The girls are staying in the guest house on the hospital grounds with the CUREkids Coordinator, Mark Barrett. The guys on the team stay across the street in an apartment. Some of the doctors from the hospital also live there.
Once we were settled, Miriam, our host took us all to dinner at the Mount Elgon Hotel. We had a very nice dinner there and lovely conversations getting to know Miriam better.
She told us about herself, her life, and what she does for CURE. Miriam is married with 6 children. They are all grown men. Miriam works for the spiritual life department in the CURE Uganda hospital and she travels with the Go Teams when they come.
After a wonderful night of food and fellowship, we made our way back to the hospital and we had a restful night before our long journey Saturday morning.
The next morning, we all woke up and loaded the buses with ourselves and our bags. It was the 6 of us GCU students, Miriam, Mark (the CUREkids Coordinator who is a photographer), and a handful of pastors. We were on our way to Gulu.
Gulu is in northern Uganda. Have you ever heard of Kony? Ever heard of the LRA? (Lord's Resistance Army). Ever heard of Invisible Children? Well, Kony was the leader of the LRA and hit northern Uganda very hard. Many men, women and children lost their lives because of this man and the destruction he caused. Gulu was one of the districts that was affected by this great evil.
Saturday we drove 8 hours from Mbale to northern Uganda until we reached the district of Gulu. There were many adventures along the way: bathroom breaks in "the bush" as they call it here in Africa; which is quite literally going to the bathroom in a bush on the side of the road. Buying and eating mangoes and (mystery) meat from street people. Buying and eating cassava for the first time. Cassava is kind of like a potato - it is a bit more dry and falls apart more easily.
We finally reached our destination. We stayed at the Hotel Mwokka Gulu. Yep, it's as sketchy as it sounds. But it wouldn't be the full African experience if it wasn't sketchy, right?
I got my own room. Infested with bugs. But now, I can kill any bug that comes my way - it's a necessary part of African life.
We slept that night and were ready for church the next morning. It was our first day at Gulu Baptist Church and it was so fun to see these people PRAISING GOD with all that was in them. Amazing.
We were in Gulu until Thursday and spent our days playing with kids and breaking into small groups with the mothers, teaching them about who Jesus is. The curriculum we used went through the book of Mark and focused on Jesus as the Son of God and the many miracles He performed.
One thing that stuck out to me was the story of Jesus calming the storm. We went through this story with the mothers and then asked them a series of questions.
One of the questions was "if you were in the boat with Jesus, would you have been afraid like the disciples were? Or would you have faith?"
The mothers amazed me saying they would not have fear, but they would have faith that Jesus would protect them because He is the Son of God.
There were many times throughout the week in Gulu where I heard stories of things going on in the lives of the women there -- it made my "problems" and worries seem so small and petty. These women have real problems and worries like the fear that their husband will leave them because they bore a child with hydrocephalus or being forced to drown their child in the river because the child has hydro.
These things happen. They're heartbreaking.
You see, in Uganda, when a child is born healthy and then a month or two later their head begins to grow very large because of hydrocephalus, it is common belief that the child has been cursed with witchcraft. Witchcraft is very prevalent in Uganda -- so teaching these women about Jesus Christ - the ONE TRUE GOD is amazing and challenging all at the same time because they are dealing with something I have never come up against in my sheltered world at home.
The children in Gulu were so beautiful and joyful. They were so much fun! I fell in love instantly and wanted to take several of them back with me in my suitcase... But that wouldn't be fair to the mothers who love them so dearly :)
While we were in Gulu, we were able to buy 2 live chickens for dinner. Yep, live. Tina and Jonathan had the honor of slaughtering the chickens. The team then plucked the feathers and then Ryne and I (the surgeons) sliced them up to be cooked (and also to remove the insides.) sorry! Graphic! It was such a cool experience! I am so grateful.
Another night, we roasted goat kebabs. It was so much fun and they were delicious. I just love the adventurous eating habits I am experiencing. And fortunately I have liked everything I've eaten! (With the exception of posho)
On the last day, we were able to stop by the medical clinic in Gulu and see how it was run. We didn't stay long, but it was interesting to see.
It was hard to say goodbye to women and children in Gulu. There was a lot of love, a lot of laughter and a whole lot of Jesus that was shared and spread in those few short days.
The people of Gulu will have a special place in my heart until the day I die. Blessed and thankful for the time we shared together.