Sunday, January 22, 2012

sunday wanderings

I decided to walk to church this morning. At least the mornings are still a bit cool, and it's a nice change of pace. I figured it would take about 30 minutes to walk and I left giving myself only twenty minutes to get there on time. As I was walking I came across a small group of young women also headed toward town. They were a few yards in front of me and I studied them carefully. They appeared to be karamojong, the outcasts in soroti because of their cattle raiding practices. Each was carrying a jerry can (the bucket like thing that most people use to fetch water). As I began wondering why they were headed in to town to get water, there are plenty of closer pumps around, I noticed they were the jerry cans that had the tops cut off them, thus this meant they were using them for something other than water. Then I remembered seeing women just like these in the main market. They are scavengers. They travel throughout the market, and apparently other parts of town looking for food. They gather fruits that were too ripe to be sold, or too squished or whatever else is no good to someone else and they pack them in their jerry cans. I could tell they had come from a distance because their wraps were draped over their shoulders as if they had left their homes when it was still quite cold. As I followed them I began to ask myself, or God rather, what's the deal, don't you love these, that you just let them to suffer like this...but before I could finish the question, He kindly rebuked me and said, look at your hands and your feet. If everyone who called themselves my followers would truly follow me, there would not be such oppression. These ladies would know that they have a heavenly father they can turn to to provide all of their needs. But because of spiritual, physical, economic, emotional and social oppression these able bodies young ladies are going to spend their morning scavenging for food while I'm worshipping in church. It just doesn't seem right. I don't really know where this blog is going, but it just made me think to see this girls walking in to town, with their jerry cans. Do they feel shame? Hopelessness? Are they tired of always being down and out? Or has it become so normal for them that they just do it without even thinking that much about it? They never noticed me behind them and i was glad for it because what would I say to them? No common language, somehow worlds apart, and how could I express to them all the words and feelings that were building up inside my soul being tossed to my Father. I'm thankful for a Father who is patient with me, slowly revealing to me more about His character and His heart for His children. Lord have mercy on these k-jongs. As they are searching for food each day, let them find your love and truth in those they come across.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

