15t April 2008
Well, just to let you all know, I arrived safely back home last Friday morning having completed my 6 months in Uganda with MAF. The flight back went smoothly despite leaving Entebbe a day later than I had anticipated. It seemed that there were not enough people on the flight leaving on Thursday so the flight was cancelled 5 or so hours before departure and we were all moved onto the flight leaving the same time the next day. Fortunately the message got through to me before I had left for the airport (thanks MAF UK) so I didn’t have a wasted journey. At least I had another day in Kampala, so I got plenty of sleep and relaxed for most of the day!
I think I left off from the Friday before my departure in my last update so I will continue on from there. Friday evening was the MAF social so they used that as my farewell event! Everyone brought lots of cakes and things to eat and we even did some line dancing despite the power going off near the start of the evening! They also presented me with a little book which had each family’s photo in it, alongside their favourite recipe/s (I think they got the idea that I like cooking!). It is a really nice memento, although I’m still chasing up one or two families that had been on holiday!
On Saturday, I played my last ever game of volleyball and then went out for the evening with Ian and Catherine to the Spur (mixed grill restaurant). We did eat there, but were a bit miffed to find that each item on the menu had gone up by about 4000 shillings! – although compared with English standards that is only about £1.50 increase, in Kampala that is a massive difference. I said ‘I wouldn’t be coming back again’! So instead of having dessert there, we went downstairs so that Catherine could have her coffee fix and we could all have some ice cream at nearly half the price than what we would have paid in the Spur upstairs! It was nice to chat with them and reflect on the past months, especially since I hadn’t seen much of them both recently.
On Sunday, I went to Calvary Chapel which was really nice, but also very sad as it was my last service there and I had to say goodbye to a lot of people I knew, including some of the MAF Families. That afternoon I played a game of ‘Settlers’ for the last time and won it for the first time! Hurray! I then had to quickly rush off for a nice meal out with the Newnham family. We went to a nice continental place which served fairly reasonable food, although Thai Green Curry was not the best choice as it wasn’t great! Nevertheless, it was nice to have one last meal out with the family that had so kindly shared their house with me for the last 3 months.
I spent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning at the office, just tying up loose ends and on Monday afternoon, I had my formal send off as both the international and local staff would be there. Laurie made a nice speech and so I followed suit and made one myself, having just received a nice ‘artistic’ photo book of pictures from around Kampala that everyone had written in.
As this brings me to the end of my stay in Uganda, I’d just like to say a big thank you to all for your support, for all those who have prayed for me or written me letters/emails, it was much appreciated. I have had such a fantastic time working with MAF, and although it wasn’t plain sailing all the way, it really couldn’t have turned out better than it did and it has been a great opportunity to get an insight into the life of mission and see at firsthand what MAF is doing in Uganda. Please continue in prayer as I try to discern the correct path that my life should follow.
4th April 2008
Why is it that time between updates seems to fly by? Anyway, this is most likely going to be my last Uganda update sent from Uganda. There is a lot to tell yet again but since I’ve got a few things planned for my last few days I’ll probably write another update once I’m back in the UK just to tie everything up!
My Software development task has now been finished and so I just need to write some user and technical documentation on Monday and Tuesday of next week so that I can have Wednesday (my last day as I fly back in the evening) fairly free to sort myself out. The project hasn’t been easy, particularly since there is always something else to get done and plenty of people popping in to have IT problems fixed! Nevertheless, it is finally complete and I’m very pleased how it has turned out. Not only is it a huge improvement on the system it will replace and so benefit the MAF programme here in Uganda but will also be a great reference project for me in the future when I want to create a similar system.
As planned, I went to the Ssese Islands in Lake Victoria over the Easter Weekend. Catherine Lex’s Mother, Auntie and Uncle had come over a few days before Easter to visit Catherine and so they were going to go on Safari together along with Ian Wardle, starting at Easter. Their first stop on their ‘Uganda Tour’ was the Ssese Islands so I went with them. Overall, it was a really nice trip and although it rained on Easter Sunday (the only full day on the island) I felt like it was a successful break and a good opportunity to take a breather. I met up with the others early morning on Saturday instead of meeting them in Entebbe that afternoon for the ferry as originally planned, so that I could visit the botanical gardens with them! I felt like my Dad when I got so excited about going to a botanical garden. However this is no ordinary garden- this was where Tarzan the original movie was filmed! There are no flowers, just a lot of forest and plenty of monkeys and birdlife. It was definitely a good decision to go there and since the weather was good I went for a walk on my own round the garden studying the monkeys and birds and (when no one was looking) swinging on some vines and beating my chest! I got some great footage of the monkeys since they are adjusted to a continual human presence and so were less inclined to scurry off into the protection of a tree. We had whole tilapia and chips for lunch and then got onto the ferry. This was no easy task as it was so busy, but fortunately Ian had got there early with the car so that he got a space- the majority of cars had to be turned away. We were staying on Bugala Island, the largest of the Ssese Islands and we were staying in the main village of Kalangala. We arrived a few hours later and I promptly went for a lie down in the hammock and then as the sun was going down I went for a quick dip, in the now, warm lake water. It really did feel like I was on a tropical beach in the Caribbean except here I was exposing myself to the risk of catching Bilhazia (a potentially harmful disease if not treated) which shows up about 6 weeks after water exposure. I will definitely take the treatment back home with me just in case, despite the fact that this particular area in the lake was a comparatively low risk area. We had a nice meal and then went to bed. The next morning we went to one of the two churches on the island for the Easter Morning service which was nice despite the torrential downpour the night before and during the service! By the time we got back to our resort the rain had eased but the temperature was cool as a result and clouds littered the sky.
Ian recommended that I hire a local motorbike (also known as a BODABODA) and go exploring round the island. It was the first time I’d ever ridden a motorbike so it took me a while to get the hang of it. Coupled with the fact that it had manual transmission and the roads were full of potholes and puddles I had a bit of a task on my hands but despite going through the whole feeling of learning to drive again, within 15 minutes I was off to the back of beyond! Let me start off, by saying that this is the best way to see the island! There is really only one road going to the other end of the island (I say ‘road’ but it is really just a bumpy dirt track) and the views of the various bays either side were breathtaking. It was about 60kms to the other end and despite stalling as I went up a hill and not being able to get it started again (for some strange reason the bike wouldn’t start if you had the brake on!) I got to this little friendly fishing village about 2 hours after leaving Kalangala. On the way and on arriving I got a fair few reactions and raised eyebrows, and attracted rather a lot of attention when I pulled up to the other bodaboda drivers parked in the fishing village. A guy immediately came up to me and invited to show me round the village which was nice, and then I went and bought some chapattis for my lunch. This chap showed me where his mates hang out and I watched them play a game of pool for a while before having to grab a quick drink and head back to Kalangala. The ride there and back was great and I actually made it back in under 1.5 hours this time, just before another thunderstorm hit the island. Phew!
The next morning I headed back to Kampala on the ferry to get back for work the next day. I had been contemplating for some time, whether or not to go to Murchison Falls N.P on this backpackers trip. It turned out that there were no more spaces available on any trips between now and when I leave so I started pursuing other options. I found another company that does a 4 day trip (instead of 3) which looked much better than the other one but I knew that if I paid for this $360 trip out of my own money (as apposed to 170 for the 3 day one), I would have to really cut back on my budget when I go to France. On Wednesday I thought I would just phone up the cheaper company to check for cancellations for their trip leaving the next morning before booking the more expensive one. Amazingly there were two cancellations so I booked it there and then! I stayed the night at their backpackers place in Kampala so that I would be ready for the early morning trip the next day and met the ‘two cancellations’ when I got there. Apparently their names had just been rubbed off the list even though they had never cancelled their trip. Fortunately there was a private trip leaving the same day so they were moved onto that one so that I could still go on the trip. However, the next morning 3 people from our trip just didn’t show up and so the ‘cancellations’ were moved back onto our trip and all was well. I was glad they had made the mistake as otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to go on the trip despite the spaces that would inevitably appear on the morning of the trip- increasing the cost per person of each remaining customer.
The 3 day Murchison Falls trip was great, again despite the rain, and we saw elephant, various antelope, lion cubs and masses of giraffe! We also saw a lot of hippo and huge nile crocodile on the boat trip up to the base of the falls and of course the warthogs and hippos that came up to the camp each night as the sun went down. Quite fun, when you are in just a canvas tent and need to get across to the toilet in the middle of the night! I met some great people on the trip and it was really nice to do the whole ‘GAP year backpacking’ thing and meet similar minded people. The last morning of the trip, we took a walk to the top of the falls which was very spectacular and breathtaking. The volume of water that goes through such a small gap in the rocks is incredible. Later that day we drove the long drive back to Kampala and upon arriving I went to see Catherine to pick up my goodie bag that had just come from the UK. Thank you to those that sent a card with the goodie package, it was very nice to hear from you. I was also pleased as I got some more chocolate, some earplugs (to prevent being woken up by screaming children, barking dogs, thunderstorms, or mosque ‘call to prayer’s), and an impressive skipping rope (a belated Christmas gift from my brother) which I have been using regularly despite the large amounts of energy required to keep skipping with that thing!
That weekend, I enjoyed going bird watching with Jon Cadd around Kampala, playing volleyball and going to Calvary Chapel Church on Sunday. Also, I went to the craft market after church and bought myself a traditional African shirt which I am very pleased with and then had lunch with Catherine.
