Jambo! This is Swahili for Hello, yet it seems to have more meaning here in Uganda. The local language is Rutooro, but some understand and speak Swahili. God is everywhere; in the joy of the children, in the instant friendships, in the grace of servant hood, and the zest for worship, prayer and life in general. Kaihura is evidence of the truth that money generally doesn’t bring you happiness. They have little here but happiness is abundant. We tend to take a lot for granted living in the “Developed” West, but spend some time where a toilet is a non-flushing outhouse latrine, and a shower is a bucket of warm water heated over a wood fired stove, rice and beans is a staple, and a portion of meat is the size of your thumb and life seems to take on a whole new perspective. You realize there is much we could easily do without back home.
For many, they only have two changes of clothes, weekday clothes and Sunday clothes. For people who wash by hand in a bucket, the Sunday clothes are always immaculate the weekday clothes are also for those who are working or going to school. However, travel off the main road of the Trading Centre, the village centre, and visit some of the local farmers’ homes and the clothes have seen better days. Many holes, stains, and often underwear is lacking.
Health is a major concern here, there is a clinic in the village, yet it only has so much supplies, which is really amazing since around 1060 AIDS patients are treated; 380 are under 18, of the remaining adults 70% are women, and around 900 patients are treated by the clinic on a monthly basis. There is however no dentistry unless there is a missionary clinic so people often live with rotten teeth. One patient at our clinic had two pre-molar teeth growing side by side. Malaria is still common; our missionary couple here has had Malaria 5 times between the two of them. However, among the people supported by Bringing Hope to the Family the number of cases has dropped drastically, due to the distribution of mosquito nets to the farms and villages. The preliminary goal [for Bringing Hope to the Family] is 10,000 nets and so far 300 have been distributed this month. A sad figure we heard was that there is a funeral almost every weekend [in the area], and often more than one. One of the boys from the orphanage, Robert 15, was hit by a car about a week before we got here. He broke multiple bones and was taken to the nearest hospital 43 km away for preliminary treatment, and then had to be transferred to Kampala for further treatment, 6 hours away over bumpy, and sometimes dusty, roads and the van broke down on the way. Praise God he is on the path to recovery, yet this seems to really put the need for prayer into perspective. Life is fragile in Uganda.
In contrast, in many ways life is simpler [...] Monthly overhead is primarily for food, clothing, and health issues when they can be dealt with. Few rent and the majority own their homes outright [although many homes in the villages may be simple, constructed of timber, sticks, and mud mortar]. The counting of the ballots for the primary of next year’s presidential election took place under a large tree with a lot of shade on the grounds of the local primary school. A common mode of local transportation is the Boda-Boda a motorcycle for hire, and interestingly many who would not ride on one in the States are more than happy to take “Mr. Toads Wild Ride” (to quote Kathleen N., one of our team members) here. There are fairly frequent motor coach services between the towns, however they are often crowded with no seats available, and crashes occasionally occur. As I stepped out of the shower on Saturday morning I heard on the radio during the English language news that there had been a bus crash on one of the roads from Kampala; 7 dead and many wounded.
We sent one of our Dentists, Marcello, back to Kampala on Saturday to catch a flight to the US, on a city bus, but God was with him and his fellow passengers, and fortunately he returned safely to the US with no incidents.
What are some of the highlights of Kaihura? On the secular side “Land-surfing” has to top the list. This won’t be explained, come to Kaihura to experience it. It’s especially fun during the rainy season. Make sure you ask for Captain AJ and his sloop Toy-O- Ta. Getting serious, the Lord is everywhere. When Faith and her team at Bringing Hope prepare Sunday Lunch, or food for two conferences and a Mzungu team as well as all the staff of the ministry […], it is not all that different from when Jesus fed the thousands. They do so much with so little.
There have been tears of sorrow and tears of pain, but above all there’s been many tears of laughter. The pain is from the stories of what daily life is like for many Ugandans, and what many have had to endure, the joy is ongoing and all around in fellowship, stories, songs, dances and adventures.
What does one take away from a trip like this? “God is good all the time….All the……”
To sum it up; Ugandans and especially the people of Kyenjojo district, Kaihura, and Bringing Hope To The Family, they have in one word…. Faith!!!!
MUKAMA ABAHE EMIGISA (May God Bless You)
Since I haven’t had a chance to blog for a few days, let me back up…
THURSDAY: Paul and Teri did a marriage conference in Kaihura which was supposed to be “day one” of a two-day conference. But attendance was affected by a little thing called local elections, which are apparently not really set in concrete. TIA (“this is Africa”). So the conference that was supposed to begin at 10 am (and we knew from last year this would definitely NOT be the case), finally got off to a timely start after lunch, and we were very pleased with the afternoon. Because of the elections, we are going to repeat “day one” on Monday and present “day two” on Tuesday.
