Friday, July 06, 2007

Last posting from Uganda - truly!

Hello once again! I have some free time so thought I would jot a few notes before it is time to head for Texas.

This morning I went to Mercy's school. They held an assembly outside for the 200 children. They asked Mercy to introduce me. She gave my name as 'Auntie Trudy.' Here, if you have good friends, their children always call you 'auntie,' so it isn't unusual. I had taken my accordion, so Mercy helped me as we led in singing, 'If You're Happy and You Know It', 'Making Melodies in my Heart', 'Whose the King of the Jungle', and 'Jesus Loves Me'. I had taken stickers, small pencil sharpeners, friendship bracelets, and a gospel tract for each student. Needless to say, Mercy was beaming.

Sarah and I have had a good time talking 'teacher' talk in the evenings. Their teachers work long hours, so Sarah leaves home around 6:45 and returns around 6:00 or later. She can't imagine that we finish by 3:45.

We had service the evening of July 4th. It reminded me of the first service I attended in the church. The rain was pouring down, with one whole section of the church having a 'muddy' floor. The assistant pastor, Eunice, shared. One thought I really liked: When we are exhausted and close our physical eyes, then it is time to open our spiritual eyes heaven-ward, as that is where we draw our strength.

A couple nights ago, a young couple in the church came over and cooked us their version of Chinese food, rice and vegetables with curry powder. It was excellent. After church Wednesday, this same young man, Immanuel, offered me a ride home on his motorcycle. He mentioned that one of our team, Dave, had also enjoyed a ride on his cycle. Off we went! After arriving at the Okumu's, we stood at the gate and visited. He said he couldn't imagine anyone worshiping God without moving their whole body. He said that when you remember all the things God has brought you through, how can you not release your whole heart and body to worship him? All I can say is, "Ahhhhh." I will miss their music and worship so very much.

Actually it was hard not to shed tears through Wednesday's service, realizing that it would be my last for another year. It is difficult to have your heart in two places. Another way to view it though - I have a double blessing in my life.

The rains were so terrible in Mbale that six school children died. These were students who were walking to school. When vehicles passed they stepped off the various roads and fell into culverts. The oldest was a sixth-grade student from Mbale Secondary. The remainder were young ones. Sad!

I visited Sarah at her village secondary school. It is about ten minutes from Mbale. They have only 250 students this year, but think it will double next year. The mud brick buildings have large openings for windows in the classrooms, but no windows or doors. Across from the school is a high rock mountain. There were students climbing all over it, even on the top, as they were out for a sports day. It was scary to watch.

We are without water at home. This happened last year as well. It is one thing not to have electricity, which is really not so bad. But not having water is a rotten turn of events! :)

Wilber and Sarah decided I should travel with Wilber to meet his mother in their village. I have mentioned before that his mother was his father's fourth wife. He said his 'mum' always went into the trees where they grew bananas to have her babies. She would return carrying a baby on banana leaves. He grew up thinking that was normal for those having babies.

We stopped in Tororro, about an hour from Mbale, to visit Wilber's sister, Millie. There we picked up his brother, David, who is also a minister, and took him with us to the village. To go to the village, we turned off the main road and drove many miles down a dirt road. We then turned off the dirt road and went a long distance following tire tracks through the grass.

As you pass through 'upcountry' there are small 'compound' (without walls) areas dotting the landscape. Usually there is one larger mud, circular, thatch-roofed home, surrounded by smalled circular homes. The parents live in the slightly larger home. When a young man turns fifteen, he is expected to build his own small home by his parents.

It is actually beautiful where their mother lives in the country. On her land are trees and plants that grow: pineapple, matoke (green bananas), yellow bananas, avacado, millet, sorghum, cassava (a root that tastes like a potato), sweet potatoes, peppers, curry plant, and jack fruit. It was fun watching David and another young man chase a chicken, which we later ate. Their mother cooked a wonderful meal of matoke, soup, chicken, and a brown millet dish. We ate out under a tree - with our fingers, of course.

We then walked on down the paths stopping to say hello to neighbors. Many of the children had never seen a muzungu (white person) so it was fun to watch their reaction and greet them. It was like being the Pied Piper. :) After some disance, we came to their small trading village, which consists of about four small buildings. One building was divided into two parts - one a small grocery, with the other side being the One World Pub. We stopped in at the grocery to purchase candy and cookies for the young ones back at their mother's. The windows and door of the One World Pub were open and all the men laughed and motioned for me to come in. OK - you know I don't hang out in pubs at home or drink. JB and his friends have always called me the Prude, instead of Trud'. However, if you know me, you also know I like anything unusual when I am traveling. So, of course, I just had to go in the pub! I will try to give you a picture:

The room was small with benches placed in a U-shape around the walls. In the center of the floor was one medium-sized pot, containing frothy, brown liquid. Ugandans boil the malwa (local brew) and drink it hot or warm. In the corner, was a container holding long reeds - perhaps 1 and 1/4 yards long. The reeds are hollowed out in the center, with a filter on the end that goes in the brew. They did have fancier reeds that had plastic in the middle so one could see what he was drinking.

Truly, how could I pass up this photo-op?! So I joined the six men, sitting on one of the benches. A man brought me a reed (oh, my!) So, picture, six African men and one muzungu, sitting around a pot with long reeds, all drinking out of the same pot. :)

I tried one sip, just so I could say I had done it (ulg!)! The men were watching and doubling over with laughter. It was probably a first for them and definitely one more memorable African experience for me! After Wilber had taken some pictures, he introduced himself, telling them he was a minister and then shared Christ with them. It will probably be an afternoon that none of us will soon forget. :)

Now that I have covered the church and the pub :), I should sign off. This evening is the ladies meeting at church. I will be sharing, so am looking forward to the service. Tomorrow, I will be figuring out what to pack. Sunday morning, we will head for Mukono to Billy Paul and Mitch's school about 5:00 am. We want to make it for the service the students hold once a term. Mitch and Billy Paul both sing in the choir.

Monday morning I would like to start early and make drop-in visits at our schools, plus keep my appointments. It should be hectic. I should be home the 11th or 12th.

I'm off to lunch with the headmaster of North Road Primary. Then I need to go back to Namatala and say goodbye to the headmistress and librarian.

I hope you are having a good day!


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