It is unbelievable and wonderful and somewhat surreal sitting here in our new Uganda home with beautiful views out of the windows on either side of the desk that Nkatta, the carpenter, hand-crafted for Jacob! (It is basically a multilevel shelf that fits into one of the corners of our bedroom.) It has taken us since Tuesday, with the help of carpenters, electricians, and plumbers, to get this house to feel more like home, but it is starting to feel that way.
After a two week stay in Kampala in the gracious care of our dear friends, Patrick and Vickie Bukenya, we were finally able to get the bulk of our preparatory shopping done (some things have to be made from scratch, so it’s not merely a matter of going down to the store, picking something out and then taking it home…I believe Jacob gave you a good description of his comings and goings in Kampala in a previous letter.) We left for Moyo/Aforgi located in northwestern Uganda on the South Sudan border this past Monday. Patrick was kind enough to drive us in his vehicle, which was a great help since we had so much stuff. We also had to hire a small truck to haul the much of what was built and bought in Kampala. It takes a lot to start from scratch. I tell you, these high maintenance missionaries!!
Our trip to Moyo took 12 1/2 hours, though mileage-wise, on US roads, it would only take 4 1/2 hours. It is a colorful ride in many ways!
We left at eight in the morning, but it took us a while just to get out of Kampala with the numerous traffic jam! The roads from Kampala to Gulu were decent, with minor bumps in the road due to construction and resurfacing. Apart from the challenges of driving in Uganda, it was truly a beautiful journey. I was tired but hesitated to sleep for fear that I would miss any of the scenery…lush forests with every kind of tree imaginable, rolling hills (I did not realized Uganda was so hilly), and even some baboons near Karuma Falls who definitely thought they were “king of the road!” To say the least, the landscape was “eye candy!”
Starting at Gulu, a fairly large city, the roads changed as we continued north. They had a reddish hue…no paving, just red dirt…and rocks…and potholes…and people, and bikes and animals! It reminded me so much of India! I don’t imagine that any vehicle can take even a few trips on those roads before a serious overhaul is necessary. There were times that the bumps and jolts were so severe that I was sure the truck would leave parts behind. Little did I know that the worst was yet to come. Our stop at the Nile River and waiting for the ferry was a peaceful interlude before we started our ascent to Moyo,which is situated at the top of a cluster of mountains the size of the Appalachians. Oh my! I believe paving these roads would be a nightmare for any contractor. It was more of an “off roading” experience! Unfortunately, we started our climb up the mountain in the dark (the ferry was late in loading on the opposite side and getting to ours) so I really didn’t get a view of the scenery.
After an hour or so more driving we finally arrived at our new home where Abraham and his wife Margaret were waiting with a meal. I was fighting to hold back tears as we drove in—to see the culmination of so many years of hard work, prayer and partnering in vision and sacrificial giving was very moving!
This week has been a whirlwind of activity as the carpenters, electricians and the plumber have worked tirelessly to get things up and running. Just now the electricians were able to switch us over to solar powered batteries; the lights are on, this computer is running—we have power! In the battery room there is a switch which can allow for us to use either solar or generator power. These guys are geniuses! It is now late and the carpenters,electricians, and Jacob are still at it, trying to finish up before they leave very early tomorrow morning by bus back to Kampala.
This week we have had several important meetings, the first of which was an RAU board meeting laying out the agenda for the next few months. Already, in August, we have an American team making a visit: Jacob’s good friend, Kevin Turner of SWI and some folks he is bringing along. October will be a month of hosting local church leaders for short retreats including teaching, prayer, encouragement, discussion and resources. Ron Zeiner will be coming the last week of October to provide some excellent teaching! In the first week of November, a 3-man team from Tennessee will also be coming through. In the second weekend of August we are planning to host a dedication service to which we will invite local church leaders and also key community leaders to hear about our vision, to celebrate with us, and to dedicate this new facility to the glory of God! September and the first three weeks of October we look to host a number of retreat/teaching times for pastors, evangelists, and church planters. In the middle of November the guys are planning an exploratory trip in the Iterie forest in the northeastern D.R. Congo to the unreached Mubuti Pygmies in the area.
Also, several key meetings have taken place with the Chief of Police at the Moyo District Police Department. Discussions have centered around security concerns which the higher administrative offices have had in having an American presence in the area. It has been an tug of war, emotionally and spiritually speaking—faith versus fear, and wisdom/prudence versus presumption—to have to think about the possibility of danger and to know how far to carry out security plans. At the moment, we have, at the strong pressure from our Ugandan RAU board members, and by necessity per the local police department, hired two armed soldiers to be on guard during the night. The police department will also step up their patrolling of this area.
We wanted to hit the ground running, and to begin to accomplish, in the words of our daughter, Anna, “the meat and potatoes” of why we came here. It has been difficult to get a running start though. If you can imagine a mud pit at the start of the race, and the athlete having to trudge his way through it before he can actually start running—that’s us! For us the “mud pit” is a cultural learning curve, different pace of life, difficulty in accomplishing what, in the States, would be a simple thing—having to build, from the bush up, some place to stay and from which to work. It is an intense struggle just to get up and running! The people that we are acquainted with here are eager for us to succeed because they know this area will greatly benefit by RAU’s presence and services.
As we go forward from here we would like to place before you matters for prayer and also the financial needs we have. We hope you will not grow weary in hearing about them!
*for safety! There is no current, major threat, just the normal risks involved in being in this part of the world.
*for comfort in being separated from those we love and all that feels normal.
*for continued vision and passion to press into what the Lord has called us to do.
*for our relationships with local churches, the border guards stationed near us, and the local people—our new neighbors!
*for continued good health. We have been cautious about our drinking water and food, but the mosquitoes are hard to avoid.