January 12, 2008

Viva Uganda!

I am back – safe and sound – from 12 days traveling through Uganda. My fellow missionary Matt and I went to visit our colleague John, who is working in Gulu, Uganda. Gulu is in the north of the country and was/is the center of the government’s war against the rebellious Lord’s Resistance Army. John is working for the Diocese of Northern Uganda trying to minister to some of the internally-displaced people who live around Gulu and former child soldiers who’ve been abducted at some point in the last 20 years.

Jesse, John, Matt

Put simply, the trip was a terrific time. I saw a good deal of a beautiful country with friendly, welcoming people, caught up with my friends, discussed mission, marched for peace, danced in the new year with Ugandans, dodged a charging elephant (not quite, but, you know…), was pulled over by the military, and had my eyes opened even wider to some of the wonderful diversity of this great continent. It’s hard to describe now the impact this trip has had on me – I think that will become clear only with time – but it was tremendously influential. My thanks to the good people of Alaska, whose wisdom in creating the Permanent Fund helped fund part of the trip.

In place of reflection on the trip, herewith a day-by-day recount of the highlights for those of you so interested. You might not want to read it all at once. (John has also posted a substantially shorter version of the first few days of our time together)

Day 1 – Friday, December 28
Our missionary friend Stephen drops Matt and I off at the Port Elizabeth airport early in the morning. Stephen and his mother are on their way to Cape Town for New Year’s and we had dinner together last night. Our travel is smooth and I spend a long layover in Jo-burg salivating over all the books in the international departure terminal, though I buy nothing. I marvel at the destinations listed on the departures screen – Manzini! Maseru! Mauritius! – and make a mental list of places to go next.

Our flight to Uganda is smooth and I walk across the tarmac of Entebbe airport trying not to think about Israeli commandos. We have a bit of a hiccup at customs as we don’t have visas and the 20 U.S. dollars, 10 Canadian dollars, and couple hundred South African rand in my wallet aren’t enough to get me in. But the agent lets me through to an ATM and stamps my passport once I hand over the 90-thousand Ugandan shillings, about 50 U.S. dollars.

John is waiting for us outside with a friend who lives in Kampala, Rev. Ali. We return to Ali’s house and I am immediately struck by how many people are out on the streets after dark. In South Africa, people head inside once the sun sets.

Rev. Ali and his family have only been in their house for three weeks and it is very much a work in progress. The floors are still concrete and there appears to be only one lightbulb in the whole place. John, Matt, and I pull out our headlamps and set up camp on the floor. It’s just like a slumber party except we sleep under mosquito nets. Sleeping under a mosquito net makes me feel vaguely royal.

Over dinner, I begin to try to learn a few words in Luo, the dominant African language in Gulu. Despite my best efforts over the course of the entire trip, the only word I remember is “pi” (pronounced like our “pee”), which means water. This still strikes me as funny even now.

Day 2 – Saturday, December 29
We are up before the sun and Ali gives us a ride to the post office where we’ll catch the post bus to Gulu. Not for the last time, I marvel at how quickly the equatorial sun rises and how quickly it gets hot. Before we leave we get a nice view from Ali’s place over some of the rolling hills of Kampala to Lake Victoria.

The drive into Kampala is eye-opening and puts in perspective some of the chaos of Mthatha I deal with every day. In between the swerving boda-bodas (motorcycle taxis), minibus taxis, private cars, street vendors, and other actors all creating a chaotic commute, I see newspaper headlines trumpeting Raila Odinga’s apparent victory in the Kenyan presidential elections. Ali spots them too and says, “I really admire Kenya. Soon they will have two ex-presidents living in their country. In Uganda, everything is by the gun.” (Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, seized power by force in 1986 and has been around ever since. His picture is everywhere, not in a Stalin-esque way but in a tasteful, restrained, an-8-by-10-picture-is-on-every-wall sort of way.)

The post bus is a rickety school-bus-like contraption and nothing at all like the coaches I am used to in South Africa. Ali drops us off just a few minutes before it departs and we are lucky to find seats way in the back. At first, the ride is uneventful through the Kampala traffic but as we leave town the road worsens, our speed increases, and – as every school-bus rider knows – when you sit at the back of the bus the bumps are bumpier and the swerves swervier. That’s fun for a seven-year old on a 15-minute ride home from school but less fun when you have 7 more hours of it to look forward to. Theoretically, Ugandans drive on the left side of the road but we are all over the place looking for the best route among the potholes and assorted other traffic. The shoulders slope substantially, which put the bus at an angle every time we end up on the side of the road. I later learn this drive only used to take 3 hours but a combination of war, neglect, and corruption have destroyed the road.

