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The Inn of the Sixth Happiness: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0051776/

Luo schoolroom remains viable

24 June 2012

Classes continue in Mabok

23 June 2012

Abyei Town suffered greatly

June 2012

We reached Main Street and found the Tea Room. Pastors Walter and Patrick ordered tea and chapati, thick tortillas. Mama Jo and I got tea and mandazi, African doughnuts heavy enough to sink a ship. The tea arrived without milk, so I quizzed the waitress. She replied, "It is finished." Mothers of five children like me learn to drink things as they come without a fuss.

Tea Room

We walked through the slums of Busia: crumbling mud houses, broken-down structures, waste, filth, and garbage strewn about. Ragged children huddled in clumps wherever I looked. Just such children had been Mama Josephine's fourteen. No one cared for them but her and God.

We faced rather silly construction regulations. The county recorder held strict guidelines even for a simple, four-room house. Ugandan agencies like red tape. Yet street kids they do nothing to protect, house, or feed. I puzzle on this dichotomy, but know the answer too well. Each piece of government paper brings in exorbitant fees.

Busia slums

Foundations begin

Digging a Foundation

Mama Jo's plot lay directly across the road from Angel Hotel. This situation helps me keep an eye on things. Just as Francis had promised, four men were digging the foundation of the house.

Then a dump truck arrived with the first of three loads of large rocks. These were later dropped into the foundation and broken into smaller pieces.

Then three loads of sand arrived, and finally three loads of bricks. Neighborhood children watched in disbelief. This empty field lay idle for years, but now, in a morning, a house was going up!

I peeked at Mama Jo to see one of her rare smiles. No doubt about it: the construction was a dream come true. At last, she could give a real home to her precious children.

Pastor Patrick

Surprise, surprise! Pastor Patrick from arrived the Kenyan side of Busia. Pastor Walter had invited him. "Mama, the church is expecting to see you!" he cried.

I twinged with guilt. Demands of Mama Jo's house had prevented my visit to his church, which I had also failed to contact. I dealt with a corrupt builder the previous Saturday and fruitless trips to the bank since. I explained the situation to Pastor Patrick.

Morning tea never arrived. I couldn't wait until morning tea time, 10 am. Besides, Mama Jo had to visit the county recorder. We four set out for a nearby tea room: Mama Jo, Pastor Walter, Pastor Patrick, and myself.

Pastor Walter's Good News

At 9 pm, just settled in my room, I heard a door knock. The visitor was Pastor Walter from Kitale. I had invited him to Peace Church with me. Pastor Walter brought very good news. "Sylvia, my wife, has come back home!" I praised God.

He continued, "She's been different ever since her return. She apologized for not communicating. She has no bad attitude as before." He then told me a hair-raising story of the night's events on his way to Busia, Uganda.

"Our matatu rove into a deep hole - but I jumped out in time. The women and children were jolted. We discovered our driver was drunk! That hole was sent from God, because had we stayed aboard, something worse would have happened to us all. We boarded a different matatu, which drove me here safely."

Before retiring for the night, we prayed together. Then Tabu showed Pastor Walter his room.

Success at Last

Francis and Helen finished their transactions at 4 pm. As we left the bank, I proposed, "Let's try Barclays Bank on the Kenyan side." I feared the border complications.

We drove to the border where Francis had a quick word with the immigration officer, a friend. Thus was I spared official border crossing, having to exit Uganda, enter Kenya, then exit Kenya, and reenter Uganda. The ordeal normally runs $100 and several hours in two customs offices.

At the bank, Francis explained our situation to Barclays worker James, another friend. James directed us to a certain teller. So I started the explanations all over again. Though this teller was a bit sassy, he did work with me. He allowed me to draw out the maximum per transaction, US$330 or 30,000 Kenyan shillings. "Lord, thank You for this small victory at last!"

Equity Bank Idles Away Six Hours

I left for Equity Bank with Helen and Francis. He showed me papers from business transactions: "I wish to open a new business account at Equity, moving it from Stanbic Bank, as they are too lazy and slow."

