I only wanted a working phone.

Day 2:

Saturday was an interesting day; well every day in Africa is an interesting day. Anyway, I was supposed to be picked up at 9:00 am to finally get my phone working. Being without a phone in Africa can be a little terrifying. On Friday trying to find a bus and traveling by bodaboda, I got separated from my keeper (Alexa). My boda driver lost her and her driver in the traffic. My driver was supposed to know where we needed to go and hers didn’t. I’m on the other side of Kampala from where we started, which was on another side of Kampala from my hotel, and I have NO idea how to get to my hotel other than to point in the general direction, which I didn’t even know what direction that would be and no phone. With a phone, I could have called somebody and gotten them to tell the bodaboda driver where to take me. Now it’s getting late, about to be dark, and I’m totally at the mercy of this bodaboda driver who has already lost my keeper. Now a keeper is an African assigned to you to keep you from doing STUPID THINGS…LIKE GETTING LOST!

We got to where I was supposed to go but no Alexa. After waiting a couple of minutes, my driver asks ME if I think they are lost. ARE YOU KIDDING ME! Now I’m thinking, “What’s the penalty for killing a bodaboda driver?” As each minute goes by, my terror goes up and my worry about the penalty for killing this bodaboda driver goes down; I’m getting close to zero on that worry. I’m thinking, “If he asks me to pay him, HE’S IN FOR THE SURPRISE OF HIS NOW SHORT LIFE.” It’s now over 10 minutes later and still no Alexa. I tell the Lord that I’m in Christ and that Christ is in me and that the way I see this situation is that right now HE’S GOTTEN HIMSELF IN A BAD SITUATION.

Now of course Alexa and her bodaboda show up. All I can say to the Lord is, “Awe man, really, again?” Now I start feeling sorry for my boda driver. Alexa is hopping up and down mad. I start wondering, “What’s the penalty for a young Africa women killing a bodaboda driver? The way Alexa was carrying on they must get a reward. A little back story, Alexa had been put in charge of helping me and taken care of me. It was a great honor for her, usually that is something that a man would do. If she lost me, it would have been very shameful for her and her family.  She might even lose her job. So she was scared and mad.  Let me tell you that a scared, mad African women is sight to behold!

Ok back to the phone and my Saturday. They were supposed to pick me up at 9:00 am so at 11:00 am they show up and off we go.  To get a SIM card in Uganda, you have to show some form of ID, in my case my passport, so you have to go to a MTN store.  We stop and go through all the hoops.  Medad’s son is acting like we need to get going, so he says that we will get time on my phone at Medad’s house.

Well, getting minutes for my phone sure didn’t happen. I was told the night before that they would be taking me to Rev Medad’s house for the presentation, which is a formal, public meeting of the parents and all the family members of the couple that’s getting married; it’s just kind of like a pre-marriage reception.  When we get to Medad’s house just in time for food, I know why he was in a hurry. I then find out that, not only is this going to be a presentation but, after all the meeting and greetings, we will be going to a church in Kampala for the wedding. Oh, this is going to be a long day!

There’s over 100 people that has to be transported from Medad’s house to the church. I never have any idea how far something is in Kampala, but it takes us 45 min with traffic to get to the church. They put me on a small bus that seats 26 with around 100 Africans, just kidding, around 35 to 40, then off we go. As I said, Africa is always interesting.

On my way home we finally stopped to put some shillings on my phone, so now I’m good to go.  So that was my day of trying to get my phone squared away.  Next time I have to wait 15-20 minutes at the phone store for them to straighten something out I will be glad it went so quickly.  Oh, what a difference a change of perspective makes.

And now the rest of the story: At the presentation and wedding, I made a new friend, Abigail.  I have to say it was my favorite part. 🙂

So I only wanted a working phone but… I got a working phone AND a new friend. Doesn’t get much better.

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Kampala Adventures

Since I didn’t post before I left, some of you may not know that I am in Uganda to prepare details for a team trip. I left Wednesday 4/24/19 and the team arrives 4/30/19.

My most important task is to hire a bus and driver. I checked out things when I was in Uganda in the fall so this should be no problem, right? Nope! But that’s what makes it such an adventure…and a good story to tell.

Travel was as good as two long international flights get but my seats were good. I arrived into Entebbe as scheduled and was met as planned! When asked if I was doing a happy dance since I arrived safely, my reply was, “My happy dance will have to wait until tomorrow. I’m too tired tonight.”

First day in Kampala: I’m not staying at the house I thought after all. They are doing one of those pre-wedding deals for one of their daughters tomorrow, Saturday, so the house is full and crazy.

