On Tuesday we went to visit Juliet, the mother of a missionary serving in the UK. Juliet is a sweet woman, a Catholic, about 56 years old. (This is quite old in the Ugandan culture where the harsh living circumstances take many lives at much younger ages.) We deliver the emailed letters and pictures her missionary sends to us via email. It was not a good day for Juliet as one of her neighbor’s sons (16 yrs), had died of Sickle cell anemia in the middle of the night. This painful disease is quite prevalent among the Ugandans.
She also was upset because “they” (not sure what entity) next month are going to widen the road in front of her house. Although the road is not good, it is no different than most here and it was surprising to hear this as there is hardly any vehicle transport in her community . As she continued to explain and show us how far in the stakes and markers have been placed from the road, I was quite shocked. They were taking about 36 feet of her property. This would take all her garden area as well as her son’s hut, their toilet and some significant fruit trees. Very serious, as the poor people’s gardens are essential for their survival.The road would be over 56 feet wide, wider than the main roads here in Gulu. The widening is the entire length of the road, about 2 miles I asked if we could walk the road together down to the “river” (stream) to see if this pattern was consistent with everyone. Some of the homes of more affluence on the opposite side of the road had very little of their property being taken. The land for the road was mainly being taken from the poor.
As we approached the river (in reality a stream) there were acres of undeveloped land. Juliet said an NGO bought up all the undeveloped land about seven years ago. They built a bore hole about a mile from where Juliet lives, but it is no longer working so the families have to cart water from another location even further away. Before the bore hole many got their water from the “river” and would wash their clothes there also.
Juliet has heard developers are planning to build many roads criss-crossing this area. The residents will likely get a small stipend for the land that was taken but not nearly enough to compensate for what they will lose.
Interestingly, a few days later Brooks drove out to Juliet’s home again, but he was surprised to see they had already widened the road, bulldozing the structures that were in the way, with trees and fragments from the huts strewn everywhere. He said it looked like a war zone and couldn’t recognize where she lived. It turned out he had turned a block too soon; they had already done the widening to a neighboring road. These roads are wider than the main roads in Gulu! Some residents told us this happens quite a bit, the land development doesn’t really happen, but the people are often forced out of the area sometimes back to the village.
We are only hearing one side of the story. It could be the poor never really owned the land and with all the wars they are simply squatters. Property rights have been a problem for many years in Uganda. It could also be that they built without proper zoning clearance from the city government. Whatever the case, it poignantly shows how difficult it is for the people here to rise above their extreme poverty._____________________________________________________________________________________
Last Sunday we held a Seminaries and Institute Fireside for youth 14-18 and their parents and for college age kids 18-30. Fred Babeeyo, Director of S & I of Kampala came up to present the program.
He was powerful, humerous and a spiritual giant. Nothing Sister Moore and I could have said or done in his place will have the impact on our Gulu Saints that this native Ugandan will have. He serves as Bishop of the Kololo Ward in Kampala Stake. He also addressed the Perpetual Education Fund which is an inspired program the Church initiated a number of years ago to provide low interest loans to members who want to go to school and every year the student makes his monthly payments in full, the next year the interest rate drops by 1/2 point. Qualifying prerequisites for a loan...among other things:
- A member of the Church for one year.
- Full tithe payer
- Be temple recommend worthy...in otherwords, keeping the basic tenents of the Chuch.
- Attend Institute...college age religion course of study.
- Have a current sourse of income to immediately begin paying back the loan.
- The student is given 8 years to repay the loan.
The Lord himself told Adam, after he was driven from the Garden of Eden, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, til thou return unto the ground....". (Gen 3:19). He didn't say in the sweat of thy neighbor's face. It was always God's plan that each man be self-reliant, independent...in other words FREE. It was never his plan that we rely on our neighbor or the government's welfare programs.
Yes, there are those, who for a variety of reasons, cannot help themselves. To these, the Lord commands that if we want to return to His presence when we pass from mortality we are required to serve, to help, to meet their needs and their wants. "And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants." (Mosiah 4:26)
Now Friday...a wonderful end to the work week. I met this eve with a member of one of the branches in Gulu. He will be teaching the Perpetual Education Fund class described above. Phillip is in med school. Two more years to go. He was so discouraged a couple of weeks ago and so angry at God that nothing is working out for him. His father has been in a position to pay his tuition but no longer.
Phillip supports his Mom. Planted any number of crops for her in the village and every plant was "burned" by the sun...we had an unexpected rainy season draught. Had made arrangements for a loan from friends in Kampala last weekend but it fell through. He was ready to call it quits!