Francis opened his new account at the next customer desk as I spoke to the bank manager about my Visa withdrawal. I handed over every form of ID in the world. After several hours, and a dozen phone calls, he informed me: "The head office for Equity said that your Visa transaction has to be initiated in the USA!"

"How absurd!" I thought, but held my peace. Our simple plan was to wire the Visa money from my USA bank to Francis's account. What could be simpler?

I offered an idea. "Let me call my bank in the USA on their toll-free line." This call required a land line. The manager escorted me outside, then around the corner to his office, but his land line was dead.

Next I suggested attempting by cell phone. "I don't have the USA code with me; do you know it?" He did not. "Let's Google it on the Internet," I said.

That's when the Manager said, "Oh! My cell connection just went down." Talk about frustration. Six hours were wasted.

Gifts & Farewells

Back at Angel Hotel, Francis went to his office to compute some obscure costs for Mama Jo's house. I packed up my room to prepare for Tororo, where I was next expected. I found the gifts which I'd set aside for Francis and family plus earrings for the staff ladies.

Francis loved his tape measure and the ceramic cross emblazoned, Rejoice. "I'll hang it on my car mirror," he beamed. Brenda received a delicate white scarf also saying, Rejoice; her mother, a little devotional book; the secretary, a butterfly stick pin.

Mama Josephine had already received her gifts, but I yet had watches to vouchsafe for the children. "Only give these when they show improvements on their school report cards," I instructed her.

Milk and a Matatu

Francis drove me to the matatu stand on his own insistence. I paid off Walter's room from the previous night, 11,000 shillings. Tabu, the hotel's Boy Friday, successfully begged me to buy him a half-pint of long-life milk.

In town, I withdrew the maximum amount from an ATM machine for the balance of Mama Jo's school fees. I calculated that she still needed 400,000 shillings. "I'll deliver the money," Francis offered.

Walter and I boarded the matatu for Tororo. It took less than an hour and cost 3,000 shillings. We were packed like sardines in the fourth row of five. The row before ours held eight passengers including three children. I could hardly breathe! We arrived in Tororo about 6 pm. As we disembarked, Pastor Walter offered to call Pastor John. "Hello, we're here!"

Questions and Questions

We walked the mile back to the Ugandan border. Brenda was full of questions about life in America. "Is it true that it's against the law to throw paper on the ground?" In this land of scarce wastebaskets, I understood her question. A torrent of cultural queries followed; I did my best to answer. I could see she was a born leader, like her dad.

Soon we approached the twin custom posts. Again, I held my breath. Yet we had no problems. We returned to our parked car.

Francis dropped Brenda by a street cart selling fresh, unrefrigerated meat. "Here, buy meat for your mother." He handed her money. We Americans might call the vendor's offering "mystery meat."

Later Francis confessed, "Brenda even talked of sleeping over night with Auntie Charlotte at Angel Hotel."

I assured him, "It would have been fine with me, but I'm leaving this afternoon - maybe next time?"

Francis and family

(Brenda in pink)

Sweet Success, Twice!

Francis summoned three boda-bodas which carried us to Barclays Bank. This time I knew what to say and do, as did the clerk. The whole process took a fraction of the time it had before. Soon I was given 3,000 Kenyan shillings (US$310), the maximum.

We then walked to the second bank, found it unable to help, and proceeded to a third, KCB. Its manager summoned me to his office while Francis and Brenda waited in the lobby.

He disappeared momentarily, returning with an antiquated contraption. We worked to operate this credit card device for an hour. The lever did not want to slide. Finally, we succeeded.

When I emerged at last from the manager's office, Francis said, "I thought he was killing you!" Cheerful African thinking! I handed the money to Francis, now totaling US$1,000. Construction could proceed.

Brenda & the Border Crossing

Francis and I left for the Kenyan border. "First, I must stop at my house. My eldest daughter, Brenda, wishes to greet you. She's a high school freshman home on break." She not only greeted me, but hopped in the car to accompany us to the bank.

Still on the Ugandan side, Francis parked the car. We proceeded on foot to the first customs post where he spoke to his official friend, who waved us through.

In Kenya we saw business as usual: huge semis; trailers hauling containers; and fuel tankers lined up on both sides of us as we walked. Most moved slowly. Locals darted in and out between the wheels. I took a deep breath and followed close behind Francis and Brenda.

