Saturday, September 28, 2013

Week 29

We had a very interesting experience a few weeks ago.  Hadn't mentioned it up to this point as we weren't certain of the outcome...long story made short. I backed out of a driveway in downtown Gulu a while ago and in the process bumped into a car parked on the opposite side of the street. No damage to my car. Likely none to his either as his car looked like it had been run a few years in a demolition derby in more than one race.. Just banged up top to bottom and front to end. I took some pictures of it. He found a local corrupt policeman and a third gentlemen who all wanted in on the act so this 3rd fellow takes the keys from my car while Pam is sitting in it. She is  on a business call so not paying close attention but  thinks thats odd that I asked him to get them for me as I was sitting across the street. I am sitting next to this fellow while the body shop is on the way to estimate an entirely new rear door panel and notice this guy has my keys. After some persuasion and the help of a 4th party, the fellow gives my keys back. After the driver keeps haggling for an unprecedented amount of money I walk to the car, crank it up and tell the folks we are headed to the police department to settle all this.  Mission office counsels to always go to the police station.

The 3rd party comes over reaches through my window, turns off the ignition, yanks the keys out of the car again. I struggle to grab my keys and his hand, but he won't let go.   Pam sinks her fingernails into his arm. He recoils. I crank up again, pull off and the fellow runs around the back of the car, opens Pam's door and tries to yank her out of the moving car...for what?  To make me stop to save her?  Kidnap her? She gives him a hard shove out the door and off we go to the police station to settle up with the fellow whose car I hit. Now who shows up at the station but the fellow who stole my car keys and tried to assault my wife. He files an assault charge against me claiming I bit him. The fellow with the car I bump, the corrupt cop and the 3rd fellow now all claim I bit the latter.  They are all in cahoots to get some free money. In the meantime the estimate the body shop is presented to us which is 400,000 shillings - little for a dent in America, but a lot for here, but I tell them I want to be fair if there were any damages.  I ask them, however, to recant their statement about biting the man as they all know it is a lie.  They will not deny the lie.
 
While in the police foyer near the man who is holding his arm as if it is broken or severly damaged, Pam goes over and turns his arm.  There is no puncture wounds, only a small scratch, but the man acts as if he is in agonizing pain.  She laughs out loud.  He demands money for his injured arm.  In the meantime I file my statement and we are done til the next day when the police call and want Pam's statement as well as a full-time missionary who happened to witness the whole thing while sitting in the back seat of my car.  The officer in charge and others (after hearing our statements) shake their head and say we don't need to worry about anything.  However, we are worried because charges usually go to court.  Will the judge be fair or might he be a relative to this guy and want in on the take? 
 
The good news is that one of our prospective missionaries is a potential witness who happened to be right there at the scene of the "accident" when all this was happening.  He heard the three men speaking in Acholi, one saying they could get 900,000 shillings out of this, at a minimum 400,000.  Obviously since we don't know Acholi, Brooks didn't know what they were saying.

On Monday the police call again wanting me to come down to talk to the officer in charge. I tell her I've already done that and was told I have nothing to worry about. I tell her I will not be coming down....I know the fellow I alledgely bit is there and wants to negotiate. The police say, "You come down and talk". I tell her no. She says you come down. I say, "You tell the fellow I'll see him in court."  That's the last we heard of anyone there. (Note: Our branch president tells us 75% of the adults in Gulu have HIV! Yep, that's what I'm going to do to defend my car keys...bite this fellow.)
 
While we experienced this here in Gulu -- people taking advantage of others -- this is not unique to Gulu or  Uganda or Africa.  Everyone everywhere in the world has stories about those who have tried to defraud or have not been honest in their dealings. As we have stated before, we feel much safer here than we would in many cities or locales in America.  The people here are generally very respectful and helpful, particularly to foreigners. Most are kind and generous.  There will always be stark contrasts between those who follow the Light of Christ all mankind has been given and those who choose not to.  That is why we are here - to help bring to their remembrance the Light within, to testify of the perfect Plan of Happiness available for each of us so all can experience peace in this life and true joy in the life to come.
 
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Like I said in an earlier blog post, I've seen more farm animals in Uganda in the last 6 months than I have seen in my entire lifetime.  Guess that makes me a city slicker and I have no shame in being called that name.  Cows, goats, roosters and mostly chickens.  We saw a fellow on a bicycle the other day...we tried to count the chickens he had tied onto the bike...all live and all hanging upside down...heading to market.  Must have been 15 or more chickens on that bike.  In honor of all the chickens here in Uganda, I had to post this short tale sent to me by a cousin of mine who lives in Boston.  I think you will enjoy.
 
 


My Favorite Animal
Our teacher asked what my favourite animal was, and I said, "Fried chicken."
She said I wasn't funny, but she couldn't have been right, because everyone else laughed.

