I’m finding it extremely difficult to condense seven days of African village life into a single blog post. There was just so much that each of us experienced this past week that even varied from person to person. As time goes on, I am sure that you will see blog posts that hone in on more specific encounters and lessons, but for now I’ll do my best to paint a large picture of the week from a distance.
The part of Kaliro that we were in was on a dirt road which housed anywhere between 10-15 huts and houses. There was a single bore-hole water well which supplied the area with fresh drinking water that was delicious.
Lush vegetation sprouted from every corner of your eye; if it wasn’t the dust of the path or the blue of the sky, it was the green of the plants. The African bush has always blown me away with it’s diverse plant life. Kaliro continued this trend in extraordinary fashion.
Before the cars came to a complete stop, we looked down the road to see a horde of children rushing from the sides of the roads in the middle and straight at us. It was like a scene from a zombie movie, but instead of a hunger for brains, we learned that these 100+ village children were starving for love.
How does a wave of the hands and a flexing of smiling muscles affect a Ugandan child? In America, you’d often receive a cold stare of confusion in return for your efforts. Maybe you’d be lucky enough to have a small pitied smile sent your way. But here, things are different. A smile and a wave can mean the world to a child.
Take Rita for example. Rita is the younger sister to Junior, and a little girl who I remember from my lats time here. She is deaf, but her big round eyes aren’t shy of sight. When I first saw her and waved with a smile, she took her hand out of her mouth and reached for the heavens. Her mouth opened wide into a smile that revealed her rotted two front teeth. She fell to her knees and reached her arms out straight to me, as though she had the telekinetic power to pull me toward her.
The week was spent building the foundation for what will eventually be a building that can house future teams as they come to Kaliro. For us, this week was simply extreme camping. A building with beds and a roof will allow future teams to not have to worry about stumbling blocks such as sleeping with spiders and lizards with two grown men to a mattress.
Let me tell you, or rather Luke will later, just how hard building a house with your bare hands can be. There are no cement mixers, laser levels, nail guns, ladders (we had to build a ladder out of sticks!), circular saws, or anything of the sort. Each task was meticulous and time consuming, but required in order to lay the most important part of a house correctly.
Each night we set up a projector screen (made out of a white sheet and large sticks) to show a movie to the villagers. This was awesome for people who have rarely seen media on this scale, and it was a great platform to show films with Biblical focuses.
The days were long, starting at 7:00am and not ending until the movie was over at around 10:00pm. It was an extremely challenging week, both emotionally and spiritually because of the amount of work that was laid out in front of us.
The last couple of days were spent at a place called the “Hairy Lemon” which is in Jinja, halfway from Kaliro to Kampala. Our plan was to spend a night on this island to relax and debrief the hectic week, which we were able to do.
Instead of leaving during the day, however, a rain storm kept us there later than expected. After the torrential rain storm, we spent more time talking about our experiences and didn’t get in the little wooden dingy to leave the island until around 8:00pm.
The normal 100 yard Nile crossing was complicated by the earlier rain storm and the naturally raised water level of night. The current was extremely strong and our conductor was not able to control our raft. After we realized the current was too strong, we were already out in the middle of the Nile. The current took us down stream in the pitch black of night, not knowing what was going to happen.
As we drifted quickly down the river a for a short while, we heard the loud sound rushing rapids ahead of us. There was nothing we could do to prevent ourselves from entering them, so we braced ourselves and prepared for the worst. When the boat, which was floating backwards, struck the rapids it was held by two large rocks. Water rushed in our boat immediately, and the 9 of us stood up.
The boat was lodged in the rocks which prevented our board from rushing down to more deadly rapids. We were able to all evacuate the boat with all of our supplies and eventually trek through the water hand-in-hand back to the Hairy Lemon. This is why we were a day late.
We are all doing fine now and are preparing to fly home tomorrow. Please pray for our travels, particularly through customs and security, that it would be quick and smooth. If all goes according to plan, we should be stepping onto American soil at 3:00pm on Thursday afternoon!
It’s seems so odd to us to be leaving. It’s seems so soon!
This blog will continue to crank out posts after we are home to narrate more experiences and to plan the future for this new vision of Global Missions for the Valley.
-Tommy, Virginia, Luke, Kristen, Bouge (David)