Sunday, September 2, 2012

The First Shoe Drop... Kind of.

It's our seventh day in Uganda.  Yesterday, we came to a town called Gulu.  We're staying with a pastor named Ron Monyao, and his family.  They are undoubtedly the most loving and accepting family I've ever met.  I've only known them for a couple of days, and I already feel like they're my second family from Africa.  The family commnsists of Ron, his wife, whom we affectionately call Mama Joy, and his children: Esther, James, and Michelle.  All of them are so full of life, each in their own way, and it's so easy to fall in love with them.

Today we had our first shoe drop. At least, we thought we did, but the weather seemed to have other plans.  In Africa, the roads rarely consist of more than just packed dirt.  The dirt roads here are very different from dirt roads in the United States.  You see, in the U.S., the dirt roads are a specific type of gravel, hard packed and and made to endure.  In Africa, they're literally just dirt, which plant life has been cleared off of.  When it rains, the roads become even slipperier than ice during winter.  That said, I think you know where this story is going.  We wanted to do our first shoe drop in a small village in the bush called Guru Guru.  It's amazing how once you leave the major towns, it truly is the wilderness.   It began to rain early this morning, about an hour before we left.  We hired a driver who owned an SUV, and we packed several boxes of shoes into the back.  IT was three large boxes in the back, and ourselves in the seats.  It was myself, Dan, the pastor from the church in Guru Guru, the pastor's friend Sam, and our driver.  We left, and the weather continued to get worse.  It rained and rained, and the roads got worse.  Eventually, the roads were so bad that we slid sideways off the road so that half of our car was in the ditch.  There should be some pictures on the Facebook page soon.We slid off the road about 7 kilometers away from Guru Guru, which is about 4 and a half miles.  After pushing for a long time, several people came from villages in the area and tried to help us move the car.  It didn't worked.  After a while, Pastor Hibu ( the pastor from Guru Guru) decided to run to the town of Guru Guru and try to get some people to help us get the car out of the ditch.  After about 45 minutes, he returned with about 8 people from the Guru Guru. We tried for a total of 3 hours, and were unable to get the car out of the ditch.  After that time, the engine broke down, from the wheels spinning so much.  The guys there thought there was something wrong with the transmission because it had been worked so hard. After all this time, we realized that it was too far to carry the boxes of shoes for 4 and half miles, and we needed to get back to Gulu.  We ended up hiring some of the locals to take us back on their motorcycles, which are called botas.  Botas are a very common form of transportation in Uganda, and you can hire one to take you just about anywhere.  Many of the locals use them for their commute everyday.  Though we were muddy, soaked to the bone, and dead tired, we managed to make it home with only a couple of close calls on the botas.  We left the shoes with Pastor Hibu, and he took them on to Guru Guru.  The shoes arrived at the village ok, but we didn't.  I guess that's better than the other way around. All this to say, the first fifty pairs of shoes have been delivered, though we didn't get to witness it.  Either way, it was a great adventure, and I felt like it was a positive experience.  I'm so thankful for all the people who have been helping us while we're here in Uganda.  They've been so generous and kind, understanding and helpful, that I feel like I'm forever endebted to them.  Of course, they would insist it was the other way around.  They're so humble, and I'll truly miss them when I leave.


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