Is EMI Needed, Medical Supplies, and Wassuwa pt 2

Demolition at the university, is it closing down?

Demolition at the university, is it closing down?

Is EMI Needed?
The rumors started to spread throughout the community in Congo, “The university is closing down!” Universite Chretienne Bilingue du Congo (let’s just call them UCBC) is a university that started with an overly ambitious long-span, large auditorium design, and a construction crew without the experience and expertise required for such a massive and complicated project. This led to the decision years later to bring in a demolition team and tear down the building. Of course news started to spread and this turned to rumor that the whole university was shutting down. The humble leader of UCBC made a public statement admitting to their mistake of rushing the building project which cost thousands of dollars and inevitably produced a building unsafe to occupy. He reaffirmed to the community that they were going to continue ministering through the university and while they are tearing it down now, they have asked EMI to come in and partner with the design and the reconstruction of the university.
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This is a good reminder that we can’t excel at all areas of ministry and we should lean on each other’s expertise as we look to minister holistically. EMI loves partnering with ministries like UCBC who have a passion for the Lord and desire to minister with all their heart. It sadness us that they didn’t know about EMI when they initially planned for their building construction. If you know of any ministries looking to do new construction let them know about EMI’s desire to partner with their great work.IMG_2062

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The humble leader of UCBC displays EMI’s master plans for their future University.

Weighing Bags
Warm weather clothes… check. Toys for the boys… check. Bag of M&Ms to be rationed out for about five months… check. Medical supplies for Uganda…

Before we left for Uganda I (Jalina) asked Penrose Hospital, where I worked as a nurse, if they wanted to donate any medical equipment to our missions work in Uganda. As a Catholic hospital focused on caring for people medically and spiritually, they were eager to contribute. I waited in the hospital supply room as they kept loading up supplies and equipment into boxes, however the thought kept going through my head, “how are we going to fit this in our suitcase when we already have so much we want to bring”. Thankfully we were able to make enough room for it. Although it took us a while to find the right fit, once we got to Uganda, we were pleased when our friend Stella connected us to a Children’s Hospital that was in need of the supplies we brought. What a blessing to be able to share with people in need. They were so grateful!

Our friend, Stella, brings the medical supplies to a Children's Hospital in need.

Our friend, Stella, brings the medical supplies to a Children’s Hospital in need.

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It has been fun to find different ways to bless the people of Uganda whether that is through our gifts and skills, our finances, or in this case our connections to medical supplies and equipment.

Wassuwa’s Financial Woes:
As I mentioned in our last post, we wanted to help out our neighbor, Wassuwa, through some financial troubles. I tried to help him with capital for his vegetable stand business to develop a sustainable financial solution, but he wasn’t motivated to follow through with the plan. Instead he was more focused on the short term immediate needs and used some of the business funds to pay for other things. Wassuwa still came back to me for help to pay Ian’s Term 2 school fees. I agreed, but sadly as soon as I did, the school kicked Ian out because apparently Term 1 school fees hadn’t been paid previously. Wassuwa came back asking for more money.

I had asked all of you what you would do if you were in my shoes. Thanks to all of you who chimed in with your thoughts or advice on how to approach this tricky financial situation. Maybe I should have asked for feedback earlier since you all had good ideas. 🙂

Jalina and I discussed what we should do with Wassuwa’s request. We desired to come up with a plan that not only challenged us to be generous, but also enabled Wassuwa with some financial management skills that he could use even in their different cultural approach to money.

The total school fees for Term 1 were about 175,000/= (Ugandan Shillings) so I told Wassuwa that I would give 30,000/= each week towards school fees if he paid 10,000/= each week. I challenged him to explain this to the school and see if they would let Ian go back to school. While this wasn’t the solution Wassuwa had in mind, he agreed it was a reasonable amount for him to have to prioritize toward school each week.

Ian and Conrad help Drew and Blake wash our car.

Ian and Conrad help Drew and Blake wash our car.

To Wassuwa’s surprise they let Ian go back to school, and to my surprise the plan has mostly been working. He comes back to me with the bank slip showing both my and his portion paid and then I give him another week’s amount. I told him we could continue this arrangement into Ian’s following term also once Term 1 this was completed.

Overall, I feel like this was a success in terms of:

  1. Ian getting an education
  2. Jalina and I navigating cultural differences
  3. Wassuwa having a slightly greater ownership over developing weekly budget planning for his own child’s schooling.

After Jalina and I had made so many mistakes while trying to figure out how to minister and bless others well in a different cultural context, it is nice to have a few in the win column!

Blake enjoys the celebrations for his second birthday party

Blake enjoys the celebrations for his second birthday party

Contribute:

Thanks to all of you who have made our mission work possible. For those that would like to contribute you can do so at: http://www.emiworld.org/donate.php.  Once there, choose to Create Account, Sign In, or Make A One-Time Donation.  Select Staff and then select Reinhardt, Jason- 2050.

Making Friends and Ugandan Finances

Conrad, Samuel, Drew, Blake, Ian (from left to right)

Conrad, Samuel, Drew, Blake, Ian (from left to right)

Making Friends

At first I (Jason) thought Drew was talking to himself in a very loud voice, but then I realized he was telling stories to a Ugandan 7 year old, Ian, who lives in a house behind our back security wall. Ian had climbed up a tree to watch Drew and Blake play.

