Thursday, July 30, 2009

Arriving in Uganda

[Note: I brought my camera, but forgot to bring the battery charger so I don't have too many pictures. I used another camera while I was there, so I'm hoping to get those pictures soon.]

It was a 9 1/2-hr flight from DFW to Amsterdam, and then an 8-hour flight from Amsterdam to Entebbe, Uganda. On the flight into Entebbe, I sat next to a man who turned out to be a well-known Ugandan pastor and church planter. He has spoken to crowds in the thousands at evangelistic campaigns, but is now convinced that the best way to make disciples is through church planting. His ministry planted 14 churches in Uganda last year, and his team is working on a training program for church planters. We talked at length and exchanged information. It was a very encouraging "God connection."

My driver picked me up from the airport and drove me to the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) guesthouse in Kampala, the capital. After a night's stay, I took a Cesna six-seater from Kijanse airstrip to Bundibugyo. Below is takeoff.

The flight was about 1 1/2 hours. The small plane afforded a great aerial view of the country. Besides me in the plane, there was one American third-year med student who was going to work at a clinic in Bundibugyo. Two Hong Kong natives who were friends of the (German) pilot came with us just for the ride. One was a teacher and the other an IT guy. They were on their way to another east African country. All of us had different purposes, but it was cool to see how each of us was planning on using their gifts for the cause of Christ.

It was loud, but with the windows closed it was not unbearably so—kind of like the engine on my weedwhacker. The flight was much smoother than I expected. So I was taken by surprise when I got airsick about four minutes before landing. Thankfully, this was the only time I got sick on my entire two-week trip....And thankfully the pilot showed me where the air sickness bag was before takeoff.

I arrived in Bundibugyo at about 2:00 p.m. local time on Tuesday, July 14. Upon landing, my good friend Dave greeted me. He was one of the main reasons I made the trip. I would stay at his house with his family. We embraced for a long time. There were lots of villagers who came to the airstrip in Bundibugyo to see the arrival of the plane. I guess it's a big event. Villagers at the airstrip (and most places I went) stared at me because I was a newcomer and because they were trying to figure out if I was a Muzungu. (Not many light-skinned people of African descent where they live.) We took Dave's 4-wheel drive vehicle on a dirt road from the airstrip to his home located on the campus of Christ School Bundibugyo in the small village of Nyakuta.

After I got settled, Dave asked me, "So, you wanna go to a funeral?" The daughter of one of the leading men in the area had died, so we decided to pay our respects. We walked along the main dirt road then turned left onto a winding path leading to the man's home. Many people were walking in the opposite direction having just come from the funeral. By the time we reached the house, they had just about finished burying the young woman on the property. Though we arrived late, the father was appreciative of our visit.

I'm told that funerals are quite common here. Sicknesses and disease take the lives of many well before their time. It was a sobering introduction to my ministry trip, but it certainly helped me keep things in perspective.


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