End Times…

Taking my last lap here in Uganda after five-plus glorious months. I thought that I might take a deep breath, rest and relax.


The month of August has been a whirlwind. I have been traveling throughout and have landed in my bed in Bwindi only seven nights. Started with a five-day trip to DRC. A dynamic African nation with wonderful people…and some new friends.

On the way back, I stopped in Kasese, Uganda, to reunite with Cleous and his family and experience more African hospitality. Visited some interesting projects involving women and micro-financing.

Joined by widow of bishop's brother and her extended family.

Joined by widow of bishop’s brother and her extended family.

Then a week in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, where Swahili is the prevailing language. Joined ac-af.com again to videotape children’s activities and interviews. I was here last year. Beautiful young people.

Re-entered Kabale to rejoin Bishop Kayeeye and his family. After I arrived on Monday, Phoebe and I drove out to his village where the bishop is constructing a lodge. We inspected the pace of the project, which was impressive. Then we went a short distance to visit the bishop’s brother’s widow and family.

These are the moments on this trip that I cherish. I sit with family in their home and am simply present. There is conversation. I offer some greetings in Rukiga, accept their thanks.

I was first in this home in April when bishop, Phoebe and I visited his then-ailing brother. Bishop and I knelt at his bedside and I was asked to offer prayers. Powerful, beautiful experience.

I returned in July with some nurses to assist the dying man. Within 24 hours, he was gone. Then a huge African funeral. Very, very impressive.

On this day, though, many children, neighbours and extended family gathered around to greet us as we entered. I enjoy to be among these people, who are loving…and curious about me. I come in peace and love…they are gentle. It all works.

I got a text message. Bright, a 14-year-old HIV-positive boy I met, has died. So sad. A brave young man who suffered all his life, through no fault of his own. Yet it is also a glorious thing…for the Lord has called him home to enjoy a life where their is neither suffering nor sighing but light eternal.

Bishop Kayeeye leads funeral for 14-year-old Bright...

Bishop Kayeeye leads funeral for 14-year-old Bright…

Yesterday was the funeral. The chapel was packed with 300+ inside, and another couple of hundred or so outside. The community gathered to pay respects for Bright, his family and caregivers. Prayers, songs, a small casket.

It is an amazing and wonderful thing how God has planned this trip, these adventures, these relationships. I feel so fortunate to have met every person, to have shared every smile and laugh, and to exchange greetings in their local language to their amazement. So much fun. Never have I felt fear or trepidation. I have walked into every situation knowing God is with me and directing my steps.

It never gets old. These blessings, experiences and friendships will flourish until I return home next week.

Then I can rest.

The Door is Open…

Here in Africa, the door is always open.

Am in Kasese staying with Cleous and his family. We met in 2012 when I made my first trip to Africa. He is a vice principal at a top secondary school in South Sudan. Like many of the other faculty, he was trained and lives in Uganda. He is home for the month on leave.

I join him, his wife, Becky, twin boys Peter and Paul, and daughter Jennifer in their smart, modern home. The three children are under four years. It is a great experience to share life with an African family. The hospitality is wonderful. Feel at home? I can do that!

Today at breakfast, we were joined by a friend, who ate with us. Two others stepped through the open door to visit and say hello.

I gave them my best Rukiga greetings. Um, not so impressive here in Kasese, where they don’t speak the neighbouring dialect. But those with the ear for the language were amused, if not impressed, with this muzungu’s efforts at learning the local tongue.

This is how relationships flourish.

It must be like America in earlier times. When neighbours greeted each other, knew each others’ families, knew each others’ health. They come and sit at the table and partake of whatever meal happens to be in progress. It is a pleasant experience and quite different from my neighborhood in California, where the front doors are double-locked.

A month ago, I was in Kabale, with my friend Bishop Enoch Kayeeye and his family. It was a time of grief, as the bishop lost his brother after a long illness. Their door was open.

Friends and well-wishers poured through for a couple of days. The bishop was away at the village, preparing for the weekend funeral. I stayed behind at the house. I would sit in the front room, and watch and greet the parade of people drop by. The community was amazing. The love. The shared lives.