A couple days later Ian, his 12 year old brother and 9 year old cousin knocked on our gate. While theft is always a concern even with people you think are your friends, I thought as long as they played outside we should be ok. The thought kept going through my skeptical mind: “Why would a 12 year old want to play with Drew and Blake who are only 4 and 1?”

All 5 boys were having a blast as you can see in the pictures.

Pure bliss as Ian, his brothers, and cousin come over to play the first time.

Pure bliss as Ian, his brothers, and cousin come over to play the first time.

Our neighbor friends made a routine of coming over to our house and we quickly laxed on our rules about not playing inside. We found the neighbors did occasionally sneak into our pantry and take food without asking and at one point our guard caught one of them throwing Ugandan Shilling coins from our backyard over our wall into their property where another one was collecting it. Another one walked out of our gate with Drew’s Hotwheel cars saying Drew told him he could have them. When talking to Drew about it, I got a confusing answer and my best guess is Drew felt obligated to say it would be ok (but honestly I’m still not sure what happened). That night I had a talk with the neighbor boys and their father which was awkward but relatively productive.2-IMG_7076

For the most part, it has been a wonderful opportunity for Drew and Blake to have friends to play with and for us to interact with Ugandans in a way that we had hoped for by living here. We are able to bring Ian, Samuel, and Conrad to church every Sunday and occasionally bring them out to lunch and join Drew and Blake at an indoor play area. We have even offered for the neighbor boys to take a few Hotwheel cars (with Drew’s permission of course).

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Financial Assistance

“Ian will be kicked out of school unless you can help with his school fees,” Ian’s father, Wassuwa, told me.

I had been talking with another staff member at the EMI office about the idea of helping Wassuwa with his vegetable stand business, because it clearly wasn’t enough to provide for his family. There wasn’t any clear answer to how to actually help him improve his business skills. You see 40 feet away from Wassuwa’s vegetable stand was another neighbor who had an even bigger selection of food in a better location. It made me feel like Wassuwa should try to find a different job as he couldn’t really compete in that market, but finding a job in Uganda is next to impossible for many of them. Ian’s mother had passed away a few years before and so the burden of finding school fees for all the children fell to Wassuwa. So with the advice from my co-worker I decided to help Wassuwa with the capital for his business.

Wassuwa's son, Ian, is playing ball with Drew in our front year.

Wassuwa’s son, Ian, is playing ball with Drew in our front year.

When Wassuwa came to me with the need for Ian’s school fees, I told him that I had a ‘better’ idea in that I would help him increase his business productivity. I explained how with more food he could turn a bigger profit and still be able to pay for school fees. I also encouraged him to find different types of food than what the other vegetable stand had.

5-IMG_7074Through my experience here and from reading a book called “African Friends and Money Matters”, I have learned that Uganda’s approach to money, generosity, accounting, and business are actually quite different from ours. The things that we as Americans/Westerners would find offensive or even unethical are considered acceptable here.

Here are a few examples of the different cultural perspectives on finances:

  • Africans will become friends with as many people as possible knowing that if a hardship was to come their way they have more people they could ask for money. To us, making friends because of what they can do for us seems conniving.
  • Generosity is expected from all people. If you have something and someone else has a need, you should really give to their cause regardless of any other factors that we would normally put into play. Here’s an example, a couple weeks ago a motorcycle ran into my co-worker’s car and busted up the motorcycle’s front. A large crowd started to form (remember my previous explanation about mob justice on the streets of Uganda) and my co-worker ended up giving the motorcyclist money to fix the front light. It was the motorcyclists fault! However, the car driver needed to pay because he could afford it and the motorcyclist couldn’t- it’s just the way things work here. Our definition of what is ‘right’ is constantly being examined by being in a different culture.
  • Once you give money to someone, the giver no longer has a right to dictate how the money is spent. The receiver has complete control on how he chooses to spend it. You should be generous again to this same person even if they didn’t do what you wanted, because you don’t have a right to tell them what to do (even if I was your money in the first place). I bet you can see where my story is going now…
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In this picture you not only see Ian and Conrad climbing our clothes line but the edge of our house on the right and our security wall and Ian and Wassuwa’s house on the left.

After a long talk, Wassuwa agreed to my business plan and realized how increasing his sales is a more sustainable solution to not only help him solve this one issue but set him up for success in the future. Within one week he could turn around the money I gave him to pay off what the school requested and still have plenty of capital left to multiply his efforts. I was hopeful!

Sadly, Wassuwa came back to me and said he took a significant portion of the money I gave for the business and used it to pay other things he felt was more urgent. I was sad to realize that Wassuwa didn’t share my desire to grow his business and be self sustainable for his family. I realized he was always going to be looking for an external benefactor to always come in when he had a need. You see another person from the US already sponsors his 12 year old son’s school fees.

Ian shows off how to be a daredevil on the plastic toy boda.

Ian shows off how to be a daredevil on the plastic toy boda.

The business plan was now thrown out the door and the school was threatening to kick Ian out unless Wassuwa could pay within a week. After some counsel, I decided that paying Ian’s school fees wasn’t too much different than if I sponsored a child through Compassion or a different ministry, so I agreed to pay quite a bit more for the rest of Ian’s second school term.

