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Location: Bajjo, ku majani

Bajjo is in the Seeta region of Kampala, near to Mukono and about an hour in no traffic from Kampala town centre (or two or three if the traffic is bad). Although now considered part of Kampala as the city centre has expanded, it wasn’t originally. To get to the town centre, from Mummy’s house you need to jump onto a boda-boda, which is a motorbike driven by a crazy Ugandan, for about 10 minutes, to Jinja Road (one of the main roads that goes into Kampala). This costs around 1000 shillings for a Ugandan, and between 1-2000 shilling for a Muzungu, “white person”, or any poor Ugandan who happens to be travelling with one! You can usually get them down to reasonable price, but the problem you face is they don’t see you as a person, simply as a walking dollar sign (they assume your American, so I can happily say that have absolutely no dollars at all when they ask!) This is not unusual in this culture, but I think in developed countries such as the UK it would be classed as racism.

Once you reach the Junjer Road, assuming you still have some money left, you can get to Kampala using a taxi (known as a Matatu in other areas). In non-peak times, this should cost between 1-2000 shillings, but should never cost more than 3500. Often as an “walking American dollar”, they will raise the price by 1000+, but you can ask them to lower, or tell them it’s too high, and they will usually put it down. If they won’t, there is always another taxi next door. If none will lower the price, it usually means it’s about right, so it becomes pointless trying to get it down any further.

Profile: Pastor Peter Mugabi

Pastor Peter is very work know. He started as the pastor of New Life Baptist Church, and now works as the General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Uganda, overseeing 2000 church’s across Uganda. We met and had a good discussion about our future relationship. He’s very keen that this isn’t a once off trip, and that we start small by focusing on New Life Church, and then in future widen the scope to the other church’s he over sees, which is really exciting. He’s also keen for me to bring a team with me at some point to minister in Uganda, and also to organise to Ugandans to come here on mission. A very exciting opportunity, which I’m sure we will explore further when I do some work with them later in my trip.
His vision for the Baptist Union has two strands, one is in the work they are currently doing, supporting the local ministers. The second a more business perspective, which would then fund the work they are doing. He wants to see the local church forming credit unions, and putting away small amounts of money so they have finances available to lend, and then teaching entrepreneurial skills and using the credit unions to support the starting of businesses. I think the aim is the church comes in like an investor, with the startup capital, that allows the business to grow and find its feet. Then the dividend paid enable it to help more people start them own enterprises, buying cars for taxi services, or animals for farmyards. Whatever the enterprise in the church becomes a central point that facilitates that changes and lifts people out of poverty and into independence. He saw his church’s becoming providers, and then he would be able to facilitate get the product to market, with 2k churches involved, you could create a pretty good supply, and start looking at some bigger distribution platforms.

Location: Mummy’s House

Mummy’s house is where I’m living  for the first month of my trip. It’s very nice, and I live their with a number of other people (Arthur being one of them). The house has four or five bedrooms, most of which have a few beds in. My room has three beds in, though I’m blessed to have the room to myself. There is a main bathroom which most of the family use, with a shower in it (English toilet). Again I am very privileges to have an en-suite which has a English toilet and a shower, which is connected to a water heater, so I even get a warm shower in the evenings!

When they first build and move into the house, there was grassland (or tea-land, I’m not quite sure) all around the house, but in recent years more people have started to build houses around them. But the view is still really nice, with the hills in the distance, and its peaceful compared being near the road, or the city centre (if you ignore the 30db of notice coming from all the crickets and insects that starts as soon as the sun sets!)

I’m well looked after by mummy and the rest of the girls in the house, I have four meals (if I’m at home) each day, and my washing is done for me (well, it might be, I haven’t had anything come back yet . . .), so it’s better than a hotel from that respect. We have a few of the grandchildren staying with us at the moment so I get to play with a few of them when I have some spare time which is great fun. Veggietales fans will be pleased to know it’s made its way over hear, and Disney’s “A Christmas Carol” is a favourite of the kids, despite the fact it’s August (but who doesn’t like singing Christmas songs all year around!)

Profile: Gerald – Elder

Gerald is one of the six elders here at New Life Baptist Church, he became a Christian in primary school. He used to board, and one of the teachers would take students to church on the Sunday. At first he went along as a good excuse to get out of school for the day, but after a while he found Jesus and couldn’t keep away! He completed a degree in Telecommunications Engineering and is now working for one of the biggest networks in Uganda MTN (I decided not to mention the slow service at the help centres!), as an engineer.

He has a big heart for culture change and sees the local church as the best facilitator to do that.

