Morris, one of the Askaris (guards) who does an amazing job watching over our compound and family at night, is usually very upbeat and always in a good mood with a smile. However, when I greeting him on Monday he seemed stressed out and down. He explained to me that his landlord had become angry with everyone and kicked them all out. They had until tomorrow to get all of their things out of the building or the landlord would throw all their things out onto the road. In Uganda most people do not have a renter’s agreement that protects them from this sort of thing, so they are at the mercy of the landlord. Stressful for anyone, but to make matters worse, Morris and his wife are expecting a baby at the end of this month. So with a wife 9 months pregnant and not knowing where they were going to sleep the next day, Morris dutifully came to work at our compound. He had been looking for a place during the day and had no luck, his only option was a room that was increased in rent, smaller and much further from his job at our compound.
This set the wheels in motion for us. We told Morris he and his wife could sleep in the boys quarters, a set of small rooms away from the main house, until they could find a place. The next morning we started making calls and could not find a place that was near by or one that was in Morris and his wife’s price range. He was currently paying 30,000 Uganda Shillings a month ($11.50 US dollars give or take depending on the exchange rate) and was stretching his budget because the new place was 45,000 ($16.98 US) The problem with the new place is that is was 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) from our house, all of which Morris traveled on a bicycle, not to mention a bicycle with broken pedals. Where the pedals should be was only a peg, because the pedals where “spoiled.” Everyday Morris travels by bicycle, broken pedals and all to get to work which would take him about an hour to an hour and half one way due to crazy traffic and giant hills.
Who wants to complain about their morning commute now?
After dinner we got a call from Morris, he and his wife needed a place to stay and need help moving some of their things. We met Morris on the roadside and he directed us to his place. He happened to live on the same road as an Army Barracks so we had to go through 3 security check points. The first one was no problem; the guard recognized Morris and we went straight through. The second was a little hassle, but we made it through with little trouble. At the final checkpoint the guard was in no hurry to help or to open the gate and seemed to think he was entitled to a bribe from the Muzungus, but finally opened it and let us pass. Morris had us turn around on a pitch black dark road that had a drop off on one side. We finally turned around and started loading his things. It was a completely dark night, no lights, no moon on this dark dirt road, so I left my headlights on and the hazards flashing so that nobody would hit the vehicle. I also wanted the vehicle lit up so I would feel safer with Kari and the kids locked in the car. We got the last of their things loaded up; we literally looked like the Beverly Hillbillies. I could not even see the kids in the back for all of the things. We had a van full of their things, my family of 6 and Morris and his 9 month pregnant wife.
As we were leaving, a man in a military uniform came up and started yelling at Morris. I sat their staring out the window, one because I did not understand the Luganda he was speaking and two, I knew he probably wanted a bribe of some sort. After about 5 minutes of back and forth between the man and Morris he allowed us to go. Morris told me he was angry because we left the lights on. He explained the guards like to "remain in the dark" to which my reply was “in more ways than one.” He was also seeking a bribe from us just because we were white. We drove about 50 yards to the checkpoint and the exact scenario played out again. More yelling at Morris, more requesting bribes, more me staring out the window. See God has a plan in that I have not yet learned much Luganda, this is His plan on teaching me patience. Had I understood the Luganda the man was yelling, I would have been likely to have a few words back for him. It was late, the kids were tired and being wild, everyone was very cramped and we had been on a dark road loading the van for about 30 minutes. So everyone was a bit edgy to say the least. So I continued staring out the window, not understanding and keeping my mouth shut. This is something I have been working on since being in Uganda, just keep your mouth shut Jason.
We were finally allowed to leave as long as we promised to turn our lights off next time; I’ll keep that in mind. After spending the night at our place, we were able to help Morris find a room only two houses down. Now, he is close to work, close to home and will not have an hour long bike ride to work everyday. This will allow him more time with his wife and will allow him to be close by if the baby comes in the middle of the night.
Who knew our ministry would involve moving people in the middle of the night? God’s plan is working in our lives, it is going directions we did not anticipate, but He is in control. Sometime it just takes us being willing to listen to hear His plan.
“Be still and know I am God” Psalm 46:10