We are all just a little bit tireder today, the sun has shone a little bit hotter and the work has felt that little bit harder. Having said that, the house has continued to rise, to the tune of cheerful shouts of 'Machenga!' as we call for more mortar. We were up scaffolding today and the bricks have reached the tops of the windows and doors, both inside and out, and I am, if I do say myself, I becoming more proficient at laying the bricks right. Every course laid must be checked: sometimes they are tweaked a little, sometimes they are taken out and relaid, and, just occasionally, the local labourer I am working alongside will not adjust them at all and pronounce my handiwork 'Mabae' - Good! I am also beginning to develop the skill of flicking the machenga at the gaps so that it fills and sticks although, of course, if I try to demonstrate this to anyone invariably it flops to the floor.
Our visits to the bathroom in one of the houses in the completed and inhabited cluster are gradually increasing my vocabulary and I have been inspired to use the voice recorder on my mobile phone to capture the native accent. This produced uproarious laughter, a group of curious children and a hug from Mama Margaret. I have been able to untangle some of the confusion I was in as Margaret had taught me the response to some of the phrases and I was lost as to which was which. I have got 'How are you?' so well that when I speak to someone I haven't met before, they know what I am saying and reply. This, however, makes a very short conversation and I have to revert to English to continue.
After lunch we took some little bottles of bubbles to the children and were rewarded by the sight of dozens of little ones running round in the sun blowing and chasing and laughing. One quiet girl caught my notice and I gave a bottle to her. She was shy and unsmiling and I blew some bubbles for her which she watched with large, patient eyes. I held the wand before her lips, encouraged her to blow and a stream of bubbles burst forth, followed by a slight upturn of her lips. She led me to her home where her mother, happily amused by my faltering attempts to communicate in her language, invited me in to sit with her and talk. Mary, the little girl, sat motionless on my lap and I was introduced to her older sister as well as the other children of her house, her Watoto family. Mama Christine told me of her eight children in the Watoto home and her six grown-up children in Gulu and how Jesus gives her power for each day. I would love to have more opportunity to learn from this woman of God some of the wisdom of her years.
As I left the building site I tried out my phrase from yesterday: I'm coming back. David, another builder, who is patient with my attempts to learn, taught me the word for 'tomorrow', so I will say (time, internet connection and God willing):
Abii dwogo diki!