Friday, February 14, 2020

Crazy Week

My, my, what a crazy week it's been! I arrived in Kampala, Uganda late on Wednesday, the 5th of February. The Bishop greeted me, as well as a student of LMH Veteran Diana Sherrod. After staying the night in Kampala, we drove the ~7 hours to Kabale which was an incredible drive. The scenery is amazing, and the people were incredible all along the way.
Matt Kadavy, an LMHer, greeted me at the diocese and has been showing me around. He has been doing amazing work with the diocese's tea farm, as well as their various other projects. We've walked all over town for the past few days, in total around 19 miles since I arrived in Kabale on Thursday. Life moves very differently here, but I am very excited to begin my work.

On Saturday, the 8th, we celebrated Bishop Callist's birthday. Joined by several clergy and religious, we had a great meal, great wine and even a wonderful birthday cake. A priest, Father Lucian, informed me that after eating it is time to dance; so we danced. Two young Ugandan children showed me the traditional dances of the area, and I was able to share with them the silly dances of the US. It was all such a great experience, and was a fantastic way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
We attended Mass this morning at a parish in town, and it was lively to say the least! It lasted for about 2 hours, and had lots of singing and dancing. As with most places we go, the children couldn't help but stare at our strange looking skin and hair. One young girl even came up to us and asked to feel my hair, all in the middle of Mass. Overall, such a rewarding experience to celebrate Mass with such faithful people.

The adjustment to daily life is difficult, and I can't help but pull my phone out every 5 seconds when I'm home to check Instagram or Facebook to then remember we don't have WiFi and cellular data isn't cheap or very fast. It's forced me to slow down and think a lot more than I thought it would.

Soon, I will begin setting up a financial system for the diocese that they need in order to track all their expenses. To do this, we need a decent internet connection and to connect some of the buildings together, which is easier said than done. I've found out that pretty much all internet connections here are over cellular, which like I said isn't cheap nor fast. The data limits are also not conducive to having multiple users on a connection.

I am going to reach out to a few internet service providers on getting a line-of-site connection, as this is what one of the schools used to have before they got on the government's fiber education network. Uganda appears to have a fairly good fiber backbone, but it's either only for government/education use or is just too expensive for most people/companies in smaller areas to afford. Hopefully we can find a solution by the end of the week, and I really hope it's not cellular. If anyone has any ideas or advice, feel free to leave a comment below!

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Almost There

Shortly, I will be leaving for Uganda! I am so very excited to be finally heading to my mission site, and can't wait to experience all that Kabale, Uganda has to offer. I've spent the past few days packing and visiting with friends and family. I think of the time spent preparing for this trip, and it's the most time I've ever taken to prepare for something. That makes the whole experience that much more exciting. Many have been impressed by my willingness to go to Africa at my age, but I'm really the one who is so blessed with this opportunity. I can't wait to meet not only my fellow missionary, Matt, but all those I'll be serving in Kabale. Thank you so much for all your prayers and support, I'll have more to share soon when I arrive in Uganda!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

How I Got Here

Hello, my name is Tony McConnell and I am soon to become a Lay Mission-Helper.

Originally from Colorado, I have always really enjoyed being outdoors, especially because of the beauty of my home state. I recently graduated from the University of Providence in Great Falls, Montana this May, and I am truly ecstatic to be going on mission to Uganda!  My degree is in Computer Science with a concentration in network engineering; I will be sharing my IT skills with the people of Kabale, a town in the southern part of Uganda.

My love for travel is what first exposed me to the need of specialists in other countries. After expressing a tiny amount of interest to my campus minister, he directed me to great resources in finding a mission. I stumbled across LMH earlier this year, and was happy to hear I hadn't yet missed the deadline to apply for this year's program. After attending a discernment weekend in April the week before my graduation, I knew I had found the next path in my life.

I am so excited to meet all the wonderful people of Kabale to help them with their IT needs, and most of all to learn from them as I experience their culture for the next three years.