torsdag 6. november 2008

Travelling to Mbale

Picture one: Facilitator and audience in action
Picture two: Nkokonjeru peak, a spur of the Mount Elgon Masif
Weekend is drawing closer again and it is hard to belive that it will soon be a week since we left Kampala and headed for Mbale. Travelling for five to six hours in in a crowded van is rather tiering wether the travel takes place in Norway, England or Uganda. Main differences are the landscape which was beautiful whenever I was awake. Which means whenever some of my fellow travellers poked me to show me something. This is an confession that I slept most of the way from Kampala to Mbale. The three main reasons for sleeping is that one I was up very early in the morning and needed slepp, two if you sleep it reduces the feeling og being bored and idle when travelling and thirdly I usually enjoy sleeping when I am not the driver of the vehicle. With help from my friends I had the opportunity to appreciate Ugandas largest forest, the source of the river Nile and seemingly endless fields of sugarcanes. As we approached Mbale I was roused again and my eyes fell on a mountain looming in the horizon. I soon learned that the mountain only was a small hill and the starting slopes of the Mount Elgon Massif. The beauty of the mountain candled a desiere in my heart to climb the slopes and have a look at the view from the top. For the time I had to content myself with viewing the waterfalls, clouds encircling the top and the intense green coloures clothing the slopes of the Nkokonjeru (2.348 m.) peak. The rest of the Mount Elgon masif were to far away to be seen and contains several high peaks. Wagagai is the highest peak and it's 4.321m makes it the eight highest on the African continent.

The conference was located at a boarding scool outside the town itself. We arrived on the first day of the conference and plunged into the program with attending a lecture about unity in ministry. There is a great many things which may disturb unity of ministry in a city like Bergen. Even more here. There is different cultures living close togehter and being mixed in a random way at all institutions of higher education. Additionally there is an abundance of different denominations which adds complexity to the issue of unity. What more there is the principle of being a born again christian. Different definitions of what it means to be a born again may cause a lot of discussion in this setting. During the speech it was also warned against creating strict standards for christian behaviour. Examples which were given were strict standards for how often people should go to church, attend meetings in the Christian Union or how to perform prayer. The things can be good in themself and it is therefore tempting to creat standards, but when the standards are created they create walls between those living up to a standard and those who doesn't. Walls leads to separation and separation does not lead to unity. Also Paul in his letters warned against crating competing denominations within the body of christ by saying things like I follow Apollo, Paul, Kefas or (for those being overspiritual) I follow only Jesus Christ. The issue is not less important today. At least not in Uganda and it was therefore interesting to follow the session and the discussiones.
Later there was more teaching on other themes, workshops on themes like time mangement and gender issues, a cultural night on saturday evening and a service on sunday. As much as possible I attended the different happenings, but I also missed some because of a brief visist to Mbale town and because I attended an Introduction. Both will be commented in later posts, but for know it should be enough to know that an Introduction is a big happening and among the major events of life here in Uganda.

onsdag 5. november 2008

Meeting Citizens abroad

A few days ago we visited our favourite internet cafe in town. Inside there is a cool and quiet atmosphere. I sat down, connected my computer to the network and I was soon absorbed in trying to log on to my internet bank. This have proved to cause me great difficulties while I am in Uganda. A slower internet connection than the standards I have got used to while I was a student at the University of Bergen is of course in itself challenging. The biggest issue have though been that my internet bank requieres java software to run the log on process. A software most Ugandan internet cafes seems to lack interest in installing on their computers. Therefore it has consumed a lot of effort and time to manage my money affairs in Norway from Uganda. While I pulled out my visa debet card the other white guy seated next to me turns his head and ask me: Er du norsk? (Are you Norwegian?) And he continued with telling me: Eg så at du har et norsk førerkort. (I could see that you have a Norwegian drivers licence). After giving an rather surprised and entusiastic answer we started to talk.I soon learned that they were a team who have travelled to Uganda to make a documentary about a child project their organisation were supporting. When they had told me what was on their hearts about their project they also showed true interst to what I were doing. So I told them the essentials about the exchange program and FOCUS Uganda. Meeting fellow norwegians abroad in a rather unlikely place was of course a nice and surprising event. Even more surprising was the fact that these two young men were from Loddefjord. When I told them that I lived at Juvik on Askøy before they became even more enthusiastic than before. Because as they said: It is only 10 min with car from where I live and I have been on Askøy many times. After some good talking about Bergen, our projects and much more time for departure arrived and we wished each other good luck with the rest of our stays in Uganda which were going to be a few days for some and five months for another one.

caughing in Uganda

fredag 24. oktober 2008

Hald 370 km fra Kristiania

As I left the south-west express bus on August 13th of October I crossed the road and walked towards the white buildings at the other side of the road. The buildings are Hald. The last home many young norwegians have before they leave Norway and travel abroad into countries far away from where only strange rumours reach the shores of my island. Hald is also the first norwegian home for people speaking different and strange sounding tongues.

When sailing was still an usual way of transporting food and goods across the world oceans Hald was built as a recreation place for a wealthy family. Since then the houses and grounds have been used for celebration, bible schooling and as hostel for people who need a place to rest their bodies after long days of travelling. Today it is having several functions. One is of importance to me and my story. It is the physical location of Hald international centre. In itself that is nothing more than a long and fancy combination of words.I guess that the phrases would need some explanation. Most importantly it is a way of exchanging young people. That is people who have a desire for leaving the comfort and saftety of their home place and do some small or great work in a different society to change the world and make life better. Of course those people also have to be within defined age limits and they should also fulfill other official requierments. This year two Ugandan girls have travelled north to work for and togehter with christian students in Trondheim and two Norwegian boys have travelled south to Uganda to do the work for the Kingdom as people here would say when someone is doing one or another ministry in an christian setting.

I happen to be one of the two boys in Uganda and I intend to post small stories from my life in the pearl of Africa, fun facts about norwegian or ugandan society and other things related to my work, life, Fellowship of Christian Unions in Uganda or Hald. The name of this place at the southern end of Norway brings alive the memory of approaching the entrance where an erected stone were rised with the inscription: Hald 370 Km til Kristiania