The bus is crowded and there are some children standing in the aisle next to me. That strikes me as not quite fair so I pick one up and set him on my lap. Later, his sister joins me and for about 250-kilometers we bounce along together, barely hanging on to our seat at times. They love it. So do I. When the bus stops, people try to sell us food and I manage to feed John, the two children, their three other siblings, and myself for less than 3 U.S. dollars. To alleviate the boredom at one point – John and I had been doing a lot of talking – I pull out my Bible and the 9-year old girl on my lap reads me Genesis 1 and the Beatitudes. Nine-year old children I know in South Africa can barely speak English, let alone read it. To date, this is the only Bible-based evangelism I’ve done in Africa.
My traveling companions on the ride north

Uganda is dramatically different to South Africa, which is to be expected in two countries that are 30-degrees latitude apart. The animals – in particular the huge stork-like birds – are impressive. I am also impressed at the number of people who speak English and I must confess to being surprised that so many Africans can understand me so well. It is a new experience. I had always thought the word “mzungu” was a bit of a joke. Surely no one uses it seriously? But they do and I have been called “mzungu” – or its Luo synonym “muna” – many times by the end of the day.

We finally arrive in Gulu and I am at first struck by its similarities to Mthatha – lots of street vendors, dusty, few tall buildings, and so on – but it is the differences that gradually come to dominate – the small number of private vehicles on the road, the number of United Nations’ SUVs, the lack of paved roads, and many more. I begin compiling a list of things I take for granted in Mthatha that John doesn’t have. Supermarkets, malls, and gas stations are at the top of the list.

We take bodas back to John’s place and it reminds me of my time in western Alaska when I rode into remote villages from the airstrip on the back of snowmachines or four-wheelers. The drivers try to charge us more than normal and when we protest, they reply in broken English that “the problem is the fuel.” (I mishear them at first and think they are saying “the problem is the female.” It seems an awfully brazen attempt to get more money for tonight’s date.) This is the first, but certainly not the last, we will hear about fuel in the coming days.
John and Matt getting off a boda

John’s place is nice but small and the three beds he has crammed into his room make it seem like a college dorm or a camp cabin, scenes we happily re-create over the next few days. My list of things I take for granted grows to include hot showers, decent water pressure, an oven, pasteurized milk, and ready access to potable water.

John shows us around Gulu in the evening. I particularly like the market and find a t-shirt I am sure I used to own several years ago. We end up at the Kope Café, an ex-pat hangout whose profits go to a local NGO. (Kope is pronounced “co-pay” and I can’t help but think of health insurance every time someone mentions it.) Mthatha may have more amenities than Gulu but I’d happily trade a few of our supermarkets for a coffee shop like Kope. We meet for the first time a group of students from Lincoln Christian College in Lincoln, Illinois who are in Gulu for a few weeks running some programs in the IDP camps.

We leave Kope after dark and ride bodas back to John’s. I am stunned to be out in an African city after the sun has set.

Day 3 – Sunday, December 30
We begin the day at church. John lives on the diocesan compound so the cathedral is just a short walk away. The word “cathedral” for me is usually associated with the words “Gothic,” “soaring,” or “inspiring” to name a few but this cathedral has a tin roof and very little decoration inside. The service is entirely in Luo but the preacher is kind enough to summarize his sermon in English for us.

We have lunch with John’s boss, the bishop of Northern Uganda, Nelson Onono-Onweng, and four English visitors who are the children of a missionary bishop in the 1950s and are re-visiting their old home for the first time in 40 years. It is nice not to be the featured guest and have to do all the talking.

