Power…….. there will be power in Kibaale.

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I do not know what comes to your mind when you hear the word “power’ I think of waves pounding the coastal shore from the winter storms, or water falling hundreds of feet from the top of a dam or the mighty power it takes to send up a space shuttle or the words to an old Christian hymn….

There is power, power wonder working power in the blood of the lamb
There is power, power wonder working power in the precious blood of the lamb…..

……….for the Ugandans power means electricity….. Yes, Kibaale will be getting electricity. Those traveling back and forth from Rakai to Kibaale have been watching one pole after another being raised in a long line of electrical poles….. just this week poles were brought into Kibaale Community Centre….on the back of a small pick up truck and are up behind the present generator house. So, it begins….. I have been told that the centre will have power by the end of August or early September…. but this is Africa and who knows for sure when that magical date will be…..

Nevertheless….. power is coming and that means change. I am excited and also very sad…

When I first arrived there was solar power a few hours a day and I got comfortable with the lack of light and electrical appliances…. I was happy that my computer’s battery was always able to be charged. Then we got a small generator for the clinic…. and the some of the housing. I had power each evening from about 7 to 11 pm but this power never seemed to work well…. it would go on and off and on and off and on and off frequently throughout the evening so I always had a flashlight right be side me…. In the day time the power was much better and it was necessary for the health and well-being of the patients. No lab work can be done without power and so the clinic staff would come to me if the power has not come on by 10 am…..I had to go and find the person responsible, check to see if there was fuel and hope all would go well…. there are always problems… so the staff see these poles as hope, better quality of life and health and the opportunity to watch TV…..

A few months ago…. as I was cleaning out the clinic I found a massive TV in a box on top of one small desk in one small office…. there was no room for anything in the room because the TV took up all the space…. At that time, I had to laugh…. why did anyone buy a TV when there was NO POWER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!(I put the TV in safe storage).

Now that power is coming and changes will arrive….. but as much as I want these changes and need these changes, I am sad……… one of my favourite things about Kibaale is the silence… the quietness from all the human noises… no horns honking, no police and ambulance sirens, no screaming and yelling from the family across the courtyard, no deafening music from the next door neighbour…

I have come to love the sounds of Africa….. the music, the serenading of the birds, crickets, frogs and everything else who wants to sing with the coming of night…. My fears are that these sounds will be lost forever and this silence which I so love will be gone….

There is always a price to pay for change….. I do not know if the people of this area are ready or able to understand what these changes will mean and what they will loss….. there will be a great price to buy….. but will it all be worth it…… only time will tell.

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April 18, 2012

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……….I had not slept well…. due to the heat and so gave up and got up….. but there was an anxiety in my spirit and I had no idea why. I was working through my morning routine when there was a knock at my door…. I was still in my nightie when I answered the door. It was Eileen… who told me “Madame was in pain”. This took me a few second to realize that Madame was… Madame Samalie and the pain was … she was in labour with her fourth child. Since this was only a guess… I ran after Eileen now the narrow sidewalk to Samalie’s house. Samalie was coming out of her house muttering something…. “but they told me I was only 31 weeks… that was two weeks ago so…. I should be 33 weeks. Will the baby be O.K.?” All this was on the move from the house to my land cruiser. Behind us came Eileen with two large bags of baby stuff….. I started the land cruiser and headed off for which hospital… only to be told that we were going to downtown Kibaale. Yes, a mile or so down the road. I was directed to a small clinic where there was a midwife. Samalie and Eileen got out and headed down a narrow path between the buildings……. It was just before 8 am…. A few minutes later, Eileen came up to me and stated that Samalie had a baby girl and all was well. A minute or two later, I was introduced to this 3 kg baby girl (about 6.7 pounds). She was wrong with her dates and the little one was due. It was just yesterday when she had told me she was due early June. The baby had other ideas….Since all went well…. at 9:30 am I transported baby and mother home… to the total amazement of all.

I had missed breakfast and now tea break…. It was now just after 10 am and I was starting my day at the clinic. My Pastor was arriving the next day and I wanted to spend time with him… and to do so meant that I needed to ensure the pharmacy was well stocked with everything the staff might need for the next day. When I finished checking the supplies… I had missed lunch. I was hungry and tired but I still had so much to get done. I sent someone downtown to buy chapattis and a pop (soda). Not very healthy but at least something to eat and drink…. I am suppose to drive the land cruiser for the vaccination clinic due that afternoon but I do not have any time or energy left…. so hunted up Moses who can do the driving and gave him the keys….. it is now 4 pm and all I want to do is go to bed.

