14 January 2009

Live together… Die alone…

Living in community has great benefits and challenges… living in community with people of another culture also throws in the element of confusion…

Last week one of my staff members disappeared…

On Monday we were working on a big project together… He had a good handle on the project so I asked him to finish it that afternoon while I worked on some other projects… simple enough I thought…

4 PM was the last time anyone saw him that day… one would imagine that he just left early… but currently he is renting a room in the GBI men’s hostel until he finds a place and he never showed up that evening…

Tuesday I called him 3 times with no response and by the afternoon his phone was completely turned off…

Wednesday evening someone thought they saw him at church…

Thursday I sent some of the staff members to look for him… I was pretty frustrated because this was so unlike him… no phone call… no message… and no way to reach him…

Someone saw him and told him I wanted to see him right away… he never showed…

Thursday after work I decided to find a creative way to communicate my desire to see him… I put a padlock on his door and kept the key… leaving a message behind to call me at his convenience…

Not the nicest thing to do but when an employee skips work 3 days in a row with company property and money it is usually cause for automatic dismissal… but I like the guy and wanted to find out what was happening…

Thursday around 9 PM I received the call… “Oh Pastor, forgive me!”

“For what?”
“Forgive me!”
“Can we talk?”
“I will be at your place by 6 AM!”
“A little early… how about my office at 10 AM?”
“Ok”

The next day I had no idea how the meeting would turn out… either way I was preparing to fire or discipline the guy…

At 10 AM he showed up… with his lip quivering and missing his top row of teeth… apparently got into a car accident while driving on the back of a boda (motorcycle) without a helmet on Monday… and was too embarrassed to show his face… so he had spent the week looking for $200 to buy a new mouth…

Part of me wanted to hug him… part of me wanted to scream at him for all the worry that he had caused the rest of the staff as we looked for him for 3 days…

Instead I took an hour to talk about what it meant to live in community… being that he was more than just an employee but a member of a team… kind of like one of Jack’s speeches on the island… live together, die alone…

It wasn’t the lecture he was expecting… and he still wanted to know if he was fired at the end of the conversation… but instead I helped pitch in for his new set of teeth…

This Monday things were different… he showed up with a bright new smile and a new sense of energy for his work… but he wasn’t the only one who had changed… the other staff who had been looking for him were also all smiles and all work… I have to think that they felt pretty good… no longer just a bunch of employees but a community working together for a common goal…

6 comments:

Sallie said...

Wow, Jeff! Sometimes you make me so proud to be your Mom! I also enjoy how you bring everything back to "Lost."

Peter Eichstaedt said...

I invite you to see my new book on Uganda's child soldiers, titled First Kill Your Family: Child Soldiers of Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army. It's available at Amazon and can be seen at www.firstkillyourfamily.com Follow the issue at www.petereichstaedt.blogspot.com

Lisa said...

awesome story, Jeff. thanks for sharing it!

Mirella said...

Dear Jeff,
yesterday I was searching for "wacky wood house kampala" in google and landed on your blog. I couldn't stop reading, especially when I realised that I met you the other day in front of the Kindergarten and our boys are in the same class (German-speaking with a blond 4-year-old boy)! In February we are moving to our new house - guess where - in Bunga/Kawuku! ;-) See you soon and continue this great great blog!!!
Mirella
P.S. http://inthepearlofafrica.blogspot.com/ (sorry, in german, we'll work on that ;-)

Mirella said...

Dear Jeff,
yesterday I was searching for "wacky wood house kampala" in google and landed on your blog. I couldn't stop reading, especially when I realised that I met you the other day in front of the Kindergarten and our boys are in the same class (German-speaking with a blond 4-year-old boy)! In February we are moving to our new house - guess where - in Bunga/Kawuku! ;-) See you soon and continue this great great blog!!!
Mirella
P.S. http://inthepearlofafrica.blogspot.com/ (sorry, in german, we'll work on that ;-)

jehle said...

i appreciate that you are a fellow LOST fan.