An open-door policy in our hearts allows friends and visitors to join us and be welcome. Yes, it takes some time to get used to intrusions, but time and practice makes for an easy conversion.

Even in Africa, people have programs for the day, things to accomplish. They may not have a 45-minute commute through jammed, paved roadways, but there are responsibilities and chores. It is lovely, really, to share a moment in this busy world of ours.

The door is open…

It’s God’s Time

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
 Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV

It is our human condition to seek instant gratification. Whether we want a job, a car, or a relationship, we usually want it NOW. We may pray to God to ask for his favor in blessing our wish, but his answer usually comes in his time, not ours, as the prophet tells us.

I recently returned from 10 days in Kampala where I completed some unfinished business. In June, I traveled to the DRC border outside Kasese with my friend, Bishop Kayeeye, his wife, my assistant Barnabas and our driver. At the border, the Congolese officials denied my entry, saying visas are no longer issued there and that I should obtain one in Kampala.


It was a shock and disappointment. None of us knew about the change in policy. I felt the trip was a waste of time and money. The bishop went on to meet the appointments he had made while I returned home.

However, events conspired against him. There were several prominent deaths requiring his presence at funerals, which led to postponement of his scheduled meetings. So my absence turned out to be something of a blessing as we would not have completed our mission as planned. The bishop said it was God showing us that this wasn’t the time to be in DRC.

In Kampala, we systematically obtained permission and introductory letters from the Diocese of North Kivu in DRC. With all the paperwork in order, I applied for and received my visa.

This appears to be the time.

When I was a young man, I cooked up plans for myself and my career. Then I asked the Lord to bless them. While some progress was made they were never fulfilled. It was not God’s plan for me.

Does this sound familiar to you? Do you struggle with your need for instant gratification and God’s timing and plan? For some things we want we may have to wait. It could be a day, a week, a year, or decades.

I’m now in my sixth decade. I have learned a lot and now strive to put myself in alignment with God’s long-held plan for me. Finally, I am doing work that brings me great satisfaction and I am more fulfilled than anytime in my life.

It’s not my time. It’s God’s time.

License to Live

Errand day in Southwest Uganda. Am short on shillings so I must travel 40km to Kihihi, home of the lifeblood of cash–an ATM machine. Need a couple of passport photos and a haircut. If lucky, I’ll knock out those chores, buy my driver a rolex (not THAT, but a couple of scrambled eggs rolled in a chapati, like a tortilla), and get back to Bwindi before lunch.

Everything is pretty cheap here in rural Uganda. There are a number of neighborhood markets, selling wash soap, biscuits (cookies), sodas, sandals, produce. I like to spoil the aba kazi (women) in the Communications Office with biscuits, a somosa or donut. Keeps them happy.

Call Johnson, one of my favorites, a soft-spoken but loyal boda (motorbike) driver for the the one hour-plus ride over unpaved roads to our destination.

johnson plate

Fairly early in today’s journey, I hear a metallic sound hitting the ground. I don’t turn figuring we ran over something. Foreshadowing.

I arrived here in March during the “rainy season.” I saw more rain in the first 6-8 weeks than my Northern California home has seen in two years (20 inches). Traveling during the rainy months is difficult, as the dirt roads get wasted. Most are not engineered properly so water flows down the streets, carving huge channels. Oh, and climbing a hill in a small car is always exciting.

I miss the rainy season.

Since mid-May, the rain has given way to the dry season. Days and nights are mostly clear, the roads firm. But the dust is plentiful, overwhelming, a health concern.

When cars, trucks or bodas drive by, they kick up a cloud of dust that will envelop anyone walking. If I don’t take a handkerchief while I walk to cover my face, I’m asking for trouble in the form of sinus infection or worse.

On our ride to Kihihi today we encounter a couple of large trucks that throw up blinding dust in our way. Nevertheless, it went pretty well. Once we parked in front of the bank, we noticed the license plate of the boda was missing. Wait. Was that the metallic sound hitting the ground that I heard?