BUT….. I am told there was a site wide birthday party for the staff and I was expected to attend…. it was in the dinning hall right across the soccer field from my house. So, I decided that I could go for a few minutes. Unfortunately, I was seated at the front of the room beside the other Kibaale Community Centre leaders and that prevented me from escaping early…… it was a celebration for all the staff who had a birthday in Jan, Feb, March and April…. each person was introduced and a short story was told about each….. then Pastor Eric spoke about the importance of good communications….it was a 7 point discussion. It was very good but I was tired and hungry. Happy Birthday was sung and two large cakes were cut…. well, torn into pieces is a better description. Small pieces of cake were served on small plastic plates….Sodas were handed out and then small bags of food….the bags did not look interesting to me and I was sure they probably did not have enough for everyone and I was right. The small plastic bag was filled with a chapatti, a hard boiled egg, two small pieces of beef and a roasted potato. Everyone around me were very pleased with the quality of the food….. I just wanted to go home and eat some “Canadian food”. I probably would have enjoyed the food if I had eaten that day and was not so tired ……

After all the introductions and speeches…. those who had birthdays got up and were expected to dance to a piece of music…. It was amusing to see some of the teachers lack of rhythm. I expected that all Africans had great rhythm…. I could not help but smile….

It was now 7:30 and I was making supper for myself….. It had been a cold day and I had put on my black rain jacket because of the dark black storm clouds moving swiftly across the sky and the cold wind which was blowing …… I still had my jacket on as I made my food…. spaghetti with meat sauce. I put the dished into the sink and decided that I would wash them in the morning and headed into my bedroom to pull down my mosquito net around my bed…. when I saw a long narrow black strap from my jacket wrapped around the leg of my bed on the floor… I was just about to pick it up when for some reason I stopped and stepped back…. it was a snake a 6 to 8 inch black mamba. A poisonous snake.

It was 8:30 pm and now what was a going to do…. who was going to kill the snake because I know that I was not going to get near the snake…. I AM DEADLY FRIGHTENED OF SNAKES….. I had always thought that I would head for home … Canada… I would catch the first plane out…. but I was stopped in my tracts. I could not move…. I watched as the snake moved from the foot of my bed to beside the cupboard….. what was I going to do? WHO was going to kill this snake.

Finally…… I realized I had no choice but to leave my house and run down to Madame Samalie’s house and ask for help….. but she had just had a baby… how could I ask her for help. I could not think of any other options…. I ran as fast as my feet…. yes, bare feet could carry me down the narrow side walk in the dark. I knocked on the door and explained my problem…. her nephew came to my rescue. He came wearing flip flops and carrying a big stick…… of course the snake was no longer visible….. he searched my bedroom floor and finally discovered it under my suitcase. With one quick blow, the snake was dead….. and I was still alive. As he left, he took the dead snake with him…..but now I was left alone in my house. I was frozen. My mind spinning … if there was one snake could there be two or three or four…. this was a small snake…. so where was the mother or father. How did the snake get in…. I keep my doors closed. I stood in the middle of my living room watching and waiting…. time moved slowly ….. where was I going to sleep. I finally phoned Mark in Masaka and told him my situation…. we talked and I felt revealed to have spoken to someone….. then Ken phoned and told me to get out of my house. He did not understand that the snake was dead…. and my housekeeper does a great job of keeping my house clean….so why should I move to another accommodation….

It took some time and finally………. my anger started to slowly building up inside me ….. I was not willing to go home, back to Canada. I was here in Kibaale to do some work and the work was not done….. I was not leaving and no snake was going to scare me into leaving…. I prayed and prayed and then read the following verse over and over and over again…until I had perfect peace. It was very late when I went to bed…. I slept on the couch and had no bad dreams. In fact, I had a wonderful 6 hours of sleep.

Luke 10:19
…………I have given you authority to trample on snakes, and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.

How water arrives in most homes…. in Kibaale?

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I know I have written about water before…. but life in Kibaale revolves around the weather and especially RAIN….. if in does not rain for a few days…. the folks have concerns about whether or not the crops they planted with grow and if it rains too much… then they are concerned about floods and how it may affect their crops…. It must be similar to other parts of the world…. were the people depend on their crops for survival.

It had not rained in Kibaale for a few weeks and I could hear fear in the words of many of the employees…. from the folks working in the various offices to the teachers and clinic staff…..”if it does not rain soon my crops with die without water”…. or “I have put all my money into Irish (potatoes) and they need the rain.” For most of a week… the weather or lack of rain was the only topic of conversation…. so out of this great concern, a few of the clinic staff stood and prayed for rain….. I think everyone was surprised when the rains came the next morning…. and it rained.. and rained and rained. EVERYONE was happy….. the sky was filled with large dark rain clouds, the temperature was cold, everyone was dressed in many layers of clothes BUT the atmosphere was like that of a party…. the rains came and the crops were saved.

