3 Years in Uganda and more to come!

This July was our 3 year anniversary in Uganda!…and we have decided to stay longer!

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Landing in Uganda. July 2015

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June 2018. Haven’t aged a bit, right? Ha, ha.

When we decided to follow God’s leading to move to Uganda, we thought we would be working for Lumi for 3 years. We never could have imagined what actually would happen in those 3 years. In that time, Jesse has taken on a much larger management role with Lumi, and I (Rachel) have started a water well drilling and water supply services company with another missionary here.

Let me share about the last 12 months specifically. As part of our annual reporting to our organization, we need to document the number of people impacted by our work. I never sit back and think about numbers like that. There is too much to do on a daily basis just running our businesses! However, when I did the numbers this year (July 2017 through June 2018), I calculated that approximately 5,000 people have experienced an “enhanced level of development” because of Lumi and WET. After checking my math a couple of times, I just sat back as tears filled my eyes. The last 12 months have been our most fruitful and it feels premature to leave now.

If only staying were so easy.

We have spent a lot of time over the last 6 months trying to find the best way to stay in Uganda, and we believe that we have finally found a good path forward that will be more sustainable for us and more supportive of our businesses. This involves partnering with a couple of new organizations to provide business and logistic support, while bringing on additional staff to better manage both Lumi’s and WET’s increasing work loads.

At this time, we are asking you to:
1) Pray for us as we pursue these new partnerships and as we try to follow the desires of our hearts to remain in Uganda,
2) Consider providing (or continuing to provide) financially support for us and our work in Uganda. While we will be transitioning away from WorldVenture soon, we are currently working through WorldVenture. If you would like to donate, please click HERE to see our page on WorldVenture’s website. We greatly appreciate those of you who have financially contributed to our work as we could not be here without your help!
3) Let us know if you are in Colorado in September and October! We will be setting up coffee dates and open houses most likely in the second half of September, and we would love to see you! If you are not in Colorado during that time, please feel free to send us an e-mail and we can schedule a Skype meeting!

We want you to know that we deeply appreciate your prayers, encouragement, and financial support these past few years. Thousands of people have received power and have improved access to clean water through Lumi and WET, and this wouldn’t have been possible without your support. Thank you.

Thanks for tracking along with us as we enter the 2nd chapter of “TeamGeiger in Uganda”!

~Rachel & Jesse Geiger

Top 3 Drilling Company

“WET is probably our top drilling company. At least in the top 3.”

That’s what the inventor of our drilling rig told WET Consulting Ltd during his visit to Gulu. He said of the 60+ drilling groups that have one of his machines, we are in the top 3 in terms of how many boreholes we’ve drilled and the quality of our work.

Background:
I was eating dinner at the local coffee shop -slash- American restaurant in town when a fellow diner asked me if I live here, what I do, etc. I responded that I run a drilling company and he asked what machine we use. I said the Village Drill and he excitedly said that the inventor was coming tomorrow to train a group from Kampala on the new version of the machine. We scheduled to meet up at his hotel later that week and then visit his drill site.

At the drill site, we saw the newer version of our rig. It was cool to see a brand new one, as we bought ours used. It was so clean! There were a few new features that would be nice to have, but given the customs charges, I think we got a great deal and made the right decision when we bought our rig.

The next day, we took our drill team out to the site to meet the inventor and see the new rig. Our drill team leader asked great questions and actually offered some better techniques to the official trainers! It was great for both WHO Lives (which produces the Village Drill) and for us. Our team felt so encouraged hearing that we were doing so well compared to the other teams, and the inventor felt encouraged to see one of his rigs doing so well. Tim and I enjoyed meeting with him also as we learned a few tricks to maximize our rig.

Photos:

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The newer version of the Village Drill.

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The inventor (John), a photographer for his group WHO Lives, Tim, and a WHO Lives trainer discussing the soil samples.

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The WHO Lives trainer (pink shirt on the left) and our drill team (dress, black shirt, red shirt, and blue jacket) discussing some of the new features on the rig.

