Thumper…

December 31, 2017

Arua to Kampala

19th March – Arua to Kampala Uganda

We started off the day early, as we all went to different churches. I ended up at Dove Church. There is a good spirit in the churches at Arua and this one was no different. They began with a prayer meeting, was good to see them praying for different things, like church and government leaders, their city and nation. Didn’t end up finishing there until about 12, so missed going back to the other church as the plan was. Arua was good, it was a place I hadn’t been to in Uganda before and very different to the other parts. Much drier and more laid back.

Village of grass huts, not far from Arua

Village of grass huts, not far from Arua

Left Arua around 1pm for the trip back to Kampala, about 500kms, or around 8 hours. Stopped for lunch at Leosim Hotel in Nebbi, two of us ordered what was already meant to be ready, but the food still took about an hour to come. It was a late lunch, which was possibly a good thing seeing as we didn’t get home til late.

As we continued driving, the road runs through Murchison Falls National Park, where we got some glimpses of elephants near the river, a few deer and cob and plenty of birds later on. There were some really big flocks of some kind of birds, and then a convocation of eagles which is really unusual. At one point through the park, an elephant decided to cross the road in front of us. We were close to it, and at one point it turned, started flapping its ears, stamping it’s foot, waving its tail and started coming toward us. I was driving, the passengers may have been getting a little worried as they told me, no, instructed me in a panicked voice, to start reversing… I think what happened though, as we stopped for the elephant, somebody in our car popped out of the sunroof to take some photos. Cars and trucks they know, but now the car has a different shape and is a bit threatening. So that makes the elephant behavior a little more understandable. We noticed too late, that the oncoming truck was a long way back – although to be fair he could see the elephant a lot earlier than us. And when you think about it, when we drive in Australia, the biggest thing we have to deal with is kangaroos. In those instances, we drive up reasonably close to kangaroos (ie don’t stop 100m from it), because they’ll just keep jumping through and aren’t going to turn and come after you and attack your car in the way an elephant would.

Oops, here he comes, reverse!

Oops, here he comes, reverse!

A bit later on we came across some baboons, just near Karooma Falls. They were just playing on the road, so we had to slow down for them, but then one big one jumped on the bonnet and hitched a ride. First reaction was to wind up the windows. He turned and glared at me when I hit the brakes hard trying to shake him off. Just as we got to the bridge, he kind of turned around, as if to say thanks for the lift, then jumped off.

Don't try and get me off...

Don’t try and get me off…

The falls were pretty spectacular, just make sure you only take photos of the falls not the bridge. The army guys will stop you and ask you about it, or yell at you if they think you’re taking some of the bridge.
Continued on as it got dark, and we realised the cars headlights were aligned a little incorrectly making driving a little more difficult – and of course dark people walking along the edge of the road in the dark doesn’t help.
Eventually got back about 10pm to Mike and Shirley’s, the restaurant we tried to stop at for tea was closed, so it was a straight run through after that.

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December 30, 2017

Murchison and beyond days 4-6 Arua

Filed under: Trips,Uganda — pearsey @ 3:21 pm
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16 – 18th March 2017, Arua Uganda

These three days we held a 3 day conference for pastors and leaders in the Arua area, from 10am – 4pm each day. Over the three days we focused on churches, leadership, and our relationship with God.
Each day we were given lunch, traditional Ugandan, such as rice, posho, beans, g nut sauce and greens. Sometimes there was some meat or fish. To go with the lunch there was soda (soft drink). It wasn’t until the end of the conference they noticed we preferred water to soft drink, so for an offering on the Sunday we received about 6 crates of bottled water…
Overall the conference went well, with Mike, Dave and I taking it in turns to share at the sessions and in between talking to the people there, getting to know them, their churches and the ministries they led.

After lunch one day

After lunch one day

We were invited to speak at a rally they were having in Arua, but we ended up declining, so we had the evening to prepare for the next day and to enjoy a nice meal. The rallies they were holding were going for 36 days straight. Cafe Cosmo is quite good if you’re ever looking for somewhere to eat (pizza and Indian), even providing free WiFi, which is pretty rare in uganda. Our accommodation was the Royal Crane Resort in Arua, which was comfortable enough and gave us breakfast each morning.

