Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The two Karamajong men in the foreground had just experienced loss.

As we neared Kitale from our long ride from Kakuma, Kenya, our prayers turned to making a connection of any sort from Kitale to the border. We were about to arrive at 3am, and were uncertain what we would find.

In similar fashion to the Lord's provision throughout our time in East Africa, as we disembarked from the bus, I did not take two steps and there was a taxi (van) waiting for passengers heading to the border! At this ridiculous hour? I gave praise to my Lord!!!

The taxi ride seemed long, as we made many stops to pick up anyone else that wanted to head our direction. There is an annoying habit here, of honking one of many horns mounted in each vehicle to alert potential passengers of arrival...especially in the wee hours of the morning, just in case you overslept! I've never heard such a symphony of unwelcome noise.

We arrived in the border town after a couple of hours in the taxi. We quickly made our way to immigration to exit Kenya. We passed through with no issue. So did Lopeyok, without any photo id.

We began the two or three block walk down the border lane to the Uganda immigration office. It was quite interesting to note the security in some areas, and the lack of attention paid in others.

Just as we passed into Uganda, a line of pedestrian traffic met us coming the other way. However, these were not people. There was a line of cattle headed to the border, in single file, as if they did it everyday! I could not help but laugh. Farm animals here go wherever they wish. It is impossible to tell who owns them, most of the time.

We headed into immigration to get our visa and begin our journey toward Moroto. Again we prayed for no issues, and again the Lord provided! We also asked for transportation mercy, that we might find a ride to Mbale to make an ultimate connection to Moroto.

No problem for my God!

When we exited the immigration office, a bus stood right in front of us. We asked the driver where he was going.

"Mbale," he replied.

"Do you have space for more?" we asked.

"How many of you are there?" he questioned.

"Four" we answered.

"I have four seats left!" he responded.

Wow! Why was I surprised?

We made the hour trip to Mbale, and found a place to eat breakfast. We were unsure when a bus to Moroto might leave. We didn't worry about it over breakfast. It was relaxing to be in a real chair!

After we ate, we headed out, turned a corner and were at the bus park. We walked up and asked for a bus to Moroto.

"It leaves in half and hour," came the response.

We boarded and began our long journey to Moroto. This would be the back way there, according to Larry. "The scenic way," he told us.

The scenery was beautiful. Mountains, bush, wild animals...amazing!

When we crossed into Karamoja, our bus broke down. We had already experienced two other bus breakdowns on previous days rides, so this was not a surprise. It took the mechanic on board around and hour or two to clean and rebuild the master cylinder and reinstall it.

All one could do was wait. The bush was hot and the sun intense!

Once we finally got going again, I remember two things. A family of Baboons crossed the road in front of us. There were probably 15 or so.

Next, we heard gunfire.

Larry looked at me and said, "Did you hear that? That was gunfire!"

I already had my head out the window looking for any sign of trouble. I saw none. We were not hit. We kept going. And yes, I pulled my head back inside...that wasn't very smart, I guess.

We stopped in several Karamajong villages en route to Moroto. We ascended higher and higher into the mountains. My excitement grew. I was tired of being on buses, and just wanted to be there.

On the way up, we passed some villages we were told were army. These were new since Larry had lived here. The army is trying to disarm the Karamajong, who are cattle herders and rustlers. They carry AK-47's and frequently battle with each other to gain more cattle.

The government has sent the army in to try and change this culture. The army villages did not differ much from the Karamajong villages. The outside observer may not be able to tell them apart.

We arrived in Moroto around dark. This was territory Larry was familiar with. We had dinner together. Poshe (boiled cornbread which tastes like grits), Matoke (a banana concoction that looks like mashed potatoes and has ground nuts sprinkled on top), brown rice and meat. It was delicious!

I was never so glad to be somewhere other than a bus. We stepped out of the restaurant and there sat a friend of Larry's in an SUV. He took us a couple of kilometers up the road to a hotel.

We settled in, shared a cup of coffee together (coffee is grown in the highlands) and headed off to bed.

I rose in the morning, anxious for my time with the Lord and a steaming cup of coffee. I headed out to the garden area where it was waiting for me.

As I studied and wrote in my journal, native music was playing from the kitchen where I heard a women singing along. It was perfect!

This day, would be void of travel! In all, I was gone 10 days and this would be the only day we did travel. Each days journey averaged around 14 hours.

After breakfast we headed back into Moroto to take care of some things.

After, we headed to our first Karamajong village! This is what I had been waiting for! I was very excited!!f

I was struck by how it appeared I was walking through a National Geographic magazine photo shoot. I had never been anywhere quite like this. Clay ovens were being tended by the women. Children were running between the mud and thatch huts, exclaiming with glee.

Our arrival caused quite a stir. They do not get white visitors, and many knew Larry.

There was a group of teen young men playing cards by a fire. As I walked near a hut, a child ran from me screaming as all onlookers laughed. She had never seen a white man.

As I walked about shooting pictures, I was suddenly struck by the fact that Larry had sat down among the men, and he was intently telling a story. The noise level was high. Many conversations were happening simultaneously, and the children were making much noise over having their pictures taken.

Larry remained focused. I moved in closer as I shot pictures of a man with a heavily wrinkled face beside a tree with similar bark. Larry was telling the story of David losing his son. He was telling the men that David said, his son could not return to him, but he could go to his son, one day.

Suddenly he was finished and he looked up at me and told me, these two men have suffered loss. (In the photo above, the two men in the foreground are father and son) The older man's wife, the mother of the younger, had just passed away. Larry asked me to pray for them. I was honored.

I moved around the circle to get close to the father. Under his foot was a machete. I bent over and ran my finger over it's terribly sharp blade. I was reminded of how similar their pain was.

As our prayer began, a hush fell over the entire village. Suddenly, the quiet was deafening. The Holy Spirit had been ushered into this moment. The pain these two men were experiencing was uncovered before a Mighty God. The desperate need for healing of their extreme hurt was realized by all.

After saying "Amen," I was struck by contrasts. The presence of the Lord had overwhelmed our moments with quiet. The hush remained for several moments after finishing the prayer time.

I looked around at dark skinned Karamajong people in a rural setting where white people had just intruded. We had been welcomed most openly, but the acute sense of pain these two felt, overwhelmed my senses. I had to be dismissed.

I wiped my eyes and retreated behind my camera. The din slowly returned, and I thanked the Lord for such intense moments of ministry. Who would believe what had just occurred?

We headed out of this village to a clearing where a school had been set up. Here, though we did not know it yet, our very lives would once again be in danger.



At 9:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our God is a great God. Nothing is impossible for Him. Thank you Brent for being clay in the hands of Almighty God.

At 9:50 AM, Blogger christy said...

what a wonderful story to start my day. thank you!

At 12:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok as i was reading this story I was crying I miss it there so much and when I read the part about you praying for those men I lost it the tears came even more I miss those precious people more than I realize and I am so glad you got the opportunity to meet "my Karamojong" keep it coming ! i love it

At 12:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok the anonymous comment is from me laura singletary it just didnt put my name there

At 1:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are so good at ending leaving us with suspence. It's a sure way to get us to check out the next day. Again I am glad that I know you are home.
Aunt Maralyn

At 7:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God Bless...and my wife just noticed me reading your blog. She knows I read it daily. She asked if I had told you how you entered our conversation a few weeks ago. We were headed down 39, south of I70 and we came upon your old camp. It was fun, to see it in person, after reading about it often. BTW,I'm living vicariously through you as you relate your stories of serving our Lord. I pray the Lord will use me in a similar way one day. Greenfield, Indiana


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