Saturday, April 27, 2013

Week 7
While in Kampala last week with our Mission President, he told us of a miracle that had just occurred...One of his best missionaries, faithful and obedient in every way and a couple of weeks before leaving home from his 2 year mission was driving a Church fleet truck when a couple of boys darted out from a large truck coming from the opposite direction.  He hit one of the boys head on.  He looked in his rearview mirror and saw the boy flipping through the air onto the road.  The 3 missionaries who were in the back seat turned around and watched the boy hit the road.  There was $300-400 damage to the vehicle.

The missionary elders stopped to help, which they've been told not to do (they/we are to head to the nearest police and report the incident).  Sure enough,  a mob gathered and began stoning the elders.  They jumped into the truck and headed to the police.  Later they met up with the boy and his family at the hospital.

The doctors were examing the child but could not find a single broken bone, bruise or scrape.  They said he could not have been hit.  The elders assured the doctors he had been hit so the hospital kept the boy overnight.  The next day, the doctors were still insisting the boy had not been hit and released him as he was perfectly OK.

The father of the boy was approached by a number of witnesses to tell him he could get good money because the elders  (Muzungus) had hit his son.  His reply, "Why do I want money from these people.  They have hit my son but he is alive and perfect.  I have my son.  I would not take money from them for any reason."

This is simply an example of a not so infrequent African miracle and the good that can come from being faithful and obedient, as well as the honest heart of some of these people.     Surely the Lord intervened this time because of the goodness of this fine missionary.

Coincidentally, I was asked to drive halfway to Kampala yesterday (Wed) to pick up a missionary who was having "visa problems" in Ethiopia.  Turns out it was Elder Lee, the very driver mentioned above.  He leaves for home next week and the Church decided to move him out of Ethiopia to Uganda in the event the local police authorities wanted to make an arrest for hitting the boy.  Can take a long time to get out of jail in that country, even if innocent,  so better safe than sorry.  He told me he was doing about 60 KPH when he hit the boy....36 MPH.

Pam's day yesterday, Saturday:
Seminary 9:00 at Gulu Branch.
Training a Young Women's counselor 11:00 Gulu
Training Relief Society President at Bardege at 1:30
Music conducting class back at Bardege at 3:00
We travel to Pope John Paul Boarding to see one of our young members - an orphan - where Pam teaches her seminary at 5:00
Dinner at 6:30 at Sankofa Cafe where she is served a "wrap" in about 30 minutes and I get my hamburger about 30 minutes later.  Generally the food is good here, but not that night.
Preparing for meetings on Sunday

Today, Monday - Preparation Day...some time for ourselves, site see, shop a little...not.

Had to take one of our elders to hospital this morn.  5500 shillings  pay upfront for consult fee...$2.14.  I'm thinking if this is what Pres Obama is talking about, bring it on...I'm liking Obamacare.  Next they refer him to surgery for consult...22,000 shillings. $8.56.  I'm still impressed.  Doctors want to operate immediately but of couse you have to pay in advance.  2,500,000 shillings. $973.  The doctor happens to be our next door neighbor who tell us they will give a missionary discount.  This is what they call their package deal...pre-surgery prep, surgery, 2-3 day stay in the hospital...all wrapped up in one.  A HUGE amount by Uganda standards, but still not bad by American.

I try to reach our mission doc in Kampala but he is tied up so I go looking for 2,500,000 shillings.  Go to my local ATM machine...the power is out...naturally.  I head down the road to Centenary Bank.  They have 2 ATM's but they are both down.  There are 19 people waiting in line to use them and I imagine they are still there this afternoon.  I walk across the street to Crane Bank.  Banker walks me to their outdoor ATM's.  They are non-functional.  He takes me to bank officer behind the tellers.  I tell him what I need.  He listens then tells me the ATM is now working.  I go back to ATM only to find it does not work.  I walk behind tellers to tell him so and how can I get the money.  He says he cannot help me.  I say, the tellers can't help me withdraw on my VISA card?  No, I can't help you.  Come back this afternoon.  Mission doc calls.  Doesn't like the diagnosis and wants me to meet him halfway down the road  (three hours) with the elder so doc can take him to Kampala to doctors we use there and can trust. 

Heard from Mission Dr tonite...Monday.  The diagnosis from the Gulu Hospital was incorrect.  The elder required a little local anesthetic, a quick snip of a hemrrhoid and he is headed back to Gulu today.  100,000 shillings total. 

On second thought, if this is what President Obama's healthcare program is bringing I might as well live out my life in Uganda.

