Shared Sorrow

The women come. They walk. They sit. For hours. Honoring the dead.

Last week I witnessed a beautiful cultural spectacle in Uganda. A community leader, and a friend, was killed in a bus accident. The sudden tragic loss of the Rev. Canon Enos Komunda shocked and mobilized the community,

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Above, Bishop Dan Zoreka looks out over mourners gathered outside home of late Enos Komunda

I arrived at the family home with my wife hours after receiving news of his death. By then there were several hundred women and men sitting quietly inside and outside the home, in a vigil of support.

Hundreds more were preparing for the funeral service and burial the next day. They would come on foot from their villages and homes, a trip that would take hours, to participate in this community send off. Committees were formed to provide chairs, tents and food for the huge crowd.

Life in Uganda is simple and hard. There are few distractions to daily subsistence living. The people value family, community, fellowship, sharing sorrows. It is something to behold.

Whose Life is This?

I thought I was managing well early on. Focused on sports as a youngster. Got myself educated, practiced journalism. Read sports on TV for a time. Thought I was on my way.

That was before I learned it’s one thing to ask God to bless your plans. It is another to have him show you his. They’re already blessed.

Decades after my TV sports career ended, I’m happier and more focused than ever. Not without trials or doubt but through faith I am being taught some valuable lessons.

One of God’s greatest disciplines is that of patience. Our quest for instant gratification is humbled when we get a glimpse of the eternal timepiece.

God’s time meets our expectations.

bp enoch preach

In Ecclesiastes 3, the writer says “everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses.” He has set the right time for everything.

Why wait until my sixth decade to find this peace that passes understanding? Couldn’t he help me out 20-30 years ago?

Today, in Kabale, Uganda, I accompanied Bishop Enoch to a funeral. I was not looking forward to the event. Funerals here are usually very long, four- hour affairs in which one is seated throughout.

We drove a short distance to where the funeral service would be held. Shade tents and chairs were set, but few people were about. The deceased’s brother, known as “The Professor,” was nowhere to be found. We waited about 45 minutes before returning home for lunch. We’ll try again later.

After lunch, I was anxious about going back. It will be too long, I fretted.

Off we went.

My worldly view of things is not God’s view of things. I may have been anxious but God had other plans. I entered a small house and sat with nearly a dozen women, mourners and supporters for about 15 minutes. I greeted them with my Rukiga, to which they responded.

A bit later we went to meet “The Professor,” to negotiate the order of the service. He spoke very good English, greeted me with interest and asked where I was from. Turns out he has been to Sacramento on several occasions.

We all headed to the tents where several hundred people awaited us. I took a seat in the second row; the only muzungu in the crowd, a distinction I appreciate and to which I am accustomed.

Fellowship and understanding were the order of my day from God’s view. Whereas I was apprehensive at first, it turned out to be a blessed time for me, joining those in attendance.

I never expected to have such a rich life of experiences in Africa but this is not my life. God’s plan for me is to see and experience, share and grow with his people halfway around the world from home.

I’ll never settle for anything less.

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.

Throttle Up…

I lost my mother recently. A longtime family friend emailed me today and asked how I was and whether I was accepting of Cam’s sudden demise.

I feel pretty good but I think the loss is significant in ways I can’t yet explain. Unlike my father, David, with whom we had time to make our peace, this unexpected event really blindsided me, us. It represents closure, my parents are gone. Time is fleeting, time to be bold.

I had decided, through prayer, to double down, or throttle up, on my foreign mission work in 2014. It’s already happening with my trip to Jordan in January. Sent my Passport to DC today, to the Ugandan embassy, seeking visa for return trip. Amazingly, thanks to blessings from above, and naturally occurring relationships, it will be bigger and more productive than last year.

I’ve always had God in my life, always had dreams, always confident even if a bit timid or reticent. Now I am in alignment with his plans. I am ready, willing, able and determined. Throttle up.