My parents told me to always tell the truth. I did. Fried chicken is my favourite animal.
I told my dad what happened, and he said my teacher was probably a member of PETA. He said they love animals very much.
 
I do, too. Especially chicken, pork and beef. Anyway, my teacher sent me to the principal's office.

I told him what happened, and he laughed, too. Then he told me not to do it again.

The next day in class my teacher asked me what my favourite live animal was.
I told her it was chicken. She asked me why, so I told her it was because you could make them into fried chicken.

She sent me back to the principal's office. He laughed, and told me not to do it again.

I don't understand. My parents taught me to be honest, but my teacher doesn't like it when I am.  Today, my teacher asked me to tell her what famous person I admired most.

I told her, "Colonel Sanders." Guess where I am now.....

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Character. “We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become each day. (You need to re-read that sentence  to catch it.)   Righteous character is a precious manifestation of what you are becoming. … Righteous character is more valuable than any material object you own, any knowledge you have gained through study, or any goals you have attained” (“The Transforming Power of Faith and Character,”Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 43).


(Elder Scott graduated from George Washington University as a mechanical engineer, served a full-time mission to Uruguay, and completed post graduate work in nuclear engineering at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. From 1953 to 1965 Elder Scott served on the immediate staff of Admiral Hyman Rickover, directing the development of nuclear fuel for a wide variety of naval and land based power plants.)
 
 
 Magnificent storm cloud moving in over Jinja...head of the River Nile.
Just another beautiful African woman.  I thought she might be Muslim but she told me she was Christian.  She was just bundled up because she was sooooo cold!  I love it when it is "cold" here.
 The "Keep Restaurant" where we had a great lunch in Jinja.

Picture from inside this restaurant operated by an American family who established a  mission in Jinja to serve the downtrodden. It's inspiring to meet so many people around Uganda who give up all the comforts of home to try and help this desperately poor country.  Jinja is a big tourist town so this restaurant caters to them, proceeds going to benefit their mission.  One of our mission's elder on the right leaning forward had been very ill for sometime.  He stayed bent over this way all the time...too painful to stand or sit erect.  He is serving in Mbale, Uganda.  Diagnosed with a muscle abcsess.   Our mission doctor had never heard of such. Had taken some antibiotics, felt better but then immediately worse when he finished his meds. We accompanied him, along with the Mbale Senior Couple, the Bartons, to Kampala for further diagnosis.  Appendicitis!  Immediate surgery.  He was very blessed his appendix hadn't ruptured in a city where there would be miinimal help.
Tea trees/bushes on the way to Kampala from Jinja...tea as far as the eye can see on both sides of the highway.
Look carefully at the back of the boda (motor cycle) driver.  This fellow is carrying some type of wooden box contraption on the back of his boda.  It's wider than most cars and passenger trucks on the road.  How these boda drivers get from here to there without getting killed is a miracle in and of itself.  And a lot of them don't make it from here to there.  Missionaries are not permitted to hire a boda driver for transportation.
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Some branch members in Aydel Branch...in city of Lira...about 2 hours away from Gulu.  Our Mission President has asked us to visit one of two branches in Lira, one branch one month and the other the next month until another senior couple arrives there.  The Church in this third world country simply would not survive without senior couples.  In Zimbabwe, all the missionaries of the Church  were booted out of the country.  The Church was told there were "visa problems". By the time the problem was cleared up and the senior couples were allowed to return about 2 months later, many of the Church branches were on the brink of collapse.  We are on a mission called MLS...Member and Leader Support.  That's what we do...support the members and leaders as they learn to run the Church on their own.  Remember, so many of our members only joined the Church 1, 2, 3 years ago; prior to that time the church was nonexistent in many of these areas.  These people have had little involvement with any type of administrative duties, let alone the intricacies of  Church administration.  Finding the proper balance between supporting them in their efforts and doing too much for them, which prevents them from learning to do for themselves, is always a challenge.

Part of the primary children in the same (Adyel) branch, who wanted their picture taken.  Pam was very pleased with how well this Primary was run.  Their leaders are doing an excellent job.   
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Funny thing, I'm sitting in a restaurant using their internet and strike up a conversation with what looks like a local Ugandan.  In Gulu, I've nicknamed them Gulagans.  He doesn''t sound local but American and sure enough he is American and lives in Dallas.  Asked him if he's been in school. 
Yep, Texas A&M.
So I give him a rundown of the recent Bama/A&M game which he didn't want to hear about but I felt so strongly he needed to hear how it played out.  He certainly didn't appreciate me doing so but I just couldn't help it.  Then I thought of this picture I saw on CBS Sports Online.  Only an Alabama fan can fully appreciate the beauty of this dog
 
Roll Dog Tide, Roll!!!!
 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Week 28

The Gateway We Call Death