Alexa came to pick me this afternoon around 1:00 and it was quite a day. There is an exchange and bank just a few blocks from were I’m staying. Exchanging money went well but Alexa needed to deposit their money and that did not go well, two hours.

The guy with the bus met us at the office but the bus was a dud. He said that he knew a guy that had a good 35 but if we needed to see it that we need to go now. He might not be around and the bus might not be available tomorrow to lease. The bus was across town from the office.

So, it’s now getting to rush hour. Which, have you ever wondered why do they call it rush hour? Your not going anywhere fast or in a rush. Anyway Alexa, says that the only way that we can get there in time, which I didn’t realize that time had ANY meaning in Africa, is to take a bodaboda.

So off we go through the middle of Kampala, it was a trip. Alexa thinks that riding a bodaboda and having cars, taxi vans and other bodas bumping into your legs is just normal everyday life. I had to think small and keep my arms tucked in as we drove between trucks and buses. I think that I have paint marks on my knees and elbows. The second bus was worse than the first.

So we final get back to the hotel that I’m staying at about 9:30 pm. Which by the way, riding a bodaboda at night through Kampala is crazy; even crazier than driving at night without headlights in Bundibugyo because it lasts a lot longer and you have no protection. In spite of the bodaboda rides, we live to fight another day.

Since I spent most of my day fearing for my life, I didn’t get a chance to get a SIM card but that is now at the top of my list for tomorrow then on to bus hunting. Or is it a wild goose chase? I’m not sure. We have a line on one that’s supposed be like new. That’s the same thing that the last guy said so….

Oh and just to be sure that I remember that I’m In Christ, when I got to my room I had no lights; had electricity, just no lights. But God’s mercy never ends so a guy came to put two new bulbs in! Now I have lights!!

Goodnight, it’s after 11:35 pm here.

PS Everyone at this hotel calls me reverend so I have to be on my best behavior.

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Smiles at the End of the Road

Today 11/14, I visited the school were Bishop Iraka is the head teacher. This the P1 through P6, P7 have taken their exams and are gone.  The drive there was on a long dirt road that isn’t used for much so it was a decent dirt road.  So worth the drive to see these smiling faces!

Tonight we go back to the church in the middle of the cane field for another healing and deliverance service.  You haven’t really lived until you are in the middle of a huge cane field in Africa at 9:00 at night with only-God-knows type of deliverance opportunities waiting for you.

But in the midst of it all, it truly is an honor to be here and to pray for people.  A little boy gave me an amazing gift with a note saying that the doctors hadn’t been able to help him and he was hoping I could.  What else can I say?

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Hoima to Masindi Trip 11/12/18

Monday, 11/12/18: The trip from Hoima to Masindi was another typical road trip in Africa. The vehicle for this trip was an old, 15-20 yrs, mini station wagon, not even sure what make, and let’s just say I thought that I had been in some wore out, bad vehicles but now I know better. This thing is so old and wore out that even the windshield is hard to see out of and, with just our three suitcases, the rear end was sitting on the axle, no shocks left at all. Since there was still some room in the back, we load a few more things in, a couple of bags of stuff; some matoke, a type of banana.  That’s how I know we were sitting on the axle; the car never moves lower as we put more stuff in the back.

We start off and get just outside of Hoima when we get a phone call from Bishop Iraka’s wife to tell him that he left his suit case at home.  We turn around and head back to Hoima to meet up with her and get Bishop’s suitcase. Now at first this was aggravating but God causes all things to work for the good of those He has called. As we get into Hoima, we go over one of the speed breakers and the car stops running and won’t start. Something came loose, so now we are broken down in the middle of Hoima. Yep, this trip is off to a great start.

Today is one of those really hot days so I pile out of the car that has become an oven and find a little shade in front of one of the shops.  There an angel, the lady running the shop, saves my life by giving me a plastic chair to sit in so I wouldn’t have to stand up. Bishop takes off. Now, my hosts never seem to tell me what’s going on. If I ask them I usually get vague answer and am left knowing less than when I asked. So like Job, I start looking for a pot shad to scrape my sores. By this time, I’ve got and old song in my head with the line, “If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all”. I’m contemplating the sorry state that I find myself in; I’m hot, really hot, broken down on the side of the road, I’ve just reached a new level of dirty, I’m covered in red dust, I haven’t had a real bath in a week, didn’t even get  rinsed off last night or this morning, I stink, all I have to drink is hot water, and I have no idea what the plan is now or what’s going on.

