We had a great time with some new friends from Bethlehem this last week end. Sixteen of us left Friday morning and headed up to Cass Lake MN to minister to the natives in the reservation. Greg Mott, our leader, has a real burden for the people of Cass Lake. He takes his family up there about 4 times a year and tries to include others that will go. We were able to take up over 500 packages of gifts for the people. On Saturday we drove our big truck full of the gifts to a housing project parked it and started talking with people, before we knew it there was probably 25 people in line waiting for their gift, and they just kept coming till we were just about out of gifts. Later that evening we were able to attend a POW WOW, a celebration of native culture.
As I have contemplated what we did up there I am still reflecting on the effectiveness of continually giving things to those people. They seem to be given everything they need to live and have become very dependent for survival on the gifts of others. Discussions with some of the women revealed that they have learned to live and raise their children without Husbands and fathers and have actual come to prefer that circumstance. The more I think about it, I am coming to the conclusion that the thing that could help the most would be a concentrated effort toward the men. I am not sure what that might be.
The traditional family model has almost completely broken down. For a people that are concerned with preserving their heritage, culture and religion that is passed on orally by story telling, the lines of respect for fathers, husbands, elders is almost none existent.
At the POW WOW one of the Elders gave a convocation in their language. As he spoke he was almost totally ignored. I think it was merely a matter of formality but there appeared to be norepect for the process. An interesting side note, I was asked not to take pictures during this part of the ceremony as a matter of respect.
Nathan became a village chief in Uganda in 1961.In 1971, when Idi Amin (a Muslim) took power, many village chiefs who were not Muslim were harassed. As a nominal Anglican Nathan often had to go into hiding in the forest. In 1973 he received word from a friend that he was to be arrested on the coming Friday and put before a firing squad the following Tuesday, so he fled to Kenya. He remained in Kenya until 1979 when the Tanzanians ran Idi Amin out of the country.
When he returned, he found things had not gone well for his family. In 1982, his wife died giving birth to their 15th child. The next four years were difficult years for him—caring for his children without a wife.
Nathan met Gary Hipp in the mid-80s, and Gary began to disciple him. As a chief, it was hard for Nathan to change, but Gary did not give up on him. After two years, Nathan finally accepted what Gary was teaching him, and he became a follower of Jesus. Gary and his family were part of the group that went with him to acquire a new wife, Alice.
Nathan married Alice in 1986/7?, and they have two children: Mary (17) and Ema (12?). She wanted some children of her own. Mary and Ema are the only two children still living with them. Some of Nathan’s children still live in the village where he originally came from. Others have made homes for themselves in Mbale or other villages. He does have one son who lives on an adjoining farm and who has also implemented the 14 points (see below).
Nathan is a community development facilitator with M:MM and a priest at an Anglican village church.
Nathan’s home, family, and small farm serve as a model to villagers. He showed us around his compound and all the innovations he has implemented as a result of the things he’s learned through M:MM.
The 14 Points he has implemented and helps others implement:
• A house with windows for light and ventilation
• Yard and grounds clean from garbage and trash
• A vegetable garden
• Plant trees for firewood and fruit trees
• Have a safe water source
• Kitchen with efficient ovens that conserve cooking wood
• Dish rack and storage
• Food storage room
• Clothes line for drying clothes
• Latrine with a cover, sprinkling ashes
• Dedicated shower area
• Rubbish pit for composting plant and animal waste
• Natural fence made of bushes
• Develop income generating activities
Nathan has tapped into the water main and pays a monthly fee for its use. He sells the water to his neighbors for 50 shillings (about 3 cents ) a jerrycan (about 5 gallons). This generates some income for Nathan and covers the cost of his monthly charge.
Nathan grows matoki (a type of banana), pineapple, egg plant, beans, potatoes, etc.
Now Nathan is testing a new strain of matoki that is resistant to a mold that has killed many matoki plants in Uganda. After he harvests, he plans to share his plants with others.
I’m back home from my trip now. It took me longer than usual to recover from the jet lag. I have no idea why. Maybe just more tired than on the past. But all is well and I thank God for that. It seems as though everything at home and work went pretty well while I was gone. I want to thank everyone that worked really hard to make it possible for me to be gone.
I’m going to put a few stories that we gathered while I was in Uganda. I went out to the village one day with Brad and Deb Mashburn and we heard these stories as we visited a few different homes. Because it was just the 3 of us along with Nathan we were able to spend a little more time at each place and hear their stories, that was really nice. Deb did a great job making notes of the facts so that these stories could be written correctly and I got to take pictures.
October 30, Amsterdam 6:00 A.M. We go to our gate 20 minutes early. I guess that is better than 20 minutes late. Seven and a half hours flight time. I started out in seat 18J across the isle from a woman that seemed to have a hard time settling in, about 5 minutes before the door of the plane closed she asked if I would mind switching with her brother, he was in 21C. Only 3 rows back accept to get there I had to go back to about row 93, cross over behind the fake wall and swim up stream against the late boarding crowd to row 21. It was really OK, still an isle. Gary and Merrilee were at, I think, row 29, exit row with six feet of leg room in front of them. Some how I think they planned that. Anyway the lady next to me 21D was about 65 and hadn’t been on a plane in 25 years. She and her husband were retired dairy farmers from Foley, MN on their way to Bosnia to see a statue of the Virgin Mary. They both tried about 3 times to explain to me why it was important for them to go see the statue. The more they explained, I think the more they became confused about the importance of their trip. And than there was the technology; the plane had a TV for each seat with a big selection of movie, games, music, a map of our route and progress. We got in the air, I plugged in my Bose headset, flipped through the movies, slid down in my chair and was about ready to dose off for the flight when I got an elbow in my side. I looked over to seat 21D, she held up the little remote that was attached to her TV and said hers doesn’t work. I showed her how to work it, flipped my headphone back over my ears, slid back down in my seat, closed my eyes and got another elbow. This time it was her husband; his “didn’t work either”. By the end of the flight I made it all the way through “Mr. Beans Vacation”. And had the couple in 21D & E watching movies and playing pac-man. I didn’t sleep a minute and usually I can be out before the wheels are off the ground.
It’s 7:30am Amsterdam time now, we are 6 hours ahead of MN time. Our flight to Nairobi leaves at 10:20AM we arrive 7 hours later at 8:30pm. We leave Nairobi at 9:30 PM, I’m not sure what time we get to Kampala. Anyway it is going to be a long day. Probably won’t write again till tomorrow if I can get an internet connection.