OK, so will that be a problem? I go to the bank, to the photo place next door while Johnson gets a temporary permit. Meantime, power is out in the town at 11 a.m. so the photo place cannot print my photos, and the barber’s clippers won’t operate.

We walk to the roadside rolex place, order a couple and relax.

After the meal, we climb on the boda and head home. Being the faithful optimist that I am, I feel confident that we can find the AWOL plate, so long as no one picked it and tossed it.

About 20km to go to Bwindi, we stop in Butogota where Johnson chats with boda drivers waiting under a shade tree. He explains his issue, some of them nod and exclaim before we move on. Still I’m fairly certain we will get a…the phone rings.

Johnson reverses course as someone has found the plate and is holding it. We double back three minutes, meet Enoch, a store owner who shows the plate. He found it, notified someone, who may have notified someone else who notified Johnson. I was trying to learn the exact sequence but this Primary-4 level speaker had some difficulty keeping up with the advanced-level local Rukiga.

Nevertheless, it was nothing short of a miracle, I believe, that we recovered the plate. It was all fairly easy. Given my proclivity to thank the Lord for anything and everything, we assigned the credit to Mukama.

The Lord has been so faithful to me during these five months. He hears my every call and complaint. Answers come quickly.

I am blessed. I love my life here with these people, speaking in their tongue, having never felt so free and authentic. Things always work out.

My Typical Day in Bwindi

My activities in Uganda are pretty routine and are punctuated by periodic travel 4-6 hours from Bwindi where I experience new things, and see beautiful vistas and people.

My day begins near the Impenetrable Forest. I stay in a one-room cabin built for Scott and Carol Kellermann years ago. I awake around 6 a.m. to familiar music on the iPad. When I step outside on the deck facing the forest to get to the sink and toilet, I often see Venus rising over the hill. It’s always beautiful, just like when I see it rise over the Sierra foothills at home. Time to sh*t-shower-shave (not necessarily in that order) and head down for breakfast.

Getting here to there
When I arrived in March, I would call for a boda boda (motorbike) to pick me and take me the 2k or so down to the Guest House for my morning meal. In the past six weeks weeks, though, I have rented a bicycle and have ridden the mostly downhill road to get there. As you can imagine, it is quite a spectacle at 7:10 a.m. for local Ugandans to see and hear a muzungu cyclist riding by. Most are on foot heading to school, work or home. I make a point to holler a greeting (“Agandi, sebo…agandi, nyabo…orrirota) of hello or good morning to each sir or ma’am I encounter. The responses are loud and true as many now recognize me, though some mumble as I pass.

By about 7:20 I am at the GH, where I park the bike and head to the nearby hospital for a quick fix of wifi to catch up with overnight email, if any, and maybe an NBA or MLB score. Last year we had pretty good wifi at the GH but it has been out of service pretty much since I arrived so we improvise. After about 10 minutes I return for breakfast. It starts with a plate of fruit: slice of pineapple, watermelon and a banana. Then Moses or Evelyn will come by to take our order for eggs. Fried, scrambled or Spanish Omelette are our choices. Paul and Barbara a couple of Episcopal missionaries, are at the table going through the same routine as I just described. They live next door to me up near the forest.

Lately there have been a number of other volunteers and guests who are staying at the GH. It is nice to meet people coming and going through Bwindi. They may stay for a couple of days, or longer; trek with the gorillas, and eat the three squares that we get. In addition to the eggs, we often get enkumba, a delicious hot, chocolate brown, millet porridge. I was introduced to it by Bishop Kayeeye while staying with him in Kabale. Very nutritious. When we’re out of that, we sometimes get what we call “muzungu porridge,” which is like oatmeal and, like me, very white.