Jackie and company are conducting a full blown AWANA training with the two wonderful gals from Kampala and various staff members here (including the incomparable Sam, who pretty much takes the cake daily with the antics involving him, Amos and Laine). Practice games are conducted on Faith’s front lawn, providing much entertainment for the local children.
Francis, nursing an ankle twisted the previous day in a local volleyball game, spent the day helping the gals who cook all of our meals. “Did you guys know that as soon as they’ve cleaned up from one meal, they start preparation for the next meal?!”
Kathleen, Kristen and Laine went out with BHTF staff to hang mosquito nets in some of the remote outlying areas. This involves going into some pretty rugged terrain and spending time with each family. One of the families had recently lost a little girl to malaria, and the mama was profoundly grateful to have her remaining children now protected at night.
Ann and Marcello, assisted by the stalwart Christine and Karin, ran another long day of dental clinic. Almost everyone they see needs a tooth pulled because treatments that you or I would receive in America to save a tooth are not available here, so if anything goes wrong, the tooth simply has to go.
Papa Will and David are returning from the Pastors’ Conference in Koreng, and Mama Sandy did what she normally does every day: answer questions, cheerlead, answer questions, solve problems, and answer questions,
Here is what I wrote in my journal Thursday night: “As we are sitting here in candlelite (the electricity has been out for hours), the children from Home Again are praising God with their sweet voices. It is “thin space” here between our world and the spiritual realm.”
FRIDAY: Jackie and company did more AWANA training, Laine and Francis worked at Phil’s shop to create cabinets for the orphanage. Ann, Marcello, Christine and Karin pulled teeth all day long again. Kathleen (a designer in “real life”) reorganized Pastor Arthur’s “executive” office. Kristen, Sandy and Teri made the 45-minute trek into the nearest town (Fortportal) for food, and were absolutely delighted with the serendipity of becoming stopped on the road by a large group of baboons. Paul saw some patients at the clinic, and Teri did some marital counseling. Will and David finally rejoined the team.
SATURDAY: We said very emotional goodbyes to Marcello, who had to return to California early to finish the research for his PhD. We miss him so much already! Paul and Teri travelled to Fort Portal to teach a marriage conference sponsored by Pastor Stephen, and after a typical African start (read: “two hours later”), we were thrilled with the results. Around 100 people came (more were expected but evidently the government decided it would be okay to extend the balloting process today, as well…we really have a tough time understanding how all this actually works). Many people gave heartfelt feedback about how the conference will change the way they conduct their marriages, which is more gratifying than we can express. I am ashamed to say that the lady writing this blog entry is getting a little elderly and forgot to find out what everyone else did on Saturday…
SUNDAY: Church from 10 to 2 (you heard me right). Papa Dr. Pastor Will gave the message after an amazing time of worship (African style) and many, many introductions and recognitions. Lunch was provided at the orphanage (Home Again).
Jackie conducted the very first AWANA program in the history of Kaihura on the grounds of Home Again and exactly 100 children participated! GO JACKIE!! Since she doesn’t speak Rutoro, she worked with the Cubbies (the toddlers) who only understand the language of a loving touch and smile. The voices of 100 children outdoors playing AWANA games in Rotoro is a priceless experience.
Laine became the official coach of the Kaihura Volleyball Club team (consisting mainly of Sam and Amos). The team was pulled together just a couple of months ago, as Volleyball is apparently fairly new here, and the guys in the area pretty much play “slap ball” (as Sam put it). Laine coached them on the spot during a competition with the neighboring village today, and they totally dominated! GO LAINE! Because the neighboring village arrived in fancy jersies, Teri has promised to make sure the Kaihura team is properly outfitted soon.
Kathleen, Sandy, Kristen and Christine recreated “Spa Mystique”, which was a spontaneous creation during their mission trip together to Brazil last year. Spa Mystique (Uganda) was a HUMUNGOUS hit. We treated the female staff members of Bringing Hope to the Family (around 35) to an afternoon at the spa, beginning with cucumber water upon arrival (they had a tough time with that one). The dining room at Faith’s house was transformed. A double mattress was put on the table, candles lit, and Enya playing softly over the iPod. The women were first treated to a foot wash by Kathleen (no small task, let me tell you; feet get really dirty in this red earth, and thanks to Karin making 35 trips up and down the stairs to the water reservoir, each woman got fresh water), followed by a luxurious foot and lower leg massage and prayer. The next station involved sitting in a chair and having a back/neck/head massage (Ann and Joyce RULE), and then the coup de gras: a world-class facial, courtesy of Sandy and Christine. We’re talking the real deal. Lay flat on the mattress, cucumbers to the eyes, avocado masque, unbelievable arm/hand/neck massage, and finally a facial massage that rivaled anything I’ve ever experienced at any hoity-toity spa! It was an incredible gift to give these women who serve so faithfully, and while they weren’t sure what we were going to do to them when they first entered the room, we had to practically wake them up to get them off the bed and make room for the next person! We finished by giving each other the same treatments, and it was a bonding experience that none of us will soon forget. It actually felt kind of sacramental.