Indian at Cafe Cosmo

Indian at Cafe Cosmo

The first day in Arua was absolutely freezing – well compared to what we were expecting and compared to Kampala. It was probably mid teens temp wise, which was cold when none of us came prepared with warm clothes!

One afternoon we took a drive around the center of Arua – I saw an abattoir, unfortunately didn’t get any pics, and took a walk through the markets. Mostly they had just food, plastic goods or kitchen utensils for sale. Hard to see how they could make a living out of what they were selling when so many were selling the same things right next to each other. It must be pretty hard going with the drought, as the produce didn’t look that good in many places.

The market of Arua

The market of Arua

December 29, 2017

Murchison and beyond day 3 – to Arua

15/3/2017 Murchison Falls to Arua, Uganda
Up early this morning to go on safari through Murchison. On our checklist was elephant, giraffe, lion and some birds – Ugandan Crane at least. Our super wish list included leopard. The best animal sightings are on the opposite side of the river to where we were staying, so we had to catch the ferry over.

First light on the ferry

First light on the ferry

We didn’t realise you had to buy a ferry ticket beforehand (not at the ferry), so we had to wait til that opened before we could queue for the ferry. Thankfully we still got on the first ferry, which meant we had maximum time on our safari. (So here’s a tip: buy a ferry ticket the day before so you can go down to the ferry loading area and queue immediately.)
On the other side, we picked up a guide who jumps in the car with his gun. Good to know we’ll be safe, but best not to make him angry!

Don't make me angry!

Don’t make me angry either!

Started slowly, enjoying the show of a few animals. We were driving ourselves and our guide, who was sitting in the back kept saying keep going, keep going. We sacked Mike from driving for the time being, so he could concentrate on taking photos, rather than trying to drive and take photos. We installed Dave as the driver and that worked a little better as he was concentrating on driving, not taking photos…
“Stop”, “a little further”, “just 10m”, “forward”, “back”, “stop there”, “drive”, “go go go”, “left”, “right”, “slow”, “faster”, “semi rally” – his instructions coming thick and fast as we looked to cross animals off our list, as well as are whatever else we could.

Uganda Cob with the lake in the background

Uganda Cob with the lake in the background

It’s pretty amazing seeing wild animals like elephants and giraffes in their native habitat. He was good at spotting them, which was helpful for us.

The best part though was the lion. Slightly off road, we hesitantly followed another group to the back of a tree, wondering whether Dave had got the instructions from our guide right. We were all silent as we slowly crept forward, wondering what we were about to see. We stopped when the guide said stop and sitting to our right, quietly under the branches, oblivious to the fuss, was a lion. We were two metres from the lion, I had the window down, and it felt like you could reach out and touch him. Don’t worry, there was still an awesome respect for the lion – we were in his territory, but thankfully the car was between us and him (even if the window was down). Plus we had a guide with a gun. He just sat there, enjoying the shade. We just sat there looking at him, until the guide said “let’s go, forward”. Who said you don’t see lions in Uganda?

The lion!  Up close!

The lion! Up close!

That lion was definitely the highlight. We saw more giraffes, elephants, plenty of Uganda cob, water buffalo, hippos, a group of Uganda cranes, a jackal (rare sighting), other animals and a couple more lions and lionesses – again ‘lion’ around under a tree. We missed a leopard, but we saw so much, you can’t really complain. The north side of the river within the park was much more lush and green than the south side of the park, with some vegetation and water holes dotted around the place, which is why the animals hang around there I guess. We headed back to the ferry area and by the time we dropped the guide off, and exited the park, we had about 10 minutes to spare on our 24 hour pass.

Some trees in the park

Some trees in the park

As we were leaving the park, there were a few elephants just outside the park, so we enjoyed what may be our last elephant view (it wasn’t).
From there we headed towards Arua, the holiday part of our journey over for a while.
Lunch was at the Leosim hotel in Nebbi, typical Ugandan, (I had no success in finding ice cream for us), then we continued on. The land to the north of the national park is very different to the south of Uganda. It is very dry and clearly they were in a drought. Around Arua is also very hilly and has many former volcanoes. Found some ice cream in Arua and met Usaf who took us to our accommodation. Good day.