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Tim and I with the wheel for our drill rig! Photo for WHO Lives

Parts of the rig have been with a welder for a while, so we haven’t had any drilling lately. Instead, I’ve been designing water distribution systems and re-learning all that is Fluid Dynamics! I’ve identified a guy on our drill team who has great promise, good educational and experiential background, and strong ethics. I’ll be training him one day a week with the hopes that he could potentially take over some/all of my role and/or just move forward in his career.

Prayer Requests:

  • Jesse has finished his 2nd round of the UN Grant application. We should hear the results in late-May. Pray that Lumi gets the grant.
  • Lumi has been in discussions with an organization that supports start-ups in difficult regions (like Gulu). This organization has already offered a lot of help for the business and MAY be an option to support Jesse and I to stay here after July. Thank God with us that we have found this group for Lumi and pray that we have wisdom in this partnership.
  • Our term with WorldVenture ends in mid-July. At this point, it looks very likely that we will stay in Uganda a bit longer. We still don’t know if that will be with WorldVenture or not. Please pray for wisdom for us in this decision.

Thank you for following along in our journey! Let us know how we can be praying for you!

~TeamGeiger

UN Grant, UG Client, Uncharted Territory

Lumi – Lumi Store

The Lumi store is up and running. The main sales officer reached his monthly sales goal in approximately two weeks! 3 agent shops have been identified and the first one has been trained. Sales from the store have greatly exceeded expectations which is great and means that Jesse picked a great location. There a dozen or so stories of how amazingly the Lumi team is launching the store and implementing the new sales model. Too many to list here, but one example is that one of Lumi’s original team members offered to shift to part-time since he isn’t as critical in the next few months so that Lumi could hire a new and more immediately relevant sales agent. The team has been self-sacrificing, creative, and determined in helping Lumi launch on the best footing.

It took quite a lot of renovating to bring the new Lumi store up to standards. Here is the “before”, “during”, and “after” photos of the store’s transformation.

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Bringing the team back together. From left to right : Innocent, Eric, George, and Taban

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Our first Agent Shop in Koro Abili

Lumi – UN Grant

UN Grant – Lumi has applied for a grant from the UN that would be used to match Lumi and investor dollars to build the new technology Jesse and I designed in 2016 and to test Lumi’s new sales model. We found out a couple weeks ago that Lumi made it on the short list! This means that Lumi is one of the top 10 applicants for this grant. The grant will be awarded to multiple companies, so Lumi has a strong chance of being awarded this grant. What it means for now is that Jesse has three weeks to complete the entire second stage of the application which is very long and detailed, while helping the shop in it’s first few months. The final application will be submitted today, so he will have more time for the shop soon!

Lumi/Personal – Jesse’s US trip

Jesse visited the US for about 10 days in February. While there he visited friends and family, as well as given presentations to both of our supporting churches, Faith Lutheran Church in Castle Rock, Colorado and New Denver Church in Denver, Colorado. It was a great time of encouragement, but it was also full of business connections for Lumi. Lumi gained two new advisors and Jesse attended an event hosted by Denver Institute for Faith & Work.

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Good to catch up with Denver friends!

WET – First Private Ugandan Client

WET had it’s first private Ugandan client! WET has struggled to secure a contract with a private Ugandan client as the negotiation process and expectations are radically different than what is the done in the US or UK. Nearly all prices are negotiable in Uganda, and this client pushed WET pretty hard, but we were able to offer him drilling services for a price he could agree to. The site was in a location that is infamous for dry boreholes and high bedrock, so we were a bit nervous. After the second day, the drill team had drilled 20 meters and there was still no water. We were holding our breath as there is only one other hole we’ve drilled that didn’t have water by 20 meters, and it was our one dry borehole. Then next day, the team drilled to 30 meters. We measured the water level and basically the water started at 20 meters! So the hole had 10 meters of water, which is GREAT in that area! Everything was successful and we are all SO grateful for not only a successful drilling job, but also for a successful completion of our first contract with a private Ugandan client!

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Finished borehole

Personal – Birthdays!

