All photos and text are property of Dave Forney and may not be used without express permission.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fish and Chips

For the past two weeks, our good friend Walt was visiting from the U.S.  One day we took him out to the fish market for a "fish and chips" lunch (below).

We were offered pre-fried fish, but opted instead for fresh ones--which meant we had to be patient while they were prepared.  The ones we got were as fresh as they get--nice, plump Tilapia directly from Lake Victoria into the hot frying oil.  While they were being prepared we walked around a bit.

It's a very busy and bustling place--great for people watching if you like to do that sort of thing.  It's sort of like sitting in a busy airport and watching the people go by, except here the colors and smells and sounds are a lot more interesting.  Although it's the fish market there's a lot more than fish for sale.  Just about everything you could imagine is for sale up and down the crowded stalls and dirt roads around there.  It's as busy as a beehive in summer!

We got many offers for boat rides and fishing trips in the boats pictured here.  Sounds like fun--perhaps the boys and I will have to give it a go sometime.

The fish they fry up for eating here, and the ones being sold below, are small.  They get much larger--huge in fact.  Some of them can get as big or bigger than me!

If you're in the mood for chapatis or rolex (a common street food consisting of a chapati with 2 fried eggs rolled inside with some onions and tomatoes) they have those too (below).  And there was a guy grilling some intestines and other organs.  If you've ever seen the show Bizarre Foods, the episode on Uganda involved a walk (and taste) right here in this market.  Our kids love that show, but don't understand why it's called Bizarre Foods.  They think that most of the stuff looks good and normal and tasty.

One of the favorite pastimes for guys in Kampala is pool.  You often see an old billiards table propped up on some stones (this one is pretty fancy with leveling feet) to make it level, in a dusty or muddy neighborhood, with a bunch of guys gathered around passing the time.  In Indonesia it was chess.  Here it's pool.

We enjoyed getting to know this little guy with a wonderful grin.  He hung out and laughed and talked with us.  He never asked for food or any handout, but it was obvious he was hungry.  When our fish came, we shared with him.  He was very excited and thankful!

And here they are!  Perhaps you don't like fish...well, this was not like normal fish from the supermarket in the U.S.  It was super fresh, very mild, white, flaky meat, and it was done to perfection!  Seriously, it was the best fish I've had in a long, long time!  And of course the "chips" (fries) were hot and greasy and tasty!  And that homemade salsa stuff, with the limes squeezed all over the top and some salt to dip it all in?--scrumptious! 

Our oldest, Britt, will eat just about any animal part that's even remotely edible.  In fact, I've never seen him shy away from anything.  Ever.  In Indonesia it was grubs--both cooked and LIVE, snails from the rice patties, frogs fried whole--guts and all, boiled frogs,  big hunks of pig fat with the hairy skin still attached, and all manner of other interesting things.  And he loved it all.  When I took him on a six-day, five-night jungle hike, he gobbled down all sorts of innards of animals, from intestines and liver, to lungs and utter.  Yep, utterly delicious--er at least chewy.  They were giving us the best parts--the meat is just average stuff in those cultures, but the organs are the best so you have to share that with the guests!  And Britt never shies away.  You gotta give him props.  We may struggle to get him to take more than one shower a week and change his clothes once in a while, but how many teenage boys do you know that will first go for the head and tail of a fish while everyone else grabs the big, boneless chunks of meat?  He said these fish had especially tasty eyeballs and brain--no joke.  He likes that stuff, as many people in other parts of the world do.

As usually happens, Tyler managed to knock over his soda--not once, not twice, but three times.  This dear lady kept coming over and cleaning it up.  We felt bad, but she seemed just thrilled that we were all eating in her stall, and didn't seem to mind the mess we were making one bit.  One time she had her baby with her when she came over to wipe up the spill, and she simply plopped the baby right into Hannahs open arms, without even thinking twice.  Hannah's smile says it all--she loves babies!  But baby's face also says it all--shock and awe!  First it was the shock (or is that straight up fear?)

And then came the awe.  Wow!  Look at those blue eyes and pale skin and blond hair?  So strange.  I absolutely must touch it!  As often happens, Hannah became too fascinating for the baby to resist, and got her cheeks squeezed and hair pulled.  But she loved it!

If you come over and visit sometime, we'll take you to the fish market too.  You won't be disappointed! :-)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

"Go And Do Likewise"

WARNING:  The content in this post may be inappropriate for children and/or disturbing to others.

She's only ten--just a young girl. But already she's experienced more than a lifetime-worth of indescribable abuse and horrors. The man (a barbaric animal in my opinion) who repeatedly victimized her over several months, told her he'd kill her if she said a word to anyone.  He's still out there somewhere, having fled when the village school teacher realized what was happening. Her physical, internal injuries, and the disease he gave her, were such that the caretakers upcountry requested a medevac, so she could receive better care in the city hospital.

This past Thursday was Uganda's Independence day--a national holiday.  But for some of us it was just another day doing what we do--sharing Christ's love through serving people on the wings of MAF.  I was already scheduled to fly that day--a flight for a group of leaders from Watoto Church here in Kampala (more on that in another post).  But on Wednesday afternoon our MAF Uganda office was contacted about the horrible situation described above.  The girl's mom is young, and also has a nursing baby.  Like many in Uganda, she lives day-to-day, without excess resources to deal with tragedies such as this.  She certainly couldn't afford an ambulance trip by road all the long way to Kampala, let alone a medevac flight.  But MAF is unique--we're not like commercial companies.  We're here to serve.  