I opened the scriptures and read with him about the purpose of trials. I read with him that when we humble ourselves, call upon God, are watchful for temptation, God will see us through our most difficult trials. I shared with him some of my life's challenges, the Savior's trials, etc. He eased a bit, felt the calming assurance of the Holy Ghost that only the scriptures can bring and realized he is not alone. I reminded him there are two reasons and two reasons only we came to Earth from our Heavenly Home; 1. Get a body. 2. Be tested to see if we are worthy to return to God's presence. That's it!
Today, he went to apply for a 3,000,000 shilling loan to open up an "internet cafe" so he could support his Mom and earn med school tuition money. I was aware that the banks here are paying 13% interest for a 6 month CD so I'm thinking, "What is poor Phillip having to pay for his loan?" So I ask...22%. I literally almost fell out of my chair and then it dawned on me...The PEF program . It will be perfect for him. He is a member in good standing, serves faithfully in the branch presidency as 1st counselor, worthy per all the criteria above and only has 2 more years to finish school! Just the length of time the loans are granted for.
The orphanage...you'll recall some pic's of Justin's orphanage and the food dryers we delivered to him last week. Sad to report he couldn't keep up with his rental payments and was recently evicted. I visited his new place today along with our full-time missionaries. It is nice enough. He still has access to some farm land at the old place so we did a little service there cultivating a spot of ground and weeding between sweet potatoes already sprouting. Pic's below.
Smoking our pottery.
The pieces above have been kiln fired. Now they are ready to be smoked to make the final product.
They are placed on a screen where fire smoke will discolor or color the pieces black. Prior to smoking them we paint a mud over the portion of the pottery we do not want to turn black due to the smoke. After the smoking, the mud we "painted" on is washed off in a tub and tadaaaa! It's done.
Pottery has dried leaves and sawdust placed over and under it.
Light the fire, keep adding leaves and sawdust, flip the bowls over to smoke the bottom of them.
Here are the smoked products
Into the wash tub to wash off the painted on mud that prevented all the bowl from being smoked/charred.
Here is Pam's elephant. We call it a leopraphant...part leopard and part elephant. Which reminds me of one of my all time favorite jokes...What do you get when you cross and elephant and a rhinoceros?
Elephino. Say it fast and put the emphasis on the third syllable.
My elephant with stripes.
Four bowls/dishes. Pam did the fish and the colored one in upper right. I think my elephant is absolutely darling...even precious. The black outline around the ear and the eye, were where the mud was placed and then scraped off so they would get charred as to make a small black eye and ear outline.
Took another unexpected trip to Kampala Wednesday. Clutch on the truck when out so we had to drive there as there is no fix in Gulu. On the way in, we passed this hotel. You think bed bugs are a problem in the states, you should try sleeping with Ticks. Actually, it's a very nice looking place from the outside.
The grounds of the Chinese restaurant we ate Wed nite. Weather was perfect...we ate outside.
Looking back at the restaurant from our dinner table.
The Jonson's, who have become our good friends. He has many responsibilities...overseeing a Church branch, managing the truck fleet, and mission doctor. Have had to see him each of my last two visits to Kampala for one strange ailment or another. He always fixes me up.
Well, the law of averages finally caught up with us...Leaving Kampala Friday we rounded a curve and there on the wrong side of the road was a boda driver with a passenger headed right towards us...driving in our lane. I swerved to the right. He swerved to his right but he hit my left front fender. He went down pretty hard. We waited a minute or in the car with the doors locked to see what he was going to do and he finally waved us on as if to say, "I'm ok." We left and a minute or two later he is chasing us down trying to get us to stop, no doubt looking to blame us for the accident and wanting money. We kept going and I reported the accident to our Gulu police station when we arrived home. This boda driver was a split second from hitting us head on. He/we were very lucky it wasn't worse.
Pam feels strongly that angels attended us and the boda passengers.
Spiritual Thought for those inclined:
The Reality of AngelsIn reference to the reality of angels, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:
“I am convinced that one of the profound themes of the Book of Mormon is the role and prevalence and central participation of angels in the gospel story. …
“One of the things that will become more important in our lives the longer we live is the reality of angels, their work and their ministry. I refer here...to those more personal ministering angels who are with us and around us, empowered to help us and who do exactly that (see 3 Ne. 7:18; Moro. 7:29–32, 37; D&C 107:20). …
“I believe we need to speak of and believe in and bear testimony of the ministry of angels more than we sometimes do. They constitute one of God’s great methods of witnessing through the veil, and no document in all this world teaches that principle so clearly and so powerfully as does the Book of Mormon” (
The new orphanage building...most of the children are off at school.
Missionaries clearing some land.
After having weeded between rows of sweet potatoes.
Our two zones...minus the camera man. They had just completed a combined district meeting...training one another on missionary work. These are truely spiritual giants. We love them each like our sons.