Before our northward journey to the town of Arua today, we had an early morning boat ride on the Nile and had breakfast with the hippos. The ride was beautiful as you could still see the moon over the river before the sun finally rose. Our thirty minute boat ride to the hippos gave us a real life view of African life on the river. The men were in canoes or large “row” boats fishing with nets while the women and children gathered water and bathed along the river-side.
Our driver knew exactly where to go for breakfast with the hippos. We ate about thirty feet from a group of about 15 hippos. For those of you who know Mark and Jon, you can only imagine all the “hippo” jokes. Not to mention being the “hippo” bait. It is a good thing David Taylor joined the team or we would’ve been renamed the “White Hippos!” The view and animal life on the river banks were amazing.
After our short trip on the Nile, we were back on task trying to accomplish all of ‘Uncle Jimmie’s’ plans for the trip. Brian, our tour operator, has been receiving lessons on American time-management. He has learned to qualify the estimated time for a drive by saying this is “African” time or ‘US’ time. He nailed it this morning. A thirty minute African drive was in reality a two and a half hour trip.
Upon our arrival in Arua, we gathered at the home of Pastor Penina Samuel of the Moru Christian church. Pastor Penina, other Moru church leaders, and several pastors from the Rhino camp joined us for lunch. It was fun to see Pastor Sunday and Pastor Simon both of whom we met in 2015 in Mundri, South Sudan. They had to flee their homes and are leading church plants in the Rhino camp.
The Moru church is in the process of obtaining 15 acres of land about 45 minutes outside of Arua. Our group, Pastor Penina, and two of her church leaders drove to this site (in the bush) to determine if it was suitable for growing in the dry season. The plan is to use water from a stream on the property and the drip irrigation system to maximize growing crops in the dry season. This would provide food for the church members and contribute to its financial needs. Access to a water source is critical in the winter (dry) months. The property definitely looks suitable for their needs. Mark observed, while traversing the tall grass, small streams, and fields, the property also looked like a good fit for snakes! Thankfully Michael, one the church leaders, assured us there were no snakes to be found.
Since the beginning of EDEN, God has enabled us to meet some great partners with wonderful hearts and the ability to reach the lost in East Africa. God again connected us with another ministry called Empower-One. This happened through some friends at Ben Lippen school and Shandon Baptist in Columbia, to Austin, TX, to Arua Uganda.
Two wonderful ladies representing Empower-One joined us for dinner at our hotel tonight. They shared how the vision of Empower-One is to reach millions for Christ in Africa. Their organization is focused on church-planting and discipleship. They have a strong track record of planting churches and using creative means for hard to reach people groups. They recently acquired 200 acres of farm land not far from the Kiryandongo refugee camp. Their goal is to use the proceeds of this farm to help fund their ministry. They will have several of their members join us for training tomorrow in the Rhino camp.
Another great day in Uganda is in the books. Thank you for your prayers and journeying with us on this trip.