This last week I have worked at the office 3 days out of 5. The two other days I was on MAF flights to various places. On Wednesday I went on a MAF US flight into Congo. We flew to Bunia first (the MAF Congo base) and then onto Isiro and Nebobongo before heading back to Bunia and then back into Kajjansi in Uganda via Entebbe international airport. It was great fun, since I got to do a fair amount of the flying and practise my French at the same time. I did most of the takeoffs and climb outs, letting the autopilot take over whilst in cruise and initial descent. I also flew a few approaches and followed through on a couple of landings on the easier airstrips with Larry Strietzel (the Pilot in Command) also on the controls. Nebobongo was the highlight of the trip since it is an interesting bumpy grass airstrip in the middle of the forest. The place had a really nice feel and seemed rather idyllic to me, it actually used to be a MAF Congo base at one time. About 100 local villagers greeted us on landing and the SIL (Wycliffe Bible Translators) missionaries that we were transporting disembarked. We stopped for a quick drink with a Wycliffe missionary family and I helped the father out with some computer issues before heading back to the airplane. I had a really nice time flying with Larry and he showed me lots of interesting stuff along the way. Once we were safely back in Uganda I then rushed out to spend the evening with a MAF US couple (Stan and Pam Lincoln) also joined by Jon and Cher Cadd for chilli and a film. We watched ‘The Gods must be crazy’, a film commonly shown to missionaries coming out to Africa. It is a very old film but I recommend it if you haven’t already seen it.
Thursday evening, Laurie and Emma Nason invited me out for a Chinese meal at a restaurant in town called Fang Fang along with Hadija (the MAF Office Manager in Kampala), it was really great value despite being so posh and seeing as I enjoy Chinese food so much (Laura BC- you need to recommend me some chinese recipes!), I had a great time. After the meal, I even got brought a huge watermelon carved out with the words FARE WELL and stuffed full of prepared tropical fruit and with a candle on top. I wish I had brought my camera; I had to settle with a lower quality photo taken from my mobile phone!
Then today (Friday), I went flying with Achim Appel on a MAF Uganda flight around the Karamoja region of Northern Uganda. We flew to Moroto, Kotido, Kaabong, Morulem and Patongo leaving from the MAF airstrip at Kajjansi as usual. This flight was particularly interesting as it enabled me to see such a lot of Northern Uganda that I had never seen before. I also got the opportunity to fly again, this time in the ‘best’ MAF Uganda aircraft – the Cessna 208B Grand Caravan! I did half of the takeoffs and a few approaches but I left the landings up to Achim because the places we were visiting were prone to severe crosswinds. Kaabong was particularly interesting because by the time we got there at around mid-day the winds had picked up and as expected it was blowing right across the runway, and in fact got even worse just 10 metres before the runway threshold. Despite this, Achim did a great job and showed the quality of the MAF pilot training and the ability the pilots are expected to be at. On the way back we stuck the autopilot on and Achim and I had a really great chat about missionary aviation and I found it very helpful. The day’s flying was great and because the weather was so fine, the views were spectacular and you could see for miles and miles- even certain mountain ranges in Kenya. I got a particularly nice view of Mount Elgon, and I also got a good look at the town and airstrip at Soroti (the place where Phil and Naomi (some school friends) and a few more people from their church are going to volunteer later this year).
Tonight is a MAF Social / My farewell event which I’m looking forward to. Tomorrow I’m going out for a meal with Ian and Catherine, and then on Sunday I will be going out for a meal with the Newnham family. So a nice stint of evenings out!
That will leave just Monday and Tuesday next week before I fly back on Wednesday evening. I will be very sad to be leaving Uganda, since I have had such a fantastic time and have really got stuck in with the MAF Uganda programme and life here in Africa. Just contemplating the fact that I will probably not return for at least another 5 years, makes me feel sad, especially because by that time, a lot of the programme staff here will have changed by then.
Thanks for all your prayers, and I will see you soon.
17th March 2008
Thank you for all your prayers over the last few months, I am very grateful!
Wow, I perceive this update to be a mammoth one as there is so much to tell since I last wrote. I guess I should start from the beginning.
The first major thing that happened to me since my last update was that I acquired a nice little hookworm that was happily living (and moving) inside my big toe. The technical term for this worm is a Cutaneous Larva Migrans and is most commonly found in fairly most sandy soil and is transferred through the faeces of infected domestic animals such as cats and dogs. As such it is fairly rare for humans to get them and fortunately these worms aren’t well adapted to live in human beings. They lack the necessary enzymes to penetrate the flesh and to move towards the body’s vital organs (like they do in dogs and cats). Nevertheless, it still moves about a centimetre a day and is extremely itchy. I think I got it from playing volleyball as I play barefoot and it is a sandy court so I think it must have found me while I was playing. The problem was that when it first burrowed into my toe it just looked and felt like an ordinary mosquito bite and so I just ignored it for the first few days, even when it developed into what looked like 2 mosquito bites that had just blistered up! It wasn’t until about 4 days after skin penetration that I noticed that it wasn’t just an ordinary mosquito bite and was in fact some sort of worm wriggling around as it had now left some rather clear tunnels. If you want more details you can have a look at the YEA Website as my mother had secretly passed on the photos I took of my toe. I went to the doctors and the doctor enjoyed having a look at it before giving me the necessary medication to kill it. Now, the itching has stopped and the tunnels are just drying up and rotting away. Nice!
It turned out that the flight to Gulu last Saturday wouldn’t go ahead as Mildmay (the clients) had cancelled it. I was a bit disappointed as I was looking forward to it, but hopefully I will get another flight in before I have to head home. So as a consolation I decided I would do an hours flying at the flying club instead. It didn’t go overly well as when I checked in my logbook I hadn’t been flying for 4 months so I was a bit rusty. Ironically though, it went really well at the start but in the middle I got tired and since my flying skills had deteriorated over time and my automatic reactions had slowed down I hashed up a few landings in the middle. Fortunately though, I pulled it together at the end and made the best landing of the hour but I think I got the message that 4 months is a period too long to go without flying. My instructor said to me, that when she went without flying for 6 months she had deteriorated just as much. We agreed that since I will be going to university and won’t be able to be serious about flying until after that, that 1 hour a month would be sufficient. At least I’ve learnt my lesson now, and although flying more frequently will cost more it will actually cost me less in the long term as I won’t be going back a step in between long gaps between flying.
My project is going well, and I am nearly finished- I hope to finish it by the end of this week so that I can go and travel a bit leaving just the documentation to complete. Since the trip to the Ssese Islands will be fairly short and is over a public weekend anyway I will probably take a backpackers trip to Murchison Falls National Park. It is very good value for money and is 3 days long and hopefully I will get a chance to see the elephants etc. that I missed when I went to Queen Elizabeth N.P. last year when my parents came over. It will be a nice way to conclude my stay here.
The main bulk of this email is going to be explaining what has happened to me over the last 4 days…so get ready!
Anyway we’ve been having serious issues with our fleet of planes over the last few weeks. Our Cessna 206 was grounded first of all with a problem I can’t really explain and then our latest plane, the Cessna Grand Caravan was grounded for a routine inspection. Unfortunately the maintenance team discovered some small cracks in the turbine hot section of the turbo prop engine. Obviously the cracks weren’t too large that pieces were breaking off of the engine but the team were concerned that since it was a very young engine that it might be an indication of some other problem that needs dealing with it. Next thing I know, it is Wednesday mid morning and I have been asked by Steve (our programme manager) to hand courier the faulty engine section back to the UK, wait for it to get fixed and then return with all the problems rectified. I agreed after a slight hesitation and soon my flight was booked to leave that very evening! Yikes- that’s a lot of preparation in such a short space of time. The maintenance specialists (Euravia) are based not too far out from Manchester so my flight was booked with KLM to go to Manchester Airport via Amsterdam. I spent the rest of that working day getting info on various forms of public transport (I am too young to have a hire car unfortunately) and phoning home to sort out places to stay and keeping mum and dad informed of the situation. This was no easy task as we were having alternative power issues so when the main power went off so did everything else- this happened a few times throughout the morning and doubled with the snail pace of the internet, communicating over Skype was extremely frustrating.
Then, after lunch, the chief engineer came down to the office to explain what the in’s and out’s of what I would be taking so that I could get it through security (I had to take it on as hand luggage due to the value ($65000) and fragility of the turbine hot section) at each leg of my journey. I have to confess I was more than a little apprehensive not only because of the responsibility on my shoulders but also the thing weighed 10kg and having someone as young as me carry a broken strange looking aircraft part on a plane as hand luggage is fairly unusual! Anyway, soon it was the end of the day so I went home to quickly pack up all that I needed to take before being picked up by a taxi to take me to the airport.
I probably had the most trouble getting it into Entebbe airport and onto the first leg of my journey since I don’t think the Ugandan authorities understood what it was and why I was taking it on as hand luggage. After having to get it through security at the entrance to the airport I also had to get it through security at the boarding gate, and this was which took me the most time to persuade them to let me on the flight with it! And of course, matters were made even worse as my fellow passengers peered into the case with the part in which probably from their point of view looked slightly suspicious. I even heard a Danish man pass by me commenting that it looked like a tank mine – something I didn’t appreciate. I got onto the flight and managed to get it into the overhead lookers with ease which took even me by surprise. The journey was good and I got a few hours sleep as well as watched a few movies. The next morning I arrived in Amsterdam, went through security again (easier this time) and then flew to Manchester. Fortunately a man employed by Euravia had come to pick me up from the airport so I went straight to Euravia with the part and my entire luggage so that they could get working on it straight away. I dropped the part off and then took a train to Altrincham where my Auntie and Uncle were picking me up from, as they had kindly agreed at short notice to accommodate me for at least the first night.
I had a good 10 hour night and coupled with a 2 hour nap that afternoon I felt suitably refreshed in the morning. I called Euravia and they said the part would be fixed by 3pm that afternoon so I spent the morning shopping (I had a long list of luxuries people from the Uganda programme wanted- including scotch guard, cheerios, clamp ammeter and easter eggs!). I went to Euravia and picked up the engine part which as it turned out was not as serious as they had thought and so only the outer case was replaced. However the trip wasn’t a complete waste as it seemed that MAF also needed another engine part (a large exit duct) at short notice that they couldn’t get quickly anywhere else, so I took that as well when I went to pick up the main turbine part. That evening after dropping all my shopping and engine parts at my Auntie and Uncle’s place, I took a train down to Coventry to see my brother since my flight back wasn’t until Sunday early morning.
