Wow. What else can one say at this point?

We spent nearly 36 hours travelling to Lui -- St. Louis to Detroit; Detroit to Amsterdam; Amsterdam to Entebbe, Uganda, via Kigali, Rwanda. We slept 1/2 a night at a lovely Episcopal guest house in Kampala (the city where the Entebbe airport is located); took a memorable drive across and out of town to the Kajjansi airfield; boarded a small plane and flew to a border stop where re-fueling involved a step-ladder and hand-crank pump inserted into a 55-gallon drum just like Dad uses sometimes for tractor fuel at home; and, finally, we flew from there to the dirt strip in Mundri where we were greeted by Bishop Stephen, Lillian and Darrius, as children came running from the surrounding sorghum fields. The journey from there to Lui, about 16 miles in all, took about an hour due to the number and size of potholes.

The hospitality here truly exemplifies biblical notions of hospitality. We have been greeted warmly and fed very well, though the fare differs somewhat from the Thanksgiving feasts we enjoyed last week.

Our British companions have graciously shown us the ropes to life in Lui, as Dan was whisked away to Juba shortly after our arrival to seek the tools needed for the carpentry classes which will begin tomorrow.

As I sang "Skip, skip, skip to my lou," Jeannie provided the much-needed tour of the local loos, explaining just how basic hygiene issues are resolved in Lui. We also got to visit the local market to buy little necessities such as basins for washing and phone cards to make brief phone calls home.

To make a short story long (my specialty), we spent most of yesterday settling into the compound and learning our way around. However, today the real adventures of Lui began.

Lillian has taken us on a lovely local tour, which has included the pre-school started in April, the cathedral, the Laro tree, the Mothers' Union workshop, and the Luijini school. Students at both the preschool and primary school sang lively and beautiful songs for us, and I taught the students at the primary school a song we sing sometimes at Immaculate Conception in Montgomery City, "Sing Hosanna!"

Just before leaving, the students stood again and sang a song which asked repeatedly, "Do Not Forget Us." And then, walked with us down the "highway" (really, I use that term VERY loosely) back into Lui.

"Do not forget us." I have a feeling already that forgetting this place and these people would be impossible.

Thank you for your prayers and support, and please keep them coming as we dive into various teaching roles tomorrow.

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Comment by Lisa Fox on November 29, 2012 at 8:30pm

Chris, here's a reflection from nearly 7 years ago, when I was in Lui: We held community meetings in each of the 7 archdeaconries to talk about the (then-draft) covenant between Missouri and Lui.  I will never, ever forget the words of one woman who stood up in one of those sessions, and said something like this: "Many people have come to Lui and done good deeds.  But they never returned.  Will you come back, or will you forget us?"  Obviously, that sense/fear of being forgotten is very powerful for the people of Lui, who were forgotten/ignored by the world during the decades of civil war.  ... I am so very pleased that we Missourians -- as well as our friends from Blackmore Vale and Lund -- have NOT forgotten, but are  doing our best to "bear one another's burdens" with the people of Lui. 

God bless you and all the missioners.  You are constantly in my prayers. 

Comment by R. Don Whitehead,Sr. on November 29, 2012 at 5:03pm

Chris,  What a trip of a lifetime!  We are following you daily on the blogs and in our prayers.  St. Matthew's is interested in hearing about your experiences.  Give our regards to Bishop  Stephen and Lillian.

Fran and Don

Comment by Lisa Fox on November 29, 2012 at 2:27am

Thanks for these reflections. Yes, you will not forget. 

Comment by Anne Powell on November 28, 2012 at 7:28am

It's wonderful to read your impressions of Lui and it's people. We are thinking of you many times each day.

Comment by Evelyn Smith on November 28, 2012 at 7:20am

Chris, I can feel your excitement as you begin the working part of the mission trip and so pleased that you still have your sense of humor.  I'm amazed and in awe how close the team ( partners) have become as you share your lives together and learn from one another too.  

I know the Moru children loved learning the song you taught them because music is an important part of their lives. 

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