Saturday, February 20, 2016


So here in Soroti things have been pretty quite. Elections were on Thursday and mostly people seem to be waiting for the results to be announced today at 4:00pm. Main shops and banks are still closed and social media is still shut down but things are normal other than that.  I'm going to keep all opinions and most commentary to myself but there has been conflicts and clashes in other cities around the country between the main opposition and the ruling party/ military and police. Besigye has been arrested for the third time this week and it doesn't look like he is going to be released this time. This seems to be the thing that makes people the most angry. Please keep praying for peace. 
Here are a few news stories.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Need an intervention.

I have a problem. And I've heard that the first step to solving any problem is recognizing there is one. So here is my problem. I like acquiring new animals. I counted this morning and I now have around 25 pets. Only two of them are allowed in the house and the vast majority of them (all but the two allowed in the house) will be a meal at one time or another but it seems to me if they have a name they are a pet...
Lets start with the most boring:
Chickens/ Chicks- 7?
Ducks/ Ducklings-8

All of them are growing well and are fun to have around the yard. They are very funny if I leave a basin of water out.

Guinepigs- 2
The guinea pigs arrived on Tuesday. I wasn't really quite ready for them as food around my yard is a bit scarce due to the dry season but Izaac and Ellie were asking about them so why not?

I have to confess that it takes me a solid hour twice a day to feed and water (and clean up after) all these animals. And I actually really like doing it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

More family!!

So Christina, Benj and the kids are staying with me through the election. Dad, this picture is mostly for you. Both Izaac and Ellie loved the trucks you made!

They are missing you guys but doing great here!! 

I still just need a stupid bank account....

Back on Feb 6th I wrote about this stupid bank account that I'm trying to open.( Story starts here.) I feel like I need a witness or something about how asinine this whole thing is getting.  When I last left off I had gotten a call after business hours that I needed to bring my passport back (for the third time!!)
2/11 I went in with copies of my passport. He took them and assured me it would be very soon now. I asked "which day should I come back?" and was assured "Monday."
2/15 Monday mid-day I arrive at the bank to get my account numbers. Waited more than an hour because there were many people waiting. At least this time I had the presence of mind to bring my kindle with me. The manager brought me to his desk and said "I'm glad you came. We found you are still missing two things." I almost flew off the handle. First, why didn't you call me and tell me two days ago?! I would have brought them instead of just waiting for you to not actually do anything for two days! Second, what more could you possibly need from me?!" Turns out there was a "critical" typo on the letter from CLIDE. And he also needed a copy of the stamp in my passport that immigration gave me. The immigration documents were not enough. I had waited so long already that patients out in Obulle were waiting on me so I didn't want to spend time getting the copies and I knew Moses wasn't in the office to fix the letter anyway. So I told him I'd be back first thing in the morning. Mr Manager said that would be perfect and he promided he would then begin working on it straight away.
2/16 Went to the CLIDE office first thing to get the letter fixed. Office devos are supposed to start at 8am or 8:15 and be done no later than nine but at 9:45 were still going strong. I know this shouldn't really be frustrating but it really was. Finally finished and waited while Moses printed, signed and stamped a new letter. Turns out that even after all this I would not be getting the accounts today. Seems that back on the 11th, the 16th was turned into a national holiday. I guess I had four days to learn of this so that should have been enough. (Don't believe me that this country would create a national holiday four days before said holiday? Here is the newspaper article that ran AFTER the event. Link.) So even though Robert promised, his word actually meant nothing as the bank was really closed and I would not be getting anything.
2/17 Went back again today and started off telling them I was done, they could cancel my application and I would stop bothering them. That at least jumped me to the front of a line that was six deep. Robert (Mr. Manager and I are on first name basis now) tried to reassure me.  He again promised. I told him I didn't believe him anymore. He said it would only be a few more days. I pointed out that tomorrow is election day (banks will be closed) and Friday is only a half day of work.  He seemed surprised that I knew this.  I also told him I was very tired of hearing only a "few more days". He just couldn't seem to understand why I would be so frustrated which actually makes it more frustrating.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Wheelchair for Emmanuel

So way back in Sept of 2014 I met a man out in Obulle who had two broken hips. (Picture here) Hip replacement doesn't really happen here in Soroti and there was little I could do for him. Well, a few weeks back I was given a wheelchair by the departing E3 team who had a few extra. So I brought it out to him last weekend. Emmanuel lays on that mat on the ground all day long. He is carried out of the house in the morning before his son goes to work in town and after his son gets home in the evening he is carried back inside. His wife, the woman standing behind the chair, can't help him as she is also in her 70's. They were very excited about his this is going to improve his life.
We offered to help him get in the chair before we left but he was ashamed to have visitors help him (as he didn't have pants on) and wanted to wait for his son to get home. I'll go back to check on things in a few days but I'm sure they will be able to figure it out.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Going to the polls.....