a day

This morning I woke up with the plan of going to Kamuda (about 15km's away from home) to share with a man about Jesus and hopefully pray with him to confess Christ as Lord. I planned to leave at 9am and then be back by at least 1pm. When I first came here, I probably would have estimated that I could be back by 11am, but I've learned a little bit about how time goes here since then. Well, it began when my 13 year old friend Betty showed up at the gate just before 8am, I've taken long with out spending time with her so I asked her if she wanted to go to breakfast in town and then go out to Kamuda with me. She said yes, and then she also asked if Abela could go with us. So we picked up Abela and headed into town. My friend Ruudy also met us at the new restaurant we wanted to try out. We had a quick breakfast, said good bye to Ruudy and headed towards kamuda, we had to stop just the other side of town to pick up Paul, my co-bible-study-leader... We parked just outside his home and betty ran in to see if he was ready, well, she didn't find him, but just as she reported back to us, we heard paul's voice saying "I'm still bathing," and sure enough, he was there in the middle of the bathing area made up of iron sheets and what have you, just outside of his home. At least we could only see his towel and part of his face. I thought since we were already a half hour late he would be ready, but when he finally joined us in the car he reported that he is not feeling well, possibly malaria...hence the delay, anyhow, so we finally head out to Kamuda. We took a different way in order to stop by one of our youth's homes to inform her of a program we're having the following day. We found the home, we sat down under the tree and talked with the mother as she had a child run and get the girl we wanted to see. The girl came and when we were finished explaining to her the program and were about to leave the grandmother comes over. They explain to us that she is not born-again and that they would like her to be, so could we talk with we began sharing with her and after much discussion and reassurance that she should really decide in her heart and not just pray to please people, she wanted us to pray with her to accept Christ. (apparently she had already prayed once before, but then the following week gave-up because it wasn't really from the heart...)We prayed with her and for her and then she left. We were also about to leave when they brought out baked sweet potatoes for a breakfast. After eating we finally left. Then we headed on our way again, but had to stop and inform one more youth about tomorrow's program. Then we had to go to Paul's home to pick up some malaria med's, then we went bouncing down the foot path with my Rav4 to pick up Sam, another board member for the organization that the bible study is apart of (Alive With Purpose), After prayer at Sam's house we finally headed towards the man we originally set out to meet. More bouncing down foot paths, we were finally about to reach the place where we were supposed to meet him and we find he's headed for a burial. It's now about 1:00pm. After some discussion it's decided that we will also attend the burial as we wait for him and then we will go back with him to the other house. So we turn around headed back to the place where the old lady was being buried. It's hard to explain burials here, but try not to picture a large air-conditioned church with seats, especially seats with backs on them. Picture more sitting outside, one person on top of another, all trying to squeeze under whichever shade can be found, even if it means you're so far away you can't see or hear what's going on in the "service." Being a white person, some men cleared off a "bench" for me and my friends under one of the tarps that was hung up to increase the shady area, which was nice, except that we were now 6 people trying to squeeze on a bench that might be somehow comfortable for 4. Granted if it was only 10 degrees or maybe even 50 degrees, it might be desirable to sit so close to someone, however, if it's 110 degrees, it may not be so desirable. The service went on for quite a while. After some time paul informed me that they were now shifting from the funeral service to the burial service, which meant that those of us who were willing were to shift over to the actual grave and stand out in the sun while they try to lower the coffin into the hole in the ground. They began lowering it, but suddenly pulled it back up because the hole wasn't big enough. So we kept singing in the sun (yesterday i put the thermometer out in the sun and it exceeded it's 120 max temp mark) as they hopped in the hole and made it a bit bigger. Eventually they successfully lowered the coffin in the hole and started to cover it back up. It was then that I told Paul we really needed to get going as I had an appointment at 4pm and it was now 3pm. We looked for the guy that wanted us to pray with him and eventually found him amidst the "congregation." After much greeting of people and discussion as to how we should move forward with our limited time we loaded some people in the car (our man being one of them) and we went to the other house. From there we proceeded to share with him about what it means to follow Jesus, and he said his friends, who were also drunkards with him, were already giving him a hard time about his plan to accept Christ today. Anyway, he said the Lord had put it on His heart to accept Christ and he wanted to do it. So we prayed with him and for him. Then as we were finishing to encourage him as a new christian the hosts brought out chicken and atap (local bread) and we ate. By the time we were finished eating it was already 5pm. I was a bit late for my appointment and there was no cell phone coverage in that area with the networks that I had so I was not even able to inform my people of the delay. Anyway, so I said we had to leave, the hosts wanted us to stay for tea, but I told them we could not. We left, ***I was about to write that we put a grandmother in the boot of the car with the live chicken we had got from the first stop we made, when I remembered that there was still a live chicken in my car now at 9:30pm, so now that I've got the chicken out of the car and into its house for the night i can finish up my long story*** We packed the car and headed back, we dropped various people in various places along the way. I finally reached our team leader's home at 6pm where i realized i had missed the other appointment completely, but was invited for dinner and happily accepted as I was too tired to cook anything. Then I finally made it back home. Now time to shower and go to bed. All that to say...well...I don't know what I'm actually trying to say. Maybe I'm tired...

Monday, January 16, 2012

quotable quotes from Obalanga

I went out to visit some former child soldiers in their homes in Obalanga. It's so easy to say that sentence, but what's involved in it all is so hard to explain. The roads, or lack there of, the heat, the distances, the sights, the poverty, the cooking etc...each thing could be described in so many words, but let me just leave it like that. So we were driving down one of those "roads" that an american would call a foot path and we had just finished eating chicken and eggs and atapa and chai and other things which resulted in very full stomachs. I say we because I was with a local pastor called Samson and a youth leader called Thomas. We had bounced down the foot path for a short distance, when I hear from the back seat, "Remember there is someone in the back seat who has had his large intestine operated on." Granted the man had had a major surgery on his intestine, but a simple, "could you slow down please" would have worked just as well, or maybe even better as it would have taken less time to figure out what he meant by the statement. It's probably one of those had to be there kind of things, but it made me laugh. And laughing here is a necessity of survival.
If I think of the previous conversation that we were having in the hut before bouncing down the footpath, maybe I was ready for some laughter. The father of the former child soldier we were visiting was named Ameru. Yet his son's name was also Ameru. Usually here you find that the child is named after someone that is dead or another relative but not the father if he is still alive. Ameru Sr. explained the name of the son like this, "I named my son Ameru after myself because he was born during the time of the Karamojong cattle raiding attacks and the rebel insurgency so I thought I would die and I wanted him to carry on the name."
The Amerus' family: