September 25, 2007

Parents in Africa

(Sorry ahead of time for so many pictures. It's just so exciting that you want to share! Hopefully they'll download quickly for you. Let me know if it moves too slowly.)

They're here!!!! A week ago Jacob's parents, Danny and Lodema, landed in Africa. We had been looking forward to them coming for sometime. We'd been joking for months that they were the 'light at the end of our tunnel'! We're now in week two of a wonderful visit. Our first week was in Karamoja and we're currently in Kampala. We have 'weak' internet so I'm going to just try and get some visuals thrown in here to show you our world through their eyes. This is short and doesn't do their visit justice at all- but hopefully it will be a start. Hopefully we'll get the chance soon to embellish. Please pray for our visit. There's a lot of rough travel. Thanks for your prayers already.

The 'airstrip' of Kaabong. When we arrived to pick up Danny and Lodema it was covered with hundreds of head of cattle being herded to the new corral.

Mission Aviation Fellowship is really a blessing. If not for them I can't imagine what our trips would look like. You never know how long your flight might take. You find out that very morning as you sit in the plane (for security purposes). You could be the first stop or the fifth.

A crowd gathers…. Shepherds herding the cattle gathered around as the plane landed. It was exciting and touching to see how thrilled they got watching the plane speed down the dirt strip and lift into the air. Many began to run and jump. It really brought home the fact that though they sleep in the open each night and carry only a stick as protection against many foes, though they hold much of Karamoja’s future and even safety in their hands- they are, after all, only boys…

Jacob poses with his trusty Kelty back pack (rucksack) with a few shepherds. It’s been his dependable ‘friend’ for over ten years now- and it’s traveled all over Karamoja. Go Kelty! Note that the shepherds carry everything they own. Amazing to us first world clutter bugs…

The Ol’ Grey Mare…
As the cattle passed the airstrip it continued on it’s way… on our road! We were swimming in a sea of cattle it seemed. The soldiers are there to offer protection as these cows have been obediently turned in until the disarmament ends.

Young shepherd boy
Oftentimes the boys are equally as decorated, if not more so, than the young girls.

Beautiful view of Kaabong area from the airstrip and near our house

A praying mantis Jacob found near our garden. How cool is that guy (the praying mantis AND Jacob)? Unfortunately, praying manti (is that the correct plural of praying mantises?), like chameleons, are seen as ‘bad omens’ or ‘bad luck’ to the Karimojong and killed on sight. Bummer. This guy escaped harm. As far as we know…..

Trip to Lopelipel
Lopelipel is a two hour trek each direction. We normally leave early and try to make it back by five or so, depending on how long the discipling and meeting goes. The day we went with Lodema and Danny was hot with little breeze and little clouds. We had a lot of rain in the previous weeks so we had a flowing Kaabong river to pass as well. We eat breakfast and then don’t eat again until we return, as everything you carry will be relentlessly begged from you. It’s not worth the energy to carry food! You would have to carry enough to share with every person you saw. We do however carry water, and people typically understand that our weak stomachs need our own ‘special water’. We go each Wednesday. So if it’s Wednesday when you read this- think of the leaders at Lopelipel and please pray for them.

Tubo (Two-Bow) is ever our faithful guide and friend. I hope to be able to write more about Tubo later. Tubo, like many people here, doesn’t get the concept of “Smile for the camera!” So this is a great candid shot taken while we were on our way to Lopelipel.

Woman carrying charcoal near Kaabong river

Two shepherd boys returning from the Corral. Notice the one on the right has a clay mixture smeared up to his calf area. This is to signify the ‘honor’ of them coming from the corral and not, as they persistently denied, a form of ‘protection from spirits’ as we had previously heard…

Great beaded belt! This woman happily complied with having her picture taken. So happily in fact, that I am uploading the “cropped” version, as she pulled her entire shirt up to her chin. These belts are usually worn by virgins or new wives (in my understanding at least. Jean could probably clarify a lot for me here). However, they may also be seen on young men and old women, such as this one. Also notice the scarring around her navel. These usually come either as beautification marks or as healing remedies from the witch doctor.

Aloe-vera on the trail… At least there’s no need to worry if you get sunburnt!

Young shepherd boys along the way. These boys often hide in trees (or rather yet they are resting there as we pass) and call out greetings, or even sing songs about you as you come. They particularly love Jacob. The ‘tree singing’ reminds me of the movie “The Three Amigos” and the singing bush. These boys were thrilled to see themselves in the camera display. The usual response is a bewildered, “That’s me?!!” It almost seems like some people are saying, “Why didn’t anyone tell me I looked like THAT!?” I feel that way when I look in the mirror sometimes and I’ve seen my reflection all my life!

Jacob’s dad, Danny, received a goat as a gift from Apei (pictured on the right). We named the little guy Toby and he was happy to be lead back to Kaabong, taking special liking to Danny’s side and not wanting to wander from it. As we later read a note from Apei we realized we had goofed. Apei said, “His name is ‘He-Goat’.” Obviously. So there you have it. Danny and Lodema also received ten of the best ears of maize and a chicken that made for a great lunch the following day. All of the gifts were a great honour and showed how highly the Karimojong revere any elder. People were truly thrilled to see them. They called Danny “Muzee”(or “old wise man”) and Lodema “Mama”.

At last we got Apei’s son Tawi to smile (Ta-wee means “Wow”!).

Aerial view of Karimojong village.

During worship songs- the women began to dance. By dance I mean, jump straight into the air and land flat footed. You can feel the earth shaking. They can somehow manage to do this, for long periods, without getting winded and in unison with one another. I really throw their groove off… Danny pointed out that not only are they getting considerable “air” but they are also landing on rocks.. not just pebbles, but serious rocks. We are absolutely no match. Which just goes to prove that ‘white men really can’t jump’!

Tire sandal of old man. This is the typical footwear. Though it's probably painful, it's much more realistic than our flimsy western shoes, and much more appropriate for the harsh conidtions of Karamoja living.

Jacob sending greetings to the Lopelipel group from ‘our place’(Lomusian-Kaabong) and America.

Two ‘akimats’(ah-key-mahts), or old women, sitting among the women listening to the story of Jesus washing His disciples feet.

Danny told the story of Jesus washing the disciples feet at the Last Supper. It took on special meaning as he also washed each leader’s feet as he told the story. Here he washes Thomas Lodukai’s(Low-Do-k-eye) feet as Tubo looks on. Thomas travels from the far village Nachakonet, which is another two hours walk from Lopelipel.

Boy coming from garden with sunflower on his head. I love this shot.

(For the sake of time and sanity- I've compressed these pictures. Hope they're okay. Maybe later I can make them bigger.)

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