I will try to keep this short, but there is so much happening.
My eighth grandchild has been born - Daniella Marie Ortega. It was an interesting night.
Jennifer Martin remained in Uganda after the other volunteers left. She had been staying at Archbishop Livingstone Nkoyoyo’s orphanage/school in Mukono. Jennifer had been vomiting through the night and day, so I had a friend from the school bring her to Kampala and met them at the International Hospital. The doctor decided she had food poisoning, perhaps from something she had eaten at a restaurant. They were very professional, used sterile needles, etc., so the hospital visit was fine … though the sheet was stained with dirt, and the poor little doctor was wearing a coat that was totally frayed and tattered. Since Donita was having the baby the same night, I was dashing between checking on Jennifer and rushing outside to call and see if the baby was born. They released Jennifer at 2:30 in the morning. I arranged a private hire (taxi) and took her for a good night’s sleep at a nearby hotel. The hotel was decent, and we each had a single room for 16,000 schillings - $8.00. Donita had the baby about 4:00 in the morning Uganda time. Donita, baby, and Jennifer were all fine - praise God.
Now that my granddaughter has been born, I will share some sad news about a couple of babies. Our hotel manager in Mbale’s wife went to the hospital to have a baby while we were there. Also, his brother’s wife went the same night to give birth. Apollo’s baby was born healthy, but was dead the next morning. The brother’s baby died in the womb that night. Same doctor; same hospital. Our team took up a collection for Apollo to help with the burials. Sad!
Another night, a petrol truck flipped and blew up a short distance from our hotel. Even worse, a matatu crowded with people was following closely and drove into the flames. Many died. They showed a little boy the next night on television that looked totally burned. The picture has stayed with me and bothered me so much; I feel so badly for those people. A good friend, Margaret, works here in the burn unit. Their care is nothing compared to that in the States.
(**Our teams do not ride in matatus and we make sure our driver’s are careful.)
Our favorite carpenter in Kampala, Jaffer, wanted me to visit his home, which is where his workshop is located. He said it was close to Namirembe School. Margaret came to go with me, as we had agreed to spend the day together. (Margaret took a week off work when I first went to Uganda in 2001, stayed with me, and was my ‘tour’ guide. We had tons of fun as I adjusted to Ugandan life.) The three of us climbed into a crowded matatu, which whizzed down the road at a fast rate. When riding matatus (dilapidated white window vans), you have to be prepared because they stop often. The ‘conductor’ throws open the van door and yells out their destination. People are always crawling in and out, so you have to move about and adjust. The driver is off before the door is even shut - speed demons that they are.
We traveled for about 25 minutes and then got off the matatu, only to find we then had to take bodas (motorcycle taxis) to where Jaffer lives. The dirt road/path wound through numerous mud homes and small storefronts, and through banana trees. It was a great ride. For awhile, a boda was riding beside me. They had placed a piece of wood on the back. On the wood was two, big black and white pigs, each tied down with their heads facing different directions. Oh my!
Jaffer showed me the book cabinets that he has started that will be placed in Bat Valley and Namagoona Schools. He said they were delayed because he had been sick. He went on to tell me that someone had put some witchcraft spells on him. He even had to move out of Kampala to get away. However, he is better so he thinks he has almost rubbed them out. Jaffer is a Muslim, but has gone to church with us twice when we were building in Kampala.
I later ask our driver from the hotel, who is a Christian, about this. He became very serious and said that his brother-in-law that doesn’t like him took his shirt and pants and put a witchcraft spell on him intended to make him ‘mad/crazy.’ Emmanuel said he was scared and went to the church to have the pastor pray for him.
This is not unusual in Uganda. Many believe and practice witchcraft here. Sometimes people are stoned because others think they are putting spells on them. It is another reason we feel it is so important to share with them the story of Jesus, and God’s love for them, after the libraries are completed.
Saturday, I had finished visiting all the schools I needed to in Kampala. Wilberforce was coming to Kampala because Sunday was visiting day at their son’s boarding school. He picked me at Namirembe Primary, and we then spent the night in an odd place. A member of Wilber’s church is the Chief of Staff of all the Land Forces (military) in Uganda. Wilber had arranged for me to meet Charles once before in the States. Charles has a big insignia on the front of his large car and traffic moves over for him, plus police always help him as he passes. He met us at a restaurant and I was invited to ride with him, with Wilber following in his car. We had two army guys in the front seat, and another in a seat behind us. Charles and his wife’s home is on an army base in a nice barracks. They do have a large, comfortable living area and dining room, with rooms down the hall. They are planning on building soon. It was interesting to pass through the gates into the compound, etc. My room was nice with a bed with four posts. I think the mattress must have been military though - hard. :)
The funniest thing was that Charles was sleeping across the hall with his door shut. His alarm went off at 3:45, because he had to travel to an engagement. I thought it was my alarm, so I am sitting on the floor throwing everything out of my big bag. Finally, I found my alarm at the bottom - and it wasn’t ringing! (Charles was previously the Attache for the Ugandan military to the United States. His family is still in the States where he has two children - one graduated last year from high school; the other graduates this year.)
The next morning, two of his men attended church with us before we left for Billy Paul’s visiting day. I first met Billy Paul when he was 11; he is now 17 and an absolutely handsome young guy.
I will stop there, as I was hoping to keep this short. I visited three of our libraries today in Mbale, and all is going well … kids are reading many books. Sarah Okumu is finishing her final paper this week and then will receive her Masters degree in Education Administration. She would like out of the classroom and wants to work for the Ministry of Education.
My mornings are like this: I crawl out from under the mosquito netting, wash my clothes in a tub and hang them on the line, and then I am off down the dirt roads to schools. What more could I want :) - other than my kids and grandkids to be here with me. I do love it here.
Thank you for following my trip. I will be returning on the 28th. Continue to keep me in your prayers, as my days are long while I am working in the schools.
Love and best wishes,