After lunch, we begin talking about what other parts of the country we want to visit in our time here and I quickly become thankful for the transportation infrastructure in South Africa that has allowed me to see good parts of the country. In Uganda, we’ll have to ride back to Kampala before going any place else. Before the trip, we had talked about the idea of renting motorcycles to visit Murchison Falls National Park and other parts of the country. Unfortunately though, John has come up with two potential problems. The first is the tsetse flies in Murchison which could give us sleeping sickness. The second – and far more compelling as far as I am concerned – is, as John puts it, “there are things in Murchison that are bigger and faster than some guys on motorcycles and since we don’t know how to ride them, we don’t want to be figuring out how to put it in gear when we’ve got one of those chasing after us.” We also begin to hear more about a fuel shortage but don’t pay it much mind.

Afternoons in this part of Uganda are spent in the shade, I learn, and I happily play along, stringing up John’s hammock and taking his guitar outside. We end up at Kope again in the evening.

Day 4 – Monday, December 31
Gulu-area religious leaders have a peace march planned for today and we are invited. As we ride in town with Bishop Nelson – he’s wearing his purple cassock and sneakers – I am reminded of Desmond Tutu, whose biography I just finished. The march isn’t quite as significant as anything Tutu led but we have a grand time regardless. For one thing, we get free t-shirts emblazoned with the march’s theme – “women are peacebuilders by nature.” All the religious leaders are men.

The practically-shod bishop

Marching for peace

When we pray for war victims at the hospital, this patient watches.

It is hard for me to put in perspective just how important peace is to this region. It has only been in the last year that the Gulu region has begun to emerge from 20 years of war between the government and the Lord’s Resistance Army that has put thousands of people into refugee camps. Just a few years ago, the war was within reach of Gulu and it wasn’t safe to walk the 3 kilometers from town to where John lives now. Peace is apparently the only cause that unites the Catholic archbishop, the Orthodox bishop, the Anglican bishop, and the Muslim imam but they’ve been united in the cause for some time now and this march is only a small part of their broader effort to help resolve this conflict.

Coordination is not apparently a strong point for anyone in Gulu because another organization has also planned a march for today. It’s not quite clear to me what they are marching for – against poverty? for microfinance? nothing as snappy as peace to be sure – but they are much larger and louder than we are (better t-shirts no doubt). Amusingly for me, our paths cross at one point and we wait while they go by. A harried-looking police officer tries to direct two parades, bodas, minibuses, bicycles, and UN vehicles around a rotary, probably wondering why he got out of the bed that morning.

There’s a rally afterwards but we duck out as it is mostly in Luo and head for Mega FM, “better information and entertainment for Northern Uganda.” John has dared me to parlay my Alaska radio experience into air time in Gulu. We can’t get on air but we do get a tour of the station and I trade a KNOM hat for three Mega FM t-shirts.
Mega FM program director Oryema Justin Boswell and I in our new gear.

We also learn today that there is almost no fuel in Gulu. Uganda gets all its fuel from Kenya and the violence there has put a halt to all shipments across the border. Boda prices are shooting through the roof so we walk back to John’s. It’s a pleasant-enough walk and I enjoy the chance to wave at the shy children, buy some sugar cane, and make people laugh with our atrocious Luo.

It’s New Year’s Eve, of course, and we’ve made plans to meet our Lincoln pals at the Acholi Inn to ring in the new year. I had thought it would be a big mzungu party but when we show up, it’s pretty dead. Undeterred, the three Episcopal missionaries plus the 10 conservative Christians take to the empty dance floor and start showing off our best moves. Before long, the dance floor is packed with a couple hundred people – we are the only mzungus – and we pass the night dancing to the beat of Ugandan hip hop and traditional Acholi music. Despite the liberal amounts of alcohol flowing, this is an all-ages party and I see mothers dancing with sleeping babies on their backs. For those of you familiar with last year’s Governor’s Ball in Nome, I turn in a similar performance. I try a few swing dance steps and one or two things I’ve seen Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers do before realizing I’d better save them until I get back to my own country. I later learn I danced to an Acholi courtship song with a waitress from Kope. There are fireworks at midnight. It is a fantastic evening.

Day 5 – Tuesday, January 1
Our big plan for the day was to rent bodas and drive to Karooma Falls about 90 kilometers away. We passed Karooma on the way up and thought it would be great to spend a night camped on the edge of the Nile River. Plus, we’d get a chance to fulfill our Easy Rider vision without tsetse flies or lions to get in the way. Unfortunately, our plan is stymied when we realize the gas stations don’t have any gas and aren’t expecting any until next week.