Morning tea arrived as a thermos of hot water with a dish of freshly roasted peanuts. Secretary Helen arrived and we were introduced. "She was another orphan we saved and was married last year. She now has a baby boy." Francis pulled out a wad of wallet photos and spread them across his desk, pointing. "These are street kids we've saved over the years." Silently I prayed, "Lord, grant these jewels in his future crown."

I encouraged him in the Word. I also gave him and Pastor Walter clergy robes. "These are for special occasions like funerals and weddings. And here is an English Bible for each of you." Their faces lit up like a Christmas tree!

Tabu's Midnight Ride

Tabu brought supper about 9 o'clock. His thin frame plopped down on the floor. While eating, I asked him, "Do you have a New Testament?" He said no. I pulled one out. "This is from a Christian in America, just for you, Tabu." I showed him the special helps for baptism and conversion. He was pleased.

He tucked it in his pocket. "I'm leaving tonight on my bicycle to visit my wife and new baby for the first time. I must be back here by 6 am!" Calculating distance, I knew Tabu would be riding all night to enjoy one precious hour with his family. He would not sleep. "Lord, keep him safe," I prayed. Rain fell heavily all night. I could hardly sleep for worry, imagining Tabu on wet, muddy, dangerous roads without any light.

Thursday

I awoke to observe a wet, muddy hotel courtyard. At 7 o'clock came a knock. It was Francis, who explained, "My cousin called. She's very sick. I must pick her up and take her to the hospital in Tororo."

Two Grown Orphans

Francis returned by 10 am to meet in his office. There I met Gloria. Francis said, "She's 20 years old and in her first year of journalism. I've assisted her since she was 12, a total orphan." I praised God that Gloria now had a bright future.

Ugandan Banks

 Next I set out for Barclays Bank (no relation, alas), then Stanbic Bank, and finally Equity Bank. I just needed money from a Visa card. The transaction is simple in the USA. Yet across six hours I learned these banks could not, or would not help. I may as well have spoken Greek to them.

Back at Angel Hotel, the cook scolded me for missing lunch. Soon Francis came to my room to discuss construction progress on the house. In my hotel, electricity had failed, as it frequently does in Busia. We chatted in semi-darkness.

Wednesday

The morning started with a meeting between the architect and Francis. We made good progress.

Afterwards, I went to Lucky's Clinic to settle James's bill of nearly 150,000 Ugandan shillings (US$62). I tasked his big brother, Bastilo, to purchase glucose liquid to lend James strength.

The town straddles an international line. Each side has a customs and immigration post - Busia, Uganda and Busia, Kenya

Recap

A few days earlier I had arrived in Busia, a Ugandan town bordering Kenya. I was staying at Angel Hotel, owned by Brother Francis, Director of our Street Kids Ministry.

We were to finalize plans on a small house for Mama Josephine and her fourteen orphans. We intended to replace her one-room, "mud-n-pole" house with a real house of cement blocks sporting real windows and doors!

Busia Busy 2011

This tale relates daily frustrations that may bore you. They aren't earth-shattering crises, attacks, wars, floods, or grand salvations (which also happen). Unimportant details impress as though victory had vanished. Yet thousands fill missionary lives. They show God at work, if we but press on, persevere, and await patiently His answers and ultimate victory. The victory in this story is a new home for Mama Jospehine's fourteen orphans.

Serving the Persecuted Church in Central, Eastern, and Southern Africa

New rakooba frames in Abyei Town

19 June 2012

Farmers return to Awolnhom

22 June 2012

Tukuls are occupied in Majak

23 July 2012

Rumameer escaped damage

24 June 2012

Displaced Persons

 The IOM conducted interviews with IDPs spanning 13 sites in June 2012. All sites show high rates of IDP return and thus humanitarian concern. The Abyei humanitarian situation divides into three zones.

 1.Emergency

 2.Emergency + recovery

 3.Recovery + development

Hot Spot

Abyei was the big hot spot in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of January 2005 and South Sudan's Independence of July 2011. It remains so in elections. At stake are oil profits and grazing lands while Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) suffer. Bush Telegraph Africa joins the International Organization for Migration in helping these distressed Sudanese.

