Since we landed in Bundibugyo in the midst of an unsettled moment between the two tribes here, Scott took the opportunity to preach at Christ School and at Bundimulinga using the parable of the Good Samaritan. A timely story about loving your neighbor, inheriting the kingdom by acting mercifully towards a perceived enemy who is in need. Tribalism, as he pointed out, is a reality of the human heart all over the world. None of us can overcome the tendency to divide, to prefer our own kin, to sacrifice an enemy for the preservation of our own land and family.
Yet as one of the RVA teachers preached this passage a few weeks ago, the Gospel reality of the story is that we are not the noble foreign risk-taking Samaritan. We aren't even the busy stuffy purity focused priest or Levite. We are the man in the ditch, unable to love our neighbor, desperate and broken and failing. It is only the compassion of Jesus that pulls us out; he pays the cost of our healing so we are alive and free and able to love neighbors who are enemies. Peace between the Babwisi/Baamba and the Bakonjo can only come from those who have already been pulled out of the ditch by grace, and empowered to extend that grace to others.
This was a powerful and timely message for this day.
So two services, dozens of hand-clapping energetic praise songs in three or four languages, a hundred handshakes, and six hours later ....we felt well churched. Isingoma and christine gave us a tour of the new biogas project which turns human waste into methane gas that can be piped into a large burner for cooking. We had lunch with Scott Ickes and his college student intern Tim, visited our old cows and played with the Johnson's dogs, welcomed three more young American mission visitors (this team is doing an incredible job of hospitality with 11 visitors hosted by 3 long term folks), walked down to nyahuka for dinner with Melen (who is a legendary cook and a true friend), and hung out with the interns a bit.
These days are a full, full, rich platter of steaming matoke and firm hugs. I can't believe how many people ask specifically about each of our children by name, how many stop and exclaim when they see us, genuinely happy. Or how beautiful it was to hug two of the girls who grew up with Julia at church today. Or to laugh with the wiry old ironer who loves to joke with Scott in Swahili. Or to see a woman who started coming to church after the nutrition program rescued her malnourished twins, still there four years later, with her boys. Or the way the younger people now lead the service and worship.
Yes, there is change. The road is a massive leveling scar through town, with rumbling trucks and loaders and backhoes at work every day. Electric lights shine in the dark night now. The music at both services included microphones and speakers. Some of the kids had praise-dancing moves that were more MTN than traditional. But I'm more struck by how much is the same, how many people are so familiar, how right it feels to be back.