The people kept coming and piling up the fruits of their gardens in front of us. Gail holds up huge Ugandan sweet potatoes.

We have finished our week of teaching among the new believers of Kamuda, a village area out of Soroti in north Central Uganda. We had around 75 total leaders in attendance from all around the surrounding area and some from far away, having come across the local lake, another large lake that cuts across central Uganda. It is much smaller than Lake Victoria but still an impediment to travel, so these had to take a boat across to get to Kamuda.

At the end of the meeting the people surprised us with an outpouring of thanksgiving. They sat us at the front in two chairs, then spoke blessings and gratitude to us for coming to such an obscure place where they do not get musungus. Little do they know…this is exactly the kind of place where we have been sent.

In my first trip to Uganda, we were driving north up a dusty and bumpy road north out of Jinja. I watched the various villages pass by and at that time, everything was new to me, so I was fascinated. As we drove, though, the Holy Spirit broke into my reverie, and nudged me a bit. It seemed that He said to me, “Do you see all these villages? Do you see the many churches along this road? No musungu comes here. These people don’t receive teaching. Most teachers go to the city where there are large

We were here when we wrote this Sunday, but discovered we were off the grid in this distant village, so could not send the post until tonight when we arrived back in Soroti.

churches. This is where you are to go. I have sent you to the villages.” The conviction of this was very strong. Since that time I have sought out the bush places, the villages and trading centers that are far from the cities. That is where I prefer to gather the leaders who do not receive teaching on a regular basis. Even in Soroti, a fair sized town, 50% of the group comes to the Institute from out in the villages, and they stay overnight in a house near the training site for five days. So places like Buvuma Island, Asinget out of Tororo, Soroti and Kamuda, the Samia region north of Busia, etc., are exactly the places I need to be.

The incredible bounty poured out on us from the people of Kamuda as a thank you for the teaching.

Back to Kamuda this last Friday. When the speaking of blessing was done, the people rushed forward and began to pile things at our feet. We couldn’t believe it. Huge piles of sweet potatoes dug from their gardens, a huge grain sack full to overflowing with oranges which grow here in abundance, bags of greens, a pile of po-po’s (papayas) that continued to grow as we sat there and people came by and added to it, and a pile of maize on the cob – corn to the westerner.

Finally, a number of grinning people stepped forward and presented chickens to us. A group of children, gathered tightly around their school headmaster, came forward with a chicken because, in between the Institute teaching, he had brought the students for a prayer of blessing. By the time the jostling was finished, we were presented with four (yes, FOUR) chickens. All of this was overwhelming and humbling. These people were bringing what they had to bless us and thank us for coming. There was so much that it took a long time just to pack it up for transport back to the “missionary house” in Soroti where we were staying.

This oddly shaped and huge sweet potato was in the pile.

A final note on all of this. We took Saturday off as a Sabbath because we were both very tired. As we sat on the porch of the missionary house, our four chickens, which had now found a home among the other chickens of the place we are staying, kept walking by where we sat. Now this was a large compound area and there were many places for chickens to go and pick bugs, but, not only were the four of them always together – perhaps the other chickens were abusing them socially because they were strangers, if chickens do such things – but they seemed to have an affinity for being near us. Gail and I had held them only briefly, and we were sure there was no way they could have bonded with us – again do chickens even do such a thing, and no offense to the chicken lovers among you, this city boy thinks chickens are not the sharpest tacks in the barnyard – but they had had a traumatic time of riding back all tied together and tangled up together, and trauma is a great bonding agent, sooo….

Bob and Gail meet “the chickens.”

My fantasy was that the trauma had bonded them to each other, and perhaps they were only attracted to us because we did not want to eat them, while everyone else only saw them as “dead-lunch walking.” But I wanted them to live, so I put them with these other chickens who now seemed to be taunting them with literal cackles of, “You don’t belong here,” “Hey, that’s my patch of buggy grass,” and “Gid-douda-heah, chicken,” then the inevitable, “Chicken, chicken…yellow-w-w chicken (Am not…Are too…Am not).” I might have come running to Mom and Dad, too, I guess. I know you will think my fantasies got carried away just a little.

The four chicken buds hang out together, seeming to stay near us throughout the day. What’s up with that? They had plenty of other places to go, but insisted on staying close to us.

But did they, really?

As we came back that evening and sat organizing our abundant vegetables and papayas on our little porch, two of these chickens insisted on visiting us. I’m not telling you that they wandered close by. What I’m telling you is that they both came up among the sacks and legs and arms and sweet potatoes being dropped into sacks, and threw themselves at us. Godfrey, our driver, drove them away three times, but as soon as his back was turned, there they came again until we had to push them out of the way just to get at the produce. I finally grabbed one up in my lap and spoke to it, and it did seem distressed, but as I held it, the other one flew up onto the sack right next to me as if trying to see what we, the chicken and I, were doing. Jealousy? I think so!

Chicken 1 was being talked to about being too pushy while we are trying to work, and chicken 2 immediately lept to the bag next to me and demanded to know what was going on and why I was not including her in the “lap-time.”

Then after releasing and shooing the lap-chicken away, this other one, the jealous one, sashayed over to the door of our room and nestled down on the concrete floor against the door jamb as if bedding down for the night (or laying eggs??! It’s hard to tell with chickens). If we had not chased her away too, we would have had to step over her to enter our room. So you tell me who’s fantasizing now, huh?

On another note, we are leaving Uganda on November 13, only 9 days from now. It might be a good thing for me to come home right about now because I’m starting to talk to the chickens…and even to understand a little of their responses. Anyway, we were blessed to have them for a short time and they were a fun diversion from the hard labors of teaching.

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