I am living and working in Uganda with Amazima Ministries, but my eyes are set on eternity.

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hospital style bed with adjustable incline on both ends.
We having been working the last 6 months or so on getting a small nurses office built.  It is our goal to register it as a clinic and be able to treat our sponsored children internally.  Well at least first diagnose and treat the minor issues and refer out the more complicated or serious cases.

I.V. pole and examination table

Both Jackie and Katie are excited to get this up and running because of their draw to medicine and health care.  For me it has been more fun getting it built.  Here in Uganda we face an interesting situation that is so different from what most of you identify with.  In the U.S. everything is mass produced and if you can't find a shop to buy what you want you can always order it online.  Here most everything is made from scratch.  This is a blessing and a curse.

Seating for reception area of nurse's office

 I will start with the negative side of this.  It takes longer.  Sometimes much much longer and can often be frustrating if you are in a time crunch.  Oh and I suppose sometimes you may struggle to get the same quality of item if it is something weird or complicated to make.

Long lasting night stand

Now for the good stuff.  I absolutely love to design and create.  Everything can be built to the exact specifications you desire.  It is always a fun exercise in creativity and ingenuity.  Obviously, the longer I've been here and the more practice I get the better the outcome is. 


 It makes a huge difference knowing where to go for what.  A few examples:
1) I have 3 carpenters I use. Knowing their strengths and weaknesses is helpful in choosing who to go to for what.
2) Having a connection with the guys at the foam factory.  Who woulda known how often that comes in handy.
3) I can't take any credit for this, but a friend of mine connected me with the best welder in town.  We have become very close.
Medicine cabinet

Heavy duty exterior bench for outside our nurses office.

In this one there is the clothesline, water tank stand, and nurses office windows.

It has also been a blessing to have Chris Kramlich here working with us.  Being able to bounce ideas off each other and having two people thinking about solutions makes a big difference.  These last two designs were more him than me and I am very pleased with the outcome of both.

On top of this building we had to design a homemade roof vent.

This is the roof vent up close.  It was a bit of a challenge to make it waterproof, bugproof, and rust resistant.

This is a hand cart Chris had made to help with our farming project.  A bit physically intensive, but did the job well.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

I don't believe I have shared that I got a new truck several months back.  Previously I had a 1992 Landcruiser pickup and now have upgraded to a 2003 Landcruiser pickup.  I really like my old truck but being 20 years old it was showing its age.

I still can't believe I was able to find a newer Landcruiser pickup.  Since being here I have heard about 4 of these trucks for sale.  Because of their rarity, generally the ones you find have been driving in Uganda for many years and are beaten up from the rough roads and rough use.  Unbelievably, I found one in the import bonds that had just been brought in from United Arab Emirates that was in really good shape. 

Max is making sure everyone knows that this is his truck
You wouldn't believe the use I have already gotten out of this thing.  I seem to be hauling cement, timbers, furniture, eucalyptus poles, school supplies, and many other things on a daily basis.  Due this constant use I had a heavy duty ladder rack made for it and have been so pleased with its addition to it's functionality.

When you buy timber here all the pieces are cut into 12' pieces and when you buy eucalyptus poles they usually are 20'-30' long.  These items were difficult to accommodate in the bed of the truck, but now that I can put them up top it makes transport much easier.

You will see in some of the pictures that I had a decorative Celtic cross made into the ladder rack.  The metal workers here are pretty amazing and create detailed designs in much of their work.  All the windows here have bars on them, and most doors and compound gates are made of metal as well.  This gives them the opportunity to put fancy designs into their work so things don't end up looking like a jail.  Anyway, I figured why not make my ladder rack with a little personality.  I've always been proud of my Celtic heritage and love religious art so I went with a Celtic cross.  Sure makes my truck unique.

I know this update isn't one with tons of great stories or words of inspiration, but I have decided that there are many of you who just want to hear what is going on in my life and so I will do my best to accommodate.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Well it has been a whirlwind few months over here and much has happened.  I've done a terrible job keeping ya'll updated.  I want to give ya'll a couple other blogs that you can check in on to see what myself and Amazima are up to.


