September 6, 2008

New Ugandan Missionary

Uganda Update! September 5, 2008

Meet Fr. Lawrence Daniels, OCD, who has recently joined our Carmelite Mission in Uganda. Fr. Larry transferred to Kyengeza from our Carmelite House in Nairobi, Kenya (the foundation of the Eastern/Washington Province).
He is no stranger to Africa!

Fr. Larry writes . . .
“Please secure all trays. Put your seats in the upright position. Make sure your seatbelt is fastened. All luggage should be stowed overhead, or under your seat. We will collect . . . – the stewardess of the British Air flight from London to Entebbe, Uganda was announcing. Soon our Boing-767 sounded a rumbling thump and a huge plume of water followed us down the runway. A morning rain had just ended.

My luggage was first off, and a very friendly airport worker helped me with the bags and out the door. The air was hot, heavy, wet, and close. Lake Victoria captured my attention right away, for it is very close by. Then the faces of Fr. David (Costello) and Fr. Charles came up from the parking lot. What a warm greeting!

In a short two hours Fr. Charles had driven us safely to Kyengeza, our Mission in Uganda.
Oh, so many friendly people to greet. Faces become blurred and names muddled. Yet more welcomed me. Newly arrived, I knew no Luganda, so they very considerately spoke English. What a welcome!

Fr. Paul (Koenig) was in Luganda class when I took a break from unpacking. A hint of what I’d soon be doing myself. Thoughtfully, Fr. David suggested getting started with Luganda as soon as possible, which the teacher, Elizabeth, found a good idea. We began in a week. So it goes still. All my Luganda is in my heart, and nothing in my mouth. But slowly, slowly.

Each morning begins with Morning Prayer. As the light of the rising sun fills the Church, we begin our Luganda Mass and then the Office of Readings. The Luganda Mass is coming better for me now, as Fr. Charles helps me after supper to understand what I’m trying to pray.
The cooks prepare food that is plentiful, tasty and Ugandan. My abundant girth has not suffered any damage so far. My greatest surprise were the washing machines. And TWO of them! Ugandan, nonetheless. Very good, reliable and thorough. The brand names? Olivia and Judith.
This is a pleasant place. Much work has been done to build this parish with the inspiration of the pastors, and now Fr. David. There is a small gathering of animals: goats, chickens, rabbits, pigs, and a cow, “Carmelita.”

Perhaps the most pleasant time happens every evening, when our community gathers on the south-facing veranda. In the light of the setting sun and cooling breeze we pray Vespers. Usually the soft settling calls of birds come our way, and sometimes two of our friendly hens also decorate our praises. The closing of another day in the Carmelite Community of Kyengeza. A truly African blessing.

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