Uganda Day 3 Masaka

P4150005ugandaWe left early for Masaka which is about 90 miles southwest of Kampala. The town was destroyed in the 1979 war with Tanzania and again in the Ugandan civil war in the early eighties. You would never know it today. It is beautiful, quiet and peaceful. It has a couple of hundred thousand people in the district and perhaps 75,000 people in the town.

P4140004P4140005We crossed the equator as we neared Masaka. It was our first time to cross into the southern hemisphere (although technically that was true in Nairobi on our way here, we were far too busy getting to our next flight to notice). We took the obligatory picture but did not pay for the hoax to see water go down a drain clockwise a few meters north, counter clockwise a few meters south and straight right on the equator. We did buy some things from the market and enjoyed African tea to refresh us for the remaining drive.

Bosco, our driver for the trip, is a most interesting fellow. He was telling me of some of the tensions with his wife’s Muslim family. They don’t like him since he has no religion. Although he is Christian, he is nothing since he is not Muslim. We talked further about religious relations in Uganda. He said there is no problem here – yet. There are Muslims with a plan to make Uganda an Islamic country though 70% of the population is Christian at least in name. I sure hope not in light of Sudan’s official decision to hang a pregnant woman who married a Christian and converted in the process (story here). She was shown great charity in that she was not executed immediately but given until Thursday to return to Islam.

I taught spiritual warfare to the staff and mentors of Hope Alive Africa ( gathered in their meeting room at Masaka Baptist Church. They were eager students with many questions. We started with a very fun time of singing. You can hear two songs here. See if you can get the message of the second song which starts about 2:30 into the recording.

One challenge for my teaching is that the electricity in Masaka has been out for three weeks or so reportedly because of a transformer failure. Doing things directly from Bible, which I much prefer, is impossible with a variety of translations. Fortunately the nearby Compassion office has solar power, a generous spirit, and long extension chords so we were able to work a shared text projected onto the wall.

Another challenge is that they had a very difficult case with a demonized woman and that dominated their thinking. They were very appreciative for the more widely useful scriptural teaching but things go exciting when it was time to talk about that case. Unfortunately there are not simple answers to difficult cases so we did more sharing of ideas and experiences, which I enjoyed immensely. I was able to bring into questions some common and dangerous practices like interviewing the demon.

We started about an hour later than announced. Hardly unexpected. So after a couple of hours of teaching, they said lunch was ready so I adjourned the session at 1:00. It was 2:00 when the lunch actually arrived from the local restaurant. The Ugandan fare was delicious and the portions HUGE. Despite my pleas for relief my plate was heaping.

[time to head back to Kampala – to be continued]

Second Day In Uganda

We were able to sleep in this morning and catch up on some emails and work (yes, I am still professor Gerry) during the day today. I called Julius Twongyeirwe to check in. I will be preaching in his church a week from Sunday. He was quite surprised to hear my voice. 


P4130003This evening, I did my first teaching at Lugogo Baptist Church. It was youth service. They were very good. The drummer looked like he was about seven. He clearly was enjoying himself. We experienced that worship in Africa is a whole body thing. I found that I was wondering how it would go at Grace if people really did this. Just don’t know.

P4130005P4130008As I was answering questions Newton’s (who lead the service) children found a natural grandmother figure. They turned Sherry’s water bottle into a top, inventing whole new games with it. When I took their picture, the camera was the next object of delight. It was a great way to end the night.

Odd things that caught my attention: We were in a super market, akin to Safeway. As we stood in the checkout line, I suddenly heard what was on the store music: the Hillsong “I Surrender” song, followed by another from the same album. Not like America!

Every night there is a close by church that does LOUD services. For a half hour they chant Bible. Then they pray with the leader shouting at God and all the people joining in. Then the pastor screams at them for 45 minutes or so – which is happening as I write. Then they all join in as the service closes. Cannot figure out why loud and angry is more worshipful.

