On Friday afternoon, my driver (Sherlock) and I went to pick up the letter that would supposedly say I was allowed to drive the government car I had been carried around in for the past four weeks. But when I opened the letter, the first thing I saw was my score – 68 of 100: Pre-Driving – 20 of 30, Driving Theory (I kid you not) – 18 of 30, Technical Proficiency – 30 of 40.
“Um, what is passing?” I nervously asked Sherlock.
“50 of 100,” came his reassuring reply. “I got a 75 after driving here for ten years.”
Good thing their expectations are so low. (Unfortunately, the low expectations are not limited to driving skills). My sense from being on the road is that most people behind the wheel would score in high 30s in Technical Proficiency, but in the low single digits in Driving Theory.
Late Friday afternoon, Henry arrived on the bus from Hoima and met me at the mall. Joline and the kids had spent the afternoon at a craft market with Sara Ribbens on her last day in Uganda – she flew home with her kids on Friday night (huge answered prayer) – so they met us there also.
Since we needed to drop Henry off at school on Sunday afternoon, we had quite a bit of shopping to do because his school is a boarding school and almost everything on the “Required” list he didn’t have. We grabbed some low hanging fruit, and then ate at the Indian food restaurant in the mall. Henry had never had Indian food before, and neither had my other two kids (Jessica was still out of town doing medical mission work with the Gregstons). Everyone loved it, especially both kinds of goat we ordered. We decided to hit the shopping hard in the morning.
I had previously decided that I was going to try to avoid driving at night, if possible, so it was not ideal when my first time behind the wheel with my family was after dark. Fortunately, all went well.
In the morning, Henry joined us for our daily exercise routine – he can now operate a treadmill like a gym instructor. After showers, our shopping spree kicked off, at least for some of us. Joline and the kids (plus Henry, minus Jessica) dove in while I met with an American named Holly who has encountered some difficulties with finalizing her legal guardianship of twin three year-old girls and has been in Uganda for six months now. I hope I can be of assistance to her, but the situation is a bit different from that of Sara.
Over the next six hours, we got Henry the following items:
Mattress and bedding
Three pairs of shoes
Laundry basin and soap
Pens and pencils
10-liter Jerry Can
And some other assorted items
I made it back and forth to the mall hitting only four potholes and two pedestrians. Actually, I didn’t really hit any pedestrians, but I scared a few with my wiper blades.
We took a few pictures of the haul to commemorate the occasion.
Later that night, Jessica arrived home. They had seen over 1,000 patients in four days in two villages. Sadly, a three year-old girl who had been sick with malaria for two weeks died while she was being rushed to the hospital. As you might expect, that hit everyone pretty hard, as the Gregston’s post indicates.
After church on Sunday morning, Joline, Henry, and I set out for school to check Henry in. Before we left, the six of us circled up and prayed that all would go well. The kids and Henry hugged it out, and then we got on the road.
I hate being late. Ever. For any reason. No matter where I am going. Period. Unfortunately, we got a later start than I had hoped, but we were still going to be fine unless we got lost. Well, we got lost. My faithful navigator (Joline) tried to find us on a map, but to no avail. Like the real man I am, I was pretty sure I could find my way without asking for directions. (The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, so I got a bit short tempered as well). Then we hit an epic traffic jam. We just sat there for about ten minutes. Finally, Henry jumped out, conversed with a local in Luganda, and figured out where we should go. When he got back in the car, he explained where we needed to go . . . which was exactly where I was already headed. At least as far as you know.
We arrived about five minutes early, but the place was crawling with parents and students.
After about forty-five minutes, we got him registered. Fortunately, the mandatory assembly started about an hour late, so all was well. The auditorium held about 500 and almost every seat was full. Never have Joline and I felt so many eyes upon us wondering who we were and what we were doing there. We just smiled, shook hands with some folks, and sat with our “son” between us. Someone could have detonated a kiloton bomb and not another mzungu would have even heard it, let alone felt its concussion.
The assembly was informative and engaging. We had an overwhelming sense of peace that this was exactly the right place for Henry. So did he. After the assembly, Henry moved into his dormitory, but school rules didn’t allow us to go in. He came back after about twenty minutes to say goodbye, and told us that he had two new friends already. We shared some “I love you’s” and fought back tears as we felt like we were dropping our first kid off at college.
Joline will be posting in the next day or so with more of the details of Henry’s schedule, but suffice it to say that we won’t be able to see him for two weeks. We are praying that God favors him with a good start and lots of good friends. We would love your prayers as well.