Bishop Iraka shows up 30 minutes later with a guy who has a pair of pliers and some wire.  I’m thinking. “This should be interesting. This old car needs everything redone and he has a piece of wire, about a foot long, and a pair of pliers.” 20-30 minutes of fiddling with stuff and he finds the problem. It’s a worn out car, everything is a problem, so oops there’s another problem. Finally, the car is back running.  Bishop’s wife shows up with his suitcase and we’re ready to get this show back on the road.  All the while I’m wondering where we might breakdown next. There are a lot worse places in Africa to be broken down than in a town.

As we leave Hoima, we get back to dirt roads with the ruts, pot holes, and random piles of dirt acting as speed breaks. Then the teaser, one of the best roads I’ve been on in Africa, but all good things have to come to an end. It rained yesterday so now this road was just mud holes and deep ruts from the big trucks and large buses. TIA.

Everything can become a new adventure, and this does. This old car was built low to the ground when it was new and now, with no rear shocks, we are dragging the ground as we go through mud holes, over humps, and through ruts. I’m thinking that we are going to lose the gas tank or the whole rear end sooner or later. There’s an old saying that God takes care of fools, well he took care of us. We only got stuck once but God provide us with some help and we made it through. A little advice, never do long trips in worn out vehicles in Africa; it may seem like a better idea than taking a bus but it’s not. If the vehicle has good shocks go for it but otherwise do a bus or taxi van.

Just one more long drive left before I fly home, Masindi to Kampala. The road is all paved just a million speed bumps.  No problem,

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Log Entry: 11/12/18 Masindi

I’m on the way from Hoima to Masindi this morning.  This is our car.

Notice the rear is sitting all the way down.  No one is in the car because we broke down just outside of Hoima. The car just died and won’t start. This has the makings of quiet an adventure. At least we’re not in the middle of nowhere.


We get the car fixed and finally make it to Masindi. Thought we were in trouble when we got stuck but another guy that was having car trouble helps us out.  We get unstuck and through a bad spot. We had bottomed the car out and were sitting on the fame.

I’m supposed to preach at a healing and deliverance service tonight, Tuesday, and Wednesday night. I’ll visit schools and hospitals during the day.  I’m scheduled to teach on evangelism all-day on Thursday and half day on Friday. Also, I’ll be going to a church on Friday for some baptisms.  Saturday, I speak at a school, a Eucharist service and a radio show.  Am I a celeb now?

I spoke at St. John’s Secondary School in the Masindi and now taking a short break to straighten out my phone and internet.  I’ll leave shortly for the healing and deliverance service.

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Bundibugyo to Hoima 11/5/18

We left Bundibugyo on Monday Nov. 5th at around 7:30 am headed to Hoima. The drive around and up the mountain to Fort Portal is a beautiful drive, especially early in the morning. The road is fairly new and still in really good shape so, other than the speed bumps, it’s a nice drive.

I left Bundibugyo with Bishop Iraka, a man name David, and David’s driver in a Toyota 4 wheel drive extend cab pickup that was a long way from new but all in all in pretty good shape. Since there were 4 of us with luggage, me having the most, we had to buy a tarp and wrap everything up.  It is rainy season and it looked like the bottom was fixing to drop out, which it has been doing every day. Now even with the tarp, I figured that, if it rained like it did on Sunday, everything thing would still get wet; maybe not soaked but wet.  So, I casually ask the Lord to not let it become a frog strangling down pour. I felt like the Lord said that He would keep us out of the rain. Oh course, I said, uh, do what. But I felt very strongly that I was really hearing from the Lord and that I was supposed to tell Bishop and David what I was hearing. Now this kind of thing is out of my comfort zone but I figured that, if we run into a frog drowning rain, that I’d just look foolish, which I do most of the time anyway, so I said, “Guys I’ve prayed (I didn’t tell them it was an off handed casually kind of prayer) and I feel like the Lord is going to keep us out of any heavy rain.” I kind of hedged my bet and left room for a little rain.  I got that look, you know the look, well maybe not, it’s the “you are a crazy white guy” look, as they looked around at the clouds which were thick and dark. You couldn’t even see the mountains. We get to Fort Portal and no rain. I’m like thank you Jesus.

Now the road out of Fort Portal is a road in name only. They are working on the road, which means that first they tear what’s there up and see how bad they can make it so that when they get the road in you’ll really appreciate it and think how great of a job they’ve done, that’s of course if they ever get done. It’s a lot like road work in Alabama, only a million, well maybe a trillion, times worst. They tear up almost all of the paved parts of the old road leaving just enough, a small strip down the middle, to tease you, The rest is just big ol’ holes, mud holes in rainy season, and it’s rainy season.