So in less than a week Uganda will go to the polls to vote on who they want for their next president. Or at least that is the general idea.
I've started to write about this topic several times because campaigning is in full swing and there has been lots of controversy and much talk on this topic. But I need to be careful because this is such a hot topic issue. So mostly I'd like to ask you to pray for peace.
Former prime minister (Mbabazi) and former military officer (Besigye) are the major contenders against incumbent Museveni who has been president since 1986. Last elections things were tense but mostly uneventful. Yet later the Supreme Court of Uganda ruled that the election was marred by intimidation, violence, voter disenfranchisement and other irregularities though the results of the election were upheld.  
This year things are already tense. People are nervous, the candidates are aggressive and things have the potential to be disconcerting. But the Uganda people as a whole desire stability and peace so things may be fine.
If you want more information here is a BBC article that was helpful.

Here are some suggested prayer points:

  • Thanks and praise for 50+ years of independence for Uganda. 
  • Request that God would provide the right leadership for the country. 
  • That Christians would lead by example the best biblical response to political problems. 
  • Against open conflict and violence that puts innocents at risk.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Dry season

Oh that magical time of year in Soroti when it is really, truly dry season. When the hot winds blow constantly making one feel like they are in an oven. When the dusk is so thick in the air that the sun seems to rise 20 minutes later that usual and you can always blow brown out of your nose. When eggs left in a vehicle for an hour come out fully cooked (true story).  When you can break into a sweat just putting on clothes. When plants all turn brown and die overnight. When one takes a cool shower minutes before going to bed at night and still is able to soak the sheets in sweat within an hour. When you can't seem to get enough to drink and every drop of water is precious. That point was made more poignant this week when the city turned the water off for some unknown reason and some unknown length of time. Unfortunately, I learned of this only after my storage tank was already empty. There are several more people living in my compound than in the past and between their excess laundry and several other factors, I have been going through much more water than usual. Unfortunately, this is going to make things challenging for a bit.
I have a workman here doing a bit of repair work around the house and he needed water to mix plaster. We spent about an hour trying to get a jerri can filled and finally just ended up getting some from Daniel and Rachel who also have a storage tank. A few hours later the city water did come on a trickle. It wasn't enough pressure to put any in the storage tank but I did fill a few cans and at least I got a basin bath. I can't complain though. My neighbors will struggle far worse than me.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Ajiko Sarah

I know many of you prayed regularly for Sarah and her son, born just  few days before I left on furlough. I'm sorry for the delay in updating you.  Both Sarah and Steven are doing great. It took him three months but Steven finally falls at a normal place on the growth curve. He looks huge when his mother holds him but he is actually just a little under weight for his age. However, he is healthy and showing no signs of having any of the problems of his mother's disease. Thanks everyone for praying!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


 Wow, this one hit the nail on the head for me! I could have written exactly this (that is, if I was as good a writer as she is).  I think I'm getting more and more introverted as I get older. 
I couldn't decide which of these pictures I liked the most so I put all three: Funny- 


Monday, February 8, 2016


Hung out with family members this past weekend. Seems funny to write that as I'm still in Uganda. But they live here now!!! I just got back from Jinja (the city they live, about 5 hours from Soroti) and still need to unpack my truck and get ready for the week but it was wonderful hanging out with them. I'm afraid I'm going to be spending a bit more time in Jinja than I have in the past....
On the up side I found a great mechanic there and he made a whole new vehicle out of my truck. It is running better than in has in a while.

You can read Benji and Christina's blog until I have something more interesting to write about. Kragt Family Journey

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Just need a stupid bank account....