Jesse’s birthday is in January and mine is in February. We wrapped up our birthdays and Valentines celebrations into a weekend at Sipi Falls. This was a place that I visited in 2010 when I was in Uganda as an intern with EMI and I remember thinking then that if I ever came back to Uganda with Jesse I would have to bring him here as it was so gorgeous. It was probably one of the best weekends of our life.

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Gulu is the blue circle. Sipi Falls in the Red marker.

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The view of the middle waterfall from our front door.

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It’s hard to make out but you can see all 3 falls in this photo. It was so beautiful there.

During my (Rachel’s) actual birthday, the drill team was on site for our first Ugandan client. They sent me a great video with birthday greetings from the site and this great photo showing one team member (center of the drill rig) making a “3” with his fingers and another member (below the yellow wheel) making a “2”. This photo makes me SO happy, I’ll keep it forever. Working here is such an amazing (and difficult and exhausting and…) experience, but as everyone says, it is the relationships you build that makes it all so great. Jesse and I are definitely experiencing that.

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Prayer Requests

  • Wisdom and energy for Jesse while balancing two full-time work loads with the Lumi store relaunch and the UN grant applications.
  • Praise for WET’s first private Ugandan client and for that project’s success!
  • For WET to identify a Ugandan engineer to start training for an engineering management position.
  • For help for both WET and Lumi. Jesse and I could each really use another person to help us with our workloads.
  • Wisdom and clarity for both of us in deciding what comes next for TeamGeiger after our current term with WorldVenture ends this July.

Thank you for following along with us! Please stay in touch!

~Rachel (& Jesse) Geiger

The Big Lumi Update

This is Jesse writing, it has been a long time since we have given any real updates on Lumi. This was partly because we didn’t know which pieces to share but mostly because truly Lumi, and my work here, had been changing on a near weekly basis. So, now that Lumi seems to have a trajectory, I wanted to give as much of the whole story as I can so that you know what has been happening and where things now seem like they’re going.

Reader’s Digest Version:  Lumi had to severely scale back in early 2017 due to insufficient funds. We closed the shop, and I managed a franchisee. In August, I saw a huge increase in requests for larger-scale solar that has continued. These projects earned a growing profit for Lumi, and after prayer and seeking advice, I have decided to re-open the store using the profits earned from the large-scale projects. The store will operate under a new sales model and will have 5 of the previous Lumi team members, some of whom have been working for a solar competitor for the past 6 months. The store will open beginning of February.

Closing Shop (March to April)

Lumi had to shut its shopfront doors at the end of March due to a lack of funds.  While closing was not something I ever wanted to have happen, it was incredible to see God use Lumi even its closing. In Gulu, we had heard that theft can be a serious problem once employees know that their jobs are in jeopardy. I was so proud of our guys for working hard and with the highest integrity even through the last day. Some of our team that we had let go a month prior even came to the store for the last day and worked with the rest of us.  After closing out the shop (and finding in the register slightly more cash than what was in the books), Rachel and I took the entire team out for one last team dinner.  We ended up staying for over 3 hours sharing our favorite and most interesting memories from our time with Lumi.  It was a special night, and so great to hear those stories about the personal and professional development that occurred through Lumi and the comradery inside a Christian business.

There was one large logistics challenge in closing the Lumi store, however. Since our primary market was Pay-as-you-Go lamps, we knew that in order to do right by our customers, we needed to make sure they still had a way to continuing paying off their lamps after the store was closed. While the shop was still open, a few of our employees approached us about starting their own shops.  They believed they could still make a business work if they were not running a full-sized shop like Lumi. We realized we had a way to service our customers while giving our 3 new franchisees a great head start through the revenue from collecting payments from those remaining customers. And so, while the shop ended up closing, we still could do right by both our customers and our previous staff.

