International, based in Colorado Springs, and traveling around the globe to serve.
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