African Christmas

Christmas in Africa. A heckuva lot different from any other I’ve spent. So much day-to-day existence it’s hard for me to see trappings of the season. A few decorated trees. Strains of “Joy To the World” heard now and again.


Am here in Kabale, Uganda, with my adopted family. Sons, daughters and grandchildren expected here over next few days. It’ll be noisy, perhaps chaotic…just like home in USA.

Been invited to a Christmas Day service at a small village church near Bwindi Gorilla Haven, our hotel project. Dirt floors, mud walls, loads of spirit and energy make up the worship space. I expect this to be a highlight event!

Got a card yesterday from my son, Dan, that made my day. Takes a bit of planning to get a card or gift here or there. Plan on two weeks.

My faith keeps me company this Christmas. So many memories and traditions that I’ve followed for decades.

This year am surrounded by friends and the unfamiliar, pleased with a playlist of Christmas carols.

Nohiri nungi. Merry Christmas.
Obusingye bube naiwe omu mwaka. Peace be with you in the new yea (Rukiga)

Krismasi. Amani na iwe nanyi katika mwaka mpya. Merry Christmas. Peace be with you in the new year. (Swahili)

Merry Christmas everyone!

‘Voice of Kigezi’ Radio

For the second time in a year, I was a guest on “Voice of Kigezi” radio, representing African International Christian Ministry of Kabale. The Sunday morning program is broadcast to five countries in sub-Saharan Africa, reaching a potential audience of more than 10 million listeners.

voice kigezi

Mwebale munonga. Mukama asiimwe. (Thank you very much. Praise God)

Amazina gangye ndi Patrick Hill (My name is Patrick Hill)

Ninduga California USA omuri America. (I come from California USA in America)

Nkija hanu omwaka oguwire. Neshemwerwire munonga. (I was here last year. I feel very happy)

Nakunda Mukama. Nyine omwana w’omowjo. (I love the Lord. I have a grown son)

Ndenda kusima munywani wangye Bishop Enoch Kayeeye ahabw’omugisha ogu kugamba ninwe akasheshe aka. Mukama asiimwe munonga. (I want to thank my good friend Bishop Enoch Kayeeye for this opportunity to speak to you this morning. Praise the Lord)

Ndikutura omuri Kabale kandi ndabasa kumara emyaka eshatu. Ndikukora na AICM. (I am living in Kabale and hope to stay for three years while working with AICM)

Ogu ni interpreter wangye…Patience….Agandi, nyabo…. (Here is my interpreter, Patience. Good day..)

Ndikwegw’orukiga. (I am learning Rukiga)

I would like to deliver this message entirely in Rukiga.

The Lord has blessed me in many ways…but speaking Rukiga is not yet one of them.

Among the appointed readings today is Psalm 51, verses 1-13, a lamentation of David.

David cries for mercy from God for what has happened. He confesses his sins and seeks forgiveness.

David had just been rebuked by his friend Nathan for killing Uriah the Hittite in order to take his wife, Bathseba.

In this famous story, found in 2 Samuel 11, David schemes against Uriah..and sends him into the front lines of a battle where he is killed.

David has relations with Bathsheba, who bears him a son. But his actions displeased the Lord.

The Lord struck the child ill…and after seven days, it died.

In our lives today we can sometimes get involved in activities not been seen by our friends and neighbours, yet God sees all things.

Our attitudes and pride may prevent us from confessing our sins.

So it is left to another. A family member or a friend to confront us.

That is what Nathan did to David.

Nathan told David a story, of two men in a certain town, one rich, and one poor.

The rich man had a large number of sheep and cattle.

The poor man had one little ewe lamb. It ate and slept in his arms like a daughter.

A traveler came to the rich man, Nathan said.

The rich man did not take one of his own sheep or cattle to feed the traveler.

Instead he took the ewe from the poor man and prepared it for the traveler.

At hearing this story, David was outraged. “Surely this man must die because he had no pity,” he said.

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”

The Lord God of Israel anointed you king over Israel, delivered you from Saul.

