Today was a day of God’s perfect timing. My goal was to try to find, reconnect & share our story of the last four years with Andrew Assimwe with five specific Ugandan people. Here is how it went.
I woke up at 4:00 am and realized the Super Bowl was at halftime, I was able to connect via ESPN and watch the game through a written account and text my son throughout the game.
After a bucket shower and preliminary packing of all my things, Vincent the driver, and I headed out to African Bible University as a middle ground to meet with my long-time friend, Charles, who came down from Soroti (an 8 hour bus ride) to see me. We had made plans a few days ago but we couldn’t connect for some reason that morning. I emailed my itinerary on Friday, so I wasn’t concerned.
By 9:30, I was wondering what might have happened to him, but this is Africa. I waited until 10:00, then 10:30 and asked Vincent how long we wait until we just head out because I had a busy day scheduled. He told me we give Charles 30 more minutes.
I headed across the street to an old cafe that I have spent many hours at, logged onto the web and started to try and figure out where the Government Ministry office buildings were located. I couldn’t believe that Charles and I could not connect and I felt really bad for him. But I was still praying he would just show up!
At noon, after 2 hours of waiting, I headed back disappointed, but committed with my new plan. As I entered the campus Vincent came running up to me, “my friend Charles is here!”
“Your friend?” I asked. “Yes, we went to school together in Gaba. I know him.”
Charles asked why I had ignored his texts and I asked why he didn’t answer one of the 10 calls I made to him this morning. Obviously, the technology wasn’t working for us today. But who cares? We are now together!
I thanked Vincent over and over because I was ready to head out after 90 minutes. God has really answered both of our prayers. This place we were at is where Erin stayed for a month during her battle to get Drew home 4 years ago.
So Charles, an alum here at the university, took me around to several of the professors that helped arrange for us to stay with them. “Remember the family we helped through the adoption 4 years ago? This is him!” Charles would say to each of them. We exchanged pleasantries and I thanked them all and gave them an update.
Goal 1: Completed.
Mary, one of the key people who helped Erin get through the immigration process by calling on all kinds of favors from friends within the system, was going to join us for the day! Charles invited her. She was instrumental in everything and Erin made me promise I would meet her and thank her again in person.
Mary showed up, I gave her a huge hug and we were (finally) on our way at 11:30 - only 2.5 hours behind. Traffic in Kampala is very bad, but I was so happy to be with these two, that I accepted the day as a success.
Goal 2: Completed.
Moses Binoga is the head of Child Trafficking in Uganda. He was the first person to try and help Erin on her journey after being removed off the plane and told she would never leave Uganda with Andrew. I had no way to connect but was determined to do my best to try and see him. Charles told me he had his number. So I called. It rang. “Hello?”
No way! It was him. I explained who I was and that I wanted to meet him and thank him in person. He was working from home and said he would meet at a restaurant by his house if we came all the way over there. We arrived early and waited. I hadn’t met him but I knew what he looked like. And then he walked in. I ran up from the table, shook his hand and said “this is from my wife” and gave him a big hug.
He is now the Commissioner of Police so thankfully he didn’t arrest me for assault!
We talked for well over an hour. I asked if he would give Andrew a video message and he agreed. Time went by too quickly, but I was rejoicing! I can’t believe that just happened. I think Vincent was also in shock that I just called this very important man Binoga with no warning and we all had lunch together.
Goal 3: Completed!
From another contact I had, I was able to get the phone number of our attorney, Isaac, that we used to get through the legal system in Uganda. I called him next and he also answered. Why didn’t things work like this when we were there 4 years ago? He was heading out but wanted to see me tomorrow (but I would be on a plane). Although we were unable to meet, I gave him an update, we exchanged information and I was able to share with him all I wanted to.
Goal 4: Mostly completed.
And finally it was time to attempt to meet up my arch nemesis, Kabo. If you remember, he was the one who held the power to release Erin and Drew four years ago with a simple signature but refused. His long-time assistant, Miss B, and I had had multiple exchanges while I would visit his office and try to get in front of him. She was the ultimate grumpy gatekeeper, never looking up at me when I was asking her questions. Kabo, through Miss B would sent me on errand after errand all around the city to collect useless information. And I did. Because they would not give me any direct answers, I ended up sitting on the stairs outside of his office just waiting for him to come into the office. Several officials got frustrated with Kabo, because this Muzungu was just hanging out on their floor. This (and your prayers) are what actually got Kabo to finally provide me that signature. “We want you to go away, so here is your signature. Please leave us!” were the final words to me from Miss B four years ago.
Surprisingly, we were able to easily find his building and get through security. Up the elevator we went to the 5th floor and then walked down the end of the hall (I remember this journey well.) I walked into the open door of Kabo’s office and there at the end of the table sat the one who I thought was Miss B with two gentlemen on either side of her.
“Are you Miss B?” I asked with a smile.
“What do YOU want?” she responded.
Well, I knew that attitude from a mile away. It was her!
I told her I was looking for Kabo. “He is out of the country.” She asked why I just don’t reach out to him directly. I said I had lost his contact info and couldn’t find anything online. I shared why I was there and wanted them to know that Andrew was doing well. She wrote out his cell and email and handed it to me.
“Where is the boy? Bring him to me.” she demanded.
I tried to explain he was home and that I was in Uganda with an orphanage but made a special trip to Kampala to reach out to Kabo and give him a personal update. In her stern, emotionless way, she actually had a conversation with me. That was a first!
“His name indicates he is from the western region.” She got out of her chair, and went to a map on the wall and pointed out several possible districts he could have come from. She looked my in the eye and talked to me not at me! You have no idea what kind of a breakthrough that was for us. We bonded! I even think she might like me a little.
I told her I would email Kabo after I got back home.
Goal 5: Completed!
It was 3:45 pm and we headed back south for one last stop over. Yesterday, I was able to purchase diapers, wipes and mosquito nets for the orphans at Loving Hearts Babies Home.
We made the journey to their compound, dropped them off and then raced back to the bible school so that Mary could make it to her first class at 5:50. Traffic was bad and I kept praying we would not cause her any delay. At 5:50 pm we entered the campus, said our thank yous and good-byes and she ran to class.
I said goodbye to Charles as well. We returned to Kirabo Seeds, to take my final bucket shower, have one last devotion with the kids about being salt (eating Miss Hannah’s world famous popcorn as an example) and light (using glow sticks).
Then it was off we went to the airport.
What an amazing day it was and a blessing to serve the great people and country of Uganda! I thank the Lord for all of you who have been apart of this journey which dates back to my first trip in 2003. God bless you and thank you to those who made it happen!