Well, I’m sure some of you were surprised and some of you thought this was a long time coming when I told you I was leaving for Uganda in January and not coming back until June. I’ll go ahead and back track so most of y’all will get the full picture of why I’m doing this.
During July and August of 2008 I spent about 3 weeks in Peru with The University of Alabama chapter of Engineers Without Borders. It was here where God woke me up to what life is like outside of the U.S. and other developed nations. Our main objective in Peru was to install solar-powered lights in villages deep in the Amazonian River basin. These lights were part of a pilot program we had put together. (I will go ahead and tell y’all that the UA chapter went back this summer and installed arrays (groups) in one of those villages. Now every house/hut has a light.) It was very shocking to see what the people of these villages lived without. There was one village that didn’t even have an outhouse. You had to go out in the woods and of course, this was where I got sick. I had never seen poverty in real life before. Their water is bad, they can’t afford toothpaste, etc. Unfortunately, they don’t understand how this lack of hygiene is making life tough. This really touched a nerve for me, because I knew the Lord wants us to help each other out.
The next semester I began my graduate work on the continuation of our program. I basically tested the 3 different systems for about 4 months to recommend which one would be good to use in a large scale installation. It was quite a blessing to have a project that could have a positive influence on the third world. You can see my journal article here: http://library.queensu.ca/ojs/index.php/ijsle/article/view/2389/2461.
The next summer in 2009 I was able to go with my campus ministry (University Christian Ministry) to Honduras. This was another reality check. The Lord blessed me with the idea of taking some solar panels down there, too. Rigo (Spanish only), a guy from our group (English only), and I (survival Spanish) took a trip out into the country the first day to install them on a church and 3 houses. One of the houses belonged to a widow with a bunch of kids, another belonged to Rigo’s son at their plantane plantation, and to a very poor widow. All of these houses had dirt floors, no electricity, no running water, and no sewage. They were very grateful for what we would consider an insignificant amount of light. The widow cried her heart out when we got done with the installation. She had us sing a couple of songs and we said a prayer.
The next couple of days I got to help the rest of the crews mix and pour concrete, right up my alley. Just like in the country the folks in the town of Gualaco had dirt floors. Many of the guys learned early on not to lean up against any of the walls, because they weren’t too sturdy. Others stepped in a covered hole in a house that had bugs and other unnamed creatures crawl out of it. It was crazy to see the smiles on people’s faces throughout this village when such poverty existed, but I think they understand the deeper meaning of the saying “Mo money, mo problems.” (I had no idea Puff Daddy had a big following in Honduras.) What I like about these people is that they’re not concerned with what they don’t have, but with what blessings the Lord has given to them. It’s a totally different attitude than what we have in America.
Now on to the main question: “How in the world did God lead Hannah Beatty into the missions field?” I would say the main answer is uneasiness. After I left Peru I kept asking the Lord and myself “How can I use the skills that I have to serve these people?” Boom! Question answered. The summer before I finished my masters God said “You’re an engineer aren’t you, a civil engineer, the best division of engineering I created? Duh!” I had so many classes in water resources, building, etc. It only made sense. So I started looking up clean water organizations and never really had any bites about any of them needing assistance. Next I looked into engineering. I knew about EWB, but I had never heard about Christian engineers doing anything. I did a search and a few organizations turned up including EMI. I was just about to graduate and I was interviewing with companies. At this point I had kind of decided to ignore what God had told me to do and pursue my own interests.
I started working with the Corps of Engineers in February of this year and everything started off fine. Within the second month though I kept thinking about those kids and parents I had seen and how I was just throwing money at them (There’s nothing wrong with thoughtfully giving money. We are all commanded to share our blessings). I would wake up in the morning thinking about why I was going to work, what purpose it was really serving, etc. I was making pretty good money for someone my age and I was just storing it up kind of like the rich fool who saved up all his crops at the end of the season in Luke. It was driving me insane, because I was concerned with letting money become too important to me when I graduated. I knew this wasn’t what God had in mind for this life.
In June I quit saying give it a few more months and see if it goes away. I looked further into EMI and did a good bit of praying. It seemed as if God had been telling me to do this all along, because I had many people telling me I should do something like this when they had never even heard that I was considering it. In September I applied with EMI and in October I accepted the offer to take an internship from January to June. As you may guess I’m extremely excited about this opportunity to serve the poor and mainly to be Jesus to folks. One blessing I hope I get out of this is gaining experience in engineering in the developing world. I would really love to be able to either take the torch from somebody involved in an international missions group or if the Lord wants it we’ll start one from scratch. We younger folks have to start replacing the folks who are starting to move on to the next stage of their walk with the Lord. Anyways, thank you for reading this and supporting me with prayer, financial assistance, and interest. I’ll try to keep this updated as much as possible while in Uganda and hopefully not post anything else this long again. God bless.