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Saturday, March 31, 2018

Honoring Dr. Jonah Kule: Easter Saturday and Aching Liminality

Ten years ago, our dear friend and colleague died in an Ebola epidemic that struck our area as we worked together.  We did not.  So today Scott was invited to address the Federation of Ugandan Medical Student Associations at their annual general assembly at Makerere University, to give a memorial lecture challenging students to follow Dr. Jonah’s footsteps of service and sacrifice.  
pre-lecture, with Biira (center) and Masika (right), Jonah's two oldest daughters

His two oldest daughters, who were 12 and 15 at the time of his death, attended with us, along with two of our “kids” John Balitebiya who grew up as our next-door neighbor, and Dr. Katuramu Tadeo whom we embraced when he was Luke’s classmate at Christ School.  We had an absolutely lovely dinner with the handful of our young people from Bundi who are still in Kampala area in school the night before, a real vision of the Kingdom of Jesus coming to earth as these former orphans grow into their roles as doctor, nurse, business administrator, accountant, banker, lawyer, development director.

Dinner celebrating some of our favorite 20-somethings

John and Dr. Katuramu joined Jonah's daughters and us for the lecture

The leadership of the medical student association intentionally wanted to bring a message of outreach and integrity to their fellow students.  And we were grateful for the opportunity to address about 150 student leaders from multiple schools across the country.
soon-to-be doctor student leader Meddy thanking Scott for coming with a certificate of appreciation

Scott taught a bit about the biology of Ebola and the reality of an epidemic response, detailing the way the epidemic unfolded, the investigation, the published results.

But the bulk of the talk was about remembering Dr. Jonah, about his character, about his story, about his faith.  Scott talked about how we as doctors handle such a tragedy, and how we interpret God's work through a lens of faith.  He ended with Micah 6:8:  do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God, a life guide for all these future doctors.

Though we’re all smiling in this pre-lecture photo, the memories of the day were poignant, and some quiet tears were shed on our supportive front row.  Afterwards we sat with the four from Bundibugyo having tea and continuing to remember their father and mentor with more stories, stories they barely remembered as children but appreciate now as young adults.

And as we said goodbye, Scott read aloud today's devotion's last paragraph: “On the way from death to life, there is Saturday. Sabbath day. Rest. How do you rest when your world falls apart? You rest in the restlessness. I know that's demanding; more demanding than we'd like. But that's the nature of living along the aching liminality of Holy Saturday. Our transition from death to life, through the breath-taking disorientation of Holy Saturday, into the shocking gasp of hope on Resurrection Sunday.”

So appropriate that this lecture and this visit occurred today, on the achingly liminal Saturday that represents all of history between Jesus and Heaven.  Our worlds fell apart ten years ago, yet we live in the shocking hope that tomorrow’s resurrection will redeem us all.

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