Greetings from Uganda. Eileen Malova and I left for Uganda, and due to travelling midweek found
the vehicles less crowded, a blessing. At the border, it took one hour to clear, as I had followed the
new method for multiple entry religious visit visas- done electronically and paid ahead of time. By
mistake, instead of giving me a six-month visa after phoning to Kampala, they gave me a full year
visa-a blessing and worth the delay!
We were based at Apollo and Sylvia Wopicho’s home in Mbale for the next few days and had
great times of sharing and prayer with them. Apollo and Sylvia have a gift of hosting travelling
ministers, and helping them feel comfortable and liberating them to do what they feel led to do.
On Thursday, we visited Stephen and Rose Wamboga in Mbale. Rose will be main speaker at the
women’s conference. I celebrated Thanksgiving with them, feasting on fresh passion fruit juice,
goat, cowpea greens, chapatis, and fresh pineapple!
The next day we visited Correti, a sister-in-law of Sylvia who has been giving problems to other
women leaders. Eileen plans to spend an extra day in Uganda after the women’s conference to do
further counselling with the extended family.
On Saturday, Sylvia, Emily from Mbale Church, Eileen, and I boarded a matatu to Bududa. We
hiked up the mountain (Eileen took a piki), and were warmly welcomed by Butuwa Friends who
will be hosting the women’s conference next month. They had raised enough money to host us all
next month- (great progress), and they even fed us a meal that included bamboo shoots in the
traditional sesame sauce. It tasted like gourmet mushrooms-yum! We all hiked down the
mountain and got back to Mbale just after dark.
Sunday, we all went to early worship-one that is quieter with more prayers than loud music or
preaching and a shorter service. Eileen and I then travelled direct to Malaba border. Eileen
returned to Kenya and I met with Evelyn Mukonambi from Elgon E. YM and travelled to Kimidi. We
found a group of men and a few women gathered still waiting for us. I shared a big pineapple with
them, as I was hot and thirsty. We arranged to meet the women early the next day and took off by
piki to Nangoma to visit home of late Makhokha, the man who started Friends in the area. They
fed us meat and millet posho and I shared Kenyan cookies. This time we stayed in a teacher’s
house at Kimidi school rather than a hotel on the major highway between Kenya and Kampala.
They want to offer hospitality to travelling ministers and are right off the major highway, easily
accessible. The two daughters of George Odoi, Asst. Presiding Clerk of UYM took care of us. They
had just finished form 4 and Form 6 and were eager to learn more about Kenya and America, as
they slowly cooked matoke (traditional mashed bananas) and other foods.
The next day, Solomon Watidini, the local leader, gave us a walking tour of the neighborhood,
while waiting for the women to come. The condition of the homes showed us that one thing
needed is teaching about basic hygiene. The women finally came around 1PM. We had a good
time and they were eager to learn. Next time, Evelyn wants to walk around visiting each woman,
encouraging them according to their home situation, rather than try to gather them together, as
they do most of the work while men typically sit and talk over issues, drink local brews, or play
games. We found beautiful straw mats woven by the women. I offered to give transport for one
woman if they were willing to sell a mat or a chicken and get transport for one other woman and
they agreed. We also met with Jafred Watidini, a 94year old who had given the land for the school
and church. We also met and talked with children at the local Friends Primary School, especially
encouraging the girls to finish schooling, (avoid AIDS and early pregnancy).
On Tuesday, we went by matatu to Buwayo to Pastor Joseph’s home. There we planned out
details of the Sunday School teacher training to be hosted at Kimidi from 24 to 29 January, 2018.
Then George, the brothers of Joseph and a local gov. councilor gathered and with George’s help
we got all to agree about the acres of trees we had donated to the church. Instead of planting
them on the 100 acres of church land in Nangoma, Joseph had planted them on his father’s land
and he did all the planting, weeding, and care of the trees that are now close to harvest. Since
Joseph did all the work we agreed to split the harvest of trees equally (50-50). As we all signed the
agreement we discovered that Joseph’s wife didn’t know how to write her name, so we had to
have her put her thumbprint instead. (Tutoring in basic literacy is needed in the area). I had to
write up by hand the official document, (no computer or typewriter was available). We made
sealed copies of the documents the next morning to give to each of the interested parties. This
agreement means that Busoga region now has a source of a lot of timber for building as well as
money needed to develop a dispensary or other things needed to improve the local people. All
leaders of the church are now rejoicing over this decision.
We also went by piki over to James Wakhata (pastor or Busia) to encourage Rose, his wife who
had been very ill with one of the newer strains of malaria, but who is now improving. On the way, I
passed some older forest, and passed by a troop of baboons. On the way back, it began to get
dark, and we stopped at Buwayo to find an open market active at night. George bought foods and
carried all the groceries and luggage on his piki, and Solomon and I returned to Kimidi via Matatu
(a much safer way to travel).
My last day in Uganda, I visited the family of George while waiting to get the tree document
copied. Then they carried my heavy bags to the main road, including a bag containing the largest
pumpkin (actually a winter squash) I’d ever seen. The matutu tried to avoid the local police check,
so tried to detour on a foot path with many rocks instead. The car broke down and men had to
push the van to top of mountain. Then we coasted down the hill until we hit more rocks and
destroyed the vehicle. We had to walk in hot, dusty midday sun the remaining mile (not easy with
my heavy bags) until I reached the main road to Busia. Didn’t see any other matatus on the main
road, so had to hire a piki to carry me the 15km to Busia border. Then walked across the border
and boarded an “express” van to Kakamega. Instead of 1hour, it took 2 ½ hours, so I didn’t get to
Mumias until 5:30pm and finally reached Kakamega around 6:25PM. How thankful I was to find a
piki to carry me to Elizabeth’s just as darkness was falling. She had a full lorry of maize (120 gunny
sacks full of corn) delivered which she stores for her extended family and then sells some when
the prices go up in a few months. I slept solidly last night.
Today I washed all my clothes and myself from head to toe, rested, and wrote up reports. I was
not able to attend today’s funeral of Edna, the receptionist at FTC who was shot by police in
Cheptulu, while she was just buying food at the local shops. Many people are angry the way police
are killing women and children during this time of election unrest.
I give thanks for this journey that enabled us to see progress among the women in Uganda,
to solve the issue of the trees, and to help Evelyn and I find areas that need further work with
women here. I am grateful for God’s angels protecting me on the challenging parts of the journey.
Many thanks for your prayers,