Franchise Support, shifting focus, and Odd-jobs (May – August)

My parents visited right after the shop closed, which was a nice time to recover from the stress of managing the shutdown. After my parents went back home, I began to focus on supporting our franchisees while doing a few small battery backup systems. Only 1 of the guys continued growing his business while the other 2 of the franchisees were hired by another solar company a few months later. That was still plenty to keep me occupied, as the franchisee began a pilot program with a new manufacturer and entered a local entrepreneur contest in search of grant funding to expand his operations.  While we didn’t receive the grant, he has still maintained a healthy level of sales and purchased a small kiosk to begin selling other items alongside solar.

Big System Installations (August – November)

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Finishing atop a new teacher’s education center.

Sometime in August, I was hired to design and install a large solar panel system for a remote clinic, the same clinic that Rachel drilled for with WET.  I enjoyed working on such a big project and decided that I wanted to spend more of my time working on these larger systems.  While larger systems has been a part of Lumi since the beginning, it has never been the focus. At this point, it looked like Lumi might have to shut down completely by the end of 2017. Since I knew I would be in Gulu until at least July of 2018, I asked the owner if I could continue Lumi so that I could do large solar and backup systems work while in Uganda.  While there are large solar and backup system providers in Uganda, they are often overpriced and improperly designed and installed. My goal was to be a provider that would only install properly designed systems at a reasonable profit.  At the time I envisioned only doing a handful of these larger systems in the remaining 12 months of our term; however, without any marketing on my part, I was contacted by several NGOs and missionaries asking for solar and grid backup systems. The demand for these systems has not decreased since.

Future Plans (November – January)

By November I had installed roughly 10 of these systems around Uganda, and while it felt good to be working hard and earning a profit with Lumi, I was wrestling with how this work matched with why I felt God leading us to Uganda in the first place.  [Now, for some context, since we moved to Gulu the small scale solar industry has boomed in East Africa.  Many companies have been trying to reach all sectors of the market, but successfully creating a sales model that reaches the rural and poorest parts of Uganda remains elusive.  I do believe Lumi has gotten closer than any other company, and largely I believe that if Lumi can finally discover it, it will because of our Ugandan employees implementing their ideas.] After a few good conversations and evaluating my heart, I have decided to use the profits from the large solar installations to subsidize a leaner version of Lumi’s small solar sales. I am even able to hire many of our old employees that through a series of coincidences has led to many of them being available at the beginning of January. We’ll be trying out our combined ideas for a new sales model and method.

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Lumi is opening again after the paint dries!

So, finally, we are re-opening the small-scale solar shop in Gulu at the beginning of February with PAYGO operations resuming and expanding under a new sales model shortly after. I will continue large system sales and installations in order to subsidize the shop, but my focus will be growing the village scale side of the business. I have no idea what the future holds, but I am trying to faithfully follow the “breadcrumbs” (more on that in a later blog post) that I feel God has been leaving for me since September.

Thank you for following us on this journey.

Prayer Requests:

  • Wisdom and energy for me while managing the Lumi store relaunch.
  • Wisdom for Rachel and her team in managing WET. Specifically in finding their first Ugandan private client and in identifying a Uganda to start training for an engineering management position.
  • Wisdom and clarity for Rachel and me in deciding what comes next for TeamGeiger after our current term with WorldVenture ends this July.

Thank you all. Please feel free to contact us any time with questions, etc. We love hearing from you all.

Jesse (& Rachel) Geiger

Plumbing, bacteria, and Kenya!

Since my last update WET has focused on catching up on projects and business administration items, but Jesse and I were also able to take a week-long break and go to the beach! WET has finished its registration process, finalized the accounting, learned a lot about submersible pumps, and completed the first water quality tests. Check out the photos below!

WET Updates:

Bacteria – I’ll start with my most exciting news, which is about the first borehole we drilled which is in Abwoc. We took samples and completed our bacteria testing. Guess what? Totally clean! Check it out compared with a sample from a nearby shallow borehole and the stream which are the other water sources.

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The blue/purple dots are E.Coli bacteria colonies. The red/pink dots are other bacteria. Check out our sample! No dots! LtoR: Stream, Shallow borehole, WET borehole

I am very excited about these results. I had been feeling a bit discouraged after our dry test hole in Masindi District, so knowing that our first borehole in a local community is totally clean was such an encouragement. I went and drank from it earlier this week. Here a very cheesy photo of me at the Abwoc borehole when we took the samples for testing.