With them doing work, a very loose term, you’ll have places where there is just one lane of mud holes and ruts. This is where is it becomes ever man for himself. If you don’t follow the rules of the game, somebody is going to get hurt and the boda boda guys never follow the rules. The rule is simple the big vehicle has the right away. You see very few old boda boda drivers. They all seem to have the little man thinking that they have to prove how brave they are; in my case it would be proving how stupid I am. Somehow we managed to not kill any of them, although we did come close a couple of times.

We finally get off the main road, mud holes, and turn off onto an even worse mud road. Well at least it’s not raining. Remember the song that I had in my head on the way to Mbala, slip sliding away, well it’s back, except now it’s the whole vehicle. We finally drive out of the mud and now we just have torn up, from big trucks, dirt road. You’ve heard this story before; an old vehicle and really bad dirt roads, same old story, although this truck still has a little bit of shocks still working, well kind of.

I know that you haven’t been keeping track but I have. I’ve been in SIX different vehicles going on trips and only one of the six would be allowed on the roads back home. Only one of the other five would anybody really even drive as a farm vehicle. I’m pretty sure that the sides of my knees, elbows and my head have permanent bruising from all the beating and banging around.

Two more trips to go; next to Masinda and then back to Kampala.

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Log Entry: Sunday 11/4/18 20th Anniversary

Sun, Nov 4

Well today is the big day celebration for 20 years in the CEC.

Yesterday, I was supposed to stay in Bundibugyo to talk to the clergy but it began to rain early and in rainy season that means the clergy are not able to get here.  (It’s raining every day, 2-3 times a day.) Instead, I went with Bishop Hannington and Bishop Gogo to Busunga and got to pray for the p7 class at Mt. Zion school. I stayed in last night to rest and try to get caught up on my writing which let all the bishops hangout together without translating for me.

Today is Sunday and almost all the Ugandan CEC Bishops are here.  It makes for quite a procession!

There are so many visitors to be introduced and say something that, two hours into the celebration, visitors are still being introduced.  It’s a 5½ hour service, rain and all.

There is always food at every event and this is no exception. The reception was supposed to be outside but about half way through the rain starts up again so everybody grabs their food and piles back inside the church.  It resembles a Chinese fire drill. An hour a half later I final make it back to the hotel. It was a long day and I can’t wait to sleep.  Praying there are no goats or roosters tonight.


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11/2/18 trip to Bundibugyo

We left Jinja at 4am headed for Bundibugyo and before we got out of town it started to rain. The only thing worse than driving at night in Africa is driving in the rain at night! I’ve never traveled at night on the main roads in a small vehicle and I’m going to do my best to avoid it in the future!!!

Once again, I’m with my friend, Bishop Gogo, in his vehicle which is a small SUV. Think really small, smaller than we have in the states. Originally, we were supposed to take a bus but somehow that changed to his vehicle. Now if you are thinking that is good news, think again. I learned the hard way that the shocks on the car are not just bad, they are total shot! The front shocks are not as bad as the back but since the back shocks are totally shot the front barely work.

Now bad shocks are not new to me.  When I was young and dumber, I know that’s hard to believe that I was once even dumber than I am now, it’s hard for me to believe some times, this is one of those time. Anyway, back then, I had an old car that had worn out shocks. Driving around town wasn’t too bad, just kind of rough, but if you ever got above 40, it started to sway and bounce up and down. The faster you went the worse it got until you felt like you were fixing to lose control and wind up in the ditch or worst. But this trip? Just imagine what was happening in the rain, at night, on super dark roads, without a center line, and without side strips or when the strips are barely visible!

Now I’m in the back seat sitting on the passenger side so I can see the speedometer. Uganda uses the metric system so the speed is in kph, 70 kph = 43.5, 80=50, 90=56, 100=62, 110=68.4. Wondering why am I telling you this? Well, when you are scared to death because the car is swaying back and forth, bouncing, and you know the faster you go the worst it’s going to get, you can’t help but to look to see how fast you are going.  The problem with that is that when you see 80 kph or 100 kph, your mind can not do the math fast enough.  All that registers is 80 or 100 so you start wondering if there are any unrepentant sins in your life. Just to be sure, you confess everything you can think of, even stuff you’ve never done!!! Better safe than sorry.

Now James, our driver, which is a term that I’m using very loosely, thinks that each time we are almost bounced off the road is hysterical. To compound our situation, he is not able to see at night very well so he drives down the middle of the road even with when there are other vehicles coming. If they don’t move over, which trucks and buses never move over, then at the last second James snatches the wheel over and you miss the oncoming vehicle by about 6 inches.