During our discussion, Wassuwa shifted awkwardly in his seat as we sat on my front porch. He then tells me that he hasn’t been exactly transparent with where the funds I have given him before had gone. The story keeps changing! How am I supposed to help this man when I feel constantly lied to, but I remembered the principles from the book: just because I gave the money doesn’t mean he has to use it towards what I wanted.   So what did I do? I gave him all the money needed for the term 2 school fees.

Luckily, Jalina and I were able to have a good attitude through this whole process realizing that we are in Uganda because we want to experience these cultural complexities and hopefully learn and grow through them.

And look who is trying to copy Ian as he balances on his boda with perfect form.

And look who is trying to copy Ian as he balances on his boda with perfect form.

Wassuwa came back with the bank slip showing that all the money went towards Ian’s term 2 school fees. So while Plan A and Plan B didn’t work, at least Plan C was happening the way I hoped. But guess what? I soon found out that Ian wasn’t going to school (in the middle of term 2), but rather just hanging out at my house all day playing with Drew!   The school kicked him out… even though his term 2 school fees were all paid. I was flabbergasted and perplexed, but thankfully not infuriated. Apparently the school said Ian couldn’t go to school until term 1 school fees were paid in full, (even though we had already paid for term 2).

Shouldn't a parent be supervising here instead of taking pictures?

Shouldn’t a parent be supervising here instead of taking pictures?

So Wassuwa, with the encouragement of his wife, came back to me essentially begging me to help with the term 1 school fees. Initially, I didn’t know what to do. I mean, what would you do? I’m curious actually. Go ahead and email me or post your answer on Facebook or the blog. I’m interested in hearing what solutions are out there, and keep in mind a big reason for us being in Uganda is to help Ugandans.

In a few weeks, we’ll update the blog saying what we decided to try and the outcomes so far. Hopefully this interaction will be a little fun as we discuss the complex world of finances in a multicultural setting.   I’m looking forward to hearing from you…

Blake and his buddy, Conrad.

Blake and his buddy, Conrad.

Refuge and Hope & Mary’s Story

Somalia Flag

Somalia Flag is proudly displayed at the Refuge and Hope’s Annual Day of Celebration.

Finding Refuge

Health Insurance, auto Insurance, life insurance, retirement, savings – these are all methods that we use to protect us during an accident or catastrophe. In Africa the most common safety net that people have for difficult times is their extended family network. Africans use this network for sharing resources in a way that, on the surface, I admire and reminds me in what is described in the early church: “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” (Acts 4:32)

Drew makes friends with some boys at Refuge and Hope.

Drew makes friends with some boys at Refuge and Hope.

Now imagine a war breaks out in your country and you run for your life with the people in your house and only the clothes on your back. You finally reach a refugee camp in a neighboring country. After a while you try to make a new life in this new country, but you are not welcomed by the locals. You can’t find a job so you have very little money, the market vendors charge you twice as much for food since they know you are a foreigner, and you have no network of family. Where can you turn?

Refuge and Hope is a ministry down the street from where we live in Kampala, Uganda that serves these people who desperately want to get back up on their feet. Most of these people are from Democratic Republic of Congo which has suffered much violence in recent years. They provide them with job training, English teaching, computer schooling, and most importantly a community of people that can create their own safety net network. It is a great

Refuge and Hope provides job training to help refugees get back on their feet.

Refuge and Hope provides job training to help refugees get back on their feet.

witness to show the hands and feet of God to people who are being introduced to Jesus for the first time. I (Jason) am amazed to see the joy that exudes from these people that have been given new hope. Occasionally, some will be willing to tell their horrendous stories of loss and fleeing to survive, which goes beyond my imagination of what it means to be destitute.

EMI has had an ongoing relationship with Refuge and Hope where we have been able to provide assistance in their training and one-on-one counseling.  I hope to contribute to this amazing ministry once I go through the volunteer process.

Jalina has already been able to join the women of the ministry for a time of celebration and also on a medical related visit.

I (Jalina) have a unique relationship with Refuge and Hope. I have become friends with the lady who runs the ministry and when she discovered I was a nurse, I was asked to assist several women with medical needs. One of these was a 21 year old refugee from Burundi. Her mom died and her stepdad tried to kill her. She ran and fled with nowhere to go and did not know anyone to turn to. I was near tears listening to her story. She had found Refuge and Hope and she was in good hands as the ministry was taking good care of her. She had discovered a lump in her breast and quite a bit of pain. I was asked to assist her during her doctor’s appointment, to be an advocate since the medical care here is not good.

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I was amazed to find that the doctor did not even look at the lump in her breast or prescribe pain meds. We were asked a series of questions by a very strict, unfriendly doctor and then asked to leave because the doctor felt she needed a repeat scan (the current scan we had showed a lump in the breast). I was curious about doing a biopsy or seeing what the doctor thought about the size of the lump, etc. We left the appointment disappointed, but we did not give up. After going to a totally different clinic, we discovered that the issue was actually hormonal and nothing to do with cancer. She was able to get treatment and the problem was resolved. I learned a lot about the healthcare system here through some of these experiences.

One very exciting opportunity I had was to join in on Refuge and Hope’s annual day of celebration. Young women were dressed in their traditional costumes from the countries that they came from. They were decked out with matching

The Refuge women were so fascinated by Drew and Blake and wanted their pictures with them.

