Wow, it’s amazing how fast time flies. So much is happening and changing here at EMI and I’m really excited about where we are going.
Last month Staff from all of EMI’s offices came together for our World Staff Conference. This includes our current offices in Uganda, India, US, Canada, and UK. In addition, EMI is growing fast as we are expanded our presence into Nicaragua, Senegal, Cambodia, and South Africa! I’m heading to Nicaragua next month to assist in setting them up for future impact in Central America- more on that in a couple weeks.
It was 5 years ago that EMI last had a World Staff Conference and since then our numbers have grown tremendously. Take a look at all the Staff and families who gathered at the conference to discuss where God is leading our organization next.
Jalina and the boys were also able to attend and even got to go hill tubing in the middle of summer. It was a surprisingly fast ride especially when the attendant spun us in circles.
At the conference we revealed…
EMI’s new logoEMI’s new vision statement:
“People restored by God and the world restored through design”
EMI’s new mission statement:
“To develop people, design structures, and construct facilities which serve communities and the Church”
In addition, we talked through our core values: Design, Discipleship, and Diversity. I’ll talk in more detail about diversity and discipleship in my future updates, but let me start with Design. EMI works within the local context to design and construct culturally-appropriate facilities that are sustainable, affordable, and transformational.
You might be thinking, “So what?”. Well EMI has found that a foreigner coming in and giving a ministry technical plans from purely a Westerner perspective actually doesn’t help in the long run. By involving local architects and engineers from that country, we learn about how construction is actually accomplished in that region and how the ministry will use the facility. This means our designs are more likely to be built and serve the ministry and the poor around them more effectively- allowing the design to have more impact. If you want to hear a story of how a simple EMI design in Uganda can translate into transformation in people’s lives… keep reading.
Not only are lives being touched in tandem with the design and work of EMI, but the buildings themselves create a place that people can call home- sometimes for the very first time. After spending most of his life looking for a home, David Muyanja had a vision of a beautiful place. Later that vision was fulfilled at the ‘Field of Dreams’ site at Show Mercy International in Uganda. Let me explain…
It was 2009 when Show Mercy International (SMI) first asked an EMI team to come to their site near Kaliiti Village to design their ‘Field of Dreams’ site as they began their ministry in Uganda. Five years later, Show Mercy directors Mike and Lori Salley invited EMI back again to design the next phase of their work: a primary school that will eventually grow into a boarding school for 300 children.
While most of the EMI architects, engineers, and surveyors were figuring out the technical design for the new site, some of the team talked to several of the young people SMI has hired as staff. Each of these people had a story of how their lives have been transformed by God through the love shown by people at Show Mercy. The story of one of the staff in particular, David, really impacted the team. They got to know him as they included him in some of the tasks the project team was working on in the field.
David’s first memory is of living on the streets of Kampala, the capital city of Uganda. He has no parents and no family that he knows of, no relatives to care for him or take an interest in his life. Looking back at that time, he said that he has no idea how he survived. He believes that it must have been God’s mercy and grace alone. Street children like him don’t usually live for long as injury, hunger, and disease take their toll. They simply disappear and there is no one to ask questions. Orphaned and abandoned children like David are seen in nearly all the AIDS-ravaged countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. It is to help children like him that Show Mercy began their ministry in Uganda.
When David was eight, he started doing cleaning jobs and helping in a local church to earn some money. He was allowed to sleep in the church building at night. Later, a family took him in for a time as a house boy and he was able to earn food by doing odd jobs. But there were problems in the house and he didn’t always get fed. He longed to belong somewhere and his eyes filled with tears as he shared how lonely he felt.
When he was 17, a visitor named Sonia came to the church and began to take an interest in him. She talked to him about his life and asked him if he would like to have somewhere new to live. That night as he slept he had a vision of a beautiful place. Not long after this, Sonia brought him to the Show Mercy site where he received prayer and encouragement. Seeing the site reminded David of the vision and knew he had found his home.
David has been employed as a groundskeeper at ‘Field of Dreams’ since November 2012. Show Mercy has provided work, support, and care for him as a full-time staff member. Being loved, feeling useful, and given self-esteem, David feels he has received more than a job here – even more than a fresh start on life. Here he feels he has finally found a home. He has found long-term hope for his future too. In fact, David is trying to save up enough money to buy land and build his own house someday. And, when he gets married, he hopes to care for his own children with a sort of love he never received himself: The love he found at Show Mercy.