Typical Day

Kari and I often get asked what does is a typical day like in Uganda?

There is a very simple answer; I don't have a clue. There is never a “typical” day here in Uganda.  Everyday is different and you never know what the day is going to bring. Now as a male, I think it might be genetic, I can handle things last minute. Just ask Kari, I often do things last minute, however I also like a good plan. In my past life as an educator I had a very structured day.  I knew what to expect and I had a schedule. Here there are no schedules.  You can make a schedule with the best of intentions, but by breakfast time, if not before, that schedule has been changed due to the circumstances of the day.

So, I thought I would give a glimpse of a "typical" day here in Uganda.

The day started with our awesome 8 (almost 9) year old son letting mommy and daddy "sleep in" by making all the kids breakfast. Karson did as the Ugandans say "his level best" to keep everyone quiet so we could rest. He made everyone toast for breakfast.  Ya, we are fancy these days, we have a toaster.  It looks and feels as though it could fall apart at any minute, but nonetheless it makes toast.  After an amazing attempt to keep 4 other kids quiet and after a barrage of "shhhs" from Karson, I got my day started about 7:15.

My day starts with a cup of hot tea and quiet time.  This is always a good way to start the day. It is the calm before the storm.  It also helps start my day the right way by being in His word.

After quiet time, I loaded the van for the village.  Loading the van consists of putting in our malaria prevention and education materials.  I also loaded up soccer balls to play with the kids, plenty of water and peanut butter sandwiches for lunch. Yesterday was Karson’s day to go with me into the village. The two of us headed out to meet up with the team from 

Sole Hope.  

The plan was for us to leave between 9:45 -10:00.  Therefore, everyone was told to arrive at 9:30.  I am laughing as I am typing this because I knew there was no way we would leave before 10:30.  As predicted the whole group was not ready to roll out at 9:45 as planned.  So we waited, and there is a lot of that here in Uganda.  The last of the Ugandan group arrived and the nurse for Sole Hope gave us the quote of the day, maybe even the quote of the month.  “Uncle sorry I am late…but this is Uganda.”

As we headed out about 10:20 we loaded 7 in my van and 6 in Dru’s van.  As we got almost to the Nile River, the van broke down. Now this would be frustrating any day, but it was even more frustrating because I had just picked it up from the mechanic the day before.  So we coasted into the petrol station and waited on the mechanic.  Meanwhile, the other van turned around and packed all 13 people into one van (that is meant for 8) and headed to the village.  Karson and I stayed behind to wait for a solution for the van.  The mechanic arrived and Karson and I left the van with him and walked back towards home.  About halfway there we got a boda boda (motorcycle taxi) and rode home.

After lunch of rice and beans, one of my Ugandan favorites, I tried to defuse a little from the van break down and missing a day in the village.  Then it was time to get a little school done with the boys. That is the beauty of home school, we have a flexible schedule.

After lunch it was time for Kari’s Luganda lesson.  She is becoming very good at one of the local languages here in our area. Lesson time is always a challenge because the kids always want to be around.  So I had to fight to keep Pierce inside away from her lesson and to keep all the rest of the kids quiet because it was nap-time for the little ones.

Shortly after Kari’s lesson, the mechanic brought the van back to the house and we took it for a test drive. Can you imagine your mechanic in the States delivering your vehicle to your home?  While I was dealing with the mechanic, one of the Ugandans we met and assisted in finding a job came by unexpected and unannounced.  While to Westerners that may seem strange, here it is very common.   It is even considered an honor.  So I was "honored" to have a guest waiting while I was dealing with the van.  Toby and I were able to meet and discuss his job and I was able to give him a little advice.


By this time it was around 5:00 and the kids had been begging me all day to go on a bike ride.  So I took them in shifts on a bike ride.  It was a good chance to relax and spend time with the kids after a hectic and busy day. After our bike ride, Kari had an awesome avocado spaghetti and homemade breadsticks waiting for us for dinner.

Scenery of Lake Victoria on our bike ride

After dinner was the bedtime routine.  Getting 5 kids through the shower, teeth brushed, in pajamas and in bed. By this time of day Kari and I are spent and ready for some down time with each other.  Our favorite down time activity is to crash on the bed and to watch a movie or show on the computer.  I fell asleep during the middle of one of the shows, which I always do.  I was awoken at 2:00 am by a phone call and the dogs barking.  It was one of our missionary friends who was in a lot of pain and looking for medical advice.  I thought since the dogs were barking that they were at the gate and my mind was going 100mph wondering what type of injury or illness they had brought to the gate.  This too has happened in the middle of the night.  This time it was only a phone call. After we discussed his pain, I tried going back to sleep.  However, my mind started thinking of the days events and I laid awake for an hour or so before falling asleep, this time for the night.

I do not know what tomorrow will bring, but I imagine it will be another “typical” day here in Uganda.

Matthew OrtegaComment