This is a blog written by Chris and Jackie Kramlich.  They were actually friends of mine and Brian & Lisa's back in North Dakota and have been on staff with us since August this past year.

They have quite the combo of talents and have been an amazing addition.  Chris oversees our farming projects and helps with other building projects.  He is currently training in our Farm Supervisor, Andrew, to eventually take full control of our farm training programs.  Jackie is a registered nurse and also an amazing photographer.  She coordinates our medical work as well as in charge of all our media (photos, videos, and stories).

The second blog I want to share is our organizations.  I would like to think that maybe some of you already follow it, but if not, it does a good job giving a picture of some of our activities over here.


The next month will be a crazy busy month, but I hope to get some photos taken and some updates written.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


We have been staying busy over here and if I'm going to have a chance to post about much of what we have accomplished I suppose I better get started.  We have expanded our land over the past 2 years and have started a farming ministry.  Because of these facts we felt it would be beneficial to build a small house for our farm supervisor on the tail end of our property.
Not only will it serve as a home, but also it will help with security.  As soon as we purchased our new land we put up a fence around the perimeter to identify our boarders.  We used two different types of fence posts.  First is the more traditional steel fencepost and the second is a live one.  Basically there is a type of tree here that you can cut off a branch and then just stick it in the ground and it will germinate.

The Foreman for the project
Anyway, back to the security.  Within a week or two, the steel fence posts had been cut in the middle of the night to be sold as scrap metal.  This is one aspect of Uganda that I am still getting used to.  Everything has value.  No matter if it is a steel fence post, used plastic bottle, or plastic sack.  Whenever I think about this I think about all the crap people leave in their yards back in the states.  One raid of bigwheels, garden hoses, and planters would pay for a 3 month holiday from work.  I talk about this flippantly, but it has drastic implications about both cultures.  Don't want to start preaching so I will get back to the house we built.

It has 3 rooms that are all 10' x 12' - for those who don't know ' = foot :)
                                                      - for those who don't know :) = Smiley face
These guys loved to pose

Basically it will end up having 2 bedrooms and a sitting room.  This is a pretty decent set up here because it allows the parents to sleep in a separate room from the kids, which is kind of a luxury.  We also built a small overhang that will work as a cooking area.  This will allow his wife to avoid the rain while she is cooking over her charcoal stove.

As an organization we don't do anything extravagant...on purpose.  Chris and I had been brainstorming how to make a latrine at minimal cost.  Basically this means a hole in the ground with some sort of sturdy cover to allow you to squat over the hole and not fall in.  This is a pretty traditional and common way to design toilets.

Hauling the dirt out one bucket at a time
This isn't even at full depth
Side story:  We had been communicating with some local staff and the builders about how deep we would dig it.  We were thinking that 10' or 12' (remember the lesson learned earlier in the post) would be pretty deep.  They informed us that they were thinking more like 30'.  What!!!!  I thought this was a situation of miscommunication because there is no way they can hand dig 3 stories into the ground.  Come to find out it wasn't.  They actually ended up digging it 38'  deep.  Absolutely nuts.  No miscommunication here.
Back to the original point I was making.  When building or doing whatever we go for minimal expense and maximal function.  The builders and I talked for long periods of time trying to hammer out the design we wanted.  I couldn't really understand the plan they had in mind and finally was just like "ok do whatever you all do here because you would know better than I on how to do it."  I felt like this was a fair annalysis due to it being my rookie venture in latrine building.  Well turns out they decided to build a two stall toilet with a bathing stall.  Not exactly what I had in mind, but I guess Andrew (our farm supervisor) and his family will never have to wait for an open toilet/hole.

Well this is getting long, like it always does, and I must say farewell till next time.

Good night and good luck.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Slow to Annoy

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 

James 1:19-20 
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 
We have been studying 1 Corinthians in our weekly Bible study.  I was convicted by 13:4-7.  Whenever I hear these verses I instantly think of a white dress, bouquets of flowers, and bad dancing.  I've heard this verse a dozen times at weddings and I always think, "yeah of course I should be slow to anger with my wife."  Well, not that I have a wife, but in fantasy land I know for certain I would be slow to anger with her.  