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Pumping water samples at the Abwoc borehole.

Hope Alive! – We also installed the plumbing, tank stand, tank, and taps at the Hope Alive! site in preparation for the pump installation. Selecting the right pump for this site has been a struggle as the borehole has a low yield so the pump needs to be low-flow, but I think we have finally found a good solution through Jesse and Lumi. He will be installing a low flow solar pump. Personally, I love it when our projects get to overlap!

Accounting – I won’t bore you with a photo of spreadsheets, but I spent about 10 days entering in all our expenses from the last 3-4 months and organizing our accounting for 5 different accounts. It is finished and was handed off to our Business Manager and fellow WET Director, Alfred (who you may remember from last September, when I was the coordinator for his wedding to my friend and fellow Coloradoan Elizabeth!).

Rig Rental – We’ve also decided to try renting out the rig. We realized that the pre- and post- drilling work for each drilling job can take a substantial amount of time, so to keep the rig as busy as possible while still maintaining our own work load we are testing out renting it to select water professionals in the area. The rig just returned from its first rental job yesterday. This rental program will be a great additional income stream for WET and an easy way to maximize the number of new water sources being developed.

Lumi Update:

(This is Jesse writing now) Lumi continues to have more and more large PV system work coming in. Since last month plus I have had 3 separate installations: a hospital backup system (and rewiring work) for their new blood fridge, a missionary family in Gulu, and another missionary family near Kampala. In addition to these installations I have also designed and am planning for installing a PV system for a school near Gulu and a solar powered water pump for WET after Thanksgiving.   I will get better at taking photos at these work various sites. 🙂

In addition to the larger scale installations, our franchisee continues to make sales and has begun to make a niche for himself as a seller of quality and affordable solar lamps. He has purchased from me/Lumi and sold 40 lamps in the last month and I’m confident he can keep the momentum going.

Personal Updates:

Anniversary – Jesse and I celebrated our 6-year wedding anniversary! We always take a photo of ourselves with the number of the anniversary. This year, we used the green hose from our drill rig, lit the photo with Lumi solar lights, stood in front of the wall that collapsed twice in a week, and it was taken by our neighbors! This photo (although it looks like we are trying to break out of a prison!) is my favorite anniversary photo yet!

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6 year wedding anniversary!

We spent a week with our neighbors at the beach in Kenya on their way back to their home country. It was such a needed rest after working a break-neck pace for the last 3 months. I was very grateful for that time with our friends, time with Jesse, and that Tim kept things going at WET so I could go. We stayed very near where we had the conference last year, but this time, it was just a vacation (no meetings).

Prayer Requests:

  • Please continue to pray for us to have clarity of vision for our next journey and for wisdom in deciding what is right for us and our work here. Our term with WorldVenture expires in July 2018, and our work permits expire a bit later than that. That means it is time to start talking about what comes next. Jesse and I have been prayerfully seeking guidance and vision for our next season.
  • We are both so grateful for safety while driving and working. We both have a lot more driving coming up, so please always be praying for our safety (especially for trained mechanics for the vehicles).

Thank you for following our journey!

~TeamGeiger

Boreholes!

I’m so sorry for the delay in writing this blog post, but it is for good reason! In the last 2 months, we have bought a drill rig, learned how to use the rig, identified and trained a drill team of 10 people on the rig, drilled 4 boreholes, completed 1 electro-resistivity survey, completed 3 pump tests, provided pump and plumbing consultation to 3 clients, driven too many kilometers, slept in an empty village church, hotels across Uganda, and an empty medical clinic, and so much more! Take a look!  We have…

…picked up the drill rig and got it stored in my garage (July 31-Aug. 5th)!

…completed a electro-resistivity survey for a medical clinic (Aug. 10th)!

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Conducting the electro-resistivity survey. L to R: Tim, Jesse, and a local WASH practitioner.

…drilled our first borehole (Aug. 21-23)!

