Days pass, the mountain of things untold grows, and yet it’s hard to know what to write! We’ve been back from furlough for nine months. We’ve written about people leaving the field and others joining us. We’ve told you of our trips to visit friends in other regions of Karamoja and the growing depth in our relationships. The time has held some incredible heights and burdensome griefs.
More recently, some of our teammates, Jim and Jenny Knox, had an emergency c-section in Kampala mid-December and have remained there till now with their baby boy. I was able to visit them for a few days at the end of December with Leah Hopp. It was such a gift to be able to spend a few days alongside them. Their two older boys (close in age to Carmel and Zion) are not allowed into the hospital so everyone has to take turns going and remaining. God’s hand is evident in all HIs care for them during these difficult days. We rejoice that the baby was delivered safely and is growing. Please pray with us, that they will be released from the hospital soon!
On the school front, Carmel has now completed kindergarten and says she “loves learning so much”, although sometimes that’s difficult to see as the teacher! We’ve started 1stgrade after a 3-week break. Andrew Van Essendelft continues to learn with us. Zion has kept her irresistible smile and laugh, and is eager to do her own school too.
As a way of welcoming the Folkerts (James & Esther) to Karamoja, Leah and I taught an Introduction to Karimojong class. Most mission members also attended. Carla Van Essendelft taught the children’s class simultaneously. It was a 3-week class adapted from the first course we taught two years ago when the Van Essendelfts arrived on the field. It was a good refresher for me too! There is always more to learn and basics to review. I’m blessed to get a total kick out of demonstrative adjectives, verb patterns and Karimojong’s unique character. I think I know more than I actually apply (if only you could hear the ongoing correctives in my thoughts as I speak), so the class has become my gift to newcomers. Language learning is a great way to laugh at yourself. The Karamojong will laugh along with you and they love when you try, no matter how broken or incorrect it is.
Some of the latest events you may have even heard on the news! Locusts are swarming East Africa, devouring crops. They reached Karamoja last week and even showed up at the clinic last Friday. They seem to travel quickly and are carried along by the dry season wind. Our neighbors say that a swarm of locusts can land on one tree and devour all the leaves before moving on. They’re worried that the locusts will lay eggs even though they move on quickly and the babies will eat all of this year’s upcoming crop. Right now there aren’t any food crops in the ground, except for Christopher’s herb garden! When I heard the locusts had arrived, I rushed around carrying as many of his pots onto our porch! The year has been a strange one for weather – way more rain than normal and even a week of rain in January which we’ve never seen before. Those who were hoping to thatch new or old homes are struggling to find the needed grass. It simply hasn’t had the opportunity to dry out. The road to Mbale has continued to be a concern, with trucks stuck even last week. Missionaries are sometimes considering it worthwhile to take an extra 5-hour detour through Moroto and Soroti just to avoid the mud and unknown.
In other news, last month a calf injured itself on the clinic staff housing compound. We keep two dogs on the compound for protection and to keep off livestock. It was trespassing. When the dogs chased it, the calf ran into the fence and injured its neck. Remarkably, the dogs never actually touched it, even after it lay there injured. Everyone knows their goats, sheep and cows aren’t supposed to be there, but the owner proceeded to demand reparations for his calf instead of reprimanding the negligent shepherd. For a few days it was a tense situation with him bloviating irrationally about all the things he was going to do if he didn’t get his money. The police were called. The Local Chairman 1, whose job it is to sort out local disputes, met with Christopher and the owner. Our clinic chaplain met with him. He seemed beyond reason. Thankfully, he never followed through on his threats, he removed the calf while everyone was at morning devotions, and everything has settled. I did change my morning running route for a few days though!
That’s the news from Nakaale for today! From the miracle of new life to biblical plagues. What more could you ask for?!