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Post-War Uganda, East Africa, Part 5 - Long Road Home
Courageous People - Beautiful Land
As Jamie and I conversed, I recognized what a sensitive and perceptive child she was. She was a delight to be around, and quickly began educating us with a brief language lesson on the proper hello and goodbye, please and thank you in Lugandan, the native language.
In my reading on Uganda, I had determined that most Ugandans spoke Swahili, which was incorrect. People near to the airport spoke it, but in the jungles, and other areas, they spoke in their native tongue, something that was a necessity to fool the soldiers, who were rigidly educated in Swahili for uniformity.
We traveled out of the new Entebbe airport, and Jay pointed out the old airport where the hostages had been taken and the Raid on Entebbe occured. It was notw abandoned and he cautioned us about taking any pictures near the airport or near the military. It made perfect sense to me. I remember wanting to take a picture of the El Al jet and thinking not to, it seemed to not have a good memory for any African people.
On our way past the old airport we went through a first and second military checkpoint where our declaration of money in our possession was examined. This inspection is never overlooked, as Jay later explained, since the government allowed the soldiers to confiscate and appropriate any excess for their own use.
American dollars were a premium, having incredible power against the Ugandan shillings. As a soldier reached over and touched me to grab what he thought was a billfold in my shirt pocket, Jay boldly confronted him for his conduct. It startled me, having great respect for authority.
I listened to Jay with command presence in his voice order him to take his hands off me immediately, and warn him that he would be reported to his commanding officer. As I looked up at the young soldier's face, I was astonished. He looked to be a young teenager, possibly 13 or 14 years old. He was hardened but responded as a child to a parent.
I felt God's peace sweep over me, and I knew I was safe. I gained great respect for Jay in the ordeal, and trusted him implicity from that point on. He knew this land, he knew the people. He had been a missionary child in Zaire all his life, and he was sensitive but fearless in his calling. I had a lot to learn. Getting through the 2nd checkpoint which was easier than the first,
The rest of the ride toward Kampala revealed better roads than I had anticipated. Beautiful deep green landscapes, lush flowers, roadside markets in the small villages, and scores of children with big wide smiling faces paved the way. Some have said that Uganda was the place of the Garden of Eden, particularly Entebbe, and I could see why.
For me the ride was as exhilirating as the view was breathtaking. I felt a freedom in the vast open spaces, so little congestion. I was a city girl, liberated by every mile and the prayers I prayed at home had brought a familiarity I recognized, and identity with the people and their land. I felt in my heart "this was home."
Jamie ran down our itinerary, "first we are going to Kampala to Uncle Ronnie's office, then to the market, then to Nateete" (where Jay's helpers Paul and Joleen were staying during her pregnancy). Then we are going to to Kasana (the site of the orphanage near Luwero we were helping to build), and then to Kabubu" (our final destination, the home of the Dangers and the site of the guest house which was to be our home for the duration of our stay.)
Chinese equipment was at work building new roads and seemed to be doing an efficient job of it. Transportation was a precious commodity everywhere, if you stop, people will run alongside to see if there is a space they might occupy. We were always loaded to capacity whether with supplies or people.
Arriving in Kampala was my first encounter with third world poverty. The frantic pace of the cars in the undefined traffic circles, combined with the noice and smoke from unmaintained vehicles snapped us back into reality. As a result of the war, there was only one working traffic signal.
The city was clearly under construction, slowly. The busyness was of little concern to me. There was a new rythm of life, moving on their time, and it was colorful and beautiful and healing,
Jay dropped us off with Peter (a Ugandan) and Bo, Jerry and I set off to the market with a list of 20 some grocery-type items, some of which we had never seen. He promised to be back in about a half-hour to pick us up.
Bo and I were thrilled. Peter hated shopping, (where have I heard that before?) presumably this scenario, but I was a little more secure with him along, and very grateful when the exchange began. We went from vendor to vendor negotiating, trusting in fairness, and were amazed at the quality of produce as well as the freshness and size.
We left the bags with Jerry, who was complaining about the crowds, and ventured off to the meat, spice, rice and bread market. It was so rich with smells and sounds, but the meat market was repulsive to me. I never expressed my fears, and no one notice I didn't eat meat.
No refrigeration scared me to death, but I had other options, which in actually I exercised. I learned to love beans and a dish that was native that tasted like polenta. I ate potatoes, fish and as many bananas as I could.
Forty five minutes later, the van appeared, and we were off to our next stop on our journey. This next introduction was life changing, for me as friendships from God always are.