The purpose of this project trip was to do a site assessment for African Bible University for their future expansion plans. A good site assessment involves a lot of measuring, conferring with staff on their vision, and engineers peering into holes. At the end of our time, the hope is to have a solid scope of data in place that will allow the next team to move forward with a master plan for building.
That's what the math experts did. The two of us who focus on imagery (Audio-Visual Communications Engineering) also spent a lot of time conferring with staff and students, but for different reasons. Joel and I were collecting footage and interviews in order to produce a video that would aid ABU in attracting more students. We heard a lot of stories of what compelled current students to get an education here. We asked questions such as, "What have you seen in Uganda that you want to change?" And, "How has your time here equipped you to go back and make a positive impact in your community?" Their answers, as well as what we witnessed in classrooms and around campus, was insightful and encouraging.
Over and over we heard students tell of the deep need for well-grounded study of the Bible, for pastors and leaders whose zeal could be backed up with serious knowledge. They spoke of a desire to be positive influencers in secondary education, communications, and business. With the training they receive, graduates are well-equipped to do just that.
In addition to interviews, Joel and I were in the classrooms filming lectures. I kept walking in with my goal being to just get some good B-roll of faculty and students together in a clear classroom setting and I was not concerned so much with recording the audio of the teaching content. In each room I entered I found myself wanting to stick around and learn too. No matter what subject was being taught, the teachers were all beginning from the Word of God and building on that world view. I kept thinking, "If any of my own children wanted to come here for college I would be fully supportive."
While the cost of their education is minimal by US standards, it is a huge stretch for most Ugandans and no student is taking their four years at ABU for granted. Each one told us of very specific hopes and dreams for the future. They all know what they want to do and in not one single case did we hear a student tell of selfish ambition. It was always about giving back to others and serving God.
ABU's Uganda campus has been under capacity for several years and they desire to change that. It was the job of our architects and engineers to get a good handle on what the existing property capacity is and how best to utilize that space for maximum potential. That's where the "peering into holes" part came in. Our civil team looked into almost every septic tank, drain hole, water tank, and soak pit on the site. I watched one of our interns bravely poke his head and hands far into a black concrete pit lined with cobwebs, roaches, and scurrying beetles that conjured up a scene from an Indiana Jones movie. They also had to dig holes, which is no small feat in Uganda. The soil is solidly packed and a simple perc test hole usually took a few hours of effort to dig. I should also mention Uganda is on the equator. So it was hot. Very, very hot. No one had the extra energy to throw stuff at me when I tried to get photos of them sweating and breaking shovels.
We took most of our meals in the dining hall with students and most of the time we had one or two join us at our table, affording us yet another opportunity to get to know them. At other times we were treated to dinner or lunch with staff at their residences (on campus). Perhaps the most striking observation I had was how much the faculty genuinely care for the students and how everyone strives to make the campus a true supportive community. The four years of study is about more than gaining knowledge and a marketable skill - it's about discipleship and fellowship.
It was very late. We had just arrived at African Bible University in Lubowa, Uganda and I was staring into the toilet at a snake. Or maybe it was a mouse’s tail? No….I saw a little green head on the other end…definitely a snake. Was it dead? It wasn't very big, but still…..
It would have been hilarious, except that it wasn’t. I mean, it was about 11:30 p.m., I’d been cooped up in a plane for 18 hours and I really, really had to pee. Also, I wanted to take a photo, but if there is anything that scares me more than a potentially lethal snake it’s dropping my phone into a toilet. Dropping it into the toilet beside what could be a green mamba snake just ups the fear factor.
I was also afraid to risk angering it by answering nature’s call (and that particular phone had been ringing a good 90 minutes,) but I was not sure how else to deal with this. Our hosts had shown us to our rooms (quite lovely and comfy, by the way) and then gone back to their own homes. I did not want to call on them again so late. I am not sure why it did not occur to me to call Kevin into the bathroom. Instead, I just did what seemed reasonable.
The snake went away. Must have been dead.
Note to self: ask hosts in the morning if I should be concerned about the possibility of more.
Used to be when I got up to use the potty in the night I did so without turning on lights. That, my friends, is a thing of the past.
It was a hard trip. My brain is still mushy. I hope to have a newsletter and a few blog posts soon because despite the difficulties and exhaustion, there is plenty of good stuff to share. I’ll try to elaborate on these experiences later, but for now, the summary:
For reals. Stay tuned…
We are missionaries with Engineering Ministries International, based in Colorado Springs, and traveling around the globe to serve.
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