Friday, February 24, 2012

"Are YOU born again?"

The kids and I (Marjorie) have been going to a gym this month.  We spotted a pool and gym on our walk to the supermarket that we take quite often and so I went in and inquired about the cost.  I was told how much it is for our family and then went home to persuade my husband that this would be a good thing.

It took a couple days, but he finally relented.  We joined the gym for a month. (We actually got a good deal because the trainer had quoted a price for only one individual instead of the whole family, so he let us in for the price of just one---Yay God!)


I love to talk to the Ugandans even when just passing them on a non-busy street.  (The busy streets have too many people to greet!)  And they love to be greeted.  Their face turns from one that is quite somber, to one that is lit up with a grin from ear to ear.  As I learn more Lugandan, I've noticed that they really warm up to me even faster.  So far, I know how to say "sir" which is Saybo.  And "Maam", which is Nyabo.  "Hello" is Oliotia.  That's about all I know. 

Anyway, since I enjoy meeting people (and they enjoy meeting me :), I've gotten to know Rhona.  She was the only other female in the gym everyday when we started.  So, my girls and I and Rhona would do the boot camp class together.  Then we'd sit down and talk until my boys were done working out with weights.  Last week she took me to the outdoor market and helped me to haggle since she knew the prices and my white skin often causes the prices to go up for some reason. (We call that "American Tax).   So, HER skin helped the prices to stay satisfactory.

Rhona told me that she visited her mom last Saturday after she dropped me off and her mom was so happy to see her.  Apparently something I said encouraged her to visit her mom.  At that point, I knew that Rhona was open to me speaking into her life.

After class, our conversation was about her visit to her mom's.  She then told me, "My mom is born again."  (Here they don't say "Christian" but they say "Born Again").  Aha!  Perfect opportunity!  I asked, "Are YOU born again?"  She said, "I was, but then I went to University...."

I began talking about how much God loves her and I know that if she could experience His love, she would come running to him.  Without any pressure at all, I said, "I'll tell you what.  I'm going to pray for you, for the next two weeks, to receive a revelation on God's love for you.  In two weeks time, you will have a totally different perspective of God."  She seemed to be in favor of this.

Rhona is a business woman with her own Boutique.  She travels to China, Turkey and another country that has skipped my mind, to buy clothes for her Boutique and for her friend's stores.  She was determining whether she would travel next month or order from Europe.  So, knowing that she'd be OK with this, I said, let's pray.

I prayed that God would give her wisdom to know which to do and that He'd connect her with the right people or websites.  The next day I asked her how it went.  She started telling me how she found all these websites that she didn't know existed before, so she was going to save the travel money and order from Europe instead.  BUT she didn't connect THAT with our prayer or with God's love for her.

So I did. "Rhona, do you see how much God loves you?  He gave you a thought, and you found websites that you didn't know about!  That's how much He loves you! " She seemed to acknowledge the truth of what I had spoken.  I love how God shows His love practically!

And so, we are in the middle of the two weeks.  Pray with me that Rhona is just totally blown away by God's love!


The Journey to Karamoja

Karamojong Gentleman
Typical Mud Hut Houses
I was surprised to see Pastor Joshua at church. He was supposed to be gone and his wife was supposed to preach that morning. Upon seeing me, he immediately asked if I was ready to go to Nakapiripirit District, which is where the Karamojong live. We were leaving that same day! Of course, I said "Yes!" The first lady of Ugandan, who is also a member of parliament and who is the Minister over  Karamoja would be dedicating the Housing Project that Pastor Joshua and his church, Grace Assemblies,  had partnered with our church in Colorado, Church For All Nations and Pastor Mark Cowart. 

Powerless Power Lines
Mooove Out of the Way!
This is Africa, so it encompasses a lot of hurry up and waits, but that's OK. I'm used to that cultural aspect (it's only Americans and the west that have a real hang up with time). They finally found someone who could take me home so I could pack and come back. I grabbed sun screen, bug spray, my suit and a change of clothes, water, camera and rushed out the door to get back to church.

It was about 4:30 in the afternoon by the time we left.  They set me up front, so I could take in the journey and snap some pics. Soon we were passing through the crowded streets of Kampala and on our way.

We were headed to the town of Nakapiripirit, but we couldn't travel the whole way that night, so we headed to Mbale, the last city before the end of the paved road and Nakapiripirit.  We passed east through Jinja, where 6 years earlier Marjorie and I stayed at a good family friends of Marji's who have been missionaries in East Africa for 27 years. Jinja is also where the source of the Nile River is, and the major electric dams that provide power to Uganda and much of Kenya.

Detour- Washed Out Bridge Ahead!
We also passed through the largest forest in Uganda, which surprisingly I remembered from my previous trip. Tall beautiful trees, surrounded by dense tropical plants. The sun sets at 7:06 PM at this latitude, this time of year, so we kept going past dark, finally arriving in Mbale around 8:30 or so.