It was nice to spend some time with John and Helen and we watched a good film that evening and I went into town with them on Saturday morning as they had some things to get down. I also went into Leicester with John to get his roller skates fixed and then we had a rather nice Chinese meal for lunch (all you can eat for £4.50) before rushing back to catch my train back to Manchester. I got in a bit of a mix up with the trains and ended up on a train headed for Carlisle! I’m sure I was on the right platform and the train was there and left at the correct time. Fortunately my brother had mentioned something about being able to change at Crewe for services to Manchester so I got off at Crewe and found myself on the right train in the end!
I had a nice meal with my Auntie and Uncle before having to pack my suitcase up. This was no easy task! It probably took me 1 hour 30 minutes to pack all my suitcase, as I had a lot of shopping, too much in fact because when I went shopping I was unaware that I would also have to take a large exit duct all wrapped up in my suitcase as well. In fact the duct took up exactly 50% of my suitcase space. I was amazed at the quantity of stuff I did fit in since I had all my personal clothes as well to fit in, but ended up leaving the two boxes of cheerios and one easter egg!
The flight was at 6:10am so it was an early start for me. The flights were good despite having to now go through security more times since the flight back was via Nairobi as well as Amsterdam. I was still tired so I slept on the plane again for a few hours but eventually at 23:15 I arrived back in Entebbe with all my luggage and everything. The plane the parts belong to should now be flying by the end of tomorrow. That takes me up to the present day.
6th March 08
Thurs 28th Feb 08
I’m not quite sure how to start off this update, so I thought I’d start off by saying that I’m not quite sure how to start it…
Anyway, life goes on as normal here with plenty of stuff to do at the office and not so much free time. Nevertheless, I try to head to the Gym and the Pool every Wednesday after work and before dinner (which is always pretty rushed), and as I’ve mentioned before I aim to play volleyball and go swimming at the weekend. The other nice thing about eating so early (5:30pm – because of the children) is you have a decent evening after all the clearing up/washing up and getting the children in bed has been accomplished. So if my evening is clear (i.e. if it is Wednesday or Friday or Weekend) we normally get the chance to watch some sort of tv series (on DVD) or just chat. At the moment we are watching a series called ‘The Long Way Round’ having just finished the sequel ‘A Long Way Down’. It is essentially about two film stars who are also bikers, motorcycling around the world going east in ‘The Long Way Round’ and south through Africa in ‘The Long Way Down’.
We’ve been having several problems here at MAF these last few weeks, namely ‘The Internet’ and ‘Aviation Fuel’. In total our ADSL Internet line has been offline 120+ hours this month and is still ticking as I speak since I’m writing this email offline and will send it as soon as we have connection again! Hopefully ‘Uganda Telecom’ will get their act together soon since the majority of the MAF Flight Bookings are received by email and of course communication in general becomes difficult. AVGAS (aviation fuel used by two of the smaller planes in the MAF Uganda fleet) supply is still non existent and the AVGAS that arrived in Mombassa last week that was supposed to arrive here this week has become contaminated and so it is likely we will not receive it for at least another week. We do have our own stash of AVGAS but we’ve been without a supply for a long time now that we don’t have enough fuel for some of the flights next week. Prayer for both of these issues is needed!
I am booked to go on a MAF Flight to Gulu on March 8th and then spend the day in the IDP (Internally Displaced People’s) camps with Mildmay. I am looking forward to this and will be a real opener. Hopefully I can get on a few more MAF flights before I leave, since time is rapidly running out, now having only half my stay left! I’ve also decided not to do any more flying at the flying club here anymore (or maybe just do 1 hour since you don’t pay for an accompanying instructor here) since I will be able to fly for less when I am in France/Spain in the latter part of this year. A group of MAF UK Representatives came out to the Uganda programme here not too long ago and one of the guys was a pilot/IT guy who works in Jersey who invited me to stay with him and his family for a long weekend whilst I am in France. His company flies to and from St. Malo in Brittany fairly frequently which is only an hour away from where I will be staying so it will be fairly straightforward to get over there. Plus, the flying in Jersey is even cheaper than France since you don’t pay VAT on fuel so it might be a convenient opportunity to build my hours… J
Also, I am looking forward to having a little holiday away from Kampala over the Easter Weekend with Ian, Catherine and Fiona. They will be doing a safari trip similar to the one I did with my parents and Margaret last year but I will be just joining them for the first section of the trip in the Ssese Islands in Lake Victoria for a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of Kampala. Apparently it is a nice place to do lots of walks and to just chill. I may even take up Ian’s suggestion of hiring a Boda Boda (motorbike taxi) for a day and go exploring around the island- sounds like fun! It will also be a chance to get some much needed sleep.
My health is a lot better though, despite the lurking tiredness although I’m suffering from Chronic Bad Mosquito Bite Reactions at the moment. The other night I think a mosquito must have got caught under my bed sheets and bit me up and down my leg, foot and ankle and by the next day they had all turned purple and ‘boil’ like. At least it makes a change from them turning into blisters… But the reactions have gone down now!
Sarah Newnham hasn’t been very well recently (she got food poisoning) and neither have the two children. Sarah and her daughter Amy are better now but Joshua their youngest is still suffering from a mixture of a cold, stomach issues and 4 teeth coming through at once! Mark and I seem to have survived unscathed…
And as I speak, the internet connection has just been restored leaving a total down time for February of 121 hours 50 minutes and 37 seconds!
And on that bombshell, I will finish this email.
Monday 18th Feb 08
First of all I apologise for my lack of communication over the last few weeks. Plenty of other things have got in the way and then by the time I was ready to write another update, we had some technical issues at the office leaving us without internet (and therefore no email) for several days. Despite the long gap between my last update and the amount of stuff that has happened in that time, I hope I will cover everything that needs to be said.
I did go to the doctors to see what the matter was with me, and I’m certainly glad I did. I was diagnosed with ‘probably’ giardia which is a rather unpleasant parasite that lives in your small intestine. Although the test didn’t show up as positive (it only shows up positive 25% of the time even if you have the disease) the symptoms pointed to it and so I was given the appropriate treatment. But since it wasn’t certain that I actually had giardia, the doctor said “if the drugs don’t work then come back and we’ll treat the next most likely thing”, so I was very glad when the treatment I had been given actually worked!
Although I’m still tired by the end of the day, it is not nearly as bad as it was. The only problem is that now I have a bad cold! Just my luck!
My ongoing IT software development project has been going very well, and despite not being able to work on it for the last two weeks, I am on schedule to finish it in time. I have now finished the main user section leaving only the maintenance/administrator related features to implement. As I mentioned earlier, I haven’t been able to work on it for the last two weeks. This was because Laurie (the IT/Pilot) had to fly one of our planes to South Africa (avoiding Zimbabwe for obvious reasons) passing through Tanzania, Malawi and Mozambique on the way for a new paint job. This left me alone in the IT office to tackle the many technical related problems that came my way. Just to give you an idea, I once counted 7 computers in the office that were being worked on; A desktop beneath my feet, linked to a monitor on the other side of the room, and a laptop on my lap as well as one on the desk in front of me and one on the chair beside me! The fact that our internet ADSL line went down just added insult to injury! The internet has not been working for over 85 hours this month, averaging at over 4.7 hours off each day.
Life with the Newnham family is good despite the fact that their teething 11 month year old son does make a bit of a racket most nights! Fortunately, I don’t have to be the one to get up and quieten him down in the middle of the night! Although having said that, I have learnt a few bits about dealing with ‘babies’. A couple of Sundays ago, I was up early (since my church starts at 8am and theirs doesn’t start until 11am) when I heard Joshua (the name of their son) crying. He was in his cot in another room (he was moved when he woke up in the night I imagine) so as not to wake up his older sister. I went in to the room and found him standing up (at that point he could pull himself up with things but would have trouble getting down again to crawl so quickly got frustrated!), clinging onto the side of the cot with the mosquito net in his face, so I lay him down and left since he stopped crying. I thought I had cracked it once 5 minutes had gone by, when he started screaming again. I thought “Drat, I need to get to church but I also don’t want the rest of the family to be woken up, but I’m not really sure what I can do!” Well, I managed to fix his bouncy chair to the door frame of the kitchen and get him in it but we would start crying as soon as I was more than 4 metres away! So I ate my Breakfast in the kitchen with him (I can’t provide milk, so feeding was out of the question!) and then thought “Well what can I do now, since I can’t leave him here while I head off to church”. Fortunately at that point, Mark and Sarah got up so they could take over while I made a dash for church. Phew!
Cooking is going well, and I normally cook for the family on Friday and over the weekend since they eat at 5:30pm which is the time I get home from the office during the week. I’m really into Stir Fry at the moment so I do those every now and again, since vegetables are very cheap here and a small amount of meat is not too bad either. I’ve also done a fair few casseroles, pasta dishes, tuscan grilled chicken sandwiches amongst other things. It is going well! I still need to try a roast dinner at some point though…
Last week I started teaching the clarinet to the son of one of the MAF couples. He had wanted to learn for ages, and wanted to see if someone in MAF could teach him if possible, so his Mother (who owns a clarinet) asked me and I jumped at the opportunity. My week is now very busy, but it is nice to use more of the gifts God has given me whilst I am here. The first lesson went very well, and of course reminded me of the first time I tried to get a note out of the clarinet. It seems he is really enjoying it as his mother tells me that he keeps picking it up and having a go several times a day once he gets back from school and wants me to do lessons more than once a week. Obviously I don’t have the time for that, but I’m glad he is eager for more.
We did celebrate Pancake Day here which was nice (something our American friends hadn’t heard of before) although I only managed two. That day I had porridge for breakfast. At brunch I had two mandazis, a piece of wedding cake and a banana. For lunch I ate a massive pile of Matooke, a plateful of beans and 3 chapatis followed by paw-paw and juice for pudding. Then for dinner I had sweet and sour stir fry with rice followed by 2 chocolate brownies! That would be why 2 pancakes were enough for me!
This week I have been making props for use in the latest song the MAF Puppet Ministry is working on (aka Out of the Blue Ministries) including a large cardboard Sun with sunglasses and a big smile etc. and a thermometer that has a changing temperature mechanism! It’s taken up most of the time at weekends but I have still had the time to play volleyball and go swimming providing the weather is good.
