Thursday Jan 16th 2014 - Saturday 18th Jan: Day 2 - 4 in Uganda
Waking up to the African sunrise, the Ankole cattle and chirping Ugandan birds has got to be one of the best ways to awaken. It is so similar to back home with all the sounds of nature surrounding you as you lie in bed, yet as you listen you slowly realise that this is a different place and the sounds all around you are that little bit different. The birds singing aren't the magpies, kookaburras, rainbow lorikeets or cockatoos you grew up hearing. The frogs sound so foreign, almost like the shattering of glass. The insects you can hear buzzing and calling out are still grasshoppers but have that slightly different pitch. Yet the familiar steadfast call of the cicadas (pronouned: cic-ar-das or circ-a-das) knits all these new sounds together and serves as an auditory interface between home and here. I walked out onto the balcony to watch the sunrise and saw a big grey monkey in the tree closest just chilling having breakfast (not mine thankfully).
Upon awakening and visiting my bathroom, which has large windows of flyscreen so you can look out, I was quite suprised to look up and see an Impala standing on top of a rock right outside the window staring me down! Goodmorning Africa! Today we did a lot of relaxing, went for a few walks to see some wildlife, swam in the pool that overlooks the animal's water hole and did a night game drive.
At this park around Lake Mburo in the west of Uganda we saw a lot of beautiful, graceful zebra, adorable warthog, flighty impala, fast topi, hippo near the water that have come out for the night, shy eland, the bush buck, water buck, buffalo (buffalo baby calves are THE cutest!), predator genet cat and the little mongoose! Sadly the lion, hyena and leopards didn't come out to pose but we heard the hyenas when we went for a walk in the early morning of day 3 (Friday). It was so amazing to just walk out and see so many animals that usually you only see on National Geographic or in books!!
I (Mel - although I am sure Brenton is too) am constantly amazed at the creative genius of God to have made so many animals (including us) so very different and in such a clever ways. The Topi for example has longer front legs than hind legs so that they can run very fast. The warthog's tail stands completely upright when it runs so that its offspring can follow it when it runs. The eland is a very shy animal that have fat humps on its back like camels and zebu cattle so it can go for a long time without water. The waterbuck however gets its name because it is always found near water and are quite good swimmers. The hippo have very small ears in proportion to its head but they still have a good sense of smell. They are in water all the day to keep them cool as they have no sweat glands. All the animals are also very instinctive in searching out rock near the water hole that is salty so they can replace their electrolytes as they drink.
It was really cool to see the animals at night, I (Mel) loved seeing the buffalo and watching their body language. They would put their noses high in the air smelling us and some would come forward and then drop back as if deciding amongst themselves who will attack first and keeping the youngster calves in the centre of the mob away from us. The most adorable thing was a month old buffalo calf clinging to the side of its mother. It was so small and round!
What a blessing to experience such a place and how awesome to get to know the people who live and work here and hear stories of the animlals they love from their perspective too. Our ranger guide, Azaria, said his favourite animal is the zebra. Although many like the lion, he said, he thought them to be wasteful killers that will take a zebra for dinner and not finish the meal. It is not good, he said, if you are going to kill your zebra, you eat your zebra!
It has been so amazing to be here and begin our trip here in such a way. On day 3 (Friday) we went on an early morning walk while the grass was still wet and the hyena were still gathering themselves to find a den to sleep the day away. This was a highlight for me (Mel) to see the animals in the early hours. At 11am we left the lodge and did a boat trip around Lake Mburo. We saw a lot of really cool birds; Pide Kingfisher, Fish eagle, Water Thickenee, Golias Heron, African Finfoot, etc. I (Brenton) loved to see the amazing capabilities of the fish eagle as it dived out of sky like a jet with wings folded and snatched what would have been a rather surprised fish out of the water! It's awesome to think of Job 38:39-39:30 where we see how God cares and provides for his creation! It's also amazing to think that this is happening everywhere in creation; whether we see it or not God is providing for His amazing creation and the abilities of His creation are amazing!
We saw a lot of hippos that just poked their heads above the water to see who was coming. Did you know they can hold their breath under water for 6 minutes? We also (much to Brenton's delight) saw one big crocodile and three baby ones! Although the Nile crocodiles aren't nearly as pretty (Brenton's words) as our salties back home! We then drove the 5 hours back to Kampala (capital city of Uganda) and are here now (day 4 - Saturday) til we meet up with Summer my old teammate from Karamoja around lunchtime. Our driver for the past few days was a guy called Nasser, he was really nice and did a great job. One of the great things about Africa is everyone's openness to speak about God. He is a Muslim and when we told him we were Christians we had a great chat about that and what it means to be Christian and the importance of the Bible in our faith, how we can talk to God anytime, not just in church and that with the Bible we know God's exact words to us! Pretty cool.
Also it is so cool how a lot of the cars and trucks along the way have signs on them saying things such as "God is Good" "God is there" "Jesus is Lord" "God bless u" "Jesus is the way to heaven" spirituality is such an integral part of life as a Ugandan, very different to back home.
We'd love you to pray for us over the next few days, here are some points:
- Pray that God would give us the words to speak into the hearts of the people we meet here. That we would make the most of every opportunity to share our faith.
- Praise to Him for those we met in Lake Mburo, particularly Azaria, Nasser and the Lodge manager Clemmi and prayer that God would be revealing himself to them.
- Praise to Him for those we've met in Kampala, particularly Rainer who is staying at the Guest house we are at in Kampala and has been involved in mission in Uganda for some time.
- Praise and gratitude for keeping us safe so far in our travels and expeditions and for safety as we continue to travel over the next few days.
- For nerves here that God would give us peace and know His absolute control over all things in all places.
- For good fellowship as we re-unite with old friends (for me) and new friends (for Brenton).
*From here we drive north to Soroti and Karamoja with Summer, meeting up with friends on the way which will be really fun but also as we enter Karamoja the internet connection is definately less reliable so although we'll try to post something new for you to read, don't worry if you haven't heard anything for a few days.
God bless, Mel & Brenton.