All in all, our first week in Kaihura has been as amazing as we knew it would be…and much more. Please pray for the next couple of days, as Will and David teach another Pastors’ Conference, and Paul and Teri teach another Marriage Conference. Pray for the people going out during those two days to hang more mosquito nets. Pray for the guys building the much needed cabinets at the orphanage. And we thank you!
Your Most Contented Blogger,
Greetings from Africa,
Will and David just returned from Koreng were we taught a pastors conference for three days. Koreng is about 5 hours east of Kampala. We took this journey with Pastor Michael from Kampala. Here is kind of a day by day breakdown. Remember in this culture that time is a little different in Africa. For example, we were supposed to start around 9:00 am each morning, but we ended up starting around 11:00. We stayed in Kumi which is about a 30 minute commute into Koreng each day. The first two days of the conference we divided the pastors up into two groups. Will and I took one group and Pastor Michael took the other. We taught a Bible overview from Genesis to Revelation and Michael taught on the Holy Spirit. The next day we just switched groups. The third day Will and I taught on the Biblical qualities of a leader. I thought you might want to know what we ate for lunch out in the bush each day. It consisted of rice and bull (like pot roast) which we ate traditionally with our hands (little messy!!). The conference consisted of around 30 to 40 pastors, so it was an intimate setting. The local pastors were very attentive, took lots of notes and had great questions during the Q & A. At the end of the conference we passed out four neck ties to each pastor, along with a Bible for each. They were so grateful and you could tell by their smiles. The travel back to Kampala after the teachings was quite an adventure. We first started with a few of the men and ladies from the conference riding in the van with us, which we dropped off at different points along the way. Pastor Michael is from Koreng, so we had multiple stops along the road to visit with relatives in villages and the city. I told you in the beginning it is about a five hour drive, well again this is Africa and the trip back took about 8 hours. The following day we got up and drove five hours to Kaihura were we met up with the rest of the team. I hope this gives you a small glimpse of our journey to Koreng. Thank you for keeping us in your prayers.
Dave & Will
P.S. Please ask about the Governor and the turkey when we get home!!!!
The “West Coast Team” has arrived safe and sound in Kampala! Paul and Teri, Karin, Laine, Marcello, Christine, Francis, David and Jackie flew from LAX to Heathrow in one very long overnight jump (“Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, we know you just woke up but it’s time for dinner now!” HUH??). Kristen and Kathleen, who had been cavorting in Paris for a week, joined the rest of us for the 9-hour overnight flight to Entebbe. Will and Sandy (along with AJ and Ana) met us at the airport. Ann has been working with Pastor Stephen in Fort Portal for two weeks, so we’ll see her when we drive over to Kaihura in a couple of days, and our team of 14 will finally be all together.
We arrived at Entebbe yesterday morning around 9 a.m. Some of us were able go to Pastor Michael’s service at Agape Baptist Church, but most of us were so jetlagged we went straight to the famous Olympia Motel (…)
Pastor Michael and Cossy joined us for a late lunch (well, by the time the food actually arrived it was officially qualified as “dinner”). It is so great to see them again! As the jet lag began to settle over the group in a way that was not going to be ignored anymore, we loaded in the bus to return to the motel and all went to bed at 8 p.m. A…rather loud party surged nearby until 2 a.m., but most of us managed to cobble together enough sleep to feel like human beings again this morning. This is being written as we are all enjoying boiled eggs, some kind of local sausage, pineapple, bread, jelly and tea at the motel.
Soon, the group will split to various activities. Jackie is meeting with a woman here who will help her launch AWANA in Uganda (go Jackie!), Teri is teaching a seminar this afternoon to a Kampala Crisis Pregnancy Center on how to counsel women after an abortion, and the rest of the group is headed out to Jinja to find the source of the Nile (again). I’ll try to add another post tonight after our day’s adventures.
We are all feeling very safe (Will made me add this for all you worriers at home). There is a noticeably greater military presence than in previous trips, but life in Kampala seems very much the hustle bustle that is has always been. I think all of us will be happy to get out of the city in a couple of days and into the lush landscape of rural Uganda.
Your Humble Blogger,