Last week we had to move all the computers out of the server room since we were having an air conditioning unit installed which was a bit of a challenge and caused a fair amount of problems with the network as you would expect. Today, Laurie and I moved them all back in again and replaced one of the servers with a newer one. It now looks incredibly tired and much more spacious despite being a lot cleaner. We also tidied up our office which had started to become a bit of a mess and although we’re still not yet finished it looks a whole lot better than before (I have taken a picture before, and will take one after as soon as we’re done!)
Still no flying with MAF yet but there are issues with Aviation Fuel (which comes from Kenya). MAF have a stock of fuel but of course if none is coming in then that stock will run out at some point! We do have a supply of JET fuel coming in which powers the most commonly used aircraft in the fleet (the Cessna 208 Caravans) but AVGAS is still lacking and so if our stock of that runs out then our smaller Cessna 206 and 210s will be grounded!
I think that is everything I needed to mention, apart from that we had a BBQ yesterday (it was a nice day for it too) and invited some friends over to share it with us.
Tuesday 29th January 2008
Thanks for all your responses to my previous update. It was great to hear from you- I do try to respond individually most of the time but of course sometimes the work schedule gets the better of me!
I’m still feeling exhausted; I think I’ve been fooling myself for sometime that it was just because I was being busy or not having enough rest. But, I’ve just started getting accompanying stomach pains indicating it may be something a bit less straightforward. If it doesn’t improve by the morning I will go and see the doctor tomorrow.
Despite feeling under the weather, the last week has been pretty good. Not yesterday, but the Sunday before, I went to the ‘Power of Worship’ 2008 at Kampala Baptist Church after attending their weekly Sunday morning service that day. Steve Jenkins preached an excellent sermon and also received a traditional Ugandan garment (a white shirt that covers the whole body- I’ve forgotten the name) in recognition of the time he gave to KBC and YEA the week before. It was particularly amusing for those in the congregation when Steve received his gift. This was because he unwrapped it there and then and tried it on (culturally, Ugandans are more likely to receive a present, say thank you and take it home to unwrap it there)! And adding to the amusement was Steve’s marvellous attempt at putting it on (trying to work out which way round it goes and getting arms stuck in the sleeves etc.) but he got there in the end, to rapturous applause! I’ve got some photos to prove it!
The Power of Worship conference was really good. We sang songs in 6+ different languages including Luganda, Swahili, French, English, Portuguese and Kirundi and it was fantastic despite the fact that I had to leave early since it was going on a bit too long…
One of the reasons why I had to leave early was because the car I was in had one faulty rear light so I had to leave before it got dark! The other reason was I needed to move house into the Newnham’s house that evening. The move was alright despite the fact that I was tired and had a little bit too much to do (I had decided to put up balloons and welcome home banners in preparation for the Newnham family returning from furlough) but I slept well. Life during the week has been good and I have done my fair share of cooking for the family (I’m not used to cooking large amounts for 4 people!) and did a rather spectacular chicken casserole for their first evening home! Both Mummy and Mama will be proud (although I have to confess I had done a few trial runs at home with Mum first, and brought some good ingredients with me from the UK! – Tomato puree I love you)
There was a security seminar for all the MAF expatriate staff during the latter part of the week so I was on call for doing various school rounds morning and evening. It was particularly tough seeing as I had never been to any of the schools before and as you may know the maps here aren’t very useful. Nevertheless, the verbal directions I had imprinted in my memory were sufficient and I found each of the schools on time! Thank you for all your prayers.
I also managed to continue with my main project left over from last time this last Friday since I had got my laptop fully up and running with the necessary software and had less other tasks to complete. It is proving particularly difficult as I am relatively new to the software used to produce the project I am working on and I’m facing obstacles with it most days I work on it!
Last weekend I played volleyball on Saturday which was good fun, but otherwise had a fairly calm day. I also went to the church the Newnhams attend on Sunday (Lugogo Baptist Church) which is a more typically Ugandan church (not really westernized). The worship was very ‘free’ and the teaching was also good, however I will probably stick with going to Calvary Chapel since that was where I spent most of my time last year.
January 18th 2008
Just in case you were wondering, I arrived safely in Kampala, Uganda last Friday and have now settled in as much as possible despite the chaos here at the moment!
The flight was pretty good despite having to change at Brussels and stop at Nairobi on the way and despite what it said on my itinerary we were absolutely plastered with food, hurrar! I don’t know whether you all know, but by complete coincidence (well more likely God’s timing) I was on exactly the same flight as Steve Jenkins (Steve is part of the leadership team at Bognor Regis Baptist Church and now a missionary in Belgium) which was really nice. We managed to get seats together for both legs (no pun intended) and it was great to have a chat.
We were greeted at the airport by Ian, Catherine, Lydia, Alex and Isaac (an assortment of people either linked to Youthworx East Africa or Bognor Church) and since it was nearly midnight by this point we all stayed the night in Entebbe before heading back to Kampala the next morning. It was really nice to see all these people again and good to be back in Uganda. Oh and the heat was nice too! I slept well and despite having a mosquito net full of holes and a nice stagnant pond fairly close to the outside door to our room I didn’t get bitten at all. In fact I’ve only been bitten once so far!
The drive back to Kampala was uneventful but as I got closer and closer to Makindye (the district in which I work and live) I got more and more excited. It felt surreal coming back to a place in some ways so different from home in Bognor but yet so familiar and comforting. I had the strange feeling that the concept of ‘home’ was now somewhat marred. Mum: I hope I’m not being heartless again! It was just really surreal and I can’t really explain! Although I was due to stay at the Newnham’s house (where I stayed for the last month of my previous stay) it turned out that for the first week I would be staying with the Cadds. Jon and Cher Cadd are part of MAF US operating in Congo and I got on really well with them before so it was a njice surprise to find out I would be staying with them for the first week. The problem was that a lady who home schools a MAF couple’s children moved into the Newnham’s house once I had gone and is still there now. She was due to be moving to her own place but it is not ready yet. Hopefully I will be moving in tomorrow as planned but I very much doubt it. It will be a shame as they arrive back on Monday and I was going to put up ‘Welcome Home’ banners/balloons etc. and provide their food for the first evening (I’m now a hospitality provider as apposed to the other way around!) and it will be much harder to do that if I’m not living there! Oh well.
Work at the office has been fast and furious but it was great to see everyone again. There has been a lot to get done so I haven’t even had the chance to continue with my main software development project yet. Straight in at the deep end yet again! At least I’m being kept busy. Today I received a new MAF laptop to replace this hunk of junk which is fantastic, now everything should take me half as much time since I don’t have to sit around waiting for the computer to think anymore! That was a real answer to prayer. I have been setting it up today and getting it ready to be used so I’ll be able to start next week on my project. But unfortunately there is still plenty of other things left to do next week so chances are I’ll have to delay the project again!
Yesterday I spent the morning at the famous Owino Market in Kampala with Cher Cadd. Words can’t really describe the atmosphere in the market so I’ll have to grab some photos next time I go. Cher bought some new curtains and vast quantities of towels and I bought 3 pairs of shorts. The shorts altogether came to about £1.70 and one of the pairs still had a tag from its days at the Salvation Army Charity Shop in UK priced at £2. Bargain. It was a real success as all 3 pairs fit and I like all of them (I had a good rummage through the plastic sacs and all those sprawled on the seller’s mat), the sweetness tasting so much better in the knowledge that I won’t need to go shopping for shorts again in a long while. The market was huge and I only saw about a tenth of the whole market and we were in there for nearly 2 hours! It is extremely crowded and quite smelly from the rubbish just chucked in the paths that weave around the market and poultry feather filled the air. Really good fun though!
This weekend I’m going to spend relaxing, since I’m still feeling tired. But on Sunday I will be attending Kampala Baptist Church and then this conference thingy afterwards. Not sure exactly what it is but I’ll let you know next week.
All the best,
Thursday 6th Dec - the end of the beginning
Well thank you all for your support during my trip, sadly it has now come to an end….. but it is only the end of the beginning since I am headed back there early Jan 2008.
The last week at the office was tough, particularly since it was that point where I realised I just wouldn’t have enough time to finish what I wanted to finish. Nonetheless I carried on, despite being quite exhausted (3 months really does take its toll), trying to tackle the various tasks that I had time to take on!
Two Mondays ago, I had my final opportunity to go on a MAF flight that was due to be with Laurie. Unfortunately just as we were climbing into the Cessna 206 (the smallest, slowest, most hippoish and most hated plane of the MAF flight – 5X-MSP is its registration), Laurie got a call saying that the Ugandan authority had still not renewed his pilots license (despite having plenty of time to do so) and so he couldn’t fly. Drat! So Adrian (the operations manager at the office) had to call in another pilot named Achim who is from Germany.
Anyway, it all got sorted out and Achim turned up shortly after and moments later we had climbed aboard (it’s a real squeeze!) and departed from Kajjansi a few hours behind schedule.
We had to head to Entebbe International Airport first, to pick up our only passenger (it is only a 6 seater) who works for World Harvest Mission who was visiting a small mission that they run on the Uganda/DRC border in a place called bundibugyo where we were flying to today. The flight was very good, great fun dodging the numerous clouds that were present at the level we were flying. Achim, put me through my paces, asking me lots of flying related questions whilst I was concentrating on avoiding the clouds. Let’s just say my head hurt by the time we arrived at our destination! To get to Bundibugyo we had to pass over the Rwenzori mountains, which was breathtaking, especially with fairly low cloud. Once the other side, we hit some light rain showers and proceeded to Bundibugyo airstrip which was nicely waterlogged for our arrival. Fortunately, MAF pilots are well prepared for this and face this sort of thing all the time. It was simple really, just land in the last quarter of the strip where it was higher and less wet! Achim, set it down very nicely before sliding through an unavoidable mud patch which slowed us right down coming to a stop at the far end of the strip by the now rather large crowd of people.