The "missionary discount" was typical of what many dishonest people charge "Muzungus" or white folks.  They think every white person is rich.  Generally in their culture, they don't see it as dishonest to charge 10 or 20 times what others pay.  "God has provided" by putting a Muzungu in their path.
Most store items have fixed muzungu prices and are a lot higher than what we pay in the states.  For example, a half gallon of unrefrigerated shelf-staple orange juice and a pint of yogurt are $9 (american).

Pam is cooking dinner for American student neighbors tonite...seemingly all day in the kitchen.   Not something I recommended but you know how good her heart is.  I run to the market for her and upon returning see a host of armed guards walking a dozen or so prisoners down the road...handcuffed.  I'm thinking they are the lucky ones.  More often than not, when someone is caught stealing or causing a disturbance, folks here don't wait on the police.  The police are around largely to restrain political unrest and don't respond to robbery, theft, etc.  So folks just take justice into their own hands and beat/kick their fellow comrades until they have repented of their transgression.  None of this waiting 1, 2, 4 years for a trial like in US.

 At the fish market.  Just pick what you want right off the ground.

In the cooking class held for the prospective missionaries, some of them had never had an egg, even though they are relatively abundant.  They are too poor to buy eggs.  We buy eggs directly from a farmer to assure more freshness.  Eggs are not refrigerated.

 Another miracle...just don't see choc chip cooks around here.  No chocolate chips at all in Uganda.
 If anybody in Gulu has been trained here, you wouldn't know it.
 Now my favorite place...not the coffee but the food and real ice cream.  And free internet.
 This is not real clear pic but there are two sports betting shops next to each other and one right across the street behind the camera.  Now this is truely a sad site...perhaps the saddest I've seen here. In a country where the average income is 10,000shillings a day or about $3.80 (US)...far, far lower in Rural Uganda where we are. Most have no income, just live off what they can grow.  Yet people are lined up out the door to throw their money away.
 Rainy season at Gulu Branch Chapel...Saturday.
 Gulu Branch Primary children.
 This is what happens when you stop on the road in a small city.  Folks selling toys, bananas, meat on a stick (looks pretty good), sodas, etc...swarm your car.
 Birds-eye view of our Bardege Branch buildings.  Primary meets outside in the thatched roof structure in the front of the photo.  This is rented property.  We are currently looking for land to build on.
 The spelling may be different but the intent is clear.  This place has invited us to free dance entertainment every Friday nite.  And some State Dept folks have just formed a softballteam that plays at 3:00 each Saturday. I'm sure our youth and prospective missionaries will enjoy.
The Mission Home in Kampala...actually Kololo.  This is rented.  The Church buys homes around the world for our mission presidents to live in for the 3 years they are called on their mission but in Uganda you just can't be sure who owns the property as there is no title search.  So instead of buying, we just rent.  Our current MP is leaving for home after 6 years in Africa.  His first 3 years he served as an International Public Affairs Director for Africa...he and his wife.  They got home and were immediately called on a new mission.  So now he is headed home and a new MP will take his place in June.  The old and new MP's will meet for 2 hours and 2 hours only..that's all the talk time they get.

 Elder Melton killed a cobra outside the home of a Church investigator.  The elders were teaching them in their yard when the woman shrieked.  The cobra had been terrorizing them for some time, eating their chicks.  Elder Melton (Durbin South Africa) killed it with the stick in his hand.  He said he couldn't allow the cobra to possibly bite the family's young children.  His companion is over 6' tall so you can see this was a large snake.  As you can imagine, Elder Melton is a hero to this family.
 Finally settling in and decorating our apt a little.  These are wax paintings.  Very colorful/attractive.

Held our first Institute activity last night, a movie night.  We showed The Testament:  One Fold, One Shepherd.  We had a dozen that came.  Even though we explained that it was showing simultaneously events happening in the Book of Mormon and in Israel, some didn't understand, but they certainly felt the spirit and the reality of our Savior.  Another tender mercy:  power lasted the whole time and the rains didn't start til everyone was well on their way home. 

Even though there are many challenges , we love serving here and we love the good people.  I dare say we are likely safer here than in the United States, EXCEPT when driving!  We feel the Lord's watchful care every day and know he is blessing the lives of so many of his beloved African children through the restoration of the Gospel.  We are so thankful to be a part of this great work.

1 comment:

  1. Great pictures and stories! Wow, what a snake! Miss you both. Brooks spoke in Sac. mtg today mostly about your conversion. Very touching.