Friday, October 17, 2014

The joys of a washing machine

I did a load of laundry this morning, rejoicing in the pleasure of having such a machine.  Helen, my house help, does my laundry in Uganda, so I'm equally spoiled, but not having to hand-wash clothes is a joy I shall never take for granted.

As I was applying OxyClean stain stick to the bottom of my alb (which never seems to be free from African dust), I remembered that Helen remarked that my clothes seem so much cleaner when I return from the US where I have used that wonderful washing machine.

As further proof that I've gone native, apparently, I was sufficiently enamored with the washing machine that I forgot add detergent.  I remembered just as the spin cycle began.  True story.  So now my clothes are extra clean.

Welcome back!

Please join me in praising God for a blissfully uneventful trip to the US!  I arrived very well Tuesday afternoon, and went through Immigration, retrieved my luggage (that was on the carousel as I approached it), and went through Customs in record time.  I consider that a small miracle.

The only Ebola-ish encounter I had was when we disembarked at Amsterdam, where we were met by two VERY tall policemen at the gate, who were reviewing passports and inquiring of our final destination.  I was behind a young man who had been conversing with the policeman in [presumably] Dutch, when the policeman switched to English and demanded, "are you nervous?"  Despite the negative answer, he asked the young man to join a couple others who had been pulled aside for further investigation.

I had had had a raging headache, and was a bit nervous to take any Advil lest anyone accuse me of trying to reduce a fever, but I needn't have worried.  No one else seemed to care that there were passengers who had been in Africa onboard, despite the media hype.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Introducing my nephew!

Friday morning, I got the wonderful news that my dear friend, Sara Muhima, had gone into labor.  For the All Saints’ crowd, Bishop Muhima is now a grandfather, and he and Mama Vasta are over the moon! 

Troy Edward Manzi Kwesiga was born Friday evening around six, and I was able to go to the hospital Saturday to meet him.  His due date was October 4, but obviously, babies don’t care about trivial details such as when people think they’re supposed to arrive.  Selfishly, I had asked Sara to tell him to come before Auntie Jessica had to leave.  I’m thrilled that he cooperated!

Isn’t he a doll?  Sara looked absolutely fabulous despite not sleeping Friday night.  They should be discharged Sunday morning.

Troy didn’t seem to mind being passed around, and his dad had to introduce him to selfies.

I’m going to look for a plush football in the US to bring Troy, so he doesn’t grow up thinking that soccer is the only futbol.  I'm also bringing him "The Jesus Storybook Bible," because he needs a book for family devotions.

Monday, October 6, 2014

As if Ebola isn't enough...

Since Ebola is dominating the news (and rightly so; please keep praying for relief supplies to be delivered and for the health workers who are fighting so valiantly), I wanted to share something that may not make the news in the US.  A case of Marburg hermorrhagic fever has claimed a life in Uganda, as reported by several news outlets.  We had an outbreak of Marburg in 2012, and the Uganda authorities moved quickly to contain it.  UCU did lose a staff member then, who contracted it at a funeral for a relative who had Marburg.

Mengo Hospital, where the deceased was employed, is in Kampala, and is very near Namirembe, where the Church of Uganda Provincial Office is located.  Since Uganda contained the Marburg virus the first time there was an outbreak, I am confident it will be contained again.

Perhaps it's my naiveté showing, but I am not terribly worried about it spreading to Mukono.  Perhaps I should be.  I don't know. 

I do know that I will add this to my prayers, and ask you to as well.  Honestly, words are failing me as I think about all that is happening on this continent, and beyond.  As much as I love to understand, I can't.  I can only pray, and trust, despite my lack of understanding.   

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Saying good-bye

I suppose saying hello and good-bye are part of the circle of life in both a university setting and a missionary life, but while we embrace the former, the latter never gets easier.  This week, we said good-bye to Karl and Arleen Buchholz (front center; Karl in blue, and Arleen to the right), a delightful Canadian couple.

Arleen has been in Africa for the last 20 years, and Karl for 10.  They've only been at UCU for a year, but quickly made themselves at home, and became beloved members of the community.  We are hoping that they will be able to return for a couple months each year, but will still miss them terribly.