We dropped off our passenger, chatted for a bit and then made tracks. Achim, explained to me that taking off here was very tricky especially in the condition it is at the moment, since it was very difficulkt to get your speed up before hitting the first wet patch and slowing right down. Fortunately we hit the first patch at a high enough speed so that we still had enough speed to continue our take-off roll and gaining lift-off speed before the next patch further down the airstrip. As we passed over the mountains again on our return, Achim demonstrated the various techniques you must employ when flying over mountains which was all very interesting and we then flew over Fort Portal and the various tea plantations on our return. We went down fairly low over the tea since Achim wanted to get a good idea of how suitable they may be for a forced landing.
We arrived safely home at Kajjansi, although it could have nearly been a disaster. On our approach at Kajjansi, Achim spotted 3 Crested Cranes on the runway. We decided to go around to avoid them, but as we did so they took off too and we came very close to hitting one of them. Stupid birds!
Last Saturday I decided I would wind up my stay in Uganda with some ‘high adrenaline’ activities, namely bungee jumping and whitewater rafting up at Jinja, the source of the Nile. I have to say I didn’t sleep well the night before or on the coach journey up there but fortunately the bungee jump was the first activity of the day so I could get it out of the way fairly swiftly! Oh, and by the way I didn’t tell my parents before hand!
I climbed up the bungee tower and down the walkway to the jumping platform at the other end and sat in the ‘throne’ whilst I was briefed and attached to the bungee cord. The jump master assured me it was very safe and that one person had even done the jump without a bungee at all and survived so it was purely a case of just drawing the strength to leap head first into the river from 150 feet. He also asked me whether I wanted to get ‘dunked’ into the river at the bottom of the jump. I said I would like to get ‘dunked’ but I guessed it would be difficult being so light.
I then clumsily shuffled to the edge of the platform with my legs over the edge and my arms holding onto the bar above my head. No sooner than I was there, than I heard the countdown; 3, 2, 1….bungee…..and I was plummeting head first after what I thought must have been a rather spectacular Swan dive. The rush is immense! I bounced and bounced and swung, completely disorientated and was later lowered into an RIB below red faced and hands tingling. An unforgettable experience, I was certainly glad I had done it.
Next was the Rafting. We got kitted up and split into groups. I joined the ‘Wild’ group as apposed to the ‘Mild’ group since I wanted the complete white water experience. We got into the raft and our guide went through the procedures with us. This included paddling technique, ‘getting down and holding on’, what to do when the boat flips over, and position to adopt when out of the raft. We practiced flipping over and we also swam through the first rapid so that we wouldn’t get freaked later on. I’m not going to go into too much detail (if you want it, I can show you the dvd of the trip) but we flipped 3 times and came out of the raft once, experiencing the whole getting sucked under thing first hand. Nice. I then went home, tired but happy.
Sunday afternoon I had an Indian takeaway and Catherine and Grace came over to watch the rest of Lost. I also went to bad happy but tired and over stuffed. Only to wake up at 11:30pm not so happy and feeling dreadful. To cut a long story short, I threw up 10 times during the night and diarrhoea set in shortly after accompanied by a high fever. NB: this was the night before my flight home. I texted a lot of people for prayer support and by the morning the vomiting had stopped. However I was still feeling rough so I needed to go to the doctors to see if I was fit to fly. I was diagnosed with dysentery and was prescribed medication but was allowed to fly. I got to the airport eventually still feeling pretty terrible and had to wait in the queue for check-in for over an hour. Once I was through check-in and I could sit down I felt a lot better and by the time I was on the plane, better still. Thanks God.
The flight was uneventful and wasn’t delayed. I got to sleep for a bit at Dubai, but my connection was short so I didn’t have much sleep. I boarded the plane at Dubai which was fortunately half empty so I had a whole row of seats to myself so I could lie horizontal. Again, thanks God! I arrived at Gatwick, somewhat tired but heaps better and happy to see my Parents.
I am now pretty much 100%. Hurrar!
And it all ended happily ever after…..
God Bless, David
23rd Nov 07
Wow, it’s been three weeks since my last update! Incredible…
I can’t believe I only have 9 days left, the 3 months have gone extremely quickly, as have the last few weeks!
I left the last update with me returning from our mini safari and moving into the new MAF guest house. Well, at lot has changed since then. Since the new guest house was a good 2km from the office I decided I would look for alternatives which would be a bit more practical. It just so happened that a MAF family were about to leave on furlough and that their house would be empty until late January next year, I was having a chat with them and they offered to let me stay in their house for the remainder of my stay while they are away, doing both me and them a favour (security reasons- keeping someone permanently on the property). Thank you Mark and Sarah (Mark is a MAF mechanic and Sarah is his wife, they also have two children; Amy and Joshua) I moved in a few days later and it has been great, I am now walking distance to the office and have wireless internet access amongst other things. What luxury!
There is also a possibility of me staying here when I come back after Christmas. Wait, I didn’t tell you I was coming back for definite! Well, I have now. I should be coming back early next January for another 3 months to continue what I have been doing during this period.
Work at the office has been pretty good this last week anyway and I have had more time to focus on my web application project since Laurie has been in the office too so the load has been shared. Hopefully I will be able to finish the main user section of it before I leave.
A few days after moving into Mark and Sarah’s house I organised a Taco Night (Mexican food) and invited over Catherine Lex and Ian Wardale (and I invited Collin and Lynette, except due to some confusion they didn’t turn up!) and Jon and Cher Cadd. I was also going to invite another MAF couple (Larry and Sheryl Strietzel- another MAF US family) but they had already left on holiday at that point. I took the afternoon off to hand make the 25 tortillas as well as all the fillings, fortunately ‘the guests’ brought some stuff to put in the tortillas too- including a snake. No I’m not joking, Jon actually brought a snake with him (he and cher are avid wildlife lovers, particularly reptiles) except it wasn’t for putting in the tortillas since it was still alive. We had a great evening, and it was nice to be the host for a change, although I was shattered by the end. Talking of eating, I have successfully managed to put on 1 stone since coming here in my attempt to bulk out a bit! Catherine has challenged me to put on another one during my second stay next year. Game on!
The other two good things about the house I’m in are that they have dogs which I am attempting to train so they can do tricks, and also that they have an inverter system so they fridge/freezer is on all the time. This has made a real difference in my eating, since I can now buy in bulk and freeze what I don’t eat and then eat it whenever I fancy allowing me to live more economically. This has been especially useful this week because of CHOGM. For those of you that don’t know, CHOGM stands for CommonWealth Heads of Government Meeting and it is being held here in Uganda (the Queen arrived two days ago!) and the country has been preparing since I arrived in September! The problem is, that a lot of the roads are closed during this period so travel is a nightmare. That’s why nearly everyone I know stocked up on food a week before CHOGM so that we don’t have to go out! I was ready for CHOGM! (there were many signs around town saying ‘Are you ready for CHOGM?’ – not quite sure what it meant exactly, but I think I was ready…)
The puppet ministry here is blossoming and we now have a name: ‘Out of the Blue’ Puppet Ministry. It ties in quite nicely with the flying theme and also quite good since we have bright blue material for the stage curtains! We also have a lot of the local National staff involved and we are currently preparing to go full out evangelism late next year. Our last performance was at a MAF social which was held last week at the new guest house with the aim of raising support in the MAF community first so that they know what we’re doing. It was also combined with the official opening of the guest house, so I splashed out and made a pineapple upside down cake to contribute. There was even a bouncy castle for the kids, but of course I went on it too!
Since Yesterday (and Today) was a public holiday during CHOGM week I had the day off from the office. So I decided I would invite Catherine round and another friend called Grace who I met on a taxi who is from Emsworth for a BBQ. I’d never done a BBQ before but it turned out amazingly well with the help of a small amount of paraffin to get the coals going and the meat was delicious. I enjoyed it so much I restarted the BBQ at around 7pm to cook my dinner by which time it was dark.
I better stop there, I think I’ve probably missed something but I wanted to keep this one short as my other updates have been rather long.
I forgot to mention my little presentation when I get back. You are all invited :
Home Tea & Presentation with David Cormell – Sunday 16th
December at 5.00 p.m.
That was the entry to the church newssheet. It will be at Bognor Regis Baptist Church (it doesn’t mention it above)
2nd Nov 07 - get yourself a cup of tea and prepare for a novel......
Well my parents and Margaret Truelove arrived safely nearly a week ago and I have had some time off from the office to spend some time with them whilst they are here. I won’t talk about their stay in Kenya before they came here as I’m sure you will hear about it from them at some point and I’m sure they can explain their trip better than I can!
They were due to get in at 2pm in Entebbe so I left early morning with Ian and his co-worker Douglas since there were a few things that needed sorting out on the way. We went to the SIL Office which is kind of the organisation that controls Wycliffe Bible Translators in Uganda, where we met a young lady called Lydia who was also very interested in a project that Youthworx East Africa are just starting. For those of you who don’t know, YouthWorx East Africa (or YEA) is a Christian Charity originally a mission branching from Bognor Regis Baptist Church and pioneered by Ian Wardale. Their mission is to “develop and support practical discipleship programs for young people in East Africa” I think we will be meeting up with Lydia again today to show her and some fellow colleagues as well as Miranda, Derek and Margaret around the campsite since we’ll be heading that way anyway to take them to Entebbe in preparation for their flight home. The flight was on time and the weather was better than it had been the whole week before so it all worked out quite well.
I spent the rest of the week doing various jobs at the office whilst they did various activities in and around Kampala and met up with them for the evening meals. We had a particularly nice meal out with all of us including Collin, Lynette and Catherine at a place called Faze 2. The next evening we went out for the “Kampala Pork Experience” and I had the privilege of driving my parents there!
On Saturday it was Collin and Lynette’s wedding ceremony (they already had their cultural wedding a few weeks before), where do I begin?!
