Thursday, 20 August 2015

Multiply Trip East Africa 2015 Day 8 August 18

At 4.54am by my alarm clock, the local cock-crow concert struck up.  Breakfast had been announced for 8am, though it wasn't clear whether this was at Bishop Zechariah's home or the church.  The queue for the bathroom was like Paddington Station, but we all found our way into the dining room more or less on time for generous spread. 

In the event, we arrived at Mount Olive church at quarter to nine.  A breakfast was being served there too, though very few folks had turned up, at that stage.  The serving stretched to half past nine, and it looked like the morning sessions would be an unhelpful scramble.  Just as I was about to join Bishop Zechariah on the platform, Gregory beckoned me over.  "Pastor Andrew has arranged the leaders' event in Jinja for tomorrow morning, not Thursday.  So we must travel straight there - nine hours - and miss Kimilili and Magodes."  "Well... we can do it," I replied.  We agreed that in fact it may be helpful to have a bit more time in Uganda to get some final conference arrangements sorted.

"There's just one other thing," Gregory added. "I've found out that the border control will need to see original vehicle documents, and I only have photocopies.  So I've arranged for Oscar (his son) to send them ahead by courier."

With this on my mind, Viv assessed that I didn't carry as much punch in my ministry.  But I felt that the teaching on Fathering went well, and a queue of folks came for prayer.  The change of plan did at least allow a decent time for the sessions.

We had some lunch, including hard-boiled eggs, which seems to be a local 'snack', and Len had a long share with Bp Zechariah's wife Rebecca, which she needed after the recent family tragedy.  We finally got onto the Eldoret road at 2.30pm, with nine hours drive ahead, plus time to pick up documents and cross the border.  As Gregory said about our lunch, "Enjoy it, it may be a long time before the next stop!"

Charles drove to Eldoret.  We crossed the Equator about 4pm, and stopped for a leg-stretch, then hit the five o'clock rush hour traffic.  Along the way, I suggested to Len that he should send Cornelius an explanation of our necessary change of schedule.  This precipitated half a dozen phone calls to Rukundo in response, pressing for some sort of arrangement for meeting up with his Magodes team.  It really wasn't practical, but by a compromise we agreed to meet briefly at Tororo after we'd crossed the border at Malaba.  This was likely to be 10.30pm, and didn't seem to carry a lot of point.

We reached Bungoma by 8.00pm and Gregory went in search of the documents, while Viv filled up with petrol (rocking the minibus to get in as much fuel as possible) and I suggested we find a chippy (i.e. shop selling chapatis).  We converged on the Tesia supermarket and ordered (mainly) chicken and chips, and whizzed round the aisles to spend a bunch of Kenyan currency that we'd found we prematurely wouldn't need. 

We bumped the final stretch of road under construction and at about 10.30pm reached the border.  Here Gregory had to negotiate his way round the inadequacies of our paperwork, aided by a student he used to teach who now brokers insurance extensions.  The rest of us filed through Immigration Departures.  We waited.  Then we went back to the minibus and sat and waited some more.  Gregory came back.  "They won't let the minibus out of Kenya.  I'll ring Pastor Andrew and get him to collect you, while Charles and I stay here until the morning."

We weren't having this.  We prayed.  Len joined Gregory back in the office.  The lady official began to soften her line.  More time passed.  Tanker lorries of petroleum crossed in a continuous stream - the principal way that Uganda get its (therefore more expensive) petrol.  At about 12.30am we got clearance to leave, and drove round the short distance to the Uganda side.  We exchanged Kenya shillings for Uganda ones (rate of 1:32) with the 'unofficial' dealers.  More waiting while Gregory got insurance papers to proceed. 

He arrived, smiling and relieved.  We just had the vehicle inspection to complete, and at 1.15am we were in Uganda.

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