Monday, July 18, 2011

A Consuming Fire

Our day began early at 3am when Pastor Sam called from Fort Portal to tell us that the WHM home built and lived in for 15 years by the Chedesters, soon to be home to 17 year WHM missionary Pat Abbott, was in flames.

After we both woke up a bit and realized that we were not having a bad dream, but that the FP house really was on fire, we called Jeff and Cheryl, dear friends to both the Chedesters and Pat. For years, Jeff has petitioned his Member of Parliament for a fire truck for the town of Fort Portal. Only a few months ago, did the first-ever fire truck appear on the streets. Gathering up volunteer firemen and the new truck, they tried to salvage what they could. Unfortunately, the fire was fast and consumed everything. It was only 5 nights ago that we were sleeping there.

It appears to be an electrical fire as similar ones have occurred in the last year due to power surges.

Pat had moved all of her belongings into the house and they were waiting for her mid-August arrival back to Africa. She is currently in America fund-raising for the "Women of the Proverbs" project. When I asked her what she thought about losing all of her possessions, she said, "Amy it is just stuff. It will all burn up someday anyway. I am just glad that no one was hurt."

But a house is always more than a just a house; it is a home. The Cash family tearfully remembered the 15 Thanksgivings spent with the Chedesters there. The Chedesters raised their children there. Pat had carefully selected paint colors for the walls in order to give her new home her own touch. For the past six months, our own little family found refuge there in the midst of malaria, team transition, and the many demands of life in Bundibugyo. We called it the Peace House.

In the midst of such tragedy, God left his fingerprints to remind us that He is here and does have a plan for the future of WHM in FP and specifically for Pat. Besides a few clay pots, only two items were not burnt, the journal writings of pioneer missionary Jim Elliot and the book "He Has Made Me Glad." In the middle of the latter book, unsinged was a photo postcard of the Road to Bundibugyo. Not sure what that means, but it does remind me that Pat always has a home here, where the road ends.


On Saturday afternoon, a white land rover with Kenya tags made its way on to the WHM property, with five young women in the back wide-eyed from their harrowing drive over the Bundibugyo Road. Bruce and Kate Dahlman, with AIM, have been leading this medically-oriented group throughout Kenya and Uganda, visiting various models of public health, medicine, and agricultural projects.

Interns Sarah and Olvie did an excellent job hosting the women, leading a community tour, and even explaining the proper use of the outdoor cho. On Saturday night, we enjoyed pizza together and getting to know each other. Sunday included a lengthy church service, lunch, community walk, drive to see the Congo border, Ugandan food dinner, and an attempt to watch "War Dance" (cut short by no electricity and bad dvd). This morning, the group toured the Nyahuka Health Center and prayed together over the patients there. After a quick lunch, they hit the road in effort to hit the construction zones at lunch time (ie no workers to slow them down!) and for a swim at Kluges Guest Farm. We pray that God used their experience here in some way to open their hearts towards working among the poor with the gifts that God has given each of them.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A significant moment in CSB history

Via a MAF flight in which the alternator went out ("But I realized that the plane does not run on electricity" says Kevin...kinda like our lives in Bundi), Kevin Bartkovich, founder of Christ School Bundibugyo arrived to his home of over 10 years.

Pictured here is Edward Isingoma, Headmaster of CSB, Kevin, Founder of CSB, and Travis, Chairman of the Board of Governors for CSB.

The next eleven days with Kevin will include the first ever "homecoming" dinner of OB/OGs (old boys and old girls...alums), chapel service, teacher fellowship, student fellowship, meeting with Edward, Travis, and teachers, seeing the lives of CSB grads, eating Ugandan food and catching up with old friends.

We are grateful he is here safely. We are thankful for his heart and years of service in effort to see godly leadership emerge among the Babwisi people.

We are also grateful for his wife, JD, and his family that is stateside, who sent us yummy goodies and entertaining movies! Webele!

Monday, July 11, 2011

And we're off...

Almost packed, with errands in town such as getting cell phone airtime, finding one of our sponsored students to give univ fees, paying for wedding photos for a friend, getting diesel, picking up dairy meal for the cows, one more stop to the bank, and then attempting to make it over the mountains...

On the drive in, we had an "Indiana Jones" moment when we looked across at where the road on the next mountain should be...and like Indiana, we had to have faith that the road had not disappeared! One never knows what they will find on the road to Bundibugyo, or if the road will even be there...