Well, I guess I should start at the beginning of the day and work my way through to the end of the day! We left moderately early so that I could take my parents to Ian’s house first, although had I known how bad the road would be up to his house (especially in a 2 wheel drive!) I probably wouldn’t have gone! We took a few diversions and nearly got stuck once but we got there in one piece. We left in plenty of time for Kampala Baptist Church where the wedding service was being held. Fortunately we approached the church from the correct direction so we didn’t get stuck in traffic. The only problem was, most of Lynette’s family were coming from the other direction so the start of the service was postponed!
The service was very good and everything was a mixture of Luganda and English. Both Catherine and Mum did readings and Dad prayed for the newly weds. There was a lot of excitement in general but this was nothing compared to what it would be like at the reception! Because we wouldn’t be eating until the evening, we all drove to Catherine’s house for some lunch. We didn’t have long but it was nice to have a bite to eat and for the Bognor crew to see Catherine’s house. We then proceeded to the wedding reception which was being held at Makerere University. We had some good seats to see the action and the cake! Although you could have probably seen the cake from wherever you were sitting since it took up an table and had lots of sparkly lights around it. It even had 6 normal sized cakes on stands around the main cake, which are for distributing to the couple’s family and to those that couldn’t make it for the wedding itself!
The reception went on for a long time as expected and there was a lot of drumming, dancing and singing intermingled with the speeches. There was also a rather large traditional Ugandan meal. It was certainly an experience, one that I will never forget but we were all extremely tired by the end of it and ready to go home. Although I did have to drag Catherine from the dance floor…
The next day we went to Kampala Baptist Church for the Sunday morning service with all our luggage as we would be leaving on a little safari straight after church. The service was better than when I went before and was very enjoyable, especially knowing that we had some exciting days ahead of us! Dad had been asked to preach by Pastor Andrew during the service which he did pretty well!
After the service we set off in a Westerly direction to a town called Fort Portal. Nearly 4 hours later we arrived, after stopping off for lunch with an audience of Ugandan children that appeared from nowhere! After reaching Fort Portal we took another road to the place where we would be staying that evening, on the edge of Kibaale Forest. It was a beautiful location amidst tea plantations and crater lakes and the food was pretty good too. We slept there and then got up early the next morning to Track Chimpanzees in the forest. Apparently, Kibaale forest has one of the highest population densities of chimps in the world however it is still not likely that you would see one up close in the forest. Anyway after the briefing we went off with our guide and entered the forest. We walked for about 20 minutes and then the guide went off ahead whilst we waited. He quickly disappeared into the trees ahead (by this time we had left the main tracks) and it felt like Hansel and Gretel all over again! Anyway he returned a few seconds later and beckoned us to follow him and lo and behold there were two chimps! We were extremely close and extremely lucky to have stumbled on them so quickly and it was amazing for me as it was the first time I had ever seen a chimpanzee excluding on the TV. There was one younger one and one older one and shortly after we found them they started grooming each other. Then maybe 20 minutes later, the alpha male arrived and all hell broke loose. The noise was incredible and the 4 chimps that were once visible scuttled off into the undergrowth just as this huge chimp climbed up onto the log where the other two were once relaxing. We watched him for a while and one further time they made a lot of noise before the alpha male decided enough was enough and that he needed to relieve himself. We walked right at us and only turned away at the last minute, skirting around us and into the distance. Not too long afterwards the other chimps returned to their position and some more that were hidden before reappeared. By this time we had to leave as our time had expired, very happy to see nearly 8 different chimpanzees!
Now we decided to head off in a Southerly direction taking the scenic route. There is another faster route to queen Elizabeth National Park (where we were heading next) however it is not so interesting and takes longer. The only problem was, that the scenic route might not be fit for travel in the minibus that we were using since it had been raining recently. So, to check, Ian asked 2 different tour guides the status of the road. Both of them said it was fine and you could even get a normal 2 wheel drive car along it, so we decided on the scenic route…
You can probably guess what happens next. It was a very good route and for nearly an hour we were driving along it very happily and as the tour guides said, it was fairly dry and very few problems. However we got round a corner and found a nice deep mud hole covering most of the road. Ian took a few attempts at getting through without getting stuck and then finally we got across with a sigh of relief and a round of applause for the driver. We probably passed another 2 obstacles like this, managing to get through each time, despite the stress of it all! At least we didn’t get stuck on any of these but nonetheless it is very bad for the car and I can see why MAF is so vital in allowing organisations to access remote areas. Unfortunately our luck finally ran out and we got stuck in a nice deep muddy hole. We got out and pushed and locals appeared from nowhere to assist, we pushed it back out of the hole since it was too deep to drive through and then managed to drive through another way. Success. Although, it didn't last. Nearly 15 minutes later we got stuck in yet another hole! There wasn't as many locals to help this time, or spaces to push from for that matter. I managed to find a little slither of dry mud to stand and push from but just as the car was maing progress I slipped and ended thigh deep in mud. A worthy sacrifice for getting the car out of there. We passed through some more situations like this but not getting majorly stuck like before. With a sigh of relief and a round of applause for Ian, who was driving, we turned onto the tarmac road.
We were all very exhausted when we arrived at Queen Elizabeth National Park, especially Ian (who's birthday it was!) but we managed to organise the next day's activities which was necessary because getting stuck in the mud messed up our pre-planned schedule. TIA (This is Africa) Since it was Ian's birthday we treated him to a nice meal at the posh safari lodge in Mweya which was really nice, especially to be able to relax after a long day. It was a buffet style meal so we were all well fed.
The next morning we got up early for a Game Drive which my Dad was driving for (Ian was too tired) and nearly 10 minutes away from where we were staying we encountered a whole pride of lions (8) right next to the road! Amazing. We saw lots of animals during the drive including elephants, buffalo, warthogs and a variety of antelopes. After the drive we had breakfast with warthogs for company and then prepared ourself for the boat trip on the kazinga channel (a channel connecting Lake Albert and Lake George in the national park). Since there were only 9 of us booked for the trip we had to pay a minimum fee but it worked out to our advantage as we had the whole boat to ourselves and meant we could all get a clear view of the animals from the boat. The trip was amazing, we saw herds and herds of buffalo coming down to cool off in the channel and too many hippos to count. i'd never seen a hippo before so it was really good to get up close and personal! There was also a really impressive bird life on the channel and all in all it was pretty spectacular despite not seeing any elephants on this section of the trip.
That afternoon we left for our final destination which was Lake Mburo National Park. The journey was fine and on our drive into the park we saw a number of antelope species and a herd of zebras which are unique to this part of Uganda. We arrived in time for sunset at the Lake after dropping our stuff off at the fixed tents which we were staying in, which was absolutely magnificent. Never have I seen such a beautiful view and I have the pictures to prove it. After the sun went down we had a meal at a little hut like place on the edge of the lake listening to the sounds of the hippos as we ate. Since there was no power in this area, everything was cooked on charcoal and the dinner of Goat Stew and extras took a long time to arrive. I had a watermelon juice to quench my first while we waited, which took a while as they make it on demand but it was certainly worth the wait...mmmmmm....
The goat finally came along with helpings of vegetable stew, chips, chapati, guacamole and rice and it was all very delicious. I didn't expect goat to be that good! we spent the night in our tents which were pretty basic, just two beds in each one and an oil lamp but it did the job. We had to get up early the next money (what a surprise) for our foot safari. We set off with our guide who found us some spotted hyenas almost immediately- what luck! We trooped through the park for nearly 2 hours walking amongst zebras, impala, topies and warthogs before heading back to camp for breakfast. We then hit the road back towards Kampala stopping off at the equator on the way. This was actually the second time we had crossed the equator as we also crossed it when we were going on the road between Kibaale Forest and Queen Elizabeth except this one was more touristy. There was a man there that wanted to show us the 'water down the plug hole' experiment but was charging 10,000 uganda shillings (£3) for this priviledge! No way! We stopped off at a coffee place where all the profits go to AIDs orphans so I didn't feel so bad about choosing a pineapple smoothie and a HUGE muffin. The others shared theirs but since we were 5, someone had to have a whole one...HeHe! I felt very full afterwards, and with heinsight I probably should have taken a photo of it.
We arrived back in Kampala early evening where Mum, Dad and I spent the evening with the Nasons which was very nice, as it was a chance to take a shower and lie down!
On Thursday (now Yesterday as I couldn't finish this email in one day!) I spent the morning helping the move to the new guest house. MAF have now bought a new guest house which has 6 rooms to replace the two house of 3 rooms each. The only problem is that it is 2km away from the office meaning a 20 minute cycle up and down hills to get to work each way, slightly inconvenient. Also, the guest house is adapting more towards a bed and breakfast and is less suited to someone self catering. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to get used to it, although there is a possibility of me staying in Mark and Sarah Newnham's house whilst they are on furlough which would make it a whole lot easier for me, particularly as things like prayer meetings, puppets, MAF socials, going to the ARA Club and going to church are all focussed around being in the area where I was before!
That afternoon I went to Entebbe town with Ian, Mum, Dad, Margaret and Ray (colleague of Ian) since their flight home leaves very early on Friday morning so they were to be spending the Thursday night in Entebbe at Sophie's Motel. On the way we picked up Lydia from SIL (she just can't stop getting involved with YEA stuff!) and we headed in the direction of the YEA Campsite. We went down to the shore of the lake and took a wooden boat across the lake towards the campsite. The campsite is on mainland but it is easier to access it by boat, and will be the way the youth coming to stay at the camp will use to get there. Just to add to the excitement of it all!
The boat man lifted the Margaret and Miranda out of the boat so that they didn't get their feet wet (a great picture) but us men had to get out ourselves (not that we would have let them lift us out!)
The campsite is nearly finished and should be ready by December and it is looking really good. THey have already got a netball court and a football pitch as well as the structure for the kitchen and store room. The toilet block (long drops) and shower block (one block for each gender) has now been pretty much finished except they are going to build seats for the long drops. Each block consists of two toliets and three showers (showers being a cubicle where you can lob a bucket of water over your head). THey have also made a clearing for three 10-man tents to go up with the plan of putting in some portable cabins in the near future. Being on the lake it is a prime location and it is a really exciting project. You even get the planes coming pretty close to the camp as they are on final approach for Entebbe International Airport. They also have a water pump nearby.
