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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Two Pictures at Dusk

This evening Scott and I went to visit our neighbor, Tabaka, the 82 year old brother of the late John Mukiddi. These two men had been fatherly figures in our lives here, our elders, claiming us in their clan. Tabaka now has cancer which seems to have spread to his spine, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. Neither of his wives were anywhere to be found. He lay naked save a towel, in a room dimly lit by a partially-covered single opening, alone in a house made of dirt, with a few pieces of cloth and a tin of milk and not much else. But as we entered, he carried on a long and cheerful conversation, about how blessed he was to see us one more time, about his past travels, about his current condition, about our kids. Here is a man who is slowly passing into death, but asking about Luke's course of study at Yale. No pain-killing drugs, no hospice nurses, no therapy, no senior citizen program, no insurance, no equipment, no bathroom . . . but also no complaint. Somehow that juxtaposition captured something of the privilege of this reality: starkly stalking death, without pretense of immortality, but a courage of spirit and a welcome to us. And his impending death, following Mukiddi's, one more loss, one more thread that ties us to Bundibugyo being cut.

Half an hour later, a few meters away, back at our house, the pizza oven glowing with coals, the team gathered. Floury hands, conversations flowing, rolling pins rattling, the pizzas sliding in and out of the oven, steaming hot, dripping cheese. Isingoma, the new headmaster, joins us with his oldest son and one of our "kids" Birungi, and later his wife Christine just arriving from Hoima. Our neighbor Asita shows up with her son, and Anna's parents are here for a visit too, so the group is large and hungry and production and consumption continue well into the darkness. There are stories and stargazing, and later Caleb pulls out his guitar and plays.

Being away and coming back, re-affirms for us: this is NOT AN EASY PLACE TO LIVE. Perhaps it is one of the hardest I know of (Caleb pointed out that Kijabe is for wimpy missionaries, but assured us that's OK for a while). Sin is everywhere, but I believe there is some geography to the intensity of the spiritual struggle. In light of that, these two pictures represent staying power. The human connection with neighbors and the suspension of the battle for an evening of relaxation with team. Please pray that this team would be graced with both those cords to bind them to Bundi.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

so homesick...