Saturday, January 12, 2013

Quenched Thirst

By The Living Water


College Sweethearts ... 45 years later!
The twins of curiosity and apprehension escorted me from Kansas City, Missouri, to Dixon, Illinois, the time I made my first of many trips there.  No reason existed to journey to the hometown of the former president of the United States, Ronald Reagan, until I laid my eyes on Pamela Jean Wilson in September of 1966.  I was a sophomore in college when this beautiful petite freshman arrived on campus.  It required several determined months to coax a date ... which was on a Sunday morning to the safely of a church service ... out of this stubborn and principled young lady.  Now we were more than friends and I was on my way to MEET THE PARENTS in Dixon.

First breakfast in Uganda
I could not have been more fortunate.  The mother of my girlfriend has a God-given ability to see some good in the worst of people.  Her heart of love for people is one of the best I've ever witnessed.  She was accepting, tolerant, tender, and willing to let me become her first son in law.  Our  46 year old relationship has only grown sweeter and more significant. Eventually she and my father in law moved from Dixon to Oregon and lived in a house on our five acres.  She still lives there with her second husband, and my second father in law, Duke Riseling.  Dad Wilson went home to be with the Lord in 1999.

God knows us better than we or anyone else knows us.  And He does amazing things to connect us in deeper and deeper ways to Himself.  Jeannie and Duke Riseling got the surprise of their life in the October of last year.  Someone anonymously donated funds for two round trip tickets to Uganda and enough money to sustain them for six weeks there.  Mom is 82 and Dad is 81 and the Lord must have assumed that they were strong enough for the journey and a stay in Africa.  They will board their return flight to Oregon next Wednesday.  I've invited my mother in law to reflect on her time here.  She has consented to let me share it with you in my blog.

Our three weeks in Uganda five years ago did not prepare us for the encounter we have enjoyed with the Lord over the past six weeks.

Western Uganda wildlife
I know now that my daughter and son in law wanted this to be an un-regrettable experience for us.  We arrived at the only international airport in Uganda just before midnight on November 30th.  For the first time, instead of a three hour drive to their home in Jinja, Paul and Pam took us to a motel five minutes from the airport so that we could rest for the trip the next day through the capital city of Kampala. A week later, Duke and I would soon stay in a motel in Kamwenge that make this first experience seem five star one.

The experience we had during the drive from Kampala to Jinja was unforgettable for me.  All along the way, people shouted at my son in law on a first name basis.  Several times we stopped the van and open hands and faces came into our windows and people expressed their excitement over the return of their friends from America.  On one occasion, one young man literally dragged me out of the van so he could hug me and thank me for producing Mama Pamela!  Our "kids" are truly loved by many people of Uganda.

In a week we all loaded up for a LONG drive from central Uganda to Western Uganda.  Paul and Pam were responding to a request to come for an “introduction,” a term that was new to us, but describes the meeting of two families with a single man and single woman who want them to consider permitting marriage between them.

Those steps are pretty high!
The 70 kilometer drive over a muddy road, after 10 hours of driving on pavement, brought us to Kamwenge.   This was the village in which we were to lodge for several nights and it is considered the best hotel in the village.  There was no electricity in the village due to a power pole being down.  We descended down 10 inch steps to our room and ascended back up them to sit in the hotel restaurant to order our food. Goat stew and rice was the order of the day and we joined this popular petition.  After our sodas vanished, along with two hours, and some inquires in the kitchen, we were told that they had sent a man to go for the goat meat, but that he had “delayed.”

We returned to our room to discover that there was only one over sized towel for us to share, no lights, (but we had a flashlight), leaky water pipes, and  when I sat on the toilet seat I realized it was cracked after it bit me in a tender place!

Oh yes.  There was a wedding that night just below the motel.  The music, at full volume, lasted all night.  Literally.  It was shut off after the Ugandan National Anthem was sung at 6:15 AM!  When the drunks who had joined the wedding were asked to please turn down the music and let those in the motel sleep, they threatened to burn down the hotel.

So ... the roads were beyond bad, the hotel was completely sub par to what we experience in America, and meals could come at any time during the day or night.  Life was pretty different to what I was accustomed. But I wouldn't trade the experience we shared in Kamwenge for anything.

My grandson Edgar
I met a genuine and humble man of God who considers my daughter and her husband his parents.  His name is Edgar and he had requested that Paul be his spokesman at the introduction in the absence of his half brother.  We spent several peaceful hours on his dairy farm as a feast was cooked outdoors for us.  There was no electricity, running water or even a toilet seat, cracked or otherwise.  But, it was a delightful afternoon.

After dinner/supper Edgar directed us down a rural dirt road.  Our delightful driver, Peter, “branched” off of the road onto a foot bath and followed it as it wound around trees and bushes until we reached the home of Janet, the object of Edgar's affections and ambition.

Spokesmen for both families spoke.  I was so proud of my son in law.  He spoke from a Biblical and Kingdom perspective on life.  He was respectful, but firm in requesting that the cultural tradition of dowry be abandoned.  He asked for a recognition of children being owned by God and parents only stewards of them for God.  He requested that Janet and her twin sister be allowed to accompany us back to Jinja where they would stay for a little more than two weeks.  And where Edgar and Janet would receive premarital counseling.

Daughter Pam & Granddaughter Robyn
At home in Uganda, East Africa
With all the discomfort and inconvenience I have lived with over the past six weeks, I am not anxious to rush home to resume such a life.  I've encountered a refreshing and genuine display of the presence and power of Christ.  My heart has melted on many occasions, resulting in a catch in my throat and moisture in my eyes. I've witnessed faith seldom needed in my nation. I've marveled at a passion in young people that stuns me. I've rested in the intimacy of fellowship, worship, and prayer on the veranda.  I've seen my husband loved, respected, and honored by young men with whom he has left a big impact.  I have leaned over a hospital bed with my amazing daughter and prayed for a mother who lost her baby and who needs a touch from the Lord.  I've met and loved people on the streets and in the shops and churches who are acquaintances and friends of Pam and Paul.

And, I've told my daughter and her husband, "You are right where God wants you.  I now see that you both come alive in such an environment.  God is really using you here ... and this really is your home."  They aren't the only ones to have come alive.  Duke and I will never be the same and we will never forget the moments we have shared with the Lord in this far away and endearing place called The Pearl of Africa.  We have had a rich opportunity to drink at the refreshing springs that flow from The Living Water.

Thanks for reading these initial reflections of my mother in law.  I suspect she has found a way for me to do her journaling for her!  I'm going to miss both Duke and Jeannie.  It's been great living life with them.

3 comments:

  1. Aunt Jeannie needs to write a book of all her experiences such as these. You and Pam could really do the same. I for one would love to read the insights God has given you through your personal journey. Think of it as a more effective way to share what the Lord has done and is doing, I will try to keep up with this blog that I didn't know exsisted. It is all such an inspiration for me, keep up the good God work and may the Lord prosper you your health and your soul till it has overflowed into more blessings for others that God has put in your life. Blessings always and prayers for God's perfect will and Aunt Jeannie and Uncle Dukes safe return. In Jesus Name Amen and Amen

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  2. Wow! a real blessing this is to me. We thank God

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  3. I loved this update! Thank you for sharing Nanna's viewpoint with us :)

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