Mud huts near Nebbi

Mud huts near Nebbi

December 28, 2017

Christmas Haul 2017

Filed under: Idle Ramblings — pearsey @ 8:58 am
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We did things a little different this year, and did a Kris Kringle, so each of us got two others to buy for. Can’t say I’m a fan of the idea, but anyway. Here’s my Christmas haul this year, just because I can I guess!

  • Gecko Insect Killer
  • Lambswool seat cover
  • Assortment of plants: 2 Unknowns, one is possibly some type of lily, the other some kind of palm type thing,
    one Bush Christmas type of plant, one hanging basket of coloured flowers.
  • WOW Hits 2018 Deluxe Edition
  • Assortment of chocolates and nuts and a jar of homemade jam
  • Oasis Double Wall Insulated Drink Bottle (in pink – why that colour I don’t know)
  • Can Opener
  • Tea Towel
  • Chromecast
  • Maraca from Indonesia
  • Series of handmade candle holders for tealight candles
  • A few things from Purl Australia – Body wash and soap
  • A couple of power banks
  • The frame for my outdoor bench seat

The pergola has been used for entertaining quite a bit this year, including the extraordinary Filipino night we had there earlier in the year. I keep saying I think it’s nearly finished and it’s true, it is nearly finished, but I did a heap of work this year and I’m still saying it’s nearly finished…
I did manage to pick up some outdoor blinds for the pergola at bargain prices, which meant the money I got last year for one blind actually bought all the blinds!

December 27, 2017

Murchison and beyond day 2

14/3/17 Murchison Falls Area, Uganda
Started the day by visiting a small fishing village, where the shores of lake Albert were bustling with people doing their washing, heading out to fish (or just getting back), swimming, gathering things etc. There were also girls here down by the water, collecting water in 20l jerry cans, then putting these full cans on their head and carrying them back to the houses, perhaps 600-700m away. Not sure that I could carry them by themselves, let alone on my head. Heading toward the next village, the road took us through areas clearly drought affected. Dry, dusty and sparse areas lacking in vegetation wherever the livestock called home. Despite the hardships, if you took a few moments to have a chat to the people, you were rewarded with friendly smiles and greetings.

Fishing Boats at Wanseko area

Fishing Boats at Wanseko area

The next fishing village was Wanseko, a place where the ferry left for Panyimur, on the other side of the lake, a short ferry ride, or a long drive round through the park. Enjoyed a few minutes there where the locals took an interest in us from a distance, then headed for the park entrance, passing a landscape dotted with thatched roof mud brick huts. These look more weather proof than the old tin buildings also found in the town area. It gives you an idea of the poverty these people dwell in, because these tin building wouldn’t even pass for garden sheds in Australia.

Posing for photos after collecting water

Posing for photos after collecting water

Just before the park entrance we stopped at Bakers Lodge Resort for the others to have coffee. The resort was at the higher end of the scale, so the only thing most backpackers (or those on a tight budget) would do there is have coffee. It was nice and relaxing though and in general regardless of whether you’re there to stay or there to just stop in and have a look/drink, you are always looked after. Perhaps the best thing about the lodge was the wildlife sighting board. The board indicated that lions had been seen in the park that day. That’s what I was here to see!

There's been a lion sighting! Bakers Lodge animal sighting board

There’s been a lion sighting! Bakers Lodge animal sighting board

The national parks in Uganda are a little different to Australia. You have a 24hr pass only, each 24hrs costs about $40USD per person, plus you pay for the car to come in. It’s not cheap. Go over those 24hrs by 1 minute and you’re up for another days payment.
We entered around 12. Not enough time to get to the top of the falls, especially as we had three different opinions from the park rangers as to how far away they actually were, so we went to our accommodation, the cheapest resort in the park, Red Chilli, and had some lunch.

The world maps are still there!

The world maps are still there!