Praise God for A/C
We scouted for a hotel that had a private parking lot, but found none, so we stayed at the first hotel we found and parked on the sidewalk! My room was small, but had fan, which I was thankful for, because there was no mosquito net and I didn't want to take a chance of opening the small window and letting in bugs. We went out for diner and ate at an Indian/Ugandan restaurant. I ordered chips (french fries) but Pastor Joshua told me I should eat Ugandan food, so I had some kind of spicy chicken. Yep, it was spicy.

We left early the next morning after a breakfast of banana and pineapple. Before leaving, we picked up Phillip, who is a friend of Joshua's and an adviser on the Karamojong people. We also needed to get the trim fixed above the van's window, so we went to what I call the Ugandan Engineer Row. Think a total 3rd world street, filled with "shade tree" mechanics on the sides of the dirt road, with manual drills, gas welders, and people fixing all manner of things mechanical. There was a transmission pulled out, sitting on the dirt being worked on, with a puddle of transmission fluid in front of it, and everything else imaginable. I think if I needed a car built from scratch, these people could do it.
Caution - Goat Crossing Next 100 Miles
Early Model Toyota Pickup- Early!
Carrying Roofing Material

With the car fixed, we headed out again, in a northerly direction. Mbale sits directly west of Mount Elgon, a tall mountain which is split in two by the Ugandan and Kenyan border. I looked at a map, and saw that the city of Kitale sits on the eastern side in Kenya. I had been there three years earlier, teaching in a Bible School there for a few days.
Soon the paved road crumbled, and we had about 100 miles left to go on dirt roads. 

It was about this here that the countryside changed to much more arid- what you would see in the movie "Out of Africa". We began to enter the district of Nakapiripirit, and so the people of Karamoja. We swerved and slowed down to miss potholes, rocks, herds of goats, and cattle. The people are much darker skinned, and wear their traditional checkered fabric wraps, carrying long stick-whips. We followed brand new electric lines, that carried no electricity yet. We detoured around the washed out bridge that had hampered construction efforts for the housing project many months earlier.

Pink Colored Housing Estates

Backside of the Houses

By noon, we arrived at the pink painted, 6 unit housing structure. Skilled workers from Kampala and local day laborers were frantically working, putting the finishing touches on everything. To say the wind blows there would be an understatement. Anytime someone would pass by on the road, the dust and dirt would waft over us. We went to the only hotel around for many miles. I stayed in a tiny bungalow, that had mosquitoes all through it and it was in the middle of the day! Yikes! Thankfully there was a mosquito net for the bed! But, there was no way I was going to take a splash bath/shower and open my body up to the little blood sucking things- LOL. There was no running water, but only 2 large buckets of water, which is what kept the mosquitoes in there in the first place.

The Wind Never Stops!
We went back to the Housing project about 6 PM that evening. I thought we'd be there until dark, as there is no electricity and then return to the hotel, so, I didn't have the chance to get bug spray or a sweater as the temperature drops a little at night. We finally got back to the hotel about 11 that night, after getting organized and setup for the next day. Grace Assemblies had sent their choir, dance and prayer intercessor teams, so they were busy setting up the stage, generator, sound system, chairs, clearing the land for the shade tents, etc. The truck they drove has sides that fold down which create a stage- pretty cool!

1st Lady in Green, Pastor Joshua in dark suit to left
Early the next morning, Joshua and I returned to the housing area to make sure everything was getting setup. Then the Army and secret service arrived and made us rearrange everything. Joshua had a schedule of events for the 2-hour ceremony, which got totally rearranged too. 

Police and Army Officials plus Karamojong
I was in a suit and tie for the event, so I was already getting hot. Then, I had to leave my bag, which had my sun block in it, at the hotel because of the security concerns for the first lady. I was told that I would have to register any electronic devices with the security and they went through everything with fine detail. The Army deployed in a large perimeter around the whole area, and then everybody had to leave the area while the secret service went through everything to make sure it was all secure. The police showed up in force too, setting up road blocks and checking everybody that entered.
1st Lady and Pastor Joshua

Finally, the first Lady arrived around noon, and the ceremony commenced. It was filled with dignitaries making speeches, prayers of dedication, the choir singing worship songs and such. Pastor Joshua spoke, and everybody listened intently as did the first lady. The audience was filled with Army officers and generals, governmental officials, police chiefs of varying levels, governmental staff, and the Karamojong.

Grace Assemblies Dancers
In the middle of this all, the Grace Assemblies Dance team danced traditional Buganda dances, which is a tribe from around the Kampala area. Think hula dancing. Then, Karamojong dancers would come from the crows and dance with them, 1 or 2 at a time, showing a sense of acceptance and unity. The crowd went wild with laughter and delight.

Anglican Girls Choir with Karamonjong Dancer
Next, it was the local Anglican Girls Choir (the girls didn't sing though) came and danced. This time, more of the Karamojong dancers came also and danced with their sisters. They were dressed in conservative denim colored shirts and skirts, with closely shaven hair, which is common for girls under the age of 18.

Finally, the Karamojong dancers came out in their traditional brightly colored clothes and checkered patterns. They performed a couple of dances, the last of which was very different. They formed a circle and then 1 or 2 would enter the middle and jump very high in the air.