Fate intervenes in the form of Daniel, a co-worker of John’s, who invites us over for lunch. It’s my first experience of the less developed and more haphazard section of Gulu but I feel very safe and the people are friendly. It must be bath day because there are lots of wet, naked children running around.

Daniel entertains us by popping in a burned DVD. We pass several hours watching American country and hip hop music videos that have been ripped and burned and re-ripped and re-burned until the quality is atrocious. It is somehow mesmerizing to watch Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Brad Paisley, Tim McGraw, et al. in such a foreign land, knowing if similar music came on at home, we would turn off the TV or switch off the radio. Not for the first time, I realize that for all the tremendous achievements of American culture, it is the most middling and mediocre that are on display to the world.

We make a stop at Kope before heading back towards John’s place. As it is a hot evening, and we want something cool to drink, we head down to the local bar. In South Africa, we would call this a shebeen or unlicensed liquor establishment and I wouldn’t feel safe in one after dark. Here, we are warmly welcomed by all and chitchat with the locals. On the way back, we pass several uniformed and armed soldiers casually sitting by the side of the road. They give us quite a scare.

As I take money out of the ATM today, I notice this sign, sparked by western Uganda’s recent Ebola outbreak. My favourite piece of advice is number 11.
Day 6 – Wednesday, January 2
With our Karooma plan in tatters, we are left a bit aimless in the morning. But just when you think you’ve seen all Gulu has to offer, the city surprises you with something else. This time it was a refreshing swim in the pool at the Acholi Inn. Of course, it happened on the one cloudy and cool afternoon of our time in Gulu but it is still refreshing, particularly as we are coated with dust and grime and sweat. (Cold water leads to short showers.)

Missionaries hard at work

I stop at Gulu’s lone craft shop on the way back from the pool and the owner tries to teach me to use a cow-horn whistle. I fail miserably but buy one anyway.
Surprisingly, our evening ends at Kope.

Day 7 – Thursday, January 3
Matt and I manage to score a ride to Murchison Falls National Park with the Lincoln students, who are wrapping up their time in Uganda with a trip there. They have booked through a tour company in Kampala and though it is expensive, it is the only way we can get there, given the fuel shortage, and John assures us it will be worth it.

The tour bus pulls in an hour late and it is but the first of many signs that we are in the hands of a most spectacularly and comically inept tour company. To make a very long story less long (too late), nearly everything that had been promised the Lincoln group – from mosquito nets, platform tents, an open-roofed vehicle, bedding, and much more – has not been provided. The tents they did have didn’t have enough poles to be set up properly. We take some wrong turns on the way there.

I inadvertently add to the general confusion. As we pass over Karooma Falls, I lean out the window to take some pictures. Apparently, there’s a military base near the top of the falls because a pair of soldiers is guarding the bridge looking for people just like me. They pull over the bus (moderately to severely embarrassing for me) and – after some rapid-fire conversation with our tour guide and driver in a language I don’t understand; I understand the AK-47s, though – make me delete my pictures and let us go on our way. Little do they know, however, that on the way up to Gulu, I got some even better snaps.

The forbidden falls

Amid (or because of) all this, it turns out to be a fantastic day. We get to the top of Murchison Falls just as the sun is setting and it is spectacular. The full force of the Nile River drops about 50 meters through a gorge about 9 meters wide. It is like Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon rolled into one and the sun setting over the Nile in the distance is without compare.

At the entrance to Murchison – to forestall the obvious, let me say it, “Hey, I see two monkeys in that picture!”

Day 8 – Friday, January 4

We wake before sunrise and cross the Nile to begin the driving part of our safari. The ferry is basically a big sheet of metal with two tractor motors attached. I again marvel at how quickly the sun rises here and how quickly it gets hot.

Sunrise over the Nile

The game drive is superb. We see everything I’ve ever wanted to see and much more – giraffes, elephants, a lion, buffalo, and zillions of species of antelope. At one point, we turn a corner in the road and spot an elephant crossing in front of us. It is huge, much bigger than the puny guys I’ve seen in South Africa, and begins to walk toward us. The driver revs the engine and honks the horn but it keeps walking, picking up speed, flapping its ears and raising a cloud of dust. Since I’m sitting shotgun, I’ve got a great view and am leaning out the window with my camera, completely oblivious to the fact that we’re about to be charged by an elephant. Finally, just as the elephant is on us, it turns away and carries on its previous path. The bus driver admits he was terrified and our tour guide tells us how an elephant killed a tourist two years ago.

