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Three foot difference in roadbeds

I think I passed a milestone today as a missionary – I was blooded on the Kamili Road. Truth be told, we hit such a bump, as compared with all the other bumps, that it drove my head into the car ceiling, even though I was tightly strapped into the seat belt and holding on for dear life. Split the top of my bald pate a bit and left a more-ugly-than-serious abrasion right smack in the middle of the vast expanse of my pink, sun-burned scalp. But I think that makes me officially a missionary, being blooded and all, so I’m wearing my scars proudly!

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Rare piece of road equipment working on road

What, you ask, is the Kamili Road? It is a road out of Jinja to the Northeast that is partially under construction, for the last four years, I am told, with no end in sight – not much progress either, I might add. The construction has added little improvement to the journey, merely creating tight one-lane junctures with large piles of upturned earth where traffic tends to bottle-neck.

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One of many frequent bumpy bottle-necks down to one land or less

I guess every church not in Jinja proper is either on the Kamili Road or just off it on some even worse spur. I come to this conclusion from the amount of time we are spending on it, traveling from one church to another; If there are other roads in Uganda where churches exist, we’re not finding them.

[Note to grand-daughter Maddy, be warned: you probably don’t want to read the following paragraph as it contains unpleasant animal events]

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Seriously deteriorated road conditon

I will forever remember this road not for the blooding incident, but for another unfortunate occurrence. We were returning from the church, wending our way between pedestrians, bicycles without lights or reflectors, cars, trucks, taxis and buses, not to mention potholes, detours, 3 foot high half-constructed lane shifts due to unfinished grading, etc., etc. I was leaning out the window, trying to get a decent cell phone signal as I was talking to a friend in Jinja. I was not having much luck because every time we would begin, he would start a sentence, then our signal would disappear. We were on our fourth connection attempt. Suddenly, directly at the edge of the road in front of the car, an eight inch turtle lunged up onto the road surface from the grass shoulder and started crossing rapidly right in front of us. I was watching this drama unfold five feet in front of me, utterly horrified, when I heard the crunch, crunch of the front and rear passenger side tires passing over him, instantly transforming him into part of the muddy surface of the road. I will not get that crunching sound out of my head for the next two weeks, if ever! This event took about 1.5 seconds from beginning to end. One second, he was there thrusting himself forward with real gusto for a turtle, the next, crunch, crunch. The last thing my cell phone friend heard from me on the line before it disconnected for the final time was my anguished cry, “Look out! Turtle on the …” crunch, crunch. Then my line went dead. I didn’t even try to call him back.

A missionary friend of mine calls this road the Wages of Sin Road, basing his observation on Romans 6:23: “The wages of sin are death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.” This title actually works for me, though my team, who has ridden up and down this road or a portion of it numerous times in the last two weeks, now calls it simply the Roman Road in deference to the same verse. I’m sure the many Roman engineers, who built really fine roads in their time, are turning over in their graves at such abuse to their heritage by this comparison.

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