Archive for June, 2015


Buvuma Future Beckons

I will be out of internet range for the next two weeks ministering at the Lake Victoria Bible Institute as Bishop Waako is now calling the phenomenon that our little theology school has become out on Buvuma Island in Lake Victoria . So you won’t hear anything from me until about June 21, when I will take the ferry back to the mainland and rejoin society.

Now to be honest, he wanted to call what we’re doing the Jesus Reigns Lake Victoria Bible Institute, or the J.R.L.V.B.I. as he referred to it several times – he even has it in writing, with an address, no less, which is strange because we operate out of a rented hall for five days every four months or so, or when I can manage to get over there. I’m thinking the next time I see him, he’ll be wearing the J.R.L.V.B.I. T-shirt, and sporting new school colors. I think he’s now leaning in favor of the simpler L.V.B.I., but we’ll see.

As we continue to discuss the development of this small beginning, his vision just keeps getting bigger and bigger. Since these isolated people have no local opportunities for any kind of advanced training, the pastors and leaders are flocking to the Institute classes that I am able to infrequently provide.

Since the local government wants to donate land to its development, I ask a lot of questions about how a facility might look, should God continue to move in that direction. The last time I asked the bishop a question like this, he described to me the cattle- raising program the Institute would bring to the islanders. “Cattle-raising?” I asked, somewhat astonished. Yes, just one of many agricultural programs that the Institute will provide for the local farmers.

What can I say? I was asking about providing a few Bibles for the pastors, and he’s training cattle ranchers in his mind already. This charismatic leader of about 300 island churches is a genuine, die-hard visionary. I am a teacher and my mind doesn’t necessarily work that way. But I have to say, the more he talks, the more I believe he might just pull it off someday. After all, I was just teaching Bible studies, and the Magistrate offered to give us land, and now the bishop is planning an cattle-ranching project.

Okay, God. I’m not sure what all You’re doing…but I’ll keep walking forward, or riding this horse, or climbing this mountain, or paddling this canoe, or whatever I’m doing out here in Africa. I’m pretty convinced You’re the only one Who really knows.

2nd Day of Current 7 week trip to Uganda– As my assistant Alfred and I raced back and forth across Jinja yesterday, frantically trying to beat the clock on the many errands we had to complete before leaving for Buvuma Island tomorrow (Sunday), hunger finally took us out, and we stopped by the side of the road, unable to finish one more task without sustenance. We had Pastor David Waisana with us, and between the three of us, no one had a good idea where to find a quick but filling midday meal, which for them would be their main meal of the day. Our plans had been waylaid and set back by car problems. Our list was still unpleasantly long and incomplete.

Finally, I remembered the new Mexican restaurant that opened in Jinja last November (2014). Neither of them was familiar, of course, IMG_0170with Mexican food, and so, I thought, this would be an excellent and enlightening opportunity to plug that cultural gap, as well as hopefully find some good food. We taxied around the block and there it was, surprisingly close to where we had been sitting at the curb – the Sonrisa Mexican Restaurant.

When I had visited it last year, just three weeks after it opened, the enterprising young lady who owned it had just one table and a wicker patio chair and coffee table set. Now they sported three tables and the familiar patio set as well. Previously, I remembered, IMG_0169they had two dishes to choose between, but now she handed us a full four-page menu, listing the kind of items I could find in any authentic Mexican restaurant in the States. Apparently, business has been brisk and her enterprise is very successful, though she was experiencing the typical staff difficulties of the restaurant field – on this day, two of her staff had called in sick and she was training new cooks. So we waited quite long for the food.

An additional factor that supported the successful aura of the place was a Sharpie signature wall. Among all the graffitti-ed signatures and brief compliments – “Best Mexican food ever!” “My kinda place!” etc. – nearly one-third of the US states were represented and severalIMG_0172 European nations, and even some Ugandans. So, strange as it sounds, Mexican food has hit Jinja and become a hot spot for passing musungu’s and even many locals.

Aside from Alfred’s nearly fall-on-the-floor gasping-for- breath reaction to a tiny bit of hot spice in the nachos (I was there, folks – the food wasn’t spicy), both he and David seemed to enjoy the generous tacos, the taquitos, and the enchilada. Ugandans don’t use many spices in their food, so I wasn’t sure how they would take to this kind of food, especially after Alfred’s initial foray into the center of the nacho plate. But, the authentic tasting guacamole disappeared pretty quickly, though I may have helped that along, and the chips were very, very good as well. All in all, a smashing cultural success!

Both David and Alfred thanked me profusely for “taking them to Mexico…” A typical day in Jinja, Uganda, East Africa…not.

 

 

I have touched down once again in Uganda after a 28 hour trip through several changes and stops. For the first time, my plane stopped in Kigali, Rwanda, but, alas, we were not allowed off the plane; I don’t think that 60 minutes on the ground inside the plane qualifies me to say I’ve been to Rwanda now. From there, it was just a short hop into Entebbe, Uganda. I finally arrived at my overnight hotel well after midnight.

My driver picked me up Thursday morning and we began the laborious journey through the endless traffic jams of Kampala, the capitol city. The most unusual cultural experience of the day was traveling behind a Ugandan hearse for a number of miles. This was unusual in that it was the old style – and now illegal, I am told – Ugandan hearse, not the modern-style hearse that we are familiar with in the West.

This “old style” is a makeshift affair that is more affordable to the typical family who need to transport a deceased loved one between cities or communities prior to burial. What they do is strap a board across the handlebars of a motorcycle – or boda boda as the cycle taxi’s are referred to here. Then they wrap the body in a tight wrapping, much like the shroud of Bible times, and strap it to the board. When they are ready to go, the driver heads off through traffic with what is very obviously a body balanced precariously in front of him.

I am told that sometimes the driver will not use a board, but simply seat the body as if it is a passenger, strap it in place, and carry it to its destination like any other customer. In either case, though, I admit it is disconcerting to travel behind such an arrangement along the highway. In my case, the shrouded head extended to the right of the driver and the feet to the left as it lay across his handlebars.

The government has outlawed this practice as it adjusts to a more modern approach to such things, but the culture, as everywhere, lags behind legislation. And, of course, as everywhere, actual practice is more driven by economy than legislation. A counterpart in the U.S. is Obamacare, where medical insurance is now legislated, but even so, many still cannot afford it and so do not have it, even though it’s technically required by law.

From this and similar experiences, I observe that Africans, sadly, remain on more intimate terms with the Grim Reaper, and he visits them more frequently, and life is more fragile here than in the U.S. It is good to be reminded of that on my first day back among these wonderful people I have come to love.