Travis is feeling better enough to get in the car and go, but still is weak, so thanks for your prayers for his improving health and for a sense of humor for us all.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Chip Update

For those of you who have been praying for our Stateside teammate, Chrissy Chipriano, thank you. After her second surgery, the pathology report showed that the cancer had spread to one of the three lymph nodes. So, she is now in three weeks of intense preparation for radioactive iodine treatment. The reality of the word "cancer" has been very difficult for our spunky, cheerful, energetic, 22 year old to absorb. Please pray for grace and courage for both Chrissy and her family in the challenging weeks ahead of them. She recently reminded me of the words in Romans 8 that says that "all of creation groans" in desire for redemption of brokenness. Yes, even our broken bodies long for a day when all will be made whole and perfect.

On Safari

As a special part of hosting summer interns from America, we take them on "safari" to the Queen Elizabeth National Park. Sarah and Olvie smiled ear to ear the entire time they were looking for animals and enjoying the Kingfisher Lodge.

Posing with the elephant statue at Mweya Safari Lodge in Queen Elizabeth National Park

Lilli was the best at spying tracks in the mud, such as this lion paw.
We were truly humbled by the magnificence of the five lions that we saw!
Aidan was only mildly impressed by the animals from his carseat vantage point.
Our early morning drive
Our family's favorite African wildlife, the Crested Crane, national bird of Uganda
Amazing end to a great day.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Fourth of July Festivities

This year's celebration of America's Independence and Foundation was celebrated without sparklers, but with much tradition in American food, much patriotism in song and parade, and much joy in friendship! We traveled to Fort Portal, 3 hours by dirt road, to celebrate with other Americans. And what a great day it was!
Early Morning Johnson Family Parade to WeeSing America Songs
Patton draws "fire that comes from a canon" for the parade.
Lilli's creativity by using what we have amazes me. She secretly worked on this flag in order to create the parade.
Aidan has been sick, refusing all foods except bananas. Thankfully, there is an abundance of bananas here!
Quite a parade!

Lilli and best buddy Kinley, two girls growing up in Africa who are oldest in a family of boys
Olvie and Bren share music with everyone.
Aidan and Patton play with the Cash's toys
On a team of all women, Travis is grateful for some "guy talk."
Karen from California
Hostess Cheryl provided a beautiful spread of food and a home of warm hospitality.
The patriotic Johnsons
The fun group of Americans in western Uganda
Aidan adores Lilli
Two kids that make the best of every situation!
Happy 4th of July!

Good thing a picture is worth a thousand words..

Because there have been thousands of words to describe the many varied and unusual and mundane and tragic and exhilarating and exhausting and life-giving events that have created the span of these last few weeks. And as internet has been sparse, I am going to post them as fast as possible before losing connection...

In reverse order, a few of the happy highlights:

July 1st, we celebrated 10 years of marriage! Grateful to interns for doing a fabulous job caring for our children and for parents that believe in anniversary get-aways who footed the bill, we retreated to one of the most beautiful places on earth, Kyaninga Lodge.
Celebration Dinner for God's work through BundiNutrition!
Prayer for Pauline as she works in Mbararra and for Baguma Charles as he prepares to begin a degree in public health.
In our hilarious game of "pop the balloon that is tied onto your friend's ankle" this 8.5 month pregnant woman won! We were afraid she was going to pop!
The fun party group! (Notice Aidan is not so sure how fun this is!)
Faithful BundiNutrition worker Pauline
Ugandan Feast which was prepared by Asita and assisted by interns Olvie and Sarah
Sarah and Olvie are now close friends with Asita and son Alex who showed them how to prepare Uganda foods.
Patton is so proud that he made this race car from a kit sent by his buddy Chrissy
Sarah and Olvie did a great job in their "Amazing Race:Bundibugyo" tasks which included a scavenger hunt in which they had to navigate the market and language barriers to find the items in this photo.
"Amazing Race:Bundibugyo" task to make a Babwisi garden with Gladys
The kids are all smiles from the goodies sent by grandparents and friend that were in the luggage of the interns!
On Friday afternoons, the kids spend time with Vincent while we have team meeting. They decided to invite other children to have a musical parade so they sang church songs and played their instruments in hopes that kids would arrive. It was so sweet to see their ideas for reaching out to friends and to hear their precious voices sing praise songs!
Thank you, ECBC DI Community Group for sending us packages in the mail. It took about 3 months, but we were delighted to receive them!