Water is not only needed for the growth of crops but for everyone’s health and well-being… but water does not come out of taps…. water is fetched and carried. It maybe carried for miles and miles. This job of fetching and carrying water falls to the young boys and girls of all ages. It is their responsibility to go down to the river or to the local well and wait in turn daily to fill their Jerry can or cans with water.

…… I tried to lift one of those bright yellow Jerry cans and was just able to pick it up off the ground…. so it much weigh at least 50 pounds… I see the young boys pushing bikes covered in four or five Jerry cans full of water up from the river…. or very young girls working together to carry one Jerry can full of water….. this takes a lot of time and especially a lot of energy. So…. if you can find water closer to your home and have to carry it a few feet less…. I guess it only makes sense to take advantage of the opportunity….

It was a few days ago as I was travelling home to Kibaale from Masaka what initially looked like a very funny situation quickly brought tears to my eyes…. I was no longer laughing but upset and even fearful of the situation…. A young girl about 7 or 8 years of age was running after a water truck. Think back a few years to the old water truck that were used to spread water over dry dusty roads… the old truck with a 3 inch pipe sticking out of the back like an arm swinging back and forth sprinkling water …… it was a similar truck BUT the arm was attached to the back of the truck with a thin piece of rope and the water was dripping slowly out. This little girl was trying to fill her Jerry can from the water dripping out of the pipe…. It was filthy dirty water not suitable for drinking nor bathing…. and she was running in the middle of the street behind this vehicle where no one could see her……………….. Was water so precious that she would risk her life?

We on the West coast of Canada take water for granted…. we turn on the tap and out come fresh drinkable water. A team from Pacific Academy visited Kibaale for two weeks over spring break and each of them started to understand the importance of water…. it was no longer used once and discarded but each action was considered carefully and water was used two or three and sometimes four times before it was discarded…. and even the discard was a purposeful action…..

Life is not easy in Kibaale and when there is water…. life is much easier.

When the rains came that blessed day…. my thoughts were wanting to sing in celebration of life giving water.

“water, precious water falling down from the skies above
water

My new favourite addiction….. passion fruit

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For those of you who have never seen a passion fruit ….. it does not look impressive but it carries a wonderful refreshing punch ….. I am now totally addicted to this small brown fruit. Yesterday, I was in Masaka doing some shopping when I came upon a young man selling these amazing fruits. He wanted 1,000 shillings or less than 40 cents for 7 of them…. I bought 14 of them and within a hour of arriving back at the Timothy Centre they were gone….. It only takes two mouthfuls to eat one half of a ¬†passion fruit. The small black seeds are power drops of taste. There is nothing in Canada or in the United States that compares with this taste…… and now they are in season.

Many of the clinic staff do not like them….. some have never tasted the fruit…… my only explanation is the fact it is a small uninteresting fruit with a very strange appearance…… if you can get past its appearance you have a new amazing world of the passion fruit.¬†

One day….. take one home and try it…. you may like it.

My inaugural trip

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Yes….. it finally happened….. I was given the keys to a land cruiser to use as the clinic vehicle and for my personal use. It has taken a long time but there have been many bumps on the road to getting this vehicle. It is an automatic which is not the best vehicle to use for going on safaris into the outlying villages for vaccination and immunization clinics.

Nevertheless, I was given the keys on Tuesday afternoon…… I was now going to be responsible for my own transportation…….. and the first inaugural trip was to drive the land cruiser from Kibaale to Masaka on Thursday afternoon for the Easter long weekend. I was going to drive myself…….. well, that is what I was expecting to do.

In the beginning, when I first arrived in Kibaale…..I had numerous individuals from the clinic staff to some of the students to a few of the teachers ask me why I did not have a vehicle. They all expected me to have a truck or some sort of vehicle to drive…. but since I did not get any “mode of transportation” they stopped asking. So, it was interesting to me the fact the land cruiser was parked in front of my house and no one asked any questions……..

Thursday morning, I was busying packing up all the things I needed to take…. from my new laptop computer to my camera, clothes and the tons of paper work which still needed to be done….. when my housekeeper asked me how I was going to Masaka. I told her I would be driving the land cruiser, that is why it was left behind. Within minutes of me arriving at the clinic….. I had three people ask me for a ride. One wanted to go all the way to Masaka, another to a village only a few miles down the road and the other to a village half way in between…..those requesting rides were clinic staff. I was not going to be traveling alone after all.

Since I was now the driver and totally responsible for the vehicle and my passengers…. I was encouraged to leave early. I have been informed that it is not acceptable to travel after dark as it is far too dangerous. So, my plans were to leave around 3:30…..it takes about 1 1/2 hours to travel from Kibaale to Masaka. The clinic offically closes at 5 pm. but due to the heavy rains that morning, I was hoping it was going to be a quiet day. I reminded those traveling with me that I was leaving as soon as the clinic was quiet and the work was done……………… but this is Africa.

