|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!|
|Praise God for A/C|
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|
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!|
|1st Lady in Green, Pastor Joshua in dark suit to left|
|Police and Army Officials plus Karamojong|
|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|
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|
|Colourful Karamojong Dancers - Jumping|
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