The boat cruise up the nile river was meant to leave at 2pm. Annoyingly it didn’t leave then and it was some europeans they waited about 20 mins for. No excuse from them, as they were in the same resort as us, and had just been sitting around doing nothing.
The cruise was ok, although compared to other times there weren’t a big lot of animals. Saw some birds, elephants, hippos and a few crocs. The falls itself are fairly spectacular. The entire white nile river is pushed through a 7m gap in rocks. The noise is huge, the force of the water enormous.

Hippo

Hippo

After we got back from the cruise, we took off for the top of the falls. We expected to be coming back in the dark and with a storm brewing, we had to hurry. We just got to the top of the falls, about a 40 minute drive from where the boat leaves when the rain came down! We looked at the top still, as it is far more spectacular than seeing it from the river. Got absolutely drowned, as it rained properly there. Those 15 minutes spent waiting for the others at the boat could have been spent better at the top of the falls – and we would have had a chance to see it before it rained.
Anyway, it was still pretty spectacular. Headed back to the lodge for the night, got there just after dark and without collecting any animals which was a bonus (any animals hit and killed cop a huge USD fine).

This pillar at the top of the falls belonged to a bridge that didn't last long

This pillar at the top of the falls belonged to a bridge that didn’t last long

December 25, 2017

One Unlikely Candidate

Filed under: Church life,Idle Ramblings — pearsey @ 12:02 am
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It was another hot day. Puffs of dust covered the leather sandals with each step that was taken. Sometimes a scuff rather than a neat step was taken. Sometimes a leap of joy, nearing a run was seen, before a return to a more orderly pace. The young girl was obviously in a hurry. She could feel the dust in her toes through her open toed leather sandals.

As Mary walked, she reflected on the blur of the recent events. She was betrothed to Joseph, who seemed like a nice enough man. He was descended from David and had grown up in Bethlehem, but had found himself in Nazareth where he had been introduced to Mary. She had first met him at the temple where they had both been learning from the historical texts regarding the coming Messiah. They had had lengthy conversations as both of them were convinced that the Messiah wouldn’t come as most were expecting.

Life in Nazareth hadn’t always been easy. Being of Jewish descent in a country under Roman rule made life tough. Persecution was common for her Jewish beliefs. So was rough treatment if you were out walking the streets. Snide comments or being pushed out of the way by Roman soldiers wasn’t unusual – even in the backwater town of Nazareth. Many times Mary had got home after having to pick up her shopping that had been spilt when she was knocked over. It also came with the low standing their family had in the community, sometimes not even having enough money to put food on the table – but yet God had always been faithful. Mary’s heart skipped a beat as she considered the current events and reflected on the goodness of God – “For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant” (Luke 1:48).

It still barley seemed real. The angel Gabriel had come into her house when nobody else was round. His very presence had commanded her attention, and instantly she’d started trembling. She’d heard about the angels visiting the old testament prophets such as Daniel, Lot and even Balaam. When the stories were told, she’d tried to imagine what she would have done if an angel visited her. Never in her wildest dreams did she ever expect it to happen to her though. The fear and trembling subsided when the angel uttered the words “Do not be afraid”. The words brought a peace with them that she had never felt before. The angel went on – she was highly favoured by God and had been chosen to carry the Saviour of the world. He would bring a Kingdom that would have no end – that surely could refer to none other than the Messiah spoken about in the historical texts.

The very peace that the angel had brought and the calm authority he spoke with, had left her no doubt that the words were true. Nevertheless, Gabriel had said that Elizabeth was also with child, so here she was hurrying along the road to go and see her to put everything beyond doubt. Elizabeth! Who would have thought that was possible. But Gabriel had said with God, all things were possible.

Thinking it through was a little mind blowing. This news had implications not just for the current generation, but for all generations. This would be a Saviour born to reconcile mankind now and for all future generations – “All generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48) That was a big responsibility she had and now was the appointed time for the Saviour to arrive.

The other problem she had was Joseph. He was a very just and God fearing man, but would he believe her when she told him that the child was conceived by the Holy Spirit? It had never happened before. He could easily put her away somewhere, divorce her, or worse still have her stoned. But yet the peace that had arrived with Gabriel assured her that everything would be ok. It was just a trust and assurance that God was with her, that she was highly favoured and that it would all happen just as was said. Another thought crossed her mind – why would God choose somebody who had no experience raising children to bring up the Saviour of the world. What an awesome responsibility. Mary hoped that she wouldn’t muck it up.

