Before long, however, he'd been escorted to a front-row seat in the "religious leaders'" section. And then assigned to give the opening prayer! So a week before we are to leave, Scott found himself in the center of Bundibugyo in front of a few thousand people and the President of Uganda, praying for God's blessing on this place, and for integrity in leadership. Such a prayer is not just a token speech. It is a real opportunity for impact, for good, for change, for the Spirit. I decided at the last minute to join the Johnsons and the Anna's in driving up to town, but we arrived late (the Johnson-mobile seems to have caught the dread flat-tire-every-outing disease we struggled with for so long). As we stood on the fringes of the crowd we listened to President Museveni speak in Runyankole and Rutooro, related languages to the local one here but a bit more difficult for us to follow. He stood on a platform on the back of a truck, wearing his characteristic floppy sun hat and a dark suit, relaxed, making jokes, enjoying the crowd, telling proverbs and emphasizing his points. The masses were kept at bay by well armed soldiers and careful protocol. We were just enjoying the scene, seeing Scott sitting up front. But my ears perked up when Museveni started talking about ebola. He turned around and pointed at Scott and said "yes, and then I called Dr. Scott and talked to him about it . . ."
Well, let me tell you that if you live in Bundibugyo you are pretty excited when the PRESIDENT mentions someone you know by name, and even admits to having talked to him. Our friends took it as a personal affirmation that the President knows their doctor.
And I have to say that we asked again for prayer this morning, because it's been a hard week. Scott went into the day very discouraged by a combination of things (issues with CSB staff, loose ends on contracts, the oxygen concentrator dying, the already-evident dip in morale at the hospital and exodus of patients, struggling to lift a bunch of trunks into an attic and finding more stuff there that we thought we'd already cleared out, sadness of throwing away files that represent years of work, that kind of thing). He told the team he was in a "funk". So we sent a quick pray-now request to a short list of people. And what an unexpected answer, to be allowed to pray for the country and to be affirmed by its leader. Doesn't God do the most out-of-the-box things to answer prayers??
At the end of the ceremony we all stood to sing the Ugandan National Anthem as President Museveni left. It made me teary again. "Oh Uganda, may God uphold thee . . ." , singing the familiar words with thousands of people, and really meaning it, and knowing we won't be in the middle of such days again for a long time, if ever.