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First borehole in Abwoc.

…drilled our second borehole (August 24-26th)!

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Second borehole in Pajaa. We hit rock and had to use our rock ram (the red jack) attachment. Worked great!

…trained our new drill team during those first two holes!

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Drill team, trainers, and Rachel (Tim is taking the photo).

…finished our first two hand pumps (Aug. 31 – Sept 1st)!

 

…completed a pump test at a theological seminary (Sept. 6th)!

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Pump testing an abandoned borehole.

 

…drilled a borehole for a child sponsorship program (Sept. 11-20th)!

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Drilling borehole #3.

…drilled a borehole for a medical clinic while Lumi installed the solar (Sept. 25-30th)!

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Drilling at a clinic in Masindi District. You can see Jesse and Lumi co-workers on the roof behind the truck!

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Jesse took the same photo about the same time, totally unplanned. Notice all of their bare feet!

I think the last 2 months have been the busiest two months of my time here in Uganda so far!

So much has been a process of figuring things out as we go, like meeting people through friends of friends for supplies (like gravel, truck rentals, etc), inviting trainees for the drilling team and hoping people show up, and looking for rig parts with no idea if they exist in town!

As I told my mother, “I went WAY outside of my comfort zone and was totally worried so much of the time, but here I am on the other side, and it worked out. I’m so glad that I jumped in (or waded in slowly), and got to be a part of this. I’m so lucky. I just have to thank God that He let me be a part of this.”

Setting up this company has been the most stretching experience I’ve ever had. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Other updates:

Jesse was Willy Wonka in a expat community rendition of Charlie and The Chocolate Factory!

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Jesse as Willy Wonka. Charlie is with him in the bottom right photo.

We have had extreme rains here which lead to our compound wall (the wall around our yard) to collapse and flood our neighbor’s house…TWICE in one week!

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The second time that wall collapsed (in the exact same place) and flooded the compound. The neighbors (whose house was flooded) and Jesse and I fought the flood for about an hour in the dark (maybe 4am), and then made some pancakes!

We picked up a second vehicle, which actually belongs to Lumi but had been in storage for a while. This has been great, but we have had two flat tires, a brake caliper fell off (right after we got to the mechanics shop!), the radiator overheated (maybe it is leaking?), and a wheel bolt is leaking grease! We’ve named the car “Bowser” after the evil enemy in Super Mario Brothers (a video game we played as kids) because we think it is out to get us!

 

We’ve had issues at the house again, as well. The drain out of our kitchen sink is completed backed up, but it is the pipe in the ground, so we are digging it up. The pit where we burn our trash is about to be totally full. It lasted 2 years. Time to dig a new one, or excavate the waste out and dump is somewhere. Lastly, the pinching ants that were living in the house have moved back in, but at least they aren’t in our room this time. We realized they were moving in when about a dozen of the flying males flew into the kitchen from the hallway! They have tried to move into the guest bathroom and the garage. Hopefully we can keep them at bay.

Lastly, we had a few issues with WET. The most time-consuming one was that our submersible pump we bought for pump tests never worked well from the beginning, even though it was brand new. After struggling with it for weeks, we finally got it replaced while drilling at the clinic and the new one works great!

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New pump in the shop in Kampala.

Lastly, the borehole at the clinic in Masindi District was bone dry. This was definitely discouraging, but we were suspicious that the hole would not have enough water for the clinic based on our electro-resistivity survey and the client wanted us to drill the borehole as a test to know for sure. Apparently, there are almost no function boreholes in that town because it is notoriously dry. Now we are working with the clinic to help identify another water source. As one of our drill team members said, “Other drillers would hit a dry hole and run away. If we hit a dry hole, we stay around to help them. That is WET Consulting.” I have to say that I felt pretty good about our company when he said that!

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Bone dry bottom of the well at the clinic. Now to find another water source!