Prayer time
I hurry through breakfast to get down to the hospital for morning devotions at 8 a.m. It is the one meeting at the Bwindi Community Hospital (BCH) that begins on time. Staff and patients assemble outside the outpatient clinic. There are drums and singing as we worship to begin the day. After a song and a prayer, someone will stand and deliver a homily of 7-12 minutes or so. I spoke yesterday for the third time this year. I introduce myself in local Rukiga language, try to add a few new phrases to show friends and others that I’m learning more and more, then revert to English the rest of the way. Most of the speakers preach in English though a few will talk in Rukiga. Fine by me. The word of God is accessible to all in any language.

There is a concept here we call “African time” which refers to the incessant time slippage of appointments, events, etc. A meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. may not begin before 10:30 as people arrive slowly. This happens throughout the day and is frustrating for some westerners, like me. After a while, though, I breath deep and remember “TIA…” this is Africa. Deal with it, Hill.

Fun with Rukiga
After devotions, around 8:30 a.m., staff leaves for work stations or medical wards. The communications team heads upstairs to the office. I follow them in, where I hold court for a while, practicing some Rukiga, reviving decades-old jokes to a new audience.

By 9 a.m. I head next door to the IT lab where I charge my devices and review video for about two hours. Then it’s time to move. Most days I’ll head back to the GH where I pick up my bike and ride uphill to the Batwa Development Program (BDP) offices. There I will hold court once again, practicing my Primary-2-level Rukiga with doctorate-level speakers. It is a lot of fun as they grill me and put me through my paces. Surviving that, I go find Joel, my irrepressible friend and Rukiga teacher. We try to be serious about learning the language. Most time I will give him a phrase to translate for me so I can add it to my Notepad on my iPhone and drop it on some unsuspecting citizen. It’s working pretty well. I’ve spoken extended Rukiga at morning devotions before hospital staff in Bwindi and Ft. Portal. I introduced myself in Rukiga on a radio program broadcast to five African nations from Kabale, and wowed the crowd following a baptism at a local church.

By 1:30 p.m., it’s time for lunch and I’ll announce to anyone who will listen, in the office or on the street: Ninkuza aha Mokeye House curya shamushana! (I am going to Monkey House to have lunch!)

After lunch I may spend the afternoon up top at the BDP for good, unrestricted Internet or return to BCH and the communications office. As evening approaches, the communications team of Aida, Josline and now Kayla from Bakersfield, CA, will decide whether to go to the gorilla lodges in the evening to visit with trekkers, tourists who could be potential visitors and donors. I tag along once a week or so. These are beautiful resorts located near the impoverished homesites in Bwindi. While there we can relax, have a soda or a beer, enjoy the surroundings. On Tuesdays I usually stay after work to join others in a Bible study class (currently, Acts).

Dinner is not before 7 p.m. Afterwards, I hire a boda to drive me in total darkness to my house where I wind down, meet with the night watchmen, show them my knowledge of the stars above, when clear. On moonlit nights, the sky is so dark, the stars so many. Then I retire to rest before another day in Africa.

I love being here with these wonderful people very much.

Real-Life Spectacle

Life can be brutal at times. 

Over the weekend, I was unnerved by the sight of an insect in my bathroom in Kabale. Am staying with my friend Bishop Enoch Kayeeye where he has given me a private room for as often as I’d like. Somehow the bug found its way inside.

big bug

I was heading to the dining table for lunch when I encountered Daos, a young man who greeted me warmly. After exchange of pleasantries in Rukiga, I mentioned that there was an intimidating species in my bathroom. Would he mind capturing it for me and removing it. I added that, as a muzungu, I did not have a lot of experience handling bugs. Yeah, prefer not to do that. Ecch.

Ever the gentleman, Daos cheerfully agreed to do my dirty work. He followed me inside and quickly plucked the grasshopper. We walked outside and talked about how grasshoppers are a seasonal item on the Ugandan menu. Many have told me how delicious they are as a fried treat. Taste like popcorn, I’m told. Not available now, though. Must wait until November. I imagined the photo opp of the fried, flying bug headed into my pie hole. What a sensation that would cause.

After a few minutes of conversation, Daos dropped the dazed denizen. It took a moment and made two hops. The last two of its life. For in an instant, out of nowhere, a small, sparrow-like bird swooped in and snatched it in its beak and flew off. What a real-life spectacle! 

