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Reisverslag Last week Soroti. Welcome in Arua.
6 januari 2017
Last week Soroti. Welcome in Arua.
To kick off the New Year we had the best possible way any Muzungu could welcome in the New Year, we got to slaughter some chickens! It was the morning of New Year’s and chicken was on the menu for lunch that afternoon so that meant some business had to be taken care of. Geerte began the process, as she was eager to enact revenge on her childhood nemesis, and boy did she do a job of it! We had this little parrying knife, no more than 7 cm of a blade, and Geerte put her feet on the chickens wings and legs and just went to town! Unfortunately Geerte was not too experienced so after 7 minutes of the chicken’s suffering it was thrown into the boiling pot of water only to find out it was still squawking and very much alive with multiple slashes on its throat. It was quite the sight, but eventually the job got done and Steven had his turn and did the job admirably, like a true Ugandan. Then it came for Josh’s turn. He stepped up and was manhandling this chicken but it was DETERMINED to put up a fight. It was squirming around and when Josh cut its neck, I kid you not a stream of blood sprayed half a metre in the air and the whole scene looked like it was straight out a horror film. Josh standing there with his wimpy little blade in hand, standing on the chicken, with blood absolutely covering his legs and arms. And then after 3 mins of standing on the chicken and it still twitching and kicking around, he figured he could get off of it, but this chicken was insane! When he stepped off it started running around, and keep in mind this is 3 minutes after it had been beheaded, and then it started FLYING. This headless chicken was flapping its wings and going crazy. We had to catch it again and keep it under control. Boy, what a way to kick off the New Year! After that things calmed down quite a bit, we had a wonderful team time looking back on our past year and thanking God for all the things he had done in our lives for 2016. We then had our 3 delicious chickens for a wonderful New Year’s lunch and in the evening we were scheduled to go to a worship service that one of our contact people was holding. It was a really nice service with about 200 people singing and dancing away, and we got to perform our drama for them all and John gave a short message to encourage them for the New Year. That all was fun, but then the rapper came out who was the main act and it was a good time, everybody else was singing and dancing. But then he called us up to the main stage to have a Muzungu vs. Uganda dance off! And he was being completely serious! Like what a humiliation that would’ve been, Jonah and John were NOT going up to the front to dance for all these people in a dance-off of all things so it didn’t end up happening but gave us quite the scare! It was a night evening worshipping and we enjoyed the different style that they worship in here.
The next morning we headed off to Samuel’s village (the guy who came out in his towel on New Year’s Eve and a worker at the base) for a couple different ministries there. Now, the plan was to give a 2-hour teaching to the youth group there like we had communicated and were told to do, but when we showed up there were 7 different football teams from villages near and far expecting a football training because that’s what had been communicated to them. After a good amount of discussion and trying to communicate with the elders of the village we decided to give a preaching anyways to them since Steven and Jonathan had both put in the effort and that’s what we were there to do. So the boys listened, but they’re football boys, they don’t have the best attention span and some were falling asleep and a few of them left halfway through. Steven and Jonah gave great messages on Intimacy with God and Hearing God’s Voice and in general it was a good response. The other surprising thing was that we had told them to read their bible in the preachings and that’s one of the best tools to grow closer to God. But then they told us that out of the 80 or so Christian boys there, none of them had a Bible! It was crazy to see the Bible poverty they had! So afterwards we arranged with Samuel, who was from the village and knew the boys, to give some money to him so he could buy a few Bibles for the boys who really wanted it. After the teaching and being a bit discouraged from what seemed like lack of interest in the boys, we found out that since many of them had come from far away, they still wanted a football training right then, at 1:00 PM in the afternoon. Now the plan was to give the preaching, go to Samuel’s home, have some lunch and a nice rest, and give a training later in the evening when it’s cooler. But we found out that we had to give a football training immediately after the teaching, in the heat of the afternoon. On top of that, we wouldn’t be getting lunch or food for another few hours and we found out there was another group waiting in a different location for a training as well after lunch! It was insane! There was so much miscommunication involved, definitely the worst we had experienced so far and it was so frustrating! The team was a bit tired and overwhelmed and there was some tension but everything ended up okay, but at that moment there was some small conflict, nothing big at all though. After the first training we drove another 20 min to Samuel’s hut and were very pleased to find a nice shady area to lie and rest under. It was crazy to see that Samuel and