Final and Fond Farewells

We made the most of our last few days in Uganda.  On Sunday, we visited the Kampala Church of Christ for the first time, and got to say goodbye to a couple of good people we met shortly after we arrived.  We also spent two hours with Justice Kiryabwire, who runs the Pepperdine/Uganda Judiciary program from Uganda’s end.

Monday was delivery day for the sixty-five page Final Report I had wrote about my work over the prior six months.  I felt like a paperboy as I drove around town dropping off copies of the report and saying goodbye to those who had worked so hard to ensure the program was successful.  The day culminated in a very nice dinner party Chief Justice Odoki hosted at the Serena Hotel for me, my family, and the highest ranking members of the judiciary.  There were lots of speeches, gifts, and fond farewells.

On Tuesday morning, we got up early and drove out to the Naguru Remand Home, which is the juvenile prison with which I have been working.  I had a chance to say goodbye to the officials and to give the kids there a final word of encouragement.

Talking to the Kids at the Remand Home

With Probation Officers Marie and Hussein

On the heels of our successful Crocodile Farm trip the prior weekend, we ventured out to the Snake Park out near the airport in Entebbe.  We brought with us Sarah Nassimbwa, with whom I had worked closely at the court, and her five year-old son.  Sarah took him out of school for this educational field trip.  We saw pythons, cobras, and other dangerous snakes native to the region.

The Kids with Sarah and her Son, Rayan

I had called the week before to make sure we were there at feeding time, but they had inexplicably fed them the day before instead.  Accordingly, we saw lots of fat snakes and several lucky baby chickens who had barely survived the carnage from the day before.

Later that afternoon, we visited Henry one last time at his school.  We cherished the time we had to pray with him and his wonderful physics teacher.  Henry’s end-of-term exams begin next week, so prayers are welcomed.

The Gash Family with Henry and his Physics Teacher, Jonathan

We ended the long day at my driver’s house with his family.  They killed the proverbial fatted calf for us, and fed us his liver.  Apparently, nothing says “welcome to my home” in Uganda quite like a plate of liver – Henry’s family had done the same thing when we visited their home in Hoima in early February.  My family doesn’t like liver, but we did our best to gratefully accept what they offered.  In fact, Jessica repeatedly told them that “this is the best liver I have ever had,” which was true, but seemed to be leaving out some important other details.  Michael informed us that we were the first Mzungus ever to visit his house.

Joline and I with Michael's Family

On Wednesday, we loaded up and set off for the airport in the afternoon.  The flights were uneventful, and we landed in San Francisco at noon on Thursday and were greeted at the airport by my folks and Joline’s folks.  As I type this on Friday morning, the kids are still sleeping so we have adjusted well to the time difference.  Later today, we will celebrate Jessica’s 17th birthday.  Later this month, we will drive back down to Southern California to resume our lives in the United States.

We are grateful those of you who have kept up with our adventure, and who have prayed for us along the way.  Your prayers were felt and very much appreciated.  We are eager to catch up with you in person, and to hear about what we have missed.

We intend to continue to provide updates about the ongoing work in Uganda and how our time there has changed us.  God bless you.

5 replies
  1. Tana Gregston
    Tana Gregston says:

    I have enjoyed keeping up with your family. I know you all have mixed emotions about returning home as did Jay and his family, but you can do it! Take care of my # 1 grandson this week!

  2. Kay Istre
    Kay Istre says:

    Dear Gash Family: No way can you cease blogging! I am now in the habit of checking daily to see what’s up with the Gashes, so PLEASE continue on with each of you reporting on what’s happening in your lives, even though you are now state-side. Don’t make me go through withdrawal, PLEASE!
    God is going to continue working in and through each of you, so just keep pecking out those blog entries.
    Trusting and thanking Him, Kay

  3. Kari Coppinger
    Kari Coppinger says:

    Looking forward to the time when you make your way back to SoCal. Praying for the work you started to continue. Praying for your adjustments.

  4. Creg Istre
    Creg Istre says:

    I’ve read every word & have truly enjoyed your writings, especially of the kids. It seems they have found these words by Donald Miller to be true (in the chapter titled “Meeting Bob” as in Goff)

    He writes, “I found myself wanting even better stories. And that’s the thing you’ll realize when you organize your life into the structure of story. You’ll get a taste for one story & then want another, then another & the stories will build until you’re living a kind of epic of risk & reward & the whole thing will be molding you into the actual character whose roles you’ve been playing. And once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life & you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time. The more practice stories I lived, the more I wanted an epic to climb inside of & see thru till its end.”

    When I teach a lesson to my prison class on taking chances for the Kingdom I read Jessica’s letter about going to Uganda & every time it brings moisture to my eyes.

  5. Kay and Don Koontz
    Kay and Don Koontz says:

    We have loved experiencing Uganda through your stories and reflections on your amazing 6 months there. Any kind of travel to a different country and culture changes you, but I can see so much growth through the messages posted by all of you. What a blessing for the people of Uganda and for the Gashes! We are anxious to see you and hear more – maybe this fall. Love from Don and Kay


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