Abyei's status remains indeterminate as of mid-2012. Peace terms accord the region special status, held neither by North nor South Sudan. Northern military forces have partially withdrawn while the UN fields interim patrols. Perhaps 30,000 IDPs may return in mere months. They have gradually flowed back since late 2011.

Abyei Conflict

North Sudan and South Sudan dispute the Abyei border region. It touches three states of South Sudan, and two of North Sudan (South Kordofan, South Darfur).

Brenda & the Border Crossing

Francis and I left for the Kenyan border. "First, I must stop at my house. My eldest daughter, Brenda, wishes to greet you. She's a high school freshman home on break." She not only greeted me, but hopped in the car to accompany us to the bank.

Still on the Ugandan side, Francis parked the car. We proceeded on foot to the first customs post where he spoke to his official friend, who waved us through.

In Kenya we saw business as usual: huge semis; trailers hauling containers; and fuel tankers lined up on both sides of us as we walked. Most moved slowly. Locals darted in and out between the wheels. I took a deep breath and followed close behind Francis and Brenda.

The men and I strode back to Angel Hotel and the building plot as Mama Jo parted from us. Eight laborers were now at work; trucks arrived with materials; the foundation was indeed taking shape. I could see the four rooms. This total may seem small, but the average house here has but one, maybe two.

Encouragement

Francis sat on the hotel veranda, deeply involved in a board game with street boys he'd rescued. "Mama Charlotte, I'll take you to the bank in Kenya." I excused myself to prepare documents and noticed Patrick's face showing hurt. Earlier, Patrick had described his wife leaving him with their baby for another man.

I encouraged him in the Word. I also gave him and Pastor Walter clergy robes. "These are for special occasions like funerals and weddings. And here is an English Bible for each of you." Their faces lit up like a Christmas tree!

Patrick and Walter

The men and I strode back to Angel Hotel and the building plot as Mama Jo parted from us. Eight laborers were now at work; trucks arrived with materials; the foundation was indeed taking shape. I could see the four rooms. This total may seem small, but the average house here has but one, maybe two.

Charlotte and Mama Jo

Friday

Mr. Cameraman

Early the next morning, I heard knocking again. Sleepy-eyed and yet in night clothes, I opened the door. "Oh, Mama Josephine, come inside."

"I brought the cameraman to take our photo," she explained.

"Hummm, ah, yes, of course; very nice. First let me get dressed?" I ushered her out and threw myself together in five minutes, a skill acquired with motherhood over five children. "Nothing like an early morning photo," I thought.

The cameraman looked fresh out of a Charlie Chaplin film. He carried a giant case. He pulled out a huge camera with many appendages. Mama Jo and I sat momentarily, then - flash! - it was over.

"Now I want a photo of us standing side-by-side," Jo insisted.

Mr. Cameraman apologized, "No more film." Later, Mama Jo gave me a print of our sitting. She was unsmiling as usual. No wonder! She raises fourteen children on less than one dollar per day. It's a hard life.

Construction to Begin!

By 5 o'clock, we were on a boda-boda back to Uganda. At Angel Hotel, we found Mama Josephine waiting on the veranda. She followed me to my room to review her day. "I went to the Town Council and paid the 100,000 Ugandan shillings. They approved us to start building on my plot! I also opened a building file."

Francis joined us. "We'll begin construction tomorrow. I now have money for sand, stones, bricks, and cement. We will set out the foundation." We were all overjoyed. He was a man of his word.

Mama Jo left for a final signature from the Town Council, and returned an hour later. I had began eating supper and gave her a huge plate of beef and rice.

School Fees for Mama Jo

Josephine explained, "It's time for the children to begin their final semester for the school year. They need school fees."

I needed to resolve this matter before leaving town. We hopped on a boda-boda to draw money from the ATM in town. I drew out the maximum, yet it didn't quite meet the need. School costs had risen. There was time tomorrow for the rest of the funds. All but one of the children are now in school.

The chore delayed my visit to Peace Church in Tororo. Tabu and I spent an hour trying to phone saying I'd be one or two days late. None of the numbers worked.