his family still lived in a mud hut. They farmed potatoes, cooked on an open fire, and really his house could have been constructed 2000 years ago, it was crazy to see that a YWAM worker lived here with his family. It just makes you realize how prevalent and normal it is here in Uganda and in Africa, poverty is so real. Even Samuel paid his DTS fees with huge bags of peanuts because that’s all he could pay with. We also discovered that fire ants love mango trees and you have to watch out for those. It was quite amusing to watch our contact person, Julius, willingly get bitten by these ants, quite the sight. After a wonderful lunch, we went to the 2nd location for another football training and there was quite a number of people there, probably close to 200 total from the village to watch us give a training, and 100 of those were playing. So we did the tournament format again and it worked really well. It was crazy because in these villages there were no goals or anything so they just used to big sticks as posts, so there was not going to be a winner for cross-bar challenge here haha. The tournament format worked out really well and it was interesting to see the smallest kids playing because they had an ant hill half a metre high, and about 5 metres in diameter taking up a quarter of their pitch so that was quite entertaining. We headed back after a successful training to Samuel’s house to say good bye and pick up the rest of our things. On the way we saw the biggest snake most of us had seen in the wild and the 30 or so children with us and a game of trying to catch the snake. Apparently they’re pretty dangerous so we didn’t go near it but that was a cool African experience to see. We also realized that Samuel and his family and many other families just sleep on the floor with no door so you really have to be careful for snakes and Sarah was glad that she was born in Switzerland. She said that “God really knew what he was doing when he put me in Switzerland because I wouldn’t survive here, I would die! Nuh uh, snakes, NO WAY!” Eventually we arrived at Samuels place and we were greeted by the strangest thing, there were chickens IN THE TREE! Like 5-6 chickens would jump and fly up and perch in the TREE and they would sleep there! Stomme kippen, stupid chickens! We all didn’t even know what to do, it was the strangest thing and we just stood there laughing haha. It was like these chickens had an identity crisis and didn’t know who God made them to be and they thought they were monkeys or small birds or something, such a funny moment for us. We headed back after a long day of leaving at 10 AM and arriving back at 8 PM to the base and we were eager to have a nice warm meal and then head to bed early.
On Tuesday things were a bit calmer. We got to sleep in and have a later breakfast to recover from the day before and then we had a nice long team time in the morning. We read the Bible together, evaluated our outreach so far and our relationships with God, and also had a time or prayer and encouragement with each other. It was a nice time to relax and recover from the crazy events of Monday. In the afternoon we had another football training session scheduled for a team we hadn’t trained before. This was a smaller group of 25 older boys and the training session went really well. Afterwards, instead of our usual message at the end, we decided to break them into groups and ask them questions on their walk with God and what it means to be a Christian. It was super encouraging and we were able to connect with them on a much more personal level. It was one of the first times we had been able to do that since the dinner we had with the first group of football girl’s when we first got to Soroti. The other positive thing was that we had a training with them the following morning so we gave them the opportunity to think about questions which they could ask us tomorrow. Overall it was a really positive experience and it was nice to have a smaller group of people for a change.
On Wednesday morning Josh woke up with a migraine and Jonathan was staying back to work on the amazing video he posted of our time here in Soroti. So it was just Steven, John, Sarah and Geerte who were off to give the last training and ministry time here in Soroti. When they got there, there were only 8 boys and it remained that way for the duration of the training. It was weird to have such a small number but as a result, they were able to have a good 30 minute conversation with them on different questions they had regarding Christianity and were really able to connect with them on a personal level to encourage them in their walk with faith. They headed back to the base and found out Josh was feeling a lot better which was a blessing. He used to get migraines once a month and hadn’t gotten one throughout the whole DTS (5 months) so it was good that he recovered quickly and it hasn’t been a bad problem for him here. The team had the afternoon off to pack, buy any last minute things or souvenirs, and prepare for the trip tomorrow to Arua. Coming to dinner, everyone from the base came by for our last dinner here in Soroti. We had lots of laughs together, many thank you’s and hugs passed around, and amazing meal consisting of fish and pork! (The fish was fantastic and the first time any of us had had fish for months!) It was hard to say goodbye to everyone because with such a small base it really felt like we were a family here for the past 3 ½ weeks. But the end of the night came and it was time for bed and to get mentally prepared for our next outreach destination.