During and after our Bible study it hit me that I am to love everyone in this manner.  The Lord was also telling me that slow to anger may also translate as slow to annoy.  Of course I am never truly "ANGRY," but if I start looking at how often I am, what I define as, annoyed then we have a problem.

I may not have been the best at this type of love in the States, but I for sure am lacking here.  

There are so many things I see in the culture here that I admire and cherish.  

I won't lie and tell you that there are not a handful of things that push my annoyance boundaries.
Traffic cops in Uganda are hard to love.  When you pass a checkpoint they often see that you are western and pull you over.  Lots of times they have no reason to do so.  Once you are stopped they try and come up with a reason to write you a ticket (or threaten to do so in hopes of a bribe).  There is a huge range of random traffic laws that are generally not enforced, but technically can be.  That is what frustrates me so much.  As you drive up you can witness 10 traffic laws being blatantly broken and then when you reach they decide now is the time to pull somebody over.  These are probably not cases of full blown anger, but they are for sure cases of severe annoyance.

Here is a Ugandan line.  Obviously, this is a generalization, but seriously lines are hard to love.  At the supermarket whoever pushes to the front and puts their money in the face of the retailer is first in line.  There are so many personal space boundaries broken in these situations, but you gotta do what you gotta do.  The banks are the worst.  Actually, the banks do a decent job at keeping people in order, but when you come from a small town in the Midwest you are not used to waiting behind 10+ people to get service at the bank.  To make things worse many people at the bank are wealthy (lots of the poor villagers don't have easy access to banking due to transport costs) which means that the other customers are depositing/withdrawing several million shillings (1 million shillings = $400). 

Side note (man puns are a ridiculous blessing God bestowed on us), here is a list of note sizes in Uganda in shillings:
The fact that basically the $20 bill is the biggest and that credit cards and checks are almost never used means that if you are involved in an sizable transaction that you have to carry and count a suitcase of money.  Very time consuming, but it does make you feel like a "high roller." 

Sorry for the really long side note hope you were able to make the connection in paragraphs.  This is painful because it can often be in very small notes and each note has to be checked under a black light to make sure it isn't counterfeit.  Ok, well I need to change subjects cause I am getting annoyed just thinking about bank lines.  Point being lines are hard to love.

This is an image of a T-shirt that I found online.  Really tempted to buy it.  I struggle to love the cultural difference in time and pace.  Things here are very laid back.  I know so many people that come here and absolutely adore this aspect of the culture.  Yep, if you are here for 2 weeks and on vacation or a short term missions trip it can be a break from American fast pace.  If you are here trying to supervise 35 staff and a range of programs, the difference "can at times be not so appealing."  This is probably the biggest area that the Lord convicted me.  I need to find the beauty in every experience and the opportunity to share Christ and his love in every moment.  There has to be a balance between work ethic and relationship focus.  

And I need to strive to love the way the Lord does "slow to anger"
Numbers 14:18
Exodus 34:6 
Psalms 86:15
Psalms 103:8
Psalms 145:8

The Lord is doing great works in my heart.  I pray that He shines brighter in me each day.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Oink was my first word

I never feel as though I'm in the right mindset to blog.  I'm always too tired.  I always don't feel like my writing will be good enough.  I never know what to say or how to say it.  This leads to long stretches with no updates.  I apologize for this.  Even tonight I don't feel like I am going to put together anything great.  Either way here goes...

The housing for both my pigs and goats
I've been meaning to give an update on my animals for a long time and figure now is a good time to do so. 

Inez and Shakes
If you have been following my blog you know that I started with goats.  I had a rough start because of wild dogs, but am on the rebound.  Right now I have 1 big male named Floyd, 3 females named Gypsy, Inez, and Maizie.  I also have two young males, Shakes and Mowgli, that I plan on selling once they are full grown.  All of my goats are just local goats except Maizie who is a milking goat.  The local goats don't produce enough milk to make it viable, but Maize is a cross between local and milking (obviously she probably has an official breed, but I'm not certain what it is).  She can produce around 1.5-2 liters of milk a day.  If she was pure she would produce 3 or more.  Many people in Uganda raise goats for meat and almost all of them just raise the local breed.  The exotic milking breeds cost at least 4 times as much so they are much more rare.

