Make new friends, but keep ye old,
One is silver and the other gold.
This was a chorus we used to sing as children, and it appropriately introduces the last 2 days. The dedication of the New Testament became a central rallying point to draw some of the old-guard back to Bundibugyo. Dan, Paul & Lynn, Pat and Rich were all on the team when we arrived in 1993, and the Tabb family joined when the Bensons had to leave, with the Massos soon after. Edward Isingoma and Christine have served at various times, most recently as Head Teacher at CSB, and now returned to their church and school work in Hoima. With four Myhres, that made 20 of us former Bundibugyo team types who spent the extended weekend in Bundibugyo for the party, then met together at Kingfisher West just outside Queen Elizabeth National Park. We realized that the focus in-district appropriately needed to be on the Luwisi translation, our Ugandan friends, the current team. And we were no small hassle to accommodate. So we planned a brief time together afterwards just to renew our friendships and relax. Meals and conversations, splashing in the pool, watching the sunset, and a circle of prayer in which we praised God for all the ebenezers of reaching this point and prayed for each other and the many friends who could not come.
There is something about the fires of trial that forges community. A few of us were friends in college and that was the nucleus of the team that set out to establish a Kingdom outpost in a place of suffering, specifically seeking out this language to encode and translate and preserve. But most of the missionary community adds and subtracts and morphs with people who might be quite diverse, and not natural acquaintances. Yet we learn to lean on each other, to understand each other, to pull for each other, and in that commitment and over those years we form some bonds that are not easily replaced or replicated.
And we still do. I am thankful for the ways this group has loved us well, cared for our kids, prayed us through many difficulties, been FOR us. In this we know the love of Christ.