December 2010: Uganda (Pt. 1)

Greetings from Kampala, Uganda (Africa) – 1

02 – 03 December 10
It was only a few days before Thanksgiving (USA) that The CLEF returned from a very fruitful stint in Buenos Aires, Argentina. And now a few days after the Thanksgiving weekend The CLEF is off to Kampala, Uganda (East Africa). The CLEF went to Uganda last December (2009) at the invitation of The Luther Academy and through them some of the Ugandan students at the seminary in Pretoria, South Africa. Some years earlier I had travelled to Kampala through Nairobi (Karen), Kenya to consider the publication of The Small Catechism – with Questions and Answers into Luganda. That book was completed. It was distributed and introduced to the membership of Lutheran Church Mission – Uganda, a foreign mission child of the Evangelical Lutheran Church Ghana, Dr. Paul Kofi Fynn, President. (An aside – every one of the now nine pastors of this church body studied the Small Catechism I was privileged to be a small part of bringing to be on their road to ordination.) At the encouragement of Rev. D, Preus, a couple of students (I had visited with them when I was last in The Republic of South Africa along with Preus) and Dr. Fynn, The CLEF came to Uganda – looking at the opportunities there to assist in translating and publishing and teaching.

I never know what the possibilities are for The CLEF unless I get on site and work through the project requests with the local church body officials.
You all know just how little I enjoy this type of travel – it is NOT being a tourist and is often very demanding. And, often I have to go where I do NOT want to go – like the very beginning of this trip. MTS (travel folk) booked me starting from Minnesota through NEW YORK! Ish! And yes we got at late start out of MN and a later start out of NY which put us into Amsterdam – not on time. I meet up with Dr. Paul Strawn at the MSP airport. He is off to teach in Nigeria for a week or two. The CLEF has funded the translations of Lutheran Press – an organization Paul is connected with.

When we arrived in NY we met up with Daniel Preus. We separated from Paul in Holland – Daniel and I boarded for Entebbe, Uganda.
Rev. Glen Huebel, Messiah Lutheran Church, Keller, Texas is the presenter at the Academy. His first task was to get from Dallas to Amsterdam. He failed – his flight was cancelled, something we found out about in Amsterdam. Glen is now scheduled to leave TX tomorrow. Apparently he did. We moved on to Uganda. But before moving on we sat on the plane at the gate for one and a half hours (1.5). According to the pilot the problem was that the locals there at Amsterdam could not agree on who exactly was responsible to de-ice the plane – it had 3 inches of snow covering the fuselage. Then the captain said, “Of course that is not your problem”. Well actually it was partly a problem for all of us – we had been on the plane 45 minutes before departure and then add an hour and a half and you are approaching 2.25 hours of sitting and we have another 9 to add to that!

Rev. Jake Gillard, the LCMS local “missionary” met us at the airport and drove us to the Olympia Hotel, Kansasa, Uganda. Daniel and John arrive at the hotel (an hour drive from Entebbe) near midnight. No Glenn. Saturday morning – no Glenn – the second flight from Dallas was late so he missed the connection in Amsterdam. According to our research he was to arrive Saturday night either at 9 or 11 pm or 3.30 am. Apparently this arrival was to be from Egypt! So, in that Jerome, the local pastor coordinator / contact and Daniel had to preach in the morning I chose to stay up and in the end go to the airport (2 hours round trip) at 2.45 am. And you got it – no Glen – and the taxi driver and I waited until the last “pink” man was out of passport, baggage claim and customs control. I returned to my hotel room at 5.45 am. I laid down and was woke up at 7 am to get ready to head off to Jinja for worship.

04 DECEMBER 10 – Saturday

Breakfast this morning was exactly like last year – December 2009. That means while everyone gets the “stated” same thing it is never the same from one person to the next. One gets toast, the next gets plain bread. One gets a two egg and stuff omelet, the next gets two scrambled eggs. One gets an accompanying hot dog, the next does not. One gets two napkins, another gets one. One gets food in order of arrival, the next one sits for 45 minutes (that was me). Africa – the land of the approximate. Africans – they have the time while the white man has the watch.
We are to be picked up by Jake at about 10.30. We get in the truck and head out at 11 am to attend some program being run by Jerome (see above). The roads / streets were really rough.
Today we are about to do a few things. We had originally planned to go to Jinja – a town about 65 miles east along the shore of Lake Victoria but changed that to staying in Kampala on account of Huebel not having arrived. Instead of the highway we are going to a more local event – a poorer part of Kampala to observe a program that is being chaired by our local pastor coordinator. At this event the mayor of Kampala is scheduled to appear – he did arrive late – hours late.

Uganda Dec 2010 #1

The event organizers continued waiting for him. To fill the time space they kept having the different age groups of the students come back to do the next musical piece. Rev. Gillard had indicated that we would be there about two hours – can you say more like four? I think he enjoys trying to be like an African – messing with us white folk from the USA when it comes to time.

AN ASIDE: And, speaking of “white” folk – white folk are not the color white. As a child growing up in New Guinea I knew that – the “natives” called us of European descent – “Redman”. So, Daniel and I are planning to change the world’s faulty color description of the generic Caucasian to “pink”. So, if you ask, I should tell you that I am a “pink man”.
Sayuni Community Initiative school kids for parents program. (Below – the crowd gathers – eventually some 200 in all were there) Pastor Jerome of the Lutheran Church Mission – Uganda has been working with the community project. Doing so allows him to get the kids taught Christianity (read: Lutheranism). Unlike the USA, the general tenants and history of Christianity is taught in public schools. Unlike the USA there is tuition at public schools just like private schools. This community school is being run and supported by the “community” – no tuition – only a token request for help with the cost of the cooked corn cereal. This school – in English – Zion will bring Lutheranism to the area where there are no Lutheran churches. The new congregation now there is looking for land.

The young man (below) was a part of the preschool presentation – Ugandan children’s songs with a religions theme. Here he is doing his solo song and dance – backed up by the class chorus. This event went on forever. I was barely able to – no not “barely” – I could not find much different from one song to the next as they all sounded alike. The only variation was the “dancing” that went along with each presentation. Check out the boots on the bloke in the orange pants – “these boots are made for stompin” at the Sayuni (Zion) community preschool and that is exactly what they did.

Uganda 2010 #2

We returned to the hotel at 8.30 pm having stopped to eat something with Jake and his family at a local eatery. Remember – I went to bed the next day at 5.45 am.
There you have it: why the CLEF is here and what has happened on the way. Tomorrow is the Service of Ordination down Jinja way.

Thank you for your continued and regular support, spiritual, physical and financial. Without your generous gifts of time, talents and treasure we (you and The CLEF) would not be here. YOU ARE THE DIFFERENCE. Thank you.

Please continue to pray for us and the Lutheran Churches here in Uganda, her pastors and members.
This is not about me or you it is “ALL FOR THE SAKE OF THE GOSPEL”.

John Fehrmann