Signs of the Times

The walk home in the heat and dust has become routine .All sorts of once strange things are familiar .The herd of cattle with their enormous horns tended by the young guys.The jack fruit stall ,the rubbish, goats hens and piglets .

Wait,the tiny piglets are now independent and the goat has now kids.The toddler is coming fowards down the stairs and the papya are ripe .The optimism of the dusty trees has been rewarded  by rain .The leaves are greener and the blossoms are out.
But most poignant of all is the departure of the swallows three days ago.On their way, heading over the huge desert to Europe .The flowers are blooming there too and it’s time to follow and greet the spring.
Thank you,all my new friends and acquaintances and your beautiful country
Time has gone and the refrain for the small children’s “see you” is silenced today out of a sad respect for departure ./em>

But hopefully Uganda …”See You.”
And a definite “See you,UK .I am on my way.”http:// http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oh_Uganda,_Land_of_Beauty

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Praising in Papyrus

Uganda has a great deal to offer the world and my wish is that the world would listen to the Ugandan melodies.
Melodies of culture, courtesy,medicine, courage.Generosity, patience (but not fast enough) hope,love and faith. And the  rarer irritants that go deep deep deep, metamorphose to training tools and transform.

The  church of England offers training for lay ministry and time for reflection outside the usual.Uganda is a few thousand miles outside the usual but I owe huge thanks to my mentors of vision whose gaze reaches beyond a diocese in order to help the diocese. A reader in the church doesn’t just read and the Christian gospel is not geographically bound.

The church I am attached to knows how to praise, it knows how to suffer and it knows how to fight with the  gentleness of Christ. It is hard to know each tiny drop that makes the flood, but each plays it’s part. It is humbling and empowering

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to visit the papyrus reed churches,the church meeting under a tree and the new churches starting.

And the opportunity is great to meet and talk with all the variety of humankind that is offered. From being given the pulpit on International Women’s Day, to the counselling of children,from the pulpit on Ugandan TV to helping the sick children and their parents privilege is too small a word.

So sharing belief is a great unifier of values and desires, direction and understanding. Ugandan fellow followers of Christ teaching me and shining as bright stars with his love in this world.

Catching an evening

Just waiting, just waiting.The sun is dropping quickly in the sky,  the dusk will come and suddenly the darkness.  This is the time  when the edge of the sun’s power is slightly chipped away.The rinsing of sticky hands and face can be a little less frequent. The light slants and shadows appear.
In the town, the pace of traffic slows and the pace of people powers up the commerce. It’s a time of special change in an evening hour. I love it, but today it’s just a little bit more precious.

The air is gently moving as it cools slowly by ten degrees or so. 34 degrees to 24. Maybe it will dip to 22 tonight with slight dew fall in the morning. But the air is restful as it slightly rustles the leaves.It’s cooling is gentle and relaxing and a longing to live longer in this hairdryer warm world stirs.Mindfulness of moments is acute tonight.

The dogs bark backwards and forwards and the cockrel mutters a quiet goodnight. The loudspeakers in town a mile away are background beat and the frogs croak in the ditch. Crickets fidget in unity and the silent lizard scales the wall.

Power is solar tonight and water is a little bit short.The cooking develops on the outdoor stove and the toddler gives exhaustion cries.

The food is delicious and everyone is sleepy. The call of the lead singer rouses the household to evening prayer and the melodies of praise gently envelop the house and all who dwell here.

I don’t want the intrusion of a mosquito net but spray it anyway and surrender to it’s protection. Did I remember my anti malarial today?

And now, passed midnight this world is quieter and the evening flight to Europe, I assume, has flown overhead as the lone reminder of air travel.

Time to sleep before the jolt of tomorrow.

//https://www.youcaring.com/tuition-fundraiser/new-dormitory-for-school-children-/322669″ title=”Fundraising for Uganda”>

Animal Harm

It’s not much good pretending that we are all the same in one culture at loving or loathing or using animals…or even eating animals. So cross cultural animal lovers may not hold the same things dear. Adam was told to ‘ rule over the  fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground ‘ interpretated in a variety of ways.

Fish. Fish here are magnificent, very large and delicious to eat.We can cross culturally agree on that. Fresh telapia from Lake Victoria, believe me,they are good. Very good.

And then there are the useful creatures. Goats tethered on the edge of the rubbish with piglets as their playmates.Scrummaging around for rubbishey nutrients for meat and milk production.Smuggling contaminants into the food chain unawares. And the masculinity of cockrels competing to be the  first dawn crier, before impregnating any passing she hen.The idea that these creatures can be pets is certainly alien here.Chicken, ducks and a goose have all been given to my host as gifts, tied at the legs and incidental overheating passengers in the hot bumpy car.They take a trip to a few days of freedom before filling the cooking pot.Just enough time to taunt the chained guard dogs with their day time freedom.Sentimentality,nay, even science about the psychological welfare of the useful beasts is an alien concept here.