Another thing which isn’t helping James to see is that, in Uganda, everybody drives with their brights on and since the roads are so bad, they are not even pointing in the right direction. At one point when I was pretty sure that we were going to run head on in to an oncoming truck, I said something to James and his response was he couldn’t see for the oncoming headlights!!! Between James’ vision, the rain, and me yelling, “OH GOD SAVE US”, James finally stares to slow down to almost a stop and pull over, trying to find the edge of the road to get out of the way.  Phew.  I have now confessed the sins of the whole world and am praying, “Oh God, just let me live till the sun comes up.” Surely, once James can see, it will get better. Oh foolishly boy, stop thinking such foolish thoughts.

Daylight finally comes and the only change is that we quit slowly down. James, for some reason, likes driving on the wrong side of the road, which is the right side of the road in the US but we are not IN the US. If there’s not another vehicle coming, and sometimes even when there is one coming, he drives on their side. No, I’m not kidding! This is the truth. We going along swaying, almost out of control, on the wrong side, with a large truck coming, and we’re not able to get back in our lane so, the truck has to move to the center of the road and we pass on the wrong side!!!!  As you can imagine, I’m not the best back seat passenger so I start back seat driving. I figured somebody has to do something.  With my “help”, which some people would call whining, we get back to our side of the road some of the time, at least we’re not passing oncoming traffic on the wrong side.

Now, I know from previous trips that the road from Ft. Portal to Bundibugyo is a VERY steep, twisting mountain road and so the idea of going down and around the mountain is troubling me greatly, to say the least.  James has been going as fast as he can, laughing hysterically between my whining and begging for us to slow down and drive on our side. As we start getting close to Fort Portal, after 8-9 hours of terror, I’m thinking about making them stop to let me out and then bolting for the taxi park so I can take a taxi van to Bundibugyo. I’ve run out of things to confess.

I’m loose in Ft. Portal.  This is my chance.

Since I don’t want to offend or hurt the feelings of my African brothers, even though that often leads to bad decisions and tends to get me into difficult situations, I decide to trust the Lord to deliver me from all this and see how the trip down the mountain will go. After our stop in Fort Portal, I manage to sum up the courage to get back in the car and off we go to Bundibugyo.

Turns out it was my best decision of this whole trip. James has never been on a road like this so he is now the one scared to death!! YEA!! He still likes driving on the wrong side but now we are going really slowly, I mean really slow. I even think about asking, “May we go a little faster between curves?” but I come to my senses and, for once, just keep my mouth shut. I am enjoying not whining for a change.

We made it! Not sure how. James started getting a little braver as we got close to the bottom of the mountain but a scream of terror from me got us slowed back down and we finally made it to Bundibugyo, physical ok but mentally shot.

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Log Entry 11/1/18 The Jinja Adventure

11/5/18 I’m taking a short break in Fort Portal and have wifi so I’m finally able to send an update about the Jinja part of my trip.  Bsp Iraka and I have been in Bundibugyo for a big celebration and are now headed for his diocese around Hoima.

Log Entry 11/1/18:

It’s Thursday November 1 and my last day in Jinja. I left Mbale on October 23rd, I think, the days have started to run together somewhat. I got to Jinja on Tuesday afternoon and I was pretty beat from my time in Mbale, traveling around with Bishop Gogo in his diocese, and the trip from Mbale to Jinja. (A three hour trip in Africa can feel like an 8-10 hour trip in the US, easy. as you may be able to imagine from my previous descriptions.) Even so, I was able to speak to and meet with the clergy here in the diocese of the Nile where Bishop Lubogo is the Bishop. They had a full schedule planned for me for the next 10 days so, right off, I had to disappoint them by telling them we would have to cut a couple of days out in order for me to be in Bundibugyo for the big celebration. So between being tired and having to cut the schedule short, I made the mistake of not asking some questions about the schedule, which was a BIG mistake! It wasn’t until we headed out the first day that I found out that the plan was to be gone for the next ten days staying in a different family’s home each night and that the bishop’s goal was to go to SIX church’s a DAY! I continually had to keep reminding Bishop that we had to cut the days down. Note to self: ALWAYS ask questions about the schedule! What was I thinking? Oh, yea, I wasn’t able to think. TIA.

The Nile diocese is a really large diocese for Africa; it’s about 200 miles square and about half of it is what they call swamp. These are not the swamps you see in the US or in a Tarzan movie, they are reed swamps. These are the reeds that they use for their thatch roofs and they grow super thick, from 6 to 8 feet tall, and, basically, in water and mud.  (My mind has now drifted to the Florida everglades. Oh, how wonderful it would be to glide smoothly along! … Sorry, just a momentary flashback.)

