Day Eleven, April 25:
It is raining on our parade! We are checking out of the Kingfisher Resort this morning, and there is no sign of the twenty or so South African teenagers who were here on a mission trip, so the place feels empty. The breakfast buffet was not set up, but was exchanged for an a la carte menu, which delayed us in preparing to leave. As I went to settle the bill, expecting to use my Visa debit/credit card, which the clerk repeatedly promised me would be accepted, I was informed that the credit card machine is broken, so they would only accept cash. With our cash issue, this was bad news. The good news was the clerk apparently discounted the rate, because she only charged me 290,400 UGX (~$120 US), which is about right for one night, not two. God owns all the cattle on every hill, and He supplies!
Anthony picked us up and we drove the now watery clay roads, over some undercarriage-scraping speed humps, and through what appeared to me to be rivers, if not at least streams. Anthony is very careful and intentional, taking obstacles like this pollan-pollan (sp? slow-slow).
Jinja is a beautiful town, with many buildings and houses one might just mistake for American. The red stain of the clay splashed up on everything make two things clear though: first, that we are not in Kansas, and that forceful rains are a regular occurrence here. We crossed the Nile twice as we went about today, traversing Jinja's hydroelectric dam and bridge. As Cindy began to take a picture, Anthony cautioned that amateur photography of this structure is prohibited.
We stopped at a couple banks to attempt to cash our remaining American Express traveler's cheques, but no one would take them. We were referred to a couple branches in the capital city of Kampala, where we will be tomorrow. I guess I can use the ATM until Monday. We had cash enough to stop at the downtown marketplace and get a few souvenirs including a poster-sized map of Uganda Anthony found for me, which depicts all the towns that have highlighted our journey, and most of the roads we used to get to them. I will cherish it.
We got to the Baugh's house, which was a gorgeous home on Lake Victoria, and were received by a precious couple of God's hands and feet here in Uganda. Sent years ago as affiliates with the Bible Study Fellowship, Russ and Marcia Baugh adopted their Ugandan child, Joseph, though the Rafiki Foundation, but have since joined up with Every Child Matters (ECM) as missionaries to the Busoga Tribe, one of Uganda's most poorly resourced people. (See http://TheWayHomeAfrica.com.) They teach the Farming God's Way agricultural principles, and minister to fifty-seven "granny houses," of just as many widows raising their 315 orphaned grandchildren. The Baughs seek supporters willing to sponsor all or part of a granny house, which costs $2,200 to build. They are also starting a pastor training program, in hopes of deepening the knowledge base and Scriptural integrity of the local church leadership. Russ and Marcia were encouraging and helpful, sharing wisdom and anecdotal references to their application. Their primary advice: trust God, and don't need to know the whole plan! They gave us other missionary pointers too, like fund raising basics, discipleship emphasis, cultivating trusting relationships, and a priority of bringing people to a saving knowledge of Jesus.
As we parted with the Baughs, Anthony took us to his home church, Acacia Community Church, pastored by Terry Nester. He showed us around the grounds and the newly constructed meeting shelter which, he said, seats 300-400 souls each Sunday. He was proud of his local fellowship, as well he should be. I look forward to meeting Pastor Terry.
Anthony then took us to witness the beautiful Itanda Falls, where we took several pictures and walked a tour right down to the Nile. The falls were breathtaking, but we resisted the urging of local "divers" who tried to get us to pay them to go through the class 5 and 6 rapids without a raft. I can't imagine a sane person doing that. I can, however, imagine me taking advantage of the zip-line over these falls. Maybe next trip.
We made it to our appointment at Amazima right on time, and met the Operations Director, Brad Lang. (See www. Amazima.org.) We were his only guests this week, so we got a little extra attention. He was relieved we were aspiring missionaries and not just Katie Davis fans. He chatted with us about the realities of missionary work in Uganda, and as he did, his exuberant passion spilled through. It was inspiring talking to someone so dedicated to doing whatever God articulates as His will for ministry! Amazima teaches and promotes Farming God's Way agricultural practices too, and Brad showed us the training fields. The lots farmed in traditional ways yielded smaller, less productive crops than those using the FGW principles, which were already yielding four or more times the traditional method. I was sold on it. Amazima supports community programs, including a Saturday Bible Study program, where sponsored kids are also given supplemental food items to augment their home meals. Since they get school breakfast and lunch, many do not eat supper unless they bring it home. We saw kids packing food bags for tomorrow's supply. We toured the playground, built four years ago, by Brad and some teenagers he taught some construction skills in the process. We walked and talked for quite awhile. Brad was very hospitable and tolerant of the aspiring missionaries from Florida.
Anthony, who is of the Busoga people (correction: Buganda), pointed out a couple ministries with which he was familiar that we passed as we left Amazima: Our Own Home, a children's home for kids with AIDS; and the Good Shepherd Folds, another orphanage in Jinja. I reference these so I can look them up later. We like Anthony's heart, and he has pointed us toward many good things on this trip. He surprised me with a small knife with which we can cut up our remaining mangoes. It was tough trying to do it with a hotel dinner knife. This will work much better. The TSA won't let me take it home, so I will likely re-gift it to him before we leave.
We made it to the Providence Guest House, a ministry of Heavenly Hope Ministries (www.providencegh.org). This is a guest house devoted to missionaries, and the proceeds go to help missionaries. The place was fabulous too! Roomy and well-equipped, we were given everything we needed, including a menu with some Ugandan dishes on it. We had skipped lunch to make our appointments, so I was hungry.
At supper we met a man and daughter here from Pennsylvania, to encourage and support the adoption of a child by the man's other daughter. Adopting parents and grandparents are my heroes, as they are rescuing the very children out of the need we seek to meet. The man, Ken, is a dentist, has been on many mission trips, and even in his fifties adopted a Chinese baby. That's a hero!
Listening to Ken's stories while reflecting on other conversations of the day reminded me there are orphan rescue initiatives, like children's homes and adoption, then there are orphan prevention initiatives, like those practiced by Amazima, where families are encouraged and supported in staying together. The latter goes well with the national Ministry of Gender's philosophy I have griped about in earlier posts, that a child is better off in even a bad home village than in a children's home. It was the idea that families just want what is best for their families that had me choked up in Gulu when I was addressing the Acholi women. I don't know what is in store for us, or what form our ministry will take, but it is exciting seeing the many approaches to ministry that are being taken by God's people.
Dinner at Providence was great, and two hot showers later, we were ready for bed.