So what of the speeding swifts who have cemented the patio cornice, raised their young there and have just departed for Europe. Fantastic catchers of mosquitoes, not differentiatiing between those carrying malaria and those which do not.Eating the other flying nuisances and for me a great asset. Perhaps I’ve persuaded my host not to fumigate the nest or perhaps they have just emigrated in time.

So as a Muzungu, I stand on the side of meat eating, fish loving carnivore with a backward glance at my food sources welfare in life.

But, help me with this one, please. Health theives and destroyers of equipment why would there be a laissez faire tolerance of rats? Not from uneducated or children only but from graduates who care about health,who even treat disease. Local rat traps are sticky pads that keep the beast alive until human comes and kills it…or,unbelievably sets it free again! So cultural differences have their limits.Right here.

No, Mr Ratty and Mrs Ratty and baby Ratties. GO GO GO…. I’ve had new equipment delivered you are dead dead dead. No Trespassing. Be banished! 

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Big Nipper, I love you.

International Women

I love this place. I love the people. This is such a good experience. OK, sorry if  I  make you feel left out, but it is great.
There’s so often the unexpected and the   slightly confusing breaking out into very special.
Yesterday was such a day.
International Women’s Day and a real treat to celebrate women.

It was special to have a 10 minute  talk on IWD  from the front of church. A speech to honour and thank women in a patriarchal society. A  speech to remind us that so much of women’s work goes unpaid  and often unrecognised. Not a militant speech but one celebrating difference but asking for women to be recognised. 80% of the farm produce in this land of agriculture is done by women. Staggering figures. And  all that water carrying…. Really hard work is the name of  the game here. And as I  write,  my today washed clothes are delivered to my room, clean dry and ironed. No washing machines here.
And then later the special meeting after church for those  who had saved money over the year.My Luganda is stuck on page two of the language book so understood a short gathering from translation but here that means 3 hours or there abouts. I didn’t stay for all of it but it was in fact a community micro finance project run by the ladies of the church. People of different faiths and no faith who had saved money over the year and the members who had borrowed to expand or start a business. It  was all so local and so friendly and so successful. More chickens,more eggs, more income and loans repaid to people known to the borrower. And what I loves was that the women had quietly started it and men and women were part of it, blessing the community. It seemed so obvious but it had taken courage and determination of a special lady to start it. It’s  these moments of ‘wow’ in the unexpected places that make me love these people. Thank you ladies. You are a talented industrious group that can teach me a lot.

Crushed Flowers Blooming

Mankind.Gifted in resilience .

I’ve written very little about any medical work here Confidentiality trumps web logging .Suffice it to say that if you work closely with people there is a wealth of very funny incidents .Add in a language difference and the laughter can be loud.Only in private conversation .

There is also a mountain of sadness even tragedy .Wherever it is,it’s  hard to look at youngsters crushed with a burden . The centre and school care for many such students .No real difference here in some  stresses,work pressure ,family pressure ,past abuse,poverty .The illnesses are different .Malaria ,typhoid,more respiratory illness in the dusty dry season.Orphans robbed of parents by HIV. Some children as carers .

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Young precious lives need the care of immunisation as their health and development hang in the balance.
But I am inspired by these crushed flower children .I see fresh blooming in so many of them.The silent bravery emerging from deep wounds.Glimpses of promise ,faith ,hope,love.There is an environment of  encouragement ,challenge and empowering love.
Everyone of us gets mired in challenge and problems ,sometimes foolishly forgetting to be expecting the unexpected.We like patterns of order and predictability but crushing can come and jolt us. At those times remember the crushed flower children blooming again and the medicine of faith hope and love .

Dust to Dust

The catch at the back of my throat has gone now.The rainy season has started and the air is clearer.About once a week or may twice there is a real downpour. Red dust turning to mud,Wellington boot mud. The trickling drain turned into a torrent of stones, plastic, paper, rubbish and rainwater.

The dust is the everyday and the mud is the sometimes. And the dust makes me ponder. What is the secret art of living with dust? How do people look so smart and shiny in such a dusty world? The occasional Westerners I meet are a scruffy sight by and large.Dress codes broken through ignorance or heat,but also lack of observation and respect.Choosing  comfort over dignified honour of another’s country code. Ignorant of the slovenliness. Ignorant of the low standards of the casual.Applauding the non ironed look.Yes, I ‘m attached to the scruffy Westerner set with crumples  and dusty shoes… Always.. Almost.

White shirt,smart tie,smart suit and a ride on a Boda Boda   and still the rural pastor looks dignified and smart and mastered the dusting down discretely and immediately.

And there’s the sweeping. No Mr Dyson here.Small children learn the art of stick bundle sweeping at an early age and beat me at it,in effectiveness. And still the dust keeps coming, a thin red shimmer on all but the newly polished cars in Kampala, grubbying the children at play, inhabiting the lungs of the tiny the old and all in between, shaming the water rinsing my hair.

The  wet wipe is a great leveller. Red  red dust off everyone
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