Josh is the “new guy” who is supposed to be orienting to life in Africa and frontier water engineering. Since he’s living alone as the only single guy, we invited him for dinner Sunday night. As we sat down to the table he mentioned a rumor he had heard that our district’s Chief Administrative Officer (the CAO pronounced “COW” by everyone here) was about to be transferred. Now, I can’t explain how Josh knew this juicy but of political insider intrigue, but we immediately realized that God had sent us the information in the nick of time. The CAO is the only one able to write Jonah’s official appointment letter to Nyahuka Health Center. Remember he (Jonah) left a couple of weeks ago in frustration and disgust when the district refused to pay him, and then there was the seemingly miraculous confluence of events where the Belgian medical consultant invited us to a district meeting in which we were able to advocate for Jonah, which ended in the entire group mobilizing that afternoon to arrange the proper pay and appointment. But Jonah took his time in Kampala. Late last week he sent a message saying he was ready to come. When we heard from Josh Sunday night we realized that the window of opportunity might be permanently closing before Jonah could ever arrive.
Monday was a national holiday, and Scott was unable to contact the CAO in spite of sitting through the usual ceremonial speeches of the day. But early Tuesday morning he went up to Bundibugyo again. There was the CAO, sitting at his desk with neat stacks of paper, waiting for his deputy to come so he could sign out for good. He was leaving, run out on a rail by those whose interests he crossed. Scott asked for Jonah’s letter, he instructed a secretary to get the file off the computer and go print it, and told Scott to wait. Though this administrative officer had hesitated greatly about appointing Jonah (he was under a lot of pressure not to do so) I guess by yesterday he had nothing left to lose. He told Scott, if the secretary returned before the deputy arrived for the hand-over, he’d sign the letter. That’s how close it was, the whole future of Jonah in Bundibugyo hanging by a thread. Scott called me and I called together some of the team to pray. After more than an hour neither the secretary nor the deputy had come. Scott investigated and found the secretary had left her office locked, disappeared for the day. Another attempt to passively obstruct the process? So Scott reported this to the CAO who hand-wrote a letter, had it typed by a different secretary, signed it, and gave it to Scott to give to Jonah.
Jonah says he will arrive Monday and start work on Tuesday. We asked for prayer from 2 Cor 4: since we’ve received mercy, we don’t lose heart. I admit that my heart has been nearly lost in this process, but the dramatic timing of this latest cascade of events (starting with Josh who had no idea what he was even telling us) smacks of mercy through and through. The eight dog-bitten people are getting their tortuous series of vaccines which Scott brought back, and we expect results on the dog’s brain by Friday. One of the patients I had felt so bad about having “died” on Friday came back alive yesterday—very sick, but not dead, so there is still hope there. And I am pursuing the possibility that Kabasunguzi’s symptoms are all related to schistosomiasis, so in spite of her terrible condition we are also not giving up on her. Ndyezika has shown a calm determination to persevere and will probably go back to school soon. The battle has been very immediate, a hand-to-hand struggle this week, going one way and then the other. We’ve been hard pressed . . . and yet not crushed. Our thread has been stretched, but we’re still hanging.