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Letter from Byron and Kristin in Uganda

Here is a letter from my kid’s school master who recently moved to Uganda on a mission. See how different life can be in other countries:

Letter from Uganda from Byron and Kristin

Dear Friends and Family,

There’s so much to tell! After our first month, we’re discovering that life is complicated and hard here in Uganda. Life is also rich and wonderful. We miss you all tremendously, and meanwhile Kristin and I are so grateful to have each other because we have not yet had time to grow rich connections with others. We’ve also discovered a few things we hadn’t expected.

Across the wire fence, about a quarter mile away is a factory that seems to manufacture something putrid. Fortunately, the smell kicks up only two or three times a day at semi-predictable times. That’s when Kristin turns on our diffuser as I run around and close all of the windows!

My work as the Head Teacher for the secondary school has been non-stop for the past few weeks. Long days, long meetings, and so much that is new to digest. For example, I’ve worked to learn the names of all 50 of my staff, 25 people in the admin building, about 5 people in Operations, two folks in Transportation, and about 50 of the students… and I still have about 400 names to go! I thought I was pretty good with names until I got here!

Meanwhile Kristin has begun to form relationships with the students, faculty and staff at our primary school campus. She’s got a little gaggle of 2nd grade girls who she eats lunch with and learns Luganda phrases from. (And apparently her best friend is named Victoria… or at least Victoria thinks they’re best friends!)  She’s learning more about the complexities of Ugandan culture and is building relationships with the faculty and staff to lay a strong foundation for her TBRI work.

Our power goes off frequently when there is a storm, and today it has gone off twice for about two hours each time. The rainstorms here are spectacular, and the sound on our steel roof is so loud that Kristin and I can often barely hear each other! We’ve discovered that it’s important to keep an eye on the weather because storms  can happen quite suddenly, and you really don’t want to drive when it’s raining or you’ll get stuck in the impenetrable mud that swallows your tires and can leave you stuck for hours.

My “commute” is a short walk down the hill that takes about half an hour. It should take about 4 minutes, but Ugandan etiquette requires that I stop and greet people with a “Good morning,” and, “How are you today?” Greetings are tremendously important here and one must not be rude or try to hurry along. You must demonstrate that you are interested in a person’s response by turning toward the other person, and “visiting” a while. I typically encounter about 100 or more people on my walk. Fortunately, I mostly pass by students in groups, and I stop and visit, inquire about their sleep and their studies, and then make my way a few feet further before repeating the process with the next group. This morning I learned a phrase in the local dialect: “Mwa Suze Mwotia.” That’s “Good Morning!”

Well, dear friends, the lights just came back on, and it’s getting late. My evening routine will begin with a stroll through the house to kill mosquitoes. Then I’ll turn the outside lights on so the guards can keep an eye on the house. Much is still unfamiliar, and we’re still pretty overwhelmed by how complicated life has become, yet we’re grateful for the familiar, for each other, and for those things that haven’t changed in the least. One of the most important things of all is that Kristin and I are so very grateful for you in our life. In this odd season of adjusting to all that is new, it’s remarkably evident how blessed we’ve been by you and just how much we miss you.

Thank you for sharing in our adventure, for your prayers which we have desperately needed, and for your financial support that has given us the ability to generously pour ourselves into life here. New and hard as things may be, we are, nevertheless, tremendously grateful for the opportunity to serve and invest in the students and teachers at the Amazing School. Next time I’ll tell a few stories about some of the new friends we’ve met. ’Til then, we pray for God’s richest blessings on you.

Byron and Kristin

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