One person was ready when the clinic was quiet and all the work was done but the other two were not ready at all……. I waited for over an hour for one person who told me she would be back in 5 minutes and I finally gave up on the other….. I learned a very valuable lesson…. set a time and depart with or without those people requesting rides.

The route I took was new to my passengers but I had driven it once before on my first driving lesson….. so it was not so unfamiliar but then that time I had a teacher, Mark giving me encouragement and support. Thursday, I was on my own….

I kept talking to myself quietly………. kept to the left,…….. kept to the left….. now driving on these narrow dirt roads it is not important to kept to the left but stay in the middle of the road to ensure you do not hit anything. Once I got off the dirt road and on to the paved road …. the line in the middle reminded me of what I was suppose to do….. it was the turns which made me think more than once……. as repeated kept to the left.

The journey was uneventful…. except I forgot to turn off and take the short cut to the Timothy Centre…. I was surprised that I was in Masaka so quickly. It felt like I had only been traveling for a few minutes when in fact I had been driving for almost two hours. As I passed the turn off, I did not know what to do….. it is not like my tiny Mazda Miada in Canada which will turn on a dime so to speak…. this was a large heavy duty land cruiser. I had no choice but to go to the top of the road and turn right across traffic and travel up a main road before I could find a way to turn around…… all the time, I was thinking…. kept to the left…. kept to the left.

I was back at what I thought was the turn off to the Timothy Centre when I started to wonder if I was on the right road…. it did not familiar to me in some spots but in others it looked to be the correct path…… I kept praying, hoping I was not lost………. I did not want to have to call and say I was lost when I was so close…..finally the road came to where I had to turn…. and all of a sudden everything looked familiar….. there are no road signs…. and I was not sure anyone would understand me if I asked for directions.

My mind was full of excitment….. I was finally back at the Timothy Centre and I did it on my own…. so to speak…… I turned up the road which leads to the centre expecting the gates to be closed……. but just as I was approaching the gates, the security guards swung them open…… well, in truth they opened the gates because they know the sound of the vehicle…. they got a surprise at seeing me behind the wheel.

Palm Sunday…….

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I had been told by many of the clinic staff as well as some of the teachers that I needed to be in Kibaale for Palm Sunday because there was going to be a parade. Now, I have to say that my first thoughts were of the types of parades we watch of TV with all the floats, marching bands and balloons…. but I knew that was not going to be the type of parade that was going to happen in Kibaale….. so I was very curious and I made it a point to be in Kibaale for Palm Sunday…..

It was just after 8:30 am on Palm Sunday when I watched a large number of the primary students in their blue uniforms run and dance across the field on their way to their classrooms. It was Sunday morning and not a Monday or Tuesday morning….. then a few minutes later I heard the angelic voices of the primary students singing…. the drums were bounding out the beat and the voices were raised in praise and worship.

As I was enjoying the majestic voices……. I heard a second set of sounds but from a sound system….. the volume was loud and the voices sweet…. these sounds were coming from the otherside of the school grounds from the secondary classrooms….. I had gotten up early and was dressed in my Sunday best in anticipation of this exciting event….. the parade. So, I wondered down towards the secondary classes to find the school truck filled with a loud speaker system and a few students…. behind the truck were two lines of students dressed in their brown and white school uniform with some of the students carrying banners…… in English and in Lugandan…. says like Jesus lives… Life is meaningless without Jesus…… Jesus reigns.

The parade or the procession was lead by the primary students followed by the school truck playing the praise and worship music……… the secondary student followed behind the truck…… It was a festive and celebratory parade…. with each student waving a small palm branch…. the procession walked slowly down the hill into Kibaale centre and down the main street. I could not help but think that we as the students and staff of Kibaale Community Centre were re-inacting the famous procession on Jesus riding on the donkey entering into Jeruselem over 2,000 years ago. This was not any parade but a celebration of the life of Jesus Christ…. it was a parade which had the locals stop whatever they were doing to listen to the praise and worship music as well as verses read from the Bible….. some of the locals joined the slow procession….. a few took pictures…..

It was an amazing event. I have never been part of a praise and worship parade before…. the students and staff were not only singing along with the music but dancing in celebration. It has been a long time since I had so much fun…….

Our slow procession down the hill and back up the hill into the Kibaale Community Centre took just over one hour…… the procession walked worshipful straight into the community centre building where Pastor Eric, the chaplain had all the staff and students wave their palm branches as he told the Easter story.

There are no words to describe the exciting, majesty and amazing atmosphere that was created by this parade… this was far better than any parade I have ever seen or experienced.