- Written by Kimberly Pepmiller Kimberly Pepmiller
- Created: August 16 2015 August 16 2015
Hello from The Pearl of Africa! Nelly and I have safely arrived in Uganda after over thirty hours of uneventful travel. Our flights took us through Minneapolis, Amsterdam and Rwanda before we finally landed in Entebbe, Uganda, late at night on Friday. After clearing customs, locating luggage and exchanging money, we made it out of the airport. Pastor James of the Lutheran Church of Uganda and Shara, an LCMS missionary to east Africa, greeted us at the airport. Our private chariot—bus—awaited. We drove to the city of Kampala to spend the night at the Green Valley hotel, which provided very nice overnight accommodations. It was most excellent to be able to lie flat for a while!
Saturday morning brought sunny skies and breakfast out on the veranda of the hotel. What a glorious way to begin a morning in Africa. The fresh pineapple was the highlight of breakfast for sure! Our group packed up and left the hotel about 9:00 AM. We drove the busy, chaotic streets of Kampala to run some errands, such as picking up medications for the upcoming clinics. Interestingly, the streets are relatively quiet as horns on vehicles are not used here! Ugandans use their car horns similar to Americans. They do drive on the left side of the road, though. Kampala is a busy city, even on a Saturday! The six million people of the city included begging kids, multiple motorcycles and many buyers and sellers or wares. Each city street sells has its own specialty. For example, there is a street where one goes to purchase electronics and a separate street for clothing.
Pastor James and Violet, who works in the Lutheran Church of Uganda office, traveled with us as we left Kampala and headed north to Lira. Violet is Ugandan and comes from a family of twelve siblings. Both of her parents are professionals. She has excellent English! Pastor James is also fluent in English. He is married with three children and attended the LCMS seminary in South Africa, and he knows Jeannie and Del's friend Benson. Small world! He covers a district and supports multiple churches in the district.
Violet and Pastor James shared many interesting tidbits as we drove from Kampala up to Lira, which was about a six hour drive. Apparently only African businessmen speak Swahili, to help facilitate trade. Otherwise, most Ugandans speak Luganda. There are 56 tribes in Uganda, and each has their own dialect. In Lira, where we will be spending the weak, the language will be Lango. In Uganda, 70% of the population is Roman Catholic, and 3% of the population is Muslim, but the Muslim population is growing.
As we moved out of Kampala, we left the city and moved into a more agricultural area. We saw many small gardens in unusual places, as many families rely on subsistence farming. We saw corn, sugar cane, cassava, plantains, jackfruit and bananas. The countryside is very green! Apparently the livestock here are much smarter than in America as there are no fences to hold the cows and goats in. Instead they stay where they're tied. The homes in the countryside were all huts with thatched roofs. The only true buildings appeared to have been built by NGOs. We did pass a brick-making factory with red soil bricks being constructed.
We stopped along the way at a restaurant near a rhino preserve. Two of Pastor James’ pastor friends came to join us for lunch. Shortly after lunch we had the privilege to cross the Nile River. It's gorgeous! The landscape was lush, and we saw the rapids and waterfalls of the wide Nile River. The beauty of the Nile was so much more than we expected.
We had to snap quickly pictures because there were guards hiding in the grass to prevent picture taking in the preserve. Awaiting us on the other side were monkeys and baboons—our first taste of African wildlife.
Shortly before sunset we arrived in Lira, in northern Uganda. The landscape is much flatter here, with more plains. The area is definitely more urban. We are spending the week at the St Lira hotel, and each of us has a private room. Upon our arrival, the minister of urban development met us at the hotel to greet us, check on our plans and welcome us to his hotel. We had dinner by candlelight out on the patio under the stars. The chicken, pork and mashed potatoes will tide us over until morning light. We are all anxiously anticipating a more lengthy and restful night of sleep under our mosquito nets. It is a bit buggy here!
“Hesed” is a Hebrew word that means “kindness”, “mercy”, “loyalty”, “loving-kindness” or “steadfastness.” It’s the way God intends us to live together—a “love your neighbor as yourself,” active, selfless, sacrificial, caring-for-one-another brand of living contradictory to our fallen natures. The “Heseders” are continually looking to work together to share some small measure of God’s extraordinary love. Won’t you join us?