On the first day of what was to become our tour of the diocese, we drove about an hour and half back towards Mbale and then took to the dirt roads heading to the swamps. It didn’t take long before we were on the worst dirt roads that I’ve ever been on in Africa, or anywhere else for that matter! And that’s saying a lot because I’ve been on some pretty bad roads.  I’m not even sure you can call these roads. So, there ended up being seven days of the worst roads and swamps, one of which we drove through at night.  Let me tell you, two hours of driving in a swamp at night is a trip. And yes, I chose that word specifically; those of my generation will know what I’m talking about.  It’s funny the things that your mind can come up with, at night, in a swamp, in Africa. I survived but I’m not sure how.

So anyway, we are driving around and through their swamp, visiting as many churches in a day as we can im-possibly manage. Each day goes something like this. You’re supposed to get to the church at say 9 but, that’s just figment of somebody’s imagination. It won’t be anywhere close to 9, maybe 10, 10:30, or 11 if you’re lucky, then you have tea and maybe a snack. So let’s say you get there at 10, which you won’t but we’ll go with that time, so now at 10:30 or 10:45 you make your way to the church. If this is your first church of the day there won’t be but a few people there; most of the people wait until they hear the singing to come to the church. So you get started with the singing and dancing, which they love, and it lasts maybe 15 to 20 minutes.  Then we start what is called the program, which means that everybody basically has to be introduced, really, six to ten people each time. You’re now trying not to think about the five more churches to go.

If you’ve been try to keep up with the time, it’s now around 11:30 and finally time for you to be introduced, which will take another 10 minutes. 11:40-11:45, finally it’s your time; oh, not to preach but to acknowledge and thank all the people that have been introduced. Now you get to preach but remember it’s with an interpreter. Everything you say has to be said two times and sometimes three so a twenty minute sermon takes 40 to 50 minutes. It’s now a least 12:20 and time for Bishop Lubogo to kind of re-preach his version of whatever you’ve just preached, 12:45. Another 10 minutes of singing and dancing, did I mention that Africans love to sing and dance?

By about 12:55 we’ll say, you go for more tea and a meal this time. They have to do a lot of setting up for this meal, and you just pray it will be under a tree where you can cool off from being in the church where the temperature has gotten really hot by this time. Out in the bush, or this case the swamp, the churches are poor so there roofs are not very high. The exposed tin roof may only be 2 to 4 feet above your head when you stand up so when you’re standing, it can feel like your brain is frying; if you have any brains left after all the beating and banging from the drive. Anyway you finally sit down to eat, which seems to be mandatory at every church; which is so kind of them but difficult when there are so many churches a day blessing you. An hour or so later, somewhere around 2 if you’re lucky, it’s finally time to head to the next church; only five more churches to go.

At one time the idea of preaching twice a day seemed pretty daunting, now twice a day is a piece of cake; it’s the third and fourth that wear me out. By the last two days, I was so tired and my brain so fried that I was running on the strength of the Lord alone. My prayer was, “Lord, You said that in my weakness You are made strong.”  If the people got anything from my trip, it was because of Him.

Of course there is no way that you can do 6 churches a day, even when it takes only 30 minutes to an hour to go from church to church. You’ll be lucky if you can do three, really lucky, but that doesn’t change the plan each day. TIA. So by the time you arrive at the churches that are fourth, fifth, or sixth on the list, people are no longer at those churches when you get there, but you still have to go see the church and take a picture.

At each church, they give you presents, which makes you want to cry since they give out of their poverty, not abundance. You get a few shillings, some fruit, whatever they have growing, and every once in a while you get a chicken. (Have you ever thought about what it takes to raise one chicken?) Over these seven days, I’ve received bananas, ground nuts, avocados, papaya, limes, one chicken, one rooster, and a duck. Not sure how I’m going to get them on the plane but the picture in my head is like a cartoon in the Sunday paper. I was also given the coolest three-legged stool which they carved out of a tree. Now THAT I’m going to try to bring home for sure!  So, do you think that I’ve become a big time preacher now that I’ve started getting chickens, roosters, and ducks for my sermons? We never covered THAT in seminary!

Tomorrow November 2nd, I’m up at 4:00 am to travel to Bundibugyo, which will be an ALL day drive with ten million speed breakers.  The adventure continues…

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My Time In Mbale

Tomorrow, Friday 11/2/18, I leave Jinja for Bundibugy but today I had enough downtime to catch you up a little on my time in Mbale.