A loud shout brought her back to reality with a jolt. She quickly apologised to the man she had accidentally bumped into as she hurried along the road. She had better be careful, she was soon to give birth to the Saviour of the World!

Nearing Elizabeth’s, she could no longer maintain an orderly pace. She broke into a run, eager to see Elizabeth as soon as she could. A quick glance told Mary that Elizabeth was pregnant, but before she could say anything more than a greeting, Elizabeth began to prophesy. If Mary could just believe, everything would happen as the angel had said.

As we reflect on the Christmas story, the life of Mary serves as a reminder that God has something special for each of us to do. He’s not too fussy about our status in life, where we live or what we’ve done in the past. Like Mary though, He just wants us to believe Him and be obedient when He tells us to do something. Luke 1:46-55 gives us an indication of Mary’s heart – she was available, knew God intimately, was willing to pay the cost and be obedient regardless of the cost or potential consequences. Sometimes we only think of ourselves and our own comfort and aren’t willing to risk anything for God. Those thoughts keep us from doing something that may be part of a larger plan. We often don’t realise how our small part fits into the bigger picture and the impact we could potentially have.

The birth of Jesus changed everything. He gave us hope, that confident expectation of better things to come. Through His subsequent death on the cross, He gave us victory, forgiveness and freedom from sin and condemnation. His Kingdom is available to everyone, thanks to the obedience of one unlikely candidate.

Have a great Christmas!

December 20, 2017

Shattering!

Filed under: Idle Ramblings — pearsey @ 4:14 pm
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I’m not sure how many will believe this story, but anyway, I’ll give it a shot!

So there was a big storm last night in our area. Strong winds. I had the front door open to let in a bit of a breeze – that was at the point when it was still a breeze. But then came the strong winds. I heard a bit of a crash that sounded sort of far away and a bit like a bit of tin flapping around. Went and checked out the front door – nothing obvious there and the sound wasn’t there anymore. No worries. Decided to shut the front door, because it was getting stronger.

Wandered down the passage and something caught my eye. Nothing major, just the dark sky out the window. Kept walking. Wait! Did a double take. I can see sky out my bathroom window… That’s now how it’s meant to be! Went back for a closer look and yep, there is the sky, the rain and the fence and the fresh air (evidence of) all visible through the window, the frosted window that doesn’t open…

There was a moment there when I thought oh no, how long has it been like that, I’ve been home for hours, has the house been robbed and I haven’t noticed or worse still is somebody still here.

The broken window!

But on closer inspection, all the broken glass was outside, it had to have come from inside. That noise I heard when the massive of gust of wind came was obviously the window shattering from the force of the wind. Which is also extremely odd and freaky, because the bathroom window is on the opposite side of the house to the front door and accessed via the passage.

Anyway, a call to Mum and Dad and they came around soon and we got it boarded up and the glass cleaned up. The glazier came today to measure and we’ll be back to normal soon!

Well that’s the most unusual incident I’ve had around my house. Never would have expected a freak incident like that though!

Update: Found out my brother had a broken window from the same storm also. He lives near Warragul. The wind blew and broke his window too. Twice! In the same family on the same night!

Boarded up!

Boarded up!

