Tuesday proved to be another day of surprises, connections, and memory-making moments. After having breakfast at the Sunset Hotel, it was time for Pastor Paul, Beth, Pastor Scott and Lori to head to the City Hotel to begin the Pastor’s Leadership Institute International (PLII) conference. It was easy to see they were excited about meeting the eighteen pastors and their wives; there were also lots of questions to be answered – would there be a language barrier for some? Would the cultural differences make things more difficult? Would Pastor Paul be able to cover his topic with only 45 minutes on the agenda? :)
At the end of their day, when we met again in the evening, it was easy to see that all apprehension was gone. They had a fantastic day and were obviously filled with joy about what they had experienced. They formed some very tight bonds in a short period of time and listening to them talk excitedly about what the next day would hold was fun for the rest of us! Not surprising, one of Beth’s highlights was listening to them all sing a hymn together. When these Ugandan pastors get going with the music, it is a beautiful thing! We thank God for the encouragement He provided yesterday – to us and to our new Ugandan friends!
My plans were to make a visit to a more remote location, since we had a little extra time on our hands. Mariah, Maj, Ronald, Henry and I made plans to spent the afternoon in Nawampiti. I had been to this village once before – it was just long enough ago that I had managed to forget the spine-jarring ride that it requires to get there!
We were bumping along at a decent space, about 40 minutes off Kamuli Road, when we came upon a sugar-cane truck being loaded by 3 workers. This happens frequently on the road to Butangala, but we are usually able to share a bag of candy with the drive and they agree to pull the truck over to the side. Such was not the case yesterday! This driver, perhaps more cautious than others or maybe one who has no sweet tooth, wasn’t moving. You see, we have also witnessed sugar cane trucks lying on their sides by the road due to tipping over after being loaded to the absolute maximum and having one tire go off the edge of the road. We all felt like there was sufficient room for him to move over just slightly, but it quickly became apparent that wasn’t going to happen.
Julius, our driver, calmly put the bus in reverse and began a one-mile drive back over the crater-filled road we had just come in on. Over the next hour, we made several turns, each one taken after consulting with whatever adult or child happened to be standing near the intersection as we passed. In the end, we arrived safely in Nawampiti.
This village has a Lutheran congregation of around 80 people and a school of 250 kids. We estimated that over half of the children were there to greet us, which was surprising since school has not yet begun for the year.
We gathered under a tree and tarp and enjoyed entertainment by the children. Hearing their voices and watching them dance absolutely never gets old!
Because this village is more remote, there were not many who spoke English – proof once again that a smile (and candy) are universal signs of happiness!
We made cross necklaces with a group of about 30 women (and 2 men) and passed out scratch art cards for the kids to draw on. Next was candy for everyone and then a “light lunch”. I’ve never found anything “light” about matooke, but the cooks were fabulous and it was an honor to be served by them.
We began the journey home about 4:30 and got back to the hotel after a quick stop in Jinja for me to buy a Ugandan blow dryer. There was a bit of a language barrier at the market as well as the shop owner was convinced I was trying to purchase “hair dye”, not a “hair dryer”. We got the message across after Violet gave her best imitation of the sound of a blow dryer and the purchase was made, although not until the young woman at the check-out plugged in to prove to Violet that it worked.
We had dinner with Paul, Beth, Scott, and Lori and it was an early evening (10:30) again for all of us. Two brief power outages between 10:30 and 11:00 capped off the adventure-laden day and we all arrived at breakfast this morning, rested and ready for whatever this day brings.
I am excited to head back to Kampala and then Entebbe this evening to meet the mission team who will arrive around 10:30! Praying for their safety today. Thank you for all of your prayers for the PLII conference and for the work of this mission team!
Hearts & Hope is a nonprofit organization focused on unlocking the potential of people in Uganda through relationships with people in the US.