All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.
— C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle
My first week working with Watoto went very differently than what I was expecting. But honestly that's just how life in Uganda works. Expect the unexpected. Or rather, be flexible and gracious when reality turns out different than what you have planned. Plans in this country change constantly, but I've found that this often works for my benefit, another daily reminder that this process is about God's timing rather than my own.
I began my week in a meeting with Brent, the head of agriculture for Watoto Childcare Ministries. Brent has been working with Watoto since the 90s and has been the visionary behind many of the organization's projects. It was awesome to hear about his heart for the people of Uganda and his bold but inspiring plans for the future. Apparently I have arrived during a time when many things within Watoto agriculture are changing. The three farms, Suubi, Lubbe and Buloba, are being restructured and updated due to new production demands and a desire for a system that better serves the women and children of Watoto. And since the three farms are so interconnected, change is happening across the board.
The kids are excited for their morning meal!
Rather than spending my summer rotating among the three farms, I will spend the majority of my time in Suubi village at the goat farm. The farm is managed by Patrick, who is one of the most passionate, enthusiastic and driven people I've ever met. I feel excited and privileged to be spending my summer learning from him. My job this summer is to support Patrick, who seems to juggle a million things all at once, and to think of ideas and positive changes that can increase production and make Patrick's job less stressful.
Patrick bottle-feeding a new baby.
During my first week, I was humbled by the amount of things that have to be considered to make the farm function. So many different parts work together to get the necessary goat's milk to the babies' home each day. The morning is spent feeding all of the goats, milking females, and caring for any animals that might be sick or injured. After this, Patrick and I check on the forage and then spend the rest of the day either sorting through records and paperwork or tending to any odd jobs that need completion. The milking and feeding process is then repeated late afternoon.
Does eating while waiting to be milked in the morning.
Each day, I'm in awe of the beauty found in Suubi village, whether it be from the view, the enthusiastic children who wave at me each morning when I arrive, or from the people at the farm who delight in doing hard work for the benefit of God's kingdom. I feel privileged to spend my time in this place and am excited to learn and to make a difference. My prayer is to leave Suubi village in better shape than it was when I arrived. But I suspect that I'll find that most of the work will be done on my perspective and my heart, as it's shaped and molded by the hopeful, loving and hardworking people of Suubi. But perhaps the most beautiful part is that this is only the first chapter of a beautiful summer that is sure to change me. I expect that challenges will ensue along the way, but hopefully this will allow the light of Jesus in this place to shine all the more.
Sarah Weiss is a 2017 Noble-Watoto Fellow working at Watoto Child Care Ministries in Uganda. Weiss is from Brenham, Texas, and has one semester left in the master of international agriculture program at Oklahoma State University. She focuses on education, extension and outreach.