November 2011


WOW what a day in Africa! Deb and I went  (along with our driver Dayo(sp?)) went to the head waters and the source of the Nile! You enter in your car like our national park system to a gate and a small building and a sort of park ranger comes out and you have to pay an entrance fee. They charged us white people 12000 shillings each and our driver, a native, 2000 shilling. 26000 shillings is about  11 dollars us. Then we drove about 300 yards and spotted the Nile. Awesome!  In fact Lake Victoria is the source of the Nile. We paid 200,000 shillings (apx $80) to a tour guide to take us out on the water for a little over an hour. We went along the shore to see all the wild life. Huge birds and Heron and kingfishers and other exotic birds dotted the shore line and also an occasional lizard. The vegetation and trees were absolutely remarkable, green, green, green. Some of the birds had blue and red beeks or were completely white. The current was strong and the boat [large canoe] had difficulty at times with the rapid current. The Nile is different than our rivers I mean this is the river Moses drifted in. Our guide gave us all the info about the river and such. It takes 3 months to get from here thru the Sudan, then Egypt and then its final destination the mediteranean sea. There were fisherman on the river throwing out nets just like the time of Jesus. There were communities or villages along the shore line going about their lives unconcerned about the Muzungu [foreigners]. It was a moment in time I shant forget. Then when we exited the large wood canoe there were soldiers and police around the area for some political rally or speech or something. We left not wanting to be involved in the gathering- that’s Africa things can change quickly.

Sunday we went to Pabbo, which is a village that used to be an IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camp. Jerry and Candis would minister in the IDP camps early in their ministry here in Gulu. Where we went this day was the village of one of their staff named Charles. Charles works with children and is an amazing evangelist. They picked us up at our hotel about 9:30am and after buying gas we were on our way. We headed out of town on the road that will take you to South Sudan.

We passed a lot of trucks that were going or returning to Sudan with supplies. One thing about the situation with Sudan is that many NGOs are setting up camp in Sudan and they come to Gulu to buy supplies. Now from an American point of view that would seem like a great opportunity for capitalism, but the result for the people who live in Gulu is short supplies on basic needs and high inflation. So the quality of life goes down. Pretty ironic huh? The NGOs are coming to “help” but they are really causing harm here.

Anyways back to our adventure. I know I’ve mentioned that the roads here are bad. Well I didn’t know bad roads until this day. The entire road was either completely washboard, potholes or something worse than a pothole and I wouldn’t even know what to call it. It was so noisy the entire time as the van shaked and rattled. So they have a ‘thing’ here in Africa – about every half hour or so the host will tell you “we are close” and then after about another half hour they say it again, “we are close now”, and this continues on and then they might say, “It’s just past the next few hills”. Apparently they don’t want you to get discouraged by telling you that it will actually take about 2 hours to get where you are going. You learn early on here to stay flexible and not get upset when things don’t go as you expect – because they will NEVER go as you expect.

We did finally arrive at the turn off to the village. Waiting by the side of the road were about 10 children. They waved and clapped and did their little African screaming thing they do. Then they all piled into the van and immediately started singing. Now when I say they started singing I’m not talking a sweet little childrens choir type singing. This was LOUD!! I mean REALLY LOUD! Pour Guy! He even tried putting his head out the window, but there was just no help for it. They just have the pipes for it, like nothing I’ve ever heard. And they praised the Lord the whole way to the village.

The “road” to the village wasn’t a road at all. It was a walking path, but Jerry just drive right through. Through the grass and bushes, over the tree roots bumping and singing all the way. We thought the village would be “right there”, but again it was “just a little bit further”. Whoa! What a ride! When we did finally enter the village it was a few cement huts with thatched roofs and the people were all outside waiting to greet us. There were about 20 people in this village. That’s all.

Church here is very informal. They prayed and then Charles introduced Jerry who shared a short message about God. He is so great at it, so enthusiastic and the people loved it! Then Candis shared. She talked about loving the children as Jesus did. She’s a natural! We could tell that both Candis and Jerry were in their element. This type of outreach is what they love to do and it showed. Then it seemed like a good time to sing a song, so Charles pulled out his guitar – an old nylon string with half nylon and half steel strings on it, and we sang. Then they invited Guy to speak and he shared from the word and shared his testimony. Then it was my turn (I was completely unprepared – hadn’t even thought about sharing) so I prayed and shared my testimony as well.

Then Charles invited the people to share if they wanted to. An older lady stood up and shared how her husband was a pastor and there was a white man that used to visit and help them, but when her husband died he stopped visiting her. She was obviously hurt and bitter about it, but she wanted to return to the Lord. Then another man rose his hand and said “because of what I’ve heard, by the end of the year I will become a Christian”. Candis spoke right up and told him that the bible says not to wait, that today is the day of salvation. So there was a spontaneous altar call of sorts and the woman and this man came forward and knelt and we started to pray for them and then another come up and knelt and another and another! It was such a blessing to see these people who have so little decide to put their trust in Jesus.

And then we sang!!! whoo! did we sing!! The only fomality of the day was that we were invited to eat. It is awkward because we are the only ones who eat, but it is their custom. They finally eat too, so that made us feel a little better. It was good food – cooked cabbage and cooked greens and posho, which is like a corn porridge that is thickened to the point that you cut off slices of it. I was so thankful they didn’t serve meat!! As it is Guy and I both have a little instenial trouble this morning . . . oh well, what do you expect? It was definetly the Lord’s day! Makes me tear up just recounting it. ah, but then I remember the drive home . . . yikes!!

Everything in Africa is hard!  I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, but I want you to know just how hard things are here so that you would know a little better how to pray.  I think I caught strep throat a couple days ago, so I haven’t been feeling too good and I can hardly talk and sleeping is rough.  Thankfully one of the new missionaries here is a doctor and she was able to get me some penicillin, but I still haven’t really started to feel any better yet.

We have gone for three days with no water coming out of the faucets.  It is a little frustrating because we spend our day doing so many things and being around children and they are so dirty (bless their hearts) and so you are dirty and sweaty all the time.  When you come in for the night you want nothing more than a shower and there is none to be had – only a jerry can and plastic tub.  And no, you can’t flush the toilet without water, so this is the routine – pour water into the plastic tub, wash up, dump the dirty water into the back of the toilet and repeat that with every washing and then when you “have” to flush the toilet you can.

And the electricity is out more than it is on.  Thankfully the hotel we are at will run their really big generator (which is right outside our room by the way) and we can charge batteries and stuff from about 6pm-midnight and then again for a couple hours in the morning.  The lighting in our room is very dim, so even when the lights are on it is so frustrating trying to “see” – like when you need to dig through your bag to find something you just get so frustrated because it’s not bright enough.  And the electrical outlet endures these power surges so it buzzes and crackles and then you have to monkey with the cord in order for the power to come through smoothly.

Oh and let us not forget the mosquitos and the mosquito net.  Thankfully we have gotten this routine down pretty well, but still!  You get so tired of getting up at night to use the bathroom (because you’ve drank so much water all day) and having to slip under the net and then slip back into the net and then re-tuck the net into the mattress so that the mosquitos don’t fly up and under the net.  Apparently they are really attracted to our carbon monoxide and especially to the smell of feet!  So I always try to wash my feet before bed and I wear heavy socks.  I’ ve been bit quite a bit, but not at night – which is when the “bad” malaria mosquitos tend to bite.

And there’s driving here.  You just can’t imagine worse roads.  Our bodies are constantly being jostled and bumped and jarred.  I can’t imagine how the vehicles survive here.  You HAVE to have 4wd or you just won’t be able to really go anywhere.  Once the rainy season is ended they will repair the roads, but there is not sense doing it before then because the rain will just wash out the repairs.  There are only one or two paved roads here.  The rest are all dirt and they are full of pot holes at best and creeks at worst.  It’s really just hard to describe to be honest with you.

This is what the people here have to deal with everyday and even more.  Sometimes the town will run out of gasoline.  Sometimes the UN or other NGOs will come into town and buy up all the food and supplies to take to Sudan or the Congo and then it creates inflation and food shortages.  It just goes on and on.  I have so much respect for the people here, especially the missionaries who have a choice to leave and they don’t.  I have been humbled by their dedication to these people!  May God bless them!

friday I had the opportunity to visit the jail here in Gulu. It certainly wasnt the siskiyou county jail that Steve Dean and I  find ourselves at the first two Wednesday of every month. The men met us in the court yard about 65 of them.They were ressed in canary yellow garg with some wearing no shoes or worn sandals. The cells are simply concrete blocs with no windows and a door. They seem to be able to move about but not to far as there are armed guards a plenty. Alot of the men were receptive  to the four of us and we sang with them. These guys sounded really good, better than any recent church services I have attended. You could feel the spirit move as we all shared the gospel and our testimonies. It was really the highlight of our trip so far but then there was today. You can read about today tomorrow as deb writes about our experience in the Uganda bush. It was like something from Mutual of Omaha If your old enough to remember that tv show. Thanks GUY

Yesterday we joined a prayer walk for the Jesus is the Truth School and the Home of Love Orphanage.  I was an honor to go into each classroom and join the Action Staff to pray for the children and teachers.  The children opened with a worship song and then one of the pastors lead a prayer and the rest of us laid hands on the children and prayed along.  When we finished the men would lead a little exit song as we went to the next classroom.  The littlest children were the sweetest.  They are so happy to sing and be prayed for.  We did the same at the orphanage except the children were’nt there from school just yet so we actually just went to their bunk rooms and prayed for them.  Believe it or not that actually took most the day by the time everyone left the school and drove to the orphanage and ate a dish of posho and beans and prayed there.

Guy and I were given the night off from visiting or programs (aka plans).  We went back to our room and I passed out.  Guy went out and bought some more bottled water and sat on the patio and watched the evening crowd.  Later we had ‘chips and salad’ for dinner, which is actually french fries and coleslaw.  I think the staff here at the hotel think we are pretty weird because first we don’t want to eat their buffet (did that once and won’t do it again) and second we never order any meat.  They call the meat “food”, so when you order something like chips and salad they may say, “yes, ok, but what food do you want?”  . . . funny.

We went back to the room and watched a little Ugandan TV and let the drone of the generator outside our window lull us to sleep.  Another beautiful day in Gulu!

We are staying in a little hotel in Gulu.  I guess it is more like a bed and breakfast, because they serve breakfast every morning.  It is always eggs and toast, but you can choose how you want your eggs cooked.  We both really like scrambled eggs with chile.  They don’t have pepper here, but they have a hot sauce they call chile that’s really good.  Every morning we are pleased to visit with a man who is staying here.  He is Ugandan, but lives in the UK.  Actually he is quite famous here.  He is a former Olympic athlete and has done many things for his community here in Gulu.  Who knew we’d meet someone famous in Gulu?!

Yesterday morning we had a very busy day – again!  I was privledged to be included in a group outing to the hospital to visit the head teacher at the school.  He broke his leg a couple weeks ago.  The hospital was really different than what we’d see in the US.  I felt like I’d stepped into a foreign film.  Reminded me of something you’d see in the 30s or 40s.  But I was told that this was the best hospital in the region and possibly even in the country.  The thing with African hospitals is that the nurses and doctors only treat the ailment.  They do not change sheets, give baths or feed the patients.  Families are responsible for taking care of these duties for the patients.  So when we entered the hospital, in the middle there is a large courtyard and there are people reclined on bamboo mats on the gound.  They have all of their belongings with them – jerry cans, plastic tubs, clothes, ect. . .   It’s kind of like they are camping at the hospital.   I wasn’t allowed to take pictures, but I’ll certainly remember that experience.

I also got to go shopping at the big market with Candis.  Now that was an experience too!  The big market is kind of like what we’d call a flea  arket / farmers market.  It’s where you shop for your fruit and vegetables, meat, clothes, hardware etc.  And they expect you to bargain (pronounced “bar-gane”)  I hate “bar-gane ing” but it is expected.  Candis was pretty good at it.   So she made us a fantastic dinner with the veggies she bought and we called it a day.  I know it doesn’t sound like we did very much, but it is just so hard to describe how difficult these things are in Gulu.  The roads alone make a trip to the market or the hospital an exhausting experience.  Imagine if you had to go 4bying everytime you went to the store – there and back.  And everyday when you went to work and everytime you had to get gas.  It’s crazy!!

It’s been really cool getting to experience the missionaries everyday lives.  It really makes us appreciate how hard they work and all that they have given up to serve the Lord and to serve these people in Gulu.  I’ve never known such love!  They are truly amazing people and I am so incredibly honored and humbled to know them.

Our first full day in Gulu

We split up – Me and Candis, Guy and Jerry.  So I can’t really describe what Guy’s experience was like, only my own.  Candis and I visited the Jesus is the Truth school.  I met many of the teachers and shook hands with a bunch of the students, but I’m just going to cut to the most impressive experience I had there.

I met a woman named Lilly.  Lilly was a child mother during the war.  She is now on staff at the school and she works with child mothers in counseling.  One of the child mothers arrived today to deliver a letter to Candis and Jerry.  The letter was thanking them for the help they provided her during the war.  At that time she had twins and one of them is named after Candis.  They are four years old now.  She is married and has another child.  Lilly and her staff were able to council them in their marriage and they stayed together.  Her husband was overwhelmed with the notion of parenting twins and wanted to leave, but with the help of Lilly and others they have stayed together.  In writing this I realize it may seem  a little dry, but the analogy that Candis made was that this girl was like the one leper of the ten that returned to thank Jesus for healing him.  She returned to show her appreciation.  It was a really beautiful moment and highlights the fruit of this ministry and reassures them that God is using them and lives are being changed by the grace of God.

 

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