Thursday, April 18, 2013

Week 6
A typical Sunday...after listening to tape/band music blaring from a nearby hotel all nite long...all nite, non-stop...7 pm to 7 am.

  • Met with Gulu Branch President at 8:00.
  • Met with Bardege BP at 9:00
  • Picked Pam up and attended Gulu Branch meeetings from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm.
  • Left for Bardege Branch to attend their monthly Branch Council meeting...which the branch president told me he hasn't held since last October.  (Attended the Gulu Branch Council meeting on Saturday...first one they've ever held.)  Both council meetings went pretty well, all things considered.
  • Arrived home from Bardege Council meeting in time to grab a quick bite to eat and headed to the Gulu Branch for Mission Preparation Meeting with about a dozen in attenance.  Six of those are planning on a mission within the year.  We'll have a couple of missionaries come home within the year but we have 6 out now between the two branches...there you go Bishop Peterson...can you beat that?
  • Pam stayed home to prepare dinner for a US married couple with a business in Gulu as well as a single BYU student on study who leaves back to BYU in a couple of months.
I am meeting with my first prospective missionary who is beginning his paper work tomorrow and may take him to...oh, no...Kampala Tuesday to get passport, police clearance...just to get things going.  (Can you tell yet I dread the Kampala drive...6-7 hrs of dodging people, bicycles, boda-bodas, buses and gasoline haulers.)  On this trip we saw maybe 8 large trucks broken down on the highway.  Two flipped over...too top heavy one of which was hauling gasoline...didn't see any US hazmat team around...guess they don't care about the environment afterall. Watched a lady right next to us try to cross the road in Kampala and got totally clobbered dead on by a boda driver doing 20 MPH or so...boda-boda, a motorbike...meaning border to type transportation.  The roads really are lawless.  You can't stop to help in this sort of situation.  Folks will come running, starting blaming anyone, including us, a mob forms and then you are in trouble.  As I mentioned earlier...if we are in an accident, our instructions are to keep going, find a policeman...whatever we do, do not stop and help anyone injured or check damage to your car or another's.

That said, I did get radared doing 71 KPH in a 50 zone on way home from Kampala.  The police asked if I "accepted liability".  Yes...I'm guilty.  Then he said you pay 100,000 shillings ($40) and I confiscate your drivers license.  Pam sticks her head over and says we are calling the US Embassy.  Which one he asks?  Gulu! (Which is just a couple blocks away from our apt)  I roll up the window, call the fleet manager of our Church fleet back in Kampala instead.  He says tell him you are missionaries, have little money and see if he will take 60,000 to let you go.  By the time I roll down the window, he comes to Pam's side and says, because you are missionaries, I have no authority to fine you.  I don't take your 100,000, I don't take 60,000.  You are free to go.  We left but then turned around and gave them some sugar we had just bought at the grocery store that morning in Kampala as a "thank you".

A Tale of Two Flat Tires:  Beside having the best tires Goodyear makes I managed to blow a tire on a rock Friday.  Fixed it Saturday for 25,000 shillings or $9.60.  (I learned later this should have cost me 5000-10, terribly ripped off but over here it's live and learn.  I later called the thief that took me to the cleaners and gave him a piece of my mind.  Saturday I was walking "downtown" Gulu and struck up a conversation with a young lady who was having a bike tube repaired.  1000 shilllings or 39 cents.  I should have gone to the second guy.

When we first arrived our Mission President, Eric Jackson, told us we'd never get caught up and that the mission would not move forward without senior couples.  I'm beginning to see how vital senior couples are.  Branch leaders need so much basic training, prospective missionaries need close supervision to keep them on track.  He has essentially made the couples mission presidents in our respective areas.  We interview prospective missionaries for worthiness, stay on top of their tithing faithfulness, help them earn the money they've committed to before turning in their mission application, help them work to earn money for suit, shirts, ties, socks, hygene items, passport, immunizations.  With a mission 25% the size of the United States, you can see it would be impossible for the mission president to get the work done by himself.  To my Church friends, if you haven't already, commit now to serve a mission when you have "aged a year or two".  The harvest is great, but the laborers are few. 

A pic below of a colourbus (English language) or Awal (Luo) on my head.  These are used as wash basins, serve food out of or as we've seen here placed over the heads of little babies as they are being carried on the backs of their mothers to protect the baby's head from sun burn.  This is the purpose of the protect my grey hair from getting white.  It's wood of some sort but I'm told it's a a pea pod but as you can tell much longer.  They come in all sizes.

We've been taking pictures of signs we are seeing around Gulu and on the highway.

While in Kampala yesterday, Thursday, I had to take what is called a long call....a short call is #1, a long call is #2.  Pay toilet in a "mall" area.  200 shillings...about 8 cents.  So what do you get for 8 cents?  I'll tell you what you don't toilet seat, no toilet paper, no soap, no hand towels to wash the cold water off your hands.  (Before I used the facilities, I returned to my car to my emergency supply of TP)

It's 5 am Friday now.  The roosters start their thing at 4:00 and the Muslim call to prayer has just begun.  The mosques use mics and speakers that can be heard for quarter of a mile or more.

 This is a "good" road in the rainy season.
 This is the Uganda broom.  They just don't use brooms with handles.  Just bend over and sweep their dirt streets or lawn areas.
 See these everywhere.  A partially completed building.  This is an apartment.  Hundreds of these buildings just in Gulu it seems. All along the highway. Perhaps started by an NGO who ran off with the money and left investors with nothing or worse, left the Ugandan people who were to benefit with nothing.
 Live hens hanging upside down on a bike...for anyone's pickiing.  Where is PETA when you need them?
 Pam teaching keyboard at Gulu Branch Bldg.
 Colourbus.  I look like Gomer Pyle...oh wait...he just "came out".  I look like George Patton!
 Knighty, our Relief Society present is making these school uniforms...cutting without patterns and sewing.  Maybe 3000 SH for the top. ($1.17)
 Kids love their pic taken.  These were on their way home from school for lunch...then they walk back to school again for afternoon.  They gather around, laugh, want to see their pic on the camera and laugh some more..  Some of them like to feel the long hair on my white arm.
 This sweet old lady hung around me and the kids for 10 mins or more.  I thought she would be begging for money.  All she wanted was to have her pic taken so she could see it on the camera herself.
 All along the highway.  People make charcoal to sell and place it in bags along the side of the road.
Inside our Mission President's home where we stayed Wed nite.

 Tablecloth Pam made
 Darrin...recognize this guy?
 Just what I need when I go to get a haircut...some good luck

I really like this one.  Patience, patience as we work with these meek, humble people.
 "Live like a King" case you can't see it.
Boy, if this is what we are all working for...I don't know about it all.


  1. Love reading your blogs! Thanks for posting. Pictures make it all real. Love you both, Gayla

  2. Great post as usual. What is the deal with all the bald/buzzed heads of the kids? Is that natural, or do they just not grow head hair?

    1. I have two siblings who are black, and their hair is obviously not the same as ours. Very thick, course and dense and not easily washed or combed. Keeping it super short or shaved was the only way to keep it clean. My mom had to take my sister to the salon to have her hair done, even as a toddler. Now that she's an adult, my sister also crops her hair.
      The other reason, from what I've read of this region, is to prevent lice.
      But I could
      be wrong! Brooks?

  3. Brooks and Pam,
    Great blog posts! Reading the last two months of posts (we got behind obviously) made our Sabbath today. We love the pics too. Sergio and I would love to serve a mission some day, but after seeing those ants, I'm a little leery. Uuuugh! Love you guys,