Profile: Mummy Richmond aka Mummy Andy aka Antonia

Mummy Richmond has six children, who are all over the place. Richmond is one of them, who of course leaders New Life Baptist, directs the Pastors Discipleship Network (PDN), and is a spokes person for Compassion. One of her other sons, Richard, is currently in the UK working as an Associate Pastor for a church in Gloucester, married to an Italian lady. Mummy says the chocolate ice cream in Italy is the best, here it’s not so good. Her sister is a high court judge in Uganda. Mummy runs a shop about 10 minutes walk from the house, which sells dresses. She’s has decided that she will be my new mummy, and because her name begins with the same two letters, she has more of a right than my actually mum (Linda). But she did offer Pastor Richmond as an exchange. . . So that’s why she’s also known as Mummy Andy, but I think that’s only to me.

A mobile phone, easy as 1, 2, …1,000,000

We stopped off to visit the supermarket – “Shopright” – so I could pick up some water, some cash (it’s amazing how helpless you feel when you have no money), and a SIM card so I make local calls without paying a million pound an hour. This Arthur warned, could take a while. Sadly he was right. We took a ticket and stood in a queue, which preceded to remain static for the next 25 minuted, which the screen randomly called out various different numbers with different preceding letters before them, it what seemed to be no logical order.

Ten minutes later, with Arthur feeling a little impatient, we decided to pick up the the water
From the supermarket, and then return to see what progress we had made. A few other random numbers had been called, but, assuming they were in some kind of word, our number was still rather far away. We needed to get the SIM card cut to the right size for my phone, so we popped over to a different branch of MTN, and decided to join the queue here instead, as the door man told it wouldn’t be too long and would be much quicker than the other store. So we sat down and 45 minuted later, still hadn’t moved.

The culture is very laid back here, which Arthur seems to struggle with more than me (a great exercise in patience, which he didn’t seem too pleased with when I told him!) after about an hour, a lady waved me over (still my ticket hadn’t been called), and agree to sort me out. She processed the paper work, in about 10 minutes and then helped me setup everything on the phone and add some credit onto the number. I was up and running! Arthur laughed when I told him in the UK all we had to do is walk into a shop and buy a SIM card, easy as 1, 2, 3.

Profile: Arthur – Youth Pastor

Arthur works part-time for New life Baptist Church as the Youth Pastor. He’s also in the process of developing his replacements in the worship team, where he has previously led worship for the church. The rest of his working time is taken up as a TV Presenter for the national broadcasters. Arthur does two shows, the first is a story time, the second is pretty awesome. Kathmandu is a big place, and children can often get separated from their families and unable to return. Arthur takes children who have become lost, and uses TV as a medium to help reconnect them with their families. The success rate is about 50%, which I thought was pretty impressive, and a great practical mission.

Arthurs parents died when he was in his early teens, and at a similar time he met Richmond (now Pastor Richmond), was invited along to church and shortly after gave his life to the Lord. Mummy Richmond (or Mummy Andy as she now likes to be called), took him in and he became part of their family. He continues to live with Mummy Richmond, where I am also staying for the first part of my trip, in Bajjo ku majani (Bajjo is the area, and ku majani means “near the tea”, because the land used to be a tea plantation).

Arthur has a big heart for the youth of Uganda (here youth refers to age 14-30ish), he’s 34 himself so just moved out of that category, but the population of Uganda is one of the youngest, with approximately 60% of the population being under 34.

He’s in love with a beautiful American girl from Ohio called Bekah, who’s been in Uganda for just over a year and is now working with a great ministry in the process of being a NGO (Non-Govermental Organisation) that works with young girls stuck in sex trade.

Even in Uganda I…

It seems that even travelling 6000 miles to a different content to, they still think long hair means I am a women! When I arrived at Entebbe Airport it took an hour to queue for a visa, and, after looking at me, and then to my passport photo, and then back to me, the only response I got was:

“You look like a women”.

No emotion, simply said like a statement of fact. Being the polite British young man that I am, I simple replied with “Why thank you”, paid my entrance fee and headed over to the baggage reclaim.

Now I haven’t written a bucket list, or a list of things I want to achieve in life (bucket list implies I’m dying soon, which I have no plans to do). One of those things was ticked-off as I left the airport to see a large crowed outside by the arrival exit (it was very kind for them all to come to see me arrive, but not really necessary!) A young gentleman was standing with a big sign with “Andrew Galpin” written on it. I felt like a celebrity! I introduce myself to Arthur, who turned out to be the youth worker at the church I would be based with – New Life Baptist, Kampala.

Arthur had braved four hours of Kampala traffic to pick me up (thanks again, it would have been very awkward if you’d given up half way), but had still managed to arrive over an hour before I came out of the airport (I blame the visa queue, personally). The journey back was set to take around two hours in the current traffic, which was significantly better than Arthur’s first journey, but not unusual  for Kampala. This served as a great opportunity to find out a bit about Arthur, his story and the church.