December 8, 2017

Murchison and beyond day 1

Filed under: Trips — pearsey @ 7:52 pm
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13 March 2017 – Uganda
The plan was to leave earlyish for Murchison Falls National Park, but it wasn’t as early as we planned. Then we had to stop and get petrol and we discovered that the insurance had expired in the car. In Uganda you have to have 3rd party insurance or the police will fine you if you’re caught. We sorted that out on a detour to the Bombo police station for something else. Some Germans (I think) were there because they’d taken a photo of some prisoners being transported to work, then they and their driver had been rude to the police, and even after they’d deleted the photos, they were still brought to the station. He was one very sorry and upset person – the police station wasn’t the most friendliest place, especially when you don’t speak the language at all, but I think they did give him his camera back in the end.
So after a few hours, we were about 1hr down the road. After that though, it wasn’t too bad and we stopped for lunch at a road house. I took over the driving, cruising along around 80-90kmh on the good stretch of road, which was about the next half hour to Masindi. Then we hit the dirt, back to about 40kmh. Once we got over the ridge and down the escarpment, which runs alongside Albert Lake and murchison falls national park, we were driving along a road that was pretty much corrugated the whole way. Back to about 10-20kmh. There was a few hours of that. They showed signs of going to fix it because there were piles of dirt every few meters for about 30km. Finally though, we made it to where we were staying at Maritas, a friend of Mike and Shirley’s. Checked out her brick making machine before it got dark, had something to eat and that was the day.

December 5, 2017

Uganda – Week 1 Kampala Area

Filed under: Trips,Uganda — pearsey @ 8:22 pm
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5/3/17 – 11/3/17 – Uganda

Earlier in the year two of us from my church headed to Uganda with the aim of spending time teaching and training pastors. The build up to leaving for this trip was pretty hectic. Right at the end of summer and the finals season in tennis, plus it was relatively short notice. As well as that, there were lessons to prepare for the teaching that would be happening in Uganda and the strategic purchasing and delivery of gifts… Just like Australia, there are some things that you can bring in and some that you can’t. Given that I was visiting some Australians in Uganda, some treats from home are always welcome. Think salmon, kabana, cheese, chocolate, lamb… the list went on. As long as they were cryovaced (vacuum sealed), they were ok to bring in and would make the distance in good shape – that meant still able to be consumed at the end! If you’re interested in taking stuff on a plane (checked of course) that is normally cold, go for the gel ice packs which stay frozen/cold for a day or two and then a thermal blanket. The ice packs were still cold when I unwrapped them about 36 hours later. Also, stuff that is vacuumed sealed would probably survive ok as is without the icepacks for a short time.

The Emirates flight on an A380 was very nice. Great debate surrounded what the little pull out button thing on the back of the seat was for. Turns out it was a coat hook type thing. Seems entirely useless to be honest, as anything hanging hangs down and gets in your way.

It's a coat hook!

It’s a coat hook!

After arriving in Entebbe Monday arvo around 2pm, we had some lunch at the pizza place near the airport, then went home via the centre of Kampala to get Dave a local sim card so he could use the phone glued to his hand. Meant we didnt get back to Mike and Shirley’s till maybe 10pm, thanks to all the traffic.

Ponds for the fish

Ponds for the fish

Tuesday was a free day, had a tour of Mike’s land in the morning and went in to Bombo and had a quick look around at the town in the arvo. The land has come along since my first visit to his land a few years ago (maybe 2012). There’s goats and bees, some ponds for some fish (good job Shirley), vegetable plots and the trees planted all those years ago and have started to develop. Of course there was also a house now, which was the first time I’d actually seen the house there. (And since I’ve returned home there’s also some running water added now!!)

One of the many goats!

One of the many goats!

Wednesday we had a CRC conference in the morning where we talked about the values of the CRC for those who will be joining and were interested in joining. Did a whiteboard session with the guys there, they really enjoyed that. Mostly people just get up and talk at them. In the arvo Dave went one way, while I went another, to David’s church. Left around 8 in the morning, I got home around 9.45 pm, pretty long day.

Thursday we went to David’s church in the morning where we talked about pastoral care with the leaders there. In the arvo we came home for about an hour before I headed to Sulas church and Dave to David’s church. Another late night.

David's church

David’s church

Friday was the same, but the morning was up in Luweero, a country town north of Kampala. That was a nice friendly place up there, a lot more relaxed being out of the city center.

Luweero

Luweero

Met some interesting people, mostly pastors at the morning meetings, but that was the intention. They seemed to have responded well to the messages, but the fruit is really in the outworking.

Today (Saturday) is a bit of a rest day, decided to stay home rather than go to Jinja, tomorrow is church in the morning, lunch with a pastor who has planted a few churches, then to a meeting in Kampala – so another long day ahead.

Then a few days free while we travel to Arua in the far north.

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