A less aggressive sight

Over lunch, Matt and I pull out the map and tour back and decide to head for the Ssese Islands in Lake Victoria next. We had been thinking about heading west, towards the mountains on the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo but the fuel shortage continues to complicate our plans and we decide to go one place and stay put for the remainder of our trip. We call John to update him on our plans; I’m really most interested in the Iowa caucus results and delight that I can be buried in the Ugandan bush and still find out what happened. (I also delight in the results. And for those of you who doubted my bold words about Mike Huckabee last March, well…)

In the afternoon, we take the river safari up the Nile to the falls. My goal for the boat trip was to see at least one hippo. We see 150 easily, along with the massive and spectacularly terrifying Nile crocodiles that are sunning on the shore with their jaws open. We also see plenty more elephants, though at a safer distance.

Everyone heads to bed early. Matt and I find ourselves sleeping on the bare ground in a hardly-screened-in entryway to a tent (malaria? what malaria?). He wakes me up around 11 because there’s a hippo grazing 30 feet away. Three tons of hippo is intimidating and I recall reading in the literature that hippos kill more people every year than any other animal. But this guy munches contentedly and we don’t do anything to disturb him. I fall asleep and Matt tells me in the morning, it came within about five feet of our tent.

Day 9 – Saturday, January 5

Uganda may be a small country but because of the transportation infrastructure it takes forever to get anywhere. So we spend most of the day on the bus back to Kampala. The drive is gorgeous, through fruit-tree forests, coffee plantations, verdant, rolling hills. Winston Churchill described Uganda as “the pearl of Africa” (had to squeeze that in here somewhere) and he is right. I am surprised at the number of mosques in little communities along the way.

We re-unite with John at a hostel in Kampala and spend the evening updating him on our trip. I marvel again that I can walk through a big African city after dark and feel safe.

Day 10 – Sunday, January 6

When we called to book our place in the Sseses yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to find out we could take a ferry from Entebbe, a half hour south of Kampala, rather than taking a 7-hour bus ride to another ferry. That gives us the morning to kill. We debate going to the Anglican cathedral wearing “I Love Gene Robinson” t-shirts but opt against creating an international ecclesiastical incident. Instead, we wander through the city, seeing the sights. John has brought his thin backpackers guitar with him. The way he carries it over his shoulder it looks like a machine gun. No one bothers us.

We find the minibus taxi park. It is hard to miss as there must be thousands crammed into a few-acre parking lot, all going different directions, and all wanting to be there five minutes ago with at least one more person on board. I love it. We catch a minibus to the Entebbe pier and get on the MV Kalangala, which I believe translates as “Dear God, I hope this thing doesn’t sink.” (I have internal doubts about riding an African ferry.) Actually, it’s a new boat and for eight U.S. dollars we get a first-class, three-hour ride to Kalangala Island.

Waiting for the ferry

The 84 Ssese Islands are described in my tour book as “Uganda’s answer to the Mediterranean.” They sure are gorgeous, with white sand beaches, rainforest, palm trees, enchanting Lake Victoria, and a fantastic sunset. They are off the beaten tourist path and were largely untouched by the many years of war in Uganda so people still live pretty basic subsistence fishing lives. We have a little cottage – about five U.S. dollars each per night – and it feels just like camp.

Day 10 – Monday, January 7

Over breakfast, we hear about a way to catch a boat ride to a small fishing village on another island and go fishing with the locals. This instantly appeals to me – fishing with the Apostles! – so I drag Matt and John to a village on the other side of the island. Sadly, we are too late to catch a ride to the other village and hiring a boat is exorbitantly expensive given the fuel shortage.

I start walking away in frustration, trying to figure out another way to get to the small village which I can aggravatingly see across the lake but cannot get to. As I fume, a woman walks by, staring, as everyone does, at the mzungu. I distractedly say, “Hello” and she replies with “Ca va?” It takes a minute to register but when it does it’s like a door to the attic of my mind is opened and all my high school French comes tumbling out. Somehow, this Congolese woman has ended up in Mweena, Uganda and we begin an animated conversation in French. She speaks no English (Lingala, Swahili, and about six others, though) but I am shocked and pleased at how well my French serves me. Before long, I am carrying water for her back to her shack (that attracts a lot of looks) and meeting her children and the neighbours. It is just what I needed and I slowly make my way back to our camp in a better mood. The swimming that afternoon is great and we all pray we won’t get schistosomiasis from the water.