Here is a peek at my day yesterday. You would think by now I'd be more used to the ridiculousness of bureaucracy here but it still gets under my skin really quickly.  I just need to open two bank accounts. Now, I know I'm a foreigner but I went with all sorts of documents that show that I work here, pay rent and bills regularly, that I have the permits to be here, etc... I went to the bank Tuesday afternoon, got in line and waited to see the manager. 35 minutes later I'm informed that, actually, the person I need to see for a foreign currency account wasn't there and that he will surely be back Wednesday. I went back Thursday and waited a few minutes but quickly discovered there were 16 people (not exaggerating) in line ahead of me and in the 10 minutes I waited the line only got longer, not shorter. So I left. 8:30 sharp (the time they are supposed to open) Friday morning found me waiting outside the bank. Lets just say they didn't really open on time. But I was the first one in line to see the manager. I explained that I would like to open two accounts, a dollar account and a shilling account. He said fine, asked to see some ID. I gave him my CLIDE badge and we made small talk about the consultancy. He knew several of my co-workers so we talked about a recent wedding and other things. Then he asked to see another piece of ID. I gave him my MI drivers license. He immediately found a problem. My license reads Jennifer Jane Kragt and the CLIDE one reads Jennifer Kragt. He didn't like that one "had another name". I explained how middle names in the States work and how no one calls me Jane so it isn't on the CLIDE card. He asked to see another form of ID. I showed him my birth certificate but that one doesn't have a picture so he didn't like it.  He really wanted another Ugandan issued ID but I don't have anything else. We settled on my passport but he really wasn't happy. He asked to see my papers that I used to get a work permit (in lieu of a letter of introduction from CLIDE) and at first he was fine but then he decided that because he had put Jennifer Jane on all of his papers my letters had to have that name too. So I have to go get a new letter of introduction from my boss that says that I work for CLIDE (which you would think both my ID card and work permit make pretty clear) and make sure it says Jane on it somewhere. He explained to me that I also need to get a letter of permission (?!?!) from the Local Council Chairman (LC1) and bring that with me to the bank when I get back. As it was nearly 11 am by this time (it had taken him forever to find the right papers, get the instructions from someone above him and do whatever else he was doing while I was sitting waiting at his desk. I should mention here the one of the things which made it take longer was that on the first paper he gave me to sign I signed Jennifer Jane Kragt. The same on the second. When he got to the third and fourth signatures I just scribbled J. Kragt. My mistake. He had to fill those two out again and have me sign CORRECTLY.  Also, because he left me sitting so long, (his mistake!), I had a chance to read a few of the things I was signing. I discovered that the account I was opening was going to cost 10,000 UGX per month. I challenged him in this and he insisted it wouldn't be nearly that much. I countered with maybe it shouldn't say it on the paperwork if it wasn't true. I had also read that I could only open the shillings account with less than 600,000 UGX of and no minimum balance had to be maintained. Both of which contradicted what I had been told earlier. Mr. Manager obviously didn't know what was on the papers and told me to not worry about it.) I just packed it up and headed out. I met with Dr. Moses and asked for the letter by Monday which he said was not problem. Then I called my landlord to see if he would "introduce" me to the LC1 so I could get a letter from him. My landlord is out of town on business and it was unclear when he was getting back so I decided that even though it isn't really cultural I was just going to find him myself. So some of my neighbors gave me directions and I finally found him in a local bar already drunk. (Still before noon.)
He wrote me an almost completely illegible letter which I made sure contained the name Jennifer Jane. This took some cajoling and a hefty fee. But he was willing to give me a receipt (of which I had to provide and fill out but he signed) so I guess I got what I needed. If it only takes me an hour on Monday (which I doubt, but am trying to be hopeful) I'll already have six hours invested in this project. All of this for the bank to give me the privileged of them keeping my money for me. It isn't even like I'm doing it for any interest because Ugandan banks don't do anything strange like that.
2/9/16- Well, went back today with all the necessary letters (after waiting another hour for CLIDE to write theirs) and signed more papers and waited some more and had more asinine conversations with the accounts guy and after being there practically all morning (3 hours, I think) I was finally told I could go. I asked if I could have copies of any of the papers I had signed or at least some form on proof that I have accounts there and possibly the account numbers or anything, They told me it would take "some more time" before I could have anything like that. So, I left empty handed. But possibly I am about to have a bank account?
2/10/16- Stopped by in the morning today and asked for the papers about my account. Told it was not ready so I just left without waiting. After 6pm I got a call from the bank that now they were closed but they had to have a copy of my passport to process the accounts, so even though I took my passport with me both of the first two times I'll be going back again with it tomorrow.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Back in Karamoja

I skipped right over my last trip to Karamoja because it was really short and I was overwhelmed with stuff to do to get down to western Uganda to join the team. But I did spend a little time up in Lormoruchbae.

They are building again, in a new location. It is quite far from the "road" so they are hoping UWA won't be bothered to come hassle them. The land is good and there are even a few shade trees so I'm excited about it. I'll begin building mine eventually. I also want to get  couple of fruit trees up there and get a little garden started on my next trip up. 

These last three pictures are the new "church" in Lormoruchbae that they build while I was gone. I have not experienced a worship service in it but am excited that they did this of their own initiation. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

More pictures of the trip to western uganda

I promised a few more pictures and here are some I like, blatantly stolen from my friend's fb pages. 

Batwa ladies
This little guy's family wanted us to "fix" him. We did a bit of education and a lot of encouragement here. 
 A lot more encouragement and a lot of prayer because there was little else we could do. 
Also played with kids. 

The first day in Kisoro, before the team arrived I tagged along with Dr. Daniel to check on his rabbit program. It is fun to see a thriving, successful project.

Because it was raining the day we did this a few people invited us to sit inside their tiny houses. Here is a looks at the bed in their only bedroom. 

It was a refreshing week with like minded people in a much cooler climate than Soroti. But time now to get back to work....

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Western Uganda

It seems like I've fallen off the face of the planet for a bit! Well, I've gotten close to falling off the edge this past week but I haven't actually. I few of the roads and paths we were on were extremely treacherous and I didn't take time to stop and take pictures. But these give a glimpse.
 I was mostly doing the work I can be found doing in Soroti but last week I was doing it in a different region with a different group of people. There was a short term team from my sending organization (Fuel Uganda) that I went down and joined. I was on a medical team that went out into the mountains trying to reach people who wouldn't have otherwise gotten medical care. They were some of the most physically strenuous days I've had in a while. We were at significant elevation and carried all of our meds and supplies with us. I just pray that we were able to communicate God's love in a helpful way to people.
Here are just a few of the pictures I took. Maybe tomorrow I'll put a few up that the team took. 

spontaneous clinic on the top of a mountain followed by a gospel presentation

talking with a patient

Translators, evangelists and porters

One of the many paths we were on.