Okay, so we started out on our venture to Kabalo, and are now safely ensconced here. We stopped at Kabumbulu along the way, which has several parishes that we visited. I feel like there isn’t too much interesting to say about it that isn’t a repetition of what I’ve already said—but perhaps that’s an artifact of my fatigue. It is true that the villages are starting to run-together a bit in my mind, partially because many of them have the same needs and struggles. However, in Kabumbulu we began to enter the areas that have been heavily hit by the rebels. I was thinking to myself that “war” isn’t really an apt way to describe what was experienced in these villages, because the word “war” suggests a discrete period of time, a certain discernable beginning and ending point. In many ways, that was never the case here. Though it is largely “safe” now, the residents still have fresh on their minds a “war” that supposedly “ended” in the early 2000s.
The most memorable village for me was Unga-Nyogo, because, in addition to being very hard-hit by the rebels (DS Mulongo told me that when he had visited this village in the past, people had been wearing necklaces made of human body parts) they also had not seen a “missionary” since the 1960s. Though I am often the center of attention wherever I go, due to being white, this time the children were literally gaping at me, because they had never seen a white person before. While a unique experience, it is perhaps not as important as the fact that it gave me a sense of how abandoned these communities feel by the rest of the world. It was if the church and western governmental influences (not saying that they were all good…) just pulled out and never looked back. This particular village was one that Bob did not get a chance to visit due to being thwarted by a strong head-wind, but I think it was part of my “mission” to get to go there, because one can truly not experience the level of abandonment felt by these communities without this kind of encounter. It reminded me, of course, that even the other villages we visited, despite having been visited by Bob, were more or less in the same “dire straits” as they literally have only ever seen two people (me and Bob) come to their towns in the past decade with a desire to help rebuild the community instead of destroy it.
Beyond that, we’ve been traveling, traveling, traveling—another testament to the difficulty and expense of in-country travel. I’ve begun to think of it as somewhat akin to a traveling theater troupe—once you get to your destination you are “on” for a few hours, during which you expend most of your emotional and physical energy. The rest of the time is spent on exhausted travel. I was starting to feel a little guilty about being so tired all the time, “dragging down” the crew and all that, but Sunday when we were in church in Kubumbulu, I looked up at one point and almost everyone from our team was asleep! So it’s exhausting all around. Glad to be in Kabalo, finally, though!