That grasshopper never had it so good as in my bathroom.

Right Place, Right Time

It started in my waist before everything went dark. A heavy rush of light-headedness before I hit the deck.

I was in the outpatient clinic for a malaria screen after experiencing low-grade fevers for a couple of days. My weekend getaway to Mbarara was a bust as Saturday and half of Sunday were spent watching Premier League football matches. I was bed-bound with a bug and stared at the screen instead of seeing the area.

A finger stick to get a blood sample to analyze. Then I keel over like that.

BCH sign

Instantly, Joseph, my nearby night watchman, who was in the clinic, was at my side lifting me to my feet along with Moses, the clinical technician. A gurney was brought, and I laid down for a heads up tour of the hospital corridors.

Bwindi Community Hospital is one of Uganda’s top hospitals. Its staff is experienced and prepared. That a muzungu fainted after losing a drop or two of his own blood did not necessarily constitute an emergency but the response was professional and swift.

My vital signs before and after the incident were normal. The message seems to be to slow down and rest when you can, even on weekends. I’ve been as active as I can be, diving into every opportunity with great expectations. Even teams with the lead call time out.

Like I said last year, if you’re going to have a health issue in Africa, have it at the hospital.

First World Trouble

Been in Uganda more than a month now. Adapting well to the new reality: poor transport over moonscape roads, intermittent wifi, scarce power at times to charge my Apple family of devices.

Now add inability to access lifeblood of cash.

Even here in Bwindi there is a need for currency. I need Ugandan shillings to support the bevy of boda drivers I rely on for quick lifts from my home to the guest house for one of my three squares. More is needed for airtime for my Ugandan cellphone used for chats and texts of plans and schedules. I talk too much it appears.

Saturday morning, Paul and I set out for Kihihi to visit the Stanbic Bank ATM to get large sums of shillings ($100 = 250,000 UGS). Paul is one-half of an Episcopal missionary couple that arrived about the time I did. He and wife, Barbara, have 30-years experience in Africa and elsewhere as long-term workers. They’ll be here for three years!

I arranged for a lift in a hospital vehicle, a Toyota Landcruiser that easily handled the unpaved surface. We got to within 5 miles of Kihihi where we were disgorged and piled onto a boda for the rest of the trip.

It was hardly smooth sailing. Two muzungus behind the driver who took a safari-like shortcut through the brush to get us to our destination.

Arrived safely at the ATM, a familiar spot that I’ve visited several times in the past year. OK, let’s get going then get on our way.


UNABLE TO COMPLETE TRANSACTION shouted the computer screen. Paul tried his Visa card after me and got the same result. We tried other cards, same result. There would be no cash from Stanbic.

My driver friend, Chris, lives in Kihihi, so I summoned him with a call and directed him to take Paul and me to Kunungu where there were two more banks to ply our plastic.

Forty minutes later we were face-to-face with the fact that neither of of the two banks accepted Visa cards. WTF? Visa, the biggest card company of them all, left me with my hands in my empty pockets.

In this land of subsistence living, a couple of Americans frustrated in their attempts to get cash is hardly noteworthy. But it points out the vast cultural differences between guests and hosts.

Residents here work and scrape for any advantage over the daily demand for food, water, heat. Guests, like me, do the best we can under austere conditions but continually look for conveniences of home…

Greetings from Uganda!

Am in my third week here and enjoying every minute. It is amazing to me how comfortable I feel. Familiarity really helps. Am taking some formal Rukiga lessons and have moments where I can riff pretty well….then I forget the simplest responses. Oh, to be human.

Spent weekend in Kabale visiting my friend, an incredible servant and host, Bishop Enoch Kayeeye. I have my own room, with a key, and an invitation to use as often as I like. Move books and clothes here, he says. “You are family.” Wow!

We are planning a week in DRC in early June to visit the Batwa. Should be a great experience.