The Refuge women were so fascinated by Drew and Blake and wanted their pictures with them.

headdresses and purses. These women looked absolutely beautiful. I met refugees from Sudan, Somalia, Congo, etc. They were not only celebrating their freedom from oppression, but they were celebrating mostly the freedom we have in being Children of God. The day was filled with singing, dancing and testimonies of how good God is. He has brought these women out of terrible circumstances and they have tremendous testimonies. What an amazing day. The funny part was that I brought Drew and Blake with me and I had packed PB & J sandwiches. The women were taking pictures of my kids and so curious what the boys were eating. One of the ministry leaders told the women that the boys were eating PB & J and it really is something American kids eat, not just something found in their text books! 🙂

Answer to Prayer

God is so faithful!  I sat in Mary’s home during a home visit in the slums as she poured out her heart and shared with me about her struggles. Her husband is an alcoholic and she desperately wants him to know the saving power of Jesus Christ. We prayed in faith that he would stop drinking alcohol and that God would pursue him. I prayed that specifically God would reveal himself to this man and that he could be a strong, godly man who would lead his family and that the chains of temptation would be broken.

During last week’s home visit, I spoke again with Mary in her home. She told me an astonishing story of God’s goodness and grace. Her husband was surrounded by Christian believers during the week that cared about him.  Mary describes what happened by saying, “They put him in water and cast out a demon from him.” A few nights after that, Mary woke up in the middle of the night because she heard some music. It happened to be her husband singing praise and worship to God! She joined him and they sang together. They have also been able to pray together.  Please continue to pray for Mary and her family as we believe he is on track to committing his life to the Lord. We do not want him to fall back into temptation. What an amazing testimony of what God can do! Praise the Lord, He is moving in the slums of Namuwongo!

Survey and Rachel Update

Jason assists on the survey of the African Bible University campus.

Jason assists on the survey of the African Bible University campus.

Surveying at African Bible University

One of the blessings of living in Uganda is the ability to serve ministries more quickly and the poor more directly. With only a days notice, I (Jason) was able to drop my office work and travel to a nearby town to help assist on a land survey for African Bible University (ABU).

African Bible University has a large campus with many buildings already constructed serving 200 students, however they wanted to expand. After purchasing 10 adjoining acres they asked EMI to revisit their master plan and help them grow to 500 students. As we find with many ministries they have no documentation of their property, buildings, waterlines, or other utilities. While an official plan isn’t always necessary when you are small, as your property becomes more complex it becomes critical. In this case it is a requirement as the university wants to become accredited.

EMI is excited to partner with ABU as they train their students to “take every thought captive for Christ” and help students explore the implications of their faith that will have an impact for their whole lives.

Our last Bible study with over 80 moms. I gave the Bible message thru a translator on Prov. 16:3, followed by a health teaching from my friend. Five women committed their lives to Christ after the message!!!

Our last Bible study with over 80 moms. I gave the Bible message thru a translator on Prov. 16:3, followed by a health teaching from my friend. Five women committed their lives to Christ after the message!!!

Rachel Update

On a previous blog post from April 23rd we talked about Rachel, one of the mom’s we have been ministering to and helping financially during our home visits. She lives in the slums and has a child that she didn’t really want and her husband was physically abusing her. Many of you have asked for an update on her situation and while it is not the ‘happily ever after’ report that we all hope for, it does give us a perspective on how difficult it is sometimes to make progress in ministry to the lives of people.

Overall, we have had some real emotional roller coasters with Rachel over the past few weeks. We have laughed together and cried together. There have been quite a few “ups” and “downs” and we still aren’t clear how this story will end.

  • First we celebrated together that she had a new job! We had been praying for that! This was great news because it meant that she could be providing for herself and her baby so her husband would hopefully not keep coming and bothering (or beating) her.

    A mom we minister to in the slums. She has a heart for worship and enjoys singing so we recently asked her to lead our praise time at Bible study. She is doing an amazing job.

    A mom we minister to in the slums. She has a heart for worship and enjoys singing so we recently asked her to lead our praise time at Bible study. She is doing an amazing job.

  • The next week I brought her rice and beans and she was crying because baby “Brian” was sick. I cried with her and prayed with her that Brian would recover quickly.
  • The following week was a hard week. We heard some bad news. Rachel’s husband had come and beat her. He took baby Brian (who is about 2-3 mo. old) for 1 day. When Rachel got the baby back he was sick and weak because he hadn’t had anything to eat or drink during the time the husband had him. Rachel immediately travelled a long distance back to her village and asked her sister in the village to care for baby Brian. Then she came back and had to move across the slums because her husband had moved in and took over her slum home (which we had been paying rent for).
A mom whose house recently flooded and lost some of the few possessions she owned. She has a beautiful heart and invites every pregnant woman she knows to Bible study. God is moving in her home. In our last home visit to see her, there were 12 mommas crammed in her home eagerly awaiting our message with the word of God.

A mom whose house recently flooded and lost some of the few possessions she owned. She has a beautiful heart and invites every pregnant woman she knows to Bible study. God is moving in her home. In our last home visit to see her, there were 12 mommas crammed in her home eagerly awaiting our message with the word of God.