Yet you despise the Lord by doing what is evil in his sight.

“I have sinned against the Lord,” David told Nathan.

“You are not going to die, the Lord has taken away your sin,” Nathan replied.

“But the son born to you will die.”

In Psalm 51, David cries mercy and forgiveness:

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love.

according to your great compassion, blot out my transgressions.

Wash away all my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.

Against you you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.

So you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.

Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

Cleanse me with hyssop and I will be clean, wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Let me hear joy and gladness, let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.

Create in my a pure heart O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.

David’s salvation seems complete in verse 13 when he says “I will teach
transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.”

Throughout, David speaks to God with intimate language. He writes many psalms. Surely he knows the Lord.

The Lord knows David’s heart. He hears his prayers. Despite his sin, he is beloved.

David returns to Bathsheba who bears him a son, Solomon.

David would have many conquests after the incident.

In our lives today, sin is destructive.

It can destroy relationships, marriages, families.

But turning to God with a repentant heart can bring healing, as it did to David.

This is my third visit to Uganda in three years. I am very happy to be here.

When I arrived two years ago I knew no one. But I was not alone.

My relationship with God provided me a fellowship with the Holy Spirit.

And I was fortunate to find Christian communities where I also had instant fellowship.

And for those listening to me now, while we may never meet….

we have a relationship through our love of Jesus Christ. We are in fact brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Mukama asiimwe. Asiimwe munonga. Mukama nimarungi. Ebiro byona.


Morning Devotions

Every place I’ve visited has a morning assembly for prayers and songs. At the Bwindi Community Hospital, staff and guests gather each morning for worship and a short homily.

In Kabale, at the Vocational Training College, students and administrators sing praises before a speaker reflects on scripture verses.

Today, the speaker failed to show. So what next? Dismiss the students to their classes? Heavens, no! The worship shall continue.

Africa, as you can image, has great worship. There is singing and dancing, drums, claps, howls and whistles of joy. As we waited for the speaker, more students stepped forward to join the worship leaders.

The result was a fabulous jam of music and praise. It went on and on..with great enthusiasm that touches the heart. My smiles were punctuated by tears. It was loud. It was wonderful.

Everyone had the songs etched in their heart. No music sheets or overhead screens, but unabashed voices, praising harmonically.

Every tribe and culture has its own worship style. You feel it here. It is ecstatic. It is fun.

Tomorrow I step up as speaker as the dancing stops. I shall be on time. Scripture is Matt 13:54-end. A Prophet Without Honor. Kind of hits close to home for me.

Sometimes I allow myself a sentimental moment to look back. Kind of amazing what I’ve given up to get here.

Before I get too carried away though, my vision returns to the spectacular scene the Lord has set before me. I cannot spare any time looking back. It is all ahead of me. Oh, how blessed I am.

Sunday in Kampala

Sundays are the best days in Kampala. The headache-inducing traffic jams the other six days in the capital city are not present this day. It is easy and fast to get around. A relief.

Today was my first Sunday back in Uganda. Worship day. I took a Matatu (taxi) about 10 miles to downtown Kampala to attend Watoto church, an uptempo church of the word that reminds me of Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago and an Assemblies of God meeting. Lots of energy, great worship…and a time clock that keeps the service at about 1:45, because they must clear the house to get the next group of enthused worshippers in their place.


I visited Watoto last year. A friend took me today. As we were walking through a small village to get to the taxi stand, a mother was outside, washing her crying two-year-old. The child wouldn’t stop and the mother, after glancing at me, told the child (in Luganda), “If you are not quiet, the muzungu will take you!” At that, the child stopped crying immediately!

It has been warm here, in the 80s with humidity. It wants to rain, but hasn’t. The heat hasn’t stopped mosquitoes seeking my sweet, muzungu blood. Fortunately, I packed a couple of bed nets to keep them mostly away. I can hear their whine (and cry) as they probe for weaknesses in the mesh. The deadly anopheles mosquito flies quietly and at night. So far have not met up with them.