My Conglese friend

At dinner, we meet a Dutch medical student who was working in rural Kenya up until a few days ago. He has a harrowing tale of treating victims of the violence, counting bodies in the morgue, and eventually escaping across the border in a mini-bus taxi when it became too much for him. Later, we play lots of games of hearts. I try to shoot the moon several times but John and Matt hang on to their high hearts at a time when any rational player would have dumped them.

Day 11 – Tuesday, January 8

It is raining when we wake up so we turn our combined 15 years of experience camp counseling to coming up with a rainy-day plan and settle on more hearts. I continue to fail to shoot the moon.

It clears up in the afternoon and we accomplish almost nothing. But that was our plan. We visit the craft shop in town, hand-wash our laundry (harder than it seems), eat dinner at a little restaurant, and head to bed.
Day 12 – Wednesday, January 9
We have to get up early to catch the ferry back to Entebbe. The perpetually-high owners of the camp site have told us we should have no trouble finding a hostel in Entebbe – “just tell a boda driver you want to go to Joe’s place” – but when we get off the boat and are swarmed by bodas and taxis, no one seems to know what a hostel or backpackers is or who Joe is. But we are 21st-century travelers so we head to an Internet café, google “Entebbe hostels,” and find directions to Frank’s Hostel (must have been the THC at work) with no trouble at all. We also get New Hampshire primary results. Sigh…

The travel guitar is handy. John teaches a new friend to play while we wait for the Internet to load.

John wants to be back at work tomorrow so we head into Kampala to get him on a bus. Kampala is much more chaotic than I’ve seen it and I love it. We stop at a bookstore for a while and then have pizza since John can’t get it in Gulu. We get pretty lost on the way to bus park and find ourselves joining thousands others weaving in and out of minibuses, bodas, street vendors, and commuters. As the only mzungus in sight, we attract a lot of attention, some helpful and some not, and we manage to find a bus for John and a minibus headed back to Entebbe. Matt and I are asleep early.

Day 13 – Thursday, January 10
It’s another early morning as our flight leaves at 7:25. I walk past the duty-free shops in Entebbe and try not to think of the concluding scenes in The Last King of Scotland. The flight is smooth, followed by a long layover in Joburg. The bookstore in the domestic terminal is not nearly as good as the one in the international terminal. Eventually, we make it back to East London where we catch a ride to the long-distance minibus taxi rank. Both Matt and I are fortunate to find taxis leaving right away and I squish into a minibus with 17 of my closest friends for the 2-plus-hour ride back to Mthatha.

Once there, I hitchhike back to Bedford Hospital. The sun has set and I am aware this is probably the least safe part of my trip but I am picked up within two minutes by a man who spends the entire ride berating me for hitchhiking at night before I manage to switch the conversation to Kenya, Idi Amin, and Robert Mugabe.

I have my first hot shower in two weeks. It is magnificent… but not as magnificent as Uganda.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jesse!
I appreciate all the time you put into diary of events, especially the Uganda trip. It gave a really good account of events, trials and tibulations.

I appreciate also the hard work, (physically, spiritually and emotionally) that you put into your assignment in SA. Thanks for caring and being willing to share your life with others.

Steve Kellen, Matt's dad

Harry Gunkel said...

Jesse, you're a wonderful writer. When I'm in the nursing home drooling on myself (probably not long from now) will you come tell me stories of your days in Africa? Harry

rabbitnet said...

Hi Jesse,
As a member of the Global Mission Committee of the Dio. of W. MA, It's really great to read about your experiences in Africa.

In 1995 my wife and I were able to visit Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda as bart of a study tour with Heifer International and experienced some of the same things you did while visiting Ugnada.

Keep up the good work and may God keep you safe and in good health.

Dennis & The Rev. Audrey Cronin

'becca said...

pretty much, you are fantastic! What a blessing it is to know that God orchastrated (i can't spell) our meeting. Elliott still is talking about you and Matt and the safari happenings.

There was a beautiful promise in the sky this morning - the morning sunrise. I hope you saw it too.

have a fantastic day!