We took a field trip into town to the lumber yards last week. I think all the boys had been into Jinja at least once, but most had not spent much time outside of their home villages. I showed them the table saws, planners, jointers, and lathes. I’m pretty sure it was all new to them. The guys working there actually let the boys try out a few of the machines. It was both funny and scary watching the lumber yard guys work because they are incredibly unsafe. There are no guards on anything and any of them could easily get seriously injured at any time. But that’s how it goes I guess.
At the beginning of last week I was in poor shape. I sprained both my ankles and the index finger on my right hand was swollen and “paining me” (this is how Ugandans say that it hurt). All my boys and several other Ugandans offered to help me treat my injuries by putting hot salt water on them and pulling on them or rubbing them. I declined for two reasons. First, my injuries already “pained me very much” so I didn’t want anybody touching them. Second, pulling and rubbing and salt water wouldn’t help. Anyway, I could hardly function. I was struggling to walk and couldn’t really grip anything with my right hand. As you can imagine this made it very difficult to do construction. With only 1 month remaining Uganda I knew that the show must go on. I don’t know how Satan works, but it sure seems like he was beating me down. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” I kept telling myself. I limped around for a few days and then decided I needed to get an X-ray on my finger because it was only getting worse. The good news is that X-rays here only cost 10 bucks. Thankfully there were no broken bones. This means it is probably a bacterial infection. I was put on an antibiotic (costing only two dollars—awesome!) and didn’t have to worry about injuring it further by continuing to work. Since then the swelling has been going down and function is coming back. Praise God.
Last week we had visitors from the States that came out and worked with us a couple days. They were great with the boys and it was nice to have more English speakers around. Anyway, they were talking to me one night after work and told me how much the boys looked up to me and how they thought that several of them see me as a father figure. Holy buckets! I don’t know why it surprised me so much, but I hadn’t even thought about that. I’m pretty inadequate. Yesterday I thought about it more and talked to Katie about being the mother of 14 at the age of 21. We discussed how it is such a huge responsibility to raise children. Not only is their health and well-being in your hands as a parent, but also their spiritual future. Your interactions and decisions are either leading them towards or away from Christ. Obviously, I’m not a father, but I may have a similar impact on these boys. I am so blessed to have and know my earthly father and my Heavenly Father. Only by their examples will I ever be adequate. My earthly father, James Raymond Lang, is the man I hope to be one day. This is because he daily strives to be more like our Heavenly Father. Praise be to God for loving me unconditionally and sending Christ to be an example for my father, myself, and my someday perhaps my children.
This photo is of the boys posing for a photo with their sodas. We took off work early after our field trip and drank sodas on the shore of Lake Victoria. Thanks Dad.
The playground is coming along. We are getting structures built and it is starting to look like something. As for what that something is… we will see when it is complete. It is kind of crazy that something from my imagination is what will be used by hundreds or thousands of Ugandan children for years to come. The first photos are of the boats we purchased. One day I was thinking about what would be fun to play on and remembered the fantastic wooden fishing boats all around Lake Victoria. So I looked into getting one or two that are no longer sea-worthy to mount as part of the playground. It turns out that I was able to pick up two of them for around $250 dollars. The boats are fairly large and I’m pretty excited about them.
Here is what I envision for the playground. I’m trying to avoid metal structures for a couple reasons. First, the boys wouldn’t be able to learn much from it since we would have to hire other people to do the welding for us. Second, a lot of playgrounds around here are mostly metal and are very unsafe.
They have tons of jagged edges and poor welds. I also thought it would be a good idea to avoid too many moving parts (e.g. merry-go-rounds). Since there is no Parks and Recreation department here I worry about upkeep. Again I have seen several playgrounds here that were just built then forgotten about. Without regular maintenance there can be lots of problems. Right now I’m thinking we will have ten to fifteen swing sets along with a bunch of fort-like structures to climb around on. I also hope to have monkey bars and a couple slides. I need to get in contact with a welder this week to make sure those can be completed before my time here is up. Katie also likes the “natural look” to the playground so all the wood will be varnished rather than painted and the gazebo will have a grass roof. Also, for all the railing I am going to use a 2x4 frame and then cover it with bamboo. In my head it looks fantastic.