It’s Sunday, May 23rd, 6:30 p.m. and I’m back home with Carol! I thought I’d share about life between the closing session of our training and now, with one final post if/when my head clears.
Even though we have pretty comfortable arrangements where we teach, there is no air conditioning there. With temps in the mid 80’s things got a bit warm in our rooms, especially sleeping under mosquito nets. We have made it our practice to get taken to Gulu, which is a pretty good sized town (150,000) to spend the Friday night before going across county on Saturday for our flight back home. It gets us forty minutes closer to the airport and a chance for a good night’s sleep with A/C. We also have three key leaders that we have come to know and love through the first cohort that we usually share a meal with and give a few books for their continued development. We were scheduled to meet them at 5:30pm to eat.
We got to the hotel (The Boma) around 3:30pm and that would give us time to catch a quick nap before dinner. I got to my room, turned the A/C on and unpacked a few things. After about twenty minutes I noticed the A/C was blowing cool, but certainly not cold air. I went down the hall to Stu Dix’s room. When Stu opened his door, I felt immediately that I drew the short straw in the A/C sweepstakes. He was pleased with his room. I went back to my room, decided this wouldn’t cut it and walked down to the front desk. I asked for Boss Lady Rita, a woman whom I’ve gotten to know in our previous ten trips. She got promoted to manager during the first cohort, but she was gone for the day. Patrick, who was at the front desk, walked back with me to my room, determined I wasn’t going to be satisfied and came back with another key in short fashion.
He moved me down a few doors, popped the A/C on and we had better results. I proceeded to put things away in this new space and about ten minutes later the A/C stopped! I called down to Patrick, told him what happened, and he said he’d be right up. Twenty-five minutes later I walked down to the front desk and reminded Patrick of my phone call. He walked back with me to the room, played with a few switches and determined we had struck out yet again. He walked back to the front desk and came back with yet another key-third time’s a charm, right?
The air came on with authority and I unpacked my stuff ready to get some rest when I realized it was 5:45pm! I was late for dinner with the guys from cohort one. I made it down to the outdoor restaurant where Stu and Mike Evans were joined by our friends, Derrick, Nick and Richard. We had a great meal and caught up on life. Richard and his wife have a pharmacy that didn’t survive COVID. He came seven hours via bus to share a meal with us! About 8:00pm I was shot. Mike and I excused ourselves and made our way up to our rooms. I opened the door to discover…the A/C was not operating. I called the front desk and Patrick said he’d send up a technician, which happened quickly. He worked a little magic, and I was good to go and I fell asleep around 9:30pm to a room that was nice and cool.
I woke up at midnight. To some loud music and an air conditioner that was no longer working! I walked out of my room to try to find the source of the music and determined it wasn’t from the hotel but was about a block away. I went back to my room, played with the A/C, but to no avail. I laid back down to pursue sleep, but it proved elusive. The room was no longer cool, but not warm yet either. When my oldest son Zack played in a band, I could fall asleep while his band played (two guitars, bass and drum) in the room directly under me. I could certainly do so now. One a.m., tow a.m., three a.m. the music continued, plus the room started getting warmer. I slept about a ½ hour and at four I was awake…five, six and the music stopped at seven a.m. Somebody was having a good time (I wouldn’t include myself in that group!) I went downstairs to get breakfast around 7:30am to discover Stu and Mike stayed cool and slept as poorly as I did.
I decided to get a walk in before we headed to check out. There I ran into Boss Lady Rita (my title for her) and we caught up a bit. It turned out that during COVID the hotel shut down and she was out of work for five months with no income from her job. She sold vegetables in the market and created items to attempt to sell. She usually takes part of her income to send to her parents in her hometown. Her dad has diabetes and mom has heart issues. As the first born she feels responsible for her parents. She said that she learned no matter how hard things are, that God still is faithful and gave testimony to His supply to her. Suddenly, no A/C and a poor night’s sleep didn’t seem like such a big deal.
Our driver picked us up at 11:00am and we began the six-hour drive across the country. The driving was crazy as usual with about three adrenaline inducing incidents as we sought to make our way back into our lane before a head on with cars from the other lane. We had one close call as a bus drove by two girls on a bike (multiple riders on bikes and motorcycles is very common), nearly hitting them-and they fell on the blacktop in front of us. Our driver slammed on the brakes and swerved out of the way. Another day of travel in Uganda! We obviously made it to the airport and our flights went well.
We landed at MSP a bit ahead of schedule and made our way home. International travel is taxing and a few of the incidents of this trip were a bit challenging.
But they pale in comparison to the privilege of assisting the Ugandan church in developing leaders. The development in these leaders and the prospects of starting and strengthening churches make these momentary afflictions well worth it. I share these stories not to complain, but to share some of the realities of these trips.
In my final post, I will share of an amazing story that took place through these leaders during this COVID season.