  • I lost touch with Rachel because I didn’t know where she was living now, but she would still come to Bible study occasionally on some Tuesday evenings where I would see her and get brief updates that things were ok.
  • Just last week, two ministry workers happened to be in the area where Rachel used to live while doing home visits. They found Rachel living back in her home with her husband and baby. It seems as if maybe we were lied to, but we don’t know the full story and we are waiting for things to settle. Please be in prayer for her and her situation.

Expecting In Uganda

We are pleased to announce we are expecting our 3rd child!  Jalina is 11 weeks pregnant and thus due December 27th. Thankfully, we had an ultrasound proving there is only one baby!

While this wasn’t exactly our planned timing, it was God’s perfect timing and we are excited nonetheless.  With Jalina’s age and past pregnancy complications we are hearing mixed advice as to whether it is wise for her to give birth in Uganda or travel back to the States. We would appreciate your prayers as we try to discern God’s will.

Ultrasound of Reinhardt Baby #3

Ultrasound of Reinhardt Baby #3

Mother’s Day Ministry and Driving in Uganda

The 7 ladies who committed their lives to Christ during the Women's Bible Study

The 7 ladies who committed their lives to Christ during the Women’s Bible Study

Happy Mother’s Day! 
I hope you had a wonderful weekend celebrating mothers of all stages.  This past week I (Jalina) enjoyed an evening of sweet fellowship with the Women’s ministry I have been serving.  Pregnant women and moms gathered for our regular Bible study in the slums as we celebrated mother’s day. It was incredible!  I was blown away when over 100 mommas showed up. This was a big day for ministry as the team went all out. We started with a powerful message challenging moms to take responsibility to raise their children to fear God and not shift the responsibility. “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it” Proverbs 22:6. Many of the moms were listening very intently to the beautiful Word of God.

120 Bibles given out in 8 different languages.

120 Bibles given out in 8 different languages.

SEVEN women stood up and received Jesus as their personal savior right there!! What an amazing sight. God is so good! Over 30 mommas dedicated their babies to the Lord. What a joy it is to see women rising from very dark places into the light of Christ! We gave out 120 Bibles in 8 different languages. They were each provided a Bible in their own language. The women shouted and rejoiced. There were tears of joy as they were overwhelmed. As we passed out the Bibles, women would burst into dancing, laughing, and crying. They would hug their Bibles and some began reading it right there. I saw one lady nursing her baby with her Bible on her head 🙂 Another mom was so overtaken with joy she could not stop crying. What an amazing sight and such an honor to be there.

Overjoyed after receiving her first Bible.

Overjoyed after receiving her first Bible.

Each mom got a huge plate of hot food and a soda that they so appreciated. Many of these women go days without eating. They can be so hungry, but many will not tell you that. Hunger is a fact of life. I was near tears being part of the incredible blessing to these ladies. I cannot even describe the amount of emotion I felt in giving a warm meal for their empty stomachs while also providing basic tools for spiritual growth. My heart was full.

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Our hope is for these mommas to pour scripture over their children.  To raise up a generation of solid Christian men.

Our hope is for these mommas to pour scripture over their children. To raise up a generation of solid Christian men.

A warm meal being served to each mom.

A warm meal being served to each mom.

Driving In Uganda
I (Jason) used to be a pretty aggressive and crazy driver when I was in high school.  After living in Uganda, I can’t help but think that those days were just training for driving here in Uganda, because it seems like everyone on the road is a crazy driver.   One EMI staff member described it like this, ““All about reaction time—you can’t hesitate—you just have to go for it—but really you can’t be scared because they will eat you for lunch—you have to be confident.”

Hitching a free ride, regardless of how dangerous.

Hitching a free ride, regardless of how dangerous.

Driving is on the left side, like the British and it takes some getting used to. What makes it even more tricky are the 6 foot ditches on either side of the road without any guard rail and the lack of a center line. So when big trucks come flying down the road, taking up more than their fair share of the road, you are expected to get out of the way without falling into the ditch and hope the Mack truck coming the opposite direction doesn’t plow through you. As you see, jungle rules apply most of the time.

Typical Ugandan traffic jam

Chaos on the roads. 

What really makes driving in Uganda interesting is these thousands of motorcycles, called bodas, driving around haphazardly like gnats around your head.  They are a primary source of transportation for Ugandans since most don’t have vehicles of their own- essentially they are little taxis.  However, they don’t follow any type of rules.  It is very common to see a boda driving through a red light with oncoming traffic or see one driving on the ‘shoulder’ of the road going the wrong way.  Sometimes they will even have multiple passengers (including a baby or toddler on the back) who are carrying bags, food, or a huge pane of glass- I kid you not.

You can never carry to many things on your motorcycle, aka boda.

You can never carry to many things on your motorcycle, aka boda.

Driving at night is even worse.  Imagine driving on roads without street lights where black skinned people, wearing all black clothes, abruptly cross the street without warning, and expect you to avoid them.  Needless to say driving at night is the most stressful thing I do in Uganda.

Driving at night is harder than it looks.

Driving at night is harder than it looks.

Sadly, accidents are a reality here.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Uganda has one of the highest rates of traffic fatalities per vehicle in the world.  In the first two months here we witnessed two accidents.  One was as we were driving to get our drivers license, of all places, we saw a SUV knock into a boda causing the driver and the passenger to cartwheel off.  Luckily, they both seemed to not have experienced significant injuries.  The other accident was right outside our property.  We were inside, but we heard the loud crunch of metal as two boda drivers crashed into each other.  What followed was about 10 minutes of the woman passenger screaming in pain- it was surreal and eerie to listen to.  Our security guard went over to check on the accident while I watched from a distance.  Apparently the woman had lost a lot of blood but didn’t want anyone to touch her in attempts to help.  Eventually someone came by in a car, scooped her up and drove her to the hospital.

