Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The four of us traveled together across Uganda and Kenya. We are Michael, Lopeyok (Larry's adopted Karamajong son), Larry and me.

Before this trip across Eastern Africa, none of three of us Americans knew each other. Through calling, opportunity, prayer and fellowship, we drew close and saw the Lord do amazing things among us! We praised Him together, spoke of His great provision, and shared with the people we encountered, as opportunities presented. Now, I cannot imagine having done this trip without either of them!

I have never done anything like this before. Set out across a foreign land with two men I did not know. I did not know how things would work out, or if they would. A great deal of trust and prayer went into this trek, on each of our parts.

When we each arrived in Minneapolis, Mn., we got busy getting to know each other. Larry had lived in Uganda for 10 years where he served as a missionary. Michael, had climbed Mt Kilimanjaro a couple of years back, but had not done much missions work before (his brother is the starting center for the SF 49ers).

The question lingered, how would we gel?

From Minnesota, we made our flights to Holland, then Uganda. Our seats were not together, so this did not lend to getting familiar.

Upon arrival in Uganda, we awaited our only preset ride. The one from the Entebbe airport to the mission house in Kampala (the capital city). The ride to the house was around an hour long. Not because of distance, but because of poor roads, and indirect layout.

We passed by the old Entebbe airport where the standoff with former leader Idi Amin had occurred. That old bullet riddled plane even still sat nearby.

We arrived at the mission house, unpacked our gear, then sat down together to discuss the rest of the trip. The only hard plan we had was to begin our journey to Kakuma, Kenya the next day, where five refugee camps were settled. We were uncertain how long it would take, and figured it may consume our entire time.

We expected that the trip there could be dangerous, as most of the NGO's had pulled out (we were told).

That next day, we headed downtown to purchase our tickets on the Akamba busline.

We boarded the bus and began our journey due west toward the city of Eldoret, Kenya, where we hope we would arrive in time to find a hotel, and sleep until the next morning to head north.

In third world countries, one does not easily find connections with transportation. If those connections are made, they are seldom timely. We feared these timing issues could cause us long delays. We focused much prayer here, and later discovered, that many others did too.

Across southern Uganda, we saw incredible beauty. Trees with Monkeys and Baboons sitting aloft, countryside with tea farms, and rice paddies. Huts with thatched roofs all across the land! Banana trees everywhere! We did not stop often, but when we did, immediately the bus would be surrounded with those who were selling water, cokes, meat, trinkets, and other wares. We would soon learn that if we wanted to eat on these long trips, we needed to do so from these peddlers.

We were completely unsure what to expect with the border crossing. I had received word the day before we were supposed to embark on this trip to Africa, that we may have difficulty even getting into Uganda (potential visa issues). We came very close to canceling the trip due to this word.

We felt that the Lord wanted us here, and decided to trust that He was going to make a way. We entered Uganda with no problem.

Now to enter Kenya. What would happen? Would we be turned back?

We arrived at the border. Much prayer had gone into this leg of the journey. We had prayed that "men of peace" would be easily identifiable each step of the way.

We got off of the bus with all of the nationals, and headed to immigration. Upon arrival, a man came out and quickly swept us into the offices, though all others had to wait outside!

He identified himself as the Uncle to our driver, and wanted to expedite our visa applications. He did not make us even fill out the forms! This is unheard of!!! We exited with Kenya visa's and did not fill out a single piece of paper to earn it.

The other issue was that Lopeyok did not bring any identification with him. He forgot. When we reached the Uganda immigration exit. I began to pray in earnest for favor.

He sheepishly approached the lady officer, who fired him a flirtatious grin. He began to offer up his story. "I need to get into Kenya, but I don't have my passport or any paperwork!"

He came out of the office with all he needed!!! God had provided! It only cost $5.00 for his temporary papers!

Now on the Kenya side, he would run into the same issue. His paperwork was valid, but no picture id. No matter, this was a small issue for a mighty God. He too was cleared in record time!

On the remainder of the trip to Eldoret, the enemy would combat and fire new weapons of distraction.

First, we hit a police blockade and were forced in the middle of the pitch black night to disembark, line up in two lines in front of the bus headlights, men and women, and proceeded to be questioned and frisked.

Another hurdle passed! Once again, God delivered!

Next, two young people who got on the bus at different places, who appeared not to know each other, were having relations in the bus seats in front of me.

I was worried for the young woman. I did not know if she was being raped or if she was a willing participant. I prayed and tried to keep focused. Crazy scenarios ran through my mind. Should I intervene, or stay out? Should I protect her, or let this go.

Suddenly, a father and young son, two seats ahead of me, rose. He escorted his son several rows behind me to sit. Apparently, he too realized what was happening. He returned to his seat with disgust. It is amazing how much you can discern from noises people make, though you cannot see a thing in the deep dark night.

Ultimately, I discerned that the young woman was a willing participant in this unfortunate venue.

We arrived in Eldoret, Kenya at 11:00pm. After asking questions, found our way to a hotel, left our gear, and headed out to find food.

This time of night, we did not feel too safe. The guard from our hotel escorted us. We passed several closed restaurants before finding one. I chose to only eat Chipata bread, as our travel over the only paved roads we would experience, was still enough to leave my stomach unsettled.

God had provided at each border crossing. He had prevailed in situations of frustration, and temptation. What would tomorrow hold? Would we find our way to Kakuma? Would the passage be safe? Would we be allowed into the refugee camps?

I drifted off to sleep with these and many other questions on my mind.

The morning light would reveal a new day with one of the most difficult challenges of my life.



At 9:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! Wow! Wow! This is totally AWEsome!! So glad you made it in country, and also made it home safely!! Praise God!!

Love in Him,

At 9:59 AM, Blogger Matthew Pritchett said...

Brent! Wow! This story is incredible! The prayers that we offered in your support and the support of your ministry obviously were heard by our awesome Creator! Amen!

At 10:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you're back safe and sound and I can't wait to hear(read) more about your trip! Philip and I miss you all a lot!

At 1:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad we are reading this after the fact and knowing you are home safe. We will await the next day installment. God answers prayer.
Aunt Maralyn

At 3:11 PM, Blogger Marti Pieper said...

Thank you so much for giving us a glimpse into the other side of our prayers. Like everyone else, I can't wait to read/see/hear the rest of the story.

And of course I'm still praying for wide-open doors. Thank you for unsheathing your sword and raising a revolution. God gave (and is giving) you the strength.

praying in pink
with tender love,


At 3:51 PM, Blogger Terry Singletary said...

brent...larry didn't even tell me about all this stuff, only the bus ride. That apparently was enough for me! Larry is still not sure he has strength to finish his trip...everything you talked about is stuff that doesn't happen on a usual basis...but we have experienced warfare that has been bizarre and left us scratching our heads. God bless you for going!!! Terry

At 10:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God Bless,
Greenfield, Indiana


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