I just got a Harley Sportster back in the States and was super excited to have some time this summer to ride it. Unfortunately, I ended up in Uganda and am missing out on the very short period of nice weather in North Dakota. And by “unfortunately” I mean “Praise God that I am here!” because I am enjoying myself immensely and wouldn’t trade it for anything. The good news is I was able to achieve a goal I had for the summer. I was able to drive a motorcycle. I think any young man that ever owns a bike dreams that their first passenger will be some blond vixen or some sultry brunette. I’ve learned that a random Ugandan boda boda driver is nearly as good. On my way home one day the driver asked if I wanted to drive. My answer was “Um, heck yeah I do!” Luckily his English was good enough that he was able to understand my questions and explain the differences between Ugandan bikes and American bikes. The only major difference was the gears. Here all the gears are down, while in the States first gear is down and second, third, fourth and fifth are up. It was a fun ride for sure.
We also had our glorious concrete day. After four trips to build houses in Mexico I was fully aware how much fun it is to pour concrete in less developed countries. Even in the States pouring concrete is a beastly amount of work. But when you don’t have cement trucks available the work more than doubles. In Uganda we are also blessed to not have a water source easily available. So, on Friday we started mixing and laying the 20 foot by 28 foot (4 inch deep) slab at 8 am. Throughout the day we made eight trips to the local well to replenish our water supply. The well is about three quarters of a mile away and we take sixteen 20 liter “jerry cans” (plastic jugs similar to fertilizer jugs in the States) there to be filled each trip. The “well” is actually a stream that is diverted through a filter and out a pipe. It also happens to be at the bottom of a nasty hill (probably close to 5 flights of stairs high).
The fact that I am the only one that knows how to drive allows me the opportunity to go on each trip with two other boys. While one boy fills the jugs, I and the other start lugging the 5.3 gallon (converted from liters so you understand the size and weight) jugs up the hill to the truck. Needless to say making 4 trips up the hill with two 5 gallon buckets full of water really makes your muscles burn. By the end of the day there were a couple times where my legs nearly gave out. We were pushing hard to try and get the slab done in one pour because it makes it stronger by not having seams in it. The boys were ragged by 6 pm, but I convinced them to press on until dark around 7:45 by offering one dollar bonus pay. Unfortunately we still didn’t finish. It was a beast of a day. I loved every minute of it. I don’t know if it is genetic or just how I was raised, but I really appreciate a hard day of manual labor. I think it may have something to do with the Lang in me. (My brother Brian may disagree.)
This is a picture is of the boys digging holes. I wondered for several weeks what the heck they used here to do this. You can see in the picture why these tools are called “spears” by the locals. Basically it is just a pointed piece of metal on a stick that they break up the dirt with and then scoop it out by hand. It works surprisingly well.
As I promised earlier, I’m going to talk about Scott again. Scott is Katie’s father. He was here for just over a week. I think he would admit he isn’t well-suited for Uganda. Not that he can’t hack it, it is just that he prefers things the way they are back in the States. Either way it was really interesting meeting the man who had to deal with his teenage daughter wanting to drop out of college and move to the other side of the world. From the way they talk about it I think it was hard for him. But he is on board now and seems to be a great foundation for Katie to rely on. While he was here he came to the site nearly every day which was really nice. Most of the time the boys and Sam talk to each other in Lugandan. So I stand and listen to gibberish almost all the time since my Lugandan isn’t spectacular. Scott has a great sense of humor and we got along really well. He also brought the boys soda one day which they really enjoyed. They virtually never get soda so it was a real treat. Every once in a while I will leave a swallow in one of my cans and the boys are quick to ask if they can finish off my (by then) warm soda.
The foundation for the gazebo and the poles that we will construct the roof on.
This final picture is me holding one of the newest additions to Renee’s house. I mentioned Renee in a previous blog. She is the woman that takes in malnourished kids and rehabilitates them. Renee was at one of the local hospitals (this one happens to be one of the incredibly crappy ones) and came upon this little guy and his twin brother. They were both horribly malnourished and dehydrated. The doctors informed Renee that this little guy didn’t need his IV anymore, but wouldn’t tell her why. Basically they had decided that they were just gonna wait for him to die. He was borderline during the week and since they are short-staffed on weekends they had decided just to give up. I’m not exactly sure how the whole story worked out, but they ended up at her place. Last night and the next couple nights are going to be really crucial. He and his brother are still very, very, very ill and this morning it was pretty touch and go with him. Prayers are needed for this little guy and for Renee as well because she has to give him fluids every ten minutes (around the clock). This is because they were unable to get an IV back in his tiny veins and he is still fighting dehydration.