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.

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.

Nope.

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.