Life in Bwindi is good. I live in a great house. Well, it is Dr. Scott and Carol Kellermann’s house located in the forest. I will use it until they arrive for the dedication of the Uganda Nursing School-Bwindi next month. The president and prime minister are invited. Hope to get a selfie with Ugandan President Museveni. When Scott departs I’ll return.

I love it here more than I thought. I am blessed each day. I am right where God wants me. Am very happy. An incredible time in my life. While I would love to share this with my mother, Cam, I do feel her presence nearby. She is with me.

Mukama nimarungi….ebiro byona. God is good…all the time.

Authentic African Adventure

It is the rainy season in Southwestern Uganda. Rain was falling gently, but steadily, on Monday. We had a plan to drive 50k to a settlement at Kitariro to inspect furniture made by the Batwa.

Even in the best of conditions, the roads in and around Bwindi are terrible. Rocky, pot-holes, loose footings. There are no gutters along the sides which sends water pouring across our path.

With the rain steadily increasing, I was watching Enos, our administrator, for signs that he might cancel the trip. No such luck.


We set out, three of us on a bench seat in a Toyota pickup. The first minutes were slightly downhill so there were no incidents.

Rounding a bend, the rain intensifying, we saw a large delivery truck, stalled in mud, trying to reach the summit of a small hill. There was room alongside, so Enos decided to press on and see if we could clear this mess.

Once we started the incline, the tires grabbed at the mud-soaked pavement, spinning uselessly at times. We neared the incapacitated truck but the mud suddenly became too much and we were stopped.

Voices clamored about us. Men appeared from nowhere, offering to push our truck for 10000 Uganda shillings, about $5. We declined. Wow. Talk about an epic fail!

Nowhere to go now but back down the hill and try again. Not easy in this quagmire of a road. Chaos. Shouting. Down we went. To the bottom. To try again. In an hour.

In the end, we motored up again, got some manual help when the engine whined and the tires spun to put us over the summit.

We finally got to the Batwa settlement, met some friendly people, saw their woodworking center, then turned for home to retrace our steps.

at kitariro

“In the rainy season, this is to be expected,” Enos told me. I never would have made this trip, thus missing an authentic African adventure.

Life in the Familiar

The drive to Bwindi was the final segment of my 28-hour journey from California to Uganda. Jumbo jets gave way to a prop plane and finally to a four-door sedan. The 40k road to my home was long but not as rough as I remembered.

The green hills and countryside were beautiful. Women, men and children walked along the road, stepping to the side to avoid two or four-wheeled vehicles.

kihihi trip

A year ago, my head was spinning. Everything was new: the people, the language, my routine.

So much is familiar now. It is as if I’ve been away for three weeks…rather than 10 months. My comfort level is high. I am delighted to be back among friends.

As my time here unfolds, I seek new experiences among the familiar. I will visit new communities and revisit others. I will greet friends, and try to remember the names of new faces. I will eat everything put in front of me.

I am in a safe place, aware of my surroundings. I am expectant of a great stay in Uganda and Africa in 2014.

Reflections of Africa

More meaningful to me than the video that I shot for three months were the relationships I made while in Uganda. I was blessed with the company, affection and protection of God’s people there.

As I waited for my delayed luggage to arrive, I had a chance meeting with a retired bishop who would later turn out to be one of my best resources for learning and working with the Batwa Pygmies hundreds of miles away. Bishop Enoch Kayeeye is revered by the Batwa, and who would give up his own seat for this muzungu.

Then there was Barnabas, who was among those who came to fetch me at the airport in February. He became my close friend. A dead-ringer for actor Jamie Foxx, he is good at everything he does, has a great sense of humor, and is a devoted follower of Jesus.

I friended the Rev. David Rurihoona on Facebook before meeting him in April in Kabale. He opened his house to me for two visits and the time spent with him and his family was wonderful. He is a prayer warrior who exists to serve others in Christ.

Through all the adventure and petty annoyances (aka rats), my fellowship with these friends and the Holy Spirit kept me focused and centered.