Taxis here are called matatus.

The white vans are taxis which are called matatus.

So why these strange events and why did I only watch from a distance instead of try to help?  Mob justice is very real here in Uganda, especially when it comes to vehicle accidents.   So if you are driving a car and you get into an accident, you should never get out of your car, because a mob of people will immediately start surrounding both vehicles.  There is an undercurrent of frustration from Ugandans who feel like the “little guy” will not receive justice unless it is taken into their own hands.  Of course, determining justice in a mob setting is a dangerous and occasionally deadly combination.  Instead we have been encouraged to drive to the nearest police post and turn yourself in.  It is because of this mob justice that I stayed a distance from the boda accident; I didn’t want a late comer to the accident to think I was the one who caused it, which apparently has happened.

We are thankful to report that we have not yet experienced any personal driving mishaps thus far and we’d appreciate your prayers for future travels.


Support
Some of you have asked how you can support our ministry efforts here in Uganda.  You can either donate online at: https://secure-q.net/Donations/Engineer/3432

Or by mailing in a check written out to “EMI” with a note in the envelope that says “Jason Reinhardt- 2050”.  Then mail it to:

EMI
130 E. Kiowa St., Ste 200
Colorado Springs, CO 80903

Thank you all for your generosity and for being behind our ministry.

Women’s Ministry in the Slums of Namuwongo

Going to homes in the Numawango slum and visiting with new moms or pregnant moms during home visits on Thursdays.

Going to homes in the Numawango slum and visiting with new moms or pregnant moms during home visits on Thursdays.

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A young mom I met at our Tuesday night Bible study.

Women’s Ministry in the Slums of Namuwongo

“I never thought it would be this way!” exclaimed Rachel*, a young momma in Namuwongo slum.  “He used to make me so happy when we first got married and now I just cry all the time.”

I (Jalina) listened intently while sitting on the concrete floor in Rachel’s humble home which is one room with sheets dividing up the sleeping space from the hosting area.

She was telling me through a translator that her husband left her for another woman. Her baby was about 6 weeks old and she said she no longer wanted the precious boy.  What she really wanted was to give him to the husband as revenge for taking a different woman so they could be left with the responsibility.

During my visit I prayed and encouraged her as she processed through this very difficult struggle.  It was eye opening for me to imagine how much pain she has endured to come to such a desperate place.  Rachel is a refugee from Kenya where her parents were killed in the violence. She lost contact with the handful of family she has left and now she literally has NO ONE.  In Africa, the social and economic system revolves around your immediate and distant family structure.  There don’t seem to be any government programs to assist when at wits end.  My heart was breaking.

I volunteer with a group called Uniquely Woven, which provides medical teaching and counsel along with biblical discipleship to pregnant women in a slum area called Numowongo.  We meet on Tuesday nights to offer a Bible study and provide medical training  to these women and then visit them in their homes on Thursdays.

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I am teaching a Bible study through a translator to pregnant women on joy vs. happiness and persevering through trials.

A Week Later…

The following week during a home visit, Rachel talked about how her husband came in during the night and beat her and put his hands around the baby’s neck. They did not have any visible injuries when we saw them. The husband did not like having to pay her rent for the slum housing she lived in. He did not want to be responsible for her or the baby. She felt stranded and hopeless. She could not even afford food for herself, which means she is malnourished and thus the baby’s nutrition is also lacking. Sometimes eating the cookie we provide at Bible study on Tuesday evenings was the only food she had for days.

This is reality, and this is life in the slums. It almost seems like you are stuck and there’s no way out. A sense of hopelessness was in the air.

Four of us in the Uniquely Woven team met to talk about this issue to see what we could do, and we were especially touched since she never once asked us for money.  It sounded like Rachel and the baby were in harm’s way by staying in the house.  But Uniquely Woven has learned through experience that it does not have the funds to pay for housing or food for the 40+ women that attend the Bible study. The ministry focuses on providing safe deliveries and keeping mom and baby safe. We knew that God would provide but we also felt like He wanted us to be a part of the solution in the same way the Good Samaritan cared enough to help.  If we provided housing for Rachel, she then becomes our responsibility indefinitely.  We felt stuck.  We wanted to help but every suggestion we came up with seemed to make the situation worse.  We talked more with Rachel and found that she needed someone to watch her child so she could find a job working security.  Being able to pay rent would keep her safe from her husband.

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A group of moms we do home visits with.

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This momma we do home visits with has been such a blessing. She regularly cares for pregnant moms in need and is always inviting people to Bible study. The baby in the picture is named Jenny after a ministry worker named Jenny from Uniquely Woven.

A Resolution

We concluded that 3 of us would provide our own money to enable Rachel to get her feet on the ground so she would be safe from her husband. We made sure she had some food, money for rent and help with babysitting costs with a clear ending point so she would be motivated to get a job. We honestly don’t know if we did enough or did too much, but after committing to the Lord in prayer we put our plan into action.  Over the next couple of months, we plan to continue to encourage, pray, and walk with Rachel through this trial.  We realize we are not the source of her solution to these problems, but we can point her to the one that is her true provider.

