SAMS is happy to report that Richard and Catherine arrived to serve at Uganda Christian University last week, after a year of delays. Praise be to God! – Communications Coordinator Kate Ulrich
Dear friends –
At last we are in Uganda, all three of us.
Your prayers have carried us over a couple of substantial hiccups and bumps in the road. We have so many people to whom to extend special thanks, starting with our friends Dan and Ann who bailed us out ‘above and beyond’ when we missed our first flight. Dan drove us to and from Dulles twice, and they put us up in their guest room and provided us with two delicious meals and the loan of their car for the last minute tasks of our last morning before departure. Our travel agent who worked the miracle of reticketing us for only a modest change fee. Our friends Phil and Linda, who purchased our car. Our friends Arnold in Montreal and Franklin in Uganda who assisted us in so many ways with rescheduling our Ugandan arrangements. The many people whose services we relied upon to store, ship, and receive donations who were consistently helpful. Our leasing agent Janice who gave us a day’s grace on our move-out. Vanessa at UCU housing who was unfailingly gracious and helpful. Our SAMS missionary colleagues here at UCU, who also went above and beyond. In the several chaotic moments of this relocation, we were blessed by the kindness, grace – and in Dan’s case, strong shoulders – of others. We could not have done this by ourselves – and, in fact, we humbly confess that we didn’t.
Sunday, around 2:00 pm East Africa Time, our KLM flight crossed above the Egyptian coastline above El Alamain, and we entered African air space. Our route ran west of the Nile, over desert, over scrub, and over savannah, and continued over forest as darkness fell. Upon arrival at Entebbe we cleared immigration without issues, and having been both vaccinated and possessing four day old negative PCR tests, we were not quarantined. Instead we headed off to a lovely Entebbe hotel that generous Ugandan friends had arranged for us, and fell into dreamless sleep.
Uganda is in a second round of COVID lockdown, with a 6 am to 7 pm curfew. Personal travel is sharply restricted, and there are police checkpoints everywhere. Tourists must hire a tour operator driver for travel to their destinations. Fortunately – again with the invaluable help of our Uganda friends – we knew one of the best from our 2018 trip, so we had a joyous reunion with our safari driver Robert who took us through a much quieter Kampala than we could have imagined to get to our final destination – the Uganda Christian University campus in Mukono.
Our dog, Trooper, who had a separate flight schedule, was met by the animal expediter’s Ugandan handler and kenneled overnight and, as is his practice, he made friends with the handler’s staff, wagged his tail at everyone, and when let out of his cage, he instantly began to stalk and follow his nose like few dogs they have seen. They delivered him here before we could get here, so our SAMS colleague Jessica Hughes took him. He was delightful company for her and barked at the monkeys from her screened porch. He was overwhelmed by the time Jessica brought him to meet us.
Here at the corner of the UCU campus called Tech Park, Jessica’s warm welcome was echoed by SAMS colleague, next door neighbor, and trove of information Mary, along with our Ugandan neighbors here in little duplex units. One of those neighbors – Immaculate (Ugandan Christian names are wondrous) – made a dinner of simply outstanding matooke (I did not know it could be so), greens, and beef heart. The little children were intimidated by Trooper, who gaily wagged his tail at them. But one, Ebenezer, who will soon be four, told his mother, while hiding behind her legs, that Trooper is his friend. We were also welcomed by a couple of power outages (and it gets cavernously dark if they occur at night) and the shutdown of campus wifi. We are hard by the campus fence, so we hear the voices of the neighborhood across the road (and will hear the noises from a nearby bar when the COVID lockdown comes to an end).
Our UCU hosts set us up with essential furniture and kitchen supplies in our small apartment and delivered the missing bag when it arrived from Amsterdam. We are just beginning to learn our way around the shops of Mukono to purchase such random necessities as Uganda cell phones, a shower curtain, plastic chairs for our patio dining area, and a tea kettle. We have rediscovered that Uganda has simply the most delicious pineapple in the world. We learned how the water heater operates, and the location of the potable water tap about a hundred metres away where we carry our jerry cans. We have been awakened on our first morning by a crackling African thunderstorm (which prompted Trooper to leap onto the bed between us, and on our second morning by the calling of a bird so loud it must have been right under our window. Then come the roosters and the stirring of the people who live across the road outside the campus fence.
It is the morning of a new day.
Richard and Catherine