A few more briefs from the last 8 weeks:

  • We were leading a one-day meeting in a place called Busia, way out in the bush. I had been asked to come and teach the day. There were about 80 people there from the deep villages – this is the place I have mentioned before where they have not seen a white this far back in thirty years or more. At lunchtime the leader came before the group as we were being escorted out to the table, and announced, “And now another preacher will preach to you.” I was quite surprised. Usually when they have the opportunity to sit under a musungu, they don’t mix the meeting with multiple speakers. I was only about half finished, but I looked at Gail and shrugged, “Oh well.” We ate lunch, and were then led back to the church building. I wondered who we would be sitting under for the afternoon and what his subject would be and if the translation would be clear enough for us to follow it. When we re-entered and it became obvious that I was expected to continue the teaching, I finally asked, foolish man that I am, who the other preacher was and when he would speak. He told me that he was referring to “lunch” – I had taught them, and now they would be taught by another preacher – the lunch. It was a joke, but when no one laughed, I had taken him quite seriously, silly musungu!
  • The children in Bugembe all sing the same song to us when they see us. It is apparent that there is some little doggerel taught here in the schools that all the children learn to sing “at” the musungus. It only occurs in Bugembe that I have noticed, and so, I surmise, it is the brainchild of some local poet or minstrel. Ugandan children all seem to think “Bye-bye” means Hello in English, so all small children across Uganda will call out, “Bye-bye, musungu,” and I am used to hearing that. However, the singsong verse of Bugembe is new to me. I asked Alfred what it meant since it was in Lusoga rather than English, so he paused the car along the road and listened carefully. Then he laughed. I suspected some subtle mockery of the musungu, or perhaps the standard request for money. He said, though, that the children are singing, “Bye-bye, musungu, bye-bye; biscuits and guavas, biscuits and guavas, bye-bye, musungu, bye-bye.” Alfred looked as perplexed as we were. Makes as much sense, I guess, as “Hickory-dickory-dock…” in our culture.
  • The Holy Spirit is His usual walk-along companion with us here. I know a certain man who was struggling mightily with personal issues, but I didn’t know him well. One day the Spirit put an urgency on me to seek him out to speak with him and try to comfort him if I could. He lived at some distance, but I had a small blank spot in the program, so I asked Alfred to call him to see if I could come to him. He invited us quite happily. When I met with him shortly after that, I was able to counsel him in some key areas, pray with him and answer some difficult spiritual questions he was wrestling with. At the end of our conversation, as we were saying our good-byes, he shared that he had been praying for several weeks for someone he could talk to about these things. In his position, it was difficult to share such issues with locals, and so he felt quite isolated and alone, even hopeless, but he prayed nevertheless. He was thanking God for sending me because I was someone he could open up to since I was not one of his neighbors or associates. Oddly, only yesterday Gail had exactly the same experience with a young woman who had no one she could talk to about deeply personal issues and had also been praying that God would send someone. If we have done nothing else this entire trip, those two brief encounters of following the Spirit and speaking in His voice to two of His suffering children make this entire eight weeks well worth it.