It can be incredibly challenging sometimes, encouraging women who have been to darker places than I have ever imagined. But, God is so faithful and it’s amazing to see his hand working in even the smallest details of life. I love knowing that God is in control and he loves to provide for his people.

Matthew 6:26 says, “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? “  I will trust in the promise that God will provide for those who look to him in their time of need.

*I am using the name Rachel instead of her real name to protect her identity.

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Getting my hair braided during a home visit. I am holding a very malnourished baby who is about 9 months old, but appears to be much younger. The baby “Blessing” was very shy around “Mazungu’s” (white people) but crawled right up in my lap this day.

To End On a Happy Note… Have you ever been reading peacefully when all of a sudden a Harley Davidson motorcycle drives by? If you are like me (Jason), you become distracted and think, “does it really need to be that loud”? Nothing against loud motorcycles, but now imagine you are at work trying to concentrate on an important deadline when all of a sudden it sounds like that same motorcycle is 4 feet away from you and will be staying there for the next 3 hours. Do you have that image in your head? Ok, well that happens about once a week in my (Jason’s) Ugandan Office. You see, we have frequent power outages in Uganda, so we rely on a generator so we can keep up with our technical ministry design work. It just so happens that the generator is directly outside my window. One co-worker thought it would be appropriate to put the generator experience into a song.

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Jason at his desk at EMI East Africa’s Office. Just outside the window behind Jason is where the generator is stored.

The song is in the tune of Hokey Pokey: Generator Song- The Power Goes Off (We Love the Generator)

The power goes off Then the power comes on
Off, on, off, on, and now you’re works all gone
You Skype the powers off and then it comes back on
That’s what it’s all about  

Oh we love the generator, Turn on now
now – and not later

Oh we love the generator,
Check fuel, chord pull, roar roar roar.  

The coffee perks right up then it perks back down
Up down up down it’s looking kinda brown
You pour it down your throat and it makes you frown
That’s what it’s all about  

Stephen start the generator!
Even though it is a shaker
Stephen start the generator!
Check fuel, chord pull, roar, roar, roar.  

You put your ear plugs in you take ear plugs out
In out in out you shove the up your snout
The office is vibrating and you can hear Jason shout
Is this what it’s all about?  

Jason hates the generator
Its the ULTIMATE FRUSTATOR,
Jason hates the generator
Splutter splutter bang bang ROAR! ROAR! ROAR!  

You turn the light switch left,

The picture was taken after Jason’s rage from the generator’s excessive noise.  Now when you watch the second Avengers movie you can think of Jason and his generator song.

The picture was taken after Jason’s rage from the generator’s excessive noise. Now when you watch the second Avengers movie you can think of Jason and his generator song.

You, turn the light switch right
Left right, left right, and pray with all your might
The power comes on and the room turns bright
That’s what we really like  

Stephen stop the generator!
Quick because we’ll need it later
Stephen stop the generator
Kick bang, swing clang, the generator’s DEAD

Construction On The Home Front & At EMI

A typical day in the life of the Reinhardts here in Uganda

All I (Jalina) wanted to do was wear my shorts while I stayed home one day. Its 85-90 degrees everyday here and I was tired of wearing long skirts, however in Uganda women typically wear skirts that go past their knees. My friend Becky came over in the morning and encouraged me to wear my shorts as long as I stayed inside my walled property… assuming I didn’t have many Ugandan guests stopping by. Well as you are about to read, our life here in Uganda is rather unpredictable 🙂

Drew and Blake watch as preparations are made for the demolition of our security wall.  We were given a 1 hour notice.

Drew and Blake watch as preparations are made for the demolition of our security wall. We were given a 1 hour notice.

It all started when I woke up in the morning to find out that our electricity was out (it would be out for the entire day). I was preparing for my friend Becky and her 2 kids to come over for a “playdate”. I really needed a shower, but that wasn’t going to happen because we wanted to conserve water in case the water pump to fill up our tank didn’t work. “Oh bummer!” I thought. Even though I’ve only known her for a few weeks she already gets to meet the real “me”, even in my most unattractive state 🙂

About an hour before she came over, I found out that our 10 foot concrete wall (which separates our yard from the busy road) was going to be torn down. Apparently it had been hit by a truck 7 months ago and had a large crack making it very weak.

As our wall gets torn down, the boys watch intently.  And yes that is a garbage can on Blake's head... what can you do.

As our wall gets torn down, the boys watch intently. And yes, that is a garbage can on Blake’s head… what can you do.

I was encouraged to go somewhere else for the morning as it might not be the best environment for children. Well, being that we had already planned a playdate and my car was not working, we stuck with the plan… See, two days ago (on Sunday) we all got in our vehicle to go out and found that our car battery was dead. Needles to say we had to change plans that day. We called up a trusted mechanic named Godfrey who came the next day to take the battery and run tests. So here it was more than 24 hours later and we had not heard anything from Godfrey and didn’t know when our car was going to be fixed. So all we could do was wait…IMG_6527

So I informed my friend Becky of what would be happening that morning and as we sat on my front porch and chatted, we waited for the adventure to begin. I wanted to be a nice hostess and offer water to my guests, but we didn’t have much drinking water available… Since you could easily get sick by drinking the city water, we have to either buy a jug of clean water or we have to clean our tap water using a water filter. We had bought a water filter about a week earlier and even though it was brand new, some of the filtering candles were cracked and we had multiple returns to get working ones, but now our current problem was that water was leaking out of the spout. So we were not using that and our jug of clean water was nearly empty. We had a good laugh as I offered mango juice popsicles to the kids. Fortunately they brought their own water bottles.

