A few kids who’ve strayed

Marty Jones
Grandma Dolas celebrating her gifts

FORT PORTAL, Uganda – Several of us are not feeling well. I’m very tired and couldn’t sleep enough. Then finally I got up because I felt like I was going to be sick. The rest of the night was vomiting and diarrhea. At first I thought it was food poisoning then later that day I over heard Dave talking about his son’s symptoms. Sounded just like mine. Yousef was just leaving for town to go and get David, so I jumped in the car to go to the doctor. After a blood test it was confirmed, ,malaria. I was given some pills, told to get some rest and drink plenty of fluids and in a couple of days I’d feel better. They treated it like a cold only it didn’t last as long. I was relieved – no fever, no sweating, no chills – for once I was glad it wasn’t like in the movies. I’m sure that it gets worse with out treatment, however. I was lucky to get to the doctor early. Then there’s David, he got his test results, they weren’t as easy to deal with. Diabetes, early symptoms. He came home and rested for the rest of the day and the next. He saw no improvement and he was taken to Kampala where it was confirmed. We expect him home on Sunday. Book bingeWe have continued on with our schedule. On Wednesday we did some home visits and then went to a home in Sichuan for a dinner with the grandmas. There were probably 40 of them. They greeted us and then prepared food for us. Before dinner they sang and danced and ask us to dance with them – what a sight. It was fun however and everyone laughed long and hard. The next day, Friday, we went to Kamwenge to dedicate the library. The library was to house the books that were in a container that had not arrived yet. All the local dignitaries, politicians and VIPs were there. It went beyond local – there was a representative from the king of Tooro and from the district government. It appears that when the king visited Denver in 2002, Luann was part of his escort team. He stayed in some very wealthy homes in the area, arranged by David.

He was impressed by the fact that there were more books in the homes than there were in any of the schools or libraries in his kingdom. So Luann jumped in and said we need to change that. She spent the next two years almost single-handedly collecting almost 9,000 books to start two libraries – one in Fort Portal and one in Kamwenge. We were very honored guest. Culinary adventuresAfter seven speeches, a ground-breaking and lunch, we headed home. It seems that no matter where we eat the menu is the same: rice, boiled potatoes, sweet potatoes, boiled pumpkin, chicken stew, beef stew, matoke (mashed plantains consumed in mass quantities), peas, millet and assorted other unnamed dishes.We returned home, stopped at the Internet cafe and then came back to the guesthouse for rest. They fixed us hamburgers and french fries for dinner. It was good to get something that resembled home for a change, but they have much to learn about the fine art of making a proper hamburger. We did find Heinz catsup and got some sliced onions with it. Next time they promised sliced tomatoes and avocado. We also bought some mustard. We’ll cook the burgers next time.We got a report on David. He has diabetes. The doctor told him that with his blood sugar levels a high as they were, he should be in a coma. He continues treatment at the hospital in Kampala although he doesn’t stay there. He should be home today, Sunday the 16th. Pray for him.A spicy visionYesterday we were scheduled to do home visits in the morning and prepare a dinner of American food. Dave and Luann took it upon them selves to do the shopping. We made beef and peppers, Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes, fresh steamed green beans, plain rice, rice with chilies, carrots and green peppers, gravy and peas.

Having to work within the system at hand had its limitations. Everything turned out fine in the end, however. Even after Dave burned the first two pots of rice – we had to teach him how to cook rice. We wrapped every thing in bath towels, fresh from our bathrooms, and drove to Kichuna, on a four-wheel drive road I might add. There, the grandmas were waiting for us. Everything was set out and everyone ate. There were probably 30 grandmas there. All the food was devoured. At the end of our meal one grandma got up to give a speech. She thanked us from the bottom of their hearts and told us that no one had ever done such a thing for them. She said that even though she doesn’t eat pepper that she enjoyed every bite. Then it dawned on me – they are not interested in learning about new foods or creative cooking, or using different herbs and spice, they are happy with what the lord has given them. Well now they have had a spicy taste of American food which would be rather plain for you and me. It will probably be their last until Dave returns in April. We wondered what would happen if a team came from Mexico and tried this. I shudder to think of those grandmas’ stomachs turning in the night.’Gone wild’I got to see Joyce Kiza (Chris and Mike Krohn’s girl) at the dinner and do a video interview with her. She is such a sweet, special girl, but this brings me to a more difficult subject. We were told of a 10-year old boy, Gerald Assmwe, who is under the influence of his mother, who is an alcoholic. He is drinking, smoking and not going to school regularly. We went to see him and did a video interview with him and his mother. We told him that this was his last warning – that he would be taken off the program – and that his only hope of rising above where he was, was through education. I don’t hold much hope for him. We also saw another boy, Andrea Bagonza, who was described as having “gone wild.” He does not go to school, he stays away from home for days at a time and the authorities are trying to capture him.

We also did a video interview with him. He was well dressed and polite. He said his father was making him graze cattle and that’s why he wasn’t going to school. Joyce said that he was lying. This is another one who will be going of the program. We can find other more deserving children for their parents, if they wish.Bombarded by chimpsYesterday we took a day off. We went to Kibale National forest to track Chimpanzee. It was about a 45-minute drive from Fort Portal. We walked through the jungle for 2 1/2 miles, saw a black mamba – one of the most poisonous snakes in Africa – and listened intently for chimps. Suddenly there came a series of screams and the rustling of leaves. Our guide moved quickly and we followed close behind. We half ran through the jungle. They were right in front of us. We finally saw them on the ground before us. They quickly ran toward the rest of there group. Then they were in a large tree above us. A large male climbed the tree right in front of us. He was surrounded by three females in the same tree. They were eating some berries that looked like large kalamata olives. Then this female directly over head began dropping the unripe ones down on me. She hit me twice. I guess it was time to go. I am with some wonderful Christian people here. I have been listening to Dave and Merriam singing and praising God for the last hour. It is a wonderful environment to be in.I must go now and try to send this out to you.Vail, Colorado

Support Local Journalism