We  head to Masaka early tomorrow for teaching at the Hope Alive station there. We will visit some homes there and spend the night before coming back on Friday.


First Day in Uganda

P4110005P411000811:00 May 11 means departure time, so we loaded our suitcases and carryon bags into Jerry Fast’s van and began the long trek. The 10 hour  Portland to Amsterdam leg. We love the A330 with two up seating so Sherry gets her aisle and I get my window to see the barrenness of the far north of Canada, Hudson’s Bay, Greenland and the arrival in Amsterdam, and we can still snuggle.

P4110018P4110016Amsterdam was a much quicker turn around than we expected with a full scan check in to the travel lounge but then if you look REALLY closely you might notice that the nose tire of our 747 is worn and needs to be replaced. Didn’t see it? Well no one else did at the time. But it delayed our departure by 90 minutes making our turn around  in Nairobi very iffy, which set off my travel paranoia, of course. Sherry is much better at trusting God than I, as you can see.

P4110030The flight over the Sahara was fascinating. I tried to take pictures, but alas none really showed the barren beauty. The lake behind the Aswan dam was amazing with irrigation coming out. Sherry and I both slept a bit and enjoyed full meals and snacks. Remember the days? You can see the fellow across the aisle who used his blanket to make a tent. He and the woman between us were athletes from one of the Gulf States going to Kenya to train track and field athletes there. Sadly, she was so soft spoken I could hardly hear her over the roar of the jet engines.

We did make the flight to Entebbe, but it was a great rush. Sherry had requested wheel chair assistance and the fellow earned his keep. We even went through diplomat queues only to be stopped by a locked door to the tarmac. A nice lady finally arrived and we rushed to the plane and completed our journey.

P4120033P4120035I had hoped to see Entebbe, but the midnight arrival made that impossible. The assistant made our journey through passport control very easy indeed and soon we were greeted by Catharine Coon with warm welcome and our drive to her home. Our beds in her “servant quarters” were most welcome.

P4120037P4120039Tuesday morning was a chance to join the Hope Alive Africa ( Break Away session. It is school holiday here so they have a time for the students to gather, sing and do creative lessons, a feature notably lacking in the rote memory oriented schools. After a time of singing praise to Jesus, the group was eager to learn and quickly got into Catharine’s “Math and Art” activity. Every classroom was filled, so Jesse, a short termer from Salem (can anyone say “small world”?) took her primary reading class outside for their lesson. The students are from poverty stricken homes and reading a real children’s book is an unknown pleasure.

P4120043I asked several for their stories. Ambrose (pictured) and his brother, Dennis, were two of them. Both were orphans who had lost their hope when Hope Alive found them. They both worked really hard in school. Dennis is now in program to study electrical engineering. Ambrose just finished his secondary school and the exams. He passed them
but is not sure his score will qualify him for a government scholarship. There is not as much money available now. I listened to his faith in Jesus, his deep hope to serve, and his wondering what he will do if he does not get a scholarship. Tuition is far out of his ability. . Results will not be announced until after we are gone. So he prays and I join him. Will you?

P4120044P4120046We stopped by the super market to pick up a few things before heading home. Who would expect a big display of chicken gizzards? And “monkey gland sauce??” Is it real or just a name? I decided not to try it.

Off To Uganda


Sherry and I will leave for Uganda in a couple of hours and be there through most of the month of May. The weeks of anticipation, days of preparations, hours of packing and worrying about what we’ve forgotten are coming to an end.

We will be working primarily with Catharine Coon and Hope Alive Africa ( Catharine became a close friend back when she was a student at Western. Since then we have partnered together in the growth of Hope Alive, serving the original US board. It has grown to serve over 500 students. HA! pays school fees and related expenses with the idea that keeping them in their fragile family systems while utilizing resources of churches to help them succeed in school. This is an investment in the orphans and in the  country.

Our KLM flight will go through Schipol Airport, my favorite international airport on the way to Nairobi and after a VERY long time to Entebbe.

Prayers much appreciated!