Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Just Another Day

Of Missionary Work

We were parked under the cover of a huge shade tree.  It provided relief from the hot midday sun as well as cover from the thief we were attempting to capture.  Peter said it reminded him of American movies.  You know, where the undercover cops are hunkered down in their vehicles.  They watch and they wait.  And, they separate the long minutes and hours by breaking open the thermos of hot coffee and washing down a donut with yet another cup of coffee  ... fighting off sleep and hoping to catch a break.

But this was not some state of the art police vehicle that was hidden away among the foliage and cover of the Ugandan landscape.  It was just a couple of white guys and a couple of African guys sitting in our large 14 passenger van, hoping that the morning strategy would bring the mystery to a close.

Earlier that morning we gathered outside the Central Police Station and spoke in hushed tones. Should we all go in our vehicle?  Should we send the two detectives on their own with Raoul? Should we follow them? What if the thief knew our vehicle and caught sight of it.  Wouldn't he run and we lose our chance to apprehend him?

We eventually followed the detective's personal car from a far distance.  After five minutes of eating dust, we spotted their car pulled off the road and hidden behind some bushes.  Had they made contact already?  Our excitement faded quickly. False alarm.  No contact yet.  Just sharp rocks from the road which ruined a tire.  The lead detective complained of breaking a sweat, so Peter quickly parked the van and finished the job for him.  I prayed that the contact they were looking for had not spotted us talking and laughing with one another.

Unit One resumed the search and we waited in the bushes with our van ... Unit Two ... parked across the road in plain sight.  I soon received a call from Raoul that both units had passed the contact before the flat tire.  They were going to head back up the road.  We walked back to our van and traveled at a super slow speed.  Soon we saw Unit One pull over.  A young girl approached the younger detective named Sula.  He closed the gap between them, grasped her wrist, and took a cell phone from her hand.  She entered the vehicle and we drove past them.  Under forceful interrogation and fearing jail herself, she soon revealed where the boyfriend lived.  The thief was put in custody and Pam's iPhone was recovered.

Ronald on the floor at the police station
Ronald was among one of the first street boys Sera Kasonga took off the street more than five years ago.  Several years ago he was caught stealing from the home and even from Sera's bedroom.  After pleading with him for change, his continued behavior demanded that he be put outside the home.  He has been to our home a couple of times since then.  The last time I spoke with him on our veranda along with Peter.  I warned him that if he did not stop stealing he would some day end up in prison and he would not like it.  Pam even took a photo of him, from the phone he eventually stole, as he was sitting with me. When the phone was in his possession, Ronald erased many of her photos, but made that one of him his screen saver.  In an hour we go to court to see what the Magistrate will decide about his future.

Yesterday I went down the street to meet a couple of mothers.  I found two boys, maybe 7 and 9, in my compound stealing berries.  I told them our gate is open, but sneaking around a person's compound will make people wonder what they are up to.

These thefts don't really matter to me all that much.  They are small issues in themselves. However, this culture is so steep in witchcraft that lying, stealing, and deceiving without conscience is common.  The greater pain I have in my day to day work is the misrepresentation, disappointment, deception, and efforts to destroy our reputations and steal our good names  And this is sometimes the behavior of some our friends and ministry associates.  But, God has an answer for each and every days.  It is expressed beautifully in this poem called ANYWAY.
People are unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies.
Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Be good anyway.
Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build anyway.
People need help, but will attack you if you help them.
Help them anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.

Kent Keith originated this poem in 1968 and Mother Teresa placed it on her children's home in Calcutta in a slightly different version.  As a result, many have attributed it to her.


  1. It is sad to see this young man waste the many opportunities he has been given. As you know, it is more than the battle between "good and evil", "truth and lies", "life and death", it is a battle for the collective soul of a nation. I'm glad there are people like you and Pam on the front lines. We will be there soon and I am counting the days. For now, we send our love from Oklahoma and Texas. DK

  2. Glad the phone is safely home! Been there several times in USA, Uganda and Rwanda. Man I love the "find my iphone" tracking feature. :)


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