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Was I just a Tourist - Part III
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By Tree Galbraith

In 5 editions of Christian Life in London, we are presenting a remarkable story, a true story, about the journey by Tree Galbraith and ten others to Uganda as part of the with "Just Cause Education Outreach". (Tree is short for Teresa - but if you called out to her: "Teresa", she is unlikely to respond as she has not gone by Teresa for a very long time.)

In the first two segments Tree first described the lead up to the trip and how it came to be. Then, Part II was the eye opener - the first three days after arriving. If you missed the first two segments click here: PART1 PART2

Let's join Tree and her fellow disciples on Part III of their gospel mission of learning and teaching, giving and receiving appropriately titled: Was I "JUST" a Tourist?

PART 3

Bright and early we boarded the bus in anticipation of our plastering job at our church in Kizito. I wore my I LOVE CONCRETE t-shirt. To our surprise, the workers had put the first layer of plaster on the entire front wall by the time we got there. The team eagerly shovelled the 3 different soils into the wheelbarrow, and we were advised by the workers how to mix it properly. Sifting, adding water, slapping and then smoothing out the plaster. Wow - hard work, done with heart and soul!

I found the work too physically demanding so I ventured outside to see what else I could do. We needed more water for the concrete, so about 6 of us jumped into the back of a pickup truck. After bumping down some dirt trail I asked where we were. "The middle of nowhere” was the reply from Fr. Emmanuel. Seeing the untouched Ugandan countryside was awesome.

We pulled up our Capri's and went into the Nile River with our yellow jerry cans in tow. Of course, we never thought about crocodiles, snakes etc. I had to change my wet clothes in the bus and hung them on the tree "The Ugandan Way". I spotted a little boy, who was helping shovel the gravel and gave him my "I Love Concrete" t-shirt.

A Canadian friend of mine had given me the t-shirt to give away. He said thank you at least 10 times, we took a picture together then he took it off and continued to work. I saw him later in the back of the church with it back on. It was a real treasure for him!

I wanted to hang out with the women who were cooking and preparing lunch behind the church. I sat amongst them and simply watched them do their work. Simplicity, beauty and hard work. I followed a lady who walked away with a long pole. Sure enough I was invited to help cut down banana leaves, which would be used in making the matooke (a banana dish).

We had to cut down the leaves, chop off the ends, peel the outside (like a zipper), fold them and then once we had 7, we had to layer and press them into the sides of the huge silver pot which had the plantain already in. We then had to lift them onto the fire with no oven mitts! No wonder matooke is such a special food! It’s made with love and hard work.

As is the Ugandan way, we ate lunch together with no rushing or worrying. They offered us plenty of the homemade food. Many of us wondered if we were actually in the worker's way and hampering the progress of the plastering. To our delight and surprise, they told us the next day that "we wished you would have stayed yesterday".

Working together with Fr. Dennis, Fr. Godfrey, Fr. Emmanuel, labourers, villagers, young and old, experienced and inexperienced, the connecting, enjoying, learning and sharing each other’s company was what the trip was all about. Of course, we had another side trip to Nazigo for another delicious cake and tea.

The team ventured into Jinga for our first shopping, touristy day. Luckily, none of us was run over by a boda boda (a small motorcycle). The chaos of Main Street is hard to explain. Boda bodas, people, trucks and cars, bikes zipping in and out everywhere and, on the wrong side of the road!! Michelle and Sara had warned us about making sure we look to the left. My roommate and I stepped off the curb and luckily another boda boda driver whistled at us to warn us about the oncoming traffic!

We have many stories for this few hours of shopping. We stopped at a restaurant and ordered a pop. I left with the 1/2 drank pop bottle and the server ran out onto the street after me. It wasn’t that I hadn't paid - I wasn't allowed to take the bottle. We purchased a few Ugandan Soccer jerseys and noticed that the sizing was off on each and every jersey. I spotted a hand painted picture of the word HOPE and knew right then and there that I needed it. I bartered with the artist and felt like I got a good deal, but Alex let me know that I could have gotten a much better price. After that, I took him with me for the rest of my shopping!

The next morning I wrote a reflection about my trip so far. Roosters crowing all night long, mosquito nets falling down on me when I needed to get up during the night, boda boda chaos, beautiful smiles, the joy of each new day that God and Just Cause had planned for me.