Rebekah McKerley
Rebekah McKerley
Uganda, 2019 - 2021
Hello! I am living in Jinja, Uganda, for 2 years working with HEAL Ministries as a social worker. HEAL is a non-profit whose goal is family preservation. In this role, I will be expanding the social work program so that we can provide more resources to single-parent families. Read More About Rebekah →

Life is Crazy and Exciting

After some major writer’s block, I am back to update you on all the cray life things happening here in Uganda. The past few weeks have held a lot of growth and good conversations.

Working cross-culturally is so much harder than I remember it being. Maybe that’s because the first time I was here I just helped in childcare, and now I am trying to improve and grow the social work program. But wow, it is not easy navigating cross cultural friendship and work relationships when you have over 70 employees (all but 4 being females) and American interns coming for various amounts of time. How do I push the social workers to be more productive without offending them? How do we start counseling staff in a culture where mental health is not understood? It makes me think through decisions more intentionally and has been such a growing experience.

Things have been crazy around the James Place lately. Tina, the founder and executive director, arrived on the 8th and is here for the next month. Our preschoolers are taking exams this week, the pottery ladies are busy making lots of nativity sets to send back to the States for Christmas, and most of the interns are finishing up their last few weeks here. This year we have 4 weeks off for Christmas, so everyone is hurrying to finalize projects and assignments before we go on break on December 7th. I am looking forward to a break from work to be able to rest and visit with people. Most of our staff goes to the village for Christmas to be with all of their family, and the town of Jinja is a lot more quiet than usual.

The James Place- HEAL’s compound in Jinja, Uganda

It has been raining a lot longer than normal here. Usually rainy season lasts around 3 months, but this year it has been raining since April. Farmers are suffering from too much rain, and the threat of food shortages over the next year are becoming more and more serious. Climate change has definitely affected the weather here in Uganda over the past several years, and for people that live off of the crops they grow, it is a very real threat here.

There have been some really great highlights from the past several weeks of life here:

  1. We had a 2 week break at work, and I got to spend the night at a hotel in Kampala with one of the interns from work. We have become great friends, and it was so nice to have time together in the big city! Our hotel room had air conditioning (it was amazing!!) and we got massages and laid out by the beautiful pool.
  2. One of my college roommates just moved to Uganda and is working with an organization in the Western part of the country. Thankfully she spent about a week in Kampala buying supplies and adjusting before heading to the village where she will live. I got to meet up with her for the day over the weekend, and it was so so good!! We ate yummy food, found some American candy, and caught up on how our past 2½ months have been. I am so happy that she will be in Uganda for the next 2 years, and I look forward to more meet ups in the big city!
  3. Last but not least, I got engaged!! Crazy, I know. I met John back in 2014 when I first came to Uganda, and we spent many weekends with a group of friends watching movies, playing card games, having bonfires, etc. I slowly got to know him more over the following years and hung out with those friends whenever I came back to visit. In the summer of 2017 he asked me out, and at first I told him no. He was gracious and kind, and after a few weeks I came back to him with a changed mind, realizing that I didn’t want to live my life out of fear or choices that were comfortable and safe. So that summer we went on some dates and got to know each other more. I still had 2 years left of school though, so we kept in touch but didn’t really have any idea of how it could work. I went back for a month in July 2018, and that’s when we really started dating. The past year with him has been the best. He has helped me learn to use my voice and to stand up for my opinions (something this enneagram 9 often struggles with), and his tender yet strong heart is my safe place to run to. He loves the Lord and truly lives out his faith more than any guy I know. He graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering in May, and he loves to fix anything and everything. John is the greatest example of redemption in my life, and the fact that we are standing here engaged today is a testament to the Lord, because we could not have ever gotten here on our own accord. There were way to many roadblocks for this to happen because of us.  I will still be working at HEAL for 2 years, so this won’t change any of that. John is still working as a mechanic with a local non-profit, but he is also looking for a better job with bigger companies around town. We are super excited to see what the Lord has in store for our future!

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