Mission to Uganda
Veterinarian shares her skills
By Erik Buchinger
Emily Arndt returned for the summer following a three-year stay in Africa for the Christian Veterinary Mission in Uganda’s capital city of Kampala.
Born in Shawano and raised on the family’s dairy farm in Marion, Arndt returned to the area on May 2 and will head back to Uganda in August where she will continue her work for at least another two years, she said.
“It’s been life changing because not only am I doing work impacting others, but God provides these challenges and experiences to change me and broaden my worldview,” Arndt said. “A lot of times, we get caught in what our small world view is. You just get to see the world from different viewpoints.”
Arndt was homeschooled by her mother and got a job at a local vet clinic out of high school after being notified by her bible study leader about the position.
“I worked in a private practice in Clintonvile for about a decade, and just felt I could do more with my talents,” Arndt said. “I felt God telling me to use my talents to help someone out in the world. Not that I wasn’t helping here, but I thought I could do more than a nine-to-five job.”
Arndt started out with several short-term mission trips to Guatemala where she realized her talents.
“At first, I didn’t know if I could do it, but I discovered I had skills as a vet technician,” Arndt said. “I pursued that, and when the Uganda trip came up, I just went for it.”
Arndt said her long-term plan to spend time overseas quickly turned into a short-term plan.
“The process of me getting [to Uganda] was very long,” Arndt said. “I actually lost my job here due to an occupational illness, so I was forced to quit my job. My timeline changed from a five-to-seven year plan to now. “
In the summer of 2012 the position opened up, and she was able to raise enough money to have her budget covered by September of the following year and left in December 2013.
“I was definitely nervous moving far away from home and being used to grandparents from being a few miles from you,” Arndt said. “I have my life here, which is set, safe and secure, so it took a giant leap of faith to move overseas.”
Since she does not get paid for her work in Uganda, Arndt had to fundraise by public speeches at churches or other community groups and said she tried to contact every person she’s ever known to support her either financially or spiritually.
“I don’t go in assuming one person is going to give money or not,” Arndt said. “Just going and building relationships and asking people if they can pray, and God is the one that brings their hearts to support ministry. If they don’t feel they want to support financially, prayer works too.”
Arndt works as a volunteer assistant clinician facilitator in the surgical department for the Christian Veterinary Mission and works at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity of Makerere University, the only veterinary college in Uganda.
Arndt works under a missionary veterinarian from the UK, and together they teach the students specific on-the-job skills, including behavioral and administrative skills as well as different anesthesia protocols.
“In Uganda, they study to take the test so they can write a great essay answer,” Arndt said. “But when an animal is in front of them, they don’t know how to it, so we work with them on the practical skills.”
Arndt also volunteers at the international church she attends with the youth program with 11-14-year-old kids with Friday night youth groups and as a Sunday school teacher.
Arndt said she has had a few friends visit her, but she keeps up to date with what is happening in her hometown through social media.
“Facebook is invaluable for sure,” Arndt said. “I like Facebook because I can come back here, and I recognize friends’ kids that have changed so much since I’ve been gone.”
Arndt also receives hand-written letters on occasion, which she appreciates, but said she does not have the time to write back.
During her few months back, Arndt has been meeting with people and went to the home office of Christian Veterinary Mission in Seattle for a debriefing on the trip.
Arndt will be going to speak at a church in Chattanooga that supports her and spoke a few weeks ago at Bethany Evangelical Free Church in Clintonville, where she will meet with members of the community again.
On Saturday, June 24 at 6:30 p.m., there will be an ice cream social at the church open to anyone. Arndt will present photos with a presentation on the work she has been doing in Uganda, and she will be available to answer people’s questions.