Time in Uganda

Let's Get Started

OK. I think it is about time to populate this blog with accounts of the 2010 Onalaska Church of Christ / Good Shepherd Lutheran Church mission trip to Uganda. I have access to two journals and will create posts from these.

To start with, there will be day-by-day entries following the intinerary published below. Whenever I add the posts for a particular day, I'll change the color of the text in the list from gray to green. So, you'll know how far along we are.

With that, it is time to post... Updated May 15, 2010

The 2010 Trip - Day by Day

Day 1 ~ Thursday False start due to weather in La Crosse and Chicago

Day 2 ~ Friday La Crosse to Chicago and on the way to Brussels

Day 3 ~ Saturday Brussels to Kigali, Rwanda and on to Entebbe Arrive in Uganda at about 10:30 p.m.

Day 4 ~ Sunday Drive to Tororo; church service in the afternoon

Day 5 ~ Monday Bike repair service project at church and school; Visit to Aturukuku Primary School

Day 6 ~ Tuesday Visit Patewo Primary School; Lunch at Sam's mom's home; Attend service at Butaleja church

Day 7 ~ Wednesday Visit the Mbale Mission; Attend service at Kachumbala church

Day 8 ~ Thursday Visit prison near Tororo with Fabian; Women's program at Milca's

Day 9 ~ Friday Follow-up meeting at Aturukuku; Drive to Kampala

Days 10, 11, 12 ~ Saturday through Monday Visit Murchison Falls National Park and the Ziwa Rhino sanctuary; return to Kampala

Day 13 ~ Tuesday Shopping in Kampala; Depart for Brussels at 11:40 p.m.

Day 14 ~ Wednesday Brussels to Chicago to La Crosse; Home!

Monday, March 1, 2010

To Tororo Town

Entry from Eileen's journal
Entry from Jack's journal follows

Sunday, January 10, 2010
We arrived at Paul and Rebecca’s lovely home at 2 a.m. this morning with Samuel – after the belt to the air conditioner broke on the van. Hot and humid here. The drive from Entebbe – scary! The darkness seemed to perpetually move because people walked the roads even at 2 a.m.! The people here are very black. Trust? Trust is riding on the left side of narrow, Ugandan roads lined with people and bikes in the dark, Samuel driving.

Five hours rest. Paul works for an anticorruption agency and has moved to Berlin for the next couple years. Rebecca joins him on Tuesday. They have offered their home for our use the nights we stay in Kampala. Our breakfast was a meal of finger bananas, pineapple, bread and honey, rice with peas, onions, carrots, tomatoes, and spices.

We are to be at the church by two . . . or whenever we get there. It is a haul to Tororo, 72 miles. A lush countryside with philodendrons, jacaranda, cassava, vines, roses . . . and roosters. We pass acacias, brick piles, mounds of charcoal [the main fuel], football-sized papayas, banana trees, termite hills, yuccas, marabou storks, Coco Cola signs, yellow, blue, and orange flowers, red dirt. Because red dust coats the landscape, everything looks rusted. I can see why many women cover their heads – to keep the dust out of their hair. The only buildings painted are those advertising cell phone companies like Zain. If you advertise its company, Zain will paint your building hot pink! The roadsides are lined with people walking to church, to market, to haul water. A steady stream. There are hundreds of bicycles and dozens of motorcycles. Samuel tells us the larger-than-watermelon gourds are used to process yogurt. My eyes water from the charcoal that is roasting meat and other foods. Uganda reminds me of the Dominican Republic except with more people. The whole area is dense with people, especially children, children, children. So many children.

A phone call lets us know we forgot the three boxes of Bibles Samuel bought yesterday so we turn around. Then lose our spare tire. As Samuel wires on the tire he says here you don’t smile with trouble, that would be irresponsible. He pays the boy who helps us a few shillings. Soon we are once again passing mounds of sweet potatoes, jackfruit, yams, and eggplants. Restaurants, hotels, shoe shops, and furniture shops are outhouse-sized. Whoa. We pass the lots of small schools, the Teletubby Infant Center, stalks of maize, egrets, tin fences, cattle with major horns, sugarcane, eucalypti trees, papyrus, hillsides of tea, and banks with armed guards. A mother wearing magenta walks by with her two small girls, all with packages on their heads. So many people seem to have huge bundles on their heads or bikes. The windows on the van do not open so we cannot take photos. A disappointment. There are children, children, children everywhere and people just sitting, or leaning. Bill is really sick and coughs and coughs.