Bwindi Postscript

Left Bwindi, aka Kellermann-ville, yesterday for Entebbe. Await flight today to Tanzania for more video work and a new chapter of experiences.
Before I left, Bwindi Guest House manager Denis told me I was “best guest” he ever had, due undoubtedly to my patience and humor during endless rodent infestation. Hahaha…

Here and Now

As the hour of my departure from Bwindi grows near, I am already aware of what I will miss when I am gone. The loss will impact all my senses.


Among of the things I like most about being in another country are the sounds, particularly the languages. In Uganda I’ve been exposed to no fewer than four different tongues. Locally, the local Rukiga (ru CHEE ga) language is prevalent, even though English is the official state language. I have learned a few simple phrases, using my ubiquitous iPhone to store responses to typical encounters. At morning devotions, some speakers will default to Rukiga. I may not understand a thing, but I admire their passion for the Lord.

From my room in the guest house, I hear conversations and laughter among the staff. It’s reassuring to me. Fellowship is good. When I traveled to Kasese, the local language was Lukonzo. I made a few entries on my electronic notepad so I could hold my own when greeted. Swahili is spoken throughout East Africa, particularly Kenya, and is used by soldiers here. Other Ugandan dialects help identify from which district the speaker hails.

No matter if I visited north or south of Bwindi, the menu was the same. Rice, beans, matoke (cooked plantain), posho (maize meal), irish potatoes. I’ve eaten everything put in front of me for the past three months. We’ve been served local, fresh fruit each day. The pineapples have been great. I want them regularly on my plate when I return.

Before I arrived I imagined the sounds I would hear from the winged and walking beasts. Bird calls, morning and night dominate. The red-tailed monkey makes a clicking sound when near, and a racket when bounding along the roof. Haven’t heard any gorilla grunts…was unwilling to pay for that privilege. I failed to anticipate the rodents.

The daily thunderstorm portends intense rain pounding on the metal roof. Conversations are muted through the rainy season. I’m fascinated by the downpours and stop what I’m doing to watch as they are so atypical of my California experience.


The women of Africa have to be among the most hard-working in the world. With babies wrapped to their backs, they cultivate the fields. They fetch the water. They collect wood for the fire. They transport almost everything atop their heads, with perfect balance and grace and, frequently, no shoes. It’s an iconic image of Africa…and one that never gets old.

I close my eyes and imagine I am anywhere. My ears and heart betray that indifference. This is the here and now of Uganda.

Modern African Family

Throughout Africa, many generations live together. In this photo, the son sits next to his mother. He dresses like any Western teen, will work hard at what he can get. The mother does much of the domestic work, cleaning and cooking, filling water jars. The daughter-in-law nurses her young child before she helps with work around the family compound.

There are babies everywhere. The Ugandan family has 6.7 children per household, an unsustainable number. The Bwindi Community Hospital conducts regular family planning outreach to nearby communities.

african family courtyard

This scene was captured moments after lunch was served to me and my host, who was visiting his wife’s family.

Angels Are Everywhere

When I left home in February for three months in the Pearl of Africa, I was confident that I would be safe. I have taken reasonable precautions and have not been concerned about my physical safety. I am a prayerful person and believe in a faithful God that will lead me to secure places.

Having said that, today I got an email from the US Embassy reminding American citizens in Uganda of the “importance of practicing strong personal security habits. Regional terror groups including al Qaeda and al-Shabaab continue to threaten U.S. interests and other potential targets in Uganda.”

OK. Got it.


Today, traveling to Buhoma from Kabale through the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, I had a real-life brush with death. It had been raining all morning and the dilapidated roads were especially muddy. My trusted Ugandan driver, Chris, with whom I have driven up and down the western side of the country without incident, slid into a right hand turn that took us right to the brink of an embankment. We had barely a yard to spare, the car poised on top of a shear drop and a certain demise.

I exhaled and said to Chris and Luke, our young Ugandan passenger, that God’s angels were surrounding us, confident of each and every syllable. They agreed.

No State Department emails or proclamations from the USA can protect me from my fate, but a healthy faith can tame the anxieties and allows me to walk confidently with God.