While our friends were over, a large truck came to dump a huge load of sand for the construction. “This should be interesting”, I thought, because unfortunately, our car was dead and I could not move it. I found it amusing that they ended up dumping the sand inside my neighbor’s walled compound and would just have to wheelbarrow the loads through the gate connecting our small yards.

Drew watches on as a dump truck drops off the sand needed to reconstruct our wall... in our neighbors driveway!

Drew watches on as a dump truck drops off the sand needed to reconstruct our wall… in our neighbors driveway!

A team of workers had arrived and were busy getting to work tearing down our large concrete wall while our security guard chopped down all the nice plants along the wall with a machete. The boys just loved watching all the construction!

Shortly after the sand was dumped, Godfrey the mechanic, came and put our car battery back in. (He said he would bring us the bill and change our oil, but it’s been 2 weeks and we are still waiting!) The kids had so much fun learning about the biggest battery they have ever seen! Godfrey was very kind.

Drew and his friends learn how to fix our car.

Drew and his friends learn how to fix our car.

We had a slew of other unexpected visitors which by now was getting humorous…

They guy who collects our trash stopped by so I could pay our bill. A guy stopped by to measure our security guard for his uniform. Our neighbor Maggie, who I am really grateful for, came over to see the progress of the wall. Nasser (a boda boda driver) came by to refill our water as we had run out.

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Fresh fish caught from Lake Victoria is delivered to our house on a motorcycle.

Lastly, Moses, our “fish guy” stopped by to sell me some fish. He comes over weekly with fish caught that morning in the back of his “boda boda” (motorcycle). He actually filets it right there in front of me. He probably felt like a celebrity when we asked to take pictures of him! He laughed and thought it was so funny that I wanted photos. I always save the bones, guts and head of the fish for our security guard who likes to make soup out of it.

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As the day unfolded my friend Becky finally remarked “now I see why you can’t wear shorts at home!” We came to Uganda prepared for adventure and that is exactly what we are finding, even in our own home. The impression I get from God is to: Wait, be patient child, when things do not go according to plan. I am here in your midst. I am IN the waiting.

Our security wall finally completed a week later.

Our security wall finally completed a week later.

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Ps 27:14) “See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” (Is 43:19)

EMI’s Construction Ministry

While Jalina and the boys had an opportunity to see construction first hand while staying at home, I (Jason) participated on the Construction Management (CM) site investigation where EMI is building a new office to be shared with Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) which is about 45 minutes away from EMI’s current office.

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EMI’s new office under construction, supervised by Ugandan EMI Staff.

The design and the construction of the building are noteworthy especially in the unique context of the MAF active airfield and the gorgeous Ugandan hillside in the background, as you can see from the pictures.

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However, it is the empowerment of the Ugandans that we at EMI take the most pride in.   We are intentionally searching for capable individuals who have a passion for the Lord, for the betterment of other people, and construction management. And while it would be easier to hire someone who already has the right experience, our desire is to transform lives and not just build nice buildings.

Jason participates in the Construction Management site investigation.

Jason participates in the Construction Management site investigation.

IMG_6314Who would have thought that my first time meeting a nominee for a Grammy Award would be on an EMI construction site! A Ugandan foreman, Segawa Yusufu was born into poverty, and then his father abandoned his family in Yusufu’s early youth. He was taken in by African Children’s Choir where he was presented the gospel, received critical acclaim for the choir’s accomplishments, and graduated with a diploma in Civil Engineering.

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Yusufu (pictured in the middle) is EMI’s staff Ugandan foreman for construction- discipleship in action.

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Yusufu is exactly the type of capable individual we want to help disciple professionally and spiritually. While his experience with EMI will propel him forward in his professional career and give him a place of influence, it is really his character that we believe will provide an agent of change as he leads by example to those on the job site and in his community.   He is now poised to make a positive impact in his culture that EMI could never do on its own.

Stealing on the Construction Site

Construction equipment is not cheap and to be able to walk off the site with it and sell it could be equivalent to a week or a month’s worth of salary for the construction workers. In the past, EMI’s construction site has had a few items stolen because in this culture many people feel it is praiseworthy to steal from the rich if you are poor; kind of a Robin Hood mentality. They know that Americans have the money and won’t go starving if some equipment goes missing. But they would feel very differently if someone stole from another person who did not have much money. Are we much different? Isn’t human nature to think my stealing is a harmless crime?

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Well to curb this stealing issue, both from a moral and financial savings standpoint, EMI instituted a new policy. If even a hammer goes missing from the construction site, then a little from all the workers pay is taken out to replace it. So while this policy would never fly with American labor laws, the community mindset of Ugandans can resonate with this idea, and now instead of covering for those who decide to steal, the workers are helping one another to keep track of all the tools. Now we are encouraging better stewardship of God’s resources just by translating principles into what makes sense to their culture.

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