Our two rooster friends are next to me this morning watching the African sunrise. They are enjoying each other’s company, and mine as well I believe, and just now realizing it is their time to fulfill their morning duty of waking the nation. They may not realize their inevitable fate after entering the compound gate, because if they did they may not be as motivated this morning. The sun is peaking over the horizon and painting brush strokes of vibrant color across the sky as the roosters make failed attempts to harmonize. The volume of their crows would normally interrupt my thought while I try to read and write, but my delicious cup of African coffee is keeping me focused. Honestly some of the best coffee I have ever tasted. Some people have obsessions with traveling across the globe to drink fine wine, smoke expensive cigars, try exotic food and taste the local flavor of a foreign commodity. Mine is coffee. Something about coffee just calms me. The flavor on my lips signifies a beginning of a new day, a fresh start. I am not sure if Heaven imports their coffee from Uganda, but I would not be surprised if they did. I look forward to coffee in heaven. I bet the creamer isn’t powdered.
I finally made it back to Uganda. Our plane landed safely in the night and we loaded into a van headed towards the orphanage. When we made it in the gate, I was reunited with my Ugandan family. We each exchanged a long embraced of emotion as if I was soldier returning to his family from brutal war. That’s all besides the fact that I was returning from luxury in the United States, a soldiers feelings I am sure are much more magnified, and my children look nothing like me, but it would have seemed as if it were true.
Two days ago, Lisa and I drove to Rays of Hope, which is a school run by our friend Joel in Kabalagala. This area of Uganda is one of the worst in the country. Prostitution is rampant and many families have addictions to alcohol and drugs. They don’t care for their children because any money that flows into their pockets flows right back to the next person offering a cheap high. The name of the school is very literal. Rays of Hope is a light amongst darkness that offers hope to this broken area. Slums are all around and after school ends most of the children return to homes built of plywood, mud, and scrap metal the size of some of our closets in the U.S. These homes often provide shelter for more than our average family sizes occasionally in the double digits.
When we walked into the school we were overwhelmed with a welcome. It is custom here to go all out in making guests feel at home. We were given flowers and the children sang songs as we walked into the school gate. The Bonds have helped feed the children at Joel’s school for a long time now and their appreciation was very clear. Joel greeted us and introduced whom he calls “Momma Lisa” to the school. They clapped and danced native dances that are historic in their culture. It was very different… but beautiful. A lot like what you see on T.V.
Yesterday Lisa and I went all over town and accomplished a list of tasks. Things here don’t operate like they do at home though. Everything is slow and complicated. Just attempting to open a P.O. Box yesterday you would think I was applying to fly a fighter jet in the air force because of the complex process. On the way to town, we ran out of gas right in the middle of Uganda’s busiest road. Awesome. Really great coasting to a stop with cars and boda bodas honking and passing at high speeds as our driver ran to get a gas tank. We made it out and carried on our day later to learn how to make paper bead necklaces with Mato and one of his friends.
Yesterday we got a chance to drive to Jinja. It is about two hours away traveling over rocky roads, but well worth the grueling drive. I saw Lisa’s eyes grow and heart stop a few times caused by the close-call collisions our car circumvented. Jinja is one of my favorite places on this earth. It portrays the true beauty of God. We were able to see the Nile River, Bujagali Falls, and the bungee jump over the river we conquered just a few months ago. At the falls, mass amounts of water crashes over gigantic boulders creating a breathtaking sight. What a wonderful Maker. Unique African culture is strung through out this town. It has a small downtown containing many shops with awnings covering their front porches. Wild flowers in the medians, mural paintings across the walls, and locals strolling to and from the restaurant on the corner all make this town special. Jinja actually reminds me a little of Auburn. Maybe that is why I like it so much.
Don’t tell my parents this… but I drove by the restaurant we were at during the bombing. I could briefly see inside and it looked like they had renovated and recently done some painting. Chills shot up my arms infiltrating every cell in my body as a sickening feeling crept into my stomach. I didn’t go inside. My curiosity said go, but my mental health said don’t. I haven’t fully decided against it. Everything in the area was back to normal. People eating, walking around, and carrying about their day. The news here and back in the United States has faded and picked up the latest breaking tragedies to tell the nations about. The event was merely a piece of the past. Sometimes it is a struggle because even though it is the past in everyone’s mind and the media no longer has interest, I know that for the seven of us that walked out through pools of blood, the story will replay in our mind for the rest of our lives just as fresh as the wet paint on the restaurant wall.
I am again reminded of the greatness of God and his hand directing our every step. Literally, he directs every step we take. If not for his grace and guidance, we may have unknowingly stepped quicker, drove faster, ate dinner sooner, or arrived earlier and then I would not be writing this very paragraph today. It still amazes me. How great is our God?
My friends next to me are still competing in a crowing competition to see who can wake Kampala first. I have not named them because of the fact I try not to get attached knowing they will be Sunday’s lunch. Maybe it is better if the roosters know they are going to a good cause and feeding orphans. I’ll tell them.