We take an ATM break in Jinja. Also to buy several cases of bottled water. Gordy asks Samuel if our van is a Toyota. This is such a guy question. I would never ask it!

If you removed the walls from Festival foods and squished it into a tenth of its size, that would be the size of the “markets” we pass. Amazing. Roadside hazards? Baboons! Children play in the water of the rice paddies, lie in the shade of trees, climb termite mounds.

Finally, at 4 p.m. the church! Some of the women warble, a shrill sound of joy. The children sing a song of welcome. Jack preaches, then Bill does the communion, something we were adamant about because they rarely partake of communion. The trays had to be borrowed from another church. Later Samuel tells us Israel, the minister who was translating said, “I don’t know about some of this. I’ll have to check it out.” Bill then preached on what characteristics God looks for in people. He used Cain, Noah, Moses, Elijah, the tax collector, the Pharisee. [When our son called after we were home I mentioned that his dad had preached. “Yeah, and I bet he preached on Elijah!”] The awesome choir sang. A long day for these people.

Entry from Jack's journal
We Get to Work
Sunday, January 10

…keep your head in all situations...do the work of an evangelist.
2Timothy 4:5

Misfortune is sometimes just good fortune wrapped up.
African proverb

Due to the weather delays, we arrived in Uganda a day late. So, Samuel picked up Bibles on Saturday as we were still over North Africa. I had not gotten to sleep until about 3 a.m. on Sunday morning. Here’s what I wrote about the day that unfolded:

Up too early, but we did rise to a wonderful breakfast of bananas, rice and a complexly flavorful dish of peas, accompanied by Ugandan tea. We were soon on the road but not a mile from the house the spare tire fell off the back of the van. In what I’ve seen as a typical response, we quickly get help as a young man comes over to ponder the situation, goes off and returns with a tool to help re-wire the spare under the car. We drive on until, just a few miles later, Samuel’s phone rings. It is Rebecca; we have forgotten the Bibles. So, we return to the house. On the way, Israel calls, asking about our progress towards Tororo. Sam says we are just leaving Kampala, at least technically describing our situation.

As we drive, we discuss the upcoming service at the church. I go into my backpack to get my notes for my message. I cannot find them. I go through everything twice. No notes. For a time, I am at a loss as to what to do. Samuel suggests calling home, getting a copy emailed so we can pick it up at an internet café. But I finally realize I know what I want to say and it is just a matter of finding the verses, re-writing the outline and delivering the message when the time comes. I rest a little easier.

Later on, Samuel is pulled over for crossing the yellow line. He did, but pulled back over right away. The traffic patrolman was, however, intent on giving Sam a ticket. And taking his Wisconsin drivers license. Samuel gets into a discussion with him and I have visions of spending time in a Ugandan jail, and not as visitors with Fabian as part of his ministry! After we go through Jinja and get some cash from an ATM (things are picking up in this regard in Uganda), I drive the rest of the way to Tororo. I DO NOT cross the yellow line.

We arrive at the church sometime after 2 p.m. A good number of people are still there. Our arrival precipitated a loud welcome with the “wail of greeting” offered by the women, who are dressed in their brightly colored, multi-patterned outfits. Bill and I offer messages - the Book of Romans and “One-Anothering,” respectively.

My message went OK, even without notes. I had a recipe for posho that I couldn’t recall so I had to adjust for that. But my notes were just an outline anyway, so a relatively good outcome was unwrapped out of the misfortune of the missing notes.

In the evening, we packed the Trane bags with items we brought for the teachers at Aturukuku and Patewo Primary Schools in addition to those we brought for the mission team at Mbale.

Trane donated some totes that we used to carry gifts for teachers and missionaries

Later, I washed my first “load” of clothes in the basin in the bath at Milca’s. It is quite humid and even the quick-drying clothing I have is likely to be damp in the morning. There is only one cricket, one gecko and one unknown insect hiding under the basin.

Fabian’s son, Enoch (pronounced O-no), is fascinated with the dolls Elli gave us. He says that one was sleeping and the other sick. He also says “You dressed them.” I tell him that they were actually dressed by Elli, but he corrects me. “No. You dressed them!” Oooo-K.

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