We took the boat back across the lake
and had dinner at Sophie's Motel and then said our farewells!
God Bless, David
22nd October 2007
Wow, the weeks are flying by!
Work is continuing to flow at the Office, and as always there is never much of a moment spare! I have got only slightly further on my main project as there have been a lot of other smaller jobs to be getting on with in the meantime. For example, last week I had to put together a computer system to give to the UPDF (kind of like the Ugandan Military) for their clearance office department- don’t ask me why we were giving them a computer! It has also been particularly manic as our inverter system (for those of you that don’t know it is an alternate power supply when the power goes off that runs off batteries) at the office had died, so anytime the power went off the whole network crashed and those that weren’t on laptops lost their work! This was made more challenging by the fact that Laurie and Emma Nason had gone on holiday for the last part of the week. The network needed re-starting 3 times in total due to power failures so I was kept busy, troubleshooting internet and email problems also.
There is also another project that may need starting fairly soon that will coordinate the bookings for the MAF Guest Houses (I can’t remember whether I had mentioned it before), but although I haven’t started at yet we have started designing it and pursuing certain approaches. Although I doubt I will have enough time to get it started and finished!
I had another bash at making Mandazis, this time they looked nice and round but unfortunately I hadn’t got the oil temperature quite right so the first batch burnt on the outside only leaving liquid dough in the middle! The second batch were better although the temp could have been lower still, but I took them to the office anyway and despite my warnings people had some and said ‘they weren’t bad!’
Last Monday, I went to Kibera International School (where Catherine Lex is teaching) to help out for the day for the second time. It went really well and I played a simple probability game with the class at the end of the lesson (using the snazzy interactive white-board!) and introduced the terms ‘Certain, Impossible, Likely and Unlikely’. They are the equivalent age of our year 5 primary school children. They have also got a Year 5/6 Christmas production of a Muppets Christmas Carol (no puppets just humans) so they were holding some auditions that day so I helped out various groups giving them some tips. All in all it went really well, and on the way home I put my camera up on the bonnet and did a time-lapse video of the journey which is pretty cool!
This last week has been especially busy since the Puppet Team has been established…kind of. The lady that is heading up the ministry was asked by another MAF staff member to put together something for the MAF quiet day (runs every quarter) that was to be held on Friday 19th October. Two weeks is not a lot of time to put together 15 mins of performance with a small group of beginner puppeteers! Anyway, we have been practicing hard for the past two weeks (5 evenings in total) and by recording our performances on video camera we have probably halved our practice time! In the end we did 2 songs and a short sketch and it went really well on the day. Everyone, even the adults loved it and the puppet workshop afterwards was greatly received, we now have some new recruits for the puppet group which will now be every Monday evening now starting officially. The quiet day was very good and was a great time to meet with the people who MAF serve and to see the bigger picture. It also meant I could go home at 3pm!
But….I had to go shopping. NO………..
I took the car and headed off on my normal route to the nearest adequate store, and lo and behold the road just before it was closed. Not to the worry though, there was a handy sign saying diversion which pointed left down another road! So I took the diversion, recognizing the road as being the wrong turning I took when I got lost way back in September at night. I kept following it, of course, not expecting to see any more signs showing the rest of the diversion until my path was blocked by a landrover in front with some rather lost Americans. I got out and had a chat and explained that I had been here before and could successfully navigate out of this area when another American (an instructor at the flight club at Kajjansi) pulled up. We all went off in convoy however it all went rather pear shaped when the guy in front didn’t follow my arm signals and proceeded in the wrong direction. I turned the correct way but the landrover behind had lost faith and went another way too. I soon was back on a main road heading into town with none of the others in sight! I presume they found their way in the end. Since I now had to take the main route into downtown I gave up on going to the original shop I had in mind and went and parked in town to walk to a very good value supermarket I had heard of. I got everything I needed (for once) and headed back to the car park. Although they tried to rip me off saying I had stayed 1.5 hours instead of half an hour, I fought my case and eventually got the correct change. The journey back was uneventful.
That evening I was invited round by the Cadds (John – the MAF US Pilot I flew with and Cher-his wife). We went out for an Ethiopian meal which was very nice. We had a platter to share between the three of us, which consisted of a bed of soft spongy salty bread topped with a variety of different Ethiopian dishes. The technique was to just tear off a bit of the bread on the side and underneath the food bits, and use it as a spoon to scoop up what was on top. We then went back to their house where we had a nice chat- we were going to watch a film but the power was off!
I have now taken Boda Bodas a few times now. For those of you that don’t know, it is essentially a motorbike taxi where you sit on the back. They are great fun, although dangerous enough to make me not want to take them any great distance. Handy if you want to get somewhere specific in a short space of time.
On Saturday, I spent the morning making flour tortillas in preparation for Catherine coming over for lunch. It was great fun making them although it was pretty tough getting them round and thin enough. We made the mince filling and all the other miscellaneous bits that you need to fill the tortilla. We also watched 3 episodes of lost season 3 on my laptop!
That afternoon I had my second flight lesson at Kajjansi Aero Club (I had my first one the Saturday before). The first lesson was good, we got orientated with the local area, did general aircraft handling (I’d never flown a Cessna 172 before, only its little brother, the 152), and some manoeuvres and emergency procedures. We also did a few circuits to practice my landings on dirt strips. It went really well and it is all broadening my flying experience. Since I’m only here for a short time I can have a temporary validation on my European License, meaning I can fly solo here as soon as I’ve done a check exam with the owner of the club. I was going to do it tomorrow (Tuesday) but since I want to do some animal clearing techniques and visit some more strips (so I can visit them solo afterwards) that you have to do with an instructor first, I decided I would do that before my check exam since then I can get in some more practice first. The second lesson, we flew to Jinja (the source of the Nile) and since it is a fairly unused strip we used it to do assessment of the strip techniques. This involves flying a series of passes over the strip getting progressively lower until you drag along the runway 5 ft above to check it is safe to land. This was such good fun since you’d get your license taken away if you flew that low in the UK! I also felt like it was a useful skill to have for the future and all preparing me for the goal of becoming a missionary bush pilot.
On Sunday I went to church as usual (the later one, as I had watched the Rugby world cup final the night before- we’re two hours ahead here!) and then had left over tortillas. I then went over to the Paps (a MAF Europe family of 7) for a meal and a chance to do some clarinet duets with the mother of the family who also plays. That evening we all went to the ARA Club to watch Amazing Grace which was the Sunday film on this day.
This week, there is puppet practice, prayer meeting and parents arriving!
God Bless, David
10th October 2007
another update I think!
The wedding meeting of Collin and Lynette was good; it is a fairly novel way of raising funds for their wedding! They are doing pretty well so far since a lot of things have already been covered however there are very few meetings left so I’m not sure whether they will meet all the things they wanted. Apparently this is fairly common since when they draw up the budget they put down everything they wish for and then if it doesn’t get covered then it is possible to cut back in a few areas. Hopefully this won’t happen though! I got a taxi back but it took a long time to get back so I missed the monthly MAF social that evening unfortunately.
On Saturday I had a bash at making mandazis (a traditional Kenyan snack) which are kind of like donuts and they tasted surprisingly good although they weren’t quite as symmetrical as the ones you can buy. The only problem was it generated an awful lot of mess in the kitchen- the aftermath! I will probably make them again in larger quantities now that I am familiar with the recipe and take them into the office (although part of me thinks it’s not really worth it as you can buy fresh ones for 100 shillings each- 3p). I went to Calvary Chapel on Sunday where the new team of Elders were introduced to the church.
The following week in the office was very productive and I have now finished one of the main sections of the project I’m working on so hopefully I will be able to finish this mammoth task before I leave. It’s great that I have plenty to do!
On Friday I went to a local Youth Group run by one of the guys at our home group. It was alright (a bit weird being the oldest, but not looking it) but my evenings are too busy as they are so I think I will not go every week.
Last Saturday I had the opportunity to go flying with MAF again, this time on a MAF Europe flight to Sudan. I flew with a pilot called Gerrit who is dutch and like all the MAF pilots he is very experienced. The flight was to a place called Nimule which is just past the border of Southern Sudan and we were ferrying a fridge and some missionaries from an organisation called ‘Far Reaching Ministries’. Again I got to fly the plane and land at Nimule but Gerrit did the rest. We were flying North (as you would expect to get to Sudan) and so was another MAF plane that was heading for Gulu. So we met up and tracked the River Nile together followed by some insane formation flying (you have to see the pictures)! We were so close you could see the faces of the passengers in the other plane! The pilots were in communication over the HF radio and I was confident in their expertise- not sure about the other passengers though! We then did some low flying over the rapids and falls of the Nile with the other plane following us- fortunately I got the whole lot on video! We flew overhead Gulu and saw the airstrip before proceeding North to the border and then to our stop at Nimule. We off loaded the fridge and the passenger gave some instructions to the locals on how to use it and then a team of missionaries from Far Reaching Ministries boarded the plane with a few blocks of stone back to Kajjansi. We had a nice chat with them afterwards until the ambulance came to take the person from a MAF USA Medical Evacuation from Congo to the hospital. I then went home for a relaxing swim and watched the weekly MAF volleyball match. Although I couldn’t be persuaded to play as I was so tired. I’ve promised to play next week though and they’re going to hold me to it!
Church on Sunday was good although I went to the 10 O clock service instead of the one at 8 since I was still tired. I went with John Cadd (the MAF US pilot I flew with) and his wife Cher and I discovered that the guest speaker was none other than the chap from Far Reaching Ministries who we had ferried the day before. He preached an excellent sermon on Commitment and Mission!
Another exciting thing that you can pray for is the beginning of a puppet ministry that MAF is starting here in Uganda! It’s quite exciting to be a part of this and how it could be used here. Our first meeting was on Monday and we are meeting again today. We are quite time pressured as we’ve been ask to do something next Friday for the MAF quiet day- not long to piece together 15 minutes of polished performance with a brand new group! It is really good fun and the people that are new to it are enjoying it greatly- it’s also amazing how quickly they’ve all picked it up (no pun intended).
