I left for Uganda with a laundry list of photographic “assignments:” shoot a video tour of our new building in Kajjansi, get general footage we can use in future video work, team photos, and get some good images for the Inside EMI magazine. EMI had 4 projects happening in Uganda this term and I got to cover 2 of them. Obviously, there was the one I was on, African Bible University. The other was master planning for Sozo Children in Ngongolo. While I covered still photos on this day, Joel shot video.
Our team leader arranged a good driver ("good" is an important distinction in Uganda) to take Joel and I to the intern house (“Ebony and Ivory” was on the radio) in Kajjansi where we met up with the project team for Sozo. Right away we got a big surprise - Geoffrey! He was an intern during Term 1 when we arrived in Colorado and we had no idea he was going to be on this project team. Poor Geoffrey had no idea he was going to be followed around by the paparazzi for a day.
The team was spending the morning on the 27-acre site where the founders and staff of Sozo Children hope to build small group homes, a chapel, dining facilities and a prayer garden. Currently the children live in a few houses scattered around town and we spent the afternoon at one of them. But the morning was for hiking and hacking our way through a veritable jungle while the engineers and architects marked property boundaries, dug percolation test holes, and got a good overview of the site.
When I say “hacked and hiked” I am not at all kidding. We had several local men with machetes working through the dense brush ahead of us. This was the closest I will ever come to understanding the life of a National Geographic photographer. I’m sure God was there too because we also had to slog through swampy terrain that was perfect for nasty snakes, but none showed themselves. I should have encountered at least a few giant spiders but never saw one larger than a nickel. When the engineers were not doing anything photogenic I tried to photograph some truly amazing butterflies, but every time I got close and got my shot all composed nicely they would flit off. I was certain I could hear them laughing their little butterfly laughs at me. I also still had “Ebony and Ivory” going through my head. (Editor's note: It has been 28 and days and it's still running...)
The jungle hike was a fun adventure (we found a monkey skull!), but the best part of the day was hanging out back at the children’s home, getting to know people a bit. On most project trips the presentation happens on the final day, but Sarah and her team chose to do a sort of “halfway through” presentation. That meant Joel and I not only got to see the scope of the plans but to photograph the staff’s reaction and their interaction with the project team.
The Sozo home that we returned to for lunch and afternoon work is home to MJ, their pet vervet monkey. I got to hold him, but he has a slight attitude problem, so after about 18 seconds he bit at my arms, tugged at every piece of my shirt he could grab, pulled my hair, then fled. One of our team members had packed away the monkey skull we found at the site and decided to bring it out for MJ to see. It seemed to have the desired effect. He was nicer for a bit after that.
In addition to monkeys, skulls, jungle hikes, not snakes, and project previews, we were witness to a bunch of chickens getting "processed," which is the nice way of saying they lost their heads and were immediately scalded and plucked for dinner. The children's choir gave us a performance of a couple of pieces they had been working on. And I did my best to talk with a few staff and visiting workers so I could learn their stories in words, which always enables me to tell a better story with photos.
Our day at Sozo was one of the highlights of our week. Below are a few photographic highlights. Enjoy!
We are missionaries with Engineering Ministries International, based in Colorado Springs, and traveling around the globe to serve.
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