Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Good Gifts

We left Gulu this morning and our team has gone in two separate directions. One group have headed to Kampala to see more of Watoto's work and the rest of us have gone West to see more of Uganda. The road we took was a mud track, made much more interesting by last night's heavy rain. There were a couple of moments when I was mentally calculating how much food we had on board and how long it would last us if we got stuck. This road was even more rural than anything we have yet seen, a few mud huts spaced ten or twenty minutes drive apart. Nothing but grass and woody shrubs to the horizon. I find myself wondering how these people live. Where do they get water? How much food can they grow? How much of the day is taken up with the daily battle to exist, and what do they do with the rest of their time? Every so often I would ask, are we still in the war zone? Yes, we were still in the war zone. And now. And now. The whole of Northern Uganda, as far as the Nile, was under rebel control. Is is terrifying to imagine living in one of these villages, no more than a few huts at times, when a raiding party from the Lord's Resistance Army could surprise you at any moment, burn your homes, kill you, abduct your children, destroy your life. It is easy to see how, even with the very little security they offered, the IDP camps became a place of refuge. And we passed so many camps today, until they became familiar: oh look, there's another.
From this, we have come to Paraa Safari Lodge. Our first sign that we were drawing near the National Park where we will spend two days was three elephants grazing a little way from the road. Once through the Park's entrance we barrelled along through the Savannah exclaiming at our first sight of wild giraffe, more elephants, water buffalo, kob, storks, vultures and warthogs. We have arrived in a glamorous hotel, the pool is just outside the french windows of our room, we have eaten an excellent lunch and we are soon setting off on our first game drive. It is a place to praise God and to marvel at this creation, but it also feels like a massive crunch of gears, such a contrast to the suffering and poverty we have seen. As I focus on God's goodness of this gift to me, I am struggling with an uncomfortable feeling of the inequality of life. Judging by the tiredness we are all expressing, it is, perhaps, a much needed physical and mental break; time to turn our eyes to the goodness and wonder of God himself and away from the works of man.

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