Chobe Safari

Chobe Safari

Today we went on our first safari to Chobe. It was a rough drive on the Gulu road, but the trip was eventful and fun. Here is our collection of wildlife typical of the day, along with a few others you might enjoy. Northern Uganda is a remarkably beautiful place, and it was fun to get out with the young missionaries for a preparation day of...
Don’t Worry. Be Happy.

Don’t Worry. Be Happy.

My train of logical thinking was finally jolted from its tracks last night, sending it jouncing and jangling down the rutted roads of Gulu…all because of watching men play board games. This morning, I found it resting in a grassy field near a village. After a few more creaks and pops, and a final exhaling hiss, it sat quiet. Today I see that what I took for the locomotive of right thinking a few months ago now sits motionless in a kind of Eden. At a mid-week priesthood activity night, six men showed up. They took a table and chairs outside and started playing board games. I came out from another meeting midway through their games, so I watched. That is when my train left the tracks. Watching them, I realized that these six men, with daily struggles I cannot fully grasp, were delighted to just play together. When we came to Uganda in January, we expected to learn how the people found happiness even in the midst of misery. But now I see that they are closer delight than misery. Let me replay some of their animated banter from the chess game (sitting on the wall). Wow! Nice move. But you just watch, I’m going to get you. You think so? I am the master of this game. You don’t have a chance! There! See? You cannot stand up against me. Awwwww. You came from behind. Nice play. But look at this… Move to the board game (in the foreground): I am winning! I am king! Nobody can stop me now. You talk too much. You will be humbled. Just wait. Wow, I can’t believe I always roll a...
Joseph Kony

Joseph Kony

Here in northern Uganda, there is a man whose horrific fame has reached around the world. He is among the most barbarous monsters ever to have lived, and his atrocities against the people of this region, and especially children, stagger any logical human mind. His name is Joseph Kony. Today we learned from two people whose lives he has affected. His name evokes terror among anyone in this region, and now in other neighboring countries. He has gone into hiding and uses his invisible children as human shields. The 29 minute video linked here is sobering. We noticed the painting shown above inside Mary’s home today. She essentially told this story: That man has affected every family in northern Uganda. There is no one in Gulu who has not been changed. The war he caused lasted over 20 years, and it is only recently that he has moved on. The painting depicts his army burning the village and stealing children. The murdering and disfiguring and abuse is indescribable. In 2008 his army came through here for a second time. They were abducting children just here (points to the village next door) and one of the soldiers demanded 500,000 schillings from a child. She pointed to our home and said they could get it here, but that our door was very strong. They came to the house while we were inside. They tried to get in but could not. Finally, they shot holes in the back wall and door. The sound was so terrifying as we hid inside. Eventually they went away, taking the abducted children from the village with them. Then Vincent, who...
The Gulu Truck

The Gulu Truck

There is a great difference between our trucks here in Gulu compared with those of the rest of the mission. The Gulu truck has battle scars and mud typical of our terrain. Today we finished a two-day trip to Mbale where we attended mission conference. This required our driving the Gulu road twice in as many days. I haven’t captured photos of that road yet, but will on our next trip. It really is indescribable. On our return trip today, it had rained heavy during the night so the roads were very muddy and wet. Huge mud holes littered the road and our two trucks fishtailed wildly when we accelerated too quickly. On one occasion the other truck, driven by Elder Rogers, was trying to pass a semi by driving along the side of the road. I wish I had footage of that attempt. Elder Rogers timed it perfectly so his speed and the size of the mud holes were just the wrong distance apart. As his truck accelerated, it began to leap from one hole to the next, shooting huge sprays of mud and water up over the hood and in all directions. It resembled a dolphin in a mud bog. After four or five jarring crashes from hole to hole, he gave up the chase and slid behind the semi just as I passed them both on a less challenging side of the road. That was luck, not skill. I laughed for a long time at the sight. What passes for roads here in Gulu is amazing. This past week we had our truck in 4-wheel drive twice. Once while trying to leave the church driveway...
The Boogie Man Cometh

The Boogie Man Cometh

The emotional challenges of this week have been many. We’ve been delighted and terrified, anxious and serene. Let me illustrate using last night as one example. I was jerked awake this morning at 2:30 by the phone ringing. I staggered into the hallway trying not to disturb RaNae and answered. It was Peter, a member who has been helping our disturbed friend Dixon this week. He was calling from Kampala and was frantic. He said “They’re coming to get you and beat you! You must hide! Turn off all the lights. Hurry! I love you, dear Brother”, then hung up. With the culture we live in here in combination with the goings on of this week with Dixon being beaten, I went into a panic. I called the zone leader and asked him to wake all the Elders and come help us right now. Within 60 seconds they were at the door – sleepy-eyed and staggering. Meanwhile, I had called Peter back. I asked him to slow down and explain what was going on and who told him we were in danger. He answered that he had had a dream and the Holy Ghost told him. He then proceeded to ask if we had a black cat, and urged us to sit in complete darkness where we would be safe. That is when I realized my panic was unfounded. I explained the story to the Elders, apologized, and sent them back to bed. This culture is so mingled between religion and witchcraft that the lines get blurred. I realized as I spoke to Peter the second time that he...