Tuesday October 31, 2006
What a day! We were back visiting the widows. This is Jane’s passion as she cites verses such as:
James 1:27 – Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
These past two days of traveling to the oldest and poorest widows have been such a pleasure.
Today we met Regina who is around 103 years old. She is the grandmother of our friend, Wandera and when his parents died of AIDS she took him in as well as his five siblings. She was a peasant, living off the land, and selling what she could spare for a little money. Wandera learned to fish and helped support the family by selling fish to a market.
Regina hadn’t seen Wandera for a year so she was elated when we arrived with him. She shared that when her mother was a girl, families would fight one another with spears-killing one another. I couldn’t get what the point of the fighting was-but then I never have. They wore animal skins for clothing. When Regina came along the fighting had stopped. She talked about families having an old woman-probably the grandmother stay in a hut with the girls. Little did parents know the girls weren’t safe because a boy could bribe the grandmother with a little money and she’d allow him to come in during the night and carry one of the girls off, rape them and bring them back before morning. Now they say they can be prosecuted for rape, but it continues to happen and often goes unreported.
Next we met Wandera’s 110-year-old maternal grandmother, Natocho. She was delightful! She showed me her basket/bowl used for food. They wove the basket and then sealed it with cow dung. You couldn’t wash it because the cow dung would soften so they just banged the bowl upside down when they emptied the food. When the bowl got too dirty they’d reseal it with more cow dung.
Before we left Natocho she said she wanted to accept Jesus as Savior. Imagine! You’re never too old for God’s mercy. Isn’t that wonderful? She was filled with happiness.
Everywhere I go people talk about Idi Amin and the terror of his regime. Today we stopped by a river and our driver told me, "This is where Amin’s soldiers would dump people." Amin ordered his soldiers to take no prisoners because he wouldn’t feed them; so one of the atrocities by the soldiers was to round people up for no reason. If they didn’t shoot them on the spot they would pile them into a dump truck, back up to the river and raise the truck spilling them into the river. People didn’t know how to swim and if they had it wouldn’t have helped because the soldiers stood on the river banks ready to shoot anyone who surfaced! What these people had to endure is beyond our comprehension! They said they never knew when they woke up in the morning if they’d be alive at night and when they went to bed at night they didn’t know if they would be dragged from their beds to be raped and shot.
We met up with two other widows today. One was 86-years-old. The other was in her 80’s also. I didn’t get a good look at her because she was lying in bed inside her dark hut. I could make out her image with the little light that sneaked through the doorway. She said, "I don’t want the Mzungu to photograph me." I agreed I wouldn’t although I really wanted to! She stood up and shrieked with happiness when she received her gifts and although I always stand back and Jane gives the gifts she showered me with grateful hugs as well as Jane.
Robert is here too. I’m just so excited about the honor of meeting these elderly women and hearing their stories that I’ve not gotten many stories from him. He is however working very hard and enjoying it. I’ve included a picture of him and Waterman. Waterman is modeling the new uniform Robert brought for him. His name isn’t really Waterman but when Robert gave him the job of "water monitor" he said, "I want to be called Waterman." Who can argue?
Tomorrow we head for a refugee camp. Keep the prayers going.