A Sunday Adventure

This in not an official U.S. Department of State (DOS) blog and the views and information presented are my own and do not represent the Fulbright Program or the DOS.

Musician's rehearsing prior to the home worship service

Musician’s rehearsing prior to the home worship service

From the moment I stepped into the house and heard the guitarists rehearsing the music to the first stanza of the opening Psalm {Psalm 139}, I knew I was in the right place at the right time. I was at a Zone worship service and community gathering of the Kampala International Church near Bunga- on the outskirts of Kampala. Now let me back up a bit and tell you the story…


Potluck lunch and fellowship with new friends on the patio as the sun shone brightly

Potluck lunch and fellowship with new friends on the patio as the sun shone brightly

A few days ago, Monty, my housemate, had asked me if I wanted to accompany him to a church and potluck luncheon on Sunday (where everyone brings food to share) on the outskirts of Kampala, well it is actually in Kampala but a bit far from the area around Makerere University where we live. He really couldn’t give me much other details but I was game, as long as I could get back in time to work on my Pharmaceutical Care Skills Lab lesson for Monday. He had recently met a friend of his wife’s family who lives in Uganda and has started a school called Terra Nova, which he visited this week. Alisha was enrolled in Divinity Studies at Duke University and had interned at Monty’s wife’s family church years ago and since then has relocated to Uganda, married a wonderful Ugandan, Abdul, and are raising 2 young girls while running a Christian school in a poor area of Kampala. The gist of the mission of Terra Nova is to work towards the alleviation of poverty by empowering, educating, and encouraging Ugandan children while they grow in the faith of Christ who gives all hope for a better tomorrow. Anyway, Monty was invited to attend church services and in turn invited me.

Driving through Kampala to the worship service

Driving through Kampala to the worship service

Our morning drive started at 9am, even though the church service doesn’t usually start until 10 or 10:30am, because we were far away from that area of Kampala. It had already started to sprinkle rain but we arrived in the general area of the home we were going to in only about 25min because the traffic was so light this Sunday morning. But, when we turned off on the very bumpy red dirt road, it started to rain a bit harder. Our driver had spoken to Abdul on the phone to find the exact location but we were having difficulty finding it. We ended up going down an even narrower rutty road just to have to turn around at the end in a really cramped space. We got back to the intersection of the 2 dirt roads and were told to wait for Abdul and Alisha to find us and direct us further.

A lovely view of Lake Victoria and the beautiful vegetation prior to the storm

A lovely view of Lake Victoria and the beautiful vegetation prior to the storm

As we waited, not quite sure we were really in the right place, the heavens opened up and the rain poured down. It is amazing to see a road that seemed fairly solid go from hard ruts to a muddy mess which is very difficult to traverse without an SUV, 4-wheel drive, which Haji, the driver, doesn’t have. His car is a mini van. It does well on solid rut roads, but when the mud puddles get deep and the road becomes a gooey slippery trail, we all start to be a little concerned about getting stuck.

The storm is rolling in over Lake Victoria near our destination for the church service

The storm is rolling in over Lake Victoria near our destination for the church service

Well, fortunately just about this time, Abdul and Alicia come along and we follow them only about 100 yards to the gated entrance of one of the parishioner’s homes. We couldn’t believe we were only a stone’s throw away. The opening gate revealed a beautiful home, and can you believe it, a 3-vehicle carport – a covered area big enough to fit 3 large cars.

After our arrival, many more cars started to pull in and both Ugandans and expats (this is short for expatriates, people who have left their own country to live and work permanently in other countries, Uganda, in this case) exited and entered the home. Once all were gathered, there were about 30 adults plus many, many children – teenagers to wee ones only a few months old. This turned out to be a once a month gathering of small groups of members of the Kampala International Church who live near each other. They call this their “Zone” service. Basically, one family offers to host in their home and the others of the group that live near each other, travel to that home and worship together in a small, comfortable, and informal setting.

The lawn was beautiful and this would have been a peaceful place to worship if it hadn't been so wet

The lawn was beautiful and this would have been a peaceful place to worship if it hadn’t been so wet

The hosts had set up a bunch of chairs in a semi-circle on the lawn but since the rain was pouring down, we gathered in the living space indoors. There was singing, accompanied by two guitarists and a drummer, using a traditional African bowl drum, Bible readings, and one person is designated to lead the study or learning activity for the day. Today, after Mary read the lesson about how God had used Samuel to find and anoint David to be the successive King to Solomon, she had us divide into groups and do an activity to get to know each other and talk about the spiritual gifts we have in our hearts. Then the smallest in the group, by height, was anointed with water by the tallest in the group, to remember how David was small and humble but was chosen by God for a big purpose. Guess who turned out to be the shortest in my group? Yes, it was I – I was shorter than even the youngest child.

Me and my new friend, Klaus, the Shea Butter and Nut exporter

Me and my new friend, Klaus, the Shea Butter and Nut exporter

After the worship service, the group gathers for lunch and socializing. I met so many different people today and got to learn about all of the interesting work they are doing that brought them to Uganda and is keeping them here. Sometimes the work that initially brought them here is not what they are currently doing because the project ended but because they love this country and the people so much, they seek other employment to stay here. There were people from Belize, Montana, Wyoming, The Netherlands, The UK, Germany, and I’m sure I missed someone’s country of origin. One was an Engineer who also manages a Coffee processing and exporting business, another works for the Ugandan Wildlife Authority, and one gentleman whom I spoke to for quite awhile has started a Shea Butter and Shea Nut exporting business. This endeavor empowers women in one of the war-torn areas of Northern Uganda by helping them to raise money to send their children to good schools through becoming part of a cooperative that harvests fruit from the Shea Tree using a certified Organic process. Shea Butter is a common ingredient in many lotions and creams. One of the younger adults is a Makerere University student studying to become a Laboratory Technologist and another woman works in the biomedical and pharmaceutical field as research consultant. Mary, the leader for today, is a Landscape Architect. Of course one thing that keeps many of them here is the love of a Ugandan spouse and the family they are raising together.

When Monty and I finally headed home a little after 2pm today, I was on another “high” from the great conversations and fellowship with people who are passionate about the country of Uganda and its people. All in all, if I have ever doubted my work here, I no longer do. Today’s experience helped me to realize that God is working through me here in this place and time. He knows my comings and goings and he will guide me through whatever the next step is. I’ll end with words from the Psalm that moved me at the beginning of the service today.

Psalm 139: 1-5  “Lord, you have examined me and you know me. You know everything I do; from far away you understand all my thoughts. You see me, whether I am working or resting; you know all my actions. Even before I speak, you already know what I will say. You are all round me on every side; you protect me with your power.” (The Good News Translation)

About kbohan

Professor, Department of Pharmacy Practice Binghamton University School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Binghamton, NY USA
This entry was posted in Diseases/Health, Fulbright Specialist Project, My Safari (My Journey/Adventure) and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to A Sunday Adventure

  1. Beth Ann Goetz says:

    That is my favorite verse. Also, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.


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