It is good to be back. I feel comfortable and supported by many friends. I have been meeting people in town as a “mule” to deliver gifts and items on their behalf. On Tuesday, a Ugandan friend I met three years ago in South Sudan will come pick me and drive me to his home in Kasese. I’ve enjoyed his family’s hospitality the past two years. We will also discuss some projects of his, from supporting scholarships from primary school students to women’s micro-finance projects. Then it will be to Bwindi for a couple of days before settling four hours further south in Kabale.

Had to rely on patience and faith to get me here. My reliable driver was late in collecting me Tuesday morning. As a result I missed the 6 a.m. flight out of Sacramento. An agent put me on a 6:20 a.m. flight to Houston that would connect to Newark where I would pick up my scheduled itinerary.

It was snowing with freezing rain in Newark. That flight was delayed three hours as we joined a lineup of jets for de-icing. When we arrived in Brussels, five of us had 20 minutes to make the next flight to Uganda. Nope. So we were rerouted through Istanbul, Turkey, which looked pretty nice near the Mediterranean and Black seas. Wheels down in Uganda at 3:45 a.m. about five hours behind schedule.

Before I left, I wired $10,000 to my account in Uganda on behalf of Team in Faith to be used for grants and gifts, ranging from church roofs in Congo to materials for primary schools. It will be a powerful experience for me to make these grants on behalf of TIF and the generous gifts of donors.

God is here, the holy spirit is present in all my activities. Am blessed and thankful to be in this position.

Mukama nimarungi. Good is good.
Ebiro byona. All the time.

Support education and health care projects in Uganda at

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.

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.

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.

Check Mates

If life were a chess match, I was king for a day.

I’ve been in Kabale, about 90 hard kms from Bwindi, for a brief road trip to video a primary school run by a Northern California NGO.

As a bonus, I visited three Anglican bishops, including a couple of retired mitre-heads I previously met. All were generous in spirit and hospitality. Check.

My host, chauffeur and FB friend, David, is an archdeacon in the local Diocese of Kigezi. We began the day by visiting retired Bishop William Rukirande. We met in 1996 when I was editing “The Missionary” (how appropriate) for Bishop Jerry Lamb in the Diocese of Northern California. Bishop William attended the diocesan convention in Redding as a representative of our companion diocese in Uganda.

bp william

I never forgot the name or his gap-toothed smile and being a few easy kms from his home decided to make a visit. Now in his 80s, Rukirande appears fit and relaxed. I told him several times how good he looked. His comfortable home sits on eight acres of grazeland for his 30 cows.

He and his wife served a fruit salad followed by obushera, a sorghum porridge that is, well, decidedly, not delicious.


After photos and goodbyes, it was off for the school for orphans. We were met outside by delightful kindergarteners, chanting and singing for us. An assembly of P1-P5 students greeted us with song and introductions. I got nice video from these poised pupils.

We ended the day with a short drive to see retired Bishop Enoch Kayeeye. He was one of the first people I met when I arrived in Kampala in mid-February. I could see him coming from a mile away, given his bishop’s outfit, topped by the distinctive fuschia-colored shirt.

I neglected to call to inform him of my visit so my arrival to his house was a surprise. He is a delightful man, very welcoming. We had a nice conversation and when he mentioned his work with the Batwa pygmies, I called time out.

“Can I get my camera and tripod from the car?,” I asked. He agreed and 17 minutes after I asked my first and only question, we adjourned for refreshments.

Across three continents I carried a letter of introduction from my local bishop, Barry Beisner, to Bishop George Katwesigye.

bp george

We met in his office at the Kigezi diocese’s headquarters, on a hill overlooking Kabale. He has been to Northern California several times and we have several mutual friends. We spoke of our respective ministries and discussed issues facing the church in Uganda and the US.

Like the others, he was gracious and welcoming and invited me to join him for a meal my next time in Kabale, which is likely to come in the next few weeks.

None of these visits was planned before I arrived in Uganda but through providence and prayer, friendships were strengthened and fellowship was shared.

Check mates…..