Despite all the stress and struggles, one thing has been encouraging me as I work with WET; I have LOVED working with our drill team. They are such hard workers, they have all had experience drilling with other manual methods and are always giving us insight into local practices, hydro-geology, and typical drilling contracts for the area. I am learning a lot about Acholi (the local tribe) language and culture as well. Lumi had a mix of tribes in the office, so we always spoke English, but with WET, everyone except for Tim and I are Acholis. I have learned a lot of words, figures of speech, and even new foods! I love learning more about life here and especially what life is like in the villages. I wish I could show you what it was like to sleep out in Pajaa. I will never forget drinking sugary lemongrass tea around a fire, surrounded by fire flies, under the glow of stars and moon, and singing songs with the local community.

Prayer Requests:

  • Our term with WorldVenture expires in July 2018, and our work permits expire a bit later than that. That means it is time to start talking about what comes next. Jesse and I have been prayerfully seeking guidance and vision for our next season. Please pray for us to have clarity of vision for our next journey and for wisdom in deciding what is right for us and our work here.
  • We are both completely swamped. It is not a sustainable pace of life. We are struggling to find a work/life balance while managing two rapidly growing companies (Lumi has been flooded with big solar system requests, which is great). Pray with us that we find a good rhythm and don’t burn out. We are trying a new work schedule with WET this month and Jesse has just wrapped up a big project (the clinic) which should both help.
  • We are both so grateful for safety while driving and working. Working with big heavy machines and electricity, and climbing on roofs and working in unfamiliar places sometimes far from medical care can be dangerous. Both Jesse and I, and our colleagues have been healthy and happy, and we are SO thankful to God for that.
  • One thing about living abroad is the other expats come and go quite frequently, but the relationships go deep quickly, too. Jesse and I have been lucky to have great friends here, including our neighbors, who are going back to their home country at the end of this month. They have been such a support and encouragement to us and we will miss them dearly. Pray with us for wisdom in what to do with the empty house on our compound when they leave (if we should rent it out to another family?) and for encouragement as we grieve loosing them as a daily part of our lives.
  • I am SO grateful to be drilling! After fundraising, planning, preparing, investigating, and everything else…we are drilling! Thank you to all of you who have been a part of this with encouraging emails, financial support, and prayers. We thank God that it has call come together!

Thank you for following our journey!

~TeamGeiger

 

Summer Update

Whirlwind US visit, a month of sickness, business registration, and potential borehole site visits.

Rachel’s US Trip

My brother graduated with an MBA from the Tuck School at Dartmouth on June 10th and I (with immense help from my sister-in-law) pulled off a surprise visit! I was not able to attend my brother’s high school graduation (I had a mandatory college program that day) or Bachelor’s graduation (I was in Uganda with Engineering Ministries International), so I told myself that if there was anyway to be at this graduation, I would make it happen! Jesse was super supportive, and about 3 weeks before the graduation, we started planning my trip.

As it turned out, my grandfather’s health took a strong turn for the worse immediately before I traveled, so I added a short 2-day visit to Ohio to the front end of my visit. Total travel time from our house in Gulu to my Uncle’s house near Cleveland was 43 hours! I was exhausted, but very happy to visit my Uncle and his family, and see my grandparents. My grandfather ended up passing away a few days later, so I was grateful to be with him and my Ohio family during that time.

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My Uncle Kent, Grandmother, and me in Ohio.

Then I flew to Boston, and was picked up by the CTO for Lumi, John. He has been our boss, but also a great friend. We drove from the airport to New Hampshire to meet with a water engineer and water well driller. I spent several hours with them discussing our developing drilling work here in Uganda. I learned a lot from them and am happy to have their contact information for future consultation.

Then we finished the drive up to my brother’s. John dropped me off right at his front door, which my sister-in-law had left unlocked for me. I walked right in and said, “James, you really shouldn’t leave your front door unlocked. You never know who might just walk in.” He was totally shocked! It was awesome and worth all the travel and secrets!

To make sure my brother didn’t find out, we hadn’t told anyone else in the family (except the Ohio crew). That meant that each day, as a new family member arrived…my mom, dad, sister, aunt, grandmother…we set up a surprise. SO fun!

