I started the day with lots of goals. Most of them involved technical things. By the end of the day, I had only accomplished one of them, indirectly: I talked my technician through a POE bullet install for Gately, a popular local guesthouse.
This installation replaced about six beat-up Linksys routers and blanketed their property with wifi for the staff and guests. For those of you that haven’t used Ubiquity gear, it’s decidedly NOT SOHO stuff. I’m really impressed with the features and the power of this thing (When tied to a 15db antenna) is quite impressive, although it’s not nearly as user-friendly as Linksys. This gear is also MUCH more robust than Linksys junk.
But like I said, I had a whole pile of tech stuff I needed to dig into, but my day would not be about tech. Instead, I started the day with Jessie (@CalvaryChapel) at the fire site. Jessie drew this diagram:
I know it looks a bit dodgy, but this sketch represents a LOT of work and a lot of ground covered in a short period of time.Yesterday morning we were swimming in questions. How many homes were burned, exactly? Were the homes owned by the residents, or landlords? Was the property owned by the residents of the landlords? If the homes or property are owned by a landlord, we would need to secure their permission before rebuilding? How much material would we need? What did the original site look like? What would the new site look like? Since local building suppliers have verbally agreed to donate materials, how much would they donate?
It took a couple of hours on site to get the answers to these questions.We walked around with local leaders and saw each and every plot. We met many of the residents and got what we needed.
I delivered the building material list here:
This is Nile Ply, one of the largest local sources of wood and timber. They have graciously agreed to donate building materials to the relief effort. We won’t know until Saturday, but we are hoping they will donate all of the materials.
In the evening we served another meal, this time to about 65 people.
It was a busy, exhausting day.
That, in a clinically presented nutshell, is basically what I did.
But my day wasn’t clinical. Some things happened to me, especially as I walked around the fire site..
When Jessie and I approached the site, I heard the familiar cry of, “Mzungu, Mzungu!” I ignored this, because in towns like Jinja, “Mzungu” has come to mean “give me money”. One of the kids caught my eye and I realized they were calling us to show us their brightly-colored “meal ticket” bracelet. The kids were excited because we were visiting them, and excited about what they had, not what we could give them.
I remember a time, about three years ago, when, for this very reason, I left the US with my family to head to Uganda for just this reason. I’ve told countless people that during Jen’s first trip to Uganda she filmed kids who, “had nothing but Joy” and that by contrast I, “had everything and was miserable”. That’s what started this whole adventure.
In the past years, I’ve lost touch with that. I’ve gotten wrapped up in “trying to do more”, then in “trying to have a greater impact”, and step by step, I got too wrapped up in myself. I became suspicious of those in need because I had been taken advantage of over and over again by “town people,” the Ugandan “middle class” who were separated from the village who had become somewhat self-sufficient (and materialistic.. greedy). I got wrapped around the axle over the abuses I had suffered at their hands. Combined with my own selfishness and several other factors, this bitterness slowly consumed me. The result was that I became someone I didn’t recognize. I spent too many weeks and months wrapped up in my selfish, bitter cocoon than I care to admit to.
Yesterday, I saw light. In the eyes of the children and the smiles of the grateful parents, I recognized a long-forgotten purpose. Isaiah 58:6-11 blasted through the cobwebs of my heart and yesterday I remembered what I had too easily forgotten. I came here with a vision to “break the chains of injustice”, to share my “food with the hungry, [invite] the homeless poor into [my home, to put] clothes on the shivering ill-clad.”
And along the way, I hoped it would have something to do with computers, something to do with technology so that those supporting HFC could feel connected, valued. But it wasn’t ever about HFC, and it wasn’t supposed to be about me and my ideas, my wants, my needs, my desires.
I’m so glad my day was about more than technology. I’m thankful for the opportunity to serve at this most basic, fundamental level. I’m proud to stand alongside others (like you) who are united in this cause, caring for the “hungry, the homeless poor and the shivering ill-clad.”
Thank you for your continued support, for your encouragement and your donations and comments that thrust me into this situation that’s reminding me about what I had forgotten.