Yesterday was a public holiday so I had the chance to catch up on some sleep, I then drove over to Ian’s house in the most horrible car you can imagine to spend the day there. I drove this tin 4X4 Suzuki Samurai and I was surprised I made it there without the car falling apart, especially since the road up to Ian’s house is pretty non-existent. Ian even recognised the car from 10 years ago when he went to the MAF Office fairly regularly! At least it is fairly well maintained...
That is all.
God Bless, David
28th September 2007
The Chilli Con Carne lasted me 4 days in the end!
The last two weeks at the I.T. Office have been fairly hectic as the MAF-Europe pilots have all been flying most days so Laurie has been in the Office very little. We’ve had all sorts from dying monitors to internet connection problems and printer failures! I’m learning lots through it all and have still had time to work on my current Phone Bills web application project. I need to hurry up though as I’ve just been given another project to be working on involving MAF guest house bookings (they now have 3 houses).
I’ve had a few questions about the floods in East Africa so I’ll try to answer those here. Kampala has not been affected at all by the floods, and we have actually had a water shortage believe it or not. The North West of the country and parts of Southern Sudan have been badly affected making surface transport almost impossible and obviously putting more demand on the MAF flights. The power is going off most days now for maybe a few hours each evening (making cooking really difficult since I only have two gas hobs, the other two are electric- so cooking interesting meals with lots of components is a bit of a challenge!). There are lots of rumours that it is in preparation for CHOGM (Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2007) which is being held here in November. So we expect that we’ll either all have power during that week and next to nothing for the surrounding weeks, or they’ll shut everything off except those important places during the week!
Yesterday I went to a home group I have started going to a few weeks back that Laurie and Emma also go to, which is really good. We are studying Colossians and it is pretty excellent. I am meeting lots more people and it’s nice to be a part of something else too! I am now going to Calvary Chapel regularly and I really like it there. The worship is really good, and last week it was particularly good as I didn’t know any of the songs so it was all fresh to me. We also sang a few luganda songs which I enjoy.
Today I am going to the infamous wedding meeting of Collin and Linette which should be an experience! I feel equipped to get there now as last Saturday Catherine explained the local taxis to me and we went round and shopped…..for clothes….
She came to Makindye (the division of Kampala where I am living) on the taxi (just for those of you that don’t know, the local taxis are not taxis as we think of them but are minivans that they pile as many people that will fit into them) to pick me up and then we went straight back into town on another one and explored for a bit. We went to lunch at a Ugandan Café/Restaurant place which was good and then we went down an industrial side street to try and get some trousers made for me… We bought the material (I needed some navy blue trousers for when I went on MAF flights and some smart trousers for helping at Catherine’s school and for other occasions so I could kill many birds with one stone) and the zip, and the buttons and then went to a tailor to get them made. A lot of discussion later (it helps if you know exactly what you want otherwise they bully you in a nice way to the way they want to make it!) and we set off to another tailor which Catherine needed to visit to get a dress made for her! We walked around and she showed me the basic places and helped me work out where everything was and then she dragged me to a coffee place… We then braved the new taxi park (don’t ask me the difference between the old and new one, as I’ve tried to find the answer and failed) and eventually got on a taxi back to Makindye which took a while as I was the first to get on and the don’t leave until they are full!
The next day on Sunday after church I walked around town for about 2 hours just trying to learn my way around and then went back to the tailors to pick up my trousers! They were 45 minutes late (no surprises) so I chatted to them for that long and then haggled the price down a bit since they were late…I then went to the old taxi park (I couldn’t find the new one- it was further away from where I was) and got on a taxi there which filled up an awful lot quicker and I got home safely!
God Bless, David
17th September 2007
Dear Friends and Family,
So much to tell... so I guess I better start from where we left off!
Last week went by very quickly and there was plenty to be done in the newly re-decorated I.T. Office. I spent most of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday getting to grips with the development software I will be using for developing some new web applications for existing MAF database systems and trying out some sample projects and planning how I will go about carrying out the task in hand.
On Thursday (or possibly Wednesday- I can’t remember!) I went into town with a Ugandan staff member called Richard who essentially drives around town for most of the day, doing odd jobs for MAF that need doing. He let me drive so that I could get to grips with the particular car (this car is automatic…systematic and hydromatic…….well it’s not quite greased lightning but it is still ‘automatic’!) and he just directed me where to go. It was manic as expected but a great way to get orientated to Kampala Roads and at least I now knew how to get to Kampala Baptist Church!
By Friday the re-decoration of the small IT Office had been finished so Laurie and I spent the day moving stuff in and sorting out a whole load of computer junk to see what could be kept, sold or thrown away. That took most of the day and by the end of the day I was actually starting to like the greeny yellow wall paint! One of the ladies in the office had a problem with her ancient computer (probably a good 10 years old) so I spent the rest of the day taking it apart and replacing components but it seems that she’s getting a new one anyway and we’ll use this one for something else.
On Saturday I had my first MAF Flight experience! There was a slight mix up as to which flight I was going to be going on but in the end I was on a flight to Congo with a US Pilot called John (MAF USA are also based in Kampala and they all fly to Congo). I was listed as ‘crew’ for the flight and I even got to wear a fancy blue pilot shirt although sadly I wasn’t suitably qualified to display the aviation epaulettes that go on the shirt! John was great and although it was a MAF flight he talked me through the details regarding flying the plane and I took the controls for a part of the flights. For those of you that are interested we flew from an airstrip called Kajjansi (half way between Kampala and Entebbe) which is owned by MAF (only MAF-owned one in the world apparently) and fly mostly medical supplies and one Congolese lady to a place in Eastern Congo called Bunia (it’s also a base for the UN). We had to go via Entebbe international since we were flying across the Ugandan border but the only drawback was the fuel man from Shell was slow and delayed us by 30 minutes. We let him know what time we would be back so that it didn’t happen again on our return! We landed in Bunia (a paved airstrip) and greeted the locals and the organisation that would receive the supplies and got a chance to speak some French. With my French and John’s Swahili we were sorted!
We loaded up a full plane of passengers and their enormous amounts of luggage and headed further North up the Eastern border of Congo to a small dirt strip called Aru. The weather was quite bad by my standards but to John it was apparently quite good for Uganda! There were a lot of isolated rain clouds some of which could be passed through and others that you had to fly aaround. At Aru we dropped off passengers and picked up some more on our flight back to Bunia. After navigating around the worst of the rain we made it back to Bunia where there was now the largest helicopter in the world! So big you could fit another helicopter inside it. The tail rotor blades were bigger than most main blades on other helicopters it was that huge. We went inside and you could literally live inside it! We picked up 3 more passengers and headed back to Entebbe skirting round the bad weather. All MAF planes have a radio transmitter that communicates with the ‘Flight Follower’ at the MAF Office so that they can keep a track of the plane’s current position (easy now with GPS) so we radioed him to make sure he reminded the Fuel Man at Entebbe to be there for us on arrival. Nevertheless he was still 40 minutes late! John was very cross, especially since on Saturday afternoons they all go and play some serious volleyball…
Anyhow we eventually left for Kajjansi, landed and secured the plane, all in all a fantastic experience. However, I needed to go shopping so I went round to the MAF Office and picked up the car and drove (surprisingly) successfully to ‘Garden City’ a big shopping centre since I needed some other non food items as well. There was a massive queue to get in but fortunately it only costs per km. I don’t like shopping very much and being in a rush to get back for 7pm I didn’t enjoy the experience. You can never find what you want! So with most of it done I headed back to the car only to realise that it was now dark and raining!
The first part of the journey back was uneventful despite the fact that the right wiper blade was not good and failed to remove a strip of water drops from the windscreen right in my line of sight. However, since it was dark I decided I would go on the main road instead of the more direct back streets. But at the traffic lights where left takes you the back way and straight on takes you on the main road I got myself in the wrong lane. There are no road/lane markings so I assumed the left lane takes you left and straight on like at home. But it forced my left down the back roads! However, since it was dark I took the wrong turning and ended up going a long way off track and got a bit lost. The roads on this bit were very bad and since it was rainy, also muddy with a lot of traffic. I started to realise that I had gone wrong when everything started looking unfamiliar… I didn’t want to ask for directions as it would be dangerous to open the window in this area so I followed the Minibus taxi in front! Prayer was needed! A few minutes later the road went in such a way that I could now see the main road which I had meant to take and it seemed that we were roughly going parallel so at least my sense of direction had been restored. I kept going and about 30 minutes later and lots of jams we came to a tarmac road. I turned left as that was the rough direction back home and with relief I sighted the local petrol station and shortly made my way back home, albeit a bit late. Thank you God.
With hindsight it was probably not a good idea to go out late afternoon/evening and I now know that everything takes twice as long as you expect it to here.
On Sunday, I went to Kampala Baptist Church and I had a lift with the MAF Flight Ops Manager who has just started going there and who I was also going to have lunch with (since I am on hospitality). I enjoyed the service and met all the key people, but I think I will go to Calvary Chapel on a regular basis but maybe helping Catherine out with the Sunday school once or twice. Catherine came back to the guest house where I am staying and I showed her around and I then took her shopping! We then drove to her house to drop her off so I now know how to get there too! The journey back was fine and my confidence has been restored after the events of the day before.
I then cooked my first proper meal but was tough as the power kept going on and off since the generator couldn’t handle the cooking appliances- I had to turn everything off to use the microwave to defrost…since the new fridge was set to max all my stuff had been frozen accidentally! My chilli con carne was tasty and have enough of it to last me the next 3 days!
God Bless, David
Sept 10th 2007
I have now been in Uganda for nearly a week and the time here has flown
by! Today I move into the MAF Guest House after my brief stay with the
Nason Family although I still get a whole week of evening meals as I
have been put on ‘MAF Hospitality’ which means that each evening of this
week I will be eating with various MAF Missionary Families. Plus since
we get meals at the office I am all sorted until next Monday which is
God Bless, David