In the morning we left for Arua after getting a nice supply of chapotis (Our favourite Ugandan food which is basically like Indian naan bread, it’s just dough which is fried in oil but it’s delicious.) After our little detour and stop we were ready to head on our way. It was even in the same van we came in to Soroti with on our 11-hour adventure. It felt just like home as we went over the first ”speed bump”, actually a mini mountain in most places and a large mountain in the Netherlands. It was quite the ride and felt good to be heading to our next stop on our African outreach adventure. Now, on this trip you travel through one of the large national parks which Uganda has. We were also told that Arua is the best places for safaris and seeing wild life like elephants and other cool animals. But we didn’t take it too seriously since our contact person in Soroti, Andrew, said he didn’t see an elephant until he went to India and has only seen a couple in Uganda in 50 years and Julius also hasn’t seen very many. We didn’t get our hopes up but deep down we all had a dream. Our first animal encounter ended up being a bunch of baboons on the side of the road! There were a bunch of them and we slowed down and they were super close to the van (like 3-5 metres) so that was super cool and we were already pumped! Then we entered the national park and within a few kilometers we saw a pack of antelope! It was literally like our own little safari ride! This was the main road through Uganda and we had already seen baboons and antelope! After that there was a bit of a dry spell and we didn’t see anything for another hour or so and we were getting towards the end of the wild life park when Jonathan spotted them, wild elephants!!! Two great big African elephants with giant tusks and everything, less than 100 m from the road! It was insane, not in our wildest dreams did we think we would see a wild African elephant driving on the highway! After a little photo session we carried on for 5 minutes, high on adrenaline after seeing elephants and then all of a sudden, there in the water was a pack of hippos! Like 30+ hippos all chilling out in the river having a good time in the middle of the afternoon when usually they don’t come out until night! We were told we would probably not see elephants and definitely not hippos! It was such a cool experience and definitely a successful African travel day. It was our own mini safari without going into the bush, so cool! Now we’ve really had the African experience. We eventually arrived in Arua and were surprised to see that it’s a huge base. It’s a huge, beautiful piece of property with many buildings on it. So much bigger than the 2 small buildings in Soroti, this place is huge! There also are many staff since the South Sudan bases have been evacuated and are now refugees here in Arua and have been reintegrated into the base here so there are around 50 staff here now. It’s a much different experience from Soroti. We also got to experience Motoke, which is mashed up bananas which are cooked to make a soup like thing, but they taste savory, almost like potatoes. It really is a Ugandan local food so that was fun to try. There will be 2 other teams staying here as well, a team from Germany arriving on Saturday and one from South Africa arriving Friday, so that will also be different having to share rooms and dorm with them.
Tomorrow we have our orientation here and a rest day. We plan on going to the pool to enjoy the cooler weather here (30 degrees as opposed to 35 in Soroti) and just relax before our 5 day stay in the refugee camp which begins on Saturday. Also at the refugee camp it will be 40 degrees every single day! That will be super hot so we’ll have to watch out for that. The team is doing great and we’re still pumped about all the animals we saw today. We didn’t let that one day on Monday get us down and we are still bonding really well as a team. Continue to pray for health as Josh got that migraine and Sarah is still fighting some small infections. Health has been a big issue here so far and also continue to pray for team unity. The team is doing really well but obviously some things in Africa can really test your patience, so continue to pray for that. Also pray for good integration into the refugee camp that we will have lots of ministry opportunities and be able to cope with the heat and the living conditions there. Last thing, pray that we can integrate well with the base here and get along well with the other teams here when they arrive.
6 januari 2017 20:18 | Door: Hilde
I guess all I can say about the whole chicken situation is hahaha! I am actually laughing out loud. It is super cool to read all your amazing stories about your adventures, it almost feels like I'm there!
I can tell God has sent you on this amazing journey with a purpose, you guys are doing a great job! God reaches out to so many people trough you, it is a real blessing. Keep up the good work, stay strong and motivated and He will do many more great things!
I'll continue praying for all of you and especially now for the refugees you will be spending time with.
Thank you for your stories and again: you are doing a great job! God bless you all.
Last but not least: Geerte I'm so proud of you conquering your chicken fear, you really are becoming this invincible woman haha. I miss you!
7 januari 2017 16:43 | Door: Elwin and Helen
Just about keeping up with all your news. Your writer writes very well and we have been reading every word. God bless you and surprise you. Helen and Elwin