Beautiful in Africa

Colossians 3:17 and 23, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him… whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.

Sara and Joseph, the directors of the orphanage, are not only passionate about helping the orphaned, hurting, and vulnerable children of Uganda, but also want to help the surrounding community and other ministries in the area.

On Tuesday we had a team project day.  We drove through the city of Kampala and went to Nabingo, which is about 10 miles on the opposite side of Kampala from where the Rafiki home is located.  We stopped at a gas station at one point and Joseph told us that this was our last chance to use a real bathroom before we got to the construction site.  I thought it was a bit ironic that these bathrooms where definitely just a hole in the ground :)  Don’t worry – I conquered that experience much better than in the Boundary Waters…

We arrived shortly at Ttega Child Development Centre; an orphanage, school, and church plant for Living Grace Church.  Their ministry is growing and they need more space.  Our job for the day was to help with the construction of a new two story addition.  The structure of the first floor ways and ceiling had been built, and the next step was to flood the ceiling with concrete so the second level could be built.

Us girls started by carrying bricks from a big pile around the school, past the well, and to stack them around the corner from there.  What made this job especially tricky is that they were starting to mix the concrete in our path, so we had to avoid stepping directly in that, skirt around the workers, dodge the children, and then somehow neatly stack the bricks at the final destination, even though our load was too heavy to independently set down.

Just when I thought that I couldn’t carry another brick, we were told that it was time for another task.  Don’t worry – the work just got more challenging as the day progressed :)  But the awesome thing is that God totally gave us the strength to get it done and not grow weary. 

The Ugandans were mixing the cement, and we were going to be passing it down, assembly line style, to the addition, where it would be hoisted up the scaffolding to the men working on the roof.  Mixing the cement is quite a task when you are in a village with no running water.  The site had a giant hole in the ground that collected rain water.  There was a cement cover for it so no one would be able to fall in.  They hope to someday had a water pump and turn it into a functioning well, but for now they lower a jerry can down to fill up with water and pull it back up, then carry it over to the cement pile to mix it with the rocks and cement mix (Can you tell I don’t actually know what all went into the cement?) (Jerry cans are the yellow containers that you traditionally see in pictures of places where people have to walk to get water for their home.  Or maybe most people don’t look at these pictures?  And I just do because I teach my kindergartners about fresh water?)  We stood in that assembly line for what seemed like hours, passing heavy cans of cement down the line.

At one point we took what we thought was a lunch break.  So we ate our PB&J sandwiches and Pastor Harmon/Herman (not actually sure what his name was) said, “You are working so hard!  You are making our hearts smile.  How can we thank you?” and then he brought us bottles of pop to enjoy! (and of course all my new Texan friends think it is hilarious that I call it pop, and not soda or just coke).  I am happy to report that African Coca-Cola is just as delicious as Brazilian, Mexican, and Guatemalan coke.  SO much better than what we have in the States.  (p.s.  Amber, do you remember Mirinda – the pop we had in Argentina that we liked because it looked like Miranda’s name?  They have it here too!  It wasn’t orange though –  it looked like some kind of berry soda).  Oh, also an important fact is that we were sitting in plastic lawn chairs up in the kids’ tree house.  Best break room ever.

Then we got back to work, hauling more cement.  Eventually we took our real lunch break – even though no one was hungry anymore.  It was just nice to sit down (and try to eat some rice and beans).  After lunch we played with the kids for a little bit while they started mixing the next cement pile.  This pile was twice the size of the first one we worked on, and twice as far away.  This means that we couldn’t just pass the cans down the line anymore, but we would need to carry them all the way to the building addition.

It was exhausting, backbreaking, filthy work.  We were all covered from head to toe with dirt, dust, sweat, and cement.  Dad – thanks so much for the hiking boots.  I can’t imagine doing this work wearing anything else on my feet.  Even though I probably worked harder than I have in my life, I loved this day.  I loved the chance to do manual labor for Jesus.  I pray that he will use this building to serve and love the people of Uganda, and that ultimately the work being done here will make a huge impact for the kingdom of God.  We were sitting, so dirty and sweaty, playing with some kids, and someone made the comment to us that this is beautiful in Africa.  Hard work, sweat, dirt, and love.

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7 thoughts on “Beautiful in Africa

  1. I DO remember that delicious pop! So glad to hear that you are working hard and having fun (wow that sounded like such a mom statement)! It’s almost like you are working at Hope East because when I was last there they were passing bricks down a line in a bucket….different yet similar…LOVE YOU!

  2. Hi! This is Sara’s mom. Sara expressed to me on Skype that you are a huge blessing to the Rafiki family. I know that God answered her and Joseph’s prayer that teachers would come and serve. I just wanted to say thank you. I am praying for you and the other summer missionaries!

    • Thanks so much for your encouragement! I love being here – Sara is amazing and it is so cool to see the way that God is using her and Rafiki here in Uganda

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