Saturday, June 7, 2014

Uganda Part I

Friends, the journey to Uganda is long. Our team traveled for more than one day to get to our final destination of Gulu, Uganda. The travel itinerary was from ATL-DC-Amsterdam-Rwanda (We just sat on the plane)-Entebbe, Uganda. The flights from DC to Amsterdam and Amsterdam to Rwanda were the longest flights I had been on, ranging from seven to eight hours each. However, we flew with an awesome airline (shoutout to KLM International) that fed us literally every two hours. We also were able to watch movies and television on our personal screens on the seat backs in front of us. So we didn't suffer too long.

Robbie, Pastor George, Antonio and I at our hotel in Kampala.

Upon our arrival in Uganda on Monday night, we were greeted and picked up by Pastor George. We went to a delicious roadside restaurant for a little midnight snack of chicken and chips (fries), and then drove to our hotel, which is apparently a nice one, because the Ugandan pope stays there. :) That night, we were all exhausted, even though it was only Monday afternoon to our Eastern hemisphere bodies. The flights we took were the longest flights I'd ever endured, so I was thoroughly exhausted.

Kampala neighborhoods and city outskirts, right behind our hotel.
While Robbie has traveled to Uganda several times, Antonio and I were both experiencing everything about Africa and Uganda for the first time together. We quickly learned about "Ugandan time" and realized that a schedule or itinerary would only be loosely followed. The next morning, we were able to sleep in a bit and enjoy a leisurely breakfast, which would be fuel for a long ride from Kampala to Gulu. The drive to Gulu was long. As in, eight hours long. Ha. Due to poor roads and a van that is barely hanging on for life, we had quite the journey to our destination. But we made it without a scratch, and along the way we also saw some stereotypical "African" things, such as baboons, an elephant, and the Nile River! I was struck by the beauty of the landscape-the lush green and the rolling hills. While the journey from Kampala to Gulu was long, it was wonderful to see so much of the Ugandan countryside as we traveled on dusty roads through village after village.

The elephant friend we saw on the side of the road. 

Street market. That pineapple was the jam. Just sayin'.

Our hosts for the week were Pastor George and his sweet wife, Irene. We were also accompanied by a few little housemates-George and Irene's three adorable children. A couple girls who serve as house helpers also live with them. Regardless of whether "the Americans" are in town, they usually have a full house! One thing that struck me was the sense of community that pervades every part of life there. The people live close to one another and are focused on relationships. Each night, when we returned from the villages, we were welcomed with a meal and a time of relaxation and fellowship. On more than one occasion, the pastors and church leaders we worked with through the week also joined us. It was clear that people were valued and welcomed on a regular basis, not just during our stay. On our first night, we ran through the itinerary and decided where the focus of our time should be spent: encouraging and visiting the people of the village church plants. I'll be back to share more about those villages in part II!

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