We left Wednesday and Thursday, our last two days unscheduled, figuring that things would come up or that weâ€™d need some rest time before we began the journey home. That turned out to be a very good decision. Most every moment was spent in personal conversations with World Venture missionaries flowing out of Tuesdayâ€™s teaching time. So CafÃ© Javas was Thursdayâ€™s meeting place.
It felt a bit weird to be in a place that could have been imported directly from South East Portland. I sat on the veranda with a great view of the garden below and of the new Hilton they are building.
The hotel dominates the skyline from most every angle and reeks in rich luxury. It fascinated me for the sake of contrasts.
I got this picture beginning with a car wash â€“ just a lot with poor men hand carrying water in jerry cans to wash cars making a few cents per car â€“ then very nice nice buildings behind, and then the dominating hotel. The slum where Shamila and Rose live with Rebekah and Emmy is in another universe, just a kilometer away.
The conversations ranged from sharing life to wrestling with impossible challenges. Loved getting to know these amazing people and hearing their stories.
Wednesday evening was the second teaching time at Lugogo Baptist Church. We arrived early so I could spend time with the people. I was glad to see Emma again. He had impressed me with his positive spirit, deep love for Jesus and obvious intelligence.
I asked for his story about getting into the Hope Alive! Africa project. His story was almost too much to hear. He and his brother â€“ maybe 8 and 9 â€“ had been in their slum home, alone after the adults went to earn a few schillings. They heard a loud noise in the early morning, ran out to see bulldozers coming to raze all the houses in the area. Frantically the little boys dragged their few possessions out of the path of the bulldozers. Emma described their panic, what it felt like to see their home being destroyed, the impossible task to get things out, the blood flowing freely from the ripped skin of their small arms.
People contacted Hope Alive! and they came to help. A hired truck was there to get their meager possessions off the ground, but there was no place to go. Their mother went back to the village but the boys wanted to stay in the city so they could go to school. The ended up joining another family in their tiny slum home.
Such systemic injustice is common. There is a law that says if construction displaces people, the owner must help resettle the people. But a bribe to an official is all it takes to evade this responsibility. It happens often in the economic miracle of Africa. The economy progresses, a very good thing, but at the cost of lives of the poor and oppressed, a tragic thing.
The teaching time was a delight. Listening to stories for nearly three weeks gave me a better connection with the culture so I was able to make better application of the biblical principles. The people responded eagerly to my question and answer style and the discussion was animated.
Getting to know Pastor Dennis was a delight but a frustration because we had so little time to talk. His delight as I used my Bible projected to answer questions is a technique he will adopt, I think. He was going to a pastorsâ€™ conference focused on the nature of God, a most important question. So we were soon into intense Bible based discussion of our understanding of the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. What a deep spirituality he showed. I wanted to spend a lot more time with him. Another trip.
Thursday evening meant packing. Catharine was t
raveling on the same flight, heading to a World Venture Summit and the last session of her doctor of ministry program. Pipâ€™s polite request that he be allowed to go with was denied and we left for the long drive to Entebbe. Traffic was dense and the 90 minute trip took almost 2 1/2 hours. We made use of Catharineâ€™s Platinum status to get a quick check in and spent some time in the KLM travelerâ€™s lounge, a first for me.
The 11:45 pm departure meant the 8 hour flight to Amsterdam was almost all in the dark. I missed seeing the Sahara and the Mediterranean coast. But the Greek Islands shone out like pearls in the night. Three hours in Amsterdam and an 11 hour flight to Portland was blessedly uneventful if really long. My own bed felt really good!