Valentina is a Karimojong lady. Jean chose her to be the mother of the chicks. She loved those chicks from the very first day they arrived. She was so thrilled to be able to be their honorary “mother”. She feeds them, waters them, keeps their home clean, encourages them to eat and drink by bucking like a real chicken. She is an awesome lady. She is the mother of 10 children. She is one of several wives to her husband. She is an orphan. She was eventually cared for by the Catholic mission. Her job was to take care of chickens, so her love of chickens is quite honestly real. She also loves the Lord. I was so blessed to meet her and get to know her. She speaks a little English and taught me some Nakarimojong. I miss her. God willing, I will see her again next year.
That first Saturday in Nabilatuk, we spent taking care of chicks. We also met the neighbor kids. Aren’t they cute? Most every child in Nabilatuk is half naked. Boys wear shirts and no pants. Girls wear skirts and no shirts. It’s just how they roll in Karamoja.
For the Karimojong, life is all about the cow. They are their treasured possessions. They are almost as valuable to them as people are. This is why a man trades cows for his wife. When a Karimojong man wants to marry, he is taking away a treasured possession of her family so he must replace her with the next best thing in their eyes, cows. It is a deep, meaningful tradition that goes back as long as the Karimojong have existed.
The hardest thing about that first weekend in Nabilatuk was missing my family. I don’t do well with too much free time to think. And sadness is something that follows me wherever I go on this earth. The only thing that kept me going was knowing that Jesus loves me wherever I am. Only Jesus sustains me.
To be continued…
The first whole day in Nabilatuk involved preparing to visit the people of Okotut. Tom found this village because he heard they would like to have a bore hole for water. So he set off to meet them. When he arrived and began speaking to the elders, he also learned that more than the bore hole, the people wanted to hear the word of God! Well! Who can turn down a request for the word of God?
Every week, the team goes to Okotut for Tom to do Bible storying. This village is pretty far off the beaten path. It is an hour away by vehicle. You have to drive down to Lolochut and then take a right at a certain dirt “road”. Too bad GPS is not a thing to rely on in Uganda. You have to navigate the old fashioned way, by your wits. It’s a good thing I am from the old school of life. 🙂
Once we got off the beaten path, we drove for at least 15 minutes to reach Okotut. We ran into these children along the way. Rachel is the lady in the middle. She works for KACHEP, the veterinary ministry. Small children have the job of collecting water everyday. They sometimes have to walk for miles to find a bore hole to collect water. Then they carry 5 or 10 gallon jerry cans on their heads to bring the water home. They learn to balance heavy things on their heads at a very young age.
When we arrived in Okotut, we were greeted by dozens of children. Shortly after we arrived, the adults trickled out to greet us as well. We all sat down and for the next couple of hours, Tom told the story of Jesus’ resurrection. At the end of the story, he asked the people questions to see if they had retained the information. I was so impressed by the fact the men and women were totally absorbed in the story. It was amazing and beautiful to see the word of God going forth and taking root. God is good and His word does not return void.
At the end of the session, we said our goodbyes, climbed back into the truck, and made our way back to Nabilatuk. It was a very good day, but I was still caught in major sadness and distress with being in a foreign place. To make matters more difficult, I had a whole weekend to sit and wait before starting at the clinic. Thankfully, Jean was very supportive. She invited me to sleep in the chicken house with her. So that’s what I did.
It is very difficult to be an introvert separated from friends and family. It takes me awhile to feel comfortable with people I don’t know well. And I tend to feel lonely even when I’m surrounded by people. One of the reasons I know I am called to be a missionary is because I can’t do it on my own. It’s too outside my comfort zone. I am relying on the strength of God more than anything else.
To be continued…
The first thing we did after arriving in Karamoja was set up the chicks’ home. There is actually a lot of detail involved in raising chicks so they don’t perish. They need light for 24 hours a day for several weeks. They need lots and lots of food and water. They need to be kept warm for several weeks. And they need to be encouraged to eat by pretending you are their chicken mother. Who knew? Jean is a genius veterinarian! She researched every detail for raising chickens successfully! She is super smart and has a couple of phds to back that up!
Before I even set foot in the chicken house, I had some serious bathroom issues to handle. Remember, I wasn’t going to go on the side of the road. Well, when we arrived at the place where Tom and Jean live, I was surprised to discover the pit latrine! I am 47 years old. I have managed to go my whole life without encountering this, the 11th wonder of the world! I mean really? It’s the 21st century people! And thus began the real culture shock. I somehow managed to master the perils of the pit latrine in 2 weeks time and am happy to say build up that character I was talking about in the last post. But not before some serious crying.
I think I cried for the first 3 days I was in Karamoja. Every night I cried. Every morning I cried. What am I doing here God? I can’t do this! I must be as crazy as Robert and Anthony said! Help!
But then, somehow with the power of Christ in me, I would get up, dust myself off (literally :)), and put one foot in front of the other to walk out through the day. I had to give up and let God do it all because I just couldn’t do it without Him.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
To be continued…