More recently I have purchased a few pigs.  I grew up raising pigs and showing them at the county fair.  We never did it on a large scale, but from birth I think I have liked pigs.  Pigs cost 2 to 3 times more than goats so I just started with 1 boar and 2 gilts.  About 2 weeks ago I had my first litter.  It was a bit disappointing with only 4, but I'm still please to have a few piglets.  My male is named Mr. Darcy and the females are Flowers and The Baroness.  I'm guessing for future litters I'm not gonna put the effort into naming them all, but this litter was 4 females and they will be called The Supremes.

Mr. Darcy
The Baroness

Flowers and The Supremes
The Supremes

I am also trying to figure out chickens.  I have never raised any chickens so I have a bit to learn.  I built a chicken coop behind my house and I'm hoping to have 10-15 layers. 

I have a young man named Dominic who lives in the boys quarters behind my house (boys quarters are common here.  basically they are small buildings with a couple bedrooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom.  people often allow either ground keepers, security guards, or house workers to stay in them as a benefit of their job).  Anyway, I don't need a whole lot of assistance at my house, but it is nice to have somebody at the house during the day when I am at work.  Dominic cuts the grass, takes out the garbage, washes my truck, and feeds the dogs.  I honestly don't have a whole lot of work for him so I figured this chicken venture could be a good educational opportunity for him and myself.  I am planning on making the initial investment and let Dom learn how to take care of chickens and in exchange he will be able to sell the eggs they produce.

Young layers produce much better than old ones so I decided to just buy 2 hens and rooster and let them hatch 10-15 that will become my longer term layers.  First two hens were a failure.  They laid around 20 eggs, but wouldn't sit on them to hatch em.  These first two were what they call Mzungu (white person) chickens.  I changed them out for a couple local hens.  Hoping these two want to be moms.  I also learned that chickens will eat their own eggs.  Had no idea.  On my to-do list this week is clip their beaks so they stop, people tell me it will.

Last on my animal list are my dogs.  I can't say I have ever really been a dog person, but since being in Uganda it has grown on me.  I think my issue in the states was that they had no purpose.  In Uganda dogs are the best security you can have.  They don't fall asleep on duty, they always know when somebody is near the house, and they only demand food and love as payment.  A large majority of Ugandan's are scared of dogs.  The reason for this is that almost 100% of dog owners own them as guard dogs.  There are no yippy dogs that ride in purses here.

I started with a hand-me-down dog named Max.  I say that and it sounds like he might not be that great of a dog.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  He comes from a long line of pure bred Ugandan street muts.  Max can be a bit obnoxious at times, but he is big, his bark is loud, and he can easily intimidate anybody he doesn't know.  He is great!  I then found him a companion named Evelyn.  I raised her from a pup and she did well enough, but she chewed the electrical wires on my truck 4 times which diminished my affection for her.  Lucky for me I found a new job for her.

Recently we have purchased 4 more acres of land in the village where our sponsorship program is located.  Because of the increase in land we needed to add a security guard to patrol the new big area.  We don't have electricity out there and this makes the guards job difficult.  I realized how beneficial it would be for him to have a dog to patrol with him.  Evelyn, the job is yours!

Because she was going out to the land I needed a replacement.  I found a family in town that breeds German Shepards and was able to purchase a pup.  I have decided to name the little guy Shadow and am excited about his addition to my household.


Ok, so this is way longer than I imagined it would be and I apologized if i dragged on.  Maybe it is my subconscious trying to make up for my lack of updates.

Thanks for checking in.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Maize for my dad

 Well my dad mentioned that he wanted to see how our maize was doing.  I don't currently have time to type much up about it, but figured I'd post the pictures regardless.  These were taken probably on the 15th of June or so.  I don't remember exactly.  You probably can see that we had to replant some of our field because of very poor germination, but we learned our lesson.