- Written by Tom Miles Tom Miles
- Created: August 22 2017 August 22 2017
The 2017 Uganda Mercy Medical Team arrived safely in Entebbe, Uganda, in the late hours of Friday, August 11, after nearly thirty hours of travel from the United States. The entire team cleared immigration and customs and located all luggage without any challenges. Our hosts were waiting for us at the airport and welcomed us with joyous greetings. The team boarded a private bus to begin the three-hour road journey to Jinja, our home for the night. Traffic in Uganda is notoriously time-consuming, so the decision was made to complete this trek during the night with less traffic. We arrived to the Jinja City Hotel around 2:30 AM, quickly checked in and headed to bed for a few hours rest.
Saturday morning we arose feeling slightly more rested and packed up to begin the road trek to Nakapiripirit in the northeast portion of Uganda near the Kenyan border. We were quickly introduced to the concept of “African time,” as the bus arrived 45 minutes later than anticipated. Several stops were then made to collect fuel and other supplies for the week-long stay in a more remote portion of the country. Our hosts completed much planning as our team needed to bring with us all of the supplies and food we would need for the full week. The day prior the majority of the food and all of the clinic medical supplies were sent ahead, which allowed a bit more room for people and luggage on the bus with us. We finally departed Jinja about 11:00 AM and enjoyed the first part of a scenic trek to Mbale, where we stopped for lunch and some final grocery shopping for the week. The afternoon brought more variety in the landscape as we continued farther north and east. We arrived in Nakapiripirit around 6:00 PM and enjoyed a beautiful sunset with the majestic hills and scenery nearby.
Sunday morning began with the anticipation of worshiping with a local Lutheran Church of Uganda congregation in the town of Lopedot, which is also the clinic site for the week. The team drove about thirty minutes to Amudat to pick up several pastors to join us in the morning worship. The road featured many bumps, camels, puddles and lush landscapes. About an hour drive later, just as we were arriving in a Pokot village about three kilometers from Lopedot, our bus slid and spun and got stuck in the mud. We all smiled a little and got off the bus to enjoy the outdoors while the driver and some of the Ugandan team surveyed the situation. Pretty soon several Pokot villagers were there to assist as well. By the end of the ordeal, the majority of the village was there to help, assist and observe.
I have heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again in hopes of having a different result. Well, it took the team, village and many helpers three hours to get the bus unstuck from the mud. Several people collected rocks for traction. One man showed up with a machete and was cutting sticks for traction under the tires. Many men pushed, pulled and dug. Villagers supplied spades and shovels for digging. Women and children watched with interest and enjoyed taking pictures with our team. The bus barely moved for three hours as the team continued to try similar techniques to get the bus out of the mud. At one point the team stopped and Reverend James prayed over the bus for God to guide us safely out of the mess. The amazing part was the sense of community and family that developed with the Pokot villagers. Only one or two pastors in the group spoke Pokot and could speak with the villagers about the plan. However, the town rallied together to help the white people on the bus in the middle of Uganda stuck in the mud.
By the time we were freed from the mud it was 2:00 PM, and we had missed the local church service. Arriving to the clinic site for the Medical Mission Team (MMT) work this week was also looking questionable. We piled back into the bus and began the two hour trek back to Nakapiripirit. Despite the events of the day, the American and Ugandan team together sang hymns and praise songs on the drive back. We had a late lunch at the hotel and then had time for orientation for the MMT week and local cultural customs. Pastor David then led us in a worship service at the hotel with songs of praise, scripture readings and Holy Communion. The evening concluded with a late dinner with all gathered together.
The day did not go as planned but most likely just how it was meant to be. The town of Nabokotom was originally chosen for the MMT clinic. However, the district medical office thought Lopedot would be the better location. God has a plan in place, as because of the roads we are now headed back to Nabokotom to provide medical and spiritual care to the people there. We are looking for a way to get back to the Pokot village where we spent quality time today. The team would like to return to provide medical care as we observed the need, and we would like to give back to them after all of their assistance today. The team is looking forward to what God has in store for us the rest of the week.
“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?