So after some communication between our operations team here in Uganda, and key people in MAF-International, it was determined that MAF-I would medevac the girl and her family and cover all the costs in-house.  The girl was obviously in desperate need of help, not unlike the man who was left for dead along the side of the road in Jesus' parable of the good Samaritan in Luke Chapter 10, of the Bible.  Jesus describes several people in that parable, who seeing the injured man, looked the other way and passed by doing nothing to help.   Eventually the Good Samaritan came along and not only helped--he went the extra mile.  Jesus then says, "Go and do likewise."

Below, the village where we picked up the young girl.  The airstrip is just visible on the far side of the town, running parallel to the horizon.

 It's all of YOU out there who pray and give and donate your time and encouragement towards the ministry of MAF--it's YOU who allow us to be the hands and feet of Jesus to people like this young girl, both here in Uganda and in many other remote places throughout the world.  When our operations folks at our Uganda office explained to this hurting family, how thousands of people and churches all over the world help make this ministry possible, and specifically the medevac that was about to take place on their behalf, they were very grateful.  They wanted you to know.  This is what we do.  This is what YOU help make possible.  So, on behalf of this young family, and the many others that are helped throughout the world each day on the wings of MAF, thank you!

Originally, I was scheduled to fly alone, as we usually do--"single pilot" it's called.  However, since the family gave us specific permission to share their story and gratitude with you, both through photos and words, I became the co-pilot with a camera, rather than the captain on Thursday.  That seat was filled by our Chief Pilot, Greg Vine, who did a fantastic job caring for every detail of the flight.  When we arrived, the plane was swarmed by people (above).  Way off to the side, out of the commotion of the larger crowd, sat the young victim, her mother cradling a still-nursing baby, and a the sweet, boisterous caretaker who would accompany them to the city.  In contrast to the laughter, excitement, and chaos that was encircling the plane a hundred meters distant, the mood over here was quiet, sad, and tense.  Although we had been given specific permission by the family to take pictures, I was committed to being discreet with the camera, so I was too far away to hear the words exchanged between Greg and the family.  However, it was obvious that his care and concern was genuine and well-received by the family.  (Throughout this post, to preserve the anonymity of the patient and her family, I'm not using any names, nor showing any recognizable features of their faces, by which they could be identified.)

"Go and do likewise."  
That's what you see unfolding below.  (Left to right: The caretaker in the colorful skirt, Greg, the young mother holding her baby, and her 10-year old daughter, the patient, leaning against her.)

Greg did a great job of overseeing the careful loading of the young girl, and caring for all of the concerns of the mom and caretaker.  With MAF it's common for the pilots to pray with our passengers before departing.  In this case you could just feel the fears and tension of this precious family evaporate as Greg prayed--not only for the flight, but for each of them by name.  
"Go and do likewise."  This is what we're about!

The same care and concern that was shown to each of these precious people on the front end of the flight, was there again when we arrived in Kajjansi.   The young girl was carefully offloaded into the arms of her mother, and then directly into a waiting vehicle to be taken to the hospital.  

The next day my wife, Joy, contacted the caretaker to see how they were doing.  Tomorrow she's going to visit the mother and child in the hospital.  The caretaker said "they will be so very thankful to know that the wife of the pilot shows care and love...that will mean a lot!"  Medical treatment, though cheap by comparison to what we might pay in the U.S., is very expensive for a family like this, and they definitely don't have insurance!   They will no doubt have many tangible needs related to their medical treatment and general living necessities, being so far from home and extended family in this, the big scary city.  But beyond that, there's the emotional and spiritual needs.  In a case like this, the scarring and damage in those areas may well be even worse than the physical wounds, and could last years, if not a lifetime.  So, Joy will do what she can in the days and weeks ahead, to not only help with the tangible and obvious needs for physical treatment and care, but even more importantly she'll love this young girl and her mother, in the name of Jesus, and be a friend, and pray with and for them, and cry with them.  That's what she does.  She will be the hands and feet of Jesus to this young hurting family.  She will "Go and do likewise."

It's a team effort.  You play your part.  Our office staff in the UK and US and various home offices around the world play their parts.  Our operations team and office folks in our local Uganda office play their parts.  Our engineers play their parts.  I play my part.  My wife plays her part.   We all work together as a team to "Go and do likewise."  Thank you for playing your part!  Please pray for this young girl, her family, and so many others like them throughout Uganda and elsewhere who are hurting.  And why you're at it, lets all keep our eyes and ears open for someone near us who may be hurting and needs a helping hand.  And then lets "Go and do likewise."

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Views From My Office Window

Here's a few views from my "office window".  
Below, an unusually clear view of Kampala, the city where we live.

Below is a more typical view of our city as we depart in the morning.  As you can see, it's normally quite hazy and dusty.

And a few closer shots of the downtown section.  Driving within this area is an absolute nightmare due to unending traffic jams!

Now, on the exact same day that I took the three photos above, I also snapped all of the photos below.  It gives a you a very good idea of the huge differences between the weather around the city here, as compared to the typical weather in the eastern and northeastern parts of the country.  About 30 minutes (flight) outside of Kampala, all of the haze and dust is gone.  There's often clouds and weather still hanging around from the lake effects of Lake Victoria, but the air is clear and the visibility is great!

A little further still, and the clouds are thinning. You can see the clear skies in the distance over toward the Karamojang area.  This shot, below, is taken near Kalongo.

And finally, vast, blue skies from horizon to horizon.  I love it out here.  It reminds me of the American Southwest.  You feel so small compared to the vastness of the landscape and sky.  This is near Kotido.  Notice the little circles of mud huts where people live, surrounded by the thorn fences.

Here we are on the ground at Kotido.

And this is Matany.  Again, this is only a little over an hours flight from the city, but look how different the weather is.  Crazy, hugh?