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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Lubwisi New Testament Celebration: The Return (part 2)

Wednesday evening, we drove the new smooth amazing beautiful pristine wide spacious road into Bundibugyo.  In the 17 years we lived here, not one of those adjectives applied.  But as soon as we left, a Chinese construction company won a contract to change the worst road in the world into one of the best.  Rather than harrowing switchbacks of mud, the road now stretches gently around the northern spur of the Rwenzories and back down into the valley on the other side where we lived.  Baboons on the roadside, towering trees, the same piles of oranges at Milo Mukagha, the army barracks, the schools spilling out uniformed children, the carpenters making chairs, the dark shadow of the mountain range fringed by clouds . . . so much was the same.  Yet in the two years since our last visit, much had changed too.  Huge water tanks for a brand new water system parallel to the one Micheal built in the late 90's will provide much larger quantities of water, CHLORINATED, for a growing town.  The once chaotic pile of dukas and houses that was Nyahuka is now divided up into paved blocks.  A brand new petrol station, new school buildings, new signs.  The landmarks came up too fast, the travel was too easy.

A meal and a visit, and a night in the little room we built for guests between our two containers as massive thunderstorms moved in.  And then a day of the peculiar mix of relational intensity and feeling at home, as we moved about greeting people, stopping in homes, exchanging news, exclaiming over children.  We walked down to the health center where we worked for so long; perhaps the highlight was to find one of our original Mother and Child Survival Project nurses, Margaret, in her sharp white uniform working in a well-cleaned Maternity ward.  Yeah.  Other favorites, the quick amazement as recognition washes over someone, the hugs, the exclamations, the handshakes, the "webale webale" over and over (thank you, thank you, and often applied to Jack who was definitely a huge hit . . there is something beautiful about the way the people consider our growing healthy kids to be something of value, something of pride for this place, something they are part of and enjoy).  The choir of students at Christ School who sang us about five songs, in the rain, welcoming us.  The neat new signs around the school, organized offices, sharp uniforms. The new building going up, a HUGE new assembly area.  The Books for Bundi library, which now contains all our kids' old books and five times as many others from donations.  Shelves all around the walls, bright paint, colorful curtains, and a pack of little boys turning pages and looking at stories.  Alanna invited me to read a book, I reached for a familiar one about the world God made, and saw the dedication:  to Luke for his 2nd birthday, from Aunt Janie and Uncle Steve and Emma.  Sweet.  Not so favorites: visiting a few friends and finding them thin, weak, frail.  Jack's massive reaction to insects, horrible welts.  The bittersweet nature of missing all those books which are like familiar friends.  The pediatric ward looking rather dingy.  However, on a positive note, the health center was bustling with more activity than we had expected from the rumors.

The day ended with a massive pizza party at the Stevens' (our old house).  24 visitors and 27 team, basins of dough, kids running and jumping all over Jack and Julia, sun suffusing the horizon with pink, conversations shifting and flowing.  As darkness deepened Michael asked the Tabbs and Rich Benson to tell the story of the translation project.  How they connected with us and each other, their challenges along the way, the long struggle over how many vowels and how many different 'b' sounds.  The interruptions of war.  The losses along the way.  And how it all comes to this point, 25 years later, awaiting the dedication of the New Testament.  We ended the evening praying for the Word to go out, for the love of Jesus to be known.

Tomorrow the big party!

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