Running Life’s Race With A Limp

Survival

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“Sir. . Sir, Hello. . . Hello! Can you come sir? Hello. . .” Waking a doctor from a drink-induced sleep called for persistence. We had transported the machete-attack victim the five miles to the government clinic, only to learn an aged, slow-moving male nurse was the only person on duty. “The doctor for this work”, he said, eyeing the…

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In The Name Of A Friend

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The young pastor strained under the weight of the bleeding man he supported. “He is my brother.” He labored to keep the wounded man upright. The machete blade had gone deep. “How did it happen?”, I asked, as my nurse-wife entered from a side room and approached to lend aid. “My brother has a friend. The friend sent my brother…

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Urgent Care

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Klak. Klak. Klak. Klak. The sound of an archery bow thumping a bedroom window deep into the night is one not easily forgotten. Our watchman’s smokey voice joined the klacking sound outside, pronouncing my surname as best he could, “Bwana Lauti, Bwana Lauti.” At Nyamahanga’s second or third call I stirred. The bedside clock read 1:30 a.m. “Bwana Lauti. ….

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A Matter of Taste

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I never grew a warm place in my heart for serpents. Never acquired the taste. “Good morning, Bwana.” The man labored up the slope, evidently with merchandise. Not that snakes were uncommon on the farm where I grew up. Water Moccasins (Cottonmouths) and a few non-poisonous varieties often found their way to our pastures and watering ponds. A pleasant summer…

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BOOM in the Night

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“Bwana, Kuja! Ona nyoka kubwa sana!” The African voices clamored – yelling attention to the white men of Bukuria station. “Sirs, Come see! Very big snake!” Art Dodzweit leapt from his chair. Reaching for his rifle and a fist full of shells he shouted. “Bud, come! Seems a cobra or python has paid us a visit.” In the mid 1940s,…

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Extra Descriptive

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Denny tilted sideways in the aircraft seat just enough that I could catch his voice above the engine hum. His message brought sweat to my palms. The missionary pilot had directed the aircraft westward, above East Africa’s plains. The Cessna was a baby fly at the foreground of the continent’s most stunning monument, Mt. Kilimanjaro. Massive. Majestic. We had lifted…

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Above African Plains

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“Disgraceful.” The female passenger, strapped securely in her seat in the Cessna 206 high above Tanzania’s plains, continued her vent. “Missionary groups should just stay away. Stop meddling. Stop interfering with beautiful, ancient traditions of cultures not their own.  They have no right.” My missionary pilot friend, Denny, had been recounting to me in his distinct French accent a short…

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Omens

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(*Note. Due to the nature of some of this narrative’s content, some may opt to forego its reading. .Watch for Tuesday’s entry. .) “They put my crying newborn there. Outside there. For the wild dogs or the hyenas to do as they would do.” Sometimes messages – especially messages suggesting the worst kind of thing, the unthinkable – simply get…

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A Kuria Welcome

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Most people the world over forgive offenses made by newcomers – especially when the error is done in ignorance. We found the statement true, at least among the Kuria. Our failure as green missionaries to extend basic “please-enter-for-a-cup-of-tea” hospitality, drew no further mention from the slighted delegation of  elders. ”Hello, I am Reverend Joseph Muhingira.” I drew comfort being courteously…

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Sensibilities

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Green – Naïve – Novice – Ignorant. String them together and you had my name tag. The rambling house that my wife, myself and our bundle of Julie settled into had been built by missionaries who pioneered the work three decades ahead of our coming. The pioneers had fashioned the dwelling from local soil – rust-tinted bricks fired in a…

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