Pigs in Kampala

DC has a fence jumper at the White House; Kampala has pigs running in the street.

Yes, apparently painted pigs were released in Kampala the other day.  The pigs were painted yellow, the color of the ruling political party, and apparently were a protest to the high unemployment rate.

The presidential election is coming up... in 2016.  It appears that the political rhetoric is already ratcheting up.  The Prime Minister was sacked earlier in the week, and the discussion about that is still quite contentious. 

Please pray for peace, especially as the campaigning heats up.  I thought American politics were fierce, then I came here.  Man.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Village thanksgiving

Sunday, I went to a village about an hour beyond Jinja (which is 1.5 hours from Mukono) to attend a thanksgiving service.  One of my students, David, was the lay reader at this church, and now serves as its deacon, and will soon serve as its vicar.  They have been slowly building the church, and “for some good time” (several years) and were worshipping in the church without a roof.  That meant that prayers began at 7:00am so they could be finished by 10:00am, when the sun was beginning to get hot.  In all that time, David reports that it never once rained during Sunday morning prayers, which is especially miraculous during the rainy seasons.  It reminds me of God making the sun stand still for Joshua while he was in battle – truly God is God over meteorology!

The roof was completely installed earlier this year, and David finally decided to have a thanksgiving service.  I love the concept of a thanksgiving service; whenever someone wants to publically thank God for something He has done, they request to have a thanksgiving.  There doesn’t have to be a lot of pomp associated with it; the priest can just give a short summary of why someone wants to give thanks, and people come up to the front of the church to join in giving thanks, placing their shillings of gratitude in the basket.

Since much fundraising had gone into paying for the roof, this service had to be something.  A guest preacher and choir contingent came from Namugongo, where David did his diploma (similar to an associates degree) studies.  I came from Mukono, and while I wasn’t officially representing UCU, I am a muzungu (one who traveled a long distance, or a white), and that lends a certain je ne sais pas to any event.  I wish it didn’t.  Anyhow.

Now that the church has a roof, the congregation is now fundraising to repair the vicarage.  After the offering, they had the thanksgiving, and then had a harvest celebration, in which members of the congregation brought what they had, mostly crops, to sell.  The proceeds then go towards repairing the vicarage.  And did they bring.  There were seven chickens (one of whom made decent progress towards freeing her bound feet; two others were noshing on the loose maize on the floor), probably 100 pounds of maize, a tray of eggs (30), and I don’t know what else.  David asked that I participate in receiving the thanksgiving, which consisted of receiving bags that were brought, and passing them to whoever was standing behind me to be stacked (and praying that the people with the chickens would give them to David).  When we were done, several people came up and started sorting everything:  all the maize went in a huge bag, all the potatoes together, sugar cane together, eggplant together, etc.  Then the auctioning began.  It was rather impressive, actually.

Another student had accompanied me to the church so I wouldn’t get lost, and he accompanied me to [the nearest] town so I wouldn’t get lost going home.  We were discussing the thanksgiving, and he asked me whether it was appropriate theologically.  Apparently, those who come from the East African Revival consider it to be along the same lines of what caused Jesus to overturn the tables in the Temple courtyard.

I explained to him that part of what got Jesus upset was the outrageous exchange rates for Temple currency, and when I asked whether things are sold at fair market value, he said it was.  For example, one of the chickens went for 15,000 shillings (about $6).  I couldn’t keep up with the rest of it. 

And I’m still pondering whether this is acceptable.  The visiting choir purchased most of the goods, and several eggplants were placed at my feet, apparently a gift from someone.  But the congregation usually purchases everything; my comment was that it was like their own market.  If they’re purchasing, they have the money.  So why go through the bringing what you have and buying something else? 

The eggplants given to me are at the top (even the little green ones; apparently, they're bitter).  The oranges given to me later are at the bottom.

I’m sure some members really don’t have much, and are literally bringing what they have, like the widow in Mark 12:42-44.  I believe, no, I know that God honors that.  As for the parish market, I’m still pondering that.