I was honored to be asked by my youngest cousin, who had been learning about Africa in her class, to come and share about Uganda. SO much fun! Reminded me of all the years (15, I think?) that I taught Sunday School!

giraffes get all the attention

“Raise your hand if you know the name of the animal in the picture!”

My brother (who is a genius as far as I’m concerned) graduated with distinction and earned an award. If I was only going to make one of his graduations, I’m glad it was this one. The whole visit was SO much fun, I will never forget it.

RandJ at Grannys

My brother and me on his graduation day!

Which is a bit impressive, because I came down with a horrible flu almost immediately after arriving in New Hampshire. I don’t think I have ever had a “cold” that strong before.

Sickness

After about 10 days in the US, I flew back to Uganda. I completed my on-line WASH course project, and had just started to catch up on our drilling business registration process, when I became extremely weak and developed a fever. After several negative malaria tests, we realized I had come down with my first sinus infection. After about 6 days of antibiotics (which had worked against the infection), I had an allergic reaction to the penicillin (or something in the penicillin pills that I was taking). I don’t have any allergies, so it took a day or two to figure that out also. After a couple of days of rest and antihistamines, I finally felt healthy again. So, from the time I caught the cold/flu, to the end of the allergy, it was about a month of me being mostly out of it. I’m VERY happy to have been healthy during this last week! And I think Jesse is looking forward to some rest himself after taking care of me for so long.

WV Field Meeting

During this time, our agency had their Quarterly Field meetings here in Gulu. We had made arrangements to host the meetings at The Recreation Project (http://therecreationproject.org/), which is an outdoor adventure facility used for team building and for healing activities (think “trauma counseling”) for post-war communities. We had a great time with the meeting times and the team building and prayer times.

TRP_edited

Site Visits

As soon as I started feeling better, Tim and I went out to visit some potential sites for our first boreholes. Both are within an hour drive of Gulu town, but in villages. These were new places to me, but Tim knew them from when he completed his WASH assessment study a couple of years ago. One site, Site B, is very likely to be our first location. The first site we visited, Site A, is still under evaluation as there are few households in the area. These first two boreholes are being funded by an NGO for us to test our drill rig.

Obwac Church Site

Site A:  This site is the less populated site. This building is a church.

Pajaa Church Location

Site B:  This structure is another church building. Another group has tried to drill here before, but was unable to find water.

Site A has a near by water source, but it only has water during the rainy seasons, and because the well is not very deep, the water is often muddy and dirty. Site B does not have a near by water source. The nearest source is at the town center and is in serious need of repair.

Broken well_Obwac_edited

Contaminated water sources at Site A.

Broken well_Pajaa

Broken water source at town center nearest Site B.

Tim’s toilets!

One bonus to the visit, was that Tim (and I) were able to see the result of one of his previous projects. There are few sanitation facilities (“toilets”) in rural Uganda. This toilet facility is on Site B and was SO cool to see!

Pajaa toilets_edited

Toilet building! These are squat-style pit latrines. You had to duck quite a bit to get in, but could stand up once inside. Local materials were used and the slabs (the floor piece that you stand on) is concrete.

Women toilet symbol_edited  Men toilet symbol_edited

 

The photos on the left show the symbols drawn on the sides to indicate the men and women toilets. You can also see the toilet better in the “women’s” photo.

 

 

Paperwork

The rest of my time has been arranging the business registration. We officially have a name reserved. Water and Environmental Technical Consulting Limited, or WET Consulting Ltd. We have nearly finished our Articles and MOU document needed to submit our business registration. The Purchase Agreement for the drill rig has been finished and replacement pieces have been ordered from Kenya.

Paperwork for WET

Receipts, registration forms, MOU, oh my!

Next week will be starting to fill out our drill team and flesh out supply chain for borehole supplies.

Prayer Requests

  • Praise for Rachel’s health!
  • Praise for Rachel’s safe and awesome trip to the States.
  • Request for wisdom for Rachel and Jesse while making decisions for Lumi and WET.

Thank you all for following us and supporting us during our time here in Uganda!

~TeamGeiger