Thursday, 19 April 2012

Uganda Diary Day 5: Easter in Africa

April 8th – Sunday
Enoch gives the Easter sermon

Happy Easter!  Eh Bible eh gamba owakabaka bwa katona boli bo-fe (dodgy phonetics mine!), which means 'The Bible says “The Kingdom of Heaven is within us.”'  Today I went to an Easter Sunday service in Kabubbu, held in the high school hall, and found this to be very true.  Our hosts graciously did the speaking parts of the service in English for our benefit and then translated them over to the congregation.  Most of the songs were in Ugandan, but even though I couldn't understand the words I felt very much a part of the community then as I could easily read their posture and expression – they looked just the same as we do when we worship God back home and it really reminded me that these people are not just my hosts or interesting foreigners to be observed, but my brothers and sisters in Christ.  Although we've never met, we are family.

Enoch did the sermon and he was great.  Very funny guy.  Also this year marked the 6th Anniversary of him and Lilian coming to Kabubbu.  It was a real honour to be able to join the rest of the church in reaching out a hand and praying for them.  Whatever language we were using, we were all speaking under the authority of the same God.  Felt very privileged.  God is great!

The puppets went down really well, with lots of whooping and laughing.  As before the visual songs with clear stories and props worked the best.  The final song was a bit more complex but got translated afterwards.  We have two puppet shows left in the school assemblies, which should be a laugh.  Dad will by storytelling with all his usual panache and tangents, which will be translated to the kids.  So far doing the puppets has been okay - Mum's planned it all, knows it the best and is a stickler for detail so I'm happy to let her manage it and just do as asked.

Puppets in church?  Surely not!
It honestly wasn't that bad

Margaret, who I played Downfall with, came over after
the service.  She'd seen me drawing and wanted to look.  It was good to see her again, and better that I remembered her name!  Another new experience; necessity drove us to use the girls long-drop latrines.  Basically a booth over a concrete slab with a hole in it about the size of a shoe in it.  Squat and go.  Emma suddenly found she didn't need the loo any more but Mum and I managed ok and we were all wearing skirts (church here means dressing a little more formally) which made it easier.  Actually, once you got over the initial shock of the smell coming out of the hole and the occasional fly buzzing about, it really was fine. 

This afternoon, with Resti and Geraldine accompanying us, we went to deliver our Development Challenge purchases to Ruth.  The money for her son's ear medicine will be passed onto Susan at the medical centre, and Resti will take the £10 we had spare to buy Ruth some more chickens.  We turned up with the minibus crammed with sacks of food, guttering and a rolled up mattress.  James, the local carpenter, kindly agreed to pitch in with his usual good humour, and the menfolk spent the best part of two hours splicing the new guttering onto the old, hammering in new gutter clips, taking them out again when we realised the wrong end was higher than the other, putting them back in again.  Mum, via Resti, was chatting to Ruth – they really seem to have hit it off – and Steve, Dave and Dad (with a sliced hand) held the alarmingly bendable water butt so that the lighter James could clamber barefoot onto it.  We got there eventually, but had to leave the holes in the roof until James could get hold of a long enough ladder to climb up onto the tin and fill in the holes with the thick gooey bitumen.  When we brought in the mattress and food – maize flour, rice, beans and sugar (the equivalent of giving someone a massive deluxe box of chocolate) Ruth was thrilled and danced round us, clasping our hands.  Normally it's Christmas when we give and get gifts, but with everything that Easter Sunday symbolises it was just as appropriate.

Our pile of presents

Dad and Steve keep an eye on James

It works!  First water through the new guttering.

Ruth's kids examine themselves in the photograph

Three of Ruth's boys, including Loni on the right

Two families, one result!
As a thank you she insisted on giving us two sugar canes, each about two metres in length.  We marched them back through the town and to the resort where Resti showed us how to cut them up and peel them to get at the white core of the cane.  You tear off a section with your teeth and chew it to get the juice out – for some reason I was surprised to find that it tasted of sweet sugar juice.  And now we understand where sugar comes from!  Resti says they ought to last about two weeks, so we've got about six sections, a foot long each, to take back with us.

Sugar cane!  Freshly cut and very tasty.
Lilian's dog with her newborn pups
We sat about before dinner discussing Lilian's dog, which has pupped under a bush in the resort, and the trip so far.  I don't feel particularly shocked about anything I've seen but Dad postulated that at least in our family we already had some awareness of what was out here due to various missions and fundraising we've seen, particularly in church.  In some ways life out here is very difficult for some people when things go wrong or they are treated badly by others.  There is thievery and abuse and violence here like there is in any other place (and no police yet, which compounds the issue) but in other ways life here is ok.  Different from England, and people are relatively poorer, but we have our problems too.  They have fights in the town centre and we had the September riots.  They have to walk everywhere, but in England life's difficult if you don't have access to transport, and the stigma if you are poor is greater.  The standard of living we have become accustomed to is higher, and we have a sense of entitlement that I've not really seen in Kabubbu.  In England, maybe because of our past technological and social achievements, we seem to have this idea that we can do anything we want to do and be anything we want to be... no matter what that means for everybody else.
For my part, I've not responded as emotionally to this trip as I thought I would.  Instead of struggling with “How can people live like this and how can the richer nations allow it” it's been more “People can live like this, but I, as a wealthier person, can work to improve it for them even more.”  The complicating issues are many, but when we took our gifts to Ruth today I felt a determined satisfaction at the thought and work that had gone into it, and how we had alleviated a little bit of the stress from her day.  I like that, as well as seeing and experiencing another way of life with all its good and bad bits, we are given the opportunity to engage and respond.  I think it would be awful to go home and say “I met all these great people, some of them in terrible situations, and then I just came back.”

20:18 - Lizard on the wall!

20:22 – Cockroach on the wall!

There is only one possible result...     LIZARD vs COCKROACH!

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