The trip to Mbale started out kind of sketchy and it stayed sketchy all the way to Mbale. My bus to Kampala was the best bus that I’ve ever been on in Africa so of course the bus leaving is the worst bus that I’ve ever been on in Africa, and that’s saying a lot! But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I say good bye to Reverend Medad, his wife and his staff at his office then the bishop, who got us lost three times, is now in charge of getting me on the right bus for Mbala.

Now getting on bus in Kampala is a trip. First, you have what, at first, seems like a hundred Africans all yelling at you in a language that is a mix of two to ten languages, or a least it seems that way. All I know is that I have no idea what they are yelling at me. It’s not really a hundred; it’s just eight or ten. Some are trying to steer you onto a bus, others want to help you with your bags, for which you will have to pay and you will pay the white guy price. Now everybody is rushing you and you’re hoping that you get on the right bus. I actually got on the WRONG BUS WITH AN AFRICAN TRAVELING WITH ME and had to stop the bus and get on another bus, so it’s a little crazy.

So here we go, 30 minutes to the bus park, yea right. I’m trying to catch a bus at around 12 and we don’t even get started until 11:45. The young man that’s driving us doesn’t know where the bus park is but my guide, the bishop that gets lost a lot, knows the way. WE ARE GOING ALL THE WAY ACROSS Kampala!!!! Oh this is going to be interesting to say the least. We are about 30 minutes in and the driver takes a left turn and the bishop looks up from his phone and says wrong way should have turned right. (Oh Lord, please get off the phone.) It takes 15 minutes to get back to where we should have taken a right. Kampala traffic makes Atlanta traffic at rush hour look like an empty parking lot. Not going to make that 12 o’clock bus now are we?

1:15 we pull into the bus park. Now a bus park is where the buses all park waiting to fill up and get on they’re way. Now, I know you’re wondering why I telling you this. Well, let me explain. At these bus parks, there are anywhere from 10 to 20 buses all trying to fill each seat before they take off. They don’t leave until the bus is full. That’s why there are all these guys trying to cram you on a bus; the bus company pays them to fill their buses as fast as possible. That’s where the 8 to 10 guys come in, now that’s 8 to 10 per bus, so yes, it’s kind of crazy at best.

So we pull in and get mobbed.  Bishop jumps out and starts yelling right along with the rest of these guys then he starts yelling at me to get out and hurry. Now there are guys yelling at a bus that’s pulling out trying to stop it and guys are grabbing at my bags yelling and pointing at the bus which is stopping, kind of, I don’t think that it ever completely stopped. Bishop is yelling, everybody is yelling at each other and at me. Now at this point I almost started to just say the heck with it and start yelling with everybody just to see what would happen. The only thing stopping me was that I could think, for all the yelling, of anything to yell. Some guy starts wanting money for my ticket and another guy is wanting money for my bags. I think and hope that I’m hearing bishop yelling for me to pay the man and get on the bus, so I pay both guys and one grabs my bags while the other guy  grabs me and we run down the bus, jump on, and I’m on my way to Mbala, I hope. Now that I’m on the bus, all the yelling stops and I grab the guy taking up money for tickets and ask the question, “Is this bus going to Mbale?” Thank you Jesus he says yes.

Now at this point, I realize that this is the worst bus that I’ve ever seen or been on. All of the seats are torn and coming apart so they’ve put clear plastic covers over them, not to protect them but try and keep them from falling apart. It’s not working very well. My seat has been bent or broken down in the front so you are slipping off your seat, especially each time you hit a bump or the driver hits the breaks. Remember the speed breakers? Oh yea, this is going to be fun. Very quickly, I discover that the driver is a perfect match for the bus.  Bishop Gogo told me to take this bus line (YA YA. No that’s for real.) this time because it was the best. Are you kidding me? What would the worst be like? Truly another, I’m-in-Christ it’s-His-story moment.

So here we go, fighting our way through Kampala traffic stop and go. Yep I’m really enjoying this seat; reminds me of a song something about “slip sliding away”. Soon I discover that I’m ill prepared for this bus trip. I had packed in a hurry and every single thing that might have made this trip more bearable was packed in one of my suitcases; no headphones, no pillow, no nothing. I would beat my head against the sear in front of me for being so stupid except that the bus driver is already doing that for me. “Slip sliding away…” I wish I could remember more of that song because that part is stuck in my head.

Now we are just starting to get to the edge of Kampala and my knees are already getting sore from slamming into the seat in front of me. Anyway, we are starting to move along without stopping every few feet and I’m starting pick up a little rhythm with the whole slipping and sliding thing. Finally, we are out of Kampala and on the road to Mbale. The road to Jinja and Mbale is a major road which is usually in fair shape, just with a million speed bumps but for some reason, our bus driver decides that getting off the main road onto a dirt road that seems to run through the old market area. Calling this a dirt road is a bit of a stretch; it’s mostly just pot holes and washed out ruts, speed bumps aren’t so bad now that I think about it. After 20 minutes of feeling like I’m a bean in a child’s rattle, I guess the driver has had his fun with us so we get back on the regular road. TIA.

We finally get to Jinja which is always really cool; it’s here that the Nile river has its beginnings, on the right is Lake Victoria and on the left is the Nile river.  Now we are on our way to Mbale.  The last time I went to Mbale the road was in pretty good shape but I was in for a surprise this trip. They are working on the road so now it’s short sections, very short, of paved and then longer sections of torn up dirt. (Little did I know at the time that it was just practice for the next couple of weeks.) Finally, I’m back in what seems to be my African home, Mbale!

It’s great to be back with Bishop Gogo and Mabel. They’ve done a lot of work on their house and their compound. Yep, it’s good to be back.

I got one day of rest and then it’s on the road again, so much for time in Mbale. We are off and Bishop Gogo is doing the driving. Now I love Bishop Gogo but he needs to stick to being a bishop. I’ve renamed him Bishop slowly, slowly. The only thing that’s not passing us is the bicycles!!! And a couple of them almost did. Oh man this is going to be a long ride and as usual I’ve only got a vague idea of where we going.

I just thought that the road to Mbale was bad, it’s all relative. At first the road was pretty good but that was just teasing me into thinking that, other that going slowly, slowly, this wouldn’t be too bad. WRONG! We come to the end of the good road and now we are on a dirt road which they are making it into a much larger paved road. We are close to the Uganda/Kenya border and there is a lot of trucks going back and forth. The Chinese are building this road and it’s a trip. I think that they are having fun with making everybody miserable; to say that it’s a mess is a real understatement. Between the Chinese and the rain, it’s rainy season, on one section the road it’s just 1 inch thick mud, really, really slick mud. Thank God there weren’t any trucks or bus on this section while we were on it. There were plenty of Boda bodas which were sliding and having trouble staying upright. If one of them in front of us losses it and goes down, there is no way that we will be able to keep from running over them. New lessons on prayer.

After 2 hours of mud roads, we reach a section that is almost finished and bishop slowly, slowly, I mean Gogo, says we are here. I’ve learned that that kind of mean that you’re somewhere but not necessary where you will end up. Yep, that’s the case here. We are where we will be staying for the next three days visiting a school and churches in the area.

We do find the place that we will be staying, it’s one of the church members home, then we find where they meet for church and want to build a church building. There are a couple of houses close together. We are staying in one which is fairly new. It has just 3 rooms with a room for taking a bath. No electricity or water but it’s clean and I have a real bed; it’s an African bed but still a bed. The other houses seem to have 6-8 people staying in them.

The boss of all of this is an old lady that they call “that old lady”. She keeps everything moving in the direction that she wants it to move in. We stop to meet her, have tea and a snack, ground nuts (which are peanuts). This old woman looks like she could be over ninety so I ask her how old she is and she said 57! So I told her that she was still young and that I was the one that was old. When I told her how old I was, we all had a good laugh. For some reason she thought that that was really funny and she was still laughing as she walked away.

Setting off again, the almost finished road lasts for about a 1/4 mile before we turn off onto another dirt road headed to the school. I’m not sure how far it was to the school since I’ve found that a dirt road may seem like its 10-15 miles long but it’s actually only half of that. Distant is really hard to guess when you are just trying to not have what little of your brains you have left beat out against the roof or sides of the car.  When we stop and they say we’re here, it takes me a few minutes before I can stop my eyes from bouncing around in my head and focus enough to actually be able to see where here is. They tell me that there are about 200 students at this school but, since my eyes are still twitching and I seem to have a little double vision still, it looks more like 500 to me.

This is a school that was started by another group but now they are asking for our church to kind of take it over to help them to keep it going. It is a kindergarten through primary, which they call p7 and is like our 7th grade. Most of these kids are orphans from HIV and handicap kids with only a few local children, so they are poor and the school is struggling to stay opened. Most of the teachers are young men in their twenties teaching for almost no pay.

I had a great time with all of the kids singing and dancing, by the way, Africans of all ages LOVE to sing and dance. They kicked up a lot of dust! For me this is where my brain starts shutting down and I get a kind of mental tunnel vision, otherwise I’d just be in tears and totally useless. I also start fantasizing about winning the lottery. I have to remember that they are in God’s hands, which is far better than being in my hands even if I won the lottery. Sometimes this faith stuff gets hard and really real.

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