Grace Assemblies Choir
Colourful Karamojong Dancers - Jumping
In each case, there was a person who would do the singing during the dancing, and it reminded me of the caller in square dancing, although I don't think they were actually calling out the dance steps per se.

Colourful Karamojong Dancers - Jumping
At last the two and a half hour ceremony came to a conclusion. By this time, I hadn't had access to my water and I knew I was dehydrated. Also, I didn't have any sunblock, and due to the suit and tie, no hat was appropriate. Even though I tried to remain in the shade, I was very burned on the top of my head and forehead! I finally discovered who had the keys to the van and I retrieved my water, which was probably 90 degrees by then!  I gulped it down eagerly anyways. We had a quick bite to eat of traditional chicken and Irish potatoes and a soda. They gave my a Schwepps "Novida" which is a non-alcoholic, Pineapple flavored malt beverage (to quote the label) which is quite tasty! We returned to the hotel to change and check out and then head back to Kampala. We stopped again at the Housing Project on the way home, where we picked up 4 more people (in addition to the 4 of us) and I endured a bumpy, long, tiring ride back home. LOL

Through the whole adventure, I was amazed at technology. I had my iPhone, which gave me access to the Internet, Google maps, which would pinpoint exactly where we were and how much further we had to go, text messaging, and able to call anyone in the world. I could take a picture and immediately post it on Facebook. Wow! On my first long-term mission trip 25+ years earlier, I would send a letter and it would take a month + to get to the recipient, and that was just from Mexico City! Here I was half-way around the world and instantly connected to anyone anywhere!

It was a good trip. God is good and moving amongst the Karamojong


Saturday, February 11, 2012

The "You are Too Fat" Experience

by Marjorie BrocePastor Dennis took us to look at cars the other day.  Pastor Dennis is Pastor Joshua's right hand man.   He is very loyal to God and the church and was entrusted to drive us around and to help us during the first few weeks of our arrival here in Uganda.

Penurious Parking

Arriving at the car lot was an experience right off the bat.  In order to park, the attendant had to pull a car out and then we drove in about two car lengths with no where to go past that. And then they parked someone right behind us.  So, when we wanted out later on, we waited and waited and finally Pastor Dennis went and got someone who moved the car behind us and directed us out very slowly since we were so tightly packed in near other vehicles.

Pack 'em in Like Sardines 

The car lot had at least 100 cars or more on the "lot" that were so tightly packed in that you could barely squeeze by sideways.  We were taken to see three vans and for each one, the salesman with us called on his cell phone to bring a key, which took a little while.  We were allowed to look at the engine, turn the engine on, sit inside, try the air conditioning (YES!  They DO have air in their cars!)  But, you are NOT allowed to test drive.  And how would one test drive anyway? 

Then, when a car is found that one wants to buy, you go back to the office and haggle.  Thankfully, Pastor Dennis haggled for us at the second lot we went to.  It was fun to see him in action!  After buying a car, I'm sure they have to move about 20 cars just to get ours out.  Then, because the car has probably been sitting in China for a long time, no matter how the tires look, one must buy new tires and have the car serviced.

You Are Too Fat!

I wanted to open the side door on one van to get in but the space between it and the next car was so narrow that I just stood there and looked for a minute trying to assess the best way to get in.  I COULD have squeezed by sideways but a very helpful salesman said, "You are too fat.  You can't squeeze through there."  Thankfully, I understood that he wasn't putting me down.  To be "fat" is prosperous.   I said, "Yes, they are squeezed so tightly together!"  He said, "We try to use the land to it's maximum."

I laughed as I told Glenn our little conversation.  It's not the first time I've been called fat in Africa.  The first time was in Kenya in 2006 when 4 of us were trying to squeeze in the back of a small sedan and the door would barely shut.  The conversation went something like this: Pastor's wife: "You're fat!"  I was just a little taken aback, but realizing that she would never say anything to hurt me, I said, "In America, that is NOT a good thing."  She said, "Well, here it is.  Here is means that you have food and so your are prosperous."

In that case, I wouldn't mind losing some of
THAT kind of prosperity!

Here is our "new"vehicle!  It's a '97, has only 43,000 miles on it, and looks almost new on the inside.  I love the little details that God thinks about!  We used to have a van in Germany where the captain chairs in the middle could turn around and face the back bench seat and I really liked it!   Well, this van does the same!  Thank  you Lord and thank you partners!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Arrival in Uganda

Backside our our apartment
by Glenn BroceWe have arrived to Kampala, Uganda. We got to our apartment about 2:00 AM on Feb 1 with all of our luggage- 30 pieces if you count 3 checked bags, carry-on and personal bag (backpack/laptop bag)! Praise God.

We are doing well, although we are struggling with some jet-lag, as it's a 10 hour difference from Colorado. It is quite warm here, in the mid to upper 80's, more humid, but very green. Lots of trees, grass and plants. There's also a plethora of birds, some we've never heard before.

Offices of Grace Assemblies and BANCS
Be sure to check out our Broce Family Missions FaceBook page for more updates and pictures. We'll post more shortly, so stay tuned!

Thank you for your prayers!!