Pleasant Changes

We are in Soroti for the final two weeks of the trip, five days of Stewardship and God’s Will this week out in the village, and 4 days of Church History next week in Soroti Town.

We were on our way to Jinja early in the trip, and we had commented during this trip that the activity of the police seemed to be quite different recently. In the past we have been stopped along the road and almost any excuse was used to induce us to pay something – the speed is too high, the baggage is blocking the back window, etc. The more legitimate stops have resulted in a ticket fine that was taken care of officially later, just as in the States. Other times we have paid a small “fee” (depending on how much we valued our schedule) and were allowed to proceed. Last trip we were stopped and were allowed to proceed with smiles all around when we produced Bibles and gave them to the two officers – all of us won that round because they got Bibles and we got to hand them out. For a season I even refused to ride in the front seat because I knew they were seeing a musungu in the vehicle and stopping us just to pick our pockets (we actually never got stopped when I was hiding in the back seat).

However, recently, we have not been stopped at all. It seems there is a new police administrator at the national level and he is straightening things up, fighting corruption, and insisting that his officers behave in a more professional manner. We were enjoying this new road freedom on our way to Jinja when suddenly a policeman waved us down from the side of the road. I sighed, expecting to have to go through the games all over again. He approached the window, smiled and said, “Do you have any food? We have been here all day and no one has brought us any lunch.” Now it was about 4 pm. These poor policemen were way out in the boondocks, assigned to watch the road, and apparently were unable to arrange for food to be brought out to them. Lunch is an important meal to Ugandans – I’m sure they were very hungry.

We, by you-know-Who’s direction, I’m sure, had just stopped several miles earlier at a service station with a small grocery and loaded up with snacks, and we always have bottled water with us. We were able to share our snacks with him and give water to them. This was a joy to us – they were not stopping us for any negative purpose, but only to ask for our help. What a difference has come to Uganda!

Dragging Uganda into the 21st Century

We have had a different routine than normal several times during this trip, arriving late at a new city, or passing through Kampala with late afternoon business, which required us to find a hotel for the night while on the road. We, of course, insisted that we find something that was within our budget. So for the first time ever in Uganda, we were firing up our internet hotspot in the vehicle and going to Booking.com to find cheap deals at good hotels in these unusual-for-us circumstances. We usually are able to plan our trip to arrive in one day at our next teaching point where we will be for the next week and do not have to stay overnight along the road.

This method of booking a hotel is also very new to Ugandan hotels, who seem to just now be hopping on the bandwagon, internet-marketing-wise. We found a really interesting looking hotel on our pass through Kampala on our way to Masaka in the third week of our trip.

So we booked rooms online for a really good rate for Alfred and for us for the night. When we arrived at the hotel, Gail, our official “keeper of the exchequer,” showed our reservation on her phone to the man at the desk. He had no idea what to do. He had never seen this before, didn’t know what it was, and had to go track down the manager just to register us into the hotel. Fortunately, they figured it out and we got in after only a little bit of confusion. We were the first, apparently, who had ever booked at this hotel from the